Clearly, something special is happening at Peakview
Elementary School. Peakview is a new school that is implementing
a number of organizational and teaching strategies advocated by
the school restructuring reform movement. Among those strategies
is the infusion of more than 80 networked microcomputers and related
technology and software. This evaluation study examined the impact
of the technology on the school community. Using a variety of
data collection instruments (e.g., classroom observation, surveys
and interviews of school personnel and students), we found consistent
evidence that technology plays an essential role in facilitating
the school's goals. The technology is positively affecting student
learning and attitudes. Teachers are using the technology to adapt
to individual students' needs and interests, and to increase the
amount and quality of cooperative learning activities. Students
use the technology extensively for research and writing activities,
as well as for instructional support in a variety of subject areas.
Technology has changed the way teachers work, both instructionally
and professionally, resulting in a net increase of hours and at
the same time greater productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction.
A number of implementation factors are identified as contributing
to the success of Peakview's use of technology. These factors
form the basis of a set of recommendations for implementing technology
successfully in other schools.
Purpose of the Study
Peakview Elementary School opened its doors to students in the fall of 1991. From the outset, school staff intended Peakview to reflect concepts of school reform. Examples of innovative organizational strategies include multi-aging, teacher teams across grade levels, and a commitment to problem-solving and cooperative learning activities. A key component of the reforms was a greater role of technology to support classroom activities. A substantial investment in computer and video resources was made, resulting in more than 80 Macintosh computers available in the school, most of them distributed in the classrooms. Classrooms presently house an average of 4-6 color Macintosh computers each. This is a significant increase in the quantity and quality of computers typically available in elementary school classrooms. Technology products-including optical laserdiscs and computer-based instruction-have replaced science, social studies, and math textbooks.
Most of the reforms implemented by Peakview staff are structural in nature and do not require significant additional resources. The increased reliance on technology for instruction, however, constitutes a more costly reform. In spite of redirecting monies normally allocated towards textbook purchases, the net cost to the school is substantial. A question posed by school staff is:
Is it worth it? Does the technology support the innovative structures and goals of the school?
A parallel question relevant to district decisionmakers is:
Would the Peakview use of technology be a model worth disseminating to other elementary schools in the district?
These are questions of worth, implying a tradeoff
between costs and benefits. Although the present study is not
a formal cost/benefits study, the questions above are still pertinent.
Our purpose in conducting the study was to evaluate the
impact of technology on the school. Of particular
importance is the role of technology in furthering the school
reform initiatives being undertaken. That is, does the use
of technology impede, afford, or even accelerate the effectiveness
of the teaching approach being implemented at Peakview?
The findings of the study will evaluate the overall worth of the
technology within the system; decisionmakers within the school
and district should then be able to determine whether the added
costs involved provide a justifiable return on investment.
The study is being undertaken at a time when three general trends are converging in the schools:
1. Schools are being encouraged to undergo structural reforms and to look for new models of envisioning education. Examples of this trend are site-based leadership, multidisciplinary teaching teams, renewed emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking, and the middle school concept. Many of these reforms are based upon sound research on learning, classroom processes, and organizational design.
2. Advances in technology have opened up possibilities of improved delivery, management, and evaluation of instruction. Computer hardware and software continues on its steady move toward dramatically improved quality with costs holding more or less constant. As the technology grows in power and flexibility, its relevance to education increases, reflecting the growing role of technology in the workplace and in society generally.
3. Schools are being held increasingly accountable for student growth to justify investments and strategic direction. Many school districts are facing declines in their available revenues. Limited resources, coupled with indications that American students are not performing well in comparison to many other industrialized nations, have resulted in a felt need to find better methods for gauging student learning. Improved student assessment would provide a sounder basis for making instructional decisions and for judging the effectiveness of different instructional programs.
The teaching innovations at Peakview indicate the
school district's willingness to develop alternative teaching
models, and to incorporate advances in technology into these models.
The present study attends to the question of assessing student
growth; however, a continuing commitment needs to be made to performance-based
assessment that will inform future decisions.
The Study's Design
This is primarily a case study of Peakview Elementary School and its use of technology. A number of data-collection instruments were used to help provide valuable information concerning the school; these are discussed in the Method section below. The study relied heavily on written surveys and interviews of teachers and students.
The present study was designed and conducted to be a sort of "snapshot" of conditions at Peakview. To provide a context for understanding, comparison were made of two kinds:
Beginning vs. end of school year. Survey data were collected at two different times: August 1991-one month after Peakview's opening-and May 1992, toward the end of the school year. This allows some perspective on changes over the course of the school year.
Peakview versus other schools.
To gauge in what respects Peakview differed
from other schools in the district, three additional elementary
schools were selected for comparison. Two schools were selected
primarily for logistical convenience: Summit and Polton had staff
members who were students within UCD's Division of Instructional
Technology. These staff members agreed to collaborate with us
in conducting the research. Summit has a computer lab of Apple
IIgs computers, and very few computers in individual classrooms.
Polton also has a lab, with a few computers in classrooms. Parallel
survey data were collected at these additional elementary schools;
no other data were collected from these schools. Dry Creek was
selected because it was perceived to be similar to Peakview in
that computers were integrated into classrooms, but different
because the computers were Apple II's rather than Macintosh computers.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
In spite of our efforts to gather complete information, the study has several limitations.
1. Lack of longitudinal perspective. Schools change over time. Some innovations progressively gain steam as teachers and students come to value them and as they work out the bugs in implementing them. Others begin with fanfare but gradually fade away because problems in implementation are not addressed. Our study attempts to understand the impact of technology at Peakview in the present, but does not systematically review the progressive impact of the technology over a period of years. However, continuing collection of data by the school could be used in future years to assess trends and technology's impact across those years.
2. Lack of systematic performance measures. An obvious and serious limitation in the present study is its lack of direct measures of student achievement. The school is new, lacking data on standardized tests. Even when standardized test data become available, there are many problems in using them as a basis for isolating specific effects of technology. The district is presently developing competency-based measures of student writing, but these have not yet been incorporated into the school's assessment procedures. No other direct measures of student achievement are presently available for analysis.
To partially compensate, a variety of data sources were used to gauge student learning, particularly:
teacher observations and perceptions indicated through surveys, interviews, and weekly logs;
student reports through surveys and interviews;
limited classroom observations;
selected student work samples.
Individually, each of these data sources would be quite limited; collectively, though, the accumulated evidence may be persuasive if they are consistent with one another. This process of "triangulation" (i.e., approaching a question from multiple perspectives) is a key to the qualitative research process, and is incorporated throughout the study.
3. Integration of technology within total school
process. The focus of the study is on technology; yet
how can the effects of technology be sorted out from the total
school process? This embeddedness and interdependency of a whole
cluster of instructional strategies is the central fact of life
at any school, and is particularly evident at Peakview. Teasing
out effects attributable to the technology is a demanding task
that perhaps requires more the perspective of an ethnographer
than that of the "objective" test-giver. Researchers
of such rich social systems need to follow trails of evidence
and examine subtle perceptions of participants. Above all, the
research team needs to be open to evidence from all available
sources that can shed light on what goes on in the school.
Computers have been in the schools for nearly two
decades. Over the years, a body of research and theory has emerged
studying the role of computers in schools and in the learning
process. This section offers a brief review of key ideas taken
from that literature base.
Several reviews have established that computer-based
instruction leads to a moderate increase in student achievement
levels (Hasselbring, 1984; Neimic & Walberg, 1985; Bangert-Drowns,
Kulik, & Kulik, 1985). Neimic & Walberg (1985) found an
average effect size of .42 across all age levels, with the most
pronounced effect found for low-ability students. Students attitudes
have also been consistently positive toward computer-based instruction.
Positive effects have been found for the use of traditional computer-based
instruction, such as drills, tutorials, and simulations. There
is some evidence to suggest that using computers as cognitive
tools to support student work can also lead to learning gains;
for example, the use of word processing programs can improve the
writing process and product (Murphy & Appel, 1984; Jefferson
County [Kentucky] School District, 1988). Many questions remain,
however, concerning optimal uses of computers, and optimal ways
to support teachers and students in that use.
Shifts in Teaching Methods
Collins (1991), a noted cognitive psychologist, cited eight trends in changing teaching methods. These changes are supported by research in cognitive psychology. Collins notes that each of these changes in teaching method can be facilitated by technology. We have listed each trend below along with a brief comment relating the teaching method to technology.
1. A shift from whole-class to small-group instruction. Gearhart, Herman, Baker, Whittaker, and Novak (in press) observed a dramatic decrease in teacher-led activities when computers are used, from 70% to less than 10%.
2. A shift from lecture and recitation to coaching.
Again, Gearhart and colleagues (in press) found an increase
in teachers serving as facilitators (rather than directors of
behavior) when using computers, from 20% to 50% of class time.
Collins (1991) comments: "The introduction of a third party,
the computer, into the situation encourages the teacher to play
the role of a coach, in much the same way that a piano encourages
the teacher to play the role of a coach in a piano lesson"
(p. 29). Schofield and Verban (1988a) found teachers using first-person
constructions ("Let's try this") over second-person,
didactic constructs ("You should do this") when using
Traditional Teaching Methods
|Whole-class instruction||Small-group instruction|
|Lecture and recitation||Coaching|
|Working with better students||Working with weaker students|
|Less engaged students||More engaged students|
|Assessment based on test performance||Assessment based on products, progress, and effort|
|Competitive social structure||Cooperative social structure|
|All students learning the same things||Different students learning different things|
|Primary of verbal thinking||Integration of visual and verbal thinking|
Table 1. Trends toward constructivist teaching
methods facilitated by technology (Collins, 1991).
3. A shift from working with better students to working with weaker students. In traditional classrooms, teachers often carry on a conversation with brighter students who raise their hand; teachers often ignore slower students to avoid embarrassing them. With technology, that pattern is reversed: Schofield and Verban (1988a) found slower students receiving two to four times more attention from the teacher.
4. A shift toward more engaged students. A number of studies have demonstrated that students who work with computers exhibit greater task engagement, often to the point of fighting over computer between classes and after school. "To the degree that the computer supports long-term effort rather than short exercises...students become invested in the activities they carry out on computer" (Collins, 1991, p. 30).
5. A shift from assessment based on test performance to assessment based on products, progress, and effort. Teachers have traditionally relied on end-of-unit tests for assessment. Technology shifts assessment efforts from tests to effort and progress on projects, and on the final product. This, of course, poses new problems for teachers as they search for meaningful and reliable ways of evaluating work products.
6. A shift from a competitive to a cooperative social structure. A number of researchers have noted greater cooperation among students when using technology. For example, Harel (1990) studied 4th graders as they developed their own lessons to teach fractions to 3rd graders. She found students naturally sharing ideas and helping each other solve problems in their programming.
7. A shift from all students learning the same things to different students learning different things. A number of studies have shown how technology can support students as they tackle various parts of a complex project, each contributing to a larger final product. What this means is that students are working on separate aspects of a problem. Students working on different learning goals can be a logistical nightmare without technology to maintain focus and manage information.
