Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Robyn Seglem


Despite the pervasiveness of digital technologies in society and educational settings, gaps in digital participation for elementary learners and means-end views of the benefits and effectiveness of digital innovations for teaching and learning persist. The focus on digital technologies at the elementary level must shift to critical pedagogy in order to promote effective teaching and learning and equitable student participation in an increasingly digital society. A teacher’s pedagogy continually evolves across their entire life journey and is never fully mastered; therefore, in order to better understand the development of pedagogical design with digital technologies by elementary teachers, it was vital to tell their stories. The purpose of this study was to describe the experiences and life stories of elementary teachers who consistently integrate digital technologies in their instruction. To construct the narratives of five participants, who were fulltime K-5 classroom teachers in Western and Central Illinois, narrative methodology was used. Data collection included an initial life story interview, a focus group and interview about artifacts of teaching, a classroom observation, and a follow-up interview. A critical events approach was used to analyze the data and construct each participant’s narrative. The findings were presented within the theoretical lenses of the New London Group’s (1996) pedagogy of multiliteracies framework and Britzman’s (2003) dialogic theory of teacher practice. In teaching with digital technologies, the participants remained in dialogue with the following factors: core beliefs, district curricula, institutional factors, perceived pedagogical affordances of digital technologies, professional development and collaboration, self-efficacy, student needs, and technology access. Of the four pedagogical components of the pedagogy of multiliteracies – situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice – critical framing and transformed practice were the least emphasized by the participants. Ultimately, it was found that elementary teachers develop their pedagogical design with digital technologies across their careers as well as throughout their lives. These experiences are laden with personal and professional dialogue that each elementary teacher must negotiate and make ongoing meaning of as they continue to develop and enact their digital pedagogical design. To better design of transformative learning experiences for students, teachers must actively reflect on and respond to this dialogue. To support educators in leveraging technology in ways that promote equitable participation and effective, authentic learning, policymakers must pass legislation that reduces restrictions on teachers so they may enact critical digital pedagogical design. Designers of professional development and teacher educators must prepare and support practicing and future elementary teachers in adopting critical pedagogical perspectives and approaches with technologies. Finally, in spite of dialogic factors and challenges they face, the narratives suggest that teachers are ultimately responsible for designing instruction with a critical mindset, leveraging digital technologies to empower students as they engage in socioculturally authentic learning. Recommendations for future research include additional narrative inquiry focused on the life stories of elementary teachers who consistently enact critical digital pedagogy and how this impacts elementary students’ digital participation and learning, both in the classroom context and beyond.


Imported from ProQuest Gierhart_ilstu_0092E_11619.pdf


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