Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology: Learning and Attitudinal Impacts on Elementary Students

Article excerpt

The research discussed in this manuscript was supported by a capacity building grant funded by the Department of Education as a Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology Grant (PT3). The problem was to determine which instruction provided by teacher candidates provided the greatest learning and attitudinal gains for elementary school students. Pairs of teacher candidates were divided into three groups to provide instruction in one of three ways, (1) multimedia (HyperStudio), (2) Internet, and (3) control which didn't use technology to instruct elementary school students. Pre- and posttests designed to measure the learning and attitudinal gains were administered to all participating elementary school students. The instruction provided was focused on levers for one session and simple machines for the second session. A statistical analysis was made of the pre and posttests. Findings revealed significant differences between groups.

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In the fall of 1980, five fifth grade students, the media coordinator, and school principal fixed their full attention on the teletype machine that had been purchased at the University of Utah as surplus equipment. We had connected to the U of U mainframe via a telephone line. We were anxiously waiting for the response to a question we had asked. This discarded machine began to shake and clatter as the answer emerged; the expressions of those present told the simple story that education would never be the same.

At first, this electronic magic only touched a few. Over the past twenty years expressions of that early experience have been duplicated again and again by people who have caught the vision of the how technology can support teaching and learning. A significant percentage of educators have always felt that computers could support and enhance learning opportunities in classrooms across the nation (Yildirim, 2000). But, as with other technological developments, schools have not been without naysayers who are reluctant to integrate technology, hoping computers would merely be a passing fad (Beck & Wynn, 1998; Duhaney, 2001).

Personal computers are certainly not the teaching machines that were originally conceived. Today, we look to computers for instructional support. They can manage data, reinforce instructional concepts, act as resources for information in a random learning environment, promote multimedia concept learning that address multiple learning modes, and deliver on demand learning programs over multiple types of e-systems to name a few of the current and potential uses (Farnsworth & Wilkinson, 1987; Shaw & Farnsworth, 1993). It is interesting to note that there is a continuous change in the use of computers as technology advances and new applications are created (Mize, 2000; Yildirim, 2000). As a result of research, we have learned that computers are extremely effective for some instructional applications and not effective for other instructional applications (Becker, 2000; Shields, 2001).

In the past, the idea of integrating technology into the regular classroom curriculum was a relatively weak component of teacher preparation (Yildirim, 2000). To respond to this challenge, a federal grant, Preparing Tomorrow' s Teachers to use Technology (PT3), provided resources to determine what teacher training institutions need to do to help teachers learn computer integration skills in order to increase the learning advantage for all students. This study summarizes results from the PT3 project in the Education Department at Utah Valley State College. More specifically, what has been learned from the elementary students themselves.

Problem

As a part of the capacity building PT3 grant awarded to Utah Valley State Coruege in 1999 we were interested in studying the things that teachers needed to know to make a positive learning different for students. …