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Students’ Guided Reinvention of Definition of Limit of a Sequence With Interactive Technology

by Alfinio Flores & Jungeun Park
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In a course emphasizing interactive technology, 19 students, including 18 mathematics education majors, mostly in their first year, reinvented the definition of limit of a sequence while working in small cooperative groups. The class spent four sessions of 75 minutes each on a cyclical process of guided reinvention of the definition of limit of a sequence for a particular value, L = 5. Tentative definitions were tested systematically against a well-chosen set of examples of sequences that converged, or not, to 5. Students shared their definitions and the problems they were having with their definitions with their peers through whole class presentations and public postings on a course electronic forum. Student presenters received feedback from their peers both in person and through the forum. The approximation, error, error bound framework was used to help structure students’ thinking. The use of interactive examples with epsilon bands and movable N values, in which students could zoom in to adjust the value of epsilon or zoom out to find a value of N, proved especially helpful in the process. The changes in their tentative definitions show the difficulties students had as well as the learning that occurred.

Developing Preservice Teachers’ Positionalities in 140 Characters or Less: Examining Microblogging as Dialogic Space

by Mike P. Cook & Jeanne Dyches Bissonnette
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Studies examining preservice teachers’ (PSTs) experiences with microblogging and activities that buttress and promote their social justice development have largely occurred in isolation from one another. To that end, this study examines in what ways pairing the popular social networking website Twitter with readings from a young adult literature course helped PSTs cultivate their awareness of and positionalities related to the social justice issues discussed in the course—and ones they will confront in their classrooms. Although students noted that engaging in this new dialogic space afforded certain benefits, the data suggest that PSTs encountered a variety of obstructions as they worked to develop and articulate their social-justice-oriented positionalities, including difficulty extending in-class conversations and trouble negotiating the social dimensions of Twitter. In examining the intersection between Twitter and its conduciveness to support PSTs’ social justice positionalities, the findings suggest that, despite its popularity, the forum did not prove to be an organic medium for students to engage social justice issues. Findings imply that teacher educators interested in utilizing microblogging to foster PSTs’ social awareness and growth should utilize Twitter as but one of many pedagogical tools to assist students in developing their social justice positionalities.

Enabling Collaboration and Video Assessment: Exposing Trends in Science Preservice Teachers’ Assessments

by Mike Borowczak & Andrea C. Burrows
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This article details a new, free resource for continuous video assessment named YouDemo. The tool enables real time rating of uploaded YouTube videos for use in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and beyond. The authors discuss trends of preservice science teachers’ assessments of self- and peer-created videos using the tool. The trends were identified from over 900 assessments of 170 videos, with over 131 unique users. Included in this data set is a 2-year study focusing on 27 preservice science teachers (from a 5-year study of 76 total science preservice teachers) and their use of the tool. The authors collected both quantitative (numerical scores) and qualitative data (open-ended questions) from the 27 participants. Findings show that (a) rating two metrics had a non-zero bias between the two metrics; (b) preservice teachers found continuous video rating beneficial in enabling video assessment, promoting critical thinking, and increasing engagement; and (c) preservice teacher’s self-assessment was uncorrelated with their peers’ assessment. Additionally, the elements to enable skill improvement were met, including (a) a well defined task, (b) a challenging task, (c) immediate feedback, (d) error correction, and (e) practice. Implications include improvement in preservice teacher reflection and discussions, especially related to STEM content and pedagogy.

Commentary: Building Web Research Strategies for Teachers and Students

by Robert W. Maloy
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This paper presents web research strategies for teachers and students to use in building Dramatic Event, Historical Biography, and Influential Literature wiki pages for history/social studies learning.  Dramatic Events refer to milestone or turning point moments in history.  Historical Biographies and Influential Literature pages feature historically prominent people, both real and fictional. As teachers and students research these topics, they practice accessing and assessing online information while expanding web research and digital literacy skills.  They discover how the interactive capacities of wiki technology present people, events and literature in multimodal ways that engage students in deepening history learning. The paper includes sample event, biography, and literature pages hyperlinked to Resources for History Teachers, an award-winning open educational content wiki maintained by the History Teacher Education program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  These model wiki pages incorporate primary and secondary materials, multimedia resources, and multicultural topics for teaching and learning.  Students and teachers can use these model pages to construct their own wiki pages tailored to local and state history/social studies curriculum.

Teaching to Teach (With) Game Design: Game Design and Learning Workshops for Preservice Teachers

by Mete Akcaoglu & Ugur Kale
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Engagement in game design tasks can help preservice teachers develop pedagogical and technical skills for teaching and promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Through the design process, preservice teachers not only exercise critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, but also learn about an instructional method to support their future students’ problem-solving skills. Becoming comfortable with games and game design, however, requires firsthand design experiences, which teacher education programs hardly provide. Given the limited opportunities and research, this study attempted to gain insight into the implementation of a game design workshop to teach preservice teachers how to integrate game design in their future practices. In this exploratory case study, we analyzed reflections and lesson plans from four preservice teachers who participated in a game design workshop. Overall, the preservice teachers found the workshop to be effective in teaching them the intricacies of the game design process. However, both the participants’ learning experiences during the workshop and the level of pedagogical elements present in their lesson plans varied depending on their technology knowledge and teaching context.

Technological Modeling: Faculty Use of Technologies in Preservice Teacher Education from 2004 to 2012

by Joan E. Hughes, Sa Liu & Mihyun Lim
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This 7-year, cross-sectional study of a 1:1 laptop teacher preparatory program in the United States examined the nature and change in faculty technological modeling. Using survey methods, preservice teachers (n = 932) reported their faculty’s use of technological activities in coursework. Through descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and qualitative analysis, researchers found change in the number of faculty members incorporating presentation, word processing, email, learning management systems, and digital video activities in coursework. Emergent activities with low but increasing use included digital audio, social networking, text messaging, and blog activities. Less widely reported activities included social bookmarking, desktop publishing, webpage creation, and games. Overall results indicated all students did not report similar faculty technological modeling, which also meant that students had divergent technological experiences from which to base their future teaching. The discussion outlines an expansion of educational technology integration across teacher education methods/content courses to increase systematic and contemporary coverage of technological advancements in education through codeveloped curriculum and coteaching by educational technology and teacher education faculty.

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