Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Flexible and Job-Embedded Professional Development for In-Service Technology, Design, and Engineering Educators

Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Flexible and Job-Embedded Professional Development for In-Service Technology, Design, and Engineering Educators

Article excerpt


The importance of quality teacher learning opportunities cannot be overstated. Teacher quality is consistently noted as a critical factor that impacts student learning (National Research Council [NRC], 2010). Effective professional development that affects teacher quality requires flexible, job-embedded, results-driven learning experiences, which are focused on content that integrates directly into classrooms and builds a community of learners (Ernst, Segedin, Clark, & DeLuca, 2014; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; National Staff Development Council [NSDC], 2001; Schlang, 2006; Weiss & Pasley, 2006). Changes in teacher practice require time, with some states mandating as many as 19 professional development days annually (Ernst, Clark, DeLuca, & Bottomley, 2013; Jacob & McGovern, 2015). Such time is well spent when this work results in improving teaching skills and pedagogical content knowledge (Li, Ernst, & Williams, 2015).

National STEM education initiatives call for high quality professional development for STEM educators; however, professional learning experiences for technology, design and engineering (TDE) educators pale in comparison to professional development for other STEM disciplines. Often these are characterized as less comprehensive and perceived to have little value (DuBois, Farmer, Gomez, Messner, & Silva, 2009; Li, Ernst, & Williams, 2015; NRC, 2009). Professional development for these TDE educators is often found to be inadequate and limited (National Academy of Engineering, 2009).

The lack of technology education National Board for Professional Teaching (NBPT) certified teachers, and an increasing shortage of TDE educators further accentuates the need for quality professional development and an enhanced pipeline for this group of educators (NBPT, personal communication, October 2012). To address the shortage, thirty-nine states (78%) utilize alternative routes, such as career-switcher programs, to licensing TDE educators (Ndahi & Ritz, 2003). Targeted professional learning experiences and supported networks are needed to sustain and build teacher practices of newly qualified teachers.

This demonstrated need for professional development that focuses on improving TDE educators' teaching skills and pedagogical content knowledge was the impetus behind the development and implementation of the Transforming Teaching through Implementing Inquiry (T2I2) project. T2I2 is an online professional development system for grades 6-12 TDE educators. The system content targets implementation and instructional practice, as defined by NBPTS, in support of quality classroom indicators for the promotion of student learning. T2I2 professional development is research-informed, interactive, and objectoriented, built upon professional learning frameworks developed and refined within prior studies such as Visualization in Technology Education (VisTE) and the Tech-Know Project (Ernst & Clark, 2007; Ernst, Taylor, & Peterson, 2005). These frameworks utilize state-of-the-art course content management and collaboration software to provide clear, challenging, connected, and coherent professional learning experiences for educators that encourage critical reflection on practice and self-evaluation through "sustained opportunities over a substantial time interval" (Mundry, 2007; NRC, 2011). Utilizing this web-based platform, T2I2 was designed to introduce, reinforce, and develop TDE educators' abilities in regard to the art and practice of teaching.


This study's five investigational hypotheses address teachers in the pilot groups' abilities to manage, monitor, and adjust their learning environments; to develop reflective self-assessment strategies; and to increase contributions to the broader learning community.

Research Hypothesis 1: A teacher's ability to manage learning environments was deemed proficient following the use of the T2I2 professional development materials. …

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