A STUDY TO COMPARE THE UTILIZATION OF COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY AMONG TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN DIFFERENT GRADE LEVELS

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A Research Paper

Presented to
Dr. Jack Johnson
State University of West Georgia
Presented in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Class of

ABE 880: Advanced Research Techniques in Business Education

By
Roderick Hames
December 5, 1996


ABSTRACT

This research study's purpose was to explore the amount of time and different uses of computer users. Student and teachers were asked a series of questions to explore how much time they actually spent on the computer. An additional number of question focused on what different types of activities they were doing while on the computer. The information provided by the respondents was then compared and analyzed according to the respondent's grade level. The comparisons were examined to determine if a significance level was obtained. The data was deemed significant if the comparisons were 25 or more percentage points different. The findings from the research described in this paper indicated that computer utilization among teachers and students in different grade levels varies at Trickum Middle School. There were significant differences found between grade levels in areas such as computers found at home, time spent in one day on a computer, and number of visits to a computer lab. There were also significant differences in various types of activities done on the computer. Things such as using a grading program, creating lesson plans, and using the Internet were found to have significant utilization differences among the three grade levels.


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author of this study wishes to acknowledge his sincere gratitude to those who helped make this research project possible. Thank you, Dr. Jack Johnson for instructing me on the techniques of conducting and writing a research paper. Your advice and encouragement kept me from total frustration. E-mail is a wonderful tool that no student nor professor should be without. Thanks to all who participated in the survey. The study would not be possible without each participant's input. Thanks to Mrs. MaryAnne Charron, Principal of Trickum, for her support and commitment to technology at Trickum. Without that backing, this research would mean very little. Special thanks to Dr. Sherah Carr and Mr. Bill Parsons. Their expert advice guided the outcome of this paper significantly. My wife deserves a very special thanks and recognition. Her understanding and support was and always is vital to my success. She picked up the slack at home when nights ran late at work and long hours at home kept me from my duties as a husband. Her comments and proofreading skills were invaluable to me. Finally, thanks to God for the endurance and thoughts it took to put together a paper of this magnitude. I consistently felt His touch and encouragement. There was specific occasions that thoughts came from out of the blue (Heaven). Sincere praise to Him who made me and continues to answer to all my prayers.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

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CHAPTER 1

THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
 

Introduction
One of the most dynamic and innovative areas of growth in education is the utilization of computer technology. Each year improvements and new discoveries are uncovered in this area. For a school to remain competitive it also must change and be innovative with its use of computers.

It has remained the goal of Trickum Middle School to stay on this cutting edge of technology. However, it has not been without risks and the tremendous efforts from its faculty and staff members. The majority of these faculty members are functionally divided into three different grade levels: sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

There are other functional teacher groups at Trickum but for reasons to be explained later they will not be included as participants of this project. This research study will attempt to determine if one grade level's utilization of computer technology significantly varies among other grade levels.

The Statement of the Problem
The problem of this research study is to determine if the computer utilization by teachers and students in different grade levels significantly varies at Trickum Middle School.

Subproblems:
The first subproblem is to determine whether sixth grade teachers' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of seventh grade teachers.

The second subproblem is to determine whether sixth grade teachers' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of eighth grade teachers.

The third subproblem is to determine whether seventh grade teachers' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of eighth grade teachers.

The fourth subproblem is to determine whether sixth grade students' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of seventh grade students.

The fifth subproblem is to determine whether sixth grade students' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of eighth grade students.

The sixth subproblem is to determine whether seventh grade students' utilization of computer technology varies significantly to that of eighth grade students.

The Hypotheses to be Tested
The following null hypotheses were formulated for this study:

  1. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade teachers and seventh grade teachers.
  2. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade teachers and eighth grade teachers.
  3. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between seventh grade teachers and eighth grade teachers.
  4. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.
  5. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.
  6. There is no significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.

  7.  
The Limitations
This study is limited by:
  1. The interpretation of the survey questions
  2. The attitude of the students and teachers answering the survey questions
  3. Students absent the day the survey was taken
  4. Teachers who would not respond to the survey
  5. The computer software and hardware's accuracy in gathering the survey data
  6. The willingness of teachers and students to follow directions

  7.  
The Delimitations
This study is delimited to:
  1. The selected sixth, seventh, and eighth grade academic teachers during the 1996-1997 school year
  2. The selected group of students during the second nine week period of the 1996-1997 school year
  3. Questions developed for the test instrument
  4. The two days the survey was made available on the teachers' and students' computers
  5. The selection of FileMaker Pro to gather student and teacher data

  6.  
The Definitions of Terms
The following terms have been defined for their use in this study:

Computer Utilization is the process of having a computer assist and/or enhance its user for a particular function.

FileMaker Pro v3.0 is a database software product engineered for its user to program and solve individual site problems.

E-mail (electronic mail) is a means of communicating text, data, or images by utilizing a telecommunications and/or local area connection.

Academic in this research paper refers to the subject fields of math, science, social studies, or language arts.

Percent measurement in this study is the dividing of the total responses to a particular question into the total possible respondents in each grade level therefore gaining a proportional measurement.

Significance level is a level of 25 or more percentage points separating two or more grade levels in a response item.

