Teacher Preparation

Student-Teachers’ Reliance on Classroom Tech for Fun Hurts Learning

By Lauraine Langreo — June 23, 2023 2 min read
English Language Learners 032023 1305725500
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Student-teachers are more likely to use technology to engage in fun activities rather than for meaningful learning or building equity in their student-teaching experiences, concludes a study by University of Central Missouri researchers.

Preservice-teachers also said their use of technology in classrooms tended to be teacher-centric. That could be a problem because it could lead students to be passive users of technology instead of using digital tools for interactive and creative learning experiences, the researchers found.

The study, “What do pre-service educators know about teaching with technology?”, examined how student-teachers documented their implementation of teaching with technology in their classroom experiences. The research will be presented at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in Philadelphia on June 26.

The researchers examined how well the ISTE standards for educators and for students were scaffolded throughout the undergraduate college of education program, as well as how preservice teachers were implementing those standards, by analyzing 240 syllabi and 132 student-teacher work samples.

They weren't focused on using technology for the sake of learning. They were using it just to keep kids entertained.

The study found that while student-teachers were being taught how to use digital tools to create personalized learning experiences and to maximize student learning, they were not transferring those skills effectively into their classroom teaching experiences.

“The [student-teachers] were hyper-focused on students being engaged,” said Kristina Schuler, one of the co-authors of the study and an assistant professor of elementary education at the university. “They weren’t focused on using technology for the sake of learning. They were using it just to keep kids entertained.”

While getting students excited about being in class is important because students have to be engaged for learning to happen, the focus should be on “learning and knowledge creation,” said Lauren Hays, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of educational technology at the university.

Schuler’s theory is that these student-teachers were students when pandemic-induced remote learning was happening, so what was modeled for them was how to use technology to keep students engaged and entertained enough to come to the virtual classroom.

The disconnect might also be because student-teachers are in somebody else’s classroom and they might find it difficult to integrate their own knowledge and information, the researchers said.

So what teacher-educators need to do is help student-teachers “make that jump” between what they’re being taught and how to apply it effectively in their own classrooms, Hays said.

How veteran educators can help

Current teachers, principals, and district leaders also have a role to play in helping teachers in training, the researchers said.

Administrators should “model good use of technology” and “create a digital learning culture that supports the use of technology,” including time to learn and mentorship opportunities, said Jenna Kammer, one of the researchers and an associate professor of library science at the university.

Kammer emphasized that teachers who are trained in teaching effectively with technology will have “students who have higher digital literacy, and do more creative and transformative projects with technology in their classroom.”

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