Teachers’ participation in professional development concerning the implementation of new technologies in class: a latent class analysis of teachers and the relationship with the use of computers, ICT self-efficacy and emphasis on teaching ICT skills
Drossel and Eickelmann Large-scale Assess Educ
Teachers' participation in professional development concerning the implementation of new technologies in class: a latent class analysis of teachers and the relationship with the use of computers, ICT self‑efficacy and emphasis on teaching ICT skills
ICILS 2013; Professional development; New technologies; ICT skills; Teachers; Digital age
The increasing availability of new technologies in an ever more digitalized world has
gained momentum in practically all spheres of life, making technology-related skills a
key competence not only in professional settings. Thus, schools assume responsibility
for imparting these skills to their students, and hence to future generations of
professionals. In so doing, teachers play a key role with their competences in using new
technologies constituting an essential prerequisite for the effective implementation of
such skills. As models of school development and school effectiveness found teacher
professionalization to be a key element with regards to student achievement as well
as teachers’ in-class use of new technology, the present research project conducts
secondary analyses using data from the IEA International Computer and Information
Literacy Study 2013 (ICILS 2013) regarding internal and external teacher
professionalization. Particular emphasis is placed on the implementation of new technologies
in class in a comparison between the education systems of Germany and the Czech
Republic. A Latent Class Analysis serves the purpose of establishing a teacher typology
with regards to technology-related professional development. This typology is
subsequently used for further analyses of additional factors that show a correlation with the
teachers’ use of computers in class. These include the teachers’ ICT self-efficacy and
their emphasis on teaching ICT skills. The results show two different types of
teachers across both countries. Teachers who participate in professional development use
computers more frequently in class, put more emphasis on teaching ICT skills and have
a stronger sense of ICT self-efficacy. When comparing teachers in Germany and the
Czech Republic, teachers in Germany who participate in professional development
consider themselves more ICT self-efficient, while teachers in the Czech Republic use
computers more often and put more emphasis on teaching ICT skills compared with
their colleagues in Germany.
New technologies have come to play a significant role in the individual’s participation
in society, providing access to information and hence knowledge in what is commonly
referred to as the digital age
(Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 3; cf. also Davis et al. 2013)
continuous creation and exchange of information in a globalized world have come to affect
almost all spheres of an individual’s life, making the related skills indispensable for
contemporary education (Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 3). School systems, including its agents such
as teachers, is now facing the challenge of imparting these skills to future generations of
professionals—namely today’s students. Naturally, the imparting of such skills requires
a certain degree of competence on the part of the instructors, whose continuous
professional development may ensure a dynamic and adaptable approach to providing
learners with the competences necessary to effectively participate in society
(cf. Voogt et al.
. As a lack of professional competences both at the didactic and methodological
level has been found to constitute a hindering factor to the integration of new
technologies in class
(cf. Drossel et al. 2015; Eickelmann 2011)
, the professional development of
teachers has the potential for taking countermeasures. A distinction is made between
internal and external professional development: the former involves further training
within the school setting whereas the latter comprises participation in external training
activities. Morris et al. (2003) argue that while both forms are independent of each other,
“linking the two doubles the power of each” (Morris et al. 2003, p. 767). Statistics show,
however, that teachers in Germany have participated in external professional
development activities significantly less frequently than the international average: the IEA
(International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) International
Computer and Information Literacy Study 2013 (ICILS) showed that a mere 18% of
German teachers have participated in external training on the integration of new
technologies into teaching and learning, while the international average is 43%
(cf. Fraillon et al.
