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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Behavioral Sciences

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry:  

Education

Education Edition, Volume 1, Issue 1 Fall  2013

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education The Center for Scholastic Inquiry (CSI) publishes the Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education (JOSI: E) to recognize, celebrate, and highlight scholarly research, discovery, and evidence-based practice in the field of education. Academic research emphasizing leading edge inquiry, distinguishing and fostering best practice, and validating promising methods will be considered for publication. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method study designs representing diverse philosophical frameworks and perspectives are welcome. The JOSI: E publishes papers that perpetuate thought leadership and represent critical enrichment in the field of education. The JOSI: E is a rigorously juried journal. Relevant research may include topics in administration, early childhood education, primary education, elementary education, secondary education, vocational-technical education, alternative education, special education, higher education, international education, change agency, educational leadership, and related fields. If you are interested in publishing in the JOSI: E, feel free to contact our office or visit our website. Sincerely,

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

JOURNAL OF SCHOLASTIC INQUIRY: EDUCATION Fall 2013, Volume 1, Issue 1

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Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jamal Cooks

General Editor Daniel J. O’Brien

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

Editorial Advisory Board Shirley Barnes, Alabama State University Joan Berry, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Brooke Burks, Auburn University at Montgomery Timothy Harrington, Chicago State University Mark Wesolowski, Practitioner-Chicago Public Schools Lucinda Woodward, Indiana University Southeast

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Charles Eick  Bonnie Sullivan  Kelli Fellows  Miguel Fernandez  Timothy Harrington  Cynthia Valenciano  Mark Wesolowski  Jerome Fischer  John Hanes  Sherry Long 

Myrna Olson  Haiping Chen  Lonni Gill  Diane Hamilton  Brian Huffman  Sally Ingles  Wuttipol Khirin  Linda Kisabeth  Valentin Nzai  Yan Pin Xin

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

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Research Manuscripts Building a Trusting Relationship: Appreciating the Linguistic and Cultural Influence of Three Hispanic Families on School Learning Gilbert Dueñas, Auburn University at Montgomery Charles J. Eick, Auburn University Too Much Reform, Too Little Progress: Teacher Education Still in Limbo Josephine Sarvis, Dominican University Debra Vinci-Minogue, Dominican University Exploring a Modified Solomon Four-Group Design for Support of Value-Added Claims in the Accreditation of an Educational Leadership Program John C. Hanes, Regent University Glenn L. Koonce, Regent University Leading Special Education Programs Collaboratively: Good News, Bad News Ted Price, Virginia Tech Deborah L. Wells, Virginia Tech Students and Faculty Speak Out: When Technology in the College Classroom is Productive or Distractive Myrna R. Olson, University of North Dakota Austin T. Winger, University of North Dakota Practice What You Teach: Pre-Service Educators' Writing Apprehension Brooke A. Burks, Auburn University at Montgomery Marie Kraska, Auburn University The Group Assessment Procedure: Predicting Student Teaching Performance Sally A. Ingles, Spring Arbor University Exploring the Relationship between Media Choices and Teaching Experience in Online Courses Diane Hamilton, University of Phoenix Conceptual Model-based Teaching to Facilitate Geometry Learning of Students Who Struggle in Mathematics Yan Ping Xin, Purdue University Casey Hord, University of Cincinnati The Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program: A Pilot Study Kenneth J. Kohutek, University of Tampa Manuscript Submission Guide

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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

PUBLICATION AGREEMENT AND ASSURANCE OF INTEGRITY By submitting a manuscript for publication, authors confirm that the research and writing is their exclusive, original, and unpublished work. Upon acceptance of the manuscript for publication, authors grant the Center for Scholastic Inquiry, LLC (CSI) the sole and permanent right to publish the manuscript, at its option, in one of its academic research journals, on the CSI's website, in other germane, academic publications; and/or on an alternate hosting site or database. Authors retain copyright ownership of their research and writing for all other purposes. ETHICAL STANDARDS IN PUBLISHING The CSI insists on and meets the most distinguished benchmarks for publication of academic journals to foster the advancement of accurate scientific knowledge and to defend intellectual property rights. The CSI stipulates and expects that all practitioners and professionals submit original, unpublished manuscripts in accordance with its code of ethics and ethical principles of academic research and writing.

DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY The CSI does not endorse any of the ideas, concepts, and theories published within the JOSI: E. Furthermore, we accept no responsibility or liability for outcomes based upon implementation of the individual author’s ideas, concepts, or theories. Each manuscript is the copyrighted property of the author.      


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

Building a Trusting Relationship: Appreciating the Linguistic and Cultural Influence of Three Hispanic Families on School Learning Gilbert Dueñas Auburn University at Montgomery Charles J. Eick Auburn University

Abstract There is limited research concerning bilingual classroom teachers who conduct household visits to non-English speaking Hispanic families. The author The author and teacher explored (a) ways that three Hispanic families were involved with their children’s school to promote mathematics, language literacy learning, and communication and (b) how these Hispanic parents viewed themselves as critical partners in their children’s literacy learning. Findings from four months of household visits involving interviews, observations, and analysis of student schoolwork indicated the parents hoped for a home-school partnership based on mutual respect and trust, parents desired that their children’s family and cultural experiences be incorporated in classroom learning, older siblings often served as language brokers between their non-English speaking parents and younger siblings during at-home learning, and parents and children often codeswitched when communicating with each other during at-home learning and when making sense of school correspondence. Based on data collected during household visits, this paper provides recommendations for improving home-school partnerships with Hispanic immigrants. Key words: Hispanic cultural knowledge, literacy practices, code switching

In reality, most immigrant parents care intensely about their child respecting the classroom teacher and fellow students and performing well in their school learning, but many misunderstand what is expected of parents in U.S. schools or do not know how to become involved (Sobel & Kugler, 2007, p. 63). Increasingly, significant numbers of linguistically diverse families are migrating to the United States. Their children are entering schools across the country with the hope of acquiring competency in the English language while gaining access to relevant academic experiences (Garcia & Jensen, 2007; Osterling, Violand-Sanchez, & von Vacano, 1999; Rolon, 2002/2003).


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Yopp and Stapleton (2008) suggest, “Educators face an unprecedented challenge as English Language Learners in public pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools number more than 5 million, or 10.1% of the total enrollment” (p. 374). These numbers are up nearly 100 percent from a decade earlier (Short & Echevarria, 2004/2005). Mays (2008) reiterated an alarming trend, “As the minority population in the United States continues to grow, the rapidly increasing epidemic of students left behind is one of grave concern for early childhood educators nationwide” (p. 415). With the dramatic increase in Hispanic students lacking English skills, teachers must address a fundamental issue: they must establish a relationship with parents in an effort to promote literacy learning amongst their children (Bazron, Osher, & Fleischman, 2005; Fitzgerald, 1993). Hispanic immigrant parents (new to the United States with limited English language fluency) greatly appreciate the opportunity to establish a respectful, trusting relationship with their children’s schools and teachers in which each perspective of education and strengths are valued (Gonzalez & Huerta-Macias, 1997). Unable to find the appropriate medium for interaction, parents and classroom teachers often feel disconnected and, thus, unable to capitalize on each other’s cultural knowledge, skills, and experiences as partners in facilitating student learning (Allen, 2008). Certainly as parents and teachers work together, opportunities grow for school administrators, parents, teachers, and community volunteers to become comfortable with one another while openly talking with each other about ways to support the children’s literacy activities at home (Risko & Walker-Dalhouse, 2009). In studies with children of Mexican culture, Rothstein-Fisch, Greenfield, and Elise-Trumbell (1999) noted, “When teachers understand and respect the collectivistic values of immigrant Latino children, the opportunities for culturally informed learning becomes limitless” (p. 66). In research with four Mexican immigrant students within the context of their homes and families, Commins (1989) noted parental involvement was often more affected by the parent’s limited English language proficiency versus a work consideration. In turn, the school’s practice of sending home information only in the English language led to parents feeling ignored and distant from the school. Immigrant parents do value education. However, they are often unable to participate in school functions or volunteer in their child’s classroom due to many factors. These include long or irregular work hours, a fear of formal communication in the English language, the inability to afford child care or public transportation, and confusion concerning educational practices that contrast prior learning (Gorski, 2008; Lindeman, 2001; Sobel & Kugler, 2007). Lundgren and Morrison (2003) cited several reasons to explain the lack of parental participation such as prior negative experiences that bordered on racial or linguistic discrimination, the absence of an equal partnership with the school, the parents’ own limited education, or the lack of information about school policies. In many instances, while immigrant parents do care about their children’s school learning, they seem unable to effectively display support. Either they are simply unaware of what is expected of them, or they have learned from their own cultural upbringing that to question a teacher’s instructional ways is to show disrespect (Sobel, & Kugler, 2007). Ochoa and Rhodes (2005) suggested, “Many ELL [English language


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learner] parents have endured the educational and emotional hardship that often accompanies limited English proficiency and earnestly desire their children to learn English as rapidly as possible” (p. 86). Lindeman (2001) noted that nonnative parents with children in U.S. schools may feel confused, troubled, and uncertain in attempting to respond to educational practices different from their own cultural upbringing. However, educators can choose to experiment with innovative ways to acknowledge the diverse strengths that students of immigrant families bring to the classroom (Lindeman, 2001) while reexamining traditional instructional practices (Garcia, 1999; Howe, 1994). Classroom teachers can explore different opportunities to build deeper relationships with parents, such as making household visits, assisting students with an out-ofschool photography project, or exchanging a home-school reading journal. These opportunities address the critical social responsibility of meeting the unique learning needs of each student (Allen, 2008). From research of school-family-community relationships, Sanders (1996) stipulated, “Partnerships can enhance students’ learning and the ability of families to assist in that learning” (p. 61). Consequently, as classroom teachers explore ways to develop a homeschool partnership with Hispanic parents, there must be a better knowledge of the unspoken reasons that Hispanic parents do not participate in school functions (Flood, Lapp, Tinajero, & Nagel, 1995). There has been immense growth of the Hispanic community within public schools across the United States; therefore, classroom teachers must make an effort to discover their students’ cultural backgrounds, primary language, and family-literacy experiences. This validates the voices of all students and aids classroom learning (Ben-Yosef, 2003; Rolon, 2002/2003). Likewise, teachers and parents who share knowledge of literacy activities (such as homeresponse journals or reading experiences) can benefit children’s reading acquisition and allow parents the chance to express their own beliefs, strategies, and insights about literacy learning at home (Darling, 2005; Fisher, 2001; Koskinen & Shockley, 1994). Classroom teachers also gain knowledge of the contextual setting underlying the student’s literacy learning at home. School and home knowledge become complementary, raising student achievement (McIntyre, Kyle, Moore, Sweazy, & Greer, 2001). Consequently, the purpose of this ethnographic research study was to establish a level of confianza, meaning mutual trust, with three Hispanic families via household visits over a period of four months. The aim was to discover how each family’s cultural and linguistic knowledge, skills, and experiences contribute to their child’s out-of-school literacy learning (Allen, 2008). By interacting directly with this group of Hispanic families within their homes, an appreciable understanding of their feelings of alienation or disconnect was acknowledged. This provided new insights into how to make literacy more culturally relevant (Flood, Lapp, & Ranck-Buhr, 1995). By experiencing each family’s social setting, talking with family members in their native language, and making meaningful connections with these Hispanic families, the researcher learned their frame of reference. While documenting and identifying emerging themes during household visits, understanding was developed about the ways in which these Hispanic families


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interacted with their children’s school to facilitate literacy learning and communication (Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw, 1995). Review of Literature Teacher: Source of Knowledge Minority parents view education as a means for their children to be successful in their local community and society; thus, minority parents view homework as a means to improve their children’s education and show respect for the teacher’s knowledge (Diaz, Trotter, & Rivera, 1989). In studies of 234 low-income parents rating the importance of helping their children with academic work, such as literacy, Drummond and Stipek (2004) indicated that Hispanic parents viewed their role as assisting in their children’s academic learning, especially at the younger ages, and ensuring that their children had good relationships with others. Pena (2000) stipulated that some Mexican parents restrict their involvement with their children’s education to assisting with their children’s homework or transporting their children to school functions; thus, they delegate to the school the responsibility for their children’s education. Because of differences in income or cultural values, some Latino families may be afraid to ask questions of the classroom teacher. In cases when their children have a problem at school, the family may blame themselves instead of looking at school practices as the problem’s source (Lundgren & Morrison, 2003). Drummond and Stipek (2004) indicated that some Latino parents viewed their role as one of supporting the classroom teacher versus suggesting ideas or collaborating with the teacher in their children’s academic learning. Some Latino families emphasized their children’s moral upbringing as the basis for doing well in their school learning. Conversely, Saenz and Felix (2007) indicated that Spanish-speaking Latino parents carried the traditional view that teachers guided their children’s literacy growth. Overall, Latino parents with higher levels of education and English language fluency assumed a greater role in their children’s literacy instruction. Perceived role differentiation between teacher and parent. Despite efforts to gain parental involvement of minority families, there are still differences in perspectives between educators and families about school participation (Waldbart, Meyers, & Meyers, 2006). Teachers may unknowingly associate parents’ nonparticipation in traditional school literacy activities as nonsupport of their children’s literacy skill development. In fact, such parents were deeply involved and influential in teaching their children, and the parents demonstrated an awareness of their children’s academic weaknesses (Manyak, 2007; Peterson & Heywood, 2007; Waldbart et al., 2006). When immigrant parents or parents of low-socioeconomic status did not take part in established school programs and events, teachers and school administrators wrongly concluded it was because these families did not care (Pena, 2000; Peterson & Heywood, 2007; Sobel & Kugler, 2007). Sobel and Kugler (2007) emphasized that immigrant parents care a great


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deal about their children’s education; however, many misunderstand what is expected of parents in U.S. schools or do not know how to get involved. A related assumption on the differences in viewpoint between schools and families is that minority families’ native language and culture cannot contribute to their children’s literacy development in English. However, teachers and principals can show genuine concern for the language and cultural skills that minority-language students bring to school (Peterson & Heywood, 2007). Barillas (2000) also noted that many U.S. teachers presumed an immigrant parent’s inability to speak English precluded helping his or her children with homework and interfered with the pace at which his or her child acquired the English language. The continuance of this daily reality affected the second-language learners’ success in academic and English language acquisition (Garcia & Jensen, 2007; Goldenberg, 1992/1993). In research focused on the cultural context of out-of-school learning of Hispanic children, Moll, Amanti, Neff, and Gonzalez (1992) noted that children in Mexican households were actively engaged with household chores, used what they knew of the English language to mediate between their parents and local community businesses or schools, and used familiar cultural contexts to take part in activities with people they trusted. For example, in research of a Mexican community in northern California, Manyak (2007) discovered that families regularly combined their language skills in Spanish and English when visiting doctor’s offices or interpreting tax and immigration documents. Connecting literacy and learning to Hispanic culture. McCarthey (2000) indicated that teachers were not aware of the cultural differences in literacy practices between parents and school. Such differences in the teaching of children served as barriers to communication and academic learning. Classroom teachers, at times, perceived differences in the behavior of a culturally diverse student as disruptive to traditional classroom practices. Additionally, teachers may not realize that minority learners may have previously been assigned to low-performance groups where rote memorization learning activities were emphasized, reinforcing their inability to attain academic success (De La Luz Reyes & Molner, 1991). Furthermore, the classroom teacher may not fully grasp outside challenges faced by migrant students, which include continual relocation in order to find employment and learning English as a second language (ESL). In recognition of migrant students’ challenges, teachers need to find different ways to incorporate the voices of these families (Whittaker, Salend, & Gutierrez, 1997). Apart from relocation and the daily challenge of acquiring a second language, minority students were often confronted with school curriculums that failed to portray the migrant families’ experiences and struggles (Whitaker et al., 1997). Garcia and Jensen (2007) reported that while developing curriculums and programs, schools frequently do not realize that Hispanic children speak a language other than English, must learn to use the English language and an academic vocabulary to succeed in content areas, and bring to school both cultural and linguistic skills essential for understanding academic concepts. Generally speaking, the nature of literacy instruction that is usually provided for low-socioeconomic and ethnic-minority students is more


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apt to involve rote learning versus collaborative learning experiences in which spontaneous discussions are used as a vehicle for literacy learning (Zecker, Pappas, & Cohen, 1998). In their research regarding the effect of incorporating a student’s native language and cultural knowledge in the classroom, Jimenez (2001) stipulated that traditional school assumptions of the instructional methods and the literacy practices of Hispanic students are often inadvertently alienating. Often, classroom norms fail to recognize the potential value of ELL students utilizing a bilingual literacy skills approach. Within many school systems there is a prevailing notion that if Latinos stopped using their native language and adopted the English language they would ultimately succeed in school and later in life. In some instances, there may be a subtle, pervasive racism that influences classroom teachers to deliberately exclude linguistically and culturally diverse students from using their primary language to develop English language proficiency (Bartlett & Brayboy, 2005; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Rolon, 2002/2003). In addressing the adverse effects of a “one size fits all” literacy policy, Koskinen and Shockley (1994) stated, “Schools often unintentionally deny families access to school literacy by their rigid adherence to packaged programs such as basals” (p. 500). In view of the concern for the dominance or oppression of one cultural group over another, Mays (2008) strongly urged educators to capitalize on their ELL students’ primary and academic discourses as one strategy for promoting equity in school learning and, thus, narrowing the achievement gap. To reiterate the point concerning the home-school connection, teachers may not be thoroughly trained on establishing parental involvement. In those instances when parents do not speak English or have limited education, it may be much easier to conclude that parents would not be able to help their children with schoolwork (Pena, 2000). Commins (1989) noted, “From the school’s point of view, the parent’s lack of English hindered them in helping their children academically” (p. 32). Epstein and Dauber (1991) stated, “When teachers differ culturally and educationally from their students or when they teach greater numbers of students, they are less likely to know the students’ parents and therefore more likely to believe that parents are disinterested or uninvolved” (p. 298). Drawing on a five-month qualitative research study involving interviews and observations in four school districts with large student populations of migrant students, Lopez, Scribner, and Mahitivanichcha (2001) examined several effective parental involvement programs with the aim of identifying successful strategies and practices for implementation at other schools. Using a semi-structured interview protocol encompassing twelve group interviews and five individual interviews, the researchers reached several important findings. These findings reflected investments in building a home-school connection such as recognizing the family’s social, economic, and physical needs, gaining an insider perspective with the migrant experience, showing a sincere commitment to migrant families and their needs, and creating relationships based on trust and communication.


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Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to conduct an in-depth study of three Hispanic families to understand the manner in which cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and frames of reference were critical resources in at-home literacy learning and to understand how family-school dialogue could enrich the relevance of at-school learning (Allen, 2008; Bazron et al., 2005; BenYosef, 2003; Civil, 2008; Diez-Palomar, Simic, & Varley, 2007). Gonzalez, Andrade, Civil, and Moll (2001) stated that classroom teachers learn of the student’s daily life experiences and skills, referred to as the funds of knowledge, through frequent visits to their student’s household. Similarly, Ginsberg (2007) noted that teachers show their respect toward families of new immigrants by making home visits, which can help inform educators of the household learning context. The sense of alienation or disconnect is defined by Fitzgerald (1993) as “a lack of knowledge of cultural and societal contexts of second language literacy” (p. 641). As teachers and parents begin to openly communicate and work together to connect school and at-home literacy practices, meaningful partnerships can become the framework for promoting student success (Paratore, 2005). In forging relationships between the home and school, Evers, Lang, and Smith (2009) stipulated that efforts to link classroom literacy with the student’s home experiences demonstrate a respect for families of different cultures. As part of this research study, the researcher explored the parents’ perspectives via the following research questions: 1) In what ways were Hispanic parents involved with their children’s school to promote literacy learning and communication? 2) How did Hispanic parents view themselves as critical partners in their children’s literacy learning? Context for Proposed Study An Ethnographic Approach: Forging New Bridges between Family and School via Ethnographies Bogdan and Biklen (2007) discussed the paradigms or implicit assumptions of a qualitative research design with the terms “rich, thick contextual descriptions” and “naturalistic data” to highlight the reflective approach toward data collection. Under this research design, data were collected from field observations as opposed to laboratories. The observer informally collected data from participants as they interacted with individuals in their everyday environment (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). In contrast to quantitative studies, that might collect data via surveys or assessments outside of the participants’ everyday life setting which drew attention to Yes others’ behavior without any concern for the significance of their actions, Emerson et al. (1995) expressed their views of ethnographic research emphasizing, “The object of participation is ultimately to get close to those studied as a way of knowing and understanding what their experiences and activities mean to them” (p. 12). The purpose for conducting ethnographic


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research was to gain a perspective from the participant’s view of ordinary and daily life circumstances through continuous observation and dialogue (Creswell, 2003). Drawing on Hispanic families’ linguistic and cultural diversity. Allen (2008) reported that home visits with three families with multilingual students “permitted teachers to establish a level of ‘confianza’ or mutual trust and to create a spirit of reciprocity in which both parents and teachers support each other and the student” (pp. 22-23). Commins (1989) addressed the importance of ethnographic studies in order to better connect students’ lives with school learning and explained that by viewing the students within the context of their homes and families, “it was possible to begin to understand their linguistic proficiency, their school performance, and their attitudes about learning and themselves” (p. 30). Finders (1992) proposed that ethnographies could provide critical lenses through which teachers better realized their own underlying assumptions. Thus, the researcher chose an ethnographic research design in order to observe and study the behaviors of Hispanic parents in their home setting (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). The group of three Hispanic families was instrumental to this ethnographic study because of their commonalities: they all migrated to the United States within the past four to 10 years to provide a better life for their children, they lived and interacted with each other in one community located in a southeastern state, and they shared common expectations for their children’s school learning (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). All three Hispanic families were determined to succeed regardless of the challenges before them, and each family was reflective of a traditional Mexican household in which roles and responsibilities were defined and clearly understood (Valdes, 1996). While teaching their children, tutoring their children after school, helping the parents learn the English language, or making home visits to offer support, the researcher also became more attuned to the parents’ persistent and respectful voice, their struggle to find connections within this new country, and their unwavering hope to impart a lasting legacy on their children. These parents were especially pivotal to the study because, they asked the researcher to serve as their vocal ambassador. The researcher’s role. The researcher’s voice (values, assumptions, and biases) was influenced by various life experiences. He was born in 1955, as the second of five children, of Mexican parents who immigrated to the United States in an effort to provide their children a better life. As the researcher’s parents arranged with a family in Tijuana, Mexico, to raise their three children, the researcher was one of eight children raised in a three-bedroom stucco home in East Los Angeles, California. In 1973, , the researcher entered military service and subsequently served a 30-year military career in the United States Air Force . Following the conclusion of the researcher’s military career in 2003, the researcher became an elementary school teacher at a K– 3 inner-city public school in the southeastern United States and taught for seven years. The researcher was an ESL teacher for the first year, and the researcher was a third-grade teacher for the last six years.


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Over these seven years, the school showed a gradual increase in the population of ELLs. Of the 830 enrolled students, there was approximately a 17% ELL student population. As the researcher was the only bilingual (English-Spanish) speaking teacher at the elementary school, the researcher was often asked to assist school administrators and fellow teachers communicate with non-English speaking Hispanic parents. For three years, the researcher provided English language instruction during after-school hours or on weekends to Hispanic parents either at the school, in a trailer community, or at a Hispanic family’s private home. Additionally, the researcher did not teach any of the children involved in this research study, yes and the children were not enrolled at the school where the researcher was employed. From the collective sum of experiences, the researcher clearly understood the immense challenge facing Hispanic parents to support their children’s quest to acquire and utilize the English language (Fitzgerald, 1993). Setting. This four-month study involved home visits with three Hispanic families whose children attended school in the same school district. The three families resided in a county of approximately 223,510 citizens located in the southeast region of the United States (2000 U.S. Census Bureau). Within this school district there were 39 elementary schools, 13 middle/junior high schools, and 8 high schools. Some schools were classified as Title I schools. The children of these Hispanic families attended Greymark Elementary School, Lilac Peterson Elementary School, and Redgrass Elementary School (all school names are pseudonyms). Greymark Elementary and Redgrass Elementary were classified as Title I schools. As of the 2009–2010 school year, the student enrollment at Lilac Peterson Elementary School was comprised of approximately 82% African American, 16% Hispanic, 1% White, and 1% of other cultural ethnicities. With over seven years of classroom teaching experience at an inner-city public school composed of a culturally diverse student community, the researcher served as the ethnographer for this study. Participants. The three participating Hispanic families migrated within the past four to ten years from Mexico to a southeastern state in the United States (Ochoa & Rhodes, 2005). In the majority of cases, the non-English (or limited) speaking Hispanic parents worked about 10– 12 hours daily (late afternoon to midnight) at poultry processing centers, retail stores, restaurants, construction sites, or lawn care businesses. This research study drew additional insight from a Hispanic religious leader who has served in this region of the United States for the past 20 years. Born in the country of Ecuador, he has served for the past five years as the sole Spanish-speaking minister at a catholic church for Mexican, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, and South American families. Within this church community, he has provided a wide array of church services ranging from baptizing newborn, Hispanic children to preparing young teenagers for confirmation to presiding over funerals for members of Hispanic families who have passed away. He also routinely helped these Hispanic families resolve various problems in adjusting to life in the United States. In speaking with the three Hispanic families chosen for this study, only two


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families regularly attended his church services. For 15 years he also worked as a church minister for Hispanic families in a different community located in the same southeastern region of the United States. Methodology Data Collection and Analysis Interview process. Data were collected from April 2010 through July 2010 while conducting visits to three Hispanic households, and the religious leader’s office. The intent was to collect enough information from the three families and the religious, community leader to answer the original research questions prompting this study and to render rich descriptions of each household setting and the shared experiences. The researcher used the initial three household visits to move from a general review of the issues affecting the parent-school connection to a narrow focus on the settings, conditions, and participants contributing to literacy learning. During the first month of this study, the researcher conducted weekly, one-hour to three-hour observations of the three Hispanic households followed writing field notes. Field notes were taken during or immediately after the researcher’s participation in various family settings, after the use of home resources to complete school assignments, or after group discussions with either the parents or their children about the day’s events. The researcher regularly examined the field notes as a strategy to identify leads or to identify pending questions that should guide further focus (Emerson et al., 1995). In conjunction with the field notes, the researcher also recorded observer comments that articulated reflections, refined understanding, or interpretations about the ideas recorded. The researcher used those notes as a basis for constructing general interview questions to incorporate during the one-to-one interviews (Emerson et al., 1995). Between May and July, two different interviews were conducted with the parents of each family. The interviews, informal conversations between the parents and the researcher, focused on topics of mutual importance that addressed the research questions. Topics included finding ways to communicate with teachers and administrators and connecting with the teacher to make school culturally relevant for their children (Kvale & Brinkman, 2009). The first of these interviews started in the second month; the interviews continued into the third and fourth months of this study. These one-to-one interviews were conducted during various family settings. In this research study, the researcher used an audiocassette recorder. These interviews generally involved a few open-ended questions designed to elicit ideas and opinions from the parent (Creswell, 2003). Thereafter, the researcher conducted a single, focusgroup interview with multiple members in each of the three Hispanic families in their homes. In particular, the researcher sought their heartfelt sentiments and concerns regarding the issues of respect, communication, and trust that influenced building bridges between parents and school (Kvale, 1996).


