Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 637–662 | Cite as

An investigation of middle school science teachers and students use of technology inside and outside of classrooms: considering whether digital natives are more technology savvy than their teachers

  • Shiang-Kwei WangEmail author
  • Hui-Yin Hsu
  • Todd Campbell
  • Daniel C. Coster
  • Max Longhurst
Research Article


The purpose of the study is to investigate the popular assumption that the “digital natives” generation surpasses the previous “digital immigrants” generation in terms of their technology experiences, because they grow up with information and communication technology. The assumption presumes that teachers, the digital immigrants, are less technology savvy than the digital natives, resulting in a disconnect between students’ technology experiences inside and outside of the formal school setting. To examine the intersection of these generations and their technology experiences, this study used a mixed-methods approach to survey and compare middle school science teachers’ (n = 24) and their students’ (n = 1,060) inside–outside school technology experiences, and conducted focus group interviews to investigate any barriers that prevented them from using technology in school. The findings imply that the concept of digital natives may be misleading and that the disconnect between students’ inside–outside school technology experiences may be the result of the lack of sufficient teacher training concerning technology integration strategies.


Middle school education Digital natives Teaching/learning strategies Information and communication technology (ICT) 



Funding for this study was obtained from the National Science Foundation, award #DRK12 1401350 & 1020091. All work associated with this study is that of the authors. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following advisory board members: Dr. Kent Crippen, Dr. Shelley Phelan, Dr. Thomas Reeves, and Ms. Susan Brustein.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiang-Kwei Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hui-Yin Hsu
    • 1
  • Todd Campbell
    • 2
  • Daniel C. Coster
    • 3
  • Max Longhurst
    • 4
  1. 1.School of EducationNew York Institute of TechnologyNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Neag School of EducationUniversity of ConnecticutMansfieldUSA
  3. 3.College of ScienceUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  4. 4.School of Teacher Education and LeadershipUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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