Factors involved in contributing to effective student learning when using interactive whiteboard technology: A case study of a New Zealand primary school

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Thornley, Jacqui
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Computing
Unitec Institute of Technology
Fielden, Kay
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
interactive whiteboards
technology in education
student engagement
New Zealand primary schools
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Thornley, J. (2009). Factors involved in contributing to effective student learning when using interactive whiteboard technology: A case study of a New Zealand primary school. Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Computing, UNITEC New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: How is the IWB [Interactive White Board] technology being used to maximize learning opportunities for students? How is the IWB technology contributing to effective teaching and classroom strategies to support student learning? How has the introduction of IWB’s in the classroom changed the physical learning environment for the teacher and student? Today’s 21st century educational landscape is very different from previous centuries. Technology has had a major influence on this setting. With the call to prepare our students for the information age and a digital society, from a variety of stakeholders (government, employers, parents) in our children’s education, New Zealand Primary schools are currently facing what could be the most momentous transformations in the way we teach our children in the classroom. As educators, we need to prepare the most important stakeholder in education, the student, to not only become an effective user of technology, but competent collators and processors of information with skills that will contribute to lifelong learning. With limited operating budgets and long term strategic decisions required, school administrators are required to make important decisions about what is the best technology to incorporate into the classroom in order to meet these expectations from stakeholders. Whilst this research focuses on the use of Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) technology and the impact that the technology has on effective student learning and classroom strategies that contribute to this learning, the analytical methodology used in this research could be applied to any technological instructional device that will be used in the classroom for teaching and learning. Many educationalists, including Beauchamp and Parkinson (2005), Hodge and Anderson (2007), and Smith, Higgins, Wall and Miller (2005), have made the call for authentic empirical research into the way in which IWB technologies are contributing to teaching and learning. This Case study research of a single New Zealand primary school encompassed a comprehensive look into a real situation, happening right now in New Zealand primary school classrooms. The Case study data collection took 13 months to complete and consisted of over 30 hours of classroom observations and 30 hours of interviews. To support and examine the data collected at the school, the researcher also interviewed the supplier of the IWB technology used at the case study school and attended the Inaugural New Zealand and Australian Interactive Whiteboard Conference held in Auckland in October 2009. When carrying out the classroom observations, it was not the intention of this project to record the assessment outcomes of the lesson but rather to record and analyze the Interactive Whiteboard functionality used during the lesson and observe the classroom interaction between the technology, the teacher and the students that indicated effective learning opportunities were experienced. Observation field notes recorded the students’ behavior and teaching and classroom strategies employed when using the IWB as a tool within a lesson. The analysis of the observed data was triangulated with data collected from interviews with the school leaders and teachers and with the current researched literature available on the use of IWB technology in the education sector. Supporting the analysis is a theoretical model (see Figure 5-4) modified by the researcher to identify effective learning principles and information processing skills that should be applied when using technology as a tool for optimum learning. Whilst much of the research, both in this project and in the literature, is conclusive in identifying that the IWB technology contributes to the engagement of the student, the intention of this project was to look further into the other factors that were evident in contributing to effective learning. This research project did identify other factors, such as the IWB technology affords the possibility for teaching methods to reflect a more interactive and student centered learning opportunity, however in a number of the classroom observations these opportunities were limited because of the teaching pedagogy and classroom strategies employed. The outcome clearly identified that the classroom still reflects an overbalance in power and control from a teaching perspective, which has an effect on the use of the IWB technology, resulting in teaching strategies that do not take full advantage of the functionality and the contribution it could make to effective teaching and learning for the student. If schools are to make the significant investment in this technology, a clear understanding is required from the teacher that pedagogy will require change and a new teaching paradigm is needed if students of today’s generation are to benefit from the use of this expensive but highly valuable educational learning tool in their environment.
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