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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.5
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research
(IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 5 (May 2022)
Print version: 1694-2493
Online version: 1694-2116
IJLTER
International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER)
Vol. 21, No. 5
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,
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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
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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 May 2022 Issue
VOLUME 21 NUMBER 5 May 2022
Table of Contents
Exploring the Need for Using Digital Repositories to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Omani Schools:
Teachers’ Perceptions.............................................................................................................................................................1
Walid Aboraya
A Gender-Based Analysis of Classroom Interaction Practices: The Effect Thereof on University Students’
Academic Performance ........................................................................................................................................................ 22
Norman Rudhumbu
Exploring Preclinical Medical Students’ Reflections on their Learning Experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic
.................................................................................................................................................................................................46
Siti Yusrina Nadihah Jamaludin, Mohd Salami Ibrahim
Promoting Self-Regulated Learning among First-Year Accounting-Student Teachers: A Student-Empowerment
Pedagogical Framework ...................................................................................................................................................... 64
Mapuya Medson
The Potentiality of MOOCs as a Tool for Widening Access to Higher Education in the African Context: A
Systematic Review................................................................................................................................................................ 84
Mpho-Entle Puleng Modise
Digital Infographics Design (Static vs Dynamic): Its Effects on Developing Thinking and Cognitive Load
Reduction............................................................................................................................................................................. 104
Nader Said Shemy
Exploration of Malay Language Acquisition and Learning Experience among Orang Asli Students .................... 126
Nor Azwahanum Nor Shaid, Shahidi A. Hamid, Marlyna Maros
The Development of Albanian School Principals: A Challenge to Avoid Old Concepts and Value the Importance
of Development................................................................................................................................................................... 143
Magdalini Vampa
Applying Peer-Review Checklist to Improve Vietnamese EFL University Students’ Writing Skills ...................... 166
Le Thi Tuyet Hanh, Bui Thanh Tinh
Social Media for Teaching and Learning: A Technology Acceptance Model Analysis of Preservice Teachers’
Perceptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic................................................................................................................. 182
John Mangundu
Development of CDIO-Based Programs from the Teacher Training Perspective...................................................... 204
Tien Ba Tran, Thu Hung Phan
21st Century Teaching Skills and Teaching Standards Competence Level of Teacher ............................................. 220
Jesse T. Zamora, Jerome Jef M. Zamora
Learning Sciences with Technology: The Use of Padlet Pedagogical Tool to Improve High School Learners’
Attainment in Integrated Sciences.................................................................................................................................... 239
Sakyiwaa Boateng, Mercy Nyamekye
Measurement of Non-academic Attributes in the Situational Judgment Test as Part of School Teacher Selection:
Systematic Literature Review............................................................................................................................................ 263
Azad Iqram Nadmilail, Mohd Effendi @ Ewan Mohd Matore, Siti Mistima Maat
Teachers’ Perceptions and Challenges to the Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning during Covid-19 in
Malaysia............................................................................................................................................................................... 281
Nurshuzishafiqah Ishak, Rosseni Din, Nabilah Othman
Gamification in the University Context: Bibliometric Review in Scopus (2012-2022)............................................... 309
Jesús Manuel Guerrero-Alcedo, Lorena C. Espina-Romero, Ángel Alberto Nava-Chirinos
Augmented Reality: The Effect in Students’ Achievement, Satisfaction and Interest in Science Education .......... 326
Norazilawati Abdullah, Vijaya Letchumy Baskaran, Zainun Mustafa, Siti Rahaimah Ali, Syaza Hazwani Zaini
Revitalizing the Oddi Continuing Learning Inventory .................................................................................................351
Nicolaj Riise Clausen, Claus D. Hansen
Application of Gamification Tools for Identification of Neurocognitive and Social Function in Distance Learning
Education............................................................................................................................................................................. 367
Hera Antonopoulou, Constantinos Halkiopoulos, Evgenia Gkintoni, Athanasios Katsibelis
University Academic Dishonesty and Graduate Quality for National Development and Global Competitiveness:
Nigerian Universities in Perspective................................................................................................................................ 401
Chris-Valentine Ogar Eneji, Janet Sunday Petters, Stella Bassey Esuabana, Nkanu Usang Onnoghen, Bassey Obeten
Udumo, Benjamin Ayua Ambe, Ekpenyong Essien Essien, Fidelis Abunimye Unimna, David Adie Alawa, Ajigo Ikutal
Life Satisfaction among Adolescents: Comparison of Adolescents Attending Music and Sports Programs and
Those Who Do Not ............................................................................................................................................................. 428
Zrinka Šimunovic, Diana Olcar
Physical Science Teachers’ Understanding of Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking in Mpumalanga Province
............................................................................................................................................................................................... 446
Poncian Obert Tagutanazvo, Ritu Bhagwandeen
Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs and Resistance to the Effective Implementation of Video-Based Multimedia in the
Physics Classroom .............................................................................................................................................................. 463
Gabriel Janvier Tugirinshuti, Leon Rugema Mugabo, Alexis Banuza
Using Digital Comics for Enhancing EFL Vocabulary Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic......................... 478
Luz Castillo-Cuesta, Ana Quinonez-Beltran
1
©Author
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. 5, pp. 1-21, May 2022
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.5.1
Received Feb 10, 2022; Revised May 4, 2022; Accepted May 8, 2022
Exploring the Need for Using Digital
Repositories to Enhance Teaching and Learning
in Omani Schools: Teachers’ Perceptions
Walid Aboraya
Faculty of Graduate Studies of Education, Cairo University (Egypt)
Faculty of Education, Arab Open University (Sultanate of Oman)
Abstract. The current study aims to investigate teachers’ perceptions
regarding the need to employ digital repositories (DRs) in Omani schools
to enhance teaching and learning using interactive e-learning content. The
study employed a mixed method approach and was carried out in two
phases. Firstly, a survey was adopted to 120 teachers from 15 different
schools in Muscat to explore the extent of the need for DRs. Secondly,
semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 teachers to validate
the results and develop a deeper understanding. The research methods
addressed three aspects: (1) the need for using DRs to support teachers,
(2) to support students’ learning, and (3) to enhance curriculum. The
results of both methods were consistent and revealed that most teachers
expressed the need for employing DRs in the educational process.
Teachers believe that DRs are needed to support themselves and students’
learning and to enhance the curriculum. Moreover, the interview analysis
yielded an emergent theme related to some conditions raised by teachers
to effectively use digital repositories. These conditions include (1) training,
(2) educational content, (3) ease of use, (4) and developing a community
for teachers and students. Based on the findings, the study introduced a
framework for a dynamic DR to be used in Omani schools then proposed
a plan to ensure the quality, effectiveness of usability, sustainability, and
systematic implementation of DRs in Omani schools. Future studies are
recommended to evaluate the use of systematically implemented DRs
from the perspectives of all stakeholders, including students.
Keywords: digital repositories; learning objects; teachers’ perceptions
1. Introduction
Online learning has grown in popularity because of its capacity to enable more
flexible access to e-content and instruction at any time, from any location
(Istambul, 2021; Castro & Tumibay, 2021). Many teachers and mentors become
interested in online learning and use e-content to increase and improve students’
learning despite a lack of resources, facilities, and equipment in their institutions.
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Within the Mishra and Koehler (2006) TPACK framework, the problem with the
current e-learning model in educational institutions can be identified in the lack
of technological knowledge (TK) in general, technological content knowledge
(TCK), and technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) in particular. This relates
to the ability to design learning situations depending on the use of technology
(Heitink et al., 2017). This involves the creation of appropriate educational
materials and learning objects (LOs), as well as the challenge of making them
available to the intended students in the absence of a defined method for
accessibility and utilization (Luís & Marcelino, 2022). There is also a gap in
institutional and leadership conviction with attempts and efforts to introduce a
clear-cut strategy to capitalize on this new situation, such as designing and
producing LOs and learning materials under the supervision of government
institutions, and then making them available in digital repositories (DRs) under a
system of availability and support.
Digital repositories (DRs) are data storage systems designed to preserve and
secure data for future use. When used in educational institutions, they are
extremely useful. Teachers and students can use them to save and retrieve
educational resources, whether face-to-face or online, to improve teaching and
learning processes and make it simpler to attain desired learning results
(Maldonado et al., 2016). Teachers may enhance their teaching techniques by
depending on a variety of learning resources kept in repositories, and students
can rely on them to suit their various learning needs.
The Omani experience in the field of DRs can be described as novel. By tracing the
DRs in Oman, one can find that the most recent project launched is the Omani
research repository “Shuaa” which was adopted by the Scientific Research
Council in cooperation with Sultan Qaboos University (Main Library) to serve
higher education level and above (Shuaa, 2022). Another project was done based
on cooperation between the public and private sectors called “Masader”. It aims
to connect Oman's academic community to some of the world's best digital
resources and support critical research activities across the country. This
repository includes the latest books and research materials, with a number of links
established with publishers, and the repository seeks to expand those links with
other repositories as well (Masader, 2022).
In the field of pre-university education, the “Wathiq” portal is a private repository
that support self-learning. It includes learning resources such as video lessons,
summaries of lessons, and self-assessment tools. Students can access this portal
using any device (Wathiq portal, 2022). However, this portal is limited to the
eleventh and twelfth grades and requires an annual subscription. There is also the
“Zawiti” portal which is affiliated to the Ministry of Education in Oman. It serves
school education at all levels and includes a question bank in which all inquiries
about the courses are collected and sorted according to each subject. Students use
this platform to practice exams and to ascertain the nature of questions (Ministry
of Education, 2022). However, this portal lakes different types of e-content and
activities that can facilitate learning different school subjects.
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Despite the efforts carried out in the field, learning objects repositories are still not
a vital part of the educational system. Teachers do not often use these repositories
and students do not rely on them much to enhance their learning.
Given the benefits of DRs, as well as the global consensus on their benefits for
educational institutions and the growing demand for educational e-content in
Omani schools, it is necessary to investigate the feasibility of designing and
developing DRs to store LOs serving Omani curricula.
However, the decision to deploy technology in the classroom is frequently
influenced by the views of each teacher (Boonmoh et al., 2021). Teachers’
perceptions about the usefulness of DRs for them or their students can be key to
better implementation (Yalcinalp & Emiroglu, 2012; Tang, 2020). Teachers tend to
develop low perceptions surrounding the value of using technological tools in
teaching if they feel that their needs are not met throughout the implementation
process (Harrell & Bynum, 2018). As a result, the tools will not be used to their
maximum potential, creating an internal barrier (Francom, 2020).
Although the Ministry of Education in the Sultanate of Oman is doing its best to
develop teaching and learning, teachers’ voices seem absent in regard to their
perception of DRs and the benefit of using them in enhancing teaching and
learning. The researcher could not find any study addressing this issue in the
Omani context. That is why this study came to cover this gab in approaching
teachers and understanding their perceptions of utilizing DRs.
Thus, the current study investigates teachers’ perceptions about the need for DRs
for use in teaching and learning in Omani schools.
To achieve this aim, the study tried to investigate teachers’ perceptions from three
aspects constituting the need for DRs. These aspects are as follows: supporting
teachers, supporting students’ learning, and enhancing the curriculum.
Accordingly, three research questions were formulated, as follows:
1. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support
teachers?
2. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support
students’ learning?
3. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to enhance
curriculum?
2. Literature review
DRs are greatly beneficial when they are used in educational institutions. They
can enhance teaching and learning processes and facilitate achievement of the
intended learning outcomes. Teachers can depend on different LOs stored in the
repositories to improve their teaching methods and students can change their
learning styles to achieve their objectives. This part introduces DRs and general
learning objects and addresses teachers’ perceptions of DRs.
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2.1 DR concept and advantages
In recent years, digital content has developed significantly. The availability of
information and the exchange of ideas via the internet has become one of the most
important issues that professionals are concerned with. As a result, several
recommendations emerged regarding the necessity for constructing DRs that ease
the process of searching, retrieving, and managing e-content.
In the context of education, a DR is defined as a database that collects and stores
LOs with specified descriptions and metadata to make them available to
beneficiaries (Bogucki, 2021). It can also be defined as a database that retains
research work done by researchers in all scientific fields and can be accessed and
searched using the web (Nayana & Pai, 2018). In the context of this study, DRs can
be viewed as a large-scale database available on the internet that can be accessed
and searched through an easy mechanism to enable both teachers and learners to
reach and utilize the needed LOs in an easy and accurate way.
Nowadays DRs play an important role in providing users with easy and
unconditional access to knowledge through the internet free of charge (Kati, 2021).
They use indexing systems based on international coding standards which allow
users to easily browse and find required content with the possibility of integration
through content management and learning systems (Kati & Stukes, 2021).
One of the advantages of DRs is the possibility of providing access to all scientific
output stored in it with the ability of preserving this scientific output for a long
time. Also, they encourage communication between researchers from different
specializations by providing access to the latest scientific output (Knight, 2018). In
addition to this, they contain multiple patterns of knowledge and data that can be
displayed in different ways. This knowledge is cumulative and is preserved and
controlled through the policy of retention and accessibility set by the institution
that owns the DR (Esquivel et al., 2021). DRs address the challenge of limited
storage capacity in libraries, as they are distinguished by accommodating large
data in a small storage space. The diversity of this data ranges from articles,
conference works, reports, educational materials, multimedia and much more
(Kati et al., 2019).
In general, researchers deal with DRs as a central archive for their intellectual
production, increasing the chances of publication and accessibility. In turn, this
increases the impact factor for this production, as well as informal arbitration
through the possibility of publishing that which is difficult to publish through
traditional means, such as videos, podcasts, or e-content (Esquivel et al., 2021).
There are numerous advantages to using DRs in the educational field. They help
to enrich and enhance the exchange of knowledge across curricula, ease access to
courses, facilitate the development process, and contribute to the possibilities of
using inquiries and critical thinking-based learning strategies (Bakker & Rowan,
2018). Kovyazina (2019) added that repositories are of great importance to the
educational field, as they contribute to saving time, cost and effort in the
development and production of e-courses. They encourage teachers to employ
guided discovery and different e-learning patterns, participate in creating content,
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and reuse LOs in educational situations.
Several studies have focused on building DRs so that they simulate the
capabilities of the semantic web (Arabshian et al. 2009; Drozdowicz et al., 2012).
Among the recent studies in this area is the study of Poulakakis et al. (2016) who
established a system to enhance digital learning resources with metadata and
semantic data to facilitate the semantic search for the required resources in line
with the education system in primary and secondary schools. Also, Zervas et al.
(2016) developed a model for a metadata schema that reflected the learning
resources present within the digital repositories. This model was built to support
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers in (STEM) schools so
that they can share their lesson plans. The model was used to easily and effectively
reach the resources that the teacher requires.
2.2 Learning objects repositories
LOs are considered the main component of educational digital repositories. They
aim to formulate the educational content into miniature elements that can be used
individually to simulate an educational goal or be combined with other objects to
simulate other goals. They work to meet learners' needs for knowledge and skills
in a more effective and less costly manner. (Sek et al., 2012; Zimudzi, 2012; Turel
& Gürol, 2011). They are also used to support exploration and problem-solving
ability according to the educational goals the teacher wishes to achieve (Çakiroglu
et al., 2012). Therefore, digital LOs are considered an effective and economical tool
in supporting learners in various educational situations.
Such LOs need to be stored in DRs so that they can be organized, accessible, and
retrieved, otherwise they might be lost (Boté & Minguillón, 2012). There are many
DRs that contain LOs, as reported by Vrana (2021), such as the Merlot repository
in the United States, which includes links to metadata repositories and is
considered an interface to other repositories; the Edna repository in Australia,
which stores various forms of LOs such as images, text, presentations, and videos,
and also contains links to other repositories; the Jorum repository in Britain and
the CAREO repository in Canada, which contain a wealth of educational, training,
and research resources, as well as LOs. Further, Mering (2019) mentioned other
repositories such as the Encore repository, which encompasses a large number of
educational materials provided with free access for teachers and learners, and the
Maricopa repository that can be browsed by topic, author, publication date, or
title and contains articles, periodicals, university theses, various presentations,
images, and videos. Guan et. al. (2019) also referred to the LOs in the Wisconsin
repository of educational materials, which includes hundreds of thousands of LOs
such as presentations, images, and texts.
