Shifting Power Dynamics in the Classroom: Teachers, Students, Literacy, and Technology

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This study seeks to answer: (1) How does technology disrupt traditional power structures within the classroom when teachers use technology to enhance literacy learning? (2) How do teachers negotiate the power dynamics within the classroom when technology is being used? This study is framed within Street’s (1984, 2005) notion of literacy as a social practice and power, recognizing that power relationships are dynamic and in constant flux. Speakers use words that contain images and metaphors to place others and themselves in particular roles or power positions (Davies & Harre, 2001). Data for this chapter was taken from a larger qualitative study looking at teachers’ conceptualizations of technology and literacy. The methods included systematic observations (Werner and Schoepfle, 1987), in-depth interviews (Fontana & Frey, 2000), focus group interviews (Morgan, 1997), response data interviews (St. Pierre, 1997), and a researcher’s journal (Richardson, 2000). Sixteen teachers from two high schools participated in this study. For this paper, a subset of data was analyzed through a new lens, power. The data analyzed indicates that when technology is allowed into a classroom there is a disruption of the traditional power structures. This disruption is particularly noticeable when teachers lack adequate knowledge for the task. Additionally, the analysis established the presence of four main “approaches/strategies” developed by teachers to negotiate the power dynamics within the classroom: (1) refusing to invite students’ advanced knowledge of technology into the classroom, (2) only using familiar technology in familiar ways, (3) attempting to take up control in different ways in the classroom, and (4) abandoning technology.

Keywords: Technology, Power, Teachers, Literacy
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Elizabeth Petroelje Stolle

Assistant Professor, Reading and Langauge Arts Program
College of Education, Grand Valley State University

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Elizabeth Petroelje Stolle is an assistant professor of Reading and Language Arts Education at Grand Valley State University. As a former classroom teacher in Illinois, she directly connects her research to student learning and teacher education, specifically focusing on teachers' use of new literacies and technology in the classroom and critical literacy. She was awarded the National Reading Conference student research award in 2007 for her dissertation titled, Secondary content area teachers speak about literacy and technology: Tensions, complexities, conceptuatlizations, and practices. Her writings have been published as chapters in several books and professional journals.

Gustavo E. Fischman

Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Curriculum and Instruction, Arizona State University

Gustavo Fischman is an associate professor in the divisions of Educational
Policy and Curriculum and Instruction at Arizona State University. His research
interests are in the areas of comparative and international education, gender
studies, and qualitative studies in education. He is the author of two books and
several articles on Latin American education, teacher education, cultural
studies and education, and gender issues in education.

Ref: L09P0751