Preschool Teacher Perceptions of Assistive Technology and Professional Development ResponsesBy Stoner, Julia B.; Parette, Howard P.; Watts, Emily H.; Wojcik, Brian W.; Fogal, Tina; Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 77-91
Publication Date: March 2008
Study investigated the perspectives of teachers in an early childhood center on the implementation of a school-wide assistive technology (AT) program designed to enhance emergent literacy skills for children identified as being at risk for having special needs. Nine teachers from the center participated in the study, which was part of a project named Making A Difference Using Assistive Technology (MDAT). Semi-structured interviews, observations in the classroom, and a self-assessment of AT knowledge and practice were used to collect data. Data analysis resulted in identification of 4 major themes: (a) perceptions of technology, which for the majority of teachers were devices or objects including computers, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), digital cameras or tape recorders used to help children complete specific tasks; (b) perceived challenges in implementing technology, including technical support, time invested, and student population characteristics such as poverty and high mobility; (c) perceptions of AT and literacy, which for the majority of teachers focused on reading; and (d) self-reported AT use, where participants readily admitted their lack of training and knowledge regarding types of AT. Based on knowledge gained of the teachers’ needs and perceived challenges, MDAT project staff provided teachers with an AT toolkit, implemented professional development for AT within the toolkit, and modeled use of AT during group activities. Recommendations based on study results applicable to school AT programs include: (1) gaining the perspectives of stakeholders, in this case teachers; (2) ensuring flexibility in professional development approaches; and (3) the use of stipends to support teachers.
Published by: Council for Exceptional Children (Website:http://www.cec.sped.org)
Division on Developmental Disabilities (DDD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) (Web Site: http://www.dddcec.org )