Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Dona Icabone

Second Advisor

Dr. Christine Bahr

Third Advisor

Dr. Debra Berkey

Fourth Advisor

Dr. George Haus


Increased use of computers in elementary special education classrooms has created the need for a model for the management of such computer-use environments. Using the case study format, this study (a) identified and described, through multiple observations of eight elementary special education teachers over a 3-month period, the classroom management strategies computer-using teachers utilized to foster student on-task behavior; (b) provided rich descriptions of the contexts in which these classroom management practices occurred; (c) provided insight into the teachers’ philosophies regarding computer use and management; and (d) examined relationships among teachers' computer experience and training and their classroom management practices over time. All eight teachers had participated in Project ICIP, a research study that compared the relative efficacy of three computer in-service training conditions. Four teachers had participated in the control group and four in the integration training group.

A laptop computer-based qualitative/quantitative observation system was utilized to collect qualitative data in the form of real-time field notes describing the nature of the teachers' attending behavior, quantitative real-time frequency and duration data regarding the focus of the teachers' attention, and momentary time-sampling data regarding computer and noncomputer students’ off-task behavior every 3 minutes. In addition, teachers were interviewed via telephone following each observation. Observation field notes and follow-up interviews were analyzed using Textbase Alpha, a computerized text analysis system.

Results of text analysis of field notes and follow-up interviews indicated that all teachers used a range of effective computer-use management strategies. The final four categories, inclusive of all observed strategies, were: (1) instructional use strategies, (2) instructional format strategies, (3) activity flow strategies, and (4) instructional planning and decision-making strategies. The data revealed that when computers were in use, noncomputer students in control teachers’ classrooms exhibited significantly higher off-task behavior rates than did noncomputer students in integration training teachers' classrooms. Both qualitative and quantitative data supported the value of computer integration training in fostering effective instructional computer-use management.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access