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Technology in the classroom: Educational implications and strategies for at-risk students

, University of Oregon, United States

University of Oregon . Awarded


This research examined the influence of Information Technology (IT) on at-risk students in an alternative high school located in the southern tier of New York State. A theoretical foundation advanced by George Herbert Mead was used as a reference point to develop the three principal research questions: (1) To what degree do students and teachers attribute student success in this alternative school to students' use of computers or other IT? (2) Students use computers in and outside school. What moves them toward risky cognition or behavior when using computers? (3) Tyner (1998) and Swan (1999) argued that overall literacy should now be measured beyond traditional reading and writing of hard copy materials and should include IT. What are the implications for teachers of at-risk students?

Subjects in this study were professional staff, teachers and students from an alternative high school, which is located in the southern tier of New York State. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in the study and included semi-structured interviews of the professional staff, teachers and students along with questionnaires, and classroom observations. During the classroom observation segment, observations were made of student-teacher interactions and conversations linking IT to school as well as to real out-of-school applications. A total of 42 respondents completed the multiple-page survey (32 students and 10 staff members). Of the 61 students that attended the Alternative Based Education (ABE) program during 1999–2000, 16 were randomly selected to take part in semi-structured interviews. All staff members working in the ABE program completed questionnaires and were interviewed.

At-Risk students in this particular alternative school, developed positive ethical conduct when introduced to IT in the classroom, and were less likely to be involved in risky behavior in and outside school. In addition, both students and teachers gained a higher level of digital literacy through classroom interaction using IT. Conclusions drawn from the data showed that students and teachers believed that technology plays an important role in student development. It was also concluded that by studying the behavior of individuals, it was possible to develop an understanding of the community to which they belong.


Owens, T.J. Technology in the classroom: Educational implications and strategies for at-risk students. Ph.D. thesis, University of Oregon. Retrieved April 18, 2019 from .

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