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Education Review
Volume 7, Number 10, October 2010 (Serial Number 71)

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Education Review
Volume 7, Number 10, October 2010 (Serial Number 71)

Curriculum and Teaching
A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text
complexity 1
Katsunori Kotani, Takehiko Yoshimi, Hitoshi Isahara
Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and
innovation 10
Peter H. Hackbert
How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading 22
Fatma Kayan Fadlelmula, Meriç Özgeldi
Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention 29
Diana Nenadic-Bilan, Teodora Vigato
Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies 36
Esteban Navarrete-Álvarez, María Jesús Rosales-Moreno, María Dolores Huete-Morales
Educational Management and Policy
Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria:
Implications for students’ personnel management practice 42
Ramoni Ayobami Alani, Phillips Olaide Okunola, Sikiru Omotayo Subair
The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education 51
Robin Jung-Cheng Chen, Shu-Fen Chiu
Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view) 62
Pavlovic Slavica
Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning 70
Margarita Hido, Irena Shehu
Special Education
Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education 78
ZHANG Jian-xin, LIAO Hong-zhi
Educational Technology
Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics
in English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system 87
Lee Tan Luck, Chew Fong Peng
What 37,000 citations can tell 98
Adriaan Swanepoel
Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among
Form One students 106
Rossafri bin Mohamad, Balakrishnan Muninday, Malliga Govindasamy
Education History
Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press 114
Judit Langer-Buchwald
October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on

reading time and text complexity

Katsunori Kotani1, Takehiko Yoshimi2, Hitoshi Isahara3

(1. School of English Language and Communication, Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka 573-1001, Japan;
2. Faculty of Science and Technology, Ryukoku University, Shiga 520-2194, Japan;
3. Information and Media Center, Toyohashi University of Technology, Aichi 441-8580, Japan)

Abstract: In textbooks, foreign (second) language reading proficiency is often evaluated through
comprehension questions. In case, authentic texts are used as reading material, such questions should be prepared
by teachers. However, preparing appropriate questions may be a very demanding task for teachers. This paper
introduces a method for automatically evaluating proficiency, wherein comprehension questions are not required.
This method assesses a learner’s reading proficiency on the basis of the linguistic features of the text and the
learner’s reading time. A reading model following this method predicted reading proficiency with an ER (error
rate) of 18.2%. This ER is lower than those of models proposed in previous studies. Furthermore, the ER of the
authors’ reading model for various learner groups classified by their RS (reading speeds) was examined. The
result of this examination showed that the error rate was the lowest for the group of learners with fast RS.
Key words: computer-assisted language learning; English as a foreign language; learners’ reading; natural
language processing

1. Introduction

Computer-based evaluation plays an important role in foreign language learning and teaching. Various
studies have investigated the methods of evaluating foreign language reading skills (Nagata, et al., 2002; Kotani,
et al., 2007, 2008). These studies proposed statistical evaluation methods by using machine learning algorithms,
such as SVMs (support vector machines) (Vapnik, 1998). Since these methods predict the optimal reading time,
the authors can evaluate a learner’s reading proficiency by comparing the optimal reading time with the learner’s
actual reading time.
Following the above-mentioned studies, the authors constructed a reading model that automatically evaluates
a learner’s reading proficiency on the basis of his/her reading time. The primary advantage of such evaluations is
that they allow a learner’s reading proficiency to be assessed without the use of comprehension questions.
Although comprehension questions are useful for evaluating reading proficiency, preparing these questions by
using authentic texts, which typically do not include such kinds of questions, is an ordeal for teachers. Moreover,

Katsunori Kotani, associate professor, School of English Language and Communication, Kansai Gaidai University; research fields:
theoretical linguistics, computational linguistics.
Takehiko Yoshimi, associate professor, Faculty of Science and Technology, Ryukoku University; research field: computational
Hitoshi Isahara, professor, Information and Media Center, Toyohashi University of Technology; research field: computational

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

unlike in the case of comprehension questions, reading time can be measured by using a variety of texts, such as
newspapers or magazine articles. It is evident that, since evaluations based on reading time do not require
comprehension questions, teachers are relieved of an ordeal. In addition, if the time taken to read individual
sentences is measured, a learner’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to reading can be comprehensively
analyzed for each sentence (Yoshimi, et al., 2009). Further, such sentence-by-sentence evaluation is a difficult task
when methods based on comprehension questions are followed.
The authors shall briefly note other reasons for choosing reading time as an evaluation criterion. First, it is
generally supposed that reading time is correlated with the rate of comprehension, as reported in Just and
Carpenter (1987). Next, tests based on reading time are expected to have a pedagogical effect (Alderson, 2000;
Bell, 2001). Finally, the reliability and validity of such tests have been acknowledged with respect to second
language reading assessments (Shizuka, 1998; Naganuma & Wada, 2002; Kotani, et al., 2007; 2008).
Given the aforementioned properties of reading time, Kotani, et al. (2009a) proposed a reading model that
estimates reading proficiency by examining a learner’s reading time and the linguistic features of the text.
Following Kotani, et al. (2009a), the authors derived a reading model that uses support vector regression based on
reading time and linguistic features, as shown in Figure 1. In this model, reading proficiency refers to the score
obtained for the reading section in the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). Linguistic
features are classified into lexical, syntactic and discourse features.

TOEIC reading part score

reading model

linguistic features reading time

lexical features syntactic features discourse features

Figure 1 Reading model

Kotani, et al. (2009b) further investigated the relation between their reading model and learners’ RS in order
to determine whether any shortcomings still remained in the reading model. In this paper, the authors introduce
new linguistic features aiming at decreasing the error rate. The experimental result showed that the error rate
decreased from 18.5% to 18.2% owing to these features. The findings of this study will present a new direction
with respect to the evaluation of foreign language reading proficiency under a computer-assisted language
learning system. In light of this, the authors can use their reading model as an evaluation method for reading
proficiency in a computer-based placement test.

2. Related studies

As shown in section 1, previous studies (Nagata, et al., 2002; Kotani, et al., 2007; 2008) have proposed the
reading time model. In addition, another study (Schwarm, et al., 2005) has proposed the readability model. All
these studies derived their reading models by using a statistical method. Nagata, et al. (2002) developed a word
recognition time model using a neural network learning algorithm. Kotani, et al. (2007; 2008) conducted a
multiple regression analysis, whereas Schwarm, et al. (2005) used SVMs.

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

Notwithstanding the above similarity, these models can be classified into 2 groups on the basis of their
syntactic features. The reading model of Nagata, et al. (2002) comprises the syntactic features of specific
grammatical constructions, such as relative clauses, participle clauses and to-infinitive clauses. The word
recognition time is weighted for the words that appear in these constructions. According to Nagata, et al. (2002), it
is difficult for Japanese learners of EFL (English as a foreign language) to comprehend such constructions.
Similarly, a readability model developed by Schwarm, et al. (2005) is based on syntactic features involving the
distribution of specific grammatical constructions such as noun phrases, verb phrases and subordinate clauses.
In contrast to these models, a reading model of Kotani, et al. (2007) uses syntactic features that are not
limited to certain grammatical constructions. According to Kotani, et al. (2007), although the syntactic features of
specific grammatical constructions undeniably affect reading time or readability, a reading model using these
features should be able to tolerate the margin of technological errors related to natural language processing tools.
When using a syntactic parser, the authors must consider the presence of technological errors, such as the
incorrect labeling of syntactic nodes. For instance, a non-relative clause might be incorrectly labeled as a relative
clause. Given this possibility, the authors have to reduce the error effect to the minimum.
Kotani, et al. (2007) solved this problem by using syntactic features that are available without labeling.
Specifically, the syntactic features they used are the length of a sentence in terms of the number of words and the
size of a sentence in terms of the number of syntactic branching nodes. Sentence length is commonly used as a
syntactic feature for examining readability (Flesch, 1948; Smith & Kincaid, 1970). The number of branching
nodes is believed to affect the reading time from the psycholinguistic perspective, for instance, through the
garden-path effect (Frazier & Rayner, 1982). The reading model of Kotani, et al. (2007) exhibited higher
prediction accuracy than a model having the labeling problem. Given this result, Kotani, et al. (2008) developed
another reading model using not only syntactic features, but also lexical and discourse features.

3. Features of the reading model

Following the previous models (Kotani, et al., 2007; 2008), the authors develop a reading model that
estimates a learner’s reading proficiency in terms of his/her TOEIC score by examining the reading time of the
learner and the linguistic features of the text. Hence, the authors’ model differs from the previous models in that it
evaluates a learner’s reading proficiency, while the previous models identified sentences that were difficult to
comprehend by a learner. In addition, this reading model has been developed by using support vector regression
(Vapnik, 1998), whereas the previous models were constructed by using multiple regression analysis.
The authors’ reading model examines both the reading time of the learner and the linguistic features of the
text. Linguistic features encompass lexical, syntactic and discourse features. Since these features can be detected
with state-of-the-art natural language processing tools, it is possible to implement this reading model in a
computer-assisted language learning system. Next, the authors introduce certain linguistic features as well as a
learner feature, namely, reading time.
3.1 Lexical features
Lexical features comprise word length and vocabulary difficulty for the reading model of Kotani et al.
(2009b). Word length is defined as the number of characters in a word. It is well known that word length affects
text readability and that readability formulas (Flesch, 1948; Smith & Kincaid, 1970) use word length as an
independent variable for text readability. Hence, word length should be considered for evaluating a learner’s

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

reading proficiency.
Since word length cannot exhaustively explain the lexical effect, the authors include vocabulary difficulty as
another lexical feature, following Kotani, et al. (2009b). It is reported that reading comprehension may be difficult
for Japanese EFL learners even when only short words are used (Sano & Ino, 2000). Following Kotani, et al.
(2009b), the authors have assigned vocabulary difficulty scores on the basis of heuristically determined
vocabulary difficulty, which is summarized in the JACET 4,000 Basic Words List (JACET, 1993). Vocabulary
difficulty is determined by English teachers working with Japanese EFL learners. This list provides the difficulty
scores for 11 levels (Someya, 2000). Vocabulary difficulty is determined by summing up the scores of all the
words in a given text.
Although the vocabulary difficulty list contains more than 35,000 words, authentic texts may contain words
that are not registered in this list. Therefore, the reading model of Kotani, et al. (2009b) encounters a problem that
the model cannot estimate the vocabulary difficulty for such words.
Since the vocabulary difficulty list is compiled mainly for EFL learners, it is supposed to cover vocabularies
that they should learn. Hence, the vocabulary difficulty of unregistered words should be higher than the registered
ones. Following this assumption, the authors can solve the problem of unregistered words by: (1) regarding
unregistered words as more difficult than registered words; or (2) considering the number of unregistered words in
a text as a lexical feature. The former solution is hardly feasible, because it is hard to precisely determine the
vocabulary difficulty of unregistered words. Hence, the authors choose the latter solution in this paper.
While the vocabulary difficulty list covers basic vocabulary for EFL learners, some basic words might be
more difficult than expected. For instance, the words, such as “get” and “make” are regarded as the least difficult
words in the list. Since these words have various usages, their difficulty could depend on the context in which
these words appear. The authors attempt to solve this problem by introducing a new lexical feature, i.e., the
number of word meanings. The number of word meanings is measured by using WordNet2.0 (Fellbaum, 1998),
which is a large lexical database of the English language. The number of word meanings of a text is determined by
summing up the word meanings of each word in a text.
3.2 Syntactic features
As mentioned above, syntactic features comprise sentence length and the number of branching nodes in a
syntactic tree. In addition to these features used by Kotani, et al. (2009b), the authors introduce a new feature, the
number of syntactic nodes stored in short-term memory.
Here, the authors define sentence length as the number of words in a sequence of sentences. Similar to word
length, it is generally supposed that sentence length negatively correlates with readability (Flesch, 1948; Smith &
Kincaid, 1970). Given this property, sentence length should be regarded as a syntactic feature.
As sentence length is equivalent to the width of a syntactic tree, the height of a syntactic tree should also be
considered. Since the number of syntactic nodes explains the size of a syntactic tree, the authors decided to use
this quantificational information of syntactic nodes as another syntactic feature, following Kotani, et al. (2009b).
In addition, it is confirmed that the number of branching nodes highly correlates with readability in the case of
EFL learners (Kotani, et al., 2007). The garden-path effect is a similar branching node effect (Frazier & Rayner,
1982). Syntactic parsing is performed by using the Apple Pie Parser (Sekine & Grishman, 1995). The number of
syntactic nodes in a text is determined by summing up those in all sentences in a text.
Since a syntactic tree represents a syntactic parsing result, it does not explain memory load in a syntactic
parsing process. The authors proposed the number of syntactic nodes stored in short-term memory as a syntactic

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

feature that represents short-term memory load. Syntactic nodes stored in short-term memory refer to those stored
in a stack when analyzing a sentence in a top-down fashion by using a push-down automaton. The number of nodes
stored in a stack when parsing a text is determined by summing up those when parsing all the sentences in a text.
Figure 2 shows how the number of non-terminal symbols stored in a stack is determined for the sentence “The
man saw the boy” in a push-down automaton (Yngve, 1960). When the first word “The” is inserted, the terminal
symbol S is transformed into (NP, VP), and VP is memorized, that is, the symbol VP is stored in a stack. Next, the
terminal symbol NP is transformed into (DT, N), and N is stored in a stack. Then, DT is rewritten as “The”. Therefore,
the two non-terminal symbols N and VP are stored in a stack, while “The” is processed.
1 0

1 0 1 0
0 0 0 1 0


0 0

The man saw the boy

2 1 1 1 0
Figure 2 The number of nodes stored in short-term memory

The number of nodes stored in a stack is measured as shown in Figure 2 (Yngve, 1960), beginning from 0, a
number is assigned to each branch from the right to left direction. The sum of the numbers in the path from S to a
word indicates the number of symbols stored in a stack for that word. The following numbers are assigned to each
word as the number of nodes stored in a stack for the sentence “The man saw the boy”: 2, 1, 1, 1 and 0.
Murata,et al. (2001) modified this number assignment procedure in certain aspects, for instance, NP that has no
post-modifier will not be transformed. Thus, as NPs in the sentence “The man saw the boy” have no post-modifier,
the numbers of nodes in a stack are 1, 1 and 0. The number of nodes in a stack is determined by following this
revised procedure. Thus, the sum of the numbers of nodes in a sentence is regarded as a syntactic feature.
3.3 Discourse features
The authors use the number of pronouns as a discourse feature, following Kotani, et al. (2009b). While
reading a text, references to pronouns should be identified. This identification of pronominal references requires
comprehension of the discourse structure. Hence, the authors suppose that the number of pronouns indicates the
complexity of a discourse structure.
Although there are other anaphoric expressions, such as definite expressions, these are not included as a
discourse feature. This exclusion is also because of the technological error effect (see section 2). The authors
consider that the detection of pronouns involves fewer technical problems.
3.4 Learner feature
In contrast to other models that generally use comprehension questions, the authors’ reading model evaluates
a learner’s reading proficiency on the basis of reading time. As mentioned above, this is because that evaluations
based on reading time allow assessments using authentic texts. However, the authors’ reading model can be

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

implemented by using comprehension questions. Further, in the authors’ model, they can consider not only
reading time, but also the effective RS—a complex measure of the RS and comprehension rate (Jackson &
McClelland, 1979). In this paper, the authors have developed an initial reading time model. An effective RS model
will be investigated in a future study.
In principle, there are other learner factors, such as text interest, reading motivation and background
knowledge of a topic. However, these non-verbal learner features are not included in their reading model, because
non-verbal learner features appear to have little impact on reading proficiency (Naganuma & Wada, 2002). The
authors will examine non-verbal learner features in a future study.

4. Reading time data collection

The construction of the reading model requires the reading time data of EFL learners. These data were
collected in the following manner. The participants in the authors’ data collection process were recruited from a
job information website. The participants were chosen on the basis of the following criteria: (1) They had taken
the TOEIC and could submit the score sheet; (2) They were EFL learners; and (3) They lived near the site of the
data collection process. From the participants who responded, 64 took part in the data collection process. The
native language of all the participants was Japanese.
In this data collection process, the authors prepared test sets based on 84 texts from TOEIC preparation
textbooks (Arbogast, et al., 2001; Logheed, 2003). Each test consisted of 7 texts, and every test set contained
different texts. Each text was accompanied by several multiple-choice comprehension questions. The authors
randomly provided 1 or 2 test sets to the participants. As a result, 31 participants took 1 test set and 33 participants
took 2 test sets.
Reading time data were collected using a reading process recording tool (Yoshimi, et al., 2005). This tool
measures reading time on a 10-millisecond time scale. It displays one sentence at a time. A sentence appears on
the computer screen when the cursor is positioned over a reading icon, and it disappears when the cursor is moved
away from the icon.
The participants used this tool not only for reading the text, but also for answering comprehension questions.
When the cursor was positioned on a question icon, a comprehension question appeared. The participants
answered a question by clicking on one of the answer icons. Even though the tool recorded the reading time for
comprehension questions, the authors excluded it from their reading time data.
After receiving instructions about the tool, participants practiced by reading several texts and answering
comprehension questions. The participants were instructed to first read a text and then answer the comprehension
questions. The authors also directed participants to understand the text sufficiently well to correctly answer the
comprehension questions. Since the authors did not impose time constraints, the participants could take as much
time as they needed. In order to reduce the pressure on the participants, the authors did not inform them that the
tool would be measuring their reading times. The participants were misled to believe that the goal of the data
collection was to examine the comprehension scores for TOEIC comprehension questions on a sentence-
by-sentence reading basis.
After collecting the reading times of all the participants, the authors excluded the erroneous reading time data.
First, the authors assigned restrictions on the RS, which was measured in terms of WPM (words per minute). The
authors excluded the data in the cases where the RS were extremely fast or slow; reading time data was regarded

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

as improper data if the RS was more than 200 WPM or less than 70 WPM. A slow RS might have been the result
of unnecessarily careful reading. Fast RS were also judged as improper data because the average RS of native
English speakers is reported to be in the range of 200-300 WPM (Carver, 1982).
The authors’ reading time data comprise 451 instances, i.e., the reading times of 60 participants for 84 texts.
The mean age of the participants was 29.8 years (SD: 9.5). Nine participants were males and 51 were females.

5. Validity of the reading model

In this section, the authors describe the experimental method for assessing their reading model and report the
corresponding results.
5.1 Experimental method
The authors constructed their reading model by using support vector regression (Vapnik, 1998) with the
TOEIC reading section scores as a dependent variable and all the linguistic features and the learner features shown
in section 3 as independent variables. Support vector regression was performed by using an algorithm
implemented in the mySVM software (Rüping, 2000). The first order polynomial was set as a type of kernel
function, and the other settings were retained as the default ones. The authors evaluated the prediction
performance of the reading models by using 5-fold cross-validation tests using the 451 instances in the reading
time data described in section 4.
5.2 Performance of the reading model
The authors report the performance of their reading model in terms of the ER (error rate) computed by using
the following formula. The ER shows the degree to which the reading model correctly predicted a learner’s
TOEIC reading section scores. The predicted value refers to a learner’s score in the TOEIC reading section as
calculated using the reading model, and the observed value indicates the learner’s actual score in the TOEIC
reading section taken in the data collection described in section 4.
Predicted value − Observed value
ER = × 100 %
Observed value

160 143
120 107

40 27 27
18 16
20 12 15
6 6
10 30 50 70 90 100 <
Error Rate (%)
Figure 3 Histogram of the ER

The distribution of the ERs for the authors’ reading model is shown in Figure 3. The median ER was 18.2%
and the range was 247.6. The distribution of ERs indicates that a lower error rate is more frequently observed. The
frequency is the highest at the interval of 10%-20%. Moreover, the distribution of the ER is positively skewed.

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

5.3 Comparison with other models

In order to validate the authors’ reading model, they compare it with other reading models that were derived
using the syntactic features proposed by previous studies (Kotani, et al., 2009b; Nagata, et al., 2002; Schwarm, et
al., 2005).
The authors’ reading model basically follows the reading model of Kotani, et al. (2009b) (henceforth,
K-model). What differs between these models are lexical features and a syntactic feature, as introduced in section
3. The syntactic feature of Nagata’s model (henceforth, N-model) comprises specific grammatical constructions,
i.e., ones including a relative clause, participle clause and to-infinitive clause. The syntactic feature of Schwarm’s
model (henceforth, S-model) comprises the height of a syntactic tree, number of noun phrases, number of verb
phrases and number of subordinate conjunctions.
The ER of the K-model was 18.5%, that of the N-model was 19.1% and that of the S-model was 19.2%. The
error reduction rate against the K-model was 1.6% (=(18.5-18.2)/18.5×100), that against the N-model was 4.7%
(=(19.1-18.2)/19.1×100) and that against the S-model was 5.2% (=(19.2-18.2)/19.2×100). This result indicates the
superiority of the authors’ reading model.
5.4 Analysis of ER
The results of the experiment revealed that the authors’ reading model had an ER of 18.2%, using the
linguistic features stated in section 3. Improvements in the authors’ reading model can be achieved by using
different linguistic features. Further, the authors examined the ER of their reading model with respect to 3 learner
groups categorized according to RS. If the ER is higher for a particular group, the authors can examine the
linguistic features that greatly influence the learners in the group in order to improve the model’s prediction
The 451 instances of the reading time data were divided into 3 groups according to learners’ RS (slow: 70
WPM≤RS<100 WPM, intermediate: 100 WPM≤RS<130 WPM, fast: 130 WPM≤RS), and the median ERs were
calculated for each group. As shown in Figure 4, the distribution of the ERs differs between slow and intermediate
RS groups (19.8% and 18.6%) and fast RS group (15.4%). Therefore, the authors’ reading model should be
modified by examining the reading behavior of slow and intermediate EFL learners. For instance, the authors’
reading model still does not include phrase-level features, such as idiomatic expressions. Since these features
appear to make reading difficult for slow and intermediate RS learners, but not for fast RS learners, the authors’
reading model should include these features in order to reduce the ER. The authors will further address this
problem in future research.
Error Rate (%)

18 18.6


Slow Int. Fast
Figure 4 Graph of the ER for the learner groups

A prediction model of foreign language reading proficiency based on reading time and text complexity

6. Conclusion

The authors proposed a method for evaluating the reading proficiency of learners. The model was developed
so that it could predict learners’ scores in the TOEIC reading section by examining their reading times and the
linguistic features of the text. It predicted the scores with an ER of 18.2%. This ER was lower than that of the
reading model of Kotani, et al. (2009b). Furthermore, the authors found that the predictions of their model were
more accurate than those of the reading models proposed in previous studies. Finally, the authors confirmed that
the ER of their reading model was the lowest for the group of learners with fast RS.

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(to be continued on Page 41)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity,

inventiveness and innovation

Peter H. Hackbert
(Faculty of General Studies, Berea College, Berea 40404, US)

Abstract: Creativity is the process of generating something new or original that has value to an individual, a
group, an organization, an industry or a society. Improvisational theater techniques are used to enhance creative
thinking and action in a variety of disciplines as broad as education, theater, dance, painting, writing and music,
law, business, and most recently, entrepreneurship. This paper describes an academic setting that draws upon the
definition, techniques and improvisational methods as prerequisites for a progression of increased experiences of
idea generation, new product invention and innovation. Improvisation is used as a critical ingredient to enhance
creativity for undergraduate liberal arts students in a freshman general studies course leading to student product
development and field-based innovations.
Key words: creativity; improvisation; invention; entrepreneurial learning; general education; ball games

1. Introduction

This paper will provide a brief description and definition of improvisation and provide a summary of the
description and methods of a general studies course (GST 186: Creativity, inventiveness and innovation) at Berea
College. And the paper will describe the specific methods applied to introduce creativity and inventiveness to the
students. Student perspectives describe the outcomes of the improvisation techniques as viewed in their reflective
journals and formal assessments of the course compared to other general education courses. Suggestions for
incorporating simple improvisational techniques into everyday activities and educational settings are offered in the

2. Creativity

Creativity is the process of generating something new or original that has value to an individual, a group, an
organization, an industry or a society (Young, 1985). Improvisation is viewed as a master key to creativity
(Nachmanovitch, 1990). Human capabilities to “make things up” are critical in the context of human evolution, as
making things up is a creative act. Mirvis (1998) described the evolutionary origins of improvising prompted by
memories of the ancestors’ confrontations with voracious animals, threatening global climates, the vagaries of
hunting and gathering, and the array of modern day challenges confronting the arts, sciences, technology and the
world of commerce. Mirvis (1998) reminded people of the discontinuities and need for a creative response, human
ingenuity, and collective, creative interactions. Improvising is found throughout nature, he observed, such as when
chimps refashion sticks to snare tasty termites, wolves hunt in new formations to avoid human contact or bees

Peter H. Hackbert, Ph.D., director, entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program, Faculty of General Studies, Berea College;
research fields: creativity, innovation, general education, entrepreneurship education, new venture formation.

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

socialize a queen in novel ways so as not to get consumed by her.

Improvisation, or “improv” as it is commonly called, is defined as “intuition guiding action in a spontaneous
way” (Crossan & Sorrenti, 1997). Two dimensions of improvisation are intuition and spontaneity, which Crossan
and Sorrenti (1997) used to differentiate improvising from other strategic activities (e.g., planning, visioning and
transacting). Chase (1988) cited “improv” as “imagination guiding action in an unplanned way”. Solomon (1986)
included the notion that intuition incorporates creation and execution at the same time, while Weick (1993) hinted
that “improv” gives organizations the ability to “make do” with available resources. Improvisation is by no means
a haphazard process; it should not be viewed as “anything goes” or “winging it”. Instead, it should be accepted as
a process governed both by freedom and form. The emphasis within improvisation is on action and continuous
experimentation, not on obsessive planning (Perry, 1991). “You can’t improvise on nothing, you’ve gotta
improvise on something” is a noted statement by jazz musician Charles Mingus (Kernfeld, 1995). Alan Arkin, an
academy award winning actor, said that, “improvisation has been crucial to my whole life; it’s what we’re doing
all the time” (Sager, 2007). Improvisational techniques have been used to enhance creative thinking and action in
a variety of disciplines as broad as education (Willdorf, 2000; Kelley, Brown & Crawford, 2000; Lobman, 2002;
Rice, 1985; Sawyer, 2000), theater (Boal, 1992; Johnstone, 1980; Spolin, 1963), dance (Banes, 1980), and
business (Crossam & Sorrenti, 1997; Kanter, 2002; Lubins, 2007; Palmer, 1996; Weick, 1998). Adoption of the
“improv” techniques has proven to advance effectiveness in enhancing creative, innovation thinking and personal
growth for individuals at all ability levels (Lemons, 2005).

3. Improvisational theatre

Improvisational theatre pre-dates the invention of writing, since long before people started writing scripts,
they were telling stories by acting them out. Over the centuries, there have been many different improvisational
styles. The most direct ancestor of modern “improv” is probably the Commedia Dell’Arte, which was popular
throughout Europe for almost 200 years starting in the mid-1500s. Troupes of performers would travel from town
to town, presenting shows in the public squares and on makeshift stages. They would improvise their own
dialogue within a framework provided by a set scenario.
Improvisational theater can be compared to traditional theater. Traditional theater uses a script to guide the
actors and the performance with sets, costumes and props to enhance the story lines. Actors are selected for their
likeness to the particular characters portrayed, and a director provides the leadership to ensure that all elements
support one another. The audiences have no input into the performance. With improvisational theater, there are no
sets, costumes, props or scripts, and the actors play a variety of roles. The audiences participate in the
performance by providing input into the story line. Rather than directing the performance in the traditional sense,
the director helps the actors reflect on the performance. Improvisation provides a way to understand what it takes
to be spontaneous and innovative. “Improv” exercises are used by actors to develop their skills. More recently,
“improv” techniques have been adopted as a means to enhance organizational members’ capacity to be innovative
and responsive. “Improv” approaches are reported to enhance organizations’ ability to learn faster than their
competitors—to design faster cycle time, be smarter, and generate more innovative solutions. These dual
requirements—increased speed and a higher degree of innovation—create a need for organizations and their
members to operate more spontaneously, with more creativity and intuition applied to actions. “Improv” just
offers such a solution. “Improv” is an outstanding example of “thinking outside the box”.

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

4. General education at Berea College

Berea College’s mission is to educate and inspire students primarily from Appalachia to become
service-oriented leaders. This has involved identifying students with high academic promise but limited financial
resources for over 150 years. In pursuit of this mission, Berea College has used its $1.1 billion endowment to
provide each student admitted to the college with a full tuition scholarship for the 4 years they are enrolled and
reside at the college. For the freshmen, the first semester course and a class in creativity, inventiveness and
innovation can set a tone of academic expectation and standards for inquisitive learning for the incoming class
members, and help students to confront their passion and apply their entrepreneurial leadership talents in the
service for others. Berea College offers a liberal education by helping students develop the skills, acquire the
knowledge and nurture the habits and attitudes that will enhance their ability to live reflectively and responsibly.
This education should result in personal satisfaction, as well as a growing awareness of one’s relations and
obligations to the larger communities in which one participates. Believing that narrow specialization in the
undergraduate years can inhibit growth and restrict opportunities, the college emphasizes a broad range of subjects
and approaches to learning. The general education program is where the goals of liberal education are explicitly
addressed for all students. It is designed to help students: (1) develop their abilities to think critically and
communicate effectively through writing and speaking; (2) deepen their understanding of their cultural heritage,
including religion, history, the arts and the natural and social sciences; and (3) cultivate their appreciation of
human diversity and their capacity for moral reflection.
GST186 is a general education elective course entitled: “creativity, inventiveness and innovation: the source
and skills for artists, mavericks, deviants, thinkers and (thought) leaders”. The intention of the course is to
examine how unconventional ideas, groundbreaking products and group processes changed the world. This source
of knowledge and skill set can become the undergraduate’s personal tools for the 21 century—a better way to lead,
to compete and to succeed. The course requires reading and discussion and uses exercises, field-based projects
and group process techniques to strengthen the goal of fostering creativity leading to actionable plans. These
experiences will make students aware of their untapped potential in their work, their intentions and their life.
This course is divided into 3- or 5- week long modules: creativity, inventiveness and innovation. Module 2 is
described in Hackbert (2008) and module 3 in Hackbert (2009). This paper describes module 1. The course uses
the mnemonic PROBE to discover students’ hidden talents: (1) problems—understanding how to identify what a
problem or need really is; (2) reverse—encouraging creativity through the identification and reversal of
commonly held rules, myths, and well-accepted organizational processes; (3) observation—using observation and
anthropological methods to understand others and their perspectives; (4) brainstorming—idea generation
(including bad ideas); and (5) evaluation—creative, strategic filtering and assessment of ideas.
Upon completion of this course, a student should have accomplished 3 outcomes: (1) experiencing a
framework for understanding how to think creatively, along with specific methods to jumpstarting creative thinking,
inventing new products and welcoming an innovative mindset; (2) exposing some cutting edge, creative methods,
tools and approaches to develop innovative solutions to common problems; and (3) having insights on how to
collaborate with a team or hot group to develop creative and innovative ideas, inventions and solutions to problems.
The active learning course format as contrasted to other undergraduate courses may appear unconventional, using a
variety of instructional methods, including: (1) discovery based learning; (2) individual and hot group projects
(Kelley, 2001); (3) creativity exercises and tools; (4) live cases/stories and guests; and (5) team teaching, which

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

includes a team of students responsible for: (1) studying a particular problem-solving or creativity technique; and (2)
teaching one application (creative, inventive or innovative) to the class in a 20-minute exercise. Five-week long
module 1, creativity, exposed students to guiding principles in advancing creative energy, thought leaders currently
advancing the importance and theory behind creativity, and practical exercises to transform knowledge into action.
The module’s aim was to develop new and lasting attitudes of personal responsibility and the intentions to be a
highly successful and creative undergraduate student while at Berea College. The tools learned and the skills for
transferring these tools and attitudes could provide continued growth and problems-solving long after the students
moved to other courses and majors while at Berea College. The emphasis was placed on transforming first-year
students to become engaged and involved in applied innovation.
Students read material from Florida (2002), Berkun (2007), Higgins (2006), Ray and Myers (1986) and
Kelley (2001). The author introduced pedagogical models integrating theory and practice learned while attending
a National Collegiate Inventors and Innovator Alliance Workshop at Stanford University in 2001. Experiential
learning theory can magnify the importance of learning within the process of entrepreneurship (Corbett, 2005).
Experiential, entrepreneurial and pedagogical principles were previously tested while at a small liberal arts
college and at a major research university (Hackbert, 2006a; 2006b; 2006c; 2005). These approaches and the
applied nature of the course included exercises, projects and group process techniques introduced in the first week
of class and selectively repeated in every session thereafter. The class met at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday and Thursday
mornings and as the class sessions progressed, “improv” “warm up exercises” were introduced by the instructor
and led by class members to start each session. These experiences were designed to make students aware of their
untapped potential for creativity in both work and life. In this environment, barriers to successful teaching,
learning and professional growth were explained, modeled and used as energy for change.
Lemons (2005) described the utilitarian diversity of improvisation techniques across diverse fields. Seven
elements of improvisation emerged from his interview data including: communication, community and teamwork,
risk and challenge, safety, honest emotional expression, self-actualization and joy. The next section describes how
these elements emerge from the exercises described below.

5. Improvisational exercises

Improvisational exercises are structural elements that form the basis of improvisational comedy and theater.
Exercises are used to train actors and spark the spirit of imagination, subconsciously think and spontaneity. The
exercises can be used as adjuncts to acting, break-out sessions for personal trainers, or the key elements of an
“improv” comedy show. Each of the “improv” exercises is explained in detail below.
5.1 Name game exercise
This exercise is designed to demonstrate the improvisation rules and GST 186 class practices for the entire
semester. The first exercise was executed on the first day of class. It communicates the intention of the course as
an experiential course. The leader forms a circle of class members and asks each person to go around the circle,
one at a time stating their names and why they are enrolled in the class in 1 or 2 sentences. The leader then asks
the class to say, “I know everyone’s name”. The leader draws attention to how each class member feels after
repeating the statement. Some class members state that they feel uncomfortable and “fake”, because in fact, while
they listened to each class member announce their names and reasons for enrolling in the class, they could not
remember their classmates’ names a short time later. The instructor announces that the class will repeat the

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

exercise kinesthetically, and report other introductions.

Each class member, one at a time announces his/her name, and at the same time, demonstrates a kinesthetic
sign, such as a motion of something they like to do or an emphatic action in conjunction with their announced
names. The next class member repeats the previous person’s name and the kinesthetic sign or emphatic action,
then their names with a kinesthetic sign or action. This activity is completed until all class members in the class
have taken a turn in the circle.
Should a class member make a mistake, the concept of Bozo the Clown and the Clown Bow with “TA TA” is
introduced as the way in which class members and the leader will announce to others the mistake or error. The
leader asks the class to say, “I know everyone’s name” again. Class members report that the integration of the
auditory and kinesthetic sign repeatedly increases the recall of class members’ names. The name game introduces
the concepts of reflection. The name game exercise also illustrates the recognition of diverse learning styles.
Every student learns in very diverse ways. Pictures, illustrations and videos work for visual learners. Visual
learners also are helped by opportunities for class materials to be summarized on charts. Kinesthetic learners learn
best by moving and attaching physical meaning to other forms of information processing behaviors.
5.2 The function of the warm-up
In each class, there is always an element of “warming-up” as a way of priming the students to better receive
information. One primary function of the class and “improv” technique exercises is not only warming up the class,
but forging a community of learners. If they do something together, the class moves from a mere juxtaposition of
unconnected individuals to a community of learners.
5.3 Bippity bippity bop
This warm-up “improv” exercise encourages the class members to laugh and create an open space for
creativity. Forming a circle, one person placed in the center yells “bippity bippity bop” at someone in the circle,
and that class member must reply with the word “bop” before the center person does. If the outlier does not
succeed, they must switch places with the center person. Later in the exercise, other elements are added. For
example, a class member in the center points to an outlier in the ring and states the name of an item, such as
“elephant”. The outlier that receives the distinction of being selected sticks his/her arm in front of his/her face and
dangles it like an elephant trunk. The people on either side of the chosen outlier must make the ears of the
elephant. So the person on the left side uses his/her left arm to touch his/her head, and the person on the right uses
his/her right arm to form the opposite ear. The elephant must be formed before the center person counts to 10. If
the elephant does not have ears and a trunk by the time number 10 is called, then the outlying class member has to
replace the person in the center of the circle. Whichever class member is responsible for the part that was not
formed has to go into the center, i.e., if the elephant has a trunk and a right ear but no left ear, then the outlier to
the left of the trunk goes into the circle.
5.4 Human chain
This exercise is much more of a class community building exercise than one just focuses on
improvisation. Class members sit on the floor in a circle with their arms linked in a circle. As a human chain, then
they must figure out how to stand up together. As the class size increases, members in the chain increase and the
more challenging the “improv” exercise. Class members need to work together to solve the human chain problem,
and confront the strengths and weaknesses of each class member.
5.5 Tell a story
In this “improv” exercise, a class member steps into the middle of the circle and starts a story with a sentence

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

or two. Other members of the class take turns stepping in to continue the story when they feel it is appropriate.
This is a great exercise to practice paying attention to classmates’ ideas and building upon them, letting go of their
own ideas when the story turns in a different direction, and understanding when not to “step into the middle”. An
alternative to this exercise is that each class member in the circle contributes a word to the story. For example, if
the first person to speak says “Sarah”, the next person could say “set”, the next person could say “out”, and so on.
This is often the most commonly uses of all the “improv” exercises. The best way to help the players build stories
is to try and keep them in the present tense. In improvisation, present tense always works best. The “word at a
time” stories should also make sense. The players need to be listening to the story as it develops. Instead of
offering a witty word that will make everyone laugh, they should add the next most logical word. This “improv”
exercise takes control away from those class members that tend to drive scenes. If the sentences are going on too
long, the teacher can allow any of the class in the circle to call out “period” to end the sentence. Banning “and”
and “but” are also good ways to keep people from prolonging things and leading to properly formed sentences.

