|Ph.D Student||Levy Keren|
|Subject||Teachers as Designers: Promoting Technology-|
Supported Outdoor Inquiry Teaching
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisors||Professor Tali Tal|
|Professor Yael Kali|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
Inquiry in the outdoors may promote deeper understanding of science concepts. However, teachers face various challenges while implementing this approach. Thus, teachers, who often see outdoor teaching as a burden, avoid doing so, and oftentimes hire external guidance. Mobile technologies may provide solutions to some challenges, yet teachers need support to learn to integrate these technologies in their teaching to support inquiry in the outdoors. One way of doing so is by involving them in the design of technology-enhanced learning materials, an approach which is called "Teachers as designers of technology-enhanced learning" (TaD of TEL).
In this research, teachers participated in a unique professional development (PD) program in which they were engaged in designing technology-enhanced learning environments to support outdoor inquiry. These environments included a website and mobile applications. In the PD, teachers experienced outdoor inquiry as learners using the technology-enhanced learning environment, as designers of similar environments and as mentors for their peers, using the environments they developed. The research aimed to: (a) Examine how teachers who are willing to teach inquiry in the outdoors can be supported; and (b) Examine professional development processes teachers go through while involved in designing technology-enhanced learning environments aimed at supporting outdoor inquiry.
A designed-based research (DBR) methodology was employed to collect and analyze data. The current study included two iterations, and was conducted using a mixed-methods approach, integrating qualitative and quantitative methods. In the first iteration, 24 environmental science leading teachers participated in a 16-hour PD program; in the second iteration, 17 biology and environmental science teachers participated in a 60-hour PD program. Data sources included: observations during the PD meetings; open-ended questionnaires; retrospective interviews with nine of the teachers in each iteration; and teachers' artifacts: the learning environments they developed during the PD and activities they developed for their students.
Findings indicate that all teachers went through change processes during the PD program, and some implemented ideas they learned during the program in their classes. Analysis of the change processes and professional growth trajectories shows that teachers tend to develop their knowledge following their experience as learners. The teachers' experience as designers supported the development of their self-confidence and self-efficacy to integrate technology in their teaching, and also deepened their knowledge and their ability to do so. Finally, the teachers' experiences as mentors has deepened their knowledge even more, following the enactment of the learning environment they developed and noticing salient outcomes.
The study shows how the design of the PD program enabled the teachers to develop the knowledge and skills required in mentoring inquiry in the outdoors and integrating technology to support learning processes. The study illustrates how engagement of teachers in activities that encourage them to take part as learners, as designers, and as mentors in technology-supported outdoor inquiry can promote their learning and professional growth. The learning processes teachers go through while engaged in professional experimentations during a PD program, are described and ways in which complex pedagogical approaches can be assimilated into schools are demonstrated and discussed.