Saturday, February 16, 2013

What DOES Research Tell Us About Tech Integration?

There is no way I could spend the last two weeks pouring through the literature on professional development and not share. I am specifically looking at professional development in technology and how it might lead to effects on student learning. My initial search through EBSCO examined professional development and literacy coaching. This brought up 23 articles total that relate to student achievement. I broadened my search to coaching and student achievement. From this search, I narrowed 107 articles down to 40 articles that actually address student achievement in the research. Finally, I searched coaching, professional development, technology, and student achievement. This brought me zero results. So, I settled on ten articles focused on professional development and technology integration, one which included a mentor as part of the professional development.

One thing that stood out most for me as I poured over these articles is the importance of teacher self-efficacy in implementing new technologies in the classroom (Overbaugh and Ruiling, 2008). Teachers need to see the value for their students of implementing new technologies. They also need to believe that they have the skills to do so. This makes sense, instructional-y. You are more willing to put in the time and effort if you feel you are capable of something. Think of Vygostky's zone of proximal development. If a task is out of our reach, we simply cannot accomplish it. Without providing the appropriate scaffolds for teachers, we can't expect them to implement new technologies with students.

Professional development for technology integration for teachers needs to be learner centered (Polly and Hannafin, 2010). Teacher development needs to focus on student learning, be teacher-owned, and focus on developing both content and pedagogy. Teachers need to examine their beliefs and actual instructional practices to reconcile the differences between them (John Hattie would support observations and self-examined video-tapes of lessons). Also, more time spent on collaborating around lessons and in-class coaching, results on classroom observations were significantly improved (Martin et al., 2010). Teachers also need scaffolding with in-class implementation of new practices. I can see how the role of a mentor or coach would fit here nicely. In fact, Kopcha (2012) found that participants in a model which included a mentor in Year 1 of implementation, and not Year 2, reported their improved instruction and beliefs were attributed to the mentor and professional development provided by the mentor.

Overall, there is very little research published on student outcomes and professional development in technology integration (and none on instructional technology, coaching, and student achievement). We do know what best practices tell us for professional development (more to come on that). And we do know that technology integration is directly tied to teacher self-efficacy. I hope this information has been useful. I will continue to update as I learn more.

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