Preparing Teachers to Use Technology Effectively
On average, K-12 teachers use computers with their students less than
one time per week and for little more than word processing, e-mail, or game
and drill software (Becker, 2000). The existing gap between how teachers
are expected to use technology and how they are actually using it has
largely been blamed on schools and colleges of education (SCOEs) for not
preparing its preservice teachers to integrate technology into their future
classrooms (American Council on Education, 1999; International Society
for Technology in Education [ISTE], 1999; National Council for the
Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE], 1997; U.S. Congress, Office of
Technology Assessment, 1995).
Although most preservice teachers take technology-related coursework,
by and large this instruction is not tied to curriculum, methods, field
experience, or practice teaching (Willis & Mehlinger, 1996). A recent survey
administered by ISTE (1999) indicated that faculty of colleges of education do
not model the use of instructional technology in their teaching.
Complicating matters, most student teachers do not routinely use technology
under master teachers and supervisors who are unable to advise them on use.
A knee-jerk response to the inadequate technology preparation of
future teachers is the institution of state and national standards requiring
training in computers and other technologies for teacher licensure (U.S.
Congress, 1995). The results of such standards are mixed. According to NCATE
(1997), most colleges and universities are making the same mistake that has
been made by K-12 schools in that they treat "technology" as a separate
component of the teacher education curriculumrequiring specially
prepared faculty and specially equipped classroomsrather than as a topic
integrated throughout the entire teacher education program. This
one-size-fits-all philosophy to teacher training simply does not work (Browne &
Ritchie, 1991; Harvey & Purnell, 1995).
In spite of this seemingly bleak picture, a handful of SCOEs appear to
be successfully matriculating preservice teachers capable and eager to
integrate technology into their teaching (U.S. Congress, Office of
Technology Assessment, 1995). These success stories occur in instances where
SCOEs have adopted approaches to teacher training that, effectively, redefine
the role of the teacher. NCATE (1997, p. 7) aptly described this new role:
Teachers must become advisors to student inquirers, helping them to
frame questions for productive investigation, directing them toward
information and interpretive sources, helping them to judge the quality of the
information they obtain, and coaching them in ways to present their
findings effectively to others.
These facts raise two important questions: (a) What types of experiences
do SCOEs provide their preservice teachers that have helped to
make the difference in teacher technology training, and (b) How can similar
experiences be employed at other SCOEs struggling to better prepare its
preservice teachers to integrate technology?
Unfortunately, providing technology-enriched experiences for
preservice teachers is no simple matter. Much of this problem is a matter of
SCOEs trying to keep up with the fast pace of advancing technologies. As a
result, the recommended best practices for using technology in teaching
are constantly evolving (Cooper & Bull, 1997). Willis and Mehlinger
(1996) found that topics in using technology in education have shifted
from developing computer literacy and programming skills to using computers
in instruction. It should not come as a surprise that, according to
Hawkins (1996), most schools still emphasize computer skills rather than
based learning. Only in the last few years have some colleges of
education shifted their focus to integrating technology in instruction across
SCOEs have found, however, that creating effective
technology-using teachers requires much more than just a simple shift of focus.
University faculty must first be willing to make technology use a requirement of
their students and, second, must make attempts at modeling effective uses
of technology in their own teaching (Handler & Marshall, 1992; Wetzel,
1993), processes that take commitment and time (Cooper & Bull, 1997). To
address these concerns some have recommended that teacher preparation
programs integrate technology throughout the entire preservice teacher experience
by providing faculty models for effective technology integration (Handler
& Marshall, 1992; ISTE, 1999; NCATE, 1997; U.S. Congress, 1995;
President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology [PCAST], 1997;
Wetzel, 1993; Willis & Mehlinger, 1996).
In particular, these recommendations focus on the core component
of teacher training, teaching methods courses and their faculty.
Although these recommendations appear to have face validity, they must be
evaluated to ascertain their actual effect. This study takes an important step
in assessing their validity by determining the role a
technology-enriched teaching methods course plays in preparing preservice teachers to
integrate technology in their future teaching.
Preservice Teacher (Mis)Conceptions of Teaching and
While some prospective teachers enter their preparation programs eager
to learn and adopt new, research-supported methods of teaching, many
believe that teaching is not difficult and that they already know how teach
(Feiman-Nemser, McDiarmid, Melnick, & Parker, 1989). Too often teachers covet
their own experiences in the education system and develop their own
nonreflective teaching knowledge framework based on these experiences (Clark
Peterson, 1986; Feiman-Nemser et al., 1989; Jackson, 1986; Lortie,
1975; Wilson, Miller, & Yerkes, 1993). Through an "apprenticeship of
observation," Lortie (1975) contended that teachers develop their own
understanding of what it is to teach, beginning when they first enter school
and continuing through their teacher preparation program.
