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IJLTER.ORG Vol 21 No 10 October 2022

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We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research. The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website http://www.ijlter.org. We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue. We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration. The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers. We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal with this issue.

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International Journal
of
Learning, Teaching
And
Educational Research
p-ISSN:
1694-2493
e-ISSN:
1694-2116
IJLTER.ORG
Vol.21 No.10
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
(IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 10 (October 2022)
Print version: 1694-2493
Online version: 1694-2116
IJLTER
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 10
This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part
of the material is concerned, specifically those of translation, reprinting, re-use of illustrations,
broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar means, and storage in data banks.
Society for Research and Knowledge Management
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal which has been
established for the dissemination of state-of-the-art knowledge in the
fields of learning, teaching and educational research.
Aims and Objectives
The main objective of this journal is to provide a platform for educators,
teachers, trainers, academicians, scientists and researchers from over the
world to present the results of their research activities in the following
fields: innovative methodologies in learning, teaching and assessment;
multimedia in digital learning; e-learning; m-learning; e-education;
knowledge management; infrastructure support for online learning;
virtual learning environments; open education; ICT and education;
digital classrooms; blended learning; social networks and education; e-
tutoring: learning management systems; educational portals, classroom
management issues, educational case studies, etc.
Indexing and Abstracting
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is indexed in Scopus since 2018. The Journal is also indexed in
Google Scholar and CNKI. All articles published in IJLTER are assigned
a unique DOI number.
Foreword
We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of
Learning, Teaching and Educational Research.
The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational
Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to
publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions
may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to
problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational
organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website
http://www.ijlter.org.
We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board
and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue.
We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration.
The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the
world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers.
We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal
with this issue.
Editors of the October 2022 Issue
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 10 October 2022
Table of Contents
Digital Leadership of School Heads and Job Satisfaction of Teachers in the Philippines during the Pandemic .......1
Jem Cloyd M. Tanucan, Crislee V. Negrido, Grace N. Malaga
Unpacking Determinants of Middle-School Children’s Direct Nature Experiences (DNEs): An Island Perspective
.................................................................................................................................................................................................19
Faruhana Abdullah, Nor Asniza Ishak, Mohammad Zohir Ahmad
A Conceptual Model of Culture-Based English Learning Materials in Indonesia ....................................................... 50
Muhammad Lukman Syafii, Ghulam Asrofi Buntoro, Alip Sugianto, Nurohman ., Sutanto
Alternative Digital Credentials: UAE’s First Adopters’ Design, Development, and Implementation Part (1) ........ 64
El-Farra Samar
Academic Dishonesty and the Fraud Diamond: A Study on Attitudes of UAE Undergraduate Business Students
during the COVID-19 Pandemic......................................................................................................................................... 88
Omar Al Serhan, Roudaina Houjeir, Mariam Aldhaheri
Through the Lens of Virtual Students: Challenges and Opportunities ....................................................................... 109
Joseph A. Villarama, John Paul E. Santos, Joseph P. Adsuara, Jordan F. Gundran, Marius Engelbert Geoffrey C. Castillo
EFL Pre-service Teachers' Online Reading Strategy Use and their Insight into Teaching Reading ........................ 139
Anita Fatimatul Laeli, Slamet Setiawan, Syafi'ul Anam
Pre-service Teachers Reflection on their Undergraduate Educational Research Experience through Online
Instructional Delivery......................................................................................................................................................... 161
Marchee T. Picardal, Joje Mar P. Sanchez
Validating the Component of E-Learning Antecedents, Digital Readiness and Usage Behavior towards E-
Learning Performance: A Pilot Study .............................................................................................................................. 178
Mohamad Aidil Hasim, Juhaini Jabar, Atirah Sufian, Nor Fauziana Ibrahim
Exploring Challenges to Inclusion of Children with Intellectual Disabilities in Early Childhood Development in
Mutoko District, Zimbabwe .............................................................................................................................................. 195
Mercy Ncube, Mabatho Sedibe
Motivational and Perceptual Factors for Choosing Teaching as a Career in Chile: Sex Differences ....................... 212
Álvaro González Sanzana, Katherine Acosta García, Jorge Valenzuela Carreño, Jorge Miranda Ossandón, Lidia Valdenegro
Fuentes
Exploring Learners’ Experiences of Receiving Formative Written Assessment Feedback in Business Studies as a
Subject in South Africa....................................................................................................................................................... 228
Preya Pillay, Raudina Balele
The Analysis of Natural Science Lesson-Plans Integrating the Principles of Transformative Pedagogy ............... 249
Wiets Botes, Emma Barnett
The Impact of Metalanguage on EFL Learners' Grammar Recognition ...................................................................... 265
Abuelgasim Sabah Elsaid Mohammed, Abdulaziz B Sanosi
The Implementation of Assistive Technology with a Deaf Student with Autism...................................................... 280
Asma Alzahrani
Student Perceptions of Covid-19 Induced E-Learning in State Universities In Zimbabwe ...................................... 296
Ashton Mudzingiri, Sanderson Abel, Tafirenyika Mafugu
Exploring Numeracy Skills of Lower Secondary School Students in Mountainous Areas of Northern Vietnam .309
Thi Ha Cao, Huu Chau Nguyen, Xuan-Cuong Dang, Cam Tho Chu, Tuan Anh Le, Thi Thu Huong Le
Innate Mathematical Characteristics and Number Sense Competencies of Junior High School Students ............. 325
Raymundo A. Santos, Leila M. Collantes, Edwin D. Ibañez, Florante P. Ibarra, Jupeth T. Pentang
Exploring the Educational Value of Indo-Harry Potter to Design Foreign Language Learning Methods and
Techniques........................................................................................................................................................................... 341
Mega Febriani Sya, Novi Anoegrajekti, Ratna Dewanti, Bambang Heri Isnawan
Bridging Culture and Science Education: Implications for Research and Practice .................................................... 362
Izzah Mardhiya Mohammad Isa, Muhammad Abd Hadi Bunyamin, Fatin Aliah Phang
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a Teaching and Learning Tool: A Study of Students’
Readiness and Satisfaction................................................................................................................................................. 381
Rozaini Ahmad, Usha Nagasundram, Mohamed Nadzri Mohamed Sharif, Yazilmiwati Yaacob, Malissa Maria Mahmud,
Noor Syazwani Ishak, Muhamad Safwan Mohd A’seri, Ismail Ibrahim
Gender Differences in High School Students’ Beliefs about Mathematical Problem Solving ..................................395
Edgar John Sintema, Thuthukile Jita
Teachers’ Perceived Enacted Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Biology at Selected Secondary Schools in
Lusaka .................................................................................................................................................................................. 418
Thumah Mapulanga, Gilbert Nshogoza, Ameyaw Yaw
The Influence of Socio-Affective Learning and Metacognition Levels on EFL Listening and Speaking Skills in
Online Learning ..................................................................................................................................................................436
Titis Sulistyowati, Januarius Mujianto, Dwi Rukmini, Rudi Hartono

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IJLTER.ORG Vol 21 No 10 October 2022

  • 1. International Journal of Learning, Teaching And Educational Research p-ISSN: 1694-2493 e-ISSN: 1694-2116 IJLTER.ORG Vol.21 No.10
  • 2. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 10 (October 2022) Print version: 1694-2493 Online version: 1694-2116 IJLTER International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 10 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically those of translation, reprinting, re-use of illustrations, broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar means, and storage in data banks. Society for Research and Knowledge Management
  • 3. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal which has been established for the dissemination of state-of-the-art knowledge in the fields of learning, teaching and educational research. Aims and Objectives The main objective of this journal is to provide a platform for educators, teachers, trainers, academicians, scientists and researchers from over the world to present the results of their research activities in the following fields: innovative methodologies in learning, teaching and assessment; multimedia in digital learning; e-learning; m-learning; e-education; knowledge management; infrastructure support for online learning; virtual learning environments; open education; ICT and education; digital classrooms; blended learning; social networks and education; e- tutoring: learning management systems; educational portals, classroom management issues, educational case studies, etc. Indexing and Abstracting The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is indexed in Scopus since 2018. The Journal is also indexed in Google Scholar and CNKI. All articles published in IJLTER are assigned a unique DOI number.