8. A shift from the primacy of verbal thinking to the integration of visual and verbal thinking. Visual media-television, film, and computers-have begun to gain parity with abstract text as a primary means of learning in our day. Lectures, multiple-choice tests, and recitation of knowledge become less relevant methods when faced with technology-based alternatives.
In other words, society in general and education
in particular are coming to value a certain approach to education.
There is some evidence that technology can help education practice
move in those valued directions. This line of thinking influence
the design of the present study; the reasoning was: Technology
can be justified to the degree that its use is found to facilitate
instructional methods and learning goals that are valued by the
school and/or the district.
For several years, Apple Inc. has sponsored a research program called the Apple Classroom or Tomorrow (ACOT), which endows schools with generous gifts of computer resources, then observes the effects of the technology on the teaching and learning process. The ACOT research sheds light on what happens when schools receive large numbers of Apple computers; this has obvious relevance to the Peakview situation. Generalizing across ACOT projects, Apple staff (Dwyer, Ringstaff, & Sandholtz, 1991) have observed five general phases of implementation, summarized below. These phases occurred in different schools dating back to 1986.
1. Entry phase. In this initial phase, teachers "struggled valiantly to establish order in radically transformed physical environments" (Dwyer, et al., 1991, p. 47). With the expected problems of beginning a school year-discipline, resource management, organization-having the added problems and benefits of computers was definitely a mixed blessing for some teachers:
If I had my druthers, I don't think I would ever look at a computer again. One of my students got into the network and lost lots of information because he doesn't know what he is doing....There are so many variables like this that we deal with on a day-to-day basis that I didn't anticipate being part of this program. I'm anxious for the weekend so I don't have to do anything with computers. (p. 47).
2. Adoption phase. Once teachers had recovered from the initial shock, the technology began to be integrated into the traditional classroom. Even though the arrangement was very different physically, traditional teaching methods-drill-and-practice, text orientation, whole-group lectures, seatwork-predominated. Student attitudes were high, and teachers reported individual student effects, but overall student achievement was basically unchanged.
3. Adaptation phase. At this phase, traditional teaching methods were still in place, but they were consistently supported with computer activities, particularly the use of word processing, database, some graphics programs, and computer-based instruction. Productivity and efficiency were the salient changes reported by teachers; for example, a computer-based math curriculum allowed 6th graders to finish in 60% of the time normally required. One teacher comments:
Students are writing with a great deal more fluency now, thanks to keyboarding skills. Following a prewriting exercise, they now type their stories directly into the computer, rather than writing out the whole story and then copying it.
Students became enthusiastic about computer tools:
On Monday, when I announced that it was time for recess, the students wanted to continue to work in the classroom. One said, "You know, I can't believe it's really recess. When you're having a good time, time goes by so fast." They are really involved....They work really quietly without a lot of running around. They seem to be setting up standards for themselves to judge their own work. (p. 48, emphasis added)
4. Appropriation phase. This phase began in the second year of a project. "The change hinged on each teacher's personal mastery-or appropriation-of the technology" (p. 48). The teacher's increasing confidence in the technology, and time with the technology, resulted in more innovative instructional strategies. This phase was marked by "team teaching, interdisciplinary project-based instruction, and individually paced instruction" becoming more common at the sites. As an independent observer noted:
The interactions of children at computers were different. Specifically, the students talked to each other more, they frequently asked for assistance from their neighbors, they were quick to interrupt their own work to help someone else, and they displayed tremendous curiosity about what others were doing. (pp. 49-50)
Reported a district technology supervisor, "Our teachers are learning to be facilitators rather than the total dispensers of knowledge. Everyone benefits" (p. 50).
An interest aspect of this phase is that newcomers to the projects progressed up to this phase in their first years, suggesting the value of the culture of experienced teachers already at the site. (p. 50)
5. Invention phase. This phase is less an actual phase than a mindset, implying a willingness to experiment and change. "Today, the staff of ACOT's classrooms are more disposed to view learning as an active, creative, and socially interactive process...Knowledge is now held more as something children must construct and less like something that can be transferred intact" (p. 50). One teacher noted her change in attitude:
As you work into using the computer in the classroom, you start questioning everything you have done in the past and wonder how you can adapt it to the computer. Then, you start questioning the whole concept of what you originally did. (p. 50)
The use of computers thus serves the role of change
agent within the classroom environment, affording and stimulating
reflection, redesign, and change.
In a separate research report, the same authors (Ringstaff, Sandholtz, & Dwyer, 1991) noted some additional trends:
Utilizing student expertise. Students immediately began helping each other, at first on their own initiative, later with the teacher's encouragement. Teachers began encouraging their gifted children on special projects or as "teachers," sharing their knowledge with classmates. As their use with the technology increased, however, the value of "slower" students as teachers was recognized:
During book editing time, Shelly finished the book and just very naturally went over and started helping Tom. He had messed up part of his book. She just went over to help and did a nice job. She's very limited herself, but it is interesting how limited some of these kids are and yet how they collaborate with others on projects. They do it very naturally and do a nice job on it. (p. 9)
Another ACOT study (Gearhart, Herman, Baker, Novak, & Whittaker, 1990) found that students who excelled at peer tutoring or at sharing technological expertise typically were not the top students in the class.
Teachers who were initially reluctant to allow students assume the teacher role eventually became convinced of its value for all students:
Joe is the talkative, annoying, misfit kind of kid which every teacher has had at some time. He loves the computer. He has not been popular with his peers, but he has caught on very quickly to Pascal. Other students are asking, "Can Joe come over and help me?" It is interesting to see how becoming an expert has influenced his class relationships.
I had a good breakthrough with one of my students today....The kids were using LogoWriter to do a basic outline of the state of Tennessee. East and west boundaries of Tennessee are very irregular and the kids were having a lot of trouble doing it. Lee figured out how to do it with shape tables....It was a novel solution to this problem....Lee is not a "breakthrough" kind of kid ordinarily. There's something there that I've never been able to pull out before....I was proud of him. (p. 9)
Teachers also noted two trends in students sharing their expertise: (1) students began to share their expertise with people other than their peers, and (2) teachers began allowing student-to-student teaching of nontechnological content.
Expanding the audience. As students' expertise in technology grew, the demand for them to share that expertise grew. Students commonly taught their parents how to use the computer at home. One site even reported children using the computer to help their parents learn to read. Other audiences included
retired community members
state and national conferences
congressional subcommittees (!)
One school district "hired students as technical support people to help with setting up equipment and as teaching assistants in summer courses for district personnel" (p. 10). High school teachers began taking students' active roles for granted, forgetting how rare such things typically are in the schools:
What impressed our visitor the most was all the teachers coming into the room, taking the handouts and watching the [students'] presentations [on computer application] and really learning something. We're so used to [student-led presentations] now, we just assume that a teacher who wants to learn would take advantage of these presentations, but [the visitor's] fresh viewpoint showed me that maybe this doesn't happen everywhere. (p. 10)
Students as subject experts. In a technology-rich environment, students assume a more prominent role in teaching technology. Researchers found, however, that the teacher role often extended into other, nontechnological areas. At first, this teaching role might happen accidentally:
We are covering the Civil War....After we covered some of the battles, a couple of students came up and told me about a Civil War battle that happened around the high school area. I asked them if they would do some research on it and present it to the class....I'm excited because I never knew that....I've had students come up and tell me things before but I have not seen them go out and do research on it. This was from two students in the classroom who are not the best students. (p. 11)
Eventually, teachers began incorporating into their lesson plans direct opportunities for "student" teaching experiences:
I'm getting ready to start my unit from last year when I was away from school and told the kids to figure out how to teach chapter six so they could teach it when I returned. This year I'll be here but I'm trying the same assignment....I'll let them choose what method to use to present. (p. 11)
Sometimes student-taught lessons required extra time, but the time was perceived to be well-spent:
Last week we did our 50's project....I learned some things from students about animation and the Mac IIs. I really enjoyed this project because of the fact that I learned a lot and it really gave the students a chance to show their creativity....We had planned two days for presentations and it took four days but the quality of the presentations was unbelievable. The presentations together taught the class about the 50's. It made my job a lot easier. (p. 12).
One set of studies related particularly well to Peakview's situation. Gearheart, Herman, Whittaker, and Novak (1991) evaluate two elementary schools with "high access" to technology. Through structured time-sampled observations, questionnaires, and interviews, they found that technology use at both schools was associated with a unique instructional pattern:
Classroom computer uses at both schools were primary applications-word processing, graphics, and HyperCard-rather than instructional software...
Students were very likely to be using technology resources when they were working independently or cooperatively...
Many teachers were likely to adopt the instructional role of a facilitating, helpful expert (rather than a deliverer of information) when students were engaged in technology-supported work...
Students' engagement in challenging work was likely to be supported by technology use... (p. 4)
Gearheart and colleagues characterized this pattern as "constructivist" because it is consistent with a view of students as actively constructing meaning through problem-solving activities (Jonassen, 1991). While they found a consistent pattern associating technology with constructivistic teaching strategies, they found important differences among individual teachers' use of technology. Teachers varied widely (from 15% to 60%) in how often their students used technology. Teachers also varied in the degree of challenge, the degree of cooperative work, and the amount of facilitative (as opposed to directive) activities in the classroom. Gearheart and colleagues offer the following recommendations based upon their findings:
1. Construct a model of project support that integrates multiple perspectives.
Create multidisciplinary resource teams.
Help teachers acquire subject matter and curricular expertise.
Help teachers acquire pedagogical expertise.
Adopt support to teachers' needs for particular kinds of expertise at particular times.
2. Minimize the fishbowl effect. [The fishbowl effect refers to the special scrutiny teachers undergo when involved in implementing innovations.]
3. Involve teachers as collaborators in all aspects
of project planning, implementation, and evaluation. (pp. 7-8)
Hunter (1985) suggested that computer use in schools often proceeds through three stages:
Stage 1. Technology-especially computers-is the object of study. New courses, primarily in computer programming or "computer literacy" are established.
Stage 2. ...Computers are viewed as tools which can support the curriculum in a variety of subject areas. Curriculum works is aimed towards integrating the use of the tools into existing curriculum in mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts.
Stage 3. The focus is less on technology and more on reassessment of curriculum goals and priorities, especially with regard to the relative emphasis on problem solving, information handling, algorithmic thinking, creative communications, and so forth. (p. 3).
Viewed in these stage terms, Peakview's plans for using computers seems to have jump-started to Stage 3; the Peakview plan gives strong emphasis to curriculum redesign and integration, with technology playing an important supportive role within the overall program. The Peakview plan seems to be less stage-oriented and evolutionary, and more committed to serious and integral use of the technology. The extent of their success, of course, is an empirical question to be addressed in the present study.
