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Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship
Peggy A. Ertmer
, Anne T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich
, Olgun Sadik
, Emine Sendurur
, Polat Sendurur
Purdue University, 3144 Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education, 100 N. University St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2098, USA
Indiana University, Wright Education Building, 201 North Rose Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Education, Department of Computers Education and Instructional Technologies, 06800 Cankaya, Ankara, Turkey
Received 15 December 2011
Received in revised form
4 February 2012
Accepted 6 February 2012
Teacher technology use
Teacher professional development
Early studies indicated that teachers’enacted beliefs, particularly in terms of classroom technology
practices, often did not align with their espoused beliefs. Researchers concluded this was due, at least in
part, to a variety of external barriers that prevented teachers from using technology in ways that aligned
more closely with their beliefs. However, many of these barriers (access, support, etc.) have since been
eliminated in the majority of schools. This multiple case-study research was designed to revisit the
question, “How do the pedagogical beliefs and classroom technology practices of teachers, recognized for
their technology uses, align?”
Twelve K-12 classroom teachers were purposefully selected based on their award-winning technology
practices, supported by evidence from personal and/or classroom websites. Follow-up interviews were
conducted to examine the correspondence between teachers’classroom practices and their pedagogical
beliefs. Results suggest close alignment; that is student-centered beliefs undergirded student-centered
practices (authenticity, student choice, collaboration). Moreover, teachers with student-centered
beliefs tended to enact student-centered curricula despite technological, administrative, or assessment
barriers. Teachers’own beliefs and attitudes about the relevance of technology to students’learning were
perceived as having the biggest impact on their success. Additionally, most teachers indicated that
internal factors (e.g., passion for technology, having a problem-solving mentality) and support from
others (administrators and personal learning networks) played key roles in shaping their practices.
Teachers noted that the strongest barriers preventing other teachers from using technology were their
existing attitudes and beliefs toward technology, as well as their current levels of knowledge and skills.
Recommendations are made for refocusing our professional development efforts on strategies for
facilitating changes in teachers’attitudes and beliefs.
Ó2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Technology integration has been a topic of discussion among educators for over thirty years (Lowther, Strahl, Inan, & Ross, 2008). Literally
thousands of articles (EBSCO Publishing, 2011) have been published recommending effective strategies to facilitate meaningful integration
(i.e., using technology to support a student-centered and student-directed curriculum; Becker & Riel, 1999), with a large portion of these
articles proposing strategies for eliminating or circumventing the barriers that schools and teachers encounter during the process.
In 1999, Ertmer distinguished between two types of barriers that impacted teachers’uses of technology in the classroom. First-order
barriers were deﬁned as those that were external to the teacher and included resources (both hardware and software), training, and
support. Second-order barriers comprised those that were internal to the teacher and included teachers’conﬁdence, beliefs about how
students learned, as well as the perceived value of technology to the teaching/learning process. Although ﬁrst-order barriers had been
documented as posing signiﬁcant obstacles to achieving technology integration (O’Mahony, 2003; Pelgrum, 20 01), underlying second-order
barriers were thought to pose the greater challenge (Dexter & Anderson, 2002; Ertmer, 1999; Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999;
Newhouse, 2001; Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, & Byers, 2002).
*Corresponding author. Tel.: þ1 765 494 5675; fax: þ1 765 496 1622.
E-mail address: email@example.com (P.A. Ertmer).
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Computers & Education
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/compedu
0360-1315/$ –see front matter Ó2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Computers & Education 59 (2012) 423–435
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In 2007, Hew and Brush provided a detailed analysis of the integration barriers that had been documented in the literature over the
previous ten years (1995–2006). Six categories of barriers were identiﬁed including four that comprised ﬁrst-order barriers (e.g., resources,
institution, subject culture, and assessment) and two that comprised second-order barriers (e.g., teacher attitudes and beliefs; knowledge
and skills). Based on the analysis of 48 empirical studies, Hew and Brush delineated the three most frequently cited barriers impacting
technology integration: 1) resources, 2) teachers’knowledge and skills, and 3) teachers’attitudes and beliefs, reported in 40%, 23%, and 13%
of the studies, respectively.
In the early to mid-2000s, access to technology resources began to increase (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006) effectively
reducing, and in some cases even eliminating, this ﬁrst-order barrier. Given this, researchers and educators began to turn their attention to
the relationship between teachers’pedagogical beliefs and meaningful technology use, speciﬁcally that which facilitated student-centered
learning (Dexter & Anderson, 2002; Ertmer, 2005; Judson, 2006). According to Means and Olson (1997), student-centered learning was
deﬁned as using technology to “promote student learning through collaborative involvement in authentic, challenging, multidisciplinary
tasks by providing realistic complex environments for student inquiry, furnishing information and tools to support investigation, and linking
classrooms for joint investigations”(p. 9). McCain (2005) elaborated: “the use of technology in the classroom is not the critical issue facing
education in the 21st century. [Rather], the issue of foremost importance is to develop thinking skills in our students so that they will be able
to utilize the power of technological tools to solve problems and do useful work”(p. 84). This, then, translates into the requirement that
technology be placed in the hands of students, who are encouraged and enabled to utilize it in the same ways, and for the same purposes,
that professionals do –that is, to communicate, collaborate, and solve problems.
Building on earlier work by Hadley and Sheingold (1993) and Becker (1994), researchers investigating the relationship between teachers’
beliefs and student-centered learning described a common pattern of results: teachers with constructivist beliefs tended to use technology
to support student-centered curricula; those with traditional beliefs used computers to support more teacher-directed curricula (Andrew,
2007; Hermans, Tondeur, van Braak, & Valcke, 2008). Thus, it became clear that simply increasing computer access was not sufﬁcient to
change teachers’technology practices especially if this increased access was not accompanied by a corresponding shift in teachers’
pedagogical beliefs. However, this led to the false assumption that teachers with student-centered beliefs would readily translate those
beliefs into constructivist technology classroom practices (Sandholtz, Ringstaff, & Dwyer, 1997).
Early studies (Berg, Benz, Lasley, & Raisch, 1998; Ertmer, Gopalakrishnan, & Ross, 2001) indicated that teachers’enacted beliefs, as
represented by classroom technology practices, often did not align with espoused beliefs. That is, teachers with constructivist beliefs were
observed, at least in some instances, to use technology in fairly traditional ways –asking students to complete drill and practice exercises or
to ﬁll in computer-generated worksheets (Ertmer et al., 2001). Reasons for the disparity between practices and beliefs, at least in the Ertmer
et al. study, seemed to relate to the external constraints/barriers placed on teachers by pre-determined curricular or assessment practices.
Similarly, participants in the Berg et al. study reported wanting to incorporate higher-level technology uses, but not being able to do so due
to access and time constraints. Ravitz, Becker, and Wong (2000) reached a similar conclusion: teachers’implementations of constructivist
beliefs were often limited by difﬁculties associated with meeting individual student needs within a large classroom, balancing multiple
objectives, and responding to external forces and expectations.
