Giles, M., Baker, S., & Willis, J. (2024). A teacher-librarian collaborative experience: perspectives of preservice teachers and school librarian candidates. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 24(2) https://citejournal.org/volume-24/issue-2-24/current-practice/a-teacher-librarian-collaborative-experience-perspectives-of-preservice-teachers-and-school-librarian-candidates

A Teacher-Librarian Collaborative Experience: Perspectives of Preservice Teachers and School Librarian Candidates

by Michelle Giles, University of Houston-Clear Lake; Sheila Baker, University of Houston-Clear Lake; & Jana Willis, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Abstract

This mixed methods study explored the impact of a collaborative experience on perceptions of school librarian candidates (SLCs) and preservice teacher candidates (PTCs) as they worked to integrate technology into lesson plans effectively. The group under investigation consisted of 83 PTCs in the teacher preparation program who were enrolled in selected sections of a required technology course and graduate students in a School of Library and Information Science preparation program at the same institution. Forty of the PTCs were part of the control group and 43 were in the treatment group, which received collaborative support from the SLCs. One important finding is that PTCs perceived SLCs as valuable resources for integrating technologies, particularly for designing lesson plans that integrated technology. Additionally, both PTCs and SLCs realized the importance of teacher-librarian collaboration (TLC) in their future campus roles. A key recommendation is for teacher education programs to embed opportunities for TLC experiences for improving PTCs’ technology integration and lesson planning.

Today’s professionally trained school librarian serves as “innovator, transformation agent, and technology integration leader” (Smith, 2006, p. 16), supporting and promoting the inclusion of innovative technologies in teaching and learning experiences. Professionally trained school librarians are “poised at the intersection of information and technology” (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards [NBPTS], 2012, p. 26), where they are positioned to serve as leaders and instructional partners that support teaching and learning processes “by mentoring and encouraging best teaching and learning practices that support powerful environments dedicated to creating lifelong learners.” (Baker & Willis, 2016, p. 58)

The American Association of School Librarians’ (2009, 2019) guidelines emphasized the importance of the leadership role of the school librarian and the necessity of possessing expertise in the use of technologies that support the skills and knowledge critical for success in an ever-changing technological society. The need for preparation of school librarians who are knowledgeable in the use and integration of technologies is reinforced in other professional standards. The NBPTS (2012) has established standards for professional teaching specific to the preparation of school librarians as school-based leaders and experts in the integration of technologies that support teaching and learning. These standards include a strong focus on leadership, the development of knowledge and expertise regarding current and emerging technologies, technology integration strategies, and learning theories.

For decades, researchers have found that a strong correlation exists between student academic achievement and environments where professionally trained school librarians have assumed leadership roles and served as collaborative partners with the classroom teacher (Baker & Lastrapes, 2019; Farmer & Pharmie, 2021; Haycock, 1995; Lance et al., 2000; Montiel-Overall, 2005; Soulen & Wine, 2018; Williams et al., 2002). In these roles, there is a focus on creative and innovative uses of integrative technologies that support the design and delivery of effective instruction that takes advantage of the capabilities of technologies to engage students and facilitate higher level thinking (Francis et al., 2010; Gavigan & Lance, 2016; Kammer et al., 2021; Lance et al., 2000; Lance & Hofschire, 2012, 2013; Smalley, 2004).

Additionally, studies have noted that teachers are unaware of the expertise and support that professionally trained school librarians can bring to the classroom (Church, 2008; Kammer et al., 2021; Phillips et al., 2018; Schroeder & Fisher, 2015). This lack of awareness may be directly related to preservice teacher candidates’ (PTCs’) limited (if any) collaborative interactions with school librarian candidates (SLCs) during their preparation programs (Green & Chassereau, 2023; Latham et al., 2013; Small, 2002).

PTCs must engage in opportunities to collaborate with SLCs during their preparation program. These collaborations provide models which expose PTCs to the value of partnering with their professionally trained school librarian, while also exposing both populations to the added value collaboration offers. Professionally trained school librarians can support classrooms teachers by providing strategies for technology integration that enhance teaching and student learning (Mardis & Everhart, 2011; Soulen & Wine, 2018; Wine, 2016). 

The fast-paced and constantly changing technology landscape demands the creation and sustainability of well-defined collaborative models that promote the value of a sustainable partnership between school librarians and classroom teachers. This study explored the potential impact of collaboration between SLCs and PTCs during their preparation programs, as they worked toward effectively integrating technology into the curriculum. 

Results of this study have the potential to benefit researchers and teacher educators by helping them gain a better understanding of how collaborative partnerships between SLCs and PTCs impact lesson development, teaching, and effective integration of technology; strategies needed by teachers to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum. Additionally, this study contributes to the literature in the areas of teacher-librarian collaboration (TLC), school librarian preparation, preservice teacher preparation, technology integration, and instructional technology.

Researchers and educators continue to examine effective technology use and integration into early childhood (EC) through 12th-grade (EC-12) classrooms. In a 2015 study, Ruggiero and Mong noted that “over 35,000 articles and abstracts have been published about reviewing current practices, recommending effective strategies, and restructuring policy with a large percentage of the articles discussing the nature of technology in the classroom” (p.162).  The rapid pace at which new technologies and strategies enter the field directly impacts this number. This is evidenced by a simple Google Scholar search using the phrase “technology integration” for articles since 2015, which returned an impressive 39,300 scholarly works.

The need for effective technology use and integration in the EC-12 learning environment was heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting educational shutdown. The pandemic demonstrated a critical need to ensure teachers are skilled and competent in the use of technology, as well as able to adapt to changing technologies and contexts (Foulger et al., 2020; Winter et al., 2021). Consequently, teacher preparation programs must develop PTCs’ skills and knowledge needed to explore, understand, and implement new technologies.

When teachers are introduced to a new technology they enter a process of change, creating a sense of uncertainty that can have a negative impact on their competence and confidence (Albion & Tondeur, 2018; Giles & Willis, 2022). Collaborations during their preparation program with SLCs, who possess those skill sets, could strengthen PTCs’ skills and knowledge, as well as provide models for future collaborative partnerships in their teaching careers.

Ellis and Jacobs (2021) noted that the educational shutdown and overnight shift from traditional learning environments to fully online delivery provided an “opportunity to demonstrate the significant value school librarians add to instruction and literacy” (p. 18). They also emphasized that school librarians “are instrumental in supporting remote learning and have been providing blended learning opportunities for years” (p. 18). Professionally trained school librarians are often early adopters of technology, possessing skills in the use of integrated technologies, e-resources, digital media, and electronic databases, as well as copyright and access guidelines.

As noted earlier, school librarians are trained to serve as instructional leaders and the educational shutdown demonstrated their importance and the need for their specialized training and service in schools (Ellis & Jacobs, 2021). Smith et al. (2022) noted in their study that “school librarians serving as leaders can help community members adjust to innovations by answering questions and explaining new concepts” (p. 16). Ahlfeld (2020) wrote posts­hutdown, “My skills with technology and collaborative practice that I spent years cultivating were an integral part of my school adapting to remote teaching and learning on very short notice” (p. 958).

Moreover, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL, 2020) released a document that highlighted the school librarian’s critical role in meeting learner needs. They noted that the school librarian fulfills five important roles: instructional partner, teacher, leader, information specialist, and program administrator, all of which highlight the skills of the school librarian in developing relationships and creating inclusive school cultures.

Koh et al. (2022) conducted a study that examined how school librarians and classroom teachers coteach to facilitate learner-centered instruction. The results of their study indicated that “librarian-teacher co-teaching significantly facilitates learner-centered instruction in schools” (p. 1). During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools needed this librarian skill set more than ever as they adapted to meet the needs of all learners (AASL, 2020).

 Although many barriers to technology integration have been addressed in previous research (i.e., access, professional development, and support), technology is still often considered a supplemental tool and frequently used at a low level of integration, rarely linked to student learning outcomes (Mills et al., 2015; Ruggiero & Mong, 2015; Thurm & Barzel, 2020). 

Previously, the inclusion of iPads and other tablets in the classroom made it critical that relevant learning opportunities be provided that guide future teachers in strategies that would allow them to integrate innovative tools into their teaching and learning effectively. This was particularly important for teachers who would have access to new technologies through their school districts and, thus, would be challenged to integrate them meaningfully into the curriculum to support student learning (DeCoito & Richardson, 2018; Fu, 2013; Liao et al., 2017; Mills et al., 2015).  Even though some technologies may indeed facilitate student learning, effective integration into content areas using appropriate pedagogical strategies are crucial ingredients in the success of learning outcomes (Admiraal et al., 2017; Davies et al., 2013; Mishra & Koehler, 2006). 

