Author

Emily J. Rice

Date of Award

8-2014

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Laura Lindenfeld

Second Committee Member

Jessica Leahy

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Moore

Abstract

Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies like Google Earth improve student outcomes in science, especially for students whose first language is not English (English Language Learners or ELLs). Yet little is known about teachers’ adoption of these technologies. This thesis examines the factors that contribute to middle school science teachers’ intention to use Google Earth for classroom instruction using the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behavior. Middle school science teachers in Maine public schools responded to an online survey adapted from Ajjan and Hartshorne (2008) (n=90). Data analyses were conducted using descriptive and multiple regression statistical methods. Open-ended responses (n=75) were analyzed using emergent thematic content analysis. Results suggest that the majority of Maine middle school science teachers use or intend to use Google Earth, 87%, but that few have had professional training on the technology, 11%. Teachers felt Google Earth would improve student learning, 78%, but were less sure when asked specifically about ELL student learning, 36%. Of the adoption factors predicting intention to use, attitude was the only significant predictor (β=0.646, p<0.001). Regarding the decomposed factors, compatibility (β =0.429, p<0.001), perceived usefulness (β=0.336, p<0.00l), perceived usefulness for ELLs (β=0.133, p<0.05), perceived ease-of-use (β=0.276, p<0.001), peer influence (β=0.234, p<0.05), superior influence (β =0.266, p<0.05), hardware access (β =0.175, p<0.05), technical support (β=0.183, p<0.05), and self-efficacy (β =0.501, p<0.001) were statistically significant. Participants requested access to online training resources to help them use Google Earth with their curriculum, yet no teachers requested ELL specific training. Findings suggest that Maine middle school science teachers are interested in using Google Earth but lack training and are unaware of the potential benefits for ELLs. Results suggest that teacher technology acceptance studies could include perceived usefulness for ELLs as a predictive component of attitude; interventions and teacher development programs that seek to increase GIS technology acceptance should focus on developing positive teacher attitudes toward the technologies.

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