2.3 Teachers’ perceptions of DRs
Although much progress has been made in the design and implementation of
DRs, the effectiveness of these repositories remains debatable. Many researchers
argued that DRs and included learning objects would most likely become
outdated if the functional use of such systems was not realized, or if the
engagement of their dynamic users was not considered (Granić & Marangunić,
2019; Tang et al., 2020; Tang, 2020).
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Teachers' perceptions can be defined as their ideas or mental images regarding
their professional activities and students, which are influenced by their previous
knowledge and life experiences and determine their professional behavior
(Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2022). When teachers have limited knowledge about
using a new technology in teaching and learning, they automatically generate
opinions about it, some of which may be based on stereotypes. This inclination
might lead to misunderstandings or misperceptions surrounding that technology.
The knowledge of teachers' views on the important aspects in repositories are
supposed to aid designers, developers, and users of DRs in focusing on the
primary concerns linked to improving the usefulness and efficiency of these
repositories (Yalcinalp & Emiroglu, 2012). In order to successfully implement DRs
in the educational system, Yalcinalp and Emiroglu (2012) surveyed 75 teachers to
investigate their views about DRs after using learning objects repositories. Results
yielded that DRs will only be used efficiently if some structural and usability
factors are considered in designing DRs so that they reflect teachers’
requirements, such as the usage of ontologies and the Semantic Web.
Further, Tang et al., (2020) attempted to gain a thorough knowledge of teachers’
intentions for using OER in K-12 classrooms. Based on the teachers’ view they
recommended the following: to reinforce instructors' perceived ease of utilizing
OER, repository designers must improve the design and function of the
repository. Also, educators must help teachers engage in the production of open-
licensed resources for K-12 students to ensure sustainability.
The above exhibits why the knowledge of teachers’ perceptions about using DRs
in education is an important factor that will help to implement DRs in the
educational system in an effective way.
3. Methodology
The current study employed a mixed method approach to explore the need for
using DRs to enhance teaching and learning in Omani schools. This was achieved
by mixing quantitative and qualitative data collection and triangulating the data
to go beyond the limitation of a single method study by raising the level of
credibility.
3.1 Research Design
To achieve the study objects, data was collected about teachers’ perceptions
regarding the need to use DRs from the following three aspects: to support
teachers, to support students’ learning, and to enhance the curriculum. The study
was conducted in two stages, the first of which involved delivering the
questionnaire to a group of 120 teachers. The second part involved the conduction
of semi-structured interviews with a group of nine teachers selected from the
questionnaire sample. The nine teachers were interviewed about the same
constructs to gain a deeper understanding to the research constituents measured
by the questionnaire.
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3.2 Participants
First: the questionnaire sample consists of teachers from different disciplines
distributed between 15 schools in Muscat. The questionnaire was available online
and thus easily accessible for any teacher to fill it out. 120 teachers who returned
the questionnaire in a complete form were considered the sample of the study.
The research sample is characterized by certain features, including the following:
all are teachers with various teaching experiences; mixed genders; teaching
different subjects; and working in different districts in Muscat.
Second: the criterion for selecting the interview sample was derived through an
evaluation of the questionnaire replies and a selection of the diverse rich
responses to aid in the comprehension of the anomalies revealed by the
questionnaire analysis. To begin the sample selection process, a postscript was
added to the questionnaire asking participants to provide their contact
information if they agreed to be interviewed. Nearly one quarter of the
questionnaire sample (n=29) distributed over five schools expressed interest in
conducting an interview and provided their contact details. Following this, a
purposive “information-rich” sample was chosen from the available participants
who varied according to their responses and characteristics. The final sample
came to nine participants.
3.3 Research Methods
Using mixed methods to answer the research questions aids in triangulating the
data, adding rigor, validating and reinforcing the findings, adding an additional
dimension, and assisting with approaching the research questions from different
angles and in greater depth. That is why the current study employed two
methods: a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews.
3.3.1 Questionnaire
Based on the literature review and the researcher’s experience, a questionnaire
was constructed to elicit information regarding the three research questions. The
questionnaire was designed based on a five-point Likert scale and was divided
into three sections. Each section constitutes six items, as follows: section one
relates to “Supporting teachers” in items 1 to 6; section two is about “Supporting
students’ learning” through items 7 to 12; and section three relates to “Enhancing
curriculum” over items 13 to 18.
3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews
Based on the argument that using qualitative methods can help with the analysis
of quantitative findings (Taguchi, 2018), so that the statistical analysis can examine
different effects on a certain phenomenon and then explore the grounds and the
reasons behind these effects by using other qualitative methods (Dixon-Woods et
al., 2021), interviews were used as a second method of data collection.
The interview guide began with more generic questions regarding the three
research questions, after which the rest of the questions were developed during
the interview sessions, based on several issues raised throughout the discussion
and connected to the key topics. The interview questions were piloted with two
teachers before administering the main study.
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3.4 Procedures
Before administering the survey to the targeted sample, the validity and reliability
of the questionnaire were measured. The validity was checked by asking the
opinion of experts in the field, who recommended to provide teachers with the
definitions of the terms “Digital repositories” and “Learning Objects” before
asking them to fill in the questionnaire. Thus, the meaning of both constructs was
clearly written for participants to read in the introduction section of the survey.
To check for reliability, the questionnaire was piloted on 20 teachers from
different subject areas with different years of experience. Cronbach alpha
coefficient was found to be (0.85), which means that the scale is reliable. Finally,
the questionnaire was administered to 120 randomly selected teachers from 15
different schools in Muscat.
4. Results
The purpose of the results section is to present the research key findings from both
quantitative and qualitative research methods. This presentation will assist in
determining whether the quantitative and qualitative findings are consistent or
inconsistent.
4.1 Quantitative analysis
The survey sample consisted of 120 teachers from different schools in Muscat.
They represented all subjects taught in schools as well as gender (54% female and
46% male). Also, years of experience range was almost equally distributed among
the sample as follows: 25.1% have work experience from 1 to 5 years, 23.6% have
work experience from 6 to 10 years, 22.5% have work experience from 11 to 15
years, 28.8% have work experience more than 11 years. Finally, (79.4%) of them
have not received any training on employing DRs in teaching.
Participants were asked to respond to 18 statements represented in a 5-point
Likert-type scale, where ‘5’ represents the maximum score of the scale, ‘Strongly
Agree’ and ‘1’ represents the minimum score, ‘Strongly Disagree’. To produce a
meaning from the percentages in the following tables, the total percentage of “SA”
and “A” were added together and considered to represent agreement; further, the
total percentage of “SD” and “D” were added and considered to represent
disagreement.
4.1.1 Perceptions about using DRs to support teachers
The first section of the questionnaire aims to answer the first research question:
“What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support
teachers?”. Table (1) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of participants’
responses to each statement.
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Table 1. Perceptions about using DRs to support teachers
SD=Strongly Disagree. D=Disagree.
N=neutral.
A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree
Frequencies, (percentages)
Statement SA A N D SD
1
DRs will help teachers to change
their teaching approaches and
styles to be more technologically
based.
38,
(31.7%)
59,
(49.2%)
10,
(8.3%)
7,
(5.8%)
6,
(5%)
2
Do you think that a repository is
needed for promoting
technological development and
actively contributing to the
spread of digital culture among
teachers?
48,
(40%)
62,
(51.7%)
4,
(3.3%)
4,
(3.3%)
2,
(1.7%)
3
Do you think that a repository
will open the opportunity to
share experiences and good
practice among teachers?
47,
(39.2%)
64,
(53.3%)
6,
(5%)
3,
(2.5%)
-
4
DRs will encourage teachers to
employ atypical teaching
strategies.
24,
(20%)
72,
(60%)
18,
(15%)
3,
(2.5%)
3,
(2.5%)
5
DRs can save teachers’ time and
efforts in preparing digital LOs
to be used in various
educational situations.
18,
(15%)
64,
(53.3%)
23,
(19.2%)
13,
(10.8%)
2,
(1.7%)
6
DRs will enhance lesson
planning to meet students’
different characteristics.
24,
(20%)
69,
(57.5%)
20,
(16.7%)
4,
(3.3%)
3,
(2.5%)
It is clear from Table (1) that most of the participants agreed or strongly agreed in
the first rank about the ability of DRs to open the opportunity for teachers to share
experiences and good practice among each other (92.5%; n=111). This indicates
that teachers perceive DR to be a collaborative tool that can help them share their
best practices together. This can happen by sharing opinions and discussions
about LOs found in the repository for use in teaching to enhance students’
learning.
Also, most participants agreed or strongly agreed to view the need for DR to
promote teachers’ technological development (91.7%; n=110), improve their
teaching approaches and strategies (80.9%; n=97), and encourage teachers to
employ atypical teaching strategies in the second, third, and fourth ranks
respectively. This implies that teachers are aware of the importance of DRs to
promote more technologically oriented teaching styles and practices.
The lowest ranked items were two that were related to enhancing lesson planning
to meet students’ different characteristics (77.5%; n=93) and saving teachers’ time
and efforts in preparing digital LOs to be used in various educational situations
(68.3%; n=82). This indicates how teachers value the benefit of using DRs in
improving their own work with less time and effort.
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In general, it is obvious from table (2) that the total opinion of the teachers for the
whole section tends to agree about the need for using a repository to support
teachers in different aspects with (81.81%), total mean score (4), and standard
deviation of (0.66).
Table 2. Total perceptions about using DRs to support teachers
Theme
Percentage
Mean St.D
Strongly
Agree
Agree Undecided Disagree
Strongly
Disagree
Total
Teachers’
support
27.64% 54.17% 11.25% 4.72% 2.22% 4.00 0.66
4.1.2 Perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning
The second section of the questionnaire aims to answer the second research
question “What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support
students’ learning?”. Table (3) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of
participants’ responses to each statement.
Table 3. Perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning
SD=Strongly Disagree.
D=Disagree. N=neutral.
A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree
Frequencies, (percentages)
Statement SA A N D SD
1
DRs help students to be active
learners.
42,
(35%)
70,
(58.3%)
6,
(5%)
2,
(1.7%)
-
2
Using DRs will increase the
opportunity for students’
collaboration.
23,
(19.2%)
59,
(49.2%)
24,
(20%)
9,
(7.5%)
5,
(4.2%)
3
Using DRs can help students
to be engaged to learning
26,
(21.7%)
64,
(53.3%)
18,
(15%)
10,
(8.3%)
2,
(1.7%)
4
DRs will help students to
achieve higher order thinking
skills.
19,
(15.8%)
55,
(45.8%)
28,
(23.3%)
12,
(10%)
6,
(5%)
5
Using DRs will increase
students’ motivation to learn.
53,
(44.2%)
65,
(54.2%)
2,
(1.7%)
- -
6
DRs will enhance students’
learning.
27,
(22.5%)
67,
(55.8%)
15,
(12.5%)
9,
(7.5%)
2,
(1.7%)
It is evident from table 3 that the most agreed statement among the participants is
item number 5 which came in the first rank. Almost all teachers agreed and
strongly agreed that using DRs will increase students’ motivation to learn (98.4%;
n=118). They believe that such repositories will transform students into active
learners (93.3%; n=112) and enhance their learning experience (78.3%; n=94). Also,
most teachers reported that there is a need for the use of DRs to assist student
engagement with learning (75%; n=90).
Although most teachers perceive the need for using DRs in students’ learning,
they were less confident about the need to use DRs in increasing students’
collaboration (68.4%; n=82) and achieving higher order thinking skills (61.6%;
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n=74). These two items were ranked the least among the six items in the whole
section.
In general, this section indicates the importance of having DRs in Omani schools,
as reported by teachers; it encourages the constructivism approach in teaching
students. It is obvious from table (4) that the collective teacher opinion for the
whole section tends to agree about the need for the use of a repository to support
students in learning (79.17%), total mean score (3.96), and standard deviation of
(0.64).
Table 4. Total perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning
Theme
Percentage
Mean St.D
Strongly
Agree
Agree Undecided Disagree
Strongly
Disagree
Total
Students’
support
26.39% 52.78% 12.92% 5.83% 2.08% 3.96 0.64
4.1.3 Perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum
The third section of the questionnaire aims to answer the third research question
“What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to enhance
curriculum?”. Table (5) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of participants’
responses to each statement.
Table 5. Perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum
SD=Strongly Disagree. D=Disagree.
N=neutral.
A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree
Frequencies, (percentages)
Statement SA A N D SD
1
DRs will enhance the
educational content.
43,
(35.8%)
74,
(61.7%)
2,
(1.7%)
1,
(0.8%)
-
2
DRs will enable active learning
environments by providing
various ideas for activities.
30,
(25.4%)
50,
(42.4%)
25,
(21.2%)
11,
(9.5%)
4,
(3.4%)
3
Do you think that repository is
needed for enhancing teaching
and learning processes?
40,
(33.3%)
65,
(54.2%)
11,
(9.2%)
3,
(2.5%)
1,
(0.8%)
4
DRs will encourage the
generation of ideas about
improving formative assessment
and evaluation in the
educational situations
23,
(19.2%)
48,
(40%)
27,
(22.5%)
12,
(10%)
10,
(8.3%)
5
Do you think that a repository is
needed for achieving
educational objectives in your
subject?
32,
(26.7%)
54,
(45%)
18,
(15%)
11,
(9.2%)
5,
(4.2%)
6
DRs can be used to simplify
complex and abstract concepts.
43,
(35.8%)
66,
(55%)
6,
(5%)
4,
(3.3%)
1,
(0.8%)
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As shown in table 5, most teachers agreed and strongly agreed about two items
which reflect the need for DRs to enhance the educational content (97.5%; n=117)
and simplify complex and abstract concepts (90.8%; n=109). They were ranked as
the first two items, respectively. This indicates that teachers need digital content
to support students’ learning which will positively reflect on the whole teaching
and learning processes. The second two ranked items reflected the need to use
repositories to enhance teaching and learning processes (87.5%; n=105) and
achieve educational objectives (71.7%; n=86). The two lowest ranked items related
to enabling active learning environments by providing various ideas for activities
(70.8%; n=85) and encouraging the generation of ideas about improving formative
assessments and evaluation in educational situations (59.2%; n=71). This indicates
how teachers value the benefit of using DRs in supporting the curriculum in terms
of providing innovative ideas for activities and better assessment.
In general, this section indicates the importance of having DRs in Omani schools
to enhance curriculum as reported by the teacher. It is obvious from table (6) that
the total opinion of the teachers for the whole section tends to agree regarding the
need for use of a repository to support and enrich the curriculum (78.89%), total
mean score (3.97), and standard deviation of (0.65).
Table 6. Total perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum
Theme
Percentage
Mean St.D
Strongly
Agree
Agree Undecided Disagree
Strongly
Disagree
Total
Curriculum
enhancement
29.31% 49.58% 12.36% 5.83% 2.92% 3.97 0.65
4.1.4 Total teachers’ perceptions about the need to have DRs in Omani schools
Overall, the total percentage of teachers who agreed and strongly agreed about
the need to have DRs in Omani schools from the three aspects (teachers’ support,
students’ support, and curriculum enhancement) is (79.96%), with a total mean
score of (3.98) and standard deviation of (0.65). The high total mean scores in the
three sections, as well as the overall total, reflects the extent to which teachers
believe that there is a real need to use DRs in their schools.
