Literature Review (Part I)
This page was written by Alastair Reynolds
Dick and Reynolds (1998) draw out various reasons why ICT staff development has become a focus of much attention in education recently. These include:
Davis (1997a) notes that there has been greater recognition of the importance of research into IT in education and the education of teachers. This has been manifested by a “significant increase in the number of policy makers who have recognised that teachers are the key to ensure that information and communication technologies are applied well, so that citizens have appropriate skills and knowledge for the information society”.
These recent developments have also been set against a background of political change. In a bid to address some of the issues above, the present government intends that teachers should “generally feel confident, and be competent to teach, using ICT within the curriculum” by 2002. (DfEE, 1997).
It is clear therefore that there is a need for staff development in effective ICT use, geared towards the needs of individuals within the profession. The remainder of this section of the document will consider what the overall aims of such training should be, taking into account official requirements on teachers and the results of educational research in this area.
There are two pieces of official documentation which set out requirements for teachers’ use of ICT.
The National Curriculum (DFE, 1995) states under the Common Requirements that pupils should be given opportunities, where appropriate, to develop and apply their information technology (IT) capability in their study of each of the National Curriculum subjects. This is a very broad statement and was probably intended to promote a cross-curricular approach to the provision of the Information Technology curriculum, rather than to encourage the use of ICT for effective learning.
The Teacher Training Agency National Curriculum for the use of Information and Communications Technology in subject teaching (TTA, 1998) sets out requirements for trainee teachers’ competence in ICT use. The document specifies an “essential core of knowledge, understanding and skills”, equipping trainees “to make sound decisions about when, when not, and how to use ICT effectively in teaching particular subjects”. It also places a responsibility on the training provider to ensure that training is “firmly rooted within the relevant subject and phase, rather than teaching how to use ICT generically or as an end in itself”.
This addresses the needs of new entrants to the profession, but does not apply directly to teachers. To address training needs of the large numbers of serving teachers, the government instigated the New Opportunities Fund. Funding will be allocated on a per teacher basis to all schools, who will then be able to purchase training from approved training providers. The TTA document detailing expected outcomes of this training is essentially a rewritten version of the ICT National Curriculum mentioned above. The aim is that all teachers will have reached the standards defined by this document by 2002.
The document is split into two sections, which are summarised below. Further clarifications for each of the statements below are given in the actual document, as well as examples for each of them.
Section A: Effective teaching and assessment methods.
This section focuses on teaching and assessment methods that have a particular relevance to the use of ICT in subject teaching. Teachers must have opportunities to practise, in the classroom, those methods and skills described in this section and to discuss their progress with trainers and with their peers.
Section B: Trainees' knowledge and understanding of, and competence in, ICT.
Section B covers the more technical skills and competence required when teaching using ICT. The requirements are aimed more towards computer-based ICT (rather than videos, tape recorders etc.) because it is new, and because teachers’ knowledge, understanding and skills in this area will vary considerably. The relevance of the sections 11-18 below will vary depending on the subject and/or phase.
Shulman (1986) identifies three types of subject knowledge relevant to teaching: subject content knowledge, curricular knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge. The first comprises the basic facts, concepts and skills relating to the subject, the second is an understanding of the methods and materials for teaching the subject, and the third are the techniques employed for effectively passing on the subject content knowledge to others. Kennewell (1998) argues that when integrating IT with subject teaching, the initial focus should be on subject knowledge - basic IT skills. He points out, however, that while this gives teachers confidence to use IT in the classroom, it does not develop the pedagogical skills in the way Shulman describes. He suggests that teachers have difficulty in considering how pupils can learn topics effectively with IT because they did not learn these topics through IT themselves. This results in a vicious circle where learning effectively with IT is required before teaching effectively with IT. Kennewell goes on to say that a reflective approach, where pedagogy is explicitly considered whenever IT is used for teaching and learning, will result in the most effective stimulation of a teacher’s pedagogical development.
Davis (1997b) takes a framework for teacher professional development proposed by McDougall & Squires and modifies it. It worth noting that skills appear first again in this progression, and that stages two to four represent changes in curriculum and pedagogy. The seven foci for professional development are:
There is general agreement therefore, that basic ICT competence must be addressed before more complex teaching issues. Passey (1998) does however warn that the design of ICT training must be led by pedagogic and learning needs if it is to lead to the effective use of ICT in schools. He suggests that the key to breaking the vicious circle is to use teachers’ pedagogic competence in other areas as the starting point for pedagogic competence in ICT use.
This section considers two questionnaires designed to find out about teacher ICT use. The first was created as part of the work of Don Passey with BT and Lancaster University. It is based around the TTA guidelines for ICT competence, but has not been used on a wide scale. The second was produced as part of a Technology Colleges Trust survey into ICT use and training needs in 1997. It has a much more narrow focus than the Passey questionnaire, but has been completed by nearly seven thousand secondary school teachers and the results are available in Gillmon (1998).
Passey (BT and Lancaster University)
This questionnaire was created as part of an article about the development of questionnaires to assess teacher ICT skills (Passey, 1998). The article was written in part because of the new government requirements for ICT competence in trainee and serving teachers, and also to address the fact that previous attempts at ICT training have not led to widespread effective ICT use.
The study suggests that an ICT needs audit should provide a start in helping teachers to :
Gillmon (Technology Colleges Trust)
This survey was initiated in response to 1995 OfSTED and HMI reports indicating that “teachers’ competence with IT and ability to use it fruitfully need strengthening” and that cross-curricular delivery of IT works only where subject teachers are confident in IT. The aim of the survey was to provide information for the development of training frameworks to give teachers confidence and competence in using ICT.
The survey was intentionally short to ensure ease of completion and a high response rate. The first section examined teachers’ awareness of a variety of generic applications, asking teachers to indicate their current level of competence/confidence and the amount of training they had already recieved in each. The second section looked at specialist applications but was not geared to individual subjects. In the third section, the teachers were asked to list the ten generic applications in which they considered training most necessary to support their teaching skills and career development. Finally, teachers were asked which modes of training they would find acceptable.
You may now wish to go to Part II of the literature review if you have not already read it.
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