A Quote For The Day – Message to Myself!

I came upon the quote (below) the other day, and it made me stop and think about this Masters Program. It helped me to recognize that although I may not have a large or even medium sized toolbox full of technology knowledge and skills, that is OK.  This program is going to be a huge learning curve for me and it will take time. Again, that is OK.  It’s all about practice, learning along the way, making mistakes, more practice and more learning. Being a learner is ongoing.

“Growth is a perpetual process that continues throughout our lives.  And challenging ourselves is the foundation upon which growth is enhanced.”  

By: R. J. Intindola

http://Intindola, R. J. (n.d.). Goodreads. Retrieved from http://goodreads.com

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Social Media Communication – An Combination Blog for EDCI 515 & EDCI 568 ASSIGNMENT 1 Week 2

Social Media Communication Between Instructors and Students 

   Combination Blog For Assignment 1 Week 2:   Dr. J. Thom (EDCI 515) and Dr. V. Irvine (EDCI 568) -To Be Marked

By:  Deirdre Houghton

https://unsplash.com/photos/CNbRsQj8mHQ

Communication is the exchange of information, beliefs, understanding and thoughts between one or more individuals; and it can be delivered in a variety of ways.  Our rapid, ever-changing and technologically dependent society has played a significant role in dictating how we communicate with one another, and in determining appropriate or acceptable methods of communication.  Today, social media platforms, have made communication between individuals both convenient and fast.  We can communicate with individuals from virtually anywhere and at any time, by simply clicking a few buttons.  In the realm of education, technology has a huge impact.  For example, it is a common practice of many post-secondary school instructors and students to communicate instantly, via texting, tweeting, and using other social media platforms.  The concept of educators using social media as a tool to communicate with students initially brought forth feelings of shock and concern for me.  Shock because of ethics we are bound to as teachers, and the need to have clear student teacher boundaries for myself both personally and professionally. I therefore, did not want anything I typed to be misconstrued. Concern because it is not a means of communication I am able to do well at this point given my skill set.  Personally, I enjoy communicating with people face to face or via phone as I feel there is more emotion that can be picked up in the conversation as opposed to a text or tweet.  In spite of my nervousness around the issue of social media commonly being employed as a method of communication between instructors and students, it did intrigue me.  I was not sure how it would be accepted.  The following two articles opened my eyes as they outline the positive effects of instructors using social media platforms to communicate with their students.

Twitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility, by Jocelyn M. De Groot, Valerie J. Young and Sarah H. Van Slette, outline results from their mixed method research suggesting that, “In the era when technology has become interwoven with teaching, social media has emerged as a communication medium for teaching and learning. (De Groot et. al., 2015, p. 419) This article discusses their research of college students’ perception of instructors’ credibility for using Twitter as a means of communicating with students.  Researchers found many arguments supporting this means of communication, including:  developing a view of the instructor being more personal; breaking down the hierarchical walls, enabling students to develop more trust in the instructor; interacting online indicated that the instructors cared about their study and getting pertinent information to students; keeping lines of communication open; providing accessibility and connection; feeling more engaged in their course; and learning how do develop professional networking skills.  The use of Twitter as a means of communication, between instructors and students was, for the most part, widely supported by post secondary students.  This article made me understand how the immediacy of social media could be used in a positive way, to pass on pertinent information or feedback to students.

