THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY ON LEARNER INTERACTIONS: A

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  • THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

    ON LEARNER INTERACTIONS:

    A MULTIPLE CASE STUDY OF ELEMENTARY CLASSROOMS

    A Dissertation by

    Russell K. Miller

    Master of Education, Wichita State University, 1988

    Bachelor of Music, Friends University, 1983

    Submitted to the College of Education

    and the faculty of the Graduate School of

    Wichita State University

    in partial fulfillment of

    the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Education

    May 2006

  • �Copyright 2006 by Russell K. Miller

    All Rights Reserved

  • iii

    THE IMPACT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

    ON LEARNER INTERACTIONS:

    A MULTIPLE CASE STUDY OF ELEMENTARY CLASSROOMS

    I have examined the final copy of this Dissertation for form and content and recommend

    that it be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of

    Education with a major in Educational Leadership.

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Ian W. Gibson, Committee Chair

    We have read this Dissertation and

    recommend its acceptance:

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Nancy Bolz, Committee Member

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Jeri Carroll, Committee Member

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Jean Patterson, Committee Member

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Randy Turk, Committee Member

    Accepted for the College of Education

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Jon M. Engelhardt, Dean

    Accepted for the Graduate School

    ____________________________________

    Dr. Susan K. Kovar, Dean

  • iv

    DEDICATION

    To my wife, Susan, for her unconditional love, encouragement, and support – during my

    doctoral journey and, more importantly, throughout our life journey together.

  • v

    The rate of change in the society in which we live forces us to

    redefine how we shall educate a new generation.

    Jerome S. Bruner

  • vi

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I want to thank my friends and colleagues in Cohort 12 – Rae Niles, Marty

    Stessman, Cameron Carlson, David Sheppard, and Robert Morton – for their friendship

    and support as we maneuvered through our doctoral program together. Together, we

    made a difficult journey bearable; we laughed a lot, we supported one another, and

    together we emerged stronger from the experience. I will always count you among my

    closest friends.

    My sincerest appreciation goes to Dr. Ian Gibson, my dissertation advisor, for his

    friendship and guidance over the past three years. I have appreciated his humor, his

    passion for technology, and his dogged determination in seeing me through this process.

    My appreciation is also expressed to Dr. Howard Pitler and Dr. Denise Seguine for their

    assistance and guidance during my research and writing, and to my committee members –

    Dr. Nancy Bolz, Dr. Jeri Carroll, Dr. Jean Patterson, and Dr. Randy Turk – for their

    contributions to my research proposal and defense.

    An additional acknowledgment is due “Anna,” “Barbara,” “Christie,” and their

    students for allowing me to invade their classrooms while they participated in this

    project. My “hats” – both researcher and supervisor – are off to them in deepest

    appreciation for the incredible work they do every day.

    Finally, and most importantly, I thank my family – Susan, Jessica, and Andy – for

    their support and caring and putting up with the stresses of this work. I truly could not

    have done it without them!

  • vii

    ABSTRACT

    The purpose of this research was to study a selection of elementary school

    classrooms during their normal instructional routines in order to observe, analyze, and

    describe the impact of educational technology on learner interactions. As a study

    grounded in the concepts of the qualitative research tradition, the research methods

    employed included observations, personal interviews of teachers, focus group interviews

    of students, and document review. The purposeful selection of teachers, who were

    disposed to distinctly different pedagogical practice and use of educational technology,

    provided a wide variety of experiences for the data collection process as the researcher

    interacted with the classroom occupants in the role of participant observer. The study was

    conducted by a researcher who was simultaneously serving as the school’s principal,

    providing an additional focus as the potential conflict of researcher and supervisor roles

    was explored and analyzed.

    The analysis and presentation of these three individual case studies provided a

    thorough description of the learning environments under study, and explored the different

    philosophies and pedagogical practices of the three teachers in addition to their level of

    comfort with incorporating educational technology into their classrooms. Findings

    indicated that educational technology, when incorporated into traditional teaching

    practice, resulted in little change in learner interactions but a discernable increase in

    student interest and motivation. When integrated into lesson presentations that were more

    constructivist in nature – e.g. student-centered or project-based – educational technology

    was observed to facilitate higher levels of communication and collaboration between

    students and teachers. Particularly of interest was a “students as teachers” model that

  • viii

    occurred frequently as students shared their knowledge and interests with others, often

    coupled with teachers allowing students to have more control of the learning process.

    The findings of the study support the conclusions that integrating technology can

    positively impact the interactions of learners in elementary classrooms when used as a

    tool to support constructivist pedagogy. The conclusions also definitively speak to the

    powerful role of the individual teacher and how their daily instructional decisions are

    impacted by their personal philosophies, background, pedagogical preferences, and

    comfort with the technological tools at their disposal.

  • ix

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    CHAPTER PAGE

    CHAPTER ONE .............................................................................................................1

    Background and Rationale of the Study...........................................................................1

    Statement of the Problem...........................................................................................6

    Purpose of the Study..................................................................................................7

    Research Question .....................................................................................................8

    Significance of the Study...........................................................................................8

    Definition of Terms ...................................................................................................9

    Methodology Overview ........................................................................................... 10

    Dissertation Format ................................................................................................. 12

    CHAPTER TWO .......................................................................................................... 13

    Literature Review.......................................................................................................... 13

    Constructivism Explored ......................................................................................... 13

    Competing Theoretical Frameworks ........................................................................ 21

    Organizational Culture and Change.................................................................... 21

    Systems Thinking .............................................................................................. 23

    Constructivism as a Theoretical Framework ............................................................ 24

    Longitudinal Studies................................................................................................ 25

    National Assessment of Educational Progress Study in Mathematics ................. 26

    Idaho Council for Technology in Learning......................................................... 27

    West Virginia Study........................................................................................... 28

    Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow ........................................................................ 30

    Laptop Computers ................................................................................................... 31

    Laptop Word Processors and Handheld Computers.................................................. 35

    Teacher Beliefs and Practices .................................................................................. 40

    CHAPTER THREE....................................................................................................... 46

    Research Design and Methodology..............................................