Teacher education programmes are expected to prepare pre-service teacher (PSTs) to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their future teaching and learning practice. However, whether and how PSTs actually integrate ICT in their teaching practice is influenced by many other factors in addition to their own personal background and educational exposure. This study investigates the technologies used and the kind of ICT-related pedagogical approaches adopted by PSTs’ teaching practicum, and to examine how these are influenced by school-level and personal-level factors. Fifteen PSTs assigned in the same teaching practicum group were selected as the focal subjects for this study. The methodological approach taken in this research was multiple case studies, involving in-depth data collection through surveys, interviews, observations and document analysis during various stage of the PSTs’ in seven preschools over two semesters. Findings reveal three pedagogical approaches adopted by the PSTs: 1) teacher-initiated and teacher-directed, 2) teacher-initiated and children-directed, and 3) children-initiated and children-directed. The most frequent pedagogical approach overall was teacher-directed approach. The adoption of children-directed activities was much lower, and children-initiated activities were very infrequent. Similar patterns were found in ICT-related learning activities: a majority of these initiated and directed by PSTs and only limited opportunities for children to direct the use of ICT. No ICT was used in children-initiated activities. Further analyses reveal that school-level conditions were important in influencing PSTs’ decision-making in relation to ICT use. These conditions include: nature of the curriculum adopted by the school, ICT access, and the mentor teachers’ pedagogical use of ICT. In schools with a greater understanding and adoption of children-centred approaches, PSTs had more opportunities to involve children in using ICT in teacher-initiated and children-directed activities. In structured teacher-centred classroom, PSTs follow their mentor teacher’s use of ICT, mainly in teacher-initiated and teacher-directed approach. It is found that the mentor teacher played a very important role in demonstrating the pedagogical use of ICT. The study found that personal conditions such as the PSTs’ self-reported personal use of ICT and their competence in using ICT also affected how they used ICT in their practice. While the PSTs had similar ways of using ICT for their own personal activities, they varied in the confidence and competence in pedagogical use of ICT. They all felt confident in using ICT to prepare and present visual learning resources, but were less confident in preparing lessons that involve the use of ICT by children, and even less confident in guiding children’s use of ICT. These findings suggest that in order for teacher education programmes to effectively prepare PSTs for ICT integration, mutual understanding and collaboration with practicum schools and mentor teachers are important. Teacher educators and teacher education institutions are only part of the education ecosystem. Aligned vision and efforts involving policy makers and school leaders at the system and school levels are necessary to create the appropriate conditions for mentor teachers to support PSTs in exploring innovative ways of using ICT in early childhood education.
|Publication status||Published - 2015|