Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technology Professional Development: Long-Term Effects on Teacher Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Technology Professional Development: Long-Term Effects on Teacher Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

The West Virginia K-12 RuralNet Project was an NSF funded program to train inservice teachers on integrating the Internet into science and mathematics curriculum. The program involved training inservice teachers through an intensive summer workshop and supplemental online courses. This study examines the effects of the project on the long-term self-efficacy of inservice teachers and their use of the Internet in the classroom. The specific research questions addressed are: Do professional development programs affect the long-term self-efficacy of inservice teachers? Did the addition of online courses and follow-up to the program affect self-efficacy levels? Finally, do certain external factors, specifically years of teaching experience, college technology courses, professional development, or participation in other similar professional development programs play a role in teacher self-efficacy?

The findings indicate that: (a) Teachers improved level of self-efficacy after the summer workshops remained high even years after their involvement in the program, (b) that combining an intense summer workshop with additional online courses shows a significant difference in some aspects of self-efficacy over just having a professional development workshop, and (c) certain external factors do affect teacher self-efficacy over the long-term.

BACKGROUND

The RuralNet Project was a project funded by the National Science Foundation that trained K-12 inservice teachers on using the Internet as an effective classroom resource for science and mathematics education. The project ran from 1995-1999 and trained approximately 1000 teachers in the state of West Virginia. The grant was administered through West Virginia University and delivered cooperatively with Marshall University. Teachers entering the program received an intensive five-day summer workshop, and had the option of continuing the learning process through two online courses given over the fall and spring semesters.

The summer workshops covered basic skills as well as classroom integration issues. Teachers learned the basics of using the Internet, e-mail, and how to find information using search engines. In addition, they learned how to effectively integrate the Internet into the lesson planning and teaching processes. They had the option of taking the workshop for college credit through either educational institution.

The online courses also served to reinforce basic skills as well as begin the process for teachers of developing technology integrated unit plans. The two courses were taken consecutively and covered an entire academic year (fall and spring). The first online course emphasized basic Internet skills and ended with teachers researching and developing an idea for a unit integrating the Internet. The second course took the teachers' concepts and walked them through the process of unit planning with the Internet. When finished the teachers submitted their work to the RuralNet database, which allowed all participants access to the work. This gave participants a library of integrated unit plans covering all grade levels.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Self-efficacy may be defined as a belief in one's own abilities to perform an action or activity necessary to achieve a goal or task (Bandura, 1997). Studies have shown a link between a high level of self-efficacy on the part of a teacher and higher student achievement (Ross, Hogaboam-Gray, & Hannay, 2001; Cannon & Scharmann, 1996). Low self-efficacy has been shown to have a negative impact on performance. In the study by Ross et al., students in grades K-3 were studied to determine how changes in teacher computer efficacy affected them. Specifically, the students were evaluated on changes in basic and advanced computer skills and computer self-efficacy as they moved from one grade to another. Students who moved from teachers with high self-efficacy to teachers with a low level did not improve their skills and efficacy as much as students moving from teachers with low to high levels. …

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