February 12, 2001
Reference: Clark, Keith D. "Urban Middle School Teachers' Use of Instructional Technology," Journal of Research on Computing in Education , 2 (13 pgs.), Vol. 33 2000.
Principle: This article investigated teachers' views regarding their use of instructional technology, understanding of the technology, and the support structure to implement the use of technology in the classroom. The research also investigated the effect and influence of technology on teachers' classroom duties and the usefulness of technology to students.
Design: A qualitative study set in a large urban middle school in Houston, Texas with 28 teachers participating. Sixty-six teachers were given a questionnaire and asked to voluntarily address four questions about skills, training, importance, and appropriateness of technology in their classrooms. The questionnaire had two sections. The first section included demographic information about the teacher and the second section focused on the technology usage in the schools. The returned surveys were analyzed using a FileMaker Pro database. The process used to categorize and code the data in the database file was based on the surveys by (Akbaba & Kurubacak, 1998; Christiensen & Knezek, 1996) and consistent with the principles of grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
Independent Variables: The demographic information about the teachers on the first section of the questionnaire asked about the instructor's teaching experience, subject area, experience with computers, and use of computers at home or school. The subject areas included language arts, mathematics, social science, science, art, and music teachers. The teachers' ages ranged from 24 to 61 with 71% female and 29% male. The ethnicity of the student population was 8% White, 54% Hispanic, 35% African American, 4% Asian/Pacific Islanders.
Dependent Variables: The dependent variables are the access to computer workstations in all the teacher's classrooms, the teachers usage of e-mail, Internet, educational software, computer gradebooks, and computerized lesson plans. Another dependent variable is the access to computer workstations by the students.
Procedure: A questionnaire was given to the faculty of a large middle school. There were a total of 66 faculty members and only 28 returned the questionnaire with completed answers. Using a data base program the responses were coded and listed by identified problems, concerns, strengths, weakness, suggestions, anxiety, themes, and other information. The information was then coded to determine which of the four questions correlated with the responses. To validate the information, obtained from the surveys, a matrix was designed to compare the teacher's responses with other studies relating to teacher's attitudes about technology (Akbaba & Kurubacak, 1998; Christensen & Knezek, 1996, 1997, 1998; Christensen et al., 1999).
Results: There were 173 feelings and concerns identified from the survey. They were grouped into like codes which resulted in 38 concerns dealt with teachers' skills with education hardware and software, 18 feelings with technology training, 55 with the importance of technology in classrooms, and 62 with the appropriateness of computers for the students. The one theme that stood out from the information gathered: "Teachers believe that technology is an integral part of education, and they want more technology in their classrooms."
Comments: Based on this research, attitudes of teachers regarding technology in the classroom have improved. We know a positive attitude toward computers will greatly improve the usage of the equipment by the teachers and students. This research confirmed my feelings that teachers need more training with technology. However, I am encouraged that most teachers feel confident with their ability to learn and use technology. I am also confident that better use of computers will be used in the curriculum, because of teachers' feelings that technology is an integral part of their classroom.
I was disappointed that only 28 teachers out of 66 chose to participate.