Grounded in Theory: Immersing Preservice Teachers in Technology-Mediated Learning

Jul. 01, 2010

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(3), 338-359. (2010)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this article is to examine preservice teachers engagement in a technology-mediated constructivist learning design.
The question for this inquiry was how do students participate in and react to this learning design?
Specifically, what are the affordances and constraints for their learning in this type of engagement?


Students. Preservice undergraduate students in two core educational psychology classes participated in this study. Students in these classes ranged from freshman to seniors.

These students engaged in a constructivist design that utilized technology as a central part of learning.
The students used digital storytelling as a pedagogical tool to facilitate their first exposure to learning theories.
They then constructed collaborative digital stories to represent the theories.

In this context, the author was the professor and the researcher.
As a teacher, the author identifies herself as an educator who employs disruptive learning designs. The author defines disruptive learning designs as learning environments that challenge traditional modes of practice and push participants beyond their comfort zones.
Learning goal. The learning goal of the 2-week digital storytelling project was for students to develop an understanding of four foundational learning theories: behaviorism, cognition, social constructivism, and constructivism.

The data for this 2-week educational psychology project encompassed a collection of student-created artifacts. These included the wiki work, storyboards, student responses to the learning design, and their final digital stories.
The author drew on student self-reported experiences, in which they responded to open-ended questions on Moodle.

The data were examined using artifact analysis. Artifact analysis is an anthropological and archeological research technique, which provides insight into content created by participants.


Preservice educators need to engage in learning designs that are supported and facilitated with and through technology. The design pushed students into territories of learning with and through technology that they may never have experienced.
This learning experience brought about particular affordances and constraints for these students.

In terms of affordances, students found that the design connected them personally to their learning. This includes a feeling of personal investment, tapped creativity, and ownership in the project. The investment was also evident in the ways that students articulated their ability to unearth their creativity through the visual representations.
Students insinuated that, rather than passively obtaining or listening to the information, students enjoyed their ability to construct meaning actively about their topics.

In addition, they saw the tools and the multimedia representations as integral to their active involvement in learning and their understanding of the concepts. During the process, students relied on social supports by seeking assistance on how to use the technology; they questioned each other about their verbal explanations on the Web, and they gave supporting arguments related to why they chose certain images.

Together the social supports and talk around the technological supports/scaffolds cohesively enhanced their learning experience. Although the experience seemed positive, students articulated their difficulties with open-ended assignments and their frustrations with technology.

The analysis of their reactions points to the fact that engaging in learning designs has demonstrated the benefits of making students the center of the learning process and responsible for their own learning.

Updated: Jun. 26, 2012