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This ethnographic study also included monthly, one-hour discussions with the religious leader. His personal experiences from his migration to a new country and frequent dialogues with the Hispanic congregation of his church community helped to clarify the data collected from the three Hispanic families. The researcher maintained an ongoing dialogue with this community leader throughout the study because he served as a source of triangulation for the Hispanic families’ experiences and difficulties. He aided the researcher with the interpretation of anonymously shared data (Creswell, 2003). To organize and prepare the data for analysis, the researcher transcribed verbatim the one-to-one interviews and the focused group interviews, typed the field notes, and sorted the data based on where the researcher collected the information such as at the kitchen table, outside the home for a family barbecue, or in a family room. Field notes were reviewed regularly (Emerson et al., 1995). Refinement of thinking process. In proceeding with this study on literacy learning within the context of these families’ homes, the researcher decided which general research questions from the initial list were relevant to this ethnographic study and which ones should be revised to guide subsequent research (Commins, 1989). These research questions were critical because they guided the researcher’s effort in gaining a deeper understanding of the families’ setting and the context in which household interactions occurred. For example, the researcher was initially focused on learning how they felt about the English language being the sole language used in school events, parent workshops, and correspondence or phone calls from the school. Through candid conversations with the families, the researcher learned about the parents’ genuine desire to be involved with their children’s school and have a trusting relationship with the school. Yet, parents gradually became frustrated because they did not understand how the school system operated, or they could not understand or speak in the English language. Therefore, the researcher revised the questions to learn more of how these families managed to work around the language barrier, how they remained connected with the school or classroom teacher, and, thus, how they supported their children’s school learning. Second, the researcher initially wanted to know how each family used their household, cultural resources to support their children’s literacy learning. The researcher originally thought each family depended exclusively on school-provided learning materials such as textbooks, basal readers, or teacher handouts to guide out-of-school literacy. Through many hours of conversations at the kitchen table, the trailer porch, and family events on weekends, the researcher realized each household drew upon a multitude of family and neighborhood resources. The researcher often observed both parents and children watching a cartoon presentation on the English television network or a newscast on the Mexican television network. Thereafter, the parents or an older sibling used their native language and emerging English language proficiency to build a younger child’s understanding about the television presentation. Late in the evening, the researcher observed the oldest son in one household using an Internet chat room to converse in Spanish with relatives living in another part of the neighborhood or in his parents’ native homeland. And, on several occasions, the researcher observed a parent sing a childhood melody in Spanish or a


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parent ask their child to continue their practice of the Spanish language while talking at the dinner table. As a result of these observations, the researcher revised the questions to inquire into what ways the parents acted as mentors and language brokers, in what ways siblings interacted to accomplish a school assignment, and in what ways parents remained persistent in helping their children complete their school work. Analysis and interpretation process. In recognition that subjective interpretations of life experiences and perceptions of home-school connections would be addressed, the researcher gained corroboration of themes between the three Hispanic families and the religious, leader. First, the researcher created a coding system of words and phrases to represent those patterns or regularities in the data and to create a physical separation from other data (Miles & Huberman, 1994). For example, in gathering background data about the parents in one Hispanic family, the mother indicated, “When I came to United States, I knew no English but learned the basics from my oldest child’s kindergarten teacher; I gradually learned more English through daily interaction with my children” (E. Molina, personal communication, April 13, 2010). In this instance, the researcher coded the data as the parent’s effort to learn a second language. In collecting data about the perspectives of parents regarding the manner in which information is typically presented in the English language at parent-teacher assemblies, the father reported, “I have often felt frustrated, confused, embarrassed; felt talked down to; I feel the school is not especially concerned with whether the parents learn the English language” (P. Mendez, April 24, 2010). In this instance, the researcher coded the data as schools did not understand the family’s culture. Categorizing evidence in order to answer the original aim of the study allowed the researcher to look for certain words, phrases, patterns of behavior, subjects’ way of thinking, and repetitive events that could possibly be sorted under particular coding categories. Prior to translating the interview notes and direct quotations from Spanish to English, the researcher offered the Hispanic families and the religious leader the chance to read and give feedback on the Spanish version of the written interview notes. In this manner, the researcher’s perspectives and final research report accurately corresponded with the participants’ intended meaning. It was the researcher’s intent to carefully balance the need for conveying clarity against the expectation for presenting an accurate portrayal of the participant’s actual use of words crucial to depict the speaker’s emotional state or mood. Last, the researcher collaborated with his dissertation, faculty adviser at a university in the southeast United States so that a neutral perspective could examine the manner in which the researcher analyzed and interpreted the data findings. As a result of this ethnographic study, the researcher’s expectation was to bring the collected data together, frame the data in relation to theory, and explain the significance of the findings to fellow educators. The researcher arrived at several conclusions through the process of immersing himself within the everyday lives of the three Hispanic families over four months and cross-checking firsthand observations, interview data, and subjective interpretations with the community, religious leader. First, these Hispanic families were genuinely interested in their children’s


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education; however, they often struggled as school learning was in the English language. Second, these families possessed household cultural resources that, at times, were ignored or undervalued at their children’s school (Gonzalez et al., 1995). Third, classroom teachers should explore the potential benefits of permitting bilingualism as a strategy for supporting English language learners in their quest to express themselves in the written and verbal form. Last, it is imperative that schools explore ways to create bridges of communication based on mutual respect, trust, and openness with Hispanic parents. What now follows are the results of discovering the silent voices of these three Hispanic families; their hopes and struggles for their children’s success in U.S. public schools. Results To better guide the reader in understanding the significance of this ethnographic research study involving three Hispanic families that emigrated from Mexico to the United States, the researcher arranged the findings into three major sections: language barriers, code-switching, and family-teacher collaboration. To arrive at these three major sections, the researcher analyzed and interpreted the data collected during the four months of household visits and created a preliminary coding system of about 50 categories of data. These tentative categories were created to encompass perspective about the ways in which the Hispanic families communicated, their ways of thinking about their children’s school in the United States, and the repetitive patterns of interaction or events in one or all three families (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). Secondly, the researcher utilized the initial coding categories to combine strands of data, i.e., interviews, field notes, and observations that substantially illustrated emerging patterns of behavior across all three Hispanic families. At this juncture in the analysis of data, the researcher also included particular categories to capture distinct parental perspectives or household literacy practices. In the next step of making sense of the data, the researcher created a matrix to reflect further synthesis of the collected data and to visually correlate coding categories with words, phrases, events, and quotes across the three Hispanic households (Miles & Huberman, 1994). From the above analysis of collected data, the researcher constructed an outline of the three major themes and their subtopics to guide the actual reporting of the results and the drawing of implications for educators. In several instances, the researcher included an English language translation of the original Spanish language remarks given by the parents or the religious leader. Language Barriers: Interpreting Words and Phrases and Understanding the Meaning Behind an Established School Practice In the process of establishing dialogue in their native language, taking part in their everyday lives, and earning the trust of these Hispanic families, the researcher came to understand their heartfelt plea of wanting to simply know what their children’s school expected of them and how they could contribute to their children’s school learning. As the researcher was


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allowed to observe firsthand their private lives, each Hispanic family echoed their choice to depart their native homeland, Mexico, and to subsequently immigrate to the United States in the hope of providing a more secure future for their children. These Hispanic families wanted to communicate with school officials and their children’s classroom teachers in order to understand the inner workings of the school system. Yet, all too often, the subtleties involved in interpreting the English language were nearly insurmountable to overcome. Consequently, these Hispanic families often became frustrated and felt alienated from the way native-English speakers, were able to understand the established school practices and readily participate in their children’s schools. Speaking about the Hispanic parents’ feelings of ambivalence and uncertainty about how their children’s school systems worked, the , religious leader commented: Posiblemente, la dificultad está en la diferencia entre los idiomas de los dos países (los Estados Unidos y México) o posiblemente las familias mexicanas nunca tuvieron la chanza de obtener una educación. Creo que hay un sistema diferente de aprender entre los dos países y una cultura diferente de aprender. Y, creo que eso es posible que haya problemas si los maestros escolares no comprenden la cultura de los estudiantes o la manera que los diferentes grupos culturales hacen cosas. Diría que las escuelas aquí en los Estados Unidos muy bien do pueden comprender las prácticas culturales, las luchas y los valores de la familia Mexicana. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the difference in language between the two countries (the U.S. and Mexico) or perhaps the Mexican families did not have the chance to get an education. I believe there is a different system of learning between the two countries and a different culture of learning. And, I believe that there may be problems if the school teachers do not understand the culture of the students, the way different cultural groups do things. I would say that the schools here in the United States may very well not understand the cultural practices, struggles and values of the Mexican family. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, July 5, 2010) For these Hispanic families, their quest to forge a home-school connection had gradually become a silent struggle to make literal sense of words and phrases that echoed at parent-teacher association meetings or informational workshops and formally described school events or homework instructions. Knowing the right words to say. The Hispanic parents, with a limited mastery of the English language, came to their children’s open house in order to learn about the teacher’s way of teaching, about the subjects their children would learn, and about the rules of conduct in the classroom. As these Hispanic parents attentively listened to the classroom teacher’s 30-minute presentation—spoken in the English language—they wondered about the right words to express their desire to understand what had just been said. At a school meeting to discuss instructional and assessment strategies for her non-English speaking child, a Hispanic parent recalled a meeting with the school’s principal, the classroom teacher, and the ESL (who only spoke English). Although the forms presented to the parent were in both English and Spanish, the parent could not articulate the words in the English language that represented her ideas for


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guiding her child’s English language and academic learning. Later in the school year, these Hispanic families would also attend a one-hour parent workshop addressing the school’s strategies for supporting their children’s phonemic awareness and oral reading fluency. Even though some of the words were somewhat familiar, the sheer volume of words made it nearly impossible to understand what was going on for these parents to decide how to best contribute to the school. Listening to the speaker, these parents viewed several terms on the overhead projector such as automaticity, tracking, and progress monitoring. For these Hispanic families, it seemed as if the classroom teacher spoke very fast and was unaware that they had not understood the salient points of the presentation. The Hispanic parents’ inability to understand the spoken words and phrases and instinctively construct the appropriate words in the English language made them feel embarrassed and reluctant to ask a question. A Hispanic parent who had previously attended several school meetings and spoke very little English shared the following perspective: Frecuentemente yo he visto que otros que saben el idioma de inglés ponen sus manos juntos o levantan las manos para contestar una pregunta pero muchas veces no comprendo lo que pasa. Es importante que la escuela trate de dar la información en español quizás los principales temas así que podemos comprender y podemos decidir si podemos ayudar la escuela. Pienso que algunos cambios son necesitados en la manera la escuela nos da la información. I often notice others who know the English language clap their hands or raise their hands to answer a question but I often do not understand what is going on. It is important that the school try to give the information in Spanish perhaps the main themes so we can understand and decide if we can help the school. I think that some changes are needed in the way the school gives us information. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, June 10, 2010) Making the right interpretation of school communication. A father recalled a letter he had received from his child’s seventh-grade teacher regarding attendance at summer school. Although the Hispanic parent possessed some English language proficiency, he expressed confusion to the researcher about the letter’s purpose. The parent explained that he could not readily determine if the letter’s purpose stipulated that his son’s attendance at summer school was optional and for academic enrichment, or if it was a strong recommendation as part of being promoted to the next school grade. The parent’s confusion also derived from the fact that his son had attained report card grades between the 80th and 90th percentile in reading, science, and mathematics throughout the school year. Another parent talked with the researcher to determine the meaning of the term “perfect attendance” appearing on her child’s report card. The parent referred back to her school experiences in Mexico where the term “perfect attendance” signified that the student had attended school each day and had demonstrated exemplary conduct in all school activities. The researcher explained that in U.S. schools the term “perfect attendance” only signified that the student had not been absent or tardy during the school year. The Hispanic mother of one child referred to a phone call from her child’s school in which the school official


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had utilized the Spanish word “accidente,” meaning accident, in calling the parent about an incident involving her child at school. Immediately, the parent thought something terrible had happened to her child and quickly drove to the school. Upon arriving at the school and meeting with the classroom teacher, the parent discovered that, in reality, her child had soiled her pants just after lunch. Parent’s uncertainty of their child’s two-way interpretation of school and parent concerns. As a viable strategy to understand the purpose of school assemblies, school correspondence, and teacher remarks at parent-teacher meetings, non-English speaking parents often asked their children to interpret for them. At a parent-teacher session to discuss his child’s abrupt decrease in reading and science grades, the father sat quietly as his son spoke in the English language with the teacher and subsequently interpreted the teacher’s views. Thereafter, the father observed a two-minute discourse between his child and the classroom teacher. In speaking with the researcher, the father expressed his appreciation for his son’s help toward creating a respectful connection with the classroom teacher. However, the father had self-doubts of whether his son (the focus of the discussion) had accurately and completely translated the two-way conversation while interpreting the sentiments of both parties. Having received a written note from the classroom teacher for a parent-teacher meeting, the mother, with very little knowledge of the English language, met with the sixth-grade classroom teacher to discuss a change in her child’s conduct in the classroom. As there was no bilingual teacher at the school, the parent asked her child to serve as an intermediary and provide two-way interpretation. The parent recounted her observation of the teacher’s facial expression, which suggested disapproval of her child’s classroom behavior. However, her child’s translation of the teacher’s remarks provided the parent little insight of what had transpired and self-doubts as to her child’s truthfulness in representing the teacher’s perspective. Mi hijo me ha ayudado traducir para que nosotros podemos hablar con la maestra. Pero mi sentimiento es que mi duda que mi niño está diciendo en realmente toda la información que la maestra nos dijo. Por ejemplo, la conducta de mi hijo cambio del grado A para el grado B. En hablando con mi hijo, él no podía dar mi una razón especifica que explico la razón por el cambio en grado de conducta. My son has helped translate so that we can talk with the teacher. But my sentiment is that I have self-doubts that my son is actually telling me all the information that the teacher is saying. For example, my son’s conduct changed from an A to a B. In talking with my child, he could not give me a specific reason that explained the reason for the change in his conduct. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, April 9, 2010) Use of Code-Switching to Bridge Parent and Their Child’s Knowledge and Experience Code-switching preserves cultural ways of communicating. Crowell (1998) defined code switching as “alternating the use of two languages at the word, phrase, clause, or sentence level” (p. 229) used as a medium to exchange information such as family stories or to


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specify the individuals from a community using the same language. A Hispanic parent, who immigrated to the United States to secure a better life for her three children, readily admitted to weaving English words such as “okay, because, yesterday, and together” with her native Spanish language in household conversations. For the parent, it was a way to model and encourage learning of the English language amongst her children, and it was a strategy to help ensure that the children viewed their cultural identity as Hispanics with pride. She also recounted reasons for encouraging her U.S. born children to routinely practice Spanish in the household: Para que mis niños pueden hablar con sus abuelos que nomás hablan en español y todavía viven en México, y para que yo puedo tener una voz en la manera que mis niños aprenden la idioma de español y recuerdan las tradiciones importante de México son razones que un padre quiere que mis niños practican la idioma de español en la casa. So that my children can communicate with their Spanish-speaking grandparents living in Mexico. Secondly, for me to have a voice in their usage of the Spanish language and remembrance of important family traditions. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, May 14, June 10, and July 13, 2010) Nevertheless, the same Hispanic parent merged native Spanish and often-heard English words (the latter learned from fellow workers and American television) in acknowledgement that her child was growing up in the United States and getting an education with English as the predominant language at school. Although the dual use of Spanish and English seemed awkward at times, the Hispanic parents deliberately chose this mode of communication. It was a way for the parents to express their cariño or affection with traditional Hispanic words, and it was a way to show respect for their child’s gradual acquisition of a second language. Code-switching allows non-English speaking parents to participate in their child’s out-of-school learning. In two Hispanic families, the parents used their limited knowledge of the English language, reinforced with their native language, to model letter sounds and everyday words and to teach their children traditional American melodies such as “the ABCs” and “Happy Birthday.” In each household, a recurrent parental theme that prevailed was the parents’ expectation that their children learn the English language in order to talk with their teachers and class friends, succeed at school studies in America, and do well in their future, adult lives in the United States. And, in each family, the eldest child who had practiced the Spanish language since birth became the ‘de facto’ language broker. In this capacity, that child mediated between the non- or limited-English speaking parent and the younger children’s homework assignments published in the English language. For example, as part of the weekly household literacy learning, an older child routinely used his Spanish language skills to explain the main ideas of an accelerated reader or library book to his mother. Having understood the plot or moral of the story, the Spanish-speaking parent, in turn, used their native language to be involved with their children’s literacy growth. Furthermore, the mother used her prior schooling and life experiences in Mexico as a framework for asking open-ended questions of the setting, characters, or illustrations. The parent expressed her indebtedness to her oldest child being able to use his


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bilingual skills to help his younger brother and his mother become a part of the younger child’s school learning. Mi hijo mayor me ayuda ser parte de lo que mi hijo menor está aprendiendo en sus estudios. Cuando mi hijo menor no entendió la lección de lectura, mi hijo mayor le gusta usar las dos idiomas para dar una explicación de cómo pronunciar los sonidos, las palabras, o como se debe de leer las oraciones en una lectura de cuentas. Por esta razón, pienso que mis niños y yo somos más cerca emocionalmente e intelectualmente. My oldest son helps me be part of what my youngest son is learning at school. When my youngest son does not understand the reading story, my oldest son likes to use both languages to give an explanation of how to pronounce the letter sounds, the words, or how to read the sentences in a reading story. For this reason, I think that my children and I are closer emotionally and intellectually. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, July 16, 2010) Thereafter, the elder child freely switched between both languages to summarize the printed English language storyline, the parent’s questions and commentary in the Spanish language, and the younger sibling’s responses that incorporated an emerging knowledge of the English and Spanish languages. The researcher observed the emergence of a strong, emotional, and intellectual relationship between the parents and the children as a result of multiple language resources being utilized during household discourse to accommodate out-of-school learning. Code-switching as an adaptive strategy for siblings to support each other’s English language and academic learning. When the mother was not able to participate in their child’s out-of-school learning, the researcher often saw an older sibling sitting alongside and listening to the younger sibling practice aloud the week’s letter sounds, spelling words, or reading passage. If the younger sibling repeated the same error, the older sibling intervened and modeled the correct sound in the English language. And if the younger sibling continued to struggle with a particular vowel or consonant sound, the elder sibling switched back to the Spanish language for illustrating similarities with their native language. In yet another family setting, both the older and younger siblings routinely engaged in a mutually respectful dialogue in both languages while sketching drawings of ships, cars, and nature scenes in a notebook with daily entries. The researcher observed both siblings collaborate on (or at times defend) the initial choice of drawing subject, the words to describe the sketch, and the mix of crayon colors to decorate the sketch. While the Hispanic parent of her two children prepared the evening meal for the entire family, the two children sat next to each other and watched cartoons on either the Mexican television network or the American television network. In certain instances, the younger sibling did not understand the “humorous punch line” implied in the cartoon segment and, thus, turned to her older sibling to provide an explanation. With caring demeanor, the older sibling used his English language proficiency and then resorted to their native Spanish language to reinforce his interpretation of the cartoon message. In response, the younger sibling remained curious and formulated a series of open-ended questions to better understand. In the midst of these bilingual


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cartoon discussions, the older sibling influenced his younger sister’s use of critical thinking skills, such as comparing and contrasting different cartoon segments and making generalizations to get the “punch line.” Family-Teacher Collaboration—A Framework for Understanding School Systems of Mexico and U.S. and Cultural Views Toward Education Understanding the inner working system of the school. Many unanswered questions generally characterized the tenuous relationship between these Hispanic parents and their children’s school. Regardless of how many years each family’s children had attended school in the United States, each family consistently expressed a deep-seated desire to fully participate in their student’s learning. These Hispanic parents wanted to know the rationale for the teacher’s classroom practices, the school curriculum’s goals, ways to participate at the school, or the pathways to communicate with school officials. After several visits with one Hispanic family, they openly declared that the classroom teacher had not contacted them about opportunities to share household practices such as family traditions, songs, storytelling, bilingual television programs, or Hispanic tongue twisters used to guide their children’s at-home literacy. A secondary concern from this same Hispanic family was a fervent expectation for understanding the most problematic sections of their children’s fifth-grade school curriculum. Although the parents previously attended multiple parent-school workshops and held a moderate level of English language proficiency, they felt restrained in supporting their children’s school learning due to their unfamiliarity with the major themes governing their children’s school progress. Another Hispanic family expressed ambivalence of how her child’s report card grades were determined, i.e., what value was placed on examinations, class work, homework assignments, and how to formally inquire about the determination of grades. From the parents’ perspective, their child’s report card grades (referred to as calificaciones in the Spanish language) did not correspond with the level of effort their child had exerted during the grading period. No entiendo porque mi hijo mayor recibió calificaciones más bajo durante estas nueve semanas anterior. Mi hijo cada tarde regreso de la escuela e hizo su tarea en la mayoría y proyectos mayores. Y los papeles que el trajo a la casa cada dos semanas tenían en general grados alto, como A o B. Porque no puedo hablar la idioma de ingles muy bien yo no sé con quién puedo hablar y como decir mis preguntas. I do not understand why my oldest son received lower grades during this last nine weeks. My son each day returns from school and did his homework in the majority and his major projects. And the papers that he brought to the house each two weeks have in general high grades such as A or B. Because I cannot talk in the English language very well I do not know with whom I can talk with and if I can say my questions. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, April 23, 2010) The parents of one child recalled that their child missed a cumulative total of two weeks of school due to medical considerations. Furthermore, the same parents were unaware of the need


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to bring a doctor’s slip after each incident so that their child’s absences or late arrivals could be coded as excused. The parents commented that this difficult situation was eventually resolved through the special intervention of the school’s ESL teacher. Recognizing cultural perspectives toward education—Mexican parent versus the U. S. parent. In one Hispanic family, the father held constant talks at the kitchen table with his son about the inherent value of an education. Nevertheless, this parent expressed consternation that his 11-year-old son was moving away from being a child and not placing the same level of importance on an education as he [the parent] had placed on it while growing up in Mexico. Consequently, in desperation to encourage his son to more diligently apply himself to the academic studies, the father periodically communicated to his son that if his grades continued to fall he would take his son back to Mexico to live with his grandparents and attend school there. For a more dramatic effect, the same parent brought his son to his carpentry work site on one Saturday morning. While at the work site, the father explained to his son that if he continued to ignore his school studies in the United States and failed to graduate either from the eighth-grade or high school, his son would probably need to do “hard labor” work as an adult. The father shared the honesty of his son’s verbal response, “Papa, I want to be an architect and design buildings. I do not want to get so dirty…and have to work so much…for 12 – 14 hours each day” (T. Gomez, May 12, 2010). When the Hispanic mother grew increasingly apprehensive that her son was not allocating the necessary after-school hours to his academic studies, she recalled: Cuando yo iba a la escuela primaria en México, todavía tenía que hacer mis tareas cuando regresé a casa, como limpiar los muebles, lavar los platos, y doblar la ropa. A veces, incluso tuve que ayudar a mi madre preparar la cena para unas 12 personas en nuestra familia. Fue alrededor de las 7 de la noche que por fin pude estudiar por la luz de las velas para la clase del día siguiente o para una prueba. As a child, while I was going to school in Mexico, I still had to do my chores when I returned home such as clean the furniture, wash the dishes or fold the clothes. Sometimes, I had to help my mother prepare the dinner for 12 persons in our family. It was around 7 in the evening that I was finally able to study by candlelight for the next day’s class or for an examination. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, April 8, 2010) In view of her son’s diminishing grade point average at his U.S. public school, the parent disclosed her penchant for spanking her child or, at a minimum, withholding the weekly movie. Instead, the mother asked for alternative suggestions to help her child understand that an education in the United States was vital to his ability to succeed in whatever life endeavor he chose. Having lived in the United States for about five years, two Hispanic parents shared their opinion about educational opportunities for the children born in America. Los niños que han nacido y criado en los Estados Unidos tienen muchas oportunidades para aprender como la lectura, la ciencia, y la geografía. Si no logran, es porque no querían aprender y no quiere trabajar duro para lograr su objetivo. In the opinion of


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two Hispanic parents, the children who are born and raised in the United States have so many opportunities to learn like reading, science and geography; and if they are not successful it is because they do not want to learn and do not want to work hard to achieve their life goal. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, May 6, 2010) Finding commonalities as a basis for parent-teacher collaboration. Each Hispanic parent echoed a similar sentiment that continuous dialogue with their children’s school and classroom teachers (preferably in both languages) was the critical first step to forging a mutually respectful home-school partnership. Only in this manner, the parents suggested, could both parties in the home-school connection share an equitable role in contributing their knowledge, skills, and experience toward properly mentoring and teaching the children. These Hispanic parents shared a notion of school teachers, inculcated during their childhood upbringing in Mexico that the teacher was educated in instructional pedagogy, knew different ways to help children learn, and readily used their knowledge of child development to guide classroom learning. On the other hand, these parents needed the classroom teacher to have informationexchange forums throughout the school year. In this manner, non-English speaking parents alongside other parents could have a voice in incorporating culturally relevant learning experiences as part of the school’s curriculum. Two Hispanic parents shared their interpretation of how their children felt about school: Pienso que nuestros niños están viendo lo que pasa en el salón de escuela como algo que no es importante o algo extraño en comparación de lo que han experimentado o aprendido en casa. We think that sometimes our children view what ordinarily happens for classroom learning as unimportant or completely foreign to what they had already experienced at home. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, June 22 and July 13, 2010) These Hispanic parents, born and educated in Mexico, desperately sought a venue in which they might communicate with confianza, meaning confidence and trust, with the classroom teacher. With high hopes for their children’s future, these parents wished to support their children’s school and contribute their Hispanic native language, family traditions, and household literacy practices as vital resources toward their children’s English language acquisition and school learning in the United States. While talking about the collaborative role of parent and classroom teacher in providing a meaningful education for his child, a Hispanic parent poignantly stated, De todas las responsabilidades que nosotros, los padres y maestros tenemos, nuestro deber más importante es trabajar junto y ensenar los niños—porque mañana es demasiado tarde. Of all responsibilities that we, the parents and teachers have, our single most important duty is to work together and teach the children—tomorrow, it is too late. (G. Dueñas, personal communication, July 22, 2010)


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Discussion The findings from this study add a newer perspective to the growing literature on the home-school connection and on how the Hispanic household’s cultural knowledge and experience contribute to their children’s literacy learning. In realizing that the researcher could communicate in their native language and was able to meet with them in the safety of their home, the three Hispanic families eventually shared with the researcher a persistent theme: each family wanted to frequently communicate, preferably in person, with their children’s classroom teacher as a way to build rapport and trust with each other. These parents wanted their questions about their children’s school to be heard and understood. If it were possible to communicate in the English language, or if someone might understand their native language, the parents would have been able to express their frustrations and uncertainties. These parents wanted to know, for example, what literacy practices were used in the classroom (Edwards, 1995), how to interpret their children’s homework instructions, why their children received a particular grade, or what a school pamphlet required of the parents. Speaking about the difficulties that ELL parents face as a consequence of their limited English language proficiency, Becker (2001) asserted: If parents do not know how their child’s school functions, what options they have, what the expectations are for their children and for themselves, it will be more difficult for them to participate in their child’s education, let alone support it. (p. 172) Important suggestions that periodically resonated during visits to their homes was the notion of a corps of Hispanic parents gaining some knowledge of school matters and ways to assist with the children’s literacy homework. Thereafter, this corps of parents, with the support of the classroom teacher, could help other Hispanic parents recently immigrated to the United States or parents who do not understand the English language. Osterling et al. (1999) discussed the immense possibilities of Hispanic families working together. They used their many life experiences to learn how to read and write in their native Spanish language and then gradually transitioned to the English language. As these Spanish-speaking parents collaborated to better understand their life struggles and to learn from one another, there was a feeling of empowerment that they could now more capably support their children’s school learning (Osterling et al., 1999). Alternatively, Sanders (2008) purported that school districts might train individuals to serve as ‘parent liaisons.’ The role of parent liaison would be twofold: to assist classroom teachers as reliable interpreters of cultural nuances and to serve as role models for ways to connect with diverse families (Ginsberg, 2007). Provided the institutional support for parent liaisons was sustained, there could be a realistic expectation for a long-term, trusting partnership between schools and Latino families as well as a support system to help improve student academic achievement (Sanders, 2008). In his research on reasons for the limited participation of Latino families in their children’s schools, Pena (2000) noted, “Without a sense of equal partnership, parents are uncomfortable and are less likely to become active participants in school life” (p. 92). To reiterate, it was the Hispanic parents’ assertion that by exchanging viewpoints and working with the school that a trusting home-school connection could be formed.


