AACTE to Award Dissertation on Using Instagram to Elicit Teacher Reflection

AACTE will honor Monica T. Billen, assistant professor in the Kremen School of Education at California State University, Fresno, with the 2016 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for her study #Learningtoteach: Using Instagram to Elicit Pre-service Teacher Reflection. The award will be presented at the 68th AACTE Annual Meeting Speaker Spotlight Session, Thursday, February 25, at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

Billen’s study investigated how using participant-driven images on Instagram influenced reflective expression among preservice teachers during a yearlong internship. By employing a photojournalistic approach, teacher candidates constantly noticed their surroundings and used these “noticings” as catalysts for deeper, more critical reflections. Participants touted this method as much more connected to real life, collaborative, and interesting than traditional reflection methods. Amassing more than 1,800 photos over a year’s time, preservice teachers built a unique visual data set using familiar technology combined with written and oral reflections.

The dissertation was completed last year for Billen’s Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee. Her adviser was Professor Richard Allington, professor of theory and practice in teacher education.

“Dr. Billen’s dissertation is noteworthy because of the widespread practical implementation, the use of a rigorous research methodology, and the unique, visionary, and progressive nature of the research,” said Allington. “The progressive and imaginative study has already had widespread influence on the practice of teacher education.”

“This study was unique, innovative, and rigorous,” agreed Paul Beare, dean of the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State. “The way in which data were collected proved to be a cutting-edge method that has not been done in education before.”

Reviewers on AACTE’s Committee on Research and Dissemination concurred, praising Billen’s well-written dissertation for its novel and forward-thinking approach to reflection, an enduring aspect of teacher preparation. “This dissertation pushes us to think in a digital age about how we represent our ideas using images and data,” said Mistilina Sato of the University of Minnesota, who chairs the committee. “The author and study participants not only assemble a rich library of images, but also bring an insightful analytic frame toward understanding the conception and process of reflection.”

AACTE issued a press release today announcing all of its 2016 award winners. For more information on AACTE’s awards program, visit http://aacte.org/professional-development-and-events/awards. Applications for next year’s dissertation award will open in April.

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