Mathematics Education

Preservice Teachers’ Experiences With Advanced Digital Technologies: The Interplay Between Technology in a Preservice Classroom and in Field Placements

by Michael Meagher, S. Aslž Özgün-Koca & Michael Todd Edwards
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This paper reports on a study of 22 preservice teachers enrolled in a first-semester mathematics teaching methods course. Course activities included participation in two separate field experiences in neighboring school districts. The methods class placed considerable emphasis on the use of advanced digital technologies in the teaching and learning of mathematics, with particularly extensive use of the TI-Nspire. The purpose of the study was to examine preservice teachers’ evolving relationships with advanced digital technologies in their teaching, examined through the lens of their technological pedagogical content knowledge (Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Niess 2005, 2006, 2007), and to examine the interplay between their field placements and the quality of their use of advanced digital technologies in inquiry-based lessons. The principal conclusion of the study is that there seems to be a crucial, perhaps decisive effect that modeling of exemplary practice in the field placement has on candidate attitudes regarding the use of advanced digital technologies in their teaching. There is evidence that the pre-service teachers’ experiences in the classroom primed them for the possibilities of technology use but it takes the experiencing of exemplary practice to convince them of the benefits of working to incorporate technology in their own teaching.

Science Education

Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions of Learning Science Methods Through Hybridizing Asynchronous and Traditional Experiences

by Jeff Thomas
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This study addresses preservice teachers’ perceptions toward online experiences, specifically, their perceptions about utilizing an online science methods curriculum versus a traditional methods curriculum.  Thirty-eight senior level preservice teachers at a midwestern U.S. university completed surveys about their experiences during their methods course that included a module for online content learning, videos of fourth- and fifth-grade elementary student in situ learning, and exploration of pedagogical skills embedded in an electricity module.  Survey and focus group data indicate that the preservice teachers valued and wanted more online experiences, but not as a total replacement of traditional methods experiences.  Teacher education preparation programs must identify with and address preservice teacher expectations about the value placed upon online experiences.  Specifically, online experiences can help focus instruction and enhance student interaction about life in an elementary classroom.  Implications of this study help address professional movements for incorporating online experiences for in-service K-12 teachers and schools.

Social Studies Education

Navigating Access and Maintaining Established Practice: Social Studies Teachers’ Technology Integration at Three Florida Middle Schools

by Caroline C. Sheffield
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This mixed methods, multiple-case study explored middle school social studies teachers’ instructional use of digital technology at three suburban middle schools in a large Florida school district. Findings from this study indicate that the participant teachers viewed technology integration as being beneficial for their students’ future success; however, their practice did not reflect this professed importance.  The participant teachers largely used available classroom technology for teacher-centered activities, including information gathering and presentation. Few teachers in this study utilized available technology for student-centered instructional pedagogy.  Findings from this study suggest that a single-cause explanation for why teachers do or do not integrate technology into their teaching is insufficient.  There appear to be multiple factors influencing the teachers’ practices, including access to and functionality of technology, teacher attitude toward and comfort with technology, and teaching philosophy and pedagogical practice.

Current Practice

Developing an Online Community of In-Service Teachers

by Carol Hodes, Sandra Pritz, Patricia Kelley & John Foster
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Establishing an online community of professional learners was one component of a multiyear professional development project with an overall goal of improving the ability of career and technical educators to use and interpret technical assessment data. Educators from five states and nine different schools participated in a research-based workshop and were mentored for several months as they developed a data-driven action plan. Few of the project participants engaged in substantial exchanges using the website that was established to enhance communications among the educators at a distance from each other. The principal investigators discuss and present design elements of online communities used to revise the website and its facilitation.