6. Ball games

The improvisational exercises described here are called ball games. They are easy to teach and utilize in
group problem-solving sessions. Ball games are also flexible and easily modified to suit different educational and
problem-solving purposes.
Ball games are best played in an open space that allows a group of 10-15 participants to stand comfortably in
a circle. While they can be played by as few as two people, about 15 appears optimal in a class setting. Larger
classes may form more than one circle. Participants should be relaxed and attentive. Stretching and relaxation
exercises are useful warm-up activities. Because there is a high degree of risk and uncertainty involved in the
game, it is imperative to create a safe environment. The ball games accomplish this by accepting all offers. There
is no negation and nothing is rejected. Individuals accept the offer made to them, honor it and build on it. Nothing
in the nonthreatening environment is considered as a “mistake”. Ball games all involve playing catching with an
imaginary ball. The best way to start is to focus on the ball handling technique.
6.1 Mime ball
In 1993, Faste introduced the game of mime ball, played with an imaginary basketball. The person with the
ball passes it to another person, who catches it and then tosses it to another person. Each player simulates the
motions and gestures appropriate to the ball size and weight. A 2-handed pass or scooped-style throw and a solid
2-handed catch that absorbs the imaginary impact work best. If a group has a hard time duplicating these motions,
a real ball may be used as a reminder.
The first difficulty with playing mime ball is knowing who is supposed to catch the ball. If the intended
receiver is not clearly indicated, players on either side of the recipient will try to catch the ball, too. To avoid this,
the thrower must establish firm eye contact with the intended receiver before throwing the ball. It also helps if the
thrower always makes it clear that he is holding a ball in his hands, in that way, each potential recipient will know
where a ball may come from. Communication becomes the key element within this improvisational exercise. The
ongoing exercise requires that each member listens, responds and incorporates what other members are doing,
saying and playing to participate and contribute to a mutual and collaborative outcome.
This simple game reveals the key ingredient of subsequent games. All players must be full participants, there
can be no spectators, and everyone must attend. As a cooperative effort, the ball game is an integration of ideas

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

and leads to a new product or process creation. Each player must commit and engage, contributing to an emerging
structure that is built on by the group and creates possibilities for others. This attention is of a special sort. Anxiety,
concern or over eagerness will inhibit the ball games success. The correct mental state is one of relaxed attention,
and the best posture is slightly crouched, knees bent, ready to move in any direction with arms hanging loosely at
the side.
In addition to attending, everyone must play with the intention of moving the game forward. In particular, the
passer must intend to have the ball successfully caught by another person. Eye contact is crucial. If a person does
not catch the ball, the thrower must continue to assume responsibility for the ball and throw again. Alternatively, a
player on either side of the intended receiver might pick up the “dropped ball” and continue the game. In short,
everyone is responsible for moving the game along.
6.2 Sound ball
Another “improv” game is sound ball. A player throws as before, using clear passing gestures and eye contact,
but this time releases a “sound ball”. That is, the thrower makes a sound as they throw the imaginary ball. The
sound is completed as the ball is released. As the recipient makes the catching motion, they repeat the sound
exactly as they heard it, then quickly turn toward someone else, establish eye contact and throw a new sound
which comes spontaneously with the gesture of throwing. When a group has this game moving along smoothly,
the leader can “throw in” another sound ball and another. A well-practiced and alert group can keep 3 or more
sound balls going at once.
6.3 Word ball
Word ball follows sound ball. Everything is as before, except that words are now tossed instead of sounds. As
players become more skilled, eye contact can be established during the throwing motion. The word is said at the
moment of release. The recipient catches the word and repeats the word exactly as he/she heard it. The new word
should be the first word that pops into his/her head after he/she has caught the previous ball and as he/she throws
his/her own.
6.4 Other ball games
As it has been seen, there are a variety of opportunities for creative expression. Constraints are easily added
to the games already mentioned. In the last letter—first letter game, each person tosses a new word that begins
with the last letter of the word he/she caught. It is very hard to stockpile with this constraint. Another is alphabet
ball, where each word has to begin with the next letter of the alphabet. By playing this game often, the player will
find class members reading the Q and Z entries in the dictionary and stockpiling in a perhaps acceptable form.
The constraints given to games can be more than intellectual, and they can be potentially conflicting. In the
attitude ball games, sounds, words or themes are tossed with an attitude: hard or soft, mean or loving, sad or happy,
etc.. The receiver must catch the message and the accompanying attitude. Words and attitudes may conflict;
“apple pie” may be tossed with repulsion, “valentine” with contempt, “explosion” with a whisper. Clearly, the
challenge here is for players to be receptive to both the content and the expression.
Gibberish ball is another game requiring careful listening. There is the obvious form where gibberish words
are tossed and caught, then the receiver tosses a new invented word of his/her own. In a more interesting form,
gibberish dictionary, the receiver catches the word while repeating it, but then gives the word a definition before
tossing a gibberish word to another person. Another form is foreign language gibberish where the leader can
change the national origin of the gibberish from Spanish to Italian to Swedish. In addition to being hilarious, this
game reveals a number of unexpected abilities among the players.

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

7. Ball game difficulties and problems

The problems which arise during the playing of these games reveal much about the nature of creative
behavior. The first issue, which is by no means trivial, has already been mentioned: Each individual must be
willing to play the game. Commitment is needed and simply understanding the game is not enough. Students must
play the game with the intention of becoming skilled at it.
The players should be relaxed enough to adapt to the game’s changing pace. Everyone should be less
concerned with getting it right and more concerned with moving the game along. For example, players often fail
to hear a sound or word clearly when the ball is thrown to them. There is a tendency to ask the person to repeat the
sound so as to get it correct, but this stops the game. It is better to keep the game moving smoothly along. Players
should repeat what they heard as well as they can without hesitation. It is even more preferable to guess what was
said than to stop the action. This exercise adds the element of honest emotional expression and staying
spontaneous. When there is no time to plan and edit what the players are going to do or say, their first reactions
and instincts are forced to the surface.
The objective is to maintain a constant flow, acting without concern for right and wrong in a state where time
is inconsequential (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Indeed, players will find they actually hear better when they are not
worried about being precisely accurate.
The central problem that arises during these games, especially word ball, occurs when the player starts to
make a pass, but no word comes out of his/her mouth. The problem is not so much that there is no word to throw,
but that players do not want to throw the word they think of. That is, they want to exercise controlling over the
word, and they want to find a good one before throwing. Not knowing what to expect or what to say, and thus not
having a set script, can be frightening. It puts the players in the brink of the unknown and ready to leap between
risk and challenge.
What constitutes a suitable word depends on secondary and internal games the player is playing—often some
kinds of image games. The person may wish to appear smart, creative, witty, imaginative or even profound. Or
perhaps they have another image that they wish to project—macho, perhaps or sexy. On the other hand, they may
simply wish to avoid appearing dumb, stupid or perhaps worst of all, ordinary.
Since control is hard to achieve in real time, players will begin to use a defense mechanism known as
stockpiling. Stockpiling consists of thinking up suitable words to say while the player is not actively involved.
This behavior is not difficult to recognize. For example, if a person is trying to project a creative image, the result
is often words that are strange, wacky or even weird, in the mistaken belief that it will make them appear creative.
Stockpiling subverts the game in the two ways. It diverts the player’s attention away from the other players and
the action of the game, and it guarantees that the word passed to the next player will have nothing to do with the
context of the game of that moment. The word will ring false and lack the authenticity that comes from being in
the flow of the group. “Improv” games are not about acting; they are about being fresh, honest and spontaneous.
This is what provides their energy and makes them enjoyable, even exhilarating.
It is the leader’s job to discourage stockpiling and encourage more productive strategies. This is best done by
making sure it is safe for players to behave spontaneously. Laughter is fine, but ridicule is not. It should be clear
that saying something obvious or ordinary is adequate. It is more than adequate—It is what is desired. People
mistakenly believe that creativity involves being clever, rather than simply being themselves. It is acceptable to
repeat something that has been heard recently or said before. Five spontaneous “mashed potatoes” is better than

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

one slow “Gila monster”. However, it should be made clear that defensive strategies designed to maintain control
are only natural. People use them all the time. To overcome them, players should be encouraged to engage
someone’s eyes and start the motion of throwing even before they have a word. The action itself helps a word
come to life.
In concept ball, images created by combining 2 or more words are thrown. The image needs not to be
imaginative: “Green peas” is as good as “charging African elephants”. Spontaneity is still the goal. This is also
true for theme ball. Here the groups agree to a theme before beginning. Then all the words or concepts thrown are
related to this theme. Examples of topics might be “national holidays” or “things I have done today”.

8. Improvisation as a prerequisite to brainstorming and inventing

If people were to change the name of the idea generating game of theme ball to problem ball, it is clear that
this progression of exercises has led to a brainstorming session. IDEO, an award winning design firm responsible
for helping develop innovations ranging from the Palm V PDA, to Steelcase’s Leap office chair, is a prime
example of corporate brainstorming. Tom Kelley, IDEO’s CEO, has written a book entitled The Art of Innovation,
in which he describes his firm’s approach to group brainstorming (Kelley, 2001). The rules for group
brainstorming are: (1) sharpening the focus; (2) deferring judgment; (3) piggybacking and leapfrogging; (4) going
for quantity; and (5) spacing remembers.
Sharpening the focus requires a well-honed problem statement. Deferring judgment requires not criticizing
ideas as they are stated. Piggybacking means building on one person’s idea to create other ideas. Leapfrogging
refers to jumping over the ideas of others to generate a new idea. Going for quantity requires throwing out ideas
quickly, leapfrogging and piggybacking require do these freely without getting bogged down in lengthy discussion.
Space remembers refer to writing down the flow of ideas in a medium visible to the group. The desired mental
state is subconscious flow, accessing unedited ideas directly from one’s stored experience. While the goal may
focus on a desired result, this is the same mental state fostered by the “improv” exercises the author has been
Perhaps one of the hardest things for an undergraduate general studies student to do is not to test or judge
ideas at the same time as they are expressed. But the simple statement “defer judgment” does not convey enough
active meaning. During the agreed upon brainstorming session, participants should gleefully abandon judgment.
Furthermore, they should wholeheartedly embrace others’ ideas with enthusiasm and encourage extremes that
some would deem stupid. The phrase “defer judgment” can also be seen as conciliatory; as if any idea is
acceptable for the time being, but later people will apply judgment. Being creative selves need not to be an
unnatural state. Even in people’s daily lives, they could all use more balance between intuition and logic as two
equally useful states of mind. Problem-solving requires fresh ideas and informed judgment.
One reason for deferring judgment is difficult is that it implies giving up expertise, which is often the core of
professional identity. The culture in particular encourages a one-dimensional sense of self. People are what they
do. People are what they are experts in. Consequently, it is exceedingly difficult for experts, and particularly rigid
or insecure ones, to give up passing judgment on ideas that lie within their domain. This issue of expertise is but
one manifestation of the image problem mentioned earlier.
People are “safe” within the fortress of our images, and are reluctant to come out and give up control.
However, creativity involves risk taking, a loss of control and security. When an activity is under control, it is not

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

risky. To reap the benefits of exercising creativity, people must be willing to give into spontaneity and their true
selves as revealed through uninhibited improvisation.

9. Improvisational ball games which avoid possible problems

The improvisation games described in this paper provide a smooth transition from obvious games that are
pure fun to problem-solving games that have a serious objective, but are often no less fun. When a group plays
these games successfully in real time without stockpiling, the participants have no choice but to piggyback and
leapfrog. Each person’s mind will instantly think of a related word or theme, or will be triggered into inventing a
new one; going for quantity is achieved automatically. In short, improvisation games provide idea grounds for the
required mental state for brainstorming and problem-solving.
By now it should be obvious that ball games are easily invented, and that each one can work on a different
skill. All games tend to help make the mind more supple and quick. A final example that is particularly
challenging is cross association ball. This is a version of word ball that requires at least 2 balls to be in circulation,
preferably more. As the players always catch the word tossed to them by repeating it, but the word they pass on to
the next person is triggered not by the word, but rather by other words that have been recently thrown by someone
elsewhere in the circle. What the player says is based on what is heard off to the side, like paying attention to all
conversations at a cocktail party. Groups that are skillful at this game become ultra-sensitive to everything going
on within the groups. They attend to both their direct interactions and their peripheral vision and hearing.

10. Did it work?

Two types of indicators were obtained to answer the question that “Do these improvisational exercises
contribute to student learning and satisfaction?”. First, as a practice, the author provides 2 forms of student
reflective assessments at the conclusion of introducing a new learning pedagogy, such as “improv”. Students had
previously been introduced to the Kolb theory of experiential learning (Hackbert, 2005) and asked to made verbal
end-of-the-exercise reflective comments immediately after the experience. As an out-of-class written assessment,
students prepared ungraded written anonymous reflective comments. These written journal narratives are used to
record the individual learning progress and when read by the instructor in the aggregate, the written journal
permits midcourse adjustments. Samples of students’ reflective journal at the end of the exercise are stated:
Student 1—“I was surprised at how well everyone in the class was open and participated. If I could do any part of
this experience over, it would be to add on to the scenes more activity because it was a lot of fun, and everyone
participated. There was a lot of energy in the room. Of the things I saw in this situation, I am eager and excited to attempt
taping into my creative mindset using acting techniques. From this experience I am most eager to practice the activities
again to wake me up and get me into the creative mindset.”
Student 2—“I was surprised when I was able to make people laugh with my imagination. Because of this, I want to
host a residence hall impromptu night. I may look into acting in a school play. I will be less cautious to show my
Student 3—“I liked ‘how I had to just jump in’. I had to get into the flow of the conversation and action. Creativity
requires trust among group members. I can see and feel that we are acquiring trust. I was proud that I stepped a little out
of my comfort zone.”
Student 4—“What I have learned about myself in that creativity exercise was that its ok to be different, to be weird. I
liked ‘how we had to just go with me flow of things’. I was surprised when people who don’t talk much in class got up in
front of their peers and acted out imaginatively.”

Using improvisational exercises in general education to advance creativity, inventiveness and innovation

Student 5—“In the bang game, my greatest potential for improvement would be my listening skills. I learned that
life can jump out at you therefore you always have to be ready for a challenge.”

Second, Berea College institutes a standardized IEQ (Instructor Evaluation Questionnaire) across all courses
at the end of each semester. At the end of the fall 2007, twenty-nine classes were assessed. The 14 fall-semester
freshmen students rated this author’s first teaching assignment at Berea College at or above the mean on all but 2
of 16 questions. Those 2 questions were: Question 11—Instructor’s assignments were helpful to my (students’)
learning (author score is 3.9 and campus mean is 4.0) and Question 16—How would you rate this course (author
score is 3.9 and campus mean is 4.0)? The obtained scores were reviewed and compared with the general
education department’s fall 2007 IEQ scores for all 29 freshmen classes. When the IEQs were compared to all
freshmen general education classes, the findings indicated that the author’s scores meet or exceed the general
education class comparisons or state differently departmental standards.
Freshmen student written comments on the IEQs reveal on the whole that students were motivated,
stimulated and inspired to meet the class objectives and class challenges. The course objective was to understand
the importance and practices involved in being creative, inventive and innovative, which is a very bold objective
for first-semester freshmen at Berea College. The majority of the students in the class (approximately 87%)
labeled the class as either excellent or very good. It appears that the author was able to reach almost all of the
class members with all of the students rating the overall teaching effectiveness indicator as average or above.

11. Conclusion

This paper has described how improvisational exercises and ball games borrowed from the world of
improvisational drama can be used in general education courses to provide safe and enjoyable experiences which tap
students’ natural creativity. In addition to being fun to play, these ball games give the instructor numerous
opportunities to talk about blocks to creativity and offer suggestions on how to overcome them. The net result is a
marvelous introduction to brainstorming, piggybacking and leapfrogging. Overall, they greatly increase the trust,
familiarity, enthusiasm and social skills that are needed to overcome inhibitions that often stand in the creative process.
In addition, many of the techniques can be utilized in their own right as kinesthetic and verbal thinking tools.

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(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for

graduate level reading

Fatma Kayan Fadlelmula1, Meriç Özgeldi2

(1. Department of Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara 06531, Turkey;
2. Department of Elementary Education, Mersin University, Yenişehir Kampüsü, Mersin 33169, Turkey)

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine how a learner self-regulates learning while reading an
academic text. In particular, the aim is not to generalize self-regulatory processes for any learning task, but to have
an overall idea about how a learner self-regulates. In particular, Pintrich’s SRL (self-regulated learning) model is
used to find out whether the model was apparent in the learner’s reading comprehension process. In this model,
self-regulatory processes are categorized into 4 phases (forethought, monitoring, control and reflection), and each
phase is divided into 4 areas of self-regulation (cognitive, motivational, behavioral and contextual). The data were
collected through observation, videotaping and semi-structured interview. Purposeful sampling was used to obtain
an in-depth understanding about how an experienced learner self-regulates and uses different kinds of strategies
while reading an academic text. The result of the study revealed that all the phases in the model were apparent in
the participant’s reading comprehension task. However, it was difficult to decide on which strategies were
belonging to monitoring or control phases. Actually, much of the empirical work also does not find much
separation on these phases. This might be because these phases are reflecting the learner’s thinking process.
Key words: self-regulation; reading comprehension; SRL models; case study

1. Introduction

Nowadays, learning is regarded as “an active, constructive process whereby learners set goals for their
learning and then attempt to monitor, regulate and control their cognition, motivation and behavior, guided and
constrained by their learning goals and the contextual features in the environment” (Pintrich, 2005, p. 453). For
successful learning in school, students are required to continually adapt their knowledge and skills to new
circumstances (Mohr, 2005), and become more self-regulated (Boekaerts, 1999). Self-regulation serves as a
comprehensive framework for understanding how students become active agents of their own learning process
(Pape, Bell & Yetkin, 2003). From a broad aspect, self-regulation can be defined as the ability to “develop
knowledge, skills and attitudes which can be transferred from one learning context to another” (Boekaerts, 1999, p.
446). It includes “self-generated thoughts, feelings and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the
attainment of personal goals” (Zimmerman, 2005, p. 14). Consequently, self-regulated learners can be described
as proactive individuals “who know how to plan, control and evaluate their cognitive, motivational, affective,
behavioral and contextual processes” (Torrano Montalvo & Gonzales Torres, 2004, p. 22).

Fatma Kayan Fadlelmula, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University; research field:
elementary education.
Meriç Özgeldi, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Elementary Education, Mersin University; research field: elementary education.

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

It is generally acknowledged that powerful learning environments advance the use of self-regulatory skills
(Boekaerts, 1999). In order to promote students’ success both in school and beyond, educators need to concentrate
not only on developing students’ academic skills, but also on improving the instructional settings and assisting
students to become self-determined individuals (Konrad, Helf & Itoi, 2007). It is possible to develop students’
self-regulatory skills by creating classroom context where students act as dynamic contributors to their learning
(Schunk, 2000), know the possibilities and limitations of that environment (Boekaerts, 1997), and receive
appropriate feedbacks for monitoring and adjusting their self-regulatory practices (Torrano Montalvo & Gonzales
Torres, 2004). In recent studies, self-regulation has become a popular issue within educational psychology.
Especially, understanding what SRL (self-regulated learning) is, which subcomponents it has, and how this
capability develops, have become major topics in educational studies (Zimmerman, 2005). The purpose of this
study was to examine how an individual self-regulates learning while reading an academic text. In particular, the
goal of this study was to find out which processes of Pintrich’s model was evident in a learner’s reading
comprehension task.
There are a number of different models offering alternative perspectives about how learning is self-regulated
(e.g., Boekaerts, 1997, 1999; McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; Pintrich, 2000; Winne & Hadwin, 1998; Zimmerman,
1989). Although each model puts emphasis on different constructs about regulation and learning, they possess
several features in common. In this study, the authors selected Pintrich’s model mainly because it synthesizes the
common frameworks of previous studies and offers a comprehensive model of SRL. Table 1 illustrates Pintrich’s
model of SRL. In this model, self-regulatory processes are categorized into 4 phases (planning, monitoring,
control and reflection), and each phase is divided into 4 areas of self-regulation (cognitive, motivational,
behavioral and contextual). As shown in Table 1, the forethought phase is the beginning of self-regulatory
activities. Learners go through several planning and activation processes, such as goal setting, efficacy judgments,
time and effort planning. Next, within the monitoring phase, learners figure out their state of cognition, motivation
and behavior, as well as the changing task and content conditions. Then, within the control phase, learners develop
different selection and adaptation strategies, such as increasing or decreasing effort, help-seeking, changing the
atmosphere and structure of the learning environment. Finally, within the reaction and reflection phase, learners
make judgments and evaluations about their task executions, the causes of successes or failures, assessments
about the task and the learning environment as well as their choice of future behavior.
These 4 phases are organized in a general time-ordered sequence; however, this does not imply that they are
hierarchically or linearly structured. Indeed, the phases can occur simultaneously forming multiple interactions
among the different components. In addition, the 4 columns in Table 1 illustrate different areas for regulation. For
instance, the cognitive column involves learners’ prior content knowledge, prior strategic knowledge, and how
they monitor, control and evaluate their cognition throughout the learning process. Besides, the motivation column
includes learners’ motivational beliefs about themselves in relation to the task, such as self-efficacy beliefs,
interests and values for the task, as well as the strategies they develop to monitor, control and evaluate their
motivation. In addition, the behavior column reveals learners’ general effort spend on the task as well as
persistence, help-seeking and cognitive behaviors. Finally, the context column reflects the regulation of different
aspects of the task environment and the cultural context where the learning is taking place.

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

Table 1 Phases and areas for SRL

Phases Areas for regulation
Cognition Motivation/Affect Behavior Context
Goal orientation adoption
Target goal setting Efficacy judgments
(1) Forethought, Prior content knowledge Ease of learning judgments (Time and effort planning)
(Perceptions of task)
planning and activation (EOLs); perceptions of task (Planning for observations of
(Perceptions of context)
activation Metacognitive knowledge difficulty behavior)
activation Task value activation
Interest activation
Metacognitive awareness Awareness and monitoring of
Awareness and monitoring Monitoring changing task
(2) Monitoring and monitoring of effort, time use, need for help
of motivation and affect and context conditions
cognition (FOKs, JOLs) Self-observation of behavior
Selection and adaptation Selection and adaptation of Increase/decrease effort
Change or renegotiate task
(3) Control of cognitive strategies for strategies for managing Persist, give up
Change or leave context
learning, thinking motivation and affect Help-seeking behavior
(4) Reaction and Cognitive judgments Affective reactions Evaluation of task
Choice behavior
reflection Attributions Attributions Evaluation of context
Note: Pintrich, P. R. (2005). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In: Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R. & Zeidner, M.
(Eds.). Handbook of self-regulation. Burlington, MA: Elseiver Academic Press, 454.

2. Method

This study was designed as a case study whereby self-regulation processes were analyzed in a natural and
holistic perspective. In particular, two qualitative methods were used for data analysis: think-aloud technique and
trace methodology. Think-aloud technique is based on the verbalizing of thought processes and strategies, and it
provides a useful source of data for examining an individual’s inner thoughts during a learning activity (YANG,
2003). Besides, trace methodologies are derived from signs and observable indicators, such as personal comments,
diagrams, footnotes, asterisks or summarizes, regarding cognitive processes that individuals perform while
engaging in learning activities (Torrano Montalvo & Gonzales Torres, 2004). In this study, the authors asked the
participant to think in a loud voice while reading an academic text. In this way, the authors tried to understand the
participant’s inner thoughts and figure out which phases were apparent in her reading process. In addition, the
authors checked the traces she made on the reading text, such as the highlighted sentences, underlined words, and
notes and questions written near the paragraphs.
The authors chose an experienced reader as a participant in order to obtain in-depth understanding about how
an experienced learner self-regulates and uses different kinds of strategies while reading an academic text. She
was a doctoral student studying in elementary teacher education program. Also, she had her master’s degree in
elementary mathematics teacher education. The academic text was chosen from mathematics education context,
related with classroom environments that enrich students’ mathematics learning and class interactions. The
authors used observation, videotaping and semi-structured interview for data collection. Before observing the
participant, the authors prepared a checklist including questions that reflect each area and phase of the Pintrich’s
model. During the observation, the authors used a think-aloud approach to follow the participant’s self-regulation
process, and filled the checklists individually. The observation took about 3 hours and was recorded in a video
type. While the participant was reading the text, the authors did not interfere in the process. After the participant
finished reading the text, the authors made an interview revealing the points in the checklist. The interview lasted
for about 20 minutes. For data analysis, we transcribed the video tape, and analyzed the process using Pintrich’s
model. Then, the authors triangulated the data obtained from the checklist, transcription and interview. The data

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

produced generally convergent conclusions.

3. Data analysis

Pintrich’s model of SRL is categorized into 4 phases (planning, monitoring, control and reflection), and each
phase is divided into 4 areas of self-regulation (cognitive, motivational, behavioral and contextual). The authors
analyzed the data following the phases of this model in order to get in-depth information about how the participant
regulated her learning and to which extend her regulation reflected the processes mentioned in the Pintrich’s model.
3.1 Forethought/planning and activation phase
During the observation, the authors gathered data from the participant’s reflecting time and effort planning,
task value activation, prior knowledge activation, target goal setting, perception of the task, interest activation and
meta-cognitive knowledge activation with respect to the forethought, planning and activation phase. Before the
participant started reading the article, she checked the number of pages and decided how many hours she needed
to spend for reading the text. This might be an indication of time and effort planning for regulating behavior. Then,
she wondered the date of publication of the article. In the interview, the authors asked the participant why she
wondered the date and found that she thought that when the publications are up-to-date they include more
valuable information. In addition, she looked how many authors contributed in the study. In the interview, she
expressed that when there is more than one author, the study is more reliable. These can be signs of her task value
activation for regulating motivation and affect.
After getting a general overview about the task, the participant read the title of the article and automatically
remembered that she had idea about several concepts, such as “discourse analyzes” and “scaffolding” from a
previous course she has taken. This can be a clue for her prior knowledge activation in cognitive regulation. In
addition, knowing these concepts might have influenced her motivation in reading the text as well as increasing
her self-efficacy for understanding the context. After reading the title of the text, she passed over the subtitles and
tried to get an overall idea about the reading context. The authors interpreted this as her perception of the task in
regulation of context. Then, she performed self-questioning activities, such as asking herself “How can we
integrate instructional scaffolding in mathematics education?” and “How can the coding be implied in a
qualitative study?”. Actually, the answers of these questions were what she targeted to learn. She also indicated
that “I wonder what kind information I can gather from this passage by asking these questions”. Therefore, they
were indicators of her target goal setting. After reading the subtitles, she exposed her feelings, such as “It seems
interesting and exciting”. This is also giving clue about her interest activation for regulating motivation and affect.
Before reading the article, she also preferred to analyze the abstract for getting an overall idea about the
reading context. She said that “I prefer to read the abstract before reading the text, because I get more idea about
what I am going to read about”. This strategy can be actually an indication of her metacognitive knowledge
activation. As an additional strategy, she started to prepare a summary paper including the title, date and authors of
the article in order to remember the context. This can be a rehearsal strategy that she found important both for
comprehending the passage and for using in her future studies.
3.2 Monitoring phase
In Pintrich’s model, within the monitoring phase, learners figure out their state of cognition, motivation and
behavior, as well as the changing task and content conditions. For example, learners can figure out their state of
cognition through several cognitive monitoring activities, such as judgments of learning (Pintrich, 2005).

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

Judgments of learning may include a number of activities such as becoming aware of not understanding
something read or heard, or asking oneself questions while trying to understand a reading passage (Pintrich, 2005).
In this study, these kinds of learning judgments were observed very frequently. Especially, while the participant
was trying to comprehend a text, she was rapidly asking herself questions like “What is the relationship?”, “How
does this happen?”, “Why did this happen so?”, and for each question she was trying to find reasonable answers.
Moreover, when she had difficulty in comprehending the text, she honestly indicated that she did not understand.
In such cases, she was reading the material again until she feels satisfied about her understanding.
Similar to monitoring cognition, learners can figure out their state of behavior through several time
management and effort regulation activities (Pintrich, 2005). During the authors’ observation, they did not detect
any kind of attempts from the participant for adjusting her effort or time usage to fit the task. Actually, although
she did not obviously show evidence for monitoring behavior, it was clear that she was always in charge of her
learning. For example, before she started reading the article, she predicted to finish it nearly in 2 hours. By the
time she completed half of the article, she spent approximately 1 hour. At this point, she decided to take a small
break, and after 10 minutes break, she came back. Similarly, for the second half of the task, she took nearly 1 hour.
When she completed the entire task, she indicated that it took nearly 2 hours as she predicted earlier. From this
example, it is obvious that she was successfully monitoring her learning, not running out of time or showing a
need for adjusting her effort level. This can indicate that she was self-observing her behaviors.
3.3 Control phase
The participant controlled and regulated various cognitive strategies for memory, learning and reasoning for
controlling cognition. In general, she used traces and highlights, which may be an indication that she distinguished
the information from content (Winnie & Hadwin, 1998). She underlined definitions, authors and some expressions
that she found important and put new concepts into rectangle. It is generally seen that she tried to interpret what
she understood from the paragraphs and had some notes beside them; for example, she wrote “definition of
scaffolding”, “supportive classroom management” and “math”. She explained in the interview that she actually
used some marks or symbols, such as question or exclamation marks when she found something important; but in
this study, she only used the asterisk. After reading the article, she revealed the key words, for example,
“co-regulation” and “discourse analysis”, and put them at the top of the title. This can be an evidence of the
cognitive strategies for memory.
While the participant did not understand the context at the beginning, she read it once more. She overviewed
the previous title and traced the text, and then she tried to establish the relations with previous knowledge. Mainly,
her learning strategies were based on self-questioning and finding answers to them. For example, she said, “How
can the coding be implied in a qualitative study?” and she attempted to find the answer. These can indicate the
cognitive strategies for learning. In a similar vein, she tried to criticize the ideas and make predictions about the
context. For example, she compared the situations between Turkey and the other countries, and estimated the
future education practice. These examples can suggest the cognitive strategies for reasoning.
Similar to monitoring cognition, the authors noticed that the participant could control her motivation. At the
beginning, she could attempt to increase her motivation for learning and reading the article, but then she decreased
the value of the article because she found some deficiency about presentation of the context and the article could
not answer her expectations. While she believed that the article was useful for her, she continued to read the text.
After refreshing break, she increased her motivation for completing the article and she did not quit the learning
task. Parallel with behavioral control, general persistence is used as a sign of motivation (Pintrich, 2005). During

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

the authors’ observation, they perceived that the participant persisted in reading the article. For instance, she spent
a lot of time on understanding the table, although she found it disorganized. In general, the participant was
successful in reading and comprehending the text. Therefore, she did not evaluate her cognitive, motivational and
behavioral strategies. Also, she did not take decisions for possible future behaviors. While she thought that her
strategies were sufficient for reading comprehension, she did not have any problems in completing the task.
3.4 Reaction and reflection phase
Finally, the participant attempted to sum up what she understood from the context after reading the article.
She made evaluations about the article, and made descriptive and critical interpretation. For instance, in terms of
descriptive interpretation, she interpreted the concepts which were mentioned before and tried to explain their
relationships while she was summarizing the literature review. In terms of critical interpretation, the expressions
were positive and negative; for example, she did not find the representations of coding remarkable. On the other
hand, she thought the examples related to scaffolding interesting. All these general evaluations can indicate
contextual reaction and reflection.

4. Discussion and conclusion

In this study, the authors used Pintrich’s model of SRL to examine how an individual self-regulates her
learning while reading a text. In particular, the goal of this study was to find out which processes of Pintrich’s
model was apparent in a learner’s reading comprehension task. The authors selected Pintrich’s model mainly
because it synthesizes previous models and offers a common framework for research in SRL. Next, they decided
on the learning task to be reading comprehension. Actually, reading a text is a routine activity in academic life,
however, the authors tried to find out how self-regulation occurs while understanding a new text. Furthermore,
they chose an experienced reader as the participant to observe different kinds of cognitive, motivational and
behavioral strategies while she comprehends a text.
Self-regulation is not an easy task to be analyzed and interpreted. In this aspect, Pintrich’s model is useful as
it offers a taxonomy of different processes and components that can be involved in a SRL. Pintrich (2005)
categorized self-regulatory processes into 4 phases, and divided each phase into 4 areas for regulation. In this
study, the authors could observe most of the components of this model clearly. For example, in general, while
comprehending the text, the participant regulated her cognition, motivation and behavior, as well as some part of
the task. Also, while comprehending the academic material, she went through all of the 4 phases as suggested in
the model. For instance, the participant performed several forethought, planning and activation activities, such as
activating prior content knowledge and metacognitive knowledge, and planning time and effort for the task. Next,
she implemented different kinds of monitoring and controlling activities, such as judgments of learning,
self-observation of behavior, and persisting on finishing the task. As a final step, she made various judgments and
evaluations regarding the comprehended text. In conclusion, all the processes of Pintrich’s model were apparent in
the participant’s reading comprehension task.
However, it was somehow challenging to distinguish the participant’s self-regulation for the second and third
phase. The authors observed these 2 phases, monitoring and controlling, as compound to each other. It was hard to
explicitly decide on which activities were belonging to monitoring process or controlling process. Indeed, Pintrich
(2005) also suggested that “much of the empirical work on monitoring (phase 2), and control/regulation (phase 3)
does not find much separation of these processes” (p. 455). It might be difficult to differentiate between these 2

How a learner self-regulates reading comprehension: A case study for graduate level reading

phases due to the fact that they are reflecting an individual’s thinking process. Finally, it is important to consider
that for different learning tasks, it would be possible to observe different self-regulatory processes and activities.
For example, instead of examining how self-regulation occurs in a reading comprehension task, if the authors
examined how self-regulation takes place in a mathematical problem-solving task, they could gather different
impressions about how different phases of regulation relate to different areas for regulation in Pintrich’s model.
Actually, the authors’ aim is not to generalize self-regulatory processes for any learning task, but to look from a
holistic perspective, and gather information about main ideas and an overall conception of SRL.

Boekaerts, M. (1997). Self-regulated learning: A new concept embraced by researchers, policy makers, educators, teachers, and
students. Learning and Instruction, 7(2), 161-186.
Boekaerts, M. E. (1999). Self-regulated learning: Where we are today. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(6),
Konrad, M., Heif, S. & Itoi, M. (2007). More bang for the book: Using children’s literature to promote self-determination and literacy
skills. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(1), 64-71.
McCaslin, M. & Hickey, D. T. (2001). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: A Vygotskyan view. In: Zimmerman, B. &
Schunk, D. (Eds.). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives. Mawah, NJ: Erlbaum, 227-252.
Mohr, D. S. (2005). The impact of logo on pre-service elementary teachers’ beliefs, knowledge of geometry, and self-regulation of
learning. Dissertation Abstracts International, 67(1), 123. (UMI No. 3202899).
Pape, S. J., Bell, C. V. & Yetkin, I. E. (2003). Developing mathematical thinking and self-regulated learning: A teaching experiment
in a seventh-grade mathematics classroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 53, 179-202.
Pintrich, P. R. (2000). Multiple goals, multiple pathways: The role of goal orientation in learning and achievement. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 92, 544-555.
Pintrich, P. R. (2005). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In: Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R. & Zeidner, M. (Eds.).
Handbook of self-regulation. Burlington, MA: Elseiver Academic Press, 451-502.
Schunk, D. H. (2000). Coming to terms with motivational constructs. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 116-119.
Torrano Montalvo, F. & Gonzales Torres, M. C. (2004). Self-regulated learning: Current and future directions. Electronic Journal of
Research in Educational Psychology, 2(1), 1-34.
Winne, P. H. & Hadwin, A. F. (1998). Studying as self-regulated learning. In: Hacker, D. J., Dunlosky, J. & Graesser, A. C. (Eds.).
Metacognition in educational theory and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 277-304.
YANG, S. C. (2003). Reconceptualizing think-aloud methodology: Refining the encoding and categorizing techniques via
contextualized perspectives. Computers in Human Behavior, 19, 95-115.
Zimmerman, B. J. (1989). Models of self-regulated learning and academic achievement. In: Zimmerman, B. J. & Schunk, D. H.
(Eds.). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1-25.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2005). Attaining self regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In: Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R. & Zeidner, M.
(Eds.). Handbook of self-regulation. Burlington, MA: Elseiver Academic Press, 13-39.