As a history teacher-researcher, the second article that I chose for interest really caught my attention because of the circumstances that influenced the research to occur in the first place: communication during political strife.  A Virtual Safe Zone:  Teachers Supporting Teenage Student Resilience Through Social Media in Times of War, by Hananel Rosenberg, Yaakov Ophir and Christa S.C. Asterhan, like the article by De Groot, V. et. al., focused on teachers’ usage of social media to communicate with students.  Researchers employed qualitative methods to identify, “how teacher – student communication through social network technologies…supported student resilience during the…2014 Israel – Gaza War,” (Rosenberg H. et. al., 2018, p. 35); and as the first article, this style of communication was well received.  Research results indicated that teachers were using social media platforms to provide emotional support to students during the war.  Researchers found that students’ ability to connect with their teachers, during this armed conflict, made them feel that their teachers truly cared about them and their emotional well being.  One student stated, “it [broke down the] usual barriers of student – teacher relationships that often times revolves around studying and grades.”  (Rosenberg H. et. al., 2018, p. 37)  A second statement read, “When the storm of fear broke, the teacher was quick to respond to each one of us…I felt that she cared about me on a personal level – not just as a teacher.” (Rosenberg H. et. al., 2018, p. 35)  The social media contact between teachers and students, enabled students to feel their teacher had an “authentic concern,” (Rosenberg H. 2018, p.37) about their well being.  Furthermore, the use of social media to communicate provided students with reassurance, security, encouragement, constructiveness and distraction from the terror going on around them, (an approach I did not consider until reading this article).  Many students’ responses in this article supported their teachers’ usage of social media as a method of communication.  For example, students stated that “the teachers were very interested in us.  That was so encouraging that they cared, that something exists beyond the school hours and exams.” (Rosenberg H. et. al., 2018, p. 39)  Clearly, students’ statements support the theory that social media communication breaks down barriers between instructors and their students; thereby making instructors more approachable and trustworthy.

Although both articles had the majority of students indicating they supported their instructors’ use of social media as a tool to of communicate, there were some opposed to this method.  Interestingly, individuals (from both articles) had similar arguments against this method of communication, yet were worlds apart and in very different societal situations.  Individuals’ arguments, included:  the instructors’ use of social media as a form of communication with students crosses boundaries of professionalism; teachers should not be on social networks that teens/young adults use to communicate with one another; instructors should have a private social media account and keep it separate from students; and school is learning time, and it should not cross into private time.  Regardless of the arguments, (either supporting or against) instructors’ use of social media as a way to communicate with students, is a style that is both increasingly more common and accepted by society.

When examining these articles, I, as the reader, concentrated, through the lenses of the 4Rs, primarily on the research method and researched.   The method involved in the first article was mixed methods; and the second article employed qualitative, primarily for safety reasons and limitations because of the political situation in Israel at the time.  Both studies incorporated positive and negative information from the researched (those who communicated with their instructors).   I enjoyed the human connection that the qualitative research brought in these two articles.

Before reading either articles, I formed a biased opinion just by reading the titles.  Initially, I felt this method of communication was unprofessional – full stop.  However, reading both articles, was thought provoking; they enabled me to realize that there are benefits for students when instructors (that are comfortable using this form of communication and follow ethical guidelines) communicate using social media.  The examples provided in the readings demonstrated to me that this manner of communication can provide accessibility, student support, pertinent information, and break down social barriers, thereby developing a teacher/student relationship that can foster trust and respect.

Personally, as an educator, I am not comfortable (yet) using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to communicate with students.  At present, they are not sites I am very familiar in using; and my skill set is limited, (anyone who knows me, knows texting can be an issue for me at times!)  Anxiousness around the ethics, from a union and district policy standpoint, also play into my thoughts.  This is a concept that is constantly reviewed throughout the year to teachers, and I would not want to be in a position where I may be misunderstood, and/or my communication skewed.  Lastly, I am not sure I am ready to make myself accessible to students (and their parents) at all hours as they may seek and/or expect immediate communication or feedback.  I have had parents call my home phone early in the morning to discuss a school related issue, and it really should have waited until I was at work.  Therefore, separating privacy and work is an area I am struggling with.  An area I would like to work on developing as a means of communication, however, includes my blogging skills.  I feel this is a good place for me to develop my technology skills. This type of online communication is limited for students, but it is a start.  Creating a course reference site would provide my students with specific information, important dates, large project assignment criteria reminders, writing tools and other information pertinent to the course which further supports their learning.

I recognize the realm of technology in education is vast, constantly changing, and provides both a wealth of information and opportunities for me as a learner, which I can apply to my teaching practice.  I also acknowledge that at this point my skill set is limited; therefore, I will be building on what I have learned, and move forward with what I feel personally and professionally comfortable with.  However, the articles have encouraged me to expand my vision on different ways to use technology to communicate with my students.  Reflecting back on the positive remarks by students, indicated in the articles, gives me the confidence to push myself out of my comfort zone, and incorporate more communication technology into my practices.  Taking these steps will assist in the further development my skills and enhance my teaching practices.