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In turn, their children would benefit from what the school and the parents were collectively doing for their non-English speaking children. Yes, these families were doing what was humanely possible to support their children’ school learning. They realized that their children would not be successful later in life without a proper school education in the United States and without learning the English language (Valdes, 1996). Through four months of household visits, the researcher often observed parents and children sitting in their living room or around the kitchen table actively engaged in dialogue (mostly in the Spanish language, but at times in English) about a library book their children had just read aloud or about the legacy of an ancestor’s life story in Mexico. In many instances, the members of each family used available household resources. In this case, they used both languages to exchange information as part of coping with everyday life circumstances. What was most apparent was that the parents extended the opportunity to their children to freely express their points of view—to agree or disagree, but more importantly, the children’s contribution to the conversation was equally valued as part of the kitchen table discourse. Additionally, the researcher became acutely aware of the unique ways in which the oldest sibling routinely switched from the Spanish to the English language. The significance of the older sibling’s influence on household literacy learning did not escape the researcher’s attention. First, the older child helped facilitate his younger sibling’s acquisition of the English language. Second, the older child’s code-switching enabled the non-English speaking parents to understand and, thus, participate in their children’s writing and reading homework assignments. Third, , the older child’s contributions to his parents’ need for a translator helped the child gain a deeper sense of his parents’ cultural experiences in Mexico and better appreciate the linguistic skills that the parents used to articulate their ideas (Dorner, Orellana, & Jimenez, 2008). During these household visits, the researcher contemplated the studies of Commins (1989) with bilingual students and their simultaneous use of the English and Spanish languages to express themselves. Despite the students’ grammatical errors, the students intuitively switched between languages as an adaptive linguistic strategy in order to be understood by the monolingual English speakers. Likewise, Crowell (1998) discussed the notion of allowing students of another culture the opportunity to code-switch, specifically “To use a word, a phrase or a sentence between two languages as a means for friends and families to tell stories” (p. 229). Perhaps, this understanding of multicultural students’ efforts to communicate in the classroom can afford equity to all students—English speaking students and non-English speaking students (Crowell, 1998). At a certain point in the household visits, the researcher contemplated Fain, Smith, and Kander’s (2006) research on family literature circle discussions. From their perspective, these literacy discussions permitted family members in a familiar social context to use several household resources: primary language, prior knowledge of literature, and cultural experiences to construct relevant knowledge. Yes, it became quite evident that the children in these families were involved—listening, talking, thinking, interacting, laughing, writing, singing, creating, and even reflecting. Becoming immersed in the milieu of their daily lives, the researcher gradually


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recognized, as noted in McCarthey (2000), the household Discourse pattern—primarily in the family’s native language. It was quite common during family conversations and activities for family members to draw on the cultural traditions and experiences from the immediate family, their grandparents in Mexico, and both relatives and neighbors living in their community here in the United States. At times, the parents and children of one family used either the cell phone or the electronic chat room to converse with relatives in Mexico. On the day of one parent’s birthday, a five-year old, alongside her family, sang the Spanish words of two traditional Mexican songs and the English language words of an American song. Of special interest, the researcher distinctly recalls entering a Hispanic household and observing the three children (ages 6–17) standing in front of their living room television as they operated the Wii. Throughout the ensuing ten minutes, the children physically and mentally responded to the English language narration, the constantly changing scenic backgrounds, and the interactive game obstacles. On another occasion, these same children were huddled in a small circle on the living room floor reading to each other from their favorite Spanish or English language books. From firsthand observations in recording his own children’s literacy experiences at home, Cook (2005) reported that having knowledge of these out-of-school literacy experiences served to inform classroom teaching practices. Likewise, Ginsberg (2007) noted that household visits with recent immigrants assisted classroom teachers and parents to learn more about each other and, thus, make their daily classroom instruction more culturally relevant. Cognizant of the dramatic increase in the culturally and linguistically diverse student population in U.S. schools, Bazron et al. (2005) suggested several instructional strategies. The strategies included teachers allowing more time for students to provide an oral response or teachers being attentive to the fact that immigrant or minority students needed extra time to adjust to differences between home and school. Ben-Yosef (2003) reported on the importance of classroom teachers allowing students of another cultural background to use their native literacy skills as a foundation for knowledge construction, while Whittaker et al. (1997) prompted classroom teachers to create a learning environment that encouraged students to take risks and attempt to use their first and second languages. In studies with children of the Mexican culture, Rothstein-Fisch et al. (1999) appropriately noted, “When teachers understand and respect the collectivistic values of immigrant Latino children, the opportunities for culturally informed learning becomes limitless” (p. 66). Near the end of the researcher’s four-month household visits with one particular family, the mother talked at length about her fervent hope that her child would successfully attain an education in the American school system and reach his professional goal as an adult. In the midst of this engaging conversation, the parent indicated that she wanted to know more about the fundamental rights that guaranteed equal opportunity for all American citizens. The parent indicated that while attending the equivalent of a business college in Mexico she briefly studied the struggles of different countries, including the United States’ struggle to secure citizen rights and freedoms. In response, the researcher referred to the Declaration of Independence and federal civil rights legislation passed since the 1950s to preserve the rights of all American


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citizens. In turn, the parent paused for several moments before she respectfully asked the following question. In retrospect, the researcher believed the parent’s comment offered school leaders an opportunity and a reason for school reform. Por qué es que en una nación como los Estados Unidos que propugna la igualdad de oportunidades en la Declaración de Independencia que los hijos de padres que no nacieron en este país deben cambiar abruptamente su estilo de vida cultural con el fin de encajar en una forma estándar de vida? Why is it that in a nation such as the United States that espouses equality of opportunity in the Declaration of Independence those children of parents not born in this country must abruptly change their cultural lifestyle in order to fit within one standard way of living? (G. Dueñas, personal communication, April 15, 2010) Limitations It is important to note that this four-month ethnographic study focused on only three families; all of these families left their native country, Mexico, and relocated to the United States within the last eight years. Thus, the research findings derived from this study may have been different had the study encompassed a longitudinal study with a different participant profile such as a much larger number of Mexican families who had resided in the United States for 10 years or longer. Second, as noted above, the study focused on only Mexican families who had children enrolled in elementary schools in the same school district. Thus, it is quite possible that the expressed perspectives of the participating families may differ with those families without children, families with children enrolled at a different school system, or families with children enrolled in high school and college. Third, the study was conducted by a Mexican-American educator who had been raised with similar household practices and cultural traditions that emphasized, as noted in Valdes (1996), a collectivistic versus individual orientation and the use of the Spanish language during household conversation. It is possible that this shared commonality might be construed as a bias toward a particular research design, the construction of particular questions, and the presentation of findings. The notion of conducting household visits and interacting in the family’s natural setting might prompt readers of this study to conclude that the researcher had become too immersed with each family, become too subjective, and, thus, lost a researcher orientation. Additionally, this study involved conversations with the parents in the Spanish language; it is quite possible that certain cultural cues and intended meanings may have been overlooked in the translation of the original conversations from Spanish to English. Also, it is quite possible that these families may not have been as forthcoming in their conversations had the researcher in this study only spoken in English. The families often indicated to the researcher that it was possible to achieve a level of confianza or mutual trust with a sharing of the Spanish language. Another caveat in this research study was that only one researcher interacted with the three Hispanic families. It is possible that a different set of outcomes may have been achieved had a team of (two or three) researchers with an


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elementary classroom teacher taken part in this study for best constructing the research design and triangulating the discovered research themes. Lastly, the study did not involve conversations with the classroom teachers or the school administrators at the elementary schools in which the children of these three Hispanic families were enrolled. Thus, it is possible that the voices of the children’s classroom teachers and school administrators during this study might have provided an additional understanding of the families’ concerns for their children’s school learning and second language acquisition. Recommendations In view of code-switching’s immense benefit in each household and the significant growth of Hispanics in American public schools, educators may wish to reexamine the rationale that systematically excludes the native language of Hispanic students in classroom learning, homework assignments, and standardized assessments. Within each household, the Hispanic children exuded confidence while reading, conversing, exchanging information, or functioning as language brokers for their parents. During a family meeting or at a dinner conversation, each child’s voice, regardless of age, was encouraged—even respected. Often, the pattern of family discourse (expressed mostly in Spanish but some in English) involved divergent perspectives from the grandparents, parents, and children in the process of making important decisions. Yet, according to the Hispanic parents, their children’s household knowledge and cultural experiences, rooted in their native language, was often ignored or minimized in the classroom. Consequently, now is the time for school leaders and classroom teachers to uproot traditional pedagogical practices emphasizing one culturally dominant way of discourse. For example, schools could identify teams of bilingual parents and older siblings as part of a community outreach program held after school or on Saturday mornings to assist in the academic learning and English language acquisition of younger children. At schools where there is not an ESL teacher available to support the cultural needs of migrant or Latino students, older siblings capable of switching between the Spanish and English languages could serve as “big buddies” or mentors for these capable learners. These “big buddies” could be utilized as part of a schoolwide literacy initiative designed to engage non-English speaking students with open-ended discussions and journal writings on children’s books published in either Spanish or English. With the prevalence of technology at American public schools, bilingual parent volunteers and older siblings might assist students with no or limited English language skills in utilizing digital technology to portray the cultural stories of their families and ancestors. For example, in support of the school’s literacy and language arts curriculum, these students could be coached to create an electronic photo album that featured pictures with oral narratives in their native language about their parents, grandparents, friends, or close neighbors. As noted above, the school can be the appropriate setting to showcase pedagogical practices that welcome and, more importantly, value culturally divergent ways of thinking, expressing, and performing. To reiterate, these parents remain optimistic that the American school setting in the near future will be a


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groundbreaking forum—a venue where the Spanish language of Hispanic children will be acknowledged as a relevant resource for classroom learning versus a language to be viewed with disdain and systematically ignored. As stewards of this nation’s public schools, educators can and should make the first bold move—meet the Hispanic students where they are with the Spanish language. Developing trusting, mutually respectful relationships with three Hispanic families over a four-month timeline and sharing their perspective of the home-school connection represent two definitive reasons for visiting families in their homes. In addressing the significance of forging a home-school partnership, Gonzalez et al. (2005) offer the following perspective, Ethnographic home visits are designed to establish a relationship of mutual trust while eliciting personal narratives from members of households. Both the relationships established and the information gathered in households are useful for teachers in designing instruction based on strengths found in the homes to better fit the needs of minoritized students and facilitate formal intellectual development. (p. 128) Schools often use written correspondence or telephone calls in English as methods for building rapport with migrant or Hispanic families. In the case of non-English speaking families, these traditional methods seeking parental involvement were generally inadequate because the parents did not fully understand the written or spoken message. Thus, school administrators and classroom teachers who speak Spanish and are Latino themselves might experiment with various strategies for discovering the contextual settings in which the Hispanic family’s cultural heritage (knowledge, traditions, and experience) serves as a venue for out-of-school learning. For example, before the school year starts, the school principal and select bilingual classroom teachers might conduct an advertised visit to neighborhoods populated with non-English speaking families to informally greet families and answer the parents’ questions. At the start of the school year, the school principal and Spanish-speaking classroom teachers might host a Spanish-language conference that included a narrated walking tour of the school and a brief video presentation of the school’s mission, system of communication, and student guidelines. In this setting, a two-way dialogue in the Spanish language would be used to emphasize the family’s value as equal partners in guiding and evaluating the academic progress and language acquisition of Hispanic students. Thereafter, during various points in the school year, select classroom teachers (with a Hispanic background) might convene with non-English speaking families to examine cultural differences in instructional strategies between Mexico and the United States. The net result would be to utilize the ongoing forums to empower these Hispanic families to view themselves as credible teachers in their children’s out-of-school learning. A second purpose would be to weave cultural literacy practices with classroom instruction, which is: the cumulative aim of improving and deepening the relevance of student learning. As the school administrator and classroom teachers realize the depth of literacy influences that emanate from the family, extended family members, and neighbors, there would be an increased propensity that educators will discard prior misperceptions of Spanish-speaking families. The children who benefit from these parent-school associations will witness an important life lesson


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about collaboration. What a wonderful legacy for parents and educators to bequeath on these migrant, Hispanic children and future leaders of America. One other recommendation is to conduct a one-year longitudinal study involving a collaborative effort between five to eight Hispanic families, two to four researchers, and one or two elementary classroom teachers. With several key stakeholders in this study, one aim might be to explore the effects of implementing bicultural classroom instruction, culturally relevant teaching, and oral discourse on their children’s academic achievement (Hernandez, 1973). As part of this ongoing, three-way dialogue, attention would also be given to empowering Spanishspeaking parents to candidly express their ideas and cultural values, articulate household practices for nurturing their children’s out-of-school learning, and make a meaningful contribution in school activities. In speaking of ways of attracting Hispanic parent involvement in school programs, Howe (1994) reported, The author’s experience of Hispanic parents, however, is that they much prefer getting to know the teacher and principals personally, sitting down with them, and sharing their struggles and their dreams. The more humanized and warm the environment, the more they respond (p. 44). Likewise, in speaking to the family’s engagement at schools with culturally diverse learning communities, Koskinen and Shockley (1994) reported that any effort to create a homeschool dialogue should be framed from a “genuine respect for parents’ efficacy as their children’s first and primary teachers” (p. 501). Finally, to gain a sense of the efficacy of this robust, action-research project, multiple data collection efforts drawing from parents, children, and classroom teachers as well as student standardized assessment results will be especially helpful. Author Biographies Gilbert Dueñas is an Assistant Professor in Early Childhood/Elementary Reading Department at Auburn University in Montgomery. He is currently teaching graduate level courses in social studies, facilitating online research courses, and supervising the field practicum. He worked for seven years as an English as a Second Language teacher and third-grade teacher at an inner-city public school in Alabama. Before entering the teaching profession, he completed a 30-year military career in the United States Air Force. He is married to the former Bich (Becky) Ngoc Tran of Saigon, Vietnam. They have a daughter who now serves in the United States Air Force. Charles J. Eick is an Associate Professor in Elementary Education at Auburn University. His middle school teaching experience helped him to appreciate diverse learners and how to address their individual needs in an inquiry-oriented, project-based classroom. His research focus as a university professor has been on personal biography and experience that support teachers in becoming reform-minded practitioners of science for all children. In common Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics pursuits, he now also collaborates with


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mathematics educators in studying the integration and overlap of both disciplines across common literacies and how each is taught in K–8 classrooms. References Allen, J. (2008). Family Partnerships. Educational Leadership, 66(1), 22-27. Anderson, J., & Gunderson, L. (1997). Literacy learning from a multicultural perspective. The Reading Teacher, 50(6), 514-516. Barillas, M. D. R. (2000). Literacy at home: Honoring parent voices through writing. The Reading Teacher, 54(3), 302-308. Bartlett, L., & Brayboy, B. M. J. (2005). Race and schooling: Theories and ethnographies. The Urban Review, 37(5), 361-374. Bazron, B., Osher, D., & Fleischman, S. (2005). Creating culturally responsive schools. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 83-84. Becker, H. (2001). Teaching ESL K-12: Views from the classroom. Boston, MA: Heniles & Heinle. Ben-Yosef, E. (2003). Respecting students’ cultural differences. Educational Leadership, 61(2), 80-82. Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theories and Methods. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Civil, M. (2008). Mathematics teaching and learning of immigrant students: A look at the key themes from recent research. Paper presented for ICME Survey Team 5: Mathematics Education in Multicultural Multilingual Environments, Monterey, México. Commins, N. L. (1989). Language and affect: Bilingual students at home and at school. Language Arts, 66(1), 29-43. Cook, S. R. (2005). “Behind closed doors”: Discovering the literacies in our children’s everyday lives. Language Arts, 82(6), 420-430. Cordon, A., & Sainsbury, R. (2006). Exploring ‘quality’: Research participants’ perspectives on verbatim quotations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 9(2), 97110. Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Crowell, C. G. (1998). Talking about books: Celebrating linguistic diversity. Language Arts, 75(3), 228-235. Darling, S. (2005). Strategies for engaging parents in home support of reading acquisition. The Reading Teacher, 58(5), 476-479. De La Luz Reyes, M., & Molner, L. A. (1991). Instructional strategies for second language learners in the content areas. The Reading Teacher, 35(2), 96-103. Diaz, S., Moll, L. C., & Mehan, H. (1986). Sociocultural resources in instruction: A context-


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specific approach. In Beyond language: Social and cultural factors in schooling language minority students. Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation, Dissemination & Assessment Center, California State University. Diez-Palomar, J., Simic, K., & Varley, M. (2007). “Math is everywhere.” Connecting mathematics to students’ lives. [Electronic version]. Journal of Mathematics and Culture, 1, 2. Dorner, L. M., Orellana, M. F., & Jimenez, R. (2008). “It’s one of those things that you do to help the family”: Language brokering and the development of immigrant adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23(5), 515-543. Drummond, K. V., & Stipek, D. (2004). Low-income parents’ beliefs about their role in children’s academic learning. The Elementary School Journal, 104(3), 197- 213. Edwards, P. A. (1995). Empowering low-income mothers and fathers to share books with young children. The Reading Teacher, 48(7), 558-564. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing ethnographic field notes. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Epstein, J. L., & Dauber, S. L. (1991). School programs and teacher practices of parent involvement in inner-city elementary and middle schools. The Elementary School Journal, 91(3), 289-305. Estrada, V. L., Gómez, L., & Ruiz-Escalante, J. A. (2009). Let’s make dual language the norm. Educational Leadership, 66(7), 54-58. Evers, A. J., Lang, L. F., & Smith, S.V. (2009). An ABC literacy journey: Anchoring in texts, bridging language, and creating stories. The Reading Teacher, 62(6), 461-470. Fain, J. G., Smith, K., & Kander, F. (2006). Family talk about language diversity and culture. Language Arts, 83(4), 310-320. Finders, M. (1992). Looking at the lives through ethnography. Educational Leadership, 50(1), 60-65. Fisher, A. L. (2001). Teaching Ideas: Implementing graphic organizer notebooks: The art and science. The Reading Teacher, 55(2), 116-120. Fitzgerald, J. (1993). Literacy and students who are learning English as a second language. The Reading Teacher, 46(8), 638-647. Flood, J., Lapp, D., Tinajero, J. V., & Nagel, G. (1995). “I never knew that I was needed until you called!”: Promoting parent involvement in schools. The Reading Teacher, 48(7), 614-621. Garcia, E. (1999). Student cultural diversity: Understanding and meeting the challenge (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. García, E. E., & Jensen, B. (2007). Helping young Hispanic learners. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 34-39. Ginsberg, M. B. (2007). Lessons at the kitchen table. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 56-61. Goldenberg, C. (1992, 1993). Instructional conversations: Promoting comprehension through discussion. The Reading Teacher, 46(4), 316-326.


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Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers. González, N., Moll, L. C., Tenery, M. F., Rivera, A., Rendon, P., González, R., & Amanti, C. (1995). Funds of knowledge for teaching in Latino households. Urban Education, 29(4), 443-470. González, M. L., & Huerta-Macías, A. (1997). “Mí casa es su casa.” Educational Leadership, 55(2), 52-55. Gonzalez, N., Andrade, R., Civil, M., & Moll, L. (2001). Bridging funds of distributed knowledge: Creating zones of practices in mathematics. Journal of Education for Students at Risk, 61(1&2), 115-132. Gorski, P. (2008). The myth of the “culture of poverty.” Educational Leadership, 65(7), 32-36. Hernandez, N. G. (1973). Variables affecting achievement of middle school Mexican-American students. Review of Educational Research, 43, 1-39. Howe, C. K. (1994). Improving the achievement of Hispanic students. Educational Leadership, 51(8), 42-44. Jimenez, R. T. (2001). “It’s a difference that changes us”: An alternative view of the language and literacy learning needs of Latina/o students. The Reading Teacher, 54(8), 736-742. Koskinen, P. S., & Shockley, B. (1994). Extending the literate community: Home-to- school and school-to-home. The Reading Teacher, 47(6), 500-502. Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Kvale, S., & Brinkman, S. (2009). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Ladson-Billings, G. (1999). Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? In L. Parker, D. Deyhle, & S. Villenas (Eds.), Race is…race isn’t; Critical race theory and qualitative studies in education (pp. 7-30). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Lindeman, B. (2001). Reaching out to immigrant parents. Educational Leadership, 58(6), 6266. Lopez, G. R., Scribner, J. D., & Mahitivanichcha, K. (2001). Redefining parental involvement: Lessons from high-performing migrant-impacted schools. American Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 253-288. Lundgren, D., & Morrison, J. W. (2003). Involving Spanish-speaking families in early education programs. Young Children, 58(3), 88-95. Manyak, P. C. (2007). A framework for robust literacy instruction for English learners. The Reading Teacher, 61(2), 197-199. Mays, L. (2008). The cultural divide of discourse: Understanding how English-language learners’ primary discourse influences acquisition of literacy. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 415-418.


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McCarthey, S. J. (2000). Home-school connections: A review of the literature. The Journal of Educational Research, 49(3), 145-153. McIntyre, E., Kyle, D., Moore, G., Sweazy, R. A., & Greer, S. (2001). Linking home and school through family visits. Language Arts, 78(3), 264-272. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: A sourcebook of new methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González, N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, 31(2), 132-141. Ochoa, S. H., & Rhodes, R. L. (2005). Assisting parents of bilingual students to achieve equity in public schools. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 16(1&2), 7594. Osterling, J. P., Violand-Sánchez, E., & von Vacano, M. (1999). Latino families learning together. Educational Leadership, 57(2), 64-68. Paratore, J. R. (2005). Approaches to family literacy: Exploring the possibilities. The Reading Teacher, 59(4), 394- 396. Pena, D. (2000). Parent involvement: Influencing factors and implications. Journal of Educational Research, 94, 42-54. Peterson, S. S., & Heywood, D. (2007). Contributions of families’ linguistic, social, and cultural capital to minority-language children’s literacy: Parents’, teachers’ and principals’ perspectives. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(4), 517-538. Risko, V. J., & Walker-Dalhouse, D. (2007). Tapping students’ cultural funds of knowledge to address the achievement gap. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 98-100. Rolon, C. A. (2002/2003). Educating Latino students. Educational Leadership, 60(4), 40-43. Rothstein-Fisch, C., Greenfield, P. M., & Trumbell, E. (1999). Bridging cultures with classroom strategies. Educational Leadership, 56(7), 64-67. Saenz, T. I., & Felix, D. M. (2007). English-speaking Latino parents’ literacy practices in Southern California. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 28(2), 93-106. Sanders, M. G. (2008). How parent liaisons can help bridge the home-school gap. The Journal of Educational Research, 101(5), 287-297. Short, D. & Echevarria, J. (2004/2005). Teacher skills to support English language learners. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 8-13. Sobel, A. & Kugler, E.G. (2007). Building partnerships with immigrant parents. Educational Leadership, 64(6), 62-66. United States Census Bureau 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights: Mexican. Retrieved June 28, 2009, from http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en Valdes, G. (1996). Con Respeto: Bridging the distances between culturally diverse families and schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Waldbart, A., Meyers, B., & Meyers, J. (2006). Invitations to families in an early literacy support program. The Reading Teacher, 59(8), 774-785.


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Whitaker, C. R., Salend, S. J., & Gutierrez, M. B. (1997). “Voices from the fields”: Including migrant farmworkers in the curriculum. The Reading Teacher, 50(6), 482-493. Yopp, H. K. & Stapleton, L. (2008). Conciencia fonemica en Español (Phonemic Awareness in Spanish). The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 374-382. Zecker, L. B., Pappas, C. C., & Cohen, S. (1998). Finding the “right measure” of explanation for young Latina/o writers. Language Arts, 76(1), 49-56.


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Too Much Reform, Too Little Progress: Teacher Education Still in Limbo Josephine Sarvis Dominican University Debra Vinci-Minogue Dominican University

Abstract Based on early experiences with the teacher education program at a Catholic, Midwestern university, it was found that the many separate components required of candidates were largely unrelated and seldom led to meaningful and reflective learning. Much has been written about the many components and reforms within teacher education programs today. Much is less known, however, about the perspectives of preservice teacher candidates regarding the required components. Quite often, the separate requirements lead to less than effective learning experiences for teacher candidates. Research indicates that there is a strong connection between candidates’ attitudes and motivation. In this paper, the results of a survey administered to preservice undergraduate teacher candidates are discussed. Study participants were enrolled in a private, Catholic university, and their attitudes and perspectives regarding effective practices were evaluated. The premise of the study is that preservice teachers’ understanding, knowledge, and acceptance of the components deemed important in a teacher education program are critical in making the program effective, relevant, and meaningful. Conclusions from the study are drawn regarding what students perceive as effective practices in an undergraduate teacher education program. This information allows the researchers to implement changes that strengthen students’ perception of all program requirements within the program. This study is of interest to teacher educators in general to determine if the common practices required in teacher education programs are seen as effective by students. Furthermore, recent reforms in teacher education programs and the implications for future directions are discussed. Keywords: teacher education, preservice teacher perceptions, teacher education portfolios, teacher dispositions

According to a recent study regarding the global demand for high-skilled labor by the McKinsey Global Institute, the percentage of labor-intensive jobs have declined by half since the 1970s, and the percentage of jobs in knowledge-intensive areas continues to increase. In today’s


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knowledge-based economy, the future of the United States rests on people’s ability to learn in more powerful ways as individuals and as a nation. This depends on the ability to teach more effectively, especially for students who have been least supported in society and schools. Now, all students need to be prepared for the expectations in the work force for which only a small minority were prepared. Today’s future educators need to be taught how to be highly adaptable, integrative, and reflective lifelong learners to be effective in the twenty-firstcentury classroom. To meet these demands, undergraduate preservice teacher candidates must develop a multitude of capabilities to integrate what they learn in diverse situations (Huber & Hutchings, 2004). Teachers need to be prepared not only to teach content, but to teach it in a way that is much more effective for diverse learners. Globalization, global learning, and global competence are current terms in education and teacher education that must be addressed in the professional study of preservice teachers because diversity is at the forefront of today’s K–12 classroom, and the classroom landscape is changing in terms of student populations. Dramatic changes in the last part of the twentieth century and the first part of the twenty-first century have been brought about by globalization (Zhao, 2010). Because of globalization, young people across the world need more innovative thinking skills, cultural awareness, higher-order cognitive skills, and sophisticated communication and collaboration skills. Schools have a challenge to keep up with the impact of globalization. The implications of this powerful force have yet to be fully recognized and realized in the education field and teacher education. Professors in teacher education programs are charged with not only teaching candidates, but also with what candidates they are accepting into the profession.. Issues related to who is teaching children in schools have just as much significance as the curriculum’s quality in a teacher education program (Serdyukov & Ferguson, 2012). The mission of education has changed. Contemporary educational aims no longer fit into the factory model of education from the beginning of the twentieth century when the modern school concept was being developed. The factory model of education was based upon the needs of employers for the Industrial Age of the nineteenth century (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). At that time, inefficiency was not an option because it could threaten the project of educating a democratic citizenry. The school was to be operated like a factory in which the school board acted like the corporate board, the principal acted like the CEO, the teachers were to be seen as the line workers, and the students were the product. The school was to be run just like a factory: bureaucratically, impartially, and rationally (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). To improve efficiency, schools sorted students into tracks that were grouped according to economic prospects—college, general, and vocational. The mission was not to educate all students well. A few students were selected and educated for thinking work, but most students were trained in the basic workplace socialization they would need to conduct simple tasks neatly, punctually, and obediently (Spring, 2011). Today, however, a college degree has become almost a prerequisite for obtaining a job in which one can make a living. The rote learning and lecturebased pedagogy that satisfied these early twentieth-century objectives still predominate in today's


