Pre-service teachers’ perception of technology competencies based on the new ISTE technology standards

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Published: 
January, 2021

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 37:1, 48-64

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In order to improve the technology competencies of Korean preservice teachers, it is necessary to first diagnose their levels of technology competence.
This study examined preservice teachers’ perceptions of technology competencies as defined by the 2017 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Educators.
It aimed to propose an effective technology-integrated education strategy by examining technology competence and utilization levels, based on the standards underpinning the teacher’s role as suggested by the ISTE.
In addition, the study examined the applicability and usefulness of the ISTE Standards to South Korea.
This study proposed to answer the following research questions:
What is the level of technology competence of preservice teachers in terms of the teacher roles defined by the ISTE (by gender, year of study, and fieldwork hours)?
What are the preservice teachers’ perceptions of their learning about technology integration during their teacher preparation programs (i.e., technology courses, fieldwork experience)?

Methodology
In order to explore preservice teachers’ perceptions of technology competencies, a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design was used.
The authors first used quantitative research methods, structuring a survey to determine the relationships between the variables that impact teachers’ perceptions, and then used qualitative research methods, conducting a focus group interview with participants to gain a deeper understanding of the survey findings.

Setting
This study was conducted at one of the nine national universities of education in South Korea dedicated solely to elementary school teacher preparation.
Preservice teachers are provided with opportunities to apply their knowledge and classroom technology integration skills while working on a total of four units of educational fieldwork at K-6 sites.
Fieldwork occurs from the second semester of the sophomore year to the first semester of the senior year, with one unit per semester.

Participants
The survey participants were recruited through a Korean social network application that included a link to the survey.
The study sample consisted of a total of 342 elementary education candidates, with a 24.4% response rate.
All graduates receive degrees in elementary education.
The survey included items about the teaching fieldwork experiences of preservice teachers, which began in the sophomore year: freshmen were not recruited.

Instruments
The study measured preservice teachers’ technology competencies, as defined by the ISTE Standards, including the standards’ appropriate for Korean teachers.
Standards and competencies define what teachers should know and be able to do (Halasz & Looney, 2019).
Standards provide the components of competencies that preservice teachers should apply to their teaching.
The quantitative study was conducted using the Teacher Preparation Technology Inventory (TPTI) developed by Caitlin Riegel (Riegel, 2018; 2019).
The TPTI was developed based on the 2017 ISTE Standards for Educators, using a three-round Delphi method to measure teachers’ technology competencies.
After analyzing the survey data, the authors developed interview items to further understand the background information and variables that might influence preservice teachers’ perceptions of their technology competencies.
Overall, the nature of the interview was semi-structured, using the main findings from the survey to guide the questions.
Starting with their experiences of the technology courses they had taken at the university, the interview delved further into their perceptions of how helpful those courses were, how their fieldwork experiences impacted their technology competencies, and ways to improve their readiness to integrate technology.
In addition, students’ perceptions of the survey instruments, such as their relevance to preservice teachers, were considered.

Data Collection
The survey was administered in 2019.
In order to deepen the understandings gained from the survey, qualitative data was collected through a focus group interview with all seventeen survey respondents who indicated their willingness to attend.
The focus group interview lasted for approximately one-and-a-half hours.
Students’ experiences of their technology courses and fieldwork hours, and how they influenced their technology competencies, were explored using semi-structured interviews depending on the responses of the participants.