In general, teachers’responses to these external forces and constraints have varied. While some have managed to either eliminate or
bypass them (Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Glazewski, Newby, & Ertmer, 2010), many, if not most, have not (Ertmer, 1999, 2005; Judson, 20 06). For
example, Becker (1994) found that only 45 of the 516 computer-using teachers he surveyed, were able to do so. That is, these 45 teachers
reported actually dropping “inconsequential”curricula from their current practices to make room for more student-centered lessons. In the
Ertmer et al. study (2001), teachers with constructivist beliefs tended to utilize a “blended”pedagogical approach (using traditional and
constructivist practices), which allowed them to reconcile differences between their espoused student-centered beliefs and their enacted
Given that classroom contexts are constantly changing, especially where technology is concerned (Straub, 2009; U.S. DOE, 2010), it is
important to revisit this phenomenon. Do external constraints exert the same inﬂuence over teachers’technology practices as was true 10 or
more years ago? To what extent do external, or ﬁrst-order, barriers constrain teachers’integration efforts, leading to potential misalign-
ments between beliefs and practices? We consider the current status of key external barriers next.
1.1. Hardware and Internet access
Over the past two decades, substantial funds have been dedicated to increasing technology access in U.S. K-12 classrooms (Culp, Honey, &
Mandinach, 2005), with more than $40 billion dollars invested between 1990 and 2000 (Dickard, 2003). As a result, access to Internet-
connected computers has increased steadily, with the percentage of public schools connected to the Internet increasing from 35% in
1994 to nearly 100% in 2005 (Wells & Lewis, 2006). Based on the responses of 3159 teachers to a 2009 NCES survey (Gray, Thomas, & Lewis,
2010), 97% of teachers had access to one or more computers in the classroom, with approximately half of these teachers (54%) having the
option of bringing in additional computers (e.g., laptops, tablets). Student-computer ratios, based on the number of computers available in
the classroom everyday, hovered around 5.3 to 1, yet decreased to 1.7 to 1 if other available computers were considered, a noticeable
improvement over the 3.8 to 1 ratio recorded in 2006 (Wells & Lewis, 2006). Furthermore, nearly all (96%) of these available computers are
Internet-connected (Gray et al., 2010).
According to an NEA (National Education Association) 2008 survey, the majority (74.1%) of the 1934 responding educators reported that
their access to computers, the Internet, and instructional software was “adequate”to do their jobs and almost all (94.6%) reported having
additional access to computers and the Internet at home. Furthermore, 81% percent of teachers reported having remote access to student
data, and of these teachers, 61% used this remote access sometimes or often (Gray et al., 2010).
1.2. Software and tool access
In addition to hardware and infrastructure, the wide availability of Web 2.0 tools has made access to powerful communication and
collaboration tools almost a “non-issue”for any teacher who has Internet access in his/her classroom. Web 2.0 is the term commonly
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used to refer to ‘second-generation’Internet applications that do something “unique, practical, and/or powerful”while enabling social
connections, and thus, greater collaboration among users (Brandon, 2008, para 3). A key characteristic of Web 2.0 is the role played by
users in creating, using, and sharing resources. As described by Schrum and Levin (2009):“No longer are we limited to the software
someone else has designed, the limited uses of computers that others have pre-determined, or the resources someone else has put on
the Web”(p. 47). In its most recent National Educational Technology Plan, the U. S. Department of Education (2010) noted, “Over the
past 40 years, we have seen unprecedented advances in computing and communications that have led to powerful technology
resources and tools for learning. Today, low-cost Internet access devices, easy-to-use digital authoring tools, and the Web facilitate
access to information and multimedia learning content, communication, and collaboration”(p. 52). Given this, teachers no longer need
to purchase expensive software or hardware to provide their students with digital content or server-based applications that enable
them to communicate and collaborate with others.
Already teachers have begun to adjust their classroom practices to incorporate these tools. As one example, according to the Speak Up
2010 survey (Project Tomorrow, 2011), teachers’classroom uses of podcasts and Internet-based videos increased over 50 percent since 2008.
Furthermore, almost all teachers (96 percent) reported using Internet-based communications tools to connect with peers or parents. Based
on survey results, educators are regularly using the Internet to ﬁnd information (almost 90 percent) and to read text-based resources (61
percent) including blogs and wikis (33 percent).
The most cited reason for lack of implementation of new technology is lack of professional development (Birch cited in Drexler,
Baralt, & Dawson, 2008). Fortunately, the results of recent surveys suggest that this, too, is improving. Based on NEA results (2008),
the majority of teachers reported feeling adequately trained to operate technology equipment (68.3%), search the Internet for infor-
mation (71.1%), and use administrative software to take attendance or submit grades (68.3%). Responses to the Teachers Ta lk Te ch survey
(CDW-G, 2006)veriﬁes teachers’relatively high assessments of their technology skills: 63% rated their skills as “somewhat advanced”
to “advanced”while only 2% rated themselves as beginners. NEA results showed that 57% of teachers felt adequately trained to
integrate technology into instruction. Furthermore, the majority of teachers who participated in technology-related professional
development in the year prior to completing the NCES 2009 survey found training to be relevant, with more than 80% agreeing: “it met
my goals and needs,”“it supported the goals and standards of my state, district, and school,”and “it applied to technology available in
my school”(Gray et al., 2010,p.4).
There are a number of different types of support needed for effective integration including administrative, technological, professional,
and peer. According to the results of the Speak Up 2010 survey (Project Tomorrow, 2011), only 30% of the responding school/district
administrators (n¼3587) regarded technology support as a top challenge, suggesting that 70% did not. This is supported by data from
Education Week (2010), which reported that 83% of responding school districts employed a full or part time staff person in an educational
technology leadership role; 68% reported that support for educational technology use was adequate. In addition to the use of technology
coordinators, a number of different strategies are being employed by school administrators to provide technology support including the
appointment of a technology-planning committee, the development of professional learning communities, and the use of teacher leaders
(Schrum & Levin, 2009). Furthermore, teachers are turning to social networking sites to interact with and learn from their peers (Luehmann
& Tinelli, 2008).
2. Research purpose and questions
These recent reductions in ﬁrst-order, or external, barriers to teachers’technology integration practices (U. S. DOE, 2010) provide the
opportunity to re-examine the relationship between teachers’beliefs and practices in order to gain a deeper understanding of how teachers
translate their beliefs into practice. If ﬁrst-order barriers are no longer operational in teachers’classrooms today, or are operating below
a minimal threshold, we may be in a better position to observe how teachers enact their beliefs through purposefully selected practices.
This, then, could provide beneﬁcial insights, as well as speciﬁc strategies, for other teachers still struggling to achieve higher levels of
technology integration. This study was designed to revisit two questions:
1) How do the pedagogical beliefs and classroom technology practices of teachers, recognized for their technology uses, align?
2) To what extent do external, or ﬁrst-order, barriers constrain teachers’integration efforts, leading to potential misalignment between
beliefs and practices?
We used a multiple case-study research design to examine the similarities and differences among the pedagogical beliefs and technology
practices of 12 K-12 classroom teachers. Data were collected via in-depth document analyses of teachers’websites, followed by one-on-one
interviews. Websites provided evidence of teachers’classroom technology practices while interviews provided insights into the extent to
which beliefs supported those practices. Quantitative data (scale ratings of barriers) were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics;
interview (narrative) data were analyzed using a constant comparison method to identify patterns among each teacher’s espoused beliefs.
Finally, websites were analyzed using the criteria of student-centeredness and provided triangulation data to support any observed
alignments between espoused beliefs and described practices.