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colleges and universities, and they are reinforced by curriculum packages, texts, and standardized testing measurements that focus on low-level cognitive skills (Darling-Hammond, 2001). The turn of the century was also a time in which departments of pedagogy expanded into undergraduate and graduate schools of education. There was a movement away from normal schools, which were schools for teacher training, to university departments of education, where theory would rule (Ravitch, 2002). The price of professionalism was the split between pedagogy and the traditional disciplines of the liberal arts and sciences. The new leaders of the education profession took charge of teacher certification. Certification became increasingly dependent on taking courses in pedagogy and in passing tests of pedagogical theory (Ravitch, 2002). Teacher certification eventually came to be identified with the completion of teacher education programs, which varied widely from city to city and state to state across the nation. However, during the dawn of last century, some genuinely democratic schools and universities were built from the work of reformers such as John Dewey and Ella Flagg Young (Darling-Hammond, 2001). Efforts from the work of progressive reformers have reappeared recently. These include interdisciplinary curricula aimed at emphasizing integrative and reflective learning, student learning through experiences, research projects, and inquiry-based learning. Additionally problem-based projects emphasizing the use of knowledge and the development of higher-order thinking skills, cooperative and collaborative learning, shared decision making among teachers and student, and detracking, which allows for the availability of a challenging curriculum to more students have all been reintroduced recently (DarlingHammond, 2001). In the 1960s and 70s, teachers and educational reformers were able to accomplish enormous successes in educational reforms with the War on Poverty. Teachers became more outspoken and active, battling for civil rights, community control of schools, anti-poverty programs, and the end of the Vietnam War (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). However, the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk" depicted teachers as under qualified and underpaid, and it depicted teachers as working in poor conditions and achieving poor results (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). Furthermore, a follow-up report in 1986, "A Nation Prepared," established the pathway for a new professionalism in the education field and a new standards movement. The "A Nation Prepared," report proposed improving teacher education, restructuring the teaching force, and giving teachers greater say in how they met new requirements for student achievement (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). The call for uniform, high standards in teaching and learning has echoed throughout American history. Catharine Beecher and Horace Mann despaired over the low standards for teachers in the mid-nineteenth century; 50 or 60 years later, progressive educators like John Dewey complained about ineffective teaching methods. In the 1950s, all Americans worried about the state of children's learning in the wake of the Russian rocket Sputnik, and in the 1980s, the country was convinced they were a "Nation At Risk" because of low educational standards


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(Urban & Wagoner, 2009). With each outcry has come a new determination to define and implement better standards for schools. The standards movement has focused much attention on teacher training and performance, and teacher education has been under a great deal of scrutiny in the last few years. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Education proposed a new method to evaluate schools of education. The proposal entails using the test scores of recent graduate students in their new classrooms as a measure of their preparedness and the effectiveness of their training (DarlingHammond, 2012). There have been a plethora of warnings from leading researchers that such scores are invalid for this purpose (Darling-Hammond, 2012). This is only one recent example of how education reformers have depicted teachers and the teacher education field as having low standards and being unwilling to accept responsibility for the quality of their work. However, there is a new movement in which teacher educators from across the nation are collaborating to create new accountability tools (Darling-Hammond, 2012). As Darling-Hammond writes, An important part of this effort is the spread of the edTPA, a new performance assessment process that examines — through candidates’ plans, videotapes of instruction, evidence of student work and learning, and commentary — whether prospective teachers are really ready to teach. As highlighted recently in The New York Times, the assessment focuses on whether teachers can organize instruction to promote learning for all students, including new English learners and students with disabilities, and how they analyze learning outcomes to create greater student success. (2012, para.4) The enterprise of teacher education is important in all of this. This is because teachers’ capabilities in supportive settings will make the difference, particularly for school-dependent children (children who do most of their learning in school). There is a growing body of evidence that shows that effective teacher education programs have several key components. First, the collaboration between arts and sciences faculty and education faculty is strong; and good pedagogy is modeled, observed, and explained explicitly. Second, there is careful oversight of the quality of student teaching practicums because experience is the strongest teacher, and we learn to teach in practice (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2008). Also, courses are tightly tied to student teaching experiences, and there is strong coursework in math and reading methods and assessment strategies (Boyd et al., 2008). Next, the big picture is made clear for education students through foundations courses, so they understand the mission and calling to the teaching profession and teachers’ moral and ethical work. Teachers set an example for their students (Dewey, 1916). Part of what a teacher does is to teach children to be part of a community with values, and they teach children to get into the habit of being thoughtful. Because of education’s evolution and the influence of recent movements affecting the field, the thesis of this article is that attention to the attitudes and perceptions of teacher candidates should be a focus of educational research. Such research can inform educational practice in ways that prevailing research agendas have not and cannot. The attitudes toward


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teacher candidates and the perceptions of teacher candidates in relation to the components of the program are related to the program’s effectiveness. This article examines the major themes that emerged in the study findings. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to survey preservice teacher candidates at Dominican University in River Forest, IL, to determine their attitudes and perceptions regarding effective practices in a teacher education program. The premise is that preservice teachers’ understanding, knowledge, and acceptance of the components deemed important in an effective teacher education program are critical in making the program effective, relevant, and meaningful. There has been a long history of research into preservice teacher characteristics (Schalock, 1979) and research on teacher education programs (Lanier & Little, 1986). However, most research on learning to teach has focused on clinical practice or student teaching level (Ball & Forzani, 2009). Additionally, research published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on April 29, 2010, recommends that, after a five-year study of teacher-preparation programs, more research is needed into teacher preparation and accreditation (Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States, 2010). The study, directed by the National Research Council and sponsored by the U.S. Education Department's Institute of Education Sciences, claims that not enough data are available to draw conclusions about the characteristics of the nation's most effective teacher-preparation programs (Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States, 2010). When the National Research Council’s study began in 2005, they intended to examine students who entered teacher-preparation programs and to evaluate the instruction and experience that these students received (Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States, 2010). However, according to the committee of education professors and others who conducted the study, the lack of comprehensive data made the task highly challenging (Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States, 2010). Furthermore, as Darling-Hammond points out in “What Matters Most: A Competent Teacher for Every Child” (1996), the teaching profession is one that has suffered from many years of neglect. By the standards of other professions and other countries, U.S. teacher education has historically been unorganized and poorly financed. As Darling-Hammond notes, “Teacher recruitment is distressingly ad hoc, and teacher salaries lag significantly behind those of other professions” (1996, p.1). This has caused an ongoing shortage of qualified teachers, especially in the areas of mathematics and science. Furthermore, this issue has led to the continual hiring of multitudes of teachers who are underprepared for their work. As Darling-Hammond points out, “A lack of standards for students and teachers, coupled with schools that are organized for nineteenth century learning, leaves educators without an adequate foundation for constructing good teaching. Under these conditions, excellence is hard to achieve” (1996, p.1).


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Just as the Flexner Report led to the medical profession’s transformation (Flexner, 1910), educational researchers are now poised to examine successful practices within and outside the United States to describe what practices are effective and examine how excellence can be achieved in teacher education. The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) released a report titled Education Preparation: A Vision for the 21st Century in February 2010. The report concluded that substantial reform is needed in teacher education programs so that students will be prepared for the twenty-first century and will be able to obtain current knowledge about teaching and learning (AACTE, 2010). The report emphasized the need for schools and schools of education to be thoughtfully redesigned and transformed (AACTE, 2010). Instrument An instrument for this study was developed specifically to identify what components in a teacher education program are perceived as important by preservice teacher candidates. The components of the program were carefully researched and selected by the researchers. The components were identified as (a) student teaching placement, (b) use of electronic portfolios, (c) effective instructional strategies (d) completion of program in four years, (e) coursework is connected to experience, (f) education coursework curriculum, (g) incorporation of technology, (h) teacher dispositions, (i) observation hours (j) opportunities to teach in observation placements, (k) ability to interpret research, (l) application of theory in practice, (m) knowledge of content subject matter, and (n) academic rigor of the program. The instrument was not piloted due to time constraints. The instrument had to be administered within the allotted time as allowed by the institutional board. In addition, the researchers had to secure others outside of the study to administer the instrument in three separate classes. The components chosen for inclusion on the Likert-scale survey were carefully selected by the researchers. These components are correlated with requirements of the teacher education program at the researchers’ institution, and the components are also based upon general components within teacher education programs in universities surrounding the researchers’ institution. Methodology This action research focused on preservice candidates in the undergraduate teacher education program at Dominican University. A survey questionnaire was developed to assess preservice candidates’ beliefs and attitudes about significant components of the teacher education program. The guiding question in developing the survey was, What practices in teacher education programs are perceived by preservice teacher candidates as effective? The survey questionnaire was administered to freshman students in Foundations of Education classes.


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The total sample size was 83 students. The questionnaire consisted of 14 items divided into two main sections. Participants were limited to Likert-scale choices and short answer responses. Candidates were asked to rate the importance of components on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most important and 1 being the least important in a teacher education program. The frequency for each response in each item was compared to find noticeable differences. For the qualitative piece, candidates were specifically asked to describe what they knew about the use of electronic portfolios and teacher dispositions in a teacher education program. In addition, candidates were given the opportunity to make general comments about what they perceived as important in their teacher education programs. They were given the opportunity to express concerns or identify the components that were unfamiliar to them. The short-answer responses were coded into relevant categories, and data were analyzed for frequency in responses and for out-of-the-norm responses. Summary of Findings Quantitative Results Figure 1 represents the results from the survey. The data show the frequency of the student responses for each question as ranked by the specified Likert scale. The numbers at the top of the chart correspond to the Likert Scale rankings: 1- Not Important, 2- Somewhat Important, 3- Neutral, 4- Important, and 5- Very Important. The numbers 1–14 correspond to the components within the teacher education program as listed above. The most frequently selected (Very Important) components within a program are listed in Figure 1. The two top-ranking components perceived as very important to preservice teacher candidates were learning effective instructional strategies and knowledge of subject content. An important implication of this ranking indicates that faculty from teacher education programs and subject-specific departments need to be aware of the importance placed upon these components. The responsibility of educating candidates in these areas falls to both areas equally, and, therefore, it is crucial that education faculty and content area faculty collaborate for the benefit of candidates within their programs. The rankings of teacher dispositions after electronic portfolios as least important are particularly interesting to the researchers considering that both of these components are integral to many teacher education programs. The implication for teacher education programs is to incorporate and assess these components in meaningful ways so that preservice teacher candidates realize the value of completing electronic portfolios and the importance of possessing appropriate teacher dispositions. Further research in the areas of electronic portfolios and teacher dispositions will be necessary to see how these areas progress in future teacher education programs and if candidates will perceive them as more important. The components were ranked by the frequency of importance category. As indicated by Figure 1, candidates did not frequently use the Not Important or the Somewhat Important


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rankings. The Somewhat Important ranking was used 26 times and the Not Important ranking was used 11 times. This may indicate that candidates were hesitant to rank components within an education program as only somewhat important or not important. This demonstrates that, overall, candidates, especially in the beginning phase of a teacher education program, might perceive or want to perceive that all components have some importance. Implications for these rankings would indicate a need for further, perhaps qualitative, research on why candidates ranked the components the way they did. Qualitative Results General comments. Candidates responded to three qualitative questions directly related to electronic portfolios, teacher dispositions, and general comments. The overall response in the general comment category related to the many requirements involved in a teacher education program. Candidates indicated that though they believed most components were important, there are too many, and several candidates expressed concern about being able to successfully complete all requirements. Representative sample comments included “There is a lot of information presented for the education program—seems daunting” and “Observation hours seem like an unreasonable request for new students to complete.” Electronic portfolio. In response to describing how they ranked the importance of electronic portfolios, candidates varied in their responses. Many did not know about this type of portfolio; others indicated that they were familiar with the Livetext software, but they were not aware of how to implement the electronic portfolio. Other candidates expressed dismay about the electronic portfolio because they heard from in-service teachers that electronic portfolios are not valued. Representative sample comments included “Do not know about this—never heard of electronic portfolios,” “Struggle with technology associated with portfolio,” “Use of general Livetext knowledge, but not about portfolio;” and “Heard ‘online’ portfolios are useless from inservice teachers—they never used online portfolios in interviews.” Teacher dispositions. In response to describing how they ranked the importance of teacher dispositions, overall, candidates seemed to realize the significance of the dispositions. Many indicated that though they were not aware of what they are or how they are used in the program, they mentioned that they must hold value. A not surprising concern was the mention of the unfair nature of the dispositions assessment. This concern seems to be a recurring theme in teacher education programs. It is interesting that beginning candidates perceive this ambiguity. Representative sample comments included “Not quite sure what they are, but they must be important;” “Important to becoming a teacher,” “Aware that they are used in the program,” “Discussed in Introduction to Education class,” “These reflect the attitudes of teachers,” and “How do our professors really know us—it is unfair.”


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Discussion Portfolios in Teacher Education The benefits derived from using portfolios in teacher preparation have been well documented. Guillaume and Yopp (1995), Newman and Archbald (1992), Shulman (1987), and Wolf (1991) have demonstrated that systematic input of student work into a portfolio can accurately chronicle the development of students' skills, knowledge, and commitments over time. Lyons (1998) has also argued the value of portfolios in providing the necessary scaffolding for shaping reflective teacher behavior. Barrett (1998) has similarly advocated the use of portfolios, especially since the development of electronic portfolios has allowed for student information to be collected, saved, and stored in an electronic format. Using portfolios, students can view their past performance with greater coherence through a reflective process that enhances selfunderstanding. If learning is to improve for students, effective practices that support students and faculty are essential. Effective instructional assessments can be created in a meaningful and relevant way so that these measures are very different from those designed for public accountability purposes. These learning assessments would (a) be performance-based—portfolios, research projects, experiments, and other student-constructed responses—and involve the use of computers; (b) be fully integrated into the university curriculum so that assessment and instruction are not seen as distinct functions, (c) provide continuous performance feedback so that the student and the instructor can plan further learning steps, (d) actively involve learners in tasks (often in collaboration with other students) that have meaning and relevance to them and will help develop in-depth understanding of what is being learned, and (e) involve the instructor as a coach or mentor instead of a dispenser of knowledge. A critical aspect of portfolio assessment is that it builds on past learning and leads toward future learning. It is not a single activity or test conducted in isolation for external reporting. Clearly, there must be an understanding that portfolio assessment revolves around an entirely different set of issues and questions than traditional accountability measurement. Portfolio assessment provides a deeper description of the learning experiences of students. If students and faculty do not clearly understand the purpose of the portfolio and the portfolio process in their teacher education program, our findings demonstrate that the portfolio experience is not as meaningful and effective as it can be. Dispositions in Teacher Education Good teaching involves more than content knowledge, methodology, and effective planning; it extends to professional dispositions. It is noted that teachers with positive professional dispositions tend to act in ways that elevate the teaching profession of teaching in others’ eyes (Ros-Voseles & Moss, 2007). One of the many issues facing reform in teacher


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education programs across the nation involves how these programs implement assessment procedures involving teacher candidate dispositions. As evidenced by the results of this study, assessment of teacher dispositions remains an unresolved challenge in teacher education, albeit it is an important one. The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the accrediting organization for teacher education programs, requires that member teacher education colleges and universities assess their candidates’ dispositions in addition to candidates’ knowledge and skills (2002). Teacher education programs have a responsibility to convey, model, promote, and assess positive standards of professional teaching conduct. They must maintain assessment procedures that assure candidates with negative dispositions are given an opportunity to improve, or these candidates will not be permitted to continue in the pursuit of teacher education (NCATE, 2002). Though teacher education programs are similar in nature, the assessment procedures for professional dispositions vary greatly across programs and are a source of much debate among teacher educators (Sherman, 2006). Dispositions convey a unique set of challenges to programs and the evaluation process. The question of how to measure the dispositions is at the forefront of the challenges that programs face. Disagreements over the meanings and roles of dispositions within programs lead to problems and may include legal issues (Karges-Bone & Griffin, 2009). One of the many problems that teacher education programs consistently face is that candidates may demonstrate satisfactory knowledge or skills, but something else is missing in their teaching practice. No checklist of behaviors can fully reveal or predict what a candidate will do positively or negatively in the classroom (Karges-Bone & Griffin, 2009). Global Learning Teachers are not only charged with possessing good dispositions, moral character, and effective teaching skills , it is also the purpose of schools to prepare students for living in larger environments (Cushner, 2012). Teachers must seek out concepts, skills, and strategies that will help students understand what is happening in other parts of the world so that students can function more effectively in an interdependent world. In addition to providing teacher candidates with the aforementioned effective practices, teacher education programs are now charged with preparing teachers for globalized classrooms. It is worth mentioning globalization in this study because the effects of it will need to be addressed as part of the reform initiatives in teacher education. Life in the 21st century is changing, and education as a basic social institution must reflect those changes. Globalization is a term that expands across disciplines. In its simplest definition, globalization refers to an increase in the scope and magnitude of human contact with the subsequent escalation of interaction and interdependence (Cushner, 2012). According to the National Council for Social Sciences in the United States (2011), the purpose of global education is to develop in youth the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to live effectively in a world


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possessing limited natural resources, and global education is characterized by ethnic diversity, cultural pluralism, and increasing interdependence. Preparing students to become global citizens poses a great challenge to schools, teachers, and teacher education programs. There is a need, however, for more research regarding globalization and education, namely in teacher education and how programs will prepare global teachers for global classrooms. Developing such knowledge and skills in students due to globalization means that teachers will need to educate for a global consciousness. In turn, students will have to understand the world and their relationship to it. As a result, teacher education programs will need to be enhanced so that teacher candidates are equipped to enter global classrooms with the skills needed for success in this era of interdependence. Teacher education programs will need to determine the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and perspectives that are needed to deliver education in the context of global consciousness. Zhao (2010) identifies six areas in teacher education that will need restructuring in order to carry out the global education initiative: policy advocacy, cultural reorientation, articulating expectations, program realignment, comprehensive and coherent experiences, and global education partnerships. In addition to the numerous components in teacher education programs, global education is yet another issue that will need to be factored into programs. Global education will make the reform process even more challenging. Future Implications There are a variety of teacher education programs in this country; some of the recently created alternatives are quite strong, while others will fail or succeed. Teacher preparation is important because it enhances initial teaching effectiveness, and it increases the likelihood of staying in the profession long enough to become more effective. The challenges facing the nation’s schools of education are accompanied by an equally great opportunity: over the next decade more than two million teachers will be recruited and hired for America's schools. More than half of the teachers who will be teaching 10 years from now will be hired during the next decade. If the focus is on providing this generation of teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to help students succeed, an enormous contribution to America's future will have been made. In this era of teacher education preparation reform, it is vital that undergraduate teacher education utilize effective practices. When students perceive practices as useful, they are committed and, therefore, will welcome the practices set forth by teacher education programs. Upon interpretation and analysis of student data, early conclusions emerged regarding what students perceive as effective practices in an undergraduate teacher education program. This information will allow the researchers to implement changes that will strengthen students’ perception of all program requirements. This study is of interest to teacher educators in general to determine if the common practices required in teacher education programs are seen as effective by students.


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Author Biographies Josephine Sarvis, PhD is an assistant professor in the School of Education at Dominican University where she teaches History and Philosophy of Education, Foundations of Education, and Liberal Arts & Sciences Seminar classes. Josephine earned her BA and MEd from Boston College and her PhD from Loyola University. Her research interests include gender equitable pedagogy, integrated learning and portfolio development in undergraduate education, and effective practices in teacher education. Debra Vinci-Minogue is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Dominican University where she teaches Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages, Foundations of Education, and Diversity in Education. Debra earned her BA from Bradley University and her EdD from Loyola University. Her research interests include foreign language teaching and learning, service learning in teacher education, and effective practices in teacher education. References Ball, D. & Forzani, F. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education . Journal of Teacher Education, 60(5), 497-511. Barrett, H. (1998). Strategic questions: What to consider when planning for electronic portfolios. Learning and Leading with Technology, 26, 6-13. Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States. (2010). Preparing teachers: Building evidence for sound policy. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). Teacher preparation and student achievement (NBER Working Paper No. W14314). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1264576 Cushner, K., McClelland, A., & Safford, P. (2012). Human diversity in education: An intercultural approach. New York,NY: McGraw Hill. Darling-Hammond, L. (1996). What matters most: A competent teacher for every child. Phi Delta Kappan, 78, 1-4. Darling-Hammond, L. (2001). The right to learn: A blueprint for creating schools that work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Darling-Hammond, L. (2012, August 13). Real teacher ed reform. Inside higher ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/08/13/essay-argues-real-teachereducation-reform-going-led-profession Dewey, John. 1916. Democracy and education. New York, NY: The MacMillan Company. Flexner, A. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, (1910). Medical education in the united states and canada (Bulletin No. 4). Retrieved from The Carnegie Foundation website:


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http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/sites/default/files/elibrary/Carnegie_Flexner_Report. pdf Fraser, J. W. (2001). The school in the United States: A documentary history. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Guillaume, A., & Yopp, H. (1995). Professional portfolios for student teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, 22(1), 93-101. Huber, M. T. & Hutchings, P. (2004). Integrative learning: Mapping the terrain. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. New York, NY: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/teacher-preparation-reforming-uncertain-profession Karges-Bone, L. & Griffin, M. (2009). Do they have the right dispositions? Teacher education in the new conceptual age. SRATE Journal, 18(2), 27-33. Lanier, J. E., & Little, J. W. (1986). Research on teacher education. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 527-569). New York, NY: Macmillan. Lyons, N. (1998). Introduction. In N. Lyons (Ed.), With portfolio in hand, (pp. 1-8). New York., NY: Teachers College Press. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2008). Professional standards for the accreditation of teacher preparation institutions. Washington, D.C.: NCATE. National Council for Social Sciences in the United States. (2011). National curriculum standards for social studies: A framework for teaching, learning, and assessment. Silver Spring, MD: NCSS Publishing. Newman, F., & Archbald, D. (1992). The nature of authentic academic achievement. In H. Berlak, F. Newman, E. Adams, and D. Archbald (Eds.), Toward a new science of educational testing and assessment, (pp. 71-83). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Ravitch, D. (2002). A Brief History of Teacher Professionalism:White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers. Retrieved from: http://www.udel.edu/educ/whitson/897s05/files/ravitch_Teacher_Professionalism.htm Ros-Voseles, D. & Moss, L. (2007). The role of dispositions in the education of future teachers. Young Children, 62(5), 90-98. Schalock, H. D. (1979). Research on teacher selection. In D. C. Berliner (Ed.)., Annual review of research in education (pp. 364-417). Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association. Serdyukov, P. & Ferguson, M.A. (2011). Teacher dispositions: What kind of candidates do we have in a teacher preparation program, and how can we make them better? Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching, 4(1), 106-119. Sherman, S. (2006). Moral dispositions in teacher education: Making them matter. Teacher Education Quarterly, 33(4), 41-57. Shulman, L. (1987). Assessment for teaching: An initiative for the profession. Phi Delta Kappan, 69, 38-44.


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Spring, J. (2011). American education. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Suarez-Orozco, M. & Sattin, C. (2007). Learning in the global era: International perspectives on globalization and education. Berkely, CA: University of California Press. Urban, W & Wagoner, J. (2009). American education: A history. New York, NY: Routledge Publishers. Villegas, A. (2007). Dispositions in teacher education, A look at social justice. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 370. doi: 10.1177/0022487107308419 Wolf, K. (1991). The schoolteacher’s portfolio: Issues in design, implementation, and evaluation. Phi Delta Kappan, 73, 29-136. Zhao, Y. (2010). Preparing globally competent teachers: A new imperative for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 422-431.

1

2

3

4

5

Totals

1

0

2

3

1

4

16

55

76

8

32

22

11

76

3

0

0

2

14

60

76

4

0

2

12

19

43

76

5

0

1

6

16

52

75

6

0

0

4

26

45

75

7

2

5

19

37

13

76

8

2

0

14

28

32

76

9

1

3

6

34

31

75

10

2

2

3

21

46

74

11

1

2

14

35

24

76

12

0

1

6

33

35

75

13

0

0

3

13

60

76

14

0

1

11

39

25

76

Totals

11

26

136

353

532

1058

Figure 1. Ranking of teacher education programs in order of perceived importance. #1 Effective instructional strategies (learning of) *. #2 Knowledge of content subject matter *. #2 Student teaching placement. #3 Coursework connected to experience. #4 Opportunities to teach in observation placements. #5 Education coursework curriculum. #6 Completion of program in 4 years. #7 Application of theory into practice. #8 Teacher dispositions, #9 Observation hours (amount). #10 Academic rigor of the teacher education program. #11 Ability to interpret research. #12 Incorporation of technology. #13 Use of electronic portfolio. * Effective instructional strategies and subject content knowledge ranked the same


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education

Exploring a Modified Solomon Four-Group Design for Support of Value-Added Claims in the Accreditation of an Educational Leadership Program John C. Hanes Regent University Glenn L. Koonce Regent University

Abstract A number of accrediting agencies and various commissions are now promoting universities to demonstrate that they actually add value to their students’ educational trajectories. Students and their parents also seek a better understanding of the cost effectiveness for higher education programs because expense continues to be a concern for many families. For value-added claims, we initially want to answer this research question: To what extent does the Regent University Educational Leadership Program add value to students’ competence in leading a K–12 school? We plan to take a stratified random sample of three separate groups of master’s degree students within the university: educational leadership students, other school of education students, and other Regent students. For instrumentation, we have chosen the School Leaders Licensure Assessment examination; we believe that it represents a reasonable proxy or indicator for competent leadership practice. Because this examination offers a third-party, objective evaluation and is a requirement for licensing in Virginia and many other states, it provides us with scores that can track value-added claims. We propose a modified Solomon Four-Group design that allows for pretest-posttest controls and posttest-only controls. Random selection and partial random assignment for educational leadership students, other school of education students, and other Regent university students help to protect against a number of threats to internal and external validity. Significant challenges to implementation include motivating various participant groups, securing partnerships and financing, and dealing with effect size versus n-size tradeoffs. The longitudinal aspect of the design is an important benefit. Keywords: value-added, accreditation, Solomon Four-Group design


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A number of accrediting agencies and various commissions, including the United States Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), are now looking for universities to demonstrate that they improve student achievement and actually add value to their students’ educational trajectories (Liu, 2011). The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) arm of the Council for Accreditation of Education Programs (CAEP) includes value-added claims as one of three types of claims that may be made concerning an educational program (Teacher Education Accreditation Council, 2011). Students and their parents also seek a better understanding of the cost effectiveness for higher education programs because expense continues to be a concern for many families (Liu, 2011). For accreditation, the movement to a value-added focus has gathered momentum over the last several decades as two major shifts have occurred. First, from the perspective of a program logic model, emphasis has moved from tracking inputs or institutional capacities, such as libraries, to charting outcomes as measured by graduates’ characteristics and achievements (Liu, 2011). Second, some of the attention has reoriented from outcome statuses that convey information about graduates’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors to value-added evidence that addresses how the outcomes were generated e.g., by the program itself, by the initial quality of the students admitted, or by the use of screening examinations (Liu, 2011). An example of the value-added approach applied at the undergraduate level involves the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), a program co-developed by the AASCU that is focused on the outcomes for writing and critical thinking (Liu, 2011). Three instruments, including the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Proficiency Profile, provide the input for measurement of these two academic skills, and the estimation of value-added evidence comes from the simultaneous examination of both freshmen and seniors at each of the 300+ institutions participating in the VSA program. Note that the VSA deploys a cross-sectional design because the preferable longitudinal design (Liu, 2011) would require at least four years before the same students could be retested as a panel study. Currently, the value-added approach is receiving support as a requirement for the nation’s teacher and administrator preparation programs that are both undergraduate and graduate (Sawchuk, 2013). However, most teacher preparation programs across the country have not been very receptive to the value-added idea. Established in 1995, the Regent University School of Education (SOE) Educational Leadership (Ed. Lead.) Program has become a national, standards-based (the program follows the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium [ISLLC] standards) enterprise that received national accreditation from TEAC on January 9, 2009. This was one of the first two educational leadership programs in the nation to receive independent program accreditation from TEAC. CAEP represents the merger of TEAC and the older National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. From the beginning of the accreditation effort in 2005, the Ed. Lead. Program evolved several models to guide the endeavor; these involved, among others, a program logic model