2014, p. 191)
. Participation by teachers in the Czech Republic lies at 36% and is therefore
also significantly below the ICILS 2013 average, as are five out of the total of eleven items
related to professional development participation (ibid.). In the domain of internal
professional development, teachers in the Czech Republic indicate collaborating with their
colleagues to develop ICT-based lessons in 36% of cases, while collaboration in this area
among teachers in Germany amounts to a mere 12%
(cf. Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 181)
These figures show a clear reference to the relationship of digital media with processes
of teaching and learning. However, it is worth noting that other authors
(e.g. Law and
Chow 2008; Pelgrum 2008)
have found advanced training options to focus more on
technological aspects rather than on the didactic integration of ICT into relevant scenarios
of teaching and learning. The unavailability of relevant options for professional
development may thus also play a role here. The purpose of this paper is to investigate teachers’
technology-related professional development in Germany and the Czech Republic using
secondary analyses of ICILS 2013 teacher data. The research desideratum of establishing
a typology of teachers regarding their participation in external and internal professional
development both with regards to teacher characteristics and in the form of a
comparison between the two selected education systems is pursued against the background of a
theoretical framework. Following a review of relevant research literature, the methods
of data analysis will be presented. The derived research gaps will then be filled with the
help of concise research questions. The respective results are expected to provide
incentives for amending professional development activities in order to enhance outcomes
against the background of school development and school effectiveness research.
The Contextual Framework Model of ICILS 2013 provides the foundation for the
(Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 37, see Fig. 1)
. This model aims to illustrate the
interrelation of antecedent and process factors in achieving the outcome of student CIL.
Thus, the factors can be located at different levels, including at the wider community, the
school and classroom level, the individual student level and the students’ home
environment. Fraillon et al. (2014) locate the extent to which teachers participate in ICT-related
professional development at the school and classroom level of the antecedents.
ICTrelated professional development therefore has an effect on factors related to the process
level, where amongst others the teacher’s use of new technologies in class is located.
Review of relevant literature
The current state of research, as represented in relevant research literature, incorporates
multiple sub-dimensions. In a first step, a definition of the term “professional
development” will be given, also addressing the differentiation between internal and external
professional development. A further sub-dimension includes research findings on the
extent of teacher participation in both internal and external professional development
activities. Thirdly, the benefits of teacher professionalization will be examined more
closely. Before pursuing this research desideratum, the factors that will be analyzed in
the analysis related to types of teacher professionalization (teachers’ frequency of
computer use, their ICT self-efficacy, and their emphasis on teaching ICT skills) will
themselves be analyzed at a descriptive level.
The notion of professional development
While the professional development of teachers is commonly viewed within the realms
of school development and school effectiveness,
Hofman and Dijkstra (2010
, p. 1031)
summarize that “lifelong learning is at the base of professional development of people in
general and this is particularly the case for teachers.” For the subsequent analyses, it can
be deemed essential that a common understanding of the term is established.
Describing a similar definition of professional development—also called continuous professional
(cf. Cordingley et al. 2005; Geldenhuys and Oosthuizen 2015)
Coldwell (2017, p. 189) writes:
By professional development (PD) I mean formal and informal support and
activities that are designed to help teachers develop as professionals. This includes taught
courses and in-school training, as well as activities such as coaching, mentoring,
selfstudy and action research.
hence focuses on the professional development of active
teachers, it is worth noting that Fraillon et al. (2014, p. 39) make a distinction between
preservice and in-service professional development. In the context of this paper, the focus
will be on in-service professional development. Focusing more on the character of
professional development activities, a distinction between internal and external
development has resulted in a lack of agreement among researchers as to which is more
argue that teachers are capable of compiling
relevant learning material themselves and do not require external assistance, whereas
Morris et al. (2003) consider a combination of both external and internal professional
development to be most effective. This distinction constitutes the key research interest
of this paper in that they are used to evaluate the teachers’ participation practices.
Teachers’ professional development practices by international comparison
In terms of their participation in ICT-related external professional development
activities, teachers responded to the categories of An ICT-Mediated Discussion or Forum on
Teaching and Learning, Course on Subject-Specific Digital Resources, and Course on
Integrating ICT into Teaching and Learning. The results in ICILS 2013 show that only 8% of
teachers in Germany had participated in ICT-mediated discussions or forums on
teaching and learning, while Czech teachers reported doing so in 21% of cases
(Fraillon et al.
