Innovative Uses of IT Applications in STEM Classrooms: A Preliminary Review of ITEST Teacher Professional Development
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program provides a unique opportunity to assess a broad spectrum of professional development projects that share key characteristics but were designed to meet distinct local school and community contexts. To better understand how innovative information technology (IT) classroom applications are integrated into teacher professional development and can ultimately lead to changes in teaching practices and increases in student performance, we conducted an exploratory study of NSF-funded ITEST teacher education projects. We addressed the following questions in this study: •How are ITEST projects using information technologies? •How do ITEST project principal investigators (PIs) conceptualize their professional development models? •How do ITEST project PIs measure the impact of their professional development model on teacher change? As described by their PIs, these projects reflect many characteristics of effective practices for STEM teacher professional development commonly identified in the literature. They also share practices not always found in STEM professional development, including the involvement of youth in the active learning process and an emphasis on STEM career connections with both teachers and students. These projects constitute a unique and potentially useful study group because of the similarities in their approach to technology integration and professional development. Conducting cross-project research on the ITEST teacher education projects can improve our understanding of effective and innovative strategies to integrate sophisticated IT applications into teacher professional development and ultimately the classroom.
This article is part of a special issue of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE).