The purpose of this study was to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the use of electronic education cards (EECs) in early childhood education in the Ma’an Governorate in particular reference to the teaching of English as a second language, cognizant of the fact that the official and common communication language is Arabic. I will compare the uptake of English among children instructed in utilizing EECs with those learning by way of the traditional educational cards. A sample of kindergartens was selected from each of the four districts of the Ma’an Governorate for the study. A total of 1000 learners were selected and grouped into control and experimental groups. It was observed that after six months, the learners using the electronic education cards (the experimental group) were performing significantly better on average than those who retained the traditional cards (the control group). The findings strongly suggest that it would be favorable to adopt the more efficient electronic methods across the whole Governorate, and possibly extend the protocol to the whole of Jordan. A suggestion for further research was offered to the education policymakers based on the recommendations of this research.
KEYWORDS: Early childhood learning, education aid, kindergarten, English as a Second Language, Ma’an Governorate.
Numerous studies underpin the consensus that the formative years of a child’s learning experience are critical for his improved outlook on academic excellence in the later years of his educational life. With this universal agreement, the main differences then surface in the various and best ways that a quality early childhood education can be nurtured. With such a wide range of suggestions for the ways and means children can gain most from early childhood education, it is not surprising that the curriculum and tools thus utilized are varied in combination as there are schools of thought. However, one significant factor that cannot be downplayed is the impact of the cultural and social environment realities interwoven into the very fabric of society, and education is no exception, even early childhood education (Lee, 1996). In recent years, the methodology of early childhood education has embraced technological advances in teaching methods.
- To assess the impact of the introduction of Electronic Educational Cards in kindergarten schools in the Ma’an Governorate of Jordan.
- To determine if there is any considerable difference between how boys and girls embrace e-learning.
- To determine the perception of EECs as a viable educational tool in the Ma’an Governorate.
1.2. Research Questions of the Study
In researching this study, the following questions were addressed:
2. Literature Review
The importance of having a well-rounded childhood cannot be taken lightly. During early childhood, an individual's mental and physiological makeup is formulated (Philips, 2000). With physical development, a child’s emotional nature will subconsciously be molded by the interaction of social and environmental stimuli and the individual. Seemingly simple occurrences and events can have lifelong effects on a person, mainly when they occur early on when the personality is not yet cemented and is therefore easily malleable. Interactions with teachers, other children, the curriculum, and, most importantly, the learning materials will play a big part in how the child's educational development progresses.
Social skills are developed during this time and contribute to future behavior and temperament. A stress-free learning environment provides a platform for kindergarteners to start forming helpful social bonds based on mutual consideration and care for other people, primarily due to the peaceful, non-threatening surroundings. When the child feels safe, cared for, and supported, attention, and affirmation are given, and affection is shown, their mental state becomes conducive to the absorption of education provided (Barnett, 1995).
The Science Behind Flashcards as a Learning Tool
While flashcards are not a panacea for the learning ability or motivation of an uninterested student, they have some proven advantages as teaching and subject retention methods. They have been in use for more than 200 years. While their origin is not directly known, they gained prominence in the 1800s. Their spread was primarily propagated by educational pioneer Joseph Lancaster in his book "Improvements in Education," first published in 1805. At this point, they were called reading cards.
There are three main reasons why flashcards are effective:
1. Flashcards allow for confidence-based repetition. The theory behind this is that since each flashcard contains a single idea or group of ideas, they can be mastered separately. This aspect allows the learner and their teacher to concentrate focus and emphasis on topics that seem to be harder to grasp. The cards with more straightforward concepts can be put separately as they will be used less frequently.
2. Flashcards engage your recall capabilities. They engage the mental faculty associated with memory and are proven to be effective in creating subject associations, and thereby mastery of the whole subject rather than one single concept.
3. Flashcards invoke metacognitive faculties. Because you can self-assess when you reveal the answer on the other side of the question card, and you subconsciously make an effort to remember more of those that you seem to be failing in. This act tends to ingrain memories into your collective knowledge and learning experience.
This is the general concept of flashcards or educational cards. With the advent and spread of technology in the last century, there has been increased penetration of these traditional cards into the electronic realm. The widespread use of computers and digital gadgets, in general, has seen these cards being introduced in all levels of learning. This fact is also actual for early childhood learning and has seen the evolution of the traditional flashcard into the digitally enhanced Electronic Educational Cards (EECs).
The Argument for Electronic Educational Cards (EECs) for English Learning
The most common way of teaching in preschool years the world has been mostly visual and audio. Before a person learns to read and write, their first medium of communication will be aural. Indeed, it has been suggested that a baby starts learning from the womb and can recognize the mother’s distinct voice (and sometimes the father’s) from the time they are born (Skwareki, 2013). As they grow, this is further enforced through the many technological marvels that they will come into interaction with almost every day of their lives. Television, computers, mobile phones, and game consoles have become commonplace. Even very young children become competent users of these tools very early in their lives with little or no formal learning (Nikolopoulou, 2019).
Literacy is enabled by using the computer keyboard or the keypad on a mobile phone (Maureen et al. 2018). As they are in constant proximity to such items, the alphabet is easy to learn as it is both visual and tactile; that is, they can feel it with their fingers. It is relatively easy to teach a young one the sound and the shape of the letters of the alphabet as they play with the keyboard or keypad.
This letter and sound correspondence facilitate the ease of learning the pronunciation of words, both native and foreign. It is a very convenient and straightforward way of teaching language, and so English as well (Al-Awidi and Ismail 2014).
By about three years of age, the child is ready to start some sort of formal education. These are called different names in different regions; preschool, early childhood education, or kindergarten. For this paper, we shall use the term kindergarten and the range of children fitting into this class will be defined as those between 3 and 6 years.
In the Ma’an Governorate, the official national language is Arabic. It is the language spoken by most people, and invariably the first language that children learn. It is the language most used in written documents as well as in the media. Nonetheless, being a former British colony, English is also widely spoken and is a compulsory school subject taught alongside Arabic.
The great appeal for EECs is the ease with which they can be adapted. When there is a new development in a specific field or a change in curriculum, it is relatively easy to update the existing material with a simple download. For the traditional flashcard method of learning, the content is not easily altered to represent the new reality, and more often than not have to be discarded.
The basis of this study is qualitative. In collecting the necessary data, specific permissions had to be sought from the relevant education authorities in each of the districts in Ma'an, i.e., Shobak (Ash-Shubak), Petra (Al-Betra), Ma'an (Qasabah Ma'an), and Southern Badia (Al-Huseiniyah).
In the research conducted, 1000 students across the Governorate of Ma’an were selected as participants. All of the participants were between the early childhood ages of 3 and 6 years old. Further, the sample was equally divided across gender lines and consisted of one half being boys and the other half being girls. This consistency was maintained across all the four districts of the Governorate.
This sample of 1000 was then apportioned into two distinct categories; the experimental and control groups on a 50:50 basis. The object of this study design was to differentiate the methods of learning English as a second language between two distinct types over six months. In the experimental group, participants were taught using electronic educational cards on tablets, computers, and mobile phones. The control group retained the traditional methods of learning, which mainly consisted of laminated placards. The final study group was constituted as depicted in the table below:
|Number of Students
The teachers were then also split into two groups. The first group taught the experimental group in the first three months of the duration of the study and then alternated with the second group for the latter three-month period, where they now taught the control group with the traditional educational cards.
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