Early Childhood Students’ Use of Educational Apps: A case study of Saudi teachers’ perceptions and practices
thesisposted on 10.09.2021, 14:12 by Sarah Alarfaj
This study explored the potential use of educational apps (EAs) in early childhood education. Studies of teaching and learning have shown not only the benefits of EAs but also certain limitations. Although EAs have been used in classrooms for many years, resistance to them continues to be a common response among teachers (Bovey & Hede, 2001). Researchers have found that teachers’ perspectives play a key role in their adoption of EAs in their classrooms. This study focused on Saudi teachers’ thoughts and use of EAs that have the potential to enable pupils, ages four and five, to learn and support teaching. Most empirical studies have focused on the use of EAs and the nature of students’ interactions with them, while few have addressed teachers’ views of EAs’ ability to affect their teaching. Further, very few studies of the use of technology in classrooms have been conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), where EAs are still considered new teaching methods. The present study was conducted in a state-run pre-school in KSA. Data were collected through interviewing 12 teachers to understand to what extent, how, and why EAs have the potential to be used in classrooms. This was followed by classroom observations to capture the possibility of change EAs bring to teaching and learning. The results show, first, that teachers perceived EAs as useful for facilitating access to learning content drawing on language and literacy, and numeracy. Second, EAs are used daily to enable students to complete an array of self-learning activities (SLAs) individually and in a limited time. Then, the findings illustrate the considerable effects of using EAs, such as holding students’ attention and promoting the development of students’ subject knowledge. However, further analyses highlight that the adoption of EAs faces several barriers, including home use, in terms of parents’ lack of awareness of the effects of technology on their children. Based on these results, practices and further research relevant to the usage of EAs are discussed.