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted classrooms around the world to fully online, remote learning environments, escalating the need to ensure classroom teachers possessed the knowledge and skills to effectively develop and deliver online instruction that met the needs of all learners. For classroom teachers who had not been exposed to online instruction during their preparation programs or through professional development, there would be a steep learning curve, creating panic, frustration, and fear of failure. Addressing this new barrier became the focus when developing online professional training, producing teacher-created resources, and working in collaborative partnerships. Performance indicators from the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) direct teachers to

continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning” and “dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.” (ISTE, 2017, p. 1)

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP, 2013) includes similar standards for teacher preparation, noting, “providers ensure that candidates model and apply technology standards as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning; and enrich professional practice” (CAEP, 2013, p. 1). The updated 2022 CAEP standards echo this, noting “Providers ensure that candidates model and apply national or state approved technology standards to engage and improve learning for all students” (2022, p. 1). These standards are often echoed in measurable standards established for teacher preparation programs at state levels.

Teacher preparation programs continue to battle preconceived beliefs of PTCs regarding their role as future teachers and the effective use of technology in the classroom. Research indicates PTCs often base beliefs and practices on previous educational experiences (Ellis et al., 2016; Er & Kim, 2017) making it challenging to alter, adapt, or expand these beliefs and practices. Addressing this challenge requires appropriate modeling that provides candidates opportunities to not only reflect on their beliefs and practices, but to develop their own individualized model for inclusion of technology in teaching and learning. The practice of training PTCs in skills and knowledge related to a particular technology needs to be replaced with immersive and collaborative opportunities that support PTCs’ development of effective integration models (Brenner & Brill, 2016; Clark et al., 2015). Providing collaborative models will expose PTCs to the value of partnering with their professionally trained school librarian, while exposing both PTCs and SLCs to the value collaboration can provide in their future classrooms. Establishing strong models of teacher librarian collaborations will support future efforts that enhance teaching and student learning (Mardis & Everhart, 2011; Soulen & Wine, 2018; Wine, 2016).

Theoretical Framework

An intersection of Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory, Vygotsky & Cole’s (1978) Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and Collins et al.’s (1988) Cognitive Apprenticeship serves as the theoretical framework for this study. Bandura’s theory posits that people learn from one another via observation, imitation, and modeling. The ZPD employs the view that interactions with peers are an effective way of developing skills and strategies. Cognitive Apprenticeship “refers to the fact that the focus of the learning-through-guided-experience is on cognitive and metacognitive, rather than on physical, skills and processes” (p. 3).

A key concept of Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory is that people learn through observing the behaviors of others. Furthermore, the theory revolves around the process of knowledge acquisition or learning directly correlated to the observation of models (Bandura, 1988). In a study by Karabulut (2008), where Social Learning Theory was applied as a framework, results validated “that learning occurs within a social context, and people learn from one another via observation, imitation, and modeling” (p. 1).

ZPD is an approach used to ensure students have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution within a community of learners. ZPD is the gap between actual developmental levels, as determined by independent problem solving and under guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers (Vygotsky, 1978). Blake and Pope (2008) noted that observable application of Vygotsky’s theory in the classroom would include student engagement in scaffolding, small groups, cooperative learning, group problem solving, cross-age tutoring, assisted learning, and alternative assessment.

Collaborative Apprenticeship, as an instructional strategy, allows for coaching and modeling, which enables the novice learner to gain knowledge and skills through observation and practice (Salavert, 2015). Collins et al. (1988) stated, “Alternation between expert and novice efforts in a shared problem-solving context sensitizes students to the details of expert performance as the basis for incremental adjustments in their own performance” (p. 4).

For the purpose of this mixed methods study, PTCs and SLCs were placed in collaborative environments where they could observe and share knowledge, skills, and experiences within a social context. This encouraged PTCs and SLCs to engage in dialog that could scaffold their knowledge, while promoting cooperative learning and problem solving. Allowing for coaching and modeling in the partnership provided opportunity for the PTCs to gain knowledge and skills through interactions, observation, and practice.

Purpose of the Study and Research Questions

The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the impact of a collaborative experience on perceptions of SLCs and PTCs as they worked to integrate technology effectively into their lesson plans. Teachers may utilize technologies, but they are not always knowledgeable in how to do so effectively to improve teaching and student learning. As the numbers of technologies increase in schools, it is critical that learning opportunities are provided to help teachers integrate technology meaningfully into teaching and learning.

This study may benefit researchers, education preparation programs, accreditation organizations (e.g., ISTE, NBPTS, and CAEP), helping them gain a better understanding of the strategies needed by teachers to integrate technology effectively into the curriculum and of the means by which collaborative partnerships between SLCs and PTCs impact lesson development, teaching, and effective integration of technology.  The following research questions guided this study:

RQ 1: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience change teachers’ perceptions regarding librarian collaboration on lesson planning?

RQ 2: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience change teachers’ perceptions regarding the librarian’s role in providing teacher support?

RQ 3: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience influence SLCs’ perceptions regarding the librarian’s role in providing teacher support?

RQ 4: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience impact the type and amount of technology included in course lesson plans?

RQ5: What were the PTC’s and SLCs’ perceptions of the collaborative experience?

Methods

This mixed methods study (QUAN – qual) used a pretest-posttest control group design for the quantitative portion of the study, followed by qualitative collection and analyses of data. The study was conducted in a college of education at a midsized university in the southern United States. The researchers collected quantitative survey data using Montiel-Overall and Hernández’s (2012) TLC III Survey.

Three forms of qualitative data were collected and used for triangulation of the data. Qualitative data collected from the treatment group courses included discussion board postings and end-of-project reflections. Focus group responses were collected and transcribed for analysis. Final group project lesson plans were collected from both the treatment and control group courses for comparison (as recommended by Creswell & Clark, 2017). The design method (QUAN – qual) gave us the opportunity to examine more completely the PTCs’ and SLCs’ perceptions during and after the collaborative experience.

Participants

Researchers invited a purposeful sample of PTCs and SLCs to complete the TLC-III Survey (Montiel-Overall & Hernández, 2012) to assess their perceptions of the importance of (TLC). Purposeful sampling (Creswell & Clark, 2017) allowed for the inclusion of undergraduate students in the teacher preparation program who were enrolled in selected sections of a required technology course, and graduate students in the School Library Information Science preparation program. Two online undergraduate instructors were randomly selected and assigned as treatment and control for the TLCs.

Each instructor taught two online course sections during the period of the TLC study. One graduate preservice library media and technology course, consisting of SLCs, served as the treatment group and collaborated with PTCs in the TLCs. Demographic data collected from all participants included age, gender, ethnicity, certification, and years of teaching (see Table 1).

CategoryPSTs
n = 83
SLCs
n = 13
University Students
n = 9,383
Gender

Male

11.76

5.26
37.9
Female88.2494.7462.1
Race/Ethnicity
Asian4.445.268.5
African American5.9315.798.8
White46.6768.4234.2
Hispanic37.780.042.8
Hawaiian2.220.02.3
2 or more2.2210.533.4
Years as Classroom Teacher

1-5
-
21.05
-
6-10-36.84-
11-15-21.05-
16-20-15.79-
26-30-5.26-
Note: 110 PLCs were enrolled in the undergraduate technology course, 83 participated. 13 SLCs were enrolled in the Graduate School Librarian Media and Technology Course; 13 participated.

A total of 83 PTCs participated in this study. Forty of the PTCs were part of the control group and 43 were in the treatment group, which received collaborative support from the SLCs. Online course sections were selected for this study to reduce instructor involvement during collaboration and to support interactions with the SLC online and asynchronously. Two online instructors were randomly selected and assigned as treatment and control. Each instructor taught two course sections during the period of the study.Thirteen SLCs enrolled in an online graduate preservice library media and technology course provided collaborative support for PTCs in the treatment group. No SLCs collaborated with the control group.  

The Courses

Undergraduate Technology Course (PSTs)

The technology course in this study was designed to introduce students to educational technologies and various models used for technology integration. The course is prerequisite to admission into the Teacher Education program and, therefore, comes early in the program course sequence, prior to any methods or field-based courses. Across all four sections offered during the study period, 118 candidates were enrolled (83 participated in the study with 43 in the treatment group and 40 in the control group). In this course, candidates are introduced to numerous vetted and emerging educational technologies. Candidates are instructed on the effective selection, evaluation, application, and integration of these educational technologies into teaching and learning in EC-12 classrooms.

