ESL Action Research: Efficiency of “Warm-up” drills to the retention of Thai Students of Pholwittaya School

This action research is made to determine the efficiency of using  warm-up drills in the retention of grade 1, 2, and 3 Thai students of Pholwittaya School in Songkla Thailand.
Thailand, being a non-English speaking country already had a taste of the English language as early as 1567 during the reign of King Narai, Ayutthaya period from 1350 to 1767 (Education in Thailand:  Wikipedia). But diplomatic activities were all decreased to a minimal after King Narai’s death.
English education resumed during the reign of King Rama V from 1868 to 1910 as a Lingua Franca for the royalties and nobilities. In 1892, the Ministry of Education was established as a result of King Rama V’s experimental endeavors for administrative and political reforms.
English education took a full-swing during Thaksin Shinawatra’s administration.  There was a noted increase in the number of native-speakers teaching foreign Languages in both government and private schools.
I am working in a private school down south of Thailand – Pholwittaya School.  It is a Buddhist school.  They offer kindergarten, primary and secondary education to both departments – Bilingual and Regular school.  I teach the lower primaries – grades 1,2,3 of the regular school.  Each class is compose of 40 to 45 students. Each level has 4 to 5 sections for the English program alone.  Students in the English program receive 3 to 4 hours of English lesson per week.  This action research was conducted to the first section of each level – grades 1/1, 2/1, and 3/1.  Working and living here for 5 years now, i have gained quite a lot of insights on my student’s way of living, as well as their study habits.  Most of my students belong to the middle class.  They have TV cable and internet access at home.  They spent most of their after-class hours and weekends in tutorial centers studying Thai subjects and English conversation.  During semester and summer break, they are into English camps.   On the other side of the coin, the media which time immemorial has been proven to be influential in education are in Thai Language and/or translated to Thai.  Cartoon shows that kids love so much are also in Thai.  Even English movies  shown in theaters are translated in Thai.  Billboards and paper ads are almost all in Thai  ( show link here TBA).  At home 100% of the language used is Thai.  Practice and immersion are very important in acquiring a new Language.  In this case the former is limited, and the latter never at all.   So what is learned in 1 hour easily dissipate in thin air the moment they step out of the class.  With this, the acquisition is quite very slow.
Consequently, I have thought of increasing the number of times I use topic-related warm-up drills in my subject  (see subsequent post for my “own-made” chants and drills).  This action research solely aims to determine the efficiency of my drills on the retention of my students on particular topics.
To determine the efficiency of drills in the retention of Thai students in Pholwittaya school
grades 1,2, and 3 first section students of Pholwittaya School
A pre-test was given on a particular theme.  After which the lesson was delivered.  For every 50 minute-class in 4 consecutive meetings, the teacher allotted 5 minutes for the warm-up.  The warm-up was a teacher-made yells and clap combination drill to facilitate student’s memorization on certain words.  The words were “conservation, pollution, and electricity” for grades 1, 2, and 3 respectively.   A post-test was, then, given on the 5th or 6th meeting.  Average and percentage were used to describe the result.
Results and Discussion
The yells-and-claps combination drill was effective as far as single, short English words were concerned.  Seventy-five percent of all the three classes, grades 1/1, 2/1, and 3/1 was able to read and spell the words correctly.  About the same percentage was able to even define the words.  But only a few were able to remember further details about the concept.
Using the yells-and-claps combination drill, the teacher experimented further by using series of words like “baby, toddler, school-age child, adolescent, and adulthood” for the topic Human Physical Changes.  The students were able to memorize the words by heart.  They even chant the words during break time.  But, most students had a hard time reading the words when arranged randomly and without an accompanied picture.  They had the spelling and definitions all mixed up.  Their exposure to the words just probably was not enough.  It needs a longer period of exposure from all English subjects.
In conclusion, as far as this action research is concerned, yells-and-claps combination drill is effective in facilitating student’s retention in terms of spelling and definition.  But it is limited to single, short English words only, although it can also be used as reinforcement in explaining very simple and practical concepts.  It is not as effective for series of English words.  But, on the brighter side, given the time it needs it might be as effective considering that the drill breaks the monotony of the conventional classroom set-up. 
