ICTPD through three lenses: An Evaluation of the ICTPD School Clusters Programme 2001-2003 Supplement: Action Researcher Reports

Publication Details

A range of action research or self-study projects was undertaken as part of the evaluation of the 2001-2003 ICTPD (Information and Communication Technologies Professional Development) school clusters programme. During these studies, teachers or cluster facilitators investigated their own 'best practice' in relation to some aspect of ICT use in the teaching and learning process, or some aspect of facilitating teacher professional development in that area. This Supplement to the main Report (entitled ICTPD Through Three Lenses) contains the full reports of 12 of the action researchers.

Author(s): Vince Ham, Christchurch College of Education.

Date Published: 2006

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Executive Summary

The action research projects involved the teachers or facilitators gathering and cyclically analysing data on their own professional practices in relation to ICTs or ICTPD over extended periods of time. These periods of time ranged from a few terms to the whole three years of their involvement in the ICTPD clusters programme. With ongoing guidance and support from two research mentors, the teachers and facilitators took a problem-based approach to their action research project, in which they each identified some problematic aspects of their use of ICTs with classes or their role in facilitating ICTPD, and conducted an evidence-based evaluation of the various strategies and practices that they tried, over time, in order to solve those problems.

As a group, these reports could be read in several ways. Some could be seen as case study evidence illustrative of several of the national trends identified in the main Evaluation Report. Two of the key findings of the surveys, for example, are that integrating ICTs into daily teaching practices takes a long time, and that technical or reliability issues are still seen by teachers as a major barrier to use. Graham's story of his struggles to get his students learning via the internet stands as an indicator of how these trends were lived out, and what they felt like, from one individual teacher's perspective. In the same vein, all of the teacher reports in one way or another tell tales about how a growing self-confidence regarding ICTs developed through the PD and translated into increased ICT use and increased variety in the use of ICTs with learners in the ICTPD schools. Similarly, the four ICTPD facilitation studies all show facilitators working out how best to get teachers beyond a preoccupation with technical skill development towards a deeper understanding of the effective integration of ICTs into classroom practice.

A second way of reading the reports could be to see them as detailed practical experiments; descriptions of 'what worked and what didn't' for some individual teachers and facilitators in their classes. In this sense, the reports are full of handy hints and suggestions for other teachers and facilitators, from practitioners who have 'been there; tried that'. There is a consistent theme of practical experimentation in most of the studies, as befits the nature of action research. They are often stories of trying particular PD or classroom strategies, of practical experiments in how to organise a classroom for ICT use, or how to conduct PD sessions, which other teachers and facilitators might well try or adapt to their own situations.

A third, and perhaps even more important, way of reading the reports, however, is as a window into the authors' own developing understandings about teaching and learning, and the role ICTs may play in that enterprise. In this sense the reports are case studies exemplary of the ways in which individual teachers and facilitators in the ICTPD programmes have critically reflected on their own pedagogical practices, on their own deeper understandings of what constitutes value in the use of ICTs for teaching and learning, and indeed, on the nature of high quality teaching and learning in general. It is therefore notable in these reports that ICTs, while they provide the context for the studies, are not the central focus. Pip's and Paula's studies, for example, are really about their own evolving conceptualisations of effective 'integration' of ICTs into their teaching and learning programmes; how they might conceptualise educational 'quality' in their use of ICTs with students, and what practical indicators they might look for in making those judgements. Similarly, Craig and Rochelle's, Lyn's, and Sue and Audrey's studies are all about how they themselves came to grips with the new professional role of facilitator or teacher educator, and the growing realisation that this role might be qualitatively different to that of classroom teacher. In critically investigating in the context of their own practices phenomena such as 'equity', 'integration', 'momentum', 'narrative', 'progression' and so on, the authors themselves move beyond a preoccupation with ICTs per se, to a preoccupation with more fundamental aspects of what it is, for them, that constitutes quality teaching and learning in general.

The studies reported in this supplement are:

Teaching and Learning

  • What Are Some of the Practical Strategies to Consider When Integrating ICTs into a New Entrant Classroom? By Pip Cleverley.
  • How Can I Optimise Computer Use in My Classroom? By Paula Poulter
  • The Way IT Was! By Graham Woodhead.
  • Characteristics of Information Seeking Behaviour: A Comparative Study Around the Use of ICT and Print. By Jill Stotter.
  • Non-Linear Narratives: Where Might I Click to Start? By Mike Whiteman
  • Email@classroom.school.nz: How Can I use Email Effectively to Enhance the Information and Communication Skills of my Students? By Karen Newbrook.
  • Peer Tutoring For The Development of ICT Skills. By Kieran Browne.
  • How Can I Increase the Equity of my Students' Use of One Computer in a Class of 30? By Sue Cattell.

Facilitating ICTPD

  • Maintaining the Momentum. By Craig Price & Rochelle Jensen.
  • Meeting Teachers' Needs ...When I don't know what they are ... and nor do they! By Lyn Garrett.
  • Developing Confidence in Lead Teachers. By Sue Ogden & Audrey Harvey.
  • Towards Progression in Textual and Visual Literacy. By Shelley Cook.

Note On Style and Structure in the Researcher Reports

The reports in this Supplement to the Evaluation of the 2001-2003 ICTPD Clusters programme were written by the researchers themselves, with some editing by the evaluator.

It should be noted that some of the researchers used the opportunity to submit their research towards a formal qualification at a tertiary institution, while others conducted the research more for its own sake and as a mode professional development in itself. With this in mind the researchers were given licence to present their reports in very different styles and formats.

Reflecting the need to write for a more academic audience, the group submitting for qualification have tended to write their reports in a more traditional dissertation style and format, including, for example, significant reference to current literature and an extended discussion of methodology. On the other hand, those for whom the research was done more for its own sake, as a form of evidence-based reflective practice, were briefed to write with their teacher/facilitator peers as the intended audience. They were therefore encouraged to produce briefer reports and to adopt a more colloquial, narrative style and structure.

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