The impact of educational technology on learner interactions: a multiple case study of elementary classrooms
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-entered 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 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.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Educational Leadership
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 164-178).