As part of the TIM Tools suite, the Technology Uses and Perceptions Survey (TUPS) provides information on teacher beliefs about and perceptions of technology in instruction as well as current instructional uses. Comprised of 200 items, the TUPS is often used for informing technology purchasing decisions, collecting data in support of grants or special projects, supporting teacher instructional coaching, and identifying teacher professional development needs. This post focuses specifically on how results from the TUPS can be used in planning and targeting technology-related professional development (PD) for teachers.
As a self-report survey, the TUPS yields data from a teacher’s perspective that can inform us about what is happening with technology in the classroom as well as factors that may be influencing a teacher’s choices. The survey is organized in seven general sections, some of which give us direct information and some that provide indirect information about teachers’ technology integration. While this is not a strict division, it may be helpful for considering how each section of questions contributes differently to our understanding. Using both types of data give us a more complete picture.
Directly Inform: Teachers’ responses to items in these sections can be directly interpreted and used for immediate action. Questions in these sections are related to the types of PD teachers want, how they have prepared or been prepared for using technology in teaching, the frequency with which they and their students are using various types of devices and software, and which instructional strategies are they implementing when using technology in their lessons. While these data are collected as self-report by teachers, the elements would be directly observable in the classroom or other setting.
Indirectly Inform: Teachers’ responses to other these sections provide information that can be indirectly interpreted as to its impact on technology integration. Concepts in these sections include: beliefs teachers have that may be supporting them or holding them back from use or full use of technology, which technologies they think are valuable for their teaching area, and how skilled they believe they are with a variety of software and devices. While this information may not be immediately linked to observable technology use in the classroom, these concepts impact teachers’ ability and willingness to use technology in their teaching and therefore should be addressed in expanded professional development approaches that go beyond skills training.
What TUPS Results Tell Us
With a sense of how these two types of information uniquely contribute to our understanding of teacher technology use, we now have a more complete view of the breadth of data from the TUPS. This will help us see how we can then work toward PD recommendations that are more specific and tailored. Result from the TUPS can be summarized in four broad categories:
1. Teacher Pre-Disposition to Technology Integration
When we observe teachers in their instructional settings, we can see whether or not they are using technology in their instruction, and if so which technologies and in what ways. However, direct observation does not give us insight into the factors involved in teachers’ decisions. Before getting to the point of observable tech use, teachers have engaged in planning and made choices that were influenced by a variety of beliefs and attitudes. We consider this key piece to be a teacher’s pre-disposition to technology integration. Two sections from the TUPS, Perceptions of Technology Use and Confidence and Comfort Using Technology contribute to our understanding of the degree to which a teacher is pre-disposed to integrating technology in his or her teaching. This is critical, as sending a teacher who, for example, does not believe in the importance of students using tech in class to skills-based PD is not likely to be effective. However, by gaining a greater understanding of this teachers’ pre-disposition to tech integration, recommendations can be made for PD that will better serve this teacher.
2. Conditions for Integration Success
Another helpful component we can look at when unpacking TUPS results is how conducive is the instructional setting for technology integration? Three TUPS sections contribute to our understanding of some of the necessary conditions for integration success: Preparation for Technology Use, Technology Access & Support, and Professional Development. More specifically, these sections tell us about the training a teacher has had or pursued on his or her own, the availability of devices for students to use, the amount and type of support that is available for teachers (both technical and instructional), and the categories of technology-related training that a teacher is most interested in pursuing. We can’t expect teachers to be given technology and then immediately implement it in their lessons without ensuring that these conditions for success, such as support, tech access, training and ongoing PD, are in place.
3. Student Technology Use
To get a glimpse of instructional technology use at the student level, we can look at what a teacher reports as to how and how often his or her students are using technology. The Student Use section provides this directly as frequencies of use for a range of devices and software. This can be supplemented with information from the Technology Integration section. For example, if a teacher reports using technology in cooperative groups and for student research, we can make inferences about the students’ likely experiences.
4. Teacher Technology Implementation, Skills, & Usefulness
This grouping of results includes both direct and indirect information from the following sections:
Technology Integration, Teacher Use of Technology, and Technology Skills & Usefulness. There is a wealth of information here that gives us insight into both how a teacher is integrating tech and his or her beliefs about personal skill with and usefulness of a wide range of technologies. This final category of results therefore helps us see what a teacher is doing, along with factors that may be influencing the degree and type of technology being implemented.
How the Results can be Interpreted to Help You Target PD
Teacher’s Personal Use of Results
Results from the TUPS are probably most often interpreted and used at a school, district, or higher level. However, there is valuable information that can be interpreted and provided to individual teachers to help them in their growth plans and to get PD that is better matched to their individual needs.
In the figure above are examples of a single-page report that might be provided for an individual teacher. At a summary level, it can be helpful to report back to the teacher how he or she responded to the items in each section of the TUPS. This gives a view of all of the pieces in one place, and how they may fit together. An example of this would including sentences such as: “These methods have been important for your acquisition of technology skills:” with a list of those that he or she identified accordingly. The next step can be providing general interpretations for each teacher based on his or her responses. For example, if a teacher responded in generally positive ways to a specific subset of the items in the Confidence and Comfort section, an interpretive sentence can be given such as “You appear to have a high level of confidence and comfort with using technology in instruction.” Similar interpretive responses can be devised that highlight for the teacher the strengths and challenges that came through in his or her responses, as a way to summarize and also to provide encouragement. Finally, specific PD recommendations can be made to an individual teacher based on results from different TUPS sections. For example, the types of PD the teacher reported having interest in can be directly included, along with higher-level integration strategies that the teacher reported using less often. As another example, the Skills & Usefulness section can be mined for recommendations at an individual teacher level. First, you can highlight the technologies that a teacher believes are useful for his or her area, but in which he or she has a low skill level, and recommend skills-based training. Second, those technologies in which a teacher is skilled but does not consider as useful in his or her area can be pointed out and suggested for PD that focuses on integration strategies and uses for those tools.
School Level Use of Results
TUPS data provide valuable information to school leaders that can assist them in making decisions about school- or department-wide professional development initiatives and allocations related to technology integration. Viewing summaries of the types of PD teachers reported having interest in, along with the integration strategies and technologies that are and are not being used can help school leaders and PD departments focus on areas of greatest current need, while also planning for the future.
Some additional pieces that can be helpful at a school level are using TUPS results to
identify teachers who are likely to be early adopters of new technology. When starting a new project or introducing new tech, these teachers can be included as part of the roll-out team to help plan and to assist their peers. Another approach might be to have a team of teachers consider the school- or department-level TUPS results and give their interpretations and recommendations for PD focus. Finally, administering the TUPS before and after PD programs can give a school leader important evaluative feedback.
District or Larger Aggregate Level Use of Results
Many of the strategies identified for using results at a school level apply equally well at a district or larger aggregate level. Of particular interest at higher levels may be information that pertains to policies and goals or initiatives that have been set for technology in education. For example, if a state-wide goal was set for teachers to increase their use of a particular pedagogical strategy such as collaborative learning, or increase their use of a specific technology such as tablets, TUPS data can easily give that information.
As you can see, results from the TUPS provide both a breadth and depth of information that can provide great insights at different levels for improving technology integration. If we ask our teachers to use their valuable time to complete the survey, we should make sure that we use these data as thoroughly as possible to help make their jobs easier through well-targeted professional development.
Christine Harmes is a consultant on research, measurement, and evaluation, and an ICF-certified coach. Her research interests focus on improving teacher use of technology, computer-based testing and usability. At the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida, Dr. Harmes focuses on research and tool development related to technology integration.
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