Social Supports is an on-line discussion tool that allows teachers to have discourse around issues and topics that pertain to teaching and learning. This learning environment affords teachers the opportunity to see models of teaching, identify and further develop ideas, and begin the process of strenghthening instructional areas for improvement.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
Social Supports recognizes that new teachers need opportunities to share ideas and see role models that can inform their practice. Social supports are essential for teacher learning (Putnam & Borko, 2000), as they are for student learning (Linn, Davis, & Eylon, 2004).
Teacher communities provide opportunities for expertise development (Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001) as well as identity development (Overbaugh, 2002). When a community has access to diverse perspectives, distributed expertise can develop (Brown et al., 1993; Smithey & Davis, 2002).
Context of Use:
Social Supports derived out of CASES (Curriculum Access System for Elementary Science) which is an on-line learning environment that is focused at helping elementary science teachers further develop their practice of teaching in science.
Elementary pre-service science teachers ideas were analyzed about inquiry-based science teaching to assess their struggles, challenges, and perceptions about inquiry-oriented science teaching.
Results show pre-service teachers have differing confidence levels, beliefs, and ideas about inquiry-oriented science teaching. Data also points to the need for an on-line supportive community to be flexible and adaptive to the needs of teachers. Social supports provides teachers with the opportunity to develop their ideas about teaching, student learning, and the self-reflective practice of inquiring into teaching.
Putnam, R., & Borko, H. (2000). What do new views of knowledge and thinking have to say about research on teacher learning? Educational Researcher, 29(1), 4-15. Smithey, J., & Davis, E. A. (2002). Preservice elementary science teachers' distributed expertise in an online community of practice. In P. Bell, R. Stevens & T. Satwicz (Eds.), Fifth International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS). Seattle, WA: Lawrence Erlbaum. Linn, M. C., Eylon, B.-S., & Davis, E. A. (2004). The knowledge integration perspective on learning. In M. C. Linn, E. A. Davis & P. Bell (Eds.), Internet Environments for Science Education (pp. 29-46). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Grossman, P., Wineburg, S., & Woolworth, S. (2001). Toward a theory of teacher community. Teachers College Record, 103(6), 942-1012. Overbaugh, R. (2002). Undergraduate education majors' discourse on an electronic mailing list. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(1), 117-138. Brown, A., Ash, D., Rutherford, M., Nakagawa, K., Gordon, A., & Campione, J. C. (1993). Distributed expertise in the classroom. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davis, E., Smithey, J.,. and Petish, D. (2004). Designing an On-line Learning Environment for New Elementary Science Teachers: Supports for Learning to Teach. Presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching in Vancouver, BC.