Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to investigate early childhood teachers’ perceptions of how technology integration contributes to the development of young children’s literacy. I sought to understand their perspectives on the differences between traditional and digital literacies, the benefits of using technology for this purpose, and how they perceived their role in planning and implementing technology-integrated literacy activities. Finally, the study examined how teachers’ perceptions, beliefs, teaching experiences, and technology knowledge influenced their classroom practices. The study drew from sociocultural and multimodal perspectives that view children’s use of digital devices as tools to make meaning and engage with multimodal texts as social practice influenced by their interactions and conversations with teachers and peers in classrooms. Ten early childhood teachers from three different elementary schools agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews and reviews of lesson plans and instructional PowerPoints. The data were analyzed through two cycles of coding that generated four overarching themes: 1) teachers’ beliefs and understanding of digital literacies, 2) digital literacy experiences in early childhood classrooms, 3) teachers’ roles in technology-enhanced instruction, and 4) facilitators and barriers to digital technology integration. The study found that participating teachers recognized the importance of integrating digital technologies into their traditional literacy instruction in moderation with the exception of pre-K teachers who asserted that digital technology was inappropriate in pre-K classrooms. The teachers tended to conceptualize digital literacies as the absence of physical aspects and materials and the consumption of digital texts. In addition, teachers observed common benefits related to technology integration including providing audio and visual modes to supplement print-centric literacy, maintaining students ‘attention by projecting stories and letters on an interactive whiteboard, and facilitating individualized learning using apps that assess students’ reading levels. The teachers provided opportunities for students to watch videos about letters and sight words and play literacy games on tablets and Chromebooks. With guidance and modeling, most teachers encouraged the students to read e-books and play literacy games. The findings suggest implications for teachers, administrators, teacher educators, policymakers for effective integration of technology in early childhood classrooms and to overcome obstacles that teachers might encounter. The findings could be used to guide professional development based on teachers’ perspectives and classroom experiences to better meet their needs because they are the key to more productive technology integration. Such support is needed to help teachers realize the potential of digital technology to transform literacy learning and prepare young children to be literate in the 21st century.
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