R.A.T. Model

Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation: The R.A.T. Model


What is RAT?

RAT is an assessment framework for understanding technology’s role in teaching, learning and curricular practices, originally developed for PK-12 education, but it has been applied in higher education, especially in pre-service teacher education. The original purpose of the RAT framework was to introduce it as a self-assessment for preservice and inservice teachers to increase critical technological decision-making.picture of a rat with definitions of Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation

The model (most comprehensively described in Hughes_ScharberSITE2006 (PDF)) leads you to understand if digital technology is functioning as replacement, amplification, or transformation in educational practice.

  1. Technology as Replacement – technology used to replace and, in no way, changed established instructional practices, student learning processes, or content goals. The technology serves merely as a different (digital) means to the same instructional end. Typically, all that changes is the medium through which a well-established purpose is met. Think of: proxy, stand-in, or surrogate.
  2. Technology as Amplification – technology increases efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of instructional practices, student learning processes, or content goals. The tasks stay fundamentally the same while the technology extends our capabilities in effectiveness or streamlining. Think of: enlargement (larger, greater, stronger); addition of detail (fuller, clearer); increase in magnitude; making louder.
  3. Technology as Transformation – technology reinvents aspects of instruction, learning, or curriculum in new and original ways. For example, new cognitive forms could emerge, new people could be involved, or new content may be accessible. Think of: alteration, change, conversion, revolution, renovation, makeover, restructure, reorganize. 

To assess a technology’s contribution, one considers an instance of technology use and assesses is systematically in terms of three broad themes: instructional methods, student learning processes, and curriculum goals. Each of these three themes can be further articulated by identifying more specific dimensions of each.

teaching_dimensionsI encourage schools and districts to co-develop these dimensions as they can reflect areas of importance for overall school improvement. Ultimately, you can use a matrix table to account for your assessment of a specific instance of technology use. Feel free to use this RAT Question Guide as a starting place for your own assessment or for activities in your district or school: RAT_Question_Guide (PDF) or RAT_Question_Guide (DOCX).

It was the first time I had really been able to look over student work and see what it felt like to put it into some type of framework. I found the experience …very worthwhile and I have a better understanding of the importance of teachers reviewing student work to determine if students are meeting the required outcomes. I can also see how a Professional Learning Community (PLC) could look at student work to determine how the work fits into the RAT framework and how to increase technology integration.” (Teacher Participant)

Following are a few best practices and underlying assumptions for using the R.A.T. model based on my research and practice:

  1. The R.A.T. categories are not meant to connote a linear path to technology integration, such as teaching teachers to start with R activities, then move to A and ultimately T. Rather, my research shows that teachers will have an array of R, A, and T technology integration practices in their teaching. However, T practices seem more elusive.
  2. The key to Transformative technology integration is opportunities for teachers to learn about technology in close connection to subject matter content. For example, supporting subject-area teachers learning in a PLC across a year to explore subject area problems of practice and exploration of digital technology as possible solutions. 
  3. Discrete digital technologies (e.g., Powerpoint, an ELMO, GIS software) can not be assessed alone using the R.A.T. model. One needs rich instructional information about the context of a digital technology’s use in teaching and learning to begin a RAT assessment. Such rich information is only known by the practitioner (teacher) and explains why the model supports teacher self-assessment. For use in research, the RAT model typically requires observations and conversations with teachers to support robust assessment.

History of RAT

I, Dr. Joan Hughes, developed the R.A.T. model in 1998 when I was conducting my doctoral dissertation research (available: Hughes_2000_Dissertation) at Michigan State University. I was researching how teachers integrated technology into their teaching, how they learned about technology for education, and what knowledge they developed as they learned and integrated in the classroom. In conceptualizing the data I collected from middle/junior high school English teachers, I sought resources to understand these teachers’ practices, learning and knowledge. Ultimately I created the RAT model (see dissertation pages 29-83) to help understand the nature of the technology-supported practices teachers developed  and implemented in their teaching, and I created the TPCK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) model (see dissertation pages 139-187, especially pages 173-186) to understand teachers’ technological knowledge development in the context of English teaching. RAT and TPCK (now referred to by some as TPaCK) were conceptualized concurrently in my research, and both help to conceptually explain teachers’ technology integration. The RAT model was built upon earlier scholarship by Roy Pea, and the TPCK model was built upon the scholarship of Lee Shulman. I have used the RAT model in my own research as a conceptual frame to understand teachers’ technology integration practices (see below). I also use it in my teaching and professional development practices and consulting to assist pre-service and in-service teachers develop a framework for understanding their growing competencies in technology integration. While RAT has existed since 1999, there’s growing interest in and use of RAT for both research and practice (see below).

