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The role of competitions in education

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I give an historic overview of education, competition, and competition within education, with an emphasis on computing science education. It ap-pears that large-scale formalized competitions are a relatively recent phe-nomenon in the long history of education. I argue that in the future the role of competitions should be expanded, but that this requires more effort from all branches of society. About the author. Tom Verhoeff was trained as a mathematician and holds a doctorate in computing science. Since 1987, he is assistant profes-sor in the computing science at Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands. His main research interest is in the specification and analy-sis of parallel computations, and their design and implementation as delay-insensitive VLSI circuits. He has directed the European Regional Finals of the ACM International Scholastic Programming Contest (ICPC) from 1988 to 1990. In 1995, he chaired the Scientific Committee of the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). He will be 1999-Finals Director of the ICPC to be held in Eindhoven.
The Role of Competitions in Education
Dr. Tom Verhoeff
Abstract
I give an historic overview of education, competition, and competition
within education,with an emphasison computing scienceeducation. It ap-
pears that large-scale formalized competitions are a relatively recent phe-
nomenon in thelong history of education. I argue that in the future the role
of competitions should be expanded, but that thisrequires more effort from
all branches of society.
About the author. Tom Verhoeff was trained as a mathematician and
holds a doctorate in computing science. Since 1987, he is assistant profes-
sor in the computing scienceat Eindhoven University of Technology, The
Netherlands. His main research interest is in the specification and analy-
sisofparallelcomputations,andtheir design andimplementationas delay-
insensitive VLSI circuits. He has directed the European Regional Finals of
the ACM International Scholastic Programming Contest (ICPC) from 1988
to 1990. In 1995, he chaired the Scientific Committee of the International
Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). He will be 1999-FinalsDirector of the ICPC
to be held in Eindhoven.
1 Introduction
Education and competitionare two universal ingredients of all humancultures,
infact,ofalmostallanimallife. Humanshavealwaysconsiderededucation and
competition important issues, both in the past and in the present. Of course,
there have been fluctuations in emphasis and much has changed throughout
the centuries.
In this paper, I investigate therole of competitionsin education, especially
in modern education. I begin with a brief, historically inclined, overview of ed-
ucationandcompetitionseparately. ThenItracesomedevelopments in the role
of competitions within education, in particular computing science education. I
conclude with some recommendations.
2 Education
All life formssomehow possess knowledge andskills for survival and propaga-
tion. Such knowledge and skills are transmitted from generation to generation
in various ways. On one hand, there is the direct path via inheritance. Properly
Faculty of Mathematics and Computing Science, TUE, PO Box 513, 5600 MB EINDHOVEN,
Netherlands, <http://www.win.tue.nl/˜wstomv/>,E-mail: <Tom.Verhoeff@acm.org>.
The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
expressed genes provide the offspring that carries them with built-in knowl-
edge and skills, sometimes referred to as instincts and reflexes. On the other
hand, there is the indirect path via education, where education is meant in a
broad sense. The offspring learns by observing and imitatingmature members
of the species. The knowledge and skills transmitted by education are collec-
tively known as the culture of a species.
For mostspecies, inheritance isthe dominantmodeoftransmission. The hu-
man species, however, relies very much on education, because for certain types
of knowledge and skills, humans inherit only the ability to learn them. For ex-
ample, the ability to learn language is inherited, but subsequent development
of this ability through education is needed to learn anyparticular language. It
is often not clear whether something, such as for example a desire to compete,
is inherited or acquired (resulting in the nature-nurture controversies).
To summarize, a child is born without culture, and education can be viewed
as the process of transmitting culture. Cultural knowledge and skills concern
all aspects of human life. Long ago the list began to include such items as hunt-
ing, fighting, caring, healing, worshiping, farming, building, governing, judg-
ing, accounting, pleasing, competing, and educating.
The presence of education in human cultures can be inferred from the old-
est historical records, dating back to about 3000BC. These records indicate that
education wasat that timealready formalizedto some extent. That is, our early
predecessors were aware of the educational process, which itself was a part of
theirculture,andcertainmemberswerespecialized in dealing witheducational
matters. The knowledge and skills of formal teaching are, thus, in turn trans-
mitted culturally. We do not know when education first appeared in this for-
malized way, but it is generally assumed that it is much older than the first ref-
erences that have been preserved.