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(Hanes, 1998), a systems evaluation partnership (SEP) model (Urban & Trochim, 2009), and, as a Christian University, a Christian service model. Because TEAC presented three levels of claims that an educational program could make for itself, we included all three levels in our program logic model. Note that our logic model follows the traditional form of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes, but some modifications and additions are made to the model. Two of the claims, value-added (shows graduates’ improvement over the course of the program) and causal (utilizes control group to demonstrate that the program caused graduates’ improvement), are considered subsidiary to status claims about graduates’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. For the initial accreditation, the Ed. Lead. Program only utilized status claims, but the program logic model anticipated deployment of the subsidiary claims as identified in Figure 1 under the question, “Compared to what?” This is located between the symbol representing our students and the symbol representing prior or current cohorts other than current Regent University Ed. Lead. students. Methods In order to begin the value-added process, a simple research question is posed: To what extent does the Regent University SOE Ed. Lead. Program add value to students’ competence in leading a K–12 school? Because we lack a sufficient sample size and the data to assess our graduates who have risen to the principal position (although this is changing rapidly as more of our graduates attain the lead position in school systems across the country), we have chosen the School Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) examination as a proxy for the actual leadership that we eventually want to measure. The SLLA proper will be discussed under “Instrumentation” below. Thus, operationalizing the research question yields a research hypothesis that states: The Regent University Ed. Lead. Program adds a statistically significant value and, at least, a moderate effect size to achievement scores of graduates on the SLLA examination as a proxy for leadership competence in K–12 schools. The corresponding null hypothesis states that the program does not add a statistically significant value or, at least, a moderate effect size to achievement scores of graduates on the SLLA examination. Participants Three target populations of Regent University graduate students constitute the sampling frames for this investigation. Our master’s degree students in the Ed. Lead. program constitute the intervention group that receives the treatment. Our Ed. Lead. program is for school administrators with a focus on the principal’s position at a K–12 school. Two other student groups provide comparisons: the SOE students in other master’s degree programs (hereafter designated by “other SOE”) and the master’s degree students at Regent University in fields of study outside of education (hereafter designated by “other Regent”). An initial assumption of the


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relative comparability for cognitive ability among the three student groups will be investigated through admissions grid assessments. Sampling Because of cost constraints, the sample is limited to a maximum of 50 students. When using stratified random sampling across the three student groups, the target allocation is 20 Ed. Lead. students, 20 students from the other SOE category, and 10 students from the other Regent stratum. Design Deploying a modified Solomon Four-Group design (Campbell & Stanley, 1963; Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002) as shown in Figure 2 allows us to investigate the value-added component of our program and answer the important question of “Compared to what?” If we could randomly assign students to programs within the SOE and the university, then the Solomon Four-Group would realize its full potential as a true experimental design, and it would include protection from all threats to internal validity except overall and differential attrition. Self-selection does, to various degrees, disturb the benefits derived from random assignment. The design does address the external validity threat of the interaction of testing and treatment (that treatment being The Regent University Ed. Lead. Program). Nevertheless, the major benefit to value-added assessment comes from the combination of the pretest-posttest group and the posttest-only control group designs. This combination addresses program value-added evidence directly by comparing our Ed. Lead. students with other SOE students as well as other Regent University students who constitute an additional group that modifies and extends the Solomon Four-Group design as originally conceived. This means that five groups of roughly 10 students each will provide the focus for the study: Ed. Lead. students who receive both the pretest and the posttest, other SOE students who also receive both tests, Ed. Lead. students who only participate in the posttest, other SOE students who also only participate in the posttest, and other Regent students who also only take the posttest. Instrumentation The SLLA is the instrument selected as the dependent variable for this study because it is used as a measure to determine if “entry-level educational leaders have the knowledge necessary for their professional practice” (Educational Testing Service, 2012a, p. 1). The SLLA examination provides an objective third-party measure of an essential outcome indicator for the program. As previously indicated, it represents a reasonable proxy or indicator for competent leadership practice, which is a proposed major step toward the autoptic proference (Anderson & Twining, 1998). Considered here, the autoptic proference is the direct evidence for the ultimate


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outcome of enhanced K–12 student learning. There was a need for an assessment vehicle to drive a first effort to measure the value-added element attributable to the educational leadership program. In our previously developed SEP model (Figure 3), the SLLA was revealed as a good candidate for such a vehicle. The general SEP model focuses on the theory/practice interface with attention to the connection of various components of a program and its outcomes. In the model, the SLLA is easily attainable because all program graduates need a passing score for administrative position licensing, which is a target for the vast majority of our students. The SLLA is one of three components of the ETS (2012a) School Leadership Series that “provides a thorough, fair, and validated assessment for states to use as part of the licensure process for principals” (p. 1). “As with other professions, a test of knowledge and skills based on professional standards is a prerequisite to practice and separates the qualified from the unqualified” (Adams & Copeland, 2005, pp. 20-21). The most current research on school leadership is reflected in the SLLA’s design including the professional judgment and experience of educators from across the country. The SLLA is based on a multistate job analysis and specified standards as defined by the ISLLC (Educational Testing Service, 2012a; Ellet, 1999; Reese & Tannenbaun, 1999). Bryant, Isernhagen, LeTendre, and Neu (2003) report that the SLLA is an entry level assessment designed to capture an aspiring school administrator’s knowledge of the ISLLC standards. Engler (2004) agrees and adds that members of ISLLC indicate that their six standards are essential factors for a beginning school administrator. The SLLA is derived from the ISLLC standards. The ISLLC produced six standards for educational leadership preparation programs (Council of Chief State School Officers, 1996). The standards are research-based with the knowledge, dispositions, and performances necessary for exemplary school leadership (Engler, 2004). Each standard begins with the words “A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by” (Council of Chief State School Officers, 1996, p. 8). Concluding phrases for each standard are based on the following essential factors: having a vision, a focus on student learning and staff professional development, providing necessary resources for learning in a safe environment, encouraging parent and community involvement, acting with integrity and fairness, and understanding the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural contexts of schooling (Council of Chief State School Officers, 1996; Hessel & Holloway, 2002; Bryant et al, 2003). The original version of the SLLA was in existence from 1999 through 2009 (Educational Testing Services, 2009). This version was six hours long, and it included 10 short vignettes, seven longer vignettes, two case studies, and seven constructed responses (Hessel & Holloway, 2002). As of the final administration of this version of the SLLA, the cost was $600.00 (Educational Testing Service, 2009). The current SLLA was revised in 2010, and it is divided into two sections, 100 multiple-choice questions, and seven constructed response questions. The official score range for SLLA candidates is between 100 and 200 points.


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The SLLA is a major test for granting principal certification and/or endorsement in a number of states (Adams & Copeland, 2005). States utilizing the SLLA for licensure/endorsement set their own cut score (Educational Testing Service, 2012-2013). The actual score report a candidate receives for the SLLA is the overall score and eight sub-scores (categories) because there are separate scores for the multiple-choice and constructed-response questions in two of the categories (Educational Testing Service, 2009). This study will utilize the overall SLLA scores for statistical testing and reporting of results. Licensing of principals and assistant principals in Virginia (site of this study) is constrained because the state requires a passing score on the SLLA (Virginia Board of Education, 2011). Virginia Administration and Supervision initial endorsement candidates who desire to be principals or assistant principals must “satisfy the Board of Education’s school leader’s assessment” (Virginia Board of Education, 2011, p. 61). A score of 163 was set by the board for the new revision of the SLLA. Other states cut scores range from 156–169 (Educational Testing Service, 2012b). The current Virginia SLLA Test Code is 6011; it is available only in computer delivered format as of 2012 (Virginia Department of Education, 2012). Candidates must register and pay fees ($425.00) for test administration by visiting the ETS website: www.ets.org/sls. An ETS Praxis Series Technical Manual (2010) exists for teacher licensure assessments, but no technical manual for the ETS Leadership Series was found. Validity and reliability are addressed from the review of literature. ETS defines validity as “the extent to which test scores actually reflect what they are intended to measure” (Educational Testing Service, 2012a, p. 2). Tannenbaum & Robustelli (2008) established validity for the most recent version of the SLLA through occupational credentialing and a job survey made up of practitioners and experts from the field. Performance standards were broken down for each subcategory. Ninety-two skill statements were clustered within the six ISLLC standards. Two hundred ninety-four respondents (school and district administrators, supervisors, and college faculty) judged each skill statement on a scale ranging from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important). “All of the 92 skill statements had mean ratings above 3.50 in the aggregate sample and for subgroups containing more than 30 respondents” (Tannenbaum & Robustelli, 2008, p. i). ETS defines reliability as “the tendency of individual scores to be consistent from one edition of the test to another” (Educational Testing Service, 2012a, p. 2). ETS reports summary statistics for the School Leadership Series. For the SLLA, ETS reports the “Possible Score Range,” the “Score Interval,” the “Number of Examinees,” the “Median,” the “Average Performance Range,” the “Standard Error of Measurement,” and the “Standard Error of Scoring” (p. 2). The last two are measures of reliability and are explained in the “Glossary of Terms” (p. 2) found in the 2012 ETS document titled Understanding Your School Leadership Series Scores (Educational Testing Service, 2012a).


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Analysis The main analysis utilizes a 2 X 3 analysis of variance to check for statistically significant differences and effect sizes among the five groups’ mean SLLA scores (or only) administration of each group’s examination Two independent variables drive the analysis. The first, test condition, has two categories: pretest-posttest and posttest only. The second variable, student group, includes the three possible student groupings: Ed. Lead., other SOE, and other Regent. Direct comparisons and correlations may also be described. Procedure Before the majority of our students begin their programs in the fall semester, random selection during the summer from program lists will create a pool of students for each of the five groups. Because of the very real possibilities of initial rejection and early attrition, oversampling will provide some assurance of approaching the maximum of 10 students per group. Invitations to selected students and institutional review board approved consent forms will be emailed to those selected. For those students taking the pretest, SLLA scheduling will attempt to achieve the earliest administration possible for each student; that is, any treatment or other academic contamination is to be avoided. Because most of our master’s degree programs aim for one- to two-year time targets, scheduling of the posttest will begin at the end of year one with the intent to have all testing completed as close as possible to 1.5 years. This should allow our Ed. Lead. students to receive the full treatment offered by our program. SLLA scores are reported by the ETS to universities as requested by the test takers. These scores are available for analysis as Regent receives them. The study will cover testing costs ($425 per administration) for each student along with a stipend of $100 for completion of any single SLLA examination. In addition, any student passing the examination on the first attempt receives $100, and any student increasing a second score also generates $100. These incentives are included to generate student commitment to the study requirements. Discussion We anticipate several issues may present opportunities and challenges for a successful outcome of the study. First, the Solomon Four-Group design’s inherent longitudinal structure provides a preferable (Liu, 2011) alternative to cross-sectional designs such as the one deployed by the VSA. This longitudinal treatment arises from the relatively short time frame (about one and a half years) for completion of the master’s degree in Ed. Lead. A similarly brief period is scheduled for the comparison groups’ master’s programs. Participant motivation is a significant problem because more than half of the subjects in a balanced study would presumably not care greatly about their scores on the SLLA examination.


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Even our own Ed. Lead. students assigned to the pretest may not be particularly motivated at the beginning of their program. However, to their advantage, initial success would remove significant stress over the course of the program. Also, the early SLLA examination experience should possibly provide them with an advantage on the posttest. Perhaps, most importantly, our program students are receiving at least one free examination for which they would have to pay in other circumstances. For other SOE and other Regent students, passing the SLLA might offer another option on their career paths either now or in the future. For all students, the free examination and $100 payment for a maximum of four hours devoted to any single administration of the SLLA may help promote this testing experience as cost beneficial. The $100 passing incentives may also resonate with students both inside and outside of our program. Currently, we have under consideration the possibility of granting limited course credit for any SOE students passing the pretest. Employing motivation scales like the Student Opinion Survey (Sundre & Wise, 2003) may help detect student with low motivation. Such students can have their performance accounted for as analysis proceeds. Correlations of motivation and performance for all students should deliver some insight concerning the nature of this relationship. Conclusion Essential expenses for budget purposes total $43,750. The bulk of this comes from the 70 administrations of the SLLA examination at $425 per examinee. The incentive of $100 per test taken yields a line item expense of $7000. The maximum expense for passing on the first, or only, attempt is $5000, and the maximum expense for increasing the second score is $2000. To offset these expenses, we are seeking to collaborate with ETS to defray some or all of the test administration costs, and we will apply for both internal and external grants for the incentive costs. Because of the relatively large expense burden, the number of participants is necessarily limited to 50 as our maximum sample size. This involves an interesting set of tradeoffs among sufficient financial motivators, potential grant income, the extent of ETS collaboration, number of participants, and statistical significance testing. We expect the effect size to be large, but it remains to be seen whether this can be successful for statistical conclusion validity (statistically significant hypothesis testing and at least a moderate effect size) against a small n-size. Author Biographies John Hanes, an Associate Professor in the School of Education, has degrees in Business (Wake Forest University, MBA) and Educational Research and Evaluation / Educational Research Methodology (University of North Carolina - Greensboro, MEd, PhD). His experience includes assisting in the evaluation of the National Science Foundation's Urban Systemic


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Initiatives Project and serving as the Research Project Coordinator for the Medical College of Georgia FitKid Project under an NIH grant. His research interests include the development of new methods for the analysis and presentation of data, particularly large, complex multivariate datasets; and continuing refinement of a General Program Evaluation Model. Glenn L. Koonce is an Associate Professor and Program Director for Educational Leadership in the School of Education at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has a long and prestigious history in public school leadership and has taught at four universities. He has been recognized as the Principal of the Year for Virginia and Education Professor of the Year at Regent University. He is a Board Certified Auditor for the Virginia Department of Education and the Teachers Education Accreditation Council/Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. His research interests include leadership and school law. References Adams, J. E., & Copeland, M. A. (2005). When learning counts: Rethinking licenses for school leaders [PDF Document]. Retrieved from Wallace Foundation website: http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/school-leadership/statepolicy/Documents/When-Learning-Counts-Rethinking-Licenses-for-School-Leaders.pdf Anderson, T., & Twining, W. (1998). Analysis of evidence: How to do things with facts based on Wigmore’s science of statistical proof. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Bryant, M., Isernhagen, J., LeTendre, B., & Neu, B. (2003, April). Alternative paths to administrative practice: the new school leader’s licensure assessment. Paper session presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Research Association, Chicago, IL. Campbell, D. T., & Stanley, J. C. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Council of Chief State School Officers. (1996). The interstate school leaders licensure consortium standards for school leaders. Washington, DC: Author. Educational Testing Services (2009). The official study guide: School Leaders Licensure Assessment, test code: 1011. Princeton, NJ: Author. Educational Testing Services. (2010). Praxis technical manual. Princeton, NJ. Author. Educational Testing Service. (2012a). Understanding Your School Leadership Series Scores. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/s/sls/pdf/uysls_1213.pdf Educational Testing Service. (2012b). School leaders licensure assessment [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/Media/Tests/SLS/pdf/1011.pdf Educational Testing Service. (2012-2013). The school leadership series information bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/sls Engler, C. (2004). The ISLLC standards in action. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education. Ellett, C. D. (1999). Developments in the preparation of licensing of School Leaders: The work of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 13(3), 201-204.


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Hanes, J. C. (1998, November). The CSSI model for program evaluation. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Chicago, IL. Hessel, K., & Holloway, J. (2002). A framework for school leaders: Linking the ISLLC standards to practice. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Services. Liu, O. L. (2011). Outcomes assessment in higher education: Challenges and future research in the context of voluntary system of accountability. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 30(3), 2-9. Reese, C., &Tannenbaum, R. (1999). Gathering content-related validity evidence for the School Leaders Licensure Assessment. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 13(3), 263282. Sawchuk, S. (2013, July 9). Tougher requirements ahead for teacher prep: Accrediting body poised to adopt new standards. Education Week, 32(36). Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/07/010/36caep.h32.html Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Tannenbaum, R., & Robustelli, S. (2008). Validity evidence to support the development of a licensure assessment for education leaders: A job-analytic approach. ETS Research Memorandum. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Services. Teacher Education Accreditation Council (2011). Guide to Accreditation: 2011-2012. Washington, DC: Author. Urban, J. B., & Trochim, W. (2009). The role of evaluation in research-practice integration: Working toward the “golden spike.” American Journal of Evaluation, 30(4), 538-553. Virginia Board of Education 8VAC 20-22-10 et. Seq. (2011). Licensure Regulations for School Personnel: Revised January 19, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/licensure_regs.pdf Virginia Department of Education. (2012). Assessment requirements for Virginia licensure: June 7, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/licensure/prof_teacher_assessment.pdf


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TEAC Logic Model Leadership Education FEEDBACK [Look longitudinally for patterns, trends, subgroup analyses, improvements, and sustainability]

SOURCES

INPUTS (Capacities) NEEDS: Radically Improved K-12 Education Appn. D Regent University

C H

School Systems

Faith

Faculty

Facilities Supplies Fiscal Admin. Student support

S TEAC

Admissions Advertising

T Partnerships

Assure Quality

Curriculum

[Sec.1]

R I

Appn. C

ACTIVITIES

Student feedback

---Appn. B--(Parity), QP 4

Internal Audit Arena Appn. A

QP 2: Assessments (reasonable, credible, reliable, valid)

OUTPUTS

----------------Status Claims [Sec.2] -------------Quality ISLLC Cross-cutting Ultimate

Prepare/equip Students to Lead

V

Credit hours completed

Service Arena

I

Graduates

M C

Course Quality

QP 3.1: Planning based on evidence QP 3.2: Influential Quality Control system

OUTCOMES

E P

Student Satisfaction

SOE Students

[Sec.3-5] Entry --Appn. F-- Assessments

Compared To What? Value-added & causal claims QP 3

References in RefWorks [Sec. 6]

Prior or Current Cohorts

Set internal targets & external benchmarks

Maintain consistency: Internal – approach & organization of Briefs External – with SCHEV, Title I & II, VITAL, ETS, State test scores

Professional Knowledge

Technology

K-12 Achievement

Strategic Decision-making

Multicultural

Seeking Serving Edifying

Caring Leadership Skills

Life-long Learning

Closing Gaps

------------QP 1----------(Required in Crosswalk)

Unsupported Claims

-----Evidence for Status Claims [Sec. 4-5] ---Graduates Appn. E: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11

Post-Hoc Appn. E: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19

Payoff Appn. E: 4, 10, 18, 20, Futures Evaluation

---------Triangulation & Replication-------© 2007, John Hanes, PhD, RU

Figure 1. Program Logic Model for the Regent University School of Education Leadership Program. Adapted from “The CSSI model for program evaluation,” by J. C. Hanes, 1998, Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Chicago, IL. Copyright 2007 by John Hanes.


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The Modified Solomon Four‐ Group Design R O1 R O3 R R R

X X

O2 O4 O5 O6 O7

R = Random selection/assignment O = Observations based on SLLA X = Treatment of Ed. Lead. program

Ed. Lead. Students Other SOE Ed. Lead. Students Other SOE Other Regent Some expected results: O2 > O1, O2 > O4, O5 > O6, and O5 > O7.

Figure 2. The Solomon Four-Group design with an additional group (Other Regent) and a partial random assignment that applies only to Ed. Lead. and Other SOE students in respect to their participation in either the pretest-posttest group or the posttest only group.


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Regent SOE Educational Leadership Systems Evaluation Partnership Model ------------------- Research / Theory -------------------Integrate Faith and Learning

----- Practice ----Seeks, Serves, Edifies

Improved CL Results Course F&L Integration Increased Church, Civic Contributions

Develop Courses, Select Texts Improved SLLA Results Program Curriculum

Administer Ed. Lead. Program

Improved K-12 Achievement

Competent Practitioners Align ISSLC, TEAC, VADOE

Improved CPO’s, GPA’s Improved Internship Evaluations

Capable Students Credit Hours Completed

Recruit and Admit Students

Key:

Activity

Increased Professional Contributions

Output

Short-Term Outcome

Closed Gaps

Medium-Term Outcome

Long-Term Outcome

© 2010, John Hanes, PhD, RU

Figure 3. The Systems Evaluation Partnership model for the Regent University School of Education Educational Leadership program. Adapted from “The Role of Evaluation in Research-Practice Integration: Working Toward the ‘Golden Spike’,” by J. B. Urban and W. Trochim, 2009, American Journal of Evaluation, 30, p. 545. Copyright 2009 by Jenifer Brown Urban and William Trochim.


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Leading Special Education Programs Collaboratively: Good News, Bad News Ted Price Virginia Tech Deborah L. Wells Virginia Tech

Abstract This study featured survey research designed to compare the magnitude of concern between Virginia public school division superintendents and directors of special education regarding timely issues in special education. Survey questions addressed current issues in special education as identified in educational policy briefs, and they addressed issues in the literature examining the intersections among educational leadership, special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Significant differences in magnitude of concern and factors affecting concern were noted for alternate assessment, graduation rates for students with disabilities (SWDs), special education teacher turnover, the overidentification of SWDs, and professional development for special education teachers. Implications for practice include the role perception that concern plays in educational decision making and factors identified as likely to increase collaboration between superintendents and directors of special education. Keywords: special education, collaborative leadership

The United States public school system enrolled 49.5 million students in public schools in the fall of 2010 (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (2010) reported that 6,552,766 students were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) in the fall of 2010. These figures indicate that 13% of the fall 2010 student population were classified as students with disabilities (SWDs) and were eligible for specialized instruction and related services needed to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The cost of providing this specialized instruction is about 2.28 times the average regular-education expenditure with 40% of that expenditure coming from the local school district (Berman, Davis, Koufman-Frederick, & Urion, 2001).


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Educational practices for SWDs are currently governed by the IDEIA of 2004, while the education for students both with and without disabilities is governed by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Although reauthorized in 2004, the main goal of the IDEIA remains the same, ensuring the provision of FAPE to SWDs. The reauthorization of the IDEIA led to a number of major changes that included adding NCLB language related to highly qualified special educators, changing the eligibility process requirements for students with learning disabilities, deleting short-term objectives on individualized education plans (IEPs), and modifying discipline requirements (Smith, 2005). The goal of NCLB encourages educational improvement for all students, yet it presents several issues that are of concern when educating SWDs. The most significant of these issues include assessment requirements for all students, the adequate yearly progress (AYP) of all students, and teacher quality (National Education Association, 2004). School systems tasked with providing quality educational opportunities for all students must work carefully within these two educational acts and balance the provisions of both. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) (2012) demonstrated the difficulty of implementing these acts in a report documenting over 11,700 disability-related complaints during the fiscal years 2009–2011. This figure represents more than 55% of the total complaints OCR received during the same period. Nationally, school divisions are usually led by a superintendent along with several subordinate administrative officers with the goal of meeting the needs of students in that division. Many of the administrative officers have well-defined, specialized areas of responsibilities such as human resources, transportation, curriculum and instruction, and special education (Jefferson County Public Schools, 2011). When considering the facts and figures regarding special education and the two major governing acts, it is difficult to envision superintendents and district administrative officers adequately educating their students without engaging in deliberate and optimal collaboration. When superintendents and district administrative officers lead special education programs collaboratively while concurrently “adopting inclusionary practices and shifting resources to improve instructional quality and reduce staff turnover,” (Frank & Miles, 2012, pp. 24-25) outcomes can improve for SWDs without spending more money. One superintendent stated, “I speak for all superintendents that we want to serve these students, but we need to balance that desire with the services we can provide all our students” (Riley, 2012, B3). Furthermore, when speaking of just where to obtain the money to pay for services, superintendents have a real dilemma. This is a dilemma because localities are now tasked with funding upwards of 40% of special education expenditures (Berman et al., 2001). The gradual tightening of overall school funding has, at times, created uncomfortable tension between needed special education and other school priorities (Riley, 2012). For many superintendents, special education is a concern regardless of whether it is with funding, facilities, training, staffing, or services (Amprey, 2005). For many directors of special education, concerns stem from the demand to balance many roles that are necessary for special education administrative work.


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Thompson and O’Brian (2007) reported that some directors of special education feel they are being pulled in too many directions as they work to satisfy the political forces of different stakeholders inclusive of boards of education and superintendents. Thompson and O’Brian (2007) also noted that some directors of special education expressed challenges related to professional interactions with administrators and teachers who were not familiar with special education rules and regulations. To address these issues, this research investigated why such perceptions exist and investigate if the two parties are far apart. If there is a discrepancy in perceptions, it is posited that assisting leaders to become more collaborative in their leadership approaches can ultimately result in better services being provided to students Background The study of special education students is widely documented. Unruh, Bullis, Todis, Waintrup, and Atkins (2007) acknowledged that there are hundreds of studies and projects that have been conducted to determine ways to help SWDs succeed in learning environments with their nondisabled peers. However, the leadership practices of district administrators are often overlooked in providing resources and services to meet the needs of the special education population. DiPaola and Tschannen-Moran (2003) have written about how difficult the task is at the school level. School principals, in general, struggle with the complexities of special education: Special education presents one of the major challenges facing school leaders in the era of school reform. Today, schools must provide students with disabilities appropriate access to the general curriculum and effective instructional support. Student progress must be monitored closely and demonstrated through participation in assessment efforts. (p. 5) Research suggests that the principal’s role is pivotal in the special education process. However, few school leaders as well as leaders at the district level are well prepared for this responsibility. For the contemporary school administrator, special education is not isolated within the school but rather an “integrated system of academic and social supports designed to help students with disabilities succeed within the least restrictive environments” (DiPaola & Tschannen-Moran, 2003, p. 5). Leading collaboratively is difficult, especially when those in shared leadership roles perceive tasks, priorities and task importance, and available resources differently. Research directs the leader to have common perspectives when leading organizations effectively. As Agnew points out, “Collaboration requires transparency. People can't work together if they're not on the same page” (2012, p. 1). In addition, the importance of similar values and beliefs is essential to smoothly running operations. Research on values in the social sciences is primarily concerned with relating the value priorities of individuals or groups to their antecedents in socially structured experiences and cultural backgrounds with their general attitudes and patterns of behavior (Schwartz, 1992). What Schwartz suggests is important in this study because superintendents and directors of special education programs may not have similar antecedents to


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their choices and priorities. Moreover, the two parties may not be coming from the same place either in what brought them to their specific job or their views on the educational world. Their backgrounds, values, and beliefs may be different. For example, superintendents may try to do the best for all students rather than focusing specially on special education students’ needs. Or it may be the case that superintendents are just trying to keep their jobs in a highly charged political environment. Today, the average tenure for a superintendent is around three years (Pascopella, 2011). The same may hold true for directors of special education. The job’s focus can, therefore, impact the way of seeing the true picture for the district as a whole. Even though the theory of values influence depends on background and current motivation, for the purposes of this research, it is assumed that the values held in our educational communities are similar enough to not be the significant barrier to setting priorities or initiating action. In fact, prioritizing needs and initiating action are more a factor of beliefs about the significance of a current issue. However, according to the theory of values influence, it is likely that actions are also dictated by background and current motivations (Schwartz, 1992). Leading Collaboratively “The concept of collaborative leadership provides a useful perspective in exploring the balance of leadership responsibilities for special education across principals, assistant principals, and teachers within schools, and administrators and supervisors across school districts” (Crockett, 2007, p. 140). Leading collaboratively is about leaders working together to share resources and provide a common perspective for effectively exploring the balance of leadership responsibilities. Collaborative leadership includes prioritizing services and resources for special education students across programs and staffs. However, collaboration is more than cooperating, and it is more than sharing information. Collaboration is about pooling available resources and establishing agreed upon priorities, including, as in this case, the needs of special education students. Collaboration is a means for allocating and delivering programs and services for all students (Thomas, 2007). Leading collaboratively in special education programs is particularly critical because of the high incidence of special education students, the high impact of meeting their needs, and the high costs for providing for those needs and services. A collaborative leader sees his or her role as a facilitator and coach. It is not a role of control or dictatorship, but it is a role of guidance and empowerment (Liontos, 1992). Collaboration requires transparency and having a similar vision. People will not work together effectively if they do not have the same goal in mind. (Agnew, 2012). Collaborative leadership, which focuses on the importance of teamwork and comprehensive school improvement, provides an alternative to other modes of leadership that may assist district leaders in working more effectively. Collaborative schools have norms that encourage teachers and principals to cooperate for school improvement. Similarly, adopting strategies in the central office may also prove to be effective in improving the overall work environment (Scott & Smith, 1987). This research seeks to determine this by investigating the


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extent to which central office leaders are leading (a) collaboratively in general and leading (b) specifically for special education programs. As mentioned earlier, the IDEIA and NCLB govern the provision of educational services for both SWDs and students without disabilities. Both laws were reauthorized in recent years. This reauthorization presents new challenges for administrators as they work within the laws’ frameworks. When examining the laws’ intersection and their impact on both superintendents and directors of special education, several key issues surface: assessment, accountability, AYP, and highly qualified teachers (National Education Association, 2004). When considering the IDEIA’s reauthorization, additional issues emerge that may be challenging for school districts such as new provisions for the identification of SWDs, modified requirements for disciplinary actions for SWDs, and the provision of professional development for special educators (IDEIA, 2004). Furthermore, OSEP developed a list of 20 indicators for baseline data collection for measurable and rigorous targets that help states demonstrate the appropriate implementation of the IDEIA. Included in those indicators are items that address dropout rates and graduation rates for SWDs, discipline, least restrictive environment (LRE), and the over identification of minorities as SWDs (U.S. Department of Education, OSEP, 2012). These issues may be challenging for administrators and prevent optimal collaboration when administrators work to provide FAPE. Thomas (2007) reports that special education administrators are often asked to “balance the interests of the individual with interests of the group” (p. 45). Similarly, it can be posited that superintendents are regularly tasked with balancing the group’s interests with the individual’s interests. Thomas goes on to state that when administrators are provided the right opportunity to collaborate and work across or outside of their individual roles, all students may benefit from a strong, cohesive educational environment that works to meet both the needs of all students and regulations. Prior research involving superintendents and their perceptions regarding what could encourage increased collaboration between general education and special education included the following recommendations: articulating clear and consistent goals, providing ongoing professional development, focusing on all students’ needs, organizing personnel, and structuring offices to support and sustain collaboration (Project Forum, 2009). Purpose of Study The purpose of this exploratory, descriptive study was to determine if the perceptions of concern of superintendents and special education directors were similar or different for issues related to special education programming and to ask if they rate the concerns with the same level of intensity. This study also explored the reasons given for concerns including resources, professional development, and time. As Frank and Miles (2012) state, “at a time when policymakers and educators are pushing to revamp general education programs nationwide for both cost-efficiency and quality reasons, district leaders often treat special education programs as the mythical Pandora's box, best left unopened and unexamined” (pp. 24-25).


