Preparing to teach English language learners: An analysis of teachers' online interactions
Elsa S. Billings, Stanford University, United States
Stanford University . Awarded
Emerging technologies such as the Internet, online video, and synchronous/asynchronous communication tools show promise in addressing problematic issues in teacher education and professional development (Eastmond, 1998), including addressing the gap between theory and practice, supporting critical analysis of pedagogy, and situating learning in practice as it depicts the complex nature of teaching (Ball, 2002; Center for Education, 2001; Grant, 1996). However, the degree to which courses that utilize these technologies are founded on solid pedagogical theory and research is unclear. This is particularly the case with online courses which are cropping up across the United States.
This study explored the effectiveness of an online course created by researchers and educators at Stanford University. The course was one in a series of online courses around effective practices in teaching English language learners (ELLs) that led to California's Cross-Cultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) certification. California's CLAD program has existed in various forms since the early 1980's, yet research on it is very limited (Walqui, 1998; Whitenack, 1995). The course utilized a multimedia, online platform with video cases of effective practice in classrooms with ELLs as the main form of instruction.
Study participants were 21 in-service teachers. Transcripts of online discussions served as the data source. This study utilized qualitative content analyses of online discussions, descriptive statistics, and a Reflection Rubric specifically developed for this study.
Findings showed mixed, yet promising evidence of conceptual change, reflection, and community development. Each of these areas was present in this online CLAD course, with issues that surfaced around each mirroring those found in face-to-face courses. Findings revealed instances of new knowledge and conceptual changes in understanding, as well as deficits and reliance on prior conceptions based mainly on personal experiences. Participants' willingness to reflect on practice varied, as did the depth of their reflection in the times that they did reflect. Many participants avoided reflection altogether, especially on their own practice.
Implications stemming from this study include contributions for the advancement of online courses, diversity training, and the development of a theoretical framework with which to both design and study online courses.
Billings, E.S. Preparing to teach English language learners: An analysis of teachers' online interactions. Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University.
Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.
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