Table 7. Total teachers’ perceptions about the need to have DRs in Omani schools
Theme
Percentage
Mean St.D
Strongly
Agree
Agree Undecided Disagree
Strongly
Disagree
Total Support
Teachers
27.64% 54.17% 11.25% 4.72% 2.22% 4.00 0.66
Total support
students’
learning
26.39% 52.78% 12.92% 5.83% 2.08% 3.96 0.64
Total enhance
Curriculum
29.31% 49.58% 12.36% 5.83% 2.92% 3.97 0.65
Total
Perceptions
27.78% 52.18% 12.18% 5.46% 2.41% 3.98 0.65
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4.2 Qualitative analysis
Interviews with nine teachers were conducted, recorded, and transcribed.
Following full transcription, data was reviewed word by word and line by line,
keywords were assigned as first-level codes beside each paragraph, and labels
were assigned to each group of words. Labels were grouped to form categories in
the second level of coding. With my research questions in mind, I was able to sort
these categories into two themes: those that are directly related to the research
questions (main themes) and those that are emergent and can be linked in some
way (indirectly) to the research questions (emergent themes).
Results showed three main themes (teacher’s support, students’ support, and
enhancement of curriculum) and one emergent theme (conditions for use), as
shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Interview Themes
4.2.1 Main themes
The interview analysis yielded three main themes reflecting the research
questions: (1) teachers’ support, (2) students’ learning support, and (3)
enhancement of curriculum. Teachers seem to be aware about the importance and
benefits of using DRs in general. They believe that using LOs and digital
repositories as technological tools will help them overcome many challenges they
face with the sudden shift that occurred from face-to-face to online teaching due
to the Covid-19 pandemic. They view such kind of practices as an opportunity for
them to promote their own technological competencies.
“I am sure that if that repository was there, I would have taught online in a better way. I
heavily depended solely on YouTube videos, and it was not directly related every time.”
Interviewee H
Teachers agreed that using DRs and LOs will engage students to learning, increase
their motivation, and help them achieve learning outcomes.
“I am sure that Learning objects designed specially to address the schoolbook will highly
engage students in the lessons and facilitate understanding many ideas.” Interviewee H
They also believe that using LOs will simplify the complex and abstract concepts
in the curriculum and facilitate self-learning for them as they are dependent on
multimedia and include many activities.
“I think such repository was needed to support us in the period of online teaching during
the pandemic. We suffered a lot to find e-content matching the schoolbook.” Interviewee
H
Interview
Themes
Main Theme
Teachers’ Support
Main Theme
Students’ learning
Support
Main Theme
Enhance curriculum
Emergent Themes
related to
conditions for use
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“…if there were specially designed learning objects addressing our curriculum, I think
teachers will compete to use them.” Interviewee H
4.2.2 Emergent themes
“Conditions for use” is one emergent theme that came out of the interview
analysis. This theme was coded and analyzed in the following categories: (1)
training, (2) educational content, (3) ease of use, (4) and developing a community.
See figure 2.
Figure 2. Interview emergent issues
In general, teachers confirmed the need for employing DRs and LOs in teaching
and learning. However, they raised many conditions for that use to be successful.
Five teachers (55.6%) emphasized the importance of changing their teaching styles
and approaches in such new educational settings, which is why they assured that
they must be trained on appropriately utilizing LOs and DRs to enhance the
teaching and learning process.
“We have to be trained first how to utilize DRs while teaching.”
Interviewee H
Most of them (7 teachers, 77.8%) believe that the content of LOs should directly
reflect the taught lessons, be presented in the taught language, and always be up
to date.
“We need local content in our language and reflecting the taught topics
in the book.” Interviewee B
“We suffer of the lake of Arabic e-content addressing the schoolbook”
Interviewee D
They assured the importance of providing a user-friendly interface and accessible
platforms. Four teachers (44.4%) confirmed the need of having small size LOs that
can be viewed and downloaded easily because of the poor internet connection
they have.
“Learning objects should be small in size or even used offline as the
network here is not fast.” Interviewee A
Also, three teachers (33.3%) highlighted the need for the LOs to be editable and
for there to be an option to upload their own objects.
“I think it will be great If I can edit the learning objects to match my
objectives in the lesson and focus on a certain part only.” Interviewee C
Conditions
for use
Training
Ease of use
Educational
Content
Developing a
community
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Finally, most of the teachers (8 teachers, 88.9%) raised the issue of developing a
community within the DR so that teachers as well as students can communicate
their experiences with the use of LOs in teaching and learning, and to also share
good practices.
“Allowing teachers from the same discipline to share best practices will
be a great addition, I need to see some examples from my colleagues to
build on.” Interviewee A
“We have some experienced teachers here in using technology, they can
help us to make model lessons.” Interviewee H
“Allowing students to communicate with each other, rate the learning
objects, comment, and reflect on their experience, will engage them in
learning without they even realize that.” Interviewee E
5. Discussion
The findings of the questionnaire and the interviews were both compatible. They
have shown a clear need to use DRs to enhance teaching and learning in Omani
schools. Needs were reported on three levels; needs to support teachers, needs to
support students’ learning, and needs to enhance curriculum. Teachers believe
that such a repository will raise both their technological and pedagogical skills.
The response of the teachers in general implies that if we put a DR in use,
including LOs related to the curriculum taught in Omani schools, it will be
accepted from the teachers’ side. Further, it can promote teaching and learning if
conditions raised in interviews related to training, educational content, ease of use,
and development of a community are implemented.
The responses on both research methods shed the light on the design and
implementation of digital repositories. In the questionnaire, the highest ranked
statement in the teachers’ needs was that the repository will open the opportunity
to share experiences and good practice among teachers. Also, in the interviews,
most teachers asked for the need for teachers and students to communicate their
experiences and share best practices together. This possibility needs to be
considered while developing a DR, where such a repository should have the
ability to make teachers communicate and collaborate to share their experiences
of using specific LOs in different learning situations. Also, the possibility for them
to modify or add their own LOs to the database will be an advantage for them to
peer review each other and develop their pedagogical skills in using technology-
based education. This is consistent with Arcos et al. (2017) who argue that
repositories are designed not only to store and disseminate objects, but also to
allow users to collaborate by reviewing, commenting on, and rating the content
they access.
Apparently, this can assist teachers to change their teaching approaches and styles
to be more technologically based and will encourage teachers to employ atypical
teaching strategies. This idea is supported by Wenger (1998), by the Community
of Practice where teachers from different schools in Oman will be allowed through
the DR to form a group which shares the same concerns, interacts regularly, and
learns from each other how to overcome their problems effectively.
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The same argument can be extended to students themselves, where creating a
community for them in the DR will increase the opportunity for students’
collaboration. This is confirmed by Atenas and Havemann (2013) who assured
that quality repositories serve as a place for users to interact and form
communities of practice. Such practice will help them become active learners,
allow them to be engaged more to learning, and raise their motivation to learn as
reported by teachers.
As for the third type of needs related to the curriculum, the highest mean scores
were given to enhancing the educational content and simplifying complex and
abstract concepts. This is also consistent with the interview findings. Similarly,
when dealing with the curriculum within this collaborative environment, teachers
can improve the way a curriculum is introduced to students through sharing
experiences, modifying LOs and updating the way they are used in teaching.
Such results might shed light on the need to create a dynamic warehouse model
to contain local LOs that emulate the taught subjects in Omani schools and allow
teachers and students to communicate and interact for better utilization. (See
figure 3).
Figure 3. Dynamic Digital Repository for Omani schools
Based on the research methods findings, figure 3 shows how the DR can benefit
Omani schools if it is designed according to their perceptions of DRs and how
they can use it in teaching and learning. This is consistent with Yalcinalp and
Emiroglu (2012) and Tang et al., (2020). The figure addresses how DRs can support
teacher and student learning within the context of the local curriculum. Also, it
shows DRs can allow teachers and students to interact and share best practices
while using the DR in relation to school subjects in the Omani context. This is
anticipated to aid in the promotion of teaching and learning experiences.
The DRs should be under the control of the Ministry of Education in order to
ensure the sustainability and quality of the LOs, as well as their ability to achieve
the required goals for educational institutions in light of modern technology.
Based on the questionnaire results and interview analysis, the study proposes a
comprehensive plan for implementing DRs in school education in Oman as
follows:
Interaction
Interaction
Download View Online
DR
Omani Educational Context (School subjects)
Friendly-User
Interface
Teachers’ Community Students’ Community
Download
Upload
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The proposed plan consists of six stages as follows (see figure 4):
Figure 4. The proposed plan for developing and employing DRs in Omani schools
The first stage (needs analysis): seeks to identify the actual needs of schools in
developing the DRs. This will primarily be determined by stakeholder needs.
Information about the project must be gathered in terms of design, production,
and implementation at this stage in line with teachers’ needs. This also includes
information about curriculum and learning materials. Analyzing human
resources in schools and identifying needs and levels of expertise for both teachers
and students are also required at this stage. Furthermore, it is critical to determine
the availability of technical support as well as the quality of the internet
connection. Finally, the financial aspect will be examined in terms of the cost of
materials and software, with the goal of obtaining financial assistance from the
local community.
Stage two (design & development): Based on the analysis of the interview results,
the design stage reflects emergent themes related to “educational content”,
“developing a community” and “ease of use”. The latter can be addressed by
following the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Principles in the design (Al
Mahdi et al., 2019). Also, this phase can be addressed by applying the Dynamic
DR (see figure 3).
Accordingly, the repository can be designed and developed with the following
features:
- Unrestricted access to digital content for all teachers and students.
- The digital content in Omani schools should be localized and cover all
school subjects and scientific disciplines at all grade levels.
- DR should allow and encourage teachers to upload their own lesson plans
for use by other teachers and students.
- DR should encourage interaction between teachers and students so that
they can share best practices and ideas for reusing digital learning objects
in a variety of educational settings. This will assist teachers in improving
their pedagogical skills and developing novel teaching methods and
strategies for use in teaching and learning.
- DR should protect the intellectual property of knowledge resource owners
and encourage them to participate more.
- Refreshing digital content on a regular basis.
- A user-friendly interface, as well as adhering to the appropriate technical
and educational standards when developing the repository
Needs
analysis
Design &
Development Awareness
Dissemination Evaluation
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Stage three (raising awareness): Based on the analysis of the interview results, the
awareness stage reflects the emergent theme related to “training”. This stage aims
to establish mechanisms for increasing beneficiary awareness of the importance
of incorporating the DR into the educational process and improving teaching and
learning. Also, this is to provide appropriate pedagogical training for teachers and
students in order for them to efficiently utilize the repository.
Stage four (evaluation): aims to pilot the repository and assess its usability from
the perspective of the beneficiaries, where we can gather feedback and users'
opinions about the content, ease of use of the repository, and the extent to which
it is beneficial in the teaching and learning process.
Stage five (dissemination): This is the final stage, in which the repository is made
available on the internet so that it can be used in more than one school and is easily
accessible to both teachers and students.
6. Conclusion and future work
DRs are one of many advanced systems for e-learning and distance learning that
can hold a wealth of information and useful elements for achieving educational
objectives. They may contain many digital LOs, which can provide an enhanced
educational environment in which these elements can be easily reused in various
educational situations based on the needs of each educational situation. The
power of this study is that it reflects teachers’ perceptions about using such
technology in teaching and learning. Suggestions of the study are based on their
teachers’ perceptions as they can be a key to better implementation. According to
the findings, DRs are required in Omani schools on three levels of needs: teachers’
support, students' learning support, and curriculum enhancement. The suggested
Dynamic DR model assimilates all these needs to ensure better operation. Also,
based on the findings and the suggested Dynamic DR model, a proposed plan for
developing and employing digital repositories in Omani schools is introduced.
This will ensure the systematic implementation of DRs in Omani schools under
the control of the Ministry of Education to ensure quality, effectiveness of
usability, and sustainability. Additionally, the current study will help to establish
the concepts of "free and open access" to educational content within the context of
Omani schools, where teachers and students will be able to browse, download,
edit, and upload content at any time using a dynamic DR that provides open
interactive e-learning content to improve teaching and learning processes in
Omani schools. Future studies are to work on the evaluation of the feasibility of
using DRs after implementing them in a systematic way. The evaluation should
go beyond knowing teachers’ perceptions to trying to understand how this
practice was beneficial to students themselves and their views about
improvement.
Acknowledgements
The research leading to these results has received funding from the Research
Council (TRC) of the Sultanate of Oman under the Block Funding Program. TRC
Block Funding Agreement No [BFP/RGP/EHR/18/156].
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©Author
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. 5, pp. 22-45, May 2022
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.5.2
Received Feb 22, 2022; Revised Apr 29, 2022; Accepted May 2, 2022
A Gender-Based Analysis of Classroom
Interaction Practices: The Effect Thereof on
University Students’ Academic Performance
Norman Rudhumbu
University of South Africa, South Africa
Abstract. The need to optimize student interactions in universities for
enhanced academic performance has been a subject of debate and
discussion in different academic fora. A number of studies have shown
that students, both male and female, can assert themselves academically
if they are provided with opportunities for active participation and
interaction with their lecturers and peers for both the horizontal and the
vertical sharing of knowledge. The purpose of this study, therefore, was
to investigate the gender-based interaction practices of science,
mathematics and technology university students, and how these
interactive patterns influence their academic performance. Using a
quantitative approach located in the post-positivist paradigm, the study
employed a structured questionnaire to collect the data from a sample of
1285 students from three universities. The results of the study showed
that institutional practices, lecturers, parents, peers, learning content and
artifacts, as well as the classroom environment, have a significant
influence on the gender-based interaction practices of university
students. Furthermore,, the results showed that the levels of interaction
have a significant influence on the academic performance of university
students, according to gender. As a main recommendation, it was
proposed that universities should come up with gender-equity policies
that would guide how the universities and their stakeholders could cater
for the issues of gender equity.
Keywords: classroom environment; gender; gender equity; higher
education; institutional practices; STEM
1. Introduction
The issues of gender and gender equity in all the facets of life including education,
have become a topical issue the world over. Governments worldwide have come
up with policies that promote the equal and equitable participation of men and
women, girls and boys, in the economic spheres that include education. In the
context of Zimbabwe, “Since 1980, a number of policies and strategies have been
put in place, in order to promote gender equity in education; and these have
included the introduction of education for all, free primary education, and the
attraction of international agencies that support education in the country”
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(Chabaya & Gudhlanga, 2013, p.1). While these and other policies have
contributed to a significant increase in the education of girls, thereby achieving
gender equity in the participation of girls in education, there is still work in
progress, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
(STEM), subjects in which only 19% of female students are enrolled, compared to
39% of male students (World Economic Forum, 2018).
Gender-based interactions in the science, mathematics and technology classrooms
have been the subject of extensive research and debate over a number of decades,
owing to their importance in the teaching and learning processes (Howe &
Abedin, 2013). These interactions, as social skills, have also been viewed in a
number of studies, as being critical for enhancing the academic performance of
university students (Consuegra, 2015). Among the reasons for gender-based
differences in the levels and patterns of interactions between male and female
students in universities, there are certain practices in the educational institutions
themselves. Hurtado (2021), in his study, found that educational institutions
continue to develop and reinforce, through their practices, gender segregation,
stereotypes and discrimination via the teaching methods they use and the content
developed in science, mathematics and technology textbooks.
This was also confirmed by Elliot (2010), whose findings showed that educational
institutions have become active agents in the perpetuation of the gender-based
behavioural differences between male and female students, as a result of the
nature of the task assignments they give to students and the methodologies they
use during instruction. In the context of Zimbabwe, the issue of gender disparity
in the 22 universities is not a new phenomenon; yet the problem still continues
unabated (Guzura & Chigora, 2021). Despite the existence of gender inequity in
universities in Zimbabwe (Guzura & Chigora, 2021), there is no study known to
the researchers that has been conducted to establish how gender inequity in
higher education affects gender-based interaction levels and the academic
performance of students. This study, therefore, is an attempt to bridge the
research gap; and it is guided by the following research questions: (i) What factors
promote the gender-based interactive practices of students in universities in
Zimbabwe? (ii) How significantly do these factors influence the gender-based
interaction levels of students in the local universities? (iii) Is there any significant
relationship between the gender-based interactive levels of university students
and their academic performance?