The beliefs and perceptions preservice teachers have about a
particular subject area, of teaching that subject, and of integrating technology
when teaching that subject are juxtaposed with the courses they take in
these programs and the teaching situations they observe. All too often,
preservice teachers simply make their own interpretations of their observations
based on what they already believe about teaching and learning, resulting in
a situation where these teachers reinforce their own beliefs and complete
their preparation programs without confronting or changing these beliefs.
It is all to often unfortunate but trueteachers teach the way they
were taught (Frank, 1990; Goodlad, 1990; Handler, 1993). Teaching
methods courses, perhaps, offer one of the few opportunities for preservice
teachers to view new knowledge through lenses different than the ones tainted
by prior knowledge about teaching and learning.
Technology-Enriched Methods Courses
In spite of their misconceptions about technology use, many
preservice teachers believe technology ought to go beyond the
computer-specific course found in most of today's SCOEs. In addition they believe
technology should be integrated into content-based teaching methods courses
(Topp, 1995). Over a decade ago, McEneaney (1992) found that the attitudes
toward computers of preservice teachers taking required teaching methods
courses were significantly more positive than were the attitudes of
preservice teachers enrolled in computer education electives.
Unfortunately, the modeling of technology use by methods faculty
is lacking from the preservice teacher experience. An approach taken by
some teacher preparation programs is to provide a preservice educational
technology course that specifically addresses technology tools for each
content area (e.g., Francis-Pelton, Farragher, & Riecken, 2000); however,
approach falls short of the goal of integrating technology into
teaching methods courses.
A consistent theme among methods course technology integration
success stories is a constructivist approach (Beisser, 1999; Willis, 1998). Although
it is not uncommon for methods faculty to encourage their preservice
teachers to adopt constructivist approaches with their future students (such
as cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and Socratic dialogue),
these instructional methods are rarely modeled by methods faculty (Rose
& Winterfeldt, 1998). In particular, technology is rarely used as a tool
to facilitate these methods. There are many obstacles preventing
methods faculty from doing so, including lack of knowledge, lack of time or lack
of room in curriculum, lack of software and equipment (Wetzel, 1993), and
fear (Armstrong, 1996; Novek, 1996).
In instances in which technology is infused into teaching methods
courses, evidence is emerging of increased technology use by matriculated
teachers. Halpin (1999), for example, discovered that the integration of technology
into elementary teaching methods courses increased the probability
that preservice teachers transferred the computer skills into the classroom
during their first year teaching, as compared to those who learned computer skills
For a preservice teacher, teaching methods courses are only a small part
of their overall learning experience. The majority of content learned by
these future teachers is learned during their K-12 experiences and in their
college arts and science classes. It is unknown whether a handful of
teaching methods courses can be a significant contributor to the "teachers teach
the way they were taught" axiom. Despite this unknown element, there is
an assumption in the literature that teaching methods faculty members play
a vital role to teacher technology use (Adamy, 1999; Beisser, 1999; Handler
& Marshall, 1992; Wetzel, 1993).
It cannot be assumed that methods faculty have a direct influence on
how preservice teachers use technology in their own teaching; rather,
the relationship must be proven. According to PCAST (1997) there needs to
be more "empirical studies designed to determine which approaches to the
use of technology are in fact most effective" (p. 91). The first step in
accomplishing this task is determining how preservice teachers' perceptions of
using technology in teaching are affected by teaching methods courses taught
faculty who are effective models for technology integration. Further,
it should be determined how this modeling, as well as the content learned
in these courses, affects teaching practice.
Conceptual framework: Holistic Constructivism
There is much confusion resulting from the ubiquitous use of the
term constructivism, as it can be used to represent an epistemological view,
a learning theory, a philosophy of teaching and learning, a
pedagogical approach, or some combination of these meanings. To serve as a
conceptual framework for this study, a "holistic" approach to constructivism
was adopted (Molebash, 2002), which asserts that meanings to events
are constructed individually but are heavily influenced by social
interactions (Bredo, 2000; Howe & Berv, 2000).
The proposition that particular teaching methods are constructivist
because they are "less transmission-oriented" (Becker, 2000) or "indirect"
(Flanders, 1970) is erroneous, but instead depends upon the instructor's
underlying philosophy or goal (Wilson, 1997).
