Perceptions and Attitudes of Community College Students and Instructors on Moving from Traditional to Technology - Based Learning

The following sample Education dissertation is 17494 words long, in APA format, and written at the doctoral level. It has been downloaded 352 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

Abstract

Students at a United States Community College prefer to use technology in their courses to support their learning. However, the college only requires instructors to use traditional resources, such as, textbooks to teach content leading to a variation in the use of technology in literacy courses.  Additionally, student’s engagement is limited in courses without technology integration. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate a phenomenon on the perceptions of students and attitudes of faculty integration of technology into classroom instruction and students’ perceptions of technology as a part of their learning. A purposeful sample of 12 participants, 6 students and 6 instructors from the USCC were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data were analyzed, transcribed and coded in which three major themes and five sub-themes emerged: Continuing Learner, Student Needs, Trends in Higher Education and Unlimited Access to Technology, Technology Adoption, Potential of Technology in Instruction and Limited Access and Support for On-going Learning emerged. The findings revealed that instructors were primarily at ease when integrating technology and students were more engaged in courses whereby instructors integrated technology. In addition, Instructors perceived a need for training in Black Board Learn 9.1, to improve the implementation of technology integration. Therefore, a professional development on Black Board Learn was recommended for instructors so that their needs could be met for effective integration. This case study may help to promote social change using positive perceptions of instructors that were traditionalist by providing strategies that have been successful in their classrooms for other to use. With this project and its overall results, stake holders can decide the next action(s) to take so that USCC can meet the needs of its instructors and students.

Dedication

I would like to say thank you to everyone that believed in me, with a special thanks to God, I am blessed! Throughout my journey and obstacles of life, my children have been my strength. Everything I seek to achieve is for them and their future endeavors. This major milestone is for my children. I have an extraordinary daughter that is already on a great path to being successful as a college graduate. My amazing son who is already making plans to become the President of the United States and the Late Dustin, who gave me a new perspective on life. I need each of them to know that anything is possible if you set goals, work hard, and believe!

Section 1: The Problem 

The Local Problem

The particular college of interest in this study is the community college. It is a comprehensive, higher educational institute, that provides price of admission to modest, enriched education. This College was created from the merger of several community college s throughout the United States. There are four areas of student growth, learning, teaching, scholarship, organizational breadth, as well as community affairs. Many pupils enroll in traditional and online classes within the community college. Students outside of the schools’ boundaries are considered out-of-state when applying and account for less than one percent of the admissions, based on exploratory information obtained from the college data report (USCC, 2013). Currently, engineering science is not a mandatory requirement in the Community College vision, mission, or curriculum. To integrate applied science, a program was developed within the college called Organizational Excellence, which has been designed to promote applied science as a part of the faculty member experience. Strategies to help the instructor implement applied science in their classrooms, successfully, are not identified. Students at USCC prefer to use technology in their courses to support their learning. However, the college only requires instructors to use traditional resources, such as textbooks to teach cognitive content leadership to a fluctuation in the use of technology in literacy courses. 

Technology allows students the opportunity to connect outside of the traditional classroom experience as well as extend learning to the point of students being held accountable for their learning. Technology integrated throughout the college will allow collaboration among instructors and students as well as the ability to share ideas (Hazzard, 2014). Therefore, the problem is that the college under study has not identified the perceptions and attitudes of successful and unsuccessful experiences of community college students and instructors as it relates to the integration of technology. 

Defining the Problem 

Although technology is not a solution, it can shape the focus of education. Furthermore, key factors such as attitudes toward teaching and learning have great impact on the integration of technology into instruction (Keengwe, 2015). The fast and continual pace of change in technology is generating many opportunities as well as challenges for schools. The United States Community College (USCC) initiated a student technology fee to finance instructional program technology needs (Anonymous, 1996). While, the student technology fee remains the primary funding source, organizational excellence is limited to maintaining technology labs, transitional activities, and technology resources. For example, USCC provides labs with resources that include, but are not limited to: tutors that assist students with help on all assignments, technology training workshops, paper with a printer, and full online library access. Unfortunately, students that need assistance beyond their school schedule and hours must seek assistance from outside resources. The school does not provide take - home computers or a technical support line for additional assistance. 

The pressure to transition traditional education practices using technology integration implies the need for an understanding of students’ and instructors’ perceptions about technology integration practices to support student learning. Being reluctant to integrate technology can lead to a lack of confidence and commitment, which eliminates the classroom experience (Hargis, 2014). Currently, USCC offers 100 academic courses and only nine (11%) of them address technology as a part of the classroom experience as a requirement (USCC, 2015). Per the United States Community College, students are provided with the essential computer hardware to increase learning in emerging educational technologies.

Rationale

Evidence of the Problem at the Local Level 

College students today are reported as being perceptive when it relates to technology. Ideally more advanced than any other generations (Selingo,2014). As technology continues to emerge, community college educators must decide if a blended approach to teaching philosophy is necessary to enhance learning that has generally been accepted. Studies on investigating learning and its impact in community college courses are explored for future professional development options (Hanover Research, 2014). However, there are limited studies that have evaluated students’ perceptions in their learning environment (Ragupupathi & Hubbell, 2015). 

