A Case Study of a TPACK-Based Approach to Teacher Professional Development:Teaching Science With Blogs

Many of the characteristics of effective professional development (PD), like collective participation of teachers, onsite facilitation, sustained period of your time , and attention on problems of practice, are identified within the literature (Borko, Jacobs, & Koellner, 2010; Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009; DeMonte, 2013; Hargreaves, 2003; Hung & Yeh, 2013; Ingvarson, Meiers, & Beavis, 2005; Jaipal & Figg, 2011; Riveros, Newton, & Burgess, 2012). At an equivalent time, concerns are raised about teacher professional development, especially the necessity to deepen teachers’ knowledge of the themes being taught, while maintaining with developments in digital learning environments made possible through ubiquitous access to digital tools (DeMonte, 2013; Johnson et al., 2013).

These concerns point to the necessity to reexamine the character of the PD approach as associated with digital environments and therefore the sorts of learning activities included in such PD. Limited by logistical and financial demands, school boards commonly choose a workshop approach to conduct technology professional development so as to satisfy the stress of adjusting digital learning environments. However, these technology workshops are of short duration and specialise in the demonstration of technical skills—promoting tool use instead of technology-enhanced teaching (Carlson & Gadio, 2002; Trucano, 2005).

Such an approach to technology professional development most frequently results in technology skills being learned out of the classroom context, with teachers finding it difficult to attach the technical skills learned to discipline content and classroom practice and resulting in questions on the worth of the technology-enhanced instruction (Harris & Hofer, 2009; McKenzie, 2001). Research has shown that a high degree of technical competence in teachers doesn’t necessarily translate into teaching with technology (Jaipal & Figg, 2010; Mishra, Koehler, & Kereluik, 2009). Hence, for a workshop approach to effectively promote technology professional development—in how that changes teaching practice—the sort of learning activities presented within the workshop is vital .

Professional development, where teachers are taught the way to teach with an appropriate tool to satisfy content learning goals (referred to as technology-enhanced activities and instruction), is simpler than teaching teachers technical skills (Harris, 2005; Hughes, 2005; Jaipal & Figg, 2010; Keating & Evans, 2001; Kereluik, Mishra, & Koehler, 2010; Lundeberg, Bergland, Klyczek, & Hoffman, 2003; Margerum-Leys & Marx, 2002; Niess, 2005; Zhao, 2003). In other words, technology workshops should develop teachers’ knowledge about teaching with the technologies to market student learning of content in instructional contexts (Glazer, Hannafin, Polly, & Rich, 2009; Harris, Mishra, & Koehler, 2009; Larson et al., 2009).

For example, situating the training of technical skills in an authentic learning activity, like learning the way to use a graphing calculator for instance the linear relationship between force and mass of an object in science, provides a concrete example of the way to use the tool in teaching. this sort of learning the way to teach with technology is taken into account a content-centric approach, and therefore the teacher knowledge developed through this approach is mentioned as technological pedagogical content knowledge (or, more recently, technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge [TPACK]; Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

In a comparative case study examining the character of teacher knowledge influencing technology integration in instruction among four English arts teachers of varying years of teaching experience, Hughes (2005) found that “content-focused learning experiences yielded content-based technology integration within the classroom” (p. 295). Hughes’s findings also revealed that experienced teachers with less technology experience drew on their professional knowledge to develop innovative, technology integrated activities because “veteran teachers’ expertise offers a topic matter or pedagogical-based focus to technology explorations that beginning teachers might not be ready to do independently” (p. 299).

In essence, the particular use of technology in instruction was found to be influenced by teachers’ perceptions of the usefulness of the technology for content and pedagogy purposes (Hughes, 2005). Teacher perceptions of the usefulness of technology may be a factor proposed by the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM; Davis, 1989). The TAM model explains how users accept and use technology in terms of three factors: perceived usefulness of technology, perceived simple use of technology, and attitude toward using the technology.

Davis (1989) explained that, when technology is perceived as useful (enhancing job performance) and as easy to use (requiring the smallest amount amount of effort), these perceptions end in positive attitudes and intentions to simply accept and use technology. Perception of usefulness was found to be the main factor influencing adoption (Davis, 1993). However, Teo (2008) demonstrated in his survey of 139 preservice teachers that their attitudes and intentions to use computers were more positive than their perceptions of control of the pc and its usefulness.

Teo’s finding appears to contradict Davis’ notion of perceptions of usefulness and simple use resulting in positive attitudes and intentions. A possible explanation for Teo’s finding is that, in education, unlike in other fields like business, teachers in many educational jurisdictions have autonomy within the design of instructional activities to satisfy curriculum goals resulting in more flexible job performance. Hence, while preservice teacher experiences in their teacher education program contribute to positive attitudes and intentions toward technology use, prior learning experiences and practicum experiences may affect their perceptions of control of technology (e.g., lack of access and technical support) and usefulness of the technology for content and pedagogical purposes (e.g., lack of technology modelling as a pedagogical strategy in content area teaching by associate teachers; Grove, Strudler, & Odell, 2004; Lei, 2009). How can perceptions of the usefulness and simple use of technology be increased so on instill positive attitudes and intentions toward technology that are translated into instructional practice? supported her study findings, Hughes (2005) recommended the utilization of a PD approach that engages alittle group of teachers within the same discipline in content-based technology inquiry as an efficient way for teachers to find out the way to teach with technology.