 

Research Methodologies: An Examination of Mixed Method Research Practices and Quantitative Research Practices – Assignment/Presentation EDCI 515

Research Methodology Examination:  Exploring Mixed Methods vs. Quantitative Research Methods

By:  Deirdre Houghton

Astronaut, Neil Armstrong stated, “Research is creating new knowledge,” (“Neil Armstrong Quotes,” n.d.), and indeed, it does!  However, what is important about research is not only the knowledge gained from the results, but also the methodology that researchers use to gather their information.  Assessing the Quality of Mixed Methods Research: Toward a Comprehensive Framework, by Alicia O’Cathain and Consequences of Childhood Reading Difficulties and Behaviour problems for Educational Achievement and Employment in Early Adulthood, by Diana Smart, George J.Yousef, Ann Sanson, Margo Prior, John W. Toumbourou and Craig A. Olsson, are both interesting and detailed articles discussing different research methodologies. In following the 4-R’s (Research, Researcher, Researched and Reader), it will be demonstrated how each article illustrates very different research methodologies, thus illustrating a dichotomy that is present among researchers and their chosen methods.

Alicia O’Cathain, is a professor at the University of Sheffield (UK).  Currently, she works in Health Services Research, where she teaches courses focussing on mixed method research.  Furthermore, she has completed numerous studies on patient healthcare and chronic illnesses; written numerous scholarly articles on both research processes and health related interventions. Her article focussed on the methodology of mixed method research, (which employs both quantitative and qualitative methodologies), and the significance of assessment for this style of research.  O’Cathain (2015) reported three routes researchers could choose from to complete mixed methods research, including “the generic research approach, the individual components approach, and the mixed methods approach.” (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 535) First, the generic research approach involved the researcher using a broad research lens while using more general criteria for their study.  However, this approach may not provide enough detail in the results. Second, the individual components approach involved the researcher completing criteria specific to each of the quantitative and qualitative methods to gain valid information on their study.  An issue identified with this approach is that, “concerns[regarding]…the quality of one or both components may suffer as a direct consequence of being part of mixed methods study,” (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 535) and it proposes several criteria sets to be followed, thus lengthy for the researcher.  Finally, the mixed method approach involved using a determined set of benchmarks that enabled the researcher to combine qualitative and quantitative research methods to address or question the subject with a unit of criteria. Possible problems associated with this method included the researcher not having a sound understanding of the style of research (ambiguities in the process itself) or the criteria, and personal biases could weigh in.  (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 536)

O’Cathain’s (2015) article provided an example where the mixed method research approach was used to evaluate the effectiveness of pamphlets made accessible to women notifying them of their “choice around…decisions [they] face in maternity care.” (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 543)  The research conducted involved both Random Controlled Trials and Ethnographic research. The outcome of the research, informed the researcher that the pamphlets were “not effective in promoting informed choice…[concluding it]…was that a culture of informed compliance [that] operated, rather than one of informed choice…[thus] the culture was not conducive to leaflets promoting informed choice.”  (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 543)  In relation to the 4’Rs, this example illustrated that the individuals running the testing were the researcher(s); the outcome of the study of the pamphlet’s effectiveness was the researched; the research demonstrated how the study was conducted by employing the mixed method approach (both qualitative and quantitative criteria and clear assessment applied); and the reader(s) were the colleagues involved in the research study itself, and possibly other health administrators interested in the study.

O’Cathain (2015) suggested, that to produce high quality mixed methods research, a sound outline is essential to provides the researcher with “guidance…common language and… direction for further development.” (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 532)  Furthermore, she recommended the framework or table developed by V. Caracelli and L. Riggins (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 537) that incorporated the methodologies of A. Tashakkori and C. Teddlie (O’Cathain, 2015, p. 537) to assist researchers in their research collection and assessment when using mixed method research, as these two format styles combined were very comprehensive.

