Infusing Technology into Preservice Teacher Education: An Evolution in Methodology
Peggie Price, texas tech university, United States ; Patricia Herrera, Texas Tech Univeresity/TechLinks, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA
Technology and its classroom use has been a primary focus of education reform. National technology goals have been developed and continuously revised to meet accountability standards of various federal, state, and local governing groups (NCATE (1997), ITSE (2000), Texas Education Agency (1995), and others). As states and local districts implement standards-based initiatives to gently coax, prod or drag teachers kicking and screaming into the information age, future teachers must be able to show evidence of their technological skills. Teacher preparation programs address the call for instructional technology in various ways. Whether requiring stand-alone courses within programs or infusion of use throughout regular course work, teacher educators are obligated to prepare students for classrooms they will soon enter. (Gillingham & Topper (1999), NCATE (1997),TEA (1995). The Problem: Texas secondary teacher preparation programs are limited in the number of education classes required by the state governing board (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2000); therefore, many variations of "technology" coursework are accepted as meeting program requirements. In essence, secondary preparation students (both undergraduate and post baccalaureate) fulfill university technology criteria prior to entering certification programs. Therefore, students' experience of computer usage focuses on fulfilling course work requirements with their major college and rarely on applications classroom use. These students come to us with varying degrees of competency in computer usage, as well as little, if any idea how to transfer this into instructional methodology. The Purpose: The purpose of this study was twofold. Primarily the focus was formulation and implementation of an infused technology component into secondary teacher preparation courses. We also hoped to determine if preservice teachers' self-awareness of classroom computer application was raised and if strategies of how they might apply technology skills within their future classrooms were valued. The research questions guiding the study were: 1. What was the level of self-claimed educational technology competency of preservice teachers at the beginning of the semester? 2. How might the teaching team formulate lessons and activities, which might heighten preservice teachers' awareness of various technology usage as a planning/instructional tool? 3. How did the technology component within the class influence how preservice teachers might use technology in future classroom situations? 4. What was the level of self-perceived educational technology competency of the preservice teachers at the end of semester? Contextual Setting - This study was conducted with support, both financial and technical, of the PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology) initiative. Our local PT3 grant offered opportunities for teacher educators to advance their own technology skills, work with teams of local school district teachers, and implement activities in preservice teacher education classes. The teacher educator was chosen to participate by submitting a proposal to grant administrators. In the proposal, the teacher educator envisioned integrating a technology component in at least one class per semester for a three year period. Implicit in the grant was one-on-one instruction and assistance with a technology specialist hired full-time to work with teacher educators. The technology specialist, in collaboration with the teacher educator, (hereafter identified as the teaching team) was instrumental in developing opportunities for class instruction, activities, and assessment in preservice teacher education classes. Over four semesters (two regular semesters and two summer sessions) the teaching team conducted various activities with preservice teachers: The technology specialist designed and conducted a pre-test of self-perceived technology competencies. Throughout each semester the teaching team taught between three to five technology lessons (mostly hands-on, interactive instruction). Course requirements identified the submission of both technology-informational and instructional activities for evaluation and inclusion on class web sites. Finally the technology specialist conducted a post-test of self- perceived technology competencies. The teacher educator asked each class participant to address the value/non-value and possible future applications of the technology component in the students' final self-assessment of the class. Each semester offered unique challenges and opportunities for the teaching team to reflect and adjust methods and strategies used. Consistencies remained in the basic tenets of the technology component; however requirements, activities, and teaching strategies were markedly different in each succeeding semester. Methodology: The teaching team proposed using a mixed methodology to analyze data collected from four semesters in which the technology component was infused into preservice teacher education classes. Use of both quantitative and qualitative methods will yield both different and reinforcing results to strengthen the study and its implications (Miller & Crabtree, 2000). Simple descriptive statistics will be used to organize and analyze the demographic, pre and post-test data, as well as prescribed proficiencies on technology related assignments. The teaching team will analyze collective data from four classes and then do a comparative analysis of classes, plugging in independent variables which were inherent each semester. Qualitative methods (reflective response documents and graded technology activities) will be used to derive emerging themes of individuals' perceptions of value/non-value of the technology component within the framework of the teacher education class. Data Sources: Data were accumulated over four semesters the technology component was part of the teacher educator's course outline. Pre- and post tests on self-perceived computer skills were taken each semester. Computer skill activities (sending an e-mail, sending attachments, locating information on the World Wide Web, setting up individual web pages, submitting lesson plans in HTML format, finding and assessing a WebQuest™ in course content) were designated as part of course curriculum and competency was assessed by the teaching team. Students were also asked to specifically address aspects