By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Sumreen Asim, assistant professor of education in the area of science and technology, received top honors for her poster presentation at the 2018 conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), held March 26-30 in Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1990, SITE is an international association of individual teacher educators and affiliated organizations of teacher educators in all disciplines, who are interested in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about the use of information technology in teacher education and faculty/staff development.
SITE is the only organization that has as its sole focus the integration of instructional technologies into teacher education programs, according to the group’s website.
Asim’s presentation was entitled “Exploring the Changes of Elementary Teacher Candidates’ Beliefs in a Technology Infused Science Methods Course.”
Using her own Block 3 science methods class as a research subject, Asim explored a fact of life in teacher education: fear of science.
In the first week, students were asked about their beliefs regarding the teaching of science.
“Some of the most popular comments revolve around being nervous, intimidated, not confident,” Asim said.
According to Asim, such beliefs are not uncommon. But they have consequences. Researchers in the field are concerned that teachers may pass these beliefs on to their students through their presentation, teaching strategies and general attitude.
Asim set out to detect whether these beliefs could be turned around through the introduction of educational technology during teacher training.
By embedding a wide variety of apps into the coursework, Asim not only helped students fill their pedagogical toolbox with helpful teaching aids, but also eroded their negative beliefs about science as a whole.
For example, Nepris gave the students connections to scientists and industry partners, Kahoot helped them tailor science lessons to individual classroom needs, Nearpad allowed them to embed video and other web-based materials into classroom presentations. By using these tools to carry out and even expand their teaching tasks, the candidates broke down many internal barriers.
At the end of the course, and of their clinical involving teaching science in a K-8 setting, students were asked to draw a picture of themselves teaching science,and to add three- to five-sentence narrative describing the drawing. In these drawings, playfulness had replaced anxiety, confidence had replaced self-doubt, openness had replaced avoidance.
“The innovative course design in this study provided experiences that allowed for better understanding of both science content and science teaching across multiple types of learning environments through the use of technology,” Asim said.
For Asim, the SITE award recognizes the value of her research and the innovative way she purposefully embedded technology into the Block 3 experience.
And it identifies the need to develop a more holistic approach to course design, according to Asim.
“Teacher educators must work collaboratively to redesign and restructure courses to create an integrated STEM approach,” Asim said.
By improving confidence of teacher candidates in science, teacher educators can support larger goals of the field, such as extending career longevity.
“The need for our teacher candidates to overcome their aversion to science has to be addressed in order for us to meet the demands of today’s society,” Asim said. “The elementary education program at IU Southeast is at the forefront of STEM education because of the way we prepare our teacher candidates and the application of theory into pedagogical practice in each block,” Asim said.
The Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) is an international, academic association of teacher educators, researchers, practitioners and collaborating organizations across multiple disciplines. SITE creates and disseminates knowledge enhancing teacher education through the use of technology across a global context. SITE promotes research, scholarship, and innovation across its membership. It is the only organization solely focused on integrating technology into teacher education.