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Abstract

This study investigated the impact of the use of computer technology on the enactment of “inquiry” in a sixth grade science classroom. Participants were 42 students (38% female) enrolled in two sections of the classroom and taught by a technology-enthusiast instructor. Data were collected over the course of 4 months during which several “inquiry” activities were completed, some of which were supported with the use of technology. Non-participant observation, classroom videotaping, and semi-structured and critical-incident interviews were used to collect data. The results indicated that the technology in use worked to restrict rather than promote “inquiry” in the participant classroom. In the presence of computers, group activities became more structured with a focus on sharing tasks and accounting for individual responsibility, and less time was dedicated to group discourse with a marked decrease in critical, meaning-making discourse. The views and beliefs of teachers and students in relation to their specific contexts moderate the potential of technology in supporting inquiry teaching and learning and should be factored both in teacher training and attempts to integrate technology in science teaching. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach