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Determination of the Empathy Levels of Prospective Classroom Teachers: An Example of the Life Skills Teaching Course

Abstract

Introduction: The concept of empathy has been described in many ways by researchers. According to some, it is the basic cognitive function or ability of being aware of others’ thoughts and feelings. Empathy refers to being able to respond to emotions, sharing the feelings of individuals, and reflecting them as if in a mirror. It also helps to establish good relationships with people, to understand them, and share their feelings. The use of empathy in the classroom, especially in life skills courses help students to make connections between school and everyday life.

Methods: This study aimed to investigate how an empathy-based education programme implemented in the life skills teaching course affected the empathy skills of prospective classroom teachers in Turkey. For this purpose, using a mixed-methods research design, the participant prospective classroom teachers received empathy-based education programme 12 class hours. The data collection tools used in the study were the Empathy Quotient Scale, document analysis and open-ended questionnaire. The study was conducted with 64 prospective classroom teachers attending at Istanbul University, Turkey. The dependent t-test was employed to analyze the quantitative data and content analysis for qualitative data.

Results: As a result, it was seen that the qualitative data supported the quantitative data. According to the quantitative data, after receiving empathy-based education programme, the students developed the skills of empathy. According to the qualitative data, it was determined that prospective teachers understood the importance of empathy and put themselves in the place of others. In addition, the prospective teachers considered that empathy would have several positive contributions to their future primary school students. It is thought that the results obtained from this study will guide teaching practices involving empathy-based activities.

Discussion: According to the findings obtained from the quantitative data, the empathy-based education programme provided for the prospective teachers caused a significant increase in their empathy levels. Similarly, in a study who applied a critical thinking programme and empathic tendency scale to prospective teachers, reported a positive correlation between critical thinking and empathic tendency at a low-level significance. According to the findings obtained from the qualitative data, the topics chosen for the preparation of empathy-based activities were mostly from the life skills subjects of the first grade of primary school, followed by second and third grades. This may be because the prospective teachers considered it appropriate to perform empathy-based activities with children from the earliest age. Furthermore, a higher number of participants chose to prepare written empathy-based activities, followed by drawing and photography, which might be attributed to their belief that they could better express themselves through writing, rather than drawing or taking/showing pictures.

Limitations: The study group covered in the third year of the classroom teaching programme in the selected university only. Although the empathy-based education programme prepared by the researcher was implemented with the prospective teachers as part of the life skills teaching course in 10 class hours.

Conclusions: In conclusion, empathy is considered to be very important especially in the education of children of young age. As revealed by the review of literature, empathy skills also affect many positive elements. For this reason and considering that the available research in the literature is based either on quantitative or on qualitative data, more mixed-design studies are needed to investigate the effects of similar empathy-based education programmes integrated into life skills and social studies courses. In addition, it is as important to conduct empathy-based activities in other courses of the primary and middle school as in life skills and social studies courses. It is also suggested that empathy-based education should also be provided for teacher candidates enrolled in science teaching programmes, as well as those in social studies.

Open access
Ethnopedagogy: The Term and Content

Abstract

Introduction: This study reviews the most commonly used Hungarian terminology of pedagogical folklorism terms, their interpretations and the conceptual debates around them, as well as the possible imprecisions related to them. With the help of Hungarian and international examples, it places the technical terms of the ethnography-folk tradition-pedagogy triangle into a system and finally, it gives recommendations on the scientific terminology to be used to describe the phenomenon.

Purpose: The focus of this contribution is to create a system in the expressions that refer to the relationship between folk tradition and pedagogy and to carry out the systematisation of pedagogical activities related to folk tradition/ethnography and to rethink them in a modern and terminology-critical manner.

Methods: In the present study, we applied source analysis, content analysis, logical operations (analysis, synthesis, comparison).

Conclusions: Researchers of the issues at the intersection of pedagogy, ethnography, ethnology and anthropology have more or less consistently been applying the term ethnopedagogy for this interdisciplinary research area. It would be expedient to carry out the systematization of pedagogical activities related to folk tradition/ethnography and to rethink them in a modern and terminology-critical manner with the introduction of the term “ethnopedagogy.” This term may be able to connect the partially overlapping, sometimes parallel (at others, contradicting) terms related to the pedagogy of folk tradition without the risk of homogenisation.