Such an approach to PD builds teacher knowledge about the way to integrate technology in content areas (TPACK), demonstrating the usefulness of the technology as a pedagogical strategy to satisfy authentic curriculum learning goals. As well, delivering the PD during a short period of your time , preferably onsite, demonstrates the convenience of use of the technology within the precise context needs and constraints of teachers and faculty boards (e.g., covering of curriculum expectations, meeting special needs of learners, meeting board of education strategic directives, negotiating constraints of rotary teaching, and limited access to digital resources).

Extending the work of Mishra & Koehler (2006), we developed the TPACK-based Professional Learning Design Model (TPLDM) for technology workshops—a sequence of 4 learning activities to facilitate a content-centric approach to learning the way to plan and implement technology-enhanced instruction (Figg & Jaipal, 2012; Jaipal-Jamani & Figg, 2013). the aim of this paper is to present a case study of a PD initiative for instance how the TPLDM approach was adapted for professional development at a faculty site so as to support teachers as they plan and implement technology-enhanced activities/instruction in science.

The term technology-enhanced activity and instruction refers to the planning of instruction that integrates an appropriate technology, as perceived by teachers, to satisfy curriculum goals. Teachers make decisions to pick a technology supported their understanding of the affordances of the technology in terms of its usefulness for meeting the content or pedagogy learning goals (Hughes, 2005). Knowledge of the affordances of the technology as perceived by the teacher could also be gained from experiences like past teaching practice or PD workshops.

Technology-enhanced activity and instruction doesn’t imply that instruction with technology is simpler than instruction without technology. for instance , an instructional strategy like an inquiry, hands-on investigation could also be simpler for student learning of the science process skills of observation and measuring than a technology-enhanced instructional strategy. Our study built upon the recommendations of Hughes (2005) and provided specific insights on how alittle group of teachers teaching an equivalent subject from one school site learned the way to use blogs to deal with content curriculum learning goals, during this case associated with the Grade 8 science topic of fluids.

The study was guided by the subsequent research questions:

What are teachers’ perceptions of the efficacy of the TPLDM to develop knowledge about technology-enhanced science instruction?
How did teachers use the TPACK gained to plan and implement a blog activity to Grade 8 students to satisfy science learning goals?
How did implementing the blog activity in an authentic context support development of TPACK?
This case study, therefore, reports on (a) the method of building and supporting a topic matter, technology professional learning initiative of three science teachers over a brief duration, (b) teacher perceptions of their PD experiences and therefore the TPACK gained about the way to teach a science topic with blogs, and (c) the impact of the PD on participants’ teaching practices during the study.

Whether the technology-enhanced activity results in effective technology-enhanced teaching depends on the way the teacher implements the technology-enhanced activity for increased student learning. This paper doesn’t make claims about technology-enhanced teaching in reference to student learning and may be a limitation explained within the limitations section. Nevertheless, while generalizations can’t be made up of one case of teacher professional development, our study findings increase the literature by highlighting the complexities involved in developing teacher knowledge about teaching with technology through the inclusion of a selected TPACK-based workshop approach, the TPLDM Workshop approach. As well, insights gained from our study are often wont to adapt the TPLDM Workshop approach for designing professional learning initiatives in similar settings.

A review of the literature follows, which highlights current trends in three areas that inform the planning and results of the study: developing teacher knowledge for science instruction, developing teacher knowledge for integrating technology in science instruction, and blogs in science instruction.

Developing Teacher Knowledge for Science Instruction

The dominant lens through which the event of teacher knowledge is framed within the literature is that the construct of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK; McCrory, 2008). Lee Shulman (1986) described PCK as “ways of representing and formulating the topic that make it comprehensible to others” (p. 9), and it includes knowing what conceptions and preconceptions diverse learners have about the subject which will make learning it easy or difficult. PCK enables teachers to form decisions about how they’re going to represent and present content so students will understand.

Science education researchers have explored how PCK develops in science teachers (Appleton, 2008; Lee, Brown, Luft, & Roehrig, 2007) and have identified PCK associated with particular science topics (Loughran, Mulhall, & Berry, 2004). As well, given the numerous interpretations of PCK within the literature, researchers acknowledge that PCK may be a complex construct. Nevertheless, Guzey and Roehrig (2009) described two characteristics of PCK that Lee et al. (2007) found were common to all or any interpretations:

(a) teachers’ knowledge of student learning to translate and transform content to facilitate students’ understanding and (b) teachers’ knowledge of particular teaching strategies and representations (e.g., examples, explanations, analogies, and illustrations). (p. 28)

In essence, these two common characteristics of PCK are according to and reinforce Shulman’s (1986) original definition of PCK. Research shows that PCK is developed from the sensible experience of teaching and grows over time (Lee et al., 2007). Teachers don’t enter the sector with a developed sense of PCK; teachers study what issues, representations, analogies, then forth, make a subject easy or difficult from their direct experiences teaching learners of diverse abilities and backgrounds. Therefore, Lee et al. (2007) suggested that professional development of PCK in science is simpler when situated onsite, within the teaching context.

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