The educational technology course is a 15-week required undergraduate-level core course that uses environmental education (EE) content materials as foundational curriculum to provide candidates with vicarious teaching experiences (Willis et al., 2016). The EE materials were selected as curriculum in this course due to their cross-discipline and cross-grade level application. The course was developed to introduce PTCs to the tools and skills necessary to understand and operate computers, navigate the World Wide Web, and utilize a variety of multimedia and web-based technology tools through a student-centered approach. 

As their final project in the course, PTCs were charged with working collaboratively in small groups to develop a full lesson, inclusive of integrated technologies. To design the lesson, students were required to choose a lesson/activity from the required EE materials. The number of groups in each course section was dependent on the number of participants enrolled. Once groups were established, a librarian candidate was randomly assigned to each group, and the teacher-librarian collaboration began.  

Graduate School Librarian Media and Technology Course (SLCs)

Participating SLCs were enrolled in a graduate course in the School Library and Information Science Masters of Science with School Librarian Certification program, where they learned about current and emerging technologies, models for technology integration, and ways to effectively integrate media and technology throughout all levels and areas of the curriculum. The course under study was project based and focused on selection, evaluation, and application of current and emerging digital tools and their effective use in teaching and learning. SLCs gain knowledge and skills in integration models and pedagogical strategies to ensure appropriate content integration. Through hands-on activities and collaborative interactions SLCs gained real world experience in appropriate and effective integration of digital tools in the classroom.

In the undergraduate technology course, the PTCs in both the treatment and control sections were assigned to their groups for the final project in the course. Each group consisted of a minimum of five PTCs. Each group was assigned an SLC from the graduate course to work with their PTC team on the final course project. Once PTCs in the treatment group had been assigned their SLCs, all groups were provided with the entire suite of communication tools available in the learning management system used by the university. Participants were encouraged to use any tools they needed and could use communication tools available to them outside of the course management system. However, if participants chose to use a communication tool other than those provided, they were required to record their interactions.

Working in groups, the candidates first selected a lesson/activity from the EE materials that would serve as “Monday’s Lesson.”  Then working collaboratively, they developed “Tuesday’s Lesson,” which could either extend the prior lesson’s content knowledge and skills or delve further into a specific subject area (i.e., mathematics, science, social studies, or language arts).

All lessons were developed using the BSCS Science Learning (2016) 5E Instructional Model. Developed in 1987, “the use of this model brings coherence to different teaching strategies, provides connections among educational activities, and helps science teachers make decisions about interactions with students” (Bybee et al., 2006, p. 41).  The five phases of the model represent stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend (or Elaborate), and Evaluate. The lessons/activities were to be designed to cohesively blend the content, information literacy skills, and educational technologies needed to align to each phase of the 5E Model effectively.

Each group in the technology course was assigned an SLC that served as a resource during the final project to guide and advise on best practices in effective technology integration. PTCs were instructed to work with their assigned SLC during lesson plan development and selection of appropriate technologies to be integrated into the lesson. SLCs were granted access to the PTCs’ course in the learning management system to support collaboration efforts. Additionally, the PTCs and SLCs setup up virtual meetings that fit their schedules.

Instrumentation

A teacher-librarian collaboration instrument was used for the pre- and postassessment of teachers’ and librarians’ perceptions of the collaborative activities. The original instrument, developed by Montiel-Overall in 2005, underwent two revisions with the new version, TLC-III Survey, being revised and tested in 2012. The revised version of the instrument “exhibited high reliability coefficients on the Frequency and Importance to Student Learning ratings and the four facet subscales (Cronbach’s alpha ranged from .84–.94 on the Frequency ratings and .81–.95 on the Importance to Student Learning ratings)” (Montiel-Overall & Hernández, 2012, p. 6). The TLC-III Surveycontains 24 questions scored on a Likert scale. Questions are divided evenly among four facets: (a) Coordination, (b) Cooperation, (c) Integrated Instruction, and (d) Integrated Curriculum.

The facets represent levels ranging from low to high on a continuum of collaborative activities. Facet A—Coordination—is at the low end of the continuum and involves such activities as teachers and school librarians working together to schedule time for students to participate in library activities or events. Facet B—Cooperation—reflects traditional collaborative efforts in which teachers request school librarians’ assistance in locating instructional resources. Facet C—Integrated Instruction—involves a higher level of teacher-librarian collaboration in which instruction is jointly planned and implemented. Facet D—Integrated Curriculum—is at the high end of the continuum and reflects a high level of school librarians’ involvement with teachers in the planning of curriculum and in the assessment of students (Montiel-Overall & Hernández, 2012).

Data Collection

Prior to data collection, Insitutional Review Board permission was granted. An informed consent form was provided for each participant and included an explanation of the study and their right to voluntarily leave the study at any time. Quantitative data were collected using the TLC-III Survey to assess the PSTs’ and SLCs’ perceptions of the importance of TLC. Qualitative data were collected using online discussion boards, face-to-face focus groups, online reflections, and submitted lesson plans. The discussions, reflections, and lesson plans were required activities in the course; participation in the focus groups were voluntary.

Participants enrolled in two sections of a preservice teacher educational technology course (PSTs) and one section of a preservice library media and technology course (SLCs) served as the treatment group, while the comparison (control) group consisted of PTCs in two sections of the educational technology course that did not offer PTCs opportunities to collaborate with SLCs. All groups received the pre/post survey, which was administered through the online Survey Monkey application (https://www.surveymonkey.com/).

PTC focus groups were convened by a graduate assistant to gain insight into the perceptions of the treatment group participants regarding their interactions with SLCs. No focus groups were convened with the control group course participants since they did not participate in TLC. Each PTC focus group, one from each of the three treatment courses, consisted of five participants from each course and lasted approximately 30 minutes. The 15 PTC focus group participants received a single open-ended question, “What is your perception of the collaborative experience?” Since the control group courses did not include a collaborative experience, no control group focus groups were convened. Using the same question, a focus group of seven SLC participants allowed the researchers to explore SLCs’ perspectives of the collaborative experience and their future role in school librarian leadership. Focus group participants’ responses, discussion board postings, and online reflections were selected from the treatment groups only since the control group would not have experienced any collaborations with SLCs. Discussion board postings and online reflections also focused on the perceptions of the PTCs and SLCs. Lesson plans from both treatment and control groups were collected and evaluated.

Quantitative data were collected using the TLC-III Survey to assess the SLCs’ perceptions of the importance of TLC. Qualitative data were collected using online discussion forums, face-to-face focus groups, online reflections, and submitted lesson plans. The discussions, reflections, and lesson plans were required activities in the course; participation in the focus groups was voluntary.

Data Analysis

Quantitative

Quantitative data were analyzed using IBM SPSS (https://www.ibm.com/products/spss-statistics). Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (e.g., percentages and frequencies) to assess pre and post differences in participant responses regarding perceptions of the importance of TLC. Because the data violated the assumption of normality and were related (pre- and posttest scores), the scores on the items were tested using a Wilcoxon Signed Rank test to assess whether median ranks differed significantly from pre-post responses per survey item. To test whether there were differences in the unrelated treatment and control groups, a Mann Whitney U test was conducted. A significance value of .05 was used. Finding no significant differences between groups, a one-way Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted.

Qualitative

Qualitative data were analyzed using an inductive coding process (Thomas, 2003). A constant-comparative analysis approach, grouping the data into codes, was used to allow for the development of meaningful categories and themes (as recommended in Lichtman, 2013). The focus group recordings and discussion forums were transcribed by a graduate assistant and reviewed by the researchers as soon as possible after data collection. The data were coded based on exact statements from the voluntary focus groups, course required discussion forums, and online reflections.

Throughout the coding process, a mix of both priori codes and emergent codes were used; some codes were identified based on the literature review and some codes emerged through the coding process (as in Creswell, 2002). These codes were then categorized into relevant specific categories or themes according to content. Additionally, the codes were used to identify larger themes and subthemes related to the participants’ perceptions of the TLC experience. Subsequently, we used quotes from the focus groups, discussion boards, and online reflections to support the themes that were identified. Lesson plans were evaluated based on the college’s standardized lesson plan rubric.

Findings

Perceptions of Importance

PTCs were asked to respond to pre- and postcourse questions on the TLC-III Survey(Montiel-Overall & Hernández, 2012) concerning the perceived importance of TLC. Table 2 displays the results of treatment PTCs pre- and postcourse responses to survey items. Table 3 displays the results of control PTCs pre- and postcourse responses to survey items.  Teacher-librarian activity focused on collaborative development of technology-integrated lesson plans.