2. The concept of gender and gender differences
The concept of gender can be understood in two ways, either as a biological
composition of the body, or as a socialisation-related attribute (Elliot, 2010). As a
biological attribute, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that gender plays a very
minimal role in the behavioural differences between men and women, and, in the
context of the current study, between male and female students. In the same
study, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that rather, it is gender as a socialisation
attribute that inflates the minor biological differences out of proportion, by
causing serious gender-based differences in the behaviour of men and women.
Elliot (2010) also found that the socialisation-related gender-based view is the
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reason why women are regarded as homemakers, who are mostly responsible for
parenting, while men are regarded as wage earners.
Socialisation in this case is defined as the unconscious and sometimes conscious
process by which people learn to behave in a certain way, as a result of their
interactions with other actors (parents, peers, lecturers and others) and via
socialisation agents, such as the media, textbooks and others (Halimi et al., 2016).
Gee (2000) defined gender as the kind of person one is recognised as being, at a
given time and place. The issues of time and place are the descriptors of gender,
which imply that each person has multiple identities connected not to their
biological attributes, but rather, to their socially assigned roles and positions
(Consuegra et al., 2016). A person’s gender, therefore, from a sociological
perspective, relates to interactions and symbolic behaviours in the social sphere;
while from a physiological point of view, it relates to the issues of masculinity and
femininity (Vantieghem et al., 2014). Bigler et al. (2013) are of the view that while
nature (biology that determines the sex of the student) and nurture
(environmental factors, such as socialisation, that define the gender of a person
through role assignment) act together in reciprocal causal, and interactive ways,
to produce gender-based differences in the behaviour of male and female
students, it is nurture that contributes more significantly to gender-based
differences. This, therefore, means that it is how boys and girls are socialised at
home, and how female and male students are socialised at school, that pose the
greatest challenge to dealing with the problem of educational inequity in
universities.
3. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks informing hypotheses and
their formulation
This study used the socio-cultural theory developed by Vygotsky (1978), as a
theoretical lens. The theory deals with the social construction of knowledge; and
it is premised on the belief that social experience plays a dominant role in human
development in general, and in knowledge acquisition in particular (Kurt, 2020).
Based on the fact that interaction is a social skill (Voyer & Voyer, 2014), this theory
has been found to be particularly relevant to this study. According to Vygotsky
(1978), true human development is not from the individual to the social, but rather
it is from the social to the individual. As a result, the theory maintains that social
settings and learning are interrelated (Kurt, 2020).
Institutional practices (IP)
Lecturer factors (LF)
Parental factors (PF)
Peer factors (PF)
Interaction levels
(IL)
Academic
performance (AP)
Learning content and
artifacts (LCA)
Classroom climate (CC)
H1
H2
H3
H4
H7
H6
H5
Figure 1: The research model
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The theory demonstrates that for effective teaching and learning, lecturers must
act as facilitators, who engage students in guided interactions, comprehensive
thoughtful discussions and the creation of collaborative communities of learners
(Polly et al., 2020; Kurt, 2020; Ibañez & Pentang, 2021). Polly et al. (2020, p.2) found
that learning “awakens a variety of internal development processes that are only
able to operate when a student interacts with others.” This is perhaps the reason
why Matusov (2015) argued that we cannot understand cognitive development
without first understanding the social and historical context within which it is
situated. Based on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks, a research model
(Figure 1), was developed. Figure 1 demonstrates that the factors that include
institutional practices, lecturer factors, parental factors, peer factors, learning
content and artifacts, as well as the classroom climate, may have a significant
effect on the interaction levels of boys and girls in the classroom; while
furthermore, the interaction levels may have a significant effect on the academic
performance of the students.
3.1.Institutional practices as determinants of gender-based interaction
differences
Educational institutions, such as universities, are expected to provide all students,
male and female alike, with equal opportunities to interact with their lecturers,
peers and content, for enhanced academic performance. Institutional practices are
defined as opportunities that institutions create and provide for all students to be
able to effectively learn (Ziskin et al., 2010), Such opportunities include teaching
and learning practices, recruitment practices, promotion practices, support and
development practices, orientation and residential-life practices, among others
(Ziskin et al., 2010). Interaction, being a social skill, is critical for the academic
performance of students (Voyer & Voyer, 2014); and it needs to be nurtured by
educational institutions.
Without a clearly articulated institutional vision and policy that guides
institutional practices on gender-equity issues in university classrooms, charting
the right direction, in order to facilitate equity in the participation of both male
and female students in the learning process in universities, this becomes a
challenge (OECD, 2015). Chapman (2015) established that gender-based
socialisation practices in higher educational institutions continue to ensure that
female students are made aware that they are unequal to male students. This has
serious ramifications on their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and ultimately
on their academic performance (Hurtado, 2021).
As a result of these institutional practices that continue to promote inequity,
classroom practices also by extension, continue to ensure, through the teaching
methodologies used, examples selected to clarify concepts, and the technology
artifacts used, whereby female students understand their lower academic rank,
when compared to male students.
Bigler et al. (2013, p.1) in their study found that the institutional “experiences
afforded to both male and female students affect gender differentiation, both
directly by providing differential skills practice and reinforcement, and indirectly
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by providing inputs that lead to students being socialised and behaving in gender-
differentiated ways.”
H1: Institutional practices have a significant influence on the gender-interaction levels of
university students during lessons.
3.2. Lecturers as determinants of gender-based interaction differences
Consuegra et al. (2016) also established that, just like parents’ expectations of their
children, the expectations of lecturers of students have a significant influence on
their interaction levels and on their academic performance. Lecturers relate to the
academics tasked with the teaching of students in colleges and universities. Howe
and Abedin (2013) found that the gender-based character of the expectations of
lecturers of students has a very high influence on how male and female students
participate in learning, as well as on the students’ future behaviour after school.
In their separate studies, Consuegra et al. (2016), Hurtado (2021) and Gustavsen
(2019) found that lecturers tend to have differential expectations of male and
female students’ academic performance, as well as to behave and communicate
differentially towards male and female students. All these expectations have
significant effects on the self-esteem, achievement motivation, level of aspiration,
classroom conduct and levels of interaction of both male and female students
during lessons (Consuegra et al., 2016).
Howe and Abedin (2013) also found that lecturers tend to give more opportunities
to male students for participating in learning activities; and they would more
likely select a male student instead of a female student, when both raise their
hands at the same time to answer a question. This behaviour by lecturers has a
significant effect on the self-esteem, confidence and motivation of female students
to participate in classroom activities (Mullen et al., 2015). Hassaskah and Zamir
(2013), in their published work on gender-based interactive differences between
male and female students in universities, also found that lecturers’ attitudes and
expectations of the genders have a significant influence on their behaviour
towards the levels to which female students can, or should, participate in class,
when compared to the levels at which male students participate.
These atypical assumptions about the levels of interaction between male and
female students are, therefore, the reason why many of the research findings have
demonstrated that female students’ participation levels in class are generally and
deliberately made lower than those for male students – by their lecturers.
In another study, Sadker et al. (2009) found that instead of interacting with all the
students, lecturers tend to spend two thirds of their teaching time interacting with
male students, and also that lecturers are more likely to interrupt a female student
and allow male students to take over a discussion, or an explanation of a concept.
Such a behaviour demeans female students; and it significantly affects their self-
esteem and interaction levels in class. Weiler (2009) also established that in science
and mathematics courses, lecturers tend to mostly direct their gaze towards male
students, and to call male students to go to the front to perform demonstrations,
when compared to female students, thereby indicating that the sciences and
mathematics courses are not for female students, but for male students.
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Carlana (2019), in her study, further found that lecturers grade male students
better than female students, especially in these science, mathematics and
technology courses, with male students consequently getting higher grades than
female students on answers similar to the ones that female students would have
provided. These practices have serious negative implications for the confidence,
self-esteem and participation levels of female students in such courses.
Nevertheless, Pentang et al. (2021) have shown that male and female university
students are given equal opportunities to select any field of specialization.
H2: Lecturers have a significant influence on gender-interaction levels of university
students during lessons.
3.3. Parents as determinants of gender-based interaction differences
Parents represent the primary socialising agents from the birth of a child to
adulthood (Hurtado, 2021; Consuegra et al., 2016; Gustavsen, 2019). In their study,
Halimi et al. (2016) found that because parents are responsible for transmitting
sex roles to their children from early years on, they influence both the general, as
well as the educational expectations of their children in terms of how actively the
child would participate in life in general and in school, and in how much of
academic performance, they set the bar for themselves to achieve.
Mullen et al. (2015) found that parents who socialise their daughters to become
timid, and to look inferior to their brothers, contribute to the development of timid
and inferior tendencies, and hence to low levels of participation and interaction in
class from girls. In a similar study, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that parents tend
to transmit feelings and behaviours of subservience to their daughters that have
negative future implications on how the girls will interact with others in life in
general, and also in school classrooms in particular.
H3: Parents have a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university
students during lessons.
3.4. Peers as determinants of gender-based interaction differences
Peers represent a referent group, that is, a group with which a student interacts
for most of the time during and after school hours (Gustavsen, 2019). Consuegra
et al. (2016) argue that peers represent a critical social group in the gender-
socialisation process, which exerts a big influence on a student’s attitudes, general
behaviour and interaction levels in classrooms. Separate studies by Consuegra et
al. (2016) and Gustavsen (2019) found that if a student’s peer group represents a
vibrant and active group that would always actively participate in school and
class activities, the student would be socialised to be active and to participate
actively in school and class activities, and vice versa. In a similar study, Nusche
(2015) found that the levels of interaction of students in the classroom also depend
on their perceptions of how they are perceived by their peers.
In the same study, it was found that male students are easily influenced by their
peers to either participate or not to participate, when compared to female
students, whose participation is because of their love of learning.
H4: Peers have a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university
students during lessons.
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Learning content and artifacts as determinants of gender-based interaction
differences
Content represents the information that students learn; while artifacts relate to the
objects made by human beings, typically one of cultural, technological or
historical interest (Förtsch et al., 2020). Content in textbooks and artifacts in
science and technology that are used for learning in universities has been found
to have a significant effect on the gender-interaction levels of male and female
students in universities (Witt & Hofmeister, 2015). Goode et al. (2020) aver that
content that stereotypes men and boys as technically oriented, and women and
girls as not, has for a long time been one of the reasons for the perpetuation of
gender differences in the levels of interaction of students in university classrooms.
Fortsch and Gartig (2020) also found that gender stereotypes, stereotype threats
and gender roles, as shown in textbooks, technology artifacts and other learning
materials contribute significantly to the differences in the levels of participation
in class by male and female students.
In their study also, Witt and Hofmeister (2015) found that gender differences in
the use of technology by male and students during lessons, are as a result of
technology designers, who play a key role in gendering technology artifacts, when
they integrate designs into technology products with assumptions about skills,
motives and traits of potential users, who in most cases are expected to be males.
These content- and artefact-based stereotypes have deep social and cultural roots;
and they have a significant impact on how male and female students rate their
skills and knowledge, and consequently on how much they are comfortable, when
participating actively during lessons (Fortsch et al., 2020).
H5: Learning content and artifacts have a significant influence on gender-based
interaction levels of university students during lessons.
3.5. Classroom climate as a determinant of gender-interaction differences
The classroom environment is one of the influential factors in the development of
gender differences in the interaction levels between male and female university
students (Gustavsen, 2019). Classrooms are defined as “dynamic, complex social
systems with unique processes (reciprocal interactions), persons (unique
attributes and skills), and contexts (environmental influences) that affect the
development of students and their participation in learning’ (Gustavsen, 2019,
p.2). As a result of the complex nature of classrooms and their environments,
different students behave differently; and it is these differences that need to be
effectively managed by the lecturers, in order to ensure adequate and equal
interaction during the learning process by both male and female students.
Caribay (2015) argued that the classroom climate can potentially affect students’
engagement (interaction) and their academic performance, particularly if students
feel segregated, discriminated against and disrespected. In his study, Caribay
(2015) further established two types of classroom climates that influence student
interaction, namely, the explicitly marginalising climate and the implicitly
marginalising climate. The explicitly marginalising climate is hostile,
unwelcoming and discriminating, in which the lecturers and/or other students,
are clearly discriminatory and disdainful of female students. On the other hand,
the implicitly marginalising climate is characterised by subtle and indirect
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postures and remarks of a demeaning and discriminatory nature against female
students in the classroom.
Hurtado (2021) found that classroom climates that are negative or discriminatory
against female students affect their self-esteem and preparation for class, self-
confidence, and their motivation to participate, regardless of their ability. Pervin
et al. (2021) also opine that, on the other hand, a warm and welcoming learning
environment that provides students with a feeling of control and security, helps
students to be more engaged, active and satisfied, thereby leading to better
academic performance. These findings show that both male and female students,
who have feelings of control and security, do better in school.
H6: Classroom climate has a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of
university students during lessons.
3.6. Interaction levels as determinants of academic performance
Interaction relates to opportunities for students, and/or students and lecturers, to
ask each other questions, discuss, or reflect on topics in the classroom (Wei, 2021).
On the other hand, academic performance is the outcome of the knowledge
gained, which is assessed by the marks allocated by a teacher, and/or the
educational goals set by students and teachers to be achieved over a specific
period of time (Narad & Abdullah, 2016). Student interaction levels have been
linked in a number of studies for academic success (Aguillon et al., 2020; Casper
et al., 2019; Ballen et al., 2019). Academic performance, as it relates to the
achievement of learning goals by students (Hurtado, 2021; Carlana, 2019; Harbin
et al., 2020). Dana (2020) established that gender-classroom interaction can either
obstruct or promote the academic performance of students.
In their studies on gender differences in academic performances between male
and female university students, Pervin et al. (2021) and Aristovinik et al. (2020)
found that students with higher levels of interaction, whether male or female,
demonstrated higher levels of academic achievement in their areas of study than
those with lower levels of interaction. Gopal and Singh (2021), Martin (2021),
Mensink and King (2020) and Almaiah and Alyoussef (2019) found that lecturers
who actively interact more with either male or female students by providing them
with timely responses to questions, timely feedback, and also by ensuring that the
students get more access to participation opportunities than other students,
contribute significantly to gender-academic performance by their students. Other
studies by Hashemi (2021), Terblanche et al. (2021), Oviawe (2020) and Ansari and
Khan (2020) also found that high levels of interaction between lecturers and
students, and between students themselves, contribute to the development of
positive self-esteem, motivation and satisfaction among students, which in turn
lead to enhanced academic performance.
Studies by Ndirika and Ubani (2017) and Oludipe (2012) however, found no
significant relationship between the levels of student interaction and academic
performance, according to gender. This was also confirmed in separate studies by
Knight et al. (2016) and Cooper et al. (2018), who also found that the levels of
interaction in class did not have any significant influence on the academic
performance of students in universities.
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H7: Gender-based interaction levels have a significant influence on the academic
performance of university students.
4. Materials and Methods
4.1. Research design and approach
A cross-sectional survey design that employed a quantitative approach located in
the post-positivist paradigm was used in the study. The study was guided by the
deductive theory. The study was conducted in 2021 at three selected universities
in Bindura, a town that is about 100 kilometres from Harare, the capital city of
Zimbabwe.
Research participants and sampling procedures
The study was conducted at three universities located in the town of Bindura as
research sites. A sample for the study was drawn from students in academic
faculties training students in sciences, mathematics and technology at each of the
three universities. The total number of students in these academic faculties was
11000 – from first year to final year students. Using the Research Advisors’ (2006)
sample size table at a 99% level of confidence and a 3.5% margin of error, the
sample size for the study was determined as 1285 students. Using proportional
representation, each of the three universities had institutional samples
distributed, as follows: X1=217; X2=739 and X3=329. Stratified random-sampling
strategy was used to select the students for each institutional sample from the
academic faculties.