Open access
Ideological and Hegemonic Practices in Global and Local EFL Textbooks Written for Turks and Persians

Abstract

Introduction: Studies on the relationship between ideology, hegemony and textbooks in applied linguistics have been incremental in recent decades because emergence of critical theory, critical pedagogy, and critical thinking skills from the 1920s on has led scholars to develop a critical perspective towards EFL (English as a Foreign Language) textbooks taking the elements of ideology and hegemony into consideration. These two terms encompass an innumerable number of elements or compounds ranging from nationalism to religion. The importance of meta-narratives originating from the tenets of modernism or modernization has been downgraded from 1960s on because it has been postulated that the world has entered a new age called postmodernism and post-structuralism that have emphasized the role of individuals and criticized the efforts to reinforce post-colonialism, the effects of which can be seen in EFL textbooks. Therefore, it remains crucial to analyze EFL textbooks taking the main elements of ideology and hegemony into account. The aim of this study is to investigate the ideological and hegemonic practices included in globally and locally written EFL textbooks.

Methods: Using a mixed method research design, ideological and hegemonic representations included in EFL textbooks were examined qualitatively through descriptive content analysis technique employed to make valid assumptions by interpreting and coding content of textual materials. For the qualitative data, based on a descriptive research design, textbook analyses, documentary analysis, were conducted. As for the inductive content analysis, both globally and locally EFL textbooks were examined. The themes were extracted with the help of the experts since this study entailed inductive content analysis. Each theme was analyzed and perused by the experts. After a rigorous analysis, each theme was compared, and in the last stage common themes were formed.

Results: The findings of the present study show that ideology and hegemony of inner and expanding circle cultures are dominant in EFL textbooks. While the expanding circle culture is dominant in the locally written EFL textbooks, the inner circle culture is extensively included in the globally written ones. However, outer circle countries are excluded and marginalized. Besides, while specific ideologies such as economy and history were highly included in both globally and locally written textbooks, some of them such as law and gender were weakly detected.

Discussion: This present study showed that locally written textbooks dwell more on expanding circles, whereas globally written textbooks except for national geographic textbooks, to a large extent, mention only inner circle. Correspondingly, Abdullah (2009) scrutinized the textbooks in Malaysia and concluded that their textbooks covered local cultures from expanding circles. A similar finding was detected in various textbooks in Chile also including the local culture instead of the target one (McKay, 2003). In our study, the most dominant ideological component was culture (75.87% in global textbooks and 77.80% in local textbooks) whose components contain social norms, traditions, beliefs, social values (Williamson, 2000). Surprisingly, in both locally and globally written textbooks, the ideology of culture was prevalent (75.87% in global textbooks and 77.80% in local textbooks). This component was both implicitly and explicitly presented in the textbooks analyzed in this study.

Limitations: Taking the extent of the study into consideration, specific limitations already subsist in hand. Initially, choosing textbooks for the analysis of the existing ideological and hegemonic practices in the materials is a difficult task; hence, a particular and convenience selection criterion was selected. Additionally, as the scope of the study is constructed on English as a foreign or second language - a lingua franca, the selection was built on textbooks written globally and locally.

Conclusion: In locally written textbooks, multiculturalism and law-related issues were barely mentioned, while few religion, politics and gender-related issues were directly mentioned. Some topics, although they were very pivotal across the globe, were never mentioned. The topics of poverty, slavery, and racism were by no means focused on in the textbooks. Thus, it can be said that some topics are underrepresented or never represented owing to the fact that these topics might be too risky. As for the ideology of language, this element was emphasized in both global and local textbooks. The element of education was moderately stressed. Another important element is sport that is prevalent in both global and local EFL textbooks.