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CHAPTER 2

PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCTING THE STUDY

Assignment of the Problem
On September 26, 1996 the class of ABE 880 Advanced Research Techniques in Business Education met for the first time. It was the goal of this class to begin a formal study to research a problem in the area associated with business education.

That night a topic was sent to Dr. Jack Johnson, the research instructor for this study. In the next two weeks, several computer research topics were discussed. Many of these topics were dismissed due to a lack of time that each study would have required. Finally on October 15, 1996, a study on the computer utilization between students and teachers in different grade levels was approved.

Following the topic selection, approval from the principal at Trickum Middle School to conduct a survey involving faculty and students was granted. The next week, a survey was drafted and sent to Dr. Johnson for evaluation. Several typographical and format errors were marked for correction. The revised instrument was then taken to the technology coordinator at Trickum, Dr. Sherah Carr, for her input and comments.

The instrument's wording and purpose were carefully evaluated. There were key changes made that revised the document significantly. Input was also taken from Mr. William Parsons, another technology coordinator at Trickum, who consulted and added thoughtful insight. This final version of the instrument was then faxed and approved by Dr. Johnson on October 22, 1996.

The next stage for the survey instrument was the design and programming of the database collection software. Due exclusively to Mr. Parsons' expertise in the area of data collection and assimilation, this researcher used a database program called FileMaker Pro v.3.0. This software collected, searched and sorted the survey data over a local area network. However before the software would work correctly, the design and programming of fields and scripts had to be created. This process took place over many meetings with Mr. Parsons and several weekends of trial and error.

Once finished, two independent electronic files containing student and teacher test items were ready for use by the intended respondents. These files were later uploaded to each individual student and teacher's computer using network administration software.

On the evening of November fifth, a personalized letter was placed in the mail box of the targeted teacher respondents. This message clearly detailed the survey's purpose and participation instructions. Additionally, an e-mail message was prepared and sent with information about the survey.

For the next three days the teacher survey was electronically responded to by the targeted teacher group. Throughout the three days, teachers were updated on the status of the survey to encourage non-respondents to complete the survey. On November eighth, the survey was removed from the network as indicated to the teachers in their initial letter and e-mail. The data gathered from the teachers was analyzed over the weekend. As a way of thanks and encouragement for participation in the survey, the data was graphed and displayed in a notebook in the teacher's lounge on the following Monday.

The student survey was given November thirteenth to each designated exploratory class. Due to some technical errors in the program, one particular class had to retake the survey the following day. The data from the student survey was analyzed the next weekend. The findings and recommendations were submitted to Dr. Johnson on December 5, 1996. This same study was also submitted to the principal and technology coordinators at Trickum Middle School.

Research Efforts
From the beginning to the end, this research paper had enlightened this researcher's appreciation for thoughtful, detailed, and accurate research. Following the topic selection, the design of a survey instrument was begun. The design of this instrument took a couple of weeks for writing, consulting, and rewriting. The wording and focus were considered paramount which resulted in the data needed to help solve this research problem.

Approximately eight to ten hours were spent on designing a database file to collect the raw data from the sample. This file had complex scripts and fields that were designed to store data across a local area network (LAN). Eventually this undertaking resulted in an error proof document. Because of the LAN, the entire survey was virtually conducted from one computer. This obviously aided the researcher in many ways. One such way was the collecting and recording of data. It also enabled administrative controls over accuracy and protection of the data.

The most time consuming process of the research efforts was the reporting of the findings. There was a total of 21 test items, twenty-eight tables, and four graphs created for this study. In all, the steps and actions taken in this study were essential for the understanding and resolving of this research project.

Instrument Design
The survey instrument went through numerous design changes. The initial instrument was submitted to Dr. Johnson on October 20, 1996. The instrument had several central design flaws that were discussed. It was decided at this time to develop separate surveys for the teacher and student sample groups. These separate survey instruments were evaluated by two technology experts at this stage. Both experts' contributions were integral to the final version of the surveys. Once finished, the surveys were submitted to the principal of Trickum and approved.

The test instrument for the students consisted of twelve response items. Of these response items, one through three dealt with demographic data. Test items four through seven concerned students' estimated time working on the computer. Test item eight categorized specific work activities one might perform in a typical week on the computer. Lastly, test items nine through twelve specifically requested in which particular academic area the computer usage occurred.

The teacher survey went through similar scrutiny and evaluation as the student survey instrument. There were nine survey items on the teacher questionnaire. Test items one through five were demographic questions. Test items six through eight dealt with teachers' estimated time working on the computer. Test item nine categorized specific work activities a typical teacher might perform on the computer. Both the student and teacher versions of the survey were faxed and approved by Dr. Johnson on October 22, 1996.

Selection of Participants
There was a total of 193 participants in this study. Of the 193 participants, 144 were students and 49 were teachers. Due mainly to time restraints, the participants were limited to Trickum Middle School. At the time of this study, there was a total of 116 teachers employed at Trickum Middle School. Of those 116 teachers, sixty-one were chosen to be surveyed. This targeted group of Trickum teachers was selected for several important reasons. First, each taught exclusively one grade level. Second, they each taught an equal number of classes per day. Third, they all had easy access to classroom computers. Finally, each teacher in the targeted group had equal access to the same three computer labs. The remaining fifty-five teachers not included in this survey were excluded primarily because they did not teach strictly one grade level. In addition, their access to computer technology was limited compared to the targeted response group. Also, the number of classes taught and class sizes were not comparable to the targeted teacher group.

