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 (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA), Sherry S. Herron (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA), Houbin Fang (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA) and Avinash Rathod (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5780-9.ch086
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Abstract

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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Literature Review

The effective preparation of teachers to teach mathematics in K-12 education is recognized as a vital factor toward students’ academic success. In conjunction with the curriculum, teachers are the key in assisting students to learn required information necessary to succeed in the mathematics curriculum (Schmidt et al., 2001). Several professional organizations note the importance of teacher preparation and professional development as a means toward improving the aptitudes of math education teachers, especially in regards to technology integration. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000) considers technology as being essential “in teaching and learning mathematics; it influences the way mathematics that is taught and enhances students’ learning” (p. 2) as one of their six principles of school mathematics. Furthermore, the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (2006) goals includes one to promote the recognition of the ever-increasing impact of technology on mathematics teacher education and has made a position statement on the importance of preparing math teachers to meet the current standards of integrating technology. If one reviews the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators newsletter called Connections (2008), the content solely concentrates around technology and why these tools should be utilized in the math classroom. If organizations such as these recognize the importance of technology, then teacher preparation and professional development need to include a demonstration that goes beyond just the “how to use technology,” but how to integrate.

Reasons behind using technology in the mathematics curriculum are numerous. Heid (1997) cites that technology when used in conjunction to teaching math could;

  • Make learning more student-centered,

  • Give students the experience of being mathematicians themselves,

  • Provide an avenue for reflection, and

  • Make available constant access to the instruction, meaning that the instruction is no longer restricted when the teacher teaches.

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