Credit courses in distant education show great concern regarding the retention and success rate of students. Data documented through USCC Organizational Excellence shows that many students who register late for distance education courses do so because classroom sections are full, and students who register late have lower success rates across all modes of instruction (USCC, 2015). Per USCC, students that register late; are least likely to be successful in traditional or distant learning courses. In addition, many students take distance education courses as a last resort when other classroom sections are full (USCC, 2011). From 2008 to the fall of 20105, 62% of web courses proved successful when compared to traditional courses which demonstrated a 72% success rate per the Office of Planning (2016). Guidelines established by USCC, must meet the Higher Education Opportunity Act Revised (HEOA, 2017). Therefore, options must be made available and implemented to upgrade student production in technology-based education course; for compliance to be met in accordance to HEOA. 

Evidence of the Problem from the Professional Literature

Many studies focused on learning are centered on traditional learning environments and the success of the learner, outlooks towards learning domains as well as the level of commitment displayed within the learning environment; but the overall transition and inclusion of technology are not clear. Technology offers the opportunity for instruction to change. However, the main forms of instruction such as lectures and testing are prevalent in traditional practices (Johnson et al., 2014). Technology usage is considered crucial regarding success within an enhanced curriculum. It has the potential to enrich teaching lessons, patterns, upgrade class organization, and fertilize students’ attention, while building their overall communication and growth through technology (Hargis, 2014). 

When students use technology as a resource to communicate with others, they are in a mobile role rather than the unresisting role as a recipient of information conveyed through instructors, programs, or textbooks. Students will be able to make decisions on how to generate, retain, manipulate, or display information. Students actively using technology can implement strategies and execute skills to navigate information outside of the traditional teacher directed lessons. Using authentic lessons and evaluations, allows learners to understand the context of their lessons through real world experiences (Ruggiero & Mong, 2015). Moreover, technology can work as an instrument to support learning of authentic activities by enhancing and executing student’s progress. Students can learn the skills needed for the 21st century as technology is emerged within the classroom. Mixed views exist regarding which learning methods works best, technology based learning or traditional learning. Technology should be presented in a variety of methods, but without direct instruction it may have a negative affect (Johnson, 2014). Educational technology current existence in higher education is impervious, which causes a delay in educational practices implemented in everyday life. The current culture at the United States Community College does not have a mandatory policy or require instructors to implement technology into their lessons. 

For changes to develop, an understanding of how students and teachers perceive technology will help with institutional goals. By thoroughly assessing technology usage and students’ perception, technology can become a priority in and out of the classroom. Effective planning requires coordination of widespread input, but not all students or instructors have similar views on technology-related issues (Peacock, 2013). Technology-based learning is a growing trend that requires a blended approach Researchers have suggested that instructors’ attitudes, perceived hurdles, and perceptions about implementing technology has an undeviating impact on the amount of technology integration within the classroom (Keengwe & Agamba, 2015).

Around the world, many countries have established a competent workforce that’s regarded as highly educated in technology; which allows them to compete in a national economy while meeting its growing demands for globalization. Song et al. (2005) took a survey on the proficiency of teacher technology usage, which revealed that most educational programs for teachers were not effectively preparing them with skills needed to implement technology in their classrooms. Research has also suggested that the way that technology is introduced, can influence one’s perspective or attitude toward using technology. About Chinese user, Mao and Palvia’s work (2014), never changing steered by experiences in technology suggests that mastered or experience people will rely on performance expectancy when establishing an attitude toward a technology.  In a study conducted on undergraduate students in Iran, inhibitors such as facility equipment, professional abilities, non-English speaking instructors, and fringe benefits were noted as least important. Technology when aligned with education has human inhibitors as most important due to their ability to use conscious or unconscious restraints (Mohammad, 2014).

Definitions

Traditional learning: “Learning that incorporates learner-centered approaches and opportunities for students to inquire, explore, collaborate, and experience discovery. Key forms of active learning include discovery learning, problem-based learning, and inquiry- based learning” (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2009, p.15). 

Technology Integration: “Technology integration is thus viewed as the use of computing devices such as desktop computers, laptops, handheld computers, software, or Internet in K-12 schools for instructional purposes” (Hew & Brush, 2007, p. 225).

Constructivism: 

Teaching philosophy based on the concept that learning (cognition) is the result of 'mental construction' - students construct their own understanding by reflecting on their personal experiences, and by relating the new knowledge with what they already know. Each student creates his or her own 'schemas' or mental-models to make sense of the world and accommodates the new knowledge (learns) by adjusting them. (Constructivism, n.d., par. 1)

The National Education Association (NEA): “An organization committed to promoting and advancing public education “(Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21).

Significance 

Current research is limited regarding student perceptions and teacher attitudes towards transitioning from traditional class delivery modes into technology-based learning within community colleges. Hence, this study is significant because the goal of illuminating attitudes and perceptions towards the transition to tech-based learning in Community College settings, thereby transforming academic culture to potentially embrace more technologically-oriented modes of instructional delivery.

Because training is shifting from a primarily teacher focused structure to a scholarly person - centered techniques, appropriate instruction and erudition methodology need to be explored for grooming of emerging 21st century movement in education. New techniques need to be explored to reverse the downfall of American education. This phylogeny depends upon the typical classroom and teacher's use of engineering science for command. It is crucial to understand how teachers and student perceive the process of transitioning with integrating technology into the classroom lesson, considering an important component of the 21st Century is technology integrating (Wallis & Steptoe, 2006). Therefore, mold a successful plan for integrating technology as a learning aid is crucial for teachers, bookman, and college administrators to conceptualize. Such practices regarding integrating technology can help instructors and students prepare for a global society’s and its challenges.