For the student survey, there was a total of 1682 students to choose from in grades sixth through eighth at Trickum. It was decided to use the students enrolled in the computer science exploratory class for the survey. These students were placed in this class randomly based on space availability and state requirements. This group consisted of 45 sixth graders, 56 seventh graders, and 53 eighth graders. These particular students were chosen for several reasons. First, each student had controlled access to the survey software. Second, there was a large sample size randomly selected. Third, the survey instrument could be strictly monitored and facilitated in person by the researcher.

Administration of the Instrument
The survey to the teachers and students was planned out weeks in advance. The survey questions were carefully worded and entered into a database program. The database software was designed to gather both student and teacher data electronically over a local area network. The teacher survey file (see APPENDIX: A) was password protected and uploaded on each teacher's personal computer on November 5, 1996. The student survey file (see APPENDIX: B) was uploaded on November thirteen.

In addition to creating this database file, a letter (see APPENDIX: C) was written to each intended respondent. These letters were personalized by merging a database file with each teacher's first name. These letters informed the teachers of the purpose and procedures for participating in the survey. As follow up, similar information was e-mailed to each teacher (see APPENDIX: C). This occurred the day before the survey was made available on their computer.

The teacher survey file was uploaded on each teacher's computer on a Wednesday and remained there through Friday afternoon. At the end of each of the survey days, a status report (see APPENDIX D) was e-mailed to each intended respondent to encourage non-respondents to complete the survey.

The student survey was administered on the following Wednesday. Students were explained the survey's purpose and given ample time to complete each question. It took approximately 5 - 10 minutes for each student to finish the survey.

The return rate for the sample group was high. The student survey was responded by 94 percent (144 of 154) of the intended respondents. There was a response rate of 100 percent (45 of 45) from sixth grade students, 93 percent (52 of 56) from seventh grade students, and 89 percent (47 of 53) from eighth grade students. The teacher return rate was equally impressive with 80 percent (49 of 61) responding to the teacher survey. There was a response of 70 percent (14 of 20) from sixth grade teachers, 100 percent (20 of 20) from seventh grade teachers, and 71 percent (15 of 21) from eighth grade teachers.

Collecting and Recording the Data
Two files were created over the course of several weeks that contained teacher and student survey items. After both files were finished, they were piloted for accuracy. The files were tested on three computers throughout the building. The data from this test transferred over the network exactly as designed.

Each file's purpose was to collect and store the respondents' answers. At opportune intervals during the survey the data collection file was backed up into two different spots to guarantee the protection of the data. After the survey deadlines passed, the student and teachers' survey files were removed from all teacher and student work stations. The files were then searched and sorted to retrieve the totals for each test item. With the aid of Filemaker Pro , the time searching and counting each test item was extremely lowered and the chance of error greatly reduced. The data was then transferred to a spreadsheet where a formula converted the data into percentages and later graphed for visual enhancement. The software used for graphing and charting was ClarisWorks spreadsheet software.

Analysis of Data
All survey data was collected, searched, and sorted by each individual instrument item. This was accomplished with the aid of Filemaker Pro database software. These totals were then divided by the total sample group resulting in a percentage. This measurement provided a more reliable way of comparing the raw data. No other statistical calculations were performed on the data. Therefore, only individual or groups of percentages were compared to show significant correlations. For this reason, an error factor could not be determine and generalizations about the findings should be made with caution.

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CHAPTER 3

FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

Introduction

The following findings were based on the data collected from a sample of students and teachers at Trickum Middle School. Their input was given through two separate survey questionnaires. Each question item has been listed and explained. To better represent and analyze the teachers' and students' responses, their answers have been tabulated and then converted into percentages. An analysis of this data follows each question.

Occasionally the researcher has made a response concerning the findings. These observations were an opinion and should not be considered part of the formal findings. The teachers' and students' responses have been placed in charts or sometimes graphs to better visualize and interpret the data. A comparative analysis of both the teachers' and student's survey items has led to the conclusions and recommendations for this study. These comparisons were based on a level of significance deemed appropriate by the researcher. This level of significance was a level of 25 or more percentage points separating two or more grade levels in a response item.
 

Teacher Survey Instrument
The teacher survey instrument consisted of nine survey responses. The sentences in bold followed by an item number were the questions asked to each respondent. Item #1: "What grade do you teach?" There was a total of 14 (14 of 20) sixth grade teachers, 20 (20 of 20) seventh grade teachers, and 15 (15 of 21) eighth grade teachers who participated in the survey. The intended or targeted response group consisted of sixty-one teachers. Forty-nine teachers total responded to the survey. Therefore, 80 percent (49 of 61) of the intended respondents participated in this research study.

Figure 1 . Teachers Who Participated in the Survey


Researcher Reflections : This high response rate can most likely be attributed to the following three factors. First, teachers had easy, quick and convenient access to the test instrument. Second, the purpose of the survey was clearly communicated and status reports on the survey were given promptly. Finally, teachers were personally contacted by both campus mail and e-mail for their assistance.

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Item #2: "What subject(s) do you teach?" The data from this question reflects that some teachers teach more than one subject area. Of the sixth grade teachers, 8 responded as having taught math, 10 as having taught language arts, 6 as having taught science, and 6 as having taught social studies. Of the seventh grade teachers, 8 taught math, 7 taught language arts, 6 taught science and 8 taught social studies. Of the eighth grade teachers, 3 taught math, 5 taught language arts, 5 taught science and 4 taught social studies.