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3.1. Role of the researchers
This study was designed and conducted by a team of ﬁve researchers including two faculty members and three graduate students, all
interested in exploring connections between teachers’beliefs and classroom technology practices. A secure online spreadsheet was created
to track information about potential participants during the selection process and to capture team members’rationales and insights while
evaluating the different websites. Interviews were conducted by the two faculty researchers and transcribed by the graduate students so
that all team members were familiar with the data. The ﬁrst round of data analysis was completed by the two interviewers then discussed
among all team members until consensus was reached regarding overall themes.
3.2. Selection of participants
Participants were selected using a purposeful sampling strategy (Patton, 2002). We began by conducting an online search for the names
of technology award winners over the past few years. Speciﬁcally, we looked for teachers recognized by the International Society for
Technology in Education (ISTE), Apple, Edublog, Eduwiki, Disney, Milken, and PBS, among others, initially identifying 78 potential partic-
ipants. Using a three-step selection process (described in more detail in the Data Collection section), we identiﬁed 20 teachers whose
websites presented the most apparent student-centered practices and contacted each, via email, to request participation in a one-on-one
interview. Twelve teachers agreed to participate and were subsequently interviewed by one of the researchers.
3.3. Description of participants
Interview participants included seven females and ﬁve males who had been teaching an average of 14.8 years; experience ranged from 2
to 31 years. The majority (n¼9) of our participants taught at the elementary school level, two taught at the middle school level, and one
taught at both the middle and high school level. Eight teachers held a master’s degree, with an additional teacher working toward a master’s
in elementary education. Of the 12 interviewees, all but one was a core subject-area classroom teacher. The remaining participant served as
the computer teacher for his school.
Classroom resources varied greatly among the teachers. For example, one teacher taught in the district’s“model technology classroom”
that included a wide range of resources (laptops, active board, digital still and video cameras, scanners); in contrast another teacher taught
in a school that had just secured ﬁber optic access that month. Teachers in well-equipped classrooms enjoyed one-to-one laptop access,
while those in less equipped schools used old computers, brought in their ownpersonal iPhones and iPads, or scheduled computer lab time
(see Table 1 for more details about each teacher’s available resources, as well as other demographics).
3.4. Data collection and analysis
Data collection was guided by our interest in examining the correspondence between the beliefs and practices of teachers who had been
recognized for their technology practices. While some technology awards focused more on the use of speciﬁc types of tools (e.g., Edublog),
Demographic information for selected participants.
Name Gender Years
Advanced degree Grade level Content area Class size Resources
Abernethy F 14 Master’s degree (Instructional
5th grade Classroom teacher 26 2 ﬂip videos, smart board, teacher laptop
and projector, airliner, karaoke machine,
4–5 desktop computers, iPad, digital camera,
u-star, green screen, and 4 computer labs
Barnes M 19 Master’s degree (Teaching
7th, 8th, 10th,
and 12th grades
Language 16–26 2 computer labs, 5 classroom computers,
Buller F 31 4th grade All subjects 24 2 classroom computers, a teacher laptop,
1 computer lab, smart board
Cassidy F 17 1st grade Classroom teacher 18 2 desktops and 3 laptops in classroom,
netbooks, and iPads
Coley M 15 Master’s degree (Curriculum
5th grade Language, Social
Studies, Math, Science
30 Student iPods, camera, computers,
Crosby M 30 Master’s equivalency 4th, 5th and
Classroom teacher 23 Student laptops, 4 digital cameras, sound
system, active board, teacher desktop
Cross F 2 Master’s degree (Mild/moderate
1st grade Classroom teacher 19 4 computers, and personal equipments
(iPhone, iPod touch, and iPod)
DeHaan M 6 Master’s degree (Communication
and digital media)
Middle school Technology 12–22 A computer lab
Garcia M 10 Master’s degree (Science education) 6th, 7th, 8th grades Science 19–26 One-to-one laptops
Goneau F 14 Master’s degree (Curriculum and
2nd grade Classroom teacher 16–18 5 regular computers, iPod, projector,
6 netbooks, 3 iPod touch
Hillman F 10 Master’s degree (Curriculum and
4th grade Classroom teacher 20–25 3 computer labs, mobile laptop cart,
3 student-computers, teacher computer,
Travis F 9 Working on Master’s (Elementary
4th grade Reading, Math, Science 16–22 A computer lab, 3 wireless laptop carts,
document cameras, teacher computer,
3 classroom computers, and interwrite
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others were designed to recognize teachers who were engaged in “exemplary”(e.g., Tech & Learning), “innovative”(e.g., Apple) or “best”
practices (e.g., ISTE) related to technology integration. Given the variety of foci used to recognize technology-using teachers, we applied
criteria related to “student-centered”practices (Bellanca & Brandt, 2010) to narrow our pool to those who best matched our research needs.
As noted earlier, data were collected from two primary sources: teacher websites and individual interviews. After identifying our initial
pool of 78 teachers, we revisited teachers’websites to determine if there was enough information available to make a fair assessment of
teachers’classroom practices related to student-centered technology use. This resulted in 41 of the 78 teachers being dropped from the
sample due to either a lack of information or lack of evidence related to student-centered practices.
A preliminary analysis was completed on the websites of the remaining 37 teachers, using the criteria of student-centeredness (See
Table 2). Speciﬁcally, we looked at 1) the extent to which students, rather than teachers, used the technology, 2) the level of interactivity
(with content, teacher, and peers) and collaboration evident, 3) the types of homework assignments students were asked to complete, 4) the
resources and web links teachers provided for their students, and 5) the types of assessments used. Based on the results of this preliminary
analysis, we identiﬁed 25 teachers who “showed promise”and began a more extensive analysis of their websites, rating each, on a scale from
1 to 5 (with 5 being most student-centered; see Fig. 1), in seven categories: Teacher Role, Student Role, Curricular Characteristics, Classroom
Organization, Assessment Practices, Technology Role, and Technology Content (Ertmer et al., 2001). From this analysis, we identiﬁed 20
teachers for follow-up interviews to provide insights into the extent to which espoused beliefs supported practices evidenced on websites.
Of these 20, 12 agreed to participate.
Interviews were conducted over a month’s time in Spring 2011, lasted 35–60 min each, were audio-taped, and transcribed. The majority
of teachers were interviewed via Skype; four were interviewed by telephone. A semi-structured interview protocol, comprising nine key
questions, was used to ensure consistency among interviewers. However, additional questions were added, as needed, to capitalize on
speciﬁc comments made by the participants. Interviews began by informing teachers that their responses would remain conﬁdential (if they
so desired) and asking for their consent to participate. Demographic data, not available on teachers’websites, were gathered, and then
participants were asked to describe their journeys to becoming technology-using teachers. Additional questions prompted teachers to share
examples of successful lessons or projects in which technology was used, to describe barriers that prevented them from implementing
technology according to their beliefs, and to name the factor(s) that had the biggest impact on their abilities to be successful. Questions were
structured to be as open-ended as possible to avoid potentially “leading”the interviewees. For example, teachers were asked, “What are
your thoughts about how, ideally, technology should be used in the [insert type grade/subject] classroom?”How frequently/often would you
say you are able to implement these types of uses of technology into yourown classroom? Have there been situations when you were unable
Categories of classroom practices –teacher-centered to student-centered.
