There is a common belief that technology can help improve learning opportunities for all students (DeBell & Chapman, 2006; U.S. Department of Education, 2010). Although the U.S. government encourages the use of educational technology in K-12 schools through funding technological infrastructure and the development of educational technology applications, the state of technology use in K-12 schools remains vague.
Technology leadership, an emerging concept in educational scholarship, has been described as a school characteristic associated with planning, purchasing, and a host of distributed management and leadership practices that lead to meaningful and effective utilization of technology in schools (S. Dexter, 2008; Hew & Brush, 2007). Although there is research establishing a positive relationship between school leadership and student outcomes (Hallinger & Heck, 1996; Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008; Waters, Marzano, & Mcnulty, 2003), few studies have examine links between technology leadership and technology use by teachers and students.
This study was conducted to examine the current state of technology use and technology leadership in K-12 schools. It also examined the relationship between technology leadership and teachers’ technology use for mathematics instruction. Following Anderson and Dexter's (2005) claim that technology leadership functions as a necessary role in the effective use of K-12 school technology use, I hypothesized a positive relationship between technology leadership and technology use for teaching and learning.
This dissertation begins with a review of relevant research and policy literature on ways in which school-level technology leadership and technology policies influence technology integration. Next, it describes how data from the 2009 fast-response survey titled "Teachers' Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools" (FRSS95, 2009) has been analyzed. Descriptive statistics and factor analyses were conducted to characterize K-12 technology use and technology leadership. Next, MANCOVA and a follow-up regression analysis were utilized to examine whether a relationship between technology leadership and technology use existed, and to determine which attributes of technology leadership were significantly associated with technology use.
The target population for this study was U.S. public elementary and secondary teachers who were identified to participate in the 2009 fast-response survey titled "Teachers' Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools" (FRSS95, 2009b). The FRSS nationwide teacher survey sampled 3,159 public school teachers from 1563 public schools (NCES, 2010). The sample consisted of 1784 public elementary teachers, 1286 public secondary teachers, and 89 teachers in public combined schools. Due to a large difference existing in the distribution of main teaching assignment between the participants in elementary schools and those in secondary schools, the elementary sample and the secondary sample were extracted from the total sample to explore the research questions regarding teachers’ and students’ educational technology use, teachers' perceptions of technology leadership, and the relationship between technology leadership and educational technology use in K-12 schools.
In the FRSS95 dataset, technology use was characterized by teachers' general technology use for classroom preparation, instruction, and administrative tasks (general use), teachers’ administrative technology use for communicating with parents or students (Admin_comm), teachers’ administrative technology use for viewing or managing student data (Admin_data), and students' technology use during instructional time (student use). Teachers' perceptions of technology leadership were characterized by full-time technology personnel within districts (tech personnel), the quality of professional development for educational technology (PD quality) and equitable access to digital tools and resources (range of access).
With these four indicators of technology use and three indicators of technology leadership, analyses examined the relationship between technology use and technology leadership in elementary schools and secondary schools. As expected, PD quality and range of access had statistically significant positive relationships with all four technology use indicators in both samples. Furthermore, technology personnel was a statistically significant predictor across all types of technology use in the elementary sample, but not a significant one across Admin_comm, Admin_data, or student use in the secondary sample. The study findings also showed that the inclusion of technology leadership in the models resulted in a significant increase in the amount of variance explained above and beyond that accounted for by school enrollment size, community type, poverty, minority student population, main teaching assignment and years of teaching experience. In short, regardless of the type of technology use or teachers’ instructional grade level, technology leadership matters. The amount of variance explained for general technology use was the greatest among the four technology use variables in elementary schools, as well as in secondary schools. The amount of variance explained for Admin_comm use was the least among the four technology use variables in elementary schools, as well as in secondary schools. With the exception of student use, the technology leadership indicators in elementary schools explained a greater amount of variance of technology use than that in secondary schools.
Even with the limited number of indicators used in this analysis to measure technology leadership and technology use, the study findings confirmed and demonstrated the influence of teacher's perceptions of technology leadership on several meaningful technology-related uses by teachers and students. Although the indicators of technology leadership in this study differed from those conceptual dimensions of technology leadership in Anderson and Dexter's study, both of these studies showed a strong positive relationship between technology leadership and technology use. This implies that technology leadership still serves a necessary role in the effective utilization of educational technology even if technology leadership is not depicted as principals’ behaviors. Moreover, the findings imply the importance of the quality of technology-related professional activities and the equitable access to educational technology. The study suggest future researchers and policy makers should regard technology leadership as a powerful organizational function that positively impacts teachers’ and students’ technology use.