The researcher first requested permission from the offices of the Deputy
Registrars Academy, to carry out the study at the three universities; and
permission was granted. Thereafter, the Deputy Registrars Academy then liaised
with the Deans of the academic faculties at their universities, in order to facilitate
the selection of the institutional samples to participate in the study, according to
the guidelines of the researcher, and in line with COVID-19 protocols. After
institutional samples were established and the emails of the participants were
given to the researcher, a total of 1285 questionnaires were distributed online
through the emails of the selected students. Being an online survey, two weeks
were allowed for the completion and return of the completed questionnaires, in
line with the minimum recommended time for the administration of online
surveys of 12.21 days (Ilieva et al., 2002).
A further one week was allowed as the follow-up period. After three weeks, a
total of 460 completed questionnaires were returned, giving a return rate of 35.8%,
which was considered acceptable, as it met the minimum recommended return
rate of 33% for online surveys. Based on the returned completed online
questionnaires, the demographic profiles of the respondents were analysed, as
shown in Table 1.
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IJLTER.ORG Vol 21 No 5 May 2022

  • 1. International Journal of Learning, Teaching And Educational Research p-ISSN: 1694-2493 e-ISSN: 1694-2116 IJLTER.ORG Vol.21 No.5
  • 2. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 5 (May 2022) Print version: 1694-2493 Online version: 1694-2116 IJLTER International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research (IJLTER) Vol. 21, No. 5 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 May 2022 Issue
  • 5. VOLUME 21 NUMBER 5 May 2022 Table of Contents Exploring the Need for Using Digital Repositories to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Omani Schools: Teachers’ Perceptions.............................................................................................................................................................1 Walid Aboraya A Gender-Based Analysis of Classroom Interaction Practices: The Effect Thereof on University Students’ Academic Performance ........................................................................................................................................................ 22 Norman Rudhumbu Exploring Preclinical Medical Students’ Reflections on their Learning Experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic .................................................................................................................................................................................................46 Siti Yusrina Nadihah Jamaludin, Mohd Salami Ibrahim Promoting Self-Regulated Learning among First-Year Accounting-Student Teachers: A Student-Empowerment Pedagogical Framework ...................................................................................................................................................... 64 Mapuya Medson The Potentiality of MOOCs as a Tool for Widening Access to Higher Education in the African Context: A Systematic Review................................................................................................................................................................ 84 Mpho-Entle Puleng Modise Digital Infographics Design (Static vs Dynamic): Its Effects on Developing Thinking and Cognitive Load Reduction............................................................................................................................................................................. 104 Nader Said Shemy Exploration of Malay Language Acquisition and Learning Experience among Orang Asli Students .................... 126 Nor Azwahanum Nor Shaid, Shahidi A. Hamid, Marlyna Maros The Development of Albanian School Principals: A Challenge to Avoid Old Concepts and Value the Importance of Development................................................................................................................................................................... 143 Magdalini Vampa Applying Peer-Review Checklist to Improve Vietnamese EFL University Students’ Writing Skills ...................... 166 Le Thi Tuyet Hanh, Bui Thanh Tinh Social Media for Teaching and Learning: A Technology Acceptance Model Analysis of Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic................................................................................................................. 182 John Mangundu Development of CDIO-Based Programs from the Teacher Training Perspective...................................................... 204 Tien Ba Tran, Thu Hung Phan 21st Century Teaching Skills and Teaching Standards Competence Level of Teacher ............................................. 220 Jesse T. Zamora, Jerome Jef M. Zamora
  • 6. Learning Sciences with Technology: The Use of Padlet Pedagogical Tool to Improve High School Learners’ Attainment in Integrated Sciences.................................................................................................................................... 239 Sakyiwaa Boateng, Mercy Nyamekye Measurement of Non-academic Attributes in the Situational Judgment Test as Part of School Teacher Selection: Systematic Literature Review............................................................................................................................................ 263 Azad Iqram Nadmilail, Mohd Effendi @ Ewan Mohd Matore, Siti Mistima Maat Teachers’ Perceptions and Challenges to the Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning during Covid-19 in Malaysia............................................................................................................................................................................... 281 Nurshuzishafiqah Ishak, Rosseni Din, Nabilah Othman Gamification in the University Context: Bibliometric Review in Scopus (2012-2022)............................................... 309 Jesús Manuel Guerrero-Alcedo, Lorena C. Espina-Romero, Ángel Alberto Nava-Chirinos Augmented Reality: The Effect in Students’ Achievement, Satisfaction and Interest in Science Education .......... 326 Norazilawati Abdullah, Vijaya Letchumy Baskaran, Zainun Mustafa, Siti Rahaimah Ali, Syaza Hazwani Zaini Revitalizing the Oddi Continuing Learning Inventory .................................................................................................351 Nicolaj Riise Clausen, Claus D. Hansen Application of Gamification Tools for Identification of Neurocognitive and Social Function in Distance Learning Education............................................................................................................................................................................. 367 Hera Antonopoulou, Constantinos Halkiopoulos, Evgenia Gkintoni, Athanasios Katsibelis University Academic Dishonesty and Graduate Quality for National Development and Global Competitiveness: Nigerian Universities in Perspective................................................................................................................................ 401 Chris-Valentine Ogar Eneji, Janet Sunday Petters, Stella Bassey Esuabana, Nkanu Usang Onnoghen, Bassey Obeten Udumo, Benjamin Ayua Ambe, Ekpenyong Essien Essien, Fidelis Abunimye Unimna, David Adie Alawa, Ajigo Ikutal Life Satisfaction among Adolescents: Comparison of Adolescents Attending Music and Sports Programs and Those Who Do Not ............................................................................................................................................................. 428 Zrinka Šimunovic, Diana Olcar Physical Science Teachers’ Understanding of Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking in Mpumalanga Province ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 446 Poncian Obert Tagutanazvo, Ritu Bhagwandeen Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs and Resistance to the Effective Implementation of Video-Based Multimedia in the Physics Classroom .............................................................................................................................................................. 463 Gabriel Janvier Tugirinshuti, Leon Rugema Mugabo, Alexis Banuza Using Digital Comics for Enhancing EFL Vocabulary Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic......................... 478 Luz Castillo-Cuesta, Ana Quinonez-Beltran
  • 7. 1 ©Author 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. 5, pp. 1-21, May 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.5.1 Received Feb 10, 2022; Revised May 4, 2022; Accepted May 8, 2022 Exploring the Need for Using Digital Repositories to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Omani Schools: Teachers’ Perceptions Walid Aboraya Faculty of Graduate Studies of Education, Cairo University (Egypt) Faculty of Education, Arab Open University (Sultanate of Oman) Abstract. The current study aims to investigate teachers’ perceptions regarding the need to employ digital repositories (DRs) in Omani schools to enhance teaching and learning using interactive e-learning content. The study employed a mixed method approach and was carried out in two phases. Firstly, a survey was adopted to 120 teachers from 15 different schools in Muscat to explore the extent of the need for DRs. Secondly, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 teachers to validate the results and develop a deeper understanding. The research methods addressed three aspects: (1) the need for using DRs to support teachers, (2) to support students’ learning, and (3) to enhance curriculum. The results of both methods were consistent and revealed that most teachers expressed the need for employing DRs in the educational process. Teachers believe that DRs are needed to support themselves and students’ learning and to enhance the curriculum. Moreover, the interview analysis yielded an emergent theme related to some conditions raised by teachers to effectively use digital repositories. These conditions include (1) training, (2) educational content, (3) ease of use, (4) and developing a community for teachers and students. Based on the findings, the study introduced a framework for a dynamic DR to be used in Omani schools then proposed a plan to ensure the quality, effectiveness of usability, sustainability, and systematic implementation of DRs in Omani schools. Future studies are recommended to evaluate the use of systematically implemented DRs from the perspectives of all stakeholders, including students. Keywords: digital repositories; learning objects; teachers’ perceptions 1. Introduction Online learning has grown in popularity because of its capacity to enable more flexible access to e-content and instruction at any time, from any location (Istambul, 2021; Castro & Tumibay, 2021). Many teachers and mentors become interested in online learning and use e-content to increase and improve students’ learning despite a lack of resources, facilities, and equipment in their institutions.
  • 8. 2 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Within the Mishra and Koehler (2006) TPACK framework, the problem with the current e-learning model in educational institutions can be identified in the lack of technological knowledge (TK) in general, technological content knowledge (TCK), and technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) in particular. This relates to the ability to design learning situations depending on the use of technology (Heitink et al., 2017). This involves the creation of appropriate educational materials and learning objects (LOs), as well as the challenge of making them available to the intended students in the absence of a defined method for accessibility and utilization (Luís & Marcelino, 2022). There is also a gap in institutional and leadership conviction with attempts and efforts to introduce a clear-cut strategy to capitalize on this new situation, such as designing and producing LOs and learning materials under the supervision of government institutions, and then making them available in digital repositories (DRs) under a system of availability and support. Digital repositories (DRs) are data storage systems designed to preserve and secure data for future use. When used in educational institutions, they are extremely useful. Teachers and students can use them to save and retrieve educational resources, whether face-to-face or online, to improve teaching and learning processes and make it simpler to attain desired learning results (Maldonado et al., 2016). Teachers may enhance their teaching techniques by depending on a variety of learning resources kept in repositories, and students can rely on them to suit their various learning needs. The Omani experience in the field of DRs can be described as novel. By tracing the DRs in Oman, one can find that the most recent project launched is the Omani research repository “Shuaa” which was adopted by the Scientific Research Council in cooperation with Sultan Qaboos University (Main Library) to serve higher education level and above (Shuaa, 2022). Another project was done based on cooperation between the public and private sectors called “Masader”. It aims to connect Oman's academic community to some of the world's best digital resources and support critical research activities across the country. This repository includes the latest books and research materials, with a number of links established with publishers, and the repository seeks to expand those links with other repositories as well (Masader, 2022). In the field of pre-university education, the “Wathiq” portal is a private repository that support self-learning. It includes learning resources such as video lessons, summaries of lessons, and self-assessment tools. Students can access this portal using any device (Wathiq portal, 2022). However, this portal is limited to the eleventh and twelfth grades and requires an annual subscription. There is also the “Zawiti” portal which is affiliated to the Ministry of Education in Oman. It serves school education at all levels and includes a question bank in which all inquiries about the courses are collected and sorted according to each subject. Students use this platform to practice exams and to ascertain the nature of questions (Ministry of Education, 2022). However, this portal lakes different types of e-content and activities that can facilitate learning different school subjects.
  • 9. 3 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Despite the efforts carried out in the field, learning objects repositories are still not a vital part of the educational system. Teachers do not often use these repositories and students do not rely on them much to enhance their learning. Given the benefits of DRs, as well as the global consensus on their benefits for educational institutions and the growing demand for educational e-content in Omani schools, it is necessary to investigate the feasibility of designing and developing DRs to store LOs serving Omani curricula. However, the decision to deploy technology in the classroom is frequently influenced by the views of each teacher (Boonmoh et al., 2021). Teachers’ perceptions about the usefulness of DRs for them or their students can be key to better implementation (Yalcinalp & Emiroglu, 2012; Tang, 2020). Teachers tend to develop low perceptions surrounding the value of using technological tools in teaching if they feel that their needs are not met throughout the implementation process (Harrell & Bynum, 2018). As a result, the tools will not be used to their maximum potential, creating an internal barrier (Francom, 2020). Although the Ministry of Education in the Sultanate of Oman is doing its best to develop teaching and learning, teachers’ voices seem absent in regard to their perception of DRs and the benefit of using them in enhancing teaching and learning. The researcher could not find any study addressing this issue in the Omani context. That is why this study came to cover this gab in approaching teachers and understanding their perceptions of utilizing DRs. Thus, the current study investigates teachers’ perceptions about the need for DRs for use in teaching and learning in Omani schools. To achieve this aim, the study tried to investigate teachers’ perceptions from three aspects constituting the need for DRs. These aspects are as follows: supporting teachers, supporting students’ learning, and enhancing the curriculum. Accordingly, three research questions were formulated, as follows: 1. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support teachers? 2. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support students’ learning? 3. What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to enhance curriculum? 2. Literature review DRs are greatly beneficial when they are used in educational institutions. They can enhance teaching and learning processes and facilitate achievement of the intended learning outcomes. Teachers can depend on different LOs stored in the repositories to improve their teaching methods and students can change their learning styles to achieve their objectives. This part introduces DRs and general learning objects and addresses teachers’ perceptions of DRs.
  • 10. 4 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 2.1 DR concept and advantages In recent years, digital content has developed significantly. The availability of information and the exchange of ideas via the internet has become one of the most important issues that professionals are concerned with. As a result, several recommendations emerged regarding the necessity for constructing DRs that ease the process of searching, retrieving, and managing e-content. In the context of education, a DR is defined as a database that collects and stores LOs with specified descriptions and metadata to make them available to beneficiaries (Bogucki, 2021). It can also be defined as a database that retains research work done by researchers in all scientific fields and can be accessed and searched using the web (Nayana & Pai, 2018). In the context of this study, DRs can be viewed as a large-scale database available on the internet that can be accessed and searched through an easy mechanism to enable both teachers and learners to reach and utilize the needed LOs in an easy and accurate way. Nowadays DRs play an important role in providing users with easy and unconditional access to knowledge through the internet free of charge (Kati, 2021). They use indexing systems based on international coding standards which allow users to easily browse and find required content with the possibility of integration through content management and learning systems (Kati & Stukes, 2021). One of the advantages of DRs is the possibility of providing access to all scientific output stored in it with the ability of preserving this scientific output for a long time. Also, they encourage communication between researchers from different specializations by providing access to the latest scientific output (Knight, 2018). In addition to this, they contain multiple patterns of knowledge and data that can be displayed in different ways. This knowledge is cumulative and is preserved and controlled through the policy of retention and accessibility set by the institution that owns the DR (Esquivel et al., 2021). DRs address the challenge of limited storage capacity in libraries, as they are distinguished by accommodating large data in a small storage space. The diversity of this data ranges from articles, conference works, reports, educational materials, multimedia and much more (Kati et al., 2019). In general, researchers deal with DRs as a central archive for their intellectual production, increasing the chances of publication and accessibility. In turn, this increases the impact factor for this production, as well as informal arbitration through the possibility of publishing that which is difficult to publish through traditional means, such as videos, podcasts, or e-content (Esquivel et al., 2021). There are numerous advantages to using DRs in the educational field. They help to enrich and enhance the exchange of knowledge across curricula, ease access to courses, facilitate the development process, and contribute to the possibilities of using inquiries and critical thinking-based learning strategies (Bakker & Rowan, 2018). Kovyazina (2019) added that repositories are of great importance to the educational field, as they contribute to saving time, cost and effort in the development and production of e-courses. They encourage teachers to employ guided discovery and different e-learning patterns, participate in creating content,
  • 11. 5 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter and reuse LOs in educational situations. Several studies have focused on building DRs so that they simulate the capabilities of the semantic web (Arabshian et al. 2009; Drozdowicz et al., 2012). Among the recent studies in this area is the study of Poulakakis et al. (2016) who established a system to enhance digital learning resources with metadata and semantic data to facilitate the semantic search for the required resources in line with the education system in primary and secondary schools. Also, Zervas et al. (2016) developed a model for a metadata schema that reflected the learning resources present within the digital repositories. This model was built to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers in (STEM) schools so that they can share their lesson plans. The model was used to easily and effectively reach the resources that the teacher requires. 2.2 Learning objects repositories LOs are considered the main component of educational digital repositories. They aim to formulate the educational content into miniature elements that can be used individually to simulate an educational goal or be combined with other objects to simulate other goals. They work to meet learners' needs for knowledge and skills in a more effective and less costly manner. (Sek et al., 2012; Zimudzi, 2012; Turel & Gürol, 2011). They are also used to support exploration and problem-solving ability according to the educational goals the teacher wishes to achieve (Çakiroglu et al., 2012). Therefore, digital LOs are considered an effective and economical tool in supporting learners in various educational situations. Such LOs need to be stored in DRs so that they can be organized, accessible, and retrieved, otherwise they might be lost (Boté & Minguillón, 2012). There are many DRs that contain LOs, as reported by Vrana (2021), such as the Merlot repository in the United States, which includes links to metadata repositories and is considered an interface to other repositories; the Edna repository in Australia, which stores various forms of LOs such as images, text, presentations, and videos, and also contains links to other repositories; the Jorum repository in Britain and the CAREO repository in Canada, which contain a wealth of educational, training, and research resources, as well as LOs. Further, Mering (2019) mentioned other repositories such as the Encore repository, which encompasses a large number of educational materials provided with free access for teachers and learners, and the Maricopa repository that can be browsed by topic, author, publication date, or title and contains articles, periodicals, university theses, various presentations, images, and videos. Guan et. al. (2019) also referred to the LOs in the Wisconsin repository of educational materials, which includes hundreds of thousands of LOs such as presentations, images, and texts. 2.3 Teachers’ perceptions of DRs Although much progress has been made in the design and implementation of DRs, the effectiveness of these repositories remains debatable. Many researchers argued that DRs and included learning objects would most likely become outdated if the functional use of such systems was not realized, or if the engagement of their dynamic users was not considered (Granić & Marangunić, 2019; Tang et al., 2020; Tang, 2020).
