By Kat Geuea
Social Studies Instruction: Changing Teacher Confidence in Classrooms Enhanced by Technology
Michael Shriner, Daniel A. Clark, Melissa Nail, Bethanne M Schlee, and Rebecca Libler (2010)
I am planning to do my master’s research on how to change teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and confidence in integrating technology in the classroom. I chose this article because it appears to address this issue. Shriner et al (2010) summarized their study in this way:
to determine to what extent seasoned educators’ perceived confidence, competence, and resultant content-specific self-efficacy could altered as a result of three different workshops geared toward the use of technology in social studies classrooms.
Because I found their research so interesting, I scheduled myself to discuss it with my social studies PLC next Monday.
Disclaimer: I am mathematically- challenged; the statistics in this study melted my brain, and I cannot report on them. However, I can interpret the results based on the words “felt more confident,” so I will inform my readers on those points. By the way, I am making plans to conduct my own research in a manner that does not require statistics. I think qualitative, narrative research will suit me just fine…
The researchers listed above tackled the job of proving that old dogs could indeed learn new tricks. They recognized that a gap existed in the research in identifying what “mechanisms could be used to improve teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and confidence in their classrooms” (Shriner et al 2010), and they focused on seasoned teachers for their workshops. I think it is safe to assume that preservice teachers are learning about edtech in their current programs, but with the speed that technology changes, today even 30-somethings are getting left behind. That means that teachers who have been teaching for decades are literally in the technological dark ages. Many of them do not even know how to embed a link on a PowerPoint. This research project is based on the idea that if professional development could be used more effectively, even seasoned teachers could develop the confidence to integrate edtech into their lessons.
I think this is absolutely appropriate and overdue. With the implementation of personalized learning into so many schools today, technology is really the answer to student success on the secondary-level. There are so many amazing tools out there that can help us teach in ways that are more relevant to the students of this digital world. I find it sad that many seasoned teachers are close-minded to those options. However, I believe that most of them would try new things if they had the time to learn them. I am so tired of wasting my time at professional developments just so that my school district can check off a box or pay some high-dollar speaker to come motivate me. Shriner et al (2010) claim that
Professional development with regard to educational technology may hold the proverbial key in terms of their perceived confidence and belief in their ability to utilize various technological applications in their respective classrooms.
One of the three phases of the project was conducted over three five-hour workshops designed to teach teachers how to create virtual field trips. The second and the third phases were conducted over two-day periods (7.5 hours each day). I think that the experiment would have been better if the workshops were in more realistic professional development-sized chunks. For example, in my district, break-out sessions on PD days are often an hour or two, but that would be ineffective because of how seldom these meetings happen. On the other hand, PLC meetings happen throughout the district for 45-minutes every week. Using that weekly meeting to teach edtech would be the best measure of how effective using professional development to improve teacher confidence could be.
The results looked a lot like this: t(89) = 5.28, p < .001, but I don’t know what that means. The bottom line was that the teachers got excited about the virtual field trips. The 15-hours they spent creating them gave them enough confidence to feel that not only could they plan one on their own, but they definitely would. In addition, they would teach their students to make them as well. The overall conclusion was that,
Participants in this study appear to have gained a significant amount of confidence and competence in terms of their ability to use various educational technologies in their social studies classrooms .(Shriner et al 2010)
I do not doubt these findings at all, and I get excited about teachers being excited! That excitement is contagious and creates a dynamic learning environment. I find myself teaching my own students about the tools I am learning through my master’s program, but they are a captive audience. This research project conducted by Indiana State University proves that time earmarked as professional development time works as a mechanism to deliver workshops about technology to teachers. Hopefully school district administrators will get the message and encourage this use of time.
Shriner, M., Clark, D. A., Nail, M., Schlee, B. M., & Libler, R. (2010). Social Studies Instruction: Changing Teacher Confidence in Classrooms Enhanced by Technology. The Social Studies, 101(2), 37–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/00377990903283999
Thanks for sharing. Interesting article.
What are some of the variables involved here?
Teacher technical proficiency
Amount of time of training
Just to start with…?
This is a big subject.
This seems a pretty optimistic leap: “This research project conducted by Indiana State University proves that time earmarked as professional development time works as a mechanism to deliver workshops about technology to teachers.”
Would we say the same about other teaching and learning endeavors? Time invested bears a relationship to the effectiveness of teaching and/or learning outcomes?
Further, is edtech training the most worthy pursuit? Or, are there more worthwhile deeper learning objectives that could apply across a range of technologies? Could there be approaches that yield more powerful and fundamental outcomes?
Lastly, how should we measure outcomes? We could softball learner confidence by providing very easy lessons with relatively simple, low-level activities? Or, we could push toward deeper really challenging activities even though that might be more challenging to learner confidence? Which might be more beneficial in the long run? It comes back to our experts vs. novices conversation in a way?
Faculty development is a great subject and there’s a lot of great stuff out there – but teaching teachers is also very challenging stuff. Deep waters. Neat that you’re diving in.
Where it gets complicated is around things like “seasoned.” What does that mean? If we put a time frame on that, say 10 – 15 years, do we then assume similar levels of proficiency within a cohort of teachers with 10 – 15 years of experience? If we took a real room of 30 social studies teachers, how much similarity would there be within them, even if they all had exactly the same numbers of years? What does “zero technological expertise” mean? We might need some kind of actual assessment to determine what their actual knowledge would be? We can remove some of the effects of this variance if we get a large enough sample size. For instance, if we had 100 teachers, each with more than 20 years of experience, we could start to paint with some generalities.
I agree with you that edtech IS a worthy pursuit, and I’m a fan of this weeks’ article. However, often in teaching and education circles, edtech gets separated out as a thing unto itself. Meanwhile, I think we would be reluctant to do the same with our students.
Full disclosure, you have uncovered one of my own areas of personal bias. Many instructional designers fall out across a spectrum of foundation perspective from technology on one end to pedagogy on the other. I tend toward the pedagogy end of the spectrum rather than the technology end. Bias disclosed.
I think it excellent that you are experimenting with different tools in your classroom and yes, it helps your students to achieve better and more… technology in the service of your learning objectives.
I like the idea of faculty development to pursue deepening/improving technical literacy while also pursuing other learning objectives – similar to your own classroom practice.
I look forward to hearing where your research project takes you.