Using communication technology to support professional development in teaching science
Cheryl White Sundberg, The University of Alabama, United States
The University of Alabama . Awarded
The impact of collaboration via communication technology on follow-up to on-site professional development was the central focus of this hypothesis-generating study. The study used a combination of quantitative methodology and qualitative methodology. A convenient sample of 18 teachers was drawn from 208 teachers in an existing professional development program in science in a southeastern state. The statewide professional development program focused on energy education with a strong emphasis on using technology to enhance learning. Data sources included E-mail messages, lesson plans, photographs, workshop evaluations, surveys, and the report of an external reviewer.
The study focused on two on-site workshops, February and June 2000 that were designed to model constructivist pedagogy and instruct teachers in effective utilization of computer-based laboratories in science classrooms. Follow-up to the on-site workshops was facilitated with several communication technologies (Internet, E-mail, telephone, and mail).
The research found E-mail was the preferred mode for follow-up to on-site workshops because of the convenience of the medium. Barriers to effective distance professional development were time constraints, equipment failure, and lack of consistent Internet access to teachers in rural and under-served areas.
Teacher characteristics of the sample, teacher efficacy, technical skill, experience, and constructivist pedagogy did not appear to impact the use of communication technologies as a means of follow-up to on-site professional development workshops. However, teacher efficacy might have negatively impacted effective implementation of calculator-based laboratory technology in the classroom.
The study found E-mail was the most convenient and efficient way to facilitate follow-up to on-site professional development. Teacher characteristics (efficacy, technical skill, experience, and constructivist pedagogy) did not appear to impact the use of E-mail to facilitate follow-up to on-site professional development. Consistent access to the Internet was problematic for teachers in rural and under-served areas.
Sundberg, C.W. Using communication technology to support professional development in teaching science. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Alabama.
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