  • 12. 6 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Teachers' perceptions can be defined as their ideas or mental images regarding their professional activities and students, which are influenced by their previous knowledge and life experiences and determine their professional behavior (Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2022). When teachers have limited knowledge about using a new technology in teaching and learning, they automatically generate opinions about it, some of which may be based on stereotypes. This inclination might lead to misunderstandings or misperceptions surrounding that technology. The knowledge of teachers' views on the important aspects in repositories are supposed to aid designers, developers, and users of DRs in focusing on the primary concerns linked to improving the usefulness and efficiency of these repositories (Yalcinalp & Emiroglu, 2012). In order to successfully implement DRs in the educational system, Yalcinalp and Emiroglu (2012) surveyed 75 teachers to investigate their views about DRs after using learning objects repositories. Results yielded that DRs will only be used efficiently if some structural and usability factors are considered in designing DRs so that they reflect teachers’ requirements, such as the usage of ontologies and the Semantic Web. Further, Tang et al., (2020) attempted to gain a thorough knowledge of teachers’ intentions for using OER in K-12 classrooms. Based on the teachers’ view they recommended the following: to reinforce instructors' perceived ease of utilizing OER, repository designers must improve the design and function of the repository. Also, educators must help teachers engage in the production of open- licensed resources for K-12 students to ensure sustainability. The above exhibits why the knowledge of teachers’ perceptions about using DRs in education is an important factor that will help to implement DRs in the educational system in an effective way. 3. Methodology The current study employed a mixed method approach to explore the need for using DRs to enhance teaching and learning in Omani schools. This was achieved by mixing quantitative and qualitative data collection and triangulating the data to go beyond the limitation of a single method study by raising the level of credibility. 3.1 Research Design To achieve the study objects, data was collected about teachers’ perceptions regarding the need to use DRs from the following three aspects: to support teachers, to support students’ learning, and to enhance the curriculum. The study was conducted in two stages, the first of which involved delivering the questionnaire to a group of 120 teachers. The second part involved the conduction of semi-structured interviews with a group of nine teachers selected from the questionnaire sample. The nine teachers were interviewed about the same constructs to gain a deeper understanding to the research constituents measured by the questionnaire.
  • 13. 7 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 3.2 Participants First: the questionnaire sample consists of teachers from different disciplines distributed between 15 schools in Muscat. The questionnaire was available online and thus easily accessible for any teacher to fill it out. 120 teachers who returned the questionnaire in a complete form were considered the sample of the study. The research sample is characterized by certain features, including the following: all are teachers with various teaching experiences; mixed genders; teaching different subjects; and working in different districts in Muscat. Second: the criterion for selecting the interview sample was derived through an evaluation of the questionnaire replies and a selection of the diverse rich responses to aid in the comprehension of the anomalies revealed by the questionnaire analysis. To begin the sample selection process, a postscript was added to the questionnaire asking participants to provide their contact information if they agreed to be interviewed. Nearly one quarter of the questionnaire sample (n=29) distributed over five schools expressed interest in conducting an interview and provided their contact details. Following this, a purposive “information-rich” sample was chosen from the available participants who varied according to their responses and characteristics. The final sample came to nine participants. 3.3 Research Methods Using mixed methods to answer the research questions aids in triangulating the data, adding rigor, validating and reinforcing the findings, adding an additional dimension, and assisting with approaching the research questions from different angles and in greater depth. That is why the current study employed two methods: a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. 3.3.1 Questionnaire Based on the literature review and the researcher’s experience, a questionnaire was constructed to elicit information regarding the three research questions. The questionnaire was designed based on a five-point Likert scale and was divided into three sections. Each section constitutes six items, as follows: section one relates to “Supporting teachers” in items 1 to 6; section two is about “Supporting students’ learning” through items 7 to 12; and section three relates to “Enhancing curriculum” over items 13 to 18. 3.3.2 Semi-structured interviews Based on the argument that using qualitative methods can help with the analysis of quantitative findings (Taguchi, 2018), so that the statistical analysis can examine different effects on a certain phenomenon and then explore the grounds and the reasons behind these effects by using other qualitative methods (Dixon-Woods et al., 2021), interviews were used as a second method of data collection. The interview guide began with more generic questions regarding the three research questions, after which the rest of the questions were developed during the interview sessions, based on several issues raised throughout the discussion and connected to the key topics. The interview questions were piloted with two teachers before administering the main study.
  • 14. 8 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 3.4 Procedures Before administering the survey to the targeted sample, the validity and reliability of the questionnaire were measured. The validity was checked by asking the opinion of experts in the field, who recommended to provide teachers with the definitions of the terms “Digital repositories” and “Learning Objects” before asking them to fill in the questionnaire. Thus, the meaning of both constructs was clearly written for participants to read in the introduction section of the survey. To check for reliability, the questionnaire was piloted on 20 teachers from different subject areas with different years of experience. Cronbach alpha coefficient was found to be (0.85), which means that the scale is reliable. Finally, the questionnaire was administered to 120 randomly selected teachers from 15 different schools in Muscat. 4. Results The purpose of the results section is to present the research key findings from both quantitative and qualitative research methods. This presentation will assist in determining whether the quantitative and qualitative findings are consistent or inconsistent. 4.1 Quantitative analysis The survey sample consisted of 120 teachers from different schools in Muscat. They represented all subjects taught in schools as well as gender (54% female and 46% male). Also, years of experience range was almost equally distributed among the sample as follows: 25.1% have work experience from 1 to 5 years, 23.6% have work experience from 6 to 10 years, 22.5% have work experience from 11 to 15 years, 28.8% have work experience more than 11 years. Finally, (79.4%) of them have not received any training on employing DRs in teaching. Participants were asked to respond to 18 statements represented in a 5-point Likert-type scale, where ‘5’ represents the maximum score of the scale, ‘Strongly Agree’ and ‘1’ represents the minimum score, ‘Strongly Disagree’. To produce a meaning from the percentages in the following tables, the total percentage of “SA” and “A” were added together and considered to represent agreement; further, the total percentage of “SD” and “D” were added and considered to represent disagreement. 4.1.1 Perceptions about using DRs to support teachers The first section of the questionnaire aims to answer the first research question: “What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support teachers?”. Table (1) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of participants’ responses to each statement.
  • 15. 9 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Table 1. Perceptions about using DRs to support teachers SD=Strongly Disagree. D=Disagree. N=neutral. A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree Frequencies, (percentages) Statement SA A N D SD 1 DRs will help teachers to change their teaching approaches and styles to be more technologically based. 38, (31.7%) 59, (49.2%) 10, (8.3%) 7, (5.8%) 6, (5%) 2 Do you think that a repository is needed for promoting technological development and actively contributing to the spread of digital culture among teachers? 48, (40%) 62, (51.7%) 4, (3.3%) 4, (3.3%) 2, (1.7%) 3 Do you think that a repository will open the opportunity to share experiences and good practice among teachers? 47, (39.2%) 64, (53.3%) 6, (5%) 3, (2.5%) - 4 DRs will encourage teachers to employ atypical teaching strategies. 24, (20%) 72, (60%) 18, (15%) 3, (2.5%) 3, (2.5%) 5 DRs can save teachers’ time and efforts in preparing digital LOs to be used in various educational situations. 18, (15%) 64, (53.3%) 23, (19.2%) 13, (10.8%) 2, (1.7%) 6 DRs will enhance lesson planning to meet students’ different characteristics. 24, (20%) 69, (57.5%) 20, (16.7%) 4, (3.3%) 3, (2.5%) It is clear from Table (1) that most of the participants agreed or strongly agreed in the first rank about the ability of DRs to open the opportunity for teachers to share experiences and good practice among each other (92.5%; n=111). This indicates that teachers perceive DR to be a collaborative tool that can help them share their best practices together. This can happen by sharing opinions and discussions about LOs found in the repository for use in teaching to enhance students’ learning. Also, most participants agreed or strongly agreed to view the need for DR to promote teachers’ technological development (91.7%; n=110), improve their teaching approaches and strategies (80.9%; n=97), and encourage teachers to employ atypical teaching strategies in the second, third, and fourth ranks respectively. This implies that teachers are aware of the importance of DRs to promote more technologically oriented teaching styles and practices. The lowest ranked items were two that were related to enhancing lesson planning to meet students’ different characteristics (77.5%; n=93) and saving teachers’ time and efforts in preparing digital LOs to be used in various educational situations (68.3%; n=82). This indicates how teachers value the benefit of using DRs in improving their own work with less time and effort.
  • 16. 10 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter In general, it is obvious from table (2) that the total opinion of the teachers for the whole section tends to agree about the need for using a repository to support teachers in different aspects with (81.81%), total mean score (4), and standard deviation of (0.66). Table 2. Total perceptions about using DRs to support teachers Theme Percentage Mean St.D Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree Total Teachers’ support 27.64% 54.17% 11.25% 4.72% 2.22% 4.00 0.66 4.1.2 Perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning The second section of the questionnaire aims to answer the second research question “What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to support students’ learning?”. Table (3) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of participants’ responses to each statement. Table 3. Perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning SD=Strongly Disagree. D=Disagree. N=neutral. A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree Frequencies, (percentages) Statement SA A N D SD 1 DRs help students to be active learners. 42, (35%) 70, (58.3%) 6, (5%) 2, (1.7%) - 2 Using DRs will increase the opportunity for students’ collaboration. 23, (19.2%) 59, (49.2%) 24, (20%) 9, (7.5%) 5, (4.2%) 3 Using DRs can help students to be engaged to learning 26, (21.7%) 64, (53.3%) 18, (15%) 10, (8.3%) 2, (1.7%) 4 DRs will help students to achieve higher order thinking skills. 19, (15.8%) 55, (45.8%) 28, (23.3%) 12, (10%) 6, (5%) 5 Using DRs will increase students’ motivation to learn. 53, (44.2%) 65, (54.2%) 2, (1.7%) - - 6 DRs will enhance students’ learning. 27, (22.5%) 67, (55.8%) 15, (12.5%) 9, (7.5%) 2, (1.7%) It is evident from table 3 that the most agreed statement among the participants is item number 5 which came in the first rank. Almost all teachers agreed and strongly agreed that using DRs will increase students’ motivation to learn (98.4%; n=118). They believe that such repositories will transform students into active learners (93.3%; n=112) and enhance their learning experience (78.3%; n=94). Also, most teachers reported that there is a need for the use of DRs to assist student engagement with learning (75%; n=90). Although most teachers perceive the need for using DRs in students’ learning, they were less confident about the need to use DRs in increasing students’ collaboration (68.4%; n=82) and achieving higher order thinking skills (61.6%;
  • 17. 11 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter n=74). These two items were ranked the least among the six items in the whole section. In general, this section indicates the importance of having DRs in Omani schools, as reported by teachers; it encourages the constructivism approach in teaching students. It is obvious from table (4) that the collective teacher opinion for the whole section tends to agree about the need for the use of a repository to support students in learning (79.17%), total mean score (3.96), and standard deviation of (0.64). Table 4. Total perceptions about using DRs to support students’ learning Theme Percentage Mean St.D Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree Total Students’ support 26.39% 52.78% 12.92% 5.83% 2.08% 3.96 0.64 4.1.3 Perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum The third section of the questionnaire aims to answer the third research question “What are teachers’ perceptions about the need for using DRs to enhance curriculum?”. Table (5) illustrates the frequencies and percentages of participants’ responses to each statement. Table 5. Perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum SD=Strongly Disagree. D=Disagree. N=neutral. A=Agree. SA=Strongly Agree Frequencies, (percentages) Statement SA A N D SD 1 DRs will enhance the educational content. 43, (35.8%) 74, (61.7%) 2, (1.7%) 1, (0.8%) - 2 DRs will enable active learning environments by providing various ideas for activities. 30, (25.4%) 50, (42.4%) 25, (21.2%) 11, (9.5%) 4, (3.4%) 3 Do you think that repository is needed for enhancing teaching and learning processes? 40, (33.3%) 65, (54.2%) 11, (9.2%) 3, (2.5%) 1, (0.8%) 4 DRs will encourage the generation of ideas about improving formative assessment and evaluation in the educational situations 23, (19.2%) 48, (40%) 27, (22.5%) 12, (10%) 10, (8.3%) 5 Do you think that a repository is needed for achieving educational objectives in your subject? 32, (26.7%) 54, (45%) 18, (15%) 11, (9.2%) 5, (4.2%) 6 DRs can be used to simplify complex and abstract concepts. 43, (35.8%) 66, (55%) 6, (5%) 4, (3.3%) 1, (0.8%)
  • 18. 12 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter As shown in table 5, most teachers agreed and strongly agreed about two items which reflect the need for DRs to enhance the educational content (97.5%; n=117) and simplify complex and abstract concepts (90.8%; n=109). They were ranked as the first two items, respectively. This indicates that teachers need digital content to support students’ learning which will positively reflect on the whole teaching and learning processes. The second two ranked items reflected the need to use repositories to enhance teaching and learning processes (87.5%; n=105) and achieve educational objectives (71.7%; n=86). The two lowest ranked items related to enabling active learning environments by providing various ideas for activities (70.8%; n=85) and encouraging the generation of ideas about improving formative assessments and evaluation in educational situations (59.2%; n=71). This indicates how teachers value the benefit of using DRs in supporting the curriculum in terms of providing innovative ideas for activities and better assessment. In general, this section indicates the importance of having DRs in Omani schools to enhance curriculum as reported by the teacher. It is obvious from table (6) that the total opinion of the teachers for the whole section tends to agree regarding the need for use of a repository to support and enrich the curriculum (78.89%), total mean score (3.97), and standard deviation of (0.65). Table 6. Total perceptions about using DRs to enhance curriculum Theme Percentage Mean St.D Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree Total Curriculum enhancement 29.31% 49.58% 12.36% 5.83% 2.92% 3.97 0.65 4.1.4 Total teachers’ perceptions about the need to have DRs in Omani schools Overall, the total percentage of teachers who agreed and strongly agreed about the need to have DRs in Omani schools from the three aspects (teachers’ support, students’ support, and curriculum enhancement) is (79.96%), with a total mean score of (3.98) and standard deviation of (0.65). The high total mean scores in the three sections, as well as the overall total, reflects the extent to which teachers believe that there is a real need to use DRs in their schools. Table 7. Total teachers’ perceptions about the need to have DRs in Omani schools Theme Percentage Mean St.D Strongly Agree Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly Disagree Total Support Teachers 27.64% 54.17% 11.25% 4.72% 2.22% 4.00 0.66 Total support students’ learning 26.39% 52.78% 12.92% 5.83% 2.08% 3.96 0.64 Total enhance Curriculum 29.31% 49.58% 12.36% 5.83% 2.92% 3.97 0.65 Total Perceptions 27.78% 52.18% 12.18% 5.46% 2.41% 3.98 0.65
