Date Approved

12-15-2008

Date Posted

12-15-2009

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Technology

Committee Member

Dr. John C. Dugger, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Sema Kalaian, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Erik Lokensgard, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Yichun Xie, PhD

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between public school elementary and middle school teachers’ access to social capital (the independent variable) and their level of adoption of innovative technologies (the dependent variable). The study was founded on both diffusion of innovations and social network theory.

Study participants were teachers from three schools, sharing two buildings in a single school district. The initial phase of the research involved informal interviews with key policy makers from each school, conducted for the purpose of identifying innovative technologies present at each study site. An existing survey instrument was modified and customized for each site to measure the study variables. Data were collected during a single sampling date at each site. A census of all teachers was attempted, and data were collected from 82% of possible respondents at the three schools.

The results of this phase of the study revealed that multiple innovative technologies were present at each site. Variation existed in both the level of adoption of innovative technologies as well as the teachers’ access to social capital at each site. These results were consistent across subgroups based on gender, teaching assignment (academic or elective), and grade level (elementary or middle school). A strong, positive correlation was found between the study variables at all study sites and included nearly all the innovative technologies. An investigation of respondents’ age, teaching experience and years assigned to the study site revealed no significant impacts on the dependent variable.

Based on these findings, it was concluded that teachers’ access to social capital was the primary factor impacting the level of adoption of innovative technologies at each site. Recommendations were presented including recognizing that innovative technologies exist within schools and that the necessary knowledge, help, and support teachers require in learning to use innovative technologies may be present within the existing social network present in schools.

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