Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 65 (2017) 81-90
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study examined the effectiveness of online social networking sites in developing the efficacy of student teachers during a practicum.
Specifically, the authors explored whether the use of Facebook can facilitate reflection and dialogue to improve the efficacy of student teachers.
The participants were 57 third-year student teachers in a teacher training program of a university located in northern Taiwan. All of the participants were enrolled in a training course that was combined with a practicum. The participants had very limited experience with teaching English. During their practicum, the students taught English to first and second graders at a nearby elementary school.
The students were randomly assigned to an experimental group, in which Facebook was adopted, and a control group, in which Facebook was not used. The student teachers in both groups participated in identical training activities and had similar teaching experiences.
The authors used Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (long form) and focus groups to collect data.
The author found that such device was not as effective in enhancing teacher efficacy as many studies had hypothesized. Previous studies hypothesized that the popularity and familiarity of Facebook among student teachers would encourage them to use it as a platform where they can receive support, encouragement, and solutions when making decisions during a practicum. However, the findings of this study revealed that the efficacy of the participants in the Facebook community was only improved in area of Instructional Strategies, whereas that of the participants who were not part of this community improved in the areas of both Student Engagement and Classroom Management.
These findings indicate that implementing a cyberspace community does not necessarily lead to the greater enhancement of teacher efficacy. The results also revealed that the popularity and familiarity of Facebook among student teachers did not enhance learning outcomes.
This study suggests that student teachers tend to use social networking in the context of interacting with their friends and family, but not for fulfilling course requirements or receiving comments from the instructor.
The author found that the participants perceived Facebook to be a place for relaxing and responding to comments whenever they desired. However, most of the participants felt unwilling to share teaching-related ideas in the community because of their limited teaching experience.
The author concludes that an effective platform should involve both experienced teachers and other useful, easily accessible resources for student teachers. Furthermore, computer-mediated communication may not always be the optimal choice even with its commonality and familiarity.