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From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

Vol 3 . . . No 9 . . . May, 1993

 

Assessing Staff Technology Competence

Introduction

For students to emerge from school ready for the next century, competent and caring, they will require an education in the thoughtful use of new technologies. This education will take them beyond skill to understanding and judgment. For us to achieve this goal, we must support staff in making the journey to technology competence, information literacy and routine, comfortable use of new technologies. This article offers several tools to assist district technology planners in developing the human resource development piece which has been missing from all too many district technology plans. These same tools may also help support district grant-writing efforts by providing an assessment tool to define the adult learning needs of staff members in ways that will document a need for staff development programs.

Now that we have spent more than a decade flirting with new technologies, there is some evidence that we have failed to integrate the use of technologies by all teachers throughout the regular classroom curriculum in ways that are meaningful, natural and powerful. The most impressive efforts in this regard have been contributed by a group of teachers we might call "pioneers," people who have welcomed new technologies and often devoted many weekend hours to the mastery of new programs and software. In some districts this group may be as large as 25 or 40 per cent of the total, but in most districts there is also a very large group of people who have acted as if technologies were just another form of bandwagon. Many of these people, who we might call "reluctants" or "sages," have spent most of this decade on the sidelines, half hoping that the new technologies would suffer the same fate as instructional TV.

Stages of Mastery of Technology*

Mandinach (1992), building upon the ACOT work of Sandholtz, Ringstaff and Dwyer (1990), outlines 4 stages through which teachers might pass in learning and applying new technologies to their classrooms. What percentage of the teachers in your school district are presently in each of the stages outlined below?

Survival Stage

  • Struggle against technology
  • Assailed by problems
  • Status quo in classroom
  • Cannot anticipate problem
  • Teacher-directed
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Management problems
  • Chaos

Mastery Stage

  • Developing coping strategies
  • Increased tolerance
  • New forms of interactions
  • Increased technical competence
  • Increased experience and confidence with new classroom structure
  • More engagement

Impact Stage

  • New working relationships and structure
  • Learner-centered
  • Teachers as facilitators of learning
  • Less threatened by technology
  • Technology enhanced curriculum coverage

Innovation Stage

  • Restructuring of curriculum and learning activities

*Mandinach, E. and Cline, H. (1992). The impact of technological curriculum innovation on teaching and learning activities." Paper presented at AERA.

*Sandholtz, J., Ringstaff, C. & Dwyer, D.C. (1990). Classroom management: Teaching in high tech environments: Classroom management revisited first-fourth year findings (ACOT Report #10). Cupertino, CA: Apple Computer, Inc., Advanced Technology Group, Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow.

Assessment to Guide Planning

If a district can develop a portrait of its professional staff's relationship with technology, that portrait can provide the basis for planning staff development. The most effective staff development programs offer a variety of opportunities to match the learning styles, preferences and developmental levels of staff members. A teacher in the survival stage will usually require a different approach than one at the impact stage, for example. Some teachers will prefer to learn in small groups or by themselves. Others prefer formal, structured classes. Unfortunately, most districts offer a very limited menu with few options or different approaches.

Assessment to Guide Grant-Writing

One of the biggest weaknesses in grant proposals submitted by school districts is vagueness and a lack of data to describe and define the problem being addressed by the proposal. An effective grant proposal will make use of data in the section on the need being addressed as well as in the sections on objectives and evaluation. The donor will want to see evidence that the problem is well defined and the outcomes can be well measured. The survey in the next section was designed to support a district in gathering just such data to help plan a five year technology staff development effort. It is still in the development stage.

The Technology in My Life Survey

In order to plan technology learning experiences for the teachers of this school district during the next five years, we need to know how many people need which kinds of experiences to help them feel comfortable and proficient. Your anonymous responses to the following items will help guide us in that planning effort.

Section A

Because technology is shifting the nature of our workplace and society, many people argue that teachers will need to acquire what is called technological literacy and competency. Please mark each competency listed below to indicate how far you have progressed in meeting the competency. Then rate each competency for its importance (in your opinion) for teachers of this decade.

Degree of Proficiency Ratings

H=High
M=Medium
L=Low

Degree of Importance Ratings

H=High
M=Medium
L=Low

Proficiency | Importance

1. _____ _____ * operate a computer system in order to use software successfully

2. _____ _____ * evaluate and use computers and other related technologies to support the instructional process

3. _____ _____ * apply current instructional principles, research and appropriate assessment practices to the use of computers and related technologies

4. _____ _____ * explore, evaluate, and use computer technology-based materials

5. _____ _____ * demonstrate knowledge of uses of computers for problem-solving, data collection, information management, communications, presentations, and decision-making

6. _____ _____ * design and develop student learning activities

that integrate computing and technology for a

variety of student grouping strategies and for diverse student populations

7. _____ _____ * evaluate, select and integrate computer technology-based instruction in the curriculum of one's subject area(s) and/or grade level(s)

Proficiency Importance

8. _____ _____ * demonstrate knowledge of multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications activities to support instruction

9. _____ _____ * demonstrate skill in using productivity tools for professional and personal use, including word processing, database, spreadsheet and print-graphic utilities

10. _____ _____ * demonstrate knowledge of equity, ethical, legal and human issues of computing and technology

11. _____ _____ * identify resources for staying current in applications of computing and related technologies in education

12. _____ _____ * use computer-based technologies to access information to enhance personal and professional productivity

13. _____ _____ * apply computers and related technologies to facilitate emerging roles of the learner and the educator

Note: The list is drawn from work done on technology competencies by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education ( NCATE) and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (ECIT) (Hanclosky and Earle, 1992).

