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Technology two ways: modeling mathematics teacher educators' use of technology in the classroom

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This study explores teacher educators' personal theories about the instructional practices central to preparing future teachers, how they enact those personal theories in the classroom, how they represent the relationship between content, pedagogy, and technology, and the function of technology

This study explores teacher educators' personal theories about the instructional practices central to preparing future teachers, how they enact those personal theories in the classroom, how they represent the relationship between content, pedagogy, and technology, and the function of technology in teacher educators' personal theories about the teaching of mathematics and their practices as enacted in the classroom. The conceptual frameworks of knowledge as situated and technology as situated provide a theoretical and analytical lens for examining individual instructor's conceptions and classroom activity as situated in the context of experiences and relationships in the social world. The research design employs a mixed method design to examine data collected from a representative sample of three full-time faculty members teaching methods of teaching mathematics in elementary education at the undergraduate level. Three primary types of data were collected and analyzed:

a) structured interviews using the repertory grid technique to model the mathematics education instructors' schemata regarding the teaching of mathematics methods; b) content analysis of classroom observations to develop models that represent the relationship of pedagogy, content, and technology as enacted in the classrooms; and c) brief retrospective protocols after each observed class session to explore the reasoning and individual choices made by an instructor that underlie their teaching decisions in the classroom. Findings reveal that although digital technology may not appear to be an essential component of an instructor's toolkit, technology can still play an integral role in teaching. This study puts forward the idea of repurposing as technology -- the ability to repurpose items as models, tools, and visual representations and integrate them into the curriculum. The instructors themselves became the technology, or the mediational tool, and introduced students to new meanings for "old" cultural artifacts in the classroom. Knowledge about the relationships between pedagogy, content, and technology and the function of technology in the classroom can be used to inform professional development for teacher educators with the goal of improving teacher preparation in mathematics education.

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Date Created
2014

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Thesis launch: students begin the undergraduate honors thesis process

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Honors colleges have offered an academically rigorous option for growing numbers of diverse students. This study took place at a large, public university that required undergraduate students to complete a thesis to graduate from the honors college. In 2017, 97%

Honors colleges have offered an academically rigorous option for growing numbers of diverse students. This study took place at a large, public university that required undergraduate students to complete a thesis to graduate from the honors college. In 2017, 97% of students who began the honors thesis prior to senior year completed it. Thus, the aim of this study was to help more students begin the honors thesis process early.

Thesis Launch was a six-week intervention that was designed to provide support for students in the critical early steps of thesis work such as brainstorming topics, examining professors’ research interests, reaching out to professors, preparing for meetings with potential thesis committee members, and writing a thesis prospectus. Thesis Launch offered web-based resources, weekly emails and text message reminders, and was supplemented by in-person advising options.

A mixed methods action research study was conducted to examine: (a) students’ perceptions of barriers that prevented beginning thesis work; (b) self-efficacy towards thesis work; (c) how to scale the intervention using technology; and (d) whether participants began the thesis early. Quantitative data was collected via pre- and post-intervention surveys, journals, and prospectus submissions. Qualitative data came from student interviews, journals, and open-ended questions on the surveys.

Quantitative data showed that after students participated in Thesis Launch, they had higher self-efficacy to work with professors, perceived fewer barriers to thesis work, and greater proportions of students began thesis work early. The qualitative data were complementary and showed that participants overcame barriers to thesis initiation, built self-efficacy, preferred an online intervention, and began thesis work early. Findings also showed that a primarily technology-based intervention was preferred by students and showed promise for scaling to a larger audience.

Thesis Launch provided a framework for students to begin work on the honors thesis and have mastery experiences to build self-efficacy. Strategies that fostered “small wins” and reflective efforts also assisted in this aim. Participants accomplished tasks tied to thesis work and customized their personal thesis timelines based on work begun during Thesis Launch. Finally, a discussion of limitations, implications for practice and research, and personal reflection was included.

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Date Created
2019