According to Robert, Carter, Friel, & Miller (1988), four key elements essential to the effective implementation of technology in a school are:
1. support, involvement, and leadership of the principal;
2. teachers educated in the use of computers;
3. an enthusiastic, visionary staff willing to spend the many hours needed to rework the curriculum; and
4. community support, as indicated by the contribution of resources. (p. 10)
Many of these issues are addressed in the present
Holden (1988) noted the distinctly un-revolutionary character of computer use in the schools over the last decade. She notes, "These many years into the computer age, teachers still have little training in computer use, much less how to choose and employ software productively" (pp. 906-907). Teachers need continuing support and training as they begin using computers in their everyday classroom activities (Carrier & Glenn, 1991). Wiske & Zodhiates (1988) and Fulton (1988) both found that teachers who begin using computers in their teaching report that, initially, computers create more work for them. In one survey, time limitation was the most frequent complaint of teachers using computers (Knupfer, 1986).
School officials can sometimes make large hardware purchases, then expect the transition to computer-based learning activities to be simple and straightforward. Surveys of teachers' perceptions, however, stress the importance of needed logistical planning accompanying computer use. The logistical details surrounding computer use should be facilitated by school officials and computer coordinators, reducing the hassles for individual teachers.
Much of the purported reluctance of many teachers to engage in computer-related teaching is their lack of training. As of 1987, only about a third of the teachers in the United States had ten or more hours of computer training (OTA, 1987). Teachers perceive training as the number one issue pertaining to their effective introduction of technologies in the classroom (Lamon, 1987).
Strudler and Gall (1988) have studied the important
role of teacher involvement in computer planning: "Teachers
expressed being resistant to change when they cannot influence
the 'fit' between their curricular responsibilities and the computer
program (p. 7). Thus a predicted ingredient of a successful program
would be teacher involvement and control over curricular decisions.
Computers should not be forced upon teachers as a mandated fix,
but rather provided as a learning resource, with room for flexible
adaptation to individual teaching and learning styles.
Technology and School Restructuring
Sheingold (1991) discussed how technology can aid in school restructuring efforts, and offered several recommendations:
1. Bring technology and learning to the same "table" when restructuring is being planned.
2. Reconsider how technology is organized in the district. For example, restructuring schools should consider using resources for:
a system to individualize students' schedules and activities
a teacher network, with computers on each teacher's desk, to facilitate better communication and planning
loaner machines for teachers
a multimedia lab with computers, videodiscs, CD-ROM players, and peripherals that enabling students and teachers to create their own presentations and products
more classroom machines
3. Work toward a critical mass of equipment and expertise. "If half the teachers in a school are comfortable with using technology in their teaching and do so with some regularity in a variety of curricular areas, there would be a sufficient critical mass of expertise" (p. 26).
4. Use the media to convey new images and metaphors
of schooling. (p. 26-27)
Peakview's decision to include technology as part
of the restructuring effort is consistent with the recommendations
Classrooms Versus Labs
Computer labs are commonly used in schools. There
is, however, an observed tendency for hardware to be under-utilized
and kept discrete from the day-to-day subject matter. Lab computer
use typically doubles when teams of teacher cooperate to set up
a computer program within the school (Becker, 1985). Schultz &
Higginbotham (1991) summarize the problem of computer placement
by suggesting that "the most effective method of placement
must be one that allows the classroom teacher free access to integrate
computer usage into daily activities" (p. 201; see also Shavelson,
Winkler, Stasz, & Robyn, 1983). For elementary schools, that
principle would seem to be best implemented by having computers
available in individual classrooms.
Costs and Benefits
In 1989, Adams (1989) reports that schools spent $153 million on software. This is a substantial investment. To place the investment in some kind of perspective, however, Adams maintains that total computer expenditures total only 0.4% of a typical state budget. Education has always been a very labor-intensive activity. By comparison, laboratory, equipment, and materials budgets are relatively small. The primary question concerning computer use in schools has always been one of costs and benefits. Some attention to cost concerns will be given in the present study, although the issue is secondary to establishing the estimated benefits of technology within the school system.
In consultation with Peakview and Cherry Creek leadership,
we developed a list of research questions to be addressed by the
study. These questions then drove the development of data-collection
instruments, and provided a structure for reporting findings.
The list of questions is presented below. They are based on:
the stated goals and objectives of the school;
the expressed need of school and district staff;
the expected impact based on the review of literature.
I. What is the impact of the technology on the internal Peakview Elementary School community?
A. What is the impact of the technology on the students?
1. What is the impact on the achievement of students?
a. On students' ability to work effectively in small groups?
b. On attainment of basic skills?
c. On students' ability to access and use information?
d. On students' problem-solving skills?
e. On students' oral and written communication skills?
f. On students' ability to research and report on a topic of interest?
g. Other forms of achievement?
2. What is the impact on the attitudes of students?
a. Towards school?
b. Towards the content areas?
c. Towards the technology?
d. Towards learning?
e. Towards teachers?
f. Towards themselves?
Attitudes of students with low skills towards themselves?
-Attitudes of students with fine-motor difficulties towards themselves?
Attitudes of students with low self-esteem towards themselves?
Feelings of empowerment to initiate learning activities and solve their own learning problems?
B. What is the impact of the technology on the teachers and staff?
1. In providing tools for curriculum design and development?
2. What is the impact on classroom processes and activities?
a. What is the impact on the delivery of instructional presentations?
On multimodal presentations (e.g., graphics, audio, motion)
On the use of a variety of media (e.g., TV, computer, overhead, chalkboard)
b. What is the impact on classroom activities?
On reaching the full range of student ability?
On whole-class versus small-group instruction?
On lecture and recitation versus coaching?
On competitive versus cooperative social structures?
On students' use of both verbal and visual learning media?
c. What is the breakdown of time allocated to the various uses of technology-related activities (e.g., WP, multimedia and production, basic skills reinforcement)?
d. What is the impact on task engagement (e.g., time on task) in the classroom?
e. What is the impact on self-directed learning?
On accommodating multiple learning goals in the classroom?
On accommodating different learning styles?
On students as workers; teachers as facilitators?
On students as teachers? (e.g., peer teaching)
On student information access and research skills?
3. What is the impact on the work of teachers?
a. Workload (number of hours)
b. Changes in the kind of work
c. Productivity (efficiency)
4. What is the impact on the attitudes of teachers?
a. Which technological factors have most affected the attitudes of teachers? For example:
Distribution of technology in the school (access)
-Threshold number of computers in classrooms
Choice of computer (Mac LC with color)
HyperCard-based management and access structure
Multimedia computer-based systems
Optical laserdisc software
b. How has the computer coordinator's role and activities affected the attitudes of teachers?
Which support functions are most used and valued?
-consultant to teachers on new ways to teach with technology
How have support needs changed as teachers become more active, proficient users of technology?
c. How has the ability to take home a computer affected the attitudes of teachers?
d. Does the technology serve a "change agent" role; that is, does the introduction of technology stimulate a reflective and innovative attitude in other content areas?
e. Does the technology stimulate a change in teacher perceptions of what students are capable of achieving?
f. What is the impact on teachers' willingness innovate and revise teaching methods, to learn new methods and competencies?
new technology-related skills?
new content teaching methods?
g. What is the impact on teachers' self-concepts as competent professionals?
5. What is the relative value of different uses of technology; for example:
a. Drill & practice
c. Multimedia presentations
d. Simulations and toolkits)
e. Word processing
g. HyperCard stack authoring
h. Multimedia production
6. What is the impact on other major aspects of reform within the school?
a. Management of multi-aging?
b. Teaching teams?
c. Thematic teaching and interdisciplinary learning?
7. What is the impact on the management and recordkeeping tasks of teachers?
a. Class lists?
b. Skill lists?
c. Assessment records and report cards?
d. Learning styles?
e. Documenting learning behaviors?
8. What is the impact on the development, use, and management of alternative assessment techniques (i.e., authentic assessments such as portfolios, projects, writing, etc.)?
9. What is the impact in providing communications within the school community?
c. External communications
Outside parties and databases
Teacher, student, and parent access of school file servers
II. What is the impact of the technology on the parents and families of students?
A. What is the impact on family knowledge about and practice accessing and using technology?
1. How many families own or intend to purchase technology?
2. How many families participate in school-related technology access activities?
Technology back-to-school nights
School-sponsored training programs
3. What leadership roles do children play in their families' learning and use of technology?
B. What is the impact on family attitudes?
1. Toward technology?
2. Toward the schools?
3. Toward their children?
III. What is the impact of the technology on the external community?
A. What kind of press and media coverage is given to technology?
B. What kind of support is given to initiatives to
support schools and technology with tax dollars?
The lengthy list of evaluation questions suggests that a variety of data-collection methods be used; hence, a number of instruments for data collection were developed and used. These are described below.
Baseline survey. In August 1991, Peakview teachers, staff, and students were surveyed by Karen Peterson, the school's technology coordinator, concerning their use and beliefs about technology. Separate forms were developed for primary (K-2) and intermediate (3-5) grades. Teachers of primary students administered the survey by reading questions to students who needed support. Thus students responded individually to questions; either teachers or aides helped students respond on the survey forms when needed. These surveys were given to the research team upon project initiation.
Main survey. Nine months later, in May 1992, Peakview teachers, staff, and students were surveyed again by the research team. Also, three additional elementary schools were selected for comparison; teachers and students at these schools received identical surveys.
Primary surveys. All primary students at the four schools received focused interviews of groups of children. Survey data can be difficult to obtain from young children, but their perspective is valuable. A separate survey designed for administration as a focused group interview was developed for the primary grades (K-2). These interviews were conducted in all primary classrooms at the four schools.
Intermediate surveys. All intermediate students received individual written surveys. All intermediate students in attendance completed surveys on the day of our site visit; all of the site visits were completed within two weeks of each other.
Teacher surveys. All teachers received individual written surveys. Teachers completed the surveys individually and anonymously, and returned them to their respective principals.
Staff surveys. Selected staff at Peakview received the same survey as the teachers. Staff members (librarians, administrators, paraprofessional aides, etc.) at the four comparison schools also completed the survey.
Teacher/staff interviews. All 14 full-time teachers at Peakview were individually interviewed in May of 1992. The library director and the principal were also interviewed. The interviews followed a structured interview format, following questions in the interview form included in Appendix A. Some of these interviews were videotaped for later use; notes of all interviews were kept using a Macintosh notebook computer.
Student interviews. Twenty-three students were randomly selected from intermediate classes at Peakview in May. These students were interviewed using a computerized structured interview form found in Appendix A. Responses were recorded directly on a Macintosh computer.
Teacher logs and written reports. Teachers were asked to keep a regular log of technology-related events occurring in their classrooms. Teachers comments and logs were collected weekly during a two-month period.
Classroom observations. The research team made repeated visits to Peakview classrooms, observing student interactions and technology use. Some of these observations were videotaped for future analysis and reporting. Observation were not systematically analyzed; instead, they helped researchers narrow down anticipated effects. Survey and interview instruments were developed based in part on these insights.