Still many years later I think about the RAT thingy. You know how you we can assess what the technology is doing for us. I think about that each time I use technology.” (Student Teacher)

Media Mentions

The RAT Model, Instructional Design by Kelly (March 1, 2016)

A Management Approach to Implementing New Technologies and Pedagogies in the Classroom, by Brad Murphy, published in Educational Technology Solutions, p. 45-47 (Feb 11, 2016)

Basic Educational Technology Training (Online Course), James Rolle (Fall, 2015)

I smell a RAT: The truth about evaluating digital pedagogy, Education 1-to-1 (May, 2015)

The RAT Model (as explained by Esther Casey), Te Toi Tupu Leading Learning Network (August, 2014)

The Third Barrier of Tech Integration, Digital Literacy Blog UWC Southeast Asia (Oct 2014)

SAMR, RAT…how do you actually integrate technology into the music classroom?, Technology in Music Education (July 2014)

The RAT, SAMr, Transformative Technology, & Occam’s Razor, Digital Literacy Blog UWC Southeast Asia (Apr, 2014)

Goodbye SAMR, Hello RATL! IGNITEducation (Jan, 2014)

Technology integration considering TPACK and RAT, Michelle Read and Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Heart of Texas Writing Project (Apr, 2010)

RAT in Research

*To abide by copyright law, I have included the last version of published articles prior to print publication (which are copyrighted by the journal).

Hughes, J.E. (1999, December). Teachers using technology in support of middle school language arts: Toward a model of teacher learning. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Orlando, FL.

Hughes, J.E. (2000, April). Learning alone on the technology frontier? Four English/Language Arts teachers’ journeys. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

Hughes, J.E. (2000, April). Degrees of pedagogical transformation among technology-using language arts teachers. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

Hughes, J. E. (2000). Teaching English with technology: Exploring teacher learning and practice. (doctoral dissertation), Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Available: Hughes_2000_Dissertation (PDF) (See pages 29-83 in particular.)

Hughes, J.E. (2001, March). Teaching with technology: The development and role of teacher knowledge. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. Orlando, FL.

Hughes, J. E. (2005). The role of teacher knowledge and learning experiences in forming technology-integrated pedagogy. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13(2), 277-302.

Hughes, J.E., McLeod, S., Dikkers, A. G., Brahier, B., & Whiteside, A. (2005). School Technology Leadership: Theory to Practice. Academic Exchange Quarterly (Special Issue on Leadership), 9 (2), 51-55. Available: Hughes_McLeod_etal_2005

This article describes the NETS-A aligned technology leadership certificate program we developed at the University of Minnesota called The School Technology Leadership Initiative (which later transformed into CASTLE, Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education). Part of the article describes how we integrated theory with practice in the program’s coursework. In one course, the participants learn about the RAT continuum and its role in analyzing technology-supported lessons. Participants then used RAT to analyze lessons from their own educational settings or from repositories of video-illustrated, technology-supported practice. Then, learners conducted a focus group with colleagues to facilitate discussion about the RAT framework, its potential usefulness and barriers and enablers of technology integration. Finally, participants share the results of their focus group activity and identify next progress steps for technology integration in their educational settings.

Hughes, J. E., Thomas, R., & Scharber, C. (2006). Assessing technology integration: The RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation – Framework. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, Orlando. Available: Hughes_ScharberSITE2006 (PDF)

This paper introduces an assessment framework, called RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation, that can be used with preservice and inservice teachers to increase critical decision-making concerning integration of technology into the K-12 classroom. The framework and its application in practice are described.

Brahier, B. R. (2006). Examining a model of teachers’ technology adoption decision making: An application of diffusion of innovations theory (Order No. 3227530). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text. (305316440) or through your local university library.

