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Theses Doctoral

An Investigation of Elementary Schoolteachers' Use of Twitter for Their Professional Learning

Nochumson, Talia Clare

This mixed methods study explored how elementary school teachers who use Twitter extensively use it to support their professional learning and development. Four research questions guided this study: 1. How are teachers using Twitter for their professional learning and development? 2. What do teachers report learning from their use of Twitter? 3. What do teachers say they do with the information they have learned from using Twitter? 4. What support do teachers have when they want to implement what they have learned from Twitter? An online survey was distributed via Twitter targeting teachers of elementary grades. A total of 107 participants were included in the final sample. Interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 19 teachers. Document analysis of tweets from a subsample of interviewees and from a sample of tweets from the #2ndchat Twitter community served as triangulation. The key findings from this sample illustrated several ways teachers learn from Twitter. In response to the research questions, teachers reported using Twitter as a source of motivation and support, explaining that it provided them with feedback, encouragement and peer accountability. Second, teachers reported learning about many topics, especially technology integration techniques. Third, teachers described using the information they learned to alter some of their teaching practices and to pursue other educational opportunities. Lastly, more than half of teachers reported having administrators who supported their efforts to implement Twitter-based ideas. In addition, teachers appreciated certain affordances of Twitter including immediacy, choice, and access to other educators. These findings have several implications for teachers, school leaders, and policymakers. Teachers reported that they believed they were getting trustworthy information from highly reputable Twitter users. However, it would be important for them to critically review the information and ensure its alignment with evidence-based teaching practices for how students learn. Further, teachers’ responses seemed to indicate that they want input and control over their learning, which has important implications for traditional professional development offerings. As Twitter continues to expand and gain acceptance as a source of learning for teachers, considerations for its use as a 21st century tool must be taken into account.

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More Information

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Meier, Ellen
Volpe, Marie
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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