In the social studies, a holistic approach to instruction is necessary, one
in which the underlying goal of promoting effective democratic
citizenship (Dewey, 1916; Howe & Berv, 2000). As such, methods of teaching,
whether they be direct or indirect, that require students to participate in and
interpret events aimed at developing their abilities to participate as effective
democratic citizens can be considered constructivist.
Similar holistic approaches to constructivism have drawn increased
support from the literature (Bredo, 2000; Howe & Berv, 2000; McCarty &
Schwandt, 2000; Molebash, 2002; Wilson, 1997), particularly with respect to the
social studies (Crocco, 2001; Doolittle & Hicks, 2003). As a result, this study
has adopted a holistic approach, and the reader should infer
appropriate meaning to the term constructivism
as it is used throughout this article.
Research Design and Methodology
The results reported in this paper are derived from the same research
study described in Molebash (2002). The previous study examined the
complexities of a social studies methods instructor's beliefs and practices concerning
the use of technology, while the present study examines the complexities of
the preservice teachers' perceptions of social studies, social studies
teaching and learning, integrating technology when teaching social studies, and
how this methods course affected change in these perceptions.
Survey-driven experimental research cannot capture the complex
social context of the classroom. To inform practice, research on teaching must
be conducted within the classroom with careful consideration being given
to the fact that teaching and learning are social processes that influence
each other (Bolster, 1983).
With this in mind, I performed a qualitative case study. The site,
participants, and research design of the present study are presented in
the following sections. For a more thorough description of these items, refer
to Molebash (2002).
Site and Participants
The location of this case study was Elementary Social Studies Methods,
a three-unit preservice teacher education course at a college of
education (hereafter referred to as the "Education School") located in a large
mid-Atlantic public university. This course is considered by the
Education School to be technology enriched, as the instructor made consistent use
of technology resources and required her students to incorporate
technology into many of their assignments. Twenty-three students were enrolled in
this course. They included 22 females and 1 male, 21 Caucasians and 2
African-Americans. All students were between the ages of 20 and 25. These
preservice teachers had previously attended or were simultaneously enrolled in
an educational technology course, Introduction to Educational
Technology, designed specifically for elementary teachers. The Elementary Social
Studies Methods instructor (hereafter referred to as "Dr. Phipps") was in her
third year as an assistant professor of social studies education at the
The primary methods of data collection for this study were
classroom observations and interviews. I attended all 45 hours of classroom
instruction and conducted pre- and post-interviews with all but one of the
preservice teachers enrolled in the course. I interviewed Dr. Phipps three
separate times. In addition, I collected and analyzed lesson plans and other
materials produced by the preservice teachers during the course. As is the case
with most valid methods of phenomenological research, acquiring
multiple sources of data allows the researcher to triangulate on valid assertions.
Erickson's (1986) method of analytic induction was applied to data
analysis. In analytic induction the researcher must establish an evidentiary warrant
for assertions by repeatedly reviewing the data corpus to test for validity
of assertions by seeking confirming and disconfirming evidence.
Results presented stem from the following two research questions:
How do the prior K-12 social studies and technology experiences
of preservice teachers affect their perceptions of social studies,
teaching social studies, integrating technology into social studies, and
their overall expectations of a social studies methods course?
How do preservice teachers' social studies methods course
experiences affect their perceptions of social studies, teaching social studies,
and integrating technology into social studies?
It is important to note that my bias entering this study was that an
isolated teaching methods course would have
little affect on preservice teachers perceptions of how to teach and how to integrate technology.
Therefore, results of this study stating that these perceptions were indeed affected
are made increasingly valid, as this was not my initial expectation.
It has been assumed that technology, when used appropriately, sits in
the background behind content rather than in the foreground (Flick & Bell,
2000; Garofalo, Drier, Harper, Timmerman, & Shockey, 2000; Mason et al.,
2000; Pope & Golub, 2000). With content the focus, technology integration
have different meanings to different content areas. Beliefs and
expectations preservice teachers have regarding a particular content area, then, are
likely to play a role in determining how technology will be used by them
to enhance instruction.
The results of this study, therefore, assume it is important to
examine preservice teachers' experiences learning social studies, as well as
their experiences learning to integrate technology when trying to determine
how successful they will be at integrating technology into their future
social studies teaching.
Assertion 1: The preservice teachers' perceptions of social studies,
social studies teaching, and technology integration were conditioned by
their previous K-12 experiences.
