Examining Preservice Teachers' Conceptual and Practical Understandings of Adopting iPads into their Teaching of Young Children

June 2016

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 60 (2016) 179-190
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aimed to explore how preservice teachers used iPads and their applications in their coursework and field placements, which took place in high-stakes early learning contexts, affect their conceptualizations of incorporating iPads into their teaching.

The participants were 20 prospective teachers, who enrolled to a cohort-based three-semester professional development sequence (PDS) designed to lead them to receiving an early childhood through sixth grade teacher certification (EC-6) with a bilingual endorsement.

They studied at a state university in the Midwestern US.

Over the course of the semester, the participants had to complete a series of assignments intentionally designed to assist them in becoming effective teachers of children from all racial, ethnic, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds.

They interviewed the participants and documents their assignments.
The authors used Venkatesh et al.’s (2003) conception of Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) to examine the findings.

The results revealed that most of these prospective teachers found iPads and their apps to be appealing but struggled to connect their attraction to these devices to student learning.

However, some participants worried that by simply figuring out the pattern or steps required to complete the task or game found within the app successfully, students are not learning or developing the skills and/or knowledge the app was designed to teach them. The authors argue that this made it difficult for the participants to conceptualize how iPads and their apps could improve or even be used within their teaching. The authors argue that this conceptual and practical tension appeared to be connected to their inability to link the gaming features embedded within the apps, which define the structure of play, to student learning, which are the skills or knowledge that are to be developed through interacting with the game.

The authors also found that none of the participants had experience in using these tablet devices in their learning experiences as K-12 students, as such, they only knew of iPads and iPhones as tools for personal use and entertainment. Thus, the authors argue that engaging in instructional activities that differed from their own experiences in their teacher education program combined with incorporating a new technology into their instruction may have been too much.These participants take on when thinking about how they might use iPads and their apps in their teaching.

The authors conclude that these three central issues that teacher educators who advocate for the use of such technology in early childhood and K-12 classrooms, should consider in creating instructional opportunities for preservice and practicing teachers that can foster positive attitudes towards using technology in their classrooms, as well as lead them to implementing appropriate and effective instructional strategies when using these devices with young children.

Updated: Dec. 13, 2018