Integrating ICT in Pre-service Teacher Education: reframing teacher education
(Work in Progress)
Athena Vongalis Macrow
Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Warwick, 6-9 September 2006
A recent study by Taylor (2004) examined teachersí existing understanding of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the way it changes as they learn to teach. Using this current study and others (Simpson, Payne, Munro & Hughes, 1999; Vrasidas & McIssac, 2001) research was conducted into the integration of ICT in pre-service teacher education at an Australian University. In addition to conducting initial research the study also trialled innovative teaching methodology as a basis for further study into how to better integrate ICT learning into curriculum method classes in pre-service education.
An identified aim of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) which is currently being implemented within Victorian schools is the integration of ICT learning across the curriculum through interdisciplinary learning. This study examines how lecturing staff in the key learning areas of SOSE, English, Science, Maths and Technology are using ICT in their methodology classes that prepare teachers for their specialised teaching and trials a new method of ICT teaching that aims to equip prospective secondary teachers with the skills and knowledge to effectively integrate ICT in their future practice. Preliminary discussion with method lecturers revealed an uneven use and knowledge of ICT across the key learning areas. Through observation, pre and post-test questionnaires given to students and informal interviewing of the lecturing staff, the study examines the reasons why this may be the case. It raises issues about ICT in relation to key learning areas, prompts discussion on team learning and teaching in relation to ICT, identifies facilitators and barriers to the integration of ICT in pre-service education and proposes recommendations on the design of initial teacher education.
A recent study by Taylor (2004) examined teachers' existing understanding of Information and Communications Technology and the way it changes as they learn to teach. Following up on Taylorís study and others (Simpson, Payne et al. 1999; Vrasidas and McIsaac 2001) this project examines the integration of ICT learning into two pre-service teacher education courses at a university in Victoria, Australia.
An identified aim of the Victorian governmentís Essential Learning Standards (VELS) is the integration of ICT learning across the curriculum. New teachers are expected to integrate ICT into their teaching in all learning areas once in schools. However, that knowledge of how to integrate ICT is unevenly tackled in teacher education programs. There is a need for initiatives designed to promote integration of ICT with best pedagogical practice in teacher education courses, so that new teachers are able to bring new knowledge into schools and create an impact from the onset.
This project is a three year action research study with prospective primary teachers and secondary teachers in a one year graduate training program which is attempting to find ways of integrating ICT in the methodology classes relating to the key learning areas of Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE), English, Science, Mathematics, and Technology, as identified in VELS. Preliminary discussion with method lecturers suggested an uneven use and knowledge of ICT, among both lecturers and students, across these learning areas. This study applies Welliverís Instructional Transformation Model (1990) as a basis for trialing a redesign of units in a Diploma of Education course designed to enable student teachers to move more rapidly through to stages 4 and 5 of Welliverís model.
A Model for ICT usage in teacher education
Welliverís Instructional Transformation Model (Welliver 1990) has teachers progressing through five hierarchical states in order to integrate ICT effectively. Figure 1 below shows these five states.
Teachers become aware of technology and its potential uses.
Teachers use technology, but minor problems will cause teachers to discontinue its use.
Technology becomes essential for the educational process and teachers are constantly thinking of ways to use technology in their classrooms
Teachers begin to re-think the educational goals of the classroom with the use of technology
The evolving classroom becomes completely integrated with technology in all subject areas. Technology becomes an invisible tool that is seamlessly woven into the teaching and learning process.
Figure 1: Welliverís instructional transformation model
The Welliver model presumes that integration of ICT proceeds in a linear manner from the initial familiarization with the technology to the utilization of technology, then moves towards the beginnings of manipulation and eventually to more innovative ICT usage.
Every educator looks at integrating technology and its challenges from a different perspective. They tend to focus solely on how it affects them in terms of their workload, impact on students, their current skills/knowledge, time management, motivation and vision. It is the authors belief that the barriers to efficient technology integration can be overcome through effective leadership, training and a commitment to enhancing teaching and learning using technology.
Shelley (2004, pp. 6.10-6.11) argues that with proper training in using technology teachers:
These criteria for effective use of technology suggest that there are a number of complex interactions between the user and the technology and that these interactions are not explicitly linear, as suggested by Welliver.
The assumption in this project is that by developing teaching approaches and assessment tasks which demand more complex interactions with the technology than in Stages 1 to 3 of Welliverís model, it may be possible for student teachers to progress more rapidly to Stages 4 and 5.
What is meant by "proper training"?
