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Computer access, social interaction and learning in a bilingual/multicultural setting

Miguel A Drouyn-Marrero, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examined the nature of social interactions taking place between students working with computers in three inner-city school classrooms. Its main objective is to present a descriptive analysis of the impact of computers on the social relations between students in a bilingual/multicultural setting.^ The social interactions between students in the classroom are assumed to be an important dimension of their learning experience, especially for students from subordinate cultures. It is further assumed that student-student interactions take place within the context established by the teacher and the school, and within the general context of the society. The micro context (student-student interactions) can not be analyzed in isolation from the macro context (the society).^ Student interactions were defined as a verbal or non-verbal transaction between two students. These interactions were analyzed by using three major categories of interaction: (1) type of interaction, (2) form of interaction, and (3) mode or expressive style. Classroom sessions were videotaped for a period of 4 weeks near the end of the school year. In addition, fieldnotes were taken to complement the videotaped material. A crosstabulation analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between the categories of interaction and the demographic characteristics of the students initiating or receiving those interactions. Data on the students' demographic characteristics, such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex, and ability level, were gathered through the use of a questionnaire.^ It was found that all of the determinants of access to the computers and learning tended to favor Anglo students and did not facilitate the success of Hispanic and other minority students. On the other hand, Anglos usually assumed the dominant role in the interactions with Hispanic students. In general, the social interactions between students was determined by a combination of factors, including socioeconomic status, ethnicity, ability level, and sex. These factors played an important role in determining the type, form and mode of social interaction between students, but they should not be seen in isolation from each other. The powerless status of Hispanics in the school and the city, and the generalized presence of Anglos in positions of authority are additional factors that contribute to explain this phenomenon. ^

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Educational sociology|Elementary education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Drouyn-Marrero, Miguel A, "Computer access, social interaction and learning in a bilingual/multicultural setting" (1989). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9011720.