Cultivating Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) among school students has been the foremost agenda of the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE). This was in response to the World Bank’s report addressing the alarmingly critical level of Malaysia’s innovations, which can affect the country’s economic growth and development (Malaysian Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, 2016). Thus, the government sees instilling HOTS among students as the feasible solution to produce capable human capital to bring forth new innovations in the future.
In line with this national aspiration, MOE collaborated with Malaysian Innovation Agency and introduced the i-THINK programme to schools to enhance HOTS practices to help students express new ideas (Ministry of Education, 2013). Although this programme was carried out since 2013, the effectiveness of i-THINK in boosting students HOTS has not been evident, as reflected in the 2015 PISA result. Instead, the Malaysian students settled at the second level in the Mathematic, Scientific and Reading Literacy domain because they only possessed the basic and procedural level of knowledge (Ministry of Education, 2016). Additionally, a report in the Malaysian Education Blueprint Report 2013-2015 also addressed students’ problems in answering HOTS oriented questions in the Year 6 national public exams. In other instances, the MOE’s Inspectorate of Quality Assurance reported 60% of the 282 primary and secondary schools are still below par in practising HOTS (Harits, 2017). Their further findings show teachers who lack the understanding and who resist HOTS are the underpinning factors in this poor reception of HOTS in schools (Harits, 2017).
To ensure the success of the programme, it has to be noted: the aforementioned situation highlights the importance of taking into account teachers’ apprehension of a newly implemented programme such as i-THINK. (Harits, 2017) argues the effectiveness of an initiative or a programme depends on the implementers, which in this case are the teachers. Similarly, (Fullan, 2006) also opined members of an organization need to accept the change prior to change taking place at the organizational level. Teachers’ concerns are vital in making the innovation a success (Hall & Hord, 2011); the innovation, however, must be complemented by teachers’ professional development that promotes knowledge and skill transfer (Boatright, 2014; Knight & Cornett, 2009). The MOE and the education departments were entrusted with the duty of introducing i-THINK on both the district and the school levels. (Nik Rosnizasuzila, Azlina, & Zakiah, 2015) reported in their research: after the exposure towards this learning tool, teachers were left unguided and unsupervised during the implementation, resulting in teachers conducting the i-THINK programme based on their own understanding. (Knight & Cornett, 2009) noted the possibility of teachers’ inability to implement such an innovation is high, especially since even with attending workshops, teachers were yet to gain specific guidance regarding the matter, and also no further action taken to oversee the implementation process.
Most past research reported on the effectiveness of i-THIK at school level, mostly the impact of the tools on students (Azura, 2008; Sidek, Kadir, & Sabri, 2013; Hyerle & Yeager, 2007; Looi, 2012; Izzati & Zawawi, 2014; Aliff & Norbany, 2013). Nonetheless, there were certain research focusing on the teachers’ beliefs, attitudes (Sidek, Kadir, & Sabri, 2013) and preparedness (Salina & Zamri, 2017) in applying i-THINK during lessons. However, after careful reading and reviewing, there was no literature review specifically touching on teachers’ concerns regarding implementing i-THINK using the model CBAM. Observing the progress of i-THINK thus far, the present is apt to carry out a research to serve as an input for the ministry to plan the next strategy as well as both the guidance and the professional training necessary for teachers according to their respective needs.
Therefore, this research aims to identify the stages of teachers’ concerns towards the implementation of i-THINK at school level. To measure the intensity of teachers’ concerns towards the implementation, Concern Based Adaptation Model (CBAM) was used, as this model is able to supervise, measure and provide information about changes in the education system (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013). This research seeks to answer the question (1): What is the level of teachers’ concerns on the implementation of i-THINK at school level?
2. Literature Review
This section describes the concept of concern and the role of CBAM in exploring teachers’ concern about the introduction of educational innovation which causes changes in curriculum and education system.
2.1. Concept of Concern
“Concern” is one of the important elements considered when working with teachers involved in a change. This term could be easily misunderstood. According to the Oxford Dictionary (3rd ed.) “concern” can be translated as “kebimbangan” (anxiety) and “kerisauan” (worries). Both these words provide negative connotations. Even (Fuller, 1969) initially defined “concern” as problems faced by teachers. However, after a thorough research, Fuller started to view “concern” from a neutral stand by relating it with a person’s mindfulness about an innovation (George, 1978). (George, 1978) further added that an individual shows concern in response to problems and opportunities. Through their explanations, both (Fuller, 1969) and (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013) opened a new dimension about the term “concern”; it does not necessarily have to be negative.
