Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Third Advisor

Larry Burton



Policy makers are implementing standards and developing guidelines for integrating technology into K-12 schools. With this in mind, the integration of technology into curriculum is an ever-growing point of discussion among high-school education professionals. Technology uses in teaching and learning present significant issues in educational reform literature. Rather than trying to describe the impact of all technologies as if they were the same, this study focuses on the differences in the ways technologies are being used in the classroom as well as the role technology played in instruction. There is also a need to investigate whether or not student outcomes can vary significantly depending on the location of each identified school district. Rural areas tend to be sparsely settled. But does that remoteness mean less availability of educational resources? This qualitative case study attempted to answer the following research questions: (a) What are the differences that exist in the way technology is acquired and used in rural and urban Pennsylvania high schools? (b) What are the benefits of understanding the impact technology has on rural vs. urban high schools in Pennsylvania? and (c) Why do teachers use technology?


This study analyzed the differences that exist in the way technology is being used and funded in rural and urban Pennsylvania high schools. The participants consist of eight core-subject high-school teachers, two administrators, two technology coordinators, and one curriculum coordinator from a rural and an urban Pennsylvania high school. Classifications were determined by county population in order to select one rural and one urban high school. Purposive sampling was conducted to determine which teachers were chosen for the case study. Three different instruments were used to measure attributes of technology integration. Survey questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and observation were used to collect data during site visitations conducted by the researcher. Exploration of Jerome Bruner’s Discovery Learning Theory and M. J. Carroll’s Minimalist Theory provided the theoretical framework for the study.


The cross-case analysis of this study projected three distinct conclusions: (a) There is a belief that exists, in both the rural Pennsylvania high school and the urban Pennsylvania high school, that technology is a necessary and critical component for educating students in today’s world, (b) technology use differs in the rural Pennsylvania high school from the urban Pennsylvania high school, and (c) demographics play a role in funding sources needed to acquire and sustain technology in the educational classroom. The analysis clearly confirmed the belief that technology is a necessary and critical component for educating students in today’s world. Teacher interviews revealed an overall belief where technology prepares students for the future by meeting goals better and improving student interest.

Data also indicated that technology was used very differently in the urban high school than its counterpart rural high school. Automative techniques were used for technology integration in the rural high school, whereas the urban high school displayed innovative techniques for technology use in the classroom. In addition, analysis of the data indicated that demographics play a role in funding. Population helps increase the local tax base. The greater the county population, the more tax revenue is generated for education. The urban high school reflected a larger population than the rural high school, yielding greater funding sources. Technology resources were abundant in the urban high school. In contrast, the lack of funding sources in the rural high school hindered technology resources available for teacher and student use in the rural high school.


One benefit of this case study is the idea that the integration of educational technologies affords teachers the capability to effect change at a curricular or programmatic level. Through the use of sharing content and learning activities, teachers created classroom environments where they were able to facilitate the development of more effective learning experiences across the curriculum. In addition, the use of thematic team teaching allowed students to shape their own learning outcomes.

A study of how technology is acquired and used in rural and urban high schools in the state of Pennsylvania is important for several reasons.The outcomes of this research are useful to different groups in education: (a) those in leadership positions such as administrators and school board members who make informed decisions on technology use in schools and seek funding sources that are available for technology acquisition, (b) individual classroom teachers who are interested in integrating technology in the classroom setting, (c) individuals who are interested in conducting research on educational technology, (d) curriculum coordinators and technology directors who collaborate on ways to integrate technology into curriculum and provide technological professional development opportunities, and (e) students who are interested in the ways technology benefits their educational experiences. ,

Subject Area

Educational technology--Pennsylvania; Urban high schools--Pennsylvania; Rural schools--Pennsylvania


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