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  • TECHNOLOGY AND PRIMARY TEACHERS' VALUES:

    RETHINKING THE COMPU'I'ER REVOLUTION

    Timothy Trivett

    B.A., Simon Fraser University, 1977

    THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF

    THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

    MASTER OF ARTS

    in the Faculty

    o f

    Education

    O Timothy Trivett 1994

    SIMON FRASER UNI.VERSITY

    August 1994

    All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by photocopy

    or other means, without permission of the author.

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    autorisation.

    ISBN 0-612-17149-3

  • PARTIAL COPYRIGHT LICENSE

    1 hereby grant to Simon Fraser University the right to lend

    my thesis, project or extended essay (the title of which is shown below)

    to users of the Simon Fraser University Library, and to make partial or

    single copies only for such users or in response to a request from the

    library of any other university, or ether educational institution, on

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    or publication of this work for financial gain shall not be allowed

    without my written permission.

    Title of Thesis/Project/Extended Essay

    Technology and Primary Teachers' Values: Rethinking the Computer Revolution

    Author:

    (Sanature)

    Timothy Trivett

    (Name)

  • APPROVAL

    Name:

    Degree:

    Title of Thesis:

    Timothy Trivett

    Master of Arts

    Technology and Primary Teachers' Values: Rethinking the Computer Revolution

    Examining Committee:

    Chair: Stuart Richmond

    -

    A. J. (Sandy) Dawson Associate Professor Senior Supervisor

    Celia Haig-Brown Assistant Professor Member

    -

    Lannie Kanevsky Assistant Professor Faculty of Education Simon Fraser University External Examiner

    Date Approved &p-8' / d , 14$y

  • Abstract

    Many people have come to regard computers as an essential part of a

    student's education. Yet, despite years of effort by promoters, computers have

    had a minimal impact on teaching methods in the primary grades. The

    promised revolution has not occurred, and shows little evidence of occurring

    soon, if ever.

    There are many possible reasons for the lack of impact of computers on

    teaching. The beliefs of teachers may have an influence on their willingness

    to integrate computers into their classrooms. This study explores the

    relationship between the beliefs, values, and goals held by two teachers and

    values commonly associated with computer techndogy.

    The thesis begins with a review of some reasons previously cited for

    various techno!ogiesl limited impact on schools. A literature review outlines

    some ways that teachers think about their work, providing a framework with

    which to discuss their beliefs and practices. Some values commonly

    attributed to computers are described, including objectivity, individualism,

    and control. i

    The core of the thesis is a case study of two primary teachers.

    Participant observation and interviews were used to create a description of

    their beliefs and practices. The use of qualitative methods enables an

    understanding of the thinking behind the teachers' decisions.

    This study reveals a discontinuity between the beliefs and values of the

    teacher-participants and the values attributed to computer technology. The

    teachers' priorities concern putting knowledge in context, encouraging social

    . . . 111

  • responsibility, and sharing some of their control. Central to each teacher's

    practice is the emotional climate of her classroom. Neither teacher's goals

    would be adversely affected by the elimination of computers from the

    schools. Furthermore, time constraints make learning about computers

    difficult for the teachers. This suggests a limited potential for computers to

    change the way they teach.

    Rather than seeking to revolutionize primary teachers' practices with

    computer technology, it may be more beneficial to use computers in ways

    consistent with teachers' pa ls . Ways of helping teachers with computer

    technology, while respecting their time constraints and their values, are

    suggested.

  • Dedication

    For Jonathan and Sacha.

  • Acknowledgments

    I am indebted to the members of my supervisory committee for their

    time and advice. Sandy Dawson prompted me to look at technology with

    new eyes. His guidance in directing me to provocative authors started me on

    this journey, and led to the framing of this study. He was supportive

    throughout tke process of bringing this wmk into being. Celia Haig-Brown

    helped me appreciate the value of, and the rigor involved in, qualitative

    research. She was generous with her time, and provided detailed comments

    on the drafts, forcing me to look at what I had written with a critical eye.

    I would like also to thank my father, fohn Trivett, for applying his

    renowned editing abilities at short notice, from long distance. His experience

    and wisdom were important in helping to put the final touches on the thesis.

    Even more important has been his support and confidence in me for as long

    as I can remember.

    My sincere gratitude goes to "Pat" and "Rachel," the teachers who took

    part in my case study. Each teacher's willingness to take a risk and open her

    classroom to me for most of a school year was the key to the success of my

    research. I hope that the strength of their values shows through my writing

    so that their work might be inspiring to others, as it was to me.

    Finally, I offer my deepest thanks to my wife, Lynn Westwick, without

    whose patience and understanding none of this would have been possible.

    She bore the burden of maintaining a normal family life, allowing me the 3

    luxury of becoming absorbed with my studies.

  • Table ~f Contents

    ........................................................................................................................... Approval i i ... Abstract ....................... ................................... ................................................................ 111

    ......................................................................................................................... Dedication v

    ......................................................................................................... Acknowledgm_ents v i . . ......................................................................................................... Table of Contents vil

    List of Tables ............................................................................................................... xi

    ...................................... I . The Unrealized Promise of Technology in the Schools 1

    Statement of Purpose .......................................................................................... 1

    ................................................................................................................ Rationale 3

    ....................................................................... Reasons for the Lack of Change 4

    The Role of Values and Beliefs ......................................................................... 8 . . ......................................................................................................... Definitions.. 10

    Outline of th.e Thesis ......................................................................................... 12

    I1 . Literature Review-Teacher Thinking and Values Associated with

    ...................................................................................... Computer Technology 14