In the SoCQ manual, George and his fellow researchers (2013) added “concern” is viewed as something that could elevate a person’s feelings and thinking towards factors attracting them. (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013) stressed psychosocial, personal background, personalities, motivation, needs, emotions, education levels, roles taken, and status can influence a person’s view as well as response towards the factors attracting his or her attention. In conclusion, “concern” is viewed as an interesting issue to be paid attention to as it comprises both negative and positive aspects, relying on experience and personal background (Both, 2010).
2.2. Concern Based Adoption Model (CBAM)
CBAM is a model developed by a group of researchers from the Research and Development Centre for Teacher Education in University of Texas, Austin, during the 70s. It aimed at collecting data to evaluate, explain or monitor the implementation of changes that occur in education (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013). The model provides a view about the development of people’s concern towards an innovation, occurring usually when changes happen. Base on this model, concern can be classified into 4 levels known as Unconcerned, Self, Task and Impact. These four levels of concern about an innovation can be categorised into seven concern stages about innovation as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. The stages of concern about an innovation.
George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer (2013). Measuring Implementation in Schools: The Stages of Concern Questionnaire Ed.3. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
CBAM model affirmed that the success of a change lies upon an individual within an institution. Therefore, the focus is on the teachers’ concerns, so that any innovation or any new change introduced can be implemented successfully (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013). Hence, the CBAM model can also provide a clear view about the level of teachers’ concerns regarding the introduction of i-THINK in schools. These findings will help school administrators and the ministry to plan suitable in-service training for teachers accordingly. This model is well suited in this research as it is agreed by a lot of research: teachers will go through a few stages of concern about an educational innovation before and after the implementation.
Among all the researches using the CBAM model, it was (Sultana, 2015) who researched about the academic and the administrative staff’s concerns in Allama Iqbal Open University regarding the offer of an online course for the Masters in Philosophy of Education (MPhil in Ed.) that was newly introduced. The researcher had adopted the survey form in CBAM and her findings revealed the academic and the administrative staff experiencing a high level of concern about the level of reception towards the online program, MPhil in Ed. The findings helped the university improve by deciding to integrate the element of information and technology in several aspects of the program offered.
In addition, (Roselita, Badusah, Alias, & Said, 2017) adopted the CBAM model in their research to measure the level of concerns among pre-school teachers and national coaches about the learning via playing approach in teaching Bahasa Malaysia. Whilst their research revealed the respondents were in the Impact stage (min = 5.082, s.p = 0.612), their inferential analysis test, MANOVA, showed there is a significant difference in the teachers’ concerns based on the gender and the level of education of the pre-school teachers.
On the other hand, (Tan & Lee, 2015) used the CBAM model to generate users profile on the Curriculum Innovation known as the Primary School Standard Curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah―KSSR). Data was gathered via a survey gathered from 192 teachers from 14 Chinese Vernacular Schools in Barat Daya Pulau Pinang. These research analysed data based on not only the demographic background but also in general. The research’s findings showed postgraduate teachers displaying experienced user profiles while other teachers displayed non-user profiles.
In addition, when the “One to One Computer” project faced a lot of challenges in terms of its implementation, (Donovan, Hartley, & Strudler, 2007) used the CBAM model to study teachers’ concerns regarding this project. Their findings categorised teachers into two types of concerns. Firstly, the majority of teachers were concerned about the impact of the introduction of the notebook into the school environment on them personally. Secondly, teachers were concerned they would be unable to use the notebook well and would fail to fulfill the students’ needs. Henceforth, (Donovan, Hartley, & Strudler, 2007) suggested specific professional development training for teachers, based on their concerns and to ensure teachers can voice their opinions during the implementation process, as well as equipping teachers with information related to the result of the implementations to reduce teachers’ concerns.
