This paper reports on one aspect of a large-scale nationwide study that surveyed English teacher educators about English teacher preparation programs throughout the United States. One aspect of the study focused on how technology is integrated within the context of English teacher education programs, asking the question, “As an area of emphasis in the teaching of English, how do teacher educators prepare beginning English teachers to address the teaching of technology and new literacies in the context of the English language arts?” This paper highlights the data and the findings from the self-administered questionnaire portion of the study concerned with technology use in the English language arts methods course.
English/Language Arts Education
Prospective elementary teachers at three universities engaged in online modules called the Virtual Field Experience, created by the Math Forum. The prospective teachers learned about problem solving and mentoring elementary students in composing solutions and explanations to nonroutine challenge problems. Finally, through an asynchronous online environment, the prospective teachers mentored elementary students. The researchers assessed the prospective teachers’ solutions and explanations to problems at the beginning of the semester, at the middle of the semester after completing the training in mentoring, and again at the end of the semester after the mentoring was completed. The researchers observed improvements in the prospective teachers’ abilities to write explanations to problems. Specifically, growth was seen in prospective teachers’ communication of their explanations and their ability to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2010, Standard for Mathematical Practice 3), and attend to precision (Standard for Mathematical Practice 6).
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.
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.
Social Studies Education
Windows into Teaching and Learning (WiTL), developed to provide relevant and meaningful technology-mediated clinical experiences in an online social studies methods course, engaged participants in purposefully designed synchronous and asynchronous field experiences to address a lack of summer clinical teaching opportunities. Following a discussion of the challenges of providing clinical experiences, the authors describe the outcomes of a study involving remote partnerships in learning between candidates enrolled in a distance education social studies methods course and mentor teachers employed in middle and secondary schools. Findings illustrated that WiTL exceeded expectations by opening unanticipated opportunities into the profession of teaching, both for candidates and teacher mentors who participated in the study. Participants provided rich descriptions of these experiences, as well as the potential within WiTL, as it progressed beyond being a substitute to a means of transforming observations in both distance education and teacher preparation programs in a traditional university setting.
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.