Section B

We are interested in knowing how you feel about learning new technologies and programs. Please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with each of the following statements.

1. Most of the new technologies which have become available to me have been easy to learn with relatively little outside support and I am eager to get my hands on more equipment so I can teach myself more.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

2. Most of the technology that has been shown to me would do little to improve my ability to teach or my students' ability to learn and think.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

3. I have made enormous progress during the past year or so in learning new technologies to introduce them to my classroom.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

4. People make far too big a deal over the management issues arising out of new technologies (scheduling, break-downs, etc.).

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

5. I have been able to integrate the use of new technologies so fully into my classroom that I am not sure what I would do if they took them away from me or cut off the electrical power.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

6. These new technologies have forced me to turn the classroom upside down and substantially change the way I teach or relate to the students.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

7. My biggest fear of these new technologies is embarrassment in front of my students or my colleagues.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

8. They cannot expect us to learn all these new technologies unless they give us formal training and extra pay.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

9. I prefer to learn new things as an individual.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

10. The best way to learn new technologies is to participate in formal training classes which show us just how to use the machines and how to use them in our classes.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

11. Sometimes I feel that there is just too much change coming too fast without enough planning or support for teachers. I wish they would just slow down.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

12. I have begun to enjoy teaching more than ever before because of the new power these technologies have put in the hands of my students and myself.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

13. I do best with new programs and approaches when I can learn them with a partner.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

14. All this new equipment and technology is basically one more bandwagon in a long chain of innovations which have made little impact on my classroom or my students.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

15. Even though I have more to learn, I am really proud of what I have accomplished with new technologies and I am ready to share my inventions with colleagues both here in the district and at professional meetings or conventions.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

16. I sometime feel that I have been left behind when it comes to technology. I don't feel comfortable with it and I don't see what good it will do.

__strongly agree __agree __not sure __disagree __strongly disagree

Section C

Please indicate your level of comfort and proficiency with each of the following:

H=High

M=Medium

L=Low

___ on-line database searches
___ telecommunications - electronic mail or bulletin boards
___ HyperCard or Linkway
___ desktop publishing
___ desktop presentations
___ CD-ROM
___ videodiscs (Level One)
___ videodiscs & Computer (Level Two)
___ word-processing
___ database design
___ spreadsheets
___ graphics programs
___ computer simulations

The Technology in My Life Survey
Scoring Instructions

In order to determine the stage of technology comfort and adaptation for each respondent, add up the points for each section as outlined below:

Section A

Degree of Proficiency Ratings

For each H=High rating award 2 points
For each M=Medium rating award 1 points
For each L=Low rating award 0 points

A.1 Total Proficiency Points _____

Degree of Importance Ratings

For each H=High rating award 2 points
For each M=Medium rating award 1 points
For each L=Low rating award 0 points

A.2 Total Importance Points _____

Section B

1.+2 strongly agree +1 agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

2.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

3.+2 strongly agree +1 agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

4.+2 strongly agree +1 agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

5.+2 strongly agree +1 agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

6.+2 strongly agree +1 agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

7.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0 not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

8.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0 not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

11.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0 not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

12.+2 strongly agree +1agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

14.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0 not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

15.+2 strongly agree +1agree 0 not sure -1 disagree -2 strongly disagree

16.-2 strongly agree -1 agree 0 not sure +1 disagree +2 strongly disagree

B. Total Points for above items _____

Preferred technology learning style/format

#9 - individual

#10 - formal class

#13 - partner

Section C

Degree of Proficiency Ratings

For each H=High rating award 2 points
For each M=Medium rating award 1 points
For each L=Low rating award 0 points

C. Total points for Section C _____

Add total points for all four scores (A.1+A.2+B+C) _____

Survival Stage 0-30 points
Mastery Stage 31-60 points
Impact Stage 61-84 points
Innovation Stage 85-104 points

*A note of caution. Because this is a new survey, the above categories and ranges have not been anchored, nor have items been tested for validity or reliability. Those who attempt its use are urged to communicate with the author to share results and reactions. The survey was also meant to be administered anonymously and not used to judge teachers.



Credits: The background is from Jay Boersma.
Other drawings and graphics are by Jamie McKenzie.

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