The use and impact of computer technology in constructivist literacy teachers' classrooms
Sarah B. Nixon-Ponder, Kent State University, United States
Kent State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to explore the ways constructivist teachers used computer technology in their language arts classrooms and its impact on their students. The existing research base in language arts instruction and computer-based activities in terms of what has become known as knowledge constructivism is, at present, quite small. Lack of research in this area presents a problem for several reasons. As the need for schools to implement computer-based activities into classroom lessons becomes increasingly more important, so does the need to know how teachers have successfully integrated computer-based activities into language arts lessons and the impact this integration has on students and their literacy behaviors.
A naturalistic, descriptive research paradigm was used as the framework for the study. A sixth grade teacher and a high school language arts teacher were chosen for case study. Data were collected on eleven students; two students from each teacher's classroom were selected to be case study participants. Data were collected until redundancy, which was reached in six weeks. Data were collected from formal interviews, classroom observations, field notes, informal conversations, and documents analysis.
Three research questions guided this inquiry. Data analysis revealed that teachers used computers in their language arts lessons to research, create projects, word process, evaluate, communicate with parents, and plan. Students used multiple literacy behaviors for various purposes: to edit, problem solve, search for information, clarify unclear issues, create products, and write journal entries. Data analysis further revealed that students believed computer-based activities improved the quality of their work, expanded their knowledge base, and created interest and motivation in school.
The field of literacy education is experiencing a paradigm shift away from a skills-based method of instruction and toward a learner-centered, constructivist model of teaching and learning. The findings of this study added to the knowledge base in the use of computer technology in constructivist language arts education and provided empirical evidence for what software, curriculum, and pedagogy are effective in promoting constructivist computer-based literacy learning. In addition, the findings of this study demonstrated how constructivist computer-based activities can provide a framework for integrated curriculum.
Nixon-Ponder, S.B. The use and impact of computer technology in constructivist literacy teachers' classrooms. Ph.D. thesis, Kent State University.
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