Formal education in more complex societies gave rise to teachers, schools,
and out-of-contextlearning in classes, because this specialization allowsa more
efficient transmissionof culture. Over the centuries entire school systems have
been developed with their own educational philosophies. Today, the partition
into primary, secondary, and optional tertiary (university or vocational) educa-
tionispredominant,andtheeducationaldutiesof schoolsareclearly prescribed
by law. Note, however, that informal education, such as happens within the
family, still plays an important role. Oscar Wilde once said: “Education is an
admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that
is worth knowing can be taught.”
As the demands on a society change, its culture changes, and consequently
also its educational practices must change. Though difficult to understand in
detail, this process of change appearsto be a never-ending, self-propelling cy-
cle. In order for a system with feedback to be stable, the response to change
must be delayed. Education, therefore, always seems too latein its adjustment.
Currently, the knowledge and skills to survive in what has become known as
the informationsociety are being incorporated.
3 Competition
The roots of education lie hidden in an unknown past; thoseof competition are
even less traceable. Children spontaneously seek competition with their peers.
2
The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
They seem to have aninnate desire to compare themselves with othersin every
way, for example, by running and wrestling. Such play is obviously beneficial
toachild’sdevelopment. Fromplayitisasmallsteptophysicalandintellectual
contests,generallyknownassports,whichadultsindulgeinfortheirown sake.
Just as with education, also some forms of competition became formalized
long ago in human history. That is, competition is bound by rules and becomes
organized by specialists. However, early historical records are much less ex-
plicit about this than in the case of education. At first, formal competitionwas
restrictedto sports. Therole offormalcompetition inother areasis amuch more
recent phenomenon. Again, it should be noted that informal competition still
plays an important role as well.
Large-scale sporting eventsinvolving athleticsor ball games tookplace per-
haps as early as 2000 BC. From the earliest records of champions it is known
that the Greeks have held their Olympic Games at least since 776 BC. How-
ever, it is believed that by that time, games had been organized in Greece for
already over 500 years. The Olympic Gameswere the mostfamous of four clas-
sical Greek sporting events organized regularly as part of religious festivals. In
conjunctionwith thesegames therewere oftenalso musiccompetitions. Atfirst
only token prizes could be won (a wreath or garland), but eventually substan-
tial prizes were awarded at a luxurious closing ceremony. That the Olympic
Games played an important role in Greek life is evidenced by the fact that the
Greek unit of time was the Olympiad, the period of four years between two is-
sues of the Olympic Games. The classical Olympic Games were put to an end
by the ruling Romansin AD 393.
Figure 1: Ancient go problem on a -board: Can White escape?
Some sources trace the origins of the oriental board game go (Weiqi in Chi-
nese) back to ancient China before2300 BC. Not everyone trusts thesesources,
butgo isgenerallyagreedto beolderthan3000 years. Ithasarich historytightly
tiedintoorientalculture. Gois a competitiongamepar excellence. Therulesare
3
The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
simple, yet there exist virtually infinitely many play styles, and great strategic
and tactical skills are required to play well. In spite of its abstract nature, go is
deemed to help develop skills that are usefulin concrete life. It has been stud-
ied intensely by Japanese generals and businessmen alike. Opponents of un-
equal strength can play a game of go that is challenging to both parties through
a system of handicapping. From very early on there have been professionalgo
teachers. An interesting sideline is that, in contrast to chess and in spite of se-
rious efforts, no computer programs today play go well, even not at amateur
level.
From the 11th century AD in France, and later throughout western Europe,
military exercises evolved into contests, known as tournaments. These started
out as mock battles where knights practiced their abilities and showed their
courage. Although initially rough on the participants and with little rewards,
tournamentsbecamemorecivilized events withstrictrules, weaponrythatwas
rendered harmless, and prizes presented to the victors. The word tournament
is nowadays also used as a general term for a certain way of organizing sports
competitions.
From sports, arts, and the military, the concept of competitions eventually
spreadtothescientificworld. Inthe18thcentury, academieswerethemajorsci-
entificinstitutions,latertobesucceededbyuniversities. Leading scientists such
as Huygens, Newton, and Euler pursued academic careers in Paris, London,
Berlin, and St. Petersburg. Besides meetings and publications, the academies
organizedsuccessfulprizecompetitionsto encouragethesolutionof important
mathematical and scientific problems. Mathematicians like Daniel Bernoulli,
d’Alembert, and Lagrange have won several of these prizes.