Table 2 
Preservice Teacher Pre-Post Responses (%) Treatment Group

ItemPre or PostNot at all ImportantSlightly ImportantSometimes ImportantModerately ImportantVery Important
n%n%n%n%n%
Coordination
Q1Pre12.312.3511.61330.22353.5
Post0000.0920.91739.51739.5
Q2Pre12.324.71023.31534.91534.9
Post00001125.61637.21637.2
Q3Pre24.724.7614.01637.21739.5
Post00001023.31841.91534.9
Q4Pre0012.339.31125.62762.8
Post0012.5511.6920.92865.1
Q5Pre00511.61125.61330.21432.6
Post0024.71330.21432.61432.6
Q6Pre12.324.71330.21125.61637.2
Post0023.71227.91330.21637.2
Cooperation
Q7Pre0012.3511.6818.62967.4
Post0012.3614.01227.92455.8
Q8Pre0037.0614.0920.92558.1
Post0012.31227.91227.91841.9
Q9Pre12.324.71432.61330.21330.2
Post12.312.31227.91637.21330.2
Q10Pre0037.0614.01534.91944.2
Post12.300716.31739.51841.9
Q11Pre0037.,037.01227.92558.1
Post12.300716.31330.22251.2
Q12Pre0049.3511.61330.22148.8
Post12.300716.31125.62455.8
Integrated Instruction
Q13 *Pre37.0716.31227.91125.61023.3
Post24.712.31534.91125.61432.6
Q14Pre24.7511.6818.61432.61432.6
Post24.712.31432.61227.91432.6
Q15Pre24.724.71023.31330.21637.2
Post0024.71227.91023.31944.2
Q16 *Pre00511.61432.61023.31432.6
Post12.312.3920.91432.61841.9
Q17Pre0049.3511.61432.62046.5
Post12.312.3920.91432.61841.9
Q18 *Pre12.3716.3716.31432.61432.6
Post12.324.71023.31227.91841.9
Integrated Curriculum
Q19 *Pre37.037.01534.91125.61125.6
Post12.324.71637.21125.61330.2
Q20Pre37.037.01330.21227.91227.9
Post24.7001637.21432.61125.6
Q21Pre37.037.01227.9920.91637.2
Post12.337.01023.31637.21330.2
Q22Pre12.3511.61227.91330.21227.9
Post12.3001637.21023.31637.2
Q23Pre37.049.31330.2818.61534.9
Post24.712.31432.6716.31944.2
Q24Pre24.7716.3614.01330.21534.9
Post12.324.7920.91227.91944.2
Note: 118 PLCs were enrolled in the Undergraduate Technology Course, 83 participated. 13 SLCs were enrolled in the Graduate School Librarian Media and Technology Course; 13 participated. See Appendix for item wording.

*Statistically significant (p < .05)

Table 3
Preservice Teacher Pre-Post Responses (%) Control Group

ItemPre or PostNot at All ImportantSlightly ImportantSometimes ImportantModerately ImportantVery Important
n%n%n%n%n%
Coordination
Q1Pre512.5410.0512.51230.01435.0
Post25.0001127.5820.01947.5
Q2Pre37.525.01537.5922.51127.5
Post25.012.51332.51025.01435.0
Q3Pre25.0512.51025.01025.01332.5
Post12.537.51230.0922.51537.5
Q4Pre12.525.0615.0820.02357.5
Post12.512.5615.0820.02460.0
Q5Pre25.0820.0820.0820.01435.0
Post12.537.51230.01230.01230.0
Q6Pre25.0615.01127.5820.01332.5
Post12.5712.5615.01332.51537.5
Cooperation
Q7Pre12.50037.51127.52562.5
Post12.512.5512.51025.02357.5
Q8Pre12.500820.01435.01742.5
Post12.525.0922.51435.01435.0
Q9Pre37.5001230.01537.51025.0
Post12.5615.0615.01435.01332.5
Q10Pre12.500820.01435.01742.5
Post12.537.5922.51025.01742.5
Q11Pre12.500820.01025.02152.5
Post12.512.5717.51127.52050.0
Q12Pre12.537.5717.51025.01947.5
Post12.525.0922.5922.51947.5
Integrated Instruction
Q13 *Pre37.5922.51230.0615.01025.0
Post25.0512.51230.01025.01127.5
Q14Pre25.0922.51435.037.51230.0
Post25.0717.5717.51230.01230.0
Q15Pre25.0410.01332.5820.01332.5
Post25.0820.0615.0717.51742.5
Q16 *Pre25.0615.01435.0615.01230.0
Post25.037.51332.5717.51537.5
Q17Pre12.5717.51332.5615.01332.5
Post12.525.01332.51025.01435.0
Q18 *Pre37.5820.0615.0922.51435.0
Post25.0512.5717.5820.01845.0
Integrated Curriculum
Q19 *Pre410.01025.01230.0512.5922.5
Post25.0615.01332.5922.51025.0
Q20Pre37.51230.01127.5717.5717.5
Post37.51127.5615.0820.01230.0
Q21Pre410.0410.01332.5820.01127.5
Post25.0615.0922.51127.51230.0
Q22Pre25.0615.01127.51025.01127.5
Post12.5717.5922.5922.51435.0
Q23Pre410.0717.5717.51230.01025.0
Post37.5410.01127.5820.01435.0
Q24Pre37.5517.5712.5820.01742.5
Post37.5615.0922.5820.01435.0
Note: 110 PLCs were enrolled in the Undergraduate Technology Course, 83 participated. 13 SLCs were enrolled in the Graduate School Librarian Media and Technology Course; 13 participated. See Appendix for item wording.

*Statistically significant (p < .05)

A shift was noted in the rated importance of collaboration efforts in areas related to curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment at the conclusion of the course. Prior to the collaborative experience, a majority of the participants indicated lower levels of importance in similar areas, noting Not at All Important and Slightly Important on items related to curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment. At the completion of the semester, the majority of the participants reported higher levels of importance, Moderately Important to Very Important in areas related to curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment. These findings indicate the collaborative experience included in this course increased participants’ perceived importance of TLC during curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment.

The TLC-III Survey asked participants to rank the importance of teacher-librarian interactions within four facets, Coordination, Cooperation, Integrated Instruction, and Integrated Curriculum. Findings revealed mean increases in levels of importance for 11 of the 24 items (2, 4, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, and 24) in the treatment group. Two of the items were from Coordination, one from Cooperation, four from Integrated Instruction, and three from Integrated Curriculum. The largest mean differences were found in Integrated Instruction and Integrated Curriculum.

Results of the Wilcoxon signed rank test indicated statistically significant mean differences (p < .05) existed among six of the pre- and postcourse items (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, and 17). A Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to compare differences between treatment and control groups. Results indicated no significant difference between treatment and control groups’ test scores. On the item, “Talking with the librarian to arrange time periods for students to use the library,” postcourse scores for the PTC treatment group were higher than those in the control group. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40) = 1146.50, z = 2.72, p = .006.

On the item, “Setting up a time with the librarian when groups of students can go to the library for free reading,”scores for the treatment group were higher than those in the control group. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40,) = 1162.00, z = 2.878, p = .004. On the item, “Making sure that class library times don’t conflict with times when other classes use the library,” scores for the treatment group were higher than those in the control group. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40,) = 1163.00, z = 2.998, p = .003.

On the item, “Asking the librarian to provide references that can be used by students,” scores for the treatment group were higher than those in the control group. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40,) = 1185.50, z = 3.113, p =.002. On the item, “Sharing ideas with the librarian for teaching a lesson together,” scores for the treatment group were higher than those in the control group. A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40,) = 608.50, z = 2.442, p = .015. On the item, “Working with librarian to incorporate library skills into classroom lessons,”scores for the treatment group were higher than those in the control group.  A Mann-Whitney test indicated that these differences were statistically significant, U(Ntreatment = 43, Ncontrol = 40,) = 1117.50, z = 2.440, p = .015.

To compare postcoordination by group controlling for precoordination subscale score, there was no significant difference, F(1, 80) = .59, p = .44. To compare postcooperation by group controlling for precooperation subscale score, there was no significant difference, F(1, 80) = .07, p = .79. To compare postintegrated instruction by group controlling for preintegrated instruction subscale score, there was no significant difference, F(1, 80) = .23, p = .13. To compare postintegrated curriculum by group controlling for preintegrated curriculum subscale score, there was no significant difference, F(1, 80) = .95, p = .33.

