Interpreting teachers' utilizations of information technologies: Case studies of four central Ohio secondary social studies teachers
Steven Charles Murray, The Ohio State University, United States
The Ohio State University . Awarded
In recent years there has been a rapid influx of information technologies into American schools. The growing presence of these technologies has occurred simultaneous with various education reform agendas which frequently have competing visions of how these technologies should be implemented.
This study was a qualitative inquiry which attempted to understand how four secondary social studies teachers identified as classroom implementers of information technologies and practicing in diverse locations in central Ohio operationalized their teaching practices, including the use of these technologies.
The results of this study suggest that any effort to understand the role of information technologies in the classroom should be viewed through an ecological framework. In every case, various social and cultural factors, including the availability of financial resources, community support for students' academic success, professional collegiality, and a growing emphasis on state-mandated proficiency examinations, had an impact on teachers' implementation of information technologies.
The results of this study suggest that these teachers' practices and utilizations of information technologies can be understood as adaptive. In every case, teachers mobilized strategies intended to meet the perceived needs of their particular students. In every case, the use of information technologies occurred in student-centered activities intended to develop skills the participants believed were vital. Accompanying and enabling the teachers' adaptive practices were particular adaptive dispositions. These included patience, a tolerance of ambiguity, an ability to negotiate control, and a capacity for change.
The study finally suggests that there is a need and an opportunity to connect theories of learning to particular teachers' practices. Across the cases these teachers demonstrated numerous pedagogies; suggested by constructivist learning theory and advocated by many social studies educators. However, noting the manifestation of certain pedagogies without situating them in the individual experiences of the teachers who mobilize them likely would exacerbate the already problematic gap between educational theory and practice.
Murray, S.C. Interpreting teachers' utilizations of information technologies: Case studies of four central Ohio secondary social studies teachers. Ph.D. thesis, The Ohio State University.
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