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ODU Student's Doctoral Dissertation Demonstrates Teachers Not Getting Adequate Technological Education

An Old Dominion University doctoral student's dissertation demonstrates that teacher education programs in the United States offer very little true technological instruction.

Roger Skophammer, of Bloomington, Minn., who defended his Ph.D. dissertation March 19, surveyed more than a third of the university teacher education programs in the country.

"I strongly believe we need a technologically literate populace," he said. "Individuals need to be able to make informed decisions as consumers of technology, both because it will have an impact on their personal lives, as well as impact the environment and society."

Skophammer's study was limited to initial teacher education programs that are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Of the 697 accredited programs in the United States, Skophammer surveyed 248 to determine what kinds of courses are taught that promote technological literacy.

His research revealed that only 32 of the 248 institutions had requirements for technological literacy courses in teacher education programs. These requirements were primarily limited to elementary education and secondary science education majors.

"Teachers in all academic areas play an important role in the development of technological literacy," Skophammer said. "I specifically wanted to assess to what extent teachers were receiving formal education to develop technological literacy."

Basic technology courses are taught to all teachers. But Skophammer said that isn't enough.

"My hope is that this study will enlighten the education community about the differences between instructional technology and broad technological literacy - and that policymakers, such as deans, provosts, those in state departments of education and teacher educators, will include the development of technological literacy as part of the teacher education curriculum."

Philip Reed, associate professor of occupational and technical studies and Technology Education Program leader with ODU's Darden College of Education, was Skophammer's dissertation adviser.

Reed said he believes the study could prove valuable for educators and policymakers nationwide, particularly because research by Gallup and the International Technology Education Association shows that most Americans have a very limited view of technology.

"Our federal and state governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on computer technology for schools. This is very good, but K-12 teachers and students need to have a broader understanding that technology is much more than just computers," Reed said.

The National Research Council, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Science Foundation are all pushing for research and development in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Reed said they all recognize the gaps that exist, quantified for the first time by Skophammer.

"Hopefully this research will inform people at multiple levels involved with the preparation of teachers. K-12 teachers and their students need to understand that technology is much broader than computers," Reed said.

In his dissertation, Skophammer makes specific recommendations for teacher preparation programs in the United States, such as pushing for more awareness of the difference between instructional technology and broad technological literacy.

This article was posted on: March 25, 2009

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