Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

The Nature and Sharing of Teacher Knowledge of Technology in a Student Teacher/mentor Teacher Pair

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

The Nature and Sharing of Teacher Knowledge of Technology in a Student Teacher/mentor Teacher Pair

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: This article draws from Jon Margerum-Leys's doctoral dissertation, which received the 2002 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

When student teachers and their mentors use educational technology in classroom and professional settings, they instantiate a body of knowledge. This body of knowledge is fluid and continuously developing, drawn from a variety of sources, and applicable in a variety of settings. Within the context of their practice, teachers modify their understanding of educational technology, much as they modify their understandings of other factors that influence teaching and learning. In the process, they evolve a "wisdom of practice" (Shulman, 1987, p. 4) that enhances and expands their knowledge base. If teachers are to use technology to further their efforts to be effective facilitators of student learning, it is essential that their knowledge of educational technology encompass not just content knowledge--the technological capacities of hardware and software--but pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge as well.

This article examines the nature and acquisition of knowledge of educational technology by a student teacher and her mentor working in the shared professional context of Madrid Middle School,' a medium-sized middle school in a working-class suburb of a large midwestern industrial city. The initial product of this examination was a set of three cases of pairs of practicing teachers and the student teachers with whom they work. This article reports the results of one of those cases, a pair of science teachers referred to as Helen Johnson (student teacher) and Anna Lloyd (mentor teacher). From March through June of 1999, I observed, talked with, and in some instances worked alongside these teachers as they interacted with students and used technology for teaching, learning, and achieving their own professional ends. By depicting this particular case, I create a narrative portrait of teacher knowledge of educational technology in this individual setting. This portrait is informed by and structured according to a comprehensive general model of teacher knowledge that includes content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge of educational technology. Placing this depiction within the literatures surrounding teacher knowledge and educational technology, this article seeks to contribute to the field's understanding of teacher knowledge as it impacts and is impacted by both educational technology and the mentor/student teacher relationship.

Questions for Study

Two major questions guided the design, conduct, analysis, and writing of this study. The first question was

Research Question 1: What knowledge of educational technology can be inferred from observing the practice of and conversing with student and mentor teachers in the context of their professional lives?

To address this question, this study took a broad view of teacher knowledge, adapting Shulman's (1987) model for teacher knowledge to educational technology. The second question for study was

Research Question 2: How is knowledge of educational technology acquired, employed, and shared by the participants?

Running parallel to the depiction of educational technology knowledge in this study were considerations of the role that knowledge plays in instantiating educational uses of technology and the means by which educational technology knowledge was promulgated in the setting.

Operational Definitions

This study employed an operational definition of teacher knowledge that is close to what Fenstermacher (1994) would call a "grouping" sense. This grouping sense of knowledge posits that teachers "generate ideas, conceptions, images, or perspectives when performing as teachers" (p. 31). It is these ideas and perspectives that are described in this study. …

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