Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

David L. McCrory.


The Internet is being heralded as a technology capable of transforming education through its vast resources and communication channels. Government agencies, funding organizations, and institutions of higher education are working together to provide resources, training, and incentives for teachers at every level to incorporate the Internet into their teaching. One of the major barriers in the attempt to transform education through technology appears to be adequate teacher training. One project designed to address the need for teacher training, was the West Virginia K--12 RuralNet project. This {dollar}3.1 million National Science Foundation funded initiative was designed to provide a year-long professional development program to West Virginia public school teachers in the use of Internet resources, consistent with the National Science Education Standards (NSES). Using a mixed-methods approach, this study investigated the effects of the West Virginia K--12 RuralNet project on elementary schoolteachers' instructional practices. The study sought to answer the research question: What effect has the West Virginia K--12 RuralNet Project had on elementary school teachers' instructional practices? Analysis of self-reporting surveys, interviews and classroom observations indicted that: (1) Participants viewed the RuralNet project as a foundation for learning, however they reported that there is still a great need for basic skills training in a variety of computer hardware and software programs; (2) Teachers still face technical barriers to effectively utilizing technology in classroom instruction such as outdated and non-functioning computers; (3) Participants perceived that the RuralNet Project had an impact on their instructional practices; however, this perception varied from the actual observed classroom practices indicating a discrepancy between self-reported and observed data. While the nature of the study does not allow for broad generalizations, it does provide insight into a number of issues that one should consider when developing technology related professional development programs, or when conducting research related to the instructional impact of such programs.