Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Preparing Technology-Competent Teachers: A Strategy for Multicultural Schools

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Preparing Technology-Competent Teachers: A Strategy for Multicultural Schools

Article excerpt

Editors' Note: The research reported in this paper was based on a project being funded by the U.S. Education Department through a [PT.sup.3] grant.

NATIONALLY, A LARGE NUMBER of graduates from colleges of education feel ill-prepared to integrate technology into their curriculum (Beckett et al. 2001; Congressional Office of Technology Assessment 1995). Although students graduating from the College of Education at Arizona State University West (ASUW) have taken a course on teaching with technology, they did not feel prepared to implement what they learned in their own classrooms (Wetzel et al. 1996; Chisholm, Carey and Hernandez 1998).

There are two major factors that influence the feelings of insecurity experienced by recent graduates. First, students do not see consistent or extensive modeling of the use of technology by faculty in preservice classes (Chisholm, Carey and Hernandez 1998). Second, ASUW has limited school sites for field placements where intern and preservice teachers can experience effective technology practices in K-8 classrooms.

Recent graduates are not alone in this phenomenon. According to Becker, Ravitz and Wong (1999) only about a third of in-service teachers assign work on computers regularly. Of those teachers who do assign computer work, few use analytic and project-oriented software on a regular basis. Instead, most rely on games or drill-and-practice software.

In an effort to change the way technology use is perceived by many K-8 classroom teachers, education faculty at ASUW have implemented a Practicum Plus Program that directly impacts field placements for preservice teachers. In the program, preservice teachers are paired with in-service mentor teachers for training in technology integration just prior to and during their practicum semester. All participants earn three hours of graduate credit when all requirements of the training are met. This critical intervention is a response to two beliefs:

1. That there is a need for technologically prepared teachers for multicultural schools (Chisholm, Carey and Hernandez 1998) and that practicum students are often most influenced by the observed actions of their mentor teachers. (Darling-Hammond 1998).

2. That the cohort teams of preservice teachers receive a richer, more coherent learning experience when they study and work with each other and mentor teachers (Darling-Hammond 1995).

The Study

The Practicum Plus Program was implemented during the 1999-2000 school year to address the beginning teachers' need to be prepared to integrate technology in their classrooms. This study addressed the question: Was the [PT.sup.3] (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology) Practicum Plus Professional Development Program successful? To evaluate the program, the researchers asked:

* Did the [PT.sup.3] training result in the participants mastery of computer competency skills?

* What percentage of participants created the units of practice (UOP) as intended?

* What percentage of preservice teacher-mentor teacher teams achieved the level of "accomplished" for their UOP?

* What percentage of participants taught the UOP as intended?

* How did the mentor teachers and practicum students use the cohort listserv in the workshops?

* What were the perceptions of university faculty regarding the effectiveness of the Practicum Plus Program workshops?

Program Description

The [PT.sup.3] Practicum Plus Program incorporated many of the features of the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT). Like the ACOT project, the [PT.sup.3] Practicum Plus Program objective was to improve students' learning through training teachers in the use of computers in the classroom. However, the [PT.sup.3] program training focused on technology integration where teams of preservice teachers and their mentor in-service teachers developed UOPs, which were then implemented in their K-8 practicum classrooms. …

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