Tracking the development of pre-service teachers' competencies for integrating information and communication technology in the teaching of high school physics in Ghana
Darko Agyei, Elizabeth
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The study used a Design-Based Research approach with an explanatory case study design to track and understand the process of development of pre-service teachers’ competencies for integrating information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the teaching and learning of high school physics in Ghana. To achieve this goal, Physics Education Technology (PhET) simulation was used as an interactive tool by which the study sought to: 1) produce an ICT-based intervention that fits the Ghanaian senior high school physics classroom context; 2) examine the effectiveness of the ICT intervention; and 3) provide explanations on how and why improvements in teaching using ICTs and enhanced students’ learning of physics concepts through the implementation processes are possible. Seventeen pre-service physics teachers from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana participated in the study – eight of them (in their 3rd and 4th years) were the competencies understudy while the remaining nine pre-service teachers (2nd years) only served as “learners” to mimic the roles of high school students. The eight competencies understudy were enrolled in a professional development arrangement to develop their competencies in using PhET simulations to teach high school physics in an interactive and learner-centred manner. Based on the experiences gained through the professional development arrangement, this group of pre-service teachers collaborated to design PhET simulation-supported lessons in Design Teams and afterwards, enacted the intervention in two try-outs of microteaching among themselves and their peers who only served as “learners” in the study. Questionnaires, observations, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, pre- and post-tests, and lesson artefacts developed by the pre-service teachers were the data sources employed in this study. The findings of the study revealed that the ICT-based intervention promoted learner-centred and interactive teaching of physics based on its inherent characteristics. The study therefore suggests that the intervention developed herein signifies the kind of ICT intervention that fits the realities in the senior high school physics classrooms in Ghana. The results also showed that the pre-service teachers improved in their teaching practices with the ICT- based intervention owing to their developed technological pedagogical and content knowledge; improved content knowledge; and developed competencies in the exploration of the PhET simulations. The PhET simulations as an interactive ICT tool was revealed to facilitate enhanced students’ learning of concepts in physics, motivate students’ interest in physics as a science subject as well as promote meaningful learning when used for physics instruction. Central to these findings herein is the professional development arrangement considered for the study. The specific features of the professional development arrangement that matter for the development of pre-service teachers’ competencies for integrating ICT in the teaching of physics as well as the implications of the findings of this study are discussed.