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Method This study featured survey research designed to compare the magnitude of concern between Virginia public school division superintendents and directors of special education regarding timely issues in special education. Survey questions addressed current issues in special education identified in policy briefs from the Center on Educational Policy (2006) and the Project Forum (2009) along with literature examining the intersection of educational leadership, special education, the IDEIA, and NCLB (Amprey, 2005; Wasta, 2006; Frick & Faircloth, 2007; Hodge & Krumm, 2009; Wagner & Katsiyannis, 2010). Participants Following a research protocol approved by the Institutional Review Board, participants for the study were identified from the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. A listserv was created with the 2011–2012 Virginia public school division superintendents and directors of special education. The survey was delivered online to a total of 262 participants: 132 Virginia superintendents and 130 Virginia directors of special education. An introductory email asked the administrators to respond, and it specifically asked not to assign the task to a designee. The overall response rate for the survey was 37.8% (n = 99). The response rate for the superintendents was 22% (n = 29), while the response rate for the directors of special education was 53% (n = 70). Procedures The investigators developed an online survey that asked participants to identify their current role in the school division either as a superintendent or as a director of special education. The survey asked participants to rate their magnitude of concern regarding special education and the implementation of alternate assessment, AYP, school accreditation, graduation rates, dropout rates, employment of highly qualified special educators, special education teacher turnover, response to intervention, professional development, discipline, the provision of LRE, special educator work load, and the over identification of minorities. These issues were identified as hot topic areas for both superintendents and directors of special education (Amprey, 2005; Center on Educational Policy, 2006: Wasta, 2006; Frick & Faircloth, 2007; Hodge & Krumm, 2009; Project Forum, 2009; Wagner & Katsiyannis, 2010). Magnitude of concern for each issue was defined as no concern (not one of our division’s immediate concerns), a minor concern (creates a resolvable concern monthly in the division), a moderate concern (creates a resolvable concern weekly within the division), a major concern (creates a resolvable concern daily within the division), and high priority (one of the highest priority concerns of the administrative staff in the division). The survey also asked participants to indicate why an issue was an area of concern by choosing from the following factors: lack of resources, professional development needed, time is


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needed, technical support needed, or educational policy issues. Participants were also asked to choose the factor that would most likely increase collaboration from the following list: articulation of clear expectations, professional development; and overt focus on needs, use of student data, and cultivate buy-in of all stakeholders. These factors were based on recommendations presented by Project Forum (2009), in concert with the American Association of School Administrators for practices that could increase the potential for increased collaboration between superintendents and directors of special education. The survey was delivered online with an invitational, introductory email and a web link to the survey. Participants received two reminder emails: the first email was delivered one week following the initial invitation to participate, and the second email was delivered two weeks from the initial invitation to participate. Quantitative data analyses, including Pearson chi-square, were performed using predictive analytics software version 20 (IBM, 2011). The magnitude of the Pearson chi-square reflects the amount of discrepancy between the observed frequencies and the expected frequencies. This study established an alpha level of .05. When p < = .05, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the magnitude of concern or the factors influencing the magnitude of concern are different for each group indicating that the two variables are associated. In this study, a significant finding would indicate that the variable tested is associated with the position held by either a superintendent or a director of special education. Because the overall n was small (n = 99), some magnitude cells were combined to create cell sizes large enough to analyze. No concern and minor concern were combined, and major concern and high priority were combined. The magnitude of concern and impacting factor responses for the superintendents and directors of special education are presented in Tables 1 and 2. Results Chi square analyses in Tables 3 and 4 focused on the differing magnitudes of concern for both superintendents and directors of special education along with the factors impacting the assessed concerns. The results indicate that there is a relationship between the administrator’s position and the magnitude of concern regarding the implementation of alternate assessments for SWDs, χ2 (2, N = 99) = 6.27, p = .04. Superintendents rated this issue as a moderately high to a major high concern (66%), while directors of special education rated this issue as no concern to minor concern (59%). When examining factors that impact the implementation of alternate assessments for SWDs, the results indicate that there is also a relationship between the administrator’s position and the factors, χ2(4, N = 99) = 15.502, p = .004. Superintendents (90%) rated time, lack of resources, and the need for professional development as the factors that most impact implementation of alternate assessments, while the directors of special education (87%) rated time, professional development needs, and educational policy as the factors that most impact implementation of alternate assessments.


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A significant finding established a relationship between the magnitude of concern regarding the graduation rates for SWDs and the administrator’s position, χ2(3, N = 99) = 8.05, p = .05. Superintendents rated this issue as a major to high concern (66%), while only 44% of the directors of special education rated the issue as a major to high concern. When examining the factors that impact graduation rates for SWDs, superintendents (80%) and directors of special education (80%) indicated educational policy, resources, and time. There was no statistical evidence that a relationship exists between the administrator’s position and the identified factors that impact graduation rates for SWDs. The results of this study support a relationship between the administrator’s position and the magnitude of concern regarding teacher turnover rates of special educators, χ2(2, N = 99) = 6.40, p = .04. Seventy-seven percent of the directors of special education rated the magnitude of concern as none to minor when considering the turnover rate of special educators, while 55% of the superintendents rated the magnitude of concern as none to minor when considering the turnover rate of special educators. Approximately one-third of the superintendents (35%) rated this issue as a moderate concern, while only 13% of the directors of special education rated this issue as a moderate concern. When examining the factors that impact the magnitude of concern regarding teacher turnover rates for special educators, no relationship was established between the factors and the administrator’s position. Both superintendents (48%) and directors of special education (34%) identified lack of resources as the greatest factor impacting the concern regarding teacher turnover of special educators. When considering the professional development of special education teachers, no relationship was established between the administrator’s position and the magnitude of concern regarding this issue. Both superintendents (41%) and directors of special education (47%) reported no concern about providing professional development to special educators. Interestingly, 38% of the superintendents reported this issue as a major to high concern. However, a relationship between the administrator’s position and the factors that impact the provision of professional development for special educators was established, χ2 (5, N = 99) = 14.26, p = .01. The superintendents rated professional development (31%) and time (31%) as the factors most impacting the provision of professional development for special educators, while the directors of special education reported time (55%) as the most important factor. The results support a relationship between the administrator’s position and the magnitude of concern regarding the over identification of minorities as SWDs, χ2 (3, N = 99) = 10.49, p = .02. Directors of special education (79%) reported no to minor concern regarding the over identification of minorities, while the superintendents reported a 48% rate of no to minor concern and a 31% rate of moderate concern. A relationship was also established when examining the factors that impact the concerns related to the over identification of minorities as SWDs, χ2 (5, N = 99) = 17.38, p = .004. The superintendents (48%) reported the need for professional development and the lack of resources as the most important factors to the over identification of minorities as SWDs, while the directors of special education (58%) reported the need for


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professional development and educational policy as the factors that most impact the concerns related to the over identification of minorities as SWDs. Several issues included in the survey did not result in significant findings for magnitude of concern or the factors impacting the magnitude of concern. Tables 3 and 4 present the chisquare analysis for the following issues that showed no relationship between the administrator’s position and the issue: inclusion of SWDs in AYP data and accreditation reports, dropout rates for SWDs, employment of highly qualified special educators, implementation of RTI, discipline of SWDs, provision of LRE, and work load for special educators. Although no relationship was established between the administrator’s position and the factors that would most likely increase the effectiveness of collaboration, it is interesting to look at the findings reported by both groups (Table 5). Both groups (superintendents 63%, directors of special education 56%) reported professional development and an overt focus on needs as the top two factors most likely to increase collaboration. The directors (23%) identified the use of student data to make decisions, while the superintendents (10%) ranked the use of data as fourth. These findings could have practical implications when considering how both groups of administrators plan for a collaborative working relationship. Discussion In framing the research questions around a theory of teamwork and collaboration, along with consideration for the topic’s nature with its many interpretations, it was believed that superintendents and directors of special education might not hold the same levels of concern regarding special education issues. If there was a difference, it was anticipated that it would be illuminated through the research questions in the survey and subsequent data analyses. It was posited, as previous research on collaborative leadership supports (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001; WestEd, 2004; Boscardin, 2007; Frick & Faircloth, 2007; Thomas, 2007), that collaboration would be helpful in delivering effective programs and services if true collaborative efforts were underway, and if true collaborative efforts were underway, it would mean that both parties had similar perspectives regarding the issues. Results showed that the anticipated discrepancy was not as significant as expected. The two groups were actually closer together than expected in most areas surveyed. When looking at magnitude of concern, the two parties differed in alternate assessment, graduation rates, teacher turnover, and the over identification of minority students as SWDs. Interestingly, superintendents were more concerned with all these issues when compared to the directors of special education. Larger discrepancies were noted when examining the factors that influenced the magnitude of concern with three significant items: alternate assessment, professional development, and the over identification of minorities as SWDs. Superintendents repeatedly cited lack of resources, time, and professional development as the major influencing factors, while the directors of special education cited time and educational policy requirements as the major influencers.


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Mandates evident in NCLB and the IDEIA may have served as a catalyst for increased collaboration between general education and special education (WestEd, 2004), which have historically operated as independent systems with separate funding streams, legal mandates, and personnel. The issues that resulted in significant findings (alternate assessment, graduation rates, teacher turnover, professional development, and over identification) are mandates found in both the IDEIA and NCLB with the exception of the over identification of minorities as SWDs, which is related to the IDEIA. Interestingly, the nonsignificant findings were issues that are related to either the IDEIA or NCLB, but these issues are not related to both of them with the exception of dropout rates and the employment of highly qualified special education teachers (IDEIA, 2004; NCLB, 2001). Even if participation is based on meeting the mandates of differing laws, these findings support the notion that collaborative leadership is necessary when working to provide FAPE for all students during an era of reform initiatives such as NCLB and long-standing regulations for SWDs as mandated by the IDEIA (Boscardin, 2007). Limitations The analyses in this study were exploratory; therefore, caution should be exercised when drawing conclusions. The major limitation of this study was sample size. The overall number of participants was low with the number of responding superintendents being very low. Another limitation is that the findings are not generalizable to a larger population. The respondents, all Virginia administrators, may not be representative of administrators nationwide. Further research analyzing administrator differences in magnitude of concern regarding special education issues should target a nationwide sample of superintendents and directors of special education. Such research could result in a much larger representative sample that would lend itself to generalization. Implications for Practice The research presented in this study illustrates how superintendents and directors of special education sometimes view the same issue with differing levels of concern. Data analyzed indicated that differences in perceptions influence how decisions are made, how resources are delegated, and how populations of students are served. Effective collaboration can bring these administrators closer together, and effective collaboration strengthens their understanding of current issues, allows them to see others’ concern or lack of concern, and helps them to make informed decisions based on everyone’s perceptions. Spillane et al. (2001) argue that school leadership includes social and situational contexts. Data from this research indicate that the administrator’s role in the central office is a situational context. To effectively collaborate, administrators need to understand that it may not be their role that influences their concern regarding issues but that it is their overall knowledge and practical understanding of an issue. For example, this study indicated a significant difference in the magnitude of concern regarding


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the implementation of alternate assessment for SWDs. Superintendents rated this issue as an area of concern, while directors of special education seemed to view it as one of little concern. Upon further probing, the superintendents reported that the reasons for their concern were time and lack of resources. The directors of special education agreed with the time factor, but they reported the concern was related to educational policy and professional development needs. These differences may indicate a practical need for directors of special education to share with superintendents some general and practical knowledge about alternate assessment and the special educator’s role in administering alternate assessments to SWDs. Directors may not hold the same magnitude of concern regarding alternate assessment because it is an educational policy dictated by the student’s IEP carried out by the special education teacher. A superintendent may try to allocate resources, such as personnel and materials, when the director of special education may only need a few development sessions to implement alternate assessment. Crockett (2007) stated that “Looking at what people do, rather than emphasizing the roles they play within an organization, focuses attention on how practices supporting special education are enacted by formal and informal leaders, including administrators and teachers” (p. 141). Collaboration, including communication, may be the key that increases effective practices for all students, including SWDs. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) recently released new standards for advanced roles in special education (CEC, n.d.). These standards provide a benchmark for special education professionals as they strive to practice at a high level of skill. Included in these standards is one of collaboration. The standard states that collaboration can promote the understanding of both internal and external stakeholders, resolve conflicts, build consensus to provide services for students, and help leaders understand the interactions of language, diversity, and culture on decision making. Crockett, Billingsley, and Boscardin (2012) propose that students who struggle in school can benefit from collaborative forms of leadership that support the interactions between administrators, which are necessary to support complex educational needs. These researchers state “Administrators, general and special education educators, support personnel, and families need to share their understanding of students’ needs, make individual decisions about services, and use their knowledge, skills, and resources to create instructional environments that support positive student outcomes” (p. 151). When asked to think about collaboration between general education administrators and special education administrators, the researchers indicated agreement between the administrators when identifying the factors that would most likely increase this collaboration’s effectiveness. Administrators in this study identified the provision of extensive and ongoing professional development for all staff that supports the goals and expectations of the division, and they identified an overt focus on meeting the needs of all students, regardless of label, as the factors that most impacted collaboration. On a practical level, these findings support Project Forum (2009) that resulted in superintendent recommendations for school districts wishing to address the need for collaboration between general education and special education. Their recommendations included the following: articulate, clear, consistent goals and expectations; the


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provision of extensive and ongoing professional development for all staff that support the goals and expectations, fosters dialogue, focus on meeting the needs of all students regardless of label, maintain a system that can manage student-level data, use student-level data to analyze student needs, make instructional decisions, convince others of collaboration’s value, cultivate buy-in from all constituents, and maintain focus at the district level. When school districts begin to examine their potential for collaboration between general education administrators and special education administrators, an initial emphasis may need to be placed on professional development for those administrators. This should include the necessary background and practical information regarding issues of concern and a stated, overt vision statement addressing the focus on meeting all students’ needs even if the administrative position is defined by a student population. Further Research Research should continue to investigate the differing perspectives of administrators when considering special education issues. A national survey could supply much-needed information regarding these perceptions and their impact on educational decision making. Another area that may present research opportunities is the application for federal waivers to bypass some key components of NCLB. States may apply for waivers that would allow freedom from some of the law’s requirements. It might be interesting to see if perceived concerns for special education issues related to NCLB lessen for superintendents if the waiver releases the district from meeting certain mandates. The current researchers plan to continue their work with Virginia administrators, further probe their concerns with personal interviews in an attempt to determine the reasons for adminstrators’ responses, and specifically take into account administrators’ background knowledge of issues, practical experience with issues, or lack of either. Questions will also be posed to determine if and how these administrators plan to increase effective collaboration in their district. Author Biographies Ted Price, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Virginia Tech, Richmond Center, 2810 Parham Road, Suite 300, Richmond, VA, 23294 (pted7@vt.edu). Dr. Price has practiced in a variety of K–12 administrative and higher education settings. He currently has an active research agenda in the area of leadership preparation and leader effectiveness for principals and superintendents. Deborah L. Wells, Visiting Assistant Professor, Special Education, Virginia Tech, 309 War Memorial Hall (0313), Blacksburg, VA, 24060 (dlwells@vt.edu). Dr. Wells has served as an educator, professional development provider, program evaluator, and a teacher leader. Her research agenda includes collaborative practices and study skills.


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References Agnew, E. J. (2012). Seven ways to be a more collaborative leader. Retrieved from http://www.integrativeleadership.com/pdfs/Seven_Ways_to_be_a_More_Collaborative_Leader.pdf Amprey, W. (2005). Addressing the special education crisis. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 2(2), 30-31. Retrieved from http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Journals/AASAJournal_of_Scholarship_ and Practice/Summer_2005_FINAL.pdf Berman, S., Davis, P., Koufman-Frederick, A., & Urion, D. (2001). The rising costs of special education in Massachusetts: Causes and effect. In C. Finn, A. Rotherham, & C. Hokanson (Eds.). Rethinking special education for a new century (pp. 183-211). Retrieved from http://www.dlc.org/documents/SpecialEd_complete_volume.pdf Boscardin, M. L. (2007). What is special about special education administration? Considerations for school leadership. Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal, 15(3), 189-200. doi:10.1080/09362830701503537 Center on Educational Policy. (2006). Closing the achievement gap series: Part III: What is the impact of NCLB on the inclusion of students with disabilities? (Washington, DC). Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED495750.pdf. Council for Exceptional Children. (n.d.). New standards for advanced roles in special education. Retrieved from https://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&CONTENTID=8220&TE MPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm Crockett, J. B. (2007). The changing landscape of special education administration. Exceptionality: A Special Education Journal, 15(3) 139-142. doi:10.1080/09362830701503487 Crockett, J. B., Billingsley, B. S., & Boscardin, M. L. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of leadership and administration for special education. New York, NY: Routledge. DiPaola, M. F., & Tschannen-Moran, M. (2003). The principalship at a crossroads: A study of the condition and concerns of principals. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 87, 43-67. Frank, S. & Miles, K. H. (2012, July). Improving special education in tough times. Education Week. Retrieved from www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/07/18/36frank.h31.html Frick, W. & Faircloth, S. (2007). Acting in the collective and individual “best interest of students”. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 20(1), 21-32. Hodge, C. & Krumm, B. (2009). NCLB: A study of its effect on rural schools-School administrators rate service options for student with disabilities. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 28(1), 20-27. Retrieved on September 8, 2011 from EBSCOhost.


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IBM. (2011). IBM SPSS Statistics 20 Brief Guide. IBM Corporation. Retrieved from ftp://public.dhe.ibm.com/software/analytics/spss/documentation/statistics/20.0/en/ client/Manuals/IBM_SPSS_Statistics_Brief_Guide.pdf IDEIA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et seq. (2004). Retrieved from http://IDEIA.ed.gov/Jefferson County Public Schools. Phi Delta Kappa International. (2011). Organizational structure and central office staffing, functions, and operations. Retrieved from http://www.jefferson.kyschools.us/superintendent/Org_Review_Study.pdf Liontos, L. B. (1992). Transformational leadership. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED ED347636) National Education Association, National Association of State Directors of Special Education Incorporated. (2004). The intersection of IDEIA and NCLB. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/IDEIANCLBIntersectionsfina2004.pdf No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq. (2001). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/index.html Pascopella, A. (2011). Superintendent staying power. District Administration, 47(4), 31-40. Retrieved from http://su8bj7jh4j.scholar.serialssolutions.com/?sid=google&auinit=A&aulast=Pascopella &atitle=Superintendent+Staying+Power&title=District+administration&volume=47&iss ue=4&date=2011&spage=31&issn=1537-5749 Project Forum at NASDSE. (2009). In Forum Brief Policy Analysis. Superintendent leadership: Promoting general and special education collaboration. Retrieved September 8, 2011 from http://www.projectforum.org. Riley, D. (2012). More students, complex needs, higher costs in special education. The Metro West Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/x121060135/More-students-complex-needshigher-costs-in-special-education#ixzz22VV6HslL Scott, J. & Smith, S. C. (1987). What is the collaborative school? Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED 290233) Smith, T. (2005). IDEIA 2004: Another round in the reauthorization process. Remedial and Special Education, 26(6), 314-319. doi: 10.1177/07419325050260060101 Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2001). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Educational Researcher, 30(3), 23-28. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3594470 Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 25, 15. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60281-6 Thomas, N. (2007). CASE IN POINT: Collaboration is key to leadership. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 20(1), 44-45. Thompson, J. R. & O’Brian, M. (2007). Many hats and a delicate balance: The lives and times of


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today’s special education directors. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 20(1), 3343. Unruh, D., Bullis, M., Todis, B., Waintrup, M., & Atkins, T. (2007). Programs and practices for special education students in alternative education settings. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, 6(1), 1-7. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data. (2012). Public elementary and secondary school student enrollment and staff counts: From the common core of data: School year 2010-11 (NCES Publication No 2012-327). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012327.pdf U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. (2012). Disability rights enforcement highlights. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/documents/news/section-504.pdf U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System. (2010). Children with disabilities receiving special education under Part B of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (OMB #1820-0043). Retrieved from http://www.IDEIAdata.org/TABLES34TH/AR_1-1.pdf U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. (2012). Part B SPP/APR Related Requirements (OMB NO : 1820- 0624). Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/IDEIA/bapr/2010/e5-18200624relatedrequirements.pdf Wagner, J., & Katsiyannis, A. (2010). Special education litigation update: Implications for school administrators. NASSP Bulletin, 94(1), 40-52. doi:10.1177/0192636510372251 Wasta, M. (2006). No Child Left Behind: The death of special education? Phi Delta Kappan, 88(4), 298-299. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20442242 WestEd. (2004). When special education and general education unite, everyone benefits. R&D Alert, 6, 1-8. Retrieved May 11, 2009 from http://www.WestEd.org/online_pubs/RD04-01.pdf

Table 1 Percentages of Magnitude of Concern for Special Education Issues Issue Alternate assessment Overall Superintendent Director AYP and SWDs Overall Superintendent Director School accreditation Overall

No answer

No concern/ Minor concern

Moderate Concern

Major concern/ High priority

0% 0% 0%

52% 35% 59%

30% 35% 29%

18% 31% 13%

0% 0% 0%

13% 7% 16%

31% 24% 34%

56% 69% 50%

0%

29%

27%

43%


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education  Superintendent Director Graduation rates of SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Dropout rates for SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Director Use of RTI Overall Superintendent Director Professional Development Overall Superintendent Director Discipline of SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Provision of LRE Overall Superintendent Director Work load special educator Overall Superintendent Director Over identification minorities Overall Superintendent Director

0% 0%

24% 31%

28% 27%

48% 41%

1% 0% 1%

23% 28% 21%

25% 7% 33%

50% 66% 44%

1% 3% 0% 0%

32% 38% 30% 77%

32% 28% 34% 13%

34% 31% 36% 10%

1% 0% 1%

43% 38% 46%

34% 35% 34%

21% 28% 19%

0% 0% 0%

45% 41% 47%

28% 21% 31%

26% 38% 21%

0% 0% 0%

45% 38% 49%

33% 41% 30%

21% 21% 21%

0% 0% 0%

65% 59% 67%

21% 21% 21%

14% 21% 11%

1% 3% 0%

32% 28% 34%

35% 24% 40%

31% 45% 26%

1% 3% 0%

70% 48% 79%

20% 31% 16%

9% 17% 6%

Note. AYP = adequate yearly progress; SWDs = students with disabilities; RTI = response to intervention; LRE = least restrictive environment

Table 2 Percentages of Factors Impacting Magnitude of Concern

Issue Alternate assessment Overall Superintendent Director AYP and SWDs Overall

No answer

Lack of resources

Professional development

Time is needed

Technical consult

Educational policy

7% 3% 9%

12% 31% 4%

18% 14% 20%

46% 45% 47%

0% 0% 0%

16% 7% 20%

2%

24%

18%

25%

1%

29%


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education  Superintendent Director School accreditation Overall Superintendent Director Graduation rates and SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Dropout rates for SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Highly qualified educators Overall Superintendent Director Teacher turnover Overall Superintendent Director Use of RTI Overall Superintendent Director Professional development Overall Superintendent Director Discipline of SWDs Overall Superintendent Director Provision of LRE Overall Superintendent Director Work load special educator Overall Superintendent Director Over identification minorities Overall Superintendent Director

0% 3%

31% 21%

10% 21%

17% 29%

0% 1%

41% 24%

9% 3% 11%

24% 28% 23%

15% 7% 19%

26% 35% 23%

0% 0% 0%

25% 28% 24%

3% 3% 3%

30% 31% 30%

10% 14% 9%

16% 14% 17%

7% 3% 9%

33% 35% 33%

7% 10% 6%

36% 41% 34%

9% 0% 13%

15% 17% 14%

5% 3% 6%

27% 28% 27%

15% 7% 14%

33% 48% 27%

24% 28% 23%

3% 0% 4%

12% 7% 14%

12% 10% 13%

23% 7% 30%

38% 48% 34%

9% 7% 10%

13% 21% 10%

5% 7% 4%

11% 10% 11%

12% 10% 13%

19% 14% 21%

40% 45% 39%

19% 21% 19%

3% 0% 4%

6% 10% 4%

8% 7% 9%

25% 21% 27%

14% 31% 7%

47% 31% 55%

1% 3% 0%

4% 7% 3%

8% 3% 10%

17% 10% 20%

29% 24% 31%

14% 24% 10%

2% 0% 3%

29% 38% 26%

16% 10% 19%

38% 31% 41%

22% 28% 20%

9% 14% 7%

0% 0% 0%

14% 17% 13%

7% 3% 9%

31% 28% 33%

5% 7% 4%

51% 55% 50%

1% 0% 1%

4% 7% 3%

31% 21% 36%

8% 17% 4%

31% 31% 31%

4% 14% 0%

2% 3% 1%

23% 14% 27%

Note. AYP = adequate yearly progress; SWDs = students with disabilities; RTI = response to intervention; LRE = least restrictive environment


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Table 3 Chi Square Values for Administrative Position Related to Magnitude of Concern Special education issue Alternate assessment AYP and SWDs School accreditation Graduation rates and SWDs Dropout rates for SWDs Highly qualified educators Teacher turnover Use of RTI Professional development Discipline of SWDs Provision of LRE Work load special educator Over identification minorities

Chi-square value 6.27* 3.22 .60 8.05* 3.23 2.35 6.40* 1.49 3.11 1.31 1.48 6.56 10.49*

df 2 2 2 3 3 2 2 3 2 2 2 3 3

p .04 .20 .74 .05 .36 .31 .04 .69 .21 .52 .48 .09 .02

Note. AYP = adequate yearly progress; SWDs = students with disabilities; RTI =response to intervention; LRE =l east restrictive environment; df = degrees of freedom n = 99 *p < = .05. Table 4 Chi Square Values for Administrative Position Related to Factors Impacting Magnitude of Concern Special education issue Alternate assessment AYP and SWDs School accreditation Graduation rates and SWDs Dropout rates for SWDs Highly qualified educators Teacher turnover Use of RTI Professional development Discipline of SWDs Provision of LRE Work load special educator Over identification minorities

Chi-square value 15.50* 6.50 4.61 1.50 4.96 7.05 8.06 3.46 14.26* 7.35 3.24 2.57 17.38*

df 4 5 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 5 5

p .004* .26 .33 .91 .42 .22 .15 .63 .01* .20 .52 .77 .004*

Note. AYP = adequate yearly progress; SWDs = students with disabilities; RTI = response to intervention; LRE = least restrictive environment; df = degrees of freedom n = 99 *p < = .05


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Table 5 Percentages of Factors Likely to Increase the Effectiveness of Collaboration Factor No answer Articulation of clear expectations Professional development needed Overt focus on needs Use of student data Cultivate buy-in of all stakeholders

Superintendent 3% 10% 35% 28% 10% 14%

Director 0% 1% 26% 30% 23% 20%


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Students and Faculty Speak Out: When Technology in the College Classroom is Productive or Distractive Myrna R. Olson University of North Dakota Austin T. Winger University of North Dakota

Abstract The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of technological devices in classrooms on the University of North Dakota (UND) campus. In Fall Semester 2012, an online survey was sent to all benefited faculty teaching undergraduate classes or graduate classes; a similar survey was also sent to a combined sample of undergraduate students and graduate students. Before submitting the survey electronically, both groups were asked to indicate their willingness to participate in individual follow-up interviews with the researchers. Survey results gathered from 135 students and 153 faculty members indicated an overall belief that technology used by both students and faculty in UND classrooms facilitates learning. While all survey respondents acknowledged that, at times, technological devices could be distractive in classrooms, significant differences were found (using chi-square analyses) between student perceptions and faculty perceptions of the factors contributing to the level of distraction. In addition, there were significant differences between faculty perceptions and student perceptions about which technologies are most productive in the learning environment and how to effectively manage technology in the classroom. Individual interviews with 10 students and 10 faculty members provided a deeper understanding of productive and/or distractive uses of technology in the classroom. Finally, each individual interviewed offered suggestions for ways technology might be best utilized by students and faculty in the college classroom to support learning. Keywords: Technology, Education, College Students, Faculty

Without a doubt, teaching and learning in the college classroom has been transformed by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by both students and faculty. When the first author began a teaching career in the 1970s, utilized ICTs included overhead projectors, reel-to-reel film projectors, tape recorders/players, and blackboards with chalk.


