Background: Much of the literature on the use of technology with low-performing students can be seen as contradictory and limited, primarily because it examines technology use through a single lens: the technology itself.
Purpose: This study used two lenses—teachers’ instructional practices and the research on effective technology use—to examine the use of technology by effective teachers.
Population: Short interviews were conducted with 20 teachers (in 13 elementary schools) nominated by their principals as effective at improving the achievement of their low-performing students and as considering technology an important part of their instruction. Three of those teachers were chosen for a more in-depth examination.
Research Design: The study used a collective case study approach to examine the ways effective teachers used technology with their low-performing students.
Data Collection and Analysis: Data sources included screening interviews with 20 teachers; extended interviews with three teachers chosen for the case study; five days of observations in three case study classrooms; and interviews with seven students and their parents. Analysis used the constant comparative approach to develop themes that cut across the classrooms and interviews.
Findings: The teachers in this study used technology in a balanced way that was continuous with their general instructional practices. Their use of technology reflected nine primary roles: to target instruction more effectively; to incorporate a variety of strategies; to support teacher-guided instruction; to increase student involvement in instruction; to facilitate remediation and reinforcement; to promote advanced thinking strategies; to increase access to resources; to motivate students; and to meet the needs of the whole child.
Conclusion: Examining the use of technology in the context of teachers’ instructional practices provides a fuller picture of the different roles technology can play to support the learning of low-performing students.