Observing Middle School Students' Use of Technology as a Tool for Learning

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Title: Observing Middle School Students' Use of Technology as a Tool for Learning
Author: Reid-Griffin, Angelia Rique
Advisors: Dr. Glenda S. Carter, Committee Chair
Dr. Susan M. Butler, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. George B. Vaughan, Committee Member
Dr. Wendell H. McKenzie, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to observe middle school students' use of technology as a tool for learning science in a nine-week elective class (Exploring Technologies) offered to 7th and 8th grade students (n=23). Students' use of data collection devices and subsequent interactions were traced through audio and video recordings, field notes, interviews, and students' artifacts. A social constructivist frame is used for this study within which a Vygotskian perspective is embedded. The first manuscript of the study describes the application of a model of scaffolding to design instruction for teaching the use of technologies. The Exploring Technologies class was structured around Cazden's scaffolding model, which was based on teacher-student interactions. The curriculum developed students' ability to use technology as a tool, first by giving them fundamental skills in using the technologies in data collection, and then providing them with experiences to conduct scientific inquiry. Findings indicated that the three phase instructional model was successful in constructing students' understanding of scientific ideas through the use of technologies. The second manuscript of the study examines two specific incidences to elucidate the impact of using technology specifically, in the context of conducting scientific investigations. The middle school students used data collection devices and probeware (Casio) to conduct science experiments. The students used the technological tools to perform experiments related to temperature and heat. Findings indicated that the devices had the potential to promote the qualitative and quantitative nature of data collection. Further research on instructional approaches will assist middle school teachers in developing students' use of technologies as tools to construct understanding.
Date: 2003-10-30
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Math, Science and Technology Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5775

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