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Literature Review


Survey Research in Secondary Technology Education: Literature Review Michel Lacoursiere ETEC 500 – University of British Columbia


Literature Review


Survey Research in Secondary Technology Education: Literature Review In recent years there has been rapid development in computer and communication technologies and these changes have created new opportunities and challenges for secondary school teachers, policymakers and administrators (Wu, Chang, & Guo, 2008). School and government authorities have recognized the importance of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT or IT) and many are making attempts to support teachers in understanding and using educational and informational technologies (Irvine & Montgomerie, 2001; Wright & Lesisko, 2008). Technology and its inclusion in the classroom is now mandated or at least encouraged by curricula and most teacher-preparation programs throughout the world, and thus efforts should be made to support it (Wright and Lesisko, 2008; Wu et al, 2008). Despite the best efforts of those involved, there are still many hurdles to overcome in terms of giving teachers the training and skills needed to accomplish the often difficult task of integrating technology into the classroom (Lacoursiere, 2008; Williams, Atkinson, Cate, & O'Hair, 2008). The integration of technology into instruction and its implications hold a specific relevance to not only educational researchers and those making policy but also the teacher, as they are keys to making technology in secondary classroom work (Judson, 2006; and Lacoursiere, 2008). The purpose of this review is to discuss the gap between available technologies and what is used in the classroom, explore how secondary teachers are supported in their use of technology through professional development and investigate survey research as means to explore these concepts further.

Literature Review


Review of Related Literature Technology in the Secondary Classroom With technology emerging as an important and integrated aspect of secondary education it is important to investigate how educators are attempting to support and further technology in the classroom (Lacoursiere, 2008; Wright & Lesisko 2008). As Wu et al. (2008) explains, although the integration of ICT into the classroom has been advocated for over a decade and is an important consideration for administration, a gap still exists between technology affordances and what teachers actually use in the classroom. Wu et al. (2008) investigated this gap by focusing on the intrinsic factors related to teaching and ICT by surveying 348 Taiwanese middle school science teachers from 40 schools. Their survey consisted of 20 questions examining demographics and constructs related to intention, perceptions and computer self-efficacy. By focusing on teacher beliefs and attitudes and using multiple measurement models the authors conclude that teachers’ perceptions of usefulness, fit and their own self-efficacy towards computers were strong indicators of a teacher’s intentions towards IT (Wu et al., 2008). The authors determine that to “equip teachers for the latest IT knowledge, preservice and inservice teachers ought to receive IT training on a regular basis” and “requires teachers to embrace sound pedagogical technology integration” (Wu et at. 2008, p. 518). Wright and Lesisko (2008) expand beyond intrinsic factors in their survey research as they investigate technology and related professional development within their rural Pennsylvania jurisdiction. Wright and Lesisko (2008) used a modified survey from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and surveyed 423 teachers across all levels in the district using a survey instrument of 11 sections and 204 individual items. The survey asked 22 questions surrounding home use, school use and comfort levels and a total of 182 concerning technology

Literature Review


skills. Wright and Lesisko (2008) conclude that secondary teachers in their district have a greater working knowledge of software and IT than elementary teachers and that the key to increasing teacher knowledge and comfort level in terms of IT is professional development and technology training. Technology-Related Professional Development After the implementation of Alberta Learning’s ICT Program of Studies, a curriculum document which specifies qualities students should develop in respect to technology, Irvine and Montgomerie (2001) decided to investigate teachers’ ability to use technology in the classroom. By using a 10-minute, structured telephone interview Irvine and Montgomerie (2001) obtained responses from 60 representatives from throughout Alberta ranging from superintendants to technology coordinators and human resource personnel. These findings indicate that computer skills are valued among potential hires but for unexplored reasons many applicants lack these skills. These results are supported by other researchers as a gap between technological affordances and teachers’ intention of use becomes increasingly supported in the research (Irvine & Montgomerie, 2001; Wright & Lesisko, 2008; and Wu et al., 2008). Judson (2006) investigated the gap between innovative new ICT and what teachers actually use by conducting survey research. Focusing on 32 volunteer classroom teachers across primary and secondary, Judson (2006) designed a survey and conducted a series of observations to uncover the beliefs and attitudes teachers had towards technology and how these may play a role in technology integration. Judson (2006), like Wu et al. (2008), focused on internal factors as they used organized and established instruments like the Support of Constructivist Uses of Technology (CSUT) survey to measure beliefs and attitudes and the Focusing on Integrating Technology: Classroom Observation Measurement (FIT:COM) to measure teaching practice.

Literature Review


Using a correlation analysis to determine significant interactions Judson (2006) concluded that there is no significant correlation between teacher practices and teaching philosophy or teacher practices and attitudes in terms of technology. Researchers found that their observations differed greatly from other researchers who had found a correlation and cite problems with self-reporting beliefs and attitudes and a small sample as complicating factors (Judson, 2008). Despite these conclusions Judson (2008) implies that professional development may be the best solution to this apparent problem. In an effort to put more useful technological skills in the hands of teachers some teachers and educational researchers feel that changes may be needed in order to increase collaboration among teachers and potentially technology integration (Lacoursiere, 2008; Williams et al., 2008). Williams et al. (2008) saw traditional schools as being isolated, inflexible and reluctant to change and cite these complexities as barriers to teacher innovation and skill development in terms of technology. With financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Oklahoma Educational Technology Trust researchers developed a K-20 leadership model with the University of Oklahoma and feel they have found a potential solution to the gap seen in ICT use in schools. The partnership includes monthly conferences and seminars where teacher representatives from 12 urban, suburban and rural schools met to collaboratively discuss and solve problems associated with implementing technology. Teachers are encouraged to build technology-enriched learning communities based on established frameworks such as inquiry, discourse, equity, authenticity, leadership and service (IDEALS) and the 10 practices of high achieving schools (Williams et al., 2008). By implementing this research-based systematic change model, which is seen as an advance over conceptual frameworks, they claim great improvements in teacher quality of technology integration and student success.

