Date of Award

Spring 5-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Owen van den Berg

Second Advisor

Dr. Deb Ayres

Third Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Bice

Abstract

This action research study investigated the use of a blog in a pre-service teacher orientation foundational course in a mid-western college. The purpose of using the blog was to integrate face-to-face instruction and virtual interactive technology throughout the course, in particular while the students were away from class for five weeks to participate in a practicum. The face-to-face and virtual interactions were designed to provide mutual support. This study was conducted in a course entitled Orientation to Education, a foundational course required of all undergraduate pre-service education students. Of the 34 students, 24 were freshmen or sophomores. The median age was 19. To provide as rich a description and as complete a picture as possible of the way the blog functioned in my course, I employed several data sources including personal reflective field notes, student questionnaires, reports of student focus groups, student blog reflections, student written comments regarding class sessions, and observations from an outside observer. The study demonstrated that the blog was an effective tool that enhanced the students’ learning and allowed them an opportunity to communicate with their classmates and instructor in a virtual community that supported their classroom and practicum experience. The blog did not, however, succeed in engaging all the students in such meaningful discourse. The findings can legitimately be extrapolated to the broader dynamic virtual communication context as educators attempt to utilize current technology. As Facebook, Twitter, and other virtual communication tools gain in iii popularity, teachers will not be able to avoid the issues of the appropriate use of such platforms in their classrooms. By utilizing an action research approach in the classroom, I was able both to indicate the value of such a research paradigm to the improvement of practice, and to demonstrate its value to the pre-service students who were the members of the class being studied.

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