  • 4. Foreword We are very happy to publish this issue of the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research. The International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research is a peer-reviewed open-access journal committed to publishing high-quality articles in the field of education. Submissions may include full-length articles, case studies and innovative solutions to problems faced by students, educators and directors of educational organisations. To learn more about this journal, please visit the website http://www.ijlter.org. We are grateful to the editor-in-chief, members of the Editorial Board and the reviewers for accepting only high quality articles in this issue. We seize this opportunity to thank them for their great collaboration. The Editorial Board is composed of renowned people from across the world. Each paper is reviewed by at least two blind reviewers. We will endeavour to ensure the reputation and quality of this journal with this issue. Editors of the October 2022 Issue
  • 5. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 10 October 2022 Table of Contents Digital Leadership of School Heads and Job Satisfaction of Teachers in the Philippines during the Pandemic .......1 Jem Cloyd M. Tanucan, Crislee V. Negrido, Grace N. Malaga Unpacking Determinants of Middle-School Children’s Direct Nature Experiences (DNEs): An Island Perspective .................................................................................................................................................................................................19 Faruhana Abdullah, Nor Asniza Ishak, Mohammad Zohir Ahmad A Conceptual Model of Culture-Based English Learning Materials in Indonesia ....................................................... 50 Muhammad Lukman Syafii, Ghulam Asrofi Buntoro, Alip Sugianto, Nurohman ., Sutanto Alternative Digital Credentials: UAE’s First Adopters’ Design, Development, and Implementation Part (1) ........ 64 El-Farra Samar Academic Dishonesty and the Fraud Diamond: A Study on Attitudes of UAE Undergraduate Business Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic......................................................................................................................................... 88 Omar Al Serhan, Roudaina Houjeir, Mariam Aldhaheri Through the Lens of Virtual Students: Challenges and Opportunities ....................................................................... 109 Joseph A. Villarama, John Paul E. Santos, Joseph P. Adsuara, Jordan F. Gundran, Marius Engelbert Geoffrey C. Castillo EFL Pre-service Teachers' Online Reading Strategy Use and their Insight into Teaching Reading ........................ 139 Anita Fatimatul Laeli, Slamet Setiawan, Syafi'ul Anam Pre-service Teachers Reflection on their Undergraduate Educational Research Experience through Online Instructional Delivery......................................................................................................................................................... 161 Marchee T. Picardal, Joje Mar P. Sanchez Validating the Component of E-Learning Antecedents, Digital Readiness and Usage Behavior towards E- Learning Performance: A Pilot Study .............................................................................................................................. 178 Mohamad Aidil Hasim, Juhaini Jabar, Atirah Sufian, Nor Fauziana Ibrahim Exploring Challenges to Inclusion of Children with Intellectual Disabilities in Early Childhood Development in Mutoko District, Zimbabwe .............................................................................................................................................. 195 Mercy Ncube, Mabatho Sedibe Motivational and Perceptual Factors for Choosing Teaching as a Career in Chile: Sex Differences ....................... 212 Álvaro González Sanzana, Katherine Acosta García, Jorge Valenzuela Carreño, Jorge Miranda Ossandón, Lidia Valdenegro Fuentes Exploring Learners’ Experiences of Receiving Formative Written Assessment Feedback in Business Studies as a Subject in South Africa....................................................................................................................................................... 228 Preya Pillay, Raudina Balele The Analysis of Natural Science Lesson-Plans Integrating the Principles of Transformative Pedagogy ............... 249
  • 6. Wiets Botes, Emma Barnett The Impact of Metalanguage on EFL Learners' Grammar Recognition ...................................................................... 265 Abuelgasim Sabah Elsaid Mohammed, Abdulaziz B Sanosi The Implementation of Assistive Technology with a Deaf Student with Autism...................................................... 280 Asma Alzahrani Student Perceptions of Covid-19 Induced E-Learning in State Universities In Zimbabwe ...................................... 296 Ashton Mudzingiri, Sanderson Abel, Tafirenyika Mafugu Exploring Numeracy Skills of Lower Secondary School Students in Mountainous Areas of Northern Vietnam .309 Thi Ha Cao, Huu Chau Nguyen, Xuan-Cuong Dang, Cam Tho Chu, Tuan Anh Le, Thi Thu Huong Le Innate Mathematical Characteristics and Number Sense Competencies of Junior High School Students ............. 325 Raymundo A. Santos, Leila M. Collantes, Edwin D. Ibañez, Florante P. Ibarra, Jupeth T. Pentang Exploring the Educational Value of Indo-Harry Potter to Design Foreign Language Learning Methods and Techniques........................................................................................................................................................................... 341 Mega Febriani Sya, Novi Anoegrajekti, Ratna Dewanti, Bambang Heri Isnawan Bridging Culture and Science Education: Implications for Research and Practice .................................................... 362 Izzah Mardhiya Mohammad Isa, Muhammad Abd Hadi Bunyamin, Fatin Aliah Phang Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a Teaching and Learning Tool: A Study of Students’ Readiness and Satisfaction................................................................................................................................................. 381 Rozaini Ahmad, Usha Nagasundram, Mohamed Nadzri Mohamed Sharif, Yazilmiwati Yaacob, Malissa Maria Mahmud, Noor Syazwani Ishak, Muhamad Safwan Mohd A’seri, Ismail Ibrahim Gender Differences in High School Students’ Beliefs about Mathematical Problem Solving ..................................395 Edgar John Sintema, Thuthukile Jita Teachers’ Perceived Enacted Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Biology at Selected Secondary Schools in Lusaka .................................................................................................................................................................................. 418 Thumah Mapulanga, Gilbert Nshogoza, Ameyaw Yaw The Influence of Socio-Affective Learning and Metacognition Levels on EFL Listening and Speaking Skills in Online Learning ..................................................................................................................................................................436 Titis Sulistyowati, Januarius Mujianto, Dwi Rukmini, Rudi Hartono
  • 7. 1 ©Authors This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research Vol. 21, No. 10, pp. 1-18, October 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.10.1 Received Au 4, 2022; Revised Oct 8, 2022; Accepted Oct 19, 2022 Digital Leadership of School Heads and Job Satisfaction of Teachers in the Philippines during the Pandemic Jem Cloyd M. Tanucan* Cebu Normal University, Cebu City, Philippines Crislee V. Negrido Talisay City National High School, Talisay City, Cebu, Philippines Grace N. Malaga Cebu Normal University, Cebu City, Philippines Abstract. This study examines school heads' digital leadership as a predictor of teachers' job satisfaction in the Philippines during the pandemic. A total of 520 public school teachers across the 16 regions of the country answered the validated online survey questionnaires between March and May 2022. With the descriptive-predictive research design, descriptive statistics, and regression analysis, the study finds that school heads have a satisfactory level of digital leadership as perceived by their teachers. This finding suggests that Filipino school heads can, at least to a satisfactory level, guide their schools and stakeholders toward digital transformation to remain adaptable and competitive in a rapidly changing digital and social media landscape. Furthermore, Filipino teachers experienced satisfactory job satisfaction during the pandemic, which suggests that they continue to cope with and adapt to the new work and educational changes despite the plethora of challenges and transitions. Finally, this study reveals that school heads' digital leadership predicts teachers' job satisfaction. When leaders are competent to lead and model in the digital age, their subordinates become more satisfied with their work. Therefore, training programs for improving school heads' digital leadership are necessary to enhance their teachers' job satisfaction, especially since technology plays a significant part in diverse educational activities. Keywords: digital leadership; job satisfaction; Philippines; school heads; teachers * Corresponding author: Jem Cloyd M. Tanucan, tanucanj@cnu.edu.ph
  • 8. 2 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 1. Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the education system with changes in the teaching and learning process, professional development, communication, and management (Tanucan & Uytico, 2021). The abrupt use and integration of digital tools and platforms, especially in countries with technological gaps, have complicated the teaching and learning process. Nevertheless, learning and work continue amid all the issues and challenges, and everyone in school has to utilize the necessary technologies and other tools for digital communication in their daily activities. Digitalization became the answer to addressing the inability to hold face-to-face classes effectively and efficiently as well as improving the administration and supervision of schools (Babacan & Dogru, 2022). The role of school heads in this situation is crucial. They must fill in whatever knowledge and skill gaps they may have to be more equipped to achieve digital transformation in schools (Aksal, 2015). They must also take on the mantle of more technologically inclined leadership to help teachers and stakeholders utilize digital tools and other technological platforms in their educational activities (Karakose et al., 2021). Furthermore, they must act as digital leaders to provide the necessary skills and knowledge for a 21st-century education to harness digital transformations in schools (Veguilla-Martinez et al., 2022). This situation instigated the discussion on digital leadership, especially since education and administrative practices are increasingly technologically integrated. Digitalization in schools is deliberately becoming the norm (Ainslee, 2018). Among many other efforts towards digitalization, schools' roadmap includes utilizing various online learning platforms, digital textbooks, and digitized administrative activities. This period of transformation lays the foundation for a world where education becomes more accessible and available as long as digital and technological infrastructure and resources are prepared (Tanucan, 2019; Tanucan & Hernani, 2018). With this change comes the concept of digital leadership that can thrive in a digital environment where technology-oriented abilities support effective management and teamwork (Abbu & Gopalakrishna, 2021; Bresciani et al., 2021). According to Waldron (2021), digital leadership is a new management approach that supports and propels digital change in organizations to enhance the flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness of transactions and procedures. This idea corroborates the explanation of De Araujo et al. (2021) that digital leadership is the ability of leaders to develop an insightful vision for the application, adoption, and promotion of technology at work. Likewise, it exhibits the ability of leaders to develop, manage, guide, and apply information and communications technology (ICT) for further improvement of institutions (Chin, 2010). Furthermore, digital leadership can initiate sustainable change (Trenerry et al., 2021) as it is known to be a cross-hierarchical, team- oriented, and suitable type of leadership (Oberer & Erkollar, 2018). Hence, school leaders with digital leadership can guide schools and their stakeholders toward digital transformation to be adaptable and remain competitive in a rapidly changing digital and social media landscape. In this situation, school leaders have to be guided by a set of standards of digital leadership so they can benchmark good practices and develop the essential abilities to harness digital transformation in their respective institutions.