Literature Review


Synthesis and Critique Survey Research Survey research is a clear option for investigating ICT in secondary classroom and through greater understanding of this complex situation teachers can be better supported in their use of technology. Despite this potential, developing a survey that is balanced, efficient and effective is key and past research serves as evidence that this is no easy task. Irvine & Montgomerie (2001), Judson (2006) and Wu et al. (2008) all conducted survey research to analyze technology integration and related factors but each survey was catered to a specific context, focused on varying issues and thus their results are difficult to apply to other contexts. Irvine & Montgomerie (2001) did focus on Canada, but surveyed a relatively small number of administrators with a focus on hiring issues. This is useful information but ignored the teachers almost entirely, a choice that goes against Williams et al. (2008) research into the integral role of the teacher in technology integration. Wu et al. (2008) went to another extreme as they surveyed teachers but focused on concepts such as opinions, beliefs and attitudes all being internal factors that are difficult to study in a survey that is self reported. Irvine and Montgomerie (2008) and Judson (2006) can be applauded for their efforts to circumvent selfreporting errors by adding interview and observation elements to their research. Two vitally important aspects of survey research are survey design and analysis of results and in these respects some researchers have been very thorough and others have overlooked essential elements. Survey sample size and cross-section are of crucial importance and researchers like Wright and Lesisko (2008) and Wu et al. (2008) were careful to include teachers from across multiple schools in a given district whereas Judson (2006) surveyed only 32 teachers who volunteered. This choice of volunteerism for participant selection, especially with such a

Literature Review


small number, may bias the research and the results may not be applicable over wider populations. One must be careful to consider the make-up and distribution of questions in survey research, for example Wright and Lesisko (2008) modified a survey used elsewhere to their purpose which left their survey heavily unbalanced and their results so confusing their conclusions were somewhat speculative. Other researchers such as Judson (2006), Wright and Lesisko (2008) and Wu et al. (2008) can be applauded for using recognized constructs and analysis instruments in order to ground their research in established and proven methods. Contextual Variables The surveys conducted do not necessarily answer the questions associated with technology integration and professional development in terms of a Canadian context. All of the studies above focus on surveying specific geographical areas in order to analyze a unique context in greater detail. From Oklahoma to Korea, urban to rural, technology use by teachers were analyzed from various aspects but none of these studies focused on the supports teachers receive in a Canadian context (Williams et al., Wright & Lesisko, 2008; Wu et al., 2008). Irvine and Montgomerie (2001) did focus on technology integration in Canada but ignored the teachers and professional development by focusing on administration, despite research arguing that teachers play the central role in this problem (Lacoursiere, 2008; Williams et al.. 2008). Williams et al. (2008) discussed the documented success their K-20 technology integration community has received but acknowledge that the public, private and university partnerships used to support these drastic changes are not available to all schools. This apparent difference in financial and resource-based resources reveals other contextual difference between this and most other schools. Wright and Lesisko (2008) discuss the infusion of resources into their district’s technology program over the past 10 years and also recognize that the successes the increase in

Literature Review


integration they observed was clearly linked to previous efforts and their individual situation. Although these efforts show great strides in supporting teachers they may not be attainable for all educators especially those confined to policies of a given jurisdiction or government or with limited access to resources or researchers with similar interests. All of these issues, coupled with the fact that none focus on the unique and technologically-advanced situation of Canada, leave room for further, localized research. Conclusions With technology playing an increasingly prevalent role in learning and teaching due to new policy and perceived benefits it has become increasingly important to support and understand teachers when it comes to technology integration into the classroom. With so many factors affecting the implementation of innovative computer technologies in the classroom the main questions become: What can be done to support technology in the classroom and how can we gain greater insights into this situation? The surveys and related research into professional development discussed here are beneficial because they reveal that there are clearly issues involving technology disparity, access to professional development and the abilities and attitudes of teachers. These articles present the integration of technology into the secondary classroom in a positive light and many use established models and instruments. Although, it is clear that there is room for further, more localized survey research with a larger sampling of teachers and a focus on professional development and teacher supports. In the end, this research is an excellent starting point and adjustments could be made in terms of methodologies and survey design both of which may benefit from more localized research based in Canada.

Literature Review


References Irvine, V., & Montgomerie, C. T. (2001). A Survey of Current Computer Skill Standards and Implications for Teacher Education. ED-MEDIA 2001 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. Proceedings, (pp. 806-811). Tampere, Finland. Judson, E. (2006). How Teachers Integrate Technology and Their Beliefs About Learning: Is There a Connection? Journal of Technology and Teacher Education , 14 (3), 581-597. Lacoursiere, M. E. (2008). The Ecology of Technological Innovation in Classrooms: Internal Professional Development as a Solution. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from Williams, L. A., Atkinson, L. C., Cate, J. M., & O'Hair, M. J. (2008). Mutual Support Between Learning Community Development and Technological Integration: Impact on School Practices and Student Achievement. Theory Into Practice , 47 (9), 294-302. Wright, R. J., & Lesisko, L. J. (2008). Technology Infusion in a Rural School System: A Case Study from Pennsylvania. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association March 24-28. New York, NY. Wu, W., Chang, H. P., & Guo, C. J. (2008). An Empriical Assessment of Science Teachers' Intentions Toward Technology Integration. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching , 27 (4), 499-520.