There were a significantly greater number of sixth grade teachers (57 percent) who taught math than eight grade teachers (20 percent) who taught math. There were also a significantly greater number of sixth grade teachers (71 percent) who taught language arts than seventh grade teachers (35 percent) and eighth grade teachers (33 percent) who taught language arts. Finally there were a significantly greater number of sixth grade teachers (43 percent) who taught social studies than eight grade teachers (27 percent) who taught social studies.



Item #3: "How many years have you taught at Trickum?" There were four response options for the teachers to choose from: 1 to 2 years, 3 to 5 years, 6 to 10 years, and over 10 years. A significantly greater percentage of sixth grade teachers (36 percent) responded they taught over 10 years at Trickum Middle School than did seventh grade teachers (10 percent) to the same number of years. A significantly greater percentage of seventh grade teachers (50 percent) responded they taught between 3 and 5 years than eight grade teachers (20 percent) to the same range of years. The following chart (Table 1) denotes each grade level's response:
 


Table 1
Years Taught at Trickum



Item #3b: "How many years have you taught all together?" These responses were grouped as follows: 1 to 2 years, 3 to 5 years, 6 to 10 years, 11 to 15 years, 16 to 20 years, and over 20 years (see Table 2).

Table 2
Years Taught All Together

Over 73 percent of faculty in grades sixth and eighth have eleven or more years experience while only 40 percent of seventh grade teachers have this much experience.

Both the sixth and eighth grade teachers responded significantly higher than seventh grade teachers (15 percent) in the response of 16 or more years. The seventh grade teacher's (35 percent) response in the category of 6 to 10 years was significantly higher than both the sixth (0 percent) and eighth (0 percent) grade teachers' response to the same category.

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Item #4: "Do you have a computer in the classroom where you teach?" This was a yes or no response question. Each respondent in all three grade levels answered yes to this question.

Researcher Reflections : Each teacher in this survey has had a Macintosh CD-6100 series computer in their rooms for the past two years if this was not their first year at Trickum. There has been extensive staff development over those two years on how to best utilize their computer. These staff development classes have been a very important element in the increase of computer utilization at Trickum.



Item #5: "Do you have a computer at home that you use?" This was a yes or no response question. The chart below (Table 3) denotes each grade level's response.

Table 3
Teachers Who Have a Computer at Home

In all three grade levels, there were a majority of teachers who have a computer at home. The data also shows eighth grade teachers have a significantly higher percentage (93 percent) of computers at home than sixth grade teachers (57 percent).

Researcher Reflections : The data did not reveal the amount or type of use their computer received at home. Therefore it would be difficult to relate how a computer at home has or has not aided the teacher with their confidence or ability to utilize computer technology at Trickum. However, it might explain why eighth grade teachers score significantly higher in many response choices in this survey.

Item #5b: "If you have a computer at home, is it a Macintosh?" This also was a yes or no response question. The chart below (Table 4) denotes each grade level's response. A majority of teachers in all three grade levels did not have a Macintosh in their homes. Eighth grade teachers had the highest percentage (75 percent) of Macintosh computers in their homes.

Table 4
Is Your Computer a Macintosh?

Researcher Reflections : The significant findings from this question showed the dominance of IBM compatibles in the teachers' homes. This high percentage was significant due to Trickum's overwhelming population of Macintosh Computers. At the time of this survey, 98 percent (200 of 205) of the computers used by teachers at Trickum were Macintosh.

Item #6: "How much time would you say you spend in one day using a computer?" The response options were categorized the following ways: 0 minutes, 1 to 10 minutes, 11 to 20 minutes, 21 to 30 minutes, 31 - 40 minutes, and over 40 minutes. The chart below (Table 5) denotes each grade level's response. The follow are significant findings from the teacher responses. Seventy-two percent of sixth grade teachers indicated they use computers between 11 and 30 minutes a day while only 45 percent of seventh grade teachers and 40 percent of eighth grade teachers use the computer the same amount of time. Twenty-seven percent of eighth grade teachers indicated they had used computer between 31 and 40 minutes a day while 0 percent of sixth grade teachers had used the computer the same amount of time.

Table 5
Time Spent In One Day Using a Computer

The data was easier to analyze when combining the data into 11 to 30 minutes and 31 to 40 minutes. (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 . Time Spent on the Computer in a Day


Item #7: "In a typical 9 week period, how many times do you take your class to use a computer lab?" There were six different response options for this question. The response options were categorized as followed: never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times. The chart (Table 6) on the following page denotes each grade level's responses.

The percentages in this chart (Table 6) indicated teachers in grades seven (5 percent) and eight (27 percent) rarely used a lab more than three times in a nine week period. However, 90 percent of the teachers in seventh grade responded they had used a lab one or two times in a nine

Table 6
Use of a Computer Lab in a Nine Week Period

week period which is significantly less then sixth grade teachers (50 percent) who responded they use a lab one or two times in a nine week period.
There was a significant difference in use of labs four or more times between seventh and sixth grade teachers. The sixth grade teachers (35 percent) responded they had used a lab 4 or more times in a nine week period while only 5 percent of seventh grade teachers responded they went to a lab the same amount of time.