(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

Diana Nenadic-Bilan, Teodora Vigato

(Department of Teacher and Preschool Teacher Education, University of Zadar, Zadar 23000, Croatia)

Abstract: The national strategies of drug abuse prevention across Europe have come to recognise that the
drugs abuse problem presents a complex set of issues of which there is no simple solution. There is a considerable
increase in investment in prevention, treatment and harm-reduction activities and increased focus on supply
reduction. School settings are the focus of most attempts to implement effective prevention programmes.
Prevention in schools does not only focus on drugs alone, but also includes personal and social skills, often with
family involvement and involvement of local community. The school is an ideal setting for drug abuse prevention
and development of active and responsible attitudes against drug abuse. Successful school drug-prevention
programmes include personal skills training (decision-making, coping and goal-setting), social skills training
(assertiveness, resisting peer-pressure), drug education (knowledge about drugs and the consequences of taking
them) and developing attitudes (especially correcting misconceptions about peer group drug use). Effective drug
education programmes incorporate a range of activities which provide students with relevant factual information,
the opportunity to consider their attitudes and values, and the values of others. For effective delivery of prevention
programmes, interactive teaching is better than didactic teaching alone. In that sense, the puppet play could be
used as an interactive technique. Puppets help the students engage actively in communicating their emotions,
opinions and experiences, and learn about the drug abuse problem. By the means of puppetry and dramatic play,
the students may learn about drugs and the consequences of taking them.
Key words: drug abuse prevention; prevention programme; interactive approach; puppet play

1. Introduction

The process of children’s and adolescents’ growth takes place in an exceptionally dynamic and complex
civilizational and social context nowadays. The modern pace of life, changes in the dynamics and structure of the
family, global informatization, the problems of transition in South-East European countries, the developed
countries’ economies under recession, the increasing hinger in the Third World countries, the declining birth-rate
and demographical problems in many Western European countries, the ecological crisis and many other negative
social issues have averted the much expected improved life quality and world peace. The relinquishment of the
old and well-established traditional values and the available pluralism of value systems and life-styles seems to
lead to the “deconstruction of the phase of youth” (Baacke, 1991, p. 41). These processes create a dynamic and
complex social-cultural context in which the young grow up today.
The possibilities of functioning of the modern society have also been endangered by the increasing rates of
drug addiction. Drug abuse and drug addiction are the primary social problem in many Western European

Diana Nenadic-Bilan, assistant professor, Department of Teacher and Preschool Teacher Education, University of Zadar; research
field: pedagogy-drug abuse prevention.
Teodora Vigato, assistant professor, Department of Teacher and Preschool Teacher Education, University of Zadar; research field:

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

countries. The drug addiction phenomenon is being analyzed through sociological, criminal, legal, medical,
psychological and pedagogical aspects. The national strategies of many Western European countries point out that
there is no simple solution of the drug addiction problem, and in the preventive activities, they stress the principle
of the common, partner-like, integrated and integral approach to the prevention of drug addiction. This approach
includes a systematic effort on the part of all the educational factors: the family, schools, the social community,
public policies, religious institutions and the media.
In accordance with the above mentioned, it is important that the funding of the addiction prevention activities,
damage control activities and drug supply reduction activities has been increased. Since addiction as a global
phenomenon knows no national or geographic borders, the recent European addiction prevention strategies (EU
Drugs Action Plan (2005-2008), 2005) stress the need for a coordinated international action, providing joint and
organized support to addiction prevention programs and demand and supply reduction programs.

2. Drug addiction prevention

The prevention of drug abuse and addiction is based on the principles that represent a common element of
prevention programs, which are the result of long-term research in the field. Thus, a publication of the American
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2003) lists 16 principles of addiction prevention that represent the guidelines in
the analysis, planning, selection and application of the addiction prevention programs.
The literature discussing drug addiction prevention starts from the risk factors and the protection from
addiction factors. It is by the concept of risk and protection factors that one aims to explain why a person becomes
a drug addict, and another one is addiction-resistant. Several decades’ research in the field of drug abuse etiology
has revealed the complex interactive network of various individual, social and hereditary factors with varying
intensity of influence during a person’s development.
According to Ialongo, Poduska, Werthamer and Kellam (2001), early intervention programs intended to
reduce the risk factors (e.g., aggressiveness and bad self-control) achieve better results than later interventions
aimed to change a child’s behavior toward the positive.
Investigating the risk and protective factors, Hawkins and collaborators (Hawkins, Catalano & Miller, 1992)
considered that prevention programs achieve positive results by influencing the risk and protective factors accountable
for drug abuse. Among the important risk factors that can be the targets of education, they lay special emphasis on the
formation of the relevant normative beliefs and the development of adequate attitudes concerning drugs.
Hansen and McNeal’s (1999) works represent a useful analysis of the drug education programs. These
authors pointed out that the understanding of the normative practice in drug education is the key to improving the
results of preventive interventions. Analyzing drug education over a long period in 146 high-school grades, the
authors found out that almost half of the drug-related education focused on providing information on drugs and
health-related consequences of drug abuse (actually 45.9% of total time).
Considering the rate of risk to become an addict, it is possible to speak of universal, selective and indicated
prevention. These levels of prevention are also characterized by the temporal dimension, so the measures of
primary prevention are taken before the occurrence of problems in the functioning of a person, the secondary
prevention takes place after the occurrence of first symptoms and the tertiary prevention after the disorders are
manifested. The universal programs for addiction prevention are intended for the general child and adolescent
population, their parents, and also the social community factors. The aim of universal prevention is to prevent or

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

delay drug abuse, and it is based on various approach techniques. Universal prevention programs are implemented
on large groups of population without prior determining of the rate of risk from possible drug abuse.
Concerning the application context, prevention programs can be carried out in various contexts—personal,
peer, family, school contexts and the contexts of smaller or larger local communities.
The school context is the central application context of many addiction prevention programs (US Department
of Education, 2001). Children spend a lot of time in the school environment, so school represents an adequate
location for addiction prevention implementation.
Greenberg and collaborators (Greenberg, Weissberg, Utne O’Brien, Zins, Fredericks, Resnik & Elias, 2003)
expressed satisfaction with the evident progress and a firmer empirical instituting of school addiction prevention,
a significant number of empirically tested prevention programs, with the abundant theoretical sources concerning
the implementation of the authenticated models of prevention.
School prevention programs embrace a whole spectrum of preventive efforts, from formal educational
programs to general preventive activities that are integrated into the everyday school life. Preventive activities at
school make possible the acquisition of the necessary skills, attitudes and facts, and they are helpful in the process
of making the decisions concerning personal health, safety and life philosophy. Efficient school prevention
programs embrace personal skills training (decision-making, coping with stress, defining aims), education about
drugs (facts about drugs and the consequences of taking drugs) and developing attitudes (especially correcting
wrong concepts concerning drug use by peers). Drug education programs include various activities through which
students acquire relevant information and analyze their views and their personal systems of values, as well as
other persons’ systems of values.
Among the school universal prevention systems, the effective ones are the interactive programs based on the
model of social influences or life competences (Bühler & Kröger, 2006).
Since at the implementation of preventive activities one must make allowance for the principle of active
knowledge and experienced acquisition of the practical use of skills, the authors have chosen playing with dolls as
one of the possible interactive forms of work in addiction prevention in this paper. The children themselves
construct their ideas, developing skills through interaction with puppets and other children.

3. Puppet play and learning

Children easily confide their feelings and wishes to dolls. Beside that, a puppet makes better contact with
children than a pedagogue or a parent could. A puppet’s opinion will be accepted with more enthusiasm than a
pedagogue’s opinion without a doll, since doll represents authority. A puppet can therefore be used as a
confidential mediator in the correlation between the children and their environment (Majaron, 2004, p. 7). It
seems that stylization, which is the fundamental characteristic of the doll, helps children feel, accept and
understand a symbolical situation. Through simplified situations, and by using objects as metaphors, it is possible
to effectuate an abundance of allegorical games acceptable to children (Majaron, 2004, p. 7).
The learning process with the aid of a puppet is characterized by the esthetic double, which creates a split. In
performing the action in a show or in a dramatic play, the split is between “being you” and “being a character”.
This split often causes “hyper-awareness”. In the animated theater, the split is 3-fold, besides the role and one’s
own identity, there is also the animated figure that must exist within all of the 3 dimensions. This is a case of the
“double mirror” or “meta-theater”. Animated figures become symbols of persons (Hamre, 2004, p. 11). Playing

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

with the dolls, children have gained a theater which does not show a story; instead, a very loose plot is interrupted
by commentaries—facts about harmfulness of smoking. Actually, this is a post-modern convention dominating
theater today, and it is usually referred to as forum-theater and is very convenient as one of the forms of learning,
which erases the difference between the performer and the audience, and deals with topical problems making real
impact through theater.
Bastačić (1900, p. 15) claimed that conventional language in a puppet play acquires a different meaning. Play
implies parallel existence of 2 realities. The player who creates the world of play and the world of rules enters that
world by himself/herself. The world does not really change, but the fictitious world changes the player, the player
does not remain confronted to the world, he/she becomes a part of it. Depending on the type of puppet, the play
acts cathartically, and this is particularly true regarding puppets that are slipped on hands, the very kind that the
authors have used.
In playing with puppets or while watching puppet plays, the transition from the fictitious to the real, and the
other way, is exceptionally mild and easily made. The whole puppet theater, as well as children’s play, is somehow
based on this thin line between imagination and reality (Kovačić, 1969, p. 127).
A theater performance, regardless whether puppets or actors are used, or whether the children take part in it or
watches it, makes it possible for the children to gradually distinguish the essential and the unessential, the necessary
and the accidental, in the best way possible. Watching the performance, the children can also notice the relations
between cause and effect (Misailović, 1991, p. 18). When children and grown-ups too, watch the puppets on stage,
they become more and more alive as the longer they are being watched. After a while, the audiences forget that
what is involved here is animated matter. Things slowly acquired life and became more real than the audiences.
This moment precisely, when they start believing in the life of the not living, has magical elements. Everyone exists
outside himself/herself, both the puppets and the children (Kovačić, 1969, p. 130). It is well known that, due to its
capability of presenting the unreal, the puppet theater has unlimited possibilities, so the authors are used to the
characters of dwarfs, princesses, monsters and fairies appearing on the puppet stage. Anyway, the puppet theater
usually starts from where actors’ theater ends. In the play, the authors saw, however, the heroes were neighborhood
good guys and the theme was a topical one, the harmfulness of drugs. There was a reversal that, in order to present
a very topical theme with very realistic characters, the authors used an expression already metaphorical on its own.
A good choice of puppets and the mode of animation, and the usage of slang, though, made the performance vivid
in a way acceptable to children. It is believed that puppet play is the most adequate means to present the theme
discussing the harmfulness of smoking in a stylized and metaphorical manner.

4. Puppet play in the function of addiction prevention

In the research into the extent to which an educational theater performance can help prevention, the authors
started by testing the knowledge on drugs in a 4th grade of a primary school. Next, the students saw the play, and
after that, together with the teacher, the authors organized puppet-play workshops in which they used some of the
elements from the play. The authors substituted mimic puppets, or in layman’s terms “muppet dolls” from the play
by simpler forms, so they used a puppet sock with no add-ons which they slipped on hands. Finally, the authors
tested their knowledge on the harmfulness of drugs once again.
The play Najveća su šteta droga i cigareta (Drugs and Cigarettes Do Most Harm) performed by the puppet
theater in Zadar was envisaged in accordance with an educational model, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Croatia, and it was intended to explain all the bad consequences of
the vice to young audiences. The author and director, Dražen Ferenčina, expressed the theme in the strongest
manner by a line of one of the heroes, “If I give up smoking I’m sure I will never start doing drugs”. Through a
story of dropping the habit of smoking, the play warns against an ever more widespread disease of time, smoking
and drug use. Each finding their own motives against the cigarette, the characters managed to resist the temptation
and pointed at the harmfulness and the negative consequences of smoking in a funny way. The play also presents
statistic data which are aimed to shock and frighten the young audience.
The author and director did not give nuance to the characters of the personage and used typical characters in
typical situations, for 2 reasons: The first reason was to make it easy for the children to recognize themselves,
because the aim was primarily an educative one; and the second one had to do with the particular qualities of
puppet expression that uses symbols so that a single boy or girl has all their peers’ traits. Because of that, the use
of puppets in the presentation of such a theme is far more convincing than live actors would be.
The play Drugs and Cigarettes Do Most Harm uses mimic puppets, otherwise, best suited to puppet plays in
which speech dominates over motion. Mimic puppets are of recent origin, and in the European puppetry tradition,
they are usually created when the author wishes to depict man as a caricature. This is achieved by marked motions
of the jaw, that is, by opening and closing of the mouth. Puppets of that sort were made popular by the Muppet
Show series which gave them their name.
After the play, there was a different kind of work in dramatic workshops, so that the form of presentation by
puppets changes the animator and the borderline between the audience and the performers disappears. That is,
people came closer to the modern drama education which rejects the conventional ways of theater works at school.
Staging the play is less important, and the primary interest is focused on the dramatic form, which is not theatrical
only because the possibility of participation of anyone outside the group is either eliminated or negligible. The
work is directed to the group and it only serves to teach the facts on the harmfulness of drugs. The difference
between a child’s participation in a theatre performance and in the workshops is that, in the first case, the child
goes through experiences presented in a parallel world; and in the second, it creates these experiences as a
contestant in the play (Jurkowski, 2007, p. 341). Learning aided by dolls is beneficial, because puppetry integrates
almost all the disciplines important for a child’s development: perception, coordination and interaction with the
environment, speech and story.
The authors started with puppet improvisations aware of the fact that children should measure up to the
requirements concerning originality and detach themselves from the puppet play stereotypes by the very choice of
the puppet. It all had to be captivating and reminiscent of children’s play1. Everyone participates in the play in an
equal manner. Nobody should be left aside as an observer.
They first came to understand that any object can be a puppet. It was important to people that they “make” a
doll themselves, for making one’s own dolls enables the students to begin expressing themselves from the very
start, from the moment they choose a character. That is, they had brought, chosen and slipped on their hands the
sock-doll themselves, so they did not spend much time making dolls. The first stage of the work, which teachers

The 4 essential characteristics of playing with puppets are: (1) Comicality of the puppet; (2) The puppet is always put in the role of
a typical representative who must clearly express uncomprovising views and support them; (3) The pace of a puppet play is slow
because the idea is repeatedly expounded so that it may be understood and accepted. On the other hand, it suits the child’s wish for
repetition. Always the same story, song or game make children happy; and (4) Striking examples on the puppet stage have marked
consequences in everyday life (Kovačić, 1969, p. 134).

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

and educators are quite fond of, was simply skipped so they could concentrate on the more important issues2.
The authors tried to make a moment of animation, so that puppet might acquire a magic form in which
inanimate matter comes to life. The characters needed no special elaboration since they were simply boys or girls. A
characteristic of the puppet theatre is that dolls are types so character peculiarities are lost, and dolls become signs.
After that, the authors defined the content of the story, starting from the introduction. The authors met the
characters and the place of the puppet play. The plot would be the dialogs among children about the harmfulness
of drugs. The peak of the action would be when each child tells other children what he/she had learned about the
drug harmfulness issue.
The authors wanted to develop 3 ways of communication with dolls: First, the doll talks to the audience
instead of the children when the characters/dolls introduce themselves and when the audiences learn about the
spot in which the plot takes place. Then, the children talk to the dolls as a partner when the harmfulness of drugs
is discussed, and finally, 2 dolls talk to each other as 2 partners and tell each other what they have learned about
the harmfulness of drugs.

5. Instead of a conclusion

The children, as a constructive creator of its own education and development, is in constant interaction with
its social and physical environment. Growing up in a specific social-cultural context, children construct and
co-construct knowledge in an intensive interaction with the environment. Individual development is a result of
social interaction within which the group members share and internalize common cultural denotations. The
children do not acquire their experiences in a passive manner, they interpret and construe them actively. Reflecting
upon a possible interactive approach to the construction of school-children’s knowledge about drugs, the authors
therefore chose a puppet play and a drama workshop. Children, among other things, are motivated to express and
compare diverse opinions, to negotiate, to hear other people’s statements and to reformulate initial assumptions.
The authors achieved a very dynamic atmosphere that contributed to a vivid and interesting communication.
Comparing the results of the initial and the final tests of the students’ knowledge concerning drugs, it is
noticeable that there were far more correct answers in the final test, administered after the drama workshop. As an
illustration, 50% of the children stated that tobacco is not a drug in the first test, and only 15% gave the same
answer in the final one.
Using puppet plays as an interactive way of acquisition of knowledge on drugs and the consequences of drug
abuse is proved to be an attractive and entertaining form of learning. Such an approach to learning is completely
different from the traditional approaches and didactic teaching by grown-ups. The emphasis is on free and active
participation in common activities, active listening, shared deliberation and mutual understanding.

Baacke, D. (1991). From 13th to 18th years. Weinheim.
Bastačić, Z. (1900). A puppet has a heart and mind. Zagreb.
Bühler, A. & Kröger, C. (2006). Expertise on the prevention of substance abuse. Forschung und Praxis der Gesundheitsförderung,

Kovačić’s model of child work with puppets (1969, p. 137): The child speaks on his/her own first, then takes a puppet that speaks
while the child is hidden, after that the puppet speaks and the child is visible. With this method, both the child and the doll speak to
the audience. In the second phase, the child talks to the doll, then two children talk to the doll, then dolls talk to each other and the
children are hidden, then the two dolls talk to each other and the children are visible, and finally, the children talk to their

Puppet play as interactive approach in drug abuse prevention

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Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., Utne O’Brien, M., Zins, J. E., Fredericks, L., Resnik, H. & Elias, M. J. (2003). Enhancing
school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American
Psychologist, 58, 166-474.
Hamre, I. (2000). Theater animations-theater utopia and transformation. In: Scenic creativity of children and adults for children.
Šibenik, 57-62.
Hamre, I. (2004). The learning process in the theater of paradox. In: A puppet … a wonderful wonder. Zagreb, 7-20.
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Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F. & Miller, J. Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence
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(Edited by Nicole and Lily)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

Esteban Navarrete-Álvarez, María Jesús Rosales-Moreno, María Dolores Huete-Morales TPF FPT

(Department of Statistics & O. R., Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada, Granada 18071, Spain)

Abstract: Statistics teaching should not be carried out in the same way for all kinds of university students.
Instead, teaching statistics should take into account the different fields of study that students have chosen. For
example, students of sciences or engineering have different interests and backgrounds compared to students of any
social or juridical field. The authors address this latter group of students (social, juridical, labor or even
economics). The authors propose a direct approach: beginning with a real situation or supposition with real data.
Questions of interest are explored and put into the language of statistics. To answer the questions, the necessary
statistical methods are used. If needed, these methods are presented and explained at that time. Finally, the authors
return to the beginning, to give an interpretation of the results. The approach takes into account the students’
levels and the kind of studies or professional orientation of these students.
Key words: education; tests; teaching methods

1. Introduction, objectives presentation

In this paper, the authors introduce an experience carried out in the framework of the labor relations degree
of the university. The work has the following objectives:
(1) To make learning theory and practice of statistics easier for students to pursue this degree;
(2) To incorporate new technologies in support of teaching statistics.
In today’s society, there is a greater need to teach statistics to students with only a basic knowledge of
mathematics. The objective for this teaching is to have students learn basic statistics tools and solve real problems
that may appear in their future careers. This, related to the possibilities that new technologies will be offered in the
teaching field, demands changes in statistics techniques teaching and it is a challenge for the professional teachers.
This is the reason why the authors’ efforts are oriented to guiding their students:
(1) To understand and appreciate the role of statistics in their future careers;
(2) To assimilate and value the statistics method, that is, the kind of questions that an intelligent use of
statistics can answer, the basic ways of statistics reasoning, and the power and limitations of statistical analysis;
(3) To understand the application and interpretation of the different chosen techniques to answer correctly
real questions.
It is also desirable that students learn statistics by using new technologies at that time, when they stimulate
the learning to become something educational. The presence of these educational resources in the university

Esteban Navarrete-Álvarez, lecturer, Department of Statistics & O. R., Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada; research field:
survival analysis.
María Jesús Rosales-Moreno, lecturer, Department of Statistics & O. R., Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada; research field:
survival analysis.
María Dolores Huete-Morales, lecturer, Department of Statistics & O. R., Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada; research
field: demographic statistical.

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

teaching is a reality imposed by the practice and a dominant culture, based on the continuous presence of the
image that drives all the teachers new ways of performance and expression.
At the same time, it is possible to look in detail the justification of the existence of this tool discipline
(statistics), as basic tool to treat data of labor, juridical, economic or social field, and its interpretation. This needs
more than 1 or 2 questions for these professionals, avoiding the great practice use that they have with the statistics
tools. Moreover, the intellectual foundation is also the knowledge of such tools.
Students in the labor relations degree program need an intuitive, comprehensive approach where they do not
get lost because of difficult theoretical developments or calculations. The basic difference in teaching statistics to
different audiences (engineering, social sciences, etc.) is usually in the approach, the intensity or the kind of
applications used.
The authors propose to generate all the content of the official program of the subject through suppositions
directly related to the labor/juridical world. They also propose to generate a large collection of these real
suppositions with real data, and develop them for use by the students.
The authors show the students the foundations of statistics (descriptive statistics, probability and inference),
as well as solutions to problems, in a direct way. For that, they present the students with the practical reality
throughout a real supposition of a labor/social/juridical/economic nature. The authors extract possible questions
that can be observed in the supposition and present a solution interpretation within the context of the supposition.
Normally, statistic teaching starts by introducing the concepts, developing the study of data characteristics and
later, doing examples. This practice has been shown not to motivate students. The authors think that the students
have to see the real situation from the beginning, and from this to extract and solve relevant questions.

2. Experience description

All these considerations have been taken into account to overcome the specific difficulties that are present in
teaching statistics in the first year of the labor relations degree (there were 683 students registered in this degree
program in the previous year, and 724 registered this year). These students are divided into 6 sections. Statistics is
considered as a difficult subject for these students. The statistics course carries 6 credits (1 credit=10 working
hours). The course is summarized in the following points:
(1) There are a limited number of hours to explain the theatrical and practical aspects for a basic preparation
in statistics;
(2) There are a large number of students, most of them having no previous knowledge in statistics and low
level of mathematics ability. The authors also emphasize the lack of motivation in the students when faced with a
subject they see as unrelated to their chosen degree.
Taking into account the described reality and the proposed objectives, the authors’ experience is oriented:
(1) To elaborate a teaching material;
(2) To improve teaching and learning using new technologies.
In relation to the teaching material, there exist many statistical texts oriented to other disciplines (biology,
engineering, etc.) that develop the contents at different levels. However, there is a vacuum in the application of
statistics to the labor, social or juridical fields. The authors’ main objective has been to introduce a collection of
suppositions involving real live examples from these fields. Next, to a serial of questions to them, those are logic
and interesting to carry out an appropriate analysis of these situations. It will be the statistics method application

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

of descriptive statistics, calculation of probabilities, statistics inference, regression methods or times series, those
that will give answers to the different questions explained. The objective is:
(1) To introduce the course material in an intuitive, natural way that related to the future careers of the
students. This is carried out so as to increase the motivation and interest in statistical studies;
(2) To facilitate the learning of the course material by presenting different statistics methods and their
In all the suppositions, the following steps will be followed to reach a resolution to different questions
(1) Translating the questions into statistical;
(2) Justifying the statistical technique that will be used to help answer each question;
(3) Presenting a solution and comment on its interpretation.
The authors’ procedure does not consist of creating problems or exercises in the classic sense. Instead, they
present and study real situations (suppositions), which include specific data of the area and may be part of the
future careers of students.
First of all, the authors start with a collection of real suppositions from the areas related to labor, social,
juridical or economic nature, and with real or proposed data. A lot of suppositions have been collected from
sources, such as national or local press (El País, El Mundo, Ideal, etc.), different websites of public or private
organisms (National Institute of Statistics, Andalusian Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Labor), instructors’ own
research, etc.. Others, though are invented or inspired by other sources, tried to show a real and current situation.
They can be considered as original statements, which cover different problems. In these, the authors made up
questions that professionals in the fields would set out to answer. These questions were chosen to coincide with
common questions in statistics exercises. The task of creating this collection of suppositions has been difficult.
The authors have tried to include questions, at different levels, that cover all the material in the course. In this
process, the authors have used other resources for example, Abad, et al. (2001; 2002), Batanero (2001) and Sirkin
(1999), daily press, search in websites, etc.. This has obliged to a following treatment of suppositions and
complementary questions, trying to introduce an important variety of themes and the use of a greater part of the
statistics techniques that a future professional of this field has to dominate.
The authors then classified the suppositions into 3 categories according to the complexity of the statistical
methods needed. After moving the authors’ questions to the statistics language and justifying the statistics
concepts and techniques that could be considered, the authors try to respond in a varied way. In this way,
questions were answered by hand or by different statistics packets or programs (SPSS, statgraphics, etc.) or of
general purpose, Excel, etc.. The authors translated the subject matter questions into statistical language and
justified what statistical concepts and methods were needed. Sometimes, the solutions were produced by hand, at
other time, using a statistical package. No statistical package was relied on exclusively. The result of this work is a
packet of suppositions with solutions and comments.
At the end, the object was to answer the proposed questions scientifically and explain the solution by using
the conventional juridical, labor or social language (Finkelstein & Levin, 2001; Ramsey, et al., 2002). The
following is an example of a supposition that includes some questions:
A study of unemployment benefits is proposed. For that, the following information is known. The average benefit
that an unemployed person receives is 540 euros each month, 80% of unemployed people receive between 300 and 750
euros, and 10% receive more than 750 euros, according to a survey of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS,

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

Sociological Investigations Centre). 69% of unemployed people consider this a low benefit as compared to 19% that
consider that benefit for unemployment is enough. 70% of unemployed people believe that very often people that receive
the unemployment benefit continue working, or working sometimes, a situation considered non-acceptable by
unemployed people. Necessity and the lack of sufficient benefits justify this. The survey data were collected in November
and December 1996 and January 1997 in interviews of 4,700 people.
(1) Identify the basic variable that is considered in this supposition. Comment on the suitability of any probabilistic
sample to answer questions related to this supposition.
(2) With the data available, try to get the dispersion level that exists among the unemployed peoples’ benefits. Are
there contradictions in the data?
(3) Observe and comment on the mixture of different percentages included in this supposition.

The work developed has been fruitful in the publication of the book whose reference is Navarrete, et al.
(2005). In regards to the teaching environment and how technology can motivate and facilitate the learning
process related to the subject, the authors use Power Point to present the suppositions. They decided to use Power
Point mainly because of its easy operation, viewing conditions and the strong support provided for using
audiovisuals in the classroom. An example of some Power Point slides appears in Figure 1 and Figure 2. A web
site with a clear and simple structure is used to make the material available to students 1 . TPF FPT

Ficha para el alumno

Evolución del salario mínimo

interprofesional en España

Departamento de Estadística e I.O.

Universidad de Granada

Figure 1 Power Point slide 1

Evolución del salario mínimo interprofesional en España

Representamos gráficamente la serie de salarios constantes

La serie tiene una

descendente, es decir
los salarios han

Vemos que los

salarios de menores
de 18 años quedan
muy por debajo del

Figure 2 Power Point slide 2

TP PT Retrieved from

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

3. Experience assessment

The authors use the exam for the course as an assessment of the students’ progress. A higher percentage of
students who used the suppositions pass the exam compared to those who did not use the suppositions. At the end
of the course, the students completed a survey about their motivation level and their use of the course material.
The data have shown an improvement in the valuation of the subject (see Table 1).

Table 1 Impact of the use of the suppositions

Presented in an exam from the
Number of registered students Attendance Passed the exam from the presented
registered students
Before 139 57 63 21
After 133 75 75 42

In order to show the impact of the use of the suppositions, the authors compare the performance of students in a
section of the course before the suppositions were developed to a section of the course who used the materials discussed
in this paper. The focus on this comparison was on class attendance, attendance at the exam and exam performance.
(1) Hypothesis test concerning the difference between the proportions of 2 samples from binomial
distributions (registered-attendance) is shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Hypothesis test of 2 samples (registered-attendance)

Sample proportions 0.41 (sample 1) 0.56 (sample 2)
Sample sizes 139 (sample 1) 133 (sample 2)
Confidence interval for difference between proportions (95%) (-0.2675; -0.0325)
Statistic value -2.47463
p-value 0.01334
Reject the null hypothesis for alpha 5%

(2) Hypothesis test concerning the difference between the proportions of 2 samples from binomial
distributions (registered-presented) is shown in Table 3.

Table 3 Hypothesis test of 2 samples (registered-presented)

Sample proportions 0.45 (sample 1) 0.56 (sample 2)
Sample sizes 139 (sample 1) 133 (sample 2)
Confidence interval for difference between proportions (95%) (-0.2281; -0.0081)
Statistic value -1.8138
p-value 0.0697
Reject the null hypothesis for alpha 5%

(3) Hypothesis test concerning the difference between the proportions of 2 samples from binomial
distributions (presented-passed the exam) is shown in Table 4.

Table 4 Hypothesis test of 2 samples (presented-passed the exam)

Sample proportions 0.43 (sample 1) 0.56 (sample 2)
Sample sizes 63 (sample 1) 75 (sample 2)
Confidence interval for difference between proportions (95%) (-0.3916; -0.0684)
Statistic value -2.7026
p-value 0.0069
Reject the null hypothesis for alpha 5%

Teaching statistics in labor, social, juridical or economic studies

4. Conclusion

The experience in this paper shows that a considerable improvement exists in the students’ results; the levels
that appear in tables confirm this fact. Statistics teaching should not be carried out in the same way for all kinds of
university students; some students’ learning is better if the problem appears with real data and suppositions.

Abad Montes, F. & Vargas Jiménez, M. (2002). Data analysis for social sciences with SPSS. Proyecto Sur Ed., S. L..
Abad Montes, F., Vargas Jiménez, M. & Huete Morales, M. D. (2001). Statistics for social and labour sciences. Proyecto Sur Ed., S. L..
Batanero, C. (2001). Didactic of statistics. Reprographics in Faculty of Sciences, University of Granada.
Finkelstein, M. O. & Levin, B. A. (2001). Statistics for lawyers. Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag Inc..
Navarrete Álvarez, E., Rosales Moreno, M. J., Huete Morales, M. D., Vargas Jiménez, M. & Abad Montes, F. (2005). Statistics in
labour, social, juridic or economic problems. University Publishing Group (Granada).
Ramsey, J. B., Newton, H. J. & Harvill, J. L. (2002). The elements of statistics: With applications to economics and the social
sciences. North Scituate, MA: Duxbury Press.
Sirkin, R. M. (1999). Statistics for the social sciences. Newbury Park, CA, London: Sage Publications Inc..

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Shizuka, T. (1998). The effects of stimulus presentation mode, question type, and reading speed incorporation on the
reliability/validity of a computer-based sentence reading test. JACET Bulletin, 29, 155-172.
Smith, E. A. & Kincaid, P. (1970). Derivation and validation of the automated readability index for use with technical materials.
Human Factors, 12, 457-464.
Someya, Y. (2000). Word level checker: Vocabulary profiling program by AWK, 1.5. Retrieved from http://www1. kamakuranet.
Tono, Y. (2000). A corpus-based analysis of interlanguage development: Analyzing part-of-speech tag sequences of EFL learner
corpora. PALC, 1999, 323-340.
Vapnik, V. (1998). Statistical learning theory. NY: Wiley-Interscience.
Yngve, V. H. (1960). A model and a hypothesis for language structure. The American Philosophical Society, 104(5), 444-466.
Yoshimi, T., Kotani, K., Kutsumi, T., Sata, I. & Isahara, H. (2005). A method of measuring reading time for assessing EFL-learners’
reading ability. Transactions of Japanese Society for Information and Systems in Education, 22(1), 24-29.
Yoshimi, T., Kotani, K., Kutsumi, T., Sata, I. & Isahara, H. (2009). A prediction model of sentence reading time based on linguistic
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(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in

South-Western Nigeria: Implications for students’ personnel

management practice

Ramoni Ayobami Alani, Phillips Olaide Okunola, Sikiru Omotayo Subair

(Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)

Abstract: Motivating learners in university depends largely on those services, processes and procedures
whose primary purpose is to enhance and maintain learners’ physical, social, intellectual and emotional well-being.
This study examined the situation of welfare services in the context of university education vis-à-vis students’
perceived motivation to learning. The study involved public universities in South-Western Nigeria with different
characteristics, such as curriculum focus, year of establishment, ownership and residential statuses. Using a
descriptive survey research design, the target population for the study was the final-year undergraduate students
drawn from three faculties and a college using multi-stage, stratified and simple random sampling techniques. The
SWESAQ (students’ welfare service assessment questionnaire) instrument was administered on 800 students that
constituted the sample frame. The major findings among others were that provision of welfare services in all
universities was inadequate and seemed to be responsible for learners’ low level of satisfaction and poor
motivation to learning. Consequently, the implications of these findings for students’ personnel management
practice were discussed and necessary suggestions were given.
Key words: welfare services; universities; Nigeria; students’ personnel management

1. Introduction

The university, as the apex of the educational system and the highest level of human capital development, has
bonds of loyalty not only to the country which supports it, but also to the international companies of universities all
over the world. Within the educational setting, wherever a discussion is thrown open on human resources
management, the learners tend to form the central/focus point. This is because the learners, as identified by
Maduewesi (2005), remain the most precious resources, not for use, but for moulding. They are looking for models
outside their parents to copy. Much like the school system is a person-processing organization, those institutions
where they learn and those who take care of the students should be concerned with their entire welfare. Several
issues have resulted in a lot of controversies at several academic for over the effectiveness of Nigeria learners in the
universities relative to their counterparts in the developed world, with particular focus on their welfare.

Ramoni Ayobami Alani, Ph.D., Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos; research
fields: educational planning, economics of education.
Phillips Olaide Okunola, Ph.D., Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos; research
fields: educational planning and policy, human resources development.
Sikiru Omotayo Subair, Ph.D., Department of Educational Administration, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos; research
fields: institutional planning, personnel management.

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

Welfare issues in the context of university education are those services, processes and procedures whose
primary purpose is to motivate, maintain and enhance the physical, social, intellectual and emotional well-being of
students. The administration of these welfare programmes in the tertiary institutions, particularly universities,
border on the number of persons and activities that are administered through a number of governmental
programmes and universities governing policies co-ordinated by the Student Affairs Unit. Welfare provision
within the school setting can be divided into support services (people you can turn to for help), and the Personnel
Development Programme which is designed to help students devise effective coping strategies for what can be a
very high pressure course and career.
Subair (2008) conceptualized student welfare service as one of the wide range of services put in place by
school authority, to ensure sound learning of students in the campus. He further identified accommodation,
counselling, career information, support from tutor, course information, student unionism, bursary
award/scholarship, degree marketability and transportation as the basic welfare services that would serve the
entire students populace in any higher institution of learning.
Individuals are very much more than a merely productive factor in management plans. They are consumers
of goods and services and thus, they vitally influence demand. Individual learners can be helped to satisfy their
own needs and utilize their potentials and at the same time contribute to the aims of an enterprise. Institutions of
learning should thus have an understanding of the roles assumed by learners, the individuality and the
personalities of learners. It is equally important to acknowledge that individuals are unique. They have different
needs, ambitious, attitudes and desires for responsibility, different levels of knowledge and skills and different
potentials. Achieving results is important, but the means of it must never violate the dignity of learners. This
concept implies that learners must be treated with respect, no matter what their positions.
Some of these welfare services constitute primary needs, such as the physiological requirements for water
and shelter. Others constitute secondary needs, such as counselling, career information, support from tutors,
bursary, and so on, including students’ unionism, these needs all meant to enable every student to develop
self-esteem, status, affiliation, with others, affection, giving, accomplishment and self-assertion.

2. Statement of the problem

It is sufficient to say that the early formative years of the first generation universities were a period
characterized by the buzzing excitement of academic enterprise. The elitist flavour was palatable, with common
rooms, bed-sitting rooms, hall masters and wardens, black bow ties at all dinners and the high table, to mention
only a few. This is in contrast to what obtains today in the universities. The question is: What is the situation of
welfare services in the universities? How have they affected students? What are the implications of these (welfare
services) to student personnel management practices? It is against this background that the study examines the
state of welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria.

3. Hypotheses

The hypotheses formulated for this study were that:

Ho1: There is no significant relationship between welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning;
Ho2: There is no difference among students in their level of satisfaction with the available services in the

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

4. Methodology

The descriptive survey research design was adopted for this study. The population of the study comprised all
final-year undergraduates in the public universities in South-Western Nigeria, their selection was based on
geographical spread and location, ownership status, year of establishment and curriculum focus. The students
sample was drawn from 3 faculties and a college. These are faculties of education, science and engineering and
college of medicine. Fifty final-year students were selected from each faculty and college, hence, a total of 200
final-year students comprised the final sample for the study. The multi-stage, stratified and random sampling
techniques were used to select the students’ sample. A research instrument tagged the SWESAQ, an 87-item
questionnaire developed by the researcher to elicit from students’ necessary information about the state of welfare
services was used. The instrument has 6 parts that covered variables: hostel accommodation, sports/recreation
centres, information and counselling centres, health services, security and environment, and others (transportation,
bursary awards/scholarships, students’ unionism and worship centres), with a check list of welfare services meant
to be rated by the respondents.
However, the public universities used were the University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD), University of Lagos
(UNILAG), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Federal University of Technology (FUTA) and Ladoke-Akintola
University of Technology (LAUTECH), but some faculties/college were not available in some institutions. For
example, UNAD has no college of medicine, FUTA has neither faculty of education nor college of medicine,
while LAUTECH had no faculty of education at the time of this study.

5. Findings

Ho1: There is no significant relationship between welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to
To test this hypothesis, the respondents’ responses on sections C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and D2 of the
questionnaire were computed into mean ( Χ ) and SD (standard deviation). Thereafter, the Pearson product moment
correlation co-efficient statistical procedure was used to determine whether the university welfare services have
significant relationship with students’ perceived motivation to learning. The results are presented in Table 1.