As noted above, systematic collection of student performance samples
was beyond the scope of the study. The school's first standardized
test scores will be unavailable until later this year. Selected
samples of student writing and individual research projects were
collected. Table 2 summarizes the scope of the data collection
|Grades K-2 Baseline Survey|
|Grades 3-5 Baseline Survey|
|Staff Baseline Survey|
|Main Surveys-All Schools||Dry Creek||Peakview||Polton||Summit||Total|
|K-2 Main Focus Interview|
|3-5 Main Survey|
|Staff Main Survey|
|Main Surveys - Peakview|
|K-2 Main Focus Interview|
|3-5 Main Survey|
|Interviews - Peakview||Total|
|Grades 3-5 Student Interviews|
|Teaching Assistant||Other Staff|
|K-2 Baseline Survey|
|3-5 Baseline Survey|
|Staff Baseline Survey|
|K-2 Main Focus Interview|
|3-5 Main Survey|
|Staff Main Survey|
Table 2. Profiles of response samples to surveys
and other data collection instruments.
Data Collection Procedures
Copies of the teacher/staff main surveys were distributed to the four comparison schools; teachers were asked to complete the form and return it to their principal or the UCD research team.
Grade K-2 main surveys were administered in the following way: Two researchers entered a classroom at a designated time. The teacher introduced the researchers and left the room. The two researchers then divided the class into two groups and conducted a group interview with each group, proceeding through questions on the form. The researchers indicated the direction and distribution of students' responses on the form. When both researchers had completed their group interviews, the teacher was invited back into the classroom and the researchers left the room.
Main surveys for intermediate (grades 3-5) students
were administered in the following way: Two researchers entered
a classroom at a designated time. After introducing the researchers
and the purpose of the survey, the teacher left the classroom.
The researchers distributed copies of the survey to each student
and read aloud the questions, answering any questions and clarifying
meaning when needed. Students privately and individually responded
to the questions on the survey by writing down answers. Extra
help was given to students who had difficulty reading the questions
or interpreting their meaning. When all students had completed
the survey, the teacher was invited back into the room and the
Analysis of the data entailed two stages: response encoding and data interpretation.
Response encoding. Individual survey responses were encoded into Macintosh Excel 4.0 files. Open-ended questions were included verbatim in these files. Responses were spot-checked for accuracy, particularly for anomalous findings. Researchers recorded responses to Peakview interview questions directly on Macintosh notebook computers. These files recorded during the interviews were edited by researchers within two days for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as for clarity of meaning. Weekly log forms were encoded into Microsoft Excel files. The data files used in the study are attached in Appendix D of the full report in order to facilitate future research.
Data interpretation. Depending on the data source, a number of different strategies for interpreting the data were used. For surveys, bar charts were developed to display the means and distributions of responses to questions; responses were separated according to school, with Peakview separated from the remaining schools to allow clear comparisons. These bar charts allow a visual comparison of the response patterns between Peakview and the comparison schools. Line charts were also developed comparing the mean responses of the four schools. Where possible, chi square (c2) or analysis of variance (F statistic) were calculated to compare responses across schools.
Responses to open-ended questions from the survey
and interview questions were treated similarly. Data were coded
into qualitative categories; these categories were then used for
reference and retrieval. In addition, where appropriate counts
were conducted on the frequency of different response categories;
the frequency breakdowns of these counts are presented in the
This section reports the findings of the study in
abbreviated form. Graphs comparing Peakview responses with comparisons
schools are presented in the full report.
Use of Technology
Prior to coming to Peakview, teachers showed a typical range of prior experience in using technology. In August 1991, Peakview teachers most commonly reported "sometimes" to the statements:
I have used computers before with children in my classroom.
I have used computers before with children in school (computer lab, etc.).
Since coming to Peakview, teachers find themselves using technology daily in their classrooms. Peakview students spend roughly twice the time on technology as a students in comparison schools. Teachers keeping a weekly log reported spending 39% of students' worktime spend using technology. Peakview students confirm this report of greater technology use. Peakview elementary students report using computers several times a week, whereas comparison students average about once or twice a week. Primary students report similar usage patterns.
Compared to teachers at comparison schools, Peakview teachers report significantly more use of technology in all major areas:
word processing (p < .001),
authoring, (p < .06),
art and graphic activities (p < .001),
instructional software (p < .01), and
laserdisc viewing (p < .001).
Peakview students report using technology more for finding information, for writing reports and stories, for making art, and for learning new things [see Table 3 in the hardcopy report for more detail.]
In a fall self-report, one teacher described the increased use of technology:
[I used to] ... make banners and one or two form sheets on the computer.
[Now I] ... utilize the computer in all aspects. We start each day with a note from the teacher, use the computers integrating them with math measurement, writing, and HyperCard. I'm also using it for most all of my recordkeeping.
Peakview teachers report greater use of visuals, graphics, motion, and animation more than their counterparts at comparison schools. Compared to teachers at other schools, Peakview teachers report:
greater use of computers;
similar use of TV, video, overhead projectors, chalkboard, and library books;
lower use of textbooks, handouts, and worksheets.
Peakview teacher logs indicate greater use of Macintosh computers and books and hard-copy materials, followed by printers, chalkboards, with relatively less frequent use of other technologies and media. Peakview students confirm the heavy computer use, reporting almost daily use of computers compared to weekly use of students in comparison schools.
One teacher commented on technology use at Peakview:
It is always part of every day. It is interesting...depending
on the themes we're doing. The students used the scanners to find
or create pictures for the Africa unit. The computers are part
of every subject. Charlotte, primary teacher
Achieving equitable access to technology among different kinds of learners is a concern for many educators. Peakview teachers comment on the problem:
One problem is with management...with getting kids to the computers. I had to rethink how to get them the time they need-quality time on the computers. Main Survey
Tom and I have tried to stagger so that one of us maximizes the full use of computers, then be flexible enough for his kids...sharing and maximizing between the two teachers. Right now we're doing reports on endangered species. The kids are to include one piece of technology as part of their oral report. Elizabeth, intermediate teacher
To address this concern, teachers were asked a number
of questions regarding how their students were granted time on
the computers, and teachers' purposes in granting that time.
Only one statistically significant difference was
found, on granting students access for use as an information source
for reports and projects. This may reflect Peakview's use of electronic
encyclopedias and other CD-ROMs and optical laserdiscs. Peakview
teachers also report very rarely using access to technology as
a reward for good behavior. [See Table 4 of hardcopy report for
Impact on Teaching
What impact does technology have on teachers' everyday teaching routine? Does it change the way teachers relate to their students? This section addresses these questions.
Productive teacher time. Computers are often promoted as productivity tools that can save teachers time. While computers typically result in greater output, they do not necessarily result in a reduction of time on the job. Also, learning to use computers effectively takes time, a precious commodity for busy schools. We asked teachers whether the use of technology constituted a net addition or reduction in the amount of time they spent at their work. Teachers generally report technology resulting in an increase of time on the job. Peakview teachers reported an increase in time by a proportion of 14 to 3.
There is a sense, however, in which a teacher's time can be freed up by the technology. There is often less burden on the teacher to be responsible for instructional presentation. One teacher observed a feeling of greater flexibility resulting from access to technology:
My time is freed up considerably through technology. I have time to sit down with kids and give them individual or small group time. Michael, intermediate teacher
Computers can also give teachers a greater sense of control over their work:
[It's] just a different tool I'm using. In other ways I feel like I'm being more professional. I used to hand-write all the notes to parents, quizzes, etc.-now I word process them. The looks of what I produce are nicer...makes me [look] prepared and more professional than I really am. Lynn, primary teacher
In the fall, Peakview teachers expressed their new-found confidence in taking control of the computer:
[I used to] ... write and hand it to a T.A.
[Now I]... use the computer!
[I used to] ... think computers took too much time to implement.
[Now I]... have it on the entire day.
[I used to] ... think that the only application for computers in the psychology field was for writing reports with commercial programs.
[Now I] ... am beginning to try to think of new ways that the computers can be a time-saver for me.
[I used to]... be afraid of word processing/graphics
[Now I] ... use Microsoft Works, HyperCard and
The Writing Center.
Whatever the advantages of using technology, it seems that "saved time" is not one of them. It would thus be unfair to promote the use of technology using such arguments to other teachers. On the other hand, an administrator may well welcome teachers' willingness to spend extra time on the job in order to secure valued ends.
The technology available at Peakview affects the
kinds of instructional strategies teachers use in the classroom.
Peakview teachers overwhelming agree that technology makes their
teaching more effective. Consistent with Collins' (1991) analysis
of trends in education, we found that technology enables teachers
to succeed in areas that are important to them, summarized in
Table 5 below.
Effect of Classroom Technology
|Accommodate different learning styles||Very high priority||Moderate to heavy||Peakview higher
(p < .001)
|Self-directed learning||Top priority||Heavy||Peakview higher
(p < .001)
|Accommodate students working on multiple learning goals||Top priority||Moderate to heavy||Peakview higher
(p < .001)
|Students teaching themselves and others||Very high priority||Moderate to heavy||Peakview higher
(p < .01)
|Student research skills and independent access of information||High priority||Moderate to heavy||Peakview higher
(p < .01)
Table 5. Teacher priorities of different learning
goals, and how technology impacts on those learning goals.
Peakview teachers report that technology affects other desirable educational goals and strategies, including:
cooperative learning activities (whereas non-Peakview teachers reported very little effect of technology on cooperative learning);
productive time on task;
Ability levels. Teachers at all schools strongly agreed that technology helps meet the needs of students of exceptionally high or low ability. Several Peakview teachers reflected on technology's potential for accommodating different ability levels:
Some of the best pieces of work come out from the computer. I have a wheelchair student. He performs well on the computer. It's a different avenue and they are able to use it to their best potential. Charlotte, primary teacher
Kids are very excited about using the technology. A lot of kids are more excited about school in general...high-level kids who like to go the extra mile. We have more and more kids who like school.
The lower achievers have more of an opportunity to do some writing. It's easier to proofread and edit. Matt, intermediate teacher
It is a lot more motivating for kids struggling, especially kids who are having trouble with reading. They feel more comfortable with the information. Tom, intermediate teacher
I have some very gifted children that are doing HyperCard stack development on their own... first and second graders. Sandy, primary teacher
Representative comments of Peakview community members are grouped below. Peakview teachers on cooperative learning:
[Technology provided a] terrific unifying type of a goal for us as a school to come together. I've seen that building-wide, a whole new thrust for us relating to technology. I've seen a tremendous burst of cooperative learning because of computers... extended learning between classroom and media center. We only showed the kids one program at the beginning of the year. Now they're into every single program that's there. They learn on their own, how to go into folders and get things...Munchers, Reader Rabbit, etc. Nora, Kindergarten teacher
[They have a] sense of control over their own learning. Cooperative learning is enhanced because the nature of the computers and available guides requires that they help each other... there's not enough adults. Lynn, primary teacher
Peakview intermediate students on helping others:
I feel smart when I help other people. It makes me feel good. Billy
I went to a special class with one other person, I've been teaching people how to use HyperCard...I'm ahead of some people using it, but there's a lot of other people at my level. Brandan
I like to help kids my own age, and younger kids too, get programs on the computer. Sammie
I [have] done a lot. I've helped people with HyperCard, The Writing Center, and with the barcodes. I've helped with the laserdisc and with the scanners. I've helped with the Writing 2.0. It makes me feel good that I can help someone else. It made me feel like I was the teacher for a little while. Charles
Peakview teachers on learning along with the children:
Technology has taught me and the children in my class to take a risk... We are learning together and I can't think of anything much better--children learning with adults and adults learning with children. Charlotte, primary teacher
I like it a lot because it gives them a chance to see that I am a learner too. It's great to have kids that are authorities come and help somebody else. Elizabeth, intermediate teacher
It has been a good experience for the kids to
see me as a learner with them serving as the experts. I often
find that they know more about using programs than I do. It has
been great to have them be peer coaches in the use of technology.