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Today, most colleges and universities have classrooms equipped with computers, LCD projectors, high-speed internet, and document projectors; certain classrooms are also equipped with interactive smartboards, tablets, and teleconferencing technology. As early as the 1980s, the effects of technology on learning were questioned (Garrison & Akyol, 2009). For example, Clark (1983) believed that “media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction, but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers groceries causes changes” (p. 445). Kozma (1991) commented on Clark’s contention, claiming that attributes of a particular medium may influence learning. Much later, Hastings and Tracy (2005) supported Kozma by suggesting that computers provided cost-efficient delivery methods that supported instructional methods that prior media could not. Classroom technologies today have expanded greatly with opportunities for interactivity and participation through “wikis, blogs, instant messaging [IM’ing], wash ups, internet telephony, social book marking, social media sharing, and social networking sites” (Garrison & Akyol, 2009, p. 21). By reviewing the literature related to the effects technology use has had on learning in postsecondary classrooms, it quickly becomes apparent that most studies have focused on student perceptions of their learning. The following two sections include a review of studies that report both positive effects and negative effects of technological devices used in college classrooms. Positive Effects of Technological Devices in the College Classroom In a study of 728 undergraduate students and graduate students enrolled in 29 courses that represented a wide range of disciplines at a large northeastern university, Shuell and Farber (2001) assessed student perceptions of the relative benefits that using several types of technology had on student learning. A questionnaire that included both Likert and open-ended items was administered by 16 professors identified as using computer-based technologies in their classes at the semester’s end. Results revealed that 88% of the students indicated that technology helped them learn the material and skills required for their classes, 86% indicated that technology assisted in illustrating concepts that facilitated their learning, 75% indicated that technology improved the quality of their interaction with instructors, and 56% indicated that technology improved the quality of their interaction with other students. Only 11.5% of those surveyed indicated that technology had not helped them learn material and skills in their courses. Students with more negative views generally reported less course-related technology use. Conversely, students with more positive views reported an average of seven forms of technology used in their classrooms. Furthermore, student responses to open-ended survey questions contained descriptions of getting “hands-on” experience through technology (e.g., using interactive video on a course Website that gave them practice diagnosing children’s reading ability). Clark, Flaherty, and Mottner (2001) surveyed 114 undergraduate students enrolled in an elective course entitled “Marketing on the Internet” at a mid-Atlantic public university regarding the students’ perceptions of specific educational technology tools utilized by the same marketing


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professor across one academic year. Students used the following 14 tools during this time period: chat room, electronic discussion group, FAQ page, instructor home page, Internet project, lab-only classes, online homework assignments, online lecture assignments, online readings, online syllabus, online student directory, online student grade page, a website project, and technology lectures. On a Likert-type scale, students were asked to rate each of these tools in terms of their perceptions of overall learning, their ability to get a job, and their job performance. The following nine tools were given high student ratings in terms of overall learning: instructor home page, Internet project, online homework assignments, online lecture outlines, online syllabus, online student roster page, online student grade page, Web-page project, and technology lecture. Tools rated as having no influence on overall learning were the FAQ pages, lab-only classes, online readings, chat room, and electronic discussion group. These researchers were particularly surprised that students considered chat room and electronic discussion group as having little influence, considering that these tools were designed to facilitate online communication on a student-to-student level. One technological tool that has become widely used over the past two decades in college classrooms is a response device known as a “clicker.” Among other benefits, clickers can provide a professor with instantaneous feedback of student understanding. Keough (2012) reviewed 66 clicker-technology-based studies focusing on student perceptions and outcomes to determine the usefulness of these devices for the field of management. While clicker systems were once expensive and hard-wired to one location, they have evolved into inexpensive, wireless, portable systems used by a variety of disciplines. Utilizing objective measures (e.g., exam and quiz scores, final grades, mean pass rates, and standardized tests), 31 studies with a total of 34 samples compared these measures between students in classes using clickers versus students in classes not using clickers. Results indicated that 22 of the samples reported significant increases in student performance when clickers were used. Other categories considered in Keough’s review of these studies related to students’ perceptions of their performance, attention span, class attendance, participation, and ease of using these devices. The use of clickers was supported in all of these categories. For the ninth year, the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) has studied how undergraduates use information technology at institutions in the United States, and ECAR has provided information to professors regarding what students prefer for learning, their capabilities for certain resources, and their opinions of technology’s impact on instructors’ effectiveness. The ECAR 2012 study (Dahlstrom, 2012) indicated that student voices continue to be important in shaping the higher education learning environment. In 2012, technology ownership, use patterns, and perceptions of technology were evaluated for more than 100,000 students from 184 U.S. institutions. Findings of this study revealed that technology is important to students; it helps them access course materials and feel connected to their institutions, their teachers, and other students (p. 29). Furthermore, students prefer courses with online components, and they want to have professors integrate technology into their teaching. Students wished to have professors use open educational resources as well as game-based learning. Generally, blended


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learning environments were favored by 70% of the students surveyed because they felt this environment was the best in helping them learn. Also, it was discovered that students increasingly expect their instructors to engage them in learning through technology. In 2010, only 47% of students surveyed reported that instructors effectively used technology to help them succeed; in 2012, 68% indicated that instructors met this expectation. The 2012 ECAR study also determined that portable devices prevail, and they are diverse in terms of brands and platforms. Approximately 83% of undergraduate students worldwide own laptop computers, and ownership of smart phones in 2012 was at 67%; not surprisingly, there has been a decline in desktop computer use. Overall, 75% of those surveyed agreed that technology helps students achieve their academic outcomes. Negative Effects of Technological Devices in the College Classroom In this section, studies exploring negative effects of technology in the college classroom are explored. Because computers (particularly laptop computers) have become commonplace in college classrooms, studies investigating their use will be summarized first. As noted in the previous section on the positive effects of technological devices in the classroom, most studies are based on student perceptions. In addition, much of the research gathered has been conducted in classes specifically designed to utilize technology (Fried, 2008). In response to the scarcity of objective evidence relating to the value of laptops in the college classroom, Fried examined how 129 students in two sections of a general psychology course (taught by the same instructor) utilized laptops. These students had been told that, while they could bring their laptops to class to take notes, they would not be needed to function in the course. Students were given 10 weekly surveys covering 20 class sessions that were strictly lecture-based, and the students were queried about their attendance, classroom experiences, and laptop use. In terms of their laptop use, students were asked if they used them for one or more of the following: taking notes, checking email, IM’ing, surfing the net, playing games, or other activities. Students were also asked to rate (on five-point scales) how much attention they paid to the lectures, lecture clarity, and their understanding of the lecture material presented. American College Test (ACT) scores and high school rank (HSR) were utilized to measure students’ academic preparation and aptitude. Results of this study indicated that 64.3% reported laptop use in at least one class period. Students indicating that they used laptops in class estimated that they used them (on average) 48.7% of the class periods. In terms of using their laptops for other purposes than note-taking, students reported a 17-minute average of each 75minute class period had been used as follows: checking email (81%), IM’ing (68%), surfing the Internet (43%), playing games (25%), and “other activities” (35%). Using linear regression, Fried analyzed the relationship between laptop use and student learning. The major conclusion drawn was that as laptop use increased, class performance decreased. Examining correlations among variables, it was also found that the level of laptop use was negatively correlated with students’ perception of lecture clarity and the amount of attention students reported having paid


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to lectures. Course performance, students’ perception of lecture clarity, and how well students reported understanding course materials were all negatively correlated with laptop use. Fried points out that while correlational research cannot point to causal relationships, the use of ACT scores, HSR, and class attendance tended to act as proxy measures for variables such as academic aptitude, preparation, and conscientiousness. Even after controlling for these variables, laptop use remained negatively related to academic success. Not only was laptop use negatively associated with student learning, Fried points out that the results of this study suggest that laptop use poses a distraction to fellow students. Therefore, faculty should consider ways of limiting or controlling laptop use by students if laptops are not used in an integrated way in courses. Related closely to Fried’s 2008 study of college students’ use of laptops in the college classroom is the work of Junco and Cotten (2011) that investigated the impact of students’ reported usage of IM’ing on homework completion. Their study was based on Mayer and Moreno’s (2003) integrated theory of learning (i.e., humans have a finite amount of cognitive processes available at any one time and these processes can be overloaded); Junco and Cotten hypothesized that the use of IM’ing would negatively affect educational outcomes. A Webbased survey designed to examine technology use among college students was sent to three large public universities and one midsized four-year university (based on Carnegie Classification). Two of the universities were located in the Midwest, one in the Southwest, and one in the Southeast of the United States. Of the 4,491 students responding to the survey, only those reporting that they used IM’ing were included in the data and subsequent data analyses. Students were asked how often they did not get their homework done because they were IM’ing as well as how many minutes in a typical day they sent or received messages. To investigate the effect of multitasking, students were also asked these questions: how often they worked on schoolwork at the same time they were using IM’ing, how often they did other things (e.g., played games or browsed the internet) at the same time they were using IM’ing, and how often they engaged in other activities (e.g., watched TV or talked on the phone) at the same time they were IM’ing. Results of the study revealed that IM users spent a mean of 120 minutes per day actively chatting and were adept at multitasking: 97% of IM users reported doing something else on the computer while chatting, 93% of IM users reported that they actively chatted and engaged in non-computer activity (e.g., watching television or talking on the phone), and 97% of IM users reported having done schoolwork while actively chatting. Most interesting, however, is the finding that 57% of IM users reported that doing schoolwork while IM’ing had a detrimental effect on their homework. Finally, it was found that multitasking while IM’ing was related to reported academic impairment at the bivariate level. Tindell and Bohlander (2011) also conducted a study of student cell phone use at a small private university in Pennsylvania. Online survey data was collected from 269 students (ranging in age from 18 to 50 and representing 21 academic majors) to determine how frequently they used their cell phones (particularly text messaging) before, during, and after class. Not only were students asked to report on their own cell phone use in class, they were also queried about


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how distracting cell phone use was to themselves and to others. It was also of interest to find out whether particular characteristics of instructors or classrooms contributed to cell phone misuse. Finally, respondents were asked to share their beliefs regarding what an effective cell phone use policy might be. Data gathered from this survey indicated that 99 % of the students had cell phones that could be used for text messaging, and 95 % of the students reported bringing them to class. Among those bringing cell phones to class, 91% set them to vibrate, and 9% turned them off. Nonetheless, 92% reported having sent or received text messages during class at least once or twice; 30% of those surveyed said they texted in class every day. While nearly all (97%) of the respondents reported having seen other students text in class once or twice a week, they did not believe that instructors were aware of this behavior. Variables that affected how often students texted in class related to class size (i.e., easier in large classes), presence of a cell phone use policy (i.e., presence of a policy reduced texting), and professor behavior (i.e., professors turning their backs on the class or focusing too much on their own lecture materials allowed for more student texting). Roughly 10% of students surveyed admitted to having sent or received messages during an exam as well. When asked their opinion of whether they thought texting in class caused problems, nearly one-third of the students said they did not. Approximately onethird of the respondents did feel that the person doing the texting would be negatively impacted in terms of learning, and roughly a quarter of the respondents felt those sitting in close proximity to the person texting would be distracted. From the findings of their study, Tinder and Bohlander suggest that faculty develop policies relating to cell phone use even if they support students bringing them to class. Finally, more restrictive policies are likely needed during exams. While there is a preponderance of research on how undergraduate students use technology in the classroom, Burns and Lohenry (2010) studied cell phone usage during class time by graduate students and faculty in the College of Health Sciences on campuses in Arizona and Illinois. The convenience sample of 197 consisted of 142 females and 46 males; their ages ranged from 21 to 46 years old. The majority of respondents (91.8%) were enrolled in a physician’s assistant program, while only 8.2% were enrolled in the nurse anesthesia program. Seven male faculty members (35%) and 12 female faculty members (65%) comprised the faculty group; their ages ranged from 27 to 59 years old. Sixty percent of the faculty group came from the physician’s assistant Program, and the remainder came from the nurse anesthesia program. Nearly all participating students (97.9%) and faculty (95%) were Caucasian. Individuals were sent an online questionnaire once they agreed to participate; in addition to demographic data, students and faculty were asked to respond to eight questions regarding their perceptions of cell phone use in their classrooms. A majority of students (65.1%) reported that they refrained from using their cell phones in class, while 34.9% reported using them; on the other hand, no faculty members reported using their cell phones during class time. In terms of text messaging, more than half (53%) of student respondents indicated that they had used text messaging while in classes; again, no faculty reported having used text messaging while in classes. Both students and faculty admitted to checking for cell phone messages during class, although students did so


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at a higher rate (28.9%) than faculty (10%). Having cell phones go off in class was an experience 72.3% of students had, while 40% of the faculty respondents reported having this experience. Students tended to be less aware of cell phone policies (61%) than faculty (73.7%). Faculty felt that cell phones were a distraction in the classroom at a similar rate (84.2%) to students (85.1%). Burns and Lohenry believe that faculty must convey cell phone etiquette to their students. While these devices are distractive in the classroom, it is important that they be monitored even more carefully in clinical settings. Research Design The purpose of this research study was to investigate the use of technological devices by students and faculty in classrooms at the University of North Dakota (UND). Based on the literature review and the researchers’ experiences, the use of technological devices can either be productive or distractive to the learning process. Adopting the conceptual framework of collaborative constructivist teaching and learning suggested by Garrison and Akyol (2009), the design of this research study demanded that perceptions of both faculty and students be gathered. Like Garrison and Akyol, it was the researchers’ belief that the “successful use of instructional technology in higher education will be driven by educationally valued ideas of teaching and learning (i.e., collaborative constructivist approaches) integrated with the transformative potential of new communications technology” (p. 20). Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used to analyze the data generated by the following seven research questions: 1. What technological devices do faculty members report using as instructional tools in their classrooms? 2. In what ways do faculty members believe these particular technological devices enhance student learning? 3. What technological devices are students using in college classrooms? 4. In what ways do students believe these devices enhance their learning? 5. What are faculty members’ beliefs regarding student use of technological devices that have distracted them from learning? 6. What are students’ beliefs regarding technological devices in the classroom that have distracted them from learning? 7. What strategies have faculty members and/or students found to minimize distractions and increase benefits from the use of technological devices in the college classroom?


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Methods Quantitative Participants. Participants for this study were drawn from the UND; according to the Carnegie System of classification, UND is a public research-intensive institution. At the time of this study, 15,250 students were enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools on the campus. Fully benefited faculty teaching at least partially on campus numbered 787. For the current study, a random sample of undergraduate students, graduate students (N=1,497) and all fully benefited faculty (N=787) teaching face-to-face classes at UND were invited to participate in an online survey. Completing the survey were 153 faculty (M age = 47.61 years, SD 11.31) and 135 students (M age = 25.50 years, SD = 8.87). Materials. The online surveys consisted of 16 questions related to technology use by students and 16 questions related to technology use by faculty in the college classroom. Sets of questions for students and faculty were parallel, differing only in the following ways: faculty were asked how prepared they felt to use technology in the classroom, while students were asked their cumulative grade point average (GPA). In addition, students were asked the number of years they had been in higher education, and faculty were asked how many years they had taught in higher education (see Appendices A & B). Data from the two surveys were collected in the online software Qualtrics and transferred to Statistical Product and Service Solutions to run analyses. Chi-square tests, cross tabulations, and other descriptive statistics were run to analyze the significance of the survey data. Analyses were used to correlate various questions about technology as they related to students or faculty, different academic colleges, and different class levels of students. Procedure. An online survey was sent to all fully benefited faculty and a random sample of students on November 2, 2012. A reminder email was sent three weeks after the initial contact; therefore, the window of opportunity to complete the survey extended from November 2 to December 16, 2012. The survey began with demographic information and progressed through questions about student and faculty perceptions of technology use in the classroom. Participants were requested to answer every question, but they were able to skip any question they did not wish to answer. At the end of the survey, participants were asked if they were interested in taking part in a follow-up interview lasting approximately 10â&#x20AC;&#x201C;15 minutes. Qualitative Materials. The researchers designed six interview questions for students and six parallel interview questions for faculty (see Appendices C & D). Participants volunteered to be


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interviewed by contacting the researchers at the online survey’s conclusion. Notes were taken as participants described their experiences with technology use in the classroom, and they gave suggestions for student and faculty technology use that would keep learning more productive than distractive. Procedure. The researchers interviewed 10 faculty and 10 students (seven graduate students and three undergraduate students). Those volunteering for interviews were allowed to choose a campus location for the interview or to be interviewed by telephone. The researchers took notes during the interviews, utilizing only the name of each person’s discipline and his or her student or faculty status as identifiers. The interviews ranged in length from 10–30 minutes. All participants were thanked for their input at the conclusion of the interviews, but they were given no other incentive to take part. Results Quantitative. Out of the 1,497 students and 787 faculty invited to participate, 156 students and 180 faculty started the online survey. Unfortunately, 21 students and 27 faculty did not complete the survey, leaving 135 student and 153 faculty valid survey responses. Of the valid responses collected, there was a fairly even distribution of students at each class level (see Figure 1). The majority of students had completed three to five years of higher education. The students’ average GPA ranged from 2.5–4.0 with 54% in the 3.5–4.0 range, 32% in the 3.0–3.4 range, and 14% in the 2.5–2.9 range. Teaching experience of faculty completing the survey ranged from less than one year to 47 years with an average of 15 years. There was also a fairly representative sample of different academic colleges (see Figures 2 & 3). Faculty answered the question, “How well prepared do you feel to teach using technology in your classroom?” with the following responses: 25% very prepared, 46% prepared, 24% somewhat prepared, and 5% not prepared. Students reported an average class size of 1–20 students, while faculty reported an average class size of 21–40 students (see Figures 4 & 5). Students and faculty were then asked to report which technologies the instructors used in their classrooms; they were allowed to select multiple responses (see Figures 6 & 7). At first glance, it may seem that the ratio of students to faculty would be the only factor affecting this self-report measure (e.g., one faculty member reports his or her use of the overhead projector, and 30 students in that same class report instructor use of the overhead projector). However, considering that survey data is self-reported, this question gathers the perceptions of how students and faculty experience technology being used in the classroom (this also occurs in Figures 10 & 11). The researchers sought to examine the differences and similarities in student and faculty perceptions; thus, the question presented to students in Figure 6 and faculty in Figure 7 provides an opportunity to view how students and faculty self-report on this issue (i.e., students feel that the overhead projector is used excessively by an instructor, while this instructor has been using overhead projectors for a long time and, therefore, does not perceive the use of this


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Â

technology to be as frequent). Students and faculty agreed that computers were the most common technological devices used for instruction, while students reported more document projector use by instructors, and faculty reported more use of DVD/CD/audiovisual aids. Next, students and faculty reported which technologies (that instructors use) they believed to be most productive for learning. The majority of both students and faculty recognized computers as a useful and productive learning tool. Significantly more faculty members than students believed that DVD/CD/audiovisual aids were effective for student learning. Interestingly, students reported significantly more confidence in document projectors as productive learning tools when compared with faculty perceptions (see Figures 8 & 9). Next, participants were asked which technologies instructors allowed students to use in the classroom. Students and faculty generally agreed on which technological devices students use in the classroom; however, noticeably more students reported the use of clickers than faculty (see Figures 10 & 11). As aforementioned, the researchers performed several analyses on the data with the significant findings displayed in Tables 1-3. For the chi-square analyses, the Pearson value was utilized for the following reasons: 1) it was nominal data, 2) it was categorical, and 3) the cells were well filled (all of the students and faculty responded to all questions). There was a statistically significant difference found between student and faculty perceptions of what factors influence the level of distraction caused by technology. Contributing factors included class topic, class size, class level (100â&#x20AC;&#x201C;500), and time in the semester. For class topic, 94 students and 50 faculty responded that it affected the level of distraction from technology. There was a significant difference between student and faculty responses, x2 (1) = 39.167, p < .001. Students and faculty were asked what methods of regulation they believed were effective at keeping technology use appropriate in the classroom. Both groups preferred the solution of having all phones and devices set to silent or vibrate during class. However, the students differed significantly from the faculty members in their preference of 'no regulation of technological devices in the classroom,' x2 (1) = 66.919, p < .001. Students and faculty had different perceptions of which instructor-used technologies were productive for learning in the classroom. Significantly more students than faculty felt that smartboards were productive, x2 (1) = 24.119, p < .001. Faculty had an inflated perception of the effectiveness of DVD/CD/audiovisual aids when compared with student perceptions, x2 (1) = 9.424, p < .01. The researchers were surprised to find that students had a significantly higher opinion of the productivity of document/overhead projectors when compared to faculty perceptions, x2 (1) = 14.706, p < .001. Qualitative. The seven graduate students and three undergraduate students who were interviewed represented the following five disciplinary areas: communications, education, history, instructional design and technology, and medicine. While each student spoke of using a broad range of technological devices in classrooms, those from the fields of instructional design and technology and medicine reported using technology more frequently than others. Of


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particular interest to the researchers was the advice these students might provide both students and faculty for keeping classroom technology use more productive than distractive. Advice given for students centered on using cell phones, computers, or iPads in class only when these devices were related to work that was being done. Furthermore, several mentioned that it was important for students to remember that they are paying to get the most out of class and should resist the urge to engage in social networking during class time. Finally, these student interviewees felt it was important to make certain that devices did not go off in class and cause disruptions. Advice for faculty included the following: a) technology should be used when it supports the lesson or assignment, b) faculty must understand that technology can sometimes interfere with establishing community, c) it is important that faculty learn how to use technology, d) students should be given options for using their technological devices in class to enhance learning, and e) undergraduates may need more guidance on the appropriate use of their technological devices than graduate students. The 10 faculty members who were interviewed represented the following nine disciplinary areas: aviation, business, communications, education, geography, humanities, nursing, sciences, and study skills. They had a broad range of teaching experience as well as teaching with technology. Notably, faculty from education and nursing utilized technology more often than faculty from other disciplines. One faculty member, who had difficulty with the improper use of technological devices, reported collecting these devices at the beginning of each class. Another faculty member required students whose devices went off in class to stand up and sing. When asked what guidance these faculty members would have for new professors to keep technology use by students appropriate, most suggested providing students a policy on the course syllabus. One faculty member felt it was important that professors were good role models for students in their technology use. Still another spoke of not letting the “bells and whistles” aspect of new technology override the importance of the learning process. Finally, one professor spoke of keeping technology use by students appropriate by moving around the classroom throughout the class period. Limitations Student and faculty participant samples were demographically representative of the UND. The majority of both samples responding to the survey reported taking or teaching classes of 60 students or less. In terms of this study’s limitations, it is acknowledged that the data gathered represented the perceptions of one university in the United States. Furthermore, those completing the online survey represented approximately 19% of the faculty and 9% of students who were sent the survey. Although faculty volunteering to be interviewed taught in nine different disciplines, student interviewees represented only five disciplinary areas, and they were predominantly graduate students. Faculty and students motivated enough to take the time to be interviewed may not represent the opinions of the entire campus. Finally, one must remember that this study collected the perceptions of students and faculty and not actual observations of


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their technology use in the classroom. Discussion Similar to the findings of other studies, students and faculty at the UND believe that technology used in classrooms facilitates learning (Dahlstrom, 2012; Keough, 2012; Shuell & Farber, 2001). On the other hand, UND students and faculty acknowledged that technology use in classrooms (especially cell phones) can occasionally be distractive to the learning process; this finding is similar to those reported by Burns and Lohenry (2010) as well as Tindell and Bohlander (2011). In terms of factors that influence the level of distraction caused by technology, UND students and faculty agree that class topic, class size, class level, and time in the semester all play a role. A majority of the faculty responding to the online survey reported feeling prepared or very prepared to using technology in the classroom. Students and faculty agreed that the most common technological device used for instruction in classrooms was the computer. Faculty believed that the next most effective instructional devices were DVDs/CDs/audiovisual aids, while students reported more confidence in document projectors as productive learning tools. When asked which technological devices students were allowed to use in classrooms, faculty and students were in agreement. Nonetheless, students reported using clickers more often than faculty. This finding may be related to the student/faculty ratio (as mentioned earlier and occurring in Figures 6 & 7). Differences between student and faculty perceptions may also explain this outcome. Interview data collected from students and faculty provided excellent suggestions for keeping technology in the college classroom more productive than distractive to the learning process. Both groups felt that having policies regarding technology use in the classroom should be delineated on course syllabi; these policies are perhaps more important for undergraduate students than they are for graduate students. Both students and faculty believed that technological devices should be used when they support learning. Students indicated that faculty must be good models of their technology use in the classroom and seek tutorial help to use it properly. Furthermore, students believed that faculty would benefit from focusing less on their lecture material and more on using technology (e.g., interactive videos) to engage students in more active learning during classroom time. Faculty interviewed provided a variety of strategies they had found helpful for keeping technology use more productive than distractive. Several of those interviewed emphasized the importance of integrating technology into learning activities (e.g., asking students to find information by using their smart phones, iPads, or laptop computers). More than one faculty member supported the utilization of different teaching strategies and technological devices from one class period to the next. One faculty member (teaching freshman level students) provided brief periods of time for students to check their cell phones or other devices after a long period of focusing on a topic (i.e., “tech breaks”). Another worked to establish links between a topic and


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the “real world” of students. Finally, one faculty member found that seeking help from experienced faculty who are known to be effective teachers and technology users was crucial. Implications As a result of this study and the researchers’ experiences using technology in college classrooms, this section provides implications for three groups of individuals. Without administrative support, faculty and students may not succeed in carrying out the suggestions made. Therefore, implications for this group are covered first. College Administrators Administrators who are in charge of designing and equipping classrooms and/or providing funding for faculty development must believe that student learning can be enhanced by technology. It is also important to establish a committee that will study the ongoing technological needs of both faculty and students. Opportunities for learning how to use new technologies must be ongoing and offered in a variety of ways because learning styles and experiences vary widely (e.g., computer tutorials, campus-wide workshops and demonstrations, individual consultation). Finally, administrators who foster communication with students and faculty through surveys and open forums may also be helpful. College Faculty Faculty new to college teaching will find that support for purchasing technology differs from one institution to another. Some colleges will push faculty to teach online more than others, and this generally implies a more intensive use of technology. Larger institutions often have funding for a division providing faculty development opportunities in technology use. Certain institutions place a heavier emphasis on innovative teaching strategies than on research and are likely to invest more heavily in classroom technology and faculty development opportunities. Faculty themselves must be motivated to take advantage of these opportunities to improve their technology use. Because “class topic” was significantly important to students as a factor that distracted from their learning, it may be helpful for faculty to consider strategies for addressing the effect of topics that are more difficult or less interesting to students. Examples of such strategies include inviting guest speakers with “real world” experience on the topic and/or using hands-on activities to support the learning. Faculty members who conduct formative assessments of student learning are more likely to meet their needs. In the current study, students appreciated college professors who provided guidelines for technology use in the classroom and who gave students opportunities to use


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personal devices appropriately. College Students When students choose a college to attend, it is important that they are aware of which technologies and software applications are used in various programs and classrooms. If they find themselves enrolled in courses that demand a high level of skill in using technological devices, it will be important that they seek tutorials or seminars to succeed in these classes. Students interviewed for this study were able to articulate the ways technology helped them learn and also the ways it interfered in their learning. It is important that students share these ideas with faculty and even offer to help faculty improve their use of certain devices if that is appropriate. References Burns, S. M., & Lohenry, K. (2010). Cellular phone use in class: Implications for teaching and learning a pilot study. College Student Journal, 44(3), 805-810. Clark III, I., Flaherty, B., & Mottner, S. (2001). Student perceptions of educational technology tools. Journal Marketing Education, 23(3), 169-177. Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-59. Cotten, S. R. (2008). Students’ technology use and the impacts on well-being. In R. Junco and D. M. Timm (Eds.), Using emerging technologies to enhance student engagement. New Directions for Student Services, 124 (pp. 55-70). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Dahlstrom, E. (2012) ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2012. Louisville, CO: Educause Center for Applied Research. Fried, C. B. (2008). In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning. Computers and Education, 50(3), 906-914. Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2009). Role of instructional technology in the transformation of higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 21(1), 19-30. DOI: 10.1007/s12528-009-9014-7 Hasting, N. B., & Tracey, M. W. (2005). Does media affect learning: Where are we now? Tech Trends, 49(2), 28-30. Junco, R., & Cotten, S. R. (2011). Perceived academic effects of instant messaging use. Computers & Education, 56(2), 370-378. Keough, S. (2012). Clickers in the classroom: A review and a replication. Journal of Management Education, 36, 822-847. DOI: 10.1177/1052 5629124 54808 Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179. Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.


