Using Technology and Mentorship to Improve Teacher Pedagogy and Educational Opportunities in Rural Nicaragua
This study used ethnographic methods to understand factors influencing the implementation of an educational intervention combining short math content videos with teacher trainings and mentorship in high-poverty primary schools in Nicaragua with implications for rural school reform. Educators in rural schools in Latin American face serious obstacles to improve classroom instruction and pedagogy, including lack of resources and overcrowding. Research suggests an over-reliance on input-output models in which inputs (e.g. teacher salaries, textbooks, technology, computer labs, numbers of classrooms, etc.) are expected to produce particular outputs (student retention, lowering drop-out rates, increasing graduation rates, etc.); however, studies show that regardless of the resources, much depends on effective use of resources for successful teaching and learning (O'Sullivan, 2006; L. S. Shulman, 1987). While input/output models provide insights into an educational systems economic efficiency, they do not offer insight into what actually transpires inside of a classroom (O'Sullivan, 2006). Much depends on effective training and use of these very resources. Though systemic issues in the Nicaraguan educational system produced numerous obstacles for the eleven participating 3rd and 6th grade teachers, the educational intervention model supported teachersΓÇÖ ability to be innovative and grow their practice in four ways: a) increased pedagogical knowledge; b) opportunities to collaborate and support one another as a community of teachers; c) flexibility in adaptation of the intervention model to their specific classroom context; and d) use of videos as supportive resources for content knowledge.
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