Pre-service teachers' beliefs and experiences with computing technology and male centered computing culture
Porfilio, Bradley J
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This dissertation examines White female pre-service teachers' perceptions and experiences in relation to computers and male-centered computing culture. The data collected in this study came through the methodological lens of qualitative research. During the fall 2002 and spring 2003 terms, I conducted in-depth individual interviews and focus group interviews with twenty White female pre-service teachers at Border College, a small independent coeducational institution of higher learning. The study was informed by feminist research methods, as gender was put at the forefront of the research process. The data reveal that the majority of participants hold a non-critical view of computing technology and its male-centered culture as well as lack the confidence to utilize computers within elementary classrooms. Their stories suggest they have internalized technocentric discourses, which position computing technology as an omnipotent artifact, allegedly having the power in and of itself to improve society as well as the power to wash away pervasive social ills, such as poverty, racism and sexism. Moreover, the participants' narratives establish that their lack of confidence and critical insight vis-à-vis technology is mediated by the lack of educative experiences at Border College, within elementary classrooms, and in their social worlds. In juxtaposition, several participants held a more critical, informed view of technology and its masculine culture. By reflecting upon their lived experiences in the business world, their friends' and families' computing practices, and their own computing use, the participants determined that corporate entities are the main beneficiaries of computing in today's society. For several future teachers, the research process itself served as an educative site. By the end of this study, they garnered newfound insights in relation to the entrenched nature of gender inequity in today's schools and society. These women seem to posses the critical insight needed to create symmetrical computing relationships in the classroom, to inform youth of the social and economic processes which influence how computers are used in various social contexts, and to dismantle systemic barriers and unjust practices that fuel social and educational inequalities across the globe.