Interactive Whiteboard-Supported Social Studies Instruction: Case Studies Exploring Current Practices of Middle School History Teachers

Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Tiffany A. Koszalka


Interactive Whiteboard, Professional Development, Social Studies, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Technology, Technology Adoption

Subject Categories



Enhancing the implementation of the IWB in K-12 Social Studies classrooms may positively change the way that teachers present subject matter and engage their students in learning. Educators are concerned, however, that even with the growing presence of IWBs in social studies classroom, teachers are not consistently using them in most effective ways (Sheffield, 2015), thus are not reaping the potential benefits. Evidence of effective uses of IWBs in the classrooms is sketchy. Reported data consist almost exclusively of teachers’ perceptions of their uses rather than on direct observations of teachers using the IWB (Turel & Johnson, 2012). As a result, there is a lack of a holistic understanding of what teachers are actually doing with the IWB when it is used to support social studies teaching.

This study explored and deconstructed what is known about social studies teachers’ uses of the IWB in teaching. Creating rich descriptions of how and when teachers successfully, and unsuccessfully, use IWBs may help in identifying ways to enhance technological pedagogical and content knowledge practices and support adoption of the innovation for social studies content areas. As such, the study, which was qualitative in nature, used a comparative case study approach. The design, data analysis and interpretation of findings were framed by Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) (Mishra & Koehler 2006) and Adoption of Innovation (AOI) (Rogers, 2003).

Questionnaires, field observations, and interview protocols were used to gather data to create rich descriptions of the participating teachers’ thinking about and practices of using IWBs. The participants for the study were drawn from in-service middle school social studies teachers who were teaching history in an urban school district in a midsized city in the Northeast United States.

The study occurred in two phases. In Phase 1, an online survey was administered to the social studies teachers and the data analyzed using descriptive data analysis techniques to develop profiles of the teachers two of whom participated in phase 2. In phase 2, the participating teachers were observed and interviewed. Observations occurred over a four to five-month period, while interviews were conducted prior to and after each observation, as well as a summary interview was done at the end of the observation period.

Data analysis involved the development and analysis of two case studies and included both comparative analyses within and across-cases. The outcome of the study provides a rich description of the nature of IWB use in the history lessons at a middle school level. The results showed that while the teachers had a positive attitude to the IWB, valued it as a teaching tool, and used it in their teaching on a daily basis, use amounted to little more than projection of materials for presentation purposes. However, in a few instances, use of the IWB extended beyond just projection and the teachers were able to use the IWB to provide a rich experience of historical events such as wars. Also, the teachers supplemented the use of the IWB with other technologies such as document cameras, laptops, and cell phones. Both teachers had never received any IWB professional development, had low levels of TPACK as well as low levels of adoption. Factors affecting the teachers’ uses of the IWB included lack of professional development about the IWB and its capabilities, lack of technical support in the schools and lack of time.

The study findings have implications for the design and delivery of professional development for social studies teachers and provide insights into how professional development opportunities can be designed to offer effective hands-on training in the use of IWBs for history and other social studies topics.


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