How Are We Doing? Using Self-Assessment to Measure Changing Teacher Technology Literacy within a Graduate Educational Technology Program

Article excerpt

    This study reports on development and testing of a simple
    self-assessment instrument used for documenting inservice teachers'
    changing knowledge, skill, and dispositions towards technology
    within a graduate teacher education program. The current movement
    towards standards for technology in teacher education provides an
    opportunity to begin to study how teachers' changing technology
    competence also influence their plans for integrating technology
    into their classroom practices. Quantitative data are analyzed to
    demonstrate growing competence with technology as a result of an
    introductory course focused on educational uses of productivity
    tools. The results suggest that inservice teachers enter graduate
    programs with the same limited set of skills and knowledge that
    preservice teachers leave undergraduate programs with, but these
    skills can be upgraded when teachers are exposed to a course in
    educational technology. The results also suggest that even though we
    are doing an adequate job of preparing our students (inservice
    teachers), we can do more to help them begin to integrate technology
    into their teaching practices.

Increasingly central to the role of the new professional teacher is the ability to employ technology to improve student learning and to employ technology in the many facets of professional work. This will require new understandings, new approaches, new roles, new forms of professional growth, and new attitudes. NCATE (1997).

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE, 1997) is asking teacher education programs to ensure that their graduates are technology literate in order to increase use of technology in K-12 schools. While this is an admirable goal, it is not without its challenges and it raises a number of questions for everyone involved in teacher education. For example, how can we tell if our graduate (or undergraduate) programs are adequately preparing teachers for technology integration? What does it mean to be technologically competent or proficient? What is the relationship between knowledge, skill, and dispositions or attitudes towards technology? How do these concepts relate to technology use or integration in classroom settings? How can we assess our students (either experienced or future teachers) in these areas in ways that help us improve our programs and meet the goals set forth for us by NCATE?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has established a set of foundation standards that describe what all teachers should know and be able to do with technology--that is, the knowledge and skills supposedly required to successfully integrate it into teaching practices. These standards have evolved over the years from a laundry list of everything anyone could possibly know about computers to knowledge and skills that are specific to teaching, learning, and professional development. The newest standards, the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS*T), embody many of the features of prior standards (ISTE, 2000). Together, these standards provide schools of education with targets for improving their programs and goals to work towards in meeting the NCATE objectives. Exactly how teacher education programs accomplish these goals and demonstrate that their graduates are meeting these standards is a critical question.

Teachers who use technology in the classroom find ways to use it as a pedagogical tool that supports their beliefs about teaching and learning (Honey & Moeller, 1990; Sheingold, & Hadley, 1990; Dwyer, 1994). But for teachers to use technology in support of their teaching, and to see it as a pedagogically useful tool, they must be confident and competent with the technology they are planning to use. In this sense, basic computer competency is a "stepping stone" towards integration and a necessary, but insufficient, stage in the growth and development of technology using teachers. …