Dissertation

Technology practices of high school social science teachers in socioeconomically diverse classrooms

This study of the ways in which social science teachers in low, middle and high SES high schools use technology in their teaching demonstrated that the digital divide is alive and well in the San Francisco Bay Area. A qualitative research design with ten teacher interviews was employed to gain a deeper understanding of their technology use in the classroom. Four main themes emerged from the data. Teachers from lower SES schools used technology to prepare students for standardized tests, while teachers from higher SES schools used technology to prepare students for college and careers. Although teachers from lower SES schools were unable to workaround technological challenges, teachers from the higher SES schools were able to bypass these problems and use technology to enrich students’ learning. While teachers of low SES students used technology to distribute information, teachers of higher SES students used technology to embellish students’ learning. These technological practices taught low SES students to compartmentalize knowledge, middle SES students to analyze knowledge and high SES students to communicate and collaborate with their peers to create and present knowledge. The acquisition of these skills prepares low SES students for low-level positions, middle SES students for professional positions and high SES students for leadership positions later in life. These findings reveal how differences in technology use across socioeconomically diverse classrooms help to perpetuate social hierarchies and social reproduction.

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