“The influence of predispositional factors in the use of new technologies of school leaders in Organization and Management Education”
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education is considered to be a teaching and learning tool, but also an important means of administrative organization. However, a difficulty is observed in the functional integration of ICT in schools, both on a teaching and an administrative level. The present research is focused on exploring the Predispositional Factors of school administrators towards ICT and the impact of these factors on the utilization of ICT in their administrative practice.
The way people understand and face the media and ICT is similar to the way they perceive and deal with other people. The media users have different predispositions towards the media. As a result, such predispositions affect the media utilization patterns people use, as well as the consequences the utilization of such media has. Self-efficacy and Computer Anxiety constitute two predispositions related to the ICT. In recent years, these two factors have received considerable attention from researchers due to their influence on Internet users.
The Research Reasoning
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education is considered to be a teaching and learning tool, but also an important means of administrative organization. However, a difficulty is observed in the functional integration of ICT in schools, both on a teaching and an administrative level. The present research is focused on exploring the Predispositional Factors of school administrators towards ICT and the impact of these factors on the utilization of ICT in their administrative practice. There has been a sufficient amount of studies, based on Greek data, which are focused on the introduction of ICT in teaching practice, but there is no equivalent number of studies which examine the support of ICT in the organizational and administrative practice in schools.
The term Educational Management is mentioned in the scientific field referring to the basic administrative functions of educational institutions and learning organizations (Athanasoula - Reppa, A. 2008).
School administrators have a manifold work activity; yet this activity should be uniform and it should be characterized by coordination and harmonization, so that it does not become fragmented and inefficient (Saitis, 2007). Everard & Morris (see Athanasoula - Reppa A., 2008) believe that management can be utilized in multiple educational fields and support that:
The joint training of school headmasters and services is focused on key administrative functions, such as: financial management, human resources management and development of relations with the wider society (Athanasoula - Reppa, A., 2008).
ICT and Primary Education
While studying the international literature, we come across many and different parameters that require the utilization of ICT in the organization and management of schools. The educational system is constantly seeking to adapt to the social, cultural and financial data, since, in our times, there is a strong need for renewal and adaption to the new developments of the methods utilized; a fundamental one is the introduction of ICT in education. After all, based on the educational policy of governments, the aim is the complete utilization of ICT in teaching and management, which constitutes the object and tool for better learning and execution of all school functions. Schelin (2003) argues that ICT contribute effectively to the administration, coding, storage and processing of a huge amount of digital information created, while Slenning (2000) acknowledges that the introduction of information technology updates many aspects of activities in the educational community; the basic ones are the communication between them and the teaching practice. Haddad (2002) focuses on the operational and financial benefits brought about by the introduction of ICT in the educational organization and management, and accordingly Pfaff and Simon (2002) emphasize the cost reduction due to limited disposal of printed material.
Predispositions of human systems towards ICT
Reeves & Nass (1996) used the term media equation, in order to describe the way people perceive and use media. They explained that the way people perceive and deal with the media and ICT is similar to the way they perceive and deal with other people. The media users have different predispositions to the media. As a result, such predispositions are about to affect the media utilization patterns of people, as well as the consequences of the use of such media.
Self - efficacy in ICT
Having its origins in the Theory of Social Awareness, self-efficacy is defined as “someone’s belief in his skills for the organization and execution of the required number of actions, in order to produce certain achievements” (Bandura, 1997). Bandura (1997) supported that the higher a person’s self-efficacy, the more intense he believes that he is able to control his behavior in order to achieve a desired outcome. Furthermore, people with high self-efficacy are more likely to try more in the process of achieving their goals, in comparison with those with low self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997). Zhang and Lu (2002) observed that self-efficacy affects the configuration of incentives. They discovered that people with high self-efficacy have stronger motivation level, than people with lower self-efficacy. Furthermore, they proved that self-efficacy affects incentives through its influence on the behavioral tendency, the persistence and the effectuation. Even though the research on self-efficacy in ICT is still at a very early stage, most studies (eg. Albion, 2001) are focused on parameters that affect self-efficacy and on the relationships between self-efficacy and computer performance. The research has proved that many factors (eg. gender, age, previous experience, education) can affect self-efficacy (Durndell & Haag, 2002).
Computer anxiety is defined as the fear or the resistance in the use of the Internet (eg. the search of electronic information or internet communication) or it has to do with the negative effects on the Internet users (Susskind et al, 2003).
Design and Research Methodology
The research strategy that we followed in this study falls within the methodology of the quantitative research. In particular, we implemented a fixed (non-experimental) research project, provided for the collection of quantitative data. Based on the theoretical framework of the present study, the aim of the research is to investigate the significance of the use of ICT in the public administration of primary schools. In addition, it aims to study the effect of Predispositional Factors (Self-Efficacy, Computer Anxiety), which constitute the introduction of ICT in school administration very effective.