It is vitally important for The United States community college to be dedicated to the improvement of courses that are not designed as technology focused programs. Thus, this study will collect detailed descriptions of teachers' attitudes and students’ perceptions of their experience with technology as it is incorporated into their classroom experiences. For students to progress as productive citizens, outside resources must compliment teacher knowledge (Pacific Policy Research Center, 2010; Prensky, 2014). When policies are presented and accepted, the plan for instruction along with ways to implement effective technology is updated to reflect all changes.  It thus becomes evident that the success of technology and how it is integrated, involves more than just technology devices as support within the classroom. A major concern at the college level is how technology as a tool for instruction, is being implemented. Barriers, attitudes, and reservations on technology usage within the classroom can have a major impact on integration (Keengwe, Onchwari & Hucks 2014). Research supports the use of learning using traditional methods with technology as an integral part of instruction, but how experiences and preferences correlate in community college classroom culture is limited. Author Dewey (1987) suggested that schools should reflect current trends. The following research questions were designed to explore students and teachers’ perceptions and used to guide this qualitative study (Creswell, 2012). 

Research Questions

RQ 1: What are students’ perceptions of their technology-based verses traditional learning experiences in a community college setting?

RQ 2: How do instructors describe their teaching preference as it relates to their technology experiences?   

Literature Review

A collection of literature from different sources was necessary to illustrate components of this study, which were obtained from the research questions. Phenomenally, samples of literature tend to be used as an indication of quality within the 21st Century (Keengwe, Mbae & Ngigi, 2015). The following online searches were initiated with key words along with journal articles from Walden’s databases as primary and secondary sources: Education Research Complete, Education from Sage, Academic Journal, Science Direct, Textbooks, Books of Collected Research Articles, and Dissertations. Key word terms and/or phrases included the following: Traditional learning, Integrating Technology, Barriers, Data Saturation, Qualitative Research, Constructivism, Perceptions, Blackboard, and Community College. The problem Students at a USCC prefer to use technology in their courses to support their learning. However, the college only requires instructors to use traditional resources, such as, textbooks to teach content leading to a variation in the use of technology in literacy courses.  Students engagement is limited in courses without technology integration. Student engagement and attitudes towards course requirements can improve because of the consistent integration of technology at the college. 

Theoretical Framework

Dewey’s (1902, 1915, and 1956) model for classrooms includes four frames of constructivism: a conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political area, which identifies the challenges teachers’ face within the classroom. In addition, this allows the acquisition of new skills by using a personal sense of constructivism for basic instruction as it reorients the culture within a classroom that aligns with the constructivist philosophy needed to teach for understanding (Purple & Shapiro, 1995). Constructivism in training includes gaining valuable skills needed for successful employment in the 21st century workforce. Doubt, contradiction, and understanding are a part of implementing constructivist methods (American Educational Association, 2002). Finally, a qualitative descriptive case study as a research approach will aid in outlining the phenomenon within its context (Hancock & Algozzine, 2011). 

The United States community college is considered a higher learning institute that has the responsibility to prepare student for the future. Cubillos (2013) agrees that current technology refreshes Dewey's (1938) significance of connecting schools with society. 

Importance of Technology

A strong pedagogy is necessary in supporting transitioning and reshaping the learning experience which eases the transition experience from traditional to technology-based learning (Whit ton, 2009). As an alternative measure, students are exposed to traditional learning through activities. Videos have replaced lectures which many students prefer (Borup, 2014). 

Technology constructs a bridge where students can participate in their learning practices, which allows them to develop in a post-industrial civilization as professionals. Developing a vast of information through understanding, organization and habits will allow students to thrive. Educators that facilitate collaborative projects can encourage the sharing of ideas and strengthen student’s areas of knowledge. Huffman and Huffman (2014), explains that technology is a very important component in education. Students have changed, educators have changed, and learning itself has changed. Assessing learning tools have evolved to include you tube and interactive videos (Hazzard, 2014). 

The advances of the World Wide Web, allows educators to access and develop authentic opportunities by implementing real world experiences into the curriculum. Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) is a model that centers on learning communities’ outlook on practical technology integration. Identifying educator’s strengths and weaknesses and how it accounts for their technology usage. TPACK provides a vigorous scheme for thinking about educators’ awareness related to successfully integrating technology into learning domains (June et.al, 2014). Furthermore, technology has the potential to assist in individual and collaborative support services (Keengwe, 2014). 

Technology has made it almost impossible to be successful within the educational system if basic skills are not mastered. In today’s marketplace, many employers seek employee’s that are equipped with 21st century skills. Therefore, preparing students prior to graduation with the necessary attributes of technology can promote and enhance their life after graduation. The ability to adjust and make technology exciting is done by transforming the classroom in a way of ensuring that students can achieve success. 

Traditional Learning     

Prior to technology, traditional classrooms consisted of desks, books, and paper and chalk boards. For example, chart paper, textbooks and lectures were used with a great disregard for technology. With the E-Rate program, students did not have the luxury of exploring learning through technology. Technology can be designed for traditional and non-traditional students as a tool of support to those with individual needs. The necessity to employ technology is often associated with the diversity of the students included. Students spend so much of their free time on mobile devices and laptops etc. being confined to lectures may hinder their learning. 

Perceptions of Technology

Students have identified how technology in terms of transitioning, allows them to be comfortable and organized when accessing information. Advantages in academic and social engagement have been reported through a study on tracking the perceptions, which outline the benefits of technology during a one-year period. Unfortunately, negative issues are just as prevalent as positive views. Per Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2013), when students are completely engaged academically they perform better as opposed to students that do not fully engage (2013). Learning is step taken to acquire individual interpretation and discussions with other individuals (American Educational Association, 2002). Per Gorder (2008), integrating technology through instruction is implemented in the classroom based on their perceptions.