2014, p. 191)
. With regards to the course on subject-specific digital resources, 10% of
German teachers gave a positive answer compared with 18% of their Czech colleagues
(cf. ibid.). Turning to the third item, 18% of German teachers and 36% of Czech teachers
indicated having participated in a course on integrating ICT into teaching and learning
(cf. ibid.). All of these results were below the ICILS 2013 average.
Concerning the items used for internal professional development, the categories of
I observe how other teachers use ICT in teaching, I systematically collaborate with
colleagues to develop ICT-based lessons based on the curriculum, and I work together with
other teachers on improving the use of ICT in classroom teaching were drawn upon. The
teachers’ responses show that 41% of German teachers observe other teachers using
ICT; the same is true for 45% of their Czech colleagues
(Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 181)
36% of Czech teachers systematically collaborate with colleagues to develop ICT-based
lessons, while only 12% of German teachers report doing so (ibid.), and 30% of German
teachers as opposed to 69% of their Czech colleagues work together with other teachers
on improving the use of ICT in classroom teaching (ibid.).
Benefits of professional development
Grosemans et al. (2015
) recently postulated that on-going developments in
society make a continuous learning process indispensable for teachers, Riley et al. (1997)
already understand professional development as an overarching requirement for all
professions, with a particular relevance for teaching in terms of fostering “the continuing
engagement, enthusiasm, effectiveness, and retention of teachers”
(Riley et al. 1997, p.
Day and Gu (2007)
likewise use teachers’ needs and professional commitment as
points of reference for professional development
(cf. Day and Gu 2007, p. 439)
, p. 190)
(cf. also Ross and Bruce 2007; Lakshmanan et al. 2011)
researchers, however, suggest student achievement and progress as units of
measurement. Avalos (2011, p. 10), for instance, indicates that the professional development
of teachers involves “teachers learning, learning how to learn, and transforming their
knowledge into practice for the benefit of their students’ growth”
(cf. also Anthony et al.
. Empirical evidence supports this claim as
links the professional
development of teachers (more specifically a content focus, active learning
opportunities and a coherence with teachers’ beliefs and system policies etc.) with student
outcomes—a finding that is also supporte
d by Meissel et al. (2016
, pp. 170–171). Cordingley
et al. (2005, p. 1) further elaborate on the outcomes of professional development,
distinguishing between outcomes for teachers (such as greater confidence, enhanced
knowledge and practice) and outcomes for students (such as enhancement of motivation or
improvements in performance, i.e. ultimately achievement).
Numerous studies focus on either internal or external professional development.
Colmer et al. (2015
), for instance, see an important advantage in external
professional development with reference to the catering for different development needs
finds that external professionalization in its individualized
form occurs only sporadically, hence lacking continuity. In conclusion, the current state
of research does not show a clear tendency in the findings on either external or
internal professional development. Morris et al. (2003), however, link external with internal
professional development, finding that the “two emerging approaches to professional
development, when systematically linked, can provide the transformative power to alter
professional development and teacher learning in profound and sustainable ways” (p.
764). This dual approach will also be adopted in this research paper, assessing both
internal and external teacher professionalization.
Relevant background factors for teacher professionalization
Gerick et al. (2017
, p. 1) have already pointed to the fact that “the relevance of
schoollevel determinants for the use of ICT by teaching staff in schools differs between
education systems”. Their analyses have found pedagogical support for IT, the teachers’
self-efficacy and their participation in professional development to be relevant for the
students’ CIL in individual countries (ibid.). With regards to teacher professionalization
as one of these relevant factors, this study has selected teachers’ frequency of computer
use, their ICT self-efficacy and their emphasis on teaching relevant ICT skills as
potential background determinants.
The frequency of computer use by teachers in the Czech Republic shows that 65.6%
use computers at least once a week
(Fraillon et al. 2014)
, while their German colleagues
report using computers on a weekly basis in only 34.4% of all cases (ibid.). Germany
ranks last in the overall comparison, whereas the Czech Republic is mid-table, yet above
the average values for the EU and the OECD as well as the international average (ibid.).
