Subject Selection

Guzey, S. S., & Roehrig, G. H. (2009). Teaching science with technology: case studies of science teachers’ development of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9, 25–45. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9140-4

This week I looked at an article called Teaching Science with Technology: Case Studies of Science Teachers’ Development of Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge. (Guzey & Roehrig, 2009)The study is looking at how a professional development program called Technology Enhanced Communities or TEC, enhanced science teachers’ TPACK.

TPACK is a theoretical framework which is derived from Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. TPACK is made up of three forms of knowledge: content, pedagogy and technology. The argument is that a teacher must have integration of all three knowledge areas in order to be effective. TEC is described in the article as “a yearlong, intensive program, which included a 2-week-long summer introductory course about inquiry teaching and technology tools.” In addition, there were group meetings throughout the year, which was associated with an online teacher action research course. During the two week course in the summer, the participating teachers learned about inquiry-based activities while learning several instructional technologies.

Guzey and Roehrig did qualitative research and collected data through observation, interviews and surveys. In this study, they chose four teachers, new to the field; all of whom had less than three years of experience.

The organization of the article is very easy follow and read. However, the order of the sections didn’t make sense to me. Guzey and Roehrig put the profiles of the teachers in between the results and the discussion. This caused it to feel disjointed, as it didn’t flow properly. The author clearly explains the theories and gives examples of the research they came from. However, the research is supposed to be looking at the impact of TEC, but I felt that there was a lot of focus on inquiry, which is a component of TEC; none the less, too much focus on it. Additionally, the author went into great length of what TPACK is, but, it wasn’t necessary to understand the theory at the depth provided in order to comprehend the research.

Guzey and Roehrig chose beginning teachers because they felt this would provide more commonalities: they had graduated from the same program, they were all going to be teaching their specialty …etc. However, I totally disagree with this approach to selection. Had veteran teachers been selected, there would have been more focus on the authors’ guiding question rather than on common rookie issues (e.g. classroom management, flexibility, lesson planning). Much of the article discusses these issues, which, while they play a role in being an effective teacher, doesn’t necessarily impact whether or not the TEC program is working. By selecting veteran teachers, much of this would have been avoided.

The analysis gives a pretty clear picture of their work and if the resources were available could be reproduced. In the results section, Guzey and Roehrig stated, “Teachers were each found to integrate technology into their teaching to various degrees.” However, their guiding question was how does TEC enhance TPACK? How can the depth of integration of technology be their result? In the decision section of the article they state that TEC was found to have a “varying impact on teacher development of TPACK.” That should have been in their results. Unfortunately, since new teachers are learning so much more at one time than veteran teachers, I don’t know how reliable these results are. It is doubtful that this research had a big impact within the field, as the findings were not significant.

The impact that this research had on my area of inquiry is a different story. I have been solely focused on how integrating technology will have an impact on student achievement and it never occurred to me to consider the teachers’ experience or effectiveness. If a teacher has poor classroom management, adding technology to the mix is not going to increase student achievement. In fact, it is likely to do the opposite. Managing technology in a classroom adds a degree of chaos. Most veteran teachers are adept at establishing new procedures and have enough forethought to know what those procedures should be. One has to be able to understand what problems may arise with students in order to establish procedures that would circumvent said problems. It is unlikely that most beginning teachers have this depth of knowledge. Additionally, veteran teachers have the ability to adjust at a moment’s notice when technology fails, which it does and will. This again, goes back to experience. It would be like giving a two-handed piano piece to a beginning piano student, who is only ready to play with one hand. Reading two lines of music at the same time, maintaining a steady tempo, including dynamics and phrasing is more than one can expect from a beginning musician, but after a few weeks or months of one-handed pieces, that student will be ready to add a level of difficulty. This is not to say that beginning teachers shouldn’t be using technology, the opposite is true; but, to utilize beginning teachers as research participants in how effective technology is, may not be the wisest decision.

Professional development is not a point I considered as a piece to my research. Often, professional development is a hit and run experience. We receive an hour or two of training and then we, the teachers, are expected to have it completely integrated the following day and we never speak of it again. This could be why so many teachers are so cynical about new programs. As a music teacher, very few of the professional developments I have attended have been catered to me specifically. Due to this, I have spent much time over the last twelve years, essentially providing my own professional development. On one hand I have become quit proficient at innovating within my classroom, but had I received more guidance from a veteran teacher, it would have taken me less time to achieve what I have. Technology is a tricky area, in that some people are very comfortable with daily technology interactions and some people struggle with turning on electronics. It may be necessary to include a professional development component within my action research in order to create support for the teachers I work with. It would need to be implemented in such a way that the teachers are able to reflect and discuss their experiences and brainstorm new ideas. This will create lessons that utilize technology to deepen the understanding of the concept, not just adding technology for the sake of technology. Overall, I enjoyed reading this article, it really got me reflecting on the presentation of my own work and the components I should or shouldn’t include.

Teaching Pre-service Teachers Content Area–easy….Technology–notsomuch

Hubbard, J. D. & Price, G. (2013). Cross-culture and technology integration: Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology (RECT) 9(1).