Social studies experiences. The social sciences include an array of
topics, including history, geography, sociology, anthropology,
psychology, government, and economics. The K-12 social studies learning experiences
of the preservice teachers entering Dr. Phipps's methods course,
however, were not so varied. Instead, most entered the course defining social
studies (based upon their previous learning experiences) as primarily pertaining
to history and geography. Four added economics, civics, or government
to their definition, but none included sociology, anthropology, or psychology.
This typically narrow view of social studies as being primarily the study
of history, leads most, as in the case with the preservice teachers in this
study, to consider social studies as an uninteresting content area, mainly
requiring the memorization of names, places, and dates (Owens, 1997).
Although most of the participants viewed social studies as being
uninteresting, almost half described their K-12 experiences, overall, as being
positive. There was, however, a consistent bias against taking notes from
lecture, reading from textbooks, and taking traditional tests, experiences
which dominated their middle and high school studies. Elementary school
social studies experiences were generally described as more positive, in large
part, because they were remembered as being more "active."
Stephanie, for example, recalled doing large group projects and going
on field trips, with the teacher supporting what she and her classmates
were doing rather than lecturing or reading from a textbook. Starting in
upper elementary she remembered learning how to take notes, which began
the shift in how she was taught social studies. Unfortunately, it is the
more recent, and largely more negative, middle and high school experiences
that these teachers entered the course believing would most influence
their future teaching.
Middle school was described as the time when history became more of
the focus of social studies, and their roles as students became less active
as they learned how to take notes and started taking tests. During high
school, social studies was differentiated into different subjects such as U.S.
history, global studies, government, and civics. Despite this differentiation,
history studies dominated each subject. Like middle school, the bulk of the
high school social studies experiences were described as passive, dominated
by lecture, note taking, research papers, and exams. In one preservice
teacher's words, "I just learned it by rote memorization" (Elizabeth;
2nd Interview; 1/17/01).
Many described an aversion to the subject due to their K-12
experiences. For example, Winston was quite blunt in describing his experiences:
My experiences with social studies were horrible. If I think back
to elementary social studies, it was pretty much a dictionary size textbook.
I remember a lot of definitions and dates, people, significant people
and events, which is something I am not very good at. (Winston;
1st Interview, 1/16/01)
Winston was also aware that he never learned much about any
African Americans other than Dr. Martin Luther King, so at an early age he had
a "bad taste in [his] mouth when it came to social studies." Such
strong aversions have an unavoidable influence on preservice teacher's
perceptions of social studies and their expectations of the social studies
methods course in which they were enrolled.
Technology experiences. The preservice teachers enrolled in Dr.
Phipps's course were K-12 students during the 1980s and 1990s, a time when
personal computers were first introduced into K-12 classrooms. As should
be expected, they presented a variety of different experiences with
during their schooling, as well as a range of current comfort levels
with attempting to integrate technology into teaching. Even for the students
who had had higher amounts of exposure to computers in their K-12
schooling, none recalled using them for activities other than research or presentation.
For example, students with the richest experiences recalled using the
Internet or an encyclopedia CD-ROM to research a topic and then typing a
word-processed document or creating a PowerPoint presentation to present
the information found. Particularly with respect to social studies, the
preservice teachers' K-12 experiences with technology were limited. The following
are representative of the range of comments made by the preservice
teachers when describing their social studies technology experiences:
We didn't use much technology at all, all the way through high school.
I took a typing class, but other than that we didn't use computers much
.We never used the Internet. We didn't play any games. We
didn't play "Oregon Trail" [instructional software package]. (Elizabeth;
1st Interview; 9/29/00)
I don't think I used technology in grade school
.In middle school we
had a computer class
.We did "Oregon Trail" and we would apply that
to class when we studied "Oregon Trail"
.In high school we did
research papers and searched for stuff on the web. And then in my
government class we had to do a [PowerPoint] presentation. (Janna,
1st Interview; 10/11/00)
Conditioned beliefs and expectations.
The unfortunate consequence of these preservice teachers' mixed and often negative K-12 social
studies experiences, combined with their limited experiences with technology, is
the negative affect on their perceptions of social studies, their expectations
of the social studies methods course in which they participated, the way
they planned on teaching social studies, and the way they planned on
using technology in their teaching.
The preservice teachers entered the elementary social studies
methods course with 12 or more years of conditioning to accept social studies as
an uninteresting content area, mainly requiring the memorization of
names, events, places, and dates. They planned on perpetuating this cycle
learning, despite the fact that they predominately described these
methods of learning as being negative.
The problem of inheriting prospective teachers who believe they
already know how to teach affects most teacher educators (Feiman-Nemser et
al., 1989). Prospective teachers are hampered by the fact that their view of
new knowledge about teaching and learning is tainted by their prior
knowledge about teaching and learninga knowledge founded in their many years
in school as students.
