Teacher Self-Efficacy in 1:1 iPad Integration in Middle School Science and Math Classrooms

Jul. 20, 2015

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 15(3), 334-367. (2015)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Using a technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK) framework, this article examines the classroom practice of two middle grades mathematics and science teachers integrating a 1:1 initiative and the ways they dealt with the barriers in their classroom practices.


This study is part of a larger study focused on a sixth-grade team in Caldwell Middle School, an urban middle school in the southeastern portion of the United States.
The participants were Jake and Isabell, two members of the team form the larger study.
They were both classified as highly qualified teachers with masters degrees. Both were White, had 5+ years of teaching experience, and were traditional in their instructional approaches, relying primarily on didactic instruction such as lectures and worksheets.
Multiple sources of data collection are part of this study, including semistructured interviews with teachers, circle of influence diagrams, field notes and observations, teacher lesson plans, and video data. The data collected documents teachers’ perceptions and uses of technology, mainly the iPad, in their pedagogy.

Conclusions and Implications

During the early phases of this design-based study, themes emerged from a science and a math classroom that provided insight to the implementation of 1:1 iPads at Caldwell Middle School. This study suggests that some science and math teachers, despite working in a 1:1 environment, still face many both external and internal barriers when trying to integrate technology into their pedagogical design and practice.
External-first order barriers, such as connectivity, app acquisition, and lack of adequate professional development, became sources of frustration for Jake and Isabell and were typically reflective of the school at large. Challenges like these led the participants, and the other Caldwell teachers to view the iPads as an external, and often irrelevant, component of their instruction.

Further, these findings suggest that internal barriers created obstacles to iPad integrated teaching. Internal barriers, including self-efficacy, beliefs and values of technology, impacted how TPACK was enacted the participants' practice.
The male participant's classroom was teacher centered; rather than have his students participate in open-ended inquiry, he would demonstrate inquiry experiences for them, creating a passive learning environment where students did not engage with science. His limitations resulted from his own internal barriers (e.g., self-efficacy or confidence) in both pedagogical knowledge involving inquiry and technological knowledge integrating iPads.
These limitations impacted how the iPads were integrated into his classroom instruction. The female participant also exhibited similar barrier issues with respect to technological knowledge.

The authors have observed that when new applications (i.e., technological knowledge) and methods (i.e., pedagogical knowledge) were introduced and modeled in their classroom, the participants began to extend their practice beyond their traditional comfort zones, and engaged their students differently. Students moved from being passive participants to active science learners.
After the Sound Inventory and Plate Tectonics inquiry investigations were modeled and implemented in Jake’s classroom, the authors noted that he began to integrate the iPads more frequently in his pedagogical practice.
Given the appropriate scaffolding, the participants may develop their self-efficacy in both their technological knowledge and pedagogical practices, resulting in more engaging learning environments for their students.

The authors explain that issues of self-efficacy with technological knowledge and pedagogical implementation of the technology were at the forefront with all of these teachers, resulting in inadequate integration of the iPads. While the importance and value of technology was acknowledged in everyday life experiences, the teachers did not always make the connection to classroom practice.

The primary affordances of tools like the iPads in this 1:1 initiative in science and mathematics classrooms may be their power to engage students in the use of tools that provide mechanisms and contexts to think through complex science topics.
The key will be to help those teachers, through content specific professional development and scaffolding, to recognize the power that these tools provide. Given the right supports, the iPads can be used as a way for teachers to engage students in science learning.
This study provides insights into the challenges that have emerged in the classrooms of schools that are implementing 1:1 initiative.

Updated: Aug. 16, 2017