Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Michael J. Berson, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

J. Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Constance V. Hines, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dominic J. Puglisi, Ph.D.


Internet, Computers, TPACK, Mixed methods, 21st century literacy


Appropriate education for academically talented students incorporates the use of complex thinking skills, and encourages the development of interpersonal and leadership skills. One potential tool to achieve these goals is the use of instructional technology. Siegle (2004a, 2005) suggests that it is particularly appropriate to utilize technology with the highly-able because they often possess skills that are effective when using today's technology, specifically abstract thinking and rapid processing.

This mixed methods multiple case study explored middle school social studies teachers' instructional use of digital technology to teach highly-able students. The participant teachers were from three high-performing schools, as identified by each school's performance on the state standardized test, and in the school's achievement of AYP. The participants at each school were asked to complete the Internet Use Survey, modified from VanFossen's survey (1999, 2005) and participate in a group interview to gather related information not addressed in the survey. From this larger group of teachers, ten teachers were asked to participate in further study. These ten teachers participated in an interview, submitted instructional-related documents for one month, and were observed in a self-identified, typical technology integration lesson.

Findings from this study indicate that the participant teachers viewed technology integration as being beneficial to the education of the academically talented student. However, their practice did not reflect this importance. The participant teachers largely used available classroom technology for teacher-centered activities, including information gathering and presentation. Students were rarely engaged in higher-order thinking tasks using the available technology. The participant teachers identified a number of barriers to their technology integration, primarily equipment functionality and availability.

Despite the widespread equipment concerns, one teacher utilized the school's available technology to engage academically talented students in student-centered instructional activities. The Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) conceptual framework can be used to examine why this one teacher used technology differently than the other participant teachers. Additionally, using this teacher's example and the TPACK framework, suggestions for teacher professional development are provided.