Improving Teachers' Self-Confidence in Learning Technology Skills and Math Education through Professional Development

Improving Teachers' Self-Confidence in Learning Technology Skills and Math Education through Professional Development

Taralynn Hartsell, Sherry S. Herron, Houbin Fang, Avinash Rathod
DOI: 10.4018/jicte.2010040105
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Using technology tools in math instruction can help stimulate problem-solving skills and understanding of math concepts. However, teachers need to be confident in their abilities to use technology tools. This study investigated whether or not a four-week in-service professional development institute that addressed the use of technology in math education helped improved the teachers’ attitude and confidence in applying technology. Findings indicated that as the teachers explored and used the available technology tools relevant to math instruction during the institute, the more proactive and motivated they became to continue their professional development in using technology for classroom instruction. They realized that they were able to use technology and desired to continue their education in this area.
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Technology is a tool that could be used in the mathematics classroom to enhance learning (NCTM, 2000). There are many forms of technology that can assist in teaching mathematics, supplement instruction, and remediate mathematical skills that require reinforcement. Tools such as spreadsheets, databases, educational software programs, drill-and-skills programs, scientific calculators, interactive whiteboards, and other applications are appropriate methods to teach mathematical concepts. The problem lies in that some teachers do not know how to use the technology tools or feel that they possess the ability to integrate technology effectively. Hence, teachers need to obtain the knowledge and skills that would help improve their self-confidence in using the technology at hand (ISTE, 2008). Mitchem, Wells, and Wells (2003) state that, “Research on schools and teaching has suggested for decades that student success and achievement are intricately associated with students’ interactions with effective teachers” (p. 1). If this is true, then mathematic s teachers are the key agents to bringing out reform toward technology integration (Garofalo, Drier, Harper, & Timmerman, 2000). But, the way to effectively prepare teachers to become change agents is another issue. Professional development is a primary factor toward helping teachers become self-adept in learning the knowledge and skills required of them when teaching math content. This study investigates whether professional development could promote math education teachers’ self-confidence in using and applying the technology tools learned back to the classroom. In-service teachers participating in a Math Summer Institute are the participants in this particular study, and the researchers explore whether completing a four-week intensive professional development institute has improved the participants’ knowledge, skill sets, attitude, and self-confidence in applying what they have learned.

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