Creative Education, 2010, 1, 33-38
doi:10.4236/ce.2010.11006 Published Online June 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing
Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction
Joel K. Kiboss
Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Management, Egerton University, Egerton, Kenya.
Received December 28th, 2009; revised March 8th, 2010; accepted May 1st, 2010.
This article explores the pupils view of the teachers changing role as a result of the implementation of an innovation
that involved electronic learning measurement lessons in a developing country, namely Kenya. 118 randomly pupils
enrolled in schools that could be visited conveniently in Nakuru district, Kenya were exposed to an electronic learning
program (ELP) in physics. The ELP physics module was developed from a physics course dealing with the concept of
measurement. The content was based on the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) approved syllabus for science educa-
tion, science textbooks and other relevant materials. Part of the investigation was to determine the effect of the ELP
physics module on pupils perspectives of the teachers role during the physics course. The participants were inter-
viewed at random using the Pupils Interview Guide (PIG). A selected group of pupils own expressions were also ana-
lyzed. The results showed that the conceptions of the pupils who were exposed to the e-learning program and those not
so exposed differed remarkably. For, the pupils in the experimental condition depended more on their peers and the
program while their counterparts in the traditional class were more dependent on the teacher. The study concludes that the
use of ELP module to support conventional physics instruction can have substantial advantages over other approaches.
Keywords: Electronic Learning, Expository Teaching, Changing Role, Innovation
1. Introduction
The initial goal of augmenting conventional instruction
with the computer in the West was to improve the quality
of instruction by providing individualized instruction.
Although the overall effectiveness of electronic learning
programs is still a subject of debate, there is a plethora of
findings for and against its inclusion in instructional
practice [1-4]. Moreover, there has also been a disagree-
ment regarding the control of the sequence of instruction
[5]. A review of the literature revealed that some argue
that the control should be in the hands of the learner
and/or the teacher while others suggest that it should be
the responsibility of the program designer to provide
such a mechanism. So long as it is able to collect and
analyze the response data from the learners and thereby
make optimal automatic decisions about the sequence of
instruction. However, it is too early to pronounce a ver-
dict on its effectiveness or otherwise until baseline data
are available from the different regions in the world.
2. Outline of the Project
2.1 The Problem
Although studies about the effect of electronic learning
(e-learning) programs on pupils’ learning of various sub-
jects abound, no study known to this researcher has
looked into the learner’s own view regarding the role of
the teacher during an e-learning instructional process. Its
understanding, especially in a country where the teacher
has been in total control of instruction is crucial because
such views work together with other mediating factors to
revamp the classroom practice and e-learning environ-
ments [5].
2.2 Purpose
The research reported here was undertaken to documents
a comparative study of the views pupils hold regarding
the role of the teacher in instructional processes that in-
volve the use of e-learning program (ELP) to support
conventional instruction in physics. In particular, it was
hoped that the study would revealed features of the
teacher’s role that impinge on the pupils’ classroom
learning and participation during instruction. The study
was conducted within normal classroom settings in
which the pupils were viewed as the active participants in
the construction of the new knowledge and/or experi-
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction
2.3 Research Questions
The research questions center on 1) the source of cumu-
lative knowledge and experience; 2) the manner in which
they interpret their interactions with the teacher and 3)
the instructional materials and the value of the presence
of a teacher during the instructional process.
2.4 Method
The qualitative study design that guided the fieldwork
and data analysis technique of the study reported in this
article is the quasi-ethnographic. This was chosen be-
cause a review of the literature revealed that most of the
findings about effects of new technology on learning are
derived from quantitative data with very little or no data
on direct observation and/or interviews of the learners
In order to collect the necessary qualitative data, the
researcher with the help of two assistants interviewed the
participants and their teacher at random. Information was
collected from the participating teacher and a randomly
selected group of pupils during and after the physics les-
son. Generally, the interview period lasted not more than
20 minutes. The pupils were interviewed to specifically
understand the individual’s own views of what they think
their teacher should be doing during the lesson processes.
To eliminate researcher and research assistants’ biases,
the information from the interviews were reviewed by
the researcher and copies given back to the teacher or
pupils concerned to confirm the data. This was done in
order to increase investigator confidence in the reliability
and validity of results [9-11].
The teacher and the randomly selected were inter-
viewed on site, generally after the lesson using two in-
struments, the Pupil Interview Guide (PIG) and the
Teacher Interview Guide (TIG). Throughout the inter-
view sessions, the researcher and his assistants were able
to collect sufficient descriptive details about the pupils’
views of what they thought their teacher should be doing
during the lesson process. The following format illus-
trates the style and strategy of the interviews:
Pupils were interviewed at random depending on their
selected response to the semi-structured interview item
(Table 1). Also eight interviewees from each group were
asked to elaborate further, why they chose a given choice
(s). This was done in order to gain more insight about
why they preferred a certain choice (s). In addition, the
teacher was also interviewed about his experience with
the new technology and role during implementation of
the program (Table 2) to see whether his view would
differ from those of the pupils.
2.5 Context
Three contrasting school sites were used to establish a
basis for comparative analysis of qualitative data. A total
of 118 pupils were randomly selected and randomly as-
signed to three intact classrooms easily accessible by
Njoro-Menengai and Nakuru-Marigat roads in Nakuru
district, Kenya. The participants consisted of 65 boys and
53 girls. To allay the schools authorities’ confidentiality
of their true identification, the three groups-control group
I (C1), control group II (C2) and the experimental group
(E) were categorized as schools A, B and C.
2.6 Data Analysis
Reference [12] has identified three categories of data viz:
1) Baseline data—this refers to the information about
the human and technological context of the pupils and
their teacher as they interacted with the instructional ma-
2) Process data—which refers to information derived
from observations of human-machine interactions in
these settings and some of their outcomes;
3) Value data—that refers to information about the
values and/or meanings of the teacher and the subjects
implied or attributed to the program.
The latter category had a major bearing on the data
reported in this paper because the data obtained were
analyzed in terms of qualitative descriptions.
Table 1. Pupils’ interview question
What would you say your teacher should do when you are learning the physics course through the computer/new technology?
(a) Leave us alone and help us when we need his/her assistance
(b) Telling us what we should be doing
(c) Demonstrating with the computer
(e) Supervising our work
(e) Other (Explain)
Table 2. Teacher’s interview question
What was your experience and what do you say your role should be when teaching the physics course using the new technology?
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction35
3. Results and Discussion
The main reason for the study was to explore the pupils’
view of the teacher’s role during instruction. Studies in-
dicate that pre-existing pedagogical conceptions are
critically important in understanding what teachers do
with computers in the classroom milieu. It is gaining
more insight of the teacher’s practice and the pupils’
views of that practice and its history that will allow us to
understand how teachers utilize information technology
(IT) to enhance instruction in the classroom and thereby
incorporate them into their instructional culture.
Table 3 represents the pupils’ responses to the inter-
view item before their exposure to the physics course.
The results indicate that the two groups that were pre-
tested held similar views about what the role of the
teacher should be during classroom instruction. However,
this changed remarkably following their exposure to the
physics course. But their views on the same had changed
dramatically as a result of their exposure to the E-learn-
ing program (Table 4).
Results in Table 4 below show that the views of the
pupils in the E-learning classes expressed unanimity in
that 70% and 72% of the pupils in the two experimental
groups (E and C2) as compared to only 25% in the true
control group who were in agreement that “the teacher
should leave them alone and only help whenever a need
arises”. In other words, a majority of the pupils in the
regular classrooms seem to support the role of a teacher
who is in control of the learning process. Similarly, a
very low number (17% and 19%) of those in the experi-
mental condition (E and C2 respectively) feel that the
teacher’s role should be that of telling them what they
should do as compared to a large number (83%) of those
in the control condition (C1).
3.1 The Pupils’ Views of the Teacher’s Changing
Role during the E-Learning Program in
Science Instruction
Part of the main reasons of this study was to explore the
students’ view of the teacher’s role during instruction.
The findings reported in the excerpts that follow elabo-
rate the students’ own expressions.
3.1.1 Excerpt 1
1) Dan: The teacher should leave us alone and help us
when we need him... because through the computer and
our own experiences we learn more than just being
taught by the teacher. The teacher may only help show us
where we go wrong and what to do next after we finish
2) Rama: The teacher should leave us alone first to
practice what we have learnt alone with peers ...this
makes us to learn and understand physics lessons better.
