Using Computer-Mediated Discussion To Facilitate Preservice Teachers’ Understanding of Literacy Assessment And Instruction

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Glasgow]On: 07 October 2014, At: 04:01Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number:1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street,London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Using Computer-MediatedDiscussion To FacilitatePreservice TeachersUnderstanding of LiteracyAssessment And InstructionTamara L. Jettonaa James Madison UniversityPublished online: 24 Feb 2014.

    To cite this article: Tamara L. Jetton (2003) Using Computer-MediatedDiscussion To Facilitate Preservice Teachers Understanding of LiteracyAssessment And Instruction, Journal of Research on Technology in Education,36:2, 171-191, DOI: 10.1080/15391523.2003.10782411

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  • Using Computer-Mediated Discussion To Facilitate Preservice Teachers'

    Understanding of Literacy Assessment And Instruction

    Tamara L. Jetton james Madison University

    Abstract The author summarized research conducted with preservice teachers who participated in the case stud]' of struggling readers via asynchronous Computer Mediated Discussion (CMD) on Black-board Results revealed that themes about assessment and instruction ofstruggling readers emerged within and across discussion fora. Also, CMD both facilitated and limited these preservice teach-ers' understandings of literacy assessment and instruction. Thi:: a.nd orher research studies in this area served as a base for recommendations regarding the u::e of CJi1D in university teacher education courses. Recommendations focused on issues ofcommunict1tion, collaboration, and the learning environment. Specific recommendations reveal that instructors should carefUlly consider the purpose and tasks for employing CMD in a university cour::e. Also, instructors must find ways ro increase motivation for those students with writing apprehension. Further, instructors can practice methods to facilitate increased interaction during Ci'vfD. Lastly, by having preservice tettchers engage in discussions of case study research, instructor; can provide an effective learning environment for preservice teachers to learn about the multifoceted nature of literacy assessment and instruction.

    There is a need to examine environments in which preservice teachers partici-pate to learn about the teaching of literacy. These learning environments in-clude teacher-controlled or peer-led discussions, inquiry-based instruction, and the use of teaching cases (Chong, 1998; Goldman, 1997; Jetton & Alexander, 1997; Wade, 2000). Recently, the advent of technology has enabled preservice teachers to participate in a learning environment in which they conduct elec-tronic discussions using the Internet (Dutt-Doner & Powers, 2000). These dis-cussions have been referred to as Computer-Media:ed Discussions Qetton, 2003; Schallert & Reed, 2003; Fauske & Wade, 2003). Through these discus-sions, preservice teachers share their understanding of course content with one another to extend learning beyond the limits of the actual classroom (Labbo & Reinking, 1999). Given the learning benefits of such tec~~nology as electronic discussion boards, Hoffman and Pearson (2000) call for teacher educators to use electronic texts as part of reading teacher education to enhance teacher learning. Likewise, Wepner and Mobley (1998) believe that technology must play a role in any field experience program.

    In this paper, I first provide a theoretical rationale that explains how Com-puter Mediated Discussions (CMD) contribute to teacher education through communication, collaboration, and the learning environment. I then summarize a study in which preservice teachers conducted case studies of struggling readers and conferred about the case students using asynchronous CMD on Black-

    Journal of Research on Technology in Education 171

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  • board. This study serves as a research base for recommendations that I suggest for employing CMD in a university teacher education course. My recommen-dations focus on using CMD in order to enhance communication, collaboration, and the learning environment for preservice teachers.

    ADVANTAGES OF CMD IN TEACHER EDUCATION Through an examination of the results of the study summarized here and

    other current research in this area (e.g. Hawkes & Romiszowski, 2001; Dutt-Doner & Powers, 2000), I found that CMD offers three important advantages for teacher education. First, it provides an additional way that teachers can com-municate about their beliefs and experiences both in terms of the content of their college courses, and the experiences they encounter in the field during their practicum placements (Wepner & Mobley, 1998). Second, CMD becomes a tool for collaboration among teachers (Hawkes & Romiszowski, 2001). Third, CMD is an alternative learning environment in which preservice teachers can process information, increase their knowledge, and conduct reflective thinking about their own and others' teaching practices (Thomas, 2002).

    Communication According to Wepner and Mobley (1998), communication is critical to the

    development of teachers, both as they enter the field of education and as they continue their journey as ir~service educators. They propose a model for teacher education in which CMD is one mode of communication that should be com-bined with multiple modes, such as face-to-face discussions and peer ccmmuni-cation, for teachers to effectively process and reflect on their teaching practices. Wepner and Mobley believe that electronic communication encourages teachers to develop a better sense of their own self efficacy and to increase their under-standing of their own teaching practices as they engage in self reflection. Fur-ther, communication helps teachers develop higher expectations for themselves and others as professionals in the educational community.

    Because CMD involves communication through writing, students who par-ticipate in electronic discussions have opportunities to increase their writing skills. Daly and Miller (1975) found that students with writing apprehension typically avoid situations involving writing, and they dread writing when it is placed in a public forum. Several researchers have found that computer-medi-ated communication actually benefits students with writing apprehension (Hiltz & Turoff: 1978; lvfabrito, 1992; Wellman, 1997). By participating in electronic discussions that require students to read others' writing and respond with their own writing, students with high writing apprehension engage in the very process that they tend to avoid (Mabrito, 2000). Other researchers have found that because the discussion is mediated by the computer, writers feel a greater sense of remoteness. Thus, through computer-mediated environments, they tend to take more risks, enhance their roles and status in the electr::mic community, and increase the socio-emotional content of their responses (Coo-per & Selfe, 1990; Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984; Ku, 1996; Rice & Love, 1987).

    172 Winter 2003-2004: Volume 361Vumber 2

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  • Another communication advantage is that the online, written electronic envi-ronment of CMD enables teachers to read and review written artifacts that are stored in memory, so they can reference particular comments (Tiene, 2000). That is, in contrast to face-to-face discussions, in which responses are tempo-rary and fleeting, electronic discussions enable teachers to look back and analyze several responses that pertain