Investigating the Practices in Teacher Education that Promote and Inhibit Technology Integration in Early Career Teachers
In an attempt to promote the transfer of technology integration knowledge and skills in preservice teachers, studies have attempted to identify effective instructional technology integration practices on the part of the teacher education program, as well as exemplary programs themselves (Hofer, 2005; Mergendoller et al., 1994; Strudler & Wetzler, 1999). A significant number of studies focus on examining various components of technology integration plans within teacher education programs, but few have extended this examination to determine if transfer is evidenced in the practices of graduates. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to identify instructional technology integration strategies and practices in preservice teacher education that contribute to the transfer of technology integration knowledge and skills to the instructional practices of early career teachers.
This study employed a two-phase, sequential explanatory strategy, where quantitative data were collected via an online survey during the first phase and then interview data were collected during the second phase. The targeted sample population for this research study consisted of male and female early career teachers who had completed a graduate level teacher education program through the School of Education (SOE) at a large, research university located in the Southeast. Overall, these early career teachers assessed themselves as being proficient users of instructional technologies and feeling comfortable with their level of technology integration in the classroom. Out of nine qualities demonstrated in literature to promote learning transfer of technology integration knowledge and skills, the early career teachers reported the top three factors found in the study institution to be: the modeling of effective uses of technology integration by faculty in content-specific areas; opportunities to reflect upon technology integration practices in the classroom; and opportunities to practice and experiment with instructional technologies.
The early career teachers reported the three top barriers inhibiting technology integration in their classrooms as being: too much content to cover; lack of time to design and implement technology-enhanced lessons; and a lack of software resources. Although a majority of the early career teachers reported that the teacher education program overall prepared them to integrate technology into the classroom, they also reported that opportunities to practice technology integration and having access to expert guidance during their field experiences were lacking. Several suggestions were made by study respondents and these included: providing more opportunities to experiment and play with instructional technologies like SmartBoards; faculty support with regards to implementing and practicing with technology integration in field experiences; and technology courses that focus on up-to-date instructional technology tools within each of the content areas.
Findings from this study might be useful to teacher educators and researchers because it provides naturalistic recommendations (Stake, 1995) on how to improve their programs that are corroborated by the literature, and it offers an adapted survey that can be utilized to investigate technology integration transfer from the teacher education period to the early classroom practice period of new teachers.