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An Ecological Study of Instructor Views of Free Use Multitasking with Digital Devices in the Classroom
AuthorWeek, Sandra McElrath
AdvisorLaden, Rita M.
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University instructors experience continual technological change that affects their classroom teaching and their relationships with students. Few studies have been conducted regarding instructor views about student off-task multitasking during class. This study used a qualitative design with a phenomenological approach to discover meaning that instructors attribute to the challenges they encounter in dealing with student information and communications device use in the university classroom. Bronfenbenner’s (1990) ecological systems theory was used as a lens to organize and bring understanding to data collected from participant interviews, classroom observation, and syllabus inspection. The design of the study was different than any studies found to date as it triangulated instructor interviews with syllabi and observational data. Twelve participants who teach freshman-and sophomore-level core curriculum classes from a western university were included in the study. Information accumulated in this study supported some of the current research, but was in direct opposition to other research. The findings provide practical recommendations and many new opportunities for future research.