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ELPC Teaching Roles – ICT and Teacher Stress March 12, 2010

Posted by teachandreflect in Uncategorized.
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In previous posts I’ve noted that in some of the literature on ICT-supported education there are implicit and sometimes explicit expectations that teachers will and must learn to bring ICT into their classrooms – or undergo the training required to do so – regardless of their individual teaching styles or the strategies they currently use when teaching.

These expectations are not at all unexpected, when one considers the abundance of scholarly literature linking ICT-supported learning to improved academic achievement, regardless of the methodological and theoretical shortcomings of the research underpinning some studies.

But a question still remains – what of the teachers who already teach in a highly effective way in non-ICT supported classrooms and whose students already achieve the type of results ICT-supported education strives to replicate. Research indicates that high teacher self-efficacy is linked to greater student confidence in their teachers and therefore their perceived probability of learning something significant in the classroom. So what if that sense of efficacy in an old-fashioned but high-performing teacher is undermined? Would not the academic achievement of his or her students fall? Given that, we – as pre-service teachers – are confronting our own self-efficacy fears when it comes to ICT-supported teaching, i.e. we’re stressed out about it(!!), I thought it imperative to engage some research on how teachers are coping with the stress or learning and applying these new technologies in the workplace.

Since the publication of Craig Brod’s Technostress: The Human cost of the computer revolution (1984), researchers have had a vocabulary with which to examine negative ICT-related effects on employees in all sorts of organisational domains. I was surprised, then, to find a relative dearth in credible research investigating the link between teacher stress and the introduction of ICT into the classroom, particularly when compared to the burgeoning studies citing the positive effects of the ICT endeavour. One Mohammed Al-Fudail and Harvey Mellar of the University of London took up the batton in 2007, in their article Investigating teacher stress when using technology. Unsurprisingly, Al-Fudail and Mellar found that the teachers surveyed do indeed suffer “technostress” i.e. ‘stress associated with the use of technology in the classroom. But the researchers also claimed to have found a means of addressing the problems that cause such stress, predominantly by improving the ‘teacher-technology environment fit’. The study might therefore be considered an ICT-friendly response to my question concerning teacher stress. Unfortunately, however interesting the findings might have been, the sample of teachers surveyed was quite small – only nine – and only around 32 hours of teaching activities were observed.

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