Once we teach a couple of kids how to do something, everyone,
including the teacher can learn the technique!
Elizabeth, intermediate teacher
Peakview teachers on student research:
It's not uncommon, if the kids are researching a topic, to say, "May I go to the media center to get this resource, to watch this laserdisc, etc." This is much different than the way it was in the past. The kids are taking this as an almost transparent resource...it's about as natural to go to use these resources as it is to use a textbook. Book reports have taken on an entire new meaning. It used to be that book reports used to be like pulling teeth. I'm not finding that to be the case now. Michael, intermediate teacher
Kids seeing themselves as information seekers
and users...using laserdiscs, GTV, Visual Almanac...turning around
and creating products. Adam, intermediate
What is it about Peakview's implementation strategy that stands out as being critical to the success of their use of technology? This section addresses several key variables.
Technology in the classroom. The four schools in the study differed in the way they distributed their computers. Dry Creek and Peakview placed the computers within the classrooms, while Polton and Summit placed most of their computers in dedicated labs. On the main survey, Polton and Summit intermediate students reported going to the computer lab about once a week. Polton primary students reporting using the labs "about once a week", whereas Summit primary students reported using the labs "only once in awhile." Peakview teachers regard having the technology available and close to them as important. No Peakview teacher thought having computers in a lab was as good an idea as having them dispersed into the classrooms. All expressed a preference for having the technology in the classrooms. As one teacher put it:
Having the computers in the classroom has been the key in helping me to experiment with the various programs. I strongly believe that I would not have taken such strides had they not been so easily available to me. Kate, intermediate teacher
Several Peakview teachers voiced reasons for preferring technology in the classroom:
Using computers in my classroom rather than in a computer lab has integrated them into our daily routine and made them another tool for learning along with papers, books, math manipulatives, maps and science materials. Ginny, primary teacher
I think it's essential to have the computers in our classrooms instead of a lab. Even in kindergarten, we use them all the time, and we are constantly discovering new and different ways to use our technology to enhance every area of the curriculum. Mary, Kindergarten teacher
[W]hen computers were in a computer lab, as much as I would have liked to use them in creating curriculum, keeping grades, writing letters to parents, creating new class lists for various reasons, etc., I just did not do so on a regular basis. Kate, intermediate teacher
When I had a computer lab, students could only use computers during their assigned time slot, whether they had a real need for them at that time or not. Now whenever they have an idea or a project that would work well at the computer, it is available (usually). Ginny, primary teacher
I think [computers in the classroom] have made all the difference in the world. I have two kids in schools with labs, and I feel they're deprived. Mary, Kindergarten teacher
[I used to]... believe that the new technologies had little application in the elementary classroom...indeed, that elementary computer labs were an unnecessary complication in the lives of young children and their teachers.
[Now I]... continue to hold the same view of labs-but my thinking on classroom-based technologies has turned 180 degrees. I am now a true believer. August 1991
Peakview students expressed much the same opinion:
The technology her has changed so much of me into what I really won't to be. I can right any thing and put extra work. it used to be so different in Timerline. you could only go to the computer lab only when the class goes with you, that is like never. Kristin (original spelling retained)
We had computers at my old school but not in the
classroom. We had to go to a computer lab every two weeks and
mainly all we did on them were games.
Role of the computer coordinator. Karen Peterson is the full-time technology coordinator at Peakview Elementary. She has assisted in the school's technology planning, and presently works in a variety of capacities, including network management, hardware/software maintenance, and technology training and support. In contrast to comparison schools, teachers at Peakview rated technical support available within the school as "highly adequate." The coordinator's role is seen by many as very helpful to effective implementation of a curriculum such as Peakview's.
In order to do what we're doing at Peakview, you have to have a Karen Peterson, a person who has a vision and who is knowledgeable. That's one of the reasons why I don't get upset anymore, because Karen is always there to calm me down and support us. Patricia, media specialist
Teachers particularly approve of providing inservice lessons to both teachers and students together:
Karen taught two of the students how to use SuperPrint, then those students taught the rest of us, including me. That builds confidence in the children, they really have to know the program to do that. Sandy, primary teacher
This class that Karen's been teaching lately...a student is taking the class with us. She helps to disseminate the new information to the other kids. That's effective. Jennifer, primary teacher
Technical support and training are important to successful implementation for at least for two reasons:
1. Teachers who feel support in technology are less likely to feel threatened and pressured to work in areas where they lack competence; they are likely to develop more positive attitudes toward using the technology.
2. Teachers who receive adequate support and training are more likely to become proficient users of technology in the classroom. Without training and support, growth cannot be expected in this area.
Taking computers home. Part of the teaching training plan for Peakview staff included the opportunity to take computers home for 6 weeks in the summer. Several teachers reported getting help from their own children in using the technology. The teachers at Peakview feel being able to take a computer home with them during the summer months was very important with regards to their own familiarity with the technology. The responses below to the helpfulness of this take-home time reflect its value to many teachers.
That was real important. I have two daughters at home, grade school and junior high level. Of course they, like a magnet, glommed onto the computer immediately...I could see their excitement and enthusiasm. That started to change my attitude toward the technology. One daughter [is] very right brained...enjoyed using Kidpix...another daughter [enjoyed] writing stories. Jennifer, primary teacher
Crucial. I look at it as a break-in time. That first time, it was real intimidating. I was insecure and worried about it. Having the time to work at home with it helped me get over the initial intimidation. Nora, Kindergarten teacher
That was crucial, [it was] absolutely crucial to have that at my house all summer. My own children actually kept spurring me on, showing me things...look at this...look at this. If I hadn't had it all summer, I would have been more timid when the school year approached. Mary, Kindergarten teacher
It was very important. We had one Mac at the previous school. So I knew the basic operation of the Mac. That was important also.
Having the summer to play around with it. I don't see it as an absolute prerequisite, but it sure helped. Adam, intermediate teacher
Being able to take the technology home and on
vacation with me has been a dream come true. I have been able
to do much work at home as a result. It has also helped to motivate
me to have, more than any other year, do more of what the kids
do before they do it. Kate, intermediate
Additional success factors.
Peakview teachers were surveyed in October concerning what factors
most contributed to the successful implementation of technology
at the school. Table 6 summarizes the 17 teachers' responses to
these questions. The data presented in the tables generally confirm
the findings reported above.
1. Please list the key factors that you feel have made our technology program successful.
12 Computers in the classroom
10 Technology resource person
7 Having enough computers
7 Teacher training and support
5 Access to technology
5 Shared commitment to technology
3 Teachers and kids learning together
3 Student training
3 Curriculum integration
2 Sharing resources
1 Up-to-date technology
2. Do you have any suggestions that could help make it better?
11 More technology
7 Teacher training suggestions
6 Maintenance and planning
2 Technology resource person
2 Hardware suggestions
1 Resource sharing
1 Curriculum integration
Table 6. Summary of Peakview teachers' perceptions
of success factors.
Teachers believe that having an adequate number of computers in the classroom is a key factor in the implementation plan. Several teachers remarked that the user-friendly interface and highly-quality educational software are important factors. Teachers also feel strongly that the computer coordinator, and the training and support she is able to provide, contribute to successful implementation.
Another commonly mentioned factor is the school-wide commitment to school reform and using technology in the classroom. Several teachers in interviews commented on the criticality of the reform-oriented values of the school toward successful use of technology. In other words, technology used to reinforce traditional methods of teaching and learning would not have the same dramatically positive impact on the school. As one teacher put it:
[Technology provided a] terrific unifying type of a goal for us as a school to come together. I've seen that building-wide, a whole new thrust for us relating to technology. I've seen a tremendous burst of cooperative learning because of computers... Nora, Kindergarten teacher
Some helpful suggestions were offered for improving the implementation of technology at Peakview. Mini-courses for teachers and students together seem to have been well-received. One teacher suggested that inservice lessons be more informal and more frequent. Continued access to the computer coordinator was highly valued. Another teacher suggested training for students as they make the transition from primary to intermediate classes. Improvements in resource sharing and curriculum integration were also mentioned.
At the beginning of the 19992 school year, a survey asked Peakview teachers to contrast their prior conceptions to present conceptions toward technology:
[I used to] ... think that there was no way I could even begin to develop a comfort level with the computer.
[Now I] ... know that at least there is hope!
[I used to]... watch.
[Now I]... try.
[I used to]... look for the "expert" to help kids who were stuck. .
[Now I]... try things out for myself -and by doing it daily several times, I'm learning some procedures by heart!
[I used to] ... be totally (100%) overwhelmed by the Mac.
[Now I] . . am only 70% overwhelmed by the Mac.
[I used to] ... save on my disk and have kids illustrate using crayons and markers.
[Now I] ... save on the file server and have kids illustrate using a computer.
[I used to] ... see the potential of computers for other people
[Now I]... see the potential for myself!
[I used to]... avoid computer at all cost.
[Now I] ... only avoid them during Bronco games.
These responses clearly indicate a shift toward more receptive, positive attitudes toward technology. Later in May, 20 of 21 responding teachers at Peakview reported that their attitudes toward technology in the classroom have changed substantially over the past year. Teacher interviews yielded the same finding:
I may have been a little skeptical, at first, but I am a true believer in the vital role computers have in our educational system! Nora, Kindergarten teacher
[W]hen I got here, I found out the added potential beyond word processing, spell checking, grammar checkers. CD-ROM, laserdisc, scanner, etc., it has changed my attitudes toward the computer. Michael, intermediate teacher
Sure, the kids are stimulated...that stimulates me. I am very excited about what's going on. Charlotte, primary teacher
My goal is to learn more! I'm getting over a lot of my "fears" about computers, but there's an awful lot I still need to learn! I feel a comfort level settling in, but I need more information!!! More time to learn!!! Nora, Kindergarten teacher
What I will always remember about this year is the realization that teachers need not be computer wizards...just learners. Matt, intermediate teacher
Peakview teachers report higher "comfort levels"
than their counterparts in using word processing, videodisc viewing,
and arts and graphics programs. With some exceptions, teachers
at all four schools reported relatively low comfort levels using
databases, spreadsheets, and programming. Peakview students received
more encouragement from their teachers in using technology, and
said their teachers seemed to enjoy using the technology. Virtually
all of the data we collected in the study served to corroborate
the finding of positive teacher attitudes at Peakview.