4 Competition in Education
It is not surprising that education and competition are intimately related. On
one hand, it is natural for children to compete and, therefore, understandable
that competitionis putto educational use. On the otherhand, competition may
befoundsoimportantinadult life, that asocietyespeciallyeducatestheiryoung
to compete. For instance, in Sparta, the most prosperous Greek city in the 8th
and 7th centuries BC, physical education was dominated by contests, in partic-
ular the Olympic Games, where Spartans often won more than half of the top
honors.
Marcus Verrius Flaccus, a Roman teacher famousin the late 1st century BC,
is credited to haveintroduced the principle of competition among hisstudents
asapedagogicalaid. Heawardedattractivebooksasprizes. TheItalianscholar
Battista Guarino (1434–1513) writes in his account of proper educational tech-
niques,Deordinedocendietstudendi, that teachers should refrainfromphysically
punishing pupils, and that students are stimulated best by competition, which
can be intensified by pairing them off.
Pierre de Coubertin, a French baron who also had great interest in litera-
ture, education, and sociology, struggled for seven years to revive the Olympic
Games. The first of these modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in
1896. WhileOlympicpreparationswerein progressandmostlikely inspired by
these efforts, E¨otv¨os University in Budapest, Hungary, organized the first na-
tional mathematicscontest ever in 1894. From there the idea of science contests
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The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
for students spread through central Europe. William Lowell Putnam started a
mathematics competition for North-American college students in 1938. These
national andregional contests eventually gave rise to the International Mathe-
maticsOlympiad(IMO), whichwas firsthosted byRomania in1959. Other dis-
ciplines subsequently established their own international olympiads: physics
in 1967, chemistry in 1969,informatics in 1989, biology in 1990,and astronomy
in 1996.
Education theorists do not agree on whether competitive desires should be
encouragedor constrained. One theory claimsthat, since competition is part of
every culture and since education should transmit culture, it is necessary to in-
corporate competition into education to helpchildren get used to it in later life.
Another theory views competition as opposed to collaboration and, therefore,
asanevilelementinculturethatshouldbecurtailed. Atschoolthisoftenresults
in an ambiguous attitude towards competition,which confuses students, who
will then try to compete successfully without making it appear they compete.
It may help to distinguish two views of competition. In one view, all other
competitors are perceived as thefocus of competition;they need tobe defeated.
Inthesecondview,thefocus is oneself or someexternalentity(suchastheclock
or a mathematical problem). The latter view is more conducive to teamwork,
which has become even more important in modern society.
4.1 Classification of Competitions
Educationandcompetitioncanbecombinedinmanyways. I willnowconsider
organized competition events. Below, I present a list of attributes and dimen-
sionsthatcanbeusedtoclassifycontests(presentedin no particularorder). The
list shows the diverse possibilities for contests and it may also serve as a check-
list.
1. intended objectives, accomplished effect,
2. part of the curriculum versus outside the curriculum,
3. fun-oriented versus serious,
4. artificial context versus realistic context,
5. educational value versus public-relations value,
6. spectator event versus participatory event,
7. teacher participation, parent participation,
8. organized by students versus organization involves no students,
9. for individuals or teams,
10. inter- versus intra-school, nationalversus international,
11. compete against others versus compete against “oneself”,
12. skill-oriented versus knowledge-oriented versus luck-oriented,
13. gender neutrality,
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The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
14. cultural and language dependence,
15. limited rewards versus abundant prizes, awards, certificates
16. one-time versus periodic,
17. single-day event versus multiple-day event,
18. fixed format versus free format,
19. instant feedback versus delayed feedback,
20. single-round versus multi-round tournament,
21. criteria for participation (e.g. limited age group),
22. variety in knowledge and skills of competitors,
23. aimed at everyone versus aimed at talented students,
24. diversified difficulty levels (depending on age or school grade),
25. handicapping to compensate for differences between competitors,
26. special training versus spontaneous participation,
27. larger event including non-competitiveelements versus isolated contest,
28. degree of institutionalization (official rules, supervising body),
29. follow-up to participants (defined improvement process),
30. bound to school topics or not,
31. single-discipline versus multi-disciplinary,
32. (commercially) sponsored, government funded, self-supporting.
Some educators point out that students canbe put off by competitions, but may
still perform well in society in later life. For instance, it has been found that
performance at theIMOis uncorrelated tolater accomplishmentsinmathemat-
ics. Not all IMO winners become good mathematicians or even good at any-
thing, and not allgood contemporarymathematicianshave performed well in
the IMO (if at all).
