Influences on teacher practice related to the instructional use of the computer in the elementary school writing program
Joseph Thomas Allin, University of Toronto , Canada
University of Toronto . Awarded
For over twenty years, educational leaders have encouraged teachers to incorporate the use of the computer into their instruction. Millions of dollars have been spent equipping schools with this technology. Nonetheless, a review of recent research literature indicated limited student use of this equipment.
This research was motivated by a desire to learn more about those factors that influenced teachers' instructional use of these computers. Of the many possible instructional applications of the computer, this study focused on the student use of the word processor as a writing tool. Three elementary teachers were identified who were committed to extending computer access to their students while engaged in the writing process. Case studies, detailing data gathered through extensive interviewing and classroom observation, allowed the researcher to examine those factors that prompted and supported these teachers' efforts to extend student access to the computers during writing workshop. Impediments making it difficult for these teachers to facilitate the students' use of the computer were also investigated.
While many factors combined to shape each teacher's practice, it was evident that a deep personal commitment to the use of the computer as a tool to support student learning was common to the teachers who were subjects of the three case studies. The children's enthusiastic response to the use of the word processor coupled with their writing success were also strong factors influencing these teachers' efforts to find ways to extend computer access to their students. The case studies demonstrated the application of computer software throughout all phases of the writing process with the students moving between the drafting, editing and rewriting phases in a recursive manner and with ease. A need for greater cohesiveness between mechanisms intended to support good writing instruction and those intended to assist teachers with the use of classroom computers was indicated. The study also found that an alignment of system and school priorities had a positive effect on teachers' efforts to incorporate student use of classroom computers.
Allin, J.T. Influences on teacher practice related to the instructional use of the computer in the elementary school writing program. Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto.
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