The researcher would like to make the following recommendations;
a.     ESL teachers may utilize this action research and make some modifications where it’s needed for the betterment of this ESL students.
b.   ESL teachers to go further using the drill for longer and/or series of English words
c.    ESL teachers to conduct an action research following the same concept as this action research to find out its efficiency in explaining concepts

Science Article on Ghanaon ICT Use

A Review on the study entitled:  The Views of Educational Practitioners
in Ghanaon ICT Use and Instructional Design Practices
for Promoting Quality Education

Mitchelle J.D
            The implementation of information and communication technology or ICT as a new instructional tool in schools will not achieve its supposed goal of creating quality teaching and learning unless guided by research.
            This paper presents a critical review of the study entitled: The Views of Educational Practitioners in Ghana on ICT Use and Instructional Design Practices for Promoting Quality Education.  The author of the study is Frederick Kwaku Sarfo of the University of Education of Winneba, Kumasi Campus in Ghana.
            This study asserts that while ICT plays an effective role for quality teaching and learning, teachers’ role in designing effective learning tasks is still the bedrock of quality education.  Although this runs contrary to the assertion of most ICT determinants who expects ICT, all on its own, will bring about quality teaching and learning, the contention of the study is strongly supported by studies of Clark R.E, Heinich R., Russel T., and Earle S.R.  According to these researchers it is not the hardware (computer), but the instructional designs of the software by the teachers that affects quality education.  It is deemed important, therefore, to determine the views of teachers, students, and policy makers because unless these educational practitioners especially the teachers do not recognize the need for ICT, then they will not use it in their classes.  The goal is to explore the views of students, teachers, and policy makers in Ghana on the use of ICT and instructional design for quality teaching and learning.  It further aims to explore the views of the educational practitioners of Ghanaon recommendations for future plans with regard to the ICT.
            As a developing country trying to cope with knowledge-based society, it is important to explore the views of our own educational practitioners because we might naively rush to equip schools with computers without determining the capacities of these key players in education.  The revolution of ICT in Thai schools are more focused on hardware acquisitions and building infrastructures (Bangkok Post.  Hiking the e-trail, 2006 ), overlooking that the “software” – professional development, curriculum design, supporting policies, and long term implementation plans is of equal if not more important.  This by itself is reason enough to explore the perspective of educational practitioners in Thailand, not to mention English Language is the lingua franca of ICT which Thailandis still struggling to acquire. Although the computer hardware and software in Thailand has incorporated the Thai language,   English is still needed to be globally competitive.
            Scope of the Study
            The participants of the exploratory study included 1) 59 secondary school students; 17 teachers; and 14 educational officers selected from three secondary schools and regional education offices in Ghana respectively.  
            The basic instrument for the study was questionnaire: 5 point Likert-type scale from “strongly agree to strongly disagree” with a Cronbach alpha of .79, and 2) three additional questions to tap the participants’ recommendations.  The scale was constructed based on the first five principles of Merrill.
            The methodology employed in this study is appropriate to determine its objectives.  It is not costly and is easy to administer.  There are key people in education that are significant but were not included as participants in the study, the parents.  Their perspective is very important especially that to some extend they determine what kind of education their kids ought to have depending on what they deem necessary.
            Findings of the Study  
            1) In Ghana more than half of the people view that teachers can design and deliver quality teaching better than an ICT
            2) Both teachers and students should be trained to use ICT for quality teaching and learning
            3) Teachers should be trained to know how to design their instruction and teaching 
            These results imply that even though effective design of learning task or instruction is the bedrock of quality teaching and productive learning, students, teachers, and policy makers do not disregard the importance of ICT.  These advocate further that training is an essential tool for students and teachers to develop knowledge and acquire skills in instructional design and the use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning.
            On the other hand, the results imply that Ghanaian teachers have not fully accepted ICT as a tool to revolutionize teaching and learning as viewed by the government and other decision-makers.  Moreover, these tells Ghanagovernment to repose its enthusiasm on the use of instructional design integrated with ICT in the classroom, otherwise the whole effort will be futile.  The need to provide computers should not go before the need of training teachers to acquire adequate skills in instructional design.  This  significant findings leads to an important question which needs further study; Will teachers be interested and motivated in practicing designed teaching in the classroom if they are trained to acquire appropriate knowledge and skills in instructional designs?