Categories of classroom practice Teacher-centered (TC) Student-centered (SC)
Model active learning
Collaborator (sometimes learner)
Store, remember information
Complete tasks individually
Collaborator (sometimes expert)
Breadth –focused on externally
Focus on standards
Fragmented knowledge and
Depth –focused on student interests
Focus on understanding of complex ideas
Application of knowledge to authentic problems
Integrated multidisciplinary themes
Classroom social organization
Individual responsibility for entire task
Social distribution of thinking
Self-assessment and reﬂection
Drill and practice
Exploration and knowledge construction
Communication (collaboration, information access,
Tool for writing, data analysis, problem-solving
Basic computer literacy
Skills taught in isolation
Emphasis on thinking skills
Skills taught and learned in context and application
Adapted from Ertmer et al. (2001).
Fig. 1. Scale used to rate teachers’websites.
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(or that were difﬁcult) to implement these types of uses of technology into your classroom? Describe the reasons for these difﬁculties and
how you overcame them. Teachers alsowere asked to rate, on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the most and 1 being the least), the level of impact
different barriers had on their practices as well as on the technology practices of their fellow teachers.
Interviews were analyzed using a constant comparison method (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Analysis efforts began deductively, looking for
evidence of student-centered practices or beliefs, using the categories in Table 2. Each interview transcript was read multiple times to
identify patterns of beliefs expressed by each participant. Following this, a case record was created for each participant; interview quotes
were added to support espoused beliefs and enacted practices. Evidence from teachers’websites also was used to provide support. Teachers’
ratings of barriers were analyzed using descriptive statistics to determine those perceived to be the most and least impactful on their
classroom practices. Additional interview quotes, when available, were added to support these ﬁndings.
3.5. Issues of validity and reliability
Lincoln and Guba (1985) recommended that qualitative results be evaluated using the standard of “trustworthiness,”as established by
credibility and conﬁrmability. In this study, credibility was gained though triangulation of multiple data sources (e.g., interviews, teacher
websites). The use of multiple researchers, as well as the use of member checks, led to conﬁrmability of the data. In the early stages of the
study, regularly scheduled team meetings were held, via Skype, to establish and clarify our research questions, identify our criteria for
participant selection, and develop our interview protocol. After data were collected, the two lead researchers examined the data individually
and then collaboratively in order to reach consensus regarding the patterns of alignment among beliefs and practices. Subsequently,
alignment patterns were presented to the rest of the team for comment and veriﬁcation. Finally, after tentative results were drafted,
member checks were completed with the participants. It is important to note that participants’suggestions all related to errors in
demographics; there were no disagreements with our interpretation of their beliefs and practices. Furthermore, all participants gave
permission to use their names in the ﬁnal manuscript.
In this study we examined the beliefs and practices of 12 award-winning technology-using teachers to determine the alignment between
their beliefs, as expressed in one-on-one interviews, and their practices, as evidenced on their websites and described during their
interviews. To examine the extent to which barriers inﬂuenced or shaped enacted beliefs, we also explored teachers’perceptions of the
impact of internal and external barriers on their technology integration practices.
4.1. Barriers to technology integration
Teachers were asked to rate, on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (very much), the extent to which various barriers impacted their students’
uses of technology (see Table 3). Although average ratings suggest that none of these barriers were particularly impactful (all averaging less
than 3 on a 5 point scale), it is important to remember who our participants were (i.e., award-winning technology-using teachers). This
suggests that although these teachers still experienced barriers, particularly external barriers, they often found ways to work around them,
thus reducing the overall impact on their practices (Becker, 1994; Ertmer, 2005). Teachers’ratings suggest that external barriers were more
impactful than internal barriers. The most impactful barriers, with a ranking greater than 2.5, were all external and included the following:
support (M¼3.0), state standards (M¼2.83), money (M¼2.83), access (M¼2.67), time (M¼2.58), and assessments (M¼2.50). Attitudes
and beliefs of other teachers were perceived to be the most impactful barrier on students’uses of technology (M¼3.17).
In contrast, among the top three least impactful barriers, two were internal. That is, teachers’own attitudes and beliefs received an
average score of 1, meaning that all 12 teachers believed that their own attitudes and beliefs were not a barrier to their students’uses of
technology. Garcia indicated that technology was central to his teaching beliefs: “Technology has to be the center piece, or one of the center
pieces. That’s my big belief.”Similarly, as the third lowest-rated barrier, teachers indicated that their own knowledge and skills (M¼1.42)
was not a barrier to their students’uses of technology. For those few teachers who rated this as a more impactful barrier (i.e., with a rating
greater than 1), there was the general belief that their technology skills were, and will always be, incomplete, given how much there is to
Perceptions of the impact of different barriers on technology integration.
Barrier to technology integration
(from most to least impactful)
Average rating of impact (1 ¼not at all
a barrier; 5 ¼very much a barrier)
Attitudes and beliefs (other teachers) 3.17
Technology support 3.00
State standards 2.83
Technology access 2.67
Assessments (standardized, state) 2.50
Technology problems 2.33
Institution (administration) 2.09
Subject culture 1.91
Knowledge and skills (students) 1.83
Institution (community) 1.42
Knowledge and skills (their own) 1.42
Institution (parents) 1.33
Attitudes and beliefs (their own) 1.00
Note: Internal barriers are highlighted.
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learn about technology. As Cross stated: “For me, I would [rate this] as a 2 because I still think there is always so much out there to learn and
to discover. And especially with technology, it grows so fast; and not only that, but just ﬁguring out the educational applications of tech-
nology. So I think I still have roomto grow.”Table 3 presents participants’average ratings for these different internal and external barriers. It
is also interesting to note that parents were perceived, on average, to be the second least impactful barrier, with the majority of teachers
describing them as “very supportive.”
When asked to name the biggest barrier, overall, to technology integration in their schools, three teachers mentioned external barriers,
while nine described other teachers’internal barriers. Speciﬁcally related to external barriers, two teachers described the lack of admin-
istrative or technical support, while one mentioned the strong focus on state assessments. For example, Barnes mentioned that if the
administration were more supportive and had an agenda that promoted technology, it would be more widely adopted by teachers. Similarly,
DeHaan described problems with network stability and a “lack of responsiveness to issues,”as well as limited time for training and
implementation. According to Garcia, state assessments operated as the biggest barrier to other teachers, causing them to be slow to adopt
new pedagogies as well as new tools: “I think the biggest [barrier] is the state assessments because there is so much fear nowadays
The remaining nine teachers, when asked to name the biggest barrier to technology integration, referred to internal qualities or char-
acteristics of other teachers, such as attitudes and beliefs, or knowledge and skills. In her interview, Travis described her perception: “The
only [barrier] that is different from mine is –there are some people who don’t use technology because they’re intimidated by it.”In terms of
other teachers, Coley also thought the biggest barrier was other teachers’knowledge and skills, as well as time to learn the technology. In his
interview, he described it this way: “Know-how and time. They say ‘I don’t know how to do it and I don’t have the time to learn, and if I learn,
I don’t have time to do it.’Many teachers view this as one more thing to do rather than incorporating it into what they are already doing.”
In contrast, we asked teachers to describe the biggest enablers to their technology integration practices. Five teachers mentioned internal
factors (their own attitudes and beliefs or knowledge and skills) as the strongest contributing factor to their abilities to integrate technology.
Four teachers mentioned that professional learning networks (e.g., Twitter, blogs, professional development) played the biggest role in their
integration of technology. Finally, three teachers mentioned the support of their administrators, while two mentioned student motivation
and engagement as the most inﬂuential enablers.