  • 9. 3 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has been conducting international-level research on the standardization of technology-oriented skills for the successful and long-lasting integration of technology in education for various groups (students, educators, coaches, and educational leaders) (ISTE, 2022). The ISTE standards have been acknowledged by various researchers in different nations, as seen in their studies that integrated the concept (e.g., Baek & Sung, 2020; Gomez et al., 2022; Kimm et al., 2020; Vucaj, 2020). More specifically, the latest standards for educational leaders of ISTE involve five areas: Equity and Citizenship Advocate, Visionary Planner, Empowering Leader, Systems Designer, and Connected Learner (ISTE, 2022). These standards serve as a framework for the digital education age, no matter where school heads are on the journey to integrate and promote technology in education. With the standards set for school heads to embrace (Van Wart, 2017), they would be more capable of defining and executing a radical change strategy to harness digital transformation in their institutions rather than simply digitizing their work and operations. Defining the standards for using technology in education would provide teaching and learning that are more creative and successful for the twenty-first century (Sam, 2011). It would also help school leaders set expectations for technology use and support rapid-cycle evaluation of technology benefits in teaching, learning, and administrative functions (Arinto et al., 2020). However, studies that use the latest ISTE standards to examine school heads' digital leadership are scarce. Thus, one of the objectives of this study is to respond to this matter. In the Philippines, digitalization has slowly been changing the landscape of the country's education. During the pandemic, education from the primary to tertiary levels employed various teaching and learning methods that involved technology, which helped ensure the continuity of students' learning and employees' work. In particular, the Department of Education (DepEd) implemented the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) at the basic education level (DepEd, 2020). The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) also fortified the inherent academic freedom of higher education institutions to adopt the necessary learning strategy to continue education at the tertiary level (CHED, 2020). These initiatives have integrated e-learning, distance learning, and other alternative delivery methods into education. Additionally, the country is beginning to digitalize its educational practices with the launch of numerous initiatives such as DepEd Commons, DepEd TV, DepEd Radio, DepEd Learning Management System, and DepEd Mobile App, among others (Ponti, 2021; Hernando-Malipot, 2021). Such initiatives have helped mobilize the utilization of digital platforms and other technologies in classrooms. Likewise, they have been instrumental in supplementing the modular learning adopted by public schools to enhance student learning in various subject areas during the pandemic (Cho et al., 2021; Potane, 2022). Accordingly, the country's education is starting to focus on using ICT through the Digital Rise Program which equips classrooms, teachers, and students with online learning resources (Llego, 2020). Filipinos are among the world's most active Internet and social media users (Baclig, 2022), which are vital components for digital transformation in education.
  • 10. 4 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter With the country’s efforts toward digitalizing schools, school heads must point the way forward in establishing a digital culture in schools to utilize their digital opportunities fully. Creating a digital culture in schools needs digital resources, such as leaders with developed digital leadership skills, to move it toward its successful implementation (Pendry & Salvatore, 2015). However, this endeavor could be a challenge, particularly in light of the numerous obstacles that prevent the country from fully utilizing and integrating technology in education. Without the necessary digital infrastructure and school leaders with the skills to use and model technology use and integration, schools and their stakeholders could hardly imbibe a culture of innovation and collaboration. The study by Dotong et al. (2016) identified insufficient financial and infrastructure support, human capital, management support, and behavioral and environmental factors as barriers to using and integrating technology in education. Tanucan et al. (2021) also identified that age is a significant factor for teachers conducting remote digital teaching. Hence, there is a need for substantial training for senior teachers who are not technologically inclined or adept. The Philippines' inadequate digital infrastructure, outdated technology, and slow Internet connectivity (Salac & Kim, 2016; World Bank, 2020), coupled with the traditional mindset of school principals, were significant factors for the lack of technical staff for maintaining computers and computer networks, and providing support for Internet-related activities (UNESCO-UIS., 2014). This finding corroborates the study by Hero (2020) citing that principals' technological leadership does not influence teachers' technological leadership, implying that principals fell short in modeling and empowering their teachers in integrating technology into their functions. This situation would help explain why only a meager 23 percent of leaders in the Philippines considered themselves influential leaders in the digital era, as indicated in the Global Leadership Forecast 2018 (Development Dimensions International, 2018). In light of these convoluted concerns, training programs that aim to improve school heads' digital leadership are justified. The problem is that the country's programs to capacitate or improve school leaders, particularly in their digital leadership, vis-à-vis identified standards such as the ISTE standards for education leaders, have not been deliberately emphasized. The recent study by Arinto et al. (2020) recommended the same idea, emphasizing the need for school leaders in the country to take the lead in setting expectations for technology use and supporting rapid-cycle evaluation of technology benefits following a set of standards determined by the national office of education. Failure to do so may adversely impact teachers' job satisfaction, the significant rise in stress and burnout (Zhai & Du, 2020), and the digital divide in the academic community (Talandron-Felipe, 2020). Teachers' job satisfaction plays a crucial role that can affect the completion of various curricula regardless of the learning platform (Li & Yu, 2022). It is also crucial for students' overall learning (Devi & Soni, 2013) and schools' attainment of their objectives and overall growth (Jun, 2015; Sahito & Vaisanen, 2020).
  • 11. 5 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Compared with traditional face-to-face teaching, teachers' situations become more challenging owing to their complex professional roles, disturbed job satisfaction levels, and lack of digital literacy during the pandemic (Li & Yu, 2022). Recently, several studies have started examining teachers' job satisfaction, with some primarily concerned with the predictors, variables, and degrees of job satisfaction (e.g., Gómez-Leal et al., 2022; Hewett & La Paro, 2020; Richards et al., 2019). However, recent studies have examined digital leadership's role in job satisfaction. Matriadi et al. (2021) found that digital leadership positively and significantly affected employee job satisfaction in an energy company. Srimata et al. (2019) also found that school heads' digital leadership components significantly influenced teachers' school climate and engagement, suggesting that teachers experienced a degree of satisfaction in their job. Pasolong et al. (2021) explained digital leadership's role in inspiring employees to innovate and defend their ideas, making them feel satisfied in their jobs. The concept of Frederick Hertzberg's two- factor theory (also called Motivator Hygiene Theory) also explains the value of satisfaction in the workplace, particularly the role of leadership or management in engendering employee satisfaction (Lee et al., 2022). Other related studies described how employees' perceptions of digital leadership positively and significantly affected their work behavior, giving them more favorable job satisfaction and improved performance (Hamzah et al., 2021; Marbawi et al., 2022; Muniroh et al., 2021). Altogether, the literature points to the idea that digital leadership is a way of supporting employees, including teachers, to appreciate what they have been doing. The Philippines is already on its way to digitalizing its education practices and operations. However, it needs substantial studies to help educational leaders craft training initiatives that will hone the digital leadership of school heads. To the researchers' knowledge, there is a gap in the literature that examines the level of digital leadership among school heads in the country and its link to teachers' job satisfaction. Hence, this study aimed to examine the digital leadership of school heads as a predictor of the job satisfaction of teachers in the Philippines. The objectives below guided the researchers to achieve the aim mentioned above. 1. Determine the level of digital leadership of school heads; 2. Ascertain the level of job satisfaction among teachers; and 3. Examine the digital leadership of school heads as a predictor of teachers' job satisfaction. 2. Methodology This study followed a descriptive-predictive design as the analysis of the variables relevant to the aim of the study was carried out by employing descriptive and predictive quantitative methods. The study specifically sought to describe school heads' levels of digital leadership and job satisfaction among teachers. Furthermore, it examined the digital leadership of school heads as a predictor of teachers' job satisfaction. The data collection was done between March and May 2022, two years after COVID-19 had been declared a pandemic.