Open access
Parents’ Expectation of Mathematics Education and Their Engagement in Education and Homework Habits of Children

Abstract

Introduction: In this study, it was aimed to examine the expectations of elementary and secondary school parents from the mathematics education and their engagements in the education and the mathematics homework habits of their children.

Methods: The research data was collected by “A Scale to Determine Parents’ Expectation from Mathematics Education”, “Mathematics Homework Behavior Scale” and the “Personal Information Form” prepared by the researcher. The data of this study executed and conducted by survey model was analyzed by SPSS 16.

Results: In the study, it is revealed that the expectations of parents from Mathematics education and the mathematics homework habit of their children are high. There is no difference based on the levels of the children and parentage status of the parents, regardless of being mother or father, the mathematics homework habit of the children who favor mathematics lesson and at the same time thrive on is more favorable and positive than the ones who do not favor mathematics lesson and at the same time fail to thrive on, the homework habit of the children whom are supported sufficiently in the mathematics lesson is more favorable and positive. Last but not least, there is no correlation between the expectations of the parents from Mathematics education and the homework habits of their children.

Discussion: High expectations of parents from mathematics classes may suggest that they trust their children and their teachers. It may also suggest that they are involved in the education process and that they find it sufficient. Based on the findings of this study, according to which the level of homework habits of the parents’ children is high, it can be assumed that the students do their homework willingly and they have no problems with doing their daily homework. Parents’ help their children’s with homework occasionally to make them feel that they are not alone in this process. Lower expectations from their children and lower engagement of parents at upper levels may be caused by the fact that they cannot support their children sufficiently due to the complexity of subjects. In elementary schools, since their children are smaller in terms of age, parents may think that their children need more help and they can be more active in education because the subjects in elementary school are not as complicated as in higher classes. The math homework habits do not differ according to the education level of students’ but, based on the scores, we can say that they are more favourable in the elementary school since the children are younger and besides, in Turkey, children are assigned homework more regularly and the homework habits start to emerge at the elementary school level. Just depending on the scores, it is interesting to note that the expectations of fathers from mathematics education and their engagement in the process are higher than those of mothers. This may suggest that the expectations of fathers from their children may be due to the higher goals they set for them and perhaps since they are more perfectionist, they are more involved in the children’s education than mothers. To like a lesson, can be considered a precondition for doing the assigned homework more willingly. Children do their homework more willingly in the courses at which they consider themselves successful. That is why the results of this study are not surprising. The homework habits of the children sufficiently supported in mathematics are expected to be more favourable. The expectations of parents from mathematics lesson were not related to their children’s homework habits. The absence of homework habits, in the parents’ expectation from mathematics lesson, may be due to not getting a clear answer from the parents with respect to the question whether homework should be assigned in education or not.

Limitations: These research and data collection tools used are limited only by the thoughts of parents of primary and middle school students in Turkey.

Conclusions: The child, being aware that he is not alone in the process, will be more confident if he knows that there is a family support behind him in overcoming mathematics.

Open access
Teachers’ Work with Taxonomy of Educational Objectives as One of the Forms of the Gifted Preschoolers’ Development

Abstract

Introduction: The article presents the results of a research project the aim of which was to describe the level of kindergarten teachers’ work with educational objectives in connection with the application of a differentiated curriculum for the development of gifted children.

Methods: The research tool was a questionnaire in which the teachers selected one of three answers possible and matched their pedagogical activities in kindergarten the most. 345 teachers from kindergartens in the Czech Republic took part in the research. Data was processed using computer software SPSS.

Results: It was discovered that most of them can differentiate their instructions, however, at least a half of them do not respect the rules of inclusive education and their instructions result in an unwanted labelling of the gifted children. We have also proved that the level of the teachers’ work with the educational objectives is positively influenced by their longer than 10 years’ experience, work with heterogeneous class age-wise, and their having attended a seminar focused on the topic of giftedness.

Discussion: The discussion focuses on the description of variables affecting the level of work with educational objectives in connection with the application of a differentiated curriculum for the development of gifted children.

