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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




Teachers need to maximize technology to support student learning by drawing upon varying pedagogical orientations; however, teacher-centered, highly structured approaches that foster low-level thinking is more prevalent. Although highly structured approaches help develop students’ foundational skills and content knowledge, student-centered, open-ended approaches foster high-level thinking aimed by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Literature suggests principals have an important role in the implementation of the CCSS and technology integration, but it does not capture the ways principals help teachers adopt high-level uses of technology. This research asks the overarching question, “What actions, decisions, and relationships do principals perceive contributed to a classroom culture that utilizes high-levels of technology to meet the expectations of the CCSS?” A qualitative research design with a phenomenological approach was utilized to discover the knowledge, dispositions, and actions of principals who were successful in creating a culture of high-levels of technology integration. Interviews with 12 public middle school principals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with ample technology resources reaffirm literature and add new understandings. Findings show that these technology-oriented principals: (a) were knowledgeable about ways real-time collaborative tools supported student learning; (b) applied their knowledge about high-levels of technology integration in organizational decisions and actions; (c) encouraged experimentation with technology; (d) supported flexible uses of technology and teacher autonomy but continuity with some resources was needed; (e) provided teachers sustained technology-related professional development but comprehensive planning was not common; (f) recognized that first-order barriers continued to persist in their school; and (g) believed that slow implementation and colleagues helped slow adopters overcome second-order barriers but peer coaching was needed. The findings suggest that these principals provided most Essential Conditions of Transformational Learning and applied Professional Standards for Educational Leaders to create a culture of high-level technology use. The outcomes of this study call attention to the complexity of achieving high-levels of technology integration in schools with or without sufficient resources and technology-oriented leadership.



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