Eighteen of 22 Peakview teachers agreed that student achievement is increased when they use technology. The remaining four were undecided; none disagreed with the statement. Open-ended responses to the Main Survey included:
Technology has enhanced teaching and learning at Peakview.
[Technology] also affects individual learning in a positive, beneficial way.
Students need to be using computers as an integral part of their day. As we continue to add computers to the classroom, achievement will increase in all areas.
[Technology] benefits students' progression in all academic areas.
From teacher interviews:
I think they are excited about learning. It's a new avenue...they are doing writing, [and] reading things I didn't think first- and second- graders could do. It's interesting...I have kids who are working on projects [and] units...the learning is more in depth...more opportunities, not just a book and paper. Charlotte, primary teacher
Supermunchers-the kids taught themselves new words so they'd be able to do it. They really have made themselves learn the new words. Ginny, primary teacher
Achievement gains in reading and writing are very pronounced, especially with kids on the low end. Adam, intermediate teacher
I've never had a class that has known all the
letters. This year every child in my class knows every letter
of the alphabet. A lot of it is due to the computer. I can't say
exactly, but I feel certain that it is.
Mary, Kindergarten teacher
Technology is a good way to:
|Peakview Teachers||Non-Peakview Teachers|
Learn basic skills
|Help students learn to work
in small groups.
|Access and use information||Strongly Agree||Agree to
|Learn oral and written
(p < .05)
|Help students learn to
research and report on a topic
|Strongly Agree||Strongly Agree to Agree|
|Learn problem-solving skills||Agree||Agree|
Table 7. Teachers as a way to teach different
Basic skills. All 22 (100%) of Peakview teachers agree that technology is a good way to learn basic skills. Teachers report achievement gains in reading, writing, and math:
My students seem to be making better progress this year than I've noticed in previous years. All of my kindergarten students now know all of their upper and lower case letters, and I feel that the computers in my classroom have played an important part in this. Mary, Kindergarten teacher
I can only speak for my kids, but their writing has come way far from what I've seen in the past. [They've] published books. Kindergarten-level publishing. Almost a published book from every child...some are working on their second or third books. Nora, Kindergarten teacher
We have a lot of math types of games that have been very helpful. It's my opinion that the basic skills needed some bolstering, and this has been excellent. These are not your typical drill and practice programs. Michael, intermediate teacher
I think they are excited about learning. It's a new avenue...they are doing writing, [and] reading things I didn't think first- and second- graders could do. Charlotte, primary teacher
Working in small groups. Teachers at all four schools agreed that technology can help students learn to work cooperatively in groups. One teacher commented:
They learn to depend on each other and to seek each other out a lot more. That independence carries over to other things. It's OK to know more or less or different [things] than other kids. We all have different talents and we share them. It's OK to know things that your teacher doesn't know. [They have a] sense of control over their own learning. Cooperative learning is enhanced because the nature of the computers and available guides requires that they help each other... there's not enough adults. Lynn, primary teacher
Even though technology fosters more small-group work, a majority of students prefer working independently on a computer. In light of this, teachers should be careful to implement cooperative activities in a way that achieves the desired end. Students should also be given time alone with the technology when appropriate.
Access and use of information. As changes in society and the workforce clearly attest, technology is a powerful tool for finding and using information. Peakview teachers commented in interviews:
Can I look up this? Can I research that? Kids are in control of their learning. They've become very independent working with the technology, and they know what they're after. Patricia, media specialist
It makes a big difference in the way students learn. It really makes a difference in the way kids look at information. There are so many more alternatives for them to find information with the technology, and they are exciting and motivating ways. Patricia, media specialist
Kids seeing themselves as information seekers and users...using laserdiscs, GTV, Visual Almanac...turning around and creating products. I've always valued kids being able to have lots of free choice. Research writing, reading topics...technology has added to that, one more facet where kids can explore and be producers. That is the biggest [effect]. Adam, intermediate teacher
Students appreciate being able to access information using technology:
Every couple of months or weeks we have to do research on something. We go to the media [center], and we use laserdiscs, Visual Almanac, to play parts about the animal or people. When we're doing reports, here's a book...we can put a picture on the scanner and we scan it. The things that helps me learn the most are the laserdiscs 'cause it tells me all about stuff-animals and famous people. Billy
It's almost like a humungous book, except it's faster and easier to write it down. Curt
To the extent that students can obtain answers to their questions, they reduce their dependence on the teacher as a source of knowledge. Seen in this way, information use is an important precursor to independent research activities. From the available evidence, technology is a definite aid to students' independent access and use of information at Peakview.
Problem-solving skills. Broadly construed, writing and research activities can be thought of as problem-solving activities. Several mathematics drill and practice games were popular with students and teachers; however, these are generally designed to teach basic skills rather than higher-level problem-solving skills. Some teachers at Peakview indicated a need for more computer software, laserdiscs, and other materials that were specifically designed for problem-solving. In this regard, at the end of the school year plans were being made to procure the Jasper Woodbury Adventure Series, multimedia problem solving instruction developed by Vanderbilt University. Teachers commented:
What we are doing with young kids is allowing them to accept computers as a natural part of thinking, problem solving and processing information. We need to be more realistic about the tools that kids ought to be using to prepare them for how people work. Workplace problem solving. I'm not using the technology very much in the area of math and science. That's a goal of mine. Matt, intermediate teacher
I'm not spending as much time with skills, and I get to spend more time with problem solving. Tom, intermediate teacher
Some improvements in math problem solving (Math Blaster Mystery). Kate, intermediate teacher
We have a lot of math types of games that have
been very helpful. It's my opinion that the basic skills needed
some bolstering, and this has been excellent. These are not your
typical drill and practice programs-MathBlasters, for example.
Michael, intermediate teacher
Oral and written communication skills. Teachers were very positive about uses of technology to help improve students' writing. Illustrative comments are presented below:
I think for my students, especially when I think of writing, the achievement of kids...being sure that they're editing and going through those processes...I see them [at] a higher level...grammatical...voice... mechanics improved quite a bit. Matt, intermediate teacher.
They understand the writing process better. Kate, intermediate teacher
They can write a report, include graphics, sound, color. As a 1st grade teacher, I've never had kids come up and say, 'Can I write a report on this or that?' Kids want to write reports. They think it's real fun to do their writing at the computer; and the ones that I see doing that quite often are the ones that would drop out of the activity. Their fine motor isn't very good, not as sophisticated. Ginny, primary teacher
Kids have become much more computer literate. It has certainly improved writing. Old method: write on paper first, then copy it. Now they prefer writing and editing directly on the computer. Particularly lower-end [ability] kids are eager to be on the computer. It was a hook to have them write. Elizabeth, intermediate teacher
The lower achievers have more of an opportunity to do some writing. It's easier to proofread and edit. Kids like software and like using computers. The education software that we have are learning tools. Matt, intermediate teacher
[For] kids who struggle with writing it could be a real asset, I want to delve more into this and do more. Jennifer, primary teacher
We could find little direct evidence that technology
assisted students' development of oral communication skills. Some
students narrated special HyperCard stacks at Peakview
or HyperStudio stacks at Summit. However, these special
projects are not done by all the students.
Research and reporting a topic. Peakview teachers overwhelmingly agreed (91%) that technology can be an aid in individual research. Teachers explained:
More students are producing projects/reports/presentations using technology. Teacher response to Main Survey
It's not uncommon, if the kids are researching a topic, to say, "May I go to the media center to get this resource, to watch this laserdisc", etc. This is much different than the way it was in the past. Michael, intermediate teacher
More movement, more independence doing research. Matt, intermediate teacher
As the year has progressed, there are children who are not only writing but using multimedia for research. As a first/second grade teacher I found that hard to believe at the beginning of the year but am currently watching it occur with great success. Charlotte, primary teacher
Peakview students describe some of their independent projects during interviews:
[My biggest project] was probably my explorer report, it was about Francisco Pizzaro. I wrote all the stuff on the computer. I scanned pictures in. I used the Visual Almanac to find out stuff about him. It was on The Writing Center. I put a lot of work into it. Billy
What I'm doing right now is a project on dolphins using laserdiscs. Also, HyperCard for poetry... two of my biggest projects. Jonathan
Like, the Tongue Twister stack, using HyperCard. It was about tongue twisters...words that are hard to say... I used the laserdisc and put some pictures into my stack. Chad
For reports. I use it to find information. Pictures to help me if I find word, like armadillo, and I don't know what it is, I can look it up and it'll show you what it is. Curt
[My favorite project was] my eagles project. It's a HyperCard stack that has a button on it to play the laserdisc. It has cards about wings, the body, and at the end some words you may want to know about the bald eagle. Brandan
As observers in the school, we (the research team) quickly noted the schools' emphasis on quality products. Student activity is often observed to be centered around projects. Pride in originality and creativity is evidenced by both student and staff. Weekly faculty meetings included a sample of student work with technology presented by the student(s) that produced it. Teachers report greater student interest and initiative in completing research projects when technology is used; this is especially pronounced at Peakview.
Creativity. All 23 Peakview staff members agreed that using technology is a good way to enhance students' creativity. Also, all 23 Peakview staff members disagree that the use of technology degrades the quality of a student's education. This result was common across all schools. Twenty of 23 (87%) of Peakview staff members agree that kids who use technology in their early years will cope better in later years. Non-Peakview teachers responses similarly. Peakview teachers comment on creativity and technology:
It really gives kids a sense of power, particularly in the writing areas. For my little guys, when they can't necessarily control their motor skills, they can still communicate. They're more willing to take that risk and be creative. Lynn, primary teacher
So many kids [who] hate drawing prefer Kidpix.
It gives an opportunity to kids who really feel terrible about
their drawing. They can still be creative and accomplish something
they're proud of. Kate, intermediate teacher
Attitudes toward school. Peakview students generally like school, with a majority responding that school is not too easy and not too hard, but rather "just right." They say technology makes school "a lot" more fun. Peakview students report liking school "a lot more" because of the technology. Non-Peakview intermediate students differ markedly (p < .001), with responses averaging "a little more."
Peakview teacher comments corroborate their survey responses and suggest that technology often has a substantial impact on student attitudes toward school:
I look at it more attitudinally than anything. The kids are affected. 'Can I stay in at recess; can I stay late?' Some kids would choose to work with computers all the time. Some kids choose to work with the computer when it wouldn't always be the best choice.
I believe there's a possibility it's having an effect on absenteeism. Matt, intermediate teacher
I think mostly their self-confidence; maybe even some more independence...'I can do this on my own. This won't save, I can't get it to save. If this doesn't work, I try this or I try that.
Motivation is high, and as a result, good things have happened. One of my students who wouldn't consider himself a good student, lot of labels [slow learner, etc.] has become a good writer and learner. [For example, a] video disc lesson on Big Cats that he created. Parent conferences are just around the corner. [A student will say,] "Be sure my mom sees this; she won't believe I have done it."
When questioned about the effects of technology on students' attitudes towards school one teacher responded:
It has improved it. We've got three days a week where there are kids coming to school at 7:30 AM to work on the computers. They are there voluntarily every day on time.