SLCs were asked to respond to pre- and postcourse questions on the TLC-III Surveyconcerning the perceived importance of TLC. Table 4 displays results of participants’ pre- and postcourse survey responses. Teacher-librarian activity focused on collaborative support of technology-integrated lesson plan development. There was a positive shift noted in the rated importance of Coordination efforts between the teacher and librarian. Additionally, significant shifts were found in Cooperation relating to materials and resources. Most importantly, positive shifts were found in facets of Integrated Instruction and Integrated Curriculum in areas of planning, integration, and assessment.

Table 4 
School Librarian Candidate Pre-Post Responses (%)

QuestionPre or PostNot at All ImportantSlightly ImportantSometimes ImportantModerately ImportantVery Important
n%n%n%n%n%
Coordination
Q1Pre000017.7538.5753.8
Post000000.0215.41184.6
Q2Pre0000215.4323.1861.5
Post0000215.4430.8753.8
Q3Pre0017.7430.8538.5323.1
Post0000323.1538.5538.5
Q4Pre0017.717.7438.5715.4
Post00215.4430.800.0753.8
Q5Pre0017.7538.5430.8538.5
Post0000323.1753.8323.1
Q6Pre0000646.2538.5215.4
Post0000861.5323.1215.4
Cooperation
Q7Pre0000215.4323.1861.5
Post0000215.4538.5646.2
Q8Pre0000215.4430.8753.8
Post0000215.4323.1861.5
Q9Pre0017.7430.8538.5323.1
Post0017.7430.8430.8430.8
Q10Pre000017.7646.2646.2
Post000017.7215.41076.9
Q11Pre0000323.1323.1753.8
Post0017.700323.1969.2
Q12Pre0000430.8323.1646.2
Post0000321.100.01076.9
Integrated Instruction
Q13 *Pre0017.7538.5430.8323.1
Post0017.7538.5430.8323.1
Q14Pre0000538.5538.5323.1
Post0000538.5323.1430.8
Q15Pre0017.7430.8430.8430.8
Post0017.7646.2323.1323.1
Q16 *Pre0017.7215.4861.5215.4
Post0000538.5430.8430.8
Q17Pre00323.1323.1323.1430.8
Post0000430.8753.8215.4
Q18 *Pre0017.7646.2430.8215.4
Post0017.7323.1646.2323.1
Integrated Curriculum
Q19 *Pre0017.7430.8538.5323.1
Post0017.7538.5430.8323.1
Q20Pre0017.7646.2538.517.7
Post00323.1538.5430.817.7
Q21Pre0017.7430.8323.1538.5
Post0000.0538.5323.1538.5
Q22Pre0017.7215.4646.2430.8
Post0000646.1323.1430.8
Q23Pre00323.1538.5323.1215.4
Post00430.8215.4430.8323.1
Q24Pre00215.4538.5323.1323.1
Post0017.7538.5215.4538.5
Note. See Appendix for item wording.

*Statistically significant (p < .05)

Prior to the collaborative experience, the majority of the participants indicated lower levels of importance in similar areas, responding Not at All Important and Slightly Important on items related to scheduling, resources, materials, planning, integration, and assessment. Findings revealed that librarian interaction during the collaborative experience increased SLCs’ perceived importance of TLC during curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment.

The TLC-III Survey asked participants to rank the importance of teacher-librarian interactions within four facets, Coordination, Cooperation, Integrated Instruction, and Integrated Curriculum. Participants reported mean increases in levels of importance for 14 of the 24 items (1-4, 8-12, 13, 15, 18, 23, and 22). Four items were from Coordination, five from Cooperation, three from Integrated Instruction, and two from Integrated Curriculum. Results of the Wilcoxon signed rank test indicated a statistically significant mean difference (p < .05) existed among one of the items (1), within Coordination.

Perceptions of Collaborative Experience

In response to Question 5, “What were the PTCs’ and SLCs’ perceptions of the collaborative experience?” qualitative data collected from PTCs and SLCs offered evidence of benefits of TLC. The analysis of focus group data, discussion board postings, and online reflections derived five distinct themes of responses concerning TLC: (a) collaboration, (b) support, (c) relationships, (d) building confidence, and (e) lesson design.

Collaboration

TLC is essential for teachers in developing an understanding of the school librarian’s expertise and ways school librarians can support teachers in teaching and learning. Though TLC has been promoted throughout the library science literature, in national guidelines, and in school librarian preparation programs, TLC continues to be a practice that has not gained widespread acceptance in both practice and in preservice teacher preparation programs. The following comment serves as evidence that teachers in this study were unaware and needed to become aware of the importance of their school librarian.

I never got to a place where I felt they [librarian candidates] weren’t helpful, and it seemed like they were having good communication with the entire group through the whole process. However, I felt like I needed to redirect some of my other group members back to the librarians to get the best answers – although the librarians had already posted great ideas on how to better their ‘E’ and the technology that went along with it. (TLC discussion board)

PTCs did, however, see the benefit of TLC when provided experiences to interact with SLCs during their preparation program. One PTC commented on the discussion board, “The collaboration of all those involved could make the difference in how we can move forward with future students and future teachers on how to better educate those around.” Another PTC stated,

I feel that the collaboration was a great part of the course unit and definitely a great help with the group assignment. The group assignment was difficult enough as it was, but the librarians really helped to get our group on the same page, gave advice on what would help our plan flow better, as well as offered as many ideas on technology and tools as possible to reinforce the lesson we were trying to put together. They also weren’t shy about letting us know if something needed to be changed, and I think we all appreciated that. I thought it was a great experience. (PTC focus group)

The SLCs also saw benefits to the TLCs. One SLC candidate commented on the discussion board, “Collaboration between teachers and librarians is essential to enhancing instruction. This makes me want to pursue this aspect of my job more than ever!” Another SLC candidate stated,

I think that having library students come alongside students in teacher ed is such a great idea! It really helps both parties develop a sense of what the collaboration process looks like, how it can be helpful, and how it ends up producing a greater quality of educational content to positively impact student learning. (SLC discussion board)

Support

In the context of support, PTCs’ responses focused on the contribution of SLCs’ knowledge of technology and resources. PTCs expressed having little knowledge regarding resources and how to integrate technology effectively. They recognized the SLCs were more knowledgeable in technologies and their applications. One PTC commented on the discussion board, “Having a real-life person offer support, someone who can teach me about new resources, make things manageable, and improve my lessons (leading to better student understanding), is a positive thing.” Another PTC stated,

During the collaboration, it became apparent that the librarians had some knowledge about technology and integration that I wasn’t aware of. Because of this, my perception changed greatly to the point that now I believe I will consult with my librarian to get his/her input on my lesson plans because I now know that their experience and their knowledge is greater than my own. (PTC focus group)

The SLCs reported that they offered support to PTCs by providing them with suggestions for resources, technologies, and strategies for integrating technologies within the curriculum. This was evidenced in comments from SLCs on the discussion board, such as, “I looked for tools that would provide extensions for their Tuesday plans. I introduced five tools with a summary of how they could be integrated into the lessons along with a few sample products.”

Relationships

A theme that emerged from the discussion boards, reflections, and focus group data focused on the importance of trusting relationships. In a seminal article introducing a framework for educators of preservice school librarians, Baker (2016) suggested,

Teachers must be able to trust that the school librarian is knowledgeable of school-wide curriculum standards and guidelines, and skilled in providing them with tools and authoritative resources that will impact student learning. … [and] that the school librarian will meet their individual needs within a risk-free partnership. (p. 152)

It is imperative that school librarians are proactive in approaching teachers to establish rapport and to continue building a strong relationship throughout collaboration efforts, so teachers feel comfortable and free from the fear of failure when trying new strategies and technologies. On the SLC discussion board, a SLC recognized that “building a rapport with teachers is important, but definitely takes time.” Not only does it take time to build relationships with teachers, it also takes time for librarians to learn about the teachers they work with, as one SLC acknowledged, “Everyone has different teaching styles … [and] it will take time to find out the best way to navigate lessons together.”

One SLC shared during the focus group that, after she provided a PTC with resources and explained how they could be integrated into the lesson plan, the PTC readily communicated with her several times after that initial interaction. One SLC candidate stated on the discussion board, “I think this experience caused me to think very carefully about how to approach others with new ideas in a way that communicates an appreciation for the work they have already contributed to the project.” Another SLC commented,

When collaborating with teachers, it will be very important to establish a rapport and build a sense of trust. The librarian will need to maybe tread lightly at first when making suggestions about different resources, especially if they are unfamiliar. I feel this approach helped me make this collaboration more successful. I learned more about the teachers and their personalities and visions, then focused on the needs for our group work. This helped make our collaboration successful. (PTC discussion board)

A few SLCs recognized that working with PTCs often means walking a fine line between being helpful and taking control, as the following SLC discussion board post demonstrates: “It is hard to find that balance between being helpful and taking charge.” Similarly, another SLC stated,

I [am] really working on trying to come across as being helpful instead of bossy. I have a fear that I will be looked upon as not helpful and egotistical, when all I am trying to do is recommend a technology and assist them in anything they may need. This is something that I think is very important in a librarian, and I want to make sure I am warm and welcoming. (SLC focus group)

One SLC reflected on the collaborative experience and the impact it would have on her practice, noting, “This project definitely made me feel appreciative of having good relationships with teachers” (SLC discussion board). This sentiment is echoed in the following comment: “I definitely think having a relationship with the teachers is a big key to success….It helps me to realize how important those relationships we foster are because it can and will have an effect on how we collaborate … ” (SLC discussion board).

