and the research says…

The Zotero group started by Wendy Drexler is often where I look for research regarding issues that interest me. Today, I had a focused discussion with a friend on whether teachers’ personalities made them embrace or more resistant to change, especially related to using technology to enhance student learning.

(As an aside, I should say I support student-centered, inquiry-based teaching and believe the use of social media offers opportunity for collaborative, global learning. If classrooms are teacher-centered and the discussions are focused on gadgets and not pedagogy, then technology is often a waste of time and money.)

After I left her office, I wondered if there was any research supporting our discussion. Sure enough, I found this (unfortunately in a PDF), a study from 2004. Here are some highlights (my emphasis):

Research has found that the personal beliefs and dispositions of teachers may relate to or predict successful technology integration. Honey and Moeller (1990) assert that teacher philosophy (student-centered versus teacher-centered) affected one’s ability to effectively use technology in the classroom, in that student-centered teachers were more successful. MacArthur and Malouf (1991) determined in their case study that teacher beliefs and attitudes greatly influenced how computers were used in the classroom. Other personal variables, such as self-competence and willingness to change, have also been shown to be closely related to computer use among teachers (Marcinkiewicz, 1994). Albion (1999) states that teachers’ beliefs, specifically self-efficacy beliefs, “are an important, and measurable, component of the beliefs that influence technology integration” (p. 2).
Furthermore, this study noted that willingness to spend time outside contracted hours also contributed to technology use in the classroom:
…this study suggests that the teacher attributes of time commitment
to teaching and openness to change combine with the amount of technology
training to best predict classroom technology use. The process of learning
to use technology requires time—time spent in training, but also time spent
playing with and exploring technology. This willingness to commit time to the
technology learning process may be represented by one’s willingness and commitment
to spend time beyond the typical work week to prepare instructional
activities. As such, this result suggests that time is essential in becoming a technology
using teacher, but also that technology use may predict time commitment
to teaching.
This last suggestion gives me pause:
As a result, a teacher who approaches technology professional development with an attitude that is open to change and is committed to spending time outside of training to further explore technology may be more likely to use technology in the classroom than one who attends training with ambivalence and a lack of time.

Now I realize that one study isn’t necessarily the answer. But all of this makes sense as we determine how to best help teachers develop their own professional development online through social media and in “unconferences” where the onus is on the individual to contribute and learn. For those waiting to be spoonfed or who are unwilling to change, the effort may not be worth the trouble.

Teacher Dispositions as Predictors of Classroom Technology Use
Journal of Research on Technology in Education, v36 n3 p253-271 Spr 2004