3) Owuor: For me, it was fun to use the computer
alone with my friends. But I agree that we need the
teacher to help us only whenever we mess or are con-
fused about something.
Table 3. Pupils’ pre-responses to the interview question
E C1 C
1. Leave us alone and help us when we need his/her assistance 20 25 -
2. Telling us what we should be doing 85 83 -
3. Demonstrate when teaching 68 64 -
4. Supervising our work 16 15 -
5. Other (Explain) 12 07 -
Table 4. Pupils’ post-responses to the interview question
E C1 C
1. Leave us alone and help us when we need his/her assistance 70 25 72
2. Telling us what we should be doing 17 83 19
3. Demonstrate when teaching 38 64 33
4. Supervising our work 76 15 79
5. Other (Explain) 12 77 09
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction
4) Emmy: The teacher should leave us alone of course
after teaching us how to use the computer so that we can
be free to play with the computer and learn physics les-
sons with peers. That is what I think he should do.
5) Rael: The teacher should leave us alone so that we
try our own best to use the computer to learn and discuss
the physics lessons.
6) David: The teacher should leave us alone because it
is for our own benefit to learn and discuss things by our-
selves. We will understand them better than if the teacher
just tells us.
7) Simon: The teacher should leave us alone because if
he explains everything to us... it could be difficult for us
to know how to use measuring equipment.
8) Kosi: The teacher should leave us alone I suppose
because we should learn... Umm so that we may learn
from each other and the computer of course (Group In-
terview, School B: C2 Group 11/3/96).
3.1.2 Excerpt 2
1) Malaki: The teacher should leave us alone so that we
develop confidence on operating the computer and talk-
ing about what we learn in the physics course.
2) Esther: The teacher should not leave us all alone but
should be around to help us if we have difficulties in do-
ing or solving problems about distance, mass and time.
3) Rotich: The teacher should not leave us alone com-
pletely because it will be easy for us to know or follow
the lessons all by ourselves… but if he tells us everything
it will be difficult to remember because that means all we
do is just sit and listen to him and not have time to even
think or discuss ideas about the course.
4) Carol: The teacher should not totally leave us alone
but help if we are stagnant or having a problem... we like
to learn from the computer and peers because we under-
stand and remember more… first you must read, talk it
over with friends and then apply it through class activi-
5) Bernard: The teacher should not leave us entirely
alone but check on us if we are doing things right or
wrong. He should be there to clarify where we don’t un-
6) Jane: The teacher should only tell us where we are
wrong and if we are using the right apparatus to measure
7) Kimutai: The teacher should be around when we
learn with the computer so that he explains complicated
things. But after that, he should let us alone and only
check to see our progress.
8) Lucy: The teacher should leave us alone so that we
can get enough opportunity to learn from the computer
and from peers... and not just the teacher alone (Group
Interviews, School B: C2 Group 6/3/1996).
A comparison of the subjects’ responses reported in
Excerpt 1 and 2 reveals identical learning protocols in the
treatment groups i.e., E and C2. They all agree that the
teacher should leave them alone and only assist when
they need help. But the responses of the selected group of
subjects in the true control group (C1) shown in Excerpt
3 differ markedly from those by the selected group of
subjects in E and C2. While the subjects in the C1 group
view learning as teacher dependent, those in the E and C2
group view it as a process that involves the teacher,
themselves and the instructional material. The following
excerpt clarifies this point further.
3.1.3 Excerpt 3
1) Beggy: The teacher should not leave us alone but tell
us what to learn and do. If he leaves us how can one
learn without the teacher being present? We will end up
making noise and fighting each other.
2) Malel: The teacher should be telling us what to
learn and do so that we may know more about physics.
We may read our textbooks but it is not like the teacher
teaching us.
3) Jiro: If the teacher leaves us alone then we can’t do
anything. We need his guidance of course and he should
teach us about measurement.
4) Franklin: The teacher should teach us and help us to
learn how to measure objects in this course because with-
out him we will not know how to use the apparatus.
5) Kyalo: The teacher should tell us what we should
learn and do otherwise there will be chaos in the class-
room. We don’t know how to learn alone without a
teacher. Therefore, he should be there to teach and show
us how to measure things. Some students are mean and
fight over the apparatus. So we need the teacher to help
us out.