This could be better termed as integration training. Not only do teachers need to learn the skills but in addition, they need to learn what is possible with ICT in their subject area, as well as develop their understanding of ICT and good teaching practice. Pre-Service Education Teachers need to learn how ICT can be integrated within a particular subject area and what this means for them. While integration training would not provide all the answers, it would empower teachers, enabling them to develop their confidence and vision, pass this onto their students and hopefully facilitate an innovative learning environment.
It is doubtful that training alone would heal all the ills in relation to the integration of ICT in Pre-service Teacher Education. It can be argued that the structure of education programs and the organisation itself also have a role to play in impeding integration. Observation suggests that those teachers who casually chat about their subjects and content on a regular basis are ahead in the integration race. However, in the organization where this study was conducted, ICT still isnít seamlessly woven into the teaching and learning process. There continues to be debate over each teacher educatorís role in the delivery of ICT education..
It may be that a new paradigm for teaching has to be developed to serve the needs of teaching and learning in the pre-service education environment. The study intends to apply Welliverís Instructional Transformation Model as a basis for trialing a redesign of units in a Diploma of Education course. Initially, the redesign will focus on ways of integrating ICT into method classes for the key learning areas of SOSE, English, Science, Technology and Mathematics and progress to include the development of a new unit which deals with the integration of ICT throughout the primary curriculum. This paper will concentrate on the former.
The current structure at the university concernedis to have separate method classes for SOSE, English, Science, Technology and Mathematics within the Diploma of Secondary Education. The ICT component is a unique unit in the course where prospective teachers learn the fundamentals of ICT usage. There is more advanced ICT learning that is available as an optional subject. This study examines the issues with ICT that arise from a segregated approach and trials an integrated approach to ICT across the key learning areas.
An action research approach has been adopted, with a three years time-span. The project trials and evaluates different models of ICT delivery, identifying issues as they arise, and using feedback from each trial to modify the models, with the aim of eventually developing one or more models that effectively integrate ICT into the pre-service teacher education programs.
The project is in three parts. This paper reports on Parts I and II.
The sample consists of students undertaking a one-year Post Graduate Diploma of Education program. The three parts involve the following student cohorts:
I. all students undertaking the Post Graduate Diploma of Education (Dip Ed), Primary and Secondary, programs, ;
II. students undertaking the Post Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) program, in the specific methods of English, Maths and Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE);
III. students undertaking the Post Graduate Diploma of Education (Primary) program in the Multidisciplinary subject.
A different model of ICT delivery is used with each cohort of students to assess and evaluate its effectiveness. In Part I, all students (primary and secondary) received the traditional stand-alone ICT skills course. In Part II, a smaller sample comprising only secondary Dip Ed students were organised into multidisciplinary learning teams comprising of at least one IT method student and a mixture of English, SOSE and Maths method students. Students were asked to complete a specific task related to their own subject and incorporate ICT. A third model of ICT delivery is being developed for Part III with the primary Dip Ed cohort. Analysis of the results from each Part feeds into the process for developing and trialing new models. (?)
Questionnaires are the main method of data collection. In Parts I and II these were distributed and collected within the last three weeks of the course, with students asked to drop off completed questionnaires in boxes located in the School Adminstration section. If this were to be repeated, we would aim to increase the response rate by asking students to complete questionnaires within a given time limit, for example, by returning them at the end of a session.
The questionnaires contained both open-ended and a small number of closed questions and in addition we included a ranking scale without numbers. Students were asked to rank themselves according to certain criteria and in an attempt to steer them away from ranking towards the middle of a pre-set scale, we omitted numbers and on analysis used a transparency to help give us a picture of the studentsí rank (Warne 2000).
Part I - Preliminary Results
Questionnaires were distributed to 140 students currently undertaking a Post graduate Diploma of Education Course (70% of the Dip Ed Cohorts).
44 students returned the questionnaires, a response rate of 30%. 28 of these were from the Primary Dip Ed, 16 from the Secondary.
The low response rate needs to be put into the context of the current political climate governing research in Universities. Students are often inundated with requests to participate in research due to government pressures on academics to publish, and higher degree students often use other students as their participants in research projects. In addition, students are required to complete evaluations at the end of each semester for each subject they undertake in their course of study. Needless to say, the students are fatigued with completing questionnaires.
Student teacher use of ICT in first teaching practicum
Students were asked whether they used ICT with their students on their first teaching practice round. The aim of this question was to ascertain the extent to which ICT was integrated into their teaching at this stage of their program. Figure 2 compares the usage of those in the Primary program with those in the Secondary.
