Improvement of Content Knowledge, Pedagogy, and Technology Skills through a Purposefully Designed Course: Implementing Electronic Portfolios
The study is to examine if American teacher candidates improve their knowledge of social studies content and pedagogy, and skills in computer technology after they take a purposefully designed social studies methods course. The subjects of the study were 67 teacher education students enrolled in a social studies methods course. The subjects completed a pre-survey and a post-survey on improvement of social studies content, technology competence and understanding of learning theories. The results showed significant improvement in participants' content knowledge, technology competence, and understanding of the effective learning pedagogy. For this study, a social studies methods instructor purposefully designed a course that incorporated instructional technology and effective learning pedagogy into social studies content teaching through development of standards-based electronic portfolios. The instructor identified all the technology skills needed to be successful in producing required assignments. The artifacts were identified based on learning theories, e.g., 'backward design' (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998), and performance assessment (Spady & Marshall, 1991; Kemp, Song, & Johnson, 2003). For example, a unit plan, which was one of the assignments, needed to start with a concept map demonstrating three stages of instruction: 1) pre-instruction, 2) instruction, and 3) post-instruction. The unit included the social studies standards, behavioral objectives aligned with Bloom's cognitive levels (knowledge, evaluation), specific assessment plans (multiple choice items, rubrics for writing assignment and/or for projects) to measure if the objectives were achieved, and the hands-on and heads-on activities. The reflective writing had to be followed after they taught their unit in the public school settings. The guidelines and rubrics for each of the assignments were provided through on-line Blackboard and on-line electronic portfolio software. The result supports that when a teacher education course is designed, there is value in scaffolding technology-enhanced activities, and effective learning theories into content teaching strategies.
Keywords: Teacher Education Course, Effective Teaching Pedagogy, Instructional Computer Technology, Outcome-based Instructional Objectives, Authentic Assessment Strategies, Standards-based Electronic Portfolio, Backward Design, Reflective Writing, Community Involvement
Dr. Kim Song
Assistant Professor and Social Studies Area Leader, Division of Teaching and Learning College of Education , University of Missouri - St. Louis