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IMPACT OF TEACHER’S EFFICACY ON THE USE OF CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY

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IMPACT OF TEACHER’S EFFICACY ON THE USE OF CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY

  

ABSTRACT

This study sought to evaluate the self-efficacy of teachers with regard to the integration of technology within the curriculum.  The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between teachers’ self-efficacy within the classroom and their ability to integrate the technology available in the classroom.  A quantitative, correlational study was performed. The sample was a convenience sample of 64 instructors at the primary school level of a Enugu south school district. Primary school teachers were surveyed at one point in time, using Media and Technology Usage Attitude Scale (MTUAS) and the Teachers’ Sense of Self- Efficacy Scale.  Once the data was attained, the data was analyzed using Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. The study determined that there is not a statistically significant relationship between teacher self-efficacy and the ability to integrate technology within the classroom.  There was also no significant relationship between teacher self-efficacy and smartphone usage, internet usage, social media usage, text messaging, and email. It was suggested that a study be conducted with a larger sample.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE:  INTRODUCTION

Overview

The classroom has changed in many ways over the past twenty years.  Technology has become commonplace within the 21st century classroom.  These technologies were provided for teachers in an attempt to reach the many different students that could be in the classroom.  Unfortunately, many teachers have expressed concern that they do not know how to integrate the technology within the classroom.

Background

A survey by the National Center for Educational Statistics found fewer than half of the

3,000 K-12 teachers that were surveyed reported using technology during instruction (Snyder & Dillow, 2012).  If this study is indicative of the general population of educators within the United

States, then the use of instructional technology in the classroom is in a precarious situation. Instructional technology includes educational tools that are used to improve the delivery of curriculum standards within the classroom.  These technologies include, but are not limited to, computers, cell phones, interactive white boards, and document cameras.  These instructional technologies are available in most classrooms, and some are used on a daily basis by students.  It should be noted that because of the availability of these technologies, these technologies provide the most familiar format for many students.  However, if the findings above are correct, many teachers are not using the best available format to reach students. It suggests that teacher use of technology in education is actually regressing.  Today the American public has integrated technology into daily life to a degree that has never been attained in history: “Electronic communications and digital networks are transforming the way we work and are reshaping personal communication and entertainment” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999, p. 88).

Despite the growing reliance on technology in public life, teachers in the K-12 arena are failing to integrate technology in a manner that benefits both students and teachers to its fullest potential.

When teachers are using technology, often their use of this tool is not in a manner that was originally intended. For example, interactive whiteboards offer educators many tools to involve the students.  However, most teachers use interactive whiteboards as they once used their chalk boards.  Many teachers admit that they are not familiar with the best practices with regard to integrating technology in their classrooms. According to a study conducted by Butler and Sellborn (2002), knowing how to use a technology is the second most important factor in determining faculty adoption.  This is an important factor with regard to technology integration, however it is not the only factor.  Two other factors were also rated as important in terms of adoption: difficulty in using the technology and difficulty in learning to use technology. School systems seek an answer to this issue through the many professional development opportunities afforded educators.  Despite the budget that has been devoted to both technology and training, teachers are still concerned about their ability to understand how to use the technology that is being made available to them.  Shoepp (2005) introduced a study that sought to define the barriers to technology integration.  In this study, he observed, “Faculty or teachers in all of the studies did not feel as they were being provided with enough support to become effective technology integrators” (Shoepp, 2005, p. 16).  In fact, another study found that, “… even faculty with high levels of proficiency generally identified the same barriers as faculty with low levels of proficiency” (Butler & Selbourn, 2002, p. 23).  The issue remains: how can teachers better equip themselves to be more confident with the integration of technology in the classroom?

Technology affords teachers and students different types of learning opportunities.  Nontraditional students have seized the opportunity to return to school.  In fact, a study conducted by Allen and Seaman (2010) verified that one of greatest gains in higher education trends over the last decade has been a strong growth in distance education through online course work.  Outside of the education field, many have turned to the availability of information on the internet to learn new skills or crafts.  YouTube has become a great source for the do-it yourselfers, providing short informative how-to videos for a plethora of different situations once reserved for highly trained individuals.  Pinterest is yet another social media that has experienced a pronounced growth in the previous two years.  In 2011, this social media experienced a 4000% growth (Gilbert, Bakhshi, Chang, & Terveen, 2013).  These social media provide individuals with the opportunity to learn specific skills using a brief list of directions or a video.  The previous study suggests that perhaps this individualized, constructivist approach may better equip teachers for use of the technology within their classrooms.

