The Role of Computer Technology in Teaching Reading and Writing: Preschool Teachers' Beliefs and Practices

Article excerpt

This study investigated preschool teachers' beliefs and practices regarding the use of computer technology in teaching reading and writing in Jordan. The researcher developed a questionnaire consisting of two scales--Teachers' Beliefs Scale (TB Scale) and Teachers' Practices Scale (TP Scale)--to examine the role of computer technology in teaching reading and writing to preschoolers. A random sample of 154 preschool teachers participated in the study by completing the questionnaire; 12 teachers were later interviewed. Results indicated that the preschool teachers' beliefs about the use of computer technology were aligned with their perceptions of their teaching practices, although teachers' beliefs and their perceptions of their practices were fairly moderate. The results also revealed significant differences between kindergartens in favor of public kindergartens, and the training programs in favor of trained teachers, whereas there was no difference due to area of certification. Directions for further research and recommendations for policy and practice are discussed.

Keywords: computer technology, reading and writing, preschool teacher

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The education system in Jordan consists of a 2-year cycle of preschool education, 10 years of compulsory basic education, and 2 years of secondary academic (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2004). In the preschool stage, children between the ages of 4 and 6 learn the "three Rs": reading, writing, and arithmetic. In addition to these primary subjects, they learn other fundamental subjects, such as religious education, the Arabic language, science, social studies, mathematics, music, arts, handicrafts, physical education, and English. However, it should be made clear that kindergartens in Jordan differ from one area to another with regard to the socioeconomic background of the kindergartners' families. Unlike the other two educational stages, which are compulsory, preschool education in Jordan is still noncompulsory and is mainly run by the private sector, charities, and voluntary societies (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2007). The Ministry of Education (MoE) runs a very limited number of public kindergarten classes linked with elementary schools in some remote regions. Although kindergartens are run mainly by the private sector, they are exclusively administered by the MoE.

Jordan, a small Arab country with limited natural resources, has been striving to redevelop its education system. In 1987, the MoE held its First National Conference on Educational Development to identify ways to enhance and enrich all aspects of education. One of these aspects was integration of technology into school curricula. The Jordanian education system enhanced the use of educational technology, such as educational television programs, tape recorders, overhead projectors, videotapes, laboratories, workshops, libraries, and computer technology (MoE, 1989). Despite the fact that the MoE has paid much attention to technology, and computer technology has been employed in the primary and secondary stages, technology is still not used in most preschool grades.

INTRODUCTION AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

It is a good time to consider the power of current technological advances. Increasingly, communication and information technologies have become part of our everyday lives. The use of computers is increasing day by day, because they are used in many fields to make our lives easier (Bayhan, Olgun, & Yelland, 2002). Computers can present crucial information and offer effective tutorial instruction (Cammarata, 2006). Computers also connect us with other people, store vast amounts of data, and provide us with access and entertainment (Yelland, 2002).

In the technology literature, learning theories have offered different views regarding the use of computer technology. For instance, behaviorism proposed that learning from technologies means using computers for drill and practice, because learning, according to this view, is a matter of imitation and practice. …