Findings and discussion
The study revealed that the overall average score for preservice teachers’ technology competence was at the lower end of the scale (1.48 on a 0–5-point Likert scale), hovering between Rarely = 1 and Sometimes = 2.
This was somewhat alarming and disconcerting, since teacher preparation programs are increasingly expected to prepare teacher candidates to have an appropriate level of technology competence to effectively facilitate students’ use of technology.
This result was consistent with Jo’s (2019) survey study conducted with 147 senior year preservice teachers in South Korea, which asked about their perceptions of their technology skills.
The teacher candidates perceived that what they found most “difficult to teach” or “couldn’t teach at all” were the use of ICT (54.5%), STEAM education (51.1%), and educational software education (45%).
Over half the respondents did not feel that they were ready to teach these subjects and had low confidence in using technology in their teaching.
This study suggests that teacher education curricula could be greatly improved by offering more and better opportunities for teachers to improve teaching technology skills that can be readily applied in classrooms.
This situation may be specific to South Korea.
One interpretation is that there are currently no professional or national standards guiding technology integration into curricula at teacher preparation institutes in South Korea; however, the ISTE Standards for Educators could usefully be adopted or adapted for use in South Korea.
In a similar study conducted in the US by Kimm and colleagues (2020), the average score for preservice teachers’ perceived technology competencies, based on the ISTE teacher roles, was 2.75 on a 1–5-point Likert scale, falling between “I have an idea of what I need to work on,” and “I am somewhat experienced and knowledgeable.”
While it is not appropriate to directly compare these average scores to the current study, since Kimm and colleagues’ (2020) study used different survey items and Likert scales, preservice teachers’ perceptions of technology competencies were somewhat higher than in this study; however, both showed scores below the mid-point score of three points.
In relation to the experience of preservice teachers by year of study, the average score of junior students was somewhat higher than that of other groups. In particular, the roles of educators as leaders, collaborators, and analysts among the teacher roles stated in the ISTE standards were statistically significant for their year of study.
This was interpreted as being due to the newly introduced curriculum for software education in Korean elementary schools and improvement of the corresponding curricula in teacher education programs.
Of the different teacher roles presented by ISTE, overall the Analyst role had the lowest average score.
It is necessary for preservice teachers to strengthen their knowledge of the technology methods needed to evaluate learners’ curricula and content.
In addition, there is a need to provide opportunities for them to participate in classes using technology in more diverse courses and curricula.
The group who had 8–10 hours of fieldwork experience had statistically significant results, suggesting a need to expand the time and space available for the application of technology in preservice teachers’ overall education practice. According to a study by Ryu and Lee (2017), active use of the online community in connection with fieldwork proved effective in improving the technology capacity of preservice teachers.

Conclusion
Necessary measures, such as national-level educational guidelines or standards for ICT, should be reestablished in South Korea.
The curricula should offer learning opportunities for preservice teachers, not only to develop diverse technology skills, but also to apply those skills when designing content and pedagogy-appropriate lessons.
Technology integration components should be embedded, not only in the content of courses, but also in the teaching methods of courses across entire teacher preparation programs.
This initiative would be enhanced if students could be exposed to theoretical technology integration frameworks, models (e.g. TPACK), and stages (e.g. PTICK, SAMR).
In order to further improve the teaching practice of preservice teachers, various opportunities should be offered to enable preservice teachers to work collaboratively with in-service teachers and teacher educators in local and global learning communities.

References
Halasz, G., & Looney, J. (2019). Teacher professional competences and standards. Concepts and implementation. European Journal of Education, 54(3), 311–314.
Jo, M. (2019). Elementary preservice teachers’ perception and readiness for future-oriented human resource development policies. Journal of the Korean Association of Information Education, 23(5), 451–459.
Kimm, C. H., Kim, J., Baek, E., & Chen, P. (2020). Preservice teachers’ confidence in their ISTE technology-competency. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 36(2), 96–15.
Riegel, C. (2018). The development of the teacher preparation technology inventory (TPTI): An instrument designed to measure how often teacher candidates model and apply the 2017 international society for technology in education (ISTE) standards for educators in teacher preparation programs [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Niagara University.
Riegel, C. (2019). Developing the Teacher Preparation Technology Inventory (TPTI) to evaluate teacher educator preparation. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 27(2), 207–234.
Ryu, K., & Lee, Y. (2017). Effects of online teacher learning community activities linked with internship course for the improvement of elementary preservice teacher’s TPACK. The Journal of Korean Teacher Education, 34(2), 417–437. 

Updated: Jun. 07, 2021
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