While technology enhances the learning environment, the technological advancements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have created an environment in which technology has become increasingly intertwined with curriculum and pedagogy.  Today’s teachers are in the midst of a pedagogical revolution: “Teachers need to be explicitly [taught] how the unique affordances of technology can be used to enrich subject domains for specific learners and … about interactions among pedagogy, content, and technology to develop their technological pedagogical content knowledge” (Clark, 2013, p. 43). Professional development is made available to teachers in an attempt to address these new concerns.  Again, some communities have been very successful with regard to professional development, while others have struggled.  It is essential that each community succeed in preparing teachers, as educational reform is continually placing higher demands on the teachers  In a prior study, it was determined that many of the new expectations in education have had a large impact on both teacher and student expectations,  “The central elements of systemic reform – high standards, curriculum frameworks, and new approaches to assessment aligned to those standards-generate new expectations for teachers’ classroom behaviors, as well as for student performance” (Garet, Porter, Desimore, Birman, & Yoon, 2001, p. 916).  Despite the perceived successes or failures, technology integration is only as successful as the day-to-day use of technology.  Many teachers leave professional learning for technology within the classroom feeling empowered to use the technology that they have been trained on, only to become frustrated when confronted with the daunting task of creating interactive, relevant lessons using the technology. It is essential that training be provided for educators that allows them to reach students.  In 2012, Cooke concluded, “Education for the contemporary professional no longer ends with diploma, if it ever did. It has been recognized that continuing education strengthens not only knowledge and skills necessary for competent performance but also values and attitudes necessary for the service orientation of a profession” (Cooke, 2012, p.2).  Successful professional development should equip the teachers for future success as well as provide tools that will allow them to address future obstacles. It is the belief of the author that a constructivist approach to professional development would best equip learners with the necessary tools to address these future obstacles. This approach would allow the user to construct their own understanding.  A person can attain his/her own understanding of the technologies that he/she uses through actually using the technology he/she will gain knowledge and familiarity at the same time.

Constructivism is an approach to learning that is based on the belief that learning is an active process of meaning making gained through a person’s interaction with the world. Previous studies have found that Constructivism is very conducive with technology integration.  “There is a close relationship between technology and constructivism, the implementation of each one benefiting the other” (Gilakjani, Leong, & Ismail, 2013, p. 49). Those who espouse

Constructivism believe that learning occurs best when people experience and address conflict.

They also believe that an essential component of learning comes from reflection and feedback.  A constructivist approach to technology integration requires that the learner be allowed to practice and fail or succeed based on their own experiences. Other approaches do not offer this opportunity to learners.  “Constructivist teaching is often contrasted with ‘the lecture approach’ (less charitably referred to as “knowledge dumping”), which involves students “passively receiving content presented in lectures and textbooks” (Wilson, 2012, p. 46).  Most professional learning opportunities involve one expert and passive learners.  A true constructivist approach to professional development would allow the learner to experiment and learn as he or she goes.  However, while this approach makes sense, few professional learning opportunities offer anything similar, as evidenced in the study by Nanjappa and Grant (2003) in which they determined that, many teachers do not use constructivist practices, and those who do are not judicious in their selection of technology use” (p. 53). One of the barriers may have to deal with the amount of time that it takes to incorporate constructivism. However, despite the amount of time that Constructivism requires, many studies have concluded that education should be remodeled to allow the time for students to invest in their education.  “There is a greater sense that, with learner access to the burgeoning resources on the web, and with their increasing digital skills, we should remodel education so that learners can take control of their own learning”

(Beetham & Sharpe, 2013, p. xvi).  The abundance of sources available to the learner today via the internet and applications fosters an environment that encourages exploration.  This exploration is the foundation of the Constructivist theory.

While there have been various approaches studied with regards to assisting teachers with better understanding technology and its effects, most training is provided in the teacher-training courses at college and teacher education institutions.  These trainings usually fail to offer guidance in which there is faculty who are modeling various instructional methods that allows for the integration of the technology (Chuang, Thompson, & Schmidt, 2003; Smith, 2000).  Prior studies have shown that one-shot workshops usually fail to provide the modeling and guidance that is needed to effectively integrate technology within the curriculum (Barron, Kemker, Harmes, & Kalaydjian, 2002; Bradshaw, 2002; Mouza, 2002). Teachers need more than an introduction and a few great ideas. Technologies offered today are too complex to incorporate without some advanced training. Other studies have sought to research the effectiveness of pairing teachers with others who have technology backgrounds.  These studies provide expert training in the form of a mentor or trainer (Margerum-Leys & Marx, 2002).  In some of these studies, graduate students were used to mentor faculty members for a period of one hour a week on the use of technology.  Another study used graduate students as mentors while also providing faculty with group training (Leh, 2005).  Still other mentoring programs have used undergraduate students as technology mentors.  At North Texas, undergraduate students were paired with faculty so that they might mentor them in technology, while learning classroom management and curriculum (Henson, 2001). While these studies did show signs of promise, programs like these are not conducive within the school system.  Teachers need a means of training that provides more flexible and convenient opportunities to share ideas and express concerns regarding technology integration.  Despite the type of training offered, many teachers still have difficulty assimilating their new-found tools in to their curriculum.

