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Volume 16  Issue 4  

Using Educational Computer Games in the Classroom: Science Teachers’ Experiences, Attitudes, Perceptions, Concerns, and Support Needs

by Yun-Jo An, Linda Haynes, Adriana D’Alba & Frances Chumney
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Science teachers’ experiences, attitudes, perceptions, concerns, and support needs related to the use of educational computer games were investigated in this study. Data were collected from an online survey, which was completed by 111 science teachers. The results showed that 73% of participants had used computer games in teaching. Participants who had used computer games in teaching had more positive attitudes toward the use of educational computer games in the classroom than those who had not used games. Middle school teachers were more confident and reported a higher level of perceived benefits than did high school teachers. Potential distractions appeared to be the major concern the participants had about using computer games in the classroom. The major barriers to integrating educational computer games into the classroom included lack of computers, lack of time, time needed for preparation for school and national high-stakes testing, and lack of knowledge about science games. Participants indicated their greatest needs were computers and access to trial versions of games to integrate educational computer games effectively in their classrooms. Participants reported that a computer game must be aligned with state and national standards, free, compatible with school computers, fun, challenging, proven to be effective, and easy to use in order to be used in their classroom.

Volume 16  Issue 4  

Teacher Self-Efficacy During the Implementation of a Problem-Based Science Curriculum

by Charles B. Hodges, Jessica Gale & Alicia Meng
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This study was conducted to investigate eighth-grade science teachers’ self-efficacy during the implementation of a new, problem-based science curriculum.  The curriculum included applications of LEGO® robotics, a new technology for these teachers.  Teachers’ responded to structured journaling activities designed to collect information about their self-efficacy for teaching with the curriculum and, later, to a survey designed to probe their self-efficacy for enacting specific elements of the curriculum.  Participants reported high confidence levels throughout the study but expressed some concerns related to their local contexts.

Volume 16  Issue 3  

Persistent Teaching Practices After Geospatial Technology Professional Development

by Lori A. Rubino-Hare, Brooke A. Whitworth, Nena E. Bloom, Jennifer M. Claesgens, Kristi M. Fredrickson, Carol Henderson-Dahms & James C. Sample
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This case study described teachers with varying technology skills who were implementing the use of geospatial technology (GST) within project-based instruction (PBI) at varying grade levels and contexts 1 to 2 years following professional development. The sample consisted of 10 fifth- to ninth-grade teachers. Data sources included artifacts, observations, interviews, and a GST performance assessment and were analyzed using a constant comparative approach. Teachers’ teaching actions, beliefs, context, and technology skills were categorized. Results indicated that all of the teachers had high beliefs, but their context and level of technology skills strongly influenced their teaching actions. Two types of teachers persisting in practices from professional development were identified:  innovators and adapters.  Persistence of practice and implementation of the integration of GST within PBI must continue after professional development ends, or the sustainability of the positive results experienced during the professional development will not persist.

Volume 16  Issue 3  

Strategizing Teacher Professional Development for Classroom Uses of Geospatial Data and Tools

by Daniel R. Zalles & James Manitakos
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Studying Topography, Orographic Rainfall, and Ecosystems with Geospatial Information Technology (STORE), a 4.5-year National Science Foundation funded project, explored the strategies that stimulate teacher commitment to the project’s driving innovation: having students use geospatial information technology (GIT) to learn about weather, climate, and ecosystems. The GIT in STORE was a combination of freely available place-based geospatial data sets and visualization tools. The goal was to structure the innovation and its professional development so that participating teachers plan for and enact effective instruction with the innovation then achieve optimal impacts on student learning and engagement. The article describes how STORE addressed challenges about how to get teachers to persist with the innovation and use it skillfully. Most teachers persisted through multiple implementations. In addition, they developed and enacted a diverse set of curricula and instructional strategies, resulting in the innovation reaching diverse middle school, high school, and community college students in a wide range of science courses.