Limitations: The limitation is the simplification of the pedagogical reality into 3 possible answers and the artificial metrization of this data. Another problem was that our questionnaire was focused only on selected aspects of pedagogical work with gifted preschoolers, which were related to the curriculum modification and inclusive education. Furthermore, despite the big amount of validly filled in questionnaires (345) the research cannot be considered to be large area survey and the results cannot be generalized.

Conclusions: Gifted children should have the maximal space for the development of their own potential. It is also necessary to increase the teachers’ skills to apply the differentiated curriculum with the features of inclusive education in order to develop the giftedness of all the children as much as possible. One of the possibilities is the kindergarten teachers’ attendance to educational events on the topic of giftedness, which is one of the variables which significantly influence the quality of their work.

Open access
Teaching Cultural Differences through Korean Canadians: Teaching Material Development for English as a Foreign Language Classes

Abstract

Introduction: Students of English as a foreign language must possess intercultural communicative skills in order to be able to interpret and discuss the cultural diversity that surrounds them when they use English for communicational purposes. This paper claims, and is based on the conviction, that the development of these skills takes place primarily through teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in most educational contexts. This approach is facilitated by the fact that the English language functions as the most widely used foreign language in the context of culture teaching.

Methods: Based on these considerations and with a view to theoretical and practical aspects concerning teaching material development, the presented study discusses some fundamental concepts associated with the relationship between teaching EFL, teaching cultural information and developing students’ intercultural skills. After reviewing potential theories, it adopts Byram’s (1997, 2008) Intercultural Communicative Competence model as a theoretical foundation for creating teaching materials for the purpose of developing students’ intercultural communicative skills.

Results: The study presents the results of this endeavour through the example of author-designed worksheets focusing on Canadian content, and analyses a worksheet that covers Korean immigrant culture in Canada in order to demonstrate, with the help of this example, how theoretical considerations can be put into practice in the scope of developing teaching materials with Canadian content focusing on the development of intercultural communicative skills.

Discussion: Within the scope of English as a foreign language, Byram’s (1997, 2008) Intercultural Communicative Competence model proves a very practical model to be used for the purpose of designing worksheets that develop students’ intercultural communicative skills: this is proved on the basis of the analysis of the above-mentioned worksheet. It is also demonstrated that teaching intercultural communicative skills through Canadian contents is a feasible and practicable way of introducing students to the concept of interculturality through the cultural heritage of an English-speaking country.

Limitations: The theoretical background and the teaching material development project described below can serve as a potential model for designing similar worksheets, but the actual use and efficiency of this and similar worksheets depends on the applicable national curriculum and the specificities (primarily the language and motivational levels) of the class where such materials are intended for use. This also means that some aspects of the project are worth reconsidering when one intends to design their own teaching materials.

Conclusion: For the design of worksheets developing intercultural communicative skills, this study provides a tried and tested methodological model to follow and presents a worksheet that can function as a potential model. In addition, this paper hopes to generate further research in the field of developing teaching materials focusing either on the development of intercultural communicative skills or on Canadian culture, and, through setting an example, it encourages the creation of worksheets of a comparable design or topic.

Open access
Comparison of Teachers’ Opinions on Inspections

Abstract

Introduction: The quality of school depends on a well-functioning school management, managed by the top school managers. It is very important to know the real conditions of the school to be able to provide any effective changes. Especially, it is necessary to know the educational process which can be efficiently determined by an inspection process. The inspection process is present in current pedagogical science and in pedagogical practice which deserves increased attention of all participants in the educational process.

Methods: The study is based on a theoretical analysis of the presented issues and on a research. The findings were analysed, compared, and conclusions were drawn for school practice. We used the following research methods:

- content analysis of the existing literature;

- the quantitative method of gathering data by the medium of a twelve-item questionnaire containing four closed and eight semi-open questions. The questionnaire contained data necessary to process and evaluate the questionnaire, these were inserted as the last question;

- statistical data processing methods.

