Date of Award

8-9-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James D. Hooks, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kelli Jo Kerry-Moran, Ph.D.

Abstract

It seems some students learn effectively no matter what instructional innovation is applied to the modern classroom. It also seems, despite the best efforts of educators, some students struggle. In recent times, teachers have turned their focus toward instructional technology and media as a tool for providing more equitable and consistent instruction for their students. In an attempt to improve learning for some, others may ultimately be excluded. This dissertation is purposed to (1) examine the implications of instructional technologies among students who differ in how they process information and (2) then measure differences in performance between these students as the application of technology varies. For the purpose of this research, information processing style is based on Witkin‘s (1950) bipolar view of field dependence/field independence. In short, field dependent thinkers are often socially oriented; they tend to thrive in highly structured classrooms with feedback from instructors. Field independent thinkers perform better in classrooms with less intervention and structure. Integrated technologies in classrooms may isolate individuals from the information needed by field dependent learners to create meaning. As classrooms become more integrated with technology, the question of creating equitable access for field dependent learners emerges and frames the problem for this paper. This meta-analytical study is based on an historical view of educational technology in the United States. Although most of the primary studies are from the US, this meta-analysis includes data from primary research conducted in the US, Europe, and Asia over the last 20 years. Results indicate that, even after the adjustment for statistical error, field dependent students do not perform equally when compared to field independent students in technologically enhanced formal learning environments. Results also indicate that as teachers integrate technology, field dependent student performance abates significantly. Overall implications and practical significance are discussed.

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