Researcher Reflections : At first glance of the data, one might think teachers rarely used Trickum's computer labs. Actually the opposite is true. The three labs at Trickum are in high demand. In fact, to ensure control and equality of use, teachers are prohibited from use of the labs unless they first have a voucher. These vouchers are distributed equally among the different grade levels (and other teacher groups) before anyone is allowed to schedule the labs.

Item #8: "How often do your students use your classroom computer during a 9 week period?" There were six different response options for this question. The response options were categorized the following ways: 0 times, 1 to 2 times, 3 to 5 times, 6 to 12 times, 13 to 20 times, and more than 20 times. The following chart (Table 7) denotes

Table 7
Student Use of a Classroom Computer in a Nine Week Period

each grade level's response. The data in Figure 3 shows seventh grade

Figure 3 .Student Use of a Classroom Computer
in a Nine Week Period

teachers (35 percent) allowed their students to use their classroom computer significantly more than sixth grade teachers (7 percent) when the response option was 13-20 times.

Item #8b: "Out of the 8 hours in a school day, what percentage of a typical day would you guess your classroom computer is used?" There were six options to choose from in this question. They were 0 percent, 1 to 5 percent, 6 to 10 percent, 11 to 25 percent, 26 to 50 percent, and more than 50 percent (see Table 8). There seemed to be no significant variations in the data among each grade level. For example 57 percent of sixth grade, 60 percent of seventh grade, and 60 percent of eighth grade teachers responded that the classroom computer is used in the range of 6 to 25 percent of the day. The following chart data denotes each teacher's response.

Table 8

Percentage the Classroom Computer
is Used in a Typical Day

Item #9a: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using the attendance program ." This question was based on the following Likert Scale: Never, not much, a little, frequently, almost daily, and everyday (see Table 9). Each respondent was asked to rate their use of nine different computer applications. The first application concerned an attendance program developed specifically to record and store daily attendance records. The data suggested the attendance program was heavily used everyday. There were no significant variations in the percentages among the three grade level's use of the attendance program. The following chart data denotes each teacher's response:

Table 9
Time Spent Using the Attendance Program

Researcher Reflections : It is obvious that the attendance program was used extensively by all three grade levels. This was due primarily to the state requirements of tracking attendance and the school wide policy to use the computer to do the tracking. This explains why over 75 percent of the sampled teachers responded they had used this program everyday.

Item #9b: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using e-mail. " E-mail is the use of an electronic mail program called First Class . Teachers use e-mail for a variety of different functions. The teacher responses suggested a very high demand for the use of e-mail on the computer from all three grade levels (see Table 10) . There were no significant differences in the data provided by each grade level. The following chart denotes each grade level's response.

Table 10
Time Spent Using the E-mail Program

Researcher Reflections : Nearly 80 percent of all sampled faculty members responded they had used e-mail everyday. This high e-mail use by all three grade levels might be attributed to two primary factors. First, all teachers were required to read a daily bulletin report that is placed on e-mail. Second, each teacher was required to be trained in the use and benefits of e-mail. This alone has revealed to teachers at Trickum the tremendous benefits of using e-mail.

Item #9c: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using games (Solitaire , Tetris , etc..). " Games did not include any academic drill and practice software (see Table 11). The information in Table 10 suggested a significant difference among seventh grade teachers and sixth grade teachers' use of computer games. Twenty-five percent of seventh grade teachers responded they play games frequently while 0 percent of sixth grade teachers responded they play games on the computer frequently. At least 53 percent of all three grade levels responded they never or rarely used games on the computer. The subsequent chart (Table 11) denotes each grade level's response.

Table 11
Time Spent Using Games Software on the Computer

Item #9d: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using a grading program. " The teachers use of a computerized grading program are evident in the response to this question (see Table 12). There was a significant difference among sixth, seventh, and eighth grade teachers' use of a grading program on the computer. The eighth grade teachers used the computer significantly more (40 percent) than sixth grade teachers (7 percent) when the response was everyday. There was also a significant difference between eighth grade teachers (40 percent) and seventh grade teachers (15 percent) in the response of everyday. It should be noted that 93 percent of all three grade levels responded they had used a computer grading program frequently to daily.

Researcher Reflections : There have been widespread acceptance and training for all staff in the area of computerized grading software. This software has saved teachers tremendous time and added managerial reporting features to the student grading process.

Table 12
Time Spent Using a Grading
Program on the Computer

Item #9e: "rate how you spend your time on the computer creating lesson plans (creating worksheets, test, etc...). " Over 60 percent of all the respondents in this question replied they had used the computer to create lesson plans frequently to daily (see Table 13).
There was a significant difference between eighth grade teachers and seventh grade teachers' use of the computer to create lesson plans. Ninety-three percent of the eighth grade teachers responded they had

Table 13
Time Spent Creating Lesson Plans
on the Computer

used computers for lesson plans frequently to everyday while only 60 percent of the seventh grade teachers use the computer that often to create lessons (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 . Amount of Time Teachers Spend on a Computer
Creating Lesson Plans

Item #9f: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer creating personal items (letters, finance, etc...). " The data indicated the computer was used minimally for creating personal items. For example 79 percent of sixth grade, 70 percent of seventh grade, and 74 percent of eighth grade teachers responded they had used the computer for creating personal items a little, not much, or never. The chart below (see Table 14) denotes each grade level's response. Forty percent of eighth grade teachers responded they have used the computer for personal reasons a little. However, seventh grade teachers (15 percent) responded significantly less to this question with the same response of a little.

