Changing Negative Teacher Beliefs Regarding Technology Integration
A Kathleen Geuea
ED 601 Intro to Social Science Research
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Sean Asiqluq Topkok, Instructor
15 April 2019
Great changes are facing the field of education in the years to come. Besides finding more budget-friendly ways of structuring education and practicing personalized learning, integrating technology in the classroom is vital to connecting with youths who are increasingly socially media-driven. Ertmer and Ottenbreit (2013), who build on the work of David H. Jonassen, suggest that a need exists to build “authentic technology-enabled learning environments.” However, teacher beliefs about both the value of technology in the classroom and their own ability to use it effectively are significant barriers to technology integration. Despite the development of advanced educational technology, many teachers remain either technologically illiterate or unconvinced of the benefits of integrating technology. This study will examine how to best support teachers in learning about and implementing technology in the classroom. Using the narrative approach of qualitative research, two seasoned public teachers from each of the different high schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough will be observed. After observation, they will be asked to provide a narrative of their experiences with technology within their school district. From this analysis of these narratives, correlations will be formed, and recommendations for the school district will be formulated.
Key words: digital divide, educational technology, self-efficacy, technology integration,
teacher beliefs, pedagogy, professional development
Changing Negative Teacher Beliefs Regarding Technology Integration
Many teachers are making it through their careers without ever successfully integrating technology into their classroom practices. According to Harrell and Bynum (2018), today’s students are “digital natives” and live their lives plugged into technology in one way or another. They go on to state that, “the traditional model of education with lectures and students sitting in rows is no longer sufficient.” In order to engage with students in this digital era, the classroom teacher must incorporate some form of personalized learning and educational technology. Ertmer and Ottenbreit (2013) suggest that even the goal of technology integration is out-of-date, and instead teachers should instead focus on technology-enabled learning or “engaging students in authentic problem-solving, using the most effective and efficient tools possible.” This lofty goal is only possible if teachers’ beliefs about technology and their ability to use it is altered.
Regarding teacher beliefs and obstacles to integrating technology, the most frequently quoted journalistic author is Peggy Ertmer. Her 1999 work, “Addressing first-and second-order barriers to change: strategies for technology integration,” establishes the terminology used in many other journal articles when it comes to discussing the obstacles hindering the integration of educational technology: first-and second-order barriers to change. First-order barriers to change include external factors such as the availability of computers, training, and time for implementation (Kim, Kim, Lee, Spector, & DeMeester, 2013), and second-order barriers include intrinsic factors, such as self-efficacy teacher beliefs (Ertmer, 1999). This study will investigate the obstacles relevant to seasoned teachers in Alaska’s Interior and the ways by which they believe those obstacles can be overcome.
Obstacles to change also include four important variables which are listed by Ertmer and Ottenbreit (2010) as key in effecting a teacher’s decision whether or not to use technology: “teacher knowledge, self-efficacy, pedagogical beliefs, and subject and school culture.” Research done by Abdullah Alenezi in 2016 found that teachers’ lack of confidence in their capability to create technology rich lessons had a direct bearing on whether or not they integrated technology. It is crucial that teachers receive support, in terms of professional development, in order to gain the confidence and ability to utilize educational technology in the classroom (Shriner, Clark, Nail, Schlee, & Libler, 2010). In their research, Shriner et al. (2010) sought to “determine to what extent seasoned educators’ perceived confidence, competence, and resultant content-specific self-efficacy could be altered as a result of professional development.” Self-efficacy is one of the most discussed obstacles to change in the research investigated to date.
In another attempt to identify how much of an impact training could have, Taimalu and Luik (2018) conducted a study in which 54 teachers received three days of training. The results of their research suggested that, “Improving the knowledge of technology and its integration, and pedagogical knowledge...may increase their self-efficacy beliefs for technology use.” There is also evidence, however, that professional development alone does not hold the key to unlocking self-efficacy. Harrell and Bynum (2018) found that, “Simply providing teachers with professional development opportunities related to using technology does not translate into higher levels of integration in the classroom.” More research is needed to determine the reasons for the perceptions of seasoned teachers regarding the accessibility of Web 2.0 technologies (Mitchell, Wohleb, & Skinner, (2015). Seasoned teachers have been left out of the research in other cases as well; Kim et al. (2013) suggests that age is just one of the many factors that affect teacher beliefs and technology integration.
Methods, Participants, and Procedures
I believe that through observation I can give the population of seasoned educators in our district a voice. The narrative approach of inquiry in qualitative research allows for the collection of stories which lends to the richness of individual experience. Instead of formulating questions that steer the subject, she/he becomes an active participant in the process, sharing what they want and what they find relevant. The University of Bristol’s Kim Etherington (2011) states, “Narrative analysis .... conveys a sense of that person’s experience in its depth, messiness, richness and texture, by using the actual words spoken. It includes some of researchers part in that conversation in order to be transparent about the relational nature of the research.” In allowing teachers to formulate their own narrative, I will be able to get an authentic representation of the pedagogy which guides their teaching and learn about the barriers unique to each teacher.
I intend to involve two teachers from each of the high schools within the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District so as not to pinpoint one administration. I will send out a district-wide email (with permission from the district office), asking for participants and/or recommendations thereof. I will arrange a pre-conference with each teacher during which we will discuss procedures, and then discuss and sign an IRB. I will spend no less than one full class day in each classroom and then arrange a post-observation conference. At this meeting, I will record the teacher as she/he discusses such things as: their history with technology, successes, failures, things that give them confidence, things that give them anxiety, how they feel about technology, its value/or not, et cetera. I will use Atlas.ti to help me code the recordings to find the correlations in each narrative.
Discussion and Results
There is therefore, value in investigating the gaps in the research, that both beliefs and self-efficacy have a directed influence on whether seasoned teachers are integrating technology into their classrooms. According to Francom (2016), research is needed to investigate the specific reasons barriers exist and how teachers feel about those barriers. In addition, the study by Taimalu and Luik (2019) suggests that in the light of the possible limitations of using a survey, another study was needed. Their suggestion is that “observation could be used to obtain information about the integration of technology in teaching.”
Because of experiences I have had in this school district, I suspect that I will find that teachers feel unsupported by administration. They may complain about having tried new learning management systems in the past, only to have them replaced by a new one after a couple of years and they will complain about not having enough time. I also predict that some teachers will claim that technology cannot teach as well as they can. I hope to learn some suggestions for change that they are open to trying. I want to learn what obstacles to technology integration are causing the most difficulty for teachers in the Fairbanks North Star Borough and what it would take to begin to remove them.
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