Research suggests that when educators are acquainted with technology, they are more likely than not to include it in their instruction. Some teachers display positive attitudes toward technology but pinpointing a specific reason as to what motivates actual integration is unclear (Corrin, 2014). Discussions on role changes of educators as facilitators and the expectations of skills, regarding perceptions; has expressed concerns over an extended time. 

Connecting with Technology

A major component of literature is connecting with technology. Studies have suggested that students explore technology every day, but their attention must be captured for them to be engaged. However, skills preferences and skills levels must be recorded. Students do not necessarily use devices for educational purposes. Harrell’s (2008) focused on preparation and support that outline the development of achievable expectations on skills needed. Learners have a variety of abilities and styles. All of this should be considered when discussing transiting into technology. A variety of information can be located on the Web to enhance lessons and advance practices in the classroom (Saavedra, 2012). 

Ryan et al., 2014, suggests that implementing video technology can have benefits in academic integration because students prefer technology activities. Being able to build in the early stages of transitioning is important. Educators must consider how to use technology as a motivate tool to and encourage learning. Initiatives involving online environments foster collaboration with support to ongoing engagement and student participation (Slevin, 2008). Using technology and having students involved in social integration is important to their academic growth and social development. New social practices are needed in the classroom (Leu et al., 2014). Per Raacke and Bonds-Raacke (2013), the growing trend of social networking has induced research by exploring the precise usage. Technology is consistently offering social presence and accountability through virtual environments. Social networking is a form of digital communication that permits interaction between people and across organizational boundaries (Castells, 2009). Using technology to support networking among students already at the university level can include peer mentoring and communication between students and staff. Social Networking is great for enhancing connections through personal relationships (Bush, 2015). The studies of technological transitions have an impact beyond academic interest. Technology has the potential to initiate deliberate learning. Students have a voice that they can express without fear through digital media. Students can articulate and present their understanding of a lesson through technology (June et al., 2014). 

Integrating Technology

Literature that identified a framework for educational technology was based on Shulman's (1987) article which referenced the formulation of content knowledge with teachers integrating technology into their pedagogy was explained and noted. Technological pedagogical content knowledge was explained as merging technology into instruction of any academic area. Schulman’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge explored the idea of technology in a framework that explains usage in education. Mishra and Koehler (2006) identified Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge as a foundation used in comprehending technology integration in educational research as it outlines how an instructor’s abilities pertain to effective implementation. Per Harris, Mishra, and Koehler, what and how teaching is conducted depends on available tools, which usually exclude ICT integration interventions (2009). The teaching and learning can emerge through technology (Spector et al., 2014).

To successfully integrate technology into teaching practices, teachers need technical knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge. Confidence in Technological Content Knowledge and practices are low for college instructors (Graham, 2012). However, students typically use the Internet for personal pleasure and educational obligations (Petrović, 2015). The value of technology in the classroom is related directly to teachers’ integration skills (Eristi et al., 2012). A study to explore teaching and technology awareness was conducted using a survey of pre-service teachers’ perceptions and how it shifts after reviewing the areas of the Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). Using measures, Johnson et al. (2013), investigates insight into student’s thoughts to the development and understanding of the TPACK model. It is important to increase technology integration, so that individuals can communicate and receive information through digital literacy to succeed in the 21st century (e.g., Leu, 2014). Per McLoughlin and Luca (2006), expanding technology outside of the classroom to teach course content enhances the student experience and communication through online learning. The integration of digital literacy in education must increase says many organizations that want a change in the school’s curriculum, so that students can navigate the Internet to evaluate information (International Reading Association, 2009; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2008).

Jimoyiannis (2010) argues that the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is crucial to students being able to solve problems and retain facts in the 21st century. When a learning environment is completely blended using the TPACK concept it should include the content and pedagogy of technology (Polly, 2011). Koehler and Mishra (2009) suggest that the notion of TPACK allows educators and researchers to move pass false practices that do not include and/or blend technology in the classroom culture. However, there is little explanation for how technology is implemented or utilized by educators’ well-informed verses those that are not as informed in modern technology. For example, some educators use an interactive whiteboards that allows for lessons to be demonstrated; while others use the chalkboard to support the student learning process (Hall, 2010). 

Barriers

Higher education regarding diversity must provide resources for integrating technology so that it does not create a barrier for students or staff. On that note, “The growing role of faculty in accreditation, Scholarship, and faculty rewards, teaching and learning research, meeting the needs of adult learners, addressing the challenges of distance learning” is also crucial (Diamond, 2008). Future developments should include evaluation of approaches, the perceptions of students and staff as it relates to purpose and planning. In addition, a portion of data should include both traditional / non-traditional students and their outlook since their college plan may vary. Literature surrounding educational institutions will question their intentions and implementation of the curriculum if it does not prepare students for the twenty-first century (Bates et al., 2011). 

A decade of literature on areas of barriers in technology integration ranging from 1995- 2006, has provided an analysis in first and second order. Per Hew and Bush (2007), educator’s attitudes and beliefs were considered minor or second order barriers. While, resources, culture and subject with organization identified such as school or university; constitute as first order or major barrier. Furthermore, time is also a crucial barrier. Acquiring and maintaining knowledge of current technology practices is time-consuming and may require time outside of the normal work schedule. On that note, for educators to acquire knowledge and tools needed to formulate and maintain technology usage and skills, time must be set aside within a work day. In addition, information regarding technology will not be maintained or formulated by an educator unless it is consistent to their current pedagogical methods (Ertmer, 2012). 