6) Kip: The teacher should tell us what to do and learn
because he is more knowledgeable than us. He knows
everything about measurement and how measuring of
7) Nancy: The teacher should tell us more about meas-
urement and give us more time to practice what he has
taught rather than just telling and showing how to meas-
ure. We should measure things and not just sit and be
told how.
8) Chebet: The teacher should not leave us alone but
should show us what we should do because he is our
guardian and he knows more about physics than us. He
should give us that knowledge so that we know how to
measure or use measurement tools during the lesson
(Group Interviews, School A: C1 Group 5/3/96).
3.2 Teachers’ Own Expressions and Experience
with the E-Learning Program
The teacher illustrated his own expression about his first
experience with having to use the ELP in a real physics
laboratory classroom depicted in Excerpt 4. Although the
teacher felt change was desirable, the process was grad-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction37
ual process. Once he had internalized the process, he
seemed ready for it. Excerpt 4 depicts the process quite
3.2.1 Excerpt 4
1) Teacher 1: My first experience with the use of com-
puter was very chaotic. But now I know how to handle
the whole situation. I did not know how then but I am
just a little worried.
2) Researcher: Worried about your role?
3) Teacher: Yes. Imagine all along I had full control of
the class and now it is just brief. Anyway I just have to
learn to let go of the fear if I must make full use of the
computer. This might not be easy though but it is some-
thing that I must try harder (School C: E Group 20/2/96).
An examination of Excerpt 4 seems to suggest the
teacher’s awareness of the need for a paradigm shift in
his role during instructional practice. This emerged due
to the realization that his role had to change from that of
full control” to that of “improving and fostering recip-
rocal relationship” between him and his students. This is
quite apparent from the teacher’s own expression of a
willingness to abandon his previous approach that en-
couraged full control in order to embrace the new method,
which he reckoned is not easy but as something that he
must try harder. But the anecdote given in Excerpt 5 is a
good illustration of how the use of computer changed the
role of another teacher completely. This teacher revealed
that he is no longer worried about his role being threat-
ened by the computer use instead, he pointed out that he
has realized its benefits in terms of the time saved and his
ability to do what he has not been able to do with an ex-
pository approach.
3.2.2 Excerpt 5
Teacher 2: My biggest benefit for using the e-learning to
teach the course of measurement is the time saved. With
this I have been able to help weaker students and to su-
pervise students’ work. This is something I have not been
able to do in my previous lessons (School C: E Group
This finding is supported by an earlier claim that al-
though most teachers tend to resist change, but they nev-
ertheless as a result of some impasse they feel they have
reached in their teaching may gravitate out of necessity
towards change [13].
4. Conclusions
Most views of pupils in ELP classes have all pointed to
the learners’ need for mutual interaction during the
learning process. The portrayal of these qualitative data
about the teacher’s role seem mixed but agree on one
important fact underscored earlier i.e., the teacher as the
key factor in the classroom. The pupils in the ELP treat-
ment seem to all agree that in as much as the teacher
should leave them alone, they nonetheless concur also
that the teacher should be present to assist them in time
of need. But the views of the students in the true control
group seem to suggest a total reliance on the teacher as
the guide and knowledge dispenser. Numerous studies
have also found similar results [14-20].
On the overall, the relative effectiveness of the E-
Learning program in promoting collaborative learning
may form part of the solution to the emergence of large
classes in the context of inadequate human and material
resources. This finding indicates that e-learning system
has the potential for encouraging pupil participation in
science lessons and practical activities [5,19,21,22]. Also,
there is evidence of instances where the use of the pro-
gram provided the teacher more leeway to attend to indi-
vidual pupils needs and to supervise their work. In addi-
tion, there is overriding evidence that the idea of operat-
ing the e-learning program gave them the impression of
well-attested strategy of learning by doing. However, this
impression and the findings reported need further cor-
roboration by future studies.
[1] S. M. Allessi and S. R. Trollip, “Computer Based Instruc-
tion: Methods and Development,” 2nd Edition, Engle-
wood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall, NJ, 1991.
[2] R. E. Clark, “Media will Never Influence Learning,”
Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol.
42, No. 2, 1994, pp. 21-29.
[3] M. J. Gavora and M. Hannafin, “Perspectives on the De-
sign of Human-Computer Interactions: Issues and Impli-
cations,” Instructional Science, Vol. 22, No. 6, 1995, pp.
[4] T. C. Reeves, “A Model of the Effective Dimensions of
Interactive Learning,” In: P. M. Alexander, Ed., Com-
puter-Assisted Education Training in Developing Coun-
tries, University of South Africa, Pretoria, 1995, pp.
[5] J. K. Kiboss, “An Evaluation of Teacher/Student Verbal
and Non-Verbal Behaviors in Computer-Augmented
Physics Laboratory Classrooms in Kenya,” Journal of
Information Technology and Teacher Education, Vol. 9,
No. 3, 2000, pp. 199-213.
[6] R. L. Blomeyer, “Microcomputers in Foreign Language
Teaching: A Case Study on Computer Aided Learning,”
In: R. L. Blomeyer and C. D. Martin, Eds., Case Studies
in Computer Aided Learning, The Falmer Press, London,
1991, pp. 115-149.
[7] C. D. Martin, “Stakeholder Perspectives on Implementa-
tion of Micros in a School District,” In: R. L. Blomeyer
and C. D. Martin, Eds., Case Studies in Computer-Aided
Learning, The Falmer Press, London, 1991, pp. 169-221.
[8] D. Neuman, “Opportunities for Research on Organization
Impact of School Computers,” Education Researcher,
Vol. 19, No. 3, 1990, pp. 8-13.
[9] M. B. Miles and A. M. Huberman, “Qualitative Data
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Pupils’ Perceptions of the Teacher’s Changing Role in E-Learning Physics Classroom Instruction
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Analysis,” Sage, London, 1984.
[10] D. Neuman, “Naturalistic Inquiry and Computer-Based
Instruction: Rationale, Procedures, and Potential,” Educa-
tional Technology Research and Development, Vol. 37,
No. 3, 1989, pp. 39-51.
[11] M. Q. Patton, “Qualitative Evaluation Methods,” Sage
Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, 1991.
[12] M. D. Lecompte and J. Goetz, “Multiple Case Study,” In:
D. M. Fetterman, Ed., Ethnography in Educational
Evaluation, Sage Publications, Beverly Hills CA, 1984,
pp. 37-59.
[13] D. Lortie, “School Teacher: A Sociological Study,” Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1975.
[14] P. Freirie, “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Continuum,
New York, 1970.
[15] P. Freirie, “Education for Social Consciousness,” Con-
tinuum, New York, 1973.
[16] O. J. Jegede and P. A. Okebukola, “Differences in So-
ciocultural Environment Perceptions Associated with
Gender in Science Classrooms,” Journal of Research in
Science Teaching, Vol. 29, No. 7, 1992, pp. 637-647.
[17] A. L. Montoya, “Perceptions of School Climate and Stu-
dent Achievement in Middle and Elementary School,”
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, ERIC ED 324111,
[18] H. A. Robinson, “The Ethnography of Empowerment:
The Transformative Power of Classroom Interaction,”
The Palmer Press, Bristol, 1994.
[19] M. Ndirangu, J. K. Kiboss and E. Wekesa, “Reflections
from a Computer Simulations Program on Cell Division
in Selected Kenyan Secondary Schools,” The Science
Education Review, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2005, pp. 117-124.
[20] E. K. Tanui, J. K. Kiboss, A. A. Walaba and D. Nassiuma,
“Teachers’ Changing Roles in Computer Assisted Roles
in Kenyan Secondary Schools,” Educational Research
and Review, Vol. 3, No. 8, 2008, pp. 280-285.
[21] G. Underwood and J. D. M. Underwood, “Computers and
Learning: Helping Children Acquire Thinking Skills,”
Blackwell, Cambridge, 1994.
[22] D. Williams, L. Coles, A. Richardson, K. Wilson and J.
Tuson, “Integrating Information and Communications
Technology in Professional Practice: An Analysis of
Teachers’ Needs Based on a Survey of Primary and Sec-
ondary Teachers in Scottish Schools,” Journal of Infor-
mation Technology and Teacher Education, Vol. 9, No. 2,
2000, pp. 167-182.