  • 12. 6 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The respondents were the 520 public school teachers across the 16 regions of the Philippines. They were selected based on convenience sampling, as this study employed data collection via online platforms, making it difficult to control the population parameters fully. However, this sampling method effectively achieved the study's objectives, as it allowed for the widespread dissemination of the questionnaire during the pandemic when direct contact and social interaction were discouraged. Additionally, the use of the Internet has significantly increased, making it easier to reach the respondents of this study. The computed sample size using the Raosoft® software for the unknown population was 377 after calculating the 95% confidence interval, a 50% response distribution rate, a 5% margin of error, and 20,000 pre-set numbers for the unknown population. However, there was a high turnover in the survey, which led the researchers to prefer 520 respondents as their sample size. Table 1 presents the distribution of respondents from the country's different regions. Table 1: Distribution of respondents by region Demographic Variables Number of Respondents Percent Region I - Ilocos Region 29 5.58 Region II - Cagayan Valley 28 5.38 Region III - Central Luzon 26 5.00 Region IV-A – Calabarzon ALABARZON 26 5.00 Region IV-B – Mimaropa IMAROPA 30 5.77 Region V - Bicol Region 28 5.38 Region VI - Western Visayas 32 6.15 Region VII - Central Visayas 40 7.69 Region VIII - Eastern Visayas 29 5.58 Region IX - Zamboanga Peninsula 31 5.96 Region X - Northern Mindanao 34 6.54 Region XI - Davao Region 41 7.88 Region XII – Soccks OCCSKSARGEN 31 5.96 Region XIII – Caraga Administrative Region 33 6.35 Cordillera Administrative Region 40 7.69 National Capital Region 42 8.08 Total 520 100
  • 13. 7 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter On the other hand, Table 2 shows the demographic profiles of the respondents. In terms of gender, the distribution of the respondents has a male population comparable to its female counterpart. Moreover, most of them are between 25 to 35 years old, with a bachelor’s degree as their highest educational attainment, and with at least five years of teaching experience. Table 2: Demographic profiles of respondents Demographic Variables Frequency Percent Gender Male 262 50.38 Female 258 49.62 Years of service 1 - 5 years 208 40.00 6 -10 years 210 40.38 10+ years and above 102 19.62 Highest Educational Attainment Bachelor's degree 335 64.42 Master's degree 120 23.08 Doctoral degree 65 12.5 Age 25 - 35 years old 208 40.00 36 - 44 years old 151 29.04 45 - 54 years old 121 23.27 55- 64 years old 40 7.69 n = 520 The data-gathering procedure followed five phases: Phase 1: Identification of questionnaires that measure the variables of the study; Phase 2: Validation of the identified questionnaires guided by three education experts; Phase 3: Pilot testing of questionnaires to determine their internal reliability consistency; Phase 4: Implementing the questionnaires through an online survey in a Google Form distributed via social media groups and institutional websites; and Phase 5: Screening of gathered data. In Phase 1, the study used two questionnaires: the ISTE standards for education leaders (ISTE, 2022) to measure school heads' levels of digital leadership; and the Teacher Job Satisfaction Scale of Pepe et al. (2017) to measure teachers' level of job satisfaction. In Phase 2, the identified questionnaires underwent a series of reviews by three education experts to ensure that each item aligns with the intended concepts of the study's variables and the respondents'
  • 14. 8 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter context and culture. In Phase 3, the computation of the questionnaires' Cronbach's alpha ratings commenced after the pilot testing. A total of 30 respondents, who were public school teachers, were invited to participate in the pilot testing of the questionnaires. The ISTE standards for education leaders' questionnaire achieved a Cronbach's alpha rating of .87, and the Teacher Job Satisfaction Scale had a Cronbach's alpha rating of .86. Both ratings indicate high internal reliability consistency. In Phase 4, the prospective respondents answered the questionnaires distributed online via social media groups and institutional websites. Before answering the questionnaire, the respondents had to read the essential ethical protocols to which the study adhered, which include the purpose of the research, informed consent, and respect for autonomy and confidentiality. The respondents could choose whether to participate in the study or not. In Phase 5, screening of the gathered data commenced by excluding incomplete surveys and those whose responders were not legitimate, regular DepEd teachers. The responses were kept private in a computer file that could only be unlocked using a password. The SPSS software version 26 (SPSS 26.0 IBM Corporation, Armonk, New York, USA) analyzed the data, particularly the descriptive statistics and the regression analysis. The p < .05 was considered statistically significant. 3. Results The findings in Table 3 showed that teachers have a satisfactory level of perception regarding the digital leadership of their school heads. Accordingly, all the five areas of digital leadership, such as Equity and Citizenship Advocate, Visionary Planner, Empowering Leader, Systems Designer, and Connected Learner, received a satisfactory rating. Table 3: Teachers’ level of perception of their school heads’ digital leadership Digital Leadership of School Heads Min. Max. Mean SD Equity and Citizenship 1.25 4.00 3.506 0.436 Visionary Planner 1.60 4.00 3.332 0.420 Empowering Leader 1.40 4.00 3.482 0.443 Systems Designer 1.06 4.00 3.266 0.614 Connected Learner 1.00 4.00 3.486 0.437 Total Mean Score 3.41 = Satisfactory Note: n = 520. Confidence interval; 3.51 – 4.00: Very satisfactory, 2.51 – 3.50: Satisfactory, 1.51 – 2.50: Unsatisfactory, and 1.00 – 1.50: Very unsatisfactory On the other hand, the findings in Table 4 showed that teachers have a satisfactory level of job satisfaction, with satisfaction with co-workers having the highest mean score (M = 3.775, SD = 0.378) and satisfaction with parents having the lowest mean score (M = 3.075, SD = 0.566).
  • 15. 9 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Table 4: Teachers’ level of perception of their school heads’ digital leadership Job Satisfaction of Teachers Min. Max. Mean SD Satisfaction with Co-workers 2.00 4.00 3.775 0.378 Satisfaction with Students' Behaviors 2.00 4.00 3.627 0.484 Satisfaction with Parents 1.00 4.00 3.075 0.566 Total Mean Score 3.49: Satisfactory Note: n = 520. Confidence interval; 3.51 – 4.00: Very satisfactory, 2.51 – 3.50: Satisfactory, 1.51 – 2.50: Unsatisfactory, and 1.00 – 1.50: Very unsatisfactory Finally, as shown in Table 5, the regression analysis is statistically significant on the grounds that the F-ratio = 47.601, R2 = 0.562, ΔR2 = 0.316, p < 0.05. Additionally, the value of R2 is 0.562, demonstrating that this model accounts for 56% of the variance of teachers’ job satisfaction. The regression analysis displayed that all five areas of digital leadership were found to be predictors and have a substantial positive influence on teachers’ job satisfaction. Among these predictors, Systems Designer (SD) (β = 0.243, B = 0.140, SE = 0.026, CI = 0.089 – 0.191, t-value = 5.398, p < 0.05) was indicated as the strongest predictor, followed by Equity and Citizenship Advocate (ECA) (β = 0.132, B = 0.108, SE = 0.038, CI = 0.032 – 0.183, t-value = 2.798, p < 0.05), Connected Learner (CL) (β = 0.128, B = 0.103, SE = 0.040, CI = 0.025 – 0.182, t-value = 2.601, p < 0.05), Visionary Planner (VP) (β = 0.125, B = 0.106, SE = 0.040, CI = 0.027 – 0.184, t-value = 2.655, p < 0.05), and Empowering Leader (EL) (β = .103, B = 0.082, SE = 0.037, CI = 0.010 – 0.155, t- value = 2.223, p < 0.05) respectively. Table 5: Regression analysis indicating the role of school heads’ digital leadership in predicting teachers’ job satisfaction Model Unstandar dized Coefficients Max. Standar dized Coefficie nts T Sig 95% Confidence Interval for B 𝑹𝟐 ∆𝑹𝟐 F Sig. B SE Β Lower Upper (Consta nt) 1.658 .131 .132 12.645 0.000 1.401 1.916 0.562 0.316 47.601 0.000 ECA .108 .038 .125 2.798 0.005 .032 .183 VP .106 .040 .103 2.655 0.008 .027 .184 EL .082 .037 .243 2.223 0.027 .010 .155 SD .140 .026 .128 5.398 0.000 .089 .191 CL .103 .040 .132 2.601 0.010 .025 .182 Note: n = 520. ECA – Equity and Citizenship Advocate; VP – Visionary Planner; EL – Empowering Leader; SD – Systems Designer; and CL – Connected Learner
  • 16. 10 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 4. Discussion An analysis of the survey showed the digital leadership of school heads and teachers' job satisfaction during the pandemic. It also showed the regression analysis, which examined the school heads' digital leadership as a predictor of teachers' job satisfaction. 4.1 Digital Leadership of School Heads The findings in Table 3 indicated that teachers have a satisfactory level of perception about the digital leadership of their school heads. Accordingly, all five digital leadership areas have a satisfactory rating. This finding suggests that school heads in the Philippines can, at least to a satisfactory level, guide their schools and stakeholders toward digital transformation to remain adaptable and competitive in a rapidly changing digital and social media landscape. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digitalization of the education sector has become indispensable with the rapid adoption of digital and distant work setups (Tanucan et al., 2021; Tanucan & Uytico, 2021). School heads in this situation have had to fill in whatever knowledge and skill gaps they may have to be better equipped to achieve digital growth in schools (Aksal, 2015). They also have taken on the mantle of a more technologically inclined leadership to help teachers and stakeholders utilize digital tools and other technological platforms (Karakose et al., 2021). Furthermore, they served as digital leaders to their subordinates, providing the necessary skills and knowledge for a 21st-century education to harness digital transformations in schools (Veguilla-Martinez et al., 2022). However, having a sufficient level of digital leadership would need more enhancement, particularly in light of the numerous obstacles that prevent the country from fully utilizing and integrating technology in education. The study by Dotong et al. (2016) identified insufficient financial and infrastructure support, human capital, management support, and behavioral and environmental factors as barriers to using and integrating technology in education. Tanucan et al. (2021) also identified that age is a significant factor for teachers’ conducting remote digital teaching. Hence, there is a need for substantial training for senior teachers who are not technologically inclined or adept. The Philippines' inadequate digital infrastructure, outdated technology, and slow Internet connectivity were also significant issues (Salac & Kim, 2016; World Bank, 2020). The traditional mindset of school principals also hampers the full integration of technology in schools as they tend to devalue the role of ICT in education, leading to a lack of technical staff for maintaining computers and computer networks, as well as user support for Internet-related activities (UNESCO-UIS, 2014). In light of these convoluted concerns, training programs that aim to improve school heads' digital leadership are justified. The problem is that the country's programs to capacitate or improve school leaders, particularly in their digital leadership vis-à-vis identified standards such as the ISTE standards for education leaders, have not been deliberately emphasized. The recent study by Arinto et al. (2020) made the same recommendation, emphasizing the need for school leaders in the country to take the lead in setting expectations for technology use and
  • 17. 11 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter supporting rapid-cycle evaluation of technology benefits following a set of standards determined by the national office of education. Failure to do so may adversely impact teachers' job satisfaction, the significant rise in stress and burnout (Zhai & Du, 2020), and the digital divide in the academic community (Talandron-Felipe, 2020). Nevertheless, helping school heads strengthen their digital leadership would open up new prospects and opportunities in the education sector while also providing solutions to existing and emerging issues when harnessing digital transformation in schools (Karakose et al., 2021). 4.2 Job Satisfaction of Teachers The findings in Table 4 showed that teachers have a satisfactory level of job satisfaction, with satisfaction with co-workers having the highest score rating and satisfaction with parents having the lowest score rating. This finding implies that teachers in the Philippines are coping and adapting steadily to the new work and education despite the plethora of challenges and changes. Many reasons could contribute to the teachers' satisfaction. One could be the sense of networking and support they receive from their co-workers, as indicated in the findings. Numerous studies have stressed the value of having support from co-workers to combat feelings of isolation, mainly when working remotely (Mulki & Jaramillo, 2011). Sewell and Taskin (2015) also added that regular team communication was necessary to minimize any possible drawbacks of working remotely. In the Philippines, many public school teachers started physically reporting to school after a year of the pandemic, enabling them to work together and socialize. Another reason could be the various interventions and innovations to address the challenges of the pandemic and to capacitate teachers in using and integrating the necessary technologies and other tools for digital communication in their daily activities. The diverse in-service training provided to the teachers on topics such as capability-building training, use of technology, and student counseling was vital to respond to the academic challenges and meet several demands, including the socio-emotional demands of students and teachers alike (Darling-Hammond & Hyler, 2020; Tanucan & Uytico, 2021). The flexible learning options implemented by DepEd and CHED have also been relevant to continuing the education services of schools and universities while considering the health and safety of teachers, students, and other stakeholders (CHED, 2020; DepEd, 2020). This flexibility in education also considers each student's unique demands, learning preferences, rate of progress, and technology in education, thereby helping the teachers in the process. Moreover, the pandemic relief measures of the Philippine government such as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) contributed the lion's share of the money for educational initiatives in the public education sector, freeing up additional funds for the purchase of necessary instructional materials and the construction of pertinent infrastructure. Assistance was also given to teachers and students during the epidemic under the provisions of the Act mentioned above. Notably, the coming together of concerned agencies and individuals, whether from the government or private sector, has been instrumental in the survival of many Filipinos (Canete et al., 2021) and the continuation of education amid and beyond the pandemic (Dayagbil et al., 2021).
