Monday, January 14, 2008

Digital Fix Part V ~ " Teacher Attitude"

Factors Affecting Teacher Attitude

Last year I purchased a desktop with multiple upgrades for my 74 year-old mother. It was her first computer and she was understandably apprehensive, so I proceeded to ease her concerns by showing Mom what a life-changing experience it would be. We spent an entire day looking at search engines, email, tax preparation software, Photoshop™, and more. I left feeling confident that I had given something special to the woman who gave me life. After a couple weeks had passed I checked on Mom who excitedly reported she had been using her computer everyday to play solitaire. A year later Mom is yet to check a single email without someone else doing the pointing and clicking. Admittedly, I have failed to affect change in my Mother’s attitude toward technology. For public school administrators, failure is not an option.

There are ten factors affecting teacher attitude regarding technology integration:
1. Mentors modeling technology
2. Principals integrating technology into their daily routine
3. High level of technical support
4. Available funding to update hardware and software
5. Years of teaching experience
6. Grade level taught
7. Access to computers
8. Preparation time
9. Pre-service instruction
10. In-service training

Of these, pre-service and in-service training are the hammer and chisel needed to reshape public school teacher attitude about how and why technology is used in the classroom. Although primary and secondary school administrators do not directly effect pre-service instruction, they can send a clear message to teacher preparation colleges and universities. For example, because students prefer to use technology, school districts use technology, and therefore teacher preparation programs need to produce graduates who are well versed in technological use. This can be accomplished through technology rich pre-service training incorporating a constructivist approach as it is time to center instruction on the student in order to foster 21st century skills.

Loeb, Rouse, & Shorris (2007) found that nearly 82% of current teachers have at least four years of experience. At this stage in their careers, teacher attitudes and beliefs are becoming more firmly entrenched requiring school districts to move beyond the one size fits all in-service model and provide ongoing, teacher-driven technology training to yield attitudinal shifts (Russell et. al, 2003). According to Kopkowski (2006), 70% of teachers receive less than eight hours of computer training each year which is woefully inadequate when considering the substantial investment involved in the hardware and infrastructure required to support technology. The lack of training affects teacher efficacy, which results in negative attitudes toward technological integration (Bandura, 1997). Teachers are the gatekeepers of educational change, and school leaders cannot expect to be successful introducing any new tools or instructional methodologies without support from the faculty (Cuban, 1993).

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