PK-12 Teachers’ TPACK and Self-Efficacy in Online Instruction During the COVID-19 Crisis: What Do the Principals Think?

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Brief Abstract

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Illinois’ teachers have shifted rapidly from traditional instruction to online teaching. The study investigates principals’ perceptions about PK-12 teachers’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and self-efficacy in effective online instruction and shares the success stories of teachers in creating and delivering their online courses.   

Extended Abstract

During the COVID-19 emergency, all Illinois schools were closed for face-to-face instruction beginning on March 17, 2020 and continuing through the 2020-2021 school year (ISBE, 2020b). Illinois schools were required to implement alternative instruction referred to as online learning. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released statewide policies that required school districts to accommodate online learning for all students and prohibited grade or retention penalties for students unable to complete the online learning at home. This resulted from concerns over disparities in technology access between various demographic groups and individual districts across Illinois, especially the differences in local conditions for technology resources, educator skills and training, and student technology access. As a result, online learning implementation ranged from independent paper-and-pencil activities to a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous virtual instruction. With the potential for ongoing online learning in Illinois, the presenters investigate principals’ perceptions of PK-12 teachers' knowledge and self-confidence in the design and delivery of online instruction. The presenters focus on four challenges teachers face in online instruction: 1) quality of the online teaching, 2) online engagement, 3) online learning outcomes, and 4) working online with students with disabilities. This presentation will utilize the theoretical frameworks of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge [TPACK] (Mishra & Kohler, 2006) and Self-Efficacy Theory [SET] (Bandura, 1986). First, the TPACK framework focuses on technological knowledge (TK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and content knowledge (CK). It outlines the essential foundation and productive approach of content, pedagogy, and technology integration for teaching and learning. Research suggests teachers’ development of TPACK is critical to effective online instruction. When teachers lack foundational TPACK, it is difficult for them to create new knowledge bases for online instruction, especially technological aptitude (Pamuk, 2011). Research suggests teacher preparation hinders TPACK “when educational training focuses more on classical pedagogical practices, which are helpful in the traditional lesson planning, but provide little preparation for the advancement and interaction of TPACK” (Author, 2020, p. 93). Second, SET—an important concept in Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory—describes the self-confidence of the individuals toward their capability to perform certain behavior or solve a specific program well and successfully (Bandura, 1994). Teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs in online instruction affect how they feel, think, and motivate themselves to design and deliver online learning. SET also emphasizes that cognition of self-efficacy beliefs plays a critical role in teachers’ attitude and engagement in online instruction, as well as the strategies they will take to complete the online instruction, regardless of their skills or actual ability (Pajares & Johnson, 1996). The TPACK and SET theoretical models will help the presenters identify the capabilities, beliefs, and intentions linked to implementation behavior needed for PK-12 teachers to overcome the abovementioned challenges and engage in further online instruction. The presenters chose to investigate the perceptions of principals regarding the TPACK and self-efficacy of teachers in online instruction during the COVID-19 crisis. As leaders for learning (Copland & Knapp, 2006), principals are qualified to assess the TPACK and self-efficacy of teachers. Through classroom observations and professional conversations, principals gain first-hand knowledge of the practices, skills, and beliefs of their staff. The presenters chose a mixed-methods design with the sequential explanatory variant (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2017; Ivankova et al., 2006). Research suggests this presentation's design model is the most frequent mixed-methods approach used in the social sciences (Bryman, 2006). In phase one, quantitative self-administered surveys are emailed to all principals in Illinois (ISBE, 2020a) and analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. In phase two, criterion-i sampling (Palinkas et al., 2015) identifies 12 participants from phase one for in-depth, semi-structured interviews to explain and illuminate the survey findings. Complementarity strengthens the validity of the study when the semi-structured interviews illustrate, explain, and clarify the results of the surveys, especially any unexpected or surprising findings (Greene, 2007). The interview protocol is informed by the data analysis in phase one. The interviews are transcribed and analyzed for recurring themes. The findings of both phases and the success stories of teachers in creating and delivering their online courses will be integrated in the discussion of the presentation. The objectives and goals of this work-in-progress study will be discussed in the presentation to gain feedback and to establish contact with similar projects for improvement and extension.