Brahier’s mixed-method study developed and investigated a model of K-12 teachers’ technology adoption decision-making using a diffusion of innovations theoretical framework. Teachers (n=60) from a K-12 school district participated in an introductory workshop where they examined RepliGo(TM) digital annotation software (the innovation). Logistic regression analysis was used to analyze the adoption model. For the two teachers who adopted and engaged in the four-week field trial of the innovation in their classrooms, qualitative analysis analyzed teachers’ perceptions of the innovation and to what degree the innovation replaced, amplified, or transformed their instruction, curriculum, and student learning. Teachers’ perceptions of the innovation’s compatibility with current work practice and relative advantages were significant indicators of adoption and implementation of the innovation. The two teachers used digital annotation during the field trial to amplify and transform their instruction, especially the formative assessment of students’ vocabulary knowledge.

Hughes, J. E., Guion, J., Bruce, K., Horton, L., & Prescott, A. (2011). Framework for Action: Intervening to Increase Adoption of Transformative Web 2.0 Learning Resources. Educational Technology, 51(2), 53-61. Available:Hughes_etal_2011_Pre-Press

In this piece, we describe how Web 2.0 resources are often adopted into teachers’ practice to replace or amplify instruction rather than facilitate transformative educational change. We introduce a new interactional model, called framework-for-action (FFA), to reposition ‘success’ as based on qualitative criteria (how is it used?) instead of quantitative (e.g., is it used or not?). During the change process, there are points of change factor interaction (e.g., high complexity and little support) when a change agent (e.g., a technology integration specialist, a librarian or other professional developer) can intervene to engage potential adopters in meaningful learning opportunities that reposition individuals or groups to make decisions leading to adoption of technologies that support transformative learning and teaching with Web 2.0 tools.

Demir, S. (2011). Two Inseparable Facets of Technology Integration Programs: Technology and Theoretical Framework. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 7(2), 75–88. Digitally Available by this Link

Gao, P., Chee, T.S., Wang, L., Wong, A., & Choy, D. (2011). Self reflection and preservice teachers’ technological pedagogical knowledge: Promoting earlier adoption of student-centred pedagogies. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(6), 997-1013. Available: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/77923939/self-reflection-preservice-teachers-technological-pedagogical-knowledge-promoting-earlier-adoption-student-centred-pedagogies

Russell, G. S., & Hughes, J. E. (2014). iTeach and iLearn with iPads in secondary English language arts. In C. Miller & A. Doering (Eds.), The new landscape of mobile learning: Re-designing education in an app-based world (pp. 292-307). New York: Routledge. Available: Russell_Hughes_2014 (PDF)

This research enters into two veteran high school English teachers’ classrooms, providing an ethnographic view of the ways teachers and students use ubiquitous iPads to facilitate learning in English Language Arts in the first year of an 1:1 iPad and 4Cs innovation. Using weekly classroom observations, documents, and formal and informal interviews, analysis uses the RAT model to examine the iPad-supported teaching and learning practices that emerge across the year. Results reveal the teachers’ use of the iPad prominently improved efficiency of learning, a type of amplification practice. There were also some transformative learning practices, such as students engaging in new media literacies, such as individual and collaborative multimedia creations/expressions and critical thinking.

Kimmons, R., Miller, B., Amador, J., Desjardins, C., & Hall, C. (2015). Technology integration coursework and finding meaning in pre-service teachers’ reflective practice. Educational Technology Research and Development, 1-21. doi:10.1007/s11423-015-9394-5. Available through publisher: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11423-015-9394-5# or contact Dr. Kimmons

Kimmons, R. (2015). Examining TPACK’s Theoretical Future. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 23(1), 53–77. Available through publisher: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/130072

Blanchard, M. R., LePrevost, C. E., Tolin, A. D., & Gutierrez, K. S. (2016). Investigating technology-enhanced teacher professional development in rural, high-poverty middle schools. Educational Researcher, 45(3), 207-220. Available: http://edr.sagepub.com/content/45/3/207.short

The information on this page is updated often – please email me directly (joanh @ austin.utexas.edu) for links or connections to your RAT-related activities that you’d like to see here.






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