The guideline O’Cathain (2015) referred to incorporated eight main categories or steps to assist researchers in quality research and assessment.  The categories, include:  Planning Quality – the researcher examines how well the mixed methods research is organized and or planned; Design Quality – the researcher examines the appropriateness of the mixed methods research; Data Quality – the researcher manages, examines, and analyzes the collected information; Interpretive Rigor – the researcher examines the strength and authentic value of the collected data; Inference Transferability – the researcher draws conclusions, that could also assist in other areas of the study;  Reporting Quality – the researcher completes their research responsibilities by reporting on all aspects of the study; Synthesizability – the researcher makes sure all elements, comprising of the mixed method review, are reported on including information that comes from both qualitative measures and quantitative measures; and Utility – researcher determines and reports on the usefulness of the researched outcomes. (O’Cathain, 2015, pp. 544-552) O’Cathain (2015) emphasized that substantial criteria must be adhered to when using mixed method research and its assessment.  Furthermore, she also indicated that there are still challenges associated with this research method.  For example, the criteria that researchers must use for completing and assessing their research on a specific study is very extensive; and there may be conflict between the criteria used to gather data or in the assessment process itself.

The article Consequences of Childhood Reading Difficulties and Behaviour Problems for Educational Achievement and Employment in Early Adulthood, by Diana Smart, George J.Yousef, Ann Sanson, Margo Prior, John W. Toumbourou and Craig A. Olsson followed a different research methodology than O’Cathain’s, it followed quantitative research methods; thus provided extensive numerical data.  The purpose of the article was to research possible connections between children’s reading difficulties (RD) and behaviour problems (BP), and the link they share with obtaining poor educational and occupational outcomes later in life.  The article itself was based off data from the Australian Temperament Project (ATP).  It should be noted that the ATP project is a “life course longitudinal study of psycho-social development,” (Smart, D. et al., 2017, p. 288) and provided evidence and further insight into the “significance of childhood RDs and BPs for early adult outcomes, including their direct and mediated effects.” (Smart, D. et al., 2017, p. 288)  This study also indicated both direct and indirect effects that could impact those being studied.  The results of this informative article, indicated that children who had BPs and RDs were “at risk for poorer educational and occupation outcomes with co-occurring problems… increasing the risk of poorer education outcomes.” (Smart, D. et al., 2017, p. 288)  Furthermore, this research indicated, “the effects of childhood BPs on occupational status were mediated by secondary school non-completion, but childhood RDs were not.” (Smart, D. et al., 2017, p. 288)  The conclusion of this study is significant. It stressed the importance of screening children at a young age to recognize and help decrease the development of reading difficulties and or behaviour problems; and the necessity of providing the needed support. (Smart, D. et al., p. 288) Early identification of these issues would improve an individual’s chances of being successful in school, completing school and accessing future opportunities, in further education and or occupation.

Unlike O’Cathain’s (2015) mixed method research, this study used quantitative methods to outline and emphasize its data.  Information that researchers collected came primarily from a variety of comprehensive tests and reports.  Research results were calculated and formatted to include percentages, ratios, and results that corresponded to specific testing criteria.  Some criteria examples researchers used to examine their subjects, included “maternal age, education background, non-English speaking, number of children in the family, single parent families, and child gender,” (Smart, D. et al., 2017, p. 290) The charts and statistics included in the article were very informative.

When considering the 4-Rs in this study, the researchers included Diana Smart, George J.Yousef, Ann Sanson, Margo Prior, John W. Toumbourou, Craig A. Olsson and others whom collected and recorded data from the Australian Temperament Project.  The researched are those who took part in the study and were exposed to qualitative test methods, thus demonstrating the link between reading difficulties and behaviour problems; and their progression throughout school, post-secondary school and into an occupation.  The research recordings consisted of data from tests, reports and questioning over a period of many years (childhood – adulthood from the ATP).  The reader(s) of the research would be those who completed the research itself.  Schools, healthcare professionals, and community support agencies would likely also be interested in reading this report as it may assist in potential policymaking.

This quantitative research article focussed on the schooling, occupational struggles and successes of students with RDs and BPs.  It was detailed and extensive.  However, if the researcher(s) followed the mixed method research format, as demonstrated in O’Cathain’s article, it would have included more personal or qualitative criteria.  Additional areas that may have been examined, if the mixed method research was used, could have included information on student/teacher/parent relationships; quality of education in the region/district; school district funding for special needs; economics of the region or country; extended family support outside of the home; home life situation (substance abuse, mental health, trauma); oral language being a traditional source of communication; and access to and availability of outside agency support.