Results: New times bring a new style of management and a new understanding of the inspecting activity, which creates a partnership between the student and the teacher. It is to promote mutual understanding between them, based on the principles of democracy. Innovations in the educational practice also affect the realization of inspecting activities. The aim of managers, as well as inspectors, is to promote inspections not only as a tool for evaluating the teaching process but also as methodological help for teachers. The goal of our research was to map the state of the inspecting activity in selected high schools and to find out about the changes in teachers’ opinions on inspecting activities over the twenty-year horizon. We cannot generalize our findings for schools of all kinds as only 88 respondents (44 respondents participated in the 1998 research and 44 respondents in the 2017 research) took part in our research.

Discussion: Managing the educational process and taking the responsibility for its quality are among the basic duties of the school management and in the conditions of the Slovak Republic, as it follows from Act no. 596/2003 on state administration in education and school self-government as last amended. Supervising school leadership is one of the fundamental means of feedback that allows the study of the level of educational and training results, the fulfillment of the conceptual development of school, and the fulfillment of the tasks in the short-term school plan. The objective of the principal of the school is to obtain objective information about the level and the outcomes of the educational work of the school and, if deficiencies are identified, it is his/her duty to eliminate them. The most important task of the school is to implement the School Educational Program in line with the State Educational Program (SEP), which should take into account the needs of students, the interests of students and their parents, and contribute to improving the processes going on in the school, especially in the educational process. The research revealed that inspections conducted by school managers (the principal, deputies, administrators) are the most beneficial for the work of teachers. This fact was caused by the effort of the school managers to view inspections as a means of personal growth of teachers and not only as a controlling mechanism of teachers’ work. This was also confirmed by the research showing that inspections by the members of school management are now clearly focused on emphasizing the positive aspect of teachers’ work. This was caused by a shift in the inspectors’ perception of the inspecting activities in the period of twenty years - they use them as a teacher-oriented tool.

Limitations: The number of participants in the research sample was one of the methodological limitations of this research. We cannot consider this number to be representative for the purpose of generalizing the results.

Conclusion: In this study, we realized a mutual comparison of attitudes and opinions of teachers regarding inspecting activities. This comparative study, taking into account the twenty-year time span, has shown that the inspectors (school managers) have acquired such methods of evaluating their teachers, which objectively refer of their actual performance, that the most beneficial inspections for teachers’ own pedagogical work are the inspections conducted by the members of the school management, that the adherence to pedagogical ethics by the inspectors has an increasing tendency, and that formalism, as well as the subjective evaluation of teacher’s work, have a downward tendency and have disappeared from the conclusions of inspections. Based on the research results, it can be concluded that, in the course of two decades, significant changes have taken place in the realization of inspections, both on the part of the inspectors and on the part of the teachers and their perception of inspections.

Open access
Developing Students’ Language Competence and Essential 21st Century Skills for Future Employability: The Case of Latvia and Lithuania

Abstract

Introduction: Nowadays, language and intercultural competences have become core employability skills in many fields, supporting the development of other skills which emphasizes the necessity for specific pedagogic approaches in developing online learning materials and courses that would develop learners’ language competence and other relevant 21st century skills for future employability. The current comparative summative evaluation research conducted in two higher education institutions in Latvia and Lithuania analyses students’ feedback, elicited from 200 students, on the efficiency of the methods and methodologies applied in the course development and their suitability to develop the above-mentioned skills and competences.

Methods: The research implies a mixed-model design comprising a students’ questionnaire (a quantitative tool) and students’ essays (a qualitative tool). Quantitative data analysis was done applying descriptive and inferential statistics tests by IBM SPSS 22 software, qualitative data analysis – applying discourse analysis.

Results: The findings indicate that students highly evaluate the learning platform and the courses created. They find them as useful, visually appealing, interesting, interactive, well-structured, and easy to understand. Students acknowledge that they have developed their knowledge of professional lexis, reading skills, grammar and gained useful knowledge in their field. Significant differences were found concerning students’ group, specialization and the course completed – local students vs. international students as to the evaluation of the learning platform, students of IT field vs. business fields, Latvian students vs. Lithuanian students as to the intercultural B2/C1 English course completed. The research results strengthen the cognitions derived from theory on significant issues to be observed when creating blended-learning courses.