Among the educators encouraging competitions, there is no general agree-
mentastowhatconstitutesthe best way of puttingcompetitionsto good use in
education. Some find that education in school is best served by a break in style,
which can be accomplished through a competition that is only loosely coupled
to the curriculum (as opposed to an exam). The idea here is that the beneficial
effect of a competitionderives precisely from the fact that it is a change from
the regular curriculum.
Others argue that competitions are an effective way of motivating students
and providing them with feedback and that, therefore, competitions should be
based on the actual material taught in school, should be incorporated into the
curriculum, and the competition results should be used to evaluate students
(like an exam).
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The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
Fun contests (partly involving luck anddistorted rules) allow poorstudents
to do well, thereby boosting their confidence. However, good students, who
like to have control over their fate,often dislike such contests.
In spite of the contradictory opinions about the relevance of competitions
to education and about how to conduct such competitions, I believe that the
availability of good competitions is beneficial for education in almost any dis-
cipline. Agoodcompetitionshouldchallengetheparticipantstogive their best,
or preferably more than that. If the regular curriculum is not sufficiently chal-
lenging, then good studentsshould be encouraged toparticipate in extracurric-
ular competitions. In Germany and The Netherlands (and possibly elsewhere),
thenewframeworkbeing developed forupper secondaryeducationallowsstu-
dents to count competition results towards their final exam.
It is my experience that enthusiastic organizers are more important to the
success of a competition than most of the othervariables. It should be noted,
however, that organizing a good competition is a major challenge, which must
not be underestimated. The three main phases for holding a contestare: prepa-
ration, execution, and follow-up. The initial phase prepares the entire frame-
work: competition rules, competition tasks, judging procedures, etc. Therules
shouldbe as completeandtransparentas possible,toavoid misleading thepar-
ticipants. The middle phase is where the actual competition is carried out: the
participants do the competing and are evaluated. Especially the final phase,
where results are analyzed and presented to the participants, is important for
the effect of a competition, but it is very time-consuming and currently often
receives too little attention.
4.2 Computing Science Competitions
Computing science (CS) is a relatively young discipline, inextricably linked to
modern technology. It is highly relevant to modern society and still growing
in importance. CS ‘automatically’attracts the attentionof youngsters. In most
countries, however, CS has not (yet) established a firm position in secondary
education among the other (older) disciplines. But almost everywhere a pro-
cess of rapid change has set in, tocatch up, as it were. One way of satisfying the
naturalinterestin CSis to organizecompetitionsforthosethat havelearnedthe
basicsthroughself-study. Inthatcase,thecompetitionserves(also)asapublic-
relations vehicle, because it may help students decide on choosing a CS career.
The InternationalOlympiad in Informatics (IOI)is an annual CS contest forsec-
ondary school students that currently intends to fulfill this role.
The IOI hasthe format of an exam where thecompetitors work individually
on a set of CS assignments and at the end hand in their work for evaluation.
Currently, it involves only a small subset of CS, namely algorithmic program-
ming problems. The event is spread out over several days, two of which are
competition days, the other days being used for excursions and international
contacts. The follow-upphase,forinstance,theavailabilityoffullydocumented
solutions to all IOI assignments, is still underdeveloped.
A major obstacle forevery international contest aimed at pre-university stu-
dents is the language barrier. It needs to be crossed twice: once when present-
ing the competition tasks, and for the second time when judging the competi-
tors’ work. At the IOI, the second crossing is mostly avoided by requiring the
participants to hand in their solutions as programs that can be executed by a
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The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
computer. This explains in part why the subject matter at the IOI is restricted
to programming. By the way, this is less restrictive than may at first seem to
be the case, because, besides programming skills, also good knowledge of CS
theory is needed to solve the problems. The differences in CS knowledge and
skills between the participants at the IOI are considerable. The difficulty of IOI
assignments has steadily increased and currently the harder problems are chal-
lenging even for an average third-year undergraduate CS student (particularly,
in view of the limited time for solving them).
Many of thenational CS contests all over theworld were started in response
to the IOI, though it should be noted that in some countries national CS compe-
titions existed before the IOI. Besides the objective ofproviding a CS challenge
to talented young people, the IOI alsostrives to foster friendly international re-
lationships and to attractattention to the field of CS. The IOI is hosted in a par-
ticipating country, which is responsible for finding funds and organizing the
contest and all accompanying events.