After reading Assessing the Quality of Mixed Methods Research and Consequences of Childhood Reading Difficulties and Behaviour Problems for Educational Achievement and Employment in Early Adulthood, it is evident how involved and/or extensive different methodologies are in their organization and procedures.  This thoroughness in research practice is essential to create a valid and encompassing examination of the subject or the researched, and eliminate bias.  Furthermore, different research methodologies create and use specific sets of criteria to ensure tests and assessments are comprehensive and authentic.  Lastly, the methodologies used by researchers to test, study, collect and report information, demonstrate that they are equally as important, as the knowledge we learn from research outcomes.

As a teaching professional, I understand how essential it is to examine and provide correct data on students abilities within a course.  Although one can use quantitative data, such as multiple choice testing or looking at your class average to assess the learning situation as a whole, I feel that it does not provide me with a true snap shot of student growth, their learning process and skill level.  I feel qualitative or a mix of both gives me a better picture.  Therefore,  I employ either mixed methods research or strictly quantitative research in my assignments  and assessment practices.  Providing this method of assessment provides students with the opportunity to analyze, explain “why” or “how” a situation occurred or exists, and practice making inferences all of which draw on a multitude of knowledge and skill, and gives them the opportunity to “show me what they know.”  In-depth questions enable students to demonstrate to me what they know and understand.  I find interviewing and self-assessments (other examples of qualitative assessments), also provide me with a better idea of how a student is progressing.  Furthermore, employing the above mentioned research methods into my teaching practices also lets me take into account items such as student learning levels, Individual Education Plans, modifications and adaptations.  In relating back to the articles, if the second article by D. Smart et. al., employed more qualitative research methods, the researchers may have had even more information to explain their study.  Qualitative methods could have provided them a personal in-depth look as to what was happening in the lives of their research studies.

References

Neil Armstrong Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from                http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/neil_armstrong_363175

O’Cathain, A. (n.d.). Assessing the Quality of Mixed Methods Research: Toward a Comprehensive Framework. SAGE Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social      & Behavioral Research, 531-556. doi:10.4135/9781506335193.n21

Smart, D., Youssef, G. J., Sanson, A., Prior, M., Toumbourou, J. W., & Olsson, C.    A.  (2017). Consequences of childhood reading difficulties and behaviour              problems for educational achievement and employment in early adulthood.        British Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(2), 288-308.doi:10.1111/bjep.12150

 

Online Etiquette – A Constant Reminder and Teachable Moment – Extra Blog

As a Career Coordinator, I am frequently reminding my students (especially those in grades 10-12), that it is essential they have an appropriate email address, and that they are mindful about the content they post online, including what they allow their friends to post on line that directly affects them.

In terms of an email address, it is so important for students to have a professional address, rather than a silly one, when creating a resume, cover letter, job application, scholarship or bursary application and  post-secondary application. Many do not realize that an email address can be identified as a formal communication link on their documentation. Therefore, when the address is immature, the person associated with it may also be perceived as immature (rightly or wrongly); and consequently, their paperwork or documents may be passed over.

Furthermore, keeping the dialogue continuing regarding what students post online, as being “out there” for all to view, is essential. Yes, students should be responsible about what they post online either as an individual,  or groups including what they allow their friends to post; but unfortunately, this does not always happen. Thus, it is important to keep discussing that inappropriate behaviour can and does impact future opportunities. I have had many students make comments in class regarding the content they have posted online, now as a teen, will not affect or implicate them in the future, “as graduation is still two years away.”  Sadly, this may not be the case.

Digital citizenship and/or online etiquette is essential to keep communicating about with students both in the classroom and at home. Without it, opportunities could potentially be lost.

