Teachers on a journey: Examining the changes K--12 educators report as they use the Internet to support teaching and literacy learning

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Donald J. Leu


Teachers, Internet, Literacy, K-9

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


The purpose of this study was to explore the changes K-12 teachers reported as they used the Internet to support teaching and learning. Thirteen classroom teachers from across the United States participated in this five-month research project. All had been nominated by other educators as exemplary at using the Internet in their classrooms.

A phenomenological-constructivist (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Schwandt, 1994) approach served as a theoretical framework for data collection and analysis. Semi-structured e-mail interviews and participants' reflective journals served as primary sources of data. Supplemental materials including web pages, on-line articles, and lesson plans provided additional information. Analysis was on-going throughout data collection and writing, as I used constant-comparative methodology (as cited in Bogdan & Biklen, 1998).

Results showed the teachers in this study reported that their views towards teaching and learning, similar to constructivist beliefs (Dewey, 1916; Vygotsky, 1962; Piaget, 1973; Brooks & Brooks, 1993), led to the implementation of the Internet in their classrooms. The Internet provided opportunities to create collaborative, active learning experiences for their students.

As they used the Internet in their classrooms, the teachers reported two types of changes. First, they noticed changes that affected their professional role: (a) changes in the amount of time spent on school-related work; (b) changes in communication with colleagues, parents and students; and (c) changes in recognition and professional responsibilities. Second, the teachers noticed changes in their literacy instruction, especially related to reading and writing: (1) they needed to spend more time choosing appropriate reading material; (2) the evaluation of reading material for information accuracy became more important; and (3) students were more motivated to write when their work was published on-line.

This study's results raise issues about how new technologies fit with teachers' beliefs on teaching and learning and how the Internet can be used to support these views. Furthermore, this work provides teacher education and staff development programs with important insights into how the Internet may be changing teachers' professional roles and literacy instruction in the classroom.


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