The teachers’ ICT self-efficacy for different tasks ranges from 29% (Collaborating with
others using shared resources) to 97% (Producing a letter using a word processing
program; Finding useful teaching resources on the internet) in the Czech Republic
et al. 2014, pp. 208–209)
. German teachers show confidence in producing a letter using
a word processing program (99%), but lack this confidence particularly in collaborating
with others using shared resources (24%; ibid.). It can hence be concluded that German
and Czech teachers’ self-reported strengths and weaknesses are comparable.
The teachers’ emphasis on developing students’ CIL during their lessons shows that
teachers in the Czech Republic attach greater importance to their students’ ICT-based
(percentages between 26 for providing digital feedback and 64 for
accessing information efficiently, Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 216)
. Germany’s values are at least 16
points below those of their Czech colleagues for each category (cf. ibid.).
The current state of research reveals a lack of analyses in the comparison of external and
internal teacher professionalization with a focus on teachers as school agents. In view
of this research gap, this paper will pursue the following research questions empirically:
1. Can a teacher typology with regard to their participation in internal and external
professional development be identified for the selected education systems?
2. What is the relationship of potential teacher types with the frequency of computer
use during lessons?
3. What is the relationship of potential teacher types with further important predictors
connected with the in-class use of new technologies such as the teachers’ ICT
selfefficacy and the emphasis on teaching ICT skills?
4. What differences between external and internal professional development can be
found with regards to Germany and the Czech Republic?
In order to answer the aforementioned research questions, a secondary analysis of
teacher data from the International Computer and Information Literacy Study 2013
(ICILS 2013) will be conducted
(Fraillon et al. 2014)
. The selection of the education
systems for the secondary analyses primarily relies on their performance in the context of
the ICILS 2013 study, with the Czech Republic as a top performer and Germany as a
participant demonstrating medium performance when it comes to the students’ levels of
computer and information literacy (CIL)
(Fraillon et al. 2014, p. 96)
Germany is the authors’ country of origin, while the Czech Republic is acting as a host of
the International Research Conference (IRC) in 2017. While the samples of the Czech
Republic meet the ICILS 2013 requirements, Germany’s samples do not consistently
comply with these
(Fraillon et al. 2015, p. 99)
. However, as the sampling requirements
used in ICILS 2013 are very high, the results obtained for Germany can still be
considered representative. The first research question will be addressed by a Latent Class
(Hagenaars and McCutcheon 2002)
in order to come up with a teacher
typology concerning technology-related external and internal professional development.
The LCA draws on the teachers’ response patterns in the teacher questionnaire for the
purpose of allocating them to latent groups or classes, which share a number of
characteristics in their responses. The emerging latent classes can then be named
according to these responses and shall constitute the basis for further statistical analyses, as
represented by the second and third research questions in this paper. The relevant items
selected from the ICILS 2013 teacher questionnaire can be subdivided into external and
internal professionalization. These categories of external and internal
professionalization will be operationalized by three characteristic items each that yield information
on teachers’ professional development activities and provide information on teachers’
principles with regard to learning to use ICT respectively, over the preceding 2 years.
Thus, external professionalization consists of Course on integrating ICT into teaching
and learning, Course on subject-specific digital resources and An ICT-mediated
discussion or forum; internal professionalization comprises the items I work together with other
teachers, I systematically collaborate with colleagues to develop ICT based lessons and I
observe how other teachers use ICT in teaching. In order to deal with the complex
structure of the teacher data, the analysis type ‘Type = mixture complex’ was used
and Satorra 1995)
. Additionally, the teacher weight for the calculation of an LCA was
(cf. Jung and Carstens 2015)
. Missing values across all six items were excluded
from the analyses, which results in sample sizes of n = 1377 for Germany and n = 2126
for the Czech Republic.
The analyses conducted for the remaining research questions rely on descriptive
statistics. With reference to the teachers’ frequency of computer use during lessons, the
response patterns were dichotomized in order to distinguish teachers reporting frequent
(i.e. at least weekly) use of computers from their colleagues that do not use computers in
class on a regular basis.
The teachers’ reported ICT self-efficacy is illustrated by means of an international
index consisting of 14 items (e.g. How well can you do these tasks: Monitoring
students’ progress). The index was generated using the Rasch partial credit model
and transformed to a mean of 50 points and to a standard deviation of 10 points.