4.2. Alignment among beliefs and practices
For 11 of the 12 teachers in this study, espoused and enacted beliefs appeared to be well aligned. For example, when asked to describe her
beliefs about the best ways to use technology in the classroom, Cassidy indicated that technology enables students to collaborate: “Ideally
technology allows the classroom to be open to the world. It’s a portal for kids who can show their work and get feedback. It allows for collaboration
between classes via Skype, blogs, and Google docs and wikis.”Her practices closely aligned with these beliefs. Students in her ﬁrst-grade
classroom kept individual blogs on which they posted their thoughts and feelings about various classroom activities including “Why we
use video”and “My adding strategy,”and on which others (parents, peers, outsiders) could comment. When asked to describe a successful
technology project, Cassidy described her breakfast project, which used Google Docs, blogs, Twitter, and Wordle to help her students’meet
speciﬁc social studies’standards:
One of the objectives in social studies is that you understand that people in different places eat different things .We decided we wanted to
know what other people around the world would have [for breakfast]. And so, I set up a Google doc and each of my kids typed in what they had
for breakfast and where they lived. And then I just put a little link to it on my blog and I put a link on Twitter and said, “Can you help some grade
one students? Tell us what you have for breakfast.”
When asked why she thought this was a successful project, Cassidy referenced her belief about the importance of using technology for
collaboration: “Kids were learning the value of collaboration, learning from other people. I think, it was successful because the students learned,
well, ﬁrst of all they learned from each other. And then they were able to learn from other people and they were able to learn something that they
didn’t expect to learn.”
In another example of close alignment between beliefs and practices, Barnes indicated that one of his most fundamental beliefs was the
need to provide students with choices. According to Barnes, teachers should serve as facilitators in the learning process, answering
questions along the way and providing just-in-time learning:
We really have to create choice for the kids. [I am] trying to create menus of learning outcomes to say, “Here is what we want to learn, this is the
end result. .I’d like you to show me how you learned. You can use a blog, podcast, video, slide show program.”And they apply and practice,
discuss and share and create. And the teacher just goes around and facilitates.
On his website, Barnes provided a wide range of ideas for potential student projects such as collages, comic strips, newspapers,
commercials, posters, and so on. He encouraged students to think “outside the box”and to propose new ideas to him, indicating that he
would facilitate their uses of technology with just-in-time instruction. This example, like the previous one, showcases a strong alignment
between beliefs and practices. Table 4 provides brief examples of the beliefs and practices of the 11 teachers for whom a strong alignment
was observed. [Note: Discussion of the remaining teacher appears later.]
4.3. Role of technology
It is important to note that ﬁnding close levels of alignment among the beliefs and practices of 11 teachers doesn’t mean they were using
technology in identical, or even similar, ways. In fact, teachers’descriptions of the role technology played in their classrooms ran the gamut
from a way to reinforce skills (n¼2) to a tool to transform their teaching (n¼3). This is similar to what Ertmer et al. reported in their 1999
study, in which teachers’technology uses were classiﬁed into those that: 1) supplemented the required curriculum, 2) supported the
existing curriculum, or 3) facilitated an emerging curriculum. Even though teachers in the current study were using technology to a much
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greater extent than teachers in the 1999 study, uses fell into similar categories. That is, in this study, two teachers described using technology
to help students learn content and skills, six teachers used technology to complement or enrich the current curriculum, and three teachers
reported using technology in transformative ways (see Table 4). The one teacher, for whom beliefs and practices did not closely align,
described using technology in ways that both reinforced skills and enriched the curriculum.
4.3.1. Technology to deliver content and reinforce skills
On their websites, as well as in their interviews, two teachers provided evidence of using technology to help students learn skills. For
example, in her interview, Cross described using technology to help her deliver math content and reinforce math skills: “I think that the main
goal has still got to be delivering the content.”When asked to describe the most successful technology project she had implemented in her
classroom, Cross described using technology during her math stations to allow her to work with small groups of students –a task with
which she previously had difﬁculties. Thus, the students who were not working with her used technology to reinforce speciﬁc skills they
were learning: “I wanted to work with children in small groups to deliver math instruction, but it was always a struggle for me. Technology
has allowed me to ﬁx this because I’ll teach one small group and then another small group can be working with the technology, playing
games that are reinforcing the exact same skills.”
Coley believed that since students already used technology for other purposes outside of school, technology in the classroom should be
leveraged for educational purposes: “Kids have iPods already. You might as well leverage them for educational purposes. Create content that
could go on these iPods or on their cell phones.you can leverage it. If you can publish their work online, you are tapping into far greater
motivation than you yourself have.”As evidenced on his website, Coley created a series of podcasts to help his students study for exams. In
addition, students summarized content they were learning by working in groups to create their own podcasts. Coley commented on the
successfulness of these types of uses: “That’s been very successful because it is a great way to review the material; whether before or after the
test, it is a great way to [reinforce] what they have learned.”
4.3.2. Technology to complement or enrich the curriculum
Six teachers fell into the second category of technology use, that is, using technology to complement or enrich the current curriculum. As
noted earlier, Cassidy began planning her lessons by considering the standards her students needed to master and then using relevant
technology to help students meet those standards: “I always start with the standard and then think how can I teach this? You know, that
changes every year, how I do it. I don’t really have a problem meeting standards with technology.”Additionally, students used technology to
demonstrate their learning: making videos during which they read their work or explained their thinking, creating “stories”that they wrote
and illustrated, or posting on their blogs.
Students in Abernethy’sﬁfth-grade class created book summaries using a variety of Web 2.0 tools as part of their work for literature
circles. Abernethy explained that by offering students more choices, they were more excited to participate in weekly literature circles and
seemed more excited about reading. Similarly, Travis asked her fourth grade students to complete a teacher-created webquest to gather
information about how math is used in the real world. Students then created their own videos of a job they wanted and how it could involve
math. Travis reported that this project was successful because her students were engaged in their learning and were able to make
connections to the real world. Goneau allowed her second-grade students to select an animal group to research and then create a Mimio
presentation, which they presented to the entire class. Students were encouraged to explore the software on their ownwhile Goneau served
as a facilitator: “You have to be a guide on the side where you’re walking around, and helping them as they are learning. They teach me a lot. I am
learning different things about the software and they are too. And when another group comes over, they share what they learned. They then try to
incorporate that into their projects, too.”
Teachers who demonstrated close alignment among beliefs and practices.