Figure 2: Computer usage in first teaching practicum
It would appear that primary students had a greater propensity for the use of ICT within the first teaching round, which would be expected as primary teachers are required to cover the whole curriculum rather than concentrate on a specific subject, even though all teachers are governed by standards which include ICT in the curriculum (VCAA 2005). However, these results must be approached with caution due to the small sample size.
What is interesting though, from the qualitative data collected is what they actually did. For both groups this usage tended to err on the simplistic side; using word processing, Powerpoint and the Web for general researching seeming to be the common patterns of use. It is also interesting that there appeared to be no distinction between some studentsí responses about their own use of ICT (personal ICT Skills) and how they used it in the classroom with students.
Students were also asked to comment on barriers/obstacles experienced. For both groups these tended to be mainly problems in accessing the technology or slow or inadequate web access. In addition, Primary Dip Ed students often cited lack of encouragement or support from the supervising teacher, supporting the findings of (Jones 2002 ) regarding supervising teachersí confidence and experience with technology and situated learning.
Arising from concerns about some responses, suggesting a failure to differentiate their own use of ICT (personal ICT Skills) and how they used it in the classroom with students, it was necessary to attempt to correlate questions 3 and 4 on the questionnaire:
Q3 How skilled were you in using ICT effectively during your first teaching round?
Q4 During your first teaching round, how much knowledge did you have of the possibilities for using ICT and what could be achieved with its use?
Primary students reported that they were moderately skilled in using ICT during the first teaching round. In terms of possibilities for use of ICT within teaching, they rated their knowledge at a slightly lower level. For secondary students there was a similar trend, but the difference between skill and knowledge of possibilities was not as evident. As shown in Figure 3, below, it seems then, that there is a positive relationship between level of skill and studentís knowledge of the possibilities for using ICT within their teaching, with little difference between the two groups.
Figure 3: Comparison of personal skill and knowledge of possibilities in teaching
The student teachers appear to be at the FAMILIARIZATION stage of Welliverís model, that is, becoming aware of technology and its potential uses, with some moving into the next stage, UTILIZATION, that is, using technology, but minor problems causing them to discontinue its use.
This concurs with the study by (Taylor 2004) where she examined the relationship
between personal ICT skills and development of understanding of how to teach
geography using ICT. The study found that some students had a high personal skill
level but were only thinking about using ICT in teaching and learning at a fairly basic
level. In addition, there were some who had below average skill level and yet were
beginning to think at a more advanced level in terms of ICT and pedagogy. The data from this study appears to replicate that of Taylor in some instances, particularly the data stemming from the first trial of a new model that was implemented with a small group of Diploma of Education (Secondary) student teachers (Part II of this study) which will be discussed later in this paper.
Anedotal and assignment evidence for this study seems to concur also with Taylorís findings, particularly with regard to studentsí own perceptions of their skill level: perceived skill level often doesnít equate with the use of ICT in the best pedagogical manner.
We compared studentsí views on the ease in which they thought ICT
could be integrated into key learning areas and how much they felt they had learned in each associated method area. In order to assess where students appeared to gain
most of their knowledge about the possibilities of teaching and learning with ICT, we
firstly asked to students to rank how difficult they thought it was/could be to integrate
ICT into their teaching for each KLA(1). The questions were:
Q6 . How difficult do you think it is to integrate ICT in each KLA?
Q7 . During the course, how much do you feel you learned about the integration of ICT in each KLA?
Primary student teacher responses
Apart from Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) and Health and Physical Education
(HPE), student teachers overall tended to indicate reasonable ease with respect to integration of ICT across the KLAs. However, the extent to which students felt they had learned about integrating ICT in teaching within the KLAs was rated at a lower level. This suggests that they did not learn as much as perhaps they thought they should. This supports the findings of Simpson et al (Simpson, Payne et al.) "Ö trainee teachers felt their tutors had failed to deal as extensively or effectively as they would have wished with key factors associated with the pedagogical use and management of this powerful resource."
It is interesting to note also, that there seemed to be some relationship between student teachersí perception of ease of integration and how much they felt they learned in that KLA. The qualitative data collected suggests some reasons for this: modeling of ICT integration by lecturers (Simpson 1999), and inclusion of ICT as an assessment requirement in some KLAs helped develop their understanding.
This concurs with (Taylor 2004) in which she identifies three experiences that help student teachers develop their understanding of teaching using ICT, namely, University teaching, assignments, and experience in teaching using ICT.