The same can now be said of classroom technology use, as candidates
are matriculating through teacher preparation programs who have
neither experienced nor witnessed effective technology integration in any of
their past schooling. The tendency of teachers to teach the same way they
were taught also includes integrating technology in the same limited ways
they once used technologya loop that could continue indefinitely.
The seeds of this loop evidenced itself with the participants in this
study when they were asked, "Prior to your taking this course, describe what
you and your students would have been doing in an exemplary social
studies lesson or activity." Similar to what other authors have shown (Clark
& Peterson, 1986; Jackson, 1986; Lortie, 1975), these preservice
teachers largely described a reliance on traditional, direct teaching techniques.
Rebeccah, for example, described that she would have been inclined
to "stand in the front of the class and teach to the students" (Rebeccah;
1st Interview; 10/5/00) because she was not aware of other techniques.
Similarly, Kerri, after having taken this methods course, diagnosed that she
would have taught in a way that was boring, in part, because of her lack of
knowledge about social studies:
My students probably would have hated it as much as I did
I would really have to work on information because I don't think it is
an area where I am knowledgeable at all. So that would probably come
across to my students
that I didn't like it. (Kerri;
2nd Interview; 1/25/01)
Some in the class entered the course unsure of how they were going
to teach. Laurel, for example, believed she learned best when doing
"hands-on activities," and therefore, she wanted to "engage students in activities
role playing or by handling materials" (Laurel;
1st Interview; 9/29/00). Unfortunately, prior to the methods course she could not think of
personal experiences to draw upon in developing lessons consistent with this desire.
Other students, such as Holly, would have used alternate methods
like children's literature, but would have followed up these methods
using "worksheets and writing on the board, rather than open-ended
training" (Holly; 1st Interview; 10/11/00). Likewise, Winston described a desire
to teach in different ways, but admitted the difficulty in pulling this off:
I would probably think back to what I went through as a child and try
to do the opposite
In my efforts to be a good teacher I would think
about what I experienced and try to do something different
probably would have had no idea how to make it happen
.In reality, I
probably would have had a textbook and said, "Let's read about this." (Winston;
1st Interview; 1/16/01)
Given their stated lack of desire to teach social studies using the
traditional methods they were exposed to as K-12 students, one would expect that
the preservice teachers' expectations of their methods course would be
to radically alter their view of social studies and how to teach social
studies. Little was mentioned, however, to suggest that they expected to have
any such experiences. Furthermore, they had little to no expectation of
seeing technology modeled by Dr. Phipps and using technology
themselves. Consistent with their previous technology experiences, at most
they expected to use the Internet for research and using word processing
or PowerPoint for presentation of information.
All of the preservice teachers enrolled in Dr. Phipps's course had
either completed, or were simultaneously taking, an educational technology
course specifically designed for elementary teachers, called Introduction
to Educational Technology. Several of this course's activities were
social studies specific and designed to prepare them for how technology would
be applied in Dr. Phipps's methods course. For example, spreadsheets
were used to analyze weather patterns across the United States, and
databases were created to simplify otherwise complex queries regarding where
one might choose to live.
Despite this content-specific and inquiry-oriented exposure to
technology, their previous K-12 technology experiences continued to condition
their expectations of how technology would be integrated into Dr.
Phipps's course, and more importantly, how they planned on integrating
technology into their future teaching. For the majority, technology was seen as a tool
to be used merely for increasing their administrative proficiency (e.g.,
gradebook programs) and enhancing their presentation skills (e.g., PowerPoint).
It is clear that, in order to change these preservice teachers' perceptions
of classroom technology use, more was needed, namely technology
being infused into one or more of their teaching methods courses.
Is it possible, then, for a teaching methods course to play a significant
role in changing the many misconceptions preservice teachers have
regarding social studies as a content area, methods of teaching social studies,
and strategies for effectively integrating technology into social studies
teaching? To do so will require that preservice teachers reflect upon their
previously held beliefs, that they witness and participate in alternative
and superior teaching and learning methods, and that they see these methods
as being viable and fruitful in their own teaching.
Assertion 2: The preservice teachers' perceptions of social studies,
teaching social studies, and integrating technology when teaching social studies
were positively influenced by the instructor's modeling of constructivist
teaching methods and her integration of technology into these methods.
Assertion 1 points out that the preservice teachers enrolled in Dr.