Additional preparation and instructional time will be required when integrating digital literacy. Technology can save time once strategies have been created, but it may take more time than the lesson itself if resources are scarce. Technology issues take time from learning when there is a technical issue, the instructor must handle the situation during class time and that limits the time to teach and/or implement the lesson. Also, the availability of resources and professional development along with time to plan lessons can hinder a teacher’s position and/or perceptions of technology. Educators using technology in the classroom or as a part of their lesson differs from the amount of resources available for instructional purposes (Kopcha, 2012). A study focusing on educator’s technology usage conduct by Gray et.al, surveyed 3000 teachers. The results from the study identified that not even half of teachers using technology during class time were for educational purposes. Instead, those educators were completing the administrative part of their professional obligations; such as grades (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). In addition, teachers outlook regarding time and computer availability as a barrier; determined how, when or if computers were a part of their instructional activities (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).   

A lack of leadership is also a barrier. Teaching is a practice of skill, which requires a combination of specialized training. Many teachers received degrees and certifications prior to the new developments and discoveries of technology. However, it’s not a surprise when educators do not consider themselves savvy enough to integrate technology in their classrooms, nor understand its relevance to the learning process. Technology has the power to change instructional practices if it is integrated appropriately (Spector et al., 2014). Compared to traditional methods, which are classrooms that enforce textbook instruction and grading only on test performance; should grasp that technology provides many opportunities for students to demonstrate what they understand. The availability of technology must be accessible for teachers and students if it’s expected to be integrated successfully, along with resources and materials. Materials and resources can include lap tops and training for students and staff, along with technology helplines for assistance. Unlimited resources may promote usage and knowledge (Hazzard, 2014). The United States Community College provides technology support services to help students, faculty, and staff. These services include functional support for computers, software, network equipment, telephone equipment and computer labs. However, this does not guarantee that instructors or students have access to technology outside of the college setting.

Implications

Many colleges have included technology as a part of their curriculum by investing millions of dollars to equip schools with technology. Yet, for all the wealth of technology placed in schools, there has been minimum development within the educational process that has emerged solely from using technology (Hixon et al., 2009). Providing access to Blackboard Learn 9.1, desktop computers and other technological tools does not guarantee that technology can support traditional classroom methods. Consequently, investigating students’ perceptions and instructors’ attitudes toward technology is needed to increase technology integration in the classroom. Integrating technology will enable a variety of areas to be addressed (Jackson et al., 2009). This qualitative case study has the potential to provide educators and learners with a thorough understanding of technology integration awareness. Understanding that technology is a tool needed for 21st century learners, can entice educators to utilize technology as a tool which will have a social change that’s positive to traditional learning experiences. 

It is important to understand what kind of support is needed to assist faculty in integrating their courses with technology. This required help ranging from assistance in selecting appropriate technology to faculty support for implementation at their institutions for the professional development to succeed. Option one was to encourage technology practices among instructors to share what they have learned through paid professional development training. Another option was to offer more online learning class options with at least two mandatory face-to-face meetings. 

A qualitative descriptive case study can provide instructors with ideas on applying technology to the curriculum by using instructional designs that appeal to students’ learning experiences and preferences. When implementing many activities that include technology, educators can address the learning preferences and styles of the learners within their classroom. Higher educational institutions have a responsibility to prepare students with the necessities for going into the work force. Consequently, investigating students’ perceptions and Instructors’ attitudes toward technology is needed to create an increase in technology integration within the classroom. “Integrating technology will ensure that different modalities are being served” (Jackson et al., 2009, par. 1). The overall direction is to enhance the effectiveness of technology integration and provide competency among Instructors. In addition, information will be facilitated both internally to staff and externally to students with the elimination of redundant data and resources. Also, provide a flexible and open technology base for new technology ideas and lessons.

Summary

Being able to understand the effectiveness of technology and its role in enhancing education is important. For the classroom culture to become universal within higher education, understanding the traditional teaching methods verses the technology-based learning outlook is important. A report titled, “What’s the Difference” contains research on distance learning and traditional education. Within the article, technology and traditional learning are both identified just as effective as the other, if implemented correctly. Higher educational organizations, can service learners through distance learning that typically are not able to attend college in a traditional manner for many reasons. Phipps and Merisotis (1999) stated, “that distance education and traditional classroom instruction were similar in terms of student outcomes, attitudes, and satisfaction” (par. 1). Students have expressed their concern in both traditional and technology-based courses, which prompt the current investigation into what the concerns are and how do these perceptions affect their experiences.

Identifying how teachers and students perceive technology through a qualitative descriptive case study may ultimately determine their willingness to adapt. A constructivist approach was used because it varies on experience and/or interest. The culture can change within the classroom as the concept develops. Identifying the weight of perceptions and attitudes will help with the goal of changing the current culture in higher education. Constructivist views on how teachers traditionally implemented instruction have changed. Currently, a debate over basic classroom approaches is at the fore front. Constructivism focuses on the belief that the truth is comparable, and perspectives are gained from personal experiences (Stake, 1994; Yin, 2009). As technology emerges; instructors and learners must understand technology as an academic tool for them to become ready for the work place and the 21st century demands. Higher learning institutions that support and assist faculty in the transition process provide opportunities for growth as well as utilize best practices for transitioning to technology-based learning may find that attitudes and perceptions change. Educators with constructivist beliefs are more likely to support student learning through technology using directed lessons with traditional models (Yin, 2009).  

