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.
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.
Social Studies Education
This study examined the effect of a minimal Web-based GIS experience within a semester-long methods course on enhancing preservice teachers’ dispositions regarding the use of geospatial technologies for teaching. Fourteen preservice teachers enrolled in a senior-level methods course offered in geography and focused exclusively on how to teach geography in K-12 classrooms participated in the study. The findings of the study indicate that Web-based GIS activities had a positive impact on participants’ beliefs, attitudes, and confidence in GST implementation and teaching spatial thinking in their future classrooms.
Although instruction related to learning management systems and other educational applications in teacher education programs has increased, the potential of geospatial technologies has yet to be widely explored and considered in the teacher education literature, despite its ability to function as an engaging pedagogical tool with teacher candidates. This practitioner article discusses uses of geospatial technologies in a social studies teacher education program as a way of demonstrating how other teacher educators might use geospatial technologies to prompt teacher candidates to new ways of thinking about pedagogy and the world at large. An overview is provided of the value and relevance of integrating geospatial technologies within teacher education, followed by three examples of how geospatial technologies have been included in existing teacher education courses. In each example the activity and its connection to geospatial technologies are described, as well as the assessment and experience of teacher candidates. Teacher educators, especially those with limited experience in geospatial technology use, are provided with exemplar ways they might integrate geospatial technologies into the courses they teach—whether it be a course on methods, curriculum, a content area, or beyond.
A curriculum-linked professional development approach designed to support middle level science teachers’ understandings about tectonics and geospatial pedagogical content knowledge was developed. This approach takes into account limited face-to-face professional development time and instead provides pedagogical support within the design of a Web-based curriculum with extensive teacher support materials. This paper illustrates how curriculum design can provide teachers with supports for content (e.g., tectonics) and geospatial instruction with Web GIS. The effectiveness of the approach is presented with a focus on how the curriculum implementation of the Web GIS tectonics investigations and the curriculum support materials provided teachers with the professional growth required for successful curriculum implementation.