Building Confidence

Confidence is an important attribute for both teachers and school librarians. “Belief in oneself builds self-confidence and, consequently, team confidence” (Martin, 2013, p. 45).  Teachers need to feel confident in their abilities to use technology and to develop lessons that effectively integrate not only technologies but also relevant print and digital resources.  Additionally, they need to build confidence in their ability to work collaboratively. One PTC commented on the discussion board, “I feel that all I have learned has helped me with my confidence level.” Another stated on the discussion board, “This definitely helped me with my confidence in collaborating AND in integrating technologies.” 

School librarians need to not only have confidence in themselves and their own knowledge and abilities to develop lessons and integrate technologies, but they also need to be able to build confidence within teachers. “Equipping preservice school librarians with the ability to gain a teacher’s trust will help to build the teachers’ confidence and beliefs in themselves to use innovative technologies” (Baker, 2016, p. 153).

One SLC commented on the discussion board, “As I continue to learn more technology tools and practice using them, it will give me more confidence in being able to help teachers with lesson ideas and ways to integrate technology.” Another SLC concluded on the discussion board, “I found that I used tons of stuff that I have learned throughout this semester in helping these teachers. I truly felt prepared and equipped to do that job, and that is very exciting!”

Lesson Design

The PTCs reflected on their lesson plans at the conclusion of the collaborative experience. PTCs reported that collaborating with the SLCs improved their technology use and integration skills, as the following PTC reflection demonstrates: “I do feel like my final lesson used technology meaningfully to improve student learning. I had no idea how important technology was in lesson planning until I took this course.” Another candidate concluded, “My lessons will integrate technology to support learning meaningfully. In the future more and more technology will be used and it will be crucial to integrate it” (PTC reflection).

Changing Perspectives of Teacher-Librarian Collaboration

PTCs were asked to reflect on their view of TLC before and after the collaborative experience and post their responses in the course. One PTC’s comment indicated that her experience was not convincing enough to make collaboration a priority in future practice; however, she did comment on the value added from potential collaboration if provided time and opportunity:

BEFORE: My perception of teacher and librarian collaboration before the collaboration experience was that it was not imperative for teachers and librarians to collaborate.  Teachers don’t usually deal with the librarian in school that I have seen unless they are taking their class to library time to check out books or researching a certain topic.
AFTER: I feel that if the teacher and the librarian have time to plan together that is great, the lessons will be more detailed and more elaborate rather than if the teacher only did it herself. But I feel like the teacher does not need the librarian in order to plan her lessons unless it involves books for research or something along those lines. The reason that I feel that teachers don’t need to plan with the librarian is because teachers meet with their team of the same grade level and plan things out together. I also feel that the team would understand better because they are familiar with what particular TEKS that grade is working on. (PTC reflection)

A couple of the PTCs’ comments indicated they recognized the importance of the support of the school librarian and that collaboration would be a possibility in future practice. One example included the following:

This experience is definitely something to keep in mind for the future. I don’t think that I would plan with the librarian all year unless the school that I would work at required it. It would be nice once in a while to collaborate when the students have to research or know information about a certain topic. (PTC reflection)

Overwhelmingly, the majority of PTCs agreed the TLC was an invaluable experience, and they planned to make collaboration a priority in their future practice. One candidate commented, “After this collaborative experience, I knew the librarian was the perfect person I could work with to make a better lesson plan.” Another commented, “Working with the librarians made me realize that, beyond the teachers on my team, I have a great resource that I cannot exclude.” Additional comments included the following:

Before the collaboration, I felt it wasn’t necessary to work with a librarian to develop a good lesson plan. I didn’t think there was anything they could offer me that I didn’t already know myself. Because of this [collaboration], my perception changed greatly to the point that now I believe I will at least consult with my librarian to get his/her input on my lesson plans because I now know that their experience and their knowledge is greater than my own. (PTC reflection)


I could have done the lesson without the librarian’s help, but it would have taken me longer and the quality would not have been as good. Overall, the addition of a librarian increased the quality of the lesson and sped up the lesson making process. (PTC reflection)

Frankly, I hadn’t considered the SLC before. … I really just wondered why we needed a librarian. … I realized that in order to have a successful lesson plan, I needed the advice from the librarian on what would work best for the students at each step and how to successfully integrate what resources she had into my lesson plan. I know that if the group did not have them as a resource, the lesson definitely would have been lacking, and our students would not have had the reinforcement tools that they needed to really learn the subject matter. This said, I really didn’t want to let my librarians go! I thought we all made a great team! (PTC reflection)

SLCs were asked to reflect on their view of the TLC before and after the collaborative experience. Their comments indicated challenges related to the TLC experience. One candidate stated, “Right past the ‘hassle’ is an opportunity for students to really benefit from a group of educators putting their knowledge and talent in the same hat.” Other comments include the following:

Let me begin by saying that any type of collaboration between educators can be very powerful both for growing the teachers’ practice and for impacting student learning.… I think one thing that was most difficult about this collaboration was my lack of relationship with the members of my group.…Whether or not I have a close working relationship with a collaborating teacher, we share a school community as well as care and concern for the schools’ students.… I think this experience caused me to think very carefully about how to approach others with new ideas in a way that communicates an appreciation for the work they have already contributed to the project. (SLC reflection)

This was a good opportunity to put on our librarian hats and provide ideas and collaborate with teacher candidates on a lesson plan. Even though the majority of us faced some sort of difficulty in the process, I’m glad we had the chance to “show what we know” to future teachers. (SLC reflection)

I actually enjoyed this process of exploring and evaluating instructional resources quite a bit (which is a good sign if I am to do this regularly as a school librarian). Issues aside, I did end up appreciating the opportunity to practice this particular librarian hat in a real-life situation. There were periods of frustration, but not enough to invalidate the usefulness of the task. I am hoping that in the future the rewards of TLC will be present without the foibles of procrastination and inequitable work distribution. (SLC reflection)

This project was frustrating, but valuable for the insight I’ve gained. What I learned from it is that, as a librarian, I am going to have to be extremely proactive to the point that I may even seem a bit forceful to get teachers to include me in the planning process.…While commenting among themselves, they acknowledged that they didn’t really think they needed the librarian’s assistance to do what they wanted to do. They just didn’t see the significance of working with a librarian. So, after I am hired as a librarian, I will definitely need to work on “inserting” myself into planning groups. (SLC reflection)

The following SLCs’ reflections speak to the lessons they learned as a result of the collaborative experience.

After this particular collaboration experience, I can see the benefit of having a school librarian in place to provide ideas and resources for the teaching staff.

When I am a librarian, I plan to work collaboratively with the teachers at my school. This collaboration project taught me that no one teacher is alike. Some will be more receptive to my feedback than others. Some will want you to do more than others. Establishing expectations for the collaboration process is important. I actually think the collaboration project is a good idea. We have to get used to being in the position of offering ideas and feedback to teachers. (SLC reflection).

Honestly, I’ve never asked the librarian at any of the nine schools across 28 years of teaching I’ve worked at to help me with anything I’ve planned and I know now that I’ve overlooked a valuable resource. When the new semester begins in January, I’m inviting the librarian to plan with us. (SLC reflection)

I take away the fact that when I am a librarian, I need to make sure teachers know who I am and what I can do for them. I have never consulted my school’s librarian when it comes to lesson planning. However, I plan to make sure I consult her when it comes to lesson planning in the future. (SLC reflection)

This project reaffirmed to me that I need to take charge and be confident in leading. I am usually a quiet participant, and chime in when needed. I know that I need to become a leader and put goals and plans into motion. (SLC reflection)

I cannot say enough good things about this collaboration! I was truly surprised by how awesome it felt, and how successful I feel that it was.… I absolutely had the best time pretending to do my dream job, and I can’t wait until I get to do it every day! (SLC reflection)

Group Project Lesson Plans and Reflections

Using the College of Education’s approved lesson plan rubric, lesson plans from the treatment and control groups were compared for differences in technology tools. This analysis found an increased number of technologies included in lesson plans that were not addressed in the educational technology course. The technologies were tools used by SLCs during their coursework. The lesson plans developed by participant groups (n = 10) in the treatment group contained nine new technologies. The new technologies were introduced to PTCs during the collaborative experience, as evidenced in discussion forum dialogs and technology justifications included on lesson plan templates. In several instances, the same new technology was used by several groups, resulting in an average of two new technologies per group project.