The major focus of technology is to direct students’ learning, while accepting that technology, will play a crucial role in the overall goal of their educational experience (Polly, 2011). Instructors and students that welcome the experiences that technology offers, will soar in the integration and social impact provided through learning experiences of technology. 

Section one introduces the problem and provides background information that includes the community college of study current practices and requirements. Also, the need to conduct a qualitative descriptive case study that focused on transitioning and implementing technology in higher educational settings are identified. There are two research questions posed that surround attitudes and perceptions of instructors and students, to understand and examine technology practices in the classroom. As a case study, this qualitative research investigated the perceptions and attitudes of faculty integration of technology into classroom instruction and students’ perceptions of technology as a part of their learning.

Section two includes the type of methodology approach implemented in this study. In addition, an overview of methods and data with analysis used to conduct the research needed for perceptions of instructors and students are reviewed. Choices for data collection with justification and coding system(s) used are explained. Furthermore, the participants’ selection process, ethical measures and researcher/ participants’ relationship are justified. Finally, the researcher’s role, system and biases are explained as well as the experiences used to relate the topic researched. 

Section 2: The Methodology

Introduction

A qualitative approach was chosen for this study to seek a better understanding of personal perceptions. A qualitative phenomenological approach is used to understand the perceptions of students and teachers toward technological integration in the classroom, an important current topic to the field of education (Steyn, 2006). This particular methodology will allow for a useful result within the data itself, without the need for numerical statistics to back up the theories represented. In gaining reactionary data from students and teachers, this study will reap the benefit of true and actual data in the opinions of school personnel. By examining instructors’ attitudes about their technology experiences and how this is related to their teaching preferences, there exists a beneficial aspect in promoting technology practices among staff. Instructor’s attitudes and student’s perceptions of transitioning technology and instructional practices in a college setting will be examined.

Research Design and Approach

A qualitative descriptive case study design proved to be the most effective way to identify a phenomenon within its frame of reference without control (Hancock & Algozzine, 2011). In this case study, using a descriptive design allowed participants to describe and share numerous experiences as it related to the phenomenon and constructed nature of reality. A qualitative case study provides enough detail and context needed to explore a trend (Merriam, 2009). In addition, it provided an inductive strategy that analyzed meaning and data (Creswell, 2010). An inductive approach was used to collect data through interviews; which served as the tool for the collection of the qualitative data implemented. 

The case study analysis included data from six students who were enrolled in a literacy course and 6 full time instructors currently teaching a literacy course. The 12 participants were selected using a purposeful method, based on the enrollment or class assignment of each participant identified as possible research participants through USCC, as their perceptions of the phenomenon are identified at USCC (Creswell, 2012). Twelve semi-structured interviews allowed me to gather descriptive detailed data from each participant and provide some criteria as well as receive an adequate amount of perspectives needed for the qualitative descriptive case study at hand. I researched a single program. Using a single program increased the depth of the investigation (Creswell, 2011).

The phenomenon for this study identified how integrating technology practices are perceived and administered in the classroom based on incoming reading students and full time reading instructors at USCC. Therefore, a constructivist philosophy was chosen because it focuses on characteristics of how people learn, while conveying their experiences through their learning (Merriam, 2009). Most individuals learn through interaction, which is a natural way of learning. Vygotsky’s (1978) social theory outlines how efficient one can become by effectively constructing their learning. The chosen approach provided many opportunities to obtain a broad set of perspectives to reach attainable goals. The case study design, like phenomenology, explored individual experiences to gain insight into a phenomenon (Yin, 2009). Phenomenology is another research design of choice that could be justified since it contains many characteristics of a case study design. The case study was a better approach for this study because it allows for the researcher to use identifiable cases of a program with more than one individual (Creswell, 2010).  

Two research questions were aligned with the research problem and purpose and the following research questions were posed: 

1.What are students’ perceptions of their technology-based verses traditional learning experiences in a community college setting?

2.How do instructors describe their teaching preference as it relates to their technology experiences?  

Setting 

The setting for this case study took place at a community college in Maryland that offers several degree and non- degree seeking programs. I only conducted my research at three of the four campuses, to separate any personal relationships or bias. Interviews were conducted on site in each instructor’s offices over a 16-week period, during the summer and fall semester of 2016; at United States Community College (USCC). The subjects of this study were students and instructors at USCC. 

Criteria for Selecting Participants 

Enrollment into the school for degree seeking students usually requires a Literacy course. A qualitative descriptive case study was appropriate for an investigation of teachers and students transitioning in a higher educational setting. This approach allowed in-depth views and provided a richer insight into the perceptions and attitudes of teachers and students viewpoint on transitioning. The study outlined perceptions and attitudes; as it determined the depth of a specific problem (Creswell, 2007). The criteria for selecting participants for this study included the following: Instructors that were full time faculty in the Literacy Department, teach in a traditional or online academic setting with a lab attached to the class, teach, or have taught an online course within the last two years. The second included degree-seeking students between the ages of 18-23 that do have any mental, behavioral, or physical conditions that would preclude them from participating in a 45-60-minute interview as determined by the student disability services. Vulnerable participants were free to withdraw from the study at any time without penalties (ex. Participants that became pregnant, faced a crisis, or were economically disadvantaged). Participants that did not meet the criteria were excluded. All student participants were legal adults, ages 18-23 years of age or older and were enrolled in a literacy course with a lab attached or had a literacy class online for the first time at USCC (Glesne, 2014). Participants selected for this qualitative descriptive case study had to be currently enrolled and /or full-time faculty teaching a literacy course at the study sites approved at the time of data collection.  

