Niess, M., van Zee, E., & Gillow-Wiles, H. (2011). Knowledge growth in teaching mathematics/science with spreadsheets: Moving PCK to TPACK through online professional development. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(2), 42–52.
Niess, van Zee, and Gillow-Wiles sough to expand upon the TPACK construct by exploring how an online course could impact teachers’ levels within TPACK. These five levels, originally identified by Niess, Sadri, and Lee in 2007, are: recognizing, accepting, adapting, exploring, and advancing. In this specific study, the authors studied how an online course focused on implementing spreadsheets as a teaching tool in math and science would impact teachers’ beliefs and placement within those levels. They found that the participants all appreciated what they had learned about spreadsheets and found it valuable for considering the use of spreadsheets as an instructional tool, but many of the teachers fell into various TPACK levels concerning the actual use of these tools within the math and science classroom. Four of the teachers were identified as being at the higher levels of TPACK at the conclusion of the course, while the other eight were placed at the accepting level.
The authors created a detailed case study to explore their multiple research questions concerning the impact of the online course on teachers’ TPACK levels. Their data collection plan was in-depth and included various elements such as pre-survey evaluating self-efficacy and TPACK, a pre-observation of the teachers’ math and/or science instruction, assignments completed throughout the course, transcripts of course discussions, and transcripts of a detailed interview that was conducted after the conclusion of the course. Cross-analysis of observation data was done as well as cross-analysis of binder collections of data collection on the individual participants. The researchers also provide detailed descriptions of the five TPACK levels and share specific quotes from teacher interviews demonstrating their beliefs and where that would place them in the TPACK levels. Finally, the article discusses various implications and recommendations such as the need for expanded opportunities for teachers to not only learn about new technologies but also to practice implementation of them in order to develop and strengthen TPACK.
This study connects to my current research interests mainly due to its implications and recommendations. My interests fall into the areas of assistive technology and differentiation with instructional technology and although it has many complexities, I like the basic constructs behind TPACK. I think that technologies used for differentiation need to have pedagogy and content intertwined in order for greater chance of success and effectiveness for both instructors and students. In some aspects, an even greater consideration needs to be given to pedagogical strategies and scaffolding for differentiation purposes. The authors’ suggestions that professional development and practical opportunities need to be greatly expanded really resonated with me.