Table 1 Relationship between university welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning
Variables N Χ df SD r-cal r-critical
Welfare services 68.60 8.31
800 798 0.635* 0.062
Students’ perceived motivation to learning 66.73 7.96
Notes: *Significant; df=798; P<0.05.

Table 1 reveals a comparatively higher mean ( Χ ) scores of 68.60, SD=8.31 for welfare services than the lower
mean ( Χ ) of 66.73, SD=7.96 obtained for students’ perceived motivation to learning. This means that there exists a
statistically significant relationship between welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning.
The result of the Pearson product moment correlation co-efficient shows that a calculated r-value of 0.635 is
greater than the critical r-value of 0.062, given 798 degree of freedom at 0.05 level of significance. This result is
significant. Consequently, the null hypothesis is rejected and the alternative hypothesis is upheld. This implies that
there is a significant relationship between welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the students’ levels of satisfaction with the available infrastructure

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

and welfare services in the universities.

To test this hypothesis, students’ responses on sections B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5 and C6 were
computed and their mean ( Χ ) scores and SD were found. Also, the respondents’ scores were used to categorize
them into high, moderate and low satisfaction levels.
Thereafter, one-way ANOVA (analysis of variance) was used to verify whether the significant difference in
students’ level of satisfaction with the available infrastructure and welfare services exists. The results are
presented in Table 2.

Table 2 Students’ level of satisfaction with the available infrastructure and welfare services in the universities
Levels of satisfaction N Χ -score SD
Low 242 45.04 9.26
Moderate 206 44.06 9.44
High 352 51.22 7.74
Sources of variance Sums of squares Degrees of freedom Means of squares F-ratio F-critical
Between groups *
1205.08 2 602.54 38.06 3.00
(Levels of satisfaction)
Within groups (error) 12614.73 797 15.83
Total 13819.81 799
Notes: *Significant; df=2(797); P<0.05.

Table 2 indicates that students with high level of satisfaction exhibited a higher mean ( Χ ) scores of 51.22,
SD=7.74, followed by students with low level of satisfaction exhibiting slightly higher mean ( Χ ) scores of 45.04,
SD=9.26 than the students with moderate level of satisfaction with the mean ( Χ ) scores of 44.06, SD=9.44.
This shows that there exists statistically significant difference in the students’ level of satisfaction with the
available infrastructure and welfare services in the universities. The results of the one-way ANOVA indicate that
the calculated F-ratio of 38.06 is higher than the critical F-value of 3.00 given 2 and 797 degrees of freedom at
0.05 level of significance. This result is significant.
Consequently, the null hypothesis is rejected while the alternative hypothesis is accepted. This implies that
there is a significant difference in the students’ level of satisfaction with the available infrastructure and welfare
services in the universities. Due to this significant difference, further analysis of data was done to determine the
trend of the difference using Fisher’s protected t-test where pair-wise comparison of group means ( Χ ) was done.
The results of the Fisher’s protected t-test are presented in Table 3.
Table 3 Difference across students’ level of satisfaction with the available infrastructure and welfare services
in the universities
Low level of satisfaction Moderate level of satisfaction High level of satisfaction
(N=242) (N=206) (N=352)
Low level of satisfaction (N=242) 45.04A 3.68* 2.90
Moderate level of satisfaction (N=206) 7.16 44.06 0.07
High level of satisfaction (N=352) -0.98 6.18 51.22
Notes: *Significant; at 0.05 level of significance; A=Group means ( Χ ) are in the diagonal, differences in group means are below
the diagonal, while protected t-values are above the diagonal.

From Table 3, the analysis of the Fisher’s protected t-test pair-wise comparison of group means ( Χ ) shows
that students with high level of satisfaction significantly enjoy higher satisfaction with the available infrastructure
and welfare services in the universities than either those with moderate level of satisfaction (t=3.68, df=556,
P<0.05) or those with low level of satisfaction (t=2.90, df=592, P<0.05). However, no significant difference in the

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

level of satisfaction was found between students with moderate level of satisfaction with the available
infrastructure and welfare services and low level satisfaction (t=0.07, df=446, P<0.05).

6. Discussion of findings

On welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning, analysis of Ho1 shows that a significant
relationship between university welfare services and students perceived motivation to learning exists. This can simply
be demonstrated by saying that the essence of any institution of learning is to make for a conducive environment
where effective learning, thorough understanding and wholesome development of learners can be achieved.
This aspect took into consideration some areas of welfare services such as hostel accommodation, sports and
recreation centers, information/counseling centers and health services. Others include security/environment,
transportation, bursary awards/scholarships and worship centers.
On hostel accommodation, the analysis revealed that the higher institutions of learning operate off-campus
system except for the University of Lagos and Federal University of Technology, where conspicuous hostel
accommodation was found for both the undergraduate and postgraduate students. However, the accommodation
conditions of universities still require some improvement. This is evident from the way the researcher met these
hostel blocks as at the time of this study. For instance, in Federal University of Technology, there were 14 hostel
blocks; University of Lagos had about 20 hostel blocks, and UNAD had 4 hostels of 8 blocks, all owned by the
institutions and situated within the campus. It was very pathetic to see the conditions of some of these hostels in
terms of comfortability. The nature of bed commonly found was iron-bed, single and double bunks with
mattresses that were naked and full of bed bugs.
The number of occupants was another issue of concern. Most rooms’ sizes ranged from 12 by 12 to 16 by 16
(3.66 sq.m to 4.87 sq.m). In rooms where there were only 4 double bunks which should have been for 8 students,
the researcher found as many as the 8 original occupants, with 8-16 squatters, putting the figure at 16-24 students
in a room. Most of the hostels lack some basic facilities, such as emergency health unit, good laundry rooms,
adequate toilets and kitchen facilities considering the number of students resident there-in. The resultant effect of
which is to cook inside the rooms already shocked. It also may be worrisome to see that not enough security was
made available in the hostels. Cafeteria services were not available in some institutions where hostels were
present, a good example is in FUTA.
In other institutions where there were no hostels, “build and operate system” was embraced. For example, in
UNAD, at the time of this study, there were more than 90 privately owned and operated hostels where students
pay N8,000 (8,000 naira only) to N60,000 (60,000 naira only) per bed space. The same system was noticed in
OOU, where students pay N12,000 (12,000 naira only) to N120,000 (120,000 naira only) depending on the taste
of the students. Such principle was obtained in LAUTECH and FUTA.
Going by the assertion of Taylor and Winkle quoted by Ayodele (2003), the learning environment should be
enriched to stimulate students’ wholesome development, and the more a child is comfortable, the more he/she
wants to learn. It is, therefore, the researcher’s opinion that apart from the emphasis on academic work,
universities should be adorned with good hostel facilities that are learner-friendly and challenging as to
maintaining one’s individuality and physical and mental health and forming relationship with others. This, the
researcher assumes, will offer an opportunity to grow to help students become more effective individuals both at
personal and at societal levels. Above all, provision of accommodation facilities will not only influence the

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

students’ academic achievement positively, but also make the undergraduates improve to attain the moral,
professional, competitive and socio-political values.
On sports and recreation, the findings show that sports/recreation facilities were sufficiently provided for
students’ use in the various universities studied, with coaches available for almost all games and sports. It was
interesting to see that in the 5 institutions facilities like football pitch, handball and volleyball pitches and tennis
courts were common; gymnasium could be found in FUTA and UNILAG. In UNILAG, a standard athletics field
with good pavilion under which were offices and changing rooms. Others included swimming pool, cricket pitch,
hockey field and basketball pitch. In UNAD, it is sad to see that the sports center turned to a toilet ground. However,
FUTA sports center was being given a face lift with the construction of a pavilion at the time of this study.
On information and counseling centers, 81.7% of the respondents disagreed that there were functional
information centers allocated at different points in the universities under study, while 18.3% agreed. From the
researcher’s observations, it may be taken that this disagreement is traceable to the respondents’ ignorance of the
available centers on campus. However, it was observed that some institutions did not have enough trained and
qualified counselors. This justifies the need for counseling in the universities. The finding here indicates that the
provision of much more written information (e.g., student handbooks) should be welcomed, but individual contact
between all students and those who teach them, particularly the cohort adviser, remains integral to the academic
experience within the universities. Thus, each undergraduate should have the personal support of a cohort adviser
and professional counselors, who will counsel on choice of pathways and options, arrange and in most cases give
tutorials, provide pastoral support, and liaise with the institution or authorities on the students’ behalf. If this is
done, it will serve both academic needs and also enable any information required to be discovered early on and
handled within the university counseling networks.
Health is wealth, so says the adage. The well-being of learners in the universities has been a thing of
paramount importance to the university officials. This is confirmed with the establishment of health centers in
different higher institutions of learning. It is worthy to note that all universities studied had medical centers.
However, differences were noticed in the areas of medical personnel, medical attention given to students,
admission in serious cases, drugs dispensed, laboratory tests and over-the counter medications. Furthermore,
differences were noticed in the areas of operating hours, ambulance services and information in case of epidemics
or endemics. These were responsible for the differences noted in the responses of the respondents. It was observed
that students were not always given immediate attention when taken to the health centers; the researcher attributed
this to the level of seriousness of the reported health cases. It was pathetic to discover that medical personnel were
not sufficient at the health centers. Further analysis reveals that the wards for admission in serious cases were
nothing to write about. For instance, in FUTA, there were 2 wards with 4 beds each and were meant for the male
and female students, while UNAD had just 2 wards with no room for either male or female students. However, the
reverse is the case with UNILAG, LAUTECH and OOU, where there were wards for students’ admission for even
days. No restrictions was noticed, all students were eligible to attend. But, the analysis shows that students did not
want to acknowledge that medications have been free. This could be based on the premise that every student was
charged to pay medical fees along side with their tuition during registration.
It is important here to state that health services were not given for 24 hours in all universities; example is
UNAD, where it is durning 8:00 am-4:00 pm and not available on weekends. Knowing fully well that students
stayed around the school environment, where did they run to in cases of emergency? Further observation shows
that no university could boast of adequate medical equipment, this is pathetic. This is one of the major reasons the

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

Ekiti state government had to scrap the UNAD’s College of Medicine, apart from the problem of infrastructure.
As regards transportation, the observation shows that students were made to pay a token of N10 and N40.
However, the road network on campus in UNILAG, FUTA and UNAD was good because of the drainage system.
LAUTECH and OOU were not too bad but no street light was noticed in OOU permanent site major road. This
however may create security threat to students who may want to trek out of campus later in the evening.
On scholarship and bursary awards, analysis shows that institutions like UNILAG, FUTA, OOU and
LAUTECH did give recognition to best students in the departments and faculties. Apart from this, UNILAG had a
scheme designed to help students to reduce the burden of financing their education (work-study). This work study
programme was under the work study unit, a programme that was first of its kind in Nigeria, came at a time when
the general economic situation in the country dictated that students must look for ways of augmenting their
finances. At this point, the researcher is of the opinion that if all universities can embrace this idea, with increases
in the cost of living index and resultant increases in the cost of tertiary education, coupled with limited number
and value of scholarships, bursaries and difficulties in obtaining educational loans, students may see more
prospects in higher education and make them have access to it without tears. It is sad to have discovered further in
the analysis that the values of scholarship and bursaries being given to students in Nigeria universities ranged
from N2,500 (2,500 naira only) to N10,000 (10,000 naira only). Some may involve going through series of
aptitude tests before one can become a beneficiary.
On worship centers, it was no doubt that in every institution studied there were several religious
congregations holding at different points and classrooms in the faculties apart from the major church and mosque
buildings for the Christian and Muslim students respectively. This simply is an indication that apart from emphasis
on academic works in the universities, moral and spiritual imperatives are equally recognized.

7. Implications

Arising from the findings are a few theoretical and practical implication for students’ effective personnel
management practices. Students’ personnel managers are expected to think of learners’ behavioral changes as
being dependent on their levels of cognition in terms of awareness, perception and levels of satisfaction with the
available welfare services for their wholesome development. The need for water, electricity, access roads, bursary,
and so on, a university system can hardly be over-emphasized. Without these things, it will be very difficult to live
a healthy life, not to mention doing one’s academic work.
Some concerns are still unattended to. From the findings, the issues of health services and information/
counseling were not given for the priority in the scheme of things. What measures are put in place in the early
years of university education to filter out learners with emerging special needs? Welfare services are key
motivating factors to human success in life, they are also found as essential ingredients upon which the pillars of
university education service delivery are founded. Planning for a people calls for adequate knowledge of the
characteristics found in the population. Learners are unique individuals who have different needs, ambitious,
attitudes and desires for responsibility, different levels of knowledge and skills and different potentials. Therefore,
there is need for concerted efforts to be made by such service providers, to get adequately committed to both the
ideals and the provision.
In management, information flows for daily operations, as a result, its presentation must take into
consideration the differences in learners’ cognition and affective and psychological powers, which all determine

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

the mode of reception and the audience. The much needed publicity on welfare services was absent in the
universities. Since the goal of education is to promote optimal function that the amount of opportunities available
to the individual learner should be exposed to determine their requests.
The findings in this study revealed that some universities cannot boast of a standard athletics field, not to
mention other sporting pitches or fields. The implication of this is that such an institution has failed to consider the
need for physical and mental health of the students. Sporting and recreating call for interpersonal relationships.
This will reflect the ability to love and be able to sustain affectionate relationship with other persons. Students’
personnel managers should therefore be concerned with efforts meant to maintain emotional stability and maturity
of character and also the strength to withstand stress inherent in academic rigors.
Given that professional values of students’ affairs units in the universities, students with special needs are not
disadvantaged by the management but the inadequate funding, since universities will tend to give priority to basic
mainstreams provision before resourcing special needs. This notwithstanding, if universities are to improve
institutional effectiveness, they must impact on the available welfare services on ground.

8. Recommendations

(1) Basic infrastructure like electricity, pipe-borne water and road network should be improved. The constant
erratic power outages in the universities call for immediate attention. It is recommended that each faculty and
department (if possible) has alternative source of power supply so that the faculty and/or departmental staff members
are not delayed unnecessarily from carrying out their routine administrative and academic works. However,
standards should be maintained in the provision so that “disturbing” power generators are not put in circulation.
Good portable water is a necessity. This should not just be provided but periodic test of water should be done
to ascertain safety by putting in place “school officials for health care facilities”. This will however include
developing a plumbing profile and developing a drinking water testing plan. This is to solve earlier detect water
problems. Good road network is necessary, too, because of some noticeable signs of erosion. This should be
supported with well networked drainage system.
(2) Health care delivery system in the universities should be improved. Drugs should be regularly supplied
with enough wards and beds put in place for students’ admissions.
(3) On security matters, universities should be concerned about unruly visitors sneaking into the premises
and students’ hostels (where accommodation facilities are provided). Therefore, universities need to beef-up
security to make schools safer. Universities should install cameras possibly on some strategic positions along the
streets and outside the schools (at the gates) because of earlier detect crimes. If possible, security corps (task force)
may be raised among the students, which will serve as security threat to those students with criminal tendencies.
(4) There should be a regular sanitation exercise and review of school facilities-maintenance planning so as
to make the learning environment clean, orderly, safe, hygienic, cost-effective, instructionally supportive and
motivating. Creating refuse dump sites within the university premises is uncalled-for.
(5) The physical, social, mental and emotional well-being of learners should be given priority in the scheme
of things. Adequate sporting facilities need to be put in place to enhance socialization, sportsmanship and
leadership qualities. If possible, some lectures should be set aside to encourage students’ participation in sports.
This would aid earlier discovery of talented sportsmen and women who can do the institution and the country at
large proud.

Situation analysis of students’ welfare services in universities in South-Western Nigeria: Implications for
students’ personnel management practice

(6) Bursary award and scholarship should be improved. Considering the economic realities of this present in
Nigeria, there is the urgent need to harmonize the current bursary award/scholarship being given to Nigerian
university students. Particular attention should be given to students with demonstrated financial problems
(indigent students), physically challenged students, outstanding and talented in sports and best students in the
departmental and faculty courses.
Moreover, enough publicity should be given to the available welfare services to students coming into the
university environment during orientation. These may serve as challenges for aiding their academic performance.
Appreciating the “global village” nature of the world now, the need for ICT (information of computer and
technology ) in the universities can not be over-emphasized. Though, evidence abound that the universities used in
this study had something to show for this, but considering the students’ population and the e-learning opportunities,
there is the need to intensify efforts to ensure adequate provision of these facilities. There is the need for institution
to show concern for improving quality of learners’ lives which appear to be widespread in the world.
(7) There should be reduction in the number of occupants per room. In universities where there are
provisions for accommodation facilities, efforts should be made to reduce the number of occupants per room for
health reasons.
Individual institution should encourage partnership with private groups on build, operate and transfer (BOT)
basis. However, this should be done with caution to prevent the private groups from exploiting the students.
Necessary policies may need to be put in place with stringent disciplinary measures to reduce the number of
inmates in the hostels.
(8) A disciplined and virile student representation should be encouraged at all levels. This makes the students’
voices heard and attended to, thereby making learners motivated through inclusion and consultation. Learners are
stakeholders in any educational system and at the same time they constitute a crucial input in that they are the
“raw materials” which school processes are intended to transform. The effectiveness of the school is judged in
relation to the values it adds to students in the way of knowledge, skills, behaviors and attitudes. Moreover, most
of the decisions taken are on issues concerning them as a body (learners), therefore, they can be part of some,
since it gives them the attainment of democratic principles. They can channel their grievances through the right
route and enjoy immediate feedback.

Alani, R. A. (1998). Some thoughts on educational services in the National Policy on Education. Journal of Applied Research in
Education, 3(1), 1.
Ayodele, J. B. (2003). The role of head teachers in school plant management and maintenance. A paper presented at the Annual
National Conference of the Nigeria Association for Educational Administration and Planning, University of Ibadan, October
28-31, 2003.
Fafunwa, A. B. (1971). A higher education history of Nigerian. Lagos: Macmillan & Co..
Maduewesi, E. J. (2005). Benchmarks and global trends in education. Benin City: Dasylva Influence Enterprises.
Subair, S. T. (2008). Infrastructure, welfare services and students’ perceived motivation to learning in universities in South-West
Nigeria. (Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Lagos)

(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism

in education

Robin Jung-Cheng Chen, Shu-Fen Chiu

(1. Institute for Research on Educational Policy and System, National Academy for Educational Research, Taipei 23703, Taiwan;
2. Department of Social Work, Meiho University, Pingtung 909, Taiwan)

Abstract: Recently, the pros and cons scholars of educational marketization all refer to the enormous
influences affected by neo-liberalism. Without doubt, it occurs to the related researches that the function and
characters of market will create a decisive impact on education development. Nevertheless, according to this
authors’ study, neo-liberalism is not the way as it was, it is because the role of the state has been shifted from
shrinking back to swelling out in terms of the ways of manipulating policies. The state is no longer the rolled back
actor as a small government following the original neo-liberalism context, but becomes an invisible hand behind
serial discourses and standards making. This study has taken England for an example to review the spread of
marketization in education, especially under New Labor’s authority. Context and developed discourses on
neo-liberalism are analyzed before examining the related policies in England. The result of the research argues
that, though neo-liberalism still firmly wins its high value in running education, it has been through an ingenious
change in terms of spreading processes. Under New Labor’s authority, serial legitimate discourses from public
sector were released and formed another new ideology. The boundary of public and private sector of running
education, especially in secondary education, has been redefined. This change has turned England into a new type
of “neo-liberalism” territory. Based on the involvement of public sector in manipulating serial privatizations, it
reveals the phenomenon of “state commercialism”.
Key words: neo-liberalism; state commercialism; education policy

1. Introduction

The development of education has its historical interactions among social trends, main stream values,
technologies, cultures and ideologies. Exploring the latest trend, the value and changing of ideology affecting
education is the main theme of this paper. From a holistic point of view, many researches raise neo-liberalal
thought to a vital position and treat it as a great impact while discussing education policy-making and developing.
As Apple (2003) argued, the rising value of educational marketization has been strengthening its influences since
1980s. If it has to know the concept of this development, then knowing the role of the state apparatus will be at the
first priority. The recently serial discourses focused on “devolution” or “autonomy” education reforms are coming
from this point as well. Giroix (2004) indicated that the market-oriented discourse would drive public education
leave a whole new space to the private sector for nurturing the education participation energy. This will change the

Robin Jung-Cheng Chen, Ph.D., assistant researcher, Institute for Research on Educational Policy and System, National Academy
for Educational Research; research fields: policy sociology, comparative education.
Shu-Fen Chiu, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Social Work, Meiho University; research fields: public service study,
social work, adult education.

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

original public educational system and create a new managerial mechanism.

In fact, Adams (1998) had brought up his idea that neo-liberalism might be the shiest illuminate on political
spectrum in western countries. Furthermore, it has permeated various of organizations and forms a new type of
power. Thinking of educational reforms stressed on competitiveness and accountability, Hill (2001) had further
explanation on this and pointed out that the state apparatus had already controlled the source of
education—teachers education. All the student teachers had been controlled and moulded and took all the related
norms and reforms for granted. The state apparatus also has legitimized the need for catching up global economic
competition and root it in the value of pedagogy, even though it might do harm to the spirit of social justice.
Many scholars (Apple, 2003; Giroix, 2004; MacLaren & Kincheloe, 2007) worried the discourse of market
based on neo-liberalism will spread as a wave, from industrial countries to developing countries, beating the shore
of education. Under the influences of neo-liberalism, the public education has been invaded by private sectors and
turns education into profit-making oriented. Following the dominance of neo-liberalism, value of capital and
wealth has overrode the civic virtue as it was, the meaning of education management has come to a turning point.
The influences of neo-liberalism are not only on economic and political activities, but also on the transformation
of school management, knowledge producing and education beliefs.
From critical pedagogists’ opinions, neo-liberalism to education is as a tsunami to the embankment. The
point is, after stepping into the 21st century, will this ideology last its dominant influence or will it be
changed/replaced by another discourse? This study will find an answer to it. On the other hand, the concept of
“paradigm change” from Kuhn (1962; 1996) also forced this study to find out the “next move” of neo-liberalism.
What Kuhn (1962; 1996) suggested is, people need to constantly examine the existed paradigms or theories with
every possibility, then they can breakthrough the limitation to a new scientific discovery. Therefore, this paper
highly holds the expectation towards what Kuhn suggested, “Any new scientific finding or theory comes from one
or few researchers’ close observation” (Kuhn, 1962; 1996, p. 144), focusing on the development of neo-liberalism
and its connection with education.
This study will argue that, though neo-liberalism still owns its stable status in education with promoting the
value of marketization, it has been through an ingenious change in terms of preading processes. With such change,
a new way for educational reform will be formed, that is, the boundary of public and private sector of running
education will be reshaped. England will be taken as the context to analyse by exploring the change of education
during last decade. To follow up the above description and demonstrate the development of neo-liberalism, role of
the state and the related policies will be further discussed as following.

2. Role of the capitalist state

According to Harvey (2005), it always goes with the role of the state while having discussion on
neo-liberalism. It is because what neo-liberal focus on is how the state abdicates its legitimate power from the
market operation. Skocpol (1985) argued that the state should be brought to the central position and serve as the
basis when analyzing policy-making and social changes. In the 1990s, Dale (1990), holding the same view and
having analyzed relevant economic, political and social discourse, pointed out that there was still not a systematic
educational discourse. Codd, Gordon and Harker (2001) also indicated that even though the power of the state had
taken root in modern society, the research findings on education were scarce. Theisens (2004) also pointed out the
fact that sociologists had long neglected the analysis of the state role, and regretted that researchers overlooked the

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

importance of it. Therefore, the authors think it is vital to carry out a systematic exploration of this issue.
Although the views of the connection between the industrial society and capitalist society remain divergent,
e.g., Dahrendorf (1959) argued that only by using the term “industrial society” could people cover the
development in the modern western society, and capitalism was merely one of the many elements for the
industrial society, there are also scholars, for example, Miliband (1973) suggested that people had to use the
concept of “capitalist society” to cover the western social model. Both descriptions, in the authors’ opinion,
followed and developed out of the Marxist discourse on the economic production model. This was not merely an
economic model, but a social relationship. The authors’ research shows that many ideas about the state proposed
by later scholars were based on Marx’s criticism on capitalist society; thus, the authors would begin with this
characteristic and follow up with relative explorations.
Marx and Engels (1952) thought that the conflicts aroused by the possession of production instruments,
employment relation and distribution of goods made up the vital factors for the civil society and the state. The
above “economic” factors, therefore, became the essential content in his social analysis. They argued that in a
capitalist society, the class-division resulting from this production relation would cause changes in the state’s
structure, role and functions.
Later, Marx and Engels (1952) got deeply involved in political activities and formed the communist league as
the realization of their ideas. They drew up The Communist Manifesto, in which they attempted to seek out a
popular analytic pattern for their political views. As to the role of the state, they provided a simpler interpretation:
“The state is merely a committee that governs bourgeois affairs” (Marx & Engels, 1952, p. 44). From this, it can
be seen that the state’s role, in Marx’s viewpoint, was nothing but a social composition pursuing economic interest.
This organization, made up of different social classes, however, was an instrument of the bourgeois class, who
dominated productive instruments.
About Marxist productive instrumental determinism, Weber (1978) brought up a different point of view.
Although Weber (1978) admitted that economic factor was the driving force for a state, he thought the bourgeois
class did not deprive the working class only in the capitalist society. He pointed out that all of these originated
from the system, and were results from the bureaucratic operation. The laboring process under the bureaucratic
system was a monotonous functioning. The same thing happened to the entry-level workers in large agencies,
such as hospitals, colleges and government departments. Thus, the problem was not what Marx and Engels (1952)
suggested, a deprivation of productive instruments (Weber, 1978). As a result, Weber argued that the state should
be built upon a system reform, thinking how to build an adequate bureaucracy. He thought that democracy was an
acceptable though unsatisfactory method during this process, for the democratic system was at least capable of
maintaining public involvement to some degree, which helped lift restrains and open up the bureaucracy. He
thought, therefore, political power was the source of dominance among all human relations. As he further said,
“There were many types of power relations in social action, among which the political power played the decisive
role” (Weber, 1978, p. 283). By this, he showed that political power was just the final outcome of various forms of
power competing.
The above social actions actually had different power relations, including economic activities, social-class
distribution, social-power sharing, and so on. The exercise of political power after the interactions of these
factors affected many considerations of social action in return, including class interest, family tradition, ideology,
and so on. These relations put political power in a highly complex situation; therefore, people need extra
attention when dealing with the existing and prospective facts. From this, it can be learnt that according to Weber

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

(1978), the fundamental understanding of the state should begin with aspects, such as the nature of power, type
of dominance, basis of political power, and trend of rationality and bureaucracy in human social action. But now,
people come to realize that this analysis has never expanded its scope further; instead, Marx’s viewpoint
generated further discussions.
Concluding from the Marxist’s view on state’s operation in a capitalist society, it can be told that the
discussions were based on the subject of class, which held that the state was a ruling instrument under the control
of the ruling class; the state was an executive committee that exercised bourgeois will. The instrumentalism held
by Miliband (1973) was based on the same reason, and he thought that the dictatorship by the ruling class would
concentrate the wealth on a minority and duplicate the ruling by this class dominance (Miliband, 1973). However,
this view was later revised by many Marxist scholars. They thought that there did not exist a totalitarian “ruling
class”; to some degree, it was a composition of elites. Among other related discourses, Poulantzas’s (1973) was
the representative. He argued that there was, in different stages or among various members in the same stage, a
“relative autonomy” in the state. He suggested that the “relative autonomy” of the state was a role with the
function of “constituting the factor of cohesion between the levels of a social formation” (Poulantzas, 1973, p. 44).
According to Poulantzas, the role of state to keep the coherence was based on the fact that there was continuity in
the social productive relations, and the state was responsible for keeping this continuity. However, Poulantzas also
pointed out that the state’s role for coherence did not suggest that the state was the mediator. Therefore, he came
up with the idea of “relative autonomy”. He further clarified that his theoretical position in the capitalist state was
mainly on the emphasis of the state’s relative autonomy, as he wrote:
I can give no general answer—not, as Miliband believes because I take no account of concrete individuals or the role
of social classes, but precisely because the term “relative” in the expression “relative autonomy” of the State here refers
to the relationship between the State and dominant classes. In other words, it refers to the class struggles within each
social formation and its corresponding State forms. (Poulantzas, 1973, p. 72)

Poulantzas (1973) also pointed out the limitation of this autonomy: It could only be associated with the ruling
class’s political interest. The capitalist state, he reaffirmed, was obviously a mixture of political organizer and
integrator, who sought an unstable equilibrium among conflicts. The development of this role came with a relative
Giddens (1986) questioned Poulantzas’s relative autonomy. He threw out the questions: How could a state
possibly achieve the so-called “relative autonomy”? How did the autonomy form? He thought that Poulantzas did
not clearly lay out the developmental context, and even avoided questions like: What was this autonomy based on?
How “relative”? How to define the other relative object? These questions remained unanswered. Nevertheless,
Giddens did not bring out his view on how the state operated. But his contemporary Offe (1984) suggested that it
could not correctly explain, solely by Marxist ideas, the circumstance the capitalist state was in. He thought that
the state was facing the dilemma of economic growth and social welfare. These 2 were in conflicting arenas. The
former resulted from capitalist and corporated operation; the latter was the requirement which could only be met
through taxation. However, more taxes were apparently in conflict with capitalists’ interest. Offe pointed out that
these would form a long-term opposition in the state, the outcome of which was 2 contrasting public-service
orientations: commercialization and anti-commercialization.

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

3. The forming of neo-liberalism and the change

Take England for an example, within the fervent callings for anti-government and anti-regulation all over the
world, the government-dominating welfare services were drowning in the de-government appeals. The
de-government appeals, according to Jessop (1991), came from people’s dissatisfaction with government
efficiency. He pointed out that although the economy was stagnant, rich capitalists and middle class kept on
reaping benefits from political kickbacks. Moreover, people were tired of the 2 parties’ prolonged dispute over
political issues, which intensified their dissatisfaction. The last straw was the economic and global crises. People
could not tolerate the 2 parties’ economic policies anymore, and even regarded the 2 as impotent governments.
Thus, after Thatcher’s inauguration in 1979, she made proactive adjustments, getting rid of the Fordism and
moved to an open, market-driven neo-liberalism, or the new right. Jessop pointed out the “Thatcherism”,
developing when Thatcher was in power (1979-1990), was considered as the core of neo-liberalism, out of which
came the post-Fordist society.
The neo-liberalism was different from Keynes’s “new liberalism”. The former appeared in the 1970s and
gradually gained its ground in the 1980s as a political-economic philosophy. Neo-liberalism despised or was
against government’s direct economic intervention, and it supported social justice by means of a free market and
reduced restrictions on business activities and economic development. In neo-liberal thoughts, free trade, free
market, capitalism and social net-earnings were able to cover government expenses under any circumstance,
which was also recognized as the new right (Offe, 1984; Giroix, 2004). New liberalism was born, together with
socialism and anarchism, in the second half of 19th century with modifications in Locke’s classical liberalism.
Mill (1844, p. 4) was the representative figure. He was not satisfied with the narrow understanding and passive
explanation of classical liberalism, thinking that liberty meant not only unconfined freedom, which was a passive
kind of liberty, but also included self-realization and developing personal talents. This thinking deeply influenced
Keynes, leading him to propose the abovementioned idea of the equal social-welfare state (Keynes, 1997). The
policies then did not include the “Keynesian” great-government investment, but the “Schumpeterian”
market-oriented flexibility and innovation (Jessop, 2002).
Coined from Schumpeter’s (1994) economic theory in the 1980s, the “Schumpeterian state” generated wide
discussions. Although Schumpeter did not introduce the idea of globalization, his “entrepreneur”, “creative
destruction” and “innovation” in the 1940s were viewed as the catering and adjusting model in a capitalist society
in the process of globalization, and this 3 factors became the core viewpoints in economic mainstream discourse.
As Jessop (2002) argued, globalization brought 2 main changes in the nature of economy: technological
revolution, which did not confine in high-tech only, included the technology that boosted productivity in
traditional industries; and financial revolution, which, with extremely high transparency and vitality, supported the
innovation of technology.
Before Schumpeter, most sociologists maintained Marxist thoughts. And the major issues of the operation of
a capitalist society were based on the ownership of productive instruments, deprivation and social classes.
Schumpeter (1994) brought in a new point of view, holding that entrepreneurs and market demand played the
leading role. This view became an important analytical focus when the western countries faced the globalization.
Because of her economic environment and change in government’s attitude toward policy-making, Britain had
gone through a process of reflection upon her stance on welfare state and brought in the spirit of marketization,
from Conservative Party’s rein in 1979 to New Labor Party’s taking over in 1997. The progress somewhat echoed

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

the market-oriented “Schumpeterian state”.

Having examined modern political-economic situations, Carnoy, et al. (1999) suggested that the major
driving force for the shift of the state’s role was globalization, which roused a questioning of the values of the
socialist welfare state. Offe (1984, p. 88) argued that in the trend of global competition, western countries faced
the conflict of national competitiveness and welfare provision. If the welfare services kept on expanding, it would
jeopardize the capital accumulation in a state and threaten her global competition. However, without welfare
services, the state would split because of class inequality. Facing this dilemma, Offe (1984) suggested that the
state should progress to the “Weberian” state, i.e., a “state-technical” under the guidance of Schumpeterian
economic guidelines, which emphasized a bureaucratic, effective agency. Therefore, when dealing with
competitive pressure from globalization, the state should react with a skill-oriented and labor-division method to
strengthen her competitiveness in different arenas.
As Devine (2004) indicated, under the economic influence of “rational decision” and “efficacy”, education
underwent a transformation, and moved towards an economic and rational characteristic. He argued that rational
decision was a major feature of neo-liberalism. In terms of global thinking, rational decision was the enhancement
of competitiveness, which could be interpreted as “education under the economic rationalism”. It can be seen that
the changes globalization brought on education was a transition from the state providing educational service to the
consumer-oriented thinking with the features of an economic market. While the state policies were realizing
economic rationalism, the nature of state’s provision and intervention in education was also changing.
Facing these managerial thoughts of increasing competitiveness and strengthening effectiveness, the state
apparatus showed a shift towards indirect control, as Archer (1984) suggested. With empirical research findings,
Morrow and Torres (2000) pointed out that more and more semi-official agencies shooting up were to implement
state’s key policies. On the face, it was division of labor, but deep down the state still took control. It can be learnt
that scholars holding this view thought that the state apparatus changed to an indirect way, seeking methods that
boosted technology and efficiency, among which the privatization came to the foreground to achieve the goal of
marketization. When examining the relationship between globalization and education, Daun (2002) pointed out
that, driven by economic forces, the state’s educational policies developed a homogenous quality, moving towards
privatization in the market mechanism to increase efficacy. Daun even suggested that the state became the major
broker in the market mechanism. Thus, with the discourse to justify global competition getting hotter, involvement
and capital from the private sector and other relative factors were legitimized as part of policy-making. Corrales
(1999, p. 19) indicated that this act had equated capitalists with “political privileges” in the process of educational
policy-making. Capitalists, through getting involved in policy-making and gaining financial support from
government contracting, received more benefits than others. In this context, capitalists were an important element
in policy-making, because they played the decisive role in the continuity of government’s reins.
When educational implementations moved away from the welfare state spirit to the new right post-welfare
state climate, the provision of educational services gained the feature of market determinism. International
entrepreneurs and capitalists who shaped up the economic conditions teamed up with the state apparatus, and their
partnership showed in policy-making. For example, under the new right influences in the 1980s, the state
exercised substantial control over curricula by the appeal to returning back to fundamentals and lifting standards.
All these appeals and slogans originated from the new right political terminology and gradually formed a global
educational policy discourse (Klees, 1999). Regarding the marketization of education, Corrales (1999) thought
that it should be viewed from the macro political-economic perspective, and link the changes with the

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

self-sustaining needs within the global competition. In addition to capitalists’ will, he thought the reason why the
state showed such interest in education was the link between education reform and economic development.
Probing deeper, the interest came from the need to respond the global economic competition by enhancing
educational quality.