The CS situation at the university level ismuch better. Consequently, com-
petitions play a different role there. In fact, many academics at best tolerate
CS competitions at universities. How many publications that address the spe-
cial issuessurrounding any kind ofstudent competitionhave you seen in well-
known academic journals?
Dating back to the 1970s, the ACM International Collegiate Programming
Contest (ICPC) has become a prestigious CS competition for teams of univer-
sity students. Thousands of teams participatein national and regional contests
leadinguptotheannualworldfinals. LiketheIOI,theICPCworkswithabun-
dle of programming problems that have to be solved in a limited time. For that
purpose, each team has a single computer; thus, resource management is an in-
tegralpart of the contest. In contrast to theIOI, the teamscan hand intheir pro-
grams during the contestand they receive feedback fromthe judges concerning
the correctness. If a submission fails, the team receives a penalty but may con-
tinue working on that problem.
At the ICPC, the language barrier is considered irrelevant, and all material
is presented in English. The ICPC also contains some extra features that are
avoided in the IOI, such assimple problems in disguise (which need to be spot-
ted early to make efficient use of the computer), problems requiring some trick-
ery to solve, and difficult problems that possibly will not be solvedby any team
at all. The ICPC is usually carried out in two days, the first being used for prac-
ticing. The world finals usuallyare combined with some othernon-competitive
CS event. Since university students have often already chosen fora (CS) career,
the direct public-relations value of the ICPC is less important than the fun part
and the honor when winning. The ICPC is organized by the ACM, an indepen-
dent international professional CS association, through funding of long-term
commercial sponsors.
Theincorporationof competitiveelementsinCSeducationisclearlylagging
behind other developments that are felt to be more important. Also the use of
CS elements in competitions for other disciplines is still underdeveloped. For
instance, at the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), it goes without saying
thatacertainfluency inmathematicsisrequiredtoperformwell. Butitis,asyet,
unimaginablethatanIPhOproblemwouldinvolvethewritingofa programfor
some kind of physics simulation. Even the use of text editors is still avoided.
8
The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
4.3 Competitions and Technology
Some peopleare eager topoint out that advances in technologyhardly affect the
fundamental human values. Consequently, they say, technology should play a
subordinate role in competitionsthat are intended to enhance education. So-
cial interaction, cooperation, exploitation, cultural diversity, negotiation, and
power are more important aspects of the human condition (than, e.g., knowing
howtoprogramacomputer). Theirrelevanceislargelyindependent oftechnol-
ogy. However, the details of how these values ‘operate’ are technology depen-
dent (e.g., power can be exerted through e-mail). Being able to use commonly
available technology in everyday life is an important skill. Competitions can
force students to deal with fundamental human values, using modern technol-
ogy.
On the other hand, society is more and more dependent on technology. The
only way in which this situation can be sustained in the longer run, is by inte-
grating advanced technology into the school curriculum. However, the success
of modern technology also works to its disadvantage. Engineers are persuaded
to maketechnologymore and more invisible,thereby reducing theattractionto
engineering disciplines. Competitions are an excellent vehicle for incorporat-
ing technology into the future curriculum, and for opening the ‘high-tech box’
in an enjoyable way.
5 Concluding Remarks
Iamconvinced
that competitions have much to offer in education (no matter what your
point of view is),
that competitions are a good measure ofhow well a discipline is accepted
and integrated into the curriculum (a healthy, diverse set of competition
eventsisapositivesign,whereasalackofgoodcompetitionsmayinsome
cases be interpreted as a negative sign),
that competitions should be further developed (in all diversity; you can
use the checklist to put together a competition of your own liking),
that organizing agood competition is amajor challenge, (inparticular, the
follow-up is important but very labor-intensive),
that competitive desires can be exploited to incorporate technology into
the curriculum (however, competition should not be the only way to do
so),
that competitions should enjoy broader acceptance in the (international)
arena of education, and
thatcompetitionsshouldreceive moresupportandattentionfromtheaca-
demic and industrial worlds and from governments.
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The Role of Competitions in Education Tom Verhoeff
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Gabriele Reich, Mari van Uden, and Marga Dani¨els for
their valuable comments.
Sources
1. Author’s personal experiences in organizing competitions for students.
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1997 CD-ROM.
3. Internet, starting at <http://olympiads.win.tue.nl/ioi/>.
10
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... Davis and Rimm (2004) report that some students often need competition to push themselves to produce at a higher level. Academic competitions build resiliency, teaching children how to succeed, how to handle and recover from failure, and subsequently learn and improve-skills necessary for later in life (Verhoeff, 1997). Finally, contests can make education exciting. ...