  • 18. 12 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Nevertheless, much work must be done for the country's education system to remain relevant, flexible, and resilient. A strong parent or stakeholder partnership with schools is crucial to this endeavor. As previously mentioned, this study's finding indicated a lower level of teachers' job satisfaction with parents compared to other job satisfaction constructs. This finding indicates that issues around parent-teacher or parent-school partnerships exist. According to De Dios (2022), Filipino parents seldom offer support or direction to their children in the remote learning environment because of their low educational background, limited subject knowledge, and low self-confidence in the teaching the learning process. Several technological and Internet-related constraints and difficulty in managing the work-home balance were also the common problems for parents (Palos- Simbre, 2021). Further, the lack of preparedness of parents for home-based learning is also a significant obstacle. In other countries, parental involvement in remote learning, including interventions to enhance parent-teacher communication, was necessary for the success of remote learning (Chen & Rivera- Vernazza, 2022; Knopik et al., 2021; Ricker et al., 2021). This shift in education from traditional teaching methods is a complex process that requires mutual communication and cooperation among various stakeholders, including parents (Tocalo, 2022). Hence, including parents' experiences and perspectives in decision-making, particularly in digitalizing education, is essential. 4.3 School heads’ digital leadership as a predictor of teachers’ job satisfaction The findings in Table 5 show that each area of the school heads' digital leadership significantly predicted teachers' job satisfaction. This finding demonstrates how school heads' ability to guide their schools and stakeholders toward digital transformation to remain adaptable and competitive in a digital and social media landscape could influence teachers' job satisfaction. This finding concurs with the study of Matriadi et al. (2021), which demonstrated how digital leadership positively and significantly influenced employee job satisfaction in an energy company. Likewise, it also conforms to the study of Srimata et al. (2019), which described how school heads' digital leadership components significantly influenced teachers' school climate and engagement, suggesting that teachers experienced a degree of satisfaction in their job. It also corroborates the finding of Pasolong et al. (2021), which explained the role of digital leadership in inspiring employees to innovate and defend their ideas, making them feel satisfied in their job. The finding also supports the concept of Frederick Hertzberg's two-factor theory, which explains the value of satisfaction in the workplace, particularly the role of leadership or management in spurring employee satisfaction (Lee et al., 2022). Finally, this study also corroborates related studies that describe how employees' perceptions of digital leadership positively and significantly affect their work behavior, giving them more favorable job satisfaction and improved performance (Hamzah et al., 2021; Marbawi et al., 2022; Muniroh et al., 2021). Teachers' job satisfaction should be highlighted in decision-making as it plays a crucial role that can affect the completion of various curricula regardless of the learning platform (Li & Yu, 2022). It is also crucial for students' overall learning (Devi & Soni, 2013) and schools' attainment of their objectives and overall growth
  • 19. 13 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter (Jun, 2015; Sahito & Vaisanen, 2020). School heads in this situation should harness their digital leadership skills to satisfy their teachers at work, especially since educational activities, including administrative functions, involve technology for more efficient and effective operations. Creating a digital culture needs digital resources that will move towards its successful implementation (Pendry & Salvatore, 2015). Such resources include the leaders who have exhibited qualities of digital leadership. School stakeholders could hardly imbibe a culture of innovation and collaboration without the necessary digital infrastructure and school leaders with the knowledge and skills to use and model technology use and integration. With the rapid move to remote work, organizations must facilitate simplified communication channels between geographically dispersed teams, often in different time zones (Waldron, 2021). The Philippines, being an archipelagic country, will ultimately benefit from having a pool of leaders with digital leadership skills. Moreover, the country is already on its way to digitalizing its education practices and operations by adopting e-learning, distance learning, and other alternative methods of delivery (CHED, 2020; DepEd, 2020). Likewise, the country is beginning to digitalize its educational practices with the launch of numerous initiatives such as DepEd Commons, DepEd TV, DepEd Radio, DepEd Learning Management System, and DepEd Mobile App, among others (Ponti, 2021; Hernando-Malipot, 2021). These initiatives have been instrumental in supplementing the modular learning adopted by public schools to enhance student learning in various subject areas during the pandemic (Cho et al., 2021; Potane, 2022). Moreover, the country's education is starting to focus on using ICT through the Digital Rise Program, which equips classrooms, teachers, and students with online learning resources (Llego, 2020). Furthermore, Filipinos are among the world's most active Internet and social media users (Baclig, 2022), which is a vital component in the digital transformation of education. 5. Conclusion and Recommendation The study revealed that Filipino school heads have a satisfactory level of digital leadership as perceived by their teachers. This finding suggests that school heads can, at least to a satisfactory level, guide their schools and stakeholders toward digital transformation to remain adaptable and competitive in a rapidly changing digital and social media landscape. Furthermore, Filipino teachers have satisfactory job satisfaction during the pandemic, which suggests that they are coping and adapting steadily to the new work and education despite the plethora of challenges and changes. Finally, this study reveals that school heads' digital leadership predicts teachers' job satisfaction. When leaders are competent to lead and model in the digital age, their subordinates will become more satisfied with their work. Therefore, training programs for improving school heads' digital leadership are necessary to enhance their teachers' job satisfaction, especially since technology plays a significant part in diverse educational activities. For future research, examining the socio-demographic profiles of school heads and teachers as a predictor of digital leadership may also substantiate the study's findings.
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  • 23. 17 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter teacher/coach job satisfaction. European Physical Education Review, 25(2), 389-408. https://doi.org/10.1177/1356336X17741402 Ricker, G., Belenky, D., & Koziarski, M. (2021). Are parents logged in? The importance of parent involvement in k-12 online learning. Journal of Online Learning Research, 7(2), 185-201. https://www.learntechlib.org/p/219541/ Sahito, Z., & Vaisanen, P. (2020). A literature review on teachers’ job satisfaction in developing countries: Recommendations and solutions for the enhancement of the job. Review of Education, 8(1), 3-34. https://doi.org/10.1002/rev3.3159 Salac, R. A., & Kim, Y.S. (2016). A study on the internet connectivity in the Philippines. Asia Pacific Journal of Business Review, 1(1), 67-88. https://doi.org/10.20522/APJBR.2016.1.1.67 Sam, D. (2011). Middle school teachers' descriptions of their level of competency in the national education technology standards for teachers [Doctoral dissertation, Johnson & Wales University] ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. https://www.proquest.com/docview/864734626 Sewell, G., & Taskin, L. (2015). Out of sight, out of mind in a new world of work? Autonomy, control, and spatiotemporal scaling in telework. Organization Studies, 36(11), 1507–1529. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840615593587 Srimata, T., Niyamabha, A., Wichitputchraporn, W., Piyapimonsit, C., Prachongchit, S., & Koedsuwan, S. (2019). A causal model of digital leadership and school climates with work engagement as mediator affecting effectiveness of private schools in Bangkok, Thailand. Asian Administration & Management Review, 2(2), 290-297. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3655032 Talandron-Felipe, M. M. P. (2020). The digital divide among students and support initiatives in the time of COVID-19. Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computers in Education, 2, 42-51. https://apsce.net/icce/icce2020/proceedings/W1-13/W1/ICCE2020- Proceedings-Vol2-7.pdf Tanucan, J.C.M. (2019). Pedagogical praxis of millennial teachers in mainstreamed physical education. International Journal of Advanced Research, 7(1) 54–562. http://dx.doi.org/10.21474/IJAR01/8361 Tanucan, J.C.M., & Hernani, M. R. (2018). Physical education curriculum in standard- based and competency-based education. International Journal of Health, Physical Education and Computer Science in Sports, 30(1), 26–33. http://www.ijhpecss.org/International_Journal_30.pdf Tanucan, J.C.M., Hernani, M. R., & Diano, F. (2021). Filipino physical education teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge on remote digital teaching. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 11(9), 416–423. https://doi.org/10.18178/ijiet.2021.11.9.1544 Tanucan, J.C.M., & Uytico, B. J. (2021). Webinar-based capacity building for teachers: “Lifeblood in facing the new normal of education”. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 29(2), 1035 -1053. https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.2.16 Tocalo, A. W. I. (2022). Listening to Filipino parents’ voices during distance learning of their children amidst COVID-19. Education 3-13, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2022.2100439 Trenerry, B., Chang, S., Wang, Y., Suhaila, Z., Lim, S., Lu, H., & Oh, P. (2021). Preparing workplaces for digital transformation: An integrative review and framework of multi-level factors. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 620766–620766. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.620766 UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UNESCO-UIS). (2014). Information and communication technology (ICT) in education in Asia: A comparative analysis of ICT integration and E- readiness in schools across Asia. http://dx.doi.org/10.15220/978-92-9189-148-1-en
