The development of capabilities and competences for the future – The effects of Berber children´s collaborative use of iPads in the rural districts of the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains

Lmariouh, Nisrine; Nygren, Per Thomas (2016). 'The development of capabilities and competences for the future – The effects of Berber children´s collaborative use of iPads in the rural districts of the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract What happens when 9- to 12-year-old children in a poor Berber village in the High Atlas are given access to iPads as a supplementary pedagogical tool in the local school? The overarching goal of the “iPad Project” was to support the children at school levels 3-6 to develop competences for their future life in different areas with the help of new information technology. Focus was on the enhancement of the children’s learning of algebra with the help of the Dragonbox app in the iPad as a supplement to the ordinary training in algebra and the promotion of children’s competences in collaborating, sharing, and communicating with each other. In each iPad there were apps for photos, writing, etc. and an app for learning algebra by playing a game (Dragonbox). Each iPad was assigned to a group of 2 to 3 children for collaborative use. The “iPad Project” is one of several smaller projects organized under the umbrella project ”Children’s dream of future competences”, administered by Lillehammer University College in collaboration with local stakeholders in the small project village Ait X (59 households), the Province of Al Haouz, Morocco, and the University of Cady Ayyad, Marrakech, Morocco. The portfolio of projects under the umbrella project is designed as parts of a participative action research project. With a combination of the capability approach and a socio-cultural approach to the development of competences (Nygren 2015) as theoretical framework, each project is based on a “base-line mapping” of the participators’ desirable future “beings” and “doings” (“functionings”). These desirable future functionings were revealed through individual and group interviews with the children of the village and other stakeholders, such as the children’s teachers and parents.  After the implementation of the project in September 2014, all of the 23 children who attended levels 3 to 6 in the school and their teacher were given iPads to be used for two semesters, during September 2014 to June 2015. To evaluate the effects of the iPad-intervention at the Ait X school, 43 children attending the same levels in the school located in the neighbor village of Ait C was chosen as a control group. The teaching in school in Ait C was based on the traditional pedagogical practice, that is, the same pedagogical practices that the school in Ait X used before the iPad Project started. Most of the adults living in Ait X and Ait C are illiterate and earn their living primarily from farming, animals, and olive cultivation. The outcomes of the iPad intervention with respect to possible differences between the experimental school and the control school were measured in two ways: 1)    There was a comparison of the means of the examination marks in mathematics given to the children in the two groups in the pretest period June 2014 as examination marks based on children’s performance during the spring semester and the examination marks in mathematics in June 2015, after the use of the iPads at the Ait X school for two semesters and traditional teaching of mathematics for two semesters at the Ait C school. 2)    Using an inventory, the teacher at the Ait X school assessed the behavior, motivation, attitudes, and social competences of each child on the following 8 scales, each of them ranging from 1 to 10 with 10 as the highest score: motivation for school work in general; motivation for doing mathematics; collaboration with other pupils in class in general; collaboration with other pupils in mathematics class; motivation for and discipline to do homework; creative thinking; skills in conflict resolution; and being on time when the class starts and after breaks. In the period of the two semesters during the use of the iPads, the assessment was done four times, each observation based on a period of 2 or 3 months: 1) September – October 2014, December 2014 – January 2015, February – April 2015, and May – June 2015.   The effects of the iPad intervention were also investigated with qualitative group interviews with the children at the Ait X school and an individual qualitative interview with their teacher.  The results from the comparisons between the two schools on the mathematics variable and the results from the analysis of changes over time in the ratings of the Ait X school children’s behavior, motivation, attitudes, and social competences were incomplete in time for the deadline for submitting the abstract. Nevertheless, some rough and promising results from the statistical analysis can be revealed in this abstract. The examination marks given in June for two semesters are given on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 as the highest mark. (In cases where there were no answers at all on the tests taken during the semester, being the base for the marks at the end of the semester, is given a 0, but this is given only in exceptional situations). The mean of the pre-test marks given in June is 5.75 for the children in Ait X school and 5.42 for the children in Ait C school. After two semesters using the Dragonbox app as a supplementary pedagogical tool in mathematics, the mean for the children in Ait X school rose to 6.04, while the mean for the children at the Ait C school was 5.67. This is a statistically significantly higher rise in the marks for the Ait X children in general compared with the Ait C school, but the effects on different groups of children, for instance, based on gender and age, have yet to be analyzed. The preliminary results from the teacher’s assessments of the behavior, motivation, attitudes, and social competences of the Ait X schoolchildren during the period of iPad intervention show a clear progression on all of the 8 scales over time. Further statistical analysis with SPSS will illuminate the impact of background variables such as gender and age. The future analysis of the data from the qualitative interviews will also shed light on the factors underlying the statistical results, and thus help us to interpret these results. 

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