Phipps's course had not had ideal learning experiences with either social studies
or technology and few, if any, experiences using technology in ways
that enhanced the process of learning social studies. If and how Dr.
Phipps's methods course affected change in these areas is, therefore, a
paramount inquiry of this study.
As their prior assumptions about social studies and technology
integration were confronted, the preservice teachers were faced with a
dilemmawhether to discount the inconsistencies their experiences in the
methods course had with their prior social studies and technology experiences, or
to reconstruct their perceptions of teaching social studies and
technology integration. The majority of course participants chose the latter,
significant strides in redefining what it means to be a social studies
teacher and technology integrator.
As the preservice teachers exited Dr. Phipps's social studies
methods course they were still six months away from becoming student teachers
and 18 months from their first paying teaching assignments. While data does
not support an assertion that these teachers' teaching practice will be
significantly affected as a result of their experiences in the course
(longitudinal data is needed to make this determination), the participants believed
that their future teaching practice would be positively influenced as a
result. They described how the inquiry-oriented experiences of the course
caused them to reflect upon their K-12 social studies experiences and see them
as inadequate. They additionally saw the value of providing more
engaged learning environments for their future elementary students.
Important to this process, and not trivial, is the fact that the
preservice teachers enjoyed their experiences in the course, citing Dr.
Phipps's enthusiasm as instigating reflection on their past learning experiences
and future teaching practice. At the end of the course, most considered
social studies to be the content area they looked forward to teaching and
believe technology could be used to enhance methods of teaching social
studies. Characteristics of the course contributing to these beliefs were the
instructor's modeling of constructivist teaching methods and her integration
of technology into these methods.
Instructor modeling of constructivist teaching methods.
She is showing us all the great things we can do, and it just seems like
it would make the day so much more fun for me and for the students. And
I think that looking back I don't really remember much of my social
studies at all except for the teacher lecturing
.Dr. Phipps gives me all
(Gina; 1st Interview, 9/29/00)
As the above quote points out, vital to the preservice teachers' notions
of what it means to be a good social studies teacher were the personal
experiences resulting from participating in Dr. Phipps's class. Dr. Phipps
modeled a variety of teaching methods, during which the preservice teachers
were given opportunities to participate as learners in the activities associated
with these methods. These methods were not, by themselves, constructivist,
but were applied toward constructivist goals, such as performing
inquiry using primary source materials.
Dr. Phipps adhered to an holistic view of constructivism (Molebash,
2002), which espoused that meanings are developed individually but are
heavily influenced by social interaction. The overall constructivist goal of
Dr. Phipps's course was to encourage effective citizenship, as desired by
the National Council for the Social Studies (1997).
The methods modeled by Dr. Phipps provided the preservice
teachers opportunities to participate in activities that offered new perspectives
in learning social studies different from their previous experiences of
memorizing people, places, and dates. The majority of these teaching methods
were "indirect" (Flanders, 1970) and attempted to make social studies, as
Dr. Phipps stated, "fun and exciting." Often they were built around her
belief, which she frequently stated in class, that "people [in history] were
living lives and not themes." The preservice teachers collectively accepted
both this goal and this belief as a result of their course experiences:
I think that beyond just her enthusiasm that was clearly shown to
the students, was her emphasis on social studies being about people and
not about themes, and bringing it alive to students in that way more than
just memorizing dates and facts, which I think so many times you do in
history class. (Rebeccah; 2nd Interview; 1/25/01)
I think Dr. Phipps gave us the kind of ideas to use for alternate
teaching methods rather than just going through a textbook. Like virtual
history [students interpreting online primary sources] and the artifact
box [students interpreting primary source artifacts] and dressing up as
a character [Statue of Liberty]. She gave us a million examples of
alternate teaching methods. (Laurel;
2nd Interview; 1/16/01)
The belief that social studies can be "fun and exciting" and focusing
more on "lives" rather than "themes" ran contrary to the preservice
teachers' initial belief that social studies was uninteresting and focused on
the memorization of facts (see Assertion 1). Gina aptly described this change
in belief: "I think it is always more exciting when you are doing
something different from the 'normal ways' of teaching [teacher lecture]. When
the students are excited
you are excitedand it is exciting!" (Gina;
2nd Interview; 1/25/01).
Being "indirect" (Flanders, 1970) and aimed at promoting Dr. Phipps's
goal of promoting effective democratic citizens, these "exciting" ways to
teach modeled by her would be described by most as being constructivist
or inquiry-oriented. Briefly described in the appendix and more thoroughly
in Molebash (2002), these methods clearly contributed to the
preservice teachers' positive experiences in the class.