Scale of Self-Efficacy in ICT
There has been little research about self-efficacy on the Internet. Therefore, there are very few scales to measure self-efficacy on the Internet. We utilized the 8-Point Scale on Self-Efficacy, by Eastin & LaRose (2000), (eg. “I feel confident to use the Internet for data collection”). This is an international scale for self-efficacy on the Internet (Eastin & LaRose, 2000), as it reflects the self-efficacy of people in a variety of Internet functions. The self-efficacy on the Internet was evaluated on a 5-Point Likert Scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
Computer Anxiety Scale
The researchers have not come to an agreement about the measurements of Computer Anxiety (Susskind et al., 2003, Susskind & Stefanone, 2000). As referred above, Internet Anxiety is often combined with Computer Anxiety. Therefore, we adopted the term Internet Anxiety (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000) in order to measure Computer Anxiety.
ICT Affinity Scale
We used the Affinity Scale (Ebersole, 2000) in order to measure the affinity to ICT. In the past, other versions of this scale have been used to measure the affinity to various types of programs, such as television shows and the news.
Purpose of Research and Research Questions
The main purpose of this research is to examine the influence of Predispositional Factors in school administrators, as far as the utilization of ICT is concerned. The specific aims of the research is to investigate the incentives during the use of ICT by school administrators, the role of technical support in the quantity of ICT utilization, and to examine the affinity and empowerment degree of administrators in the process of school organization and management. The research questions are set forth as follows:
The Survey Sample
We have chosen as a purposive sample for the survey, that is, administrators of primary education. Proportional and purposive samples allow researchers to increase the demographic diversity and variability (Kerlinger & Lee, 2000). In this study, we used the technique of one purposive sample in order to obtain a large pool of participants. We collected demographic data (gender and age) in order to describe the sample. The gender was coded as follows: Male = 0 and Female = 1. The sample was 64% males (n=48) and 36% females (n=27).
The research tools used in the present study are the following:
1. Scale of Self-Efficacy in ICT (Eastin & LaRose, 2002)
2. Scale of Computer Anxiety (Althaus & Tewksbury, 2000)
3. Scale of Affinity to ICT (Ebersole, 2000)
The questionnaire includes 36 closed-type questions, multiple-choice, since the respondent can choose from the configured answers. There is the choice to provide more than one answers in several questions. Furthermore, a few questions include some semi-constructed questions, where there is the option to write an answer other than the configured ones. The questionnaire contains Likert-scale type questions (answered in a five-point respond scale). The questionnaire is divided in 5 parts:
There are restrictions, which may affect the ability to generalize the present study:
In order to study the degree of ICT utilization and self-efficacy, anxiety, affinity and empowerment in the utilization of ICT by school administrators, 5 different scores were constructed. Their construction took place using the measurement parameters for each one of these characteristics and they were: 6 for the ICT utilization, 8 for self-efficacy, 8 for anxiety, 5 for affinity and 5 for empowerment. For each one of these parameters of each characteristic, the respondent gave one of the following answers: “not at all”, “a little”, “fairly enough”, “very” and “extremely”, which were rated respectively as 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The gender was studied in relationship with the age group and the educational level, using the Pearson’s X2 statistic criterion. The study of the difference in the ICT utilization degree and the degree of self-efficacy, anxiety, affinity and empowerment in the use of ICT by men and women was conducted using the non-parametrical statistical criterion “Mann-Whitney’s test”. The study of the difference in the degree of self-efficacy, anxiety, affinity and empowerment in the use of ICT by each one of the 3 age groups and each one of the 3 educational levels was conducted using the statistical criterion “Kruskal-Wallis’s test”. Furthermore, the study of the correlation between the ICT utilization degree and each one of the degrees of self-efficacy, anxiety, affinity and empowerment was conducted using the Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient. Finally, the study of the correlation between the affinity, self-efficacy and empowerment degrees was conducted using the Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient. The level of statistical significance for all the statistical two-tailed tests was a = 0.05. All analyses were conducted using the software SPSS v18.0.
ANALYSIS OF RESEARCH RESULTS
As observed, the highest percentage of respondents (39.6% of men and 38.5% of women) was over 50 years old and this characteristic did not appear to differ at a statistically significant level between men and women. In addition, the educational level of administrators presented no difference between men and women, and the highest percentage (48.6% and 38.1%) respectively was observed in the category of those having a postgraduate qualification. The level of ICT utilization by the participants, as well as the degrees of self-efficacy, anxiety and empowerment in the use of ICT did not present a statistically significant difference between genders.
It was interesting that 62.7% of administrators in primary education did not provide technical support in their schools, so that technological problems can be resolved, while in cases were such support did exist, it was usually provided by a colleague specialized in informatics or a person with computer skills (48.1%) or even by private corporations (37%).
