Graduation Year

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Danielle V. Dennis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jenifer J. Schneider, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Audra Parker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Black, Ph.D.

Keywords

iPad, Leadership, Literacy, Multimodal, Policy, Secondary Schools

Abstract

This dissertation presents findings from a qualitative case study of three English teachers representing varying levels of comfort with technology and years of teaching experience at St. Patrick Catholic High School. This research was motivated by two questions: (1) What are three literacy educators’ perceptions of a multimodal tablet initiative at a Catholic High School? (2) How is information regarding the use of iPad technology for literacy disseminated to three High School English teachers within a Catholic School system? Data was collected over a twelve-week period during the first academic year of implementation of a school-based multimodal tablet (iPad) initiative. Implementation during this time period was limited to students in their first and second year of high school. Under the direction of the initiative, teachers were tasked with utilizing the iPad as part of their daily instruction. Moreover, three Apps were highlighted for explicit use for uploading assignments and sharing content with students. Additionally, all textbooks utilized were in digital format. Data collected includes: artifacts, observations, interviews, and reflective field notes. Findings from this research indicate that all participants had positive perceptions of the tablet initiative and its promise for the future of the school and effect on student achievement. They felt, however, many areas that would support the effective implementation of the initiative were overlooked in lieu of the school remaining overly focused on maintaining its competitive edge against neighboring private schools. In essence, the school’s leadership utilized the iPads like “pixie dust”- sprinkling them around campus and hoping for an increase in achievement and digital citizenship among students without providing appropriate support and guidance for the teaching staff. Furthermore, the teachers believed the device presented new difficulties within the classroom dynamic including struggles with classroom management, academic honesty, and networking. The path of dissemination for information was convoluted with leadership members often verbally presenting conflicting expectations and information. While promising, the initiative lacked clearly articulated expectations for how teachers should integrate the device in their classrooms. Information related to the initiative was most often disseminated verbally via faculty meetings, but also uploaded within the school’s digital communication system. This digital drive was overly crowded with documents and lacked organization making locating information tedious and challenging. Given the pilot status of this implementation, the administrators did not present fully developed evaluative procedures or expectations for iPad integration creating uncertainty for teachers. These findings offer insight into the need for meaningful and individualized professional development opportunities for teachers that focus on deep interactions with multimodal capabilities prior to the onset of any initiative aiming to integrate iPad technology. Additionally, a clear path of dissemination in which expectations are written, explicit, and correlated with evaluative procedures would likely reduce confusion among teachers. Aligning the goals from all leadership members in an effort to create consistency among the information shared with staff is critical to implementing a technology initiative effectively.

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