Doctor of Education
Faculty of Education
Patterson, Glen, Teaching and learning, professional development and computer technology: an action research case study of five classroom environments, Doctor of Education thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, 2001. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/979
This study documents the evolving form of the collaboratively designed professional development programs and the changes that took place in five classrooms when computers and related technologies were available and integrated into the teaching and learning environment. It also investigates the impact that this had on the teacher's view of how students "learn best" and what implication this has for future learning.
Furthermore, the study investigates changes in student learning outcomes and tracked changes in classroom climate and student/student and student/teacher interactions within the classroom. It was anticipated that this data would assist as a further indicator of changes in teaching practice and how these changes impact on classroom practices.
This study encouraged teachers to look at how students learn best and what their role was as an educator in this process. The introduction of computer technology into the learning environment provided rich data across each of the classrooms involved in the study. Some of the issues that affected this process included such things as:
* Years of teaching experience (reflected in developed teaching strategies in classroom and an understanding of student learning);
* An individual's pedagogy and a commitment to evaluation and continued improvement of teaching practice; Issues within the learning environment (including school culture and class climate);
* A classroom and school climate that promoted and supported learning for staff and students;
* A teacher's involvement in a negotiated development program that met specific identified needs;
* Engagement in a training and development program that was situated in the participants' own classrooms (with components of computer skill sessions and sessions that directly related to teaching practice);
* The teacher's initial level of personal computing skills.
Yocam & Wilmore (1995), found professional development approaches that had the most impact did the following:
* involved small-group collaborations between teachers;
* took place in working classrooms;
* built on teachers' existing knowledge about curriculum and practice;
* provided opportunities to experiment and reflect on new experiences;
* provided ongoing support to help implement change and innovation.
Literature reviewed and data collected from this study enhanced Yocam and Wilmore's findings. Programs also need, to: * be twofold, with discrete in-class and individual training sessions for teachers;
* be collaboratively designed;
* be part of a whole school program that focuses on constant improvement and evaluation;
* take place in a school that has a climate and culture conducive and supportive of change and innovation;
* be longitudinal with a minimum of one school year;
6. place participants in close proximity to each other to maximise the possibility of the exchange of ideas and the development of support structures.
If the integration of computers into classrooms is to be successful, current practices in professional development in some schools must change. This change must be supported from the highest level with schools being equipped to carry out meaningful change monitored over substantial time periods.
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