By: Deirdre Houghton

Reflection on Research Methods in the Classroom – Extra Blog

I’ve never taken a specific research methodology course before, that is until now.  Therefore, the readings on quantitative and mixed methods research methodologies (I will admit) were initially a little overwhelming, and involved some checking out of terms and examples online, on my part. Nonetheless, they were interesting.  The readings encouraged me to think about my own teaching assignments over the past couple of years, in relation to these methods of research and the multitude of skills involved in completing a massive research study.  It made me realize that some portions of these methods, we as teachers, actually use in daily in assignments or larger projects.  However, I just never thought of them in terms of their formal names (and also do not have time to dive as deeply into research as one performing a specific study would; rather just scrape the surface so far as a research study goes).  Graphing population density; comparing minimum wages across Canada; recording weather data; person to person interviews; writing personal connections; class surveys; comparing and contrasting natural resources across BC, other provinces and territories; visiting historic sites and reflecting upon it; Show Me What You KNOW projects; and examining Canada’s contribution in two world wars are just some examples where these research methodologies and their corresponding skills are used (again on a very small level).  The readings and my personal reflection, have enabled me to see that while students are completing  specific activities (as mentioned above), they are drawing on different skills sets, knowledge and criteria, that may follow some of the above mentioned methodologies to complete their task.  As important as it is for students to gain the knowledge from assignments and projects, so too are the processes that occur along the way.  As I am learning about new research methods, I feel it is important to inform them on the type of methodology or skills related to the methodology they followed to to get to their learning outcome.

Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Basic Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning – Assignment 1 EDCI 568 Week 1

The article Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Basic Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning, by Dr. Barron and Dr. Darling-Hammond quickly captured my attention as I connected it to BC’s new curriculum changes. Many of the curriculum changes involve moving away from the traditional Provincial Exam as a source of final assessment, in most subject areas. This change, in assessment practices, has enabled both teachers and learners to look at a variety of different learning opportunities and assessment options, beyond a traditional exam, thereby enabling the learner to showcase their knowledge and understanding in a variety of different ways.

For years I taught Social Studies 11 course; and although I loved the content of the course, I felt the weight of the provincial final exam bearing down on me, and my students, from the moment the semester began! This was a massive course to get through for both learners and teachers alike. Again, being a lover of history, I really enjoyed the content; and therefore, we ploughed through it. To get through all the content students were busy memorizing terms, answering questions, completing multiple tests, quizzes and mini-essay writing assignments all in preparation for the final exam. However while teaching this course, I struggled to find common ground between my teaching pedagogy in terms of how much information students had to “get through” to complete the Provincial Exam successfully, versus providing students with the opportunity to engage in deeper exploration and inquiry into areas of the course that were of significant interest and or meaning to themselves. Constantly, I asked myself – Do I teach for exam success? Do I teach for student understanding and growth in the subject area? What am I really providing for my learners? I struggled with these questions both personally and professionally.   Barron and Darling-Hammond’s article points out that “traditional academic approaches…won’t develop students who are critical thinkers or students who can write and speak effectively,” (Barron and Darling Hammond, 2008); and sadly, this is exactly what I found myself doing as I pushed toward facilitating students’ success with their exams, which ultimately meant less time for student exploration and or collaboration on researching areas of interest. Furthermore, this method took the joy out of learning new content for my students, and for me in teaching the course itself.

When the Provincial Exam was removed I felt both nervous and excited! Nervous because now what? I was also excited for the same reason – now what? There still was a large course to get teach and assessment was still part of the learning process, but it would be different; it could now be more learner centered. A more show me what you know and understand style of assessment. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to design and implement a formal assessment the first year following the removal of the Provincial Exam that was inquiry based. Students had the opportunity to become engaged in researching an area of the course that they were intrigued about and present their findings. Two quotes from Barron and Darling-Hammond’s article, that resonated with me as I reflected back on the new inquiry assessment project, was that “students learn more deeply and perform better on complex tasks if they have the opportunity to engage in more authentic learning projects and activities that require them to employ subject knowledge,” (Barron and Darling-Hammond, 2008) and that this style of learning “involves completing complex tasks that typically result in a realistic product, event or presentation to an audience,” (Barron and Darling-Hammond, 2008); and all of which I think learners are proud of upon completion, even if they had times of frustration.

