Virtual School Meanderings

March 5, 2012

SITE 2012 – Frequency, Confidence, and Self-Perception: Comparing Two Modes of Preparation for Online Teaching

The second session from the Virtual Schooling SIG at the annual Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference was:

Frequency, Confidence, and Self-Perception: Comparing Two Modes of Preparation for Online Teaching

Authors:
Priscilla Norton, George Mason University, USA
Dawn Hathaway, George Mason University, USA

Abstract:
Few online high schools report requiring online education for their teachers, and few programs exist to prepare teachers to work in online classrooms (Smith, Clark, & Blomeyer, 2005). Professional development for online teachers continues to be a major concern, and evaluative research that examines the effectiveness of various types of professional development is needed (Archambault & Crippen, 2009). The purpose of this study was to compare differences in reported frequency and confidence with which online teaching tasks were performed as well as teachers’ perception of self as an online teacher between teachers who had complete a comprehensive preparation program and teachers who participated in a one day face-to-face workshop. Results found few differences between the groups and challenge conventions related to the nature and role of teacher preparation in online teaching.

The presenters were from George Mason University, where they worked some years ago with three school divisions to create a supplemental K-12 online learning program. One summer, as budgets became tight, a series of school districts decided to cancel summer school – which increased enrollment in this online academy. The academy normally required teachers to take a five graduate credit hours of training, but with this influx of students the university waived this PD requirement and instead offer a single day PD session. The study being presented today looked at self-reported data on if there were differences between the online teachers that had the traditional five graduate credit hours (returning teachers) and the online teachers who did that single day of PD (new teachers) with:

  • how frequently the teachers did teacher tasks
  • their teacher efficacy with regards to these online teaching tasks
  • their perceptions of themselves as online teachers.

The teaching tasks were based on the SREB/iNACOL online teaching standards – of at least 22 of them that they felt were applicable to their model of online delivery (which they organized into six categories). There were 21 teachers in the returning teachers group and 24 teachers in the new teachers. There were no statistically significant differences in the frequency and efficacy between the two groups. However, the new teachers felt that they were better online teacher than the returning teachers at a statistically significant level.

The study was limited by the fact that the instrument wasn’t validated. It was also limited by the fact that the researchers did not examine the actual teacher actions to see if the teachers’ own perceptions matched their actual behavior.

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