            The educational system of Thailand just like other developing countries is trying to cope with the information age.  But just like Ghana, it is focused on acquisition of hardware.  ICT is not complete without the “software”.  This is where the importance of this study sets in.  Thailand should make a major revamp on its educational system beginning from its policies down to training of teachers and other key players in education.  Researches should be conducted to answer important questions such as; 1) Are policies governing the educational system support the implementation of ICT? 2)  What is the perception of students, teachers, and policy makers on ICT? 3) Are schools capable and willing to conduct professional development training for teachers? 4) Are teachers willing to undergo professional development training?  5) Are schools willing to send their teachers to this training?  6)  Are teachers qualified and proficient in English?  Answers to these questions could help the government and other decision-makers in their future planning and implementation of ICT to achieve its goal of quality teaching and learning.  The following are recommendations made by Dr. HItendra Pillay of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, which are valuable in developing teacher education in the light of ICT use.
The new educational management model is integral to improving learning outcomes for students.
A Manual of Policy and Procedures (MOPP) is needed to delineate clearly the respective roles, functions, and responsibilities of various
organizations and agencies involved in teacher education.
Teacher learning and development should be school-based, facilitated by the effective use of ICT.
It is important to create Local Learning Centers to facilitate learning
reform and life-long teacher learning.
He urges careful consideration of distributed learning as a model to foster the use of diverse and multiple approaches to pedagogy, which should not be limited to only student-based learning.
            The study is simple but valuable. 
            This era of the human civilization is characterized and defined by development and modernization of almost everything the human mind could conceive.  In order to globally survive, countries need to keep with the latest.  And there is no better way to achieve this than through education.  But just like any project a feasibility study or research is needed.  Thailand has never been late in adopting new technologies according to Hugh Thaweesak Koanantakool, an electrical engineer specializing in digital communication.  But education is complex.  It is more than just acquiring the latest technology.  It has to ensure that its goals are achieved by the means it is using. 
            Therefore, it is essential that any country trying to improve its educational system must conduct researches before plunging itself in the wagon of modernization. 
Hugh Thaweesak Koanantakool.  A Brief History of ICT in Thailand1968-2007.  Retrieved on September 22, 2008 from!89D63ABACC4D439E!121.entry
ICT Forward: The Thailand ICT Think Tank. February 6, 2007 . Hiking the e-trail. The Post   PublishingPublic Co., Ltd.  Last modified: May 29, 2006
Julie Lindsay at Monday, November 28, 2005
Gerald W. Fry.  “Synthesis Report: From Crisis to Opportunity, The Challenges of
Educational Reform in Thailand”.  Retrieved on September 27, 2008 from

Science Article on ICT and Schools

A Review of the study entitled:  ICT and Schools:  Identification of Factors Influencing the Use of New Media in Vocational Training Schools

Mitchelle J.D
            Of the many factors affecting the use of technology in the classroom and quality education in general, teachers’ characteristics are the utmost determinant.
            This paper presents a critical review of the study entitled, ICT and Schools:  Identification of Factors Influencing the Use of New Media in Vocational Training Schools.  The authors of this study are Alexander Totter, Daniela Stutz, and Gudela Grote from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland.  This study was published in The Electronic Journal of e-learning Volume 4 Issue 1, pages 95-102.  It is also available at
            For the past years researches have identified three general factors that influence the use of technology in the classroom.  These are technical equipment available in schools, the general conditions of the school organizations, and the characteristics of teachers.  This study focused on the characteristics of teachers that influence the use of technology in the classroom.  The authors analysed teachers’ characteristics described in the study by Becta, 2004.  Becta reviewed research literatures and identified a number of teacher-level barriers.  This together with other literatures, the authors develop a theoretical model which describes both positive and negative factors, which influence teachers’ use of new media in classrooms.  These factors are as follows: “constructivist teaching style”, “willingness to cooperate”, “openness to change”, lack of ICT-competence”, “lack of time”, and “lack of ICT confidence”.  They hypothesized that 1) “constructivist teaching style”, “willingness to cooperate”, “openness to change” will correlate significantly and positively with “Use of new Media in classrooms”, and 2)  lack of ICT-competence”, “lack of time”, and “lack of ICT confidence” will have a negative impact on the degree of “Use of new Media in classrooms”.  An exploratory investigation was further made to determine the variables which appropriately explain the dependent variable “Use of new Media in classrooms”.
            This study is significant to all key people in education, administrators, policy makers, other decision-makers, and teachers themselves.  As mentioned by several literatures, the “software” designed by teachers affects the use of these new media more than the hardware itself (Sarfo, 2007; learningpost, 2006).  The result of this study will advise school administrators and decision-makers in education to motivate teachers by addressing their needs.  As mentioned in Osborn School Board Association webpage on Motivating Teachers to Improve Instruction, Frase in his study identified two sets of factors that affect teachers’ ability to perform effectively.  These are work context factors (the teaching environment, and work content factors (teaching).  The work context factors include working conditions such as class size, discipline conditions, and availability of teaching materials; the quality of the principal’s supervision; and basic psychological needs such as money, status, and security.  The work content factors include opportunities for professional development, recognition, challenging and varied work, increased responsibility, achievement, empowerment, and authorityFurther, teachers themselves will be kindled by the full weight of their responsibility over using technology as tool for quality teaching and learning.  According to Peralta (2007), teachers use ICT without full understanding of the learning principles, and that they know how to use the computer but not in the classroom with their pupils.  This somehow has to change.    Furthermore, teacher education schools have to prepare in-coming teachers of the important learning principles of ICT and how to integrate it in their teaching.
            The authors carried out a Pearson correlation to find out whether the factors in the model had a positive or negative influence on teachers’ classroom media use. 
            Scope of the Study
            The data were collected from 52 teachers in vocational training schools in Switzerlandand Austria.  The average age of the teachers was 48 years, ranging from 36 years to 62 years.
            Instrument of the Study
            An online questionnaire which comprised of 31 closed and open ended-questions was used.  The teachers rated the questionnaire items on a four-Likert scale. For the variable “Use of new Media in classrooms”, this determined the actual use of different new media teaching in classrooms, as such simulations, computer games, office, and internet programs.  The scale “constructivist teaching style” analysed the extent to which teachers used pupil-centered, constructivist teaching style.  The scale “willingness to cooperate” measured cooperative behaviour that teachers exhibited in school such as exchanging of teaching materials and discussing teaching goals and problems.  The scale “openness to change” addressed the willingness of teachers to change their teaching practices.  The scale “lack of time” indicated how much time they had available to prepare and research multimedia materials for lessons to make full use of ICT.  The scale “lack of ICT-competence” measured the extent to which teachers considered themselves ICT skilled.  For the exploratory investigation to identify the variables that best explain the dependent variable “Use of new Media in classrooms”, multiple regression test was used.
            Findings of the Study
1) Vocational training teachers mainly used traditional media in the classroom like worksheets and slides
 2) Teachers did not use chat, web logs and audio/video conferencing tools, computer games, training tools, programming tools and newsgroups
3) Teachers used computer programmes more often for private basis
4) All independent variables show statistically significant correlation with the dependent variable “Use of new Media in classroom”, hence the two hypothesis were accepted
5) Among the six independent variables, “constructivist teaching style” and “lack of time” showed the best explanatory value.
            The use of online questionnaire is fresh and smart.  It is modern, economical, and time saving.  It allows researchers to broaden its research scope in terms of number and variation of participants, as well as geographical location.  On the other hand, the researcher may not have a visual feel of the location and interaction with the participants.  In some cases the researcher’s observations of the place and people could be a contributory factor to the findings of the study. 
            The participants’ age and gender were not considered well. The age of the participants was fairly old.  Jenningsand Onwuegbuzie, 2001 as mentioned in the study of Su Luan (2005), cited that younger age has been found to be associated with more positive attitudes towards ICT.  Of the 52 teacher participants 5 were females and 47 were males.  According to the same study by Su Luan, et al, competencies of women in certain ICT aspects have surpassed those possessed by men.