At the beginning of the year I was shocked at
how many computers there were. I was also scared because I had
no experience but that changed really quickly.
Attitudes toward technology. Peakview students were asked in the August Baseline Survey several questions aimed at gauging their feelings toward the technology available at the school. Intermediate students generally agreed about the important of learning to use computer, about their parents' endorsing their learning, and that technology was a good way to learning something new.
Intermediate students at all four schools uniformly reported wanting to learn more about technology, with Peakview students showing markedly greater enthusiasm (p<.001). Primary students in focus interviews at all four schools unanimously agreed with the same statement. Students at the four schools also concurred that learning about technology was an important goal. Again, Peakview intermediate students showed a stronger conviction than non-Peakview students (p<.05).
Students across the four schools reported a preference for technology-based learning over textbook-based learning. Peakview intermediate students expressed stronger agreement than non-Peakview students (p<.05). This confirms an attitude expressed by Peakview intermediate students in the August Baseline Survey.
Teachers confirmed positive student attitudes regarding technology.
They love the computers! For Free Choice Center, I always have to say "Who wants to go to the computers first?" It's the most favored thing that they like to do.
They love the technology. They have a kind of 'I can' attitude.
Students spoke for themselves about their attitudes toward the technology:
Technology is really a outstanding thing. I hope I am good in technology. We didn't use computers much in our old school. Some of the people in our class are really good typers on the computer. I really like my school. I'm glad we have a lot of computers. Brittany
I used to write and write. But I never had any pleasure with it. I would cherish the times I got to go to the computer lab. I never dreamed of using as cool technology as I do now. Anne
I love technology and praise this school for preparing me for tomorrow's society. I am very scared about tomorrow, but I am prepared and confident in my peers. I wish to have a future part in the technology market. I also think that future school should have this privilege. Kevin
Attitudes toward learning. Peakview students were asked in the August Baseline Survey questions related to technology and learning. Students at all grade levels report agreement that technology will help them learn. Peakview teachers observed that students are highly motivated to stay on task and learn with technology:
The kids are affected. Can I stay in recess, can I stay late? We have such a short recess period, I wish we had more opportunities to do more. Michael, intermediate teacher
...98% of the kids will choose to stay in and work with computers rather than go outside for recess . Nora, Kindergarten teacher
Kids come early, stay late, stay in at recess. Brad, Kindergarten teacher
I like computers a lot and I do as much as I can on computers. We've got a computer at home. It's a quicker way to do things. It's fun and it's good to learn with. Charles Johnson
If we didn't have technology everyone would be bored...there'd be nothing to do. Mathew
Open-ended responses in the Main Survey suggest that
students link technology use with learning. When asked, How
much can technology help you in school? Why?, intermediate
students made references to learning first, followed by a number
of other types of responses (see Table 8 below).
How much can technology help you in school? Why?
28 Better learning
26 Provides help
13 It's fun!
11 Provides information
7 More efficient, productive
7 Has limits
3 It teaches you
2 Don't use technology
8 Miscellaneous other responses
Table 8. Open-ended responses to Main Survey,
When asked in open-ended fashion what they liked
most about technology, intermediate students again mentioned learning
gains, followed by fun and games (see Table 9 below).
What do you like most about technology?
25 Help provided in learning
24 It's fun!
10 Don't know
9 Efficiency, productivity
7 Particular activity
5 It's easy
1 Independent/individual aspects
Table 9. Open-ended responses to Main Survey,
Provided below is a sampling of Peakview intermediate students related to technology and the learning process. (Note: Original spelling is retained.)
...I learned how to start the computer. I learnd how to use HyperCard, Wrighting Center, Munchers, Kid Pix's. Every thing exsept Carmen USA. I am very proud of my play called "Peter Pan" and my play "Cinderella". In fact I am going to put on the play Peter Pan for my class. I hope you can get achnes and read them. In the coming years I think there will be a computer for every one in the class. Technology has changed my life as we speak. Thanks so much for the experenss.
Wow! This is Fantastick! I am having so much fun doing this! I've wrote about 5 story's on theese awsome computers! They also help me so much on my research!
On the negative side, however, another student complained:
It doesn't give you the complete answer to things. When you need to find things, sometimes you can't find it on the computer... and it doesn't give you enough detail on things. It doesn't, like, tell you if you got the right answer...it just goes on...I'm used [to] hearing if I'm right. Mathew
Peakview teachers feel strongly that students are motivated to learn with technology:
I have marveled at the cooperative learning and self-motivated learning that has taken place because of having the computers in the classroom. I cannot believe how far these kids have come with their own expertise in using them.
Technology has taught me and the children in my class to take a risk, learn and at the same time feel frustrated and success. We are learning together and I can't think of anything much better-children learning with adults and adults learning with children.
One teacher suggests that technology can help students overcome attitudinal barriers to learning:
Technology has allowed my students to constantly access information from video discs, as well as traditional print material. This has been especially beneficial for those students who have a "book phobia"... who are afraid of reading. After listening to and viewing these multimedia resources, many students have gone on to read, read and read some more. Adam, intermediate teacher
Most elementary students are oriented toward learning.
They enjoy learning. It seems justifiable to generalize that most
students associate technology with learning. They typically view
technology as an aid to learning. For this reason, and for a variety
of other reasons, the students have a positive attitude toward
the technology itself.
Attitudes toward self. When asked if technology makes them feel good about themselves, Peakview intermediate students agreed more strongly than non-Peakview students (p<.001). Primary students at all four schools also reported that using technology makes them feel good about themselves. Most (83%) report computers being "easy."
Interviews of Peakview intermediate students illustrate the positive effects technology can have on some children's self-concepts:
Technology has really been a very good experience for me this year. I've been getting better grades, in which I've been excepted into the G.T. program and I think it's do to the technology because you can learn stuff with technology like laserdiscs, G.T.V., and CD-ROM. I will be going to Thunder Ridge next year and hope I'll have at least on class (not counting computer class) that has at least 6 computers in it like Peakview. I've done some projects without technology and some with it, and it was much easier with the technology. Charlotte
My feeling about technology are...that since so many computers are at Peakview I seem smarter. The computers are like electronic textbooks Except they are tons more fun.. Elizabeth
Intermediate Peakview students, asked in August if they were worried about making mistakes on the computer, responded diversely. The fact that so many students reported concerns about errors suggests that, even for children who view computers as easy and view themselves as good at computers, making mistakes can still be a concern.
A survey response by a fourth grader further illustrates how many children feel about the technology at Peakview:
I used to not be alod to use technology that mach at all. I felt relly dome when I was at my old school. But now I think technology is grand but in a way it is hard. So well I stell love technology and howe it work's. Heather
In summary, students' self-concepts are affected
by a number of factors. Trying to isolated the effects of technology
is difficult. The great majority of students view technology as
easy, particularly Peakview students. However, a number of Peakview
students, at the beginning of the year, reported worrying about
doing something wrong on the computer. It seems that there may
be some students with concerns about the technology and their
confidence in using it. On the positive side, students at all
four schools generally agreed that technology make them feel good
about themselves. Eighty-six percent of Peakview intermediate
students agreed the statement. This indicates a strong number
of students whose self-concepts are likely helped by through working
Student empowerment. An important educational goal is to help children come to feel in control of their own learning. Taking charge of one's learning-independent of the teacher's behavior and the school environment-is often not entirely achieved until high school. Because technology-based activities can often take the form of independent or cooperative research activities, we were interested in gathering information on this question.
Intermediate students across the four schools generally agreed with the statement,
I like technology because the teacher doesn't always have to help me .
Primary students showed a similar profile of agreement
to the statement. Students generally agreed with the statement
I like to make my own choices about how I use the technology,
although a number of students were "unable to judge."
Primary students at the four schools concurred. Responses were
similar to the question, I like to think of my own ways to
Attitudes of children with special needs. The motivation and attitudes of certain children are especially important when considering educational innovations. For example, if most children had positive attitudes toward a new strategy, but low-achieving children hated it, that finding would be cause for concern, even if the strategy were generally beneficial. Teachers were asked specifically about technology's potential in enhancing the self-esteem of at-risk students. Staff members at all four schools agreed that technology can enhance the self-esteem of these children; Peakview staff members strongly agreed with the statement.
Students limited physically seem also to be helped by the technology. One advantage is in the ease in interacting with the keyboard for students who have difficulty controlling their fine motor movements. A Peakview special education teacher commented:
Technology has changed my life and the lives of my students, almost entirely with positive changes. First of all, most of "my" kids have difficulty with reading and writing, and they are much more motivated by such avenues as computers and laserdiscs to read and write. In writing, for example, students can pull up a variety of pictures for inspiration on the computer, then enjoy the increase of their keyboarding skills and their professional production as they write their stories. For students with fine motor difficulties, who find it hard to produce legible writing the computer opens a whole new avenue of flexible expression. Gerri, K-5 special education teacher
Perhaps what I've noticed the most is the success and growth it gives children when they might not be receiving it from other academic areas. Having a special needs child in my classroom is proof of that. It is through the computer that he is able to choose spelling words, read and follow a book on the CD-ROM and most importantly be able to communicate through a keyboard using pictures and sound. I know that as he continues to use technology he will become more proficient, meaning he will become a better communicator with those around him. Charlotte, primary teacher
One teacher commented on lower-achieving students and the help technology can be:
I have seen "non-readers" become avid
consumers of written information. I have seen "non writers",
especially those hampered by poor fine motor skills, show tremendous
pride in their obvious growth as writers. Kids who, eight months
ago, would have run at the mention of research projects, now actively
pursue areas of interest ranging from American political figures
Summary of the Findings
The table below outlines the various effects of technology
found at Peakview Elementary. Although the study identified a
number of areas that need refinement, we could not identify a
general impact area where the technology was perceived to have
a negative impact.
|Impact of Technology On:|
|Use of Technology|
|Time on technology|
|Use of media|
|Use of hardware|
|Use of multiple modalities|
|Verbal and visual learning media|
|Strategies for equitable access|
|Impact on Teaching|
|Changes in teacher work|
|Professional uses of technology|
|Competition versus cooperation|
|Productive time on task|
|Accommodating multiple learning goals|
|Accommodating multiple learning styles|
|Students as teachers|
|Information access and research|
|Teacher comfort levels|
|Student perceptions of teachers|
|Access and use of information|
|Oral and written communication skills|
|Research and reporting|
|Attitudes toward school|
|Attitudes toward technology|
|Attitudes toward learning|
|Attitudes toward teachers|
|Attitudes toward self|
|Attitudes of children with special needs|
Conclusions of the Study
1. Students and teachers are using the technology. The available evidence suggests that the technology is being used heavily at Peakview Elementary. Generally, the kind of use includes word processing, graphics, instructional software, and laserdisc viewing. Students use technology in finding information, researching and writing about topics, and in problem-solving activities.
