Examining Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Technology Self-Efficacy: Impact of Mobile Technology-Based Physics Curriculum

October, 2017

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 17(3), 336-359, 2017.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aimed to explore changes in preservice elementary teachers’ technology self-efficacy during their participation in a specialized science content course that utilized a mobile technology-based physics curriculum, Exploring Physics.

The participants were 34 preservice elementary teachers, who enrolled to a specialized physics content course designed for early childhood and elementary education majors at a large public university.
Each participant was given an iPad at the beginning of the semester to use during class and to take home as well. Along with having a 1:1 exposure to iPads, there were ample opportunities for them to learn science via hands-on inquiry-based investigations, PhET simulations and other web-based software, collaborative team work, and group discussions in small and large groups.
Data were collected through Technology Science Teaching Efficacy (TSTE) survey, semi-structured interviews with individual participants, focus-group interviews, and weekly classroom observations and artifacts. Artifacts included instructors’ lesson plans, additional handouts given in class, and online and paper-copy home assignments.

Discussion and Implications
The findings reveal that learning science via iPads and the Exploring Physics curriculum app helped increase preservice elementary teachers’ self-efficacy for integrating mobile-technologies in their future science teaching. The data suggest that preservice teachers showed positive changes in their views, perceptions, and confidence to integrate mobile technologies into their future science teaching.
The authors argue that the integration of iPads in ways for preservice teachers to learn science content allowed the participants to see benefits of using mobile technologies in science teaching, which positively contributed toward their technology self-efficacy.
The Exploring Physics app features helped preservice teachers learn science at their own pace.
Furthermore, the preservice teachers particularly found the hybrid offline-online access of the Exploring Physics app helpful for their science learning.
However, not all participants reported being familiar with using mobile devices for academic purposes, even though many reported using such devices for personal or entertainment purposes. This unfamiliarity was a major cause of confusion or frustration among participants who were more familiar with traditional modes of learning. The authors found that once the initial hurdle to use technology was overcome, participants saw benefits of teaching with technology.

The study has major implications for preservice teacher preparation.
First, the results show that mobile technologies such as iPads and mobile-based student-centered curricula have the potential to facilitate learning; more science courses should be designed to facilitate such an environment.
Second, the authors argue that instructors should be aware of the challenges of managing with technology and they should hold discussions with preservice teachers to prepare them for unanticipated challenges in future teaching.
Third, the findings revealed that nearly half of the students had no prior experience using iPads for learning. The authors suggest that instructors should continue to provide scaffolding needed for students to value learning science using mobile-technology.
Fourth, the authors suggest that careful planning and administration of technology-based curriculum such as Exploring Physics are effective tools for science instruction. 

Updated: Jun. 10, 2018