, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 307-330

A Teacher Professional Development Program on Using a Constructivist Multimedia Learning Environment

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Abstract

This paper describes a professional development program using an interactive multimedia program to develop teachers' understanding of a constructivist epistemology in science education. The aim of this study was to describe teachers' reflections on and perceptions of a series of professional development workshops and how teachers changed their classroom practices after having participated in the workshops. The software, developed with the cooperation of teachers and students, is based on the Birds of Antarctica database (Maor & Phillips, 1996). This database was designed as an interactive program which requires teachers to use a constructivist-oriented approach to teaching and learning in order to promote the development of inquiry skills particularly higher-order thinking skills. A series of workshops for teachers was conducted to empower them to become comfortable with using computers in science classrooms and to enable them to enhance their understanding of, and ability to use, personal and social constructivist approaches. Teachers' perceptions of the process of learning with the multimedia program and their reactions to their experiences were assessed using a new instrument, the Constructivist Multimedia Learning Environment Survey (CMLES). The results of the study suggest that teachers who participated as learners in the professional development program became familiar with a constructivist-oriented multimedia learning environment; understood the context, problems, and issues faced by students in the classroom; and were better able to facilitate students' needs and understanding in this learning environment.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.