The lesson plans developed by participant groups (n = 14) in the control group contained only two new technologies that were not covered in the educational technology course (i.e., Kahoot and SurveyMonkey). These are common tools that may have been addressed in other coursework or in previous experiences.

Summary of Findings by Research Question

The TLC experiences offered opportunities for PTCs and SLCs to work collaboratively on design and development of a 5E lesson plan that was inclusive of integrated technologies. Additionally, through the collaboration, PTCs would more fully understand the role of the SLC, while SLCs would engage in TLC experiences that would model their future campus roles. The discussion of the findings is organized in the following section in terms of the research questions that guided this study. Qualitative findings from RQ 5 were used to triangulate findings from RQs 1-4).

RQ 1: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience change teachers’ attitudes toward teacher-librarian collaboration on lesson planning?

Quantitative analysis revealed a significant mean difference in PTCs’ perspectives in areas of lesson planning and instructional activity development within the facet of Integrated Instruction, supporting changes in PTCs’ attitudes toward TLC during lesson plan development. These findings indicate the collaborative experience included in the course, increased participants’ perceived importance of TLC during curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment. There was no significance between the treatment and control group responses to questions that were historically identified as being a function of the librarian. However, those items that were aligned to the more collaborative role of today’s SLC showed significant increases in post responses among the treatment group. 

For SLCs, a significant mean difference was found only in the facet of Coordination; however, there were positive shifts in facets of Cooperation, Integrated Instruction, and Integrated Curriculum. Within these facets, particular areas of growth were related to materials, resources, curriculum, lesson plan development, and assessment. This result supports the positive shift in the SLCs’ perspectives regarding TLC, indicating that the SLCs acknowledged the importance of TLC.

Qualitative analysis of PTCs indicated SLCs were essential and as a result of working with SLCs, their lesson plans were improved. Several PTCs indicated they had not considered collaboration with librarians before and appreciated the guidance and resources provided by SLCs. PTCs expressed varying levels of knowledge regarding technology integration. Through this collaborative experience, PTCs recognized SLCs were much more knowledgeable regarding digital resources, technology applications, and developing technology integrated lesson plans.  The PTCs reported that collaborating with SLCs improved their lesson plans and they would definitely use their librarian as a resource in the future for lesson development and for the benefit of their students. They realized SLCs were well-versed in innovative technologies that “help teachers drive their points home with their students” (PTC discussion board).

RQ 2: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience change teachers’ attitudes toward the librarian’s role in providing teacher support?

Quantitative analysis demonstrated there was a significant mean difference in the PTCs’ perspectives, as well as the SLCs’ perspectives regarding TLC, indicating PTCs realized the need to utilize their librarian for resources when teaching and developing lesson plans; SLCs recognized the importance of TLC in their future campus roles.

Qualitative data analysis supported improved perceptions as a result of the TLC experience. All participants reported that the TLC helped to improve their confidence in using and integrating technologies into teaching and learning. SLCs also perceived improvement in their own abilities to support teachers’ individual needs with lesson plan development and technology integration.

PTCs believed they benefited from the TLC because of the SLC’s expertise and the ways in which SLCs could support them in lesson plan development. Most of the PTCs entered the TLC unaware of the value of working with the librarian and did not know of the librarian’s expertise in technologies and digital resources. Some PTCs were resistant to collaborating with the school librarian candidate assigned to their group. They did not believe the SLC would possess the knowledge that would have a significant impact on their lesson plan development. One SLC, who was already a practicing librarian spoke to the heart of this:

I definitely learned a lot of patience and I really tried to see things from their perspectives, but even this was difficult as I have experience as a teacher and a librarian and I know what they were trying to do and trying to create. I don’t think these students [PTCs] realized that we [SLCs] have had previous teaching experience, much less “required” teaching experience. I could tell that they did not give much credit to the librarian and that they didn’t know what our skill set is exactly, aside from books and resources. It was like having to prove my worth as a librarian all over again! (SLC focus group)

At the end of the collaborative experience, the PTCs recognized the importance of the role of the SLCs and their knowledge of resources and technologies. These results are consistent with Gross and Witte’s (2016) findings that highlighted the importance of PTCs’ and SLCs’ understanding of each other’s professional roles, knowledge, and skills as a basis for collaboration. Educators in teacher and librarian preparation programs need not only to educate their students on these roles and the benefits of TLC, but also to provide opportunities for TLCs. Baker et al. (2017) suggested that “pre-service teacher and librarian collaboration may be a critical variable in the preparedness of pre-service teachers in technology integration” (p. 1376).

Participants realized the critical need for establishing a relationship that promotes trust and mutual respect. The PTCs were more receptive to collaborating with SLCs who worked to establish a relationship in such a short amount of time. The SLCs recognized their suggestions may not be accepted by some of the PTCs, as teachers bring to collaborative experiences their own thoughts and ideas for their lesson plans. SLCs were cognizant of the fact they would need to familiarize themselves with teachers’ individual personalities, visions, and beliefs. They also recognized the need to carefully navigate the fine line between being helpful and taking control during collaborations.

Participant comments indicated that trust between the teacher and librarian is critical to successful TLC. Wink (2014) asserted that trust is essential and must be maintained throughout the school. Baker (2016) suggested that teachers must be able to trust that the school librarian will meet their individual needs and that both partners must trust that continued collaboration will “strengthen teacher and student successes, attitudes toward partnerships, and the seamless integration of technology and information resources throughout daily classroom activities” (p. 153). 

RQ 3: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience influence SLCs’ attitudes toward the librarian’s role in providing teacher support?

SLCs’ comments were indicative of shifts in their attitudes toward the librarians’ role in providing teacher support related to their relationships, collaborations, responsibilities, and challenges. Comments specific to the necessity of establishing relationships were aligned with existing research on the elements of successful teacher-librarian partnerships. SLCs expressed changes in attitude, awareness, and value in building trust, possessing technology and information knowledge, providing leadership, establishing collaborative time, and developing confidence. Equipping SLCs with the ability to gain a teacher’s trust will help to build the teachers’ confidence and beliefs in themselves to use innovative technologies. “Belief in oneself builds self-confidence and, consequently, team confidence. A winning team succeeds or fails based on the level of trust and respect team members give themselves and each other” (Martin, 2013, p. 45).

SLCs’ comments expressed plans for future practice to be more proactive in building relationships, encouraging TLCs, assuming a leadership role, and keeping abreast of emerging technologies. This trend was consistent across all SLCs, regardless of years in the teaching profession. Some SLCs possessed nearly three decades of teaching experience. This speaks to the lack of awareness and experience in EC-12 environments, as well as in teacher and librarian preparation programs, regarding the importance and necessity of TLC. This should impress upon the education population the critical need for the infusion of TLC experiences throughout preparation programs to ensure graduates are equipped to take the knowledge and experiences gained and apply them during practice in EC-12 settings.

RQ 4: To what extent does the teacher-librarian collaborative experience impact the type and amount of technology included in course lesson plans?

Lesson plans developed during the TLC experience were examined across treatment and control groups to determine the type and number of technologies included in the plans that were addressed in the educational technology course. Additional technologies included in the treatment group lesson plans were specifically technology tools utilized in the school librarian courses. All technologies were linked to either the educational technology course or school librarian coursework by examination of corresponding syllabi.

Examination of the group project discussion forums provided evidence that during the TLC experience, SLCs provided teacher candidates with new technology tools and corresponding strategies for effective integration.  This was evidenced by appropriate use of the technology included within the lesson plans. The existence of additional technologies provides supporting evidence for the value added from SLCs’ knowledge in advanced technologies during the TLC experience. Technologies included within the control group submission were found to be technologies addressed in the educational technology course. The two exceptions were common technology tools PTCs could have encountered during other coursework or prior experiences.

Implications for Future Research

Replication of this study with a larger population and a longer treatment time frame could provide more significant findings. Additionally, examining technology skills and efficacy of participants prior to the TLC experience could be informative by allowing researchers to explore the impact of the competence and confidence levels of participants on student outcomes. Competence has been shown to directly influence the amount of technology integration used in the classroom. Confidence has also been shown to be a strong indicator of technology inclusion in the classroom (Kimm et al., 2020; Voogt et al., 2013).

