Changes that develop in teachers' information and communication technology (TICT) mediated practice over time : a five year longitudinal, qualitative study

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been in schools for a number of years now, however little is known about what actually takes place when teachers bring ICT into their professional pedagogical practice. This study contributes to this understanding by examining the lived experiences of five teachers in their ICT mediated practice over a period of five years. To extend current understandings of change in teachers’ ICT mediated practice this study uses a qualitative and longitudinal approach with grounded theory strategies. Assorted analysis contributed to the longitudinal component. This involved the analysis of preexisting qualitative data of the teachers combined with primary data collection and analysis. Importantly, this study situates ICT mediated practice in order to examine the complex interrelationship between context, engagement with context, and development in individual teacher’s ICT mediated practices over time. Aspects of Professional Practice theory and Socio-cultural theory were used to examine this relationship. A significant finding of this study is that teachers’ ICT mediated practices are changing and that the process of change is complex. Two factors were found to contribute to the complexity. One was the central role of professional identity in teachers’ ICT mediated practice. It was found that change begins in a teacher’s professional identity before it is observed as changed classroom teaching practice. A second factor contributing to complexity of change in ICT mediated practice was teachers’ consistent use of particular aspects of their context (the syllabus, teachers’ own status in school hierarchy and, nonschool uses of ICT) and individual factors (teachers’ core approaches to teaching and learning and also their ability and motivation to develop themselves professionally) as resources to inform the decisions they made in their ICT mediated practice. A theoretical model of change in ICT mediated practice is presented. The model indicates the teachers’ use of contextual and individual resources was pronounced when they engaged with changes in their context they considered to be critical to their professional identity associated with their ICT mediated practice.This study also makes a methodological contribution by showing that a qualitative longitudinal approach using grounded theory strategies and focusing on a small number of participants facilitates identifying and examining the significance of context and individual factors for change in TICT mediated practice. The use of context and individual factors supported explaining change in TICT mediated practice is more complicated than simply a change in actions a teacher performs in the classroom. This methodology also assisted in providing evidence that while on the surface, a teacher may look like their TICT mediated practice is not changing, there can be non-observable changes in their individual factors and professional identity (which sustain and influence the observable changes) which precede observable changed classroom practice.
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