However simply requiring the use of ICT for an assessment task does not necessarily mean student teachers have learned about the use of ICT within their own teaching. It leads us to question again the extent to which student teachers are able to distinguish between personal ICT skills and the pedagogy of teaching and learning with ICT.
Figure 5 shows compares the responses for each KLA from Secondary Dip Ed students.
Secondary student teacher responses
In comparison with Primary Dip Ed students, there was less difference between mean scores for studentsí perceptions of ease of integration and how much they felt they had learned about teaching and learning with ICT in each KLA studied.
This could be due to the small sample size. There is also the possibility that because they study only two method areas they are able concentrate more on the pedagogical issues of teaching and learning with ICT rather than focusing on personal ICT skills.
However the data shows that this hasnít necessarily increased their propensity for use of ICT within their teaching.
Issues and implications
The results support the recommendation of Simpson (1999) that all teacher educators should help their students learn about:
A new model to improve integration of ICT in pre-service teacher education appears to be necessary.
There are a number of issues to be considered in developing such a model:
Some of the issues arising in Part I of the study would be best addressed by developing more than one model and tailoring the model to best fit the studentsí, their requirements, their differences in terms of what they will teach, the differences in course structures, and organisational requirements. It was felt that the data collected. as well as previous research ((Jones 2000), (Watson and Pestridge 2001) , indicated that any new model would need to be context-based, involve collaborative learning, and involve those lecturers who do model good practice in the use of ICT within their own teaching.
A decision was made that the first model to be evaluated would be developed for students in the Secondary Dip Ed and takes a multidisciplinary team-learning approach.
Part II: A new model for the integration of ICT
A new model was developed to attempt to address some of the issues that were raised in the first part of this study, aiming to integrate ICT into the training of pre-service teachers at secondary level. The model was developed with specific aims in mind: to provide student teachers with an integrated approach to the delivery of ICT within their course; to provide some modeling of ICT integration; to give student teachers an opportunity work as a multidisciplinary teaching team as a context for their learning; and finally, to attempt to move students through to a higher stage in Welliverís model, more quickly.
All Diploma of Education students still received the traditional stand-alone ICT skills course, and in addition, 60 students undertaking English, SOSE and Maths methods in the Secondary Dip Ed (Secondary) participated in a trial of the new model.
The research methodology was the same. The response rate was only slightly higher, at 35%.
Student teachers were organised into multidisciplinary learning teams comprising of at least one with IT as a method. Participants were asked to complete a specific task related to their own subject and incorporate ICT.
The learning took place over a negotiated period, in place of their normal method classes.
Students were asked to complete the following task:
Q.: "How can we use English, SOSE, Mathematics (choose which is applicable to you) and incorporate IT to raise awareness and address bullying in schools?"
In groups of 5-6 your task is to produce a learning resource which is designed to address bullying across the school.
You need to incorporate IT skills and knowledge in order to make your resource accessible and continuous.
All participating students were asked to complete a questionnaire which evaluated the model and in addition probed their perceptions of multidisciplinary team working, integration of the curriculum which included ICT, and their ICT skills and knowledge.
The questionnaires were structured as in part I. In addition, we included one question which asked students to rank aspects of the project in order of the perceived importance to them as a future teacher.
Findings from Part II
Students were asked to evaluate their ICT skills and knowledge as a result of participation in the project. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with numbers omitted,) only 5% reported no improvement, with 67% reporting an improvement in their skills and knowledge, with a score of 5 and above, and of those, 52% rated the improvement at 7 or above (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Self-reported improvement in ICT skills and knowledge
Students were also asked to rate their enjoyment of participation in the project and also how useful they perceived the project overall, to be for them as future teachers.
Figure 7: Level of enjoyment and perceived usefulness
It was found that perceived usefulness of studentsí participation in the project is closely tied to studentsí level of enjoyment in the project. 86% of students reported that they would like to participate in this type of learning again, if they were given the opportunity.
Overall, students felt that by participating in the project, they had raised their awareness and increased their knowledge not only of Bullying as topic but of working as part of a multidisciplinary team, using ICT skills and knowledge to teach, consulting ICT teachers, and learning about integrating curriculum around a theme, with each aspect receiving a rating of no less and 6. However, when asked which aspects of the project they found most useful, we get some telling results. Students were asked to rank each aspect of the project, according to usefulness on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being most useful and 5 being least useful. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team (mean = 2.2) received the highest rating with learning about integrating curriculum around a theme (mean =2.4) and using ICT skills and knowledge to teach, closely following (mean = 2.5).