Sample

The participants were purposefully chosen from a literacy course such as Reading (RDGN) or Academic Literacy (ACLT) because each of these courses have a technology lab attached to the class without an option when students register. Most literacy classes are canceled when less than 13 students are enrolled. Therefore, I focused on courses where 13 or more students were registered. The intent of this qualitative case study was to uncover perceptions, so targeting courses that will run is an important component of this case study. One- to- two student participants per campus that were legal adults, ages 18 to 23 years of age or older were selected to participate based on the current enrollment status, use of campus technology resources, without a home computer and approval for campus participation. A letter for the USCC permission to conduct research was sent (Appendix C). The qualitative sample size was tiny, but not randomly chosen. The purposeful sampling procedure included the following criteria: (a) The total number of participants were manageable; the sample made it easier to collect, analyze and clarify b remains because it remained compacted; (b) Included equal representation of at least two of the four campuses; and (c) Equal representation of the literacy courses. I conducted one interview per participant, having at least twelve sources to reference (Yin, 2009). The interview questions were provided in (Appendix E) and the protocol was provided in (Appendix C). The research design was emerging of the population being researched (Creswell, 2010). Gaining insight from instructors and students in a literacy course ensured exposer and/or a variety of experiences with technology in a traditional learning environment, which will identify perceptions and attitudes of the participants.  

The qualitative descriptive case study focused on a single phenomenon. Using a case study allowed for an investigation through experience and provided depth of a phenomenon (Yin, 2009). The study involved six students and six instructors. The sample size was small, which reduced the chances of discovery failure, while maintaining consistency with the requirements of qualitative research (Creswell, 2012). Using a small sample allowed for each participant’s interview to be descriptive enough where important perceptions and/or attitude that’s relevant to the study was clear. Unlike a large sample size, a small sample is too narrow. However, a large sample size may not allow for full disclosure or discovery that a small sample will permit (Patton, 2010). Using twelve participants was sufficient based on the case being studied. 

Gaining Access to Participants

The first step was to communicate with USCC’s department chair for arts and humanities to identify faculty and students as possible participants. Once information was received, participates that met the criteria was invited. Scheduling sessions were initiated upon approval in an effort to father potential student participants through hard copy or email forms. (Appendix D). Access to students in this capacity allowed me to introduce myself in a non-threatening manner. Students did not feel obligated to participate. The SSRV is where I recruited potential student participants who met the criteria. This is where a student goes to receive help, such as tutoring for all courses taken through the Literacy department. Students are required to log in with their identification numbers which verifies their current enrollment at USCC. 

Methods for initiating a relationship between the researcher and the participants included ethical guidelines and confidentiality of all participants. Protecting participants’ confidentiality was crucial and required due to the small sample of the population studied to minimize any risk of personal details being divulged (Creswell, 2012). Participants were informed that this was a completely voluntary study, that their privacy would be maintained through a pseudonym and why the case study was being conducted. In addition, participants were not forced, hassled, or deceived. Once each participant agreed to be a part of the study, they were asked to complete a consent form. The information was de-identified and characteristics that could reveal the identities of the participants were not disclosed. 

Data Collection 

A qualitative case study design using semi-structured interviews was employed over a 16-week period during the spring and summer semester of 2016 for instructors and students. The data collection took place at USCC. All six instructors were confirmed by the literacy department chair as a full-time instructor teaching a literacy course during the spring and summer semester of 2016. All six students were verified through the SSRV as full time and currently enrolled in a literacy course with a mandatory lab assigned.

I produced two instruments, which were created to collect and organize data; an interview tracker (Appendix E) and an interview protocol guide (Appendix F). Each instrument ensured preparation by using a pre-determined agenda, which allowed me to capture the information for two research questions that guided this study. An interview tracker for the interviews was different from the protocol because it allowed me to introduce myself as the researcher, collect and manage participants’ information, as well as organize board themes written as a result from my literature review. The protocol for the interview was an instrument created to adhere to the same procedure and questionnaire experience for all participants. Semi-structured interview questions were used. A schedule for face-to-face interviews was created based on participant’s availability. Interviews were scheduled in person. A On the scheduled day of each interview, I arrived 30 minutes earlier to set up and prepare to meet with the participants. All participant received the same interview experience and were ensured that all information would be confidential and only used for this study. To maintain complete confidentiality, each participant was identified with an assigned letter or number to each participant with S in the front of a number for students and P in front of a letter for instructor participants. recorded and transcribed verbatim. Each interview experience was guided by a set of semi-structured interview questions, see (Appendix F).

The interview process from start to finish lasted approximately 45 minutes for all 12 participants. Each interview was recorded to ensure accuracy and immediately transcribed verbatim.  During the interviews, I documented the main points on the interview sheet and immediately place them into my journal once the interview was done. Participants were asked 12 open-ended questions which were developed to gather data for two research questions (Appendix F). Interviews occurred throughout a 16 weeks period. All 12 interviews were completed at USCC. All interviews were transcribed within 48 using a color coding to identify themes. 

The interview guide (Appendix F) ensured that similar information was collected during each interview. Upon the completion of the interviewing process, I thanked each participant and ensured that they would receive a copy of their transcript for approval via email. I re-collected the instructor email addresses an asked them politely to responds as soon as possible upon receipt. A two-week deadline was given, which was more okay with all six instructor participants. The students were also given a copy of their transcript to review, but a face to face review of their transcript took place instead, due to a student protection policy at USCC. I could not contact them via email. 