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  • 25. 19 ©Authors This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research Vol. 21, No. 10, pp. 19-49, October 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.10.2 Received May 31, 2022; Revised Oct 14, 2022; Accepted Oct 19, 2022 Unpacking Determinants of Middle-School Children’s Direct Nature Experiences (DNEs): An Island Perspective Faruhana Abdullah Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia Maldives National University, Republic of Maldives Nor Asniza Ishak* Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia Mohammad Zohir Ahmad Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia Abstract. This study aimed to explore and understand the contextual factors that influence nature experiences amongst 11–12–year–old children in their local island environments of the Maldives. The study adopted a qualitative phenomenological approach using semi-structured focus group interviews, held online, with seven groups, one per island environment. A total of 34 children participated in the interviews, with 4– 6 children per group, recruited purposively based on inclusion criteria. The interviews were transcribed, and a thematic analysis was carried out. The analysis demonstrated that children’s nature experiences were primarily influenced by preferences, opportunities, constraints, and freedom, of which opportunities have the greatest influence. Similarly, constraints deter the use of available opportunities, regardless of where children live. Females appear to have more constraints on their nature experiences than males. Children must be facilitated with meaningful opportunities for DNEs to overcome constraints and motivate nature engagement. Schools must play a proactive role in facilitating these experiences to foster nature connections to ensure the success of their sustainability targeted curricular objectives. While the subject of DNEs has a wide place in the literature, the lack of studies in the field of education for sustainable development (ESD) increases the importance of this study. The findings can guide the promotion of ESD as a pathway to a sustainable future in the country. Future research should examine barriers to children’s DNEs at the school level. Keywords: children; contextual factors; direct nature experiences; island environments; Maldives * Corresponding author: Nor Asniza Ishak, asnizaishak@usm.my
  • 26. 20 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 1. Introduction A deficit of direct nature experiences (DNEs) and its consequences is the subject of current scholarly concern. DNEs, which involve direct contact or physical, multisensory engagements with natural elements (Beery & Lekies, 2021; Gaston & Soga, 2020) in childhood, are especially pivotal for establishing lasting human- nature relationships that underpin several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thus, efforts towards attaining sustainability must also focus on reconnecting people with nature (Charles et al., 2018; Ives et al., 2018). In particular, Goal 4 of the SDGs stipulates the necessity of inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning; Goal 4.7 targets promoting sustainable development (SD) through education for sustainable development (ESD). Thus, “this education and lifelong learning must necessarily be connected to the living earth” (Charles et al., 2018, p. 41). ESD embraces a transformative approach to teaching and learning that strives to equip learners with the competencies necessary for lifelong sustainable behaviours. Thus, schools in many countries – including Germany, Macau, the United States (Müller et al., 2021), Sweden and Japan (Fredriksson et al., 2020) – are embracing this approach to education. Promoting ESD is especially crucial for small island states such as the Maldives, which are the most vulnerable to the accelerating climate change crisis. In the Maldives, the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) provides a comprehensive framework for promoting ESD through its key competencies, learning areas, and pedagogical approaches (Di Biase et al., 2021). Particularly relevant to this study is its key competency, Using Sustainable Practices, which aims “to raise awareness to engage in sustainable practices and learn conservation for the future” (National Institute of Education [NIE], 2014, p. 19). It is envisaged that through this key competency, learners will acquire the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for taking care of their environment and will be motivated to become future stewards of the natural world. Meanwhile, scholars strongly recommend the improved application of learner-centered approaches as a basis for transitioning towards ESD in the Maldives (Di Biase et al., 2021). However, successful ESD also requires revising educational curricula with a view to increasing nature experiences to redress waning human-nature relationships (Ives et al., 2018; Selby, 2017). Yet, environmental education in the Maldives lacks experiential learning and a sense of place related to children’s local natural environment (N. Mohamed & Mohamed, 2021). Historically, rich everyday experiences with abundant natural surroundings have enabled Maldivian children to learn and connect with nature in a myriad of ways. This contextualized, experiential learning laid the groundwork for sustainable practices in the country. In contrast, disturbing trends towards a reduction in DNEs among children are emerging. For example, children learn about nature and its values primarily through schoolbooks that emphasize global knowledge (M. Mohamed, 2012). Generations of children are becoming separated from their traditional island lives, subsequently reducing their nature interactions. Observed unsustainable practices, including abuses of nature by today’s youth (M. Mohamed et al., 2019), suggest a progressive state of decline. Importantly, the frequency of children’s DNEs has been found to differ significantly based on
  • 27. 21 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter where they live, with children outside the capital city tending to experience nature more frequently (Abdullah et al., 2022a). While such trends have been attributed to factors such as migration to the capital for better childhood education (M. Mohamed, 2015; M. Mohamed et al., 2019) and differences in available opportunities (Abdullah et al., 2022a), the true determinants of DNEs among Maldivian children remain uncertain. Thus, this study aimed to explore and understand the contextual factors that influence nature experiences amongst 11– 12–year-old Maldivian children in their local island environments. 2. Literature Review 2.1 Worrying Trends in DNEs among Children Regular DNEs, particularly with children’s daily environments, can establish baselines of nature conceptions. A lack of positive DNEs or continuous exposure to nature destruction can cause negative shifts in the baselines of accepted nature norms, such as increased tolerance to environmental degradation that can worsen over time or with each generation (Papworth et al., 2009; Soga & Gaston, 2018). Thus, the progressive decline in human-nature interactions, or an extinction of experience in many countries, is deeply concerning (Colléony et al., 2020; Gaston & Soga, 2020; Soga & Gaston, 2016). Evidence supporting a decline in DNEs among children includes a reduction in time spent outdoors (Larson et al., 2018; Skar et al., 2016; Soga & Gaston, 2016), less free play in and use of nearby nature places (Gundersen et al., 2016) and reduced frequency of DNEs (Soga et al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2014). While this change is not always evident (Muslim et al., 2017), trends in nature experiences often depend on where children live. For instance, children in less urban areas tend to engage in more frequent DNEs than those in urban areas (Abdullah et al., 2022a; Muslim et al., 2019; Soga et al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2014). Furthermore, perceived negative trends may be related to the types of experiences rather than their frequency (Larson et al., 2018; Novotný et al., 2021). Concurrent with these debates are calls to increase childhood DNEs as a means to tackle the widening disconnect between people and nature and to ameliorate the ensuing negative effects (Charles et al., 2018). In order to do so meaningfully, it is first necessary to understand what factors influence children’s DNEs. 2.2 Determinants of DNEs among Children The main determinants of children’s DNEs are sometimes broadly categorized as opportunities or orientations (Soga et al., 2018; Soga & Gaston, 2016). Opportunities constitute possibilities for interactions with nature in terms of time and space (Soga et al., 2018) that tend to decline with urbanization (Imai et al., 2018; Muslim et al., 2019; Mustapa et al., 2018; Soga et al., 2018; Zhang et al., 2014). Urbanization- imposed barriers to DNEs include a loss of access to nature due to a depletion of wildlife (Kai et al., 2014), increased distance to nature spaces (Colléony et al., 2020; Soga & Gaston, 2016), logistics of city design and spatial barriers (Kellert et al., 2017). Although cities can typically present more barriers to DNEs (Freeman et al., 2018), some may nevertheless offer ample opportunities for DNEs (Almeida et al., 2018; Charles et al., 2018; Freeman et al., 2018). Such findings demand serious consideration, given the long-term impacts of DNEs on learning and future global conservation (Kellert et al., 2017). In fact, the latter may increasingly depend on city dwellers’ connections with nature through interactions with urban species
  • 28. 22 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter found within city limits, a concept coined as the “Pigeon Paradox” (Dunn et al., 2006 p. 1814). Opportunities for children to experience nature are often hindered by the restrictions of everyday life, regardless of their natural surroundings. In this regard, parental involvement poses a primary deterrent to children’s DNEs by restricting children’s autonomy of movement ranges, destinations, time spent outdoors, and personal lifestyle (Freeman et al., 2018; Hand et al., 2018) as well as close supervision (Larson et al., 2011). These constraints may be related to traffic and safety concerns (Skar et al., 2016), socio-cultural values (Evans et al., 2018; Freeman et al., 2018, 2021; Soga et al., 2018) or both. Contrasting findings suggest contextual differences in restraints. For instance, time pressure due to organized activities and increased homework presents major barriers for Norwegian children’s DNEs (Skar et al., 2016), but not for Japanese children (Soga et al., 2018). Orientations involve feelings or emotions (Soga & Gaston, 2016) that can dictate how opportunities are utilized (Hand et al., 2018; Larson et al., 2018; Soga et al., 2018; Soga & Gaston, 2016). A decline in DNEs among children is sometimes driven by a loss of orientation towards engaging with nature, rather than a loss of opportunities. A loss of orientation reflects a disconnect with nature that decreases motivation (Soga et al., 2018; Soga & Gaston, 2016) or biophilia that discourages engagement with biodiverse spaces (Hand et al., 2017). Notably, the latter view has been contested (Fattorini et al., 2017). The loss of orientation is often associated with manifestations of modernization, particularly increasingly sedentary lifestyles (Kellert et al., 2017) and substitution of DNEs with digitally-mediated engagements (Ballouard et al., 2011; Kellert et al., 2017). Sometimes, children prefer to engage in screen-based activities (Larson et al., 2018) or sports (Mustapa et al., 2018) rather than DNEs, even while outdoors. Nonetheless, children’s use of screen-based media is not always negatively associated with the extent of their DNEs (Soga et al., 2018). Other studies not only support a greater inclination towards indirect and vicarious nature experiences but also show that such experiences contribute more to children’s connectedness to nature (CTN) than DNEs (Mustapa et al., 2019). Additionally, family members’ attitudes, gender differences (Soga et al., 2018), and fear for personal safety, danger, and crime (Adams & Savahl, 2015) can influence children’s orientations towards nature. Undoubtedly, several contextual factors either impede or promote children’s DNEs. Identifying barriers is important as they often have deep-seated origins in children’s daily lives that marginalize DNEs and may be difficult to break down once they are established (Moss, 2012). However, to mitigate the reduction of nature experiences, it is also imperative to identify drivers that motivate children to engage with nature (Soga et al., 2018). In particular, culturally-rooted transformations must be identified in order to optimize nature connections (Novotný et al., 2021). Unpacking the determinants of DNEs is particularly crucial in the Maldives for several reasons. Limited studies suggest emerging negative trends in DNEs and