  • 19. 13 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter 4.2 Qualitative analysis Interviews with nine teachers were conducted, recorded, and transcribed. Following full transcription, data was reviewed word by word and line by line, keywords were assigned as first-level codes beside each paragraph, and labels were assigned to each group of words. Labels were grouped to form categories in the second level of coding. With my research questions in mind, I was able to sort these categories into two themes: those that are directly related to the research questions (main themes) and those that are emergent and can be linked in some way (indirectly) to the research questions (emergent themes). Results showed three main themes (teacher’s support, students’ support, and enhancement of curriculum) and one emergent theme (conditions for use), as shown in figure 1. Figure 1. Interview Themes 4.2.1 Main themes The interview analysis yielded three main themes reflecting the research questions: (1) teachers’ support, (2) students’ learning support, and (3) enhancement of curriculum. Teachers seem to be aware about the importance and benefits of using DRs in general. They believe that using LOs and digital repositories as technological tools will help them overcome many challenges they face with the sudden shift that occurred from face-to-face to online teaching due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They view such kind of practices as an opportunity for them to promote their own technological competencies. “I am sure that if that repository was there, I would have taught online in a better way. I heavily depended solely on YouTube videos, and it was not directly related every time.” Interviewee H Teachers agreed that using DRs and LOs will engage students to learning, increase their motivation, and help them achieve learning outcomes. “I am sure that Learning objects designed specially to address the schoolbook will highly engage students in the lessons and facilitate understanding many ideas.” Interviewee H They also believe that using LOs will simplify the complex and abstract concepts in the curriculum and facilitate self-learning for them as they are dependent on multimedia and include many activities. “I think such repository was needed to support us in the period of online teaching during the pandemic. We suffered a lot to find e-content matching the schoolbook.” Interviewee H Interview Themes Main Theme Teachers’ Support Main Theme Students’ learning Support Main Theme Enhance curriculum Emergent Themes related to conditions for use
  • 20. 14 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter “…if there were specially designed learning objects addressing our curriculum, I think teachers will compete to use them.” Interviewee H 4.2.2 Emergent themes “Conditions for use” is one emergent theme that came out of the interview analysis. This theme was coded and analyzed in the following categories: (1) training, (2) educational content, (3) ease of use, (4) and developing a community. See figure 2. Figure 2. Interview emergent issues In general, teachers confirmed the need for employing DRs and LOs in teaching and learning. However, they raised many conditions for that use to be successful. Five teachers (55.6%) emphasized the importance of changing their teaching styles and approaches in such new educational settings, which is why they assured that they must be trained on appropriately utilizing LOs and DRs to enhance the teaching and learning process. “We have to be trained first how to utilize DRs while teaching.” Interviewee H Most of them (7 teachers, 77.8%) believe that the content of LOs should directly reflect the taught lessons, be presented in the taught language, and always be up to date. “We need local content in our language and reflecting the taught topics in the book.” Interviewee B “We suffer of the lake of Arabic e-content addressing the schoolbook” Interviewee D They assured the importance of providing a user-friendly interface and accessible platforms. Four teachers (44.4%) confirmed the need of having small size LOs that can be viewed and downloaded easily because of the poor internet connection they have. “Learning objects should be small in size or even used offline as the network here is not fast.” Interviewee A Also, three teachers (33.3%) highlighted the need for the LOs to be editable and for there to be an option to upload their own objects. “I think it will be great If I can edit the learning objects to match my objectives in the lesson and focus on a certain part only.” Interviewee C Conditions for use Training Ease of use Educational Content Developing a community
  • 21. 15 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Finally, most of the teachers (8 teachers, 88.9%) raised the issue of developing a community within the DR so that teachers as well as students can communicate their experiences with the use of LOs in teaching and learning, and to also share good practices. “Allowing teachers from the same discipline to share best practices will be a great addition, I need to see some examples from my colleagues to build on.” Interviewee A “We have some experienced teachers here in using technology, they can help us to make model lessons.” Interviewee H “Allowing students to communicate with each other, rate the learning objects, comment, and reflect on their experience, will engage them in learning without they even realize that.” Interviewee E 5. Discussion The findings of the questionnaire and the interviews were both compatible. They have shown a clear need to use DRs to enhance teaching and learning in Omani schools. Needs were reported on three levels; needs to support teachers, needs to support students’ learning, and needs to enhance curriculum. Teachers believe that such a repository will raise both their technological and pedagogical skills. The response of the teachers in general implies that if we put a DR in use, including LOs related to the curriculum taught in Omani schools, it will be accepted from the teachers’ side. Further, it can promote teaching and learning if conditions raised in interviews related to training, educational content, ease of use, and development of a community are implemented. The responses on both research methods shed the light on the design and implementation of digital repositories. In the questionnaire, the highest ranked statement in the teachers’ needs was that the repository will open the opportunity to share experiences and good practice among teachers. Also, in the interviews, most teachers asked for the need for teachers and students to communicate their experiences and share best practices together. This possibility needs to be considered while developing a DR, where such a repository should have the ability to make teachers communicate and collaborate to share their experiences of using specific LOs in different learning situations. Also, the possibility for them to modify or add their own LOs to the database will be an advantage for them to peer review each other and develop their pedagogical skills in using technology- based education. This is consistent with Arcos et al. (2017) who argue that repositories are designed not only to store and disseminate objects, but also to allow users to collaborate by reviewing, commenting on, and rating the content they access. Apparently, this can assist teachers to change their teaching approaches and styles to be more technologically based and will encourage teachers to employ atypical teaching strategies. This idea is supported by Wenger (1998), by the Community of Practice where teachers from different schools in Oman will be allowed through the DR to form a group which shares the same concerns, interacts regularly, and learns from each other how to overcome their problems effectively.
  • 22. 16 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The same argument can be extended to students themselves, where creating a community for them in the DR will increase the opportunity for students’ collaboration. This is confirmed by Atenas and Havemann (2013) who assured that quality repositories serve as a place for users to interact and form communities of practice. Such practice will help them become active learners, allow them to be engaged more to learning, and raise their motivation to learn as reported by teachers. As for the third type of needs related to the curriculum, the highest mean scores were given to enhancing the educational content and simplifying complex and abstract concepts. This is also consistent with the interview findings. Similarly, when dealing with the curriculum within this collaborative environment, teachers can improve the way a curriculum is introduced to students through sharing experiences, modifying LOs and updating the way they are used in teaching. Such results might shed light on the need to create a dynamic warehouse model to contain local LOs that emulate the taught subjects in Omani schools and allow teachers and students to communicate and interact for better utilization. (See figure 3). Figure 3. Dynamic Digital Repository for Omani schools Based on the research methods findings, figure 3 shows how the DR can benefit Omani schools if it is designed according to their perceptions of DRs and how they can use it in teaching and learning. This is consistent with Yalcinalp and Emiroglu (2012) and Tang et al., (2020). The figure addresses how DRs can support teacher and student learning within the context of the local curriculum. Also, it shows DRs can allow teachers and students to interact and share best practices while using the DR in relation to school subjects in the Omani context. This is anticipated to aid in the promotion of teaching and learning experiences. The DRs should be under the control of the Ministry of Education in order to ensure the sustainability and quality of the LOs, as well as their ability to achieve the required goals for educational institutions in light of modern technology. Based on the questionnaire results and interview analysis, the study proposes a comprehensive plan for implementing DRs in school education in Oman as follows: Interaction Interaction Download View Online DR Omani Educational Context (School subjects) Friendly-User Interface Teachers’ Community Students’ Community Download Upload
  • 23. 17 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The proposed plan consists of six stages as follows (see figure 4): Figure 4. The proposed plan for developing and employing DRs in Omani schools The first stage (needs analysis): seeks to identify the actual needs of schools in developing the DRs. This will primarily be determined by stakeholder needs. Information about the project must be gathered in terms of design, production, and implementation at this stage in line with teachers’ needs. This also includes information about curriculum and learning materials. Analyzing human resources in schools and identifying needs and levels of expertise for both teachers and students are also required at this stage. Furthermore, it is critical to determine the availability of technical support as well as the quality of the internet connection. Finally, the financial aspect will be examined in terms of the cost of materials and software, with the goal of obtaining financial assistance from the local community. Stage two (design & development): Based on the analysis of the interview results, the design stage reflects emergent themes related to “educational content”, “developing a community” and “ease of use”. The latter can be addressed by following the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Principles in the design (Al Mahdi et al., 2019). Also, this phase can be addressed by applying the Dynamic DR (see figure 3). Accordingly, the repository can be designed and developed with the following features: - Unrestricted access to digital content for all teachers and students. - The digital content in Omani schools should be localized and cover all school subjects and scientific disciplines at all grade levels. - DR should allow and encourage teachers to upload their own lesson plans for use by other teachers and students. - DR should encourage interaction between teachers and students so that they can share best practices and ideas for reusing digital learning objects in a variety of educational settings. This will assist teachers in improving their pedagogical skills and developing novel teaching methods and strategies for use in teaching and learning. - DR should protect the intellectual property of knowledge resource owners and encourage them to participate more. - Refreshing digital content on a regular basis. - A user-friendly interface, as well as adhering to the appropriate technical and educational standards when developing the repository Needs analysis Design & Development Awareness Dissemination Evaluation
  • 24. 18 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Stage three (raising awareness): Based on the analysis of the interview results, the awareness stage reflects the emergent theme related to “training”. This stage aims to establish mechanisms for increasing beneficiary awareness of the importance of incorporating the DR into the educational process and improving teaching and learning. Also, this is to provide appropriate pedagogical training for teachers and students in order for them to efficiently utilize the repository. Stage four (evaluation): aims to pilot the repository and assess its usability from the perspective of the beneficiaries, where we can gather feedback and users' opinions about the content, ease of use of the repository, and the extent to which it is beneficial in the teaching and learning process. Stage five (dissemination): This is the final stage, in which the repository is made available on the internet so that it can be used in more than one school and is easily accessible to both teachers and students. 6. Conclusion and future work DRs are one of many advanced systems for e-learning and distance learning that can hold a wealth of information and useful elements for achieving educational objectives. They may contain many digital LOs, which can provide an enhanced educational environment in which these elements can be easily reused in various educational situations based on the needs of each educational situation. The power of this study is that it reflects teachers’ perceptions about using such technology in teaching and learning. Suggestions of the study are based on their teachers’ perceptions as they can be a key to better implementation. According to the findings, DRs are required in Omani schools on three levels of needs: teachers’ support, students' learning support, and curriculum enhancement. The suggested Dynamic DR model assimilates all these needs to ensure better operation. Also, based on the findings and the suggested Dynamic DR model, a proposed plan for developing and employing digital repositories in Omani schools is introduced. This will ensure the systematic implementation of DRs in Omani schools under the control of the Ministry of Education to ensure quality, effectiveness of usability, and sustainability. Additionally, the current study will help to establish the concepts of "free and open access" to educational content within the context of Omani schools, where teachers and students will be able to browse, download, edit, and upload content at any time using a dynamic DR that provides open interactive e-learning content to improve teaching and learning processes in Omani schools. Future studies are to work on the evaluation of the feasibility of using DRs after implementing them in a systematic way. The evaluation should go beyond knowing teachers’ perceptions to trying to understand how this practice was beneficial to students themselves and their views about improvement. Acknowledgements The research leading to these results has received funding from the Research Council (TRC) of the Sultanate of Oman under the Block Funding Program. TRC Block Funding Agreement No [BFP/RGP/EHR/18/156].
