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Teaching English with technology: Exploring teacher learning and practice

, Michigan State University, United States

Michigan State University . Awarded


The purpose of this study, conducted during the 1998–1999 school year, was to examine the nature of teachers' technology-supported English practice and understand teachers' learning to teach with technology. Past research has not explored and current research is not adequately exploring how teachers learn and what is required for teachers to know how to use technologies in the English language arts classroom. Further, unlike the unique contexts of study in past research (e.g., high technology classrooms and specialized software use), this study was grounded in more typical school and classroom contexts (modest and eclectic collections of computers and generic software use).

Four middle-school English teachers, who used technology in support of teaching English content, agreed to participate in this study. The data included a combination of classroom observations and life-history teacher interviews. Observations focused on the teachers' use of technology in relation to instruction and student learning experiences. The series of interviews explored the teachers' life histories, including history of educational preparation, career(s), teaching positions, technology experiences, technology learning, and technology use.

The dissertation study was written in the format of three journal articles. In the first article, a technology use taxonomy was developed to analyze teachers' technology use. This taxonomy conceptualized three categories of technology use in content areas: technology as replacement, technology as amplification, and technology as transformation. Across time, participants used technology across all three categories, not in a sequential order. This finding challenges the notion that sophistication of technology use is linked to technology experience. This finding may be explained by the expansion of practical uses for technology, the teachers' reform-oriented beliefs, and the possibility that these teachers learned from others' “expert knowledge.” Varieties of technology transformation that may have been obscured in the data analysis are discussed.

Analysis in the second article explored how teachers learned to use the technology they reported knowing. Using technology to support subject matter instruction occurred more often when a teacher's initial learning experience involved either (a) learning technology in the context of learning more English language arts content or (b) learning technology with an awareness of a connection between the technology and the English language arts. From analysis of trends in four teachers' technology-learning, I developed a general model that illustrated the technology-learning process and described how teachers take multiple pathways through this learning model.

In the third article I analyzed and compared why and how teachers learned and used technology. The teachers' reasons for learning technology were closely associated with the reasons they used technology in their teaching practice. Further, the manner in which the teachers learned impacted the design of learning opportunities for their students. Hypotheses about the kinds of knowledge that teachers develop through the process of learning to teach with technology are offered.


Hughes, J.E. Teaching English with technology: Exploring teacher learning and practice. Ph.D. thesis, Michigan State University. Retrieved December 5, 2022 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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