Role of the Researcher 

None of the students that were enrolled in my course were a part of this study based on the criteria set. All email communication was done using a non-USCC (CCBC) email, so that the separation of roles was maintained. I did not have any personal or professional  relationships with the students or staff prior to this study. I identified any possible bias by keeping a journal of all experiences relating to traditional and technology based practices that shape my perspectives prior to administering interview questions. Futhermore, a peer reviewed and assisted  in the development of the interview questions as well as reviewed for personal bias. The peer reviewer who assisted with the interview questions was not a participant in this case study. I felt confident with the advice on revisions suggested for interview questions nine and 12 used for the study (Creswell, 2009).  

Applying to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) was required. The Application for the use of Human Participants was a separate form requested by the United States community college (USCC) a pseudonym. All required documents were submitted to the community college’s senior director of planning, research, and evaluation (PRE) office. Once the application was completed, I forwarded all necessary documents to USCC’s IRB department for approval. The role of the College’s IRB was to oversee steps needed to carry out the commitment of USCC, in protecting human participants during a research study. The application was submitted upon approval of Walden’s IRB department. The IRB number is 06-15-16-0272798. This IRB approval number was required before I could collect data at USCC. In addition, detailing my study and presenting facsimile verifying forms of consent, certifications and instruments was needed to seek permission to conduct research on campus as well as to contact students and faculty using appropriate campus policies. Once the information request form was completed, I forwarded all necessary documents to the IRB at USCC. After reviewing the proposed study, its ethics, participant’s consent, and all the information presented in its entirety; ensured the safety and confidentiality of the participants. A receipt confirming that all materials were received came from the IRB team. If any data was dated prior to approval, it could not have been considered or included (Walden University, 2015).

The qualitative researcher is responsible for conducting an effective and unbiased case study. As the primary instrument for data collection as well as a part-time employee at USCC, misinterpreting behaviors or making assumptions prior to collecting data, could weigh in as bias if I did not properly note and identify my findings. Therefore, interpretations were added after identifying the respondents’ significance (Bryman, 2008). Respect for all participants and remaining sensitive regardless of age, culture, and gender etc. was important (Creswell, 2012). The evaluation and design of this proposal as well as its contributions were not a part of the IRB process. However, it was crucial that I followed the guidelines set by USCC and Walden University.

These qualitative data were explored to gather substance and insight by examining instructors’ attitudes about their technology experiences and how it is related to their teaching preferences (such as in student grouping preferences) was beneficial in promoting technology practices among staff. Instructor’s attitudes and student’s perceptions of transitioning technology and instructional practices in a college setting was explored. Understanding the perceptions of technology usage in a community college setting was crucial because it gave a realistic understanding, rather than merely a statistical image of expectations and comfort level from instructors’ and students. The collected data from Interviews was the instrument used to identify themes. Once themes emerged from the data, a word document was created where quotes and preferences were placed into categories. This strategy allowed a way to organize and track the instructor’s and student’s perceptions. 

Procedures to Access Participants

Required documents were submitted to the community college’s senior director of planning, research, and evaluation (PRE) office. Once the application was completed, all necessary documents were forwarded to USCC’s IRB department for approval. The role of the College’s IRB was to oversee steps needed to carry out the commitment of USCC, in protecting human participants during a research study. The required IRB number assigned to this study is 06-15-16-0272798. After reviewing the proposed study, its ethics, participants consent and all the information presented in its entirety; the safety and confidentiality of the participants was ensured. A receipt confirming that all materials were received was sent from the IRB team. Any data dated prior to approval could not be considered or included (Walden University, 2015).

Data Analysis

The data analysis in this study began immediately after the first interview and continuously throughout the data collection process. The analysis of data included several steps that have been recommended by Yin (2014) and Creswell (2012). Qualitative methods were used to gain data and four crucial steps were taken in this case study: 1) data cleaning, 2) reduction, 3) interpretation and 4) representation (Creswell, 2014). These four over-arching steps can be further clarified through six, more specific simultaneously sequential steps: (Creswell, 2014): 1) organizing and preparing for data collection, 2) reading through the data, 3) completing a detailed analysis and coding process, 4) coding from the setting for analysis, 5) advancement of themes from a qualitative narrative and 6) data interpretation. Interviews were chosen so that participants could share their lived experiences, which provided the information needed to provide in depth information for this study (Patton, 2002).

The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The interviews protocol (Appendix F) served as an outline for the 12 interview questions addressed throughout the study. Once data were collected, coding was used to identify patterns and themes (Merriam, 2009). Categories based on interview responses fell into the following three major themes: 1) Technology integration, 2) barriers and 3) traditional learning with the following sub- themes: a) continuing learner, b) student needs, c) trends in higher education, d) unlimited access, e) technology adoption, f) potential of technology, g) limited access and h) support. Concurrently, literature review findings were organized using a spreadsheet with headings in a Word document, in order to relate participant perspectives to literature review findings, and themes. Interview transcripts were read by the researcher twice, line by line, for validation and clarification.  

Repetitious phrases and words were carefully noted in order to identify overlapping themes. Next, themes were sorted and organized so as to better understand what themes emerged and how data collected explained the phenomenon studied. Related versus unrelated data was also labeled. Journal side notes were recorded and reviewed so as to specifically recall each interview by listing relationships. Coded categories were then listed and assigned to an abbreviation and description. These procedures were tedious, because coding had to be done until all categories could no longer be developed into themes. To exhaust data, a system was created to record continuous, non-biased interpretations.  This system was crucial because it allowed for focus on the perceptions and attitudes of the participant only. Therefore, data-derived themes could be easily explained (Creswell, 2012). 

(Remainder of Draft Available via Download).