Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Exemption Exam for an Introductory Education Technology Course: Findings from Two Years of Use

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Exemption Exam for an Introductory Education Technology Course: Findings from Two Years of Use

Article excerpt

The need for teachers who are proficient in the use of technology in the classroom has increased dramatically over the past few years. The College of Education at the State University of West Georgia established an introductory technology course for all teacher education majors to meet this demand. This survey course provides students with a background in various instructional technologies as well as classroom integration strategies. At the time the course was created, many of the faculty involved believed that students entering the program would be sufficiently competent in technology to enable them to exempt the course. Those exempting the course would be able to take a different class in their content area. This article will provide an overview on how the exemption exam was created and implemented, as well as a measure of its effectiveness in identifying technology competent students. The expected participation in the exam has not materialized. Results from surveys in the introductory course indicate that students do not have the expected level of technology skill and that students who do possess the required skills would rather take the course than a different course in their program area. Recommendations include the retention of the course in the curriculum.

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Colleges of Education are under increased pressure to make their programs more efficient (i.e., require fewer courses) and, at the same time, insure that their graduates are competent in more and more skill areas. These conflicting goals are apparent in many institutions' decision to eliminate the instructional technology courses to streamline their programs at the same time as national studies are showing a woeful lack of technology competency in today's teachers. Lewis Solmon (1998), in his report on the technological progress in schools in 21 states, found that less than 15% of teachers have advanced skills in technology. A recent national survey found that only 25% of the teachers responding reported using technology in a substantial way in their classrooms (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1999b). In another survey, only one fifth said they felt very well prepared to integrate technology into teaching (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1 999a). As a result of these and related findin gs, professional and regulatory organizations with direct and indirect influence on teacher education programs have issued reports, recommendations, and standards, all aimed at increasing the technology competencies of beginning teachers (CEO Forum on Education & Technology, 2000; International Society for Technology in Education, 2000b; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2002). It is an accepted fact that proficiency in computer use is an increasingly necessary skill as our world becomes more technologically dependent. Thus, the need for technology proficient teachers can only be expected to increase in the future.

Like many higher education institutions across the country, the College of Education at the State University of West Georgia (UWG) requires an introductory technology course for all teacher education majors to help address their need for technology skills. This survey course provides students with a background in various instructional technologies and classroom integration strategies. Although feeling the same pressures as many teacher education programs to streamline their curriculum, West Georgia decided not to eliminate the course but to provide an opportunity for students familiar with technology to exempt it. It was decided that those exempting the course would not decrease hours required for their programs, but that students would be required to replace the course with one from their content area.

In addition to describing how and why the course and the exemption exam was created and administered, this article reports on data that were collected at the University of West Georgia to address the following four questions:

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