Early career primary teachers’ design of technology-integrated learning

Year: 2019

Author: Knussen, Lauren

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The increasingly technology-mediated nature of society has direct implications for how we teach students and prepare them for life after compulsory education. Schools have the capacity to provide quality technology-integrated learning (TIL), ensuring that digital literacy skills are accessible to everyone. For students to receive quality TIL, teachers need to have a skillset in the area. Recent studies show that despite being personally confident users of digital devices, our newest generations of teachers often struggle to integrate technology into learning in a pedagogically effective way. Yet, there is a gap in our understanding of early career teachers’ (ECTs’) practice with TIL. By focusing on teacher design work, researchers can gain deep insights into ECTs’ decisions and thinking which influence their design of TIL programs. This presentation reports on a multiple case study of early career teachers’ design of TIL, and how this work is influenced by context.

The study presents the cases of seven Australian early career primary school teachers working in different school contexts. The research sought to identify how ECTs engage in the design of TIL programs, and the contextual factors which influenced them. Data was collected as the teachers designed, taught and reflected on a technology-integrated learning program for their students. The use of the Activity Theory model allowed for in-depth analysis of contextual factors which influenced their practice. Activity Theory’s capacity to identify contradictions in an activity system facilitated the identification of factors which disrupted the design process.

Findings from the study show that despite limited professional experience, ECTs are influenced by a complex web of personal and external contextual factors while designing TIL. The level of TIL knowledge and skills gained during teacher education and in early teaching roles varied significantly between participants. At the same time, the school context of each case featured different characteristics which influenced the ECTs’ design thinking. This presentation will show how these internal and external features of the design context interacted to influence the ECTs’ design practice.

This study contributes to our understanding of how early career teacher design thinking and practice with technology-integrated learning is influenced not only by teaching context, but also by their personal experiential knowledge and thinking. The findings lay the foundation for further research into school leaders’ support of ECTs’ practice of designing TIL, as well as how pre-service teacher education might prepare students for technology-mediated teaching careers.