Teacher Beliefs Practices Role of technology
Cross Technology to deliver content; reinforce skills Math stations; use technology to keep other students
busy interacting with the content
Coley Technology as a motivator; as a leverage for education;
as a supplement; reinforces writing and speaking skills
Uses technology to present information learned and to
allow students to study for exams (podcasts)
DeHaan For motivation; appropriate tool for learning speciﬁc
skills in context (e.g., writing)
Teaching procedural thinking (e.g., programming);
digital identity website
Goneau Complements the curriculum; provides student choice;
collaborative work; engages students
Mimeo presentation on animals; teacher as facilitator Enrich
Hillman Student-centered; authentic applications; peer teaching
and student choices
iMovies; digital storytelling Enrich
Abernethy Technology as an educational tool; learn skills in context;
student choice and excitement
Literature circles; present what they’ve learned; teach
each other; excitement about reading
Cassidy Technology for collaboration; share work with others;
higher order thinking; student learning
Breakfast project using Google docs and Wordle; Student
blogs; Videos capturing student thinking
Travis For higher order thinking and collaboration (make
connections to real world); student excitement and
Teacher-created webquest; created video sharing the
importance of math in real world. Student learning
Barnes Teachers as facilitators; student choice; applied to learning Results only learning environment (ROLE); students choose
their own books; choose ways to demonstrate learning;
Crosby Tool for learning; as needed to complete certain tasks
(transparent); student collaboration; higher order thinking
Energizing energy project –cross-school collaboration;
kids teaching each other; higher order thinking (e.g.,
students anticipating where others might struggle)
Garcia Help students become 21st century literate; technology
to solve problems; motivates students
Challenge-based learning; claymation movies for learning
microbiology; students teach each other; engaged learning
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As a middle school computer teacher, DeHaan emphasized using technology as a tool for learning. For example, instead of teaching
Microsoft Word in a step-by-step fashion, he worked with other teachers to apply more contextualized and targeted uses of speciﬁc
technology. He explained how various writing tools (thesaurus, dictionary, and readability statistics) enabled students to write stronger
arguments in clearer ways: “they use tools like thesaurus and dictionary to make a more compelling argument. .They use readability statistics
and ensure that what they are saying is coming from a clear appropriate grade level. I like to back into the use of technology because it changes, like
an appropriate tool, after considering what the goals are for an assignment.”
Hillman, a fourth grade teacher, described her beliefs as student-centered, using technology to support real world, authentic applica-
tions: “I try to give [my students] hands-on things, things that have real-life application, and I think that technology just ﬁts in with that.”
Her most successful technology project involved students creating digital stories, which allowed them to translate their real-life experiences
(e.g., with asthma, having a ﬂat tire) into a story that could be shared with others. One student even created a public service announcement
about animal abuse and used his digital story to urge listeners/readers to adopt abused animals.
Teachers in this enrich category were observed to use technology in ways that enabled students to go beyond what they were learning in
speciﬁc subjects and to give students more choices for demonstrating their learning. These teachers also believed that students were more
motivated and engaged when they did their school work on the computer. As DeHaan stated, “Technology is a great hook for catching kids’
imagination and their attention.”Travis elaborated, “To me, that’s what it’s about. Because of the technology my kids either become excited about
something new or go home and want to do it, even when I’m not there.”
4.3.3. Technology to transform teaching and learning
The three teachers classiﬁed in this category described uses of technology that supported a new kind of pedagogy. For example, Garcia
adopted “challenge-based learning”–a method that combined inquiry-based science learning with project-based technology learning
(Johnson & Adams, 2011)–as his approach. Barnes coined the term ROLE, Results only Learning Environment, modeled after the Results only
Work Environment (Pink, 2009), to portray his innovative approach. Similarly, Crosby referred to what was happening in his classroom as “a
new pedagogy, a new way of doing school.”
For these three teachers, technology was a tool that allowed them to experiment, implement, and reﬁne these new approaches to
teaching and learning. According to Garcia, a middle school science teacher, he developed his approach over three years of trial and error and
after four years of traditional teaching. He credits his evolution to three factors: 1) professional development in both content and pedagogy,
gained through his master’s degree program, 2) the support of his administration to think outside the box, and 3) “serendipity”–being in
the right place at the right time. Given his belief that “You cannot use traditional methods to teach the new student, the 21st century student,”
Garcia was committed to enacting an approach that more deeply engaged his students.
Barnes, a middle and high school language arts teacher with 19 years experience, described his conscious efforts, over the last four years,
to ﬁnding more effective ways to reach his students, and like Garcia, described his approach as “evolving.”After doing “a lot of research”to
ﬁnd tools that might engage his students, he experimented with a few small projects involving message boards andgradually “it [technology]
reshaped the way I teach.”This eventually led to the articulation, as well as the implementation, of his ROLE philosophy, which comprises
a project-based approach, focused on results, with students assuming the lead role in their own learning. Barnes explained: “If you walk into
my room and you are not sure if I am even there, but the kids are engaged, then I feel like I am being successful because it really has to be student-
Crosby, a ﬁfth grade teacher with 30 years experience, has been using technology since his second year of teaching. Given the very
diverse, at-risk population with which he works, Crosby stressed the importance of “giving students opportunities to build schema for the
world.”His goal is for students to “learn a ton”and to “learn deeply.”Like Barnes, Crosby uses a project-based approach and explained how
“technology leverages that to the max.”In his interview he stated, “I want to give people a taste of what a classroom that does 21st century
pedagogy could look like.”In his TED talk, made at the 2010 ISTE conference, he explained further:
That type of environment should not be the exception, the unearned privilege of the children of privileged parents and those lucky enough to
attend a school with high test scores. That type of education is the birthright of every child. .We need to build schools that honor kids and
make this happen for everyone (fromhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v¼66mrAzz7nLw)
In addition to illustrating how beliefs and practices closely aligned among these 11 teachers, Table 4 classiﬁes teachers’uses of tech-
nology into one of three categories (e.g., reinforce, enrich, or transform). This suggests that simply achieving alignment among beliefs and
practices does not necessarily lead to the same types of integration practices, even among award-winning technology-using teachers. At
least for these teachers, external barriers/constraints did not seem to limit teachers’abilities to use technology in ways that supported their
pedagogical beliefs. What is unclear, however, is if continued use will lead to more transformative beliefs and/or practices. And if so, which
aspect, beliefs or practices, should be targeted ﬁrst?
4.4. Discrepant case: (non) alignment among beliefs and practices
In this study, we observed some discrepancies between the beliefs and practices of one of our 12 teachers (see Table 5), with espoused
beliefs appearing more student-centered than enacted beliefs/practices. More speciﬁcally, Buller, a fourth grade teacher at a small parochial
school, expressed her belief that learning should be hands-on for students: “[Students] need to be hands-on and they need to be involved.”
Although this belief coincides with the “enrich”category, her beliefs did not consistently translate intothese types of practices. Rather, some
practices aligned more with using technology to deliver content and skills. For example, students completed web-based programs such as
Study Island once a week to practice their math and language arts skills. However, in contrast to this skills-based use, Buller described her
most successful technology project as the Oreo project in which students stacked Oreo cookies, posted their data, and then compared their
results with those from other classes around the world. She rated this project as successful because it was “hands-on, interest was high, and
because of the collaboration aspect”which Buller noted was “the best part of it.”These different uses of technology suggest that Buller may be
“in transition,”moving from an emphasis on skills to one in which the use of technology enriches the curriculum.
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To explain this observed mismatch, we examined the potential barriers that may be impacting, or constraining, Buller’s practices. Not
surprisingly, Buller worked in a school context with very few resources available. Her school had just recently installed a ﬁber optic line,
thus, severely limiting her access to web resources. In addition, Buller’s students had access to only two classroom computers and one
computer lab, which students could use “once every couple of weeks.”Given these constraints, it is quite possible that her beliefs had not yet
been fully enacted simply due to her limited access. This is similar to ﬁndings reported by both Berg et al. (1998) and Ertmer et al. (2001).
Revisiting this teacher in the future, after greater access is achieved, could inform our growing understanding of this critical relationship.