Internationally, the index shows satisfactory reliability with a Cronbach’s α = .87
(Germany:.87; Czech Republic:.87; cf. Fraillon et al. 2015, p. 199)
The emphasis on teaching ICT skills comprises 12 items, including multiple
ICTrelated activities in class (e.g. Accessing Information Efficiently, Evaluating the
Credibility of Digital Information, Providing References for Digital Information Sources etc.). The
index’s Cronbach’s α = .97
(Germany:.96; Czech Republic:.97; cf. Fraillon et al. 2015, p.
is highly satisfactory for both selected countries and indicates the extent to which
teachers promote students’ ICT-related competencies in class.
In this chapter, the results of the secondary analyses will be presented individually for
each research question. The following chapter will summarize and discuss these findings.
Research question 1
The results of the LCA were assessed using Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and
Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC). The optimal solution that best fits the data can
be deduced from the smallest values of both AIC and BIC
(cf. Nylund et al. 2007)
. In the
case of Germany, a two-group model is the optimal solution according to the results of
the LCA—as shown in Table 1.
Here, the second teacher type regarding professional development accounts for more
than four fifths of the entire sample (84.9%, cf. Fig. 2). This teacher type hardly
participates in any professional development, be it external or internal. This group is therefore
henceforth called “professionally undeveloped”. The first group, however, is
characterized by the fact that the teachers have a strong tendency to participate primarily in
internal professional development activities, but also in external development. This group
accounts for 15.1% of the sample (cf. Fig. 2) and is henceforth called “inclined to
The case of the Czech Republic shows that a four-group model best fits the data (cf.
Table 1). The group showing the least commitment to professional development makes
up 38.2% of the teacher sample (Group 4; cf. Fig. 3) and can be called “professional
development opponents”. The greatest commitment to professional development is shown
by teachers from Group 1 (11.1%; ibid.), called “professional development enthusiasts”.
Teachers in this group exhibit strong tendencies to participate in both external and
internal professional development activities. The remaining two groups can be split into
the “internal professional developers” (Group 2; 37.7%) and the “external professional
developers” (Group 3; 12.9%) (Fig. 3).
Research question 2
The results of the second research question show that the group of teachers who
frequently participate in professional development activities (“inclined to professional
development”) also use the computer significantly more often (70.7%) as opposed to
their colleagues who do not regularly participate in such activities (“professionally
undeveloped”) (29.2%). The same is generally true for the Czech teacher sample: while the
difference between frequent and irregular participation in professional development is
even more pronounced in the enthusiast group (79.8% vs. 20.2%), the opponent group
only shows a minor difference (53.3% vs. 46.7%).
Research question 3
With regards to the teaching of ICT skills, it can be postulated that teachers “inclined to
professional development” in Germany emphasize these skills more than their
“professionally undeveloped” colleagues (49.2% vs. 43.1%). The same ratio can be found in the
Czech sample, where professional development enthusiasts show the strongest
emphasis on the teaching of ICT skills (54.3%) as opposed to the “professional development
opponents” (46.2%). The “external professional developers” put more emphasis on the
aforementioned skills (51.3%) than their “internal professional developer” colleagues
(50.5%). With reference to the teachers’ ICT self-efficacy, the results show yet again that
teachers “inclined to professional development” in Germany (55.2%) and “professional
development enthusiasts” in the Czech Republic (52.2%) have a stronger sense of efficacy
than their colleagues who are “professionally undeveloped” (in Germany; 48.2%) or
“professional development opponents” (in the Czech Republic; 47.8%). Interestingly,
however, in this case, the “internal professional developers” from the Czech Republic show a
greater sense of ICT self-efficacy than their external colleagues (51.3% vs. 50.5%).