As exciting as this new assessment process was, it was at times long, arduous, and frustrating. Personally, I am of the belief that it is essential for learners to have a strong foundation or background knowledge and understanding in course content as it enables them to build upon their known knowledge, gain a deeper learning and understanding; furthermore, they can challenge themselves. I realize, not every student has the opportunity or support to have a strong background in some or all subject areas, and/or may struggle cognitively, thereby making mastering certain concepts more challenging for them which leads to teacher adaptations or modifications. To complete this final assessment project, and address as many needs as possible, a great deal of student collaboration was held initially in terms of questioning, types of resources to use and very specific criteria was made accessible to all in terms of what had to be met or completed. It also took a great deal of planning on my part, including student tracking and small group meetings. Ultimately, however, I do believe that the learning challenges that learners faced and worked through were worth it, and the outcomes were exciting. My experience with my learners in completing this final assessment inquiry project, leads me to support Barron and Darling-Hammond’s statement that, “inquiry-based and cooperative learning…help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world” (Barron and Darling-Hammond, 2008). Inquiry projects, unlike an exam, enable students to build upon and apply their knowledge, facilitate the development of rigor, encourage problem solving, promote patience, develop peer cooperation and communication skills, all of which can be applied to other subject areas, further developed and used throughout life.

 

Written by Deirdre Houghton

EDCI-568

Dr. Valerie Irvine

Using a Research Diary to Analyze the 4 R’s – Assignment 1 EDCI 515 Week 1

As educators, we are constantly employing different methods to further develop and/or improve our teaching practices, thereby providing students with new and exciting ways to learn and grow. We conduct many changes to our teaching methodology throughout a year, semester or even during a unit, to provide best practices to meet the diverse needs of our learners. Reading Marion Engin’s article, Research: A Tool for Scaffolding, resonated with me, as so often I sit and reflect upon how a lesson, or unit went. I consider what I would change, what worked well or did not work well, and what my learners enjoyed or found challenging. Engin’s article made me realize, that although it is good practice that I reflect upon my teaching, I could do better by recording it in a diary that would serve as a non-static guide to assist me in improving both my learners’ educational experience, and my own teaching and learning experience as an educator.

Engin’s article has encouraged me to keep a diary for the upcoming school year as I will be teaching the new Career Life Connections 12 and Capstone Project, a graduation requirement that replaces the former Grad Transitions 12 Program. The diary will provide me with an evolving resource and hold me accountable for being increasingly more focused on the “Four R’s of Research,” that is necessary to examine while both developing and delivering the course. Under the umbrella of the “Four R’s of Research,” specific areas I will examine include the Research, the Researcher, the Researched and the Reader. First, using the diary will enable me to keep track of specifics in relation to the research my learners will be examining, compiling and preparing to present. Second, for the researcher, it will assist my learners as I can compile notes on areas that may cause struggles, making sure that expectations are clear and information is accessible to all, and it will also assist me as I can look back at my tracked information for assistance. Third, for researched material, it will again provide a guide for my learners and myself as we discuss and provide feedback on items including authentic information and helpful websites that were useful in completing the course material. Lastly, to the reader or myself, the diary will provide me with a repertoire of feedback on what worked or didn’t work, areas for me to improve upon, leave or remove altogether. All these recorded findings I can share with my current learners and future learners in my course to assist and facilitate them in their experience.

Engin’s article suggest there is “little examination of the role of the research diary as a learning tool in the development of the research knowledge,” (Engin, 2011) I believe my actions of recording my thoughts, learners’ feedback and outcomes will serve as a physical guide from which I can continue to work from, evolve and grow as an educator. If I simply continue to think and reflect and only make the odd note here and there in my day planner, it is not as cohesive enough in terms of understanding the learning that is going on or could be going on. By having the diary as a record or reference that outlines and supports the specific categories of the “Four R’s of Research,” to examine, it will support me in having discussions and making changes needed to facilitate learners’ positive experience. Although it may initially take some getting use to and some patience on my part, I do see the value of a creating a research diary to assist in scaffolding and documenting both the building of learning experiences and challenges (for both learners and myself), as I take on the delivery of the (new graduation required course), Career Life Connections and Capstone, in the upcoming school year.

BY: Deirdre Houghton

For: Dr. Jennifer Thom

EDCI 515