Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Monica W. Tracey
In response to the ever increasing demand to compete in a global economy, the United States needs to prepare its students with the appropriate technical knowledge and communication skills to be competitive in the 21st century (Watson, 2007). Students must begin utilizing current technology tools during their K-12 educational experience and online learning can assist students with developing these skills. Teachers with online technology skills and equipped with effective pedagogical strategies for teaching in an online environment are the keys to achieving this goal. To ensure teachers are keeping pace with changing teaching and learning environments, and effectively utilizing new technologies, teacher technology professional development (PD) is a major initiative throughout K-12 education (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007). In turn, it is the responsibility of school districts to prepare our nation's teachers to model and teach the use of these tools. Funding initiatives and federal and state programs have been put in place to assist school districts with preparing their teachers to teach with new technologies. While there are government mandates requiring teachers to become knowledgeable in online teaching, many teachers and school districts are not meeting these mandates, and often barriers, such as lack of funding, time, and accessibility to experts, impact the quality of PD provided (Reeves & Pedulla, 2011). One way to gain more knowledge for providing quality PD is to examine the factors of a technology professional development intervention (TPDI) to establish best practices for designing quality technology PD for teachers.
The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case research study was to examine secondary education teachers' perceptions of a technology professional development intervention (TPDI). This study was designed to provide a deeper understanding of which factors teachers' perceived to be beneficial to the quality of technology professional development (PD) they received. An extensive review of literature surrounding technology integration within K-12 educational settings, demonstrated important factors to be incorporated into a TPDI to increase its quality and effectiveness. These factors aligned with the TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) theoretical framework, so it was used to for designing, developing, and implementing the TPDI for this study. The instructional goal of the TPDI was to assist teachers in meeting two Entry-Level Standards for Michigan teachers related to designing and facilitating learning in the online environment. A learning technology by design approach (Koehler & Mishra, 2005; Mishra & Koehler, 2003) was the basis for the TPDI. This hands on approach exposed teachers to Google Applications while designing instruction and instructional materials to use in their teaching practice. The instructional design of the TPDI was evaluated by a panel of subject matter experts to increase content validity, and was modified based on feedback. The TPDI was implemented in an online learning environment.
The quality of PD can be influenced by a variety of factors, but Guskey and Sparks (1996) suggest that the factors with the most direct influence can be grouped into content, processes, and contextual factors. To investigate the complex relationship between the TPDI factors and teacher practice, I used the first piece of the Guskey and Sparks (1996) Model of the Relationship between Professional Development and Improvements on Student Learning, as a conceptual framework for collecting and analyzing data to address the research questions. The data was analyzed using a content analysis methodology to examine the factors of the TPDI that the teachers perceived to be most beneficial for transferring the knowledge and skills taught during the TPDI to teaching practice. Studying teachers' perceptions of these factors during the TPDI provided insight into which factors teachers believed were most beneficial to their learning. Comparing teachers' perceptions of the same factors after they began applying the knowledge and skills from the TPDI with their students, provided insight about which factors were most beneficial for teacher practice.
The results of this study demonstrated seven beneficial factors to narrow the transfer gap between technology PD and practice. These factors include: relevant, learning, access, reactions, interactions, clear and easy, and instructor. This suggest that instructional designers should incorporate relevant learning by doing activities that are structured to impact learners' perceptions of how their knowledge can be expanded by creating their own learning path in a situated contextual environment. While this study examined a specific TPDI designed for secondary education teachers at a high school in Michigan, the design of the TPDI incorporated factors that are rooted in constructivist design principles, making the implications of the findings from this study relevant to instructional design. These recommendations could be used to guide instructional designers when designing environments for other technology training and adoption initiatives for employees.
Unger, Kelly L., "Examining the factors of a technology professional development intervention" (2012). Wayne State University Dissertations. Paper 483.