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Teachers’ Knowledge for the Digital Age  

Margaret L. Niess

The 21st-century entrance of digital media into education has required serious reconsideration of the knowledge teachers need for guiding students’ learning with the enhanced technological affordances. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK or TPACK) describes the interaction of the overlapping regions of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge that also creates four additional regions (technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge). These knowledge regions are situated within a contextual knowledge domain that contains macro, meso, and micro levels for describing the dynamic equilibrium of the reformed teacher knowledge labeled TPCK/TPACK. Teacher educators, researchers, and scholars have been and continue to be challenged with identifying appropriate experiences and programs that develop, assess, and transform teachers’ knowledge for integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) that are also spurring advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) as learning tools in today’s reformed educational environments. Two questions guide this literature review for engaging the active, international scholarship and research directed toward understanding the nature of TPCK/TPACK and efforts guiding the transformation of the teacher’s knowledge called TPCK/TPACK. The first question considers the nature of a teacher’s knowledge for the digital age and how it differs from prior descriptions. Three distinct views of the nature of TPCK/TPACK are explained: the integrative view; the transformative view; and a distinctive view that directs how the primary domains of pedagogy, content, and technology enhance the teacher’s knowledge. The second question explores the research and scholarship recommending strategies for the redesign of teacher education towards developing, assessing, and transforming teachers’ TPCK/TPACK. These strategies recognize the importance of (1) using teacher educators as role models, (2) reflecting on the role of ICT in education, (3) learning how to use technology by design, (4) scaffolding authentic technology experiences, (5) collaborating with peers, and (6) providing continuous feedback. This research further characterizes teacher educators with strong ICT attributes as the gatekeepers for redesigning teacher education programs so that today’s teachers are better prepared to engage in the strategic thinking of when, where, and how to guide students’ learning given the rapid advancements of digital technologies. These cumulative scholarly efforts provide a launchpad for future research toward transforming teachers’ knowledge for teaching with the technological advancements of the digital age.

Article

Reviews of Teachers’ Beliefs  

Helenrose Fives, Nicole Barnes, Candice Chiavola, Kit SaizdeLaMora, Erika Oliveros, and Sirine Mabrouk-Hattab

Beliefs refer to propositions that are considered to be true. Teachers’ beliefs refer largely to the beliefs teachers hold that are relevant to their teaching practice. Teachers hold beliefs about a myriad of things, as do all humans. However, specific beliefs about teaching, learning, and students seem to play a particular role in teachers’ practices and willingness to engage in professional learning opportunities. Teachers’ beliefs are relevant for issues in teacher education such as motivation for teaching, instructional practices, classroom management, and assessment activities. Beliefs that preservice and practicing teachers bring to professional learning experiences influence how and what is learned in those experiences and ultimately what is put into practice. To understand what is meant by the construct of teachers’ beliefs, one must consider the variation in definitions and the need for construct clarification. Any investigation into teachers’ beliefs must account for two fundamental aspects of this construct: the nature of belief as a construct and the content of belief under construction. By nature of belief, we refer to how the construct of belief is defined and understood, in particular the stance that researchers take with regard to the relationship between knowledge and beliefs. Belief content refers to what the belief is specifically about, such as general beliefs about teaching, learning, students, or more specific beliefs about an instructional practice (e.g., cooperative learning), classroom assessment, and diverse student groups. Without a clear conceptual understanding of the beliefs investigated, understanding empirical findings and drawing implications for practice may be misguided. Four themes frame the scholarship on teachers’ beliefs: (1) conceptualizing teachers’ beliefs, (2) teachers’ beliefs and teachers’ practice, (3) development of teachers’ beliefs, and (4) changing teachers’ beliefs. Teacher educators should consider the importance of teacher beliefs on teacher learning when designing and implementing learning experiences for preservice and in-service teachers. Specifically, teacher educators need to provide opportunities for teachers to reveal their beliefs, attend to identity and emotion with beliefs, and support belief enactment. A key finding across the field is the need to consider the whole teacher when examining teachers’ beliefs and facilitating change or development in them; that is, teachers’ emotions, identity, career stage, life stages, and the myriad of beliefs they hold about a variety of topics all influence how beliefs are aligned and enacted (or not) in practice.

Article

In-Service Teacher Training for Inclusion  

Chris Forlin and Kuen Fung Sin

Following the UNESCO initial statement in 1994 that inclusive schools were the most effective way to counter discriminatory approaches and attitudes toward students with a disability, international legislation and policy has evolved to challenge exclusionary practices and focus attention on equal opportunities for all learners. Inclusion in education is now accepted as a basic right and the foundation for a fairer and equal society. In opposition to earlier dual systems of regular and special education, inclusive education presents a changed paradigm in the way that learners with diverse needs are educated. Specifically, generalist teachers are now required to be able to cater to the needs of the most diverse student populations both academically and socially within regular classrooms. In most regions, there has been a rather slow and lagging change in teacher preparation to support these new developments. It is frequently documented that new graduates and in-service teachers are not well prepared for managing inclusive classrooms and understanding differences among students. Many teachers will say that they require more professional learning opportunities about inclusive education than they currently receive. When teachers are appropriately trained, have positive attitudes toward including students with diverse abilities, and have access to appropriate resources and support, there are many good practices that become evident. Conversely, inadequate teacher education and a lack of suitable resources often inhibit teachers from developing the appropriate beliefs or attitudes necessary for becoming inclusive practitioners. As the demand for better training of teachers about the inclusion of students with diverse abilities increases, the question that arises is what constitutes best-practice professional learning for upskilling teachers about inclusive education? While a variety of existing practices ranging from in-school support to system-wide approaches are employed globally, identifying which to use must be grounded in the context and specific needs of individual teachers and schools. This article provides a review of the range of models of whole-school methods, including focusing on teacher competencies, developing school and university links, engaging in collaborative scholarship, and establishing professional learning communities. System support is also examined, as this is critical to effective training. The Hong Kong model is cited as a good example of a collaborative government system/university partnership toward upskilling teachers about inclusive education. This model provides a realistic approach to addressing this issue when a longitudinal plan has been implemented to upskill regular class teachers in inclusive education, using initially an off-site training program followed by a school-based whole-school approach that may be of interest to many other systems. Consideration is also given to the training needs of education assistants who work in inclusive classrooms and their roles in supporting students. The importance of lifelong professional learning should underpin decisions regarding what model or approach to adopt, as student and teacher needs will undoubtedly change over time.