Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Edward L. Counts


A major thrust of education is integration of technology in to teaching. In the face-to-face classroom, computer mediated communication tools such as electronic mail, discussion forums and chat are currently being integrated into instruction at a rapid pace. This is especially true in courses that use course management systems to deliver content. Are the current integration practices leading students to higher levels of cognitive engagement? Faculty members that choose to use technology in their teaching practice need to use a sound pedagogical framework to structure course tasks that use the technologies. The purpose of the study was to identify which Blackboard computer mediated communication tools faculty members chose to integrate in their teaching practices, with particular interest in the cognitive levels at which tools were integrated. Data were gathered via a web-based survey that answered the following research questions: 1. What communication tools are faculty members using to support instruction, based on Blackboard's communication tools, i.e., electronic mail, discussion forum, and virtual classroom (chat)? 2. At what cognitive level(s) can use be categorized based on Bloom's hierarchy of cognitive levels: 1) knowledge 2) comprehension 3) application 4) analysis 5) synthesis and 6) evaluation? Data were gathered using a survey instrument that was completed by 91 faculty members at UTK who were using CMC tools in their teaching. In summary, electronic mail (e-mail) is the most widely used tool, followed by the discussion forum. Chat is being used at a very low frequency. The tools are mainly being used to as a convenience to communicate course management issues. Additionally, when the tools are being used to support instructional tasks, the middle to upper levels of cognitive engagement are rarely reached. Recommendations based on the findings included a reexamination of what is intended by integration and suggestions to increase faculty development in pedagogical uses of technology in instruction in relation to discipline.

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