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... Apart from that, 60% of the participants strongly agreed that this innovation allowed them to compete healthily with their friends. Verhoeff (1997) claims that healthy, diverse competition has much to offer in education. In this study, the participants could be seen competing with each other to match the sentence parts. ...
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Teaching of writing skills has become a growing concern for teachers with the implementation of CEFR aligned curriculum in recent years. Lack of relevant materials and resources is one of the contributing factors to this concern. Furthermore, writing skill acquisition could pose a challenge in the primary ESL classroom. Therefore, this study was conducted in a suburban primary school with the aim to discover Match Plate's potential in aiding pupils' writing skills. This research employed action research as the research design, and utilised three data collection methods, namely a pre-test and post-test, questionnaire and observation checklist. A total of ten participants were involved in this study. The findings revealed that there is a positive increment in the post-test results as compared to the pre-test results. Based on the survey questionnaire, most participants showed positive perceptions towards the use of Match Plate. Additionally, the data gathered from the observation checklist showed that participants were able to build sentences using Match Plate. Hence, the findings suggest that Match Plate shows potential to support pupils’ mastering of writing skills. Apart from that, pupils' positive learning attitude could be observed throughout the treatment period. Thus, it is highly recommended for teachers to resort to alternative teaching aids for language teaching.
... Working in groups, consisting working teams, preparing projects and presenting results are some of the new aspects of education. On the other hand, excellence groups (Howley, 1989) and students' contests (Verhoeff, 1997), seems to gain an important part of nowadays educational system. Furthermore, extroversion of knowledge gradually becomes a goal for many schools (Holland & Andre, 1987). ...
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Applying new innovative learning methods in schools can strongly influence and reform them. We questioned ourselves how these innovative educational approaches can reform an urban and a rural school respectively. We selected an urban school, a Model Experimental School and a typical rural High School in Greek countryside. We applied almost the same innovative approaches to both schools inquiring gradually the changes. In the case of the urban school new education methods were applied in order to raise students’ interest, while in the case of the Experimental School has to do with its fundamentals and basic principles. Students attending a Model Experimental School are in general willing to take part into educational programs and innovative projects. We detected that the rural school reformed rapidly, achieving gradually some of its pronounced educational goals. Teachers and students developed working groups and organized Astronomical, Environmental events and Drama performances joining thus the rural school with the local society. On the other hand at the Model Experimental School, all these activities regarded as obligatory activities. We concluded that the urban school reformed itself, but not as fast and mainly as crucial as the rural school did.
... Student competition is intrinsic to the pedagogy of cybersecurity education [24]. Cybersecurity pedagogy embraces competition, as evidenced by multiple competitions [3,13]. ...
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The goal is to raise awareness and encourage learning cybersecurity principles by making competitions appealing to a wider audience. In an effort to make events compelling, attractive, and watchable, the researchers will develop systems to support visualizations and make the transactions between teams in different cybersecurity competi- tions easy to comprehend. In informing and educating the audience on the intricacies of the competition through engaging visualizations, cybersecurity competitions will be opened up to a world beyond just participants. In doing so, we can potentially attract new talent into the field. Our team seeks to make prototype visualizations for key actions in various student cybersecurity competitions and assess spectator understanding of key principles of the competition.
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Since acquiring writing skills in the English language is a multiplex task as it includes several complex cognitive activities (Tillema, 2012), it is a challenging skill to master for English as a foreign language (EFL) students. The acquisition of this skill is also affected by motivation, which has a great impact on the success or failure of learning the target language (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011), and significantly influences the learner's academic and professional performance (Csizér & Dörnyei, 2005). Lack of research focusing on investigating the motivating effect of different aspects of English writing in the Myanmar context provided inspiration to conduct the present pilot study, which focused on mapping the motivational profile of 54 EFL pre-service teachers in English writing in Myanmar. The questionnaire developed by the authors was piloted in September 2020. Results indicate that out of the 12 dimensions measured, pre-service teachers' ideal selves and instrumental motivation seem to be the most motivating aspects of English writing, and there is a strong correlation between these two scales suggesting that the participants' ideal L2 self has a pragmatic focus. Moreover, regression analysis shows that pre-service teachers' intrinsic motivation, and their ideal selves contribute most to their motivated learning behavior.
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