Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Situated Professional Development and Technology Integration: The Capital Area Technology and Inquiry in Education (CATIE) Mentoring Program

Academic journal article Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

Situated Professional Development and Technology Integration: The Capital Area Technology and Inquiry in Education (CATIE) Mentoring Program

Article excerpt

This article explores the theoretical basis for a mentoring model of professional development concerned with the integration of computing technologies into classroom teaching and learning. It describes seven factors that affect professional development for technology integration and tells how the Capital Area Technology and Inquiry in Education (CATIE) Program's mentoring approach can be characterized according to each of these. Grounded in situative theories of knowledge and learning, the CATIE model places educational technology experts in schools and classrooms to work directly with teachers. Together mentors and teachers create and implement technology supported lessons that meet the teachers' instructional needs. The CATIE model aims to integrate technology into classroom activities at a grass roots level and situate teacher learning about technology in authentic classroom practice.


Recent large scale studies of computer usage in schools (Becker, 1994; Panel on Educational Technology, 1997; Educational Testing Service, 1998) have precipitated public debate concerning the efficacy of using computers to support instruction, and have highlighted the need for professional development in this area. While emphasizing the need for professional development and pointing to the relationship between it and more sophisticated uses of technology in schools, these and other studies suggested that our understanding of what sorts of professional development programs impact technology integration at school and classroom levels needs to be improved. What we do know is that the teacher training, "expert model" of professional development (Sparks, 1994) does not work, especially when it comes to learning about educational technologies and their integration across the curriculum.

Indeed, teacher lore suggests that traditional inservice teacher education has little impact on teaching practices in general. Smylie (1989), for example, found that teachers ranked inservice training last out of 14 possible opportunities for learning. What teachers ranked as most important was direct classroom experience. Other researchers reported similar findings (Little, 1994). Even exemplary professional development programs find it difficult to maintain support for teachers (Carey & Frechtling, 1997), to encourage sustained discourse among participating teachers (Schlager & Schank, 1997), to "scale up" through the inclusions of all teachers, and to develop, test, and disseminate new teaching and learning ideas (Corcoran, 1995). Researchers agree that new models of professional development are needed, and that such models must include a focus on the development of local cultures of interest if they are to be sustainable.


Several scholars in the field have developed lists of the features common to effective staff development activities (Little, 1988; Abdal-Haqq, 1995; Ball, 1996; Wilson & Beme, 1999). Putnam and Borko (1997), for example, reduce the essential features of effective teacher education to four:

1. Teachers should be treated as active learners who construct their own understanding.

2. Teachers should be empowered and treated as professionals.

3. Teacher education should be situated in classroom practice.

4. Teacher educators should treat teachers as they expect teachers to treat students.

In a more recent article, Putnam and Borko (2000) related recent trends in research on professional development to new understandings of the nature of learning and knowing that collectively have been labeled "situative" (Greeno, 1997). They identified three conceptual themes central to situative perspectives--(a) that cognition is situated in particular physical and social contexts, (b) that it is social in nature, and (c) that knowing is distributed across the individual, others, and tools (p. …

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