A case study of a pilot one-to-one laptop initiative in a high performing catholic high school
Encouraged by technology advocates outside of schools, high schools throughout the country are introducing technology initiatives, such as providing students with laptops with 24-hour access to computers and the internet, without considering how the technology will affect the school personnel and the students. Little empirical research explains this phenomenon, yet schools continue to adopt these initiatives. Through the theoretical framework of Organizational Sensemaking, the researcher explored the context in which he worked to determine how participant groups in a comprehensive diocesan Catholic high school made sense of the introduction of a one-to-one laptop pilot. This embedded case study spanned three semesters from the fall of 2005 through the fall of 2006. Data collection involved activities with four participant groups: “laptop insiders” consisting of the first year pilot students and their teachers, laptop “outsider/insiders” consisting of students and teachers who joined the initiative after the first year, and “laptop outsiders” consisting of the high school’s department chairs, and the researcher/leader of the pilot. Data collection activities included: focus groups, open-ended electronic surveys, the Right and Left Hand Column Case Method, a document review of emails and student reflections, and a review of the researcher’s activity and reflexive journals. Detailed findings from the study are organized by participant group and reflect the how each group experienced their involvement with the pilot. Conclusions drawn from this study’s findings provide insights into how participants made sense, or did not make sense, of the laptop initiative that disrupted the school and challenged traditional school structures. Findings revealed four main incongruous observations of divergent sensemaking between laptop teachers and department chairs: different perceptions of teaching and learning, different understandings of the role that technology plays, or can play, in the classroom, different understandings about who should control information in the classroom, and different understandings about the Catholic school mission. Additionally, findings and conclusions describe how participants made sense of the initiative as they constructed narratives of the future to understand the present and how pilot participants constructed identities for themselves and for others in an effort to make sense of their involvement. Findings and conclusions also explore the difficulties of conducting research in the researcher’s own context. Implications for theory and practice include encouraging time for reflective dialogue, transitioning between years in the pilot, and leading sensemaking processes when introducing initiatives that challenge school structures. Implications also include recommendations for the school within which this study was conducted.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Educational Leadership