The purpose of this study was to investigate a function machine in the form of a Vending Machine applet as a means to motivate preservice teachers to examine their own understanding of the function concept. The applet was designed to purposefully problematize common misconceptions associated with the algebraic nature of typical function machines. Findings indicate that the preservice teachers for which the applet provoked a dilemma elaborated on or transformed their understandings related to the definition of function.
This article describes key features of a hybrid professional development (PD) program that was designed to prepare elementary classroom teachers to mentor preservice teachers for effective science instruction. Five classroom teachers who were new to our mentor training participated in the study to document the impacts of the PD sequence. The PD combined an in-person immersion into the components of effective science instruction with online modules centered on learner-supportive mentoring practices. The authors detail key aspects of this hybrid program and discuss its impacts on the cooperating teachers’ ability to facilitate effective mentoring conversations with preservice teachers. Findings indicated that mentors who engaged in the hybrid face-to-face and online PD more effectively coached their mentees and displayed specific shifts in their approach to mentor conversations. Participants showed statistically significant increases in their ability to use coaching as a default mentoring stance, to focus on evidence of students’ science learning, and to draw on a consistent framework for effective science instruction for their conversations. These findings support a hybrid model of PD for mentoring and create potential for exploring a fully online sequence to promote effective mentoring in future work.
Social Studies Education
This study sought to develop an understanding of current practices by professionals in the field to best prepare future social studies educators in the usage of technology. A quantitative investigation examined the usage and perceptions of educational technology by 398 grades 6–12 social studies teachers from across a Mid-Atlantic state. A researcher-designed survey instrument explored teacher adoption of technology, sources of acquired skills, usage frequencies, perceived effectiveness, and barriers to integration. The study revealed personal trial and error as the most likely way to acquire new knowledge. Document creation applications such as Google Docs were the most commonly used Internet-based technology and were perceived as most effective. By better understanding educators’ use of technology in the field, teacher preparation programs may design more effective curricula. It is recommended that future research be conducted on a multistate basis to investigate technology integration in social studies classrooms at each grade level to best prepare future teachers for when they have a classroom of their own.
This qualitative case study examined what educators and startups learned from each other when participating in a 4-hour educational technology (edtech) design summit, SlowPitch, which strategically facilitated boundary crossing conversations and activities among typically siloed constituents, such as educators, researchers, developers, investors, and students, in the edtech ecosystem. Participants included eight edtech startup founders or representatives, seven preservice teachers, and 18 practicing educators. Individual interviews were conducted during and after SlowPitch. Findings revealed educators (a) learned about edtech innovations, (b) engaged in teacher design thinking for integrating edtech innovations, (c) became aware of the voices and influencers within the ecosystem, and (d) learned about edtech startup development processes. Startups (a) learned how their edtech products would work (or not) in teachers’ classrooms, (b) explored how to penetrate the K-12 market, and (c) generated ways to gain interest of potential users. This study illustrates value in broadening an ecological perspective on educators’ work toward technology innovation and integration in school classrooms to consider edtech innovators and their innovations. The discussion suggests edtech learning in teacher education and professional learning can push farther than program wide and program deep in university and K-12 contexts to include experiences in the broader edtech ecosystem.
This study investigated the domain and practice of an online community of practice formed by English language teachers (ELTs) on Twitter as a professional learning network (PLN). A “Communities of Practice” framework (Wenger, 1998; Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015) was applied to the qualitative analysis of interviews and publicly accessible social media data of 20 participants. This paper reports on the extent to which members of the PLN use social media for professional purposes and their perceptions of the value of social media in comparison to more traditional means of professional learning: reading ELT textbooks, reading scholarly articles on pedagogy and applied linguistics, and participating in ELT conferences. Findings demonstrate that this PLN functioned as a community of practice that valued social media as a tool in conjunction with the more traditional means of professional learning. Participants said social media had particular advantages, including accessibility, brevity, and low cost. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research and implications for hybrid ELT professional learning practices.