An Exploration of Two "Modern Classrooms": Elementary Science and Technology in Shadows of Time, Standards, and Testing

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Elizabeth Allison
M. Jenice Goldston


This study explored two elementary teachers and their students’ perceptions of multiliteracies in science. The technological components of multiliteracies, including online communication tools, were of particular interest for this paper. The multiple case study included: two teachers and their students. One teacher taught a fourth grade classroom and the other a fifth grade classroom located in the same elementary school. Data collection included field observations, semi-structured teacher interviews, student focus groups, and semi-structured student interviews. Through extensive data analysis, we have constructed cases that represent the multiliteracies framework of a Modern Classroom defined by characteristics that include: 1) increasing and evolving access and use of technology, and 2) a lingering shroud of accountability to factors such as testing performance, state standards, and time limitations. Specifically, students voiced perceptions of technology as an effective tool for learning science and communicating in and out of the classroom. Teachers, though aware of the value of technology in science education, expressed concerns with logistical and pedagogical issues of implementation (e.g., grading online assignments and access to the internet). Teachers also noted time limitations and the breadth of standards as barriers to teaching science through inquiry. Whereas some students imagined the modern science classrooms as engaging with meaningful “projects,” other students demonstrated an enculturation to the common process of “schooling” involving reading then testing.

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Research / Empirical