Cross-Culture and Technology Integration: Examining the Impact of a PTACK-focused Collaborative Project on Pre-Service Teachers and Teacher Education Faculty (Hubbard & Price, 2013) is an article that was written about research done with pre-service teachers.  The intent of the research was two-fold.  First, it was to have pre-service teachers create an instructional lesson using the TPACK model as a basis.  Second, it was to determine how those pre-service teachers might incorporate technology into their lessons when they become in-service teachers in the future.

The study was based on research that supported several sub-components of TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy, And Content Knowledge).  The investigators provided research that backs the need for research in five different intersecting categories. After detailing each, it then chose to focus on just two of those for this study; the last two of the five.   Laying out the literature section in this way proved to be one of the weakness of the article.  The most important items should have been listed first and given more weight and research to back up the rationale.  No justification explaining why these two of the five were being targeted was ever explained.

The researchers did go on to describe that they wanted the pre-service teachers create a Learning Activity Type (LAT) project that required the application of inquiry based social studies skills.   They also mandated the use Microsoft Photostory 3.0 for the technology component.  The pedagogical basis was the concept of culturally responsive instruction which corresponded to the social studies content knowledge of multicultural and global perspectives.

The requirement for the pre-service teachers was to interview a foreign-born person then use internet research skills to gain additional information about the country from which that person came.  Then they were tasked with organizing it and using Microsoft Photostory 3.0 to create their final project which would tell the story about their interviewee’s life, culture, and heritage.

There were 83 students who participated in this project all of whom were all juniors at a university and enrolled in a K-6 elementary school program.  These students were assigned to one of four classes consisting of about twenty students each.  Each class had one of four instructors.  The students also were assigned to meet, as a class, periodically in the computer lab.  There was a separate instructor available there whose job it was solely to help with the technology aspect of this assignment.  That person kept a journal regarding his observations of the classes for the research project but was not considered an instructor for purposes of this study.

The quantitative data came from two sources.  Surveys were given to the students and their instructors.  The student surveys had nine questions that described the learning experience.  Two versions of Likert scales were used.  One set on the first five questions and another on the second four.  82 of the 83 surveys returned were usable.  The other set of data came from responses gathered from a survey given to the instructors.  Of the four instructors, one of them was also one of the researchers and that person chose not to complete a survey to minimize the bias of the results.  This would be another example of a weakness of the research as there were only four instructors to begin with and one chose to, rightly, to withhold filling out the survey.  That reduced the results by 25% of what they could have been and with such a small sample size to begin with, that may have had a large impact on the results.  A strength, however, is that the other three surveys were sent out to be evaluated by a different set of technology experts as opposed to the researchers working on this project in order to minimize any conflict.  The instrument had a reliability coefficient using Cronbach’s alpha of .832.  The standard error of measurement was found to be 2.033 (Hubbard & Price, 2013).

The results from the first five questions on the student survey showed that the pre-service teachers reported being pleased with the class.  The responses for the first five questions ranged from 86.6%-95.1% answering fairly or very useful for questions such as the types of hand-outs used in class, the usefulness of the class, etc.  The remaining four questions garnered a more varied response with only 37.9% reporting that they were fairly or very much likely to use Microsoft Photostory 3.0 as a teaching or learning tool.  The results of instructor surveyed demonstrated that although they felt “very satisfied” with the course, they felt an overall lacking of their own comfort with the technology tool being used which kept them in a situation where they were unable to help their students to the extent they would have liked.

In addition to the two surveys, artifacts were collected throughout the research project.  The researchers recorded classes on video, held one-on-one meetings, took notes, and held interviews with pre-service teachers.  The results from this study indicated that the project did not overwhelmingly help pre-service teachers view technology as a necessary component when teaching.  The survey showed that it did help them gain an awareness of technology and content knowledge (i.e. the cultural responsive component).  This survey size is too small to be generalizable.

Although this research was focused on pre-service teachers and I want to create a TPACK action research for my fifth grade classroom, I still found many ways I can apply some of these concepts to own project.  One of the thoughts that was generated from the results of the survey was that the pre-service teachers did not understand why they were required to use Microsoft Photostory 3.0.  They saw it only as a requirement to contend with rather than concept to master.  I can definitely apply those results to my research.  My students may respond better to the technology I use in my study if they understand that it is something to learn in and of itself and not just a meaningless requirement.

I also made a connection between this piece and the article Rural Elementary School Teachers’ Technology Integration (Howley, Wood, & Hough 2011).  That article described how the attitude of the teacher was so vital towards the successful implementation of technology.  Although this differs because the instructors did want this to be a successful experience, their survey results showed that they expressed a discomfort with the tool.  They also conveyed that not knowing how to use the technology caused them to be unable to help their students during their projects.  I wonder how much more successful this entire study might have been if the four instructors had been well-versed in the tools they were requiring their students to use.

The final connection for me is the concept of completion.  Although not a requirement in one sense, the students were not allotted the time to be able to share their projects.  While that may not have been a requirement needed for successful implementation in the authors’ minds, I wonder if it might have made the project more appealing to the students and therefore raised the scores of some of the pre-service teachers to some degree, and ultimately their desire to implement technology in their own classrooms down the road.  That, for me, is another lesson I will take when I create my own action research project.


Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B. (2011). Rural elementary school teachers’ technology integration. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 26, 1-13