4. Neo-liberalism and education

The New Labor government deviated from their leftist socialist stance in the late 1980s. Since their seizing
power in 1997, it can be seen that Blair’s leadership and the third way merging old left and new right actually
helped the New Labor Party gain recognition, based on their consecutive victories. But many scholars (Dorey,
2005; Ball, 2007; Turner, 2007) also pointed out that under the impact of globalization, many of the Party’s
policy-practices were mainly based on the economic priority, which can be seen in their 2005 slogan: “Britain
forward, not back”, emphasizing an economic society with equal opportunities. The education policy at that time
was the Party’s major force to boost the economy. As to the implementations, they added the “More children
making the grade” slogan (Labour Party, 2005) to their major appeal of lifting learning standards. In their 2005
campaign manifesto, the Party replaced education with the economy boom as the priority. Regarding the
importance of lifting the quality of labor, the New Party’s educational policy-making was closely connected with
their economic developmental discourse. Accordingly, business management strategies were incorporated into
their school management, hoping to improve schools’ efficacy and raise the quality of economic manpower.
Giddens (2004) pointed out in an interview before the general election that if the New Labor Party got to
continue their reins in the third phases, their goal would be to lead Britain from the Thatcherite society to a social
democratic society. He argued that the latter was to shape Britain as a “cosmopolitan” country, instead of the
confined Thatcherite national state. So, the country needed a sound and effective public sector to induce
opportunities for economic exuberance. As a result, the Party established many semi-official agencies to serve as
the platform to increase efficiency and draw the private sector’s engagement in public affairs.
In practice, this was a series of privatization, including education. Dorey (2005, p. 254) thought that the
notion formed as early as the early 1980s. He pointed out that the establishment of the semi-official agencies
assisted in “regulation” in the public sector. He even suggested that, by keeping up the trend of semi-official
agencies, the government would merge with these “agencificated” organizations and form a great “regulatory
body”. Despite a notion originated form the Conservative Party, it has turned into widely-implemented policy
thinking for the New Labor Party since 1997, and expanded in the Party’s third phase in power. Table 1 shows
these semi-official agencies that carry out official policies.
The establishment of these agencies, such as QCA (Qualification and Curriculum Association), was the way
the state tried to adapt to the outer changes. Turner (2007) suggested that, under the influences of globalization,
the New Labor government dealt with the pressure from global competition by carrying out decentralizations and
privatizations. This approach solved the difficulty of running the giant state apparatus and flexibly took advantage
of resources from the private sector. When the New Labor Party came in power, the state was trying to create a
“permissive framework” for the educational system, because the idea of free market, evolved from the New
rightist thought since the 1980s, has gradually took root in primary, secondary and higher education. When the
New Labor Party seized power, they also agreed that the state should step aside from education. Thus, many legal
acts after 1997 have put great emphasis on offering access to the private sector. In this context, it is understandable

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

why the New Labor Party set up many semi-official agencies as regulating bodies stimulate the education market.
Because of these agencies, the government could transfer the policies to the private sector for implementations.
An important feature was that every agency was responsible for one single target, for example, evaluation,
curriculum design, faculty training, and so on, as shown in Figure 1.

Table 1 Semi-official agencies for policy-implementations

Name P.S.
Advertising Standards Authority
Consumers’ Association
Financial Services Authority
General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
Funding Agency for Schools Education
Higher Education Funding Council for England Education
Higher Education Funding Council for Wales Education
National Consumer Council
Office for Standards in Education Education
Office for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas
Office of Communications
Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
Office of Telecommunications
Office of Rail Regulation
Office of Water Service
Police Complaints Authority
Postal Service Commission
Quality Assurance Agency (Higher Education) Education
Press Complaints Commission
Specialist School and Academy Trust Education
Trading Standards Institute
Walsh Consumer Council
Source: Compiled from Dorey (2005, pp. 254-255).

Department for Agency for Standard

Education and Skill Establishment

Semi-Official Agency for Evaluation


Agency A Agency B Agency C


Figure 1 Quasi-market organizations in the United Kingdom

Source: Turner (2007, p. 101)

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

According to Whitty (2002), the idea of “rolling back the state” to create free market, which was heavily
promoted by the Conservative Party in the 1980s, would be adopted partly by the New Labor Party. Though
Whitty did not pinpoint the difference from the Conservative Party after the New Labor Party seized power,
according to the authors’ analysis, he would like to point out that the difference lies in the fact that the New Labor
Party subtly differentiated power into diverse semi-official agencies to pursue the traditional values. From this, it
can be seen that, with the control of these agencies, the New Labor Party has redirected the UK to an “audit
society” that focused on performance and standards, as Power (1999) indicated. The term “audit society”
originated from the financial profession. However, since the 1980s, due to the increasing highlight on performance,
other fields have adopted the term to show a practice that stressed professional evaluation for results, for example,
medical audit, technology audit, environment audit, teaching audit, and so on. The “audit” trend prevailed in the
British society. The educational policy under this influence, e.g., Education Act 2005, shifted its focus to school
inspection (DfES (Department of Education and Skill), 2005). The fact fully showed the realization of the nature
of audit. The regulatory body formed by official and semi-official agencies, audited educational standards, and
stressed more and more on performance, heightening its market-driven quality.
Education Act 2005 delegated more power to the OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) and LAs
(Local Authorities). They had the right to forcibly intervene the failing schools, marginalized pupils due to their
socio-economic status and schools dropouts. The LAs could outsource the administration of the failing schools to
privately-owned firms or trust. Therefore, Green (2005) indicated that in the era of globalization, capitalism
surpassed socialism. That is, people’s expectations from the government differed from the past because of the
change of economic competition mode. The state hoped to better the services in the public sector by bringing in
private sector’s efficiency. The state wanted to take advantage of private corporations’ edge to improve education.
The measure was known as “PPP: Public-Private Partnerships” and “PFIs: Private Finance Initiatives”.
As a result, in the third phase of the New Labor Party’s reins, the mode of public-private partnerships for
school management has become a vital part in policy-implementations. However, one thing deserves people’s
attention: All the discussions about policy-making and implementations covered only how private sector was
introduced into the failing schools and the justification of the approach, but there was no mention of the
newly-formed interactions between semi-official agencies, LAs and policy-feedback.

5. The birth of state commercialism

This paper pointed out that the neo-liberal thoughts could no longer fully explain the state’s role during the
educational marketization. Though most scholars still worshiped the neo-liberalism, as to the educational
policy-making and promotion, the state’s role in the marketization process was no purely the weakened role as the
neo-liberalists deemed. Therefore, people need another approach for explanation.
In retrospect, under the Conservative government’s fervent calling in the 1980s with the neo-liberal thinking
to boost the slow economy by marketization, the “rolling back the state” principle was the norms, aiming to play
down the state’s influences to revive the market economy. This adjustment in policies actually eased the economic
hardship and became a useful device in the post-welfare state era.
However, with the increased influences from globalization, problems the British government encountered
were no longer domestic welfare problems or a better economy only. Regional and inter-continental competition
brought by globalization forced the government to face the urgent needs of enhanced quality of human resources

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

and education standards. To ensure that nothing goes wrong during this process, the government intervened in
standard setting and supervising implementations. But these interventions have gone astray from the
neo-liberalism, and they were not even Giddens’s Third Way. It was a highly-monitored and interfered state model,
the goal of which was to direct public services toward privatization.
Consequently, the authors would like to argue this trend, based on the neo-liberal marketization but going
beyond the neo-liberal implementations, was the rise of “state commercialism”. The mode of the state, as an
active-intervener leading the planning of market scale and functions, was the operating pattern of the state within
economic structural changes. This pattern responded to the shift and dynamic qualities of the state, and it reflected
that the barter characteristic which stressed market competition has rippled its influence into policy-making.
Therefore, this research suggests that the state’s role, developing out of this aura, was of state commercialism; that
is, through the power of the state, the government strived to consolidate the quality of commoditized public
services, and with the values brought by marketization, seek social recognition.
Though the market under the influences of state commercialism did not show any sign of the state’s existence,
its invisible powers could be felt. Table 2 shows the differences between state commercialism and other liberalist

Table 2 Comparisons between state commercialism and others

Schools of thoughts
Classical liberalism New liberalism Neo-liberalism State commercialism
Thomas Hobbs John Mill
(1588-1679) (1806-1783) Government of
Originator or promoter This research
John Locke John Keynes Margaret Thatcher
(1632-1704) (1883-1946)
Did not roll back the
Rolling back the state
Natural rights, the The state should more state. The state
to prevent intervention
Argument state’s obligations to actively protect controlled indirectly to
for a lively free
guard them people’s freedom promote market values
and competition
Rise of the Public-private
Free market and
Influence Welfare state marketization of partnership for public
public services services
Source: Compiled by the authors.

The values of market competition, as this paper found out, have gained wider and wider acceptance through
the government’s well-crafted discourse. The marketization led by the state apparatus was the core value of state
commercialism. Its influences resulted in the privatization and contractual practices of public services, raised the
new power of the private corporations and changed the face of public services. Therefore, it can be seen that the
education under the influences of state commercialism was a relay of the marketization values from the
Conservative’s Party’s time by the New Labor government to realize and expand.
The arrival of the state commercialism era not only proved that the market competition kept on heightening,
but also opened up a new arena for the international educational consultancies. In the efficacy-above-all reform,
with the help from the government, the private corporations became the endorsement of the quality. Seen from the
outsourced local authorities, standardized contracts have become the guideline for the local authorities’ school
management. Even non-outsourced authorities viewed the contract as the major criterion for achievement. The
widespread impact has directed education towards a business trading mechanism that focuses on free trade and

The amoeboid neo-liberalism and the rising state commercialism in education

6. Conclusion

To sum up, it is obvious that neo-liberalism has its limitation to explain the complexity of the state during the
process of marketization, though many researches might still remain the focus on it. According to this study, role
of the state is no longer the shrunk one, but has been shifted into a manipulating position to dominate the
privatizations. This study is trying to fulfill the need of explaining this new situation. In order to secure the
practice of marketization, British government got involved in making various of standards and inspection criteria
and has formed a steering power in deciding the facets of privatizations. This is not neo-liberalism, nor the third
way. It is a whole new paradigm in running education—the state commercialism. The purpose of the state
commercialism is to bring public service being privatization oriented. The state has become a positive role in
making this change via delivering serial legitimate discourses of marketization. It also proves that the state role
has been always shifted and moved with the change of the economic structure. Furthermore, the rise of the
international firms in running education will be worth of being observed in the coming future.

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globalization and national policy. New York: Routledge.
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Giddens, A. (1998). The third way. Cambridge: Polity Press.
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critique of postmodernist, quasi-postmodernist, and culturalist neo-Marxist theory. British Journal of Sociology of Education,
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and its effect on education policy. Policy Future in Education, 4(2), 504-523.
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& Pedersen, O. (Eds.). The politics of flexibility: Restructuring state and industry in Britain, German and Scandinavia. Hants:
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post-Fordist welfare state? London: Routledge.
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(to be continued on Page 69)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school

teachers’ view)*

Pavlovic Slavica
(Department of Education Science, Faculty of Sciences and Education, University of Mostar, Mostar 88000,
Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Abstract: This paper deals with 2 focal points of inclusive education, which is the integral segment of the
current education reform in the Bosnia and Herzegovina: its position in various proclamations and in primary
school teachers’ reality, i.e., legislative aspects vs. everyday situation in primary schools. The survey research was
carried out through the 5-level Likert scale, on the sample of 105 primary school teachers working in
Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (specific for its education reform implementation). The aim was to examine the
attitudes of the direct implementators of the education reform and the inclusive education (2003-2009)—primary
school teachers, with particular reference to: teachers’ acquaintance with inclusive education requirements; their
involvement in its designing, planning and organization; relevant professional education; school preparedness for
inclusive education; level of partnership with relevant subjects; and evaluation of the inclusive education
implementation. The results obtained have indicated exactly the lack of the mentioned as the main issues of the
implementation of inclusive education within compulsory primary schools in Herzegovina-Neretva Canton.
Therefore, this paper gives a kind of guidelines for the improvement of the inclusive education, derived directly
from the teachers’ everyday experiences, problems, proposals, notes and suggestions.
Key words: inclusive education; education reform; primary school teachers; proclamations; teachers’ reality;

1. Introduction

The education reform is a dynamic, complex, delicate and creative process, requesting prior screening of the
current situation within education, continuous monitoring and prompt evaluation in order to obtain an overview of
the reform intervention and implementation.
Divided and fragmented approach to the primary school reform in FBiH (Federation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina) and the lack of adequate pedagogical standards and criteria still have, as a consequence, a number
of issues to be solved, one among them is particularly complex and delicate—inclusive education implying the
well-being for both children with and without special needs.
In this paper, the author focused on the inclusive education as the integral part of the current education
reform in HNC (Herzegovina-Neretva Canton), divided in 2 parts, specific for the start of the education reform in

The case of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (the part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina). This paper is based on a broader
survey research made in the HNC in the first half of 2009.
Pavlovic Slavica, MSE, Department of Education Science, Faculty of Sciences and Education, University of Mostar; research
fields: special education, pre-primary education, primary education, education reform.

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

2004 and 2008 respectively and, thus, inclusion process1.

2. Inclusive education in proclamations

Bearing in mind that many studies and books have been written on what inclusion and inclusive education
mean and what benefits they bring not only to the children with special needs, but also to all the children in
general, the author is not going to talk about it here, but rather present the results of a survey research on attitudes
of primary school teachers in HNC, carried out in 2009.
The three documents represent the core of the education reform legislation in HNC. The author hereby will
summarize the points relevant to the inclusion issues.
Prior to passing the Framework of Law on Primary and Secondary Education (2003), the OSCE
(Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) document entitled Education Reform (2002) had been
brought, with precise deadlines for accomplishment of the promises and many proclamations listed in it:
… incorporate the principle of inclusive education for children with special needs in all aspects of legislative and
pedagogical reforms… ; …including children with special needs at all levels of the education system…assess the number
of children with special needs…in order to determine the challenges that impede their inclusion into the general
classroom (deadline: December 2003)…develop a plan to educate community (including school boards, teachers, parents
and students) with respect to the inclusion of children with special needs at all levels of the education system… (deadline:
August 2005); …develop and implement a program of pre-and in-service-teacher training for children with special needs
at all levels of education… (deadline: 2003-2004); …revise the current classification system for children with special
needs to ensure that contemporary principles of inclusive education are followed… (deadline: 2003) (Council for the
Peace Agreement Implementation, 2002)2.

The Framework of Law on Primary and General Secondary Education in BiH3 (passed in June 2003) also
emphasised that the implementation of this as well as single cantonal laws should begin not late than June 2004.
So, organisational, staff and other prerequisites should have been accomplished in a year only. Here are some parts
of that law:
Equal access and equal possibilities imply the assurance of equal conditions and opportunities for all, to begin and
continue their further education… (Art. 3); Children with special needs shall be educated in regular schools and according
to their individual needs. An individual program, adapted to their possibilities and abilities shall be made for each
student….planning and working methods, profile, training, professional development of personnel working with children
with special needs shall be regulated more closely by entity, cantons… (Art. 19); The school promotes and develops
permanent and dynamic partnership of school, parents and local community…concerning all the issues important for
realization of school’s function, interests and student’s needs (Art. 37) (Framework Law on Primary and Secondary
Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2003)4.

The law clearly lists the requests, as it always does. But, school reality says something else. The underlined
(by author herself) syntagmas speak for themselves.
The same is more or less stressed in the so-called Concept of the Nine-year Primary Education, issued by the

Therefore, the education reform issues are interwoven in this paper in the context of their relevance to the inclusive education
implementation in HNC.
As far as the author knows, the promised has never been accomplished in HNC, and that will be evident from the results of the
author’s research.
The law points out 2 main issues: Compulsory primary education lasts nine years and children start it with 6 years computed.
Furthermore, it introduces inclusion, i.e., inclusive education in the schools.
As it can be seen, the law emphasizes the co-operation of all for the children’s/pupils’ well-being.

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

Ministry of Education of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2004.

There are many questions yet to be posed regarding the written in proclamations and done in school/educational
reality. People still have been implementing top-down instead of down-top model of education reform.
Many promises had been given. Were they realised?—It is still a rhetorical question. However, people of the
reform tends to forget that education reform and hence the inclusive education, being its integral part, does not
imply revolution but rather evolution of education system. Therefore, it is important to study what is happening in
schools in order to understand how they are coping with education (and political) changes and how they are
succeeding to overcome everyday challenges and difficulties they face with every day.

3. Methodology

The aim of the author’s research5 was to examine the attitudes of primary school teachers in HNC towards
the implementation of the inclusive education, through their everyday experiences in school setting.
The survey research was carried out on the strata sample (teachers in urban, suburban and rural schools,
teachers of the first, second and third classes, length of working in school, etc.) of 105 primary school teachers
(N=105) in HNC, through the 5-point Likert scale (35 items).
The author will hereby present just a few of the most indicative issues resulted from this research6, thus
giving an insight into the inclusive education quotidianity in the primary schools in HNC.

4. Inclusive education on the crossroad of the written and done in HNC

When reflecting on education reform through “should-is” comparison, Gudjons (1994) emphasized that,
“reform of the whole structure failed” (Gudjons, 1994, p. 119), so, “today rules statement of integration” which
comprises individual (“What is desired”), institutional (“What is used”) and political (“What is required”)
component. The same can be said for the inclusive education in HNC, according to the results of this research.
Minima paedagogica (Hentig, 1994) said that primary school cannot and must not be “just a teaching place; it
should be a setting for living, learning and experiencing, as well” (Richtlinien, 1985; Gudjons, 1994, p. 120),
people should pose a question that whether those who had signed many declarations, contracts, etc., had taken this
into consideration, especially when reflecting on inclusive education.
Different researches (Henderson, 1997; Monsen & Haug, 1998; Bevanda, 2004; Pehar, 2007) show that many
prerequisites are indispensable for the education reform and, thus, the inclusive education itself. If they are not
created, they can be easily transformed into many obstacles to the reform at different levels (educand, teaching
personnel, collaboration in a broader societal setting, organisational and legislative).
Table 1 shows that more than 80% of primary teachers in HNC are neither prepared nor educated enough for the
implementation of the inclusion in their schools7. This becomes even more indicative when more than a half (58.09%)
of teachers who attended seminars and workshops, held in the last 6 years, claim not to be prepared for the inclusive
education. Any further comment would be unnecessary. It is also indicative that almost a half of primary school
teachers in HNC (49.52%) strongly agree that schools are not prepared for the inclusive education. Their opinion is
So far there has not been any research focused on the attitudes and opinions of the primary teachers on inclusive education in HNC.
The integral research is available by the author of this text for all the interested.
“I don’t think that the prerequisites (in-service training of teaching staff, infrastructure, equipment, professional assistants for
pupils with special needs, etc.) have been accomplished to make inclusive education successful”, said a teacher, one of the author’s

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

also shared by more than a third of teachers (37.14%). There is no wonder that more than 90% of teachers clearly say
that they need additional education and training to be able to work with pupils with special needs8.

Table 1 Teachers’ education and school preparedness for the inclusive education implementation
Attitudes of primary school teachers Neither agree Strongly
Strongly agree Agree Disagree
towards the inclusive education nor disagree disagree
f % f % f % f % f %
I think that teachers are not prepared
(educated) enough for the inclusive 49 46.66 41 39.04 6 5.71 9 8.57 0 0.00
education implementation.
I am completely prepared for the inclusive
education through seminars and workshops 2 1.90 18 17.14 24 22.85 31 29.52 30 28.57
organised in the last 6 years.
I regard school is neither materially nor
organisationally prepared for the inclusive 52 49.52 39 37.14 9 8.57 5 4.76 0 0.00
education implementation.
I need additional education in order to work
with pupils with special needs in regular 46 43.8 51 48.57 6 5.71 0 0.00 1 0.95

The author opens Pandora’s box when talking about collaboration representing another crucial issue in the
inclusive education implementation within regular school system in HNC.
Table 2 shows that 46.66% of teachers claim that partnership between schools and parents is insufficient. A
third of the participants in this research strongly agree with them.
More than a half of primary school teachers have no support or help by educational advisors and Institute for
Education in the implementation of inclusive education (35.23% strongly agree and 33.33% agree with this).
Although 90% of teachers need appropriately qualified assistants in their classroom, more than 80% of them
do not have such a support in their everyday work with pupils with special needs (among them, 53.33% do not
have at all).

Table 2 Cooperation of the primary school teachers and the relevant subject
Attitudes of primary school teachers towards Neither agree Strongly
Strongly agree Agree Disagree
the inclusive education nor disagree disagree
f % f % f % f % f %
I have no support by educational advisors
and Institute of Education in inclusive 37 35.23 35 33.33 19 18.09 11 10.47 3 2.85
education implementation.
Partnership between school and parents is
not sufficient in the inclusive education 35 33.33 49 46.66 17 16.19 3 2.85 1 0.95
I have no assistant although he/she will be
indispensable in my work with pupils with 51 48.57 35 33.33 9 8.57 5 4.76 1 0.95
special needs.
The appropriately qualified assistant who
would be helping the teacher is
56 53.33 39 37.14 6 5.71 4 3.80 0 0.00
indispensable in the classes where there is a
pupil with special need.

Table 3 shows that slightly more than 40% of teachers agree (42.85%) and other 40% strongly agree that they
have been neglected in the planning and implementing the inclusive education in the schools. A half of the

The respondents of this research said: “We need additional education through practical training and visiting other similar
schools …”; “We need more practical education to work with children with special needs …”.

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

teachers claim that inclusive education has been imposed by ministers and Institute for Education9.
Therefore, more than 40% of teachers regard that some individuals misuse the concept of inclusion for the
purpose of their own interests and profit10.

Table 3 Teachers’ involvement in the inclusive education preparation

Attitudes of primary school teachers towards Neither agree Strongly
Strongly agree Agree Disagree
the inclusive education nor disagree disagree
f % f % f % f % f %
Teachers have not been asked about the
42 40.0 45 42.85 11 10.47 8 7.61 0 0.00
inclusive education implementation at all.
I regard that ministers and Institute for
Education have imposed inclusive education 27 25.71 27 25.71 34 32.38 14 13.33 3 2.85
onto us.
I think that inclusive education has been used
for a purpose of personal interests of certain
17 16.19 32 30.47 38 36.19 17 16.19 1 0.95
individuals thus neglecting crucial issues of
school and pupils with special needs.

However, teachers evaluate the inclusive education implementation in regular schools with passing grades
(see Table 4): good (3) (44.76%) and sufficient (2) (34.28%), while 8.57% gave: insufficient (1).

Table 4 Teachers’ evaluation of the inclusive education implementation

Attitudes of primary school teachers towards Strongly Neither agree Strongly
Agree Disagree
the inclusive education agree nor disagree disagree
5 4 3 2 1
f % f % f % f % f %
I would give the following mark to the
inclusive education implementation in our 1 0.95 10 9.52 47 44.76 36 34.28 9 8.57
regular schools.

Table 5 shows that 82.84% of primary teachers (of which 43.80% strongly) are worried about what will
happen with pupils with special education needs when they get into higher classes (second and third cycle of
primary education) where the teachers within individual subjects are neither informed nor prepared/trained to
work with this pupils’ population.

Table 5 Inclusive education and middle school

Attitudes of primary school teachers towards the Strongly Neither agree Strongly
Agree Disagree
inclusive education (generally) agree nor disagree disagree
f % f % f % f % f %
I am worried about what will happen to the pupils
with special needs when they begin to attend
46 43.80 41 39.04 15 14.28 3 2.85 - 0.00
middle school, since middle school teachers are not
trained to implement inclusive education.

“Inclusion is imposed onto schools and teachers, it has been implemented too fast, without concerning current situation in schools,
and all of these in order to make a kind of the experiment …”; “No one has ever asked us—teachers or parents, being in direct
contacts with children, how to plan and carry out inclusive education. It has been imposed by some people who are too far from
children’s reality, who cannot understand children’s abilities, needs, or at least, do not want to do so”—notes made by the
“Let’s be honest: Children with special needs and schools have been used for profit of certain individuals in our country”, one of
many similar notes of the respondents.

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

5. Discussion
Originally, inclusive education was offered as a protest, a call for a radical change to the fabric of schooling.
Increasingly, it is being used as a means for explaining and protecting the status quo. (Graham & Slee, 2008)

The concept of integration and inclusion are often used interchangeably without their clear understanding in
the school and legislation. Although inclusive education has its raison d’etre in the education reform in BiH
(Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in general, it is often misused by those (“armchair” ministers, counsellors) having
mere notion of its complex, profound, delicate and thorough meaning, while the teachers and relevant subjects
still remain on its margins. Increasingly, it is being used as a means for explaining and protecting the status quo
(Graham & Slee, 2008). Therefore, interdisciplinary and holistic approach, dialogue and meeting, understanding
and collaboration, mutual acceptance and respect of all the relevant subjects represent “sine qua non” of the
education reform and inclusion as well. Inclusive education implies the appropriate screening, planning, preparing,
organising, implementing, monitoring, (continuous) evaluating and feedback.
As the research showed, the legislation in vigor as well as other documents relevant to education reform and
thus to inclusive education, did not correspond to the real situation in the primary schools throughout the Canton
(and even the country, as well). Moreover, they did not correspond to or take into consideration the true situation
at the time when they were passed by those who had never entered the schools and classrooms; who had not had a
sheer notion of the basic guidelines of education science; who had never started from the children’s needs and
who had not considered teachers’ opinions on school everyday issues.
Primary schools in HNC were not prepared for the inclusive education (in terms of their internal organization,
personnel and material resources, partnership with the relevant subjects). It was imposed onto them over the night.
There is no wonder that primary school teachers in HNC have negative attitude towards the inclusive education11.
Barriers to its implementation are: lack of qualified staff/assistants at school level; lack of pre- and in- service
training of teachers to work in inclusive setting; lack of cooperation and fragmentation in laws12; inadequate
facilities; overcrowded classes, … ; and last but not the least, quite a negative public attitude.
On the other hand, many children with special needs13 still remain isolated and marginalised in the country
despite different projects implemented in this field. Therefore, prompt and synergic performance at micro, mezo
and macro level, i.e., at the level of the educand (including his/her family), teaching staff, school, local community,
and the entire society is “conditio sine qua non” for the inclusive education improvement.
This also implies that people should reflect upon the regular classroom not as it is but as it should and could
be. Therefore, are they aiming at inclusive education or at mere integration? With integration, the child fits into
the school. On the other hand, with inclusion, the school adjusts to the child. Dare they talk about the inclusive
education (viewing a school as a problem, not a child) or a kind of integration education (viewing a child as a
problem, not a school)? Or rather, should they move, gradually, from integration towards inclusive education?!
The message is rather clear—More attention should be paid to children and their needs as well to those working

Crossing the relevant variables and teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education, through chi-square test (χ2), showed that
statistically significant difference (p<0.05) appears in negative attitude, i.e., teachers from smaller towns as well as those with over
ten-year professional practice in school, have more negative attitude towards this issue. On the other hand, teachers’ gender, degree
of education and identification with school they work in, did not show any statistically significant difference.
Education remains under the cantonal authorities. Each canton in Bosnia and Herzegovina has its own Ministry of Education and
the differences in governance, laws and education standards can be noted between each.
For example, in the HNC there has not still been any methodology, modalities or criteria fixed to detect children with learning
disabilities, gifted children and autistic children.

Inclusive education: Proclamations or reality (primary school teachers’ view)

directly with teachers. Furthermore, the point is not to evaluate the children only, but the community itself, the
policy and the curricula as well. Time will show whether it is possible to achieve it successfully. However, it
seems all is done in a hurry, “pro formae”.
It is clear that inclusive education without appropriately trained teaching staff, without support, without
school and teachers’ prior preparation, without the commitment of all the involved subjects, without staff
(in-service) development, without clear vision and free division of the ideas, opinions and experiences, i.e.,
without partnership, cannot work. As the research has showed, the crucial issues of the implementation of the
inclusive education within the regular schools in HNC result from the lack of many of the mentioned previously in
this paper. However, the extent and the success of its implementation will be critically uttered in the years still to
come, through the benefits for the schools, teachers, parents and, most of all, children with and without special
education needs.

6. Instead of the conclusion

You can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
1990, p. 72)

When met the adults for the first time, the Little Prince wondered “grown-ups are decidedly very odd … and
will never understand the significance of this …”. This is a kind of metaphor of the current situation of the
inclusion education implementation within the primary school reform in HNC. The grown-ups are really strange
especially when dealing with children.
When a grown-up man addressed to the Universe, in the well-known poem of Stephen Crane14: “Sir, I exist!”.
“However”, replied the Universe, “The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation” (responsibility, either, the
author of this paper takes freedom to add it).
Haven’t people been doing the same with the inclusion process in the regular school system? Has inclusive
education still been just a proclamation or reality internalised in people’s hearts and minds?

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Theory, 40(2), 277-291.
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The author quoted here the entire Crane’s poem A Man Said to the Universe.

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(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

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(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

Margarita Hido1, Irena Shehu2

(1. Department of Educational Sciences, University of Gjirokastër, Gjirokaster 6001, Albania;
2. Department of English Language, University of Gjirokastër, Gjirokaster 6001, Albania)

Abstract: In the Albanian schools settings does not exist religious discrimination, neither gender
discrimination, but there exists a discrimination, as unfair against children called “difficulty”. The children who
drop out of school are by far less numerous compared with those who start school, but who are not properly
treated, so that they can progress the same as other children. The object of this article is the children with learning
difficulties, the causes of these difficulties. One of the reasons, among many others, why this secret dropping out
of school happens is also difficulty in learning that quite a few number of pupils have, which are not known to
everyone, and consequently are not treated by all the teachers, or by the other people who surround the child,
condemning him to a school failure and slim chances to succeed later in life. It has often been pointed out that to
define the causes of these learning difficulties it is not an easy task. A large number of factors intermingle bringing
about the hell of learning for some children. If it is impossible to intervene in different organic damages (even
they in many cases can be prevented though), at least those depending on people can be avoided by offering a
favorable environment, showing fondness towards them and making efforts to help these children. Above all, the
authors have to be willing, to know and be able to do this as parents and precisely as teachers.
Key words: comprehensiveness; comprehensive culture; practice and policies; learning difficulties

1. Introduction

There is neither religious nor gender discrimination in Albanian schools settings. But there is one big
discrimination and injustice towards children. It is called “difficulty”. The children who drop out of school are by
far less numerous compared with those who start school but are not properly treated, so that they can progress the
same as other children.
Actually, they have been abandoned and have dropped out of school, even though not physically.
Proceeding from this phenomenon, the authors can talk about unequal opportunities within a class of pupils
(Llmbiri, 2005).
One of the reasons, among many others, why this secret dropping out of school happens is having difficulties
in learning. Many children have such difficulties, which are not known by everyone. As a consequence these are
not treated by teachers, or by other people who surround them, condemning them to school failure having slim
chances to succeed later in life.
This is the problem the authors will talk about in this paper.
For this reason, a lot of surveys have been used in many schools, questionnaires have been addressed to

Margarita Hido, MSC, lecturer, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Gjirokastër; research fields: special education,
teaching and learning methodology.
Irena Shehu, MSC, lecturer, Department of English Language, University of Gjirokastër; research fields: language teaching and
learning methodology, phonetics, phonology of English language.

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

teachers, principals and regional educational directorate inspectors. They have also been interviewed along with
the parents of pupils with little progress at school and the pupils themselves. The results of many projects carried
out in Albania on limited abilities and comprehensiveness in education, have been consulted, too.

2. Children with learning disabilities in all inclusive education

He/she is lazy—This is the most common expression frequently uttered either by the parents or the teachers
when the child does not achieve the desired results at school. In this way, parents and teachers are convinced that
it is enough for the child to try harder and this can bring good results. They never think further to find out what
exactly prevents their children or the students to achieve high results in school subjects, such as reading, writing,
mathematics, etc.. They fail to understand that everything has its own limitations and the lack of results might
speak for a variety of reasons, such as the lack of the student’s involvement in the learning process, his inability,
his necessary maturity to succeed as well as a talentless teacher or the inappropriate family or school environment.
There has been written and said a lot concerning the treatment of the children with difficulties in learning, but
what they share according to their expressed thoughts and ideas is: There must exist the will to help these children,
as well as the conviction that, these children, besides their limited abilities to learn (part of their own problem),
have the same rights to be educated like other children.
The difficulties in learning are consequences of a series of shocks which appear as difficulties in language
acquisition and use, in reading, writing, perceiving, memory, mathematics abilities, etc., as results of the
malfunctioning of the central nervous system that can appear during the whole man’s life.
In many studies, it is acknowledged that 5%-10% of the children have difficulties with learning. In Albania,
it cannot speak of an exact figure of diagnosed cases, because most of the time, children with learning disabilities
have been included in the group of the children with limited abilities or mental deficiency. Actually, the
difficulties with learning have nothing to do with the mental deficiency. On the contrary, there are studies speak
for normal intellectual ability over children with difficulties in learning. Though their results are lower than those
expected, they reveal inability in one field and ability in another.
This overview of the problem and a complete ignorance on the part of the teacher are the reason that many
children though physically present among other children, are left behind at the bottom of the classroom.
The learning disability is not a static phenomenon that the students have or not, it is a developing dynamic
state which asks for a multidimensional definition.
Through a different approach to the problem of the learning disabilities beyond the static understanding as a
learning issue, the authors pass to a didactic form of assessment, from a didactic assertion of deficiencies to a
didactic assertion of abilities.
If the difficulties in learning are not known (unfortunately, it happens not rarely), and the children with
learning disabilities will not be accepted and helped (see Figure 1) this will lead to the phenomenon that a certain
difficulty in learning will be the cause of serious difficulties bringing about new bigger problems continuously.
To avoid this, it is required that all those around the children, in particular, the teachers have to try hard to
help the integration and comprehensiveness of the children with learning disabilities.
Comprehensiveness is considered to be the most favorable means:
(1) to create equal chances for the education of the children;
(2) to avoid the discriminating attitude to children with limited abilities;

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

(3) to bring into evidence personal values of everyone, an emancipated society needs so much;
(4) to facilitate their social integration as adults in the future.

A difficulty in More learning

learning difficulties

Failure at school Greater abandonment

Efforts quitting New problems

Parent’s and teacher’s

Student’s abandonment

Figure 1 Vicious circle of learning difficulties

Comprehensiveness is an example of the resources of the democratic societies including Albania as well, and
it is given to help fight better against inequality and better take into consideration these differences starting with
the legal framework.
Though rather late, the Normative Provision of the year 2002 marked an achievement and freed the passage
to the comprehensive education in Albania. In this provision, for the first time and clearly, the contemporary
tendency is revealed for the integration of the children with learning disabilities in common schools and the
comprehensive education is proclaimed a necessity.
According to the Normative Provision:
(1) The comprehensive activity of the school in all aims at the possibility of equal chances given to every
student. None of the children must be expelled from the compulsory education despite their abilities.
(2) The students with limited abilities have the right to be educated in public schools for 1 to 2 persons per class.
(3) The educational work at school should take into consideration the difficulties and the learning pace of
each child.
(4) The teacher has to know and value well the psychology of every student and cooperate with a
psychologist and social worker, too.
(5) The teachers, who work in classes part of which are students with learning disabilities, benefit a reduction
of 3 students in their class, a reduction of 2 teaching classes in their week teaching load and an extra payment for
every 4 classes.
In a declarative level, the legal framework the Normative Provision in power represents is valued as
advanced and democratic and compared with the standards of the developed countries. A question rises: At what
rate does this legal framework put into practice in the Albanian educational terrain. Despite the efforts made so far,
yet there is a lot to be done, it is still far from a complete real quality of the learning chances and far from the
creation of a school for all.

3. A school for all, a school that teaches

A school for all is a school which receives all the students without being selective.

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

A school for all is the place of global education aiming at the development of the students’ capacities at their
A school for all helps realize a real integration of different children by managing differences, putting forward
objectives not identical for all, getting rid of the normative system and implementing a flexible system in
conformity with the individual pace.
A lot of work has been done so far to help the transformation of the Albanian school into a school for all. The
idea of all inclusion is embraced, objectives referring to different levels are being used with the aim to include and
help everyone achieve success. However, here and there still exists the influence of the normative system and
people have to accept the fact that not all the teachers know and are able to realize the all inclusion. To achieve
this, to acknowledge the differences and help the students overcome them, first of all, the teacher should know and
diagnose the differences, in collaboration with different specialists. According to Ainscow and Twedle model, the
helping model has to be as follow (see Figure 2):

Goal planning Situation valuing Teaching objectives Didactic models Performance

selection and methods check

Diagnosing estimation Measurable, achievable

to diagnose every student profile matching the problem

Figure 2 Ainscow & Twedle model

Based on the achieved results, other alternative trainings are offered. World literature offers various tests to
estimate students’ abilities in reading, content understanding, word relation, mathematics abilities, etc.. It is worth
revealing that whether the teachers in general to define students abilities in different fields base it only on experience.
Recently, the authors have obtained good results in diagnosing children with learning disabilities with the
help of the non-governmental organizations “Save the Children” and “Help the Life”, supported by the Ministry of
Education. The implementation of these projects almost all over the country resulted in:
(1) Identifying 247 children with learning disabilities in 6 regions during 2008-2009;
(2) 82 children have been identified within schools and they have been helped through individual educational
(3) During 2008-2009, 242 children with learning disabilities are attending, making progress, being promoted
to higher classes in schools where the methods of all inclusion have been used;
(4) During 2008-2009, 113 children with learning disabilities attend the kindergartens assisted by individual
educational programs.
The achievements of these projects are evident but they do not give solution to the problem of diagnosing
and in particular the comprehensiveness of all the children since they have been implemented in about 50 schools
and only 500 teachers have been part of them.
3.1 Teacher formation, the main goal of a school for all
One of the most important goals for an effective school to be open to differences is the teacher formation.
The teachers act as interlocutors between the learning environment and the families, they support and help
children to achieve success in compliance with their peculiarities, aiming at obtaining the basic habits and skills
and above all helping them to be self-valued and accepted by others.