Discussion: The course designed is an alternative way of learning and may be useful for anyone who wishes to update their language and intercultural competence either through a formal or non-formal education course or on a lifelong learning basis.

Limitations: The research period covered one semester only. Although the study materials for 16 languages have been created, the current paper analyses only the results obtained in piloting English and Spanish courses, with the predominance of learners opting for English courses.

Conclusions: The research results show that the methods and methodologies applied in the given interactive blended-learning courses have developed the students’ language competence and have fostered the development of their digital competence, team-working and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills and learning-to-learn thus motivating them to become autonomous learners. The pedagogy-based approach applied in the current research has been successful despite a few flaws in the design of the course materials.

Open access
Moral Reciprocity, Ethics of Appropriation of Indigenous Medicinal Plant Knowledge and Associated Biopiracy

Abstract

Introduction: Although this paper deals mostly with the positive effects of a posthumanist worldview on environmental sustainability, partnership, or moral accountability in science and scientific research, it also promotes a new understanding of our educational practice in higher education. The ideas espoused have the ability to inspire educators at all levels to show students, future researchers or other professions about the importance of a progressive, holistic approach to our environment. We claim that being sensitive and caring for our environment is not only part of our moral and ethical responsibility, it is an inseparable aspect of our environmental education, our environmental intelligence. This paper discusses posthumanist1 reciprocity ethics in the context of traditional knowledge (TK) and the protection of indigenous traditional knowledge from commercial exploitation.

Methods: Instances of unethical bioprospecting and biopiracy were common throughout the turn of the 21st century and are discussed using cases in countries such as Cameroon, India, South Africa and Australia, where medicinal plant species were, are still a highly sought-after source of potent, pharmacologically active phytochemicals.

Results and discussion: The observed increase in regulations against bioprospecting on indigenous land in these countries as a result of intellectual property monopoly by big pharmaceutical companies is discussed in this paper along the lines of a ‘humanist vs posthumanist’ ontology. Patent exclusivity laws have historically marginalized the proprietary owners of indigenous traditional knowledge, creating a moral and ethical rift between those that seek to exploit this knowledge commercially and those from whom the knowledge originally comes from. This disconnection from nature and natural resources due to a humanistic approach2 to growth and development, often leads to environmental exploitation, exploitation of indigenous people and unsustainable commercial practices. Existing research and bioprospecting ethics that are practiced on indigenous lands must be questioned in their ability to provide mutually beneficial outcomes for all stakeholders.

Conclusions: The posthumanist approach to morality and research ethics is discussed in this paper as a possible and practical alternative to humanism along with the potential for posthumanist ethics to be a tool to shape legal frameworks and the policies that protect at-risk communities and their respective natural environments. Our current developmental trajectory as a collective species has us blurring the lines that separate the ‘human’ from the ‘non-human’ elements in our world as humanity grows towards a more technologically advanced but equally environmentally dependent people. Thus, the currently existing systems of ethics that govern the relationship between the ‘human’ and ‘non-human’ must be called into question. This paper aims to illustrate the positive effects of a posthumanist worldview on issues such as environmental sustainability, partnership, moral accountability and reciprocity ethics in the context of modern science and modern scientific research.

Open access
Philosophical, Aesthetic, Psychological and Pedagogical Aspects

Abstract

Introduction: Computers and the applications of today’s high technology can simulate reality so realistically that virtuality has become part of both children’s and adults’ lifestyles (Nagy & Kölcsey, 2017; Szécsi, 2012). However, it did not emerge with the computer applications, but with human thinking and part of that, the virtual conception of the world. In addition to social changes this development can be observed on individuals as well.

Purpose: This study shows the development of virtuality through the examples of cultural, philosophical, aesthetic, then the psychological and pedagogical development of the individual with the help of some important studies.

Methods: This study presents the social and individual development of virtuality throughout theoretical analysis of the research results.

Conclusion: Virtuality has already an important role in the technological and economic sphere and its impact on social innovations, individual and social life can be felt as well. Virtuality-research, its application and improvement contribute to experience a more complete reality and to the improvement of human life quality.

Open access