Interactive Whiteboards and Teachers’ Attitudes

Qualitative Analysis

The researcher conducted face-to-face interviews with eight female teachers at primary schools in Ha’il City, Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the interviews was to assess teachers’ attitudes toward the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs). During the analysis, the researcher aimed to answer the following questions:

  1. How are IWBs used in primary schools in Ha’il City?
  2. What is the usefulness of IWBs for guiding teachers and their students?
  3. What are the attitudes of primary school teachers in using IWBs in classrooms?
  4. Our primary school teachers trained to use IWBs in their teaching and do they need more training to become more effective?
  5. What barriers limit teachers from using IWBs in Ha’il City primary schools?

The thematic and content analysis was the qualitative tool used for evaluating the interviews. In the current research, both thematic and content analyses implied the examination and recording of repeating patterns in data sets to determine primary school teachers’ attitudes toward IWB implementation.

Categories Themes Examples Rules of Coding
1a. Positive attitude toward permanent IWB use.
  1. Helps students understand topics;
  2. Facilitates information recovery;
  3. Saves time;
  4. Is more efficient.
T1: “It will help students to understand quickly.”
T3: “The words can be understood easily.”
T5: “It can facilitate getting the information and recovering the stored information.”
T7: “IWB can save a lot of time.”
T8: “It helps me to save some time and effort.”
Teachers expressed an overall positive attitude toward using IWBs as a permanent tool in their teaching practice. They provided some explanations as to why they would support the long-term use of IWBs.
1b. Negative attitude toward permanent IWB use.
  1. Complicated to use;
  2. Requires preparation;
  3. Inappropriate for primary school students.
T2: “It is somehow bothersome, I had a headache after using it because of its rays.”
T4: “I do not support using the IWB among students of primary level.”
T6: “IWBs are not suitable […] because they require high accuracy.”
Teachers expressed negative attitudes toward permanent IWB implementation. It was expected that the appropriateness of IWB would be discussed.
2a. IWBs are better than traditional blackboards.
  1. Attracts the attention of students;
  2. Saves time;
  3. Allows for a better arrangement of information;
  4. Are better lit.
T1: “Can attract the attention of female students.”
T2: “It can save the time and efforts of a teacher in contrast with the traditional one.”
T3: “Arranged with clear words; auto-lighting.”
T8: “The IWB is much better than the traditional blackboard.”
Teachers were expected to mention at least one reason why IWBs are better than traditional blackboards. The benefits of their use during classes will also be provided during teachers’ answers.
2b. IWBs are worse than traditional blackboards.
  1. Encourages thinking;
  2. Are easier to use;
  3. Are more appropriate for primary school students.
T4: “Traditional blackboards encourage students to think and conclude the information.”
T6: “The traditional blackboard is better for little students.”
T7: “The negatives of the traditional blackboard do not exist.”
As some teachers have more than twenty years of experience working with students, it was expected that they would consider traditional teaching methods as superior to new advancements. Any mention of why IWBs are worse than regular blackboards will be included.
2c. IWB and traditional blackboards are equal. IWB complements traditional blackboards and vice versa. T5: “Both are important, they both complement each other.” The theme was found during the analysis. It was not expected that teachers would consider traditional blackboards and IWBs the same in their effectiveness.
3a. IWBs support the teaching practice of primary school teachers.
  1. Helps to facilitate understanding of new information;
  2. Simplifies information;
  3. Helps to get answers from students;
  4. Easy to use;
  5. Attractive to students.
T1: “Yes. I can show the pictures so students can directly recognize the word instead of providing the information through the traditional way.”
T2: “Yes […] IWB can simplify the information and save a lot of time and effort.”
T3: “Yes, especially with answers, and when students write the subjects.”
T5: “A teacher can easily use it. And this IWB attracts the student’s attention.”
T7: “Yes, of course
Technical and colored materials are more attractive to students.”
T8: “Yes, using the IWB supports all my lessons.”
All aspects of interviews that were associated with how IWBs support their everyday teaching practice were included. Specific benefits linked to the operation and the implementation of IWBs were included. Definite answers, such as ‘yes’, were sought to help in the accuracy of the analysis of the qualitative data.
3b. IWBs do not support the teaching practice of primary school teachers.
  1. Other tools are better;
  2. IWBs are not suitable for primary school students.
T4: “I do not prefer it.
I prefer the projector and PowerPoint files.”
T6: “It is not good for the primary level and does not support my lessons.”
Answers contrary to ‘yes’ were included as indications that IWBs did not support the practice of primary school teachers.
4a. Teachers received IWB training.
  1. Teachers attended courses;
  2. More training needed;
  3. Courses were too short;
  4. Courses were not helpful.
T1: “Yes, I attended a training course a long time ago.” “I need more training courses.”
T2: “Yes, I attended a one-day training course.”
T5: “Of course. […]
These training courses are very rare.”
T6: “I attended a very simple course. It was not helpful. I need to attend more training courses.”
T8: “Yes, I attended three training courses.”
Definite answers, such as ‘yes’, were initially sought after during the analysis. Any indications of the courses being short, long, effective, or ineffective, were regarded as important.
4b. Teachers did not receive IWB training.
  1. Never attended;
  2. Attended other courses.
T3: “No, I did not attend any courses.”
T4: “No, never.”
T7: “No, but I have trained for two years on computer programing.”
Direct answers such as ‘no’ were included in the category. All other explanations were considered as positive indications of attending IWB courses.
5. Training topics for achieving effectiveness in IWB implementation.
  1. How to use IWBs effectively;
  2. New methods and functions;
  3. Turning IWBs on and off;
  4. New capabilities;
  5. New programs;
  6. Different features;
  7. Updating general knowledge.
T1: “New methods for presenting the lesson.”
T2: “We need all the subjects that can help us in our lessons.”
T3: “The way of dealing with the IWB especially turning it on and off.”
T4: “Preparing the IWB as a whole.”
T5: “Programs for IWB.
Methods of getting the stored information.”
T6: “Understanding its features and options such as paint and writing.”
T7: “Update our knowledge if there are any new programs.”
T8: “I do not need to train on smart blackboards.”
It was expected that teachers would have different requests regarding training topics for supplementing their knowledge of IWBs. All answers that included any information regarding training topics were considered useful to the analysis.
6. Difficulties of using IWBs to teach primary school students.
  1. Take time for adjusting;
  2. Functioning errors;
  3. An unwanted sensitivity of technology;
  4. Lack of teachers’ experiences;
  5. Electricity issues.
T1: “Time; lighting; the Internet.”
T2: “Headache; electricity; maintenance.”
T3: “The malfunction and maintenance of the IWB need some time.”
T4: “Writing on it because of its sensitivity.”
T5: “Pen because it is very sensitive;
electricity.”
T6: “I don’t have the proper experience to use these techniques.”
T7: “Technical obstacles.”
T8: “I do not have any difficulties while using it.”
As IWBs are relatively new and challenging for some teachers, it was expected that every teacher would have something to say about it. All answers that included any mention of problems in IWB implementation were included.
7a. Aspects hindering the use of IWBs.
  1. Sensitivity;
  2. Students are too young;
  3. Maintenance issues;
  4. Visibility issues.
T1: “The IWB and its accessories are very sensitive to mess with.”
T2: “The students of primary level are so young and may harm the IWB.”
T4: “The concentration of the students.”
T5: “There is no keeper (resource room special teacher) for IWBs.”
T6: “The students of primary level do not understand its importance.”
T7: “Weak vision where some students can’t see small things.”
There could be some difficulties in differentiating categories 7a and 6. However, since interviews included direct questions regarding specific aspects limiting IWB use were included in the thematic analysis.
7b. There are no aspects of hindering IWB implementation. No issues were identified. T3: “The IWB has no obstacles, and it should be used because of its importance.” It was expected that a teacher would have issues linked to IWB use. The category was added during the analysis.