  • 29. 23 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter relationships with nature among Maldivians, entwined with transitioning from rural to urban areas and modern lifestyles that conflict with the intrinsic culture of the Maldives (M. Mohamed, 2012, 2015; M. Mohamed et al., 2019). Subsequently, the perceived value of nature is changing from sustainable resources to extractive uses or recreation (M. Mohamed, 2015). Unlike in the past, current nature interactions take a more formal route based on the NCF, aimed at inculcating robust pro-conservation competencies from childhood as a step towards attaining SD (NIE, 2014). However, engaging children in stimulating DNEs in formal, non-formal, or informal contexts can be particularly challenging considering the ever-increasing congestion, societal issues, and human-altered environments prevalent on most islands. As already noted, environmental studies in the Maldives lack direct, contextual experiential learning from local nature, which is critical for building children’s nature connections, knowledge, and values associated with local environments (M. Mohamed, 2012; N. Mohamed & Mohamed, 2021). Indeed, children’s DNEs have significant direct effects on their biodiversity knowledge and attitudes, which influence their willingness to conserve biodiversity. These effects can have implications for future biodiversity conservation (Abdullah et al., 2022b). Therefore, identifying the determinants of DNEs among Maldivian children is urgently needed to facilitate impactful DNEs, to bring about effective changes to current practices in an educational context, as well as to harness other benefits of these experiences. This study adds new knowledge to the understudied area of children’s DNEs in the context of small islands, especially the Maldives, which face multiple challenges to SD. In particular, while the subject of DNEs has a wide place in the literature and is an essential requisite for SD and ESD (Charles et al., 2018; Ives et al., 2018; Selby, 2017), the lack of literature from the perspective of children following a curriculum structured around ESD, as in the Maldives, increases the importance of this study. This study identified contextual determinants of DNEs among Maldivian children that are not well documented in literature. This information can contribute to enabling DNEs in nature spaces within everyday use areas through pedagogical shifts and informal means to foster strong connections with nature to achieve the sustainability-targeted goals of the Maldivian NCF as well as long-term SD. 2.3 Theoretical Framework This study, being part of an in-depth study of children’s DNEs in the Maldives, is primarily supported by the modified Experiential Learning Theory (Morris, 2019) and the model of modes of nature experiences and learning in childhood development (Kellert, 2005), both of which emphasize the importance of contexts of experiences in learning and outcomes. In this framework, the island environments where children reside provide the contexts of experiences and are expected to determine how children experience nature. The emphasis on contextually rich experiences is further supported by the philosophy of place- based education. Advocates of this philosophy recommend that place-based education should form the basis of environmental education, in which children are immersed in personal, real-world experiences of the local environment to enable them to truly understand, connect, and engage with local environmental problems for a sustainable future (Di Biase et al., 2021; N. Mohamed & Mohamed, 2021; Ontong & Grange, 2014).
  • 30. 24 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 3. Methodology This study employed a qualitative phenomenological approach to explore and understand the contextual factors that influence children’s nature experiences among middle-school children in their local islands of the Maldives. Children’s nature experiences are often influenced by their natural surroundings and personal circumstances and are subject to personal interpretation (Adams & Savahl, 2015; Freeman et al., 2018). To examine such phenomena, authors recommend using qualitative, open-ended approaches to data collection and analysis (Cohen et al., 2018; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018). This study used focus group interviews (FGIs) to gather data. FGIs involve a series of carefully planned open-ended, face-to-face interviews with a selected group of participants, aimed at eliciting personal views and opinions on the chosen topic (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018; Krueger & Casey, 2015) and gathering a large amount of rich data within a limited time frame (Krueger & Casey, 2015). 3.1 Study Locations This study was conducted on seven islands in the Maldives. Each island represents a different island environment (IE) type. The Maldives was chosen for this study, considering the lack of experiential learning of nature among Maldivian schoolchildren (N. Mohamed & Mohamed, 2021) and the significance of these experiences for successful ESD and SD. The island types were based on a combination of local natural spaces, island area, population density, and developmental criteria. The codes for the islands, their names, and their locations are shown in Figure 1. The codes are in order of decreasing population density and increasing natural spaces. Each island was expected to present specific contextual factors that influence children’s regular nature experiences. Note: IE- Island Environment or Island types Figure 1. The Study Sites in the Maldives
  • 31. 25 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 3.2 Participants and Sampling The sample for this study consisted of 34 children (15 males; 19 females), aged 11– 12 years, from public schools in the seven IEs. Public schools were chosen to ensure a common national curriculum and minimize the effects of pedagogical differences. Middle childhood (6–12) years are particularly suitable for studying DNEs because children of this age are the most responsive to nature experiences. They can interact with nature in multiple ways and levels that enhance positive outcomes (Little & Derr, 2018). Furthermore, responses increase from 7–10 years, peak at around 10 years, level off from 10–14 years and then decline (Otto et al., 2019). The age range of 11–12 years was chosen due to the assumption that children at the higher end of middle childhood would have greater independence to enjoy some unsupervised nature experiences. This is an important factor that influences positive outcomes (Freeman et al., 2018; Hand et al., 2018). Also, they may communicate more comprehensively than younger children. According to the literature, the recommended number of participants for focus group interviews (FGIs) varies from 4 to 12, depending on the study. Authors recommend including 6 – 8 (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018) or 5 – 8 (Krueger & Casey, 2015) participants per group. However, the purpose and nature of the study determines the sample size and type in qualitative research, rather than the numbers. Furthermore, since the aim of FGIs is to understand and gain insights regarding a situation rather than making generalizations, group composition is also often determined by the nature of the study. In this study, each focus group consisted of 4–6 children chosen purposively from one school on each island, based on inclusion criteria. The sample was homogenous in terms of age, fulfilling the most important inclusion criteria for children in FGIs (Krueger & Casey, 2015). Other inclusion criteria included knowledge, cognition, and communication levels (Gibson, 2007). These criteria were explained to the appropriate teachers in the schools, who screened and selected the participants. 3.3 Data Collection Tool Data for this study was gathered using semi-structured focus group interviews. The interview guide (see Appendix 1) consisted of seven key questions, which were mainly open-ended, aimed collectively and primarily to elicit subjective information on the contextual factors that influence children’s nature experiences on their island. One question used photographs of local nature places that children may encounter. The questions focused on what the children most commonly like to do with their time; favourite living things; favourite places to visit; surrounding nature places; what children do while in natural places; best things about natural places; and visits to specific places. Follow-up questions and probes were also used for clarification and detail. 3.4 Reliability and Validity Validity and reliability in qualitative research center around trustworthiness, or the confidence of readers in the findings of the study. The most widely used criteria to assure trustworthiness are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability, which were introduced by Lincoln and Guba in 1985. Each of
  • 32. 26 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter these criteria may be met using several strategies, which may overlap (Korstjens & Moser, 2018; Nowell et al., 2017). Credibility ensures the accuracy of findings (Korstjens & Moser, 2018). To this end, Leung (2015) recommends determining the suitability of the tools, processes, and data. Hence, prior to the interviews, the content validity of the interview guide was established by two independent experts who assessed the appropriateness of the questions for the targeted objectives. A pilot study was run to determine the suitability of the questions for children of this age and assess time requirements. This also gave insights into the researcher’s limitations as an interviewer and helped to ensure better engagement during the data collection. The interview transcripts were read repeatedly to become immersed in the data, thereby enhancing the credibility (see Korstjens & Moser, 2018). To ensure transferability, or its application in other contexts, rich, contextual descriptions of data and details of the study can be provided (Korstjens & Moser, 2018), as in this study. Dependability, which is closely linked to credibility, includes aspects of consistency or reliability. Dependability can be ensured through clear, logical documentation, while confirmability can be ascertained by establishing credibility, transferability, and dependability (Nowell et al., 2017). To enhance reliability, deviant cases were included (see Leung, 2015), and the data, process of data analysis, and product were rigorously verified for appropriateness and accuracy through constant comparison. To ensure trustworthiness, an audit trail of the coding process, including the derivation of themes and interpretation, was maintained along with definitions and exemplars (see Leung, 2015; Nowell et al., 2017). The quality of this process was further confirmed by two independent experts in the field. Because the data analysis was guided by Braun and Clarke’s (2013) thematic analysis framework, the experts used a checklist of 15 criteria, compiled by the same authors in this external audit. 3.5 Research Procedure This study was approved by the ethics committee of Universiti Sains Malaysia. Permissions were also obtained from the Ministry of Education, schools, participants, and parents in the Maldives. Verbal assent was obtained from the children to record video of the interviews. Although face-to-face interviews were preferred, the interviews for this study were conducted online using Google Meet, due to the restrictions of the COVID- 19 pandemic. The platform and meeting time were chosen by the responsible teacher in each school. One FGI was held per IE, with four to six children in each group. All interviews were conducted by the first author, using the interview guide prepared (see Appendix 1) and following a protocol based on the guidelines for FGIs by Krueger (2002). In summary, this protocol included introductions; explaining objectives; establishing ground rules; providing instructions; and discussions based on the interview questions as well as ensuring that all participants were engaged in the discussions. The interview guide questions helped to create a more focused pathway for exploring the topic. Questions were rephrased and repeated as required, and probes were used where necessary to maintain a continuous flow of conversation. Most children communicated well and freely expressed their thoughts, although a few showed some hesitancy,
