A Case Study of How a Sample of Preservice Teachers Made Sense of Incorporating iPads into their Instruction with Children

January 2017

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Vol. 38, No. 1, 19–38, 2017.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examined how a sample of preservice teachers (PSTs) made sense of incorporating technology, specifically iPads and their apps, into their teaching.

The participants were 20 pre-service teachers, who attended a large urban teacher education program at a state university in the midwestern US. They took Teaching Children class.
This course introduces students to the knowledge base and practical strategies used to teach young children, Pre-K through first grade in effective and appropriate ways.
Over the course of the semester, participants are to complete a series of assignments intentionally designed to assist them in becoming effective teachers of children from all racial, ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Data were collected through students' assignments, which included the iPad app Review Sheet, their lesson plans, a single app or series of apps to offer the children a chance to learn about a topic covered in the content standards, and their short reflection papers about their experiences in using iPads over the course of the semester in the course and in their field placements. Furthermore, the authors conducted semi-structured interview with six focal participants. They also used artifacts and field notes were collected from the Teaching Children class, and memos were collected from the authors of this study.

The findings reveal that the participants perceived the process of making sense of how to incorporate technology, specifically iPads and their apps, into their teaching as a complex and evolving process. The authors found that the participants appeared to leave their first semester in their teacher education program eager to absorb the use of iPads into their repertoire of instructional skills with young children. Yet, the participants also seemed to define the act of instruction in relation to what it is they are expected to teach in their future classrooms, which for them were state policy makers’ content standards.
The authors found that the participants were not resistant towards using technology in their teaching and/or their willingness to incorporate iPads into their teaching did not decrease as they progressed through their training program. The findings reveal how these PSTs’ experiences in witnessing children employing iPads across the school day fostered a desire in them to want to learn how to incorporate these devices into their teaching, even for those PSTs who seemed hesitant to use such technology in their teaching.

Furthermore, it appears the demands of policy makers’ high-stakes standards-based accountability reforms shape how these participants made sense of using these devices and what it is they are to teach their students.

Finally, even though the results demonstrate how these PSTs faced a range of challenges in the process of making sense of how to incorporate iPads into their teaching of young children, both in their teacher education program and in their field placements, many of them still wanted to learn how to engage in interesting learning opportunities for children.

The authors suggest that teacher educators ought to plan out both classroom and field experiences that offer numerous opportunities to learn from and teach with these devices in multiple ways; including both teacher-directed and child-initiated learning experiences as well as modeling how to use iPads across their own instruction with their PSTs.
The authors also suggest that teacher educators, who want to foster positive attitudes among practicing and preservice teachers towards using technology in their teaching, might ask their in/ preservice teachers to step back from the act of or considering how to teach using iPads and simply observe how children in their classrooms/field placements interact with these devices.

Updated: Jun. 17, 2018