After analyzing the interviews regarding the implementation of IWBs in a primary school setting, it is important to revisit the initial research questions and determine whether the results of the analysis could give relevant answers. As evidenced by the teachers’ responses, Interactive Whiteboards are used in primary schools in Ha’il City, Saudi Arabia. Five out of eight teachers displayed a positive attitude toward IWB implementation on a long-term basis, while four out of eight indicated that the tool had already supported their teaching practice. Positive benefits of IWB use included the ability to save time, get students’ attention, and make teaching easier overall. However, half of the interviewed teachers mentioned that they did not use IWB as the main supportive tool for their practice. Therefore, while IWBs are used in Ha’il City primary schools, not all teachers support their permanent implementation.

In terms of IWB usefulness, key themes found during the analysis of interviews were split between “traditional blackboards are better” and “IWBs are better,” with the latter category prevailing in the responses. The interviewed teachers indicated that IWBs were useful because they saved time, attracted students’ attention, allowed teachers to arrange new information more effectively, and had better lighting. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that three out of the eight teachers stated that traditional blackboards were more effective when teaching primary school students. Only one teacher considered IWB and traditional blackboards as equal, which cannot be considered as a dominant theme in interviews.

The topic of training was especially relevant to the discussion for several reasons. First, five out of eight teachers mentioned that they had some experience with IWB training courses, which is a positive finding. Second, four out of five teachers who had received training mentioned that the training that they had was ineffective or was too short for them to acquire any positive skills in the use of IWB. Third, out of three teachers who did not receive any training on the use of interactive whiteboards, only one had attended computer courses, which enhanced her knowledge of technologies. It should be mentioned that during the interviews, the teachers expressed their desire to attend courses and learn more. Overall, the analysis of the interviews indicated that IWB courses available to primary school teachers were not enough to guarantee their effectiveness.

Lastly, barriers to IWB implementation in Ha’il City primary schools will be discussed. Seven out of eight teachers mentioned several aspects that limited their implementation of interactive whiteboards when teaching primary school students. Main trends in IWB barriers included difficulties regarding the maintenance of technologies, the inability to use them when there were problems with electricity, dangers of children ruining IWBs, and challenges linked to students’ concentration and vision. The mentioned challenges point to the fact that without proper training, teachers find it problematic to use interactive whiteboards. Therefore, there is a need to address the issue of primary school teachers’ training in the use of various technology-based tools in their teaching practice.