Teachers in Wales have contrasting perceptions of information communications technology (ICT) which impact on the way the subject is taught in schools, according to a new report.

Researchers from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Cardiff Metropolitan University undertook teacher case studies in three different schools to unearth variation in both the perception of ICT capability and pedagogical practice.

They said the variation between schools suggested that teachers’ perception of ICT capability may range on a continuum from predominantly low order skills or techniques, to predominantly higher-order skills involving metacognition.

They found a similar continuum related to pedagogical strategy, ranging from a teacher-centred, mechanistic approach to a pupil-centred, problem-solving approach.

The report noted that a continuum of perception of ICT capability and of practice in the teaching of ICT, could have implications for learner progression in the subject.

It said: “The variation in perception between a technical and a metacognitive ICT capability implies that learners across Wales are likely to experience different foci within ICT lessons.

“The case studies indicated that the teacher who perceived ICT capability as being tools-based used a more mechanistic approach to their teaching, whilst those who perceive ICT capability as requiring the use of metacognitive skills tended to teach with a problem-solving approach that allows for the development of those skills.

“From a teaching perspective, this may mean that some pupils will continue to expect direct instruction and ‘spoon-feeding’ as was evident in the mechanistic approach, because this is the way they are used to being taught the subject.

“Furthermore, pupils taught in this way are likely to perceive ICT as simply a tool. In contrast, other pupils who have experienced a more problem-solving approach to the development of ICT capability are more likely to be able to use it as a means for solving problems and generating solutions within the workplace.”

The study – Investigating Teacher Perceptions of Teaching ICT in Wales – was undertaken by Dr Jan Barnes, of Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and Dr Steve Kennewell, from Cardiff Metropolitan University.

It noted that 11 to 14-year-old pupils in Wales are experiencing “a wide variation in the knowledge and skills as a basis for further development within examination courses”, which “has implications for employability and the creation of a workforce with sufficient ICT capability”.

According to the report, one of the key arguments which support the need for a change in curriculum is that “current provision is not creating sufficient skills in problem-solving and metacognition at the end of schooling in order to build an economic workforce capable of assisting Wales to compete in a digital world”.

The report’s findings are based on data that was collected within each school over a period of nine months.

A teacher in each school undertook an initial interview, a lesson observation and subsequent reflective dialogue, then a repeat of the observation and reflection and finally another interview.