Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

Abstract

Adolescents’ use of technology is an integral part of their lives. They use it for communicating, archiving, socialization, identity exploration, and a range of other purposes. As a tool for adolescent academic learning, contemporary technologies target the brain’s recognition, strategic, and affective networks. Synthesizing adolescents’ affinity for technology with proven educational practices, knowledge of the brain’s workings, and an understanding of contemporary technologies’ capabilities, leads to the conclusion that technology-enabled personalized learning approaches can result in successful outcomes for students. This dissertation outlines findings from a 6-week mixed-methods study of 7th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students attending a small rural school in Massachusetts. The purpose of this mixed-methods study involving 73 students was to discern from their perspective the efficacy of technology in facilitating more meaningful personalized learning experiences for students. This purpose was accomplished within the framework of standards-based learning by exposing students to an asynchronous learning platform designed to support student learning. High adolescent affinity for technology translates into a desire for greater amounts of it in their learning experiences. Being in control of learning resonates affectively with adolescents, increasing their buy-in to their own learning. Technology features such as multimodality, online tools, feedback mechanisms, and the simple safety of an environment in which to experiment, provide enhanced learning experiences for many students. In addition to content interaction, adolescents require interaction with teachers and peers, albeit to varying extents. Because students have different preferences across all the aforementioned dimensions, we need to adopt increasingly personalized approaches to learning, probably within blended learning environments. Technology can and must play a substantive role in delivering personalized learning experiences for all adolescents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Number of Pages

425

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