Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Daniel Baer

Abstract

Due to students not meeting minimum proficiency levels in reading, a central Florida middle school that was rated an A school for 4 years consecutively dropped to a B rating during the 2012-2013 school year and was 10 points away from dropping to a C rating in the 2013-2014 school year. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe classroom implementation of Internet technology in a middle school classroom in an attempt to address the steady decline in reading scores. Guided by Piaget, Dewey, and Vygotsky's social constructivist view of education, this study explored if and how teachers used Internet technology to complement their curricular content. Research questions addressed how teachers described their experiences with Internet technology versus traditional methods to teach those reading skills necessary for students to derive meaning from the material taught. A criterion sample of 30 middle school teachers who were certified in their content areas and who had incorporated literacy into instruction participated in semistructured interviews. Data were coded and organized by themes, which included comfort with the Internet, level of usage, and the need for professional development. Findings revealed that teachers often used Internet technology to address reading skills; however, they were not aware they needed to teach students how to evaluate sources of online information. Participants requested ongoing professional development in reading and on methods to critically evaluate information in a digital world. The findings from this study can be utilized by educators to provide professional development and to design lessons that will focus on these learning gaps, thereby deepening students' literacy and critical thinking skills and thus enacting positive social change for students.