The effectiveness of iPad in enhancing instruction in mathematics teaching and learning for secondary schools in Saudi Arabia

Aldossry, Badi Shara F. (2022) The effectiveness of iPad in enhancing instruction in mathematics teaching and learning for secondary schools in Saudi Arabia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Tablet devices, such as the iPad, have emerged among the most essential educational tools due to features that facilitate the learning and teaching process without the limitations of time or location. Tablet devices and their range of applications (apps) can potentially improve both the teaching and learning processes and the communication between teachers and students. However, there are concerns about the benefits of using tablet devices and their different apps in the learning process, including the extent to which students actually use them for educational purposes. Therefore, this study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of iPad usage, including various applications, in terms of improving students' mathematics achievement and motivation based on accomplishing the goals of mathematics lessons in a 10th grade secondary school in Saudi Arabia (SA). To achieve this, iPad devices were deliberately introduced to support teachers and students in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The study also sought to evaluate the impact that iPad usage and the various applications would have on mathematics teachers’ perspectives regarding the teaching of mathematics concepts in the same secondary school in SA.

While there are now many opportunities for technology to be used in the education sector, there is still a need for a better understanding of how and to what extent iPad devices and the various dedicated education apps can be integrated in teaching and learning in secondary schools in SA, particularly with regard to mathematics education. This is an important matter, as it has several wider implications for curriculum design, classroom practice, teacher and student education, and the development of greater understanding of learning and cognition in technology-enhanced learning settings.

To generate insights into the effectiveness of introducing iPad devices and various apps related to teaching and learning mathematics in Saudi secondary schools, the study used a logical model design for program evaluation based on a mixed-method approach. A quasi-experimental design was applied as the primary quantitative approach, while the secondary qualitative approach was carried out simultaneously. The quasi-experimental period stretched over two months. In the first month, class A was the treatment group and pupils in that group used iPads and relevant apps to learn mathematics, while class B was the control group, with the pupils using traditional methods based on using books, paper, and pencils.

The treatment was switched between the two classes in the second month. Data were collected from a pre-test and two post-tests (quantitative data), semi-structured interviews, and a focus group interview (qualitative data). The participants in this quasi-experimental study included 50 students from two classes in the 10th grade (25 participants in each class), as well as four teachers who took part in the interviews. The focus groups comprised eight groups of six students, four groups from each class. The quantitative data were analysed using a multi-statistical method in IBM SPSS and the qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.

The study uncovered a wide range of evidence indicating encouraging results for the integration of the iPad and relevant applications in the process of teaching and learning mathematics in educational systems, particularly in Saudi Arabian secondary schools. The findings of the quantitative data showed that the iPad devices and the applications used significantly improved students’ achievement in the period during which they were encouraged to use these devices to learn mathematics, with better results than when they used the traditional methods (books, paper, and pencils). However, this improvement might not occur if the students or teacher are not trained to use the device and the various educational apps employed in this quasi-experimental study.

The findings of the students' focus group interviews revealed largely positive views towards the use of the iPad device and its apps, such as education platform apps and various communication apps. This device and its apps promoted students’ performance in mathematics by providing immediate feedback, improving their mathematical skills, helping them to prepare for tests, and assisting them to search for information, thus equipping them with a better understanding of the content. The majority of students also found the use of these devices to be a source of motivation and they encouraged them to learn mathematics and achieve the goals of the lesson plans to a greater degree than when working with conventional methods. Moreover, the students were dependent on this device and its apps for their learning and viewed is as a useful and supportive educational tool for facilitating their communication and enhancing their collaboration, as well as organising their time and studies. However, while most of the students believed that the iPad and its apps encourage them to study mathematics, some students reported that they were not inclined to use this device to learn mathematics. They stated that their preference was to handwrite notes or complete mathematics activities using paper and pencil because they found it difficult to write certain symbols on the device. They also reported encountering several obstacles, such as interrupted or slow internet connection, low battery level, difficulty recharging the battery, some apps hanging during use, and the iPad screen breaking easily.

The findings of the teacher interviews showed that, in general, the perception was that both teachers and students benefitted from the use of the iPad, and the apps were deemed useful tools for facilitating and improving the in-class teaching and learning processes. They believed that this device assisted them in achieving the lesson objectives faster than previous teaching methods. It also helped them to immediately ascertain their students' academic level, improve their students' performance, motivate their students to learn mathematics, and provide instant feedback for their students. The findings also demonstrate that iPads facilitated collaboration and communication among students, as well as developing their creativity, critical thinking, and self-reliance skills.

However, the results also illustrated that there are several elements that make both teachers and students in SA public schools unwilling or unable to use the device and its apps. For instance, the infrastructure of schools may not be equipped to integrate the technology, especially so in the case of iPads. In addition, teachers were afraid to integrate iPad use in the classroom because they lacked the knowledge to use this device and its apps for educational purposes. They also faced continuing obstacles and limitations in using the iPad and its apps in the classroom environment. These obstacles were mainly associated with technical issues, such as lack of connection to the internet or battery problems. Other issues included students forgetting to bring their iPad device or using non-instructional apps in the classroom. The study, therefore, proposes some solutions to these obstacles, which could be beneficial for schools to consider before deciding whether to integrate iPad devices and their various apps in the classroom.

Therefore, this study helps provide insights and evidence regarding iPad usage with various educational apps in the classroom. The implications of these findings are considered in relation to students’ development, teachers’ development, and the educational technology and school development curricula in SA secondary schools. Some suggestions regarding future research based on this are also offered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Morrison-Love, Dr. David and Hermannsson, Professor Kristinn
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83173
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2022 15:07
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2022 15:10
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83173
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