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The effects of a laptop computer program on the teaching-learning dynamic at one physical therapist education program

, Indiana University, United States

Indiana University . Awarded


In response to the need for twenty-first century health professionals to have technology-enhanced skills and knowledge, computers, especially laptop computers, are a growing presence in health professions' education. The promises of laptop computer technology to improve learning and even promote education reform seem to support this growing presence. However, evidence for the effects of laptop computing on system elements such as the School, the classroom, instructors, and students in health professions' education is absent. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the effects of implementing a laptop computer program on the teaching-learning dynamic at a physical therapist education program.

Guided by Rogers' Diffusion and Adoption Theory, a qualitative, instrumental case study design was used. Data were collected over two years through non-participant observation, tape-recorded interviews, document review, and administration of an alumnae survey. Four issue questions and eight sub-questions were addressed.

The results demonstrated that classroom dynamics were altered by the presence of individual laptop computers. Student multitasking was evident, especially in classes that were lecture-based. Questions typically addressed to the instructor during class were communicated to each other via instant-messaging, decreasing the interaction between instructor and students. Students and instructor groups perceived laptops as making learning and teaching more efficient. Students did not perceive their learning was enhanced although laptops did help develop their computer skills and technology-related problem solving skills. The computer was regarded as a tool by students and instructors and was not used to promote reform. However, there were hints that with acquisition of computer skills, instructors began using technology to change their teaching and promote learning outside the classroom.

Many effects of the laptop computing program were not predicted or anticipated. These unanticipated consequences can have significant effects on the school's infrastructure, classroom dynamics, and instructor's time. Unanticipated effects on the school occurred because of insufficient planning and visioning. Similar educational programs contemplating laptop computers should consider their educational goals and philosophies.


Avers, D.L. The effects of a laptop computer program on the teaching-learning dynamic at one physical therapist education program. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University. Retrieved November 12, 2019 from .

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

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