A characteristic finding was that the technical support did not come from a single corporation and was not distinguished by a uniform frame of action. More specifically, the technical support is provided by:
Incentives to utilize ICT for the Organization and Administration of Schools
Due to the fact that the present study was focused on the typical use of ICT for the Organization and Administration of schools, a question about the measurement of the typical personal use of ICT arose at the beginning of the study. All participants were asked to have in mind the typical use of ICT, based on their own standards, while completing the questionnaire. The incentive with the greatest frequency was the production of documents, since 96% of the participants considered it to be “very” or “extremely” important. The one with the lowest influence was the examination and assessment of the teaching staff, since 53.6% of them considered it to be “not at all” or “a little” important. Furthermore, the major disincentive appeared to be the lack of proper software, since 89.3% of the participants characterized it as “very” or “extremely” important. On the other hand, the least important disincentive appeared to be the lack of space, since 68% of the administrators characterized it as “not at all” or “a little” important.
Predispositional Factors in the use of ICT
The measurement of self-efficacy was based on the record of 8 key components. As observed, administrators felt “very” or “extremely” confident at a percentage of 52%, mainly in the use of the internet for data collection. In the opposite case, 66.7% and 63.4% of the participants felt “not at all” or “a little” confident in learning advanced skills on a certain computer problem and being a member of an online discussion group, when they need help, respectively.
The measurement of computer anxiety was also based on the record of 8 key components. As observed, the administrators felt “very” or “extremely” confident at a percentage of 52%, mainly in the use of the Internet for data collection. In the opposite case, 66.7% and 63.4% of the participants felt “not at all” or “a little” confident in learning advanced skills on a certain computer problem and being a member of an online discussion group, when they need help, respectively.
The measurement of affinity to ICT utilization was conducted using 5 components. As observed, the administrators felt “very” or “extremely” sure that they could not work without a computer, at a percentage of 58.9%. On the other hand, a significant percentage (40%) felt “a little” sure that if they could not use a computer, for some reason, it would be really missed. The empowerment due to the use of ICT was measured mainly by the fact that the training in the use of ICT should be specialized in matters of school organization and management. This view at the levels of “very” to “extremely” was held by the 84% of the sample. Furthermore, the 44% of administrators had the opinion that the ICT training they had received was “not at all” or “a little” satisfactory.
For the further investigation of the relationship between demographic factors and the main studied characteristics, more analyses took place. In fact, the age category seemed to differentiate the grades of self-efficacy, anxiety and empowerment in the ICT utilization. Indeed, for all the above characteristics the greatest values appeared in the younger age groups. The education level was also a differentiation parameter, since most educated participants, namely those having a PhD degree, exhibited the highest level of self-efficacy, computer anxiety and empowerment in the use of ICT. Equally important were the following correlations between the ICT utilization level and the basic qualitative characteristics of the use of ICT by the administrators of primary education. More specifically, the degree of self-efficacy and affinity to the ICT utilization was statistically significantly correlated with the ICT utilization degree. Therefore, the increase of self-efficacy and affinity separately was correlated with the increase of the ICT utilization in schools. On the contrary, computer anxiety and empowerment due to the training on ICT did not seem to have any special effect on the use of ICT.
Another important result was the strong positive correlation of the self-efficacy degree and the empowerment degree, as well as the important correlation between the affinity degree and the empowerment degree. Finally, the presence of technical support in schools diversified considerably the degree of self-efficacy.
Future research directions
Individual predispositions constitute an important predispositional factor in the intension to use ICT. In the present study, we examined only the self-efficacy in ICT and the Computer Anxiety during their utilization. In the future, more predispositional parameters or personality parameters (such as self-control, need for knowledge, communication apprehension, openness, communication skills, approaching methods) could be examined as well, in the context of ICT utilization. Previous research in other means of communication has proved that such predispositions affected or formed incentives in interpersonal communication or even in the use of media. Therefore, the investigation of such predispositions could provide a greater insight to the typology of ICT utilization motives.
The ICT have multiple functions and applications. Researchers aiming to obtain a deep understanding of the Predispositional Factors in the use of ICT should examine analytically their utilization by one specific function (eg. e-mail).
A characteristic finding of the present research is that the Predispositional Factors are positively correlated with the affinity to ICT utilization. These factors, such as Self-efficacy and Computer Anxiety, as well as their correlation with the ICT utilization level, have not been adequately examined. The Affinity, on the other hand, seems to be positively correlated with the age, the educational level and the existence of technical support.
The results show that the Predispositional Factors, such as Self-efficacy in ICT and Computer Anxiety, constitute significant predictors of Affinity and their utilization level. Therefore, in order to facilitate the integration of ICT in the school Organization and Management, policy makers and educational administrators should focus on methods which could increase Self-efficacy and reduce Computer Anxiety of users.
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