An Examination of Teacher Candidates’ Beliefs, Assumptions and Attitudes on the Use of Digital Technologies for Writing in Elementary Classroom Settings
Dr. Tony Donk
Innovations in digital technology are currently being incorporated into elementary classrooms. This has sparked discussions about the appropriate use of digital devices, as well as the dispositions of teachers who will incorporate them into their work with children. This study explored the beliefs, attitudes and assumptions that current teacher candidates hold about the use of digital devices for the teaching and learning of writing in kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5). We began with a review of the literature at the intersection of technology, schools, teacher candidates and writing pedagogy. Using an on-line survey of undergraduate teacher candidates, we examined the belief systems that may influence how these candidates will consider the use of technology in their own teaching of writing. Some participants also took part in focus groups to further excavate their thinking. Our initial findings suggest that current teacher candidates fit the technical definition of “digital natives.” From their earliest memories of schooling, they recalled the use of digital devices, thus they experienced “apprenticeships of observation” that were inclusive of technology. Most participants indicated that K–5 students should compose texts using digital devices. Their responses also suggested a “digital immigrant stance” based on this same “apprenticeship.” A majority of participants were limited to desktop computer technology, used primarily for word processing and gaming activities. Technologies currently available in schools were not part of their experience as K-5 students. While participants expressed support for the use of digital devices for composing texts, they frequently indicated a preference for the use of “paper and pencil” for their own future K–5 students. Thus, teacher candidates’ own beliefs, attitudes and assumptions about the use of digital technologies for K-5 writing efforts largely reflect a digital immigrant stance, despite evidence that puts them into the category of digital natives.
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