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

In her effort to analyze the personality distinctions of a successful teacher concerning the children with
learning disabilities inclusion, Olson and her collaborators have stressed: Children’s acceptance for what they are,
their ability to observe, their awareness of their role, the cooperation with other supportive factors, the devotion to
help all in inclusion, the creation of the possibilities for suitability, the ability to use strategies, methods and
techniques matching everyone’s peculiarities (Olson, Chalmers & Hoover, 1997).
According to the studies committed so far related with teachers’ attitude to the issue of all inclusion, it has
been noticed that the teachers of the comprehensive education are of the opinion that the inclusion of the children
with special needs in their classes is of great responsibility, because the knowledge of difficulties in learning is
limited and the cooperation with the teachers of special education is not realized properly as well as the lack of
other support factors (Cornoldi, Terreni, Srugs & Mastropieri, 1998).
Through talks organized with teachers of different levels concerning the issues of all inclusion, it has been
noticed that: The teachers of primary schools are more willing to help; the opinions in favor and against are not
defined by the gender; the most successful teachers are more inclined to accept all inclusion; but there still exist
problems concerning the large number of students in classes, for example, the lack of the supportive personnel and
all inclusion training, as well as the non-accepting attitude of parents.
The authors think that the theoretical and practical training of the teachers in dealing with the problems of
inability and learning disabilities is crucial. It is now 10 years since the subject of special education has become
part of the curricula of the Albanian universities, which train pre-school and elementary school teachers. The
University of Vlora has recently established a special branch of the differentiated pedagogy. But this is not enough
to meet the needs in knowing, diagnosing and training all the children with learning disabilities, besides a small
number of these graduated teachers are employed in the education system. Their involvement in projects will be
of great value. It is for this reason that the young teachers and other trained in-service have answered positively
the questions “Do you know the legal provisions for children with learning disabilities?” and “Are you in favor of
children with learning disabilities comprehensiveness?”.
Many in-service teachers have answered positively to the question “Do you have the necessary knowledge to
work with children with learning disabilities?”, 69 out of 80 thus 86.2%, only 11 that is 13.8% gave a negative
answer to the above question (see Figure 3).



60 Yes
40 No


Figure 3 Answers to the question “Do you have the necessary knowledge
to work with children with learning disabilities?”

While to the question “What has helped you to deal with children with learning disabilities?” ((1)
professional experience; (2) collaboration with families; (3) collaboration with different specialists), the answers
were as follows: 70% professional experience, 62% collaboration with families and 25% collaboration with
different specialists (see Figure 4).

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning




40 professional experience
collaboration with families
30 collaboration with different


Figure 4 Answers to “What has helped you to deal with children with learning disabilities?”

As it can be seen that, it is obvious that they do not ask sufficiently for the help of the specialists, and
consequently, their effective presence at school is almost inexistent (As for the role of the psychologist at school,
many of the teachers confess that they have met several times to talk about his role, others confess to have invited
them to talk about drug use, while some of them had no idea of him) (Save the Children, 2005).
The answers to the question: “What are the possible causes that not all the children achieve good results at
school?”, ((1) the child himself; (2) his family; (3) curricula and text compiling; (4) insufficient time to help the
children with learning; (5) the large number of students per class; (6) lack of knowledge concerning students’
individual peculiarities to match; (7) the teaching load), are respectively (see Figure 5): (1) 85%; (2) 87.5%; (3)
23.7%; (4) -; (5) 16.2%; (6) 7.5%; (7) 8.2%.

Figure 5 Answers to “What are the possible causes that not all the children achieve good results at school?”

Judging from the above figures, the teachers consider the children’s families as the cause for their low results,
their socio-cultural level and their indifference. A high percentage lays blame on the children themselves (lack of
concern, responsibility, low intellectual capacity, etc.).
A few of them see that the problem was linked with curricula and text compiling as well as their insufficient
work. Only 6 of them were of the opinion that the lack of knowledge and incompatibility with children’s
peculiarities influenced them. Even only these answers show that many of the teachers blame “the child
pathology”. Meanwhile, many studies conducted in this scope show that appropriate planning of teaching,
programs, methods and school settings enhance obviously the possibilities for the children with learning
disabilities to achieve satisfactory results bringing into focus on the “Pathology of teaching”. It is necessary to
give priority and consider as main goals of an effective school, the teachers’ formation, their new mentality to
accept differences and help every child to exist with their cognitive, emotional, physical characteristics, etc..
3.2 Role of the support teacher
The following responsibilities are suggested as appropriate to the support teacher:

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

(1) To work in collaboration with the class/subject teacher to make the curriculum accessible/understandable
for all pupils in the class and help with planning of the supported lesson;
(2) To assist in identifying individual pupils’ needs in order to help them over their learning obstacles and set
appropriate objectives;
(3) To help provide effective learning strategies which can be incorporated into the work of particular pupils;
(4) To assist in developing resource materials to meet individual needs;
(5) To develop a variety of methods which individual pupils may be offered to enhance their learning
(finding pathways to learning);
(6) To assist in providing methods for making, assessment and recording which can be practiced by both
(7) To assist in the continual evaluation of the approaches, methods and materials being offered to all the
class and especially for the pupils with special learning needs;
(8) To help find ways to provide individual tuition when needed.
In the Albanian reality, people are far behind concerning the possibility to provide classes with support
teachers (even those included in comprehensive educational projects), not all of them have been treated with the
defined alternatives, such as pay-rise, extra payment up to 170 classes per year and the reduction of the students’
number in classes as well. In addition, even in the cases when teachers specialized for the differentiated pedagogy
have been made part of the classes, financially supported by non-governmental organization, they have not been
welcomed properly by the class teachers. It is indispensable to help the formation of specialist teachers for the
special education. This can be realized in 1-2 year specializations of experienced teachers (or according to
Bologna system) in different fields, such as difficulties in learning intellectual delay, problems of behavior, etc..
This would lead to a proper specialized treating of the children.
To achieve good results, great help related to all inclusion would be the training of coordinators for special
needs. According to English model in the code of practice (1994), coordinator should be appointed a teacher who
is responsible for:
(1) A daily implementation of the school policy for the children with learning disabilities;
(2) The communication and counseling at teacher level;
(3) The creation of the school catalogue for the students’ special needs and the implementation of principals
concerning children with difficulties in learning;
(4) The relation between the parents and other supportive factors;
(5) The qualification of the teaching staff.
In the education system, precisely, time and money have been spent recently to re-assess the schooling
services, but the support to the main “actor”, the class-teacher, has not been given yet.
It is crucial that the teachers should create together with the parents, community, supportive personnel, etc., a
learning community which will serve the abilities of all the students, dealing directly with the changeability.

4. Conclusions and recommendations

To achieve an organized and simultaneous effect which leads to a satisfactory result related to children with
learning disabilities, the principal thing is the sensitiveness on the part of the teacher considering either a child or
a group of these children as “his/her owns”. The conclusions and recommendations are as follows:

Beyond stigmatization of children with difficulties in learning

(1) Not all the teachers know the peculiarities of learning difficulties, consequently not all of them are able to
help the children;
(2) School in fracture must change in favor of students with learning disabilities;
(3) There must be a reduction in the number of students of the classes, students with learning disabilities are
part of;
(4) The increase of the professional freedom of the teachers to help a curricula and text matching;
(5) The involvement of supportive teachers along with the main teachers of the class;
(6) The preparation of coordinative teachers to help the comprehensiveness;
(7) The specialization and qualification of teachers concerning the difficulties in learning;
(8) The compilation of curricula to meet the requirements of the comprehensive education, develop more
flexible programmes, efficient strategies and methods as well as alternative texts and standards of subject
achievements for students with learning disabilities;
(9) The organization of a reinforcing teaching by the teacher of the class or by a specialized teacher paid for
that, will be of a great help;
(10) The improvement of the subject curricula at the universities of education which prepare and train
teachers in adding subjects concerning the comprehensive education and the rights of the children with learning
(11) The qualification of the in-service teachers should also include knowledge on children with learning
(12) There should be supporting services for the teachers such as the reduction of the teaching load, assistant
teachers even some are already on pension, a better payment and other rewards;
(13) The Ministry of Education has to cooperate with the NCTQ (National Center of Training and
Qualification) to help know the credits of the specific training for the comprehensive teaching and motivate the
teachers included in the process;
(14) Headmasters should be part of training activities with regard to children with learning disabilities.
Parents too should be involved in these activities as well;
(15) Children with learning disabilities are part of all mainstream classes. Simply labeling them as children
with learning disabilities does not say much. All those near these children should see beyond this labeling. The
parents should remember that there are no experts who know more than them about their children; the teachers
should not forget that they are the key to success; the experts of different fields with their knowledge should help
too, and altogether they should make children feel well, urge them to act and encourage them to believe that they
can cope and get over any difficulties.

Cornoldi, C., Terreni, A., Srugs, T. & Mastropieri, M. A. (1998). Teacher attitudes in Italy after twenty years of inclusion. Remedial
and Special Education, 19(6), 350-356.
Llmbiri, S. (2005). Secret abandonment. Publishing House “Erik”, Tiranë.
Olson, M. R., Chalmers, L. & Hoover, J. H. (1997). Attitudes and attributes of general education teacher identified as effective
inclusionists. Remedial and Special Education, 18(1), 28-35.
Save the children. (2005). Analysis of the legal framework guaranteeing the education of disabled children under the inclusive
education. Publishing House “Erik”, Tiranë.
Save the children. (2009). Analysis of the results of project “Inclusive Education”. Publishing House “Erik”, Tiranë.
(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission

of higher education*

ZHANG Jian-xin1, LIAO Hong-zhi2

(1. Higher Education Evaluation Center, Research Institute of Higher Education, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China;
2. School of Software, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China)

Abstract: In the era of knowledge economy today, social development and progress are much more relying
on HEIS (higher education institutions) than ever before. Besides, the three familiar missions of “training capable
persons”, “doing research” and “serving the society”, in the tussle of knowledge race in East Asia, a new mission
for HE (higher education) has been added, i.e., upgrading knowledge competitiveness. To attain this target, HEIs
should aim at the innovation of HE, accumulation of knowledge capital, ability-building of human resources and
blossom of boundless HE.
Key words: knowledge competition; exploitation of human resource; higher education innovation

1. Introduction

The concept of “knowledge competitiveness” is used internationally to label the ability of changing
knowledge capital and human capital into the production of a knowledge-based economy 1 and social
wealth of a region. The basis of this wealth is human capital and knowledge capital. Knowledge
competitiveness has become the foundation of the all-round competitiveness of individual countries, and this has
tremendously influenced the countries’ competitiveness in military affairs, politics, culture and many other aspects
of these countries. The American economists, Theodore W. Schultz and Gary S. Becker created the theory of
human capital in the 1960s. They thought that this theory has two central viewpoints: (1) In the progress of
economic growth, the effect of human capital is huger than that of material capital; and (2) The main part of
human investment is the promotion of the quality of the population and education investments.
Without any doubt, in this era of knowledge-based economy, in which economic transformation as well as
economic growth are warp and weft, education has attained a key position. Indeed, education has become a basic
instrument to develop human resources. The system of HE (higher education) has become the “axial structure” in
the society, called “the post-industrial society” by Daniel Bell, and HEIS (higher education institutions) have
become the “axial organizations” in this society. As “axial organizations”, HEIs are so important for people’s

It is one of the periodical outcome of the project titled Research on Resource Construction of Funding Information and Key
Technologies for Tertiary Education in Yunnan Province sponsored by Social Development Plan for Science and Technology in
Yunnan Province (No.2009CA011).
ZHANG Jian-xin, Ph.D., professor, director of RSHE in Research Institute of Higher Education, Yunnan University, assessor of
Yunnan Higher Education Evaluation Center, vice editor-in-chief of the journal ACADEMY, visiting scholar of UNESCO APEID in
2008; research field: higher education.
LIAO Hong-zhi, professor, Ph.D. supervisor, School of Software, Yunnan University; research field: system science.
Knowledge economy is short for “knowledge-based economy”. In the report of “Knowledge-based Economy”, the OECD
(Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) gives following definition: “The economy directly rely on the
production, distribution and usage of knowledge and information”.

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

existence, development and prosperity, that all countries have paid more attention and offered more support to
them than ever before.
As everybody knows, the training of capable persons, scientific research and social service are the major
recognized HE missions at present. With the gradual progress of HE’s entrance into the center of society, various
new paradigms have presented themselves in the system of HEIs and at the same time the connotations have
changed, too. In the early 1990s, Professor Smith from the University of North Texas (USA) discerned the
following four modes of a university: “I endeavor to put forward the following 4 university modes: as a company,
as an ideology agent, as a social service organization and as a scholar consortium”. These 4 modes of a university
make clear that the traditional description of a university: a 4-year long education system of students, living on
campus, classroom-based teaching as undergraduates’ education, graduates’ education differentiated in academic
fields and colleges, teaching staff mainly engaged in training capable persons by teaching, doing scientific
research and service to society—is not enough to describe HE.
Since the founding day, universities have influenced the society to a certain extent. With the social progress,
the functions of HEIs have evolved, the connotations have been continuously extended, showing the universities
developing from singularity to diversity, from scholasticism to socialization, from the education value of “training
capable persons” to the double ideal of Alexander von Humboldt’s focus on both scientific research and teaching,
and then finally directly to the idea of serving the society learned from Wisconsin University in the USA in the
1960s, which is the symbol of the evolvement of the HE function. In the 21st century—the era of
knowledge-based economy, knowledge economy with the characteristics of knowledge as the foundation, science
and technology as the engine, innovation as the motivity, educational human resource as the first resource, has
brought for HE many opportunities and challenges, and at the same time has determined the development of HE:
promoting knowledge competitiveness as the new mission of HE. Answering the question “How HE should
shoulder the important historical mission of promoting knowledge competitiveness” is a key issue for the author’s
HE research.

of human resources

Motivity: Innovation Promoting

knowledge Scope: Blossom of
of HE as the
producer of motivity competitiveness boundless HE

Accumulation of
knowledge capital

Figure 1 The 4 basic ideas of HE’s upgrading knowledge competitiveness

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

This paper will show that the new mission of HE is the upgrading of knowledge competitiveness. In order to
attain a position in the knowledge race for East Asia, it needs to support 4 basic ideas: (1) innovation of HE as the
producer of motivity; (2) accumulation of knowledge capital; (3) ability-building of human resources; and (4)
blossom of boundless HE.

2. Innovation of HE as the motivity of knowledge competitiveness

Probing into HE’s function is an old but ever-lasting topic, not only showing a university’s grandeur and
holiness like “macroscopical narratation”, but also expressing people’s “Utopia” complex to a university. A
university, often called as a “tower of ivory”, is one of the most conservative organizations. Clark Kerr, a former
president of University of California (USA), made a survey on all the organizations before 1520 AD all over the
world, found that among those organizations that still used the same names, did the same things the same way at that
time, only 85 survived, among which 70 are universities, while the other 15 are religious organizations, which shows
that a university might be a stable and ever-lasting organization. Though today’s university still has its stability and
relatively independence, it is no longer the “tower of ivory”, nor is it living outside society. In the knowledge-based
economy, universities have become the source of innovation and have contributed to social progress.
Innovation is the soul of a knowledge-based economy. The main difference between humankind and animals
is that humankind has the ability to create. Incessant creation is the inherent need of humankind’s self-existence
and development. Only with the ability of creation, can humankind incessantly evolve and continually make
progress. As a consequence, the innovation function should be added to the HE agenda.
The education function is an expression of the present and future need of individuals for education. During
the historical development of higher education, universities make incessantly choices and embark on innovation,
along with the need of science, technology and economic development. At the beginning of the knowledge
economy, there was a “re-construction of the function system” of the university, and gradually universities
contributed to the social economic development of society, and constituted a new function of HE, impelling at the
same time the development of the knowledge economy. The re-construction or the creation of this HE function at
least consists of the following 3 aspects (XIE, BIE, WU & HUANG, 2007).
2.1 HE as the source for motivity of intelligence
Intelligence is the most fundamental and deep-seated motivity source in the human society, catalyzing the
development source of social production. In the knowledge economy, with the development of a new-generation
industry of information, science and technology, along with the production and expansion of intelligence and
knowledge, as a very intelligent brain that can engender incessantly new ideas and integrate efficiently various
resources, will play a much more important role. HE must take an active part in society, work as brainpower in
decision-consultation for the whole society, provide technology service and intelligence support for economic and
social development, making HE the think tank for social economic development.
2.2 The function of HE as an “incubator” and “engine”
HE, especially in key universities, is not only the “source of knowledge creation”, the “bank of capable
persons”, the “disseminator of culture”, but also the “incubator” and “engine” of the development of high-tech
production (XIA, 2002). The function of HE as an “incubator” and “engine” has 2 characteristics: (1) HEIs have
become the cradles and seedbeds of high-tech’s innovation, growth and utilization; and (2) A lot of industry parks
are scientifically supported by universities and flourish and develop very fast.

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

2.3 The bridge function of HE

The obvious characteristic of modern high-tech economy is that high-tech staff have become the main labor
force. Training these “knowledge workers” implies specialized vocational education. The faster the economy
increases, and the higher the social development, the stronger the marketization will be, the more need there is for
decision-makers and managing staffs, and the more important the contribution of HE is to train three staff.
Education plays important roles in humankind’s cultural development. One of the roles of education is
creating and innovating knowledge. The knowledge-creating function benefits from the typical university
structure where new information and academic thinking is exchanged, and enthusiasm for innovation and
openness for academic freedom may be found. Therefore, the president of the University of California at Berkeley
(USA) said that, a university which “seeks new thinking and new knowledge”, always “stands in the most anterior
line of criticism” and is a “foreland with creation ability”. No doubt, in the knowledge society, the innovation of
knowledge is an important function of HE.

3. The accumulation of knowledge capital: The premise of knowledge competitiveness

A knowledge society is a knowledge-based society. Knowledge has gradually changed from the exterior to
the internal of social development and from the brink to the center of the society, which provides the explanations
to the world’s modes in social origin, motivity, factor, track and others. In modern society, HE still has the main
functions of preservation, transmission and creation of knowledge capital (YAN, 2003).
3.1 Preservation of knowledge
Because scientific knowledge is often seen as “value-free”, which is often considered true, and public wealth
should be cherished and shared, as a place where deep learning is discussed, no doubt, HEIs have the important
function of preserving knowledge. University libraries have played a crucial role in the preservation of knowledge.
They are not only the organizations that preserve a wealth of knowledge, nor do they only fulfill the indispensable
task to communicate knowledge in the communication chain of knowledge, but they are also one of the
composing parts of the HE system, which is necessary for high quality teaching and research. Explicit knowledge
is usually preserved by such means as libraries, labs and multimedia, while tacit knowledge is mainly preserved in
the scholars’ brains. Universities are composed of learned experts and scholars whose tacit knowledge cannot be
preserved in libraries. So it can be said that knowledge exists both in life carriers and non-life carriers. Without the
tacit knowledge of the scholars’ brains in HEIs, knowledge in society is incomplete.
3.2 Transmitting knowledge
Knowledge transmission has two meanings in Chinese: one is “chuan” (传), which means “transmission” of
the present culture and researches in order to be shared in the world, emphasizing the broadness of space, namely,
“the expansion of knowledge”; the other is “cheng” (承), which means “hand-on” the predecessors’ knowledge,
thinking and cultural production that is passed down from generation to generation, emphasizing the succession of
time, namely, the “heritage of knowledge”. Teaching in HEIs is the most important manner of knowledge
transmission. It transmits the best cultural production that is accumulated in human civilization for ages, by
teachers’ “teaching students’ knowledge, telling students the way to live and answering students’ questions” (a
famous sentence from the article of On Learning from Others by HanYu, an educator in Chinese Tang Dynasty).
By training capable persons, HE realizes the target of knowledge transmission. Capable persons’ acquired
knowledge in HE directly enters such domains as social politics, economy, culture and other fields. As one kind of

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

“knowledge intensiveness”, once “capable persons” step into society, they become “knowledge nodes” which can
naturally converge into a mass and at last into a “knowledge source”. This means that they become a social
knowledge colony or a knowledge stratum that takes care of knowledge expansion or knowledge radiation. In the
era of a knowledge society, diplomas acquired by learning have become the passports to society. To some degree,
HE all over the world has put the function of knowledge transmission on its shoulder.
3.3 Creating knowledge
Of all times, since the founding of HEIs, academic and scientific research activities have been conducted.
The neoteric universities, influenced by the von Humboldt’s university type, are research universities that focus on
scientific research and promote science, technology, as well as the creation of culture and knowledge. In the era of
fast development of science and technology along with an explosion of knowledge, the impelling force of the
knowledge society continuously and vividly expands the function of knowledge creation in universities. The
university is a place of knowledge production. Seeking for knowledge is the self-evident goal of an academic
career. Much knowledge does not attain a complete or a final conclusion. Consequently, teachers and students
have to continue researching and creating knowledge. New knowledge is created by discussing, communicating
and understanding various cultures and thinking, which makes social progress possible and promotes cultural
development. HE trains students’ character and improves their capacities by transmitting specialized knowledge.
Later on, HE delivers these capable persons to society, and each in his/her own position is engaged in all kinds of
activities that “radiate” knowledge in society. No doubt, knowledge creation is the most energic and vital function
of higher education in a knowledge society.

4. The ability-building of human resources: The kernel of knowledge competitiveness

The economic development all over the world proves that human resources are the most valuable resources to
promote economic development. The usage of human resources is the best approach to increase economic
efficiency and add social wealth. The best known example of this phenomenon is found in the fast growth of the
economy of the “Four Asian Tigers” (Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan). Based on such aspects as
population, area and natural resources, these four countries and regions are “inborn undernourished have-nots”.
However, they have reached economic prosperity and grown up in the Orient for only a short period of time after
World War Two. The whole world is struck on them and praises them for their important influence on the economy
and the development of international relationships, international affairs, international finance and international trade.
Seeking for the reason of this wonderful achievement, observers came to the same conclusion: The main reason for
the economic prosperity of the “Four Asian Tigers” can be found in their special attention for, huge support to and
fast development of education. Not only these countries but also the individual citizens invest a tremendous sum of
money in education in order to raise the level and quality of education. In this way, they build the citizens’ ability to
store-up, open-up and use human resources. It is clear that the knowledge accumulation and intelligence support
from highly-trained citizens guarantee this economic development and fast-growing affluence.
In recent years, people are no more unacquainted with such concepts as human resources and exploitation of
human resources, but for the majority, “ability building of human resources” is still a new and unacquainted
concept. Generally speaking, by means of education, training, encouragement and employment, “ability building of
human resources” can be considered as opening up persons’ potential, raising persons’ quality, mobilizing their
enthusiasm, bringing persons’ potential into play, increasing the ability of knowing and changing nature for both an

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

individual and a group, in order to promote the social progress and the all-round development of an individual. It is
very similar to “exploitation of human resources” in its broad sense, but their goals, keystones and perspectives are
different. The exploitation of human resources takes an economic standpoint and considers persons as objects, sees
them as a substantial resource (such as the products made in a factory), while ability building of human resources
considers human resources as persons and their main goal is increasing persons’ ability. Ability building of human
resources emphasizes particularly the ability of humans. The process of ability building of human resources is one
of the methods to train a person’s ability, a new ideal of exploitation of human resources. To attain the most
important objectives of ability building of human resources, 4 abilities should be supported.
4.1 Students’ study ability
People refer to the word “study” almost every day, but they might have very different ideas about it. For most
people, the word “study” is often related to the activities in school or learning in order to pass some exams or
quizzes. In this paper, the word “study” not only refers to exams in schools and all that is related to, but also refers
to the process of mastering discipline knowledge, the ability of acquiring new knowledge and carrying on new
practical actions by various study measurements. In the current stage of economic development, acquiring
knowledge and information by Internet is one of the study abilities that are specially strengthened. Students’ study
ability is the foundation of ability building of human resources.
4.2 Students’ creation ability
Innovation ability means the ability to innovate knowledge. Building students’ creation ability should focus
on a 3-dimensional target: (1) the dimension of “knowledge techniques”: The techniques of innovation should be
numerous and of high quality; (2) the dimension of “innovation thinking”: Innovation activities still need adopting
such thinking methods as analysis, synthesis, comparison, abstraction, generalization, embodiment and
systematism, but comparing with other thinking activities, innovation thinking has a special feature: both logic
and non-logic thinking, and both dispersive and convergent thinking are needed, i.e., a circular process of
dispersion—convergence—redispersion—reconvergence; (3) the dimension of “innovation personality”: An
innovating personality should have the strong willpower to overcome difficulties, pay close attention to various
problems in nature and in society, and go-ahead incessantly and seek for new founding. Innovation ability is the
kernel of ability building of human resources (JIANG, 2008).
4.3 Students’ adaptation ability
The adaptation ability is the self-adapting ability in order to adapt the environment and social ability to the
habitation and environment. The evaluation index of adaptability mainly includes environment adaptation,
interpersonal adaptation and individual adaptation. Environment adaptation mainly consists of information
collection, information discrimination and survival ability. Interpersonal adaptation mainly consists of the
connotation, the methods, the depth, the width and the effect of the interpersonal communication. Individual
adaptation mainly consists of two aspects: (1) Individuals should be aware of competition consciousness, combat
spirit, adventure spirit, team spirit, collaboration consciousness; and (2) Individuals should also have knowledge
of individual behavior as frustration, competition, collaboration, self-study ability and modern ways of living
(WEN, 2007). Crocodiles’ species imperishability and chameleons’ color-changing self-protection are some
examples of the adaptation ability of animals. The message is: adapt to the society, or you will be eliminated
cruelly. Adaptation ability is the guarantee for ability building of human resources.
4.4 Students’ competition ability
Competition is an instinct that is inherently injected into mankind’s blood by biologic evolution, mainly

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

referring to the strategies and methods of competition, especially the competition idea of establishing a “win-win”
situation, because modern social competition is not always a “life-and-death” competition, but often a “win-win”
competition based on the methods of cooperation, teamwork and alliance. Living in a competitive society,
competition can be found everywhere. Therefore, people should train students to acquire competition consciousness,
let them know the cruelty of competition and engage them actively in competition. Only this way, can students
survive in the modern society. Competition ability is the strategy of ability building of human resources.

5. The blossom of boundless higher education: The scope of knowledge competitiveness

On the macroscopical background of globalization, with the fast development of ICT (information and
communication technology) as well as the advancement of the tidal wave of education marketization, various
borders of traditional HE, whether national or regional, whether institutional or idealistic, whether mental or
physical, are all in the transition to “boundlessness”.
Today, the reform of HE has gradually entered a new stage of “boundlessness”, namely, getting across both
the traditional institutional and regional borderlines in the traditional mode in space as well as in concept, which
makes HE’s borderlines become much more confused and penetrable. The word “border” refers to the boundary
between countries or regions. If the HE border is like a fixed and stiff wall, it will block the mobility of such
factors as information, knowledge and innovation, exchange of capable persons in the world, and a lot of
problems will emerge.
“Boundless higher education” refers to an opening-up HE ideal, where exchange and communication of ideas
cross the border of the institutions. It does not mean completely removing the border and being in a state of
boundlessness, but means that people do not allow the border as an unchanging partition to petrify HE. People
have to find a balance between “haves” and “have-nots”, hoping that HE organizations will efficiently work. In
the first Global Forum of Quality Assurance of Higher Education in 2002, Robin Middlehurst from the University
of Surrey in the UK pointed out that “boundless higher education” referred to the following 4 aspects: (1) from the
perspective of the education type: the appearance of such non-regular education as adult continuing education;
lifelong education broke the borderline of studying in regular and non-regular HEIs, mainly accentuating the
acquirement of the opportunity of lifelong education; (2) from the perspective of the public and private HEIs: the
appearance of private HEIs, especially some private and commercial education services that want to make profit;
they broke the borderline of the concept of traditional HE as a “public product”; (3) HEIs cross the border of
countries and regions; for example, new company universities established by enterprises, public departments and
HEIs, education services at home and abroad supplied by cross-national associations and various cooperatives;
and (4) HEIs cross the border of time and space by offering long-distance education, online study activities and
various virtual universities (ZHANG, 2005). This shows that “boundless higher education” encompasses a wide
variety of items. At present, boundless HE at least covers the following 4 aspects.
5.1 Boundlessness of HEIs
Boundlessness of HEIs emphasizes the cross-national and cross-campus cooperation of HEIs, mainly
including 3 types: (1) branch campuses; for example, Malaysia has a branch campus in the Australian Monash
University, a branch campus in the Australian Curtin University of Technology, a branch campus in the British
Nottingham University, etc.; (2) a twinning program; for example, the cooperation programme between the
University of Warwick in the UK and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and the James Cook University in

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

Australia has established a joint-school in Singapore, and an “International MBA Cooperation Project” in China,
etc.; and (3) off-shore institutions; for example, Monash University in Australia has founded an off-shore
institution in Malaysia and provide education service in South Africa for the local students.
5.2 Boundlessness of learners
Boundlessness of learners refers to students’ cross-boarder mobility, which have already appeared early in the
Middle Ages, namely, when students studied at foreign universities, they use Latin as teaching language facilitated
this mobility. Today, many sorts of students join in the range of boundless HE, including the students who enjoy
education in their home country provided or recognized by a guest country, the students studying in their home
country for some time and later in one or more guest countries for a period of time, the students studying far away
from the campus in the home country, etc.
5.3 Boundlessness of curriculum
Boundlessness of curriculum refers to the cross-boarder mobility of a curriculum. This is an obvious and
peculiarly mobile phenomenon of boundless HE. In this form of boundless HE, the physical position of the
students remains unchangeable, but supported by Internet technology, the curriculum has been exchanged between
countries. In his own home country, a student can study the curriculum provided or recognized by a guest country,
listen to a series of lectures given by a guest professor on a virtual campus, etc.. Twinning programs and branch
campuses are established in a foreign country, and “online” curricula are developed by information technology, all
these will become the main tendency of the future development of boundless HE.
5.4 Boundlessness of study
Boundlessness of study refers to the expansion of the learning contents and the scope of learning. It is a study
method in which the binary structure of “in class” and “after class” teaching and learning in the traditional
curriculum is merged, and it focuses on mankind’s life and experience, recomposes students’ individual
“biography experience” and promotes students’ self-construction. It emphasizes the ideal of the learners as the
center. It exceeds the traditional study space, time and contents that have been disconnected subjectively in the
traditional teaching methods. It combines specialized disciplines, nature, society and students’ living, and brings
students much closer to society, nature and living by observing their essences and upgrading their quality to reach
the education target of multiple development. A good example of this is flexible study. Students can apply for
cross-grade courses, may choose parts of the curriculum of higher grades or others according to their own needs.
Today, people should adopt “boundless HE” as an important concept to explain the penetration and
transcension of the various education spaces, education types and education organizations at home and abroad.
The final target is to establish a new-type of borderless HE whose bound of institution, time and space is
becoming permeable and merged in order to make East Asia take up a common position in the knowledge race.

6. Conclusion

In the traditional society, the production and transmission of knowledge was difficult and rather small.
Independent HEIs, having special rights, could implement their duties, namely, the production and transmission of
knowledge. HEIs were only the social antennas and decoration, whose role is to transmit high and deep
knowledge. The role and orientation of HE was only “higher education in the society”. At that time, HE was “the
tower of ivory”, dissociated itself from the social development and did not have to satisfy the social needs.
Therefore, the position and the role of HE were relatively independent in the society. In the era of the knowledge

Upgrading knowledge competitiveness is the new mission of higher education

economy, things are reversed: The order of society, knowledge and HE has been re-ranked, and the role of HE is
not any more the role of “higher education in the society”, but “higher education of the society”. It is very difficult
for HE to deny the social needs and put itself free from society. HE must satisfy and adapt to the needs of the
social development. In history, there were never “knowledge-based economy” and “knowledge activity-based
education” that have been so closely connected and naturally combined. In the knowledge society, all kinds of
activities in HEIs are carried out focusing on teaching and learning, concerning “knowledge”, and the degree of
social dependence of HE has greatly risen. Besides the three familiar missions of “training capable persons”,
“doing research” and “serving the society”, in the tussle of the knowledge race in East Asia, a new mission for HE
has been added, i.e., upgrading knowledge competitiveness.

JIANG, L. H. (2008). Three-dimension goal of training students’ innovation ability. Education Science, 2. (in Chinese)
WEN, L. & LU, F. H. (2007). The evaluation index system of students’ society adaptation in curriculum of physical education.
Journal of Physical Education, 6. (in Chinese)
XIA, Z. X. (2002). On the four economic function of higher education. Journal of Xianning Teachers College, 1(3). (in Chinese)
XIE, Z. X., BIE, D. R., WU, Y. Y. & HUANG, J. R. (2007). The change of higher education in the era of knowledge economy.
Modern University Education, 5. (in Chinese)
ZHANG, B. R. (2005). Boundless higher education: The new ideal of higher education the developed western countries. Foreign
Country Education Research, 12. (in Chinese)

(Edited by Nicole and Lily)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of

science and mathematics in English program in the Malaysian secondary

schools system*

Lee Tan Luck1, Chew Fong Peng2

(1. Faculty of Business Management, MARA University of Technology Malaysia (UiTM), Johor 85009, Malaysia;
2. Department of Language & Literacy Education, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia)

Abstract: This research is attempting to examine the effectiveness in the application of ICT (information and
communication technology) and standardize courseware in ETeMS (English for Teaching Mathematics and
Science) or PPSMI (Pengajaran and Pembelajaran Sains and Matematic dalam Bahasa Inggeris) in English
program in the Malaysian secondary school system. Five dimensions of secondary school (type of school,
demographic, leadership quality, teaching and learning culture, and teachers’ personal and working experience)
were examined to determine the maximizing usage of TEC (technology-enhanced classroom) in the learning
program. In general, there is a significant difference among factors stated above with maximizing usage of TEC in
teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English program. The learning culture is also closely related.
In addition, the school and teaching staff are another two essential factors found to be the strong fundamental of
maximizing the usage of technology in TEC teaching and learning with towering quality. This study represents an
addition to the extant literature on maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning towards
the excellence of education in the secondary school system. The maximizing usage of TEC teaching and learning
environment within the secondary school system is pivotal towards achieving high quality human capital and
improving the efficiency and integrity of technology-enhanced learning of science and mathematics in English
program. This study provides further groundwork to assist existing education managers to improve work quality
and deliver the maximizing usage of TEC teaching and learning towards the excellence in secondary education.
Key words: technology-enhanced teaching and learning; English for Teaching Mathematics and Science
(ETeMS/PPSMI); Malaysian secondary school system

1. Introduction

The Malaysian government has emphasized on the importance of ICT and interactive computer technology
teaching and learning process in education system since 1986. The Ministry of Education has architect to promote
various ICT and computer-based teaching and learning application projects such as the application and

This paper has previously presented in the 23rd World Conference on Open and Distance Learning including the 2009 EADTU
Annual Conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands, on June 7-10, 2009.
Lee Tan Luck, M. Ed., senior lecturer, Faculty of Business Management, MARA University of Technology Malaysia (UiTM);
research field: management.
Chew Fong Peng, Ph.D., senior lecturer, Department of Language & Literacy Education, Faculty of Education, University of
Malaya; research fields: education, Malay literature.

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

management of CIE (Computer in Education) and computer-assisted teaching and learning. After realizing the
importance of English language and upgrading the standard of English language among Malaysian students in the
era of information technology, the inception of English for Teaching Mathematics and Science Program
(ETeMS/PPSMI) which cost the government RM6 billion is on-tract to success. This mega project runs from 2002
to 2008 and covers the primary and secondary schools in the country stages by stages (Curriculum Development
Center/Ministry of Education, Malaysia, 2004). It is estimated that the global expenditure on education and
training is at over US$2 trillions, in which about 15% of the total is for the developing world (Stacey, 2000).
Today, the divided acceptance of ETeMS/PPSMI program after 8 years of implementation has been noticed.
Students and parents from the urban fully accept the implementation, whereas rural students and parents show
lukewarm respond (Sharifah Maimunah, 2003). Certain quaters are vocal against the continuation of this project,
the staged forums and demonstration lately. Even the study carried out by Curiculum Development Center, the
Ministry of Education, Malaysia (CDC-MOE) on students, understanding and achievement of mathematics and
science through ETeMS (PPSMI) from 2002 until 2004 is unsatisfactory (CDC/MOE, 2004). But the most
important concern in this study is maximizing acceptance and application of the usage and enhancement of
technology in teaching and learning process, i.e., laptop, LCD (liquid cristal display) and courseware of
mathematics and science in English by the mathematics and science teachers in the secondary school system in
Malaysia. However, this forms the basis for the ongoing and future of collaborative, open and distance learning in
the upper secondary and tertiary education system in Malaysia.

2. Related literature

The success in the implementation of the CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction), CIE and TETL (Technology
Enhance of Teaching and Learning) programs in the Malaysian education system forms the basis for the open,
collaborative and distance learning in the education system, where computer literacy is the main concern in the
CAI and CIE. The mastering of English language in the ETeMS (PPSMI) was the booster of the usage of
technology enhancement in the teaching and learning process. Malaysians’ expenditure in the technology-based
teaching and learning in education ranges from the equipping to the commissioning of all primary and secondary
schools with state of art ICT infrastructures. Therefore, the Malaysian government’s mega initiative will be proven
as a catalyst towards ICT and TETL application and management in the education system of the country.
Technology-driven teaching and learning process in the curriculum is due to the emerging digital
technologies. Indefinitely, it has increased the interest in the computerized delivery of education that led to
e-learning through electronic mail, Internet and intranet, World Wide Web (www) and multimedia. Alexander
(2001) noted that using technology in learning would produce advantages like improving the quality of learning
and access to education and training, reducing cost of education and improving the cost-effectiveness.
Educational change and acceptance toward a new language took place based on 4 components, i.e., the process
of socio-culture, the growth of language, academia and cognition. Study conducted shows that the Malaysian
secondary students’ acceptance of English language in the teaching of mathematics and science were good in the
urban schools, whereas rural students needed a longer time frame to acquaint the new concept. However, the
acceptance towards the usage of TETL process in classes has been very successful (Chew & Lee, 2008).
If any of the technology-driven learning is to be successfully implemented, the above-mentioned ideas need
to be followed. By doing so, the uses of ICT would be able to reach 80,000 people worldwide (Sbarca, 2000).

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

Even Cisco system indicated that application of ICT learning was used for 38,000 employees across 225 offices in
80 countries (Gill, 2000).
There are 5 main factors that contribute to the maximizing usage of TETL of mathematics and science in
English in the Malaysian secondary school system. It includes 5 dimensions of secondary school system in the
country, i.e., types of school, demographic characteristics, leadership quality, teaching and learning cultures,
teachers’ personal and working experiences. The successful and maximizing usage of the technological
application depends on the school administrators and teachers who must be well-versed with some characteristics
of computer application. School administrators are persons appointed to manage and discharge duties in managing
the application of ICT at school levels with the incorporation of technology enhancement in the teaching and
learning in ETeMS/PPSMI program. They have to utilize much time on the management perspectives as to
maximize the usage of the facilities in school.
Quality and cost-effectiveness in application and management of ICT and TETL depends very much on the
school administrators and teachers, even though the government has supplied the entire basic necessary ICT
infrastructure to schools throughout the country since 1980s and further supply and commission laptops and LCDs
as additional units to facilitate the success of TETL in ETeMS/PPSMI program. School administrators and
teachers are entrusted with duties in restructuring organization structure to manage the maximizing usage of ICT
in schools. An administrator has to choose the best management models to manage ICT at school level. It would
be the departmental approach as “top-down” organization, which describes the organization based upon the
grouping of various activities into departments, because organization is a large machine that develops laws and
principles, which govern the machine’s activities (Terry, 1995). The general problems addressed here were how
tasks are organized into individual jobs; how jobs are organized into administrative units; and how these are
combined into departments. The result is the structuring of departments within an organization and each
department containing a set of tasks to be performed by personnel in that department. Would it be adaptive
organization, flexible organization, lateral organization, the horizontal corporations and/or the virtual organization
because technology will enable a person to communicate with others without being physically located near them
(Overholt, 1997; Pasternec & Viscio, 1998). This will move from classroom teaching and learning towards virtual
class of distance and collaborative e-learning.
Furthermore, most of the management practices of today followed the system perspectives, contingency
perspectives, contemporary applied perspectives and their various models, rather than maintaining the traditional
hierarchical structures because many of them will increasingly make use of alliances among people and
organizations (Lewis, Goodman & Fandt, 2001). School administrators should look into its feasibility and they
could well be used in the school environment to determine the successful implementation of TETL and could also
determine the efficiency in managing ICT in school. So it is of utmost important for school administrators in
managing the application of ICT at school level to have some direct managing experiences and formal training in
ICT management.
School administrators and teachers’ leadership quality and style in technology enhancement in teaching and
learning is also an important aspect that has to take into consideration in the maximization usage of technology at
school level. A committed leader will see to the successful implementation and maximizing utilization of ICT
project in school. Otherwise it will fail because of not just lack of resources but also human factors. It requires the
same management commitment as other mission-critical organization-wide initiatives, it needs to be compelling to
the audience, and it targets by offering the learners a resource that seems to be appealing, valuable and productive

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

to their goals and aspiration (Henri, 2001). The outcome and monetary waste will be tremendous as Morgan and
Keegan had estimated that world expenditure on all forms of education especially in ICT, which will exceed US
$2 trillion worldwide (Sisco System IQ Atlas, 2000).
As leaders in the school system, administrators should also be the teachers to the extend that at least could
guide the other teaching staff in the application and management of ICT towards the maximum usage in the
teaching and learning process. It is assumed that leaders who carry in their heads in the mental pictures of how the
world works have a significant influence on how one perceives problems, opportunities and identifies courses of
action and makes choice (Senge, 1990). Leaders’ will plays its leadership role by helping everybody include
himself/herself in the organization to gain more insightful views of current reality and this is also in-line with a
popular emerging view of leaders as coaches, guides or facilitators. Therefore, a strong and well-respected
leadership with a clearly defined task would get the best result by fairly directive (Lucey, 1995).
The cost, sources, time frame, infrastructure, management process and curriculum are of ultimate important
because they are significant towards the implementation of ICT in the school system. The government plays its pivotal
roles in terms of cost and sources, infrastructure and curriculum. The government has supplied and commissioned the
basic ICT infrastructures to schools, as resources are needed for carry outing the ICT laboratory project.
The completion of the first phase and the starting of the second phase of ETeMS/PPSMI program in all
schools nationwide whereby students are taught subjects like mathematics and science in English using laptops
and LCDs with common software in class are progressing. All the resources and curriculum formulated by the
Center of Curriculum Development Division of the Ministry of Education are based on the mission of the
Ministry of Education with the mission statement formalized in 1995, which reflects clearly the Ministry’s
commitment towards achieving the goals of Vision 2020, namely, “To develop a world class quality education
system which will realize the full potential of the individual and fulfill the aspirations of the Malaysian nation”
(Malaysian Smart School Implementation Plan, 1997).
Money spent by government to facilitate all the resources and conduct in-service courses such as the
ETeMS/PPSMI program (2003-2008) is amounting to RM6 billion. Further setting up of 4,000 ICT laboratories
for schools nationwide inclusive of provision of ICT, hardware, software, operating system and ICT human
resources shows that education sector in Malaysia is a big winner in terms of ICT allocation under the Budget
2003 (Computimes, 2002). Not only that, but the Selangor state government had also invested at least RM10
million in ICT in 2003 to boost the ICT literacy among states community and workforce (Ahmad, 2002). This
allocation is just part of a RM50 million allocation under the Eighth Malaysian Economic Plan (2001-2005) to
ensure that ICT continues to play a vital role in moving the state ahead in terms of economic and social
development (Computime, 2002).
Computer-based learning market will expand to US$11 billion and world total spending will have risen from
US$6 billion in 1998 to US$17 billion in 2004 (Little, 2001). Global expenditure on education and training is over
US$ 2 trilion (Clarke & Hermens, 2001). So the huge expenditure put forward by the government is of utmost
importance for the educational course of the country. As school administrators who have to carry out the
implementation stages in the school system. They not only need to make full use and application of the technology but
also must educate the students in their schools and offer innovative programs (Gunasekaran, McNeil & Shaul, 2002).
Supports of the education process are all in the way with key elements including providing learning materials
and facilities for practical work or simulations, enabling questions and discussion and assessing and providing
student-supported services (Alexander & McKenzie, 1998). All these elements could be found in the education

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

system through government fund as well as private vendors throughout the country.
To date, the country’s implementation of ICT and computer-based learning application perspective favor to
be generating success because the results from students show that the upgrade of achievement has been
encouraging not only in the information technology subject sat by the year 3 and year 6 Malaysian secondary
school students, but also in the achievements by the students from other forms in subjects like English language,
mathematics and science also show progressive improvements.
In fact, the availability of broadband technology in the country now will increase the active learning options
by making use of video conferencing, advanced animation technologies and virtual scientific laboratory.
Electronic books have become more prevalent instead. All these will add values to the existing technology in
schools for changing especially the education system which has already faced the fast-paced culture. By providing
Internet and intranet facilities or e-learning solutions to the students, it will be able to turn changes into
advantages and allow people and organization to keep up with dynamic changes in the global perspective.
Internet is beginning to significantly elevate the whole concept of learning by bringing together richness and
extensive reach and developing a move from “point-driven” learning to learning that supports change and
transition (Fry, 2001). Therefore, to conclude the cost, sources and resources, time frame and infrastructures and
its significance towards the application and management of ICT in the school system, a more moderate
development model has to be proposed likewise to eradicate the problems of implementation at the school level
such as bandwidth, standards and application, culture, difficulties with a piecemeal approach, technical difficulties
and lake of infrastructures.
Another significant aspect in the application and the management of ICT and CAL (Computer Assisted
Learning) is the school culture. Even though there is a drastic change in terms of transforming school to a more
technological centered one, the question posed here is whether the school community especially students are
prepared for the change. Sometimes traditional methodology could still be used, however, because of the
challenges from the outside world, change is needed. Therefore, change for the better needs to transform towards
the technological challenge of the information age.
School culture can be analyzed through the relationships between people, namely, students, teachers and
parents, and of course through the management of resources which includes physical space, and non-physical like
time and people. Due to the fact that ICT and CAL are the core of education for future citizen and the kinds of
changes designed in each school, how the changes modify the school culture and the changes that happened in the
way teachers actually used ICT and CAL in their teaching and learning process (Azinian, 2001), teachers in
school system could carry out the function to create new learning and teaching culture in preparing students to
face the challenging world with fast paced technology.
In order to get rid off the existing conventional school culture, teachers are the agent for change. The
conceptual framework for teachers’ development calls for an integrated approach to the problems, that is, the
various forms for teacher training and continuing support are combined with activities aimed at influencing the
system in which the teachers work daily (Nikolave, 2001). Therefore, teachers in the school system also play the
pivotal role in being responsible to bring change in the teaching and learning culture of schools.
The effective change towards the school culture, where teachers must involve themselves in using the present
advancement of ICTs, provided and commissioned in the school system to upgrade themselves towards the usage
and applications of the ICT not only to the teaching and learning process of their students but also to their own
learning process by continuing to upgrade themselves in life-long learning concepts and practices. Students in the

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

urban were also eager to learn due to their fascination towards the new techno-education curriculum as well as
acceptance of English language as a medium of instruction in the teaching and learning of mathematics and
science subjects. Therefore, teachers are the agent of change in this perspective, and success or failure in the
maximizing of technology enhancement in curriculum and students’ achievement lies with the teachers (Chew &
Lee, 2008).

3. Methodology

3.1 Research objectives

The objectives of this study are to determine the proper and effective managing of ICT in school system and
attempt to examine the effectiveness in the maximizing application of technology in the technology-enhanced school
environment and standardize courseware in ETeMS/PPSMI program in the Malaysian secondary school system.
This study also looks into the possibility and feasibility of establishing the maximum usage of the TEC in the
teaching and learning process in the secondary school system rather than furnishing teachers with laptops and
LCD which are found to be difficult and ineffective in delivering the curriculum in schools.
3.2 Theoretical framework
The theoretical framework of this research is shown in Figure 1.

Theoretical framework Independent variable (5 contributing factors)

dependent variable


School culture and practice (perception, knowledge,

technology-transfer, attitudes and changes)
Maximizing the usage of
technology-enhanced teaching
School (urban/rural)
& learning in ETeMS (PPSMI)

Teachers (personal and working experience,

background, prior knowledge qualification, ICT, 
literacy, courses attended)

Leadership quality (management experience)

Figure 1 The theoretical framework

3.3 Research method

A survey questionnaire was given to 120 school administrators, computer coordinators and teaching staff
from two selected states in west Malaysia (60 from urban schools and 60 from rural schools). The questionnaires
contain 2 sections, namely, section A which contains questions on the respondents’ demographics and section B on
the dependent and independent factors. A 6-point measurement scale was used for the questions in part 2.
Parametric statistical and non-parametric tests were used to analyze the data.
Another set of questionnaire was given to 120 students from 2 states in west Malaysia (60 from urban and 60

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

from rural schools respectively). The questionnaires were on the acceptance of ETeMS/PPSMI program and the
teachers’ usage of technology to enhance teaching and learning, i.e., laptop, LCD and courseware to teach
mathematics and science.

4. Results and discussion

4.1 Reliability of instrument

Cronbach Alpha statistic is found to be 0.845, therefore, the reliability of the questionnaire is acceptable.
4.2 Descriptive statistics
Item 1 in Table 1 summarizes the respondents’ characteristics. They are 85 males (70.8%) and 35 females
(29.2%). Item 2 shows the respondents’ position in the school which is for 20 school administrators (16.7%), 30
senior teachers (25%) and 70 teaching staff (58.3%). Item 3 summarizes the composition of race, which consists
of 80 Malays (66.7%), 30 Chinese (25%) and 10 Indians (8.3%). Item 4 shows that 67.5% of the administrators
possess bachelor degree and 32.5% possess postgraduate degree. And Item 5 shows that more than 80% of the
administrators have more than 4 years experiences in teaching. Item 6 shows that 68.3% of teachers have
experienced using ICT and technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in their curriculum.

Table 1 Summary of respondents’ characteristics (school administrators and teachers)

Items Frequency Percentage (%)
Male 85 70.8
Female 35 29.2
Respondents’ position held in school
School administrator 20 16.7
Senior teacher 30 25.0
Teacher 70 58.3
Malay 80 66.7
Chinese 30 25.0
Indian 10 8.3
Academic achievement
Bachelor 81 67.5
Master/PhD 39 32.5
Experience in teaching
0-3 years 20 16.7
4-6 years 35 29.2
7-9 years 33 27.5
>10years 32 26.7
Experience in using technology enhanced environment
Yes 82 68.3
No 38 31.7
Note: N=120 (Urban=60; Rural=60).

Overall, the ETeMS/PPSMI program in Malaysia has been successful towards the urban and rural students.
The maximum utilization of technology-enhanced teaching and learning in the classroom is at doubt especially in
the rural schools. In surveyed students, only 47% students from urban schools respond towards teachers seldom
use technology-enhanced teaching and learning, whereas teachers that they seldom utilization of
technology-enhanced teaching and learning are shockingly at 75% (see Table 2).

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

Table 2 Students acceptance towards ETeMS (PPSMI)

Items Location Total (Percentile)
I am happy with the usage of English language in the teaching of Urban 50 (83%) 10 (17%)
mathematics and science Rural 38 (64%) 22 (36%)
Implementation of ETeMS (PPSMI) program helps to upgrade my Urban 42 (70%) 18 (30%)
understanding in mathematics and science Rural 37 (61%) 23 (39%)
Teachers’ teaching of mathematics and science in English is Urban 36 (60%) 24 (40%)
beneficial to me Rural 47 (78%) 13 (22%)
It is interesting and good in the teaching of mathematics and Urban 42 (70%) 18 (30%)
science session in school Rural 38 (64%) 22 (36%)
Teachers seldom use technology enhanced learning in class (laptop, Urban 28(47%) 32(53%)
LCD and courseware) Rural 45(75%) 15(25%)
In my opinion, the teaching of mathematics and science in English Urban 50 (83%) 10 (17%)
program is the right move in the secondary education system Rural 40 (67%) 20 (33%)
Note: N=120 (Urban=60; Rural=60).

Table 3 Results of Pearson correlation tests on management of ICT for maximizing usage of technology-enhanced
teaching and learning process in ETeMS (PPSMI) programs in secondary schools
Item r p-value N
Management of ICT for maximizing usage of technology-enhanced teaching
0.777 <0.001 120
and learning process in ETeMS (PPSMI) programs in secondary schools
Notes: α=0.01; r=corrélation coefficient; N=Total respondent.

Table 3 shows that there is positive relationships in management of ICT for maximizing usage of
technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in ETeMS/PPSMI program in secondary schools. The
government-funded technology application for the ETeMS/PPSMI program in schools by providing and
commissioning 30-50 laptops, 10 LCDs and courseware of mathematics and science in English to every school
according to the population of students. The number of teachers sent for the teaching of mathematics and science
in English program course prior to the program has increased. The supply of laptops to primary and secondary
school teachers is for the teaching of mathematics and science in English for year 1 to year 3 of the primary
schools and year 1 to year 5 of the secondary schools students. However, the setting up of the Technology Enabled
Classrooms (TEC) is more cost-effective and reliable as well as maximizing the usage by teachers in the teaching
and learning process in the secondary schools, so there should be an increase of population of students and
decrease of funding and teachers’ sharing of the laptops. Therefore, for the factors for a successful innovation in
school, the knowledge and application of technology should be first, the supporting infrastructure secondly and,
the empowering workers through professionals development thirdly (Szabo, 1996).
Table 4 Results of Pearson correlation tests on school administrators leadership quality in the management of
ICT for maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process
in ETeMS (PPSMI) programs in secondary schools
Item r p-value N
School administrators leadership quality in the management of ICT for maximizing the
usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in ETeMS (PPSMI) 0.785 <0.001 120
programs in secondary schools
Notes: α=0.01; r=correlation coefficient; N=Total respondents.

Table 4 shows that there is a strong relationship in school administrators’ leadership quality in the

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

management of ICT for maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in
ETeMS/PPSMI program in secondary schools. Teachers’ usage of laptops and LCDs in ETeMS/PPSMI program
teaching and learning process could be carried out in the proper manner, where students are able to learn better
when teachers teach by using the enhanced technology in their curriculum. Teachers and students are the users of
technology in their teaching and learning process. Therefore, teachers would not face any problems in conducting
their curriculum.
Table 5 Results of Pearson correlation tests on teachers’ personal and working experiences to achieve the maximum usage
of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in ETeMS (PPSMI) programs
in secondary schools
Item r p-value N
Teachers’ personal and working experiences to achieve the maximum usage of
technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in ETeMS (PPSMI) programs in 0.691 <0.003 120
secondary schools
Notes: α=0.01; r=correlation coefficient; N=Total respondents.

Table 5 shows that there is a moderate relationship between teachers’ personal and working experiences in
achieving the maximum usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in ETeMS/PPSMI programs
in secondary schools. The success or failures of the technology in education inception in teaching and learning
process in the secondary school system of Malaysia until to-date, rely on the personal and working experiences
and skills of the teachers and coordinators. Many of the secondary school teachers and ICT coordinators who are
also teachers themselves with minimal knowledge of computer technology.

5. Conclusion and recommendations

The 5 dimensions of maximizing usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in

ETeMS/PPSMI programs in secondary school system, which comprised of types of schools, demography, leadership
quality, teaching an learning culture and the teachers’ personnel and working experiences, is all equally important.
Futrell and Geisert (1984) quoted that school administrators and teachers are entrusted with duties and
responsibilities. Administrators manage not only the school as a whole but also other units in the school. A successful
and effective management of ICT to maximize the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning process in
ETeMS/PPSMI programs in secondary schools depends very much on the tactfulness of the school administrators
and teachers. Therefore, their challenges are to choose the best management models to manage the technology
enhancement facilities by the incorporation of ICT and technology enhancing teaching and learning in school.
A nationwide and in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness in the application and management of ICT
facilities and technology enhancement in the teaching and learning process in the Malaysian secondary school
system has to be carried out to check its maximum utilization of ICT and its teaching and learning enhancement
especially in the teaching and learning process of ETeMS/PPSMI program. There are signs of inefficiency in the
application and managing of ICT in schools especially in the rural schools. For example, improper handling of
equipment, malpractices, mismanagement, wastages, misuse of facilities, less acceptances of English language
usage and teachers’ reluctance to use English language to teach mathematics and science subjects even though the
teachers were paid critical allowances, etc.. The effective deployment of ICT facilities in schools has to be
properly planned because it comprises of laptops, digital presenter SDP-6500, overhead projector, desktop, stereo,
DVD player, intranets, extranet and LCD, which offer a very capable platform for delivering a comprehensive

Maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning of science and mathematics in
English program in the Malaysian secondary schools system

technology-enhanced teaching-learning and performance support environment and this will incorporate traditional
methods as well as technology-led learning (Kevin, 2001). It could further utilize in the introduction of distance
and collaborative learning in future secondary school system.
The government has put forth tremendous efforts in supplying the basic and advanced ICT infrastructures as
well as formulating the ICT curriculum of the second school system that to be equipped into the
technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Therefore, the teaching of social science and science in English
should not have any problem of acceptance and application.
Teachers need to be given in-service courses to facilitate proper handling and usage of the
technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Schools, which have not been equipped with the facilities, have to
initiate themselves to facilitate the technology-enhanced teaching and learning environment. The possibilities of
introducing and implementing, as well as maximizing the usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning
throughout the school system in the country under the future governmental plan, the weighs, problems and
constraints on the structure that the technological advancements already exist have to be accurately dealt with.
School administrators concern could initiate themselves by organizing a continues in-house training program
for their new teaching staffs in the basic usage of TEC and the proper handling of the commissioned sophisticated
technology in the teaching and learning process.
The technology-enhanced teaching and learning classroom which connected the whole secondary education
system could be very useful in term that the school administrators concern can organize uses in delivering the
collaborative, distance education not only for the secondary school students concern but the local youth and adults
who need education to upgrade the society during the off hours of the schools.
The Curriculum Development Center of the Ministry of Education has to scrutinize the maximum utilization
of technology-enhanced facilities in teaching and learning facilities provided to schools. Special task force need to
be set up to supervise the implementation and application of teaching and learning to the fullest.
The successful and maximizing usage of technology-enhanced teaching and learning in education especially
the ETeMS/PPSMI program requires a team of honest, skillful, dynamic, experienced, confident and committed
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(Edited by Nicole and Lily)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

What 37,000 citations can tell

Adriaan Swanepoel
(Library and Information Services, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria 0001, South Africa)

Abstract: A longitudinal study at the TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) used citation analysis to
analyze the reference lists of 480 Master’s and Doctoral (M and D) theses and dissertations submitted at TUT
between 2004 and 2007. The purpose was to determine what types of information sources M and D students at
TUT use most, how the patterns of use differ across the 7 faculties of the university, and to what extent the LIS
(Library and Information Services) keeps or provides access to the journals that are mostly used by M and D
students. More than 37,000 citations were analyzed over the 4-year period. The study found several similarities
but also some distinct differences in the use of information sources across the 7 faculties of TUT. It also identified
more than 60 different information sources used by M and D students. With regard to journal use, the study found
that out of 3,641 different journals cited, most journals were only cited once over a period of 4 years. However, a
small percentage of journals were highly and/or frequently cited.
Key words: citation analysis; theses and dissertations; collection development; use of information resources

1. Introduction

1.1 Aims
The TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) started in 2004 with a longitudinal study to obtain information
that would assist its LIS (Library and Information Services) in making sound collection development decisions.
The aims of the study were to identify:
(1) Which types of information sources do Master’s and Doctoral (M and D) students of different faculties
use most and least, and to what extent does this change from year to year?
(2) Which journals do M and D students of different faculties use most and least, and to what extent does this
change from year to year?
(3) To what extent does the TUT LIS keep or provide access to journals that are mostly used by M and D
1.2 Method
Library science has developed a number of methods for evaluating the use of information resources. Some of
the more popular methods include: (1) studying circulation statistics and in-house use of information resources; (2)
surveying user opinions; (3) analyzing interlibrary loan patterns; (4) doing shelf-availability studies; and (5)
analyzing bibliographic citations. Although it is generally recognized that no one method alone provides a
complete picture in assisting with collection development decisions, this study used citation analysis as the
preferred research method to achieve its aims. This method, with its advantages and disadvantages, and how it
was applied in this study, was described elsewhere by this author (Swanepoel, 2008). It is nevertheless necessary,

Adriaan Swanepoel, Ph.D., Library and Information Services, Tshwane University of Technology; research fields: library and
information science, citation analysis.

What 37,000 citations can tell

for the sake of comprehensiveness, to repeat some of that information in this paper.
Citation analysis is known to be a low-cost method whereby researchers can gather and study citation data in
an unobtrusive and non-invasive way. Citation analysis is also a flexible method: It can be applied in the
assessment of data sources of a group of libraries, or a single collection or a library collection supplemented with
external information sources. It is also flexible in terms of the size of samples, types of citation sources (whether a
standard list or a specific collection in a library) as well as the manner of citation selection (Ching, 2002).
Furthermore, it can be used to focus on the type and number of information sources that researchers or library
users use in a specific discipline over a period of time. In this regard, the research of Peritz and Sor (1990) and
Allen, Jacobs and Levy (2006) serve as examples.
Citation analysis is also a well-studied method in university library environments. Not only do citations play
an important part in the scholarly communications process, but “citations and the composition of bibliographies
reflect changes in the information-seeking behavior of academics” as well (Naudé, Rensleigh & Du Toit, 2005). In
this regard, theses and dissertations have proved to be particularly appealing to use for assessing library
collections, because they serve as a convenient source of in-house research. Furthermore, Zipp (1996) found that
“The most heavily cited journal titles in theses and dissertations can be used as a surrogate for the titles most
heavily used by faculty in their publications”. This is because the research interests of graduate students often
reflect the research interests of their faculty advisers.
While many studies have reported on the uses and usefulness of citation analysis, some writers, including
Loree (2007), Griscom (1983) and Ching (2002) have acknowledged the limitations of the method. Concerning
citation analysis of students bibliographies, Sylvia (1998) highlighted several limitations, including the following:
(1) Researchers are more likely to use information sources to which they have local access; (2) Researchers may
add citations to increase a manuscript’s length and scholarship; (3) Manuscripts may include citations of marginal
importance; (4) Researchers may not cite all works used to prepare a manuscript; and (5) Handbooks and
textbooks often do not receive citations because those sources are taken for granted by students.
Being aware of the limitations of citation analysis and acknowledging that the method is sensitive to the skill
with which it is applied, it was nevertheless decided to use citation analysis as method for this research, because it
has been proved by many as a valid, reliable and practical tool for comparing a library’s holdings to an
authoritative list for the purpose of evaluating the quality of a library collection.
1.3 Data collection
Data were collected from the reference lists of all (480) theses and dissertations submitted by M and D
students and accepted by TUT from 2004 to 2007. No sample was taken. However, one thesis from the Faculty of
Science was not included because its extreme number of citations (3,750) would have skewed results.
A library assistant photocopied the title pages and reference lists of all theses and dissertations and provided
each data source with a sequential number. The assistant then captured the following data from the title pages on
an Excel worksheet: author, title, date, faculty, department at the faculty, language of the thesis, and whether it
was a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation. Subsequently, the researcher collected the following data: number
of citations per information type, number of citations per thesis, number of theses per department, frequency of
journal titles cited, and cited periodicals owned or provided access to by the library. All the data collected were
captured on Excel worksheets.
1.4 Data analysis
With regard to Aim (1): The different types of information sources used by M and D students in each of the 7

What 37,000 citations can tell

faculties were counted and the numbers obtained per type were summarized per annum. The data were also sorted
and ranked to identify which types of information sources M and D students in different faculties use most and
least, and to what extent, the pattern changes from year to year. With regard to Aim (2): A list was made of all the
different journal titles that were cited by M and D students in each faculty. The researcher then counted the
number of times each title was cited per annum. This enabled him to determine which journals M and D students
in different faculties use most and least, and to what extent, this changes from year to year. With regard to Aim (3):
Each journal title cited by M and D students was compared against a list of journal titles that the LIS makes
available either by keeping those journals in stock or by providing online access to full text versions of the
journals. This process resulted in identifying to what extent the LIS keeps or provides access to the journals that
are mostly used by M and D students.

2. Findings and discussion

2.1 Types and number of information sources cited

To put the findings of this study into context, it is necessary to present an overview of the types and number
of information sources cited by the students under discussion. Although M and D students of TUT used 64
different types of information sources from 2004 to 2007, it is clear from Table 1 that they largely relied on books
and journals for research purposes. Together, citations to books and journals add up to almost 70% of all citations.
Furthermore, the top 9 sources are typically those that are readily accessible in or through libraries. One should,
however, not ignore the fact that several other information types play an important role in the research activities of
M and D students, especially in-house documents, course material, technical publications, user manuals and
Citation analysis studies usually refer to less cited information sources as “other” information sources.
Although this study also used the term “other” to group information resources that individually received less than
one percent of all citations, it went a step further to actually identify those information sources and rank them
according to the number of times they were cited (see Table 1). In doing so, this study found that M and D students
used more than 50 types of information sources that are generally regarded as “grey literature”. This indicated that,
although M and D students predominantly use books and journals, reference librarians and collection developers
should take cognizance of the wide variety of so-called grey-literature that M and D students use.
It should be noted that the number of citations to websites was slightly higher than that reported in Table 1. In
the process of classifying citations into different types of information sources, citations were first classified by
content and then by form. For instance, a citation to a government publication on the web was classified as a
government publication and not as a website. Only citations to websites that were not clearly identified as either a
journal on the web or a government publication on the web, etc., were classified as “websites”. However, Figure 1
presents a more complete picture of the number of citations to electronic sources; it shows the number of citations
to all websites regardless of content, as well as citations to electronic databases and CD-ROMs. Regardless of the
way citations to websites were classified, this study showed that M and D students of TUT still make far less use
of electronic formats for research purposes than librarians and faculty members generally suspect. However,
seeing that there was a slow but gradual increase of electronic formats over 4 years, the ratio between citations to
paper formats versus electronic formats may seem significantly different over the next 4 years.

What 37,000 citations can tell

Table 1 Types and number of information sources cited

Information sources Total citations 2004-2007 Percentage (%)
Books and chapters in books 14,617 39.11
Journals and magazines 11,503 30.77
Websites and electronic databases 3,740 10.00
Government publications 1,387 3.71
Conference proceedings and papers 1,158 3.10
Reports 956 2.56
Newspapers 676 1.81
Theses and dissertations 601 1.61
Personal communication 571 1.53
Other ** 2,169 5.80
Total 37,378 100.00
Notes: **Consisting of unidentified types (234), in-house documents (205), course material (200), technical publications (176),
operating manuals and user manuals (169), newsletters and bulletins (158), videos (116), standards and test methods (102), policy
documents (70), planning documents (65), manuscripts and drafts (61), working papers (48), event programmes (47), statistical data
(46), discussion and position papers (45), software and computer files (38), comic books (33), fact sheets (33), speeches (29), surveys
and questionnaires (29), patents (27), pamphlets and brochures (25), codes of conduct (19), radio and television programmes (16),
briefing documents and position papers (16), case studies (16), specifications (14), media releases (13), trade literature (12), maps
(11), photos (11), rules and regulations (11), prospectuses (9), circulars (8), staff lists (8), logbooks (7), company profiles (6),
abstracts (5), catalogues (4), kits (4), proposals (4), exhibit captions (3), event invitations (2), microfilm (2), posters (2), graphics (1),
sound recordings (1), calendars (1), drawings and diagrams (1), instrumental reviews (1), mathematical models (1), memorabilia (1),
notices (1), simulation tools (1) and testimonials (1).

6000 Paper Electronic
4000 1019 1143 1571
2004 2005 2006 2007
Figure 1 Citations to paper formats versus electronic formats

Figure 2 shows some similarities but also distinct differences in the use of information sources by M and D
students in the so-called SET (science, engineering and technology) Faculties, specifically regarding to books,
journals and electronic formats. The Faculty of Science clearly uses journals most, followed by books and
electronic formats, conference papers and reports. Compared to all other faculties, this faculty uses journals most
by far. The Faculty of Engineering also used journals primarily, followed by books, electronic formats, conference
papers and reports, but its students use journals far less than students from the Faculty of Science. Engineering
students also use electronic formats and conference papers more than science students. Students in the Faculty of
Information Communication and Technology (ICT), on the other hand, first and foremost use web sources, with
books and journals respectively the second and third most used sources. It is also worth noting that ICT students
were the only students that use websites and electronic databases more than any other faculty’s M and D students.
Contrary to this is the relative low use that students of the Faculty of Science made of websites and electronic
databases. Their use of electronic formats was not only the lowest in the SET faculties but also the lowest in all
faculties. The patterns showed in Figure 2 did not change much over the 4 years of investigation.

What 37,000 citations can tell

Personal communication
Theses & dissertations

40% Proceedings & papers

30% Govt publications

20% Web & e-databases

10% Books
Science Engineering ICT
Figure 2 Types of information sources cited most by M and D students of SET Faculties, 2004-2007

Figure 3 shows a different pattern from the one in Figure 2. M and D students in the Social Sciences and
Humanities Faculties clearly use books most. They also use noticeably fewer journals than students in the SET
faculties. This is especially noticeable in the Faculty of Arts. In a list of most cited information sources, the use of
journals in the Faculty of Arts ranked only fourth, next to books, electronic formats and newspapers. It is also clear
from Figure 3 that the Faculties of Economic Sciences, Humanities and Management Sciences contributed greatly
to the fact that government publications ranked fourth in the list of most cited information sources (see Table 1).

100% Other
Personal communication


50% Proceedings & papers

40% Government publications
Web & e-databases
Books & chapters

0% Journals & magazines

Economics & Management Humanities Arts
Figure 3 Types of information sources used by M and D students of SSH Faculties, 2004-2007

2.2 Journals used by M and D students

One of the aims of this study was to determine which journals M and D students in different faculties use
most and least, and to what extent, this changes from year to year. The results produced a surprisingly large
amount of data. Authors of the 480 theses and dissertations cited altogether 3,610 different journal titles in 2004 to
2007. The 3,610 journals received 11,533 citations. The average number of citations to individual journal titles
was 7.49 and the average (mean) citations to journal articles were 23.93 over the 4-year period.

What 37,000 citations can tell

2.2.1 Highly cited journals

Because of the large amount of data involved, this paper will display only a list of the top 10 most cited
journals. A list of journals, across all 7 faculties, that received 20 citations or more is available from the author.

Table 3 Ten most cited journals over a 4-year period

Journal 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total
Harvard Business Review 9 73 3 24 109
International Journal of Pharmaceutics 20 52 25 5 102
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 5 51 25 0 81
Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 25 38 7 8 78
Journal of Controlled Release 11 45 19 3 78
Journal of Applied Physiology 2 67 4 0 73
Spectrochimica Acta Part B 11 39 10 7 67
South African Journal of Higher Education 4 12 11 37 64
Human Reproduction 0 14 47 0 61
Pharmaceutical Research 14 27 19 0 60

When the researcher listed and ranked the journals cited in each faculty, it was observed that the vast
majority of journals had only been cited in 1 or 2 of the years concerned. For instance, of the 50 topmost cited
journals across all 7 faculties, only 24 journals had been cited in the 4 years of investigation. This is probably an
indication that the majority of journals that M and D students cited were used by a particular student only for a
particular research topic. This tendency is more noticeable among some of the SSH faculties. For instance, of the
138 different journals that M and D students of the Faculty of Arts used during the 4 years of investigation, 133
(96.4%) journals were used only once. Five journals were used in 2 of the 4 years but no journals were used more
than that. Contrary to this pattern, the M and D students in the SET faculties have shown a more consistent use of
journals. Such consistent use will enable the LIS to identify a core list of journals that M and D students in those
faculties frequently consult.
2.2.2 Journals that received few citations
Table 4 presents the number of journals that received 4 or less citations. It is noted that the numbers in the
columns do not overlap. In other words, if a journal was only cited once in 2004, it was not cited again in 2005 or
in 2006 or in 2007.

Table 4 Number of journals that received fewer than 5 citations per year
Journal 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total
Journals cited only once 488 999 665 819 2,971
Journals cited twice 110 271 143 172 696
Journals cited three times 49 105 64 57 275
Journals cited four times 26 67 36 39 168

The majority of journals (2,971 or 82.3% of the total) were only cited once over a period of 4 years. Due to
the fact that many journals were cited only once, the median and the modus for each of the 4 years was only one
citation per journal title, notwithstanding that the mean was 8.28 in that period. The results in Tables 3 and 4
confirm results from other citation studies that a small number of journals generate the majority of journals cited,
and vice versa.

What 37,000 citations can tell

2.2.3 The availability of highly cited journals in TUT libraries

A third aim of this study was to determine to what extent the LIS keeps or provides access to the journals that
are mostly used by M and D students. The research found that of the 87 journal titles that received 20 citations or
more, the LIS either subscribed to or provided online full-text access to a total of 58 titles. In addition, it had back
copies available in some of its libraries of a further 8 titles of which it recently cancelled the subscriptions.

3. Conclusion

From the findings of this study, it can be concluded that M and D students of TUT are far greater users of
paper-based information sources than of electronic information sources. Over time, there was a gradual increase in
citations to electronic formats but not as much as one would have expected. Citations to electronic formats
therefore had no real impact on the composition of reference lists.
With regard to paper-based sources, M and D students of TUT rely to a large extent on books and journals for
research purposes. This, however, should not detract attention from the fact that several other information types
play an important role in the research activities of M and D students, especially that of government publications,
conference proceedings and papers, reports, newspapers, theses and dissertations and personal communication.
Since many of the lesser used information sources were not part of the LIS collection, it can therefore also be
concluded that rather than confining their research to what was available in TUT libraries, several M and D
students made use of sources elsewhere. Even if lesser used information sources do not qualify to be included in
the LIS collection, reference librarians of TUT should recognise the need for such sources and become proficient
in searching and retrieving them.
This study revealed clearly distinguishable patterns between the information sources that M and D students
in different faculties of TUT use most and least. This indicates that the LIS should consider separate collection
development strategies for its 7 faculties.
Across all faculties, the majority of journals were only cited once over a period of 4 years. However, a small
percentage of journals were highly cited and/or frequently cited. This confirms the outcome of other citation
studies: A small number of journals generate the majority of journals cited. This confirmation can be used as a
rationale for cancelling subscriptions of less-used journals or allocation of funds to faculties who consistently
make high use of specific journals.
It is reassuring that TUT libraries are to a large extent able to provide most of the journals that are highly
cited by M and D students. Although TUT libraries own only a few of the most cited journals, they provide web
access to most of the others.
This study provided information that was previously unavailable to librarians and academic staff of TUT. It
revealed what types of information sources M and D students use more frequently than others, how the patterns of
use differ across subject disciplines and faculties, and it showed to what extent the LIS keeps or provides access to
the journals that are mostly used by M and D students. The continued replication of this study will enable the LIS
to determine even more reliable usage trends that will assist it to make informed decisions regarding which
information resources to make available to M and D students, especially as Internet and electronic technologies
evolve. A continuation of this research will also assist librarians and academics to better understand the research
interests of M and D students at TUT.

