TPACK in Special Education: Preservice Teacher Decision Making While Integrating iPads Into Instruction

January 2017

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 17(1), 97-127. (2017)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined how preservice teachers’ instructional decision making reflected the use of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) components in an elementary-level special education setting.

The participants were 14 junior early childhood special education majors at a private university. They were enrolled in a special education course with a fieldwork component.
All of the participants had completed an educational technology course that addressed a planning process consistent with the technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) model. However, most of them had little experience using mobile devices (tablets or smart phones) for educational purposes.
Each participant was paired with one or two students who had mild disabilities. The students were between the ages of 6 and 11.
Data were collected through focus group interviews, lesson plans, journal entries, and field notes.
The findings reveal that the preservice special education teachers had multiple opportunities to practice combining technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge to make instructional decisions through technology integration.
In addition, the participants blended components of this specialized knowledge to make in-the-moment teaching decisions when integrating technology into tutoring sessions. They mediated the interface between the students and technology, providing guidance, adaptations, and feedback as needed.

The authors also found that participants’ close observations of students’ engagement and understanding prompted teaching decisions and, hence, provided opportunities for developing teacher knowledge.
The results also reveal that both preservice teachers and the students with mild disabilities perceived the experience positively. The participants thought that integrating iPad apps into instruction was more challenging than anticipated. The students thought that using the iPad apps was fun and, facilitated their learning.

These findings suggest that technology-integrated fieldwork in a special education setting allows preservice teachers to experiment with technology and make decisions that utilize various dimensions of TPACK when planning and implementing lessons. 

Updated: Jul. 17, 2018