A longitudinal study that follows participants into practice to examine their collaborations would be informative in determining if participants transfer their experiences into practice. Implications for instructors of PTCs include the idea that providing TLC experiences could be a critical component in the preparedness of PTCs in their future technology integration efforts. Developing a successful collaborative model focused on improving skills and strategies for effective technology integration offered during PTCs’ coursework could benefit teacher preparation programs and the future classrooms of participating PTCs. 

This research also has implications for educators in course development. When defining the logistics of the collaborative experience, expectations and deadlines must be clear. To improve the collaborative experience, PTCs should be required to provide response feedback to the SLCs regarding their contributions. Replication of this study using a variety of delivery methods and collaboration tools could provide insights regarding relationship development across mediums.

Implications for Practice

Providing PTCs and SLCs with opportunities to engage in TLC experiences rich in technology integration during their preparation programs can positively impact learning experiences and increase technology use of PTCs. Equally, TLC experiences may increase chances for both PTCs and SLCs to engage in collaborations on their future campuses. Early collaborative experiences that include integrated technologies are essential for increasing teachers’ awareness and understanding of the value of technology in the curriculum and the expertise that a professionally trained school librarian can bring to collaborations and the positive impact collaborative experiences can have on teaching and student learning.

The embedded TLC experience we designed and implemented had a positive impact on both the PTCs and SLCs who were engaged in the TLC experience. Similar TLC experiences should be included in both teacher and librarian preparation programs to provide models for the use of TLCs in the K-12 environment. Both PTCs and SLCs need these experiences during their preparation programs, so that they have the skills and knowledge needed to transfer collaborative experiences into practice.

The TLC experience examined in this study was a joint effort between faculty in the teacher preparation program and the school librarian program. A final project in a technology course required by all PTCs was selected for the TLC experience. The collaborating faculty from both programs worked with the university information technology department to have the SLCs added to the PTCs’ course shell. The PTCs’ course and the school librarian preparation program were both fully online, allowing opportunities for the PTCs and SLCs to schedule synchronous and asynchronous meetings that were convenient for both groups.

Teacher preparation programs could intentionally embed opportunities for PTCs to collaborate with school librarians either through experiences with school librarian candidates during their coursework or during their clinical experiences with on-campus school librarians. Replication of the TLC experience model used in this study would require cross-program collaboration among faculty members in both the teacher preparation and school librarian preparation programs. Following the TLC experience model used in this study, PTCs could be required to collaborate with on-campus school librarians while developing technology-rich lesson plans throughout their clinical teaching periods.

Looking at the TLC model implemented in this study through a broader lens could allow for development of additional collaborative experiences for all education programs (e.g., teacher, school librarian, leadership, special education, counseling, and instructional technology). Providing collaborative experiences during preparation among all facets of the K-12 learning environment could strengthen future campus collaborations. For PTCs, this could increase their knowledge of how individuals serving in other campus roles or areas of specialization could support their teaching and learning efforts. Equally for individuals in other preparation programs, they each could gain a better understanding of how they can support teachers on their campuses. In summary, collaboration models throughout all preparation programs could strengthen the experience for all.

Discussion and Conclusion

Too often, teachers are unaware of how school librarians can support their teaching and technology integration efforts (Kammer et al., 2021). To address these concerns, it is critical for PTCs to collaborate with SLCs to experience the value of partnering with their school librarian once in their field of practice. Constant change as a result of emerging technologies creates a vital and ongoing need for teachers to partner with school librarians throughout their teaching careers. The university under study is at the forefront of addressing the need for this vital connection between SLCs and PTCs, as the College of Education recently adopted a new department configuration that partnered the school librarian and instructional technology preparation programs. Faculty members from both programs collaborated on this study.

Participants in this study saw benefits of TLC when provided experiences during their preparation program to interact with SLCs. PTCs indicated SLCs were more knowledgeable in technologies and their applications and provided great support as they designed lesson plans that integrated technology. They recognized SLCs as being helpful and responded that their lesson plans improved from their collaborative work with SLCs. Providing PTCs with opportunities to engage with today’s SLCs could alter beliefs based on previous experiences. Research has established that PTCs bring to their preparation programs preconceived beliefs about the learning environment based on their own educational experiences (Ellis et al., 2016; Er & Kim, 2017).

PTCs stated that they had increased confidence levels in their knowledge of educational technologies and relevant resources, as well as their abilities to develop lessons that effectively integrate technologies and resources. Similarly, SLCs increased their confidence levels in their abilities to help teachers develop lesson plans that integrate technologies. SLCs also reported feeling more confident in their ability to work collaboratively with teachers and to build the confidence levels of their collaborative partners. Building confidence and competence through collaborative experiences can enrich the experience for experts and novices (Collins et al., 1988). 

SLCs recognized the critical need for taking time to develop trusting relationships with their teachers. Though this activity lasted only a short amount of time across one semester, SLCs acknowledged the need to establish a rapport with teachers and to get to know their teaching styles in order to collaborate successfully. They also acknowledged the need to collaborate in a helpful and noncontrolling way, establishing themselves as leaders and instructional partners (NBPTS, 2012).

This TLC experience changed the perspectives of the participating PTCs. They will be able to take what they learned from this collaborative experience and apply the knowledge gained in their future practice. Overwhelmingly, the PTCs agreed that the TLC experience was invaluable, and they would continue to collaborate in their future practice. 

While not all teacher preparation programs embed TLC experiences, the results of this study indicate that teacher preparation programs that include TLC experiences could help ensure teachers enter their future classrooms confident in their abilities to collaboratively design effective lessons that integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum to provide students with optimal learning experiences. Embedded opportunities for TLC experiences that will improve the technology integration and lesson planning practices of participants should be a focus of preparation coursework and professional development efforts.

Effective technology use and integration into teaching and learning continues to be a focus of current research (Niederhauser et al., 2018; Ruggiero & Mong, 2015; Yüksel & Kavanoz, 2011). Additionally, there is a lack of awareness of the potential benefits of TLC experiences on teaching and learning in technology-rich environments (Emerson, 2017; Montiel-Overall, 2008, 2010; Montiel-Overall & Grimes, 2013). Therefore, the results of this study could potentially benefit faculty members in preparation programs by improving their understanding of experiences needed during education preparation to ensure PTCs can effectively integrate technology into the curriculum once in practice; their understanding of the strategies needed by teachers to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum; and how collaborative partnerships between SLCs and PTCs impact lesson development, teaching, and effective integration of technology. This study will contribute to the literature in the areas of technology integration, instructional technology, TLC, teacher preparation, and school librarian preparation.

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Appendix
Items Key for Tables 2, 3 and 4

Coordination

Q1 Talking with the librarian to arrange time periods for students to use the library.

Q2 Scheduling time for the librarian to work with students in the library.

Q3 Setting up a time with the librarian when groups of students can go to the library for free reading.

Q4 Making sure that class library times don’t conflict with times when other classes use the library.

Q5 Scheduling events (e.g., book sales, book fairs, RIF) in the library for students with the librarian.

Q6 Setting up convenient times to use the library for extracurricular activities (e.g., clubs).

Cooperation

Q7 Identifying with the librarian materials (e.g. books, websites, and resources) needed for teaching.

Q8 Asking the librarian to provide a list of library resources you need to teach a lesson.

Q9 Dividing responsibilities for a lesson (e.g., the teacher will teach a lesson using resources provided by the librarian).

Q10 Talking with the librarian about new library resources available for instruction.

Q11 Asking the librarian to provide references that can be used by students.

Q12 Spending time with the librarian identifying library resources that are helpful in teaching.

Integrated Instruction

Q13 Meeting with the librarian to plan objectives for a lesson.

Q14 Sharing ideas with the librarian for teaching a lesson together.

Q15 Working with the librarian to discuss a lesson that will be jointly taught.

Q16 Spending time with the librarian planning instructional activities in the library.

Q17 Working with the librarian to incorporate library skills into classroom lessons.

Q18 Talking to the librarian about how well students understand what they are learning.

Integrated Curriculum

Q19 Planning lessons with the librarian.

Q20 Developing objectives for instruction with the librarian.

Q21 Teaching together with the librarian (e.g., implementing lessons that integrate the academic curriculum such as science and social studies with library instruction).

Q22 Participating in curriculum planning with the librarian to integrate library instruction into classroom curriculum.

Q23 Assessing students’ progress with the librarian (working with the librarian to assess students’ progress).

Q24 Discussing with the librarian how well students understand what they are learning.

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