Results from the CIDDL Needs Assessment: Are Recent Graduates Prepared to Use Technology?
In the spring of 2023, CIDDL conducted a needs assessment to determine how we can best support faculty, per our mission statement. CIDDL focused our research on three main questions. We will address the first question in this blog post by sharing our findings and discussing the implications. To learn more about the participants and methodology, read the introductory blog of this series. We will discuss the other two questions in future blogs.
The first question that guided our needs assessment was “Are recent graduates from IHE preparation programs entering PreK-12 classrooms ready to use technology effectively with students with special needs?”. To answer this question, we sought participants who were teaching and supporting students in the pre-k-12th grade environment. The 24 participants represented special education teachers, general education teachers, early childhood professionals, and administrators. One limitation of these results in the rather small population sample.
To answer this question, CIDDL divided responses into two categories: one focusing on new general education teacher readiness to use technology within the first three years and one focusing on special education teacher readiness.
- With regards to general education teacher readiness, findings indicate a moderate to high level of readiness in the following areas: ready to use a learning management system (LMS) as a learning environment for students' resources, assignments, grades, and attendance (46%), ready to provide feedback privately, in real-time, using technology (35%), ready to empower students to use technology to communicate and collaborate (35%), and ready to personalize learning for all students, including those with special needs (31%).
- Special education teachers reported a moderately to high readiness in the following areas: ready to communicate online with parents, guardians, and families (69%), ready to apply new and innovative uses of technology to their practices (39%), ready to interpret and use assessment data to inform instruction (38%), and ready to apply technology tools that advance Universal Design for Learning (UDL; 34%).
The results indicate that a fairly significant percentage of graduates of both special education and general education teachers are leaving their preparation programs and beginning their careers in pre-k through 12 without the prerequisite readiness skills to effectively use technology in their practice. Given that general education teachers often have students with special needs in their classrooms, this is an important gap for CIDDL to address.