Studies involving staff training for technology have also been performed in the K-12 environment.  The University of Maryland performed a study in which teachers experienced in technology mentored other teachers in their school (Davis & Roblyer, 2005). This program did allow more flexibility, but seeking proficient teachers in education could provide some barriers. The university/K-6 partnership pairs technology graduate students with elementary teachers, which would assist with the understanding of what the technology does, but there are issues regarding convenience and communication that would have to be resolved such as: availability of both the teachers and the technology students and how they can communicate when issues occur during the day.  In Washington, Generation www.Y  seeks to train 8th through 12th grade students to mentor teachers in technology use (Chaung, Thompson, & Schmidt, 2003). This use of student mentors assists teachers with regards to better understanding technology, but it could provide for some issues regarding teacher student relationships, as well as communication issues. Each of these studies, as well as a handful of others, has sought to better equip teachers with the skills necessary to successfully implement technology in the classroom.

There is still one other model which must be considered with regards to training faculty in implementation of technology and collaborative training: the peer mentoring model.  Glazer,

Hannifan, and Song (2005) suggest,

Teachers often learn technology skills and integration strategies in intensive seminars, ineffective means for professional learning because experiences are seldom transferred to instructional practices. Thus, effective technology integration requires teachers to obtain learning experiences within the context of their teaching so they can practice, reflect, and modify their practices. (p.57)

Even earlier than Glazer’s study, Windschitl and Sahl (2002) determined that while classroom technology use is affected by teachers’ beliefs on learning, much of the learning takes place in the context of social interactions with their peers.  Teachers relate to one another.  They speak the same language.  They understand one another’s concerns and fears with regards to student issues and technology integration.  Teachers would be most suited to communicate the best means of implementing technology.  Teachers who teach the same subject better understand the rigors and requirements that peers are required to attain in the classroom.  They have a better ability to communicate the relevance or lack thereof with regards to different types of learning activities or technologies.

Another possible means of better equipping teachers to handle the rigors of implementing technology in their classroom has been introduced with the proliferation of social media during the past five years.  Web-sites such as You-Tube, Pinterest, and Teacher Tube offer teachers ideas and training for implementing new planning and curricular ideas into their classrooms.  These media provide short and concise directions regarding how to better prepare lessons, as well as implement those same lessons.  The simplicity associated with many of these sites has offered a new possibility associated with training and curricular planning for teachers.

Problem Statement

Schools are faced with federally mandated levels of proficiency that students must attain.  Failure to meet these standards could result in minimized funding, as well as the loss of accreditation.  In an attempt to attain these heightened standards, educators are constantly seeking new approaches to reach students that are historically low-achieving.  For the majority of teachers, this answer comes in the form of new technology.  Using technology makes sense, because today’s students are digital natives (Margaran, Littlejohn, &Vojt, 2011), and the majority of these students are well adept at using technology.  However, technology is only as effective as the implementation of said technology.  A teacher’s effective use of technology that has been made available to him or her in the classroom has a substantial impact on the effectiveness of the curriculum.  Despite their growing dependence on technology, many teachers still report that they lack the necessary confidence to integrate the available technology into their curriculum (Bingimlas, 2009). Schools have responded by providing teachers with additional professional development. However, “any professional development program needs to be multi-faceted in order to meet the needs of the very diverse population,” (Shoepp, 2005, p. 19).  Previous studies have determined that most teachers felt that the professional development they receive is fragmented and not directly related to the issues that they are facing in the classroom (Liberman & Mace, 2010).  In a study conducted in 2006, Zhao and Bryant concluded that while technology integration training can be effective, it is only effective at the most basic levels, and it must be supplemented if higher technology integration is to occur.  Therefore, it is imperative for schools to determine an approach that offers teachers more relevant and useful training, so that they might improve their self-efficacy with regard to the technology within their classrooms.

As a general construct, self-efficacy is a perception about one’s abilities within a given domain. “With regard to technology in teaching and learning, multiple domains of self-efficacy beliefs may play a role in a teacher’s thoughts and actions regarding technology in the classroom” (Abbitt, 2011, p. 134). Despite studies regarding technology and teacher selfefficacy, few studies address any relationship between the two variables.  In order to better prepare teachers to successfully integrate technology within the classroom, there needs to be a better understanding of the relationship between self-efficacy and integration of technology in the classroom.  The problem is that teachers are struggling to integrate the technology they have available to them within the classroom.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to determine if there is a relationship between teachers’ self-efficacy within the classroom and their ability to integrate the technology for the purpose of enhancing the curriculum. Two surveys were used in this study.  One survey assessed the teachers’ levels of self-efficacy within the classroom and the other survey addressed teachers’ aptitude for using technology within the classroom. Participants in the study included primary schools teachers in a Enugu south school district. For the purposes of this study, a convenience sample was used that comprised 64 middle-school teachers.