5.1. Alignment among beliefs and practices
In this study, we examined the alignment among the beliefs and practices of award-winning technology-using teachers, as well as their
perceptions of the barriers impacting their practices. Our ﬁndings suggest that, in general, teachers were able to enact technology integration
practices that closely aligned with their beliefs. For example, teachers who believed that technology was best used for collaboration purposes,
described interesting projects in which students collaborated with local and distant peers. Teachers who believed that technology provided
more opportunities for student choice, described examples in which students chose to demonstrate their learning using a variety of tech-
nology tools (see Table 4). This ﬁnding, however, is in contrast to what others have reported in the past (Ertmer et al., 20 01; Fang, 1996). For
example, Fang’s reviewof the beliefs and practices of reading teachers indicated that although teachers could articulate their beliefs, practices
were inﬂuenced by “classroom realities”(p. 53) such as student needs, student–teacher relationships, the school culture, and textbooks. We
propose three possible explanations for these differences in ﬁndings: change in access, change in students, and change in curricular emphases.
5.1.1. Change in access
As noted by Gray et al. (2010), student-computer ratios are at an all-time low (2:1), with almost all U.S. teachers now having access to the
Internet in their classrooms. In addition, the wide availability of Web 2.0 tools (Bull et al., 2009; Schrum & Levin, 2009) has allowed teachers
to readily circumvent the “limited resource”barrier previously reported (Hew & Brush, 2007). In this study, all 12 teachers were using Web
2.0 tools to engage students in the curricula. This included teachers working at the elementary level, as well as those working at the middle
and high school levels. It also included teachers who had high numbers of available classroom computers, as well as those who had only
a limited number. Whereas Internet access, when ﬁrst introduced, provided students with access to information, the evolution of Web 2.0
tools has enabled a greater level of participation, collaboration, and knowledge construction among students (Brandon, 2008). In essence,
this has provided a whole new platform for student learning, and one on which the teachers in this study were quick to capitalize. As
predicted by the 2010 Horizon report (Johnson, Levine, Smith, & Stone, 2010), the abundance of resources accessible online and the
subsequent changes that will have on the role of the educator will be key to technology adoption over the next ﬁve years (i.e., 2010–2015).
5.1.2. Change in students
Another possible reason we saw strong alignment among teachers’beliefs and practices relates to teachers’growing understanding of
the “new, 21st century”student (i.e., digital natives) and how they learn. According to Prensky (2010),“more and more young people are
now deeply and permanently technologically enhanced, connected to their peers and the world in ways no generation has been before”(p.
2). This growing realization of the differences between today’s students and those of even a few years ago has led many teachers to reﬂect on
the way they teach and to begin to try new methods and tools that are more relevant and engaging. As noted by Taylor and Fratto (2012),
“Our education systems must reﬂect our students’world or we will not only miss the opportunity to capture their attention, but also forgo
their full potential to learn and grow”(p. 8). In general, the teachers in this study were all committed to ﬁnding ways to prepare their
students for the future by leveraging the technology, including Web 2.0 tools, students were already using in their personal lives. The
journey described by Barnes was similar to those of the other teachers in this study:
I made this decision about 4 years ago. I felt like I was maybe spinning my wheels a little bit and I did not feel effective. I think it is important for
teachers to look at themselves and do a lot of reﬂection and say, “what am I doing that is right or wrong?”And so I just had maybe a bad year
and I did not feel like the kids were hearing me and really learning and a lot of the stuff was traditional. It was the worksheets, and homework
and just they did not like it. So I asked, “what can I do that would engage them and make them want to learn?”And you know I thought about,
they talked about being online, you know they were talking about Facebook and getting on MySpace and message boards. I just did some
research and I thought, “you know let me get this and take it into school and show it to the kids and see what they’ll do with it.”
5.1.3. Change in curricular emphases
It is also possible that the alignment observed in this study relates to the current push to prepare our students for the 21st century
(Bellanca & Brandt, 2010). The U.S. Department of Education (2010), national curricular organizations (ISTE, 2008; Windschitl, 2009), and
educational researchers have all called for teachers to incorporate 21st century skills within their curricula (Dede, Korte, Nelson, Valdez, &
Ward, 20 05). Not surprisingly, school corporations are responding by including this goal in their revised strategic plans (Partnership for 21st
Century Skills, 2007). As just one example, the Indiana Department of Education (2011) recently reported that 57% of 392 school
Teacher who demonstrated less alignment among teachers’beliefs and practices.
Teacher Beliefs Practices Role of technology
Buller Technology for instruction
and for research; motivation
(can make learning hands-on)
OREO project –compare their data to that of many
other participating schools; weekly use of study
Island –a standards based skills program
Supplement/enrich (technology to bring
real time information into the classroom;
to provide access to large data sets)
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corporations (n¼223) now formally address 21st century skills in their curricula. As a result, teachers are being encouraged and supported
by their administrators to implement classroom strategies aimed at developing students’self-directed learning, collaboration, and problem-
solving skills (Overbay, Patterson, Vasu, & Grable, 2010), all of which support a student-centered pedagogy.
Furthermore, as teachers begin to make these changes, they are ﬁnding almost unlimited support (via social networks) to try new ideas,
and to ﬁnd people with whom they can collaborate. Two teachers in our study referred speciﬁcally to these networked supports as
invaluable in their efforts to integrate technology, claiming that access to an online community of educators was key to their imple-
mentations of technology.
5.2. Impact of barriers
This is not to suggest that teachers no longer encounter barriers, they do. However, the primary barriers, at least for these teachers, tended
to be ﬁrst-order, or external, rather than second-order, or internal, to the teachers. In this study, every teacher rated their attitudes and beliefs
as “not a barrier”–in fact, ﬁve teachers indicated that one of the most inﬂuential factors enabling them to integrate technology was their own
attitudes and beliefs. Not only were their attitudes and beliefs not a barrier, they served as a facilitative factor, providing the passion and drive
needed to devote extra time and effort to enact their strong beliefs about good teaching and learning. This is similar to the results Ertmer,
Ottenbreit-Leftwich, and York (2006–2007) reported after surveying 25 award-winning technology-using teachers regarding the differen-
tial inﬂuence of 19 factors. Teachers rated two internal factors (inner drive and personal beliefs) as the most inﬂuential. This suggests that the
best way to bring more teachers on-board is not by eliminating more ﬁrst-order barriers, but by increasing knowledge and skills, which in turn,
have the potential tochange attitudes and beliefs. Previous studies have shown that as teachers develop knowledgeabout how technology can
be used to support student-centered learning, beliefs tend to change (Sandholtz & Ringstaff, 1996). When looking at the relationship between
instructional practices, pedagogical beliefs, and teachers’uses of computers, teachers typically viewed computers as assisting in pedagogical
change (Dexter, Anderson, & Becker, 1999), as they provide both a platform and a tool for implementation.
In this study, participating teachers viewed their own attitudes and beliefs as the least impactful barrier (M¼1), but the attitudes and
beliefs of others as the most impactful (M¼3.17). That is, while their beliefs did not impede their integration of technology, other teachers’
technology attitudes and beliefs were the strongest barrier to the integration of technology within their schools. Similarly, when investi-
gating the relationship between teachers’“degree”of constructivism and their levels of technology use, Overbay et al. (2010) found that
“constructivist practices and beliefs were signiﬁcant predictors of technology use”(p. 103). The results of this study provide more
evidentiary support for targeting and changing pedagogical beliefs. However, it is important to remember that when teachers begin the
process of implementing new pedagogical approaches, ﬁrst-order barriers may more easily impede the enactment of new, as opposed to
more established, beliefs (Kagan, 1992; Pajares, 1992). This seemed particularly true for at least one teacher in this study, whose beliefs
appeared to be in transition. According to Bebell and Kay (2010), even in situations in which positive changes in teacher attitudes and
practices are reported, it can still take several years to reach full implementation and the ﬁrst year can require a steep learning curve (Suhr,
Hernandez, Grimes, & Warschauer, 2010).