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  • 28. 22 ©Author 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. 5, pp. 22-45, May 2022 https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.5.2 Received Feb 22, 2022; Revised Apr 29, 2022; Accepted May 2, 2022 A Gender-Based Analysis of Classroom Interaction Practices: The Effect Thereof on University Students’ Academic Performance Norman Rudhumbu University of South Africa, South Africa Abstract. The need to optimize student interactions in universities for enhanced academic performance has been a subject of debate and discussion in different academic fora. A number of studies have shown that students, both male and female, can assert themselves academically if they are provided with opportunities for active participation and interaction with their lecturers and peers for both the horizontal and the vertical sharing of knowledge. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to investigate the gender-based interaction practices of science, mathematics and technology university students, and how these interactive patterns influence their academic performance. Using a quantitative approach located in the post-positivist paradigm, the study employed a structured questionnaire to collect the data from a sample of 1285 students from three universities. The results of the study showed that institutional practices, lecturers, parents, peers, learning content and artifacts, as well as the classroom environment, have a significant influence on the gender-based interaction practices of university students. Furthermore,, the results showed that the levels of interaction have a significant influence on the academic performance of university students, according to gender. As a main recommendation, it was proposed that universities should come up with gender-equity policies that would guide how the universities and their stakeholders could cater for the issues of gender equity. Keywords: classroom environment; gender; gender equity; higher education; institutional practices; STEM 1. Introduction The issues of gender and gender equity in all the facets of life including education, have become a topical issue the world over. Governments worldwide have come up with policies that promote the equal and equitable participation of men and women, girls and boys, in the economic spheres that include education. In the context of Zimbabwe, “Since 1980, a number of policies and strategies have been put in place, in order to promote gender equity in education; and these have included the introduction of education for all, free primary education, and the attraction of international agencies that support education in the country”
  • 29. 23 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter (Chabaya & Gudhlanga, 2013, p.1). While these and other policies have contributed to a significant increase in the education of girls, thereby achieving gender equity in the participation of girls in education, there is still work in progress, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), subjects in which only 19% of female students are enrolled, compared to 39% of male students (World Economic Forum, 2018). Gender-based interactions in the science, mathematics and technology classrooms have been the subject of extensive research and debate over a number of decades, owing to their importance in the teaching and learning processes (Howe & Abedin, 2013). These interactions, as social skills, have also been viewed in a number of studies, as being critical for enhancing the academic performance of university students (Consuegra, 2015). Among the reasons for gender-based differences in the levels and patterns of interactions between male and female students in universities, there are certain practices in the educational institutions themselves. Hurtado (2021), in his study, found that educational institutions continue to develop and reinforce, through their practices, gender segregation, stereotypes and discrimination via the teaching methods they use and the content developed in science, mathematics and technology textbooks. This was also confirmed by Elliot (2010), whose findings showed that educational institutions have become active agents in the perpetuation of the gender-based behavioural differences between male and female students, as a result of the nature of the task assignments they give to students and the methodologies they use during instruction. In the context of Zimbabwe, the issue of gender disparity in the 22 universities is not a new phenomenon; yet the problem still continues unabated (Guzura & Chigora, 2021). Despite the existence of gender inequity in universities in Zimbabwe (Guzura & Chigora, 2021), there is no study known to the researchers that has been conducted to establish how gender inequity in higher education affects gender-based interaction levels and the academic performance of students. This study, therefore, is an attempt to bridge the research gap; and it is guided by the following research questions: (i) What factors promote the gender-based interactive practices of students in universities in Zimbabwe? (ii) How significantly do these factors influence the gender-based interaction levels of students in the local universities? (iii) Is there any significant relationship between the gender-based interactive levels of university students and their academic performance? 2. The concept of gender and gender differences The concept of gender can be understood in two ways, either as a biological composition of the body, or as a socialisation-related attribute (Elliot, 2010). As a biological attribute, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that gender plays a very minimal role in the behavioural differences between men and women, and, in the context of the current study, between male and female students. In the same study, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that rather, it is gender as a socialisation attribute that inflates the minor biological differences out of proportion, by causing serious gender-based differences in the behaviour of men and women. Elliot (2010) also found that the socialisation-related gender-based view is the
  • 30. 24 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter reason why women are regarded as homemakers, who are mostly responsible for parenting, while men are regarded as wage earners. Socialisation in this case is defined as the unconscious and sometimes conscious process by which people learn to behave in a certain way, as a result of their interactions with other actors (parents, peers, lecturers and others) and via socialisation agents, such as the media, textbooks and others (Halimi et al., 2016). Gee (2000) defined gender as the kind of person one is recognised as being, at a given time and place. The issues of time and place are the descriptors of gender, which imply that each person has multiple identities connected not to their biological attributes, but rather, to their socially assigned roles and positions (Consuegra et al., 2016). A person’s gender, therefore, from a sociological perspective, relates to interactions and symbolic behaviours in the social sphere; while from a physiological point of view, it relates to the issues of masculinity and femininity (Vantieghem et al., 2014). Bigler et al. (2013) are of the view that while nature (biology that determines the sex of the student) and nurture (environmental factors, such as socialisation, that define the gender of a person through role assignment) act together in reciprocal causal, and interactive ways, to produce gender-based differences in the behaviour of male and female students, it is nurture that contributes more significantly to gender-based differences. This, therefore, means that it is how boys and girls are socialised at home, and how female and male students are socialised at school, that pose the greatest challenge to dealing with the problem of educational inequity in universities. 3. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks informing hypotheses and their formulation This study used the socio-cultural theory developed by Vygotsky (1978), as a theoretical lens. The theory deals with the social construction of knowledge; and it is premised on the belief that social experience plays a dominant role in human development in general, and in knowledge acquisition in particular (Kurt, 2020). Based on the fact that interaction is a social skill (Voyer & Voyer, 2014), this theory has been found to be particularly relevant to this study. According to Vygotsky (1978), true human development is not from the individual to the social, but rather it is from the social to the individual. As a result, the theory maintains that social settings and learning are interrelated (Kurt, 2020). Institutional practices (IP) Lecturer factors (LF) Parental factors (PF) Peer factors (PF) Interaction levels (IL) Academic performance (AP) Learning content and artifacts (LCA) Classroom climate (CC) H1 H2 H3 H4 H7 H6 H5 Figure 1: The research model
  • 31. 25 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter The theory demonstrates that for effective teaching and learning, lecturers must act as facilitators, who engage students in guided interactions, comprehensive thoughtful discussions and the creation of collaborative communities of learners (Polly et al., 2020; Kurt, 2020; Ibañez & Pentang, 2021). Polly et al. (2020, p.2) found that learning “awakens a variety of internal development processes that are only able to operate when a student interacts with others.” This is perhaps the reason why Matusov (2015) argued that we cannot understand cognitive development without first understanding the social and historical context within which it is situated. Based on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks, a research model (Figure 1), was developed. Figure 1 demonstrates that the factors that include institutional practices, lecturer factors, parental factors, peer factors, learning content and artifacts, as well as the classroom climate, may have a significant effect on the interaction levels of boys and girls in the classroom; while furthermore, the interaction levels may have a significant effect on the academic performance of the students. 3.1.Institutional practices as determinants of gender-based interaction differences Educational institutions, such as universities, are expected to provide all students, male and female alike, with equal opportunities to interact with their lecturers, peers and content, for enhanced academic performance. Institutional practices are defined as opportunities that institutions create and provide for all students to be able to effectively learn (Ziskin et al., 2010), Such opportunities include teaching and learning practices, recruitment practices, promotion practices, support and development practices, orientation and residential-life practices, among others (Ziskin et al., 2010). Interaction, being a social skill, is critical for the academic performance of students (Voyer & Voyer, 2014); and it needs to be nurtured by educational institutions. Without a clearly articulated institutional vision and policy that guides institutional practices on gender-equity issues in university classrooms, charting the right direction, in order to facilitate equity in the participation of both male and female students in the learning process in universities, this becomes a challenge (OECD, 2015). Chapman (2015) established that gender-based socialisation practices in higher educational institutions continue to ensure that female students are made aware that they are unequal to male students. This has serious ramifications on their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and ultimately on their academic performance (Hurtado, 2021). As a result of these institutional practices that continue to promote inequity, classroom practices also by extension, continue to ensure, through the teaching methodologies used, examples selected to clarify concepts, and the technology artifacts used, whereby female students understand their lower academic rank, when compared to male students. Bigler et al. (2013, p.1) in their study found that the institutional “experiences afforded to both male and female students affect gender differentiation, both directly by providing differential skills practice and reinforcement, and indirectly
  • 32. 26 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter by providing inputs that lead to students being socialised and behaving in gender- differentiated ways.” H1: Institutional practices have a significant influence on the gender-interaction levels of university students during lessons. 3.2. Lecturers as determinants of gender-based interaction differences Consuegra et al. (2016) also established that, just like parents’ expectations of their children, the expectations of lecturers of students have a significant influence on their interaction levels and on their academic performance. Lecturers relate to the academics tasked with the teaching of students in colleges and universities. Howe and Abedin (2013) found that the gender-based character of the expectations of lecturers of students has a very high influence on how male and female students participate in learning, as well as on the students’ future behaviour after school. In their separate studies, Consuegra et al. (2016), Hurtado (2021) and Gustavsen (2019) found that lecturers tend to have differential expectations of male and female students’ academic performance, as well as to behave and communicate differentially towards male and female students. All these expectations have significant effects on the self-esteem, achievement motivation, level of aspiration, classroom conduct and levels of interaction of both male and female students during lessons (Consuegra et al., 2016). Howe and Abedin (2013) also found that lecturers tend to give more opportunities to male students for participating in learning activities; and they would more likely select a male student instead of a female student, when both raise their hands at the same time to answer a question. This behaviour by lecturers has a significant effect on the self-esteem, confidence and motivation of female students to participate in classroom activities (Mullen et al., 2015). Hassaskah and Zamir (2013), in their published work on gender-based interactive differences between male and female students in universities, also found that lecturers’ attitudes and expectations of the genders have a significant influence on their behaviour towards the levels to which female students can, or should, participate in class, when compared to the levels at which male students participate. These atypical assumptions about the levels of interaction between male and female students are, therefore, the reason why many of the research findings have demonstrated that female students’ participation levels in class are generally and deliberately made lower than those for male students – by their lecturers. In another study, Sadker et al. (2009) found that instead of interacting with all the students, lecturers tend to spend two thirds of their teaching time interacting with male students, and also that lecturers are more likely to interrupt a female student and allow male students to take over a discussion, or an explanation of a concept. Such a behaviour demeans female students; and it significantly affects their self- esteem and interaction levels in class. Weiler (2009) also established that in science and mathematics courses, lecturers tend to mostly direct their gaze towards male students, and to call male students to go to the front to perform demonstrations, when compared to female students, thereby indicating that the sciences and mathematics courses are not for female students, but for male students.
  • 33. 27 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Carlana (2019), in her study, further found that lecturers grade male students better than female students, especially in these science, mathematics and technology courses, with male students consequently getting higher grades than female students on answers similar to the ones that female students would have provided. These practices have serious negative implications for the confidence, self-esteem and participation levels of female students in such courses. Nevertheless, Pentang et al. (2021) have shown that male and female university students are given equal opportunities to select any field of specialization. H2: Lecturers have a significant influence on gender-interaction levels of university students during lessons. 3.3. Parents as determinants of gender-based interaction differences Parents represent the primary socialising agents from the birth of a child to adulthood (Hurtado, 2021; Consuegra et al., 2016; Gustavsen, 2019). In their study, Halimi et al. (2016) found that because parents are responsible for transmitting sex roles to their children from early years on, they influence both the general, as well as the educational expectations of their children in terms of how actively the child would participate in life in general and in school, and in how much of academic performance, they set the bar for themselves to achieve. Mullen et al. (2015) found that parents who socialise their daughters to become timid, and to look inferior to their brothers, contribute to the development of timid and inferior tendencies, and hence to low levels of participation and interaction in class from girls. In a similar study, Consuegra et al. (2016) found that parents tend to transmit feelings and behaviours of subservience to their daughters that have negative future implications on how the girls will interact with others in life in general, and also in school classrooms in particular. H3: Parents have a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university students during lessons. 3.4. Peers as determinants of gender-based interaction differences Peers represent a referent group, that is, a group with which a student interacts for most of the time during and after school hours (Gustavsen, 2019). Consuegra et al. (2016) argue that peers represent a critical social group in the gender- socialisation process, which exerts a big influence on a student’s attitudes, general behaviour and interaction levels in classrooms. Separate studies by Consuegra et al. (2016) and Gustavsen (2019) found that if a student’s peer group represents a vibrant and active group that would always actively participate in school and class activities, the student would be socialised to be active and to participate actively in school and class activities, and vice versa. In a similar study, Nusche (2015) found that the levels of interaction of students in the classroom also depend on their perceptions of how they are perceived by their peers. In the same study, it was found that male students are easily influenced by their peers to either participate or not to participate, when compared to female students, whose participation is because of their love of learning. H4: Peers have a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university students during lessons.
  • 34. 28 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter Learning content and artifacts as determinants of gender-based interaction differences Content represents the information that students learn; while artifacts relate to the objects made by human beings, typically one of cultural, technological or historical interest (Förtsch et al., 2020). Content in textbooks and artifacts in science and technology that are used for learning in universities has been found to have a significant effect on the gender-interaction levels of male and female students in universities (Witt & Hofmeister, 2015). Goode et al. (2020) aver that content that stereotypes men and boys as technically oriented, and women and girls as not, has for a long time been one of the reasons for the perpetuation of gender differences in the levels of interaction of students in university classrooms. Fortsch and Gartig (2020) also found that gender stereotypes, stereotype threats and gender roles, as shown in textbooks, technology artifacts and other learning materials contribute significantly to the differences in the levels of participation in class by male and female students. In their study also, Witt and Hofmeister (2015) found that gender differences in the use of technology by male and students during lessons, are as a result of technology designers, who play a key role in gendering technology artifacts, when they integrate designs into technology products with assumptions about skills, motives and traits of potential users, who in most cases are expected to be males. These content- and artefact-based stereotypes have deep social and cultural roots; and they have a significant impact on how male and female students rate their skills and knowledge, and consequently on how much they are comfortable, when participating actively during lessons (Fortsch et al., 2020). H5: Learning content and artifacts have a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university students during lessons. 3.5. Classroom climate as a determinant of gender-interaction differences The classroom environment is one of the influential factors in the development of gender differences in the interaction levels between male and female university students (Gustavsen, 2019). Classrooms are defined as “dynamic, complex social systems with unique processes (reciprocal interactions), persons (unique attributes and skills), and contexts (environmental influences) that affect the development of students and their participation in learning’ (Gustavsen, 2019, p.2). As a result of the complex nature of classrooms and their environments, different students behave differently; and it is these differences that need to be effectively managed by the lecturers, in order to ensure adequate and equal interaction during the learning process by both male and female students. Caribay (2015) argued that the classroom climate can potentially affect students’ engagement (interaction) and their academic performance, particularly if students feel segregated, discriminated against and disrespected. In his study, Caribay (2015) further established two types of classroom climates that influence student interaction, namely, the explicitly marginalising climate and the implicitly marginalising climate. The explicitly marginalising climate is hostile, unwelcoming and discriminating, in which the lecturers and/or other students, are clearly discriminatory and disdainful of female students. On the other hand, the implicitly marginalising climate is characterised by subtle and indirect
  • 35. 29 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter postures and remarks of a demeaning and discriminatory nature against female students in the classroom. Hurtado (2021) found that classroom climates that are negative or discriminatory against female students affect their self-esteem and preparation for class, self- confidence, and their motivation to participate, regardless of their ability. Pervin et al. (2021) also opine that, on the other hand, a warm and welcoming learning environment that provides students with a feeling of control and security, helps students to be more engaged, active and satisfied, thereby leading to better academic performance. These findings show that both male and female students, who have feelings of control and security, do better in school. H6: Classroom climate has a significant influence on gender-based interaction levels of university students during lessons. 3.6. Interaction levels as determinants of academic performance Interaction relates to opportunities for students, and/or students and lecturers, to ask each other questions, discuss, or reflect on topics in the classroom (Wei, 2021). On the other hand, academic performance is the outcome of the knowledge gained, which is assessed by the marks allocated by a teacher, and/or the educational goals set by students and teachers to be achieved over a specific period of time (Narad & Abdullah, 2016). Student interaction levels have been linked in a number of studies for academic success (Aguillon et al., 2020; Casper et al., 2019; Ballen et al., 2019). Academic performance, as it relates to the achievement of learning goals by students (Hurtado, 2021; Carlana, 2019; Harbin et al., 2020). Dana (2020) established that gender-classroom interaction can either obstruct or promote the academic performance of students. In their studies on gender differences in academic performances between male and female university students, Pervin et al. (2021) and Aristovinik et al. (2020) found that students with higher levels of interaction, whether male or female, demonstrated higher levels of academic achievement in their areas of study than those with lower levels of interaction. Gopal and Singh (2021), Martin (2021), Mensink and King (2020) and Almaiah and Alyoussef (2019) found that lecturers who actively interact more with either male or female students by providing them with timely responses to questions, timely feedback, and also by ensuring that the students get more access to participation opportunities than other students, contribute significantly to gender-academic performance by their students. Other studies by Hashemi (2021), Terblanche et al. (2021), Oviawe (2020) and Ansari and Khan (2020) also found that high levels of interaction between lecturers and students, and between students themselves, contribute to the development of positive self-esteem, motivation and satisfaction among students, which in turn lead to enhanced academic performance. Studies by Ndirika and Ubani (2017) and Oludipe (2012) however, found no significant relationship between the levels of student interaction and academic performance, according to gender. This was also confirmed in separate studies by Knight et al. (2016) and Cooper et al. (2018), who also found that the levels of interaction in class did not have any significant influence on the academic performance of students in universities.
  • 36. 30 http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter H7: Gender-based interaction levels have a significant influence on the academic performance of university students. 4. Materials and Methods 4.1. Research design and approach A cross-sectional survey design that employed a quantitative approach located in the post-positivist paradigm was used in the study. The study was guided by the deductive theory. The study was conducted in 2021 at three selected universities in Bindura, a town that is about 100 kilometres from Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Research participants and sampling procedures The study was conducted at three universities located in the town of Bindura as research sites. A sample for the study was drawn from students in academic faculties training students in sciences, mathematics and technology at each of the three universities. The total number of students in these academic faculties was 11000 – from first year to final year students. Using the Research Advisors’ (2006) sample size table at a 99% level of confidence and a 3.5% margin of error, the sample size for the study was determined as 1285 students. Using proportional representation, each of the three universities had institutional samples distributed, as follows: X1=217; X2=739 and X3=329. Stratified random-sampling strategy was used to select the students for each institutional sample from the academic faculties. The researcher first requested permission from the offices of the Deputy Registrars Academy, to carry out the study at the three universities; and permission was granted. Thereafter, the Deputy Registrars Academy then liaised with the Deans of the academic faculties at their universities, in order to facilitate the selection of the institutional samples to participate in the study, according to the guidelines of the researcher, and in line with COVID-19 protocols. After institutional samples were established and the emails of the participants were given to the researcher, a total of 1285 questionnaires were distributed online through the emails of the selected students. Being an online survey, two weeks were allowed for the completion and return of the completed questionnaires, in line with the minimum recommended time for the administration of online surveys of 12.21 days (Ilieva et al., 2002). A further one week was allowed as the follow-up period. After three weeks, a total of 460 completed questionnaires were returned, giving a return rate of 35.8%, which was considered acceptable, as it met the minimum recommended return rate of 33% for online surveys. Based on the returned completed online questionnaires, the demographic profiles of the respondents were analysed, as shown in Table 1.