Making use visible: a teacher-centered study of technology-enabled work practices

Open Access
Sinha, Hansa
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 26, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Mary Beth Rosson, Dissertation Advisor
  • John Millar Carroll, Dissertation Advisor
  • Mary Beth Rosson, Committee Chair
  • John Millar Carroll, Committee Chair
  • Shawn Mitchell Clark, Committee Member
  • Orrin T Murray, Special Member
  • teacher education
  • human-computer interaction
  • activity theory
  • workplace learning
  • professional development
  • learning communities
Many studies have examined the use of technology in education aimed at preparing students for the 21st century. Some studies have emphasized the importance of teacher attributes, such as attitudes, beliefs and self-efficacy, in predicting these professionals’ use of technology in schools (Dupagne & Krendl (1994), Marcinkiewicz (1994), Milbrath & Kinzie (2000), Vannatta & Fordham, 2004). Other studies have assessed whether technology improves students’ engagement as well as achievement (Schacter, 1999). Still others have investigated the development of online communities that may help teachers to become advanced users of technology (Carroll et al., 2003, 2005; Barab et al., 2003; Schlager & Fusco, 2003). In general however, many studies of technology in education consider teacher preparation as a peripheral concern. In contrast, Fullan (1991) suggested that researchers should consider the teachers’ perspective when studying changes that occur due to technology integration to understand their subjective experiences. Similarly, Laurillard (2008) argued that by taking into account the teachers’ concerns, specifically their points of view on whether and how technology can serve education, researchers will be able to first identify and understand the educational problems and then find technology solutions that address these problems. In this way, it can be ensured that issues are addressed from the teaching community’s perspective. This study is grounded in the view that a better understanding of teachers and their daily work-related activities must be a central element in any programs aimed at enhancing the use of technology in teaching. This research begins with a review of literature on teachers’ professional community, teachers’ professional development, the opportunities that online communities are providing in the evolution of a professional development community for teachers and the challenges that lie ahead. Then, through qualitative research methodology, this study attempts to (a) better understand the social aspects surrounding the use of information technology in a school setting and (b) analyze barriers and supporting structures for using and learning technology practices among teachers. The analysis of how the school teachers in a particular school are using and learning to use technological artifacts for their daily work practices has helped uncover useful findings - for policy makers, school leaders, teachers, providers of professional development and designers of information technology innovations for education. The findings from this study contribute to research in the fields of human centered computing, workplace learning and teacher’s professional development.