What 37,000 citations can tell

Allan, M., Jacobs, S. & Levy, J. R. (2006). Mapping the literature of nursing: 1996-2000. Journal of the Medical Library Association,
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Griscom, R. (1983). Periodical use in a university music library: A citation analysis of thesis and dissertations submitted to the
Indiana University School of Music from 1975-1980. The Serials Librarian, 7(3), 35-52.
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researchers. South African Journal of Information Management, 7(3), 1-14. Retrieved March 22, 2007 from
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Swanepoel, A. J. (2008). Citation analysis of theses and dissertations submitted at the Tshwane University of Technology: 2004-2006.
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bibliographies. Collection Building, 17(1), 20-28.
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Library Resources and Technical Services, 40(4), 335-342.

(Edited by Nicole and Sunny)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of

history among Form One students

Rossafri bin Mohamad, Balakrishnan Muninday, Malliga Govindasamy

(Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang 11800, Malaysia)

Abstract: This article presents a study on the use of multimedia technology for the teaching of Form (Grade)
One history, which is a form of narative subject in nature. Specifically, it is to study the viability of multimedia
materials in supporting active learning for subjects which are in narative form. Due to the scarcity of interactive
multimedia materials in the market for subjects in narative form as compared to mathematics, science or technical
subjects, subjects in this form are generally taught using traditional approach, creating an imbalance in the use of
technology supported learning environment between science and non-science subjects. Therefore, in order to
create an active learning environment that impacts and stimulates students’ thinking skill as well as to create
provisions for growth in parity with science and technical subjects, this study proposes the use of multimedia
courseware template for the teaching of subjects that are in narative form. Sample for the study consists of
students from Form One in secondary schools. Collection and analysis of data were carried out quantitatively and
qualitatively. T-test, One-way ANOVA (analysis of variance) and descriptive statisticsal analysis were used to
measure the effectiveness of instruction assisted with multimedia materials. On the whole, all null hypotheses of
the study were accepted. The findings also showed that all respondents unanimously agreed that the use of
multimedia learning materials is able to improve the style, technique, method and quality of instruction, thus
promoting motivation to learn and active learning environment.
Key words: interative multimedia courseware templat; Form One students; history subject

1. Introduction

The development of multimedia courseware to support the teaching and learning processes are overwhelming,
however, there is a need to question whether these courseware in reality meet the varying teaching and learning
styles of teachers and students respectively. As almost all courseware developed are in the proportion of “ready to
use”, provisions for modification are almost nil. Therefore, in order to compensate for the lack of modifiability,
this study produces a courseware template in which the content of the courseware and the learning objectives
determined by the teachers can be adjusted to suit students’ varying cognitive levels without any reliance to the
learning content as provided by the developer. The proposed template was tested with history, which is one of the
core subjects in secondary schools. The presentation of history lesson in narrative form makes students feel bored

Rossafri bin Mohamad, senior lecturer, Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia; research
field: ICT in education.
Balakrishnan Muninday, associate professor, Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia;
research field: ICT in education.
Malliga Govindasamy, Ph.D. candidate, Centre for Instructional Technology and Multimedia, Universiti Sains Malaysia; research
field: ICT in education.

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

in history classes. This warrants for an active learning environment for the teaching of subjects which are in
narrative form in nature.
The use of multimedia material for instructional purposes has become a trend in current educational settings.
Multimedia materials which combine more than one media in computer environment are believed to facilitate
students’ learning. Text presented in combination with audio, video, graphic, visuals and animation paves way for
an interactive and non-linear learning. Interactive courseware, digitalized audio-video packages, websites, web
portals and presentation software are some of the instructional platforms that are dominated by multimedia
materials. The courseware template created for the purpose of this study, utilizes all multimedia elements thus
providing an enriched learning experience for students.

2. Rational

This study was carried out during the teaching of one history lesson to verify the effectiveness in using
courseware template for instructional purposes. History as one of the core subjects in national curriculum and as a
subject in the narrative form fulfilled researchers’ rational for the selection of the subject for study purposes.
Researchers reported that the learning of history can stimulate students’ thinking, increase their cognitive ability
and influence their attitudes (Dynneson & Gross, 1999). However, traditional teaching methods and monotonous
teaching style practiced by teachers becomes a barrier in nurturing an active learning environment in history
classes. Teacher’s unenthusiastic attitude and lack of interest in improving their own knowledge, skills and
techniques of teaching history further inhibit active learning in history classes. Effective teaching of history relies
largely on teachers’ attitude towards the subject as well as the knowledge and skills acquired. Empirical evidences
documented that teachers can make history lessons more interesting and exciting by using multimedia materials,
which are inherent with the potential to exploit the verbal and visual channels of learning (Hiebert, Wearne &
Taber, 1991; Mayer & Gallini, 1990). Historical events are antecedents and as such, students are unable to
visualize them clearly in their mind. In this context, multimedia materials with images, visual and graphics
depicting the historical events can bring to the life students experience, paving way for a better comprehension of
the lesson presented.

3. Research problem

History is one of the core subjects students sit for in PMR (Lower Certificate Education) and SPM
(Malaysian Certificate Education) examination. Learning of history promotes inetelectuality among students.
Students are able to conceptualize abstract knowledge, generalize, hypothesize and make inferences on past,
present and future events. History lesson also nurtures patritosime amongs students. Findings from an interview
session carried out with teachers and students in local educational settings on the factors that impede learning of
history revealed that, students generally find history a boring subject because: (1) It invloves a lot of rote
memorization of facts, evidences and dates; (2) Avenue for the application of knowledge acquired in day to day
life is almost nil; (3) Traditional teaching with no variance in teaching method and style practiced by teachers
decreases students’ motivation to learn; (4) Though a core subject, yet the limited interaction time (3 lessons of 60
minute each) to cover a vast scope entails time constraint factor. Teachers are more concerned about completing
the designed syllabus before examination rather than creating an engaging learning experience for the students.
These findings were substantited by Weiner (1995), who reported that the unpopularity of history as a subject is

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

mainly due to its nature which involves tedious memorization of facts, evidences and dates and also the
knowledge acquired could not be related to present situation.
In an earlier study, School Council (1968a) reported that students generally regard history lessons as boring
with no cognitive value. History lesson is also unpopular among students (Bryant, 1972), and has lost its standard
in school curriculum (Howard & Mendenhall, 1982). This shows that the wearying nature of history lesson has
long been discussed by researchers, however, a concrete solution for the problem is yet to be defined. Merely
blaming the teachers for this persisting problem is not right. Teachers seldom integrate ICT technologies in the
teaching of history simply because of the inavailability of courseware for this subject as compare to science and
matematics that are developed and distributed by the Ministry of Education. As such, the development of this
courseware templat is believed to provide an alternative for promoting interest, motivation and quality of
instruction in history classes.

4. Research questions

The research questions are as follows:

(1) Does the use of courseware template increase students’ motivation towards history?
(2) Does the use of courseware template improve students’ methods, techniques and style of learning history?
(3) Does the use of courseware template improve the quality of instruction for history from traditional to
computer-assisted instruction?
(4) Does the use of courseware template promote self-accessed learning among students for better
comprehension of History lesson?
(5) Is the use of courseware template able to address the time constraint factor exists in the teaching and
learning of History?
(6) Does the use of courseware template nurture thinking skills and morale among students?

5. Research hypotheses

(1) Null Hypothesis 1

There is no significant difference in motivation towards learning history between the Form One boys and
girls after being exposed to the courseware template.
(2) Null Hypothesis 2
There is no significant difference in the learning style (teacher dependent for input compared to self-accessed
learning) between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the courseware template.
(3) Null Hypothesis 3
There is no significant difference in terms of students’ cognitive level and motivation towards learning
history between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the courseware template.
(4) Null Hypothesis 4
There is no significant difference in terms of students’ cognitive level and learning style (teacher dependent
for input compared to self-accessed learning) between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the
history courseware template.

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

6. Methodology

A survey was carried out to address the research problems and research questions. The independent variable
of the study were particinats’ gender and cognitive level. Particiants responded to a questionaire that sought their
opinions on the effectiveness of courseware template in promoting teaching and learning. Prior to that, a
preliminary study was carried out. Discriptive data were collected through questionnaires, checklist and interview
to identify problems inherent in the design and development of courseware template. Forty students responded to
the preliminary study to establish the relibility and validity of the instruments used. Data from the preliminary
study were analysed and computed an alpha value of 0.893. Following this, 120 students (60 boys and 60 girls)
were selected randomly to participate in the actual study, which was intended to test the effectiveness of
courseware template in the teaching and learning of history.
Research questionnaire was distributed to 120 students from Form One. Collected data were analyzed using
dscriptive statistics such as mean and standard deviations and inferential statistics such as t-test and one-way
ANOVA (analysis of variance). All data analyses were done using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
(SPSS) software. All of the statistical analyses tests were computed at 0.05 (p<0.05) alpha level of significant. For
the anaylisis of descriptive ststistics, a min value of 3.50 was set as the median for the analyses of strength and
effectiveness of corseware template.

7. Findings from hypotheses

This section discusses the results obtained in relation to research hypotheses.

(1) Hypothesis 1
Independent-samples t-test procedure was used to establish hypothesis 1. The independent variable, which
was the gender of the participants, was analyzed in relation to the dependent variable which was the motivation
towards learning history after using the courseware template. As shown in Table 1, a t-value of 0.124 was obtained
from the analysis and as such hypotheses 1, which states that there is no significant difference in the motivation
towards learning history between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the courseware template,
was accepted. The results show that both the boys and girls agreed that the use of the courseware template
increased their motivation towards history lesson.

Table 1 Independent-samples t-test showing relation between gender and motivation

Item F Sig. df Sig.(2-tailed)
Courseware template increased my motivation
2.404 0.124 118 0.784
towards learning History
Note: Significant at p<0.05.

(2) Hypothesis 2
Independent-samples t-test procedure was used to establish hypothesis 2. The independent variable, which
was the gender of the participants, was analyzed in relation to the dependent variable which was the students’
learning style (teacher dependent for input compared to self-accessed learning). As shown in Table 2, a t-value of
0.287 was obtained from the analysis and as such hypothesis 2, which states that there is no significant difference
in the learning style preference (teacher dependent for input compared to self-accessed learning) between the
Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the courseware template, was accepted. The results show that both

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

the boys and girls agreed that the use of courseware template improved their learning style, i.e., from being
teacher dependent for input, they moved towards self-accessed learning.

Table 2 Independent-samples t-test showing relation between gender and learning style
Item F Sig. df Sig.(2-tailed)
Courseware template reduced my dependency on
2.404 0.287 110.07 0.784
History teachers
Note: Significant at p<0.05.

(3) Hypothesis 3
One-way ANOVA procedure was used to establish hypothesis 3. The independent variable, which was
participants’ cognitve level, was analyzed in relation to the dependent varibale which was the motivation towards
learning history. As shown in Table 3, a significant value of 0.928 was obtained from one-way ANOVA analysis
and as such hypothesis 3, which state that there is no significant difference in terms of students’ cognitive level
influencing their motivation towards learning history between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to
the courseware template, was accepted. The results indicate that the students’ cognitive levels (high or low) did
not influence their motivation towards history. The high F-value of 0.075, shows a high strength of this
courseware in promoting students’ motivation to history lesson regardless of their cognitive ability.

Table 3 One-way ANOVA showing relation between students’ cognitive level and motivation
Item F Sig. df
Between group 0.075 0.928 2
In group 117
Total 119
Note: Significant at p<0.05.

(4) Hypothesis 4
One-way ANOVA procedure was used to establish hypothesis 4. The independent variable, which was
participants’ cognitive level, was analyzed in relation to the dependent varibale which was the learning style
(teacher dependent for input compared to self-accessed learning). As shown in Table 4, a significant value of
0.610 was obtained from one-way ANOVA analysis and as such hypothesis 4, which states that there is no
significant difference in terms of students’ cognitive level influencing learning style (teacher dependent for input
compared to self-accessed learning) between the Form One boys and girls after being exposed to the history
courseware template, was accepted. The results indicate that students, regardless of their cognitive level, improved
their learning style, i.e., from being teacher dependent for input, they moved towards self-accessed learning. The
F-value of 0.497, shows the strength of this courseware in promoting students’ self-accessed learning style.

Table 4 One-way ANOVA showing relation between students’ cognitive level and learning style
Item F Sig. df
Between group 0.497 0.610 2
In group 117
Total 119
Note: Significant at p<0.05.

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

8. Findings from research questions

(1) Research question 1

A Likert style questionnaire with 8 items was administered to answer research question 1 (see Table 5),
“Does the use of history courseware template increase students’ motivation towards history?”. Descriptive
analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.60, which indicates that students generally enjoyed
learning from the courseware template.

Table 5 Mean and standard deviation in relation to students’ motivation (N=120)

No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D.
S1 I enjoy using the multi-media courseware template. 120 4 5 4.72 0.45
S2 The multimedia courseware template increase my motivation towards history lessons. 120 2 5 4.48 0.66
S3 The multimedia courseware template help me to acquire more knowledge. 120 3 5 4.56 0.56
S4 The use of images and video promotes my interest to explore for more information. 120 4 5 4.68 0.47
S5 The background music stimulates my learning. 120 2 5 4.49 0.61
S6 The integration of text, images, animation, audio, video and graphic makes learning. 120 3 5 4.53 0.52
S7 I rewarded when I could answer the questions correctly. 120 4 5 4.66 0.48
S8 Feedback was when I answered wrongly. 120 4 5 4.67 0.47
Total mean value 4.60

(2) Research question 2

A Likert style questionnaire with 8 items was administered to answer research question 2 (see Table 6),
“Does the use of history courseware template improve students’ method, technique and style of learning history?”.
Descriptive analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.66, which indicates that students can improve
their learning style, technique and method when using multimedia courseware template.

Table 6 Mean and standard deviation in relation to learning style (N=120)

No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D.
S15 This courseware gives me a new approach in my learning. 120 4 5 4.52 0.50
S16 This courseware helps create two-way interaction between me and the courseware. 120 3 5 4.57 0.51
S17 This courseware helps me work cooperatively with my peers. 120 4 5 4.60 0.49
S18 I’m able to self-access all information learned whenever I like. 120 4 5 4.78 0.41
S19 The information presented helped me understand Historical facts better. 120 4 5 4.72 0.45
S20 This courseware contains multimedia elements that promote my learning. 120 4 5 4.60 0.49
S22 This courseware help me acquire more knowledge. 120 4 5 4.59 0.49
S25 This courseware reduces my teacher dependency. 120 4 5 4.87 0.34
Total mean value 4.66

(3) Research question 3

A Likert style questionnaire with 5 items was administered to answer research question 3 (see Table 7),
“Does the use of history courseware template improve the quality of instruction from traditional method to
computer assisted instruction?”. Descriptive analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.35, which
indicates that teachers can improve the quality of their instruction with the use of multimedia courseware

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

Table 7 Mean and standard deviation in relation to quality of instruction (N=120)

No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D.
S9 This courseware help teachers achieve learning objectives. 120 4 5 4.67 0.47
S10 This courseware makes teachers’ instruction more interesting. 120 3 5 4.41 0.63
S11 The use of this courseware shows that the teachers use varied teaching technique. 120 3 5 4.47 0.52
The use of this courseware shows that the teachers are able to use current
S12 120 3 5 4.08 0.74
technology for instructional purposes.
S13 Teachers are not tied down with the old traditional method of teaching. 120 3 5 4.13 0.63
Total mean value 4.35

(4) Research question 4

A Likert style questionnaire with 4 items was administered to answer research question 4 (see Table 8),
“Does the use of History courseware template promote self-accessed learning among students for better
comprehension of History lesson?”. Descriptive analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.43,
which indicates that the use of multimedia courseware template promotes students’ self-accessed learning for
better comprehension of history lesson.

Table 8 Mean and standard deviation in relation to self-accessed learning (N=120)

No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D
S14 This courseware help me access information independently. 120 3 5 4.15 0.71
S21 It is easy to explore the materials in this courseware. 120 4 5 4.48 0.50
S23 This courseware allows repetitive reading of facts that have already been studied. 120 4 5 4.53 0.50
S24 The navigations guide are organized for easier learning. 120 4 5 4.57 0.50
Total mean value 4.43

(5) Research question 5

A Likert style questionnaire with 7 items was administered to answer research question 5 (see Table 9), “Is
the use of history courseware template able to address the time constraint factor exists in the teaching and learning
of history?”. Descriptive analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.65, which indicates that the use
of multimedia courseware template can address the time constraint factor that exists in the teaching and learning
of history.

Table 9 Mean and standard deviation in relation to time constraint factor (N=120)
No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D.
S26 I can interact wit this courseware fast and easy. 120 4 5 4.57 0.50
S27 This courseware help me easily understand every topic. 120 4 5 4.50 0.50
S28 The content delivered is simple, compact and easy to understand. 120 4 5 4.68 0.47
S29 I can explore the contents in this courseware fast and easy. 120 4 5 4.69 0.46
S30 I can access the information at any time. 120 4 5 4.57 0.50
The search for information can be done at any time without teachers’
S31 120 4 5 4.73 0.45
S32 This courseware is suitable for use at any time. 120 4 5 4.78 0.41
Total mean value 4.65

(6) Research question 6

A Likert style questionnaire with 8 items was administered to answer research question 6 (see Table 10),

Testing the effects of interactive courseware template for the learning of history among Form One students

“Does the use of history courseware template nurture thinking skills and morale among students?”. Descriptive
analyses of the data collected showed a mean value of 4.38, which indicates that the use of multimedia courseware
template can nurture thinking skills and morale among students.

Table 10 Mean and standard deviation in relation to nurturing thinking skill and morale (N=120)
No Items N Min. Max. Mean S.D.
S33 Quiz is given at the end of every lesson. 120 4 5 4.68 0.47
S34 The Quiz tests my knowledge and skill. 120 4 5 4.67 0.47
S35 The Quiz help me develop my knowledge. 120 4 5 4.68 0.47
S36 I’m rewarded when I answer the questions correctly. 120 3 5 4.68 0.50
S37 This courseware instills moral values through the screen display. 120 4 5 4.62 0.51
S38 Patriotism is instilled through the information display screen. 120 3 5 4.79 0.70
S39 I can assimilate patriotic elements and value from this courseware. 120 4 5 4.78 0.41
S40 I can strongly understand the objectives of history education from this courseware. 120 3 5 4.13 0.63
Total mean value 4.65

9. Conclusion

The mean value obtained for all 40 items from the questionnaire was 181.05, with an average mean value of
4.53 as shown in Table 11. This value is close to the 5.00 mark, which indicates that the respondents were
agreeable to the notion that the history courseware template is able to address problems that inherent in the
learning of history such as overcoming students’ boredom, time constraint factor and students’ learing style that
are from being teacher dependent to self-accessed learning and the quality of teachers’ instruction.

Table 11 Total and average mean value for 40 items

Total mean for 40 items Average mean for 40 items Courseware strength
181.05 4.53 Excellent

Therefore, this study proposes that traditional teaching method should be replaced with technology-assisted
learning environment specifically mutlimedia-based materials in order to create an interesting and engaging
learning experience to students. Teachers also should empower themselves with knowledge and skills in compuetr
technology to be in current with the evolving computer technology. The findings from this study can also be used
by future researhcers and developers to design and develop multimedia materials that are robust and error free.

Bryant, M. (1972). No wild rush to the present in five installment’s. In: Steele, I. (Ed.). Development in history teaching. London:
Open Book.
Dynneson, T. L. & Gross, R. E. (1999). Designing effective instruction for secondary social studies. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
Prentice Hall.
Hiebert, J., Wearne, D. & Taber, S. (1991). Fourth grades gradual construction of decimal fraction during instruction using different
physical representations. Elementary School Journal, 91(4), 321-341.
Howard, J. & Mendenhall, T. (1982). Making history come alive: The place of history in schools. Washington: Council for Basic
Mayer, R. E. & Gahlini, J. K. (1990). Where is an illustration worth ten thousand words? Journal of Education Psychology, 82(1990),
School Council. (1968). Enquiry 1: Young leavers. In: Steele, I. (Ed.). Development in history teaching. London: Open Books.
Weiner, R. G. (1995). History: Teaching and methods. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 387402).
(Edited by Nicole and Lily)

October 2010, Volume 7, No.10 (Serial No.71) US-China Education Review, ISSN 1548-6613, USA

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his

Summerhill School in Hungarian and German pedagogical

literature and press

Judit Langer-Buchwald
(Department of Education, University of Pannonia, Papa 9700, Hungary)

Abstract: Arthur Sutherland Neill is one of the most debated personalities among the representatives of the
classic reform pedagogy, due to his pedagogical concept and its practical realization, and his Summerhill School,
equally. He is often mentioned during public debates, where mostly the “three S”—“sex, swearing and smoking”,
are existing as subject of the debates. While analyzing publications about Summerhill School appearing in
Hungarian and German pedagogical special literature and press, a kind of polarized attitude has been realized
towards the conceptions and school: Some talk about him admiringly; others criticize him while emphasizing the
concept’s drawbacks and unique features.
Key words: reform pedagogy; Summerhill; the reception in theory of education and press

1. Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School

One can pay attention to a kind of attitude which can be tracked in appeared exaggerates relating to the
concept and the school in the Hungarian and German pedagogical special literature and press writings on
Summerhill: On the one hand talks are admiring, on the other hand their negativities and unique features are
emphasized and criticized. Before revealing Neill’s reception, it is important to present shortly in detail the entire
concept though the school’s practical function.
1.1 Neill’s pedagogical conception
Neill’s pedagogic concept is defined by psychoanalytical tendency represented by Sigmund Freud and
Wilhelm Reich. Neill stood upbringing by free, since he declared that the sexual taboos, sexual suppression and
the prohibition of the masturbation yield anxiety, which has deleterious effect on the children and causes the
development of the aggression and the violence. He believed that children are originally good, and nobody is born
for evil or aggressive one, but the upbringing and the society make it.
Children must grow up in freedom, though Neill’s educational aim was the realization of the children’s
self-adjusting (his own daughter, Zoë grew up as a self-adjusting child). The freedom does not mean libertinism,
however, it should not to be mixed up with the laissez fair upbringing, as Neill’s critics do misinterpreting Neill’s
freedom concept often, according to which children may not offend the freedom of others with their freedom and
may not jeopardize their and the others’ corporal integrity on the one hand, naturally, they have an opportunity to
be allowed to be themselves on the other hand.

Judit Langer-Buchwald, assistant lecturer, Department of Education, University of Pannonia; research field: reform and alternative

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press

The adults and the children are equal, in the real sense of the word (not an unreal equality rules between the
teachers and pupils, as it can be experienced in the schools), because of this, the education renounces the
authoritarianism, the adult management and suggestive influence in the upbringing (in a religious and ethical look,
as well) (Neill, 2005).
1.2 The Summerhill School
The Summerhill School, which Neill founded in Leiston, England, in 1921, is the first free school. His aim of
founding the institute was to tailor the school to the children, not to tailor the children to the school. It worked as
an experimental school of antiauthoritarian upbringing when started, but it works as a demonstrational school
today. As it is usual in England, this school is a boarding institution, which is attended by young people at ages of
5-16. The lessons are obligatory only for teachers, so the students have right to decide what and when they want to
study, due to this, it is not obligatory to attend school lessons. Unique methods, which would be typical of
Summerhill School, are not applied on the lessons. Similarly to other reform-pedagogical conceptions, they
disregard the gradation, even so, there is no failings in the oral assessment at all. Neill emphasized the
significance of acquisition through free games instead of the curriculum, in the childhood learning. The children
have a number of opportunities to take part in activities apart from the lessons (e.g., workshops, gardening, riding
and dramatic society), in which they are for interest than for learning—in the traditional sense.
One of the most characteristic elements of the school’s function is the local government, members of which
are children and teachers, they are equal and both have the right to vote. This assembly decides the questions
concerning the school (except the teachers’ uptake and dismissal and the financial affairs). There are
approximately two hundred rules, which concern equally the children and adults, and the local government brings
them on the base of voting. The assembly decides what should be the punishment in case of the contravention of
valid rules in the school (Neill, 2005).

2. Reception of Neill’s pedagogical conception and Summerhill School in Hungarian

pedagogical special literature and press

Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School exist among the less negotiated and researched
reform-pedagogical concepts in the Hungarian pedagogical literature and press, which influences his reputation
largely in the field of pedagogy among experts, researchers and educators.
2.1 Peter Foti’s papers on Summerhill in Hungarian
Peter Foti, who is one of Summerhill enthusiastic fans, writes in Hungarian, gives lectures and attends radio
talks, where the topic is the free schools, mainly focus is on Summerhill School. He is an electrical engineer, but
he studied pedagogy and worked for “Orszagos Pedagogiai Kozpont” (National Center for Pedagogy). He lived in
Austria and dealt with alternative pedagogic movements (Foti, 2008), recently. Because of this, his writings
cannot be enumerated to the pedagogical special literature. After Neill’s publication of his book Summerhill—A
Radical Approach to Child Rearing in Hungarian, Foti in his writings (2004, 2005, pp. 75-87; 2005, 2006, pp.
28-37), radio talks (2005) and lectures (2007) talked about Summerhill and Neill’s pedagogical concept with
ecstasy; by his own acknowledgement, Summerhill is Foti’s kind of beloved school and, his own child would have
attended this school if it would not be in England (Foti, 2006). This reflects his enthusiasm and criticizes neither
the concept, nor the school.
In Foti’s papers on Neill’s conception and Summerhill, one may face expressions often like,

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press
“Neill, as a radical scholar of theory of education”; “On Neill’s opinion, freedom without libertinism is a
revolutionary conception”; “Schools do not go away in radicalism to Summerhill” (Foti, 2005; 2006);

and on his opinion,

“Neill differs from the rest of the reform educators, because he wants to reform not only the teaching, but the entire
school” (Foti, 2005).

It is important to emphasize that Foti, in his writings, does not affect Neill’s views on childhood’s sexuality
and masturbation.
2.2 Valeria Majzik: Summerhill—What We Shall Do With It?
Majzik’s (1997) paper entitled “Summerhill—What We Shall Do With It?” appeared in a Hungarian
pedagogical journal School Culture (Iskolakultura) eight years before the publication of Neill’s (2005) book
Summerhill—A Radical Approach to Child Rearing. Already, the title itself “Summerhill—What We Shall Do
With It?” shows a sort of perplexity: Place of Summerhill can be found difficultly in the row of the
reform-pedagogy concepts, due to its individuality and radicalism, it can be less assigned into the usual
reform-pedagogy categories. Opposite to Peter Foti’s views, Valeria Majzik’s approaches about Summerhill and
Neill’s concept are with objectivity and critical outlook. Acknowledging advantages of the Neill’s notion of school,
she stressed that, “It is not possible to use it fully (the concept) for the school’s reformation”, “(school) isolation
and the compelling strength of implementation of the concept”, as to the school works as a boarding institution.
On Majzik’s views, Neill errs into extremities in connection with his theories of learning: He rejected the course
books, certain expected knowledge and lessons (Majzik, 1997). The author of the study confronts the objectives of
the traditional pedagogy, “Which is taking aim at fixing the child”, when it presupposes that the child is bad, it is
necessary to improve it—with Neill faith in children’s original goodness. She interpreted Neill’s pedagogy as a
radical turning against the traditional pedagogy which causes its isolation (“pedagogical island-existence”)
(Majzik, 1997).
2.3 Bruno Bettelheim: Summerhill: For and Against
However, although who is not a Hungarian author, it can be read in the study of Hungarian Bruno Bettelheim
which appeared in 1973, in the anthology named “Pedagogies on the Turn of the Millennium”, entitled
Summerhill: For and Against. Commenting Neill’s activity, Bettelheim emphasized the fact that many people
misunderstand Neill’s thoughts and apply his educational principles, school, his teachings inadequately.
Bettelheim saw the reason of this in Neill’s readers’ lawsuit concept, views and how they interpret the readings.
In the study, Bettelheim accepted Neill’s hypotenuse educational concept, however, he criticizes it on some points:
“The explanation of the ‘big clinician of the upbringing’ is inaccurate and naïve; he avoids theoretical questions”, and
calls the readers’ attention to that, “It is necessary to apply Neill teachings flexibly since if we take it according to a
word we make a fool of him”. He considered that the school’s successfulness depends on a person, since “Summerhill
is nothing else than extension of his own (Neill’s–author’s comment) personality”. Bettelheim also presupposed that it
would not lead to success if a man with a smaller format would try to apply Neill’s educational method, and its
consequence will be chaos. He justified this hypothesis by Neill’s considerable deficiencies regarding to the
psychoanalysis, which he could counterbalance with his child respect (Bettelheim, 1998).
Bettelheim disagreed with Neill’s views on sexuality, too. Accordingly to Bettelheim’s opinion, neither the
repressed sexuality, the prohibition of the masturbation, nor the remorse derived from this are the agents of
violence and aggression (Bettelheim, 1998).

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press

2.4 Judit Benda: Where Freedom is Not a Utopia

Benda’s (2007) article entitled “Where the Freedom Is Not a Utopia” appeared in the 1st number of a daily
newspaper Nepszava (People’s Voice) in September of 2007, in connection with the beginning term of the
September. She dyed an idyllic and positive picture about Summerhill for the reader, “Summerhill School
presumably is the world’s most cheerful school”, where to go on lessons is not obligatory, it is possible to play
with interest or to take part in an interesting activity, the children may decide freely, etc.. She emphasized the
school’s main characteristic is not only opposite to the traditional sense of learning, to the accentuation, the
importance of learning through activities selected freely, but contrasts it with the rest of the alternative schools,
according to which, “They only sweeten the bitter pill, for example, they study playing what does learning mean,
the emphasis is always on the learning yet though, if I like it, if not”.
Benda considered the school’s only drawback that it is a private institution and it is necessary to pay tuition
fee, “For this, only the wealthier families’ children may be given the utopia” (Benda, 2007).

3. Reception of Neill’s pedagogical conception and Summerhill School in the German

pedagogical special literature and press

There is much more interest towards Neill’s pedagogical concept and his school in Germany than in Hungary.
The entirely different from usual school practice, received bigger publicity, primarily in the national sheets and
3.1 Doreen Hunger: “Sexual Pedagogy in Summerhill (Sexualpädagogik in Summerhill)”
Doreen Hunger’s paper entitled “Sexual Pedagogy in Summerhill” appeared in 2004 deals with questions
affecting the sexuality in Neill’s educational concept. She undertook the clarification of misinterpretations and
misunderstandings around the taboo-free treatment of sexuality. After the short presentation of basic principles of
anti-authoritarian upbringing in Summerhill, she negotiated questions like Neill’s ideas on sexuality, including his
thoughts on childhood sexuality in comparison with Sigmund Freud’s views about childhood psychosexual
development, the treatment of masturbation in Summerhill, the sex education, the nakedness, the pregnancy, the
abortion and the questions of the homosexuality (Hunger, 2004).
3.2 Reflections on doctrine supervision examination concerning Summerhill School, in German press
The obvious difference among the appeared writings and articles in Hungarian and German is that the
repeated doctrine supervision examination concerning Summerhill School created any kind of stir in Hungary
while it found a considerable interest in the German press. The articles, according to this, appeared in time of the
scandals around the school’s doctrine supervision examinations in more considerable journals in Germany.
The England Office for Standard in Education (OFSTED) was established for controlling the execution of the
detailed central curriculum. OFSTED is independent from the state office concerning former teachers and
non-educators. The office examined—in case of non-state schools (These do not receive a state support in
England)—whether the children receive suitable treatment and study in proper circumstances. They entrusted the
schools of choosing the philosophical bases of the education and the educational methods. From 1990,
Summerhill really aroused OFSTED interest and the doctrine supervision examination was made almost annually
(Coiplet, 2000). The doctrine supervision has disapproved of the state of the buildings and the preparedness of the
teachers’ teaching at the school in 1990 already (Der Spiegel, 1994).
One may have read about Summerhill in 1994 in several German newspapers, when the doctrine

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press

supervision—according to the expectations of conservative educational policy tendency (they wished to return to
the good old school)—made a newer examination in Summerhill (Welt, 1994; Frankfurter, R., 1994; Frankfurter,
A. Z., 1994; Der Spiegel, 1994; dpa-Dienst, 1994). The doctrine supervision disapproved the foulmouthed speech,
the lag of the students’ school successfulness from state institutions’ students, and that the children were absent
too much from the lessons (Der Spiegel, 1994). The school received serial examinations under the
Blair-government’s time from 1997, which was visible in the increasing number of the articles appeared in press
on Summerhill. The school got an ultimatum in 1999 as the result of the doctrine supervision’s examinations. The
report objected that the children have been confusing the idleness with the practice of the personal freedom, and
their knowledge of that was fractional. Their criticism was directed against Summerhill’s fundamental philosophy,
the free school visit (Jammers, 1999). Due to OFSTED’s recommendations, the school’s closure was ordered with
reason of neither upbringing nor education is fruitful in the school. Present headmaster (Neill’s daughter, Zoë
Readhead) is in the interest of keeping school from closure, she have applied to the courts, where she gained a
lawsuit. According to the decision, the doctrine supervision has not had the school closed and decreased the
illegally frequent examinations onto the usual visits in every fifth year (Coiplet, 2000).
3.3 Summerhill in German press
The most often-used attributes, related to the school and its educational concept, are “the radical one, most
radical, revolutionary, liberal”, in writings in German, as it was visible in Hungarian, too. Reporting articles on
Summerhill can be divided 2 groups in Germany. The bigger part of the writings, independently from date of
appearance, informs about the school life and children admiringly, dyeing an idyllic and harmonic picture about
An article entitled “Die Freiheit ist das rascal” (The freedom the best one), which appeared in issue 16 of the
daily newspaper Der Spiegel in November of 1998, manifests from the other writings, showing a distressing and
negative picture of the institution: The school’s buildings are “lived barracks”, “the children dowdy, pale, they are
bored and they do not know what to do with themselves”. The teachers “earn half of their colleagues teaching at
other schools, the empty classroom, or lesson held for an only student frustrates them; they live in caravans”. The
students’ achievement was low; they do not make a career as an adult but some kind of creative work. The article
presents the local government’s work in an ironic key, where “the imposed punishment is paprika-cutting in the
kitchen, in fair weather” (Zuber, 1998).
An article, also appeared in German newspaper Der Spiegel on May 7th, in 2007 about Summerhill School,
writes at a more tactful voice. Readers get a picture from both negative and positive sides and the editorial goes
into detail about doctrine supervision scandals and the lawsuit. It makes people see Summerhill through eyes of
visitors and entrusts the parents, the reader, to shape own opinion based on their views and experiences. The
judgment of the school’s educational principles and practice depends absolutely on individual, what they expect
from education and the school, and what is interpreted by them as education (Ehlers, 2007).

4. Summary

The common features of writings both in Hungarian and in German literature are using of attributes “radical
one”, “revolutionary”, “most radical”, the usage of word “liberal” in connection with Neill educational concept
and Summerhill School. A further common feature is that, writings, presenting Summerhill’s activity positively,
dominate and in those works with a scientific claim, where Neill’s (2005) views and his school are dealt with a

Reception of Arthur Sutherland Neill’s pedagogical concept and his Summerhill School
in Hungarian and German pedagogical literature and press

critical outlook, its positive results and his features are emphasized and acknowledged.
There is a dissimilarity between the German and Hungarian press materials that in Hungarian—only with the
exception of Peter Foti’s sentence referring to Summerhill lawsuit in a single writing—It cannot find indications
concerned the continuous doctrine supervision affecting school examination, its closure, the judicial lawsuit
keeping it from. Neither though writings in Hungarian, nor in German language (exception Hunger’s (2004)
Sexual-pedagogic in Summerhill) mentioned Neill’s views on childhood sexuality.
Additionally, it is worthy to examine henceforward how the educators’ attitude is forming toward a kind of
reform-pedagogy concept like this, which is connected with negative manifestations, attacks, as well as those of
concepts that concern elements like taboo-free of sex education; a wholehearted emancipation between children
and adults; the not-obligatory education; with which for persons, living in the Christian-European culture, to
identify is presumably heavy.

Bettelheim, B. (1998). Summerhhill: For and against. In: Pukanszky, B. & Zsolnai, A. (Eds.). Pedagogies on the turn of century.
Budapest, Eotvos József Konyvkiadó, 99-103, 106.
Benda, J. (2007). Where freedom is not a utopy. People’s Voice, January 9.
Coiplet, S. (2000). Summerhill gains a lawsuit. In: Dreigliederung (Ed.). Retrieved March 23, 2000, from http:www.
Der Spiegel. (1994). Closing threatens the legendary Summerhill School. dpa-Dienst für Kulturpolitik.
Ehlers, F. (2007). The world humanize instituotin. Der Spiegel. Retrieved May 7, 2007, from
Foti, P. N. (2004; 2005). About summerhill in hungarian. To-Teach, (4), 75-87.
Foti, P. N. (2005; 2006). Teaching and learning. To-Teach, (3), 28-37.
Foti, P. N. (2005). Summerhill and Neill, A. S. [Radio series]. Iskolapelda.
Foti, P. N. (2007, November 21). Direct democracy and autonomy in summerhill school in England. Dunakeszi.
Hunger, D. (2004). Sexual-pedagogy in Summerhill. Grin Verlag, 1-3.
Judit, J. (1999). Let everybody be just like that. In: Berliner, Z. (Ed.). Retrieved June 4, 1999, from http://www. bin/dumpf.fcgi/1999/0604/feuilleton.
Majzik, V. (1997). Summerhill—What we shall do with it? Iskolakultura, (1), 17.
Neill, A. S. (2005). A radical approach to child rearing. Publisher: Ketezeregy.
Von, W. A. (1994). Due to anarchy. Der Spiegel. Retrieved February 21, 1994, from
Zuber, H. (1998). Freedom is the best. Der Spiegel. Retrieved November 16, 1998, from

(Edited by Nicole and Lily)

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