Date of Award

Spring 8-11-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Christine D. Thomas

Second Advisor

Pier A. Junor Clarke

Third Advisor

Wanjira Kinuthia

Fourth Advisor

Desha L. Williams

Abstract

The 21st century mathematics classroom looks and operates differently than it did half a century ago. Not only are teachers expected to facilitate activities rather than lecture, they are also expected to utilize technology. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics established the technology principle to guide teachers into this practice in 2000. Today there are middle school mathematics teachers who use technology effectively in the classroom. However, there is a dearth of literature in this area on how they select and use technology. The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the process by which these teachers select and use technology in their classroom. Activity theory and teacher thinking process model provided a conceptual framework for this study. The guiding research questions are: (1) How do successful urban middle grades mathematics teachers, who use technology effectively, describe their teaching practices? (2) What are the strategies teachers use when integrating technology effectively in the classroom?

Using a case study approach, the researcher collected data over 4 months from 3 urban middle school teachers – one on each grade level 6th, 7th, and 8th. Data sources included lesson plans, semi-structured interviews, and classroom observations. Findings revealed that teachers consider the types of learners when deciding what technology is appropriate to use. Teachers also preview technology prior to using it in the classroom. Emerging themes were grouped in five categories to describe how teachers plan and implement technology effectively. They are preparation, engagement, assessment, communication, and evaluation. The research findings give strategies to support teacher’s decisions about using technology for all types of learners and how to be effective in every phase of learning – whether it is introducing a lesson, remediating skills, or assessing knowledge. These findings also enable stakeholders to make informed decisions about technology in their school so that teachers will be able to elevate the quality of instruction with appropriate technology resources. Extended research should measure the impact that technology has on student learning. The likelihood of teachers using technology and using it more often would increase at a faster rate if there is evidence that the growth of student achievement occurs more rapidly when using technology.

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