In order to represent this data in a more meaningful fashion, each of the rankings were reversed and assigned a value, with 1 (most useful) being assigned, 5 down to 5 (least useful) assigned 1. This allows graphical representation of the data as follows:
Figure 8: Usefulness of aspects of the project (reverse ranking)
As perhaps would be expected, learning about the topic of Bullying was perceived to be the least useful aspect of the project , but perhaps somewhat surprisingly, consulting with ICT teachers was not valued highly either. The qualitative data helps to explain this. A number of students reported their dissatisfaction with the ICT student teacher within their group. Some felt that the ICT student teacher lacked the skill and knowledge to provide advice and training and others felt that the ICT student teacher had the necessary skill and knowledge, but didnít share, disseminate or provide adequate training to the group. Others were quite happy with their consultation with the ICT student teachers.
If this model were to be used again with other cohorts of the secondary Diploma of Education (Secondary) student teachers, then it would be prudent to ensure the ICT student teachers had the requisite teaching skills and knowledge prior to commencement to ensure the success of each team.
The low response rate allows only for tentative suggestions rather than informed recommendations, however it appears that the majority of the student teachers enjoyed the experience and also felt that it was worthwhile doing, in addition to being a useful tool for their future teaching career.
Qualitative data supports this claim. The most frequent comments on the beneficial aspects of the project were around the two themes of learning ICT skills and sharing of knowledge, although some of the responses to the most challenging aspects of the project were also the around the theme of team work and organization as well as learning the ICT skills. Perhaps the student teachers perceived the project to be worthwhile and so persevered to overcome the challenging aspects.
A number of students felt they would have liked more time to complete the project satisfactorily. When asked what they would change, some specified the ICT student teacher attributes, and some indicated that they would have liked to have had more input into the program used to make their learning resource more interactive.
The multidisciplinary team approach to learning has enabled students to consider and concentrate on the pedagogical issues of teaching and learning with ICT, by providing them with a context for their learning about ICT and enabling them to learn ICT skills at the same time as producing a learning resource. In order to confidently assert that this was a success, the study would need to be repeated and a much stronger instrument for testing developed as well measures to raise the response rates.
It would be interesting to follow up students from this part of the study a year into their teaching to discover how they make use of ICT in their teaching and compare that to participants from Part I of the study. However as a pilot study it gives teacher educators an insight into what type of ICT teaching and learning students feel is worthwhile and useful to them as future teachers. It may also suggest that teacher educators need to build flexibility and space into their course design in order to provide students with the opportunity to fulfill their potential as teachers (O'Neill 2000)
This trial does indicate that by providing students with an opportunity to participate in contextual, problem-based learning, as part of a multidisciplinary teaching team with a task that relates to their future needs as teachers, learning can be enhanced (Simpson 1999). The model promotes the notion that the learning that takes place is not detached from their view of immediate and future usefulness, they have something concrete to take away and use and students have experienced skill learning simultaneous with pedagogical application, which is hoped will enable them to continue to learn as they teach and move from the integration stage of Welliverís instructional model (Welliver 1990) towards reorientation and revolution.
Whilst some of the issues raised in part I of this study and by others (Taylor, 2004; Jones, 2002; (Simpson 1999) have been addressed by the small trial of this model, some have not and are beyond the scope of this study, specifically the issue of teachers in schools modeling the integration of ICT within their curriculum, which could be focus of a future study. It is hoped that part III of the study will help formulate a more rounded picture of how students learn about ICT and pedagogical implications. In order to do this, a slightly different model will be trialed with student teachers in the Diploma of Education (Primary), to cope with the differences in their course structure. The three models will be compared and evaluated, taking account of the differences in the three cohorts involved.
1. The Technology KLA
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Simpson, M., F. Payne, et al. (1999). "Using Information and Communications Technology as a Pedagogical Tool: who educates the educators?" Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy 25(3): pp. 247-262(16).
Simpson, M., Payne, F., Munro, R., & Hughes, S. (1999). "Using Information and Communications Technology as a Pedagogical Tool: who educates the educators?" Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy 25 (3): 247-262(216.
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VCAA (2005). Victorian Essential Learning Standards. VCAA, VCAA.
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Watson, G. and S. Pestridge (2001). Changing patterns of preservice teachers' ICT competencies and what it means for preservice teacher education programs. Australian Association for Research in Education, Fremantle, WA.
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This document was added to the Education-Line database on 28 January 2008