A Face-to-Face Professional Development Model to Enhance Teaching of Online Research Strategies

Fatima E Terrazas-Arellanes, Carolyn Knox, Lisa A Strycker, Emily Walden
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 15  •  2016  •  pp. 335-367
To help students navigate the digital environment, teachers not only need access to the right technology tools but they must also engage in pedagogically sound, high-quality professional development. For teachers, quality professional development can mean the difference between merely using technology tools and creating transformative change in the classroom. For students — especially those with learning disabilities (SWLDs) — having well-prepared teachers can mean the difference between passive listening and active learning. This report discusses implementation and impact of a face-to-face professional development model designed to enhance teachers’ implementation of a web-based curriculum (the SOAR Student Toolkit) for teaching online research strategies to all students (both general education students and SWLDs) in the middle school classroom. Fifteen teachers and 446 students participated in this study. Data were gathered from three school-based implementations across two academic years. Results indicate that teachers found that the face-to-face professional development was of high quality (100%), the pace and format was appropriate (93%), and sufficient practice and feedback were provided (100%). All teachers said the professional development supported their professional growth in providing differentiated instruction for all students and integrating technology into their instruction. About half of the students agreed or strongly agreed that they were very happy with the use of the SOAR Student Toolkit, found it easy to use, believed it helped them learn online research strategies, and thought it was a good way to teach. Most students said they would use the SOAR Student Toolkit for future research projects at least sometimes. Students who learned the SOAR Student Toolkit from trained teachers improved scores an average of 29.2 percentage points on performance-based assessments, from 31.3% (SD = 22.1) at pretest to 60.5% (SD = 23.0) at posttest—a statistically significant increase (F(df = 1,857) = 468.4, p < .001). Gains for SWLDs were similar to improvements for general education students.
teacher training, middle school, digital learning, learning disabilities, special education
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