Enhancing Technology Use in Student Teaching: A Case Study

Article excerpt

This study investigated the gap that exists between the technological knowledge and skills preservice teachers possess and their confidence in using them to successfully integrate technology in their classrooms. Specifically, this study addressed whether a model of instructional delivery using the integration of technology practices into the elementary method courses for preservice teachers positively influenced their self-reported confidence level and their use of technology in the classroom as student teachers.

A time series analysis with repeated measures using a single-group design was conducted with a group of 26 self-selected preservice teachers. The technology instruction in the method courses occurred in the first semester (Phase One) and student teaching occurred in the second semester (Phase Two).

The findings indicated the preservice teachers' confidence level in integrating specific technologies into their teaching practices increased over the two semesters they were involved in this study. Furthermore, the findings revealed that the preservice teachers demonstrated a higher use of the technologies in which they had more confidence and with the technologies that their supervising teachers used in the classroom. Providing experiences for the preservice teachers to use the technologies while student teaching and to see the technologies being modeled, continued to increase the preservice teachers' confidence and use of the technologies.

CONCEPTURAL FRAMEWORK

Niederhauser, Salem, and Fields (1999) reported that the trend in education today has moved from the transmission of didactic pedagogy to a learner-centered constructivistic approach. This movement has led to the need of strengthening the constructivist instructional methods in the classroom. Constructivists believe students acquire knowledge through active involvement with the learning environment. As students' direct involvement in the learning process increases, their motivation level increases, thereby leading to a greater understanding of knowledge (Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999). Like constructivist philosophies, the use of technology in education has been in existence for many years, but instructional technology in education is virtually a new frontier to be explored in teacher education programs. Both technology and constructivist methods can be found in today's classrooms, however the integration of the technology with the teaching practices of the teacher is not as effective as it should be. Preservice teachers need opportunities to learn with the technology by being exposed to authentic, learner-centered activities that allow them to construct their own understanding of the learning outcomes (Doering, Hughes, & Huffman, 2003; Wang, 2002; Wang, Ertmer, & Newby, 2004). Greening (1998) stated that "one view of the effect of technological change on society is that it has largely left the educational system behind" (p. 23). Greening further reported that educators should be involved in the technology that their students will be using on a daily basis.

A model of technology integration that aligns itself with the constructivist theory advocates a learner-centered classroom where the students play a central role. This type of classroom uses technology to enhance and support the higher-order thinking skills of the students. Thus, the opportunity for the students to use technology to its fullest extent greatly increases. The teacher then becomes the facilitator in this learning environment, guiding the students to discover how technology can be used to accomplish the final outcome of an educational task (Wang, 2002).

Although the CEO Forum (1999) School Technology Readiness Report (STAR) revealed that the number of schools that are effective in using technology has risen from 15% in 1997 to 24% in 1999, "the gap between technology presence in schools and its effective use is still too wide" (p. …