Technology…’s all about the Teacher

Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B. (2011). Rural Elementary School Teachers’ Technology Integration. Journal of Research in Rural Education26, 1-13


In 2011, Howley, Wood, & Hough (2011) chose to survey the technology habits of teachers in the state of Ohio.  They wanted to address technology integration in rural areas.  They were specifically looking to evaluate three categories.  First, they wanted to learn if teacher attitude had an impact on technology integration.  Second, they looked at if the students’ ability to use technology made a difference. Finally, they wanted to determine how teacher preparedness factored into the equation.


The authors examined literature from all three areas they were evaluating.  Their findings concluded that most schools do have access to the basic technology, although the broadband connections are often unreliable.  Previous research showed that teacher attitude often drove the use of the technology that was available to them.  They also found that in some instances in rural schools, culture played an impact because some adults felt that technology use interferes with rural values and ways of life (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.4).  They also provided examples of rural schools that felt the opposite of that and did want their students using technology.  When that was the case, the issue tended to focus on either obtaining the technology or on using the technology they did have.  This article also had a section dedicated to areas related to this topic where literature is lacking.  Based on their research, little has been done in regards with evaluating elementary schools.  They found more research in this area from middle school upwards; hence their desire to focus on third grader teachers.


For this study, the Ohio Department of Education was contacted for a list of third grade teachers.  Additional details regarding the responding teachers was provided in the literature (i.e. average age, gender, etc…).  Specials teachers such as art, music, and physical education were eliminated from the list.  A 56 largely closed-ended question survey was specifically developed for this research assessment and was mailed to these teachers.  Ground mail was chosen over email in order to eliminate a technological component purposefully in this survey. Letters ensuring teachers anonymity and stamped, self-addressed envelopes were also included in order to increase the chances of participation.  One thousand teacher names were randomly generated and of that, 514 usable responses were returned. Of those, 157 came from rural teachers and 357 from non-rural teachers.  The mailings occurred during a three week time period and care was taken to ensure that the survey was not sent during a period of time such as a high-stakes testing week.


The goal of the study was to tease out any potential differences, if they existed, between rural and non-rural teachers in regards to their use and attitudes of technology.  Since there were many different variances that could result from the survey, the research team used the one way analysis variance (ANOVA) as well as analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to compare mean responses to scales constructed from cluster of related items (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.6).   The findings of these results did show one significant difference, namely in the attitudes of teachers toward technology integration (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.6).  Based on the results of this survey, teacher attitude towards technology appears to have the most influential determiner on usage.  The next two factors that the data did show in of having some impact (in decreasing order) were the amount of time that teachers needed to prepare in order to use the technology and the teachers’ views that they felt that they lacked technology in their schools.


The conclusions that the research leads to is that teacher attitude towards the use of technology within the classroom is the driving force.


This article was very comprehensive and definitely appeared to be able to be replicated. The literature review went to great lengths to provide thorough examples to back up its findings. Only one article was from 1999, the rest were from 2000 or newer with many citations coming from within the past five years.  They explained in detail how they got their research sample and provided an index with the technology questions that they asked.


A critique of the article would be that it would have been helpful if they had a breakdown available of the results to the specific questions.  Notable, the last question asks teachers to detail how they use technology with the classroom.  It would be interesting to view those results.  I believe that would give insight as to the type of teacher and comfort level and may provide additional insight.


The article was largely well written with almost only one grammatical or punctuation error (a missing period).  However, the headings and subheadings were the same font.  Although the headings were centered and the subheading were left justified, the subheadings in some sections were so long that it created some confusion as a reader.  It would have been helpful if the headings were either a little larger or bolder making the article easier to read and follow.


After reading this research, I would be very interested in finding out how the results of the question that asked teachers to delineate how they use technology within their classrooms bore out.  If teacher attitude has been determined to be such a deciding factor I would like to know how the teachers who are using the technology they have are putting it to use.  I would then like to create a professional development study to study the best way to move those teachers forward to maximize the benefits.


I chose this article to read because I want to explore integrating technology alongside critical thinking and solid pedagogy in order to create an optimal learning experience for my students. From this article I was looking for insight on technology and what I might learn with regards to classroom implementation.  I did come up with a few ideas but after reflecting on the results from the survey sent to 1000 third grade classroom teachers in Ohio about technology, the results all come down to…..the attitude of the classroom teacher.  At the end of the day, it all seems to boil down to that.  And what a valuable lesson that is.  In the classes I’m taking, the value of teachers to self-reflect has been discussed.  This is a perfect example of a situation where the teachers in this study might be shocked to learn that THEY are the ones standing in the way of their students having access to technology, not the other way around.  The power teachers have and how much could be done if they only realized how much control they have is limitless.  Imagine how much could be accomplished within classrooms if teachers harnessed that power every day and for every student.

The following two tabs change content below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *