EVALUATING SIXTH GRADERS’ SELF-EFFICACY IN RESPONSE TO THE USE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
As our society advances in technology, it is of paramount importance that the educational realm is aligned with the rest of society. In the classroom, implemented technology must be as current as possible in order to prepare our future generations for the workforce (Cuban, 2001). As women assume a greater role in the workforce, it is imperative that we prepare both male and female students for their future (Canada & Brusca, 1992). For example, training students to effectively utilize a presentation aid, such as PowerPoint, can benefit an adolescent’s level of self-efficacy while speaking in front of his or her peers.
Bandura (1997) pioneered the field of self-efficacy, relating several of his previously developed and researched theories. Social cognitive theory, observational learning theory, and social learning theory all contribute to the study of self-efficacy in the classroom, especially the sixth grade classroom. In the pre-adolescent stage, all of these theories can be applied to try to comprehend the actions and thoughts of sixth graders. A high level of self-efficacy in learning at this stage can prepare a student for future success in junior high and high school.
Sixth grade is a pivotal time in school, as students culminate their elementary school years and anticipate junior high school. At this age, students become more involved in trends, especially technological trends. When students can utilize the same type of technology inside and outside of school, their self-efficacy may increase. Hypothetically, even within an academic setting, a sixth grader’s self-efficacy will subconsciously elevate with these familiar tools. This mixed methods study evaluated the link between the use of educational technology in the sixth grade classroom and students’ self-efficacy.
To facilitate data collection for this study, after parental consent was obtained, students completed an online questionnaire via Survey Monkey on their classroom laptops. At a predetermined date, time, and location, teachers of the participating students met with the researcher in focus groups. The results of the questionnaire were analyzed using SPSS, specifically examining links between questions pertaining to technology use and questions resulting in high self-efficacy. The results of the focus groups were analyzed for themes within the teachers’ comments and served as essential narrative in the results and conclusion sections of the dissertation.
The results of the questionnaire and focus groups produced several implications regarding educational policy and future research. Significant, positive correlations emerged among variables within the established self-efficacy domain and the use of laptops and Smart or Interwrite boards in the classroom, iPods, iPads, and smart phones outside of class, and using educational technology in writing and math during class. No significant differences emerged between boys’ and girls’ self-efficacy, as corroborated by the teachers’ focus group responses. Variables within the self-concept domain emerged as predictors when multiple regression analyses were run with self-efficacy dependent variables. Conclusions that were drawn from this study include the need for educational technology during math instruction, iPads for instruction during class, and further study regarding gender differences in response to technology.