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  BRIEFING PAPERS  | ISSUE No.5 | NOVEMBER 2013 ICT in mathematics and science classes: use and obstacles MORE PRECISELY: Results are shown as averages for students in the European Union, excluding Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Data from these counties are not included due to statistical significance concerns. FIG. 1: Frequency of ICT activities in the classroom by grade and subject (EU level, 2011-12) European Schoolnet is the network of 30 European Ministries of Education, based in Brussels. As a not-for-profit organisation, we aim to bring innovation in teaching and learning to our key stakeholders: Ministries of Education, schools, teachers, researchers, and industry partners. www.europeanschoolnet.org Rue de Trèves, 61 | B-1040 Brussels Follow us on: @eu_schoolnet european.schoolnet Briefing Papers ,   published monthly, aim to present the findings of the  Survey of Schools: ICT in Education  on a specific topic, relating them to the results of European Schoolnet’s projects.  Survey of Schools: ICT in Education provides detailed, up-to-date and reliable benchmarking on ICT in school education across Europe, painting a picture of the use of technology for learning in schools: from the provision of infrastructure to teachers’ and students’ use, confidence, and attitudes.Based on over 190,000 responses from students at grade 4, 8, and 11 in general and vocational education, from their teachers and head teachers, in schools randomly selected in around 30 European countries, the  Survey   questionnaires were administered online and answers analysed during the school year 2011-12. The  Survey  , commissioned by the European Commission (Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology), was conducted in a partnership between European Schoolnet and the University of Liège (the Service d’Approches Quantitatives des faits éducatifs, Department of Education). The  Survey   and all the Briefing Papers are available here:  www.eun.org/observatory/surveyofschools The next Briefing Paper will be published in  February 2014. Info and contact: newsletter@eun.org To which extent does the frequency of ICT activities in the classroom differ by subject, grade and education track? The    Survey of Schools: ICT in Education   reveals that students are exposed to different levels of frequencies of in-classroom ICT activities, depending not only on their grade and education track, but also on the types of subjects they are studying. Researchers and policymakers agree that investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and careers is key for economic growth and prosperity in knowledge economies; in this briefing, we examine the patterns of ICT use in science and mathematics classrooms, using mother language classes as a basis for comparison.In the  Survey  , teachers of students in grade 8 and grade 11 in general education were asked to report their frequency of use of eleven ICT-related activities during lessons, using a scale from 1 (‘never’ or ‘almost never’) to 4 (‘every day’ or ‘almost every day’). Figure 1 presents the aggregate scale of ICT use in the classroom, always ranging from 1 to 4, in the European Union. Results are shown by subject, which shows that students in science classes, both in grade 8 and 11 in general education, are the most involved in ICT activities, with a score quite close to 2, corresponding to ‘several times a month’. Students at grade 8 experience a similar level of use of ICT activity in language and mathematics classes. This is not true for grade 11 in general education; the frequency of use of ICT activities in mathematics classes is low compared with both science and language classes. Although the difference in use between mathematics and science classes is not very large, the results from the    Survey    offer a preliminary suggestion to be careful when referring to the STEM area as a unitary block, as mathematics and science teachers and students may have specific characteristics that need to be addressed independently. Grade 8Mathematics TeachersScience TeachersGrade 11 Gen. never or almost neverseveral times a monthat least once a week  ICT in mathematics and science classes: use and obstacles 2 attitudes and opinions on the impact of ICT on students’ learning and the actual implementation of ICT activities during lessons, nor is there a clear link with teachers’ confidence in their operational skills. The question therefore is what determines the different frequencies of use of ICT activities in the classroom shown by mathematics and science teachers, if opinions and confidence do not play a significant role? An analysis of the obstacles to ICT use in the classroom faced by different teachers could help shed some light on the matter. t Teachers were asked to declare whether their use of ICT in teaching and learning activities was adversely affected by a number of factors, using a scale from 1 (‘not at all’) to 4 (‘a lot’). The analysis of the obstacles presented below deliberately excludes inhibiting factors related to Differences across grades and subjects are not extremely high. Nevertheless, ICT-based activities are more frequent in science classes than in mathematics and language classes. Data from the  Survey   allows us to explore whether teachers’ confidence levels play a role in determining the final use of ICT in the classroom. Figure 2 shows that mathematics and science teachers express quite similar levels of confidence in their operational skills, and in both cases, such confidence levels are higher than language teachers’ ones. These findings do not seem to provide an explanation for the patterns shown in the previous section. It is therefore advisable to look elsewhere to find an explanation for the different frequencies of ICT use in language, mathematics and science classes.When observing teachers’ opinions regarding the impact of ICT use on student learning, results from the  Survey   show no differences between different types of teachers: language, mathematics