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The Role of Computer Technology in Teaching Reading

and Writing: Preschool Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices


Fathi Ihmeideh,
Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan

A lthough the use of computers in preschools used


to be rare, recent research of today’s preschoolers
found that not only do they have access to computers,
collected them one week later, and then conducted the
15-minute follow-up interviews one semester later.
Descriptive statistics on the means from the TB Scale
but they also have benefited from these experiences in showed that the teachers held moderate beliefs toward
terms of their intelligence, long-term memory, literacy computer technology and that while they felt the computer
and communication skills, problem-solving activity, should be part of their print-rich classroom environment,
and manual dexterity. Studies on children’s literacy they did not think that children should be allowed to
indicate that computers have a positive effect on read and write daily through computers. These statistics
children’s writing by helping them develop their sense of were similar to those in the TP Scale, which showed that
audience and making it easy to create drafts and revise teachers had moderate use of technology (computers) in
work. Other researchers caution, however, against their classrooms and did not allow children to access the
preschoolers’ computer use, viewing it as detrimental Internet, select software, or write using a word processing
to their development. As in any classroom, the program. The interview results coincided with the
preschool teacher plays an essential role in the learning questionnaire. Most teachers expressed a desire to have
opportunities available to her students; her beliefs computers as a center in their classrooms, but did not
may influence what she chooses to provide. Ihmeideh’s believe that children would develop social, emotional, or
study of Jordanian kindergarten teachers was designed physical skills by using computers. Finally, 10 of the 12
to examine their beliefs about computer technology in teachers interviewed used the computer minimally in their
teaching reading and writing and the impact of those classrooms and 8 of 12 stated that they lacked the knowledge
beliefs on their instructional practices. Since computer to use and guide children’s learning with computers.
technology is scarce in Jordanian kindergartens, the It should be noted that 41% of Ihmeideh’s sample did
researcher intended to use the results of his study to not have computers in their classrooms. However, the
inform the Ministry of Education about the learning presence or absence of computers may not have as much
possibilities that computers afford for these children. impact as the teachers’ beliefs about how to use them with
Ihmeideh’s random sample included teachers from young children. Equipping classrooms with computers
42 public and 112 private kindergartens from two without fully offering training and support for teachers
governorates of the sample; there were 28 trained defeats the purpose of access to technology. While some
teachers and 126 untrained teachers. Two data sources, teachers in this study and in other countries assume that
a survey questionnaire and a semi-structured interview, children will have access to computers at home, that is
were used to gather information about the availability of not always the case, nor do they necessarily use the
computers in classrooms, teachers’ beliefs, and classroom computers that may be in their homes advantageously.
practices with computers. The survey questionnaire This study underscores the importance of teachers’
comprised two sections: a Teachers’ Belief (TB) Scale knowledge and beliefs on the classroom experiences for
of 19 items using a 5-point Likert scale (Strongly children, as well as the need to revamp early childhood
Agree-Strongly Disagree) and a Teachers’ Practice teacher education programs to take full advantage of
(TP) Scale of 19 items with a 5-point Likert scale for the possibilities that computers afford young children.
frequency behaviors (Always—Never). The researcher What the teacher doesn’t know or feel comfortable
hand-delivered the questionnaires to the teachers, using does matter to the children in her charge.

Full article published in Journal of Research in Childhood Education, January-March 2010,


Volume 24, No. 1, pp. 60-79.
Summary written by Rebecca Harlin.