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Volume 17  Issue 2  

Reflecting on the Challenges of Informal Contexts: Early Field Experiences with Technology in Teacher Education

by Nick Lux, Amanda Obery, Jamie Cornish, Bruna Irene Grimberg & Anthony Hartshorn
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Early field experiences, or those that come early in a teacher’s preparation before more formalized opportunities like practicum and student teaching, can provide a venue for pre service teachers to practice technology-specific instructional decision-making and reflective practice. Although research exists on the potential roles of field experiences in teacher education, little research exists on early field experiences, especially those taking place in informal contexts. Moreover, little research exists examining how those early field experiences in informal spaces might shape preservice teachers’ use of digital learning tools.  To address this gap, an inquiry was conducted to better understand teachers’ early field work experiences in informal science contexts and the use of formative assessment technologies. Researchers used a mixed methods design to examine how early field experiences might support authentic and robust opportunities for teachers in training. Results suggested that technology-focused early field experiences can serve as confirmatory events for preservice teachers, afford them opportunities to apply theory and content knowledge to practice, and contend with issues related to technology integration, instructional planning, classroom management, and even attendance within an informal context. Findings could be used to improve the design of early field experiences for preservice teachers, and facilitate the scaffolding of the opportunities to help them better integrate technologies into those experiences.

Volume 17  Issue 1  

TPACK in Special Education: Preservice Teacher Decision Making While Integrating iPads Into Instruction

by Susan Anderson, Robin Griffith & Lindy Crawford
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This study provides insight into preservice teachers’ experiences with integrating technology into lessons with children who had mild learning disabilities. Participants included 14 junior early childhood education majors enrolled in a special education course with a fieldwork component. The researchers collected and analyzed lesson plans, journal entries, focus group interviews, and field notes.  The findings illustrated preservice teachers’ use of iPad apps during fieldwork, identified their technology-related instructional decisions, and determined how those choices exhibited emerging dimensions of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK). The preservice teachers combined their knowledge of pedagogy, student understanding of content, and emerging knowledge of iPad apps to effectively develop and conduct lessons in various content areas.  Interviews with the students supported the social validity of the iPad implementation.

Volume 16  Issue 4  

A Dual Placement Approach to Online Student Teaching

by Kevin J. Graziano & Lori Feher
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Many school districts across the United States now offer online K-12 education, and the proportion of all students in higher education taking at least one online course is at an all-time high of 32% (Allen & Seaman, 2013). With the evolution of online teaching and learning, teacher preparation programs must establish and offer online student teaching placements. The purpose of this case study was to investigate the experiences of seven secondary preservice teachers who completed student teaching in dual settings, online and on campus. Student teachers valued not having to write the curriculum for online classes, stated that classroom disturbances were limited online, identified valuable online tools and resources to differentiate their lessons, and reported high parental involvement with online classes. Student teachers, however, struggled to motivate their online students and manage their time efficiently. Recommendations on how to get started and improve online student teaching are provided.

Volume 16  Issue 1  

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.