Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Moving from Theory to Practice: An Examination of the Factors That Preservice Teachers Encounter as the Attempt to Gain Experience Teaching with Technology during Field Placement Experiences

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Moving from Theory to Practice: An Examination of the Factors That Preservice Teachers Encounter as the Attempt to Gain Experience Teaching with Technology during Field Placement Experiences

Article excerpt

This case study describes the experiences of two preservice teachers as they attempt to integrate the use of technology into instruction during their field placement experiences. What factors influence the decisions they made about how and when to teach with technology? How do these factors enable or disable their abilities to gain experience teaching with technology during their field placement experiences? This case is part of a larger study of six preservice teachers, engaged in a program designed to prepare new teachers to teach with technology. This program received $1,3000,000 from the U.S. Department of Education, which was 50% of the total cost. The remaining funding came from a university, school, and business match. Data collected from surveys, interviews, and written reflections was examined to help identify enabling and disabling factors, and gain an understanding of how those factors influence practice.

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    At the beginning of the year we had intended to have some kind of a
    technology lab or something each chapter that we go through in the
    book. And we did a few of them at the beginning of the year. And
    then we realized how far behind we were, and stuff, so we pretty
    much said, you know, we can't actually do that. So, in the beginning
    of the year I was assuming I would do something in my work sample
    with technology. But by the time I got around to planning it, I knew
    there wouldn't have been time. (Nancy, Group Interview, 3/23/02)

I was surprised to hear this statement coming from Nancy, a student who had expressed great interest in using computer technology in the past. Nancy had been a student in an introductory computer course that I had taught the previous year, and had participated in a number of math methods courses that focused on using technology for teaching and learning. What was preventing her from gaining experience teaching with technology during her field placement? An earlier conversation with her had provided at least one possible answer to this question: "Unfortunately, my teacher teaches a little bit differently than I anticipate teaching. Mine would be more of an activity-based approach where you could use the computer lab more often because you're not always following the book and doing lesson-by-lesson, page-by-page. For that's how hers works, and technology doesn't fit in as easily." (Interview, 2/23/01) Clearly, the influence of her mentor teacher was having a disabling impact on her ability to use technology on a regular basis.

In contrast, Suzanne, who had shared serious reservations about using technology at all, reported that she was using it on a regular basis.

    I come from kind of an environmentalist family who have always been
    very skeptical of technology. So when I found out I was in the tech
    cohort, I was pretty upset, but trying to be open. And then I got
    placed with Brianna, who's like tech guru of the world. Here she is
    this great tech guru ... I use it almost daily, and I'll be in the
    computer lab all next week, and they're doing Publisher brochures.
    It's just fabulous." (Interview, 2/23/01)

Why would Suzanne, who was reluctant to use technology in the first place end up routinely integrating it into her teaching and learning, and Nancy, who was eager to use technology from the beginning, not?

As a teacher educator, I was troubled by this question. Through these conversations with Nancy and Suzanne, and others like them, teacher educators can gain a better understanding of the factors that influence a preservice teacher's ability to practice teaching with technology during field placement experiences. What are the factors that enable them to practice teaching with technology, and what are the factors that disable that process? How do these factors influence the decisions that preservice teachers make about how and when to use technology in their student teaching? …

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