Two thirds of the activities modeled by Dr. Phipps were enhanced
through some use of technology; however, perhaps equally as important in
showing preservice teachers how to integrate technology into a given activity
was the modeling of activities requiring no use of technology, such as her use
of children's literature and role playing. As an example, in one class session
Dr. Phipps dressed up as the Statue of Liberty to model for her students
an interactive way for students to learn about immigration at Ellis Island:
The whole idea of when she did her Miss Liberty
playing roles and
being enthusiastic and having fun with them
and making it enjoyable for
the students, as well as herself. Because the way she came across made
me want to do this. (Kathy; 2nd Interview; 1/23/01)
Such modeling provided the preservice teachers the important
opportunity of witnessing a faculty member exercise judgment on when and how to
use technology in teaching. Upon exiting the course, these preservice
teachers believed this modeling would make them more capable of making
thoughtful decisions regarding when and when not to use
technology-enhanced methods in their teaching. Namely, they could personally apply the
same decision process as Dr. Phippsto use technology when it would allow
her and her students to "learn in a way they could not without the
at least learn in a more meaningful way" (Mason et al., 2000, p. 108).
Instructor modeling of technology-enhanced teaching
methods. Dr. Phipps used the "Guidelines for Using Technology to Prepare Social
Studies Teachers" (Mason et al., 2000) to guide her practice of integrating
technology into her teaching (Molebash, 2002). These guidelines posit that
technology should be "introduced in context," should "extend learning beyond
what could be done without technology," and should "be used to
encourage inquiry, perspective taking, and meaning making" (p. 108).
As a result of Dr. Phipps's efforts to integrate technology seamlessly
into many of the activities she modeled, the preservice teachers
predominately described the content of these activities as being valuable, as opposed
to valuing the particular use of technology. For example, it is the
opportunity students have to interpret online primary source materials that the
preservice teachers found to be valuable, as opposed to the fact that technology
has made these resources available.
Perhaps most importantly, these positive experiences have caused
the preservice teachers to desire practicing in their own future teaching
the technology-enhanced methods modeled by Dr. Phipps. Most of them
were unaware of the amount and variety of resources now available to
teachers and students as a result of technology, particularly via the Internet.
These resources were seen as helping to make social studies more stimulating
and as assisting teachers in completing tasks more efficiently:
I always thought technology in the classroom was an overhead and
that's it, but I never thought you could go on the Internet or
other teachers [telecollaboratively] who might be doing the same stuff that
you are doing
. I am more aware of the possibilities, and I think there's
so many things that you can do. (Donna;
2nd Interview; 1/17/01)
I go back to all the web sites we went through, primary sources and
things of that nature
that to me is because of the introduction to
technology that Dr. Phipps shared with us. It will help me to involve my
I could have easily just read a book on ways to use technology in
the classroom. But there were a lot of added messages to incorporate ways
to use technology to improve the students' excitement. (Winston;
1st Interview; 1/16/01)
Although the preservice teachers valued their preparation in learning how
to use technology tools in content- and age-appropriate ways in the
Introduction to Educational Technology course, they found that, as a result of
their exposure to technology-enriched methods in Dr. Phipps's course, they
were more prepared to use technology to enhance social studies teaching
Desire to teach social studies. At the beginning of the course only
two preservice teachers listed social studies as the content area that they
looked forward to teaching. Given their bland recollections of social
studies (see Assertion 1) this was of no surprise. In contrast, upon exiting
the course all of the participants listed social studies at or near the top
of content areas that they most looked forward to teaching.
It is not uncommon for novice teachers' interests to be sparked
immediately following a course or workshop on a particular topic, but these teachers
had already taken or were simultaneously taking with the social studies
methods course their other reading, mathematics, and science teaching
methods courses. The stark change in their attitudes about social studies cannot
be linked to the fact that they had only taken social studies methods.
Winston, for example, described the sharp change in his perceptions of social
studies and stated that this change was related to Dr. Phipps's teaching,
This is weird. I am a good case to discuss because I went from hating
social studies to adoring social studies
.Just the way Dr. Phipps introduced
it to us and made it not a painstaking subject. I think that as a generalist
in elementary education, social studies would probably be the subject that
I like the most.... Dr. Phipps is my model teacher. And this is not to
speak for any other professors that I had, but
to be taught by somebody that
is excited is contagious. (Winston; 1st Interview; 1/16/01)
Also, in sharp contrast to their initial perception as social studies
primarily being the study of history, many of the preservice teachers adopted
the belief that the richness of the social studies can serve to tie all of the
content areas together. Several students talked of a new awareness of the
interconnectedness between social studies, mathematics, science, and
literature. Janna, a mathematics major, finished the course ranking social studies
with mathematics as the content areas she looked most forward to
teaching. Before Dr. Phipps's course, she saw the two content areas as being
distinctly separate, but now she sought ways to connect the two, as well as
science. She explained,
Dr. Phipps, I think, has the belief that social studies could be a
content area that really can tie together something like math and science and
even technology. I also have this belief. I actually made a
[connection]in science class
I made up this list that connected math and science
and social studies
like Ben Franklin's discoveries and how that was
historically based, but [he] did math stuff which also affected things
scientifically. (Janna; 2nd Interview; 1/22/01)
Mirrored in these teachers' newfound desire to teach social studies were
the ways in which they changed their views on classroom technology use.
Their initial perception of technology as a tool to be used for simple research
and presentations was significantly altered, partly due to their participation
in the Introduction to Educational Technology course, but more as a result
of the fruitful and viable uses of technology they participated in and
witnessed in Dr. Phipp's Elementary Social Studies Methods course. By participating
in technology-enriched, inquiry-oriented activities, these preservice
teachers reevaluated their notions of how technology ought to be used in their
In the introduction to this paper the suggestion was made that a handful
of SCOEs have proven themselves to be successful at matriculating
preservice teachers capable and eager to integrate technology into their teaching, and
two questions were posed: (a) What types of experiences do SCOEs
provide their preservice teachers that have helped to make the difference in
teacher technology training, and (b) How can similar experiences be employed
at other SCOEs struggling to better prepare its preservice teachers to
Because this study focused on one particular, albeit successful,
elementary social studies teaching methods course, no cut-and-dried rules for
SCOEs can be offered. However, this study offers SCOEs strategies for
better preparing its preservice teachers effectively to use technology in their
The Education School has made efforts to infuse technology throughout
its preservice teacher experience. Leading this effort has been the
development of a content-specific introductory educational technology course, in
which teacher candidates explore a variety of tools to integrate in their
future teaching. The perception of the preservice teachers, even after taking
this course, that technology was to be used primarily to increase their
administrative proficiency and enhance their presentation skills confirms
the assumption that technology integration cannot be investigated
of the content area into which it is being integrated. When
determining teachers' beliefs regarding integrating technology into social studies, it
is equally important to examine their beliefs regarding social studies as it
is their beliefs regarding the use of technology.
The preservice teachers participating in this study were conditioned by
their K-12 learning experiences not to enjoy social studies and to use
technology in only minimal ways. Regardless of their skills with technology, without
an appreciation for social studies and an understanding of how to
promote more inquiry-oriented strategies of teaching social studies, teachers
will likely not make effective uses of technology when teaching social studies.
Producing teachers who are effective technology users in the social
studies classroom will first require that they overcome their aversions to
social studies caused by their negative K-12 social studies experiences.
By witnessing a faculty model for effective technology integration,
preservice teachers are given opportunities to reflect upon their previously
held conceptions of teaching social studies and integrating technology
into social studies. As part of this modeling, technology must be seen as a
tool for learning social studies in innovative, inquiry-oriented, and
If social studies methods courses are taught by faculty members
who employ such "constructivist" uses of technology in their teaching and
who model enthusiasm for their subject, it will allow them and their students
to "learn in a way they could not without the technology or
at least learn in
a more meaningful way" (Mason et al., 2000, p. 108).
In following the recommendations to infuse technology into its
content teaching methods courses by providing faculty models for
effective technology integration (Handler & Marshall, 1992; ISTE, 1999;
NCATE, 1997; PCAST, 1997; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment,
1995; Wetzel, 1993; Willis & Mehlinger, 1996), the Education School is well on
its way to producing teachers who are effective at integrating technology
into specific content.
Other SCOEs should direct their efforts towards overcoming the
obstacles that prevent faculty from being such models. Being an effective model
technology integration, however, is not independent of being an
effective model for content instruction. It is important that content methods
instructors model an enthusiasm for their content area that cause
preservice teachers to confront their misconceptions of teaching and learning,
and further, this modeling must be complimented and encouraged by their use
Performing similar studies in each of the core content areas would
provide further insight into the nuances of technology integration across
subjects. In addition, the effects technology-enriched teaching methods courses
have on inservice technology use are relatively unknown. A longitudinal
study that follows this and other cohorts of teachers into their inservice
teaching assignments would help to determine the overall worth of infusing
technology throughout the entire preservice teacher experience.
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San Diego State University