3. Research Methodology
This quantitative study used cross-sectional survey study design to discover the level of teachers’ concerns in implementing i-THINK in school. The sample in this study involved teachers from 66 primary schools in Baram, Sarawak. Researchers applied simple sampling technique due to the limited accessibility to the rural schools (McMillan & Schumacher, 2010). Due to this limitation, this researcher used the Google form sent via a link to all of the participants to answer the SoCQ survey. To avoid biasness, the researcher decided to omit his own school from participating in the research, resulting in the participation of only 153 teachers. The SoCQ survey form that was developed based on the CBAM model used in this study (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013). This survey has 35 items based on the 7 stages of teachers’ concerns. The items in the survey measured teachers’ concerns on 8 scales of intensity based on the Likert scale, starting from 0 (unrelated) to 7 (very true). To preserve the validity and the reliability of SoCQ as it was translated from English to Bahasa Melayu, the form was verified by an English Head Panel and a Bahasa Melayu one ?all of who had 15 years of teaching experience.
The researcher included the raw data obtained from the SoCQ instrument in Ms Excel 2010. The total raw score for each respondent, by adding five items to each stage of the teachers’ concerns, was generated. Then, the average raw score for each stage computed. The average raw score for each stage was converted to a percentile score by referring to the Percentile Conversion Chart for the SoCQ. Finally, the percentile scores for teachers’ concerns are plotted onto graphs.
4. Research Findings
Generally, teachers display a high level of intensity of concern at the stage 0 (Unconcerned) with 93% intensity score. A fairly high level of intensity is observed amongst the teachers at both Self (Stage 1 and 2) and Management (Stage 3) levels. The result also identified the lowest intensity score of teachers’ concerns which was 54% for Consequence (Stage 4). The graph showed a “tail-up” upon the intensity score of teachers’ concerns while implementing i-THINK programme in schools (Figure 1).
The research findings for the general profile of i-THINK showed a high percentage of intensity for the concerns in the first stage Unconcerned. This showed the implementation of i-THINK is not a priority for the teachers as they have
Figure 1. Teacher’s level of concern on the implementation of i-THINK.
other concerns such as other initiatives, tasks and school activities, which act as a barrier (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013).
The highest percentage at the “Unconcerned” stage required the researcher to analyse the second highest stage score for further analysis (George, Hall, & Stiegelbauer, 2013). In such situations, the second highest stage score implies teachers are in the Management stage. The percentage shows teachers in the research are more attentive to the process and to the planning of i-THINK in the class. Teachers are more concerned about the productivity, organizing, administrating and the scheduling needed for the implementation in class.
Relatively, the percentages of teachers’ concerns are high in Stage 1 and low in Stage 2. This indicates the teachers show interest towards i-THINK and are open to the idea of i-THINK in class, but would require more in-depth materials about the innovation. Teachers demonstrating low intensity of concern at the Impact stage imply that teachers are not concerned about considering the relevance of the innovation towards the students, achievement evaluation, pupils’ competency and the needs of change to improve their performance.
Meanwhile, the high intensity of concern in Stage 0, 1, 2 and 3, the low intensity of concern in stage 4 and 5, and the tail-up at Stage 6 suggest a clear non-user profile. (Hall & Hord, 2011) further added the tail up in Stage 6 (Refocusing) signified teachers wanted to make changes in the existing innovation as they lacked the believe in the effectiveness of the i-THINK programme in schools.
The teachers’ general profiles can be taken as non-users. Teachers require extensive information to apply i-THINK effectively. According to (Hall & Hord, 2001), the implementation of an innovation must be viewed as a process rather than an event, which requires, not only teachers to be equipped with information and material about i-THINK, but to always be supervised and guided.
In line with (Cheung, 2002), most teachers who attended courses organised by the State Education Department, District Education Offices and schools were never supervised. Thus, raising doubts and uncertainty among teachers in implementing the innovation, and encourages them to carry out the innovation according to their own understanding. Therefore, proper further action must be taken, in the form of extensive courses, follow-up reports or supervision from concerned parties to ensure optimum implementation. Further research should be carried out in terms of practicality in implementing the innovation at school level due to the tail up at Stage 6 (refocusing) as it indicates teachers wanting to modify the existing innovation. However, this 21st Century learning tool should not be viewed as an obstacle to be integrated into conventional teaching practice