2. Technology is changing classroom practice. Peakview teachers overwhelmingly prefer 4-6 computers in the classroom over computer labs. Technology has stimulated innovation in the way subjects are taught; several teachers report adapting their teaching to better integrate technology into different subjects. Other teachers report a desire to continue learning more about the technology, in order to continue changing their classroom practices. Teachers report working more hours because of the technology, and having more control over their work.
3. The technology has changed teachers' beliefs and attitudes. Peakview teachers underwent an attitude shift in their first year using technology at Peakview. They came to see technology as a powerful tool to facilitate learning in elementary children. They believe that technology can be a vehicle for accomplishing many of the learning and instructional goals that are important to them, such as problem-solving skill, cooperative learning, independent research skills, and individualization according to learners' needs. They have gained confidence in their own abilities to use computers and other technologies.
4. Students learn effectively using the technology. Students are showing tentative learning gains in a variety of areas. Their skill at using technology is obviously improved. Some teachers report reading and vocabulary improvements in early grades. Students do more editing and revising of written work using word-processing tools. Spell checkers are only sparingly used by students. A number of intermediate students are using the technology for a variety of independent or small-group projects, including:
Combining paint graphics and word processing;
Incorporating scanned and clip-art graphics;
Authoring HyperCard projects;
Using CD-ROM and optical laserdisc information references;
Incorporated CD-ROM and laserdisc sequences into HyperCard projects.
Teachers and students report greater student interest and initiative in completing research projects.
5. Students are motivated to learn with the technology. Students experience increased independence and empowerment as a result of the way technology is used. Teachers report that students work more productively with computers. Student attitudes are positively affected by technology, toward:
6. Technology is a vehicle for many of the school's reform initiatives. Multi-aging (having children K-3 in the same classroom) becomes more manageable when technology is used.
Process instruction in writing is feasible when editing and revisions can be done on computer.
Independent research can be more easily accomplished when electronic forms of references are consulted, and when student data is stored and manipulated on computers.
Technology-related projects lend themselves well to cooperative learning groups. Students can collect projects into electronic portfolios, allowing for alternative, authentic assessments of their learning.
Each of these initiatives is part of Peakview's innovative philosophy of elementary education. There is no question that without the technology, many of these practices would go forward. However, access to the technology improves the likelihood that these reforms will succeed.
7. Key elements of successful implementation include:
Computers abundantly available in the classroom. Each classroom houses 4-6 color Macintosh computers; computers are often shared between adjoining classrooms to allow more flexible use of resources. According to teachers, the number of computers in the classroom, and teachers' and students' easy access to them, is a powerful factor contributing to successful implementation.
Shared commitment and vision of school reform with technology as an essential component. The amount of work required to successfully begin a school with a number of innovations should not be underestimated. The Peakview community-particularly the teachers and administration-articulated a vision for the school, and they committed to making that vision happen. The entire staff bought in to the program, and worked had to overcome the many obstacles and challenges encountered along the way. An atmosphere was cultivated that encouraged offering mutual support and sharing resources.
A supportive district and principal. Peakview received the support of district administration in developing an innovative set of values and methods for elementary education. The principal supported the use of technology at the school, and enthusiastically learned to use the Macintosh along with the rest of the staff. The leadership and commitment of district- and building-level administrators created conditions conducive to success at the school.
A strong computer coordinator. Peakview has one teacher assigned full-time to technology leadership and support. This position seems to be a critical component of the school's implementation of technology. The computer coordinator seems to give other teacher the courage to "charge ahead" in the use of the technology. Hardware and software systems are maintained and managed; inservices are provided to staff and students; troubleshooting help is provided for problems as they arise.
Early and thorough teacher training. Before the school opened, teachers received training on Macintosh operating system, Microsoft Works, and instructional software to be used in classes. Inservice lessons have been regularly made available to teachers and students. This access to expertise seems to have been very helpful to teachers.
Taking computers home. Following initial training in the spring of 1991, each teacher was given a computer to take home for 6 weeks. According to many teachers, this allowed them time to become comfortable with the technology before school started. Many teachers reported receiving tutorial help from their children.
The color Macintosh LCs at the school have contributed to the
attitude change among many teachers. High-quality software is
another factor in the school's successful implementation.
Recommendations to the School
The recommendations in the next two sections arise from the study. In some cases, the recommendations are not closely tied to specific findings, but rather relate to a cluster of different findings and observations. The following recommendations are offered to members of the Peakview community.
1. Continue inservice training, particularly informal lessons with teachers and students attending together. Teachers are still in a state of rapid growth with respect to their technology expertise. Regular inservice lessons provide them with the opportunity to interact with other people, to pursue new skill areas, and receive help on their problems or areas of concern. There was some indication that frequent, informal lessons with a mix of students and teachers is desirable.
2. Train teachers in uses of database, spreadsheet programs, and other tools. While teachers and students made good use of word processing, graphics, and instructional software, a relatively smaller number were regular users of database and spreadsheet software. The potential of these programs for both teachers and students justifies future attention in the form of inservice lessons and suggested lesson plans and student activities. As teachers become competent in basic skills, their training may continue in HyperCard authoring, telecommunications, and other areas.
3. Continue computer coordinator position. Based on the available data, the position of technology resource person or computer coordinator is a critical ingredient at Peakview Elementary. This position should be viewed as essential for the successful implementation of technology at the school. The computer coordinator will be perceived a success to the extent that s/he serves the Peakview community and provides leadership in technology use.
4. Periodically perform a self-study to assess progress, set priorities, spot trends, and establish strategic goals and plans. Peakview underwent a substantial self-study as it defined its philosophy and developed its initial plan. The energy invested in such a self-study is well-spent. The school needs to commit to a regular program of self-study in order to maintain its focus on valued priorities. The school should try to systematize a method of collecting evaluative data as a basis for regular review. We recommend that the computer coordinator consider the acquisition of software to regularly track network usage for analysis and maintenance.
5. Build regular maintenance and upgrade costs into regular school budget. Schools often suffer from a pattern of large and sudden technology expenditures, followed by a long period of benign neglect. In order to continue meeting students' and teachers' technology needs, the school (and district) need to commit to a regular technology budget sufficient to maintain hardware and software, and replace outdated systems.
6. Continue developing electronic portfolios and other authentic assessment methods. Technology allows a number of ways for students to demonstrate their skill and understanding. Peakview has begun a system of collecting student performance samples into "electronic portfolios." Care should be taken to improve and systematize this effort. Alternatives or complements to the traditional grading system should draw on the capabilities of technology to improve the monitoring of student growth and reporting to parents, the school, and the community.
7. Develop improved assessment measures to track performance gains over a period of years. Even though the district is the unit primarily responsible for competency assessment, Peakview can cooperate with the district by developing objective measures of student skill and knowledge that can be used to track performance over time. Electronic portfolios (mentioned above) are only one possible type of assessment; others include writing and research project tasks, science projects, and reading tasks.
8. Continue to develop electronic-mail (e-mail) and telecommunications capabilities. E-mail is rapidly changing the American workplace. Within Peakview, e-mail can be used to further develop the school's sense of community and connectedness. Telecommunications of various kinds can improve communications among teachers and students within the building, as well as outside the building. We encourage the school to develop links between homes and school for teachers and students.
9. Continue to cultivate parental involvement. Peakview has opened its doors to parents and community members. Examples of this outreach include technology back-to-school nights, computer lessons for parents, and the use of parent volunteers. We encourage the continued use of parent volunteers in technology. This component of the school's philosophy is critical for a number of reasons. Children benefit when their parents are involved and informed about school activities. And because Peakview's technology-rich environment is an innovation, the community at large needs to be kept informed and educated about it. As the school invests in reaching out to the community, it will see rewards coming back in the form of community and parental support.
10. Find more problem-solving software, particularly in science. Presently the school's software based is excellent, but it has some gaps. Writing, authoring, and graphics are well-represented, as are basic skills instruction in math and selected subjects. The school needs to seek additional high-quality software to complements its existing base. A variety of problem-solving software in science is social studies is becoming available. We encourage Peakview's consideration of some of these programs.
11. Carefully implement cooperative learning
activities, ensuring equitable workload among students and efficient
use of time. Cooperative learning is rightly among the
overall goals of Peakview Elementary; furthermore, technology
can be a vehicle for effective cooperative learning. We wish to
call attention, however, to many students' overall preference
for working alone on a computer. Occasionally, students' time
in cooperative groups may be inefficiently consumed by tasks unrelated
to the assigned task. We encourage teachers to continue engaging
students in cooperative learning activities, but to carefully
design and monitor those activities to ensure quality learning
experiences for all students.
Recommendations to the District
1. Use Peakview as a model for other elementary schools in the district. The overall model adopted by Peakview included the use of technology in a way sufficient to cause dramatic effects. Because of this, we recommend that Peakview's approach be considered as a model for the entire district. However, key elements of Peakview's success should not be overlooked, in particular, the consensual method for developing the school's philosophy and careful attention to getting teacher buy-in. The elements identified as key implementation factors should be carefully considered in any attempt to disseminate Peakview's approach to other schools.
2. Perform a cost/benefits analysis to determine:
if Peakview technology-related outcomes are highly valued;
if the value of those outcomes justify the additional cost of the technology.
The district needs to decide what kind of education it values giving to students. What kinds of learning outcomes are valued? Do Collins' (1991) learning trends (see literature review above) reflect desired learning goals, or is the district satisfied with traditional conceptions and measures of student learning? The present study provides considerable data that directly bear on this question, but final assignment of worth needs to be made by the district.
At the same time, the district needs to carefully analyze the costs of the technology within the total context of district expenditures. What percent of the district budget presently goes toward technology? Are there ways to enhance that investment that do not require new revenues? Would the community support revenue increases to fund specifically targeted products and services such as technology? The answers to some of these questions cannot presently be determined, and a careful cost analysis would likely offer valuable some surprising insights that are directly relevant to decisionmaking.
Together, the analysis of the benefits, together with analysis of the costs, should provide a context for making informed decisions concerning the future of technology within the Cherry Creek School District.
3. Incorporate objective measures of Peakview's performance into the data provided by the present study. Over the long haul, the present study needs to be supplemented with continuing studies of student achievement based on applied performance measures. We recommend that the district analyze student performance on objective achievement measures as they become available over time. Together with the qualitative data offered in this study, performance data will shed further light on the impact of technology within the school.
4. Measure student competencies throughout the district. The effort described in no. 3 above should be part of a more comprehensive effort to develop a set of performance measures that can be used internally within the district to assess student performance on criterion outcomes. We encourage a general move away from reliance on standardized norm-referenced measures such as the CAT and the ITBS, toward competency measures that more concretely specify key learning outcomes such as writing and communication skills.
5. Continue to support Peakview as a prototype
lab to try out new technologies and methods. The district
made a very astute move to support Peakview in its initial use
of technology. By creating a technology-rich environment, the
school was able to test and evaluate what many teachers throughout
the district have desired for many years. We encourage the district
to continue supporting technology-rich environments at selected
schools. In return, these schools need to commit to rigorously
developing disseminable programs, evaluating effects of their
innovations, and sharing their experience and expertise with other
schools in the district.
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