Using Action Research Projects to Examine Teacher Technology Integration Practices

Aug. 01, 2012

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Vol. 28 No. 3, p. 117-123. 2012.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined the technology integration practices of teachers involved in a statewide initiative via one cycle of action research (AR).
It provides insights into the ways that teachers use technology tools and resources in classroom practice.

The participants were 353 teachers involved in the statewide initiative voluntarily completed one AR project. The teachers were evenly divided among elementary, middle, and high school grades and had an average of 11 years teaching experience and 5 years experience teaching with technology. Teachers provided information related to their AR projects through an online tool known as Action Research for Technology Integration (ARTI).


The findings revealed that thematic analysis yielded five themes:
Data within the first theme (content and objectives) show that teachers at elementary, middle, and high school levels participated equally and that most of these teachers focused on using technology to help their students master content objectives.
The second theme (audience) showed that teachers in the initiative used technology to target rural, minority, struggling, and/or lower-socioeconomic- status (SES) students.
These results suggest that when teachers are provided opportunities to integrate technology, they often do so to support a range of students.
Data within the third theme (classroom implementation) mirrors the nature of previous studies, in that teacher practices varied considerably.
These data were particularly difficult to decipher because of their dichotomous nature.
Some teachers reported direct instruction as their primary instructional strategy, whereas others emphasized collaborative learning.
Similarly, some teachers reported hands-on learning as the primary student activity, and others reported independent seatwork.
Data within this theme also suggests teachers may not necessarily meet the needs of all students because of the large percentage of AR projects that use technology in a whole-class setting. It is unlikely that the needs of all students will be met during instruction that involves all students within a class.
Data within the fourth theme (hardware and software use) paint a picture of teachers with adequate resources using a range of tools and applications.
More than half the teachers reported using more than nine classroom computers during their inquiries, and resources are key ingredients in successful technology integration.
Likewise, the teachers used a wide range of productivity software within these inquiries.
Word processing and presentation software were among the most common, but the relatively high use of digital audio and video suggests teachers are using more advance multimedia features as well.
Similarly, Web browsers dominated Internet use, but there was evidence of Web 2.0 use.
Data within the fifth theme (outcomes) may be the most interesting in that selected anecdotes demonstrate the potential of technology to positively influence classroom-based learning.

Implications for Technology Integration Initiatives and Research

Results of this study suggest that future iterations of this initiative will benefit from explicit attention to differentiated instruction, use of advanced technology tools, the potential of technology as a communications tool, and increased focus on student-centered technology integration practices.
There are also implications for district and school leaders who could use AR projects completed by their teachers to guide technology and professional development planning.
This study also provides evidence that conducting AR projects with the support of trained coaches is a viable strategy to study teacher practices during technology integration initiatives.
Although the results presented here do not provide fine-grain details about technology integration practices, they do provide a macro-level picture of practices across more than 350 teachers within 16 districts.

Updated: Aug. 05, 2015