Learning to teach for understanding in a technology-mediated professional development program
Rodney Williams, Michigan State University, United States
Michigan State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study, a design experiment, was to examine whether three first-year teachers' ideas about teaching complex subject matter changed as they learned about a new approach to teaching during a six-week technology-mediated professional development program. This was a qualitative study that analyzed the teachers' ideas about how to teach core democratic values, one theme of a US state's social studies' standards. The teachers created a unit, using the Teaching for Understanding framework developed at Harvard, and taught it to one of their classes. They also conducted an inquiry into students' thinking about core democratic values and discussed the results of this inquiry with each other after the program concluded. Many of the program activities were conducted in a technology-mediated environment.
Findings suggest that although the teachers developed new insights into their practice, their ideas did not change in substantive ways. Instead, they responded to the program according to their initial ideas about teaching, subject matter, and student learning. Significant shortcomings of the program and the Teaching for Understanding framework did not provide support for addressing the teachers' lack of subject matter knowledge or their novice status. Despite problems they encountered, the teachers suggested that, with modification, technology-mediated professional development is promising. Implications for future professional development programs are discussed.
Williams, R. Learning to teach for understanding in a technology-mediated professional development program. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University.
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