U.S. Surveys Education-School Computer Use

By William Snider — June 18, 2019 2 min read

Nearly 90 percent of the nation’s education schools offered computer training to prospective teachers during the 1983-84 school year, according to a new federal study.

However, students in graduate teacher-training programs had access to a greater number and wider variety of computer-related courses than did their undergraduate counterparts, according to the survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Education Department’s center for statistics.

The study--based on a representative sampling of 428 institutions--found that only 50 percent of undergraduate programs offered courses focusing mainly on computers as objects of learning or on their use as teaching or learning tools.

The survey found that 64 percent of graduate education programs offered at least one computer course, and the average number of credits offered was twice that found in undergraduate programs.

Perceived Obstacles

While more than 50 percent of the education departments responding to the survey assigned a high priority to increasing their computer course offerings, 42 percent cited a shortage of computer-trained faculty as a major obstacle to their plans.

About 45 percent of respondents said inadequate software thwarted their plans to expand offerings, while 34 percent cited inadequate hardware.

In the greatest area of agreement, only 3 percent of schools of education said that insufficient student interest was a significant obstacle to additional offerings.

A quarter of schools assigned a high priority to increasing their inservice computer training for practicing teachers, but 42 percent said they already offer such training.

The survey found that 510 education schools offered an average of 15 hours of inservice computer training to an average of 166 teachers during the 1983-84 school year.

Elementary Emphasis

Prospective elementary-school teachers were more likely to have computer components in their curriculum and methods courses than prospective secondary-education teachers; 72 percent of elementary-level programs offer at least one such course, compared with 63 percent of secondary programs. But secondary-education students were more likely to be required to enroll in a computer course.

Of the 600 schools of education offering at least one computer course, 47 percent mandated a course for at least one field in secondary education, while only 33 percent required one in their elementary programs.

Among schools that did not distinguish between elementary and secondary programs, the survey found that 54 percent require at least one computer course.

Many schools required their students to work with microcomputers, which are more common in precollegiate education than the mainframe computers usually found at institutions of higher education.

The survey estimated that approximately 10,000 microcomputers are located in schools of education, while another 10,000 are available to education students, for an average of26 for each school of education I that offered a computer course.

A version of this article appeared in the February 19, 1986 edition of Education Week

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