Developing pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies in a Chinese normal university: The role of curriculum leaders


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Looking at higher education in China, in addition to the political control of the central government, the top-down curriculum management system of the universities seems to support the effectiveness of teacher education programmes. Thus, the demand for information and communications technology (ICT) in teacher education not only affects the context and structure of teacher education programmes, but also challenges the role of curriculum leaders. As the core of all other leadership activities (Wiles, 2009), curriculum leadership is responsible for both the maintenance and improvement of teacher education programmes. Furthermore, in creating a meaningful learning context, it is vital for pre-service teachers to develop ICT in education competencies. Therefore, there are research gaps in the investigation of how curriculum leadership supports or hinders teacher education programmes in the development of pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies. This study is intended to fill in the research gaps. It poses the following guiding questions to explore the theme in greater depth. First, how do teacher education programmes affect the development of pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies? Second, how does curriculum leadership shape teacher education programmes, and how do those programmes shape it in turn? Third, what are the roles of curriculum leaders in developing pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies? This study was conducted at Guangxi Normal University (GXNU), a provincial normal university in mainland China. Based on the theoretical and contextual background, its conceptual framework was contextualised in three top-down layers of administration, including the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Guangxi Provincial Department of Education and GXNU. The curriculum leaders at the university, subordinate school and classroom levels constitute the curriculum leadership system at GXNU. They play interactive roles in programme planning, implementation and evaluation to develop pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies. This framework provided a general guide for the tools and parameters required for data collection and analysis in this study. According to the research questions, this study adopted a mixed-methods research approach, sequentially integrating a quantitative survey with qualitative interviews and documentation analysis. As pre-service teachers' self-assessed perceptions of TPACK were likely to predict their ICT in education competencies, 211 pre-service teachers in the three programmes were surveyed to examine their TPACK perceptions. Valid data were analysed via statistical methods in SPSS 17.0. The interviewees included 13 curriculum leaders at the university, subordinate school and classroom levels, respectively, and 12 pre-service teachers were selected for focus group interviews. The qualitative data were analysed via open and axial coding. The findings from both methods were compared and combined. The integrated findings clarify the role of curriculum leaders in developing pre-service teachers' ICT in education competencies. Curriculum leaders at the university level (e.g., the Vice-President (Academic)) provide support in the forms of policy formulation and resource allocation. Curriculum leaders at the subordinate school level (e.g., the Vice-Dean (Academic)) have a significant effect on the application of ICT to education curriculum structures, course objectives and academic credit management. Furthermore, curriculum leaders at the classroom level (e.g., course coordinators or lecturers) have a significant effect on course content and pedagogy. The results of this study indicate the interactions between curriculum leadership and teacher education programmes. Curriculum leadership shapes teacher education programmes by providing supportive policies, planning or managing curricula and evaluating pre-service teachers' learning outcomes. The programmes may also shape the practices of curriculum leaders in terms of the changing educational system requirements and current curricula constraints. This finding may help to provide empirical evidence and achieve an understanding of the effectiveness of teacher education programmes. This study also reveals that curriculum leaders are under pressure to acquire and use effective programme management strategies related to the use of ICT in education. In particular, this study highlights the importance of university senior management in supporting coordination and communication between curriculum leaders. This study also explains that pre-service teachers' teaching reflections and evaluations are of great importance for improving courses or programmes and informing the practices of curriculum leaders. Beyond these findings, this study contributes to an important future direction for TPACK. It suggests that examining TPACK at the programme and course levels with a focus on curriculum leadership requires more research. The outcomes of the study are expected to expand the theoretical knowledge of curriculum leadership effects, especially in relation to the use of ICT in teacher education. The findings imply the need for consistent support, collaboration and commitment to programme improvement from all educational stakeholders. Finally, the limitations of the study are highlighted, including its generalisation and methodological limitations and its small sample of interviewed curriculum leaders and surveyed pre-service teachers. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Educational technology -- Study and teaching -- China
  • Information technology -- Study and teaching -- China
  • Teachers -- Training of -- China
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015