and science teachers all agree that ICT use ‘somewhat’ impacts students’ learning, corresponding to the value of 3 on a scale from 1 (‘not at all’) to 4 (‘a lot’). Likewise, language, science, and mathematics teachers share similar attitudes towards the use of ICT in schools. They all agree on the positive impact of ICT on students’ higher-order thinking skills, motivation, achievement, and competence in transversal skills, and they agree with the statement that ICT should be used for students to do exercises and practice, retrieve information, and work in a collaborative and autonomous way. In sum, there does not seem to be a relationship between teachers’ equipment, in order to concentrate on pedagogical aspects. Figures 3 and 4 display the percentages of students whose teachers reported that the respective obstacle hindered ‘a lot’ their use of ICT in the classroom. Several patterns are identifiable. What are the obstacles faced by teachers in using ICT in the classroom? Can differences in ICT use be motivated by teachers’ different condence levels, opinions and attitudes? FIG. 2: Teachers’ confidence in their operational skills by grade and  subject (EU level, 2011-12) Percentage of students whose teachers report that their use of ICT in the classroom is hindered 'a lot' by the corresponding obstacle. 15%20%25%30%10%5%0%    7 .   6   3   1   3 .   2   0    1   0 .   5   2   9 .   4   0   9 .   4   0   5 .   3   1   4 .   0   0    8 .   0   9    1   3 .   7   6    1 .   4   0   2 .   2   5   1   0 .   2   7   1   1 .   8   5   1   3 .   4   2   5 .   0   0    7 .   0   9    1   0 .   7   2   2   2 .   3   6    2 .   2   4    4 .   5   7 Lacking skills of teachersLack of technical supportLack of pedagogical supportLack of contentLack of content in national languageDifficulty to integrate ICT in curriculumLack of pedagogical modelExam pressureParents not in favour of ICTUnclear benefit of ICT Mathematics Teachers Science Teachers FIG. 3: Obstacles to ICT-based activities in the classroom at grade 8 (EU level, 2011-12) Grade 11 Gen.Grade 8 NoneA LittleA LotSomewhat Language TeachersMathematics TeachersScience Teachers  Science teachers in Europe engage in ICT activities during lessons slightly more frequently than mathematics teachers. At the same time, science and mathematics teachers share very similar levels of confidence in their ICT-related operational skills, as well as virtually the same opinions on the impact of ICT on students’ learning and acquisition of skills. However, the types and magnitude of obstacles to the use of ICT within the classroom are quite different for mathematics and science teachers. For example, even if exam pressure stands out at the single most relevant inhibitor for all subjects and grades, mathematics teachers are the most highly affected, especially at grade 11 in general education. This could be seen as one of the justifications for the relatively lower frequency of ICT activities in mathematics classes at grade 8 and, in particular, at grade 11 in general education.The presence of ‘exam pressure’ may also mean that teachers do not have the possibility to experiment with innovative teaching methods in the fear that students could perform badly in conventional assessment methods. This, combined with lack of technical and pedagogical support, as well as with the difficulty to integrate ICT into the curriculum, indicates that initiatives clearly targeting pedagogy need to complement actions related to technical equipment in schools.Finally, the analysis clearly shows that language, mathematics and science teachers present different characteristics in terms of ICT use in the classroom, confidence in their operational skills and especially perception of obstacles to the use of ICT in the classroom. In this respect, though it is important to put due emphasis on STEM education and careers, researchers and policymakers should act taking into consideration the specificities and peculiarities of science and mathematics teachers. 3 Conclusion ICT in mathematics and science classes: use and obstacles FIG. 4: Obstacles to ICT-based activities in the classroom at grade 11 in general education (EU level, 2011-12) As indicated by the orange bars, the most pressing obstacle for mathematics teachers at grade 8 is ‘exam pressure’, followed by ‘lack of technical and pedagogical support’. At grade 11 in general education, while ‘exam pressure’ and ‘lack of pedagogical support’ remain even more of a concern for mathematics teachers, ‘lack of content’ and ‘lack of pedagogical model’ also appear to be significant inhibitors. A similar pattern can be observed for science teachers, as can be seen by the green bars: ‘lack of technical and pedagogical support’, ‘lack of content’ and ‘exam pressure’ are perceived as the greatest obstacles at grade 8 and 11 in general education, with ‘lack of teachers’ skills’ also playing a role at grade 11 in general education.‘Lack of content’ seems to be an important concern for mathematics and science teachers at grade 11 in general education. In this grade, about 17% of students are taught by science teachers who consider ‘lack of content’ as a large obstacle, while 14% of students have mathematics teachers with such perception. This obstacle seems to be less of a concern for language teachers in grade 11 in general education and for all teachers at grade 8, as can be seen in figure 4. Across all grades and subjects, ‘lack of content’ is generally considered far more pressing than ‘lack of content in national language’. Moreover, it seems to be easier for science teachers to integrate ICT into the curriculum and to deal with lack of pedagogical support, particularly at grade 8. The problem of a ‘lack of pedagogical model’ is slightly higher in magnitude at grade 11 in general education than at grade 8.Finally, the heights of the bars corresponding to ‘exam pressure’ are particularly striking. ‘Exam pressure’ is undoubtedly perceived by teachers as the biggest inhibitor of ICT use in the classroom, especially, but not exclusively, at grade 11 in general education. Mathematics teachers seem to express the highest level of concern. On the other hand, students in science classes at grade 8 are slightly less affected by this problem. In addition to strictly pedagogical concerns, such as the difficulty to integrate ICT in the curriculum and the lack of pedagogical support, effective use of ICT in the classroom finds exams to be an apparently insurmountable obstacle. 15%20%25%30%10%5%0% Lacking skills of teachersLack of technical supportLack of pedagogical supportLack of contentLack of content in national languageDifficulty to integrate ICT in curriculumLack of pedagogical modelExam pressureParents not in favour of ICTUnclear benefit of ICT Mathematics TeachersScience Teachers Percentage of students whose teachers report that their use of ICT in the classroom is hindered 'a lot' by the corresponding obstacle.    8 .   5   6    1   2 .   7   0    1   7 .   1   0    1   3 .   9   3   8 .   7   1   1   2 .   0   0    1   3 .   6   1   3   0 .   0   4    3 .   7   5   8 .   7   2   1   3 .   5   0   1   3 .   2   0    1   4 .   8   4    1   7 .   0   5   5 .   1   8   8 .   8   8   1   0 .   5   8   2   3 .   9   9    2 .   4   7   7 .   2   6   As this issue explores teachers’ ICT-based activities in the classroom and related obstacles, we asked Alexa Joyce, Senior Corporate Development Manager at European Schoolnet, to explain how the inGenious project is contributing to increased and improved use of technology and innovative pedagogies in mathematics and science education. inGenious is the European Coordinating Body in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. It is a joint initiative launched by European Schoolnet and the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) aiming to reinforce young European’s interest in science education and careers, thus addressing anticipated future skills gaps within the European Union. The Project Focus page links the main findings from the  Survey of Schools: ICT in Education  analysed in each issue of the Briefing Papers  with one specific project coordinated by European Schoolnet. The work presented in this document is supported by the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7) - project ECB: European Coordinating Body in Mathematics, Science and Technology (Grant agreement N± 266622). The content of this document is the sole responsibility of the Consortium Members and it does not represent the opinion of the European Union and the European Union is not responsible or liable for any use that might be made of information contained herein. ICT in mathematics and science classes: use and obstacles 4 Project Focus: Promoting STEM education and careers through the inGenious   project inGenious  practices don’t really address the issue of exam pressure: this is a wider challenge inherent in exam requirements set by education authorities. However we do tackle the issue of pedagogical guidance through offering tried-and-tested practice examples, guides, and online events for teachers and students in a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. An example is Deforestaction , a great project on issues of natural sciences and mathematics (biodiversity and deforestation). Students and teachers can use online tools to connect to scientists and environmentalists working on forest protection and conservation of orangutans in Indonesia. Another example is the  Scratch programming  online forum, which helps teachers learn more about this simple programming tool and how it can be applied in different scientific subjects. Q1: Exam pressure and lack of pedagogical guidance hinder teachers’ use of ICT in the classroom. How does inGenious  plan to address these issues?  When inGenious  was designed, these differences were not yet apparent – this new data analysis has revealed an interesting variation between science and mathematics teachers. I think the main strength of inGenious  is that a wide range of pedagogical ideas are proposed, Education and industry partners, as well as governments, all work together to address this shared concern: how to get young people in Europe more interested in STEM studies and careers. Industry experts provide information on the latest scientific discoveries and topics which they are working on, which teachers appreciate as it helps them Teachers can visit the inGenious  website (www.ingenious-science.eu) to find useful STEM pedagogical ideas and join an online community of colleagues to help share ideas, tips and materials. There is also a competition open at the moment to reward teachers for implementing innovative approaches to STEM studies and careers in their classrooms. and teachers involved in the school network are invited to select those which are most appropriate for their classroom. Certainly in the future of inGenious  we will be paying more attention to these differences in obstacles to use of ICT.keep their STEM knowledge up-to-date. Teachers are also increasingly having to support their students with career information and being in touch with industry partners helps teachers get a more realistic idea of what kind of jobs are out there. Organisations can get involved by becoming an associate partner in inGenious  – this gives them the opportunity to get feedback on their STEM education materials from a pilot network of schools, and share knowledge with other inGenious  members on how to implement education programs. Q2: Results from the Survey  show that mathematics and science teachers, which form part of the STEM family, face different types of obstacles when it comes to ICT use in the classroom. How does inGenious  take the differences between the STEM subjects into consideration? Q3: inGenious  is a successful multi-stakeholder project. How do the different players act together to achieve the common goal of  promoting STEM studies and careers? Q4: How can individuals and organisations become involved in inGenious ? 

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Jul 23, 2017

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