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  • Students Using Handheld Computers to Learn Collaboratively

    in a First Grade Classroom

    A Thesis

    Submitted to the Faculty

    of

    Drexel University

    by

    Megan Lynne Fritz

    in partial fulfillment of the

    requirements for the degree

    of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    May 2005

  • © Copyright 2005 Megan Lynne Fritz. All Rights Reserved.

  • ii

    Dedications

    This dissertation is dedicated to my family for the support, love, advice and

    encouragement they have given me.

    First and foremost, to my husband Keith whose support and encouragement led

    me through this amazing journey. I could never have completed this degree without you.

    It is also dedicated to our daughter Madison whose amazing energy and happiness gave

    me the drive and persistence to stay focused. And, to baby number two who will arrive in

    October, 2005.

    This dissertation is also dedicated to Mom and Dad for always believing in me

    and for being wonderful grandparents.

    I am thankful for how dedicated all of you were in helping me reach my goals! I

    love you all.

  • iii

    Acknowledgements

    First, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Elizabeth Haslam who took on many roles

    throughout this process. She guided, challenged, counseled, but most importantly, she

    cared and helped me reach my goals. Her love of learning continues to inspire me to be a

    lifelong learner.

    Thanks to all of the members of my committee, Dr. Elizabeth Haslam, Dr. Sheila

    Vaidya, Dr. Francis Harvey, Dr. Scott Warnock, Dr. Janice Biros and Dr. Jim Scanlon for

    their time, helpfulness, and encouraging words.

    Many thanks go to the Superintendent, School Board, Principal, teacher, and

    students where I conducted the study. While I cannot mention them by name, the teacher

    and first grade students who participated in this study were wonderful to work with.

    To my family, friends, professors, and co-workers who provided support along

    the way. I never could have succeeded without you!

  • iv

    Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................. viii

    List of Figures................................................................................................................... ix

    Abstract...............................................................................................................................x

    Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study...............................................................................1

    Background of the Problem .....................................................................................3

    Deficiencies in the Literature...................................................................................4

    Significance of the Study .........................................................................................4

    Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................5

    Research Questions..................................................................................................6

    Methodology............................................................................................................6

    Definition of Terms..................................................................................................7

    Delimitations..........................................................................................................10

    Limitations .............................................................................................................10

    Summary ................................................................................................................11

    Chapter 2: Review of the Literature ..............................................................................13

    Introduction............................................................................................................13

    Historical Development of Handheld Computers in Education ............................13

    Technology Use in the Classroom .........................................................................18

    Current Use of Handheld Computers in Education ...............................................22

    Collaborative Learning ..........................................................................................30

    Collaborative Learning Using Handheld Computers in Education .......................32

  • v

    Summary ................................................................................................................34

    Chapter 3: Methods .........................................................................................................37

    Overall Approach and Rationale............................................................................37

    Approach................................................................................................................37

    Research Design.....................................................................................................38

    Site Selection .........................................................................................................39

    Student Sample (Purposeful Sampling) .................................................................44

    Data Collection ......................................................................................................48

    Role of Researcher.....................................................................................50

    Observations ..............................................................................................51

    Interview Guide .........................................................................................53

    Student Artifacts ........................................................................................58

    Data Analysis .........................................................................................................60

    Triangulation..........................................................................................................64

    Trustworthiness......................................................................................................66

    Political and Ethical Issues ....................................................................................66

    Chapter 4: Results............................................................................................................68

    Site Setting .............................................................................................................69

    The Students’ Handheld Computing Devices............................................76

    Getting Started ...........................................................................................78

    How Did the Use of Handheld Computing Devices to Collaborate Impact Students’ Learning Outcomes? ..............................................................................85

    Students Used Handheld Computers to Learn ...........................................85

  • vi

    Handheld Computers Enhanced the Students’ Ability to Learn Content Through Collaboration...............................................................................96 Students’ Thoughts About Using the Handheld Computer to Learn Collaboratively.........................................................................................110

    How Does Collaborative Learning Through the Use of Handheld Computers Relate to Technology Standards?.........................................................................113

    Students Met Technology Standards .......................................................113

    Individual Discovery of Technology Skill and Collaboration.................119

    Student Had a Question and Collaborated With a Peer to Find the Answer.......................................................................................131

    Summary of Results.............................................................................................137

    Chapter 5: Summary and Discussion...........................................................................138

    Discussion............................................................................................................142

    Significance and Implications for Research and Practice....................................150

    Limitations ...........................................................................................................156

    List of References........................................................................................