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James W. Pellegrino, Susan R. Goldman and Kimberly Lawless

Without question, the field of teacher preparation is replete with questions and controversies. In many cases, we lack an adequate base of research and/or theory to answer the myriad questions that arise in the field of policy and practice (e.g., Levine, 2006). The research that does exist tends to be weak and frequently borders on the anecdotal. There are many reasons why this is so, including the fact that the how and why of the teacher education experience can vary widely across institutions within the same city let alone the same state or even within the Unites States (Levine, 2006).

Of all the areas in teacher education in need of analysis and research, none is more pressing and problematic than the area of technology integration in teacher preparation and the preparation of teacher graduates to effectively integrate technology in their K-12 classrooms. While technology holds great promise to positively impact the teaching and learning process and student academic achievement, it is unclear whether that promise will ever be realized given the training available to the vast majority of teachers in America’s teacher training programs. In this chapter we offer a beginning exploration of issues related to the process of teaching teachers to use technology. We do so in the context of our What Works and Why Project (WWW), a multi-year research project that is attempting to examine in some depth the nature of the instructional and learning experiences of students in eight major teacher preparation programs, each of which has a reputation for integrating technology into the fabric of its program. Our examination of teacher preparation programs is guided by principles of how people learn and develop competence in academic content domains and we use this as lens for making sense of the data we are gathering. What is known about learning sheds light on the ways that technology can be used effectively for creating learning environments that extend other resources in a classroom and provides criteria for decision-making about the appropriate and effective uses of technology.

The examination of technology in teacher preparation is very timely. Billions of dollars have been invested by state and federal governments, private foundations, and the public in technology; programs such as Preparing Tomorrow’s Teacher to use Technology (PT3) have invested millions in training teachers to use technology; students have access to multiple forms of powerful technology in their schools and homes; digital and online learning opportunities are expanding rapidly; business leaders are calling technological literacy a necessary 21st century skill and demanding that schools develop it in their students; more than 40 states have implemented technology standards for students and/or teachers; and learning scientists have begun to identify ways that technology can be used to support learning and instruction in principled ways (see e.g., Education Week, 2007).

This chapter is divided into four sections. In Part 1, we consider the complex landscape of factors that can serve to influence what teachers learn and how teachers teach, either with or without technology. In Part 2, we consider what teacher candidates should be learning about learning and instruction, including the role of technology in supporting their own pedagogy and their students’ learning. We then provide an overview of the logic and design of our What Works and Why Project, including the nature of our multilevel data collection process and the set of institutions where that data collection is occurring. In Part 3 we present some initial descriptive results regarding the nature of technology integration and use by IHE faculty in core courses at eight institutions and then by student teachers in their instructional placements. Finally, in Part 4 we consider some of the possible implications of our findings relative to the issues identified in the earlier sections of the paper. Our discussion extends to contemporary issues including the instructional and assessment climate that now pervades K-12 education.

James W. Pellegrino, Susan R. Goldman, Matthew Brown, Banu Oney, Denise Conanan Nacu and Robert Plants