Technology in science classrooms: analysis of processes of change in secondary school teachers

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Supervisors: Dr. Roser Pintó Casulleras & Dr. Jaume Ametller Leal

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Abstract

Has the introduction of technology in the classroom, and in particular the Interactive Whiteboard, involved a change in science lessons of high school? What are the motivations that lead science teachers to use digital devices in their lessons? Can we identify some changes in teachers’ use of technology for teaching and learning of science in a certain period of time? These questions, together with other queries, are answered along this thesis through a detailed study of the use of various devices for science education and the relation of teachers’ beliefs on their teaching practices.

In a first stage of research, a general perspective of the types of hardware and software most frequently used in science lessons is performed. A special attention is paid to the specific uses of Interactive Whiteboard, laptops and digital textbooks for teaching science. These results are obtained by conducting a survey in 98 secondary science teachers from various public and private secondary schools. Results from the survey reveal a dominant role of the Interactive Whiteboard, though the use of laptops and digital textbooks is also significant compared to other available devices, such as data-loggers or digital microscopes. However, the Interactive Whiteboard, laptops and digital textbooks would be used to emulate other existent tools –such as the whiteboard and ordinary textbooks- and to mainly address the teachers’ needs –speed up the pace of their explanations, manage the classroom... In addition, the survey allows us to establish relationships between these main uses, teachers’ beliefs and the characteristics of professional development activities in which science teachers have participated.

In a second stage of the research 10 science teachers from diverse secondary schools are observed and interviewed. These observations allow a more detailed description of the uses of Interactive Whiteboards, laptops, tablets and digital textbooks, as well as the role of these devices in the teachers’ explanations or interactions between the teacher and the students. Based on various conceptual frameworks, and in particular the Activity Theory [1], different kinds of tensions arisen from the use of these devices are identified. Moreover, the relation and the influence of some of teachers’ beliefs in their observed practices is discussed –a special attention is given to the role of perceived self-efficacy of teachers in the use of the technology and the exclusive use of the technology to view or access to information already prepared.

Finally, in a third stage, 6 science teachers from the 10 teachers previously mentioned are observed and interviewed two academic years later. From the analysis of gathered data, differences along these two years are highlighted focusing not only in the specific use of the various devices, but also the variations in teachers’ beliefs, the dynamics of the classroom or the types of used tools, among others. Moreover, the thesis identifies and discusses the role of the educational context and the personal and professional identity as possible agents of change and its relevance in the process of the introduction of technology in Science teaching.

[1] Engeström, Y., Miettinen, R., & Punamäki, R.-L. (Eds.). (1999). Perspectives on Activity Theory.

Full reference of the thesis

Grimalt-Álvaro, C. (2016). La tecnologia a les classes de ciències de secundària: anàlisi dels processos de canvi en el professorat (Technology in science classrooms: Analysis of processes of change in secondary school teachers). Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Supervised by Dr. Roser Pintó and Dr. Jaume Ametller. Retrieved from http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/367210 

Publications related to the Thesis (further publications in preparation)

In English

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., Ametller, M. I., & Pintó, R. (July, 2012). Teachers’ perception of 2.0 Science Classrooms. Paper presented at the 10th International Conference on Computer Based Learning in Science, Barcelona, Spain.

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., Ametller, J., & Pintó, R. (September, 2013). One-to-one Science classrooms in secondary schools: Current status analysis. ADIGIC project. Paper presented at the 13 ESERA Conference, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., Ametller, J., & Pintó, R. (September, 2015). Interactive Whiteboards for teaching Science and resulting tensions of their use. Paper presented at the 14 ESERA Conference, Helsinki, Finland.

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., Ametller, J., & Pintó, R. (September, 2016). Interactive Whiteboards for teaching Chemistry and resulting tensions of their use. Paper presented at the ECRICE 2016 (European Conference on Research in Chemical Education), Barcelona, Spain.

In other languages

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., & Pintó, R. (2013). Opinió del professorat sobre la utilització de l’aula digital a les classes de Ciències de secundària. Projecte ADIGIC (Science teachers’ opinion about the use of digital classrooms in secondary schools. The ADIGIC project). Revista Ciències, 24, 35–41.

Grimalt-Álvaro, C., Pintó, R., & Ametller, J. (2013). La utilización del aula digital en las clases de Ciencias de secundaria: análisis del estado actual. Proyecto ADIGIC. (The use of digital classrooms in science lessons of seconday schools. Current State analysis. ADIGIC project). Alambique, 75, 91–98.

Doctoral Committee: Dr. Mercè Gisbert, Dr. Joan Mateo and Dr. Digna Couso

Contact Information

Carme Grimalt-Álvaro

Centre de Recerca per a l’Educació Científica i Matemàtica (CRECIM)

Edifici GL-304, Facultat de Ciències de l’Educació

Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

08193 Bellaterra

Barcelona

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