Table 14

Time Spent Creating Personal Items on the Computer

Researcher Reflections : Teachers are given the professional privilege to write letters or do work for personal projects while it does not interfere with their school responsibilities or ethical conduct code.

Item #9g: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using a presentation tool (HyperStudio , ClarisWorks Slide Show, etc...). " Presentation Tools refers to software loaded on a computer to aid teachers in presenting new or difficult concepts. The chart below (Table 15) denotes each grade level's response. When comparing response option "frequently" the data indicated eighth grade teachers (33 percent) had used these types of tools significantly more than sixth grade teachers (7 percent).

Table 15
Time Spent Using Presentation Software

Researcher Reflections : Teachers at Trickum have had limited training using HyperStudio and ClarisWorks. Presentations using these products require extensive use of time to create. The software is also technical and frequently requires complex connections to a TV or visual equipment.

Item #9h: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using it for professional growth (college stuff). " Over 60 percent of the teachers in all three grade levels answered they had used the computer for professional growth either "not much" or "never" (see Table 16). There seems to be no significant variations in the data provided by each grade level.

Table 16
Time Spent Using the Computer for Professional Growth

Researcher Reflections : Many teachers at Trickum continue their professional growth either in local staff development classes and/or college classes. This data indicated a lack of use of the computer for the purpose of professional growth by all three grade levels. Due to the fact most teachers were not enrolled in college, but took local staff development classes explains to an extent the low percentages.

Item #9i: "Rate how you spend your time on the computer using the Internet. " The data suggested a significantly higher use of the Internet by sixth grade teachers (43 percent) when compared to eighth grade teachers (7 percent) in the response category of frequency (see Table 17). However, eighth grade teachers (53 percent) responded they had used the Internet significantly more than seventh grade teachers (20 percent) and sixth grade teachers (21 percent) when responding to this question with the option of a little.

Table 17
Time Spent on the Computer
Using the Internet

Researcher's Reaction: Since the 1995 school year, Trickum has made the Internet available to all teachers through its productivity lab. Beginning the 1996 school year, there was an additional lab made available. This lab's purpose was dedicated exclusively for teachers to explore the Internet. Fifty percent or more of the teachers in all three grade levels used the computer for Internet purposes a little or frequently.

Student Survey Instrument
The student survey instrument consisted of twelve response items. Each questions is listed on the following pages along with the tabulated responses from each student.

Item #1: "What grade are you in?" There was a total of 144 students involved in the survey. Of the 144 students, there were 45 sixth graders, 52 seventh graders, and 47 eighth graders. There was a total of 1682 students attending Trickum when the survey was conducted. Therefore the sample size for this study was 9 percent (144 of 1682). The sample size for each grade level is as follows: 9 percent (45 of 522) for sixth grade, 9 percent (52 of 576) for seventh grade, and 8 percent (47 of 579) for eighth grade.

Researcher's Reaction: The sample size was deemed adequate due to its random pre-selection of the sample population.

Item #2: "Do you have a computer at home to use?" The student responses in all three grade levels were extremely consistent (see Table 18). There were only two response options: yes and no. More than

Table 18
Computer at Home

82 percent of the students surveyed responded they have computers at home. The following chart (Table 18) denotes each grade level's response. There were no significant differences in any of the three grade levels.

Researcher's Reaction: Due to the high socioeconomic status of the area where the sample population lived, this data is consistent to what was expected by the researcher.

Item #3: "If question #2 is yes, is your computer at home a Macintosh?" There were also only two response options in this question (see Table 19).

Table 19
Home Computer is a Macintosh

The student responses in all three grade levels were consistently high in the response option of "no". A large majority (over 69 percent) of students in all three grade levels replied they do not have a Macintosh in their home. There were no significant differences in any of the three grade levels.

Item #4: "How often do you use a computer in a typical day at school?" Students were given six response options for this question (see Table 20). They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times.

Table 20

Frequency of Computer Use in a Typical Day

Students who replied they had used computers two or more times in a day were closely proportional in all three grade levels. For example 28 percent of the sixth grade students responded they had used the computer two or more times. Thirty-eight percent of the seventh grade students responded they had used the computer two or more times, and 34 percent of the eighth grade students responded they had used the computer two or more times. However, there was a significant difference in the response option of one time. Sixty percent of eighth grade students responded they used the computer one time in a typical day while only 35 percent of seventh grade students had the same response.

Item #5: "Out of the 8 hours in a school day, what percentage of a typical day would you guess your classroom computer is used by yourself?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were 0 percent, 1 to 5 percent, 6 to 10 percent, 11 to 25 percent, 26 to 50 percent, and more than 50 percent (see Table 21). The following data suggested sixth grade students had used the classroom computer significantly less than seventh and eighth grade students in a typical day.

Table 21

Percent Classroom Computer
is Used in a Typical Day

Forty-six percent of the sixth grade students responded they had used the classroom computer between 1 and 10 percent of a typical day. Whereas, 71 percent of the eighth grade students responded they had used the classroom computer between 1 and 10 percent of a typical day. In addition 33 percent of the seventh grade students responded they had used their classroom computer between 6 and 25 percent of a typical day where only 8 percent of sixth grade students responded they had used it this much.

Item #6: "How often do you use a computer at Trickum during a 9 week period?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were 0 times, 1 to 2 times, 3 to 5 times, 6 to 12 times, 13 to 20 times, and more than 20 times. The data suggests eighth grade students had used the computer significantly more often than sixth grade students. Thirty-eight percent of the students sampled in eighth grade responded they had used the computer 13 or more times in a nine week period. Only 11 percent of sixth grade students responded they use the computer 13 or more times in a nine week period. The following chart (Table 22) denotes each grade level's response.

Table 22

Frequency of Computer Use in a Nine Week Period

Item #7: "In a typical week, how many times do you use a computer lab for academic classes?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times. There was a strong but not significant difference (24 points) between eighth and seventh grade students in the responses of 2 or more visits to a computer lab. However, there was a significant difference (31 points) between eighth grade students (49 percent) and sixth grade students (18 percent) in the responses of 4 or more times. The following chart (Table 23) denotes each grade level's response.

Table 23

Frequency of Computer Lab Use in a Typical Week
for the Purpose of Academic Classes

Item #8: "Which different software would you typically use during a week at Trickum?" Students were allowed to check off each different type of software program they might use in a typical week. After comparing each category of software, there were five significant findings. First, eighth grade students (74 percent) significantly used drawing software more than seventh grade students (42 percent) . Next, eighth (64 percent) and sixth grade students (60 percent) used the Internet significantly more than seventh grade students (35 percent) . In subject area specific software, seventh grade students (58 percent) used the computer significantly more than sixth grade students (33 percent) . Finally, eighth grade students (77 percent) significantly used word processing software more often than sixth grade students (49 percent). The following chart (Table 24) denotes each grade level's response.

Table 24

Typical Software a Student Might Use in a Week
at Trickum

Item #9: "How many times in the past 9 weeks have you used a computer in subject area of: Math?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times (see Table 25). There was a significant difference when comparing sixth grade and eighth grade students use of a computer in the subject area of math. Sixty-one percent of the sixth grade students replied they had used a computer in the subject area of math one to four times in the past nine weeks and only 35 percent of eighth grade students responded they had used a computer for math one to four times in the past nine weeks.

Table 25

Frequency of Computer Use in a Typical Nine Weeks
for the Purpose of Math

Item #10: "How many times in the past 9 weeks have you used a computer in subject area of: Science?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times (see Table 26).

Table 26

Frequency of Computer Use in a Typical Nine Weeks
for the Purpose of Science

There was a significant difference between eight grade students (79 percent), sixth grade students (31 percent), and seventh grade students (46 percent) in the response of one to four times.

Item #11: "How many times in the past 9 weeks have you used a computer in subject area of: Language Arts?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times. The findings showed eighth grade students had used the computer significantly more than sixth grade students. In a percent difference of 36 points, 85 percent of the eighth grade students responded they used the computer in the area of language arts two or more times in a nine week period. Only 49 percent of the sixth grade students used the computer this same amount of time.

Table 27

Frequency of Computer Use in a Typical Nine Weeks
for the Purpose of language arts

Thirty-three percent of the seventh grade students responded they had used a computer for language arts purposes two to four times in the past nine weeks. However, 59 percent eighth grade students responded they had used a computer for language arts this same amount of time.

Item #12: "How many times in the past 9 weeks have you used a computer in subject area of: Social Studies?" Students were given six response options for this question. They were never, one time, two times, three times, four times, and more than four times. There were a significantly greater number of eighth grade students (36 percent) who responded they used the computer 3 or more times for the purpose of social studies than sixth grade students (6 percent) to the same response.

Table 28

Frequency of Computer Use in a Typical Nine Weeks
for the Purpose of social studies




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CHAPTER 4

SUMMARY

This research study's purpose was to explore the amount of time and different uses of computer users. Student and teachers were asked a series of questions to explore how much time they actually spent on the computer. An additional number of question focused on what different types of activities they were doing while on the computer.

The information provided by the respondents was then compared and analyzed according to the respondent's grade level. The comparisons were examined to determine if a significance level was obtained. The data was deemed significant if the comparisons were 25 or more percentage points different.

The problem of this research study was to determine if the computer utilization by teachers and students in different grade levels significantly varies at Trickum Middle School. The survey questions for both respondent groups were divided into three groups: demographic information, time spend on the computer, and tasks performed on the computer. The following paragraphs are a summary of the significant findings for both the teacher and student survey instruments.

Teacher Survey: Demographic :
There were significantly more sixth grade math teachers who participated in the survey than did eighth grade math teachers. There were significantly more sixth grade languagearts teachers who participated in the survey than did seventh grade language arts teachers. There were significantly more sixth grade socialstudies teachers who participated in the survey than did eighth grade social studies teachers.

There were significantly more sixth grade teachers who participated in the survey with over ten years experience at Trickum than seventh grade teachers with the same amount of years taught at Trickum. There were significantly more seventh grade teachers who participated in the survey with three to five years experience at Trickum than eighth grade teachers with the same amount of years taught at Trickum.

