The social nature of an online community of practice for learning to teach
Metadata[+] Show full item record
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Taking advantage of Internet technology, an online community of practice, NETwork, was established to support a group of elementary science pre-service and in-service teachers' learning how to teach. To better understand how teachers can be supported and sustained while participating in an online community of practice, this study investigated the nature of members' participation, members' perceptions of social constructs of online learning experience, and members' learning in a community of practice. Three primary research questions were asked: 1) How do members participate in the primary learning activities through Chat Room discussion, Discussion Board discussion, and information sharing in Resources?; 2) How well does the proposed path model explain the relationships among the social constructs of online learning (i.e. sense of community, social ability, perceived ease of use, and perceived usefulness) and how well do those social constructs explain community outcomes/effects (satisfaction with NETwork experience and effectiveness of NETwork for Teaching)?; and 3) How do members' perceptions (sense of community, social ability, ease of use, usefulness, satisfaction with their NETwork experience, and of the effectiveness of NETwork for supporting teaching) change through participating in the community? For research question one, members' log files (Context-aware Activity Notification System data - CANS) were analyzed by social network analysis and visualization techniques to show members' levels and patterns of participation, and qualitative data collected via serial and semester-end interviews and discussion content in the discussion board and chat room were analyzed to triangulate what had been found via CANS data. The results of the analyses show that: 1) Members' levels and patterns of participation varied across time, member types, and tools; 2) Members' identity and levels of participation were reciprocally associated; 3) There were similarities and differences in members' usage of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools, and members showed growth of their knowledge and skills for teaching via mutual engagement, creating joint enterprise, and establishing shared repertoire supported by CMC tools; and 4) Lack of time influences members' levels of participation. For the second research question, quantitative data collected in the final survey were analyzed via path analysis to examine the relationships among the social constructs. The final model of primary social constructs was found to explain how members' perceptions of sense of community (SOC), social ability (SA), and perceived ease of use (PEU) and usefulness (PU) of Sakai tools account for 74% and 80% of variance respectively for members' satisfaction with NETwork experience and effectiveness of NETwork for Teaching. Also, the relationships among sub-constructs of SA and other social constructs provided further understanding of how social navigation, social presence with peers, and social presence with instructors related to members' perceptions of PEU and PU, SOC, and S. For research question three, data collected in both the first and final surveys were analyzed via dependent-sample t test and qualitative data collected in both the serial and semester-end interviews were analyzed to examine changes in members' perceptions of social constructs. The results show that members' perceptions of social constructs significantly changed after participating in NETwork activities although some social constructs might need more time for changes to be significant. Also, members believe that participating in NETwork is helpful for their current and future teaching.
Access is limited to the campuses of the University of Missouri.