Still, there appears to be what we will call a barrier threshold; if you can’t surmount the barrier threshold, practices are limited, despite
beliefs. As illustrated by the discrepant case in our study, the teacher working in a school with very limited access to technology had
difﬁculty aligning her beliefs with practice. An alternative explanation, however, is that “different and weightier”beliefs were underlying
current practices (Ertmer, 2005; Munby, 1982). Perhaps if core beliefs were more aligned with student-centeredness, ﬁrst-order barriers
would not be able to prevent implementation of student-centered practices. In this study, this was certainly true for Hillman, Cross, and
Coley, who all brought in their own equipment to facilitate student use. According to Ertmer (1999) the more signiﬁcant difference between
high- and low-level users related not to the barriers themselves, but to the “relative weight that teachers assigned to ﬁrst-order barriers”(p.
52). Thus, even if access and resources were low, teachers might assign these barriers little weight due to strong beliefs about the role
technology should play in the classroom. This is supported by Travis’comment, noted earlier, “The only [barrier] that is different from mine
is –there are some people who don’t use technology because they’re intimidated by it.”
5.3. Limitations and suggestions for future research
Given the relatively small number of participants in this study, results are not readily generalizable. In order to verify these results,
a larger sample is needed. In addition, teachers in this study were selected based on their high levels of technology use, thus providing little
insight into how beliefs and practices align for teachers at the lower levels of use or for those who are in transition. Our one discrepant case
suggests that beliefs change before practice and that practices may be limited by ﬁrst-order barriers, especially if beliefs are peripheral, or in
transition. However additional cases are needed to support this conclusion. Finally, in this study teachers’practices were not directly
observed, but rather inferred from their websites and descriptions of practice, provided during interviews. Observations would provide
a richer understanding of enacted beliefs.
6. Implications and conclusions
The results of this study have implications for practice, speciﬁcally related to the professional development of teachers. First, although
external barriers have been reduced in many of our U.S. schools, it will be a long time, if ever, before they are completely eliminated (U.S.
DOE, 2010). Even among award-winning teachers, barriers such as a lack of resources, lack of administrative support, technology problems,
and standardized tests are still considered issues by some. This is similar to what Becker (1994) observed over 15 years ago: even among
exemplary users, barriers are known to exist. Yet, 11 of the 12 teachers in this study were able to enact practices that closely aligned with
their beliefs, suggesting that second-order, not ﬁrst-order, barriers are the true gatekeepers. Although efforts are still needed to provide
ubiquitous technology access to teachers and their students (U.S. DOE, 2010), little will be gained if second-order barriers (knowledge and
skills, attitudes and beliefs) are not addressed. As described by the National Education Association (NEA –AFT, 2008), “We are still woefully
short of classroom environments that permit students to engage with technology in a way that prepares them to use technology in the real
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world”(p. 12). As one solution, perhaps administrators could assess their teachers’espoused beliefs and work with them to provide speciﬁc
resources to facilitate the enactment of those beliefs.
The participants in this study viewed their own attitudes and beliefs as facilitating technology integration, but the attitudes and beliefs of
others as constraining integration efforts. Given that our participants were working in schools in which ﬁrst-order barriers were relatively
consistent across classrooms, the primary difference was viewed as being internal to others –their knowledge and skills and attitudes and
beliefs. Our participants used words such as “afraid,”“fearful,”“intimidated,”“leery,”and “reluctant”to describe their fellow teachers. This
suggests that professional development should focus, ﬁrst, on increasing teachers’knowledge and skills, which can then help increase their
conﬁdence and reduce the fear associated with using technology (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).
One way to reduce fear is to provide teachers with ideas about how their students can assist them with technology. Several of the
teachers in this study indicated that their students taught them new ways to use technology and were able to troubleshoot technology
problems. Other programs (e.g., Generation YES) have suggested including students in the district’s technology plans (Harper, 2008). Not
only can students assist with planning (as they have unique digital native viewpoints and skills), but also with the implementation of the
technology plan. According to the Generation YES program, over 50,000 teachers have received assistance from students while planning
technology-infused lessons. Harper (2008) found that this program was “an effective alternative for schools wishing to integrate technology
into their regular curriculum and increase their use of project-based, student-centered learning practices”(p. 3). Implementing this type of
program may help address both ﬁrst-order (i.e., lack of technology support) and second-order barriers (i.e., lack of teacher knowledge and
skills; Ertmer & Hruskocy, 1999).
Before teachers will be persuaded to attempt new student-centered practices, however, it will be important to provide evidence that
these practices result in meaningful learning outcomes (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010), especially on standardized tests (Geier et al.,
2008). In this study, participants recognized they were not exempt from helping their students master state content standards. However, by
putting the responsibility for learning on students’shoulders, and employing technology as a motivational tool, students were succeeding
beyond expectations. For example, 98% of the students in Garcia’s class performed at a Level 4 (the highest level) on the most recent state
science test, compared to previous groups of students whose scores averaged around 30%. These are the types of results teachers need to
hear more about if they are to be convinced that using technology will enable their students to perform as expected on state assessments
(Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Similarly, work by Geier et al. (2008) could go a long way in assuaging the very real fears teachers
today have regarding their students’performances on standardized tests.
Finally, the results of this study suggest we should be utilizing the same technology tools for professional development that teachers are able
to use in their classrooms. In a recent report on teacher professional development in the United States, the National Staff Development Council
(Darling-Hammond, Wei, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009) urged educators to provide professional development in more current and
authenticways: “It is time for our education workforce to engage in learningthe way other professionals dodcontinually, collaboratively, and on
the jobdto address common problems and crucial challenges where they work”(p. 2). Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogsand wikis, enabled
many of the teachers in this study to develop new ideas for their classrooms. Teachers should be introduced to the idea of joining and/or
developing their own professional learning networks (PLN; Perkins, 2010). PLNsallow teachers to select one or multiple Web 2.0 technologies
(e.g., Twitter, blogs, Google Reader) by which they can “follow”individual teachers or organizations. For example, teachers interested in using
Twitter canﬁnd a long list of teachers to follow in their particular content areas on the Twitter4Teachers Wiki (http://twitter4teachers.pbworks.
com/w/page/22554534/FrontPage). In this way, a science educator could read short posts and gather links to pertinent science lessons on
a minute-to-minute basis; teachers are posting new ideas constantly. Perkins (2010) argues that this method of professional development is
effective due to the “individualized focus, context-based learning, and empowerment of teachers”(p. 15).
Although many teachers are still struggling to achieve meaningful technology integration in their classrooms (NEA –AFT, 2008), recent
changes in access, student characteristics, and curricular emphases may provide some much needed impetus in moving teachers’efforts
forward. Our hope is that these changes, together with modiﬁcations to professional development and district technology plans, will
coalesce into a perfect “technology integration”storm that continues to empower more and more teachers to use technology in ways that
prepare our students for the future they will inherit. As noted by Hannaﬁn and Land (1997),“student-centered learning environments
represent signiﬁcant potential for optimizing the capabilities of both technology and learners”(p. 172).
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