Diagnosing the TPACK Landscape in Native Language Instructors of Taiwan: What Affects Their Readiness to Teach in Technology-Rich Classrooms?
In Taiwan, Native Languages become a new mandatory subject from grade 1 to 12 starting in 2022. This study examines the technical, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) of Taiwanese native language teachers (NLTs). Used the Delphi method, Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), the NLTs’ competency of teaching with technology was uncovered.
To date, Taiwan has 8 vulnerable, 1 definitely endangered, 2 severely endangered, 5 critically endangered, and 9 extinct languages. Seeing the necessity of ecological biodiversity for sustainability, UNESCO argued the importance of language diversity in human civilizations. In response to UNESCO’s call to safeguard endangered languages, global collaborations have initiated the reduction of language extinction. However, not until the end of the 20th century did the government of Taiwan address the conservation of native languages, due to the democratization and localism movement.
To further safeguard these endangered languages, legislators in Taiwan passed the Development of National Languages Act, to “recognize the multicultural nature of the nation, and to spur the transmission, revival, and development of national languages”. It asks the government to prioritize the transmission, revitalization, and development of endangered languages by various policy measures. One of the measures is to implement mandatory classes in native languages at all stages of compulsory education, starting in the school year 2022. Moreover, the Act authorizes local governments to implement, wherever appropriate, any native languages as the language of instruction at schools. To be compliant with the Act, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will have to prepare licensed native language teachers (NLTs) in the 3-year window.
In this technology-rich 21st century, integrating technology becomes vital to all teachers, including NLTs. Although many cultural policy instruments are in place, NLTs may become the only taskforce that holds every effort of language revitalization accountable. Researchers and practitioners have seen the potential of computer-assisted indigenous language learning, web-based aboriginal language instruction, and technology-assisted language conservation. NLTs’ teaching and technology competencies are critical factors regarding the success of native language education. To understand Taiwanese NLTs’ technological teaching competencies at the national level, this study addressed two gaps (i.e., the factor structure of NLTs’ TPACK and the relationships between the factors), by first performing EFA and CFA on data gathered from an NLT-TPACK survey that was contextualized for native language instruction.
TPACK, a comprehensive model describing teacher knowledge, is derived from Shulman (1986), following scholars’ frameworks of Pedagogy Content Knowledge (PCK). TPACK consists of seven elements Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), Technological Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and TPACK. Despite technology-intensive teaching having reached a new normality in classrooms, decades of research found in-service and pre-service teachers had difficulty orchestrating learned content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and technology skills. To understand the orchestration between technology and pedagogy, TPACK research focuses on developing a total package with professional development opportunities.
Minority languages are offered in public schools to help minority children bridge their learning experiences between families and schools. Reasons for native language instruction include collecting and expressing indigenous heritage, facilitating cultural understanding, and promoting multiculturalism. The Language Nest of Māori features the whole language paradigm that immerses learners within cultural heritage, value, and behavior through various kinds of events. Domain-specific teaching models were developed, such as Language Apprenticeship in heritage language learning. A lively native language classroom entails demonstrating cultural context, celebrating diversity, and appropriating multimedia resources.
However, this approach requires deliberate orchestration among the various teacher-knowledge components, such as TCK and PCK. NLTs typically obtain better content knowledge than their technology counterparts. Moreover, heritage content requires pedagogical translation by instructors, such as relating content to day-to-day communication, connecting to live experience, embedding ethnic worldview in language learning, promoting knowledge of social construction , and creating multimedia material.
The potential of computer-assisted language learning has been acknowledged widely. A competent teacher in technology-integrated classrooms must be equipped confidently with solid CK, TK, PK, and TPACK. Presently, a gap exists in comprehensive research regarding Taiwanese NLTs’ TPACK in K-12 schools. Three earlier governmental commissioned surveys revealed that the certification rate among NLTs were Southern Min (17.6%), Hakka (50%), and Indigenous (less than 1%), respectively. Even today, only about 35% of the native language teachers (NLTs) are certified teachers, and more than 80% of the Southern Min and Hakka dialect teachers take part-time and substitute positions. NLTs in other languages such as indigenous languages, and the certified teachers who taught native languages, had not been studied. This study expanded the understanding of NLTs' TPACK among all native languages at the national level.
This study formulated three research questions:
RQ1: Is the adapted survey a valid and reliable instrument to measure Taiwanese NLTs’ TPACK?
RQ2: What is the profile of Taiwanese NLTs’ TPACK?
RQ3: What are the relationships between Taiwanese NLTs’ TPACK and their backgrounds?
For research question 1, it was hypothesized that the contextualization of the NLT-TPACK survey would yield a model with the seven TPACK factors as postulated by Mishra and Koehler (2006). For research question 2, a structural model of TPACK components was set up. As such, we hypothesized that TK, PK and CK had both direct and indirect contributions to the four derived constructs. Combining the two questions listed above, this study aimed to reveal the structural relationships among the factors that influence NLTs’ TPACK. For research question 3, background variables were examined as moderators affecting NLTs' TPACK.
Our findings from NLTs suggest that: (1) There exist five key components of NLTs’ knowledge (CK, PK, TK, PCK, and TPACK); (2) PCK serves as a critical bridge between TPACK and CK/PK, while TK had a positive, but insignificant effect toward TPACK; and (3) middle-aged NLTs and NLTs who taught more hours per week had a weaker effect on PK toward PCK, but a stronger effect on CK toward PCK. In addition, the scholarly Delphi panel provides theoretical validity of survey instruments in mapping TPACK framework, but panel experts may not suggest deletion of redundant items that measure similar behavior or attitude. The EFA and CFA procedures helped shorten the scale.
Although seven defined constructs comprised the TPACK framework, empirical studies from teachers do not always reflect such 7-dimensional structure. The reasons could be that the seven constructs of TPACK are highly correlated. Moreover, teachers do not hold their knowledge in isolation, but orchestrate classroom instructions by integrating all their teacher knowledge. Teachers could easily identify their own TK, but had difficulty sensing the differences among TCK, TPK, and TPACK. In our factor analyses, TCK and TPK items tended to be absorbed by TPACK rather than forming two distinct constructs. It is more likely that NLTs had insufficient opportunities to develop their TCK and TPK. Most NLTs had IT equipment available in their classrooms, but they seldom used it in teaching. The part-time NLTs also diminished the likelihood of using classroom computers and smartboards in teaching. Additionally, many NLTs are tribal seniors. These reasons may explain why CK plays a more significant role than PK in some groups of NLTs. While previous studies have found that female teachers might have lower TPACK. A further qualitative investigation may help explain why NLTs perform differently.
Given the onboarding of native language teacher education programs for NLTs, our findings highlighted a key area that needs to be addressed. The development of native-language teacher education programs should focus on technological instruction integration, especially in developing NLT’s TK, TCK, TPK, and the TPACK orchestration in technology-rich classrooms. Future teacher educators for NLTs also should equip themselves with adequate knowledge in technology-integrated instruction. Native language education is multifunctional. Research has pointed out that culture-related factors play roles in language teachers’ knowledge. Future instrument development of TPACK for language teachers should consider culture as part of CK, TCK, and PCK.