'Can Anyone Offer any Words of Encouragement?” Online Dialogue as a Support Mechanism for Preservice Teachers

Jan. 14, 2008

Source: Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2008, pp. 113-136

Isolation and a lack of support contribute to high attrition rates among novice teachers.
Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is one mechanism for providing anytime, anywhere support to teachers.
Previous research in this area has focused on structuring such discussions to encourage cognitive engagement, yet little attention has been paid to how CMC can be used for psychological support.
We conducted a qualitative case study to examine the online discussions of 15 English Education preservice teachers utilizing Blackboard’s™ discussion forum.

We explored the topics they chose to discuss as well as how they dialogued with each other in this medium as a mechanism for support during their year-long internship.
Their dialogue was found to focus on six major concerns consistent with previous research.

Of more interest was the way in which the interns demonstrated their emotional engagement, responsiveness to each other, and meaning-making through storytelling.
Their stories, which conveyed either self-efficacy or self-doubt, were mechanisms used by the interns to elicit and provide support to each other. Implications for the design of online dialogue groups for preservice teachers are discussed.

Updated: Nov. 06, 2008