Preparation to Teach in Technology-Rich K-12 Classroom Environments
Listen and learn : Research paper
Dr. Torrey Trust Jenna Conan Simpson
In today’s schools, the ability to integrate technology is a necessary, crucial skill. This research study examined the preparation of preservice teachers to teach with technology and the gap between the preparation received in their teacher education programs and what they needed to be able to do to be successful.
|Audience:||Professional developers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Technology coordinators/facilitators|
|Attendee devices:||Devices not needed|
|Subject area:||Higher education, Preservice teacher education|
|ISTE Standards:||For Educators:
|Additional detail:||Graduate student|
The TPACK framework is a technology integration framework identifying the types of knowledge that teachers need in order to successfully integrate technology: technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (Mishra & Koehler, 2012; Rodgers, 2018). TPACK is represented by a graphical model similar to a venn diagram that illustrates three overlapping circles. Each of the circles is one of the areas of TPACK, with the sections where they overlap representing technological pedagogical knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and technological content knowledge. The middle section where all three circles overlap is TPACK, or technological pedagogical content knowledge, which shows a fully integrated understanding of how to effectively teach with technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2012; Rodgers, 2018). According to Mitchell et al., TPACK “challenges teachers to think deeply about how content, pedagogy, and technology knowledge are interrelated.... Many teachers consider technology something that is added after content and pedagogy is well denied, rather than creating, maintaining, and reestablishing a dynamic equilibrium among all components” (2018, p. 357). Learning how to utilize and apply the TPACK framework is beneficial for teachers and helps them become successful at integrating technology with pedagogy and content. Developing preservice teachers’ TPACK is considered by many researchers to be an important aspect of teacher preparation programs and something that should be integrated throughout all content and methods courses (Foulger et al., 2017; Joo et al., 2017; Mitchell et al., 2018; Tondeur et al., 2015). TPACK can positively influence teachers’ perceptions of technology in the classroom as well as their confidence and skill with utilizing technologies. Future teachers must be equipped with the necessary technological knowledge, as well as the skills to integrate that knowledge with content and pedagogy, in order to be effective in their future technology-rich classrooms.
This study is a phenomenological qualitative study that employed survey and interview research approaches to establish how technology skills are being addressed in educator preparation programs and how new teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms. The survey questions consist of structured and open-ended questions, and the interviews were semi-structured interviews. A two-phase approach was utilized to examine the technology integration behaviors of new teachers and understand how well they feel their preservice experiences prepared them for the classroom. Initially, an online survey was distributed to new K-12 teachers via a variety of digital channels. From these respondents, a group of teachers participated in a follow-up interview over Zoom. Data collected through the online survey and interviews was analyzed and summarized into themes. This data included classroom technology integration strategies, use of technology by the teachers’ students, personal confidence using technology, teacher education program technology preparation courses and activities, as well as technology integration opportunities during field experiences. This approach provides the field with a better understanding of whether there is a described relationship between preservice teacher preparation and actual technology use in the classroom during the first three years of teaching.
The goal of this study is to increase knowledge about the gap identified in the literature between new teachers’ preparation to teach with technology and what they need to be successful in their classroom. Three major themes emerged from the data:
1. There is a disconnect between teacher preparation programs and today’s classrooms regarding technology.
2. New teachers are not confident with integrating technology when they enter the classroom, but they are more confident after one to three years teaching.
3. More hands-on experience with technology and technology training is needed for preservice teachers.
The results of this study will help teacher education programs as they design their programs and learning experiences for their preservice teachers. It will also help them understand how to help their teacher educators better prepare preservice teachers, as well as inform considerations about preservice teachers’ field placements. Finally, the study will benefit district and school administrators because it will help them understand how their new teachers were prepared and what areas related to technology they may still need training and support with.
Existing research in the area of preservice teachers and technology focuses on preservice teachers’ experiences as students during their teacher preparation programs but does not consider their experiences once they enter their own classrooms and how their experiences did or did not prepare them to teach in technology-infused classroom environments (Admiraal et al., 2017; Kale & Akcaoglu, 2017; Ketsman, 2019; Mouza et al., 2017; Parra et al., 2019; Tondeur et al., 2017). This study addresses that need by examining the gap between what teachers are taught in teacher preparation programs and what they find they actually need to know to successfully teach in technology-rich classrooms. Further, many studies consider preservice teachers’ TPACK and technology acceptance, but few studies address how the experiences in their teacher preparation program contribute to these factors (Bai, 2019; Baran et al., 2019; Joo et al., 2016; Mouza et al., 2017; Szeto & Cheng, 2017; Tondeur et al., 2017). There is a paucity of research examining the most effective way to prepare preservice teachers to teach with technology, whether that be technology-infused or blended content and methods courses, stand-alone technology courses, technology-rich practicum and student teaching experiences, or some combination of all of these (Gokcearslan et al., 2017; Mouza et al., 2017; Parra et al., 2019; Reese et al., 2016). In addition to the need to study the best ways to teach technology integration and to investigate the preparedness of preservice teachers when they enter the field, recent changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated technological changes in education in ways that are having an enormous impact on the skills teachers need to be successful. COVID-19 forced the majority of schools worldwide to move to distance learning in a matter of days or weeks, and most schools are still in some form of distance, hybrid or blended model. Although the need for distance education is likely to decrease over time, many education leaders predict that blended, hybrid, and some distance education are here to stay (Afshan & Ahmed, 2020; Herold, 2021; Modan, 2020; Moore-Adams et al., 2016; Schwartz et al., 2020; Schwartz & Hill, 202). Knowledge of how to use technology in teaching is no longer just nice to have; it is a requirement to function as a teacher (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, 2017). All preservice teachers need to be prepared with the knowledge and skills to teach in classrooms with 1:1 technology as well as blended and distance settings. This study addresses these needs by looking at whether teacher preparation programs adequately teach the knowledge and skills today’s teachers need to teach in 1:1, blended, and distance classroom environments.
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Jenna Conan Simpson is the Director of Instructional Technology at All Saints’ Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas and a Learning Technologies Ph.D. candidate. In addition to leading her school’s move to remote learning in 2020, providing professional development and managing all digital learning programs and student devices, she has taught technology and computer science courses schoolwide. She has her master’s degree in Educational Technology and is currently finishing up her Ph.D. in Learning Technologies. She is passionate about technology’s potential to transform classrooms to be more engaging and student-centered and to make teachers’ jobs easier.