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Conceptual Framework

The goal of the proposed research was to: 1) better understand how one-to-one and two-to-one computing initiatives are implemented and evaluated; 2) to understand the effects of state-wide policy environments and settings on computing implementation; and 3) to understand how district and school leadership shapes teaching and learning in elementary and secondary math and science classrooms undergoing computing initiatives. We also examined the level of awareness and implementation of the initiatives by teachers and principals.

The Evaluation Framework for one-to-one Computing proposed by Andy Zucker (2004) identifies several mediating factors impacting on teaching and instruction, such as leadership, infrastructure and support, schools and systems, costs and funding. Other mediating variables influencing school-wide implementation include: the technology used, the setting, goals and objectives and implementation plans. Thus, these contextual aspects of policy and practice determine the degree to which teachers have supported access, and opportunities to learn to integrate technology, including through support from their professional community, and collectively define the implementation support environment for the pedagogy and student learning the ubiquitous access is to support.

This research sought further examination of these factors and how they may be related to each other to produce causal linkages. Oakes, Quartz, Gong, Guiton, & Lipton (1993) claim that any innovation or school reform initiative should address the technical, normative and political aspects of change. Other researchers assert that the outcomes of any process, such as the process of implementing one-to-one computing initiatives in teaching and instruction, are constrained by conditions found in the immediate context (Hall, 1995). Hence classroom processes are conditioned by school-wide factors and these are themselves conditioned by district-wide factors. Varying conditions at each level in the system causes variation in classroom processes and outcomes.

In addition, researchers have described the findings from educational technology in terms of contributions, capabilities, benefits, or advantages to teaching and learning that are provided by networked technologies. In this study, we use the phrase ‘added value’ to discuss what networked laptops contribute to teaching and learning; by this we mean the capabilities provided by one-to-one student to networked laptop ratio that otherwise would not be possible. Dexter (2002) elaborates about added value in terms of the enhancements networked technologies provide when accessing data, processing information, and communicating understandings (click here for PDF download of Added Value table). For example, in the one-to-one computing context, this added value might be represented by an enhanced ability to find and retrieve relevant information via the web, an increased level of real-time formative assessment enabling individualized instruction, or the creation of virtual communities that allow students to communicate inside and outside of the classroom.

Another lens that can be used to describe the contributions that a one-to-one level of student access to networked laptops might provide comes from a summary of cognitive science research over the last forty years. In the research examining the development of understanding in learners, many studies emphasize the importance of building upon learners’ prior knowledge about a topic and of learners’ active involvement in their learning. In summarizing the implications of these findings for educators, Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999) identify four essential design principles of effective learning environments. According to this research, effective learning environments should be learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered, and community-centered. That is they should, respectively, support making connections between the students’ existing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs and the current learning situation; provide explicit and implicit guidance and clarification on what is taught, why it is taught, and what represents mastery of this knowledge or skill; provide learners with insight into their own progress and allow for revising and refining their knowledge representations; and establish classroom norms and connections that support the desired learning values (Bransford et al., 1999).

To explore the factors surrounding the leadership and policy issues in one-to-one initiatives, we used the technical, normative, and political conditions, processes, and consequences literature as an organization framework (Hall, 1995; Oakes et al., 1993). In addition, the elaboration about added value and the four learning environment design principles provide specific language and outcomes that we used to investigate and describe the contributions to teacher practices and classroom learning environments made by a one-to-one student to networked laptop ratio (Bransford et al., 1999; Dexter, 2002). Combined, we used these works as the conceptual framework for our research


Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.(Online Full Text).

Dexter, S. (2002). Etips-educational technology integration and implementation principles. In P. Rodgers (Ed.), Designing instruction for technology-enhanced learning (pp. 56-70). New York: Idea Group Publishing.

Hall, P.M., (1995). The consequences of qualitative analysis for sociological theory: Beyond the microlevel. The Sociological Quarterly, 36(2), 397-423.

Oakes, J., Quartz, K.H., Gong, J., Guiton, G., & Lipton, M. (1993). Creating middle schools: Technical, normative, and political considerations. The Elementary School Journal, 95(5), 461-480.

Zucker, A. (2004). Developing a research agenda for ubiquitous computing in schools. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 30(4), 371-386.