            The statistical tools used in the study such as Pearson r, Likert scale, and multiple regression test were appropriate to achieve the goal of the study.
            In synthesis, this study is substantial.  Teachers both new and old need to be re-educated with this new innovation.  The success of the use of these new media in the classroom depends largely on teachers who must make it work. It is therefore important to understand how they react to these new media such as ICT.  It is also important to know what role the school administrators, policy makers, parents, and other decision-makers in education play in preparing teachers for this enormous task.
Sarfo, Frederick Kwaku (2007).  The Views of Educational Practitioners in Ghanaon ICT Use and Instructional Design Practice for Promoting Quality Education.  Seventh IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies copyright 2007. . Hiking the e-trail. The Post   PublishingPublic Co., Ltd.  Last modified: May 29, 2006
Osborn School Board Associations. Motivating Teachers to Improve Instruction.  Retrieved on September 29, 2008 from
M Motivating Teachers to Improve
Peralta H., Costa F.  Teacher’s Competence and Confidence regarding the use of ICT.  Retrieved on September 29, 2008 from
Luan W., et al. Gender Differences in ICT Competencies among Academicians at
Universiti Putra Malaysia.  Retrieved on September 29, 2008 from

Science Article about Technology Change

A Review on the study entitled: Technology as a Catalyst for Change: The Role of Professional Development
Mitchelle J.D
            Technology is perceived by many teachers as new and unfamiliar tool, so professional development plays a crucial role in its successful and effective use to promote a constructivist-compatible instruction in the classroom, and quality education as a whole.
            This paper presents a critical review of the study entitled, Technology as a Catalyst for Change: The Role of Professional Development, by Nita J.  Matzen and Julie A.  Edmunds.  Nita J.  Matzen, EdD, is the project director for the Technology in the Learning Program at the SERVE Center at the Universityof North Carolina, Greensboro.  Her research interests include the role of professional development in teacher learning and instructional change, and building educator capacity to conduct formative project evaluation.  (Address:  Nita J. Matzen, SERVE UNCG, 3329 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd., Ste 200, Durham, NC 27707;  Julie A. Edmunds, PhD, is a senior research specialist at the SERVE Center at the Universityof North Carolina at Greensboro.  Her research interests include program evaluation, school reform, assessment and accountability, and reaching diverse student populations.  (Address:  Julie A. Edmunds, SERVE UNCG, 3329 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd., Ste 200, Durham, NC 27707;
            The study focuses on the relationship between the professional development and teachers’ use of technology in their classroom and their general instructional practices.  It is based on the ground that when teachers are provided with professional development that presents technology within the context of student-centered instructional practices, teachers are more likely to change their instructional practices with the use of the technology. It seeks to answer the questions; Are there ways in which technology can serve as a catalyst for more constructivist practices? Is technology only used in a constructivist way when teachers are already engaged in constructivist-compatible instruction? 
            In this age of technology, teachers have to devise ways to make it work with them and not against them in veering students’ attention, interest, and passion on technology into more useful and productive ways.  Hence, this study is timely and indeed important.
            Methodology and Scope of the Study
            It uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.  Participants underwent a seven-day, 50 hour intensive professional development program from Quality Teaching and Learning (QTL) that models the connection between instructional practices, the curriculum, and the use of computers.  The teacher participants assumed the role of students in a constructivist compatible environment and actively participating in instructional activities that integrate educational theories and practices with the use of technology.
            The qualitative data came from surveys of different case studies.  First, a collective case study of teachers from two schools, all the teachers participated in the QTL professional development training.  These 2 schools are located in the same region of the same state with similar demographic characteristics.  Data collected are as follows; structured interviews prior to the QTL professional development program and at the end of the year; and classroom observations prior to participating once a year and at the end of the school year.  Second, a case study of an individual teacher in another school located in the other half of the state.  The same survey data were collective from this case study, as the collective case study of two schools.  She incorporated the use of technology in her classroom, showed its effectiveness with low-performing student.  Out of the seven below grade level students, only one did not pass the reading test at the end of the school year.  It must be noted though that all her students had access to a laptop.
1.     Observations and interviews with the case study teachers indicated that technology could be a starting point to experiment with new instructional practices.
2.     Technology did increase the frequency and quality of interaction among the students.
3.     Journal entries showed that some teachers reported making substantial change in their general instructional practices after participating in the QTL training.
            For the quantitative data, the sample consists of 148 elementary educators in grades K-5 that have undergone pre-, post, follow-up surveys.  The survey measured participants’ self-reported general instructional practices, technical skills, knowledge and awareness of educational theories and practices, and instructional use of computers in the classroom.  The results of these surveys were then subjected to Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient to test the linear relationship between the general instructional practices and the instructional use of computers in the classroom.  The “One-way repeated-measures ANOVA” was used to determine the changes in participants’ general instructional practices and in their instructional use of computers.  The paired t-test was conducted to assess which means differed from each other and the False Discovery Rate procedure was used to control for family-wise error.
1.          The study did establish a positive correlation between professional development and instructional use of technology.
2.          Professional development training showed significant changes in the instructional use of computers in the classroom.
3.          Professional development training showed no significant changes in the general instructional practices of teachers.
            Establishing the correlation between professional development and instructional use of technology is crucial because this serves as a bridge to resolve the problem on how to make teachers comfortable in integrating technology in their instructional practices.  Lack of professional development for technology use is one of the most serious obstacles to fully integrating technology into the curriculum (Fatemi, 1999:  Office of Technology Assessment).
            Since technology is perceived as new and unfamiliar tool by teachers (Matzen et al., 2007, p 427), a well-planned, on-going professional development program that is tied to the school’s curriculum goals, designed with built in evaluation and staff support is essential if teachers are to use technology (Rodriquez, 2000:  Critical Issue:  Providing Professional Development for Effective Technology Use).  Further, he stated that a sit-and-get training sessions or one-time-only workshops are not effective in making teachers comfortable with using technology.
            There have been no significant changes in teachers’ general practices after the professional development. One of the reasons given by the authors of the study was that the changes that occurred in teachers’ general instructional practices may not have been substantial enough to be measured by the survey.  These changes should not be expected to be immediate, but gradual.  As showed by some of the teachers in the case study, technology is used in the classroom in exact manner as it was modeled in the professional development training. One possible explanation for this could be that teachers see technology as separate and different from their general instructional practices. Another reason could be that their knowledge on how to integrate technology is not yet sufficient.  This should not be treated negatively, though.  Instead, this could be the catapult with which teachers start to experimentally use technology.  Reinforcing this with an on-going professional development, teachers will eventually feel comfortable and continues to integrate technology in their instructional practices.  Hence an on-going and well-thought of professional development is necessary to help teachers comfortably and adeptly use technology in the classroom.
            It must be noted though that this study was conducted solely in schools located in America, which in many ways are in auspicious condition than most of the countries in the world.  First, the finances and facilities of both professional development and schools are well-supported by the government or a private institution.  Second, students have a better access of these technologies at home and in school.  Considering this, would the study gain the same results if conducted in other parts of the world?
            The methodologies used were appropriate.  But the scope of the study seemed limited.  The teacher participants seemed to have all come from stable and well-supported schools, which is not always the case.  The study covers only one side of the coin.  The outcome would have been a lot credible and realistic had they considered other factors such as socio-economic aspect to give the study an integral result.
            Finally, this study is timely and important in education.  To conduct a research study of this nature in other countries like Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, or Philippines which has a different economic, educational, and socio-cultural setting as Americawould present a broader view of the validity of the grounds of this study.   Along with this, it is essential as well to explore on some congruous topics such as; teachers and schools perception and readiness towards technology, availability of knowledgeable human resources, and quality of professional development in the country.
Allan H. K. Yuen ; Will W. K. Ma(2008). Exploring teacher acceptance of e-learning technology.  Retrieved September 18, 2008, from
 Rodriquez, Ginger (2000).  Critical Issue: Providing Professional Development for Effective Technology Use.  Retrieved September 16, 2008, from
Dave Nagel, “Are Schools Inhibiting 21st Century Learning?,” T.H.E. Journal, 4/8/2008,
Dave Nagel, “Classroom Technology ‘Woefully Inadequate,’ Study Finds,” T.H.E. Journal, 6/16/2008,