Designed for Digital? A Qualitative Study of Teacher Self-Efficacy and Their Consideration, Integration, and Implementation of an Elementary Digital Science Textbook

Date
2023-08
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Abstract

Background: Technology has been a part of the educational landscape of American public schools for decades. Out of all the various technological tools, digital textbooks, as with their print counterparts, remain a resource for teaching and learning. However, though learning technology has penetrated classrooms widely, many teachers still do not integrate and implement digital textbooks. While there is research on technology integration, fewer research studies addressed K-12 in-service teachers’ integration and implementation of digital textbooks, including in elementary science classrooms. Because teachers are at the forefront of technology integration, their experiences with and perceptions of digital textbooks influence their instructional practices and curricular delivery. Purpose: Drawing on the conceptual frameworks of self-efficacy and technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK), the purpose of this study was twofold. First, it explored suburban fifth-grade science teachers’ perceptions of and experiences with digital science textbooks. Second, it explored the roles that suburban fifth-grade science teachers’ perceptions and experiences regarding the integration and implementation of their fifth-grade teaching practices played in shaping their TPACK self-efficacy. The following questions were addressed: 1. What are suburban fifth-grade elementary science teachers’ experiences with and perceptions of considering, integrating, and implementing the digital science textbook in their teaching practices? 2. How do teachers’ experiences with and perceptions of digital science textbook integration and implementation shape their TPACK self-efficacy? 3. How are teachers’ experiences with and perceptions of the digital science textbook changed due to educational disruption, such as a pandemic? Methods: A qualitative single-case study design was used to explore suburban fifth-grade science teachers’ perceptions and experiences of their integration and implementation of digital textbooks. Three elementary schools from a southeast Texas suburban school district were chosen based on specific criteria relevant to the study. The participants were a purposeful sample of seven fifth-grade science teachers from three elementary campuses. Multiple sources included one semi-structured interview with each participant, audio recordings, field notes, and memos. Transcriptions of interviews were performed, and member checking was employed to ensure the trustworthiness and accuracy of the transcribed interviews. Having multiple data sources and methods allowed for data triangulation, which offered evidence to address the study’s purpose and research questions. Results: I found that the participants' experience with integrating and implementing the digital science textbook varied. I discovered that TPACK self-efficacy varied among the participants. I also found that teachers’ experiences and perceptions of their digital science textbook integration and implementation when pivoting to virtual learning during the pandemic mirrored those pre-pandemic instructional practices with this digital tool in the traditional school setting. Conclusion: In this study, I sought to explore the specific factors that shaped teachers’ digital science textbook integration and implementation in their instructional practices. I found that teachers’ digital science textbook integration and implementation varied in their teaching practices. Future research should concentrate on effective professional development opportunities through modeling the use of the digital science textbook by experts and providing opportunities for teachers to collaborate and practice using this digital tool with experts. Further, teachers need technical and collegial support with using the digital science textbook and building their digital competencies as they integrate and implement this technological tool in their science classrooms.

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Keywords
teacher self-efficacy, elementary digital science textbook, TPACK, technology integration, technology implementation
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