TRANSITIONS: THE IMPACT OF ICT ON GENERIC SKILL DEVELOPMENT IN SCOTTISH SCHOOL
The European Union directive on education has made the use of ICT in education and training a top priority since the year 2000, thereby supporting its aim to become the ‘most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth’(EC, 2000, p.3). As a follow through, and in reaction to the challenges posed by globalization and the knowledge-driven society, new education policy directives were issued to member states.
In turn, the Scottish Government organised a national debate on schools for the 21st century in Scotland in 2002. The responses emphasized on ways of making Scottish schools more comprehensive, through a change of curriculum. This debate endorsed the need for improvement in the curriculum reform in secondary education in particular and specifically highlighted ICT as one of the skills and knowledge relevant for modern living and later led to the birth of a new Scottish curriculum – the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). In this new curriculum, ICT is a key driver and as such, permeates every subject.
This exploratory mixed method research study with a case study approach is designed to seek information from Pupils, Teachers and Employers on their perception of the role of ICT in school towards generic skills development which is transferable beyond compulsory education for positive transitions and 21st century living. The study is in a two stage developmental phases adopting the sequential mixed method approach for data collection. The first stage is the quantitative stage using the questionnaire data collection instrument while the second stage is a qualitative stage involving interview as instrument for data collection.
This study is carried out in one local council in Scotland, involving all eight secondary schools in the particular council, with the population comprising of all upper secondary classes (S3-S6 Pupils) in all eight secondary schools in the council. Convenience sampling is employed for the questionnaire distribution while the purposive sampling technique is used for the interviews with teachers and pupils of the case study schools. Data will be analysed using the grounded theory as well as the Miles and Huberman’s framework.
The research questions guiding the study are as follows: Firstly, What are the stakeholders’ perceptions of ICT in developing and supporting transferable generic skills in Scottish Secondary Schools?
Secondly, how does the generic skill acquired in secondary schools support effective transition to further education, work or living?
And lastly, is there a fit between the acquired skills from compulsory education and the desired skills for work, further education and living?
The timing of this study coincided with a time characterised by contextual pressures globally –an increase in youth unemployment, an exponential pace of change caused by globalization and new technologies, and also knowledge based driven economy. In Scotland, it coincided with the implementation of the new curriculum and its associated transformation of schools.
Through this study, the researcher aims to ascertain the following relevance of ICT in compulsory education:
(1) explore the effectiveness of ICT in school transitions
(2) identify the gap in the research on ICT, both content and methodology
(3) evaluate the impact of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) on pupils and teachers as it emphasizes on ICT permeation in all subjects.