of the technology component, which they deemed valuable/non-valuable in their final self-assessment of the course. Preliminary Results: Collectively, the demographic data, revealed a typical population of preservice teachers: a majority of students were Anglo, predominantly female, middle class, and from within local geographic rural, urban areas (Lortie, 1975; Howey & Zimpher, 1989; Darling-Hammond, 1990 and others). On the pre-test, 75% of the students identified their level of competency as computer literate, 11.2% selected the category "true beginners", 2.9% identified themselves as "experts"; and 10.2% were unsure of their level of ability. Post-test results saw a slight increase in self-perceived upper levels of competency, with a decrease in the "true beginner" category. Of the 68 students participating in the study, 54.4% did not participate in any field experiences (two classes conducted during the summer session); 13.2% had 40 or more hours, and 32.3% had less than 25 hours field experience. (Specific data is currently being entered to statistically identify within group and between group similarities and differences.) Other quantitative analyses will be forthcoming. From the preliminary qualitative data analyses, several predominant themes emerged. Flexibility for individual students and classes and a difference in perceived needs between students and the teaching team emerged as a strong theme for consideration. At the end of each course session, the teaching team reviewed documents, activities, and students' self-assessments to assess effectiveness of the technology sessions. Each semester changes were made to address needs of preservice teachers and to better utilized available technology resources within the university. For example, the first class in which the technology component was introduced was field-based, located in a middle school offering very little in the way of technology resources. The teaching team realized that classes would have to be located in schools where resources were current and accessible or locate the technology component in classes that would be university-based. We made adjustments in the curriculum to be more open for preservice teacher input of particular needs, eliminating some activities and adding others. The teaching team identified themes of value/non-value which were particular to the self-perceived computer abilities of the preservice teachers. Of those who categorized themselves as computer "experts" the technology component had two reactions: non-value and less than valuable in terms of skills, yet valuable in terms of educational application. Self-identified experts : (non-value) "As for me, it did nothing because of my experience in the field of technology, except I learned new names for something that I already knew" (valuable for application)"I already knew a lot about technology. And this class showed me some ways to apply it effectively in the classroom." Of those who identified themselves as computer literate, the theme of awareness emerged of how technology can be used in the classroom. Self-identified computer literate: "All the ideas introduced. . . will be a tremendous benefit not only to myself, but to every student who decides that teaching is what they want to do for the rest of their lives." "I knew it would be useful in the classroom, but this gives me much more specific uses. . ." Frustration, gratitude and application knowledge emerged as preliminary themes from the true beginners. Self-identified true beginners: "The technology portion of the class was frustrating and I did not enjoy them at all. The pace was too fast and I still cannot perform the tasks." "I probably learned more than anyone else did. . . it forced me to get e-mail and use the internet. I am interested in learning more." "I may have enjoyed the technology portion of the class the most. It may be a great asset for me in social studies. WebQuests and internet sites will be very helpful in formulating lessons." Implications and Suggestions for Our Own Practice: Each semester, depending on make-up, location and needs of individuals in classes, the teaching team has made changes in the basic curricular assignments, activities, and methods of assessment. One obvious implication the teaching team has gleaned from the preliminary data is we must modify expectations and requirements for a heterogeneous classroom, where differing levels of competency require differing levels of assignments. Secondly, we must provide opportunities for students in the field to experiment with, explore options, and apply the lessons and activities they are asked to complete; that is, allow the students to have a field-based experience to implement technology application skills in the classroom. Perhaps what the teaching team has actually done is create a "stand-alone" set of lessons infused within a course. While the preservice teachers profess to "see" the need for and use of technology within the classroom, they will not entirely value it until it they can apply it. Forthcoming is the application of the model with adjustments in both pedagogy and the infusion of technology into the course curriculum. The preliminary data will guide and develop an instructional plan that is currently being investigated, with the possibility of once again using a field-based class in which to present the ITPTE model (Infusing Technology into Preservice Teacher Education).The teacher educator will co-teach with a middle school geography teacher during the fall 2001 and spring 2002. A cohort of undergraduates will be placed at a technology-rich middle school for curriculum development and strategies/methods classes, as well as 30 hours of classroom observation. The expansion of our "teaching team", the availability of adequate technology resources for instruction, plus the possible opportunity to implement technology applications within field experiences may give us a clearer direction on how better to infuse technology into teacher preparation classes. Future investigation generated by this study would include preservice teacher preconceptions of the uses of technology in the classroom, uses of technology preservice teachers witness in their field experiences versus what they are required to know about technology and how and to what extent preservice teachers are "allowed" to introduce learned technology applications within their field experiences.
Price, P. & Herrera, P. (2002). Infusing Technology into Preservice Teacher Education: An Evolution in Methodology. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1738-1739). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).