There were significantly more sixth grade teachers who participated in the survey with sixteen or more years experience total than seventh grade teachers with the same amount of years total . There were significantly more seventh grade teachers who participated in the survey with six to ten years experience total than both sixth and eighth grade teachers with the same amount of years total . There were significantly more eighth grade teachers who participated in the survey with sixteen or more years experience total than seventh grade teachers with the same amount of years total .

There were significantly more more eighth grade teachers who participated in the survey that had computers at their home than did sixth grade teachers.

Teacher Survey: Time Spent on the Computer :
The sample sixth grade teachers used a computer significantly more minutes in one day than the sample seventh grade teachers. The sample eighth grade teachers used a computer significantly more minutes in one day than the sample sixth grade teachers.
The sample sixth grade teachers went to a computer lab significantly more times than the sample seventh grade teachers.

Teacher Survey: Tasks Performed on the Computer :
The sample seventh grade teachers used a computer significantly more for games than sixth grade teachers. The sample eighth grade teachers used a computer significantly more for grading than sixth and seventh grade teachers. The sample eighth grade teachers used a computer significantly more for creating lesson plans than seventh grade teachers. The sample eighth grade teachers used a computer significantly more for personal items than seventh grade teachers.

The sample eighth grade teachers used a computer significantly more for presentation software than sixth grade teachers. The sample sixth grade teachers used a computer significantly more for Internet use than seventh grade teachers.

Student Survey: Demographic :
There were no significant differences in any of the three grade level's responses to the demographic questions.

Student Survey: Time Spent on the Computer :
The sample eighth grade students significantly used the computer more times in a typical day than the sample seventh grade students.

The sample seventh grade students significantly used their classroom computer more than the sample sixth grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used their classroom computer more than the sample sixth grade students.

The sample eighth grade students significantly used a computer more often during a nine week period than the sample sixth grade students.

The sample eighth grade students significantly used a computer lab more often for academic classes than the sample sixth grade students.

The sample sixth grade students significantly used a computermore often for subject of math than the sample eighth grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used a computer more often for subject of science than the sample sixth and seventh grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used a computer more often for subject of language arts than the sample sixth and seventh grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used a computer more often for subject of social studies than the sample sixth grade students.

Student Survey: Tasks Performed on the Computer :
The sample eighth grade students significantly used the Internet more during a week than the sample seventh grade students. The sample sixth grade students significantly used the Internet more during a week than the sample seventh grade students.

The sample seventh grade students significantly used subject specific software more during a week than the sample sixth grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used drawing software more during a week than the sample seventh grade students. The sample eighth grade students significantly used word processing software more during a week than the sample sixth grade students.

Hypotheses Accepted:
The following hypotheses were accepted for this study:

  1. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade teachers and seventh grade teachers.
  2. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade teachers and eighth grade teachers.
  3. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between seventh grade teachers and eighth grade teachers.
  4. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.
  5. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.
  6. There is a significant difference in the utilization of computer technology between sixth grade students and seventh grade students.

  7.  

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CHAPTER 5

RECOMMENDATIONS

The findings and summary of this study indicate that computer utilization among teachers and students in different grade levels varies at Trickum Middle School.

Recommendations for Teachers
The utilization of computers among eight grade teachers significantly differed numerous times with the other two grade levels. One such difference was with computers at home. It cannot be underestimated the importance of having a computer conveniently placed available in the home of a teacher. The time one has to practice at school on the computer is limited. Teachers should be encouraged with incentives to purchase a home computer.

The eighth grade teachers used the computer significantly more than sixth grade teachers while sixth grade significantly used the computer more than seventh grade teachers. There are no clear indications why this occurred in this study. However, there could be more training and software purchased that appeals directly to the sixth grade and seventh grade teachers.

Lesson plans, personal items, presentations, grades and the Internet were done or created on the computer significantly more often in eight grade than in the other two grade levels. Again, there are no clear indication why this occurred in this study. The eighth grade teachers should share their tricks or ways the computer has helped them so the other grade levels could gain more insight into the benefits of the computer.

Recommendations for Students
The recommendations for students are really for the teachers. There is little a student can do to utilize a computer lab, library, or classroom computer than what a teacher will allow. The overwhelming finding from this survey is that eight grade students utilize a computer significantly more than both sixth and seventh grades. Sixth and seventh differed some but not near as much as eight grade did with the other two grade levels.

Students could be better informed of the different ways a computer can be used starting in the early years of education. Teachers in sixth and seventh grades should allow more projects done on the computer. Teachers in sixth and seventh grades should investigate how computer software can enhance instruction of curriculum.

Recommendations for Further Research

  1. To confirm the findings of this study, this research should be replicated in other similar settings such as different middle schools in the county, state, or country.
  2. This study should also be duplicated using elementary and high school teachers and students as the sample respondents.
  3. This study should be conducted with a larger group of students and teachers.
  4. Research that employs a better method of analysis of the data should be done.
  5. Research that asks respondents why they do or do not use computer should be examined.
  6. This research would be not only pertinent for teachers and students, but also individuals in various types of industry, and individuals at various administrative levels.

  7.  

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APPENDIX A
TEACHER SURVEY INSTRUMENT

APPENDIX B
STUDENT SURVEY INSTRUMENT

APPENDIX C
INSTRUCTIONS TO PARTICIPANTS

APPENDIX D
CORRESPONDENCE WITH PARTICIPANTS

APPENDIX E
NOTES


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