Teachers' Attitudes and Perceptions toward the Use of Inspiration 6 Software in Inclusive World History Classes at the Secondary Level

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' attitudes and perceptions toward the use of technology-based instruction (i.e., Inspiration 6 software) as an effective instructional strategy in inclusive social studies classes. Three high school social studies teachers, one general education and two special education teachers, completed a 6-item open-ended survey on the effects of Inspiration 6 software, a computerized graphic organizing software tool, to increase content-area learning in inclusive social studies classes compared to a traditional textbook instruction condition from a previous study (Boon, Burke, Fore, & Spencer, 2006). Responses indicated that teachers were positive toward the use of the software and reported the software had the potential to (a) improve student learning, (b) increase student engagement, (c) provide important study skills, and (d) improve student motivation through the novelty of using computers in social studies instruction.

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Reading comprehension is a major challenge for many students with learning disabilities (LD), particularly in secondary content-area classes. These students often lack the adequate reading comprehension (Mastropieri, Scruggs, & Graetz, 2003) and writing skills (Graham, Harris, MacArthur, & Schwartz, 1998) that are necessary to be proficient learners in secondary content-area classes such as social studies. For example, students with LD have difficulties identifying the main ideas and supporting details of passages in grade-level texts (Jitendra, Hoppes, & Xin, 2000). In addition, the reading levels of content-area textbooks in secondary classes often exceed those of students with disabilities (Mastropieri, Scruggs, Spencer, & Fontana, 2003). However, one promising approach to improve reading comprehension in secondary content-area classes for students with disabilities is through the use of computerized graphic organizers (Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Wei, 2004).

To date, recent research on the use of Inspiration software (Inspiration Software, Inc., 2000), a computerized graphic organizing software program, has shown promising results to increase academic performance in content-area classes for students with and without disabilities in social studies (Boon, Fore, Ayres, & Spencer, 2005; Boon, Burke, Fore, & Spencer, 2006; Boon, Burke, Fore, & Hagan-Burke, 2006; Blankenship, Ayres, & Langone, 2005), science (Erickson, 1999), language arts (Sturm & Rankin-Erickson, 2002), and study skills instruction (Anderson-Inman, Knox-Quinn, & Horney, 1996). However, there is limited research on teachers' perceptions of the effectiveness of technology-based applications, for example, Inspiration 6 software to improve student learning for students in secondary content-area classrooms. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine teachers' attitudes and perceptions toward the use of technology-based instruction (i.e., Inspiration 6 software) as an effective instructional strategy in inclusive high school social studies classes.

Method

Sample Description

Subjects and Setting

Teachers. The teachers included in this study were selected from their participation on a larger scale study that examined the effects of graphic organizers with the integration of technology-based applications, Inspiration 6 software, compared to a traditional textbook instruction condition in inclusive social studies classrooms (Boon et al., 2006). The sample consisted of three high school teachers, including one general education teacher and two special education teachers who were the generally assigned teachers for the social studies classes. The general education teacher was a 43-year old, Caucasian male with a masters' degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has been teaching for nine years and holds a teaching certification in Social Studies. The first special education teacher was a 27-year old, Caucasian male with a masters' degree in Special Education holds a teaching certification in Special Education and has taught for three years, while the second special education teacher was a 59-year old, Caucasian female with a masters' degree in Special Education and has been teaching for thirty-five years and holds a teaching certification in both Special Education and Social Studies. …