Research question 4
Comparing the education systems in Germany and in the Czech Republic, the results
regarding the frequency of computer use show that Czech teachers—on average—use
computers significantly more often than their German colleagues. While the difference
between teachers “inclined to professional development” (Germany) and “professional
development enthusiasts” (Czech Republic) is noticeable (70.7% vs. 79.8%), the
skeptical teacher types (professionally undeveloped in Germany and professional
development opponents in the Czech Republic) show a significant difference of 29.2% vs. 53.3%.
The average emphasis on teaching ICT skills is also higher in the Czech Republic, while
teachers’ ICT self-efficacy is—on average—higher in Germany.
Discussion and conclusions
While the cross-sectional design of the study does not allow for the interpretation of
causal relationships between professionalization and the selected indicators, the results
show an overall clear tendency that teachers in Germany have more absolute approaches
to professional development, given the fact that the German teacher sample is only
subdivided into two groups. Teachers in the Czech Republic show more diversified
approaches to professional development (on a scale between enthusiasts and
opponents), whereas teachers in Germany can be allocated to groups that are either
skeptical or have a tendency towards internal professional development. External professional
development activities—or even both external and internal professional development
activities—do not seem to play an important role in the German context. Such
skeptical teachers account for almost 85% of teachers in Germany, whereas Czech teachers
oppose professional development activities altogether in only 38.2% of cases. A closer
examination of framework conditions, especially with regard to external professional
development activities in Germany, could be the focus of further research. At this point,
we can only speculate that resources such as time and money could be the underlying
influencing factors. Teachers in Germany often have to bear part of the costs of
professional development activities themselves as schools only have a limited budget available
for such activities. In the case of the district government of Düsseldorf, the per capita
budget for professional development amounts to only 45€ per teacher per school year
). In the case of the federal German state of Bavaria, the overall budget
for teachers’ professional development was cut by 7.5% between 2003 and 2009
. In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, research indicates that teachers
can use 12 days per school year of their paid working time as an incentive to participate
in professional development
(European Commission 2010; cf. also Eurydice 2008)
schools in the Czech Republic, it is furthermore mandatory “to have a continuing
professional development plan for their teachers as part of the school development plan”
(European Commission 2010, p. 50). The extensive support measures in the Czech
Republic may therefore have had an impact here; however, the reasons for different
participation rates may be more diverse and need to be investigated further. The analyses
in this contribution have shown that teachers who engage in professional development
tend to use computers more often, put more emphasis on the teaching of ICT skills and
have a stronger sense of ICT self-efficacy than their skeptical colleagues. These results
can be concluded to lay a foundation for effective student learning, which, however, will
be difficult to achieve with the aforementioned high proportion of skeptical teachers
in Germany. Against the background of the Czech Republic’s top performance when it
comes to students’ CIL, this finding may provide incentives to take a closer look at how
the professional development of teachers impacts students’ achievement. While teacher
and student data in the IEA-study of ICILS 2013 cannot be linked, further research may
therefore seek to amalgamate longitudinal teacher and student data in order to
investigate the causal relationship of the two constructs. This will ultimately contribute to a
sounder understanding of the effects that teachers’ professional development has on
student achievement, providing valuable insights for necessary reforms of the educational
systems required to ensure students’ successful participation in today’s digital society.
Furthermore, it could be helpful for policy making purposes to analyze how common
the identified types of teacher professionalization are to the various school types which
exist in both countries. For Germany, for example, it is possible using ICILS 2013 data
to identify teachers working in a Gymnasium (upper secondary school) as opposed to
teachers working in other types of school (lower secondary schools).
All authors made a substantial contribution to the conception and design, as well as to the analysis and interpretation
of results. They were jointly responsible for drafting and revising the article. Both authors read and approved the final
The authors declare that they have no financial or non-financial competing interests.
Availability of data and materials
The data as well as the instruments of ICILS 2013 are publicly available on the ACER website (https://www.acer.org/
Consent for publication
We provide our consent to publish this manuscript upon publication in the Springer open journal LSA.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
We rely on data from the ICILS 2013 study, which conforms to IEA ethical standards. The Australian Council for
Educational Research (ACER) in Melbourne served as the international study center for ICILS, working in close cooperation with
the IEA, and the national centers of participating countries.
There was no funding for our research.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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