  • 33. 27 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter possibly because the interviews were online and were being recorded. Children were made to feel as comfortable as possible and were assured of confidentiality being maintained. The responsible teacher was available throughout the interviews to ensure the safety of the children and to address any issues that arose. The interviews were conducted in English, as preferred by the children, although they were free to speak in their first language. Video recordings of the interviews were made, and notes were written. There were limitations to visual observations because some children were shy and preferred to keep their video switched off. Every effort was made to involve all participants in the discussion. Each interview lasted approximately 45 minutes. Interviews were stopped when no new information was being generated (i.e., saturation was reached), as recommended (Krueger & Casey, 2015). 3.6 Data Analysis The focus group interview data was analysed based on the six-step framework of Braun and Clarke (2013). This framework is particularly suitable for thematic analysis due to its clarity and flexibility. The analytical steps included (i) transcribing, reading, and familiarizing the data; (ii) generating initial codes; (iii) identifying patterns (themes); (iv) reviewing and refining themes; (v) defining and naming themes; and (vi) writing the final analysis. The process applied is summarized in Figure 2. Figure 2. A Summary of the Thematic Analysis Process Used in the Study Note: The figure is adapted from Ghasemy (2019). For the thematic analysis, the interview recordings were first transcribed verbatim into word files by listening to the recordings and checking repeatedly against the recordings to ensure accuracy. The transcripts were imported to Atlas.ti 9 for analysis, including coding, generating themes, maintaining notes, and creating network diagrams. A network diagram created using Atlas.ti 9 is shown in Appendix 3. This visual map enhanced understanding of the relationships among all codes, subthemes, and themes. The data set was comprised of seven transcripts, one per island. Each transcript was read repeatedly for familiarization with the data corpus as well as to identify points of interest and generate initial codes. The coding process, for the most part, was researcher derived, in that there were no pre-set codes and it focused on identifying and understanding contextual factors that drive children’s nature experiences based on meanings of data. Since a few codes were also identified
  • 34. 28 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter from the data itself based on their explicit meaning, the analysis was also partly data-driven (see Braun & Clarke, 2013). Following initial coding, codes that represented similar concepts were collapsed. After meticulous comparison of codes against the transcripts, revisions, and refinements, some codes were combined into broader subthemes based on the similarity of their underlying concepts. Similar subthemes were collapsed into themes. Each subtheme captured a specific aspect of the central organizing concept of a common theme. Upon confirming themes, names were finalized and defined to specify the focus and boundaries of the theme (see Braun & Clarke, 2013). To illustrate this process, the sources of the codes and the ways in which they were merged into subthemes for the theme, opportunities, are shown in Figure 3. This process was utilized to derive all the factors. Details of codes, definitions, and related information were maintained in a Microsoft Excel 2010 matrix for ease of sorting and cross-checking, as well as to maintain a transparent and comprehensive trail to ensure consistency in the analysis process. The theme derivation process and analysis were constantly verified through constant comparison and finally vetted by independent experts to ensure trustworthiness. A summary of the analysis with examples of quotes is presented in Appendix 2. Figure 3. The Sequence of Deriving Themes
  • 35. 29 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 4. Findings The demographic profile of the participants and Island Environment (IE) Codes are detailed in Table 1. Table 1: Demographic Profile of Participants Island Environment (IE) Code for IE Island Name No in school chosen Gender No of children Boys Girls IEs of Male’ (Capital City) IE1 ML Male’ 187 3 1 4 IE2 VM Villimale 66 3 2 5 IE3 HM Hulhumale 147 1 4 5 IEs outside Male’ (Capital City) IE4 KF Kulhudhuffushi 74 1 5 6 IE5 AC Addu City 94 2 2 4 IE6 FM Fuvahmulah 111 3 2 5 IE7 G Gamu 63 2 3 5 Total 742 15 19 34 The thematic analysis identified four overarching themes, namely preferences, constraints, opportunities, and freedom. Each theme represented a broad category of contextual factors that influence children’s nature experiences. Figure 4 shows a simplified illustration of all the subthemes and themes. Details are provided in Appendix 2. Figure 4. Main Themes and Subthemes from Thematic Analysis Depicting Factors that Influence Nature Experiences The subthemes can be considered as dimensions of factors. The network diagram connecting all themes, subthemes, and codes, as shown in Appendix 3, was used in understanding patterns and relationships among the factors. For contextualization, clarity, and depth of discussion, pseudonyms assigned to participants (island code and number given to the participant) and gender were
  • 36. 30 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter sometimes used. In the discussion, capital IEs refer to those islands in the capital city (see Table 1 and Figure 1). Only exemplary quotes are included in the findings. Theme 1: Preferences Preferences captured what children liked to do during their free time while in nature places (NPs) or outdoors. Preferences included five sub-themes: favorite visit nature places; activities in nature places; non-nature-based pastimes; nature-based pastimes; and mental well-being. Favourite visit NPs included places children liked to visit. On all islands, most children mentioned marine NPs, particularly the beach. A few children chose to visit the reef and underwater, as voiced by a child from Villimale: “I like to go to the coral reefs because they are very colourful, and they are host to various sea creatures.” Some children from outside the capital IEs mentioned mangroves or lakes [locally synonymous with mangroves] and woods as their favourite non-marine NPs. Within the capital IEs, children liked to visit gardens and parks: “I like to go to the beach as well and also gardens and parks.” (ML1) “They [children living in flats] can have a lot of garden space when they have a flat.” (HM3) Activities in NPs captured what children liked to do while in NPs. Children often named nature-based activities, including swimming, fishing, and exploring; exploring often involved looking for animals and plants: “I just usually go for swimming.” (FM5) “[I] Like to find new fishing spots.” (KF6) “[I] Like exploring that, the place." (AC4) “Observe all the new types of plants I haven’t seen, [and] see the different insects and animals in the beach.” (ML2) Children also liked to interact with plants, collect pebbles or rocks, play with sand, climb trees and fish: “I smell some flowers… give water to plants.” (ML1) “Pick flowers and small pebbles.” (KF4) “Build a sandcastle bigger than Mount Everest.” (HM4) “When I’m in my island near big trees I’d climb on trees.” (HM2) “[I] Like to find new fishing spots.” [KF6] Another child explained, “If it was an animal, I don’t touch it but if it is a flower and stuff, I touch it.” A few children mostly enjoyed relaxing in nature, while some removed trash: “I like to just sit on the bench and feel the breeze.” (ML2) “I usually pick up the trash underwater.” (VM)
  • 37. 31 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Pastime activities examined time-use patterns routinely, rather than on occasions when they visited nature places. Some children preferred non-nature-based activities while in natural paces. These revolved around enjoyment rather than an interest in nature itself. Examples include taking photographs, canoeing, walking around, playing, riding bikes, and sightseeing, often with friends or family: “I’m taking some photos of the trees, and animals.” (G5) “We rode bicycles. We go there [to the park] for breakfast in the club, like a family, so we have a lot of fun there.” (HM1) “I was with my family venturing [in woods], you know sightseeing the place a little.” (HM4) Many children spend their free time doing non-nature-based pastimes. Reading books was common on all the islands. Others enjoyed sports, hobbies, time with family or screen-based games: “I do a lot of craftwork during my free time.” (AF4) “I kind of like dabble in photography a little.” (FM1) “I have a really extended family. Most of the time I play with my cousins.” (HM3) “Play Minecraft.” (AC1) Some girls in the capital IEs engaged in family responsibilities during their free time. “I normally like read books and in my sometimes free times I just take care of my little sister. She’s just a little baby so I thought of taking care of her while my mom is working. Just like help her a lot. That’s why.” (HM, girl) Nature-based pastimes characterized children’s preferred nature-engagements during their free time. Playing with pets was the most favoured activity on all islands. Others include fishing. “I mostly play with my pet birds and let them explore around my house.” (KF5) “I like to go fishing, because it is my hobby.” (KF6) A few children in the capital IEs liked to visit islands or sandbanks; others preferred garden-related activities. Examples include, “I go outside with my family to a trip; to someplace like a little island or sandbank and stuff.” (HM3) “There are potted plants in my house, I water them.” (VM5) Mental well-being considered children’s enjoyment of nature because of an underlying feeling of freedom or well-being. A child from one of the most diverse islands said that he liked camp so much because “we can do whatever we want” (FM2). Some children visited NPs “To have a peaceful mind” (KF2) or because “I feel better” (KF1) or “it is so relaxing” (ML1). The emotional expressions below, made by children from the capital IEs, are especially noteworthy: “I like open spaces, not crowded spaces, so like... I just like to run around and stay or walk in open spaces, like open spaces and natural spaces.” (HM5)