The predictor variables were generally defined as teacher self-efficacy and knowledge and consistency of the subject taught.  The criterion variable were generally defined as teacher self-efficacy with regard to technology, as evidenced by a survey relating to self-efficacy with regards to the technology available within the classroom.  Self-efficacy is the beliefs in one’s own capabilities of succeeding in specific situations (Ashton & Webb, 1986).

Significance of the Study

There have been many studies that have suggested the need for better staff development and training with technology. “If teachers do not have sufficient equipment, time, training, or support, meaningful integration will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve” (Schoepp, 2005, p. 3).  This discovery was further supported by a later study that concluded that there is a link between faculty proficiency, regard for technology, and increasing the likelihood of participating in distance education.  This link emphasizes the need for providing faculty with opportunities for training and development (Tabata & Johnson, 2008).  Based on the preceding studies, it can be ascertained that success is dependent on all of these elements being met.  A training program that provides insufficient access to equipment will be no more successful than a training program that has all of the essential equipment but lacks support.  It is imperative that teachers have both access to the equipment, as well as available support for implementing the equipment if technology is to be integrated effectively within the classroom.

Despite the consensus that training is needed, there is little evidence of what is effective. There have been studies that suggest specific approaches, and many studies have suggested further research regarding specific strategies; however, little research has sought to actually quantify what approaches actually influence teacher efficacy.  Unless researchers can identify what works, school systems will continue to waste funds in an attempt to fix the problem. “Funding that is inappropriately allocated (e.g., that is used only for hardware purchases and not for personnel or training) is wasted. Such waste contributes to negative attitudes toward technology, which ultimately is represented as the first major barrier to technology adoption” (Rogers, 2000, p. 470). These negative attitudes towards the use of technology within the classroom make it very difficult for well-intentioned teachers to proactively create lessons that engage the student with relevant technology activities. “In addition to the lack of technology knowledge and skills, some teachers are unfamiliar with the pedagogy of using technology,” (Hew & Brush, 2007, p. 227).  However, in today’s society the internet is determined by students as being, “the first realistic means for students to connect with civilization-wide knowledge building and to make their classroom work a part of it” (Scardamaila & Bereiter, 2006, p. 98).  This is evidenced in the students’ reliance on the internet for research assignments, as opposed to traditional means of using media and media center resources.

The goal of this study was to provide evidence for educators as to what the formula may be for success with implementation of technology within the classroom.  Teachers are well intentioned, and it is very frustrating to not provide students with what they need.  Students’ lives would also benefit greatly from this study, as they might have an opportunity to implement those technologies that they have used for the majority of their lives.

Research Questions

The research questions for this study were as follows:

RQ1: What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to integrate instructional technology available within the classroom?

RQ2: What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use smartphones?

RQ3:  What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use the internet?

RQ4: What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use text messaging?

RQ5:  What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use general social media?

RQ6:  What is the relationship between teacher self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use email?  

Null Hypotheses

The null hypotheses for this study were:

H01: There is no relationship between teachers’ sense of self-efficacy and technology integration within the classroom.

H02: There is no relationship between a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy and the teacher’s ability to use smartphones. 

H03 There is no relationship between a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy and the teacher’s ability to use the internet.

H04: There is no relationship between a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy and the teacher’s ability to use text messaging.

H05: There is no relationship between a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use social media.

H06: There is no relationship between a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy and a teacher’s ability to use email.

Definitions

  1. Collaborative training – a system of training in which a group of people learn together as a group (Dias, 1999).
  2. Constructivism – an approach to learning that is based on the assumption that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences (Schulte, 1996).
  3. Document cameras – real time image capture devices (Doermann, Liang, &Li, 2003).
  4. Laptop – a computer that is portable (Bayless, 2013).
  5. Mobile devices – small, handheld computing device (Windshitl & Sahl, 2002).
  6. Self-efficacy – beliefs in one’s own capabilities of succeeding in specific situations (Ashton & Webb, 1986).
  7. Student Response Systems – technological way to assess students (Kaleta & Joosten,

2007).

  1. Social media – virtual communities in which people exchange ideas, such as Pinterest and You Tube (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012).
  2. Tablets – general purpose computer contained in a single panel. Uses touch screen as input device (Johnson et al., 2012).
  3. Teacher self-efficacy – the teacher’s belief in his or her capability to organize and execute courses of action required to successfully accomplish a specific teaching task in a particular context” (Tschannen-Moran, Woolfork, Hoy, & Hoy, 1998).

Technology – computers, handheld devices, and multimedia equipment such as cameras, video projectors, graphic calculators, and voice recorders (Plair, 2008).

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