REMOTE TEACHING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN CROATIA: A COMPARISON OF TEACHERS’ EXPERIENCES DEPENDING ON PRIOR SCHOOL PARTICIPATION IN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT
University of Rijeka (CROATIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought numerous challenges to the education system. The closure of schools forced teachers to transition to emergency remote teaching (ERT). The most common problems for teachers were lack of preparation, training, and support with shifting their practice online, leading them to feel overwhelmed and unprepared to use online teaching tools and strategies during ERT. That shift would probably been easier if teachers were better prepared and spent more time using digital technologies before the pandemic. In Croatia, a substantial effort was put on providing digital equipment for schools and developing teachers’ digital competencies. In 2015, CARNET (Croatian Academic Network) launched the pilot phase of the e-Schools program that aimed to establish a system for the development of digitally mature schools.
This study aims to compare the experiences with remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic reported by teachers who participated, and those who did not participate in the e-Schools pilot project. Given that target beneficiaries of the pilot project results were teachers and students of STEM subjects (chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics), the experiences of teachers in the STEM and other teaching domains were compared.
The data were collected using an online survey involving a sample of 2795 teachers from 312 Croatian schools (1264 participated in the e-Schools pilot project). Teachers were asked to rate the frequency of teaching face-to-face and online (asynchronous and synchronous) and to report the time they spent in digital technology trainings during the last two years. The professional and personal balance, clarity of expectations, and collegiality scales were applied as the social-environmental determinants of the remote teaching experience. Also, the teachers’ control and value appraisals were assessed, together with the enjoyment and anxiety, perceived success in delivering remote teaching and assessment, and the frequency of teaching activities promoting reproductive and constructive learning.
The results of two-way ANOVAs (Project participation x Teaching domain) showed that, in contrast to teachers who did not participate in the pilot project, teachers who participated in it spent more time in trainings, conducted the synchronous teaching, used constructive teaching activities more frequently, perceived a lower level of provided collegiality, reported more enjoyment, and perceived themselves as more successful in conducting remote teaching than their colleagues. Considering teaching domains, STEM teachers spent more time in trainings, less time in face-to-face teaching, and conducted the synchronous teaching more often than teachers in other fields. Reported levels of all social-environmental determinants of the remote teaching among STEM teachers were lower than their colleagues, as well as levels of enjoyment, and higher levels of anxiety. Also, STEM teachers found student assessment more challenging, used less constructive and more reproductive teaching activities but rated the quality of their online teaching more important and perceived their teaching as more successful compared to others.
The study showed that engagement in the pilot project had some benefits for teachers and helped them deal more successfully in the new circumstances of sudden school closures. The findings also point to the importance of continued support during ERT for teachers, especially in the STEM field.
Keywords: Remote teaching, digital technologies, teacher effectiveness, teacher professional development.