Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Connecting the University with a Professional Development School: Pre-Service Teachers' Attitudes toward the Use of Compressed Video

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Connecting the University with a Professional Development School: Pre-Service Teachers' Attitudes toward the Use of Compressed Video

Article excerpt

Using emerging technologies to connect teacher education programs to K-12 schools has the potential to enhance preservice teachers' understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. The study reported here examined preservice teachers' perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the use of compressed video to provide a shared field experience at a distance and their ability to apply learning theory to an analysis of real classroom events. The 22 preservice teachers who participated in the study viewed a class session taking place at a high school located 85 miles from their campus, then interviewed the class teacher and engaged in small group discussion. Participants then wrote essays identifying the predominant learning theories exhibited during the class and evaluating the experience. The results suggest that students have a relatively positive attitude toward this medium, but that there are drawbacks that need to be addressed, and that students' attitude toward this medium can impact their performance.


Field experiences are considered to be a critical dimension of the teacher preparation process (Cruickshank & Armaline, 1986). Teachers often cite these experiences as the most valuable aspect of their teacher preparation program (Rigden, 1996). However, the field component may comprise the weakest link in traditional programs (Rigden, 1996; Winitzky, Stoddart, & O'Keefe, 1992). The lack of public school involvement in university teacher preparation courses has been questioned by both teacher educators and education reformers (Goodlad, 1990; Zeichner, 1985). As a result, university professors and school-based educators often fail to coordinate their efforts and the connection between theory and practice in the field may be tenuous at best.

Various approaches have been suggested to address this problem, among them the development of professional development schools (PDS). The education reform movements of the 1980s have provided an ideal climate for the emergence of PDS that focus on the simultaneous restructuring of teacher education and K-12 public schools (e.g., Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986; Goodlad, 1990; Holmes Group, 1990). Currently almost half of all universities report participation in more than 600 PDS (Abdal-Haaq, 1998). While some PDS exist at the secondary level, the majority involve public and private elementary schools.

To connect public schools to teacher preparation programs, the state of Texas has made a major commitment to field-based preparation in teacher education. The Texas Higher Education Coordination Board describes a field-based teacher education program as one in which a significant amount of training occurs in public schools (Hallman, 1998). To assist in the implementation of such programs, Texas universities have been encouraged to create professional development schools as a means to change both schools and teacher preparation programs (Sid W. Richardson Foundation Forum, 1992).

Problematic to such teacher education commitments, however, is the limited availability of public school classrooms for field-based experiences. In rural areas and small towns, it is sometimes necessary for PDS to be located at a considerable distance from a university campus. Alternative approaches to providing some components of field experiences in teacher preparation programs therefore become necessary.


In recent years, technology has been seen as a means of linking schools to universities in order to support teacher preparation programs. For example, videoconferencing has been used in rural areas to provide greater opportunity for interaction between student teachers in the field and their university supervisors (Venn, Moore, & Gunter, 2000). Yet this is not the only type of interaction that can be facilitated by video connections between a university and distant schools. …

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