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Shuell, T. J., & Farber, S. L. (2001). Students' perceptions of technology use in college courses. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 24(2), 119-38. Tindell, D. R., & Bohlander, R. W. (2012). The use and abuse of cell phones and text messaging in the classroom: A survey of college students. College Teaching, 60(1), 1-9.


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#

Answer

Response

%

1

Freshman

14

10%

2

Sophomore

13

10%

3

Junior

23

17%

4

Senior

35

26%

5

Graduate student (Master's)

26

19%

6

Graduate student (Doctoral)

24

18%

Total

135

100%

Figure 1. Class levels of student participants


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Answer

Response

%

1

Aerospace Sciences

13

10%

2

Arts and Sciences

39

29%

3

Business and Public Administration

14

10%

4

Education and Human Development

28

21%

5

Engineering and Mines

8

6%

6

Graduate School

15

11%

7

Law School

0

0%

8

Medicine and Health Sciences

8

6%

9

Nursing

10

7%

Total

135

100%

Figure 2. Student distribution by academic college


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Answer

Response

%

1

Aerospace Sciences

19

12%

2

Arts and Sciences

54

35%

3

Business and Public Administration

10

7%

4

Education and Human Development

19

12%

5

Engineering and Mines

9

6%

6

Graduate School

1

1%

7

Law School

1

1%

8

Medicine and Health Sciences

23

15%

9

Nursing

17

11%

Total

153

100%

Figure 3. Faculty distribution by academic college


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education  #

Answer

Response

%

1

1-20

61

45%

2

21-40

36

26%

3

41-60

21

15%

4

61-80

8

6%

5

81-100

5

4%

6

101 or more

5

4%

136

100%

Response

%

Total

Figure 4. Average class size reported by student participants

#

Answer

1

1-20

49

32%

2

21-40

54

35%

3

41-60

23

15%

4

61-80

10

7%

5

81-100

2

1%

6

101 or more

15

10%

Total

153

100%

Figure 5. Average class size reported by faculty participants


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Answer

Response

%

1

Computers

123

90%

2

iPads / Tablets

20

15%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

7

5%

4

Clickers

53

39%

5

Smartboards

24

18%

6

DVD / CD / audiovisual

66

49%

7

Document projector / overhead projector

107

79%

8

Other (please specify)

6

4%

9

None

6

4%

Figure 6. Which technologies instructors use as perceived by students


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Answer

Response

%

1

Computers

145

95%

2

iPads / Tablets

31

20%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

20

13%

4

Clickers

27

18%

5

Smartboards

20

13%

6

DVD / CD / audiovisual

122

80%

7

Document projector/ overhead projector

103

67%

8

Other (please specify)

33

22%

9

None

1

1%

Figure 7. Which technologies instructors use as perceived by faculty


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education  #

Answer

Response

%

1

Computers

101

74%

2

iPads / Tablets

20

15%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

9

7%

4

Clickers

32

24%

5

Smartboards

38

28%

6

DVD / CD / audiovisual

49

36%

7

Document projector / overhead projector

88

65%

8

Other (please specify)

3

2%

9

None

5

4%

Figure 8. Instructional technologies perceived by students as productive for learning


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Answer

Response

%

1

Computers

127

84%

2

iPads / Tablets

25

17%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

10

7%

4

Clickers

23

15%

5

Smartboards

10

7%

6

DVD / CD / audiovisual

82

54%

7

Document projector / overhead projector

64

42%

8

Other (please specify)

20

13%

9

None

4

3%

Figure 9. Instructional technologies perceived by faculty as productive for learning

#

Answer

Response

%

1

Computers / Laptops

117

86%

2

iPads / Tablets

72

53%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

39

29%

4

Clickers

51

38%

5

Other (please specify)

6

4%

6

None

12

9%

Figure 10. Which technologies students use in class as perceived by student


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Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education #

Answer

Response

%

1

Computers / Laptops

134

88%

2

iPads / Tablets

99

65%

3

Smart phones / Cell phones

65

43%

4

Clickers

28

18%

5

Other (please specify)

11

7%

6

None

9

6%

Figure 11. Which technologies students use in class as perceived by faculty

APPENDICES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST OF THE AUTHOR


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Practice What You Teach: Preservice Educators' Writing Apprehension Brooke A. Burks Auburn University at Montgomery Marie Kraska Auburn University

Abstract This study looked at the writing apprehension levels of junior and senior preservice elementary education teachers preparing to embark upon the profession amidst the heightened requirements for reading and writing as outlined by the Common Core State Standards. Because these preservice teachers will be expected to teach writing to students, it is imperative that these future teachers feel comfortable about their own writing. Hall and Grisham-Brown (2011) suggest that teacher educators help their teacher candidates become better writers before sending them into classrooms bereft of appropriate writing skills. Benevides and Stagg-Peterson (2010) also suggest including activities in teacher education courses that will foster positive attitudes towards writing. The purpose of the current study was to help preservice teachers better prepare themselves for the writing that will be required in professional education by giving them a plethora of relevant and positive writing assignments that they could share with each other and the instructor. The goal of this study was to determine to what extent preservice teachers were apprehensive about their own writing (via the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Test) and to what extent their apprehensions lessen after taking the writing course. Martinez, Kock, and Cass (2011) suggest that the more positive writing experiences a student has, the more likely the student will be inclined to enjoy writing. Results showed a significant difference in the apprehension scores, which suggests that offering preservice educators experiences in the types of writing required for the profession and creating a safe writing environment can help to alleviate writing apprehension. Keywords: writing, apprehension, preservice, teacher “I can’t write,” Sally says. “But, you have to,” John replies. “Aren’t you going to be a teacher?”


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Writing is an important tool without which a person’s academic and professional growth is limited (National Institute for Literacy, 2007), and attempting to envision a job that does not require writing is a difficult task (Daly & Miller, 1975b). Across the United States, teachers are preparing their students for more rigorous study in reading and writing. With the Common Core State Standards, teachers are required to teach a higher level of reading and writing (Rothman, 2012). What many have failed to realize, however, is that many teachers—especially those who are not teachers of English—are often apprehensive about their own abilities in these areas. To meet this challenge, teachers must prepare themselves, and “teacher preparation institutions must embrace the standards to ensure that those entering the profession are ready to teach what students are expected to learn” (Rothman, 2012, p. 14). It is a given that if a teacher can teach, then he or she can also read. However, writing is another matter. Although some may not feel adequate in teaching writing, preservice educators should evaluate their own perceptions about writing before attempting to teach others (Hall & Grisham-Brown, 2011). Not only must they teach the writing, but they must then assess that writing, which often lends itself to more subjective assessment (Penner-Williams, Smith, & Gartin, 2009). Therefore, this issue should be addressed in teacher-preparation courses. Thoonen, Sleegers, Oort, Peetsma, & Geijsel (2011) studied teacher motivational factors that determine those teachers’ practices and discussed teachers’ professional development activities as a determinant of teaching practice. They learned that “teachers who are more engaged in professional learning activities to improve their practice will have better teaching practices in terms of the quality of instruction” (p. 517). They also found that teachers who are confident in their abilities are those who often seek professional development opportunities because they are the ones who want to stay abreast of best practices. The Writing Teacher With the Common Core State Standards in effect in 46 states, most teachers now know that writing is a key factor in all subject areas. With this in mind, it is imperative that each teacher develops good writing habits and allows students opportunities to write. There are, however, teachers who are less confident about their writing than others. In Claypool’s (1980) study of 192 secondary school teachers’ writing apprehension, he learned that teachers who were most apprehensive were those who assigned the least amount of writing in their classes. Writing apprehension is no excuse today as the standards mandate that writing be a focus across the disciplines (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012). Writing activities help to alleviate writing anxiety (Karakaya & Ulper, 2011). Therefore, to help combat teacher fears about writing, Daisey (2009) surveyed secondary preservice teachers to determine whether they had high writing enjoyment (HWE) or low writing enjoyment (LWE). Over the course of one semester in a content literacy course, participants wrote journals, poems, and other genres, and they were encouraged throughout the semester to “expand, rethink, experience, value, and ultimately model writing in their subject area” (p. 160). At the end of the


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term, those who had LWE as well as those who had HWE said they want to be positive writing models for their future students. Teacher Attitudes Towards Writing Much of what preservice teachers believe about writing is based on their prior experiences as students (Hall & Grisham-Brown, 2011). In their focus group study, Hall and Grisham-Brown (2011) learned that many preservice elementary educators planned to spend little time specifically on writing in their own classrooms. The participants also noted their weaknesses in mechanics, teaching strategies, and feedback. Hall and Grisham-Brown (2011) suggest that teacher educators provide more opportunities for preservice educators to write creatively and focus more on the writing process by using writer-workshop strategies. Benevides and Stagg-Peterson (2010) discuss the association between teachers who have a love for reading and their instruction of reading with elementary school children. They note that teachers who do not enjoy reading are those who may have difficulty modeling an appreciation for reading. Writing instruction is not any different. Teachers’ attitudes about writing are also passed on to their students (Daisey, 2009). The current study sought to determine the levels of apprehension preservice elementary educators may possess and how those apprehensions may be lessened through a course specifically targeted toward writing for educators. Research Questions 1. To what extent are preservice elementary education teachers apprehensive about their writing ability? 2. To what extent will preservice elementary education teachers’ apprehensions lessen after taking a writing course targeted for educators? Methods Participants The participants consisted of a convenient sample of 14 preservice elementary teachers (79% Caucasian; 21% African American) enrolled in the primary researcher’s Professional Writing for Educators course at a university in the southeastern United States. There were 13 female candidates and 1 male teacher candidate. The class met twice per week for 1.5 hours each day. Each student was an elementary education major in his or her junior or senior year, and the course was required for all elementary education majors as part of the university’s Writing Across the Curriculum program.


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Procedures To determine participants’ writing apprehension levels, the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Test (WAT) (Daly & Miller, 1975b), which has been widely used to measure writing anxiety (Karakaya & Ulper, 2011), was administered at the beginning of the semester. The WAT is “a stable one factor measure with extremely high reliabilities and low correlations with other measures” (Daly & Miller, 1975a, p. 176). The reliability of the test was originally determined by the split-half technique, which resulted in a coefficient of .940, and a test-retest over one week, which resulted in a coefficient of .923. In Daly and Miller’s (1975b) sample of participants, the mean was 79.28, and the standard deviation was 18.86. The 26-item Likert-type WAT survey produces scores ranging from 26 (most apprehensive) to 130 (least apprehensive). The range of scores falls into four levels: Levels I, II, III, and IV. At Level I (Scores 97–130), writers are least apprehensive. However, Stoner (n.d.) warns that scores too high in this level may indicate a writer who is overly confident and may not be interested in working on his or her writing. At Level II (Scores 60–96), writers do not experience a significant amount of apprehension. However, Stoner (n.d.) notes that scores at the extremities of this range could indicate apprehension in the next range. The researchers included Level III to indicate writers at the lower extremity of Level II. These writers are those that Stoner reports may experience apprehension at the next range of scores. At Level IV (Scores 2659), writers are most apprehensive. They are generally nervous about writing and fear evaluation of their writing. During the course of the semester, the researcher, who was also the instructor for the course, encouraged participants to write daily in their journals, to share their work, and to participate in in-class writing workshops. Williams (1996) suggests that working in peer groups provides students with a “discourse community” as well as “meaningful environments for teacher intervention and feedback during the composing process” (p. 199). Each participant was paired with a classmate who served as peer reviewer and coauthor on several writing assignments. Along with the daily journals, the writing assignments also consisted of types of writing that educators will encounter, such as letters to parents, letters to community members, memos to colleagues, newsletters, informal reports, grant proposals, and resumes. At the end of the semester, the researcher administered the survey again to determine whether participants’ apprehension levels changed. Data Analysis A one-sample t-test was performed to answer the first research question, which addressed the extent to which preservice elementary teachers were apprehensive about their writing ability. The following null hypothesis was tested to respond to this research question: There is no statistically significant difference in the level of apprehension of preservice teachers’ writing


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ability score and the median value of 78, which was established by the test developers (Daly & Miller, 1975b). A paired-samples t-test was performed to address the second research question. The second research question addressed the extent to which a change in scores on apprehension about writing was observed after participants completed a writing course targeted for educators. The following null hypothesis was tested to respond to the second research question: There is no statistically significant difference between pretest scores and posttest scores on the Daly-Miller WAT. Results Results of the first null hypothesis test revealed that the observed mean score (85.57, N=14) is 7.57 points higher than the test value (78). This difference was not significantly different at the .05 level. However, it is noteworthy to report that this difference was significant at the .10 level (t(13) = 1.79, p = .09). The test developers suggest that scores closer to the test value indicate that respondents do not experience an unusual level of apprehension. Observed scores higher than the test value suggest that respondents were still within the range of apprehension but not overly confident. The standard deviation for observed scores was 15.85. Results of the paired-samples t-test revealed a statistically significant difference between pretest scores and posttest scores (t(13) = 2.30, p = .03). The mean score and standard deviation for the pretest scores and the posttest scores were (85.57, 15.85) and (93.36, 12.97), respectively. Based on the t-value and the probability level (.04), one must reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the writing course lessened participants’ apprehension about writing. Discussion Participants’ scores on the Daly-Miller WAT increased significantly after completion of the Professional Writing for Educators course. On the pretest, there were 9 participants with scores at or above the median score (78), while 6 participants scored below the median. On the posttest, only 2 participants had scores below the median. There were 2 participants with scores at Level III (at the lower extremity of Level II) on the pretest. They both moved closer to the median score (78) in Level II on the posttest. This change shows a lessening of writing apprehension. None of the participants scored a Level IV apprehension level on the pretest or on the posttest, which shows that none had severe writing anxiety. Three participants at Level II on the pretest moved into Level I on the posttest. Along with the apprehension survey, participants wrote daily in their journals. Most of the participants not only spoke highly of the course itself, but they also wrote in their journals about their increasing levels of writing confidence. One participant wrote, “I feel that I am more prepared to teach writing because I have had a review over the course of this semester” (journal entry). Another participant’s first journal entry discussed the dislike she had for writing because


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of an experience in the 5th grade. In her last entry, however, she wrote, “…I feel like I am able to write letters and memos. Before I wasn’t sure on how to do either…I am more prepared” (journal entry). Limitations The number of participants (N=14) is an extenuating factor in this study. Having more participants would add more power to the analysis. The limitation of the participant sample makes it difficult to generalize the results to larger populations. However, the results are consistent with other studies that show success using similar methods (Fox, 1980; Smith, 1984; Tighe, 1987). The use of only elementary education majors could be another limitation of this study. Teachers at all levels are required to teach writing, and it would be beneficial to look at secondary teachers’ and postsecondary teachers’ levels of writing apprehension as well. Conclusions and Implications Writing is a skill that is becoming increasingly more important in today’s society. From colleges to the work force, professors and employers alike are looking for students and workers who have the skills necessary to complete whatever writing task awaits them. According to Phenix (1990), teachers learn most of their techniques via “on-the-job training” (p. 10). However, it is important now more than ever to prepare future teachers before they get to the classroom. The results of the current study support the need for more focus on writing while teachers are in the preservice stage. Allowing teachers to enter the profession bereft of appropriate skills and apprehensive about the skills they do possess is neglect on the part of teacher educators and schools of education. Authors Biographies Brooke A. Burks, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Foundations, Technology, and Secondary Education at Auburn University at Montgomery. She is a former high school English teacher and has a published collection of short stories entitled Tawanda’s Quest. Dr. Burks received her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Secondary English Education from Auburn University and a B.A. in Language Arts Education from Tuskegee University. She currently trains faculty members in Writing Across the Curriculum, and she is actively involved with several community projects. Contact: bburks1@aum.edu; P.O. Box 244023, Montgomery, AL 36124.


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Marie Kraska, Ph. D., is a M. C. Fraley distinguished professor of research and statistics in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology at Auburn University. Dr. Kraska received her Ph.D. in Technical Education (Statistics) from the University of Missouri, Master of Probability and Statistics from Auburn University, M.S. in Technical Education (Statistics) from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and B.S. in speech and English from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is the interim Director of Research and a research methodologist for the Center for Disability Research and Service at Auburn University. Contact: kraskmf@auburn.edu; 4064 Haley Center, Auburn University, AL 368495512. References Benevides, T., & Stagg-Peterson, S. (2010). Literacy attitudes, habits and achievements of future teachers. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36(3), 291-302. Claypool, S. H. (1980). Teacher writing apprehension: Does it affect writing assignments across the curriculum? Education Research Information Center. Abstract retrieved from ERIC database. (Accession No. ED216387) Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2012). Implementing the common core state standards. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org Daisey, P. (2009). The writing experiences and beliefs of secondary teacher candidates. Teacher Education Quarterly, 157-172. Daly, J., & Miller, M. (1975a). Apprehension of writing as a predictor of message intensity. Journal of Psychology, 89, 175-177. Daly, J., & Miller, M. (1975b). The empirical development of an instrument to measure writing apprehension. Research in the Teaching of English, 9(3), 242-249. Fox, R. (1980). Treatment of writing apprehension and its effects on composition. Research in the Teaching of English, 14(1), 29-49. Hall, A. H., & Grisham-Brown, J. (2011). Writing development over time: Examining preservice teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about writing. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 32, 148-158. doi: 10.1080/10901027.2011.572230 Karakaya, I., & Ulper, H. (2011). Developing a writing anxiety scale and examining writing anxiety based on various variables. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 11(2), 703-707. Martinez, C. T., Kock, N., & Cass, J. (2011). Pain and pleasure in short essay writing: Factors predicting university students’ writing anxiety and writing self-efficacy. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 54(5), 351-360. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.54.5.5 National Institute for Literacy. (2007). What content-area teachers should know about adolescent literacy. Jessup, MD. Penner-Williams, J., Smith, T. E., & Gartin, B. C. (2009). Written language expression:


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Assessment instruments and teacher tools. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 34(3), 162-169. doi: 10.1177/1534508408318805 Phenix, J. (1990). Teaching writing: The nuts and bolts of running a day-to-day writing program. Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers Limited. Rothman, R. (2012). A common core of readiness. Educational Leadership, 69(7), 10-15. Smith, M. (1984). Reducing writing apprehension. Education Research Information Center. Retrieved from ERIC database. (Accession No. ED243112) Stoner, M. (n.d.). The Daly-Miller writing apprehension test. Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/stonerm/daly_miller_scoring.htm Thoonen, E. E., Sleegers, P. J., Oort, F. J., Peetsma, T. T., & Geijsel, F. P. (2011). How to improve teaching practices: The role of teacher motivation, organizational factors, and leadership practices. Educational Administration Quarterly, 47(3), 496-536. Tighe, M. A. (1987). Reducing writing apprehension in English classes. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English Spring Conference (6th, Louisville, KY, March 26-28, 1987). Williams, J. D. (1999). Preparing to teach writing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.


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The Group Assessment Procedure: Predicting Student Teaching Performance Sally A. Ingles Spring Arbor University

Abstract Many educational reformers presume that teacher quality will improve if teacher preparation programs simply raise standards of academic selection criteria. However, these traditional criteria are poor predictors of student teaching performance. Instead, teacher preparation programs are in need of admission criteria that will identify candidates who are most likely to succeed in student teaching. The Group Assessment Procedure, which measures soft skills, may fulfill that need. As an alternative to the individual interview and a derivative of the assessment center method for selecting managers in the field of business, the Group Assessment Procedure is a 90-minute, simultaneous interview of numerous candidates. Evidence of the Group Assessment Procedure’s validity as a selection tool was limited to teacher candidates attending large public institutions of higher education in both Israel and Utah. The purpose of this study was to validate the Group Assessment Procedure as a viable teacher candidate selection tool at a small, private university in the Midwest. This nonexperimental, predictive validity study examined the relationship between teacher education candidates’ Group Assessment scores and grade point average (GPA) with student teaching performance scores. Findings of this study suggest that Group Assessment Procedure scores are better predictors of student teaching performance scores than GPA at the time of admission. If implemented, these findings will empower teacher education programs to efficiently select teacher education candidates who are most likely to succeed in student teaching. Keywords: teacher candidate selection criteria, student teaching, group assessment procedure, group interview

In an effort to select the most qualified teacher candidates while satisfying increasing demands from governmental and accrediting agencies, teacher preparation programs commonly use quantitative indices for admission selection criteria. Recent surveys of teacher preparation programs nationwide denote the widespread usage of standardized tests as admission criteria (Ginsberg & Whaley, 2003; Petersen & Speaker, 1996), while a minimum grade point average (GPA) remains the most common admission criteria required by teacher preparation programs


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nationwide (Fisher & Feldman, 1985; Ginsberg & Whaley, 2003; Laman & Reeves, 1983; Petersen & Speaker, 1996). Despite the widespread usage of standardized tests and minimum GPA as admission criteria, research suggests that traditional academic indicators, such as GPA and standardized test scores, are poor predictors of student teaching performance (Mikitovics & Crehan, 2002). Therefore, teacher preparation programs are in need of admission criteria that will identify candidates who are most likely to succeed in student teaching. The Group Assessment Procedure, a structured group interview, appears to fulfill that need. By placing approximately eight candidates in a room together to interact with one another while they respond to a range of interview questions, trained faculty raters discretely observe and assess candidates’ soft skills and character traits within the domains of human interaction, oral communication, and leadership. Repeated studies of the Group Assessment Procedure at universities in Israel and Utah suggest that Group Assessment Procedure scores appear to be better predictors of student teaching performance than traditional academic indicators (Byrnes, Kiger, & Shechtman, 2003; Shechtman, 1983; Shechtman & Godfried, 1993). However, the demographic identifiers of the teacher candidates in these studies have been reflective of their respective locales: a university in Utah and a university in Haifa, Israel. Additionally, two recent studies of the Group Assessment Procedure (Farnsworth, Benson, Peterson, Shaha, & Hudson, 2003; Faulk, 2008) raised questions regarding the validity and reliability of the instrument. Therefore, this study of the Group Assessment Procedure’s predictive power with a teacher candidate population in a private university in the Midwest was conducted to provide helpful information to teacher preparation programs seeking to redesign admissions procedures and policies in order to optimize student and program outcomes. The primary research question addressed in this study is as follows: What is the relationship between a teacher candidate’s performance in the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest and a teacher candidate’s performance in student teaching? Additional questions addressed in this study are 1. Is there a relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s overall rating score on the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest? 2. Is there a relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program at a small, private university in the Midwest? 3. For teacher candidates who score 3 or lower in the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest, is there a relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student


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teaching and the candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program? Theoretical and Empirical Issues Related to Teacher Candidate Admission CriteriaStandardized Testing Though initiated by education reform reports and touted by legislators (Guest, 1993), standardized teacher tests have frequently been charged with failure to demonstrate content and predictive validity (Berliner, 2005; Burke, 2005; D’Agostino & Powers, 2009; Melnick & Pullin, 2000). Several studies have concluded that standardized tests as admission criteria are not predictive of student teaching performance (Byrnes et al., 2003; D’Agostino & Powers, 2009; Dobry, Murphy, & Schmidt, 1985; Dybdahl, Shaw, & Edwards, 1997; Hicken, 1992; Mikitovics & Crehan, 2002; Olstad, 1987; Olstad, 1988; Quirk, Witten, & Wineburg, 1973). Dybdahl et al. observed, “After more than a decade of teacher testing, research has failed to demonstrate any significant relationship between basic competency tests and . . . measures of program success, including success in teaching” (p. 252). An additional, significant concern regarding the impact of widespread usage of standardized tests upon teacher candidates asserted by Mitchell, Plakes, and Knowles (2001) was that standardized testing has narrowed the pool of teacher candidates. George (1985) contended that “poor teachers are not identified by multiple choice tests, and numerous good ones are increasingly being prevented access to the profession by their scores” (p. 56). More specifically, several educators and researchers have reported that standardized tests have significantly reduced the pool of racially diverse candidates (Flippo, 2003; Hicken, 1992; Hilliard, 1986; Memory, Coleman, & Watkins, 2003; Mercer, 1984; Mitchell, Robinson, Plakes, & Knowles, 2001). Studies such as these add yet another dimension to the validity challenges that have been raised regarding standardized teacher testing. Grade Point Average Studies of the predictive validity of GPA calculated at the time of admission have also concluded that this traditional admission criterion is a poor predictor of student teaching performance (Byrnes et al., 2003; Oldenkamp, 2003; Olstad, 1987). Additionally, most studies examining teacher candidates’ cumulative GPA have concluded that it, too, is a poor predictor of subsequent performance in student teaching (Dobry et al., 1985) and of scores on standardized tests (Brown, Brown, & Brown, 2008; Michiels, Hernandez, Ward, & Strickland, 2006). These findings should not be interpreted as calls to abolish the use of traditional academic admission criteria. Denner, Salzman, & Newsome (2001) observed, “traditional academic indicators themselves and the criteria applied, such as minimum scores, may have a certain degree of validity for predicting general academic success in teacher education programs” (p. 166). In fact, a case could be made for the usage of GPA and standardized tests as measures of a


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candidate’s content knowledge in any given content area (Petersen & Speaker, 1996). However, it would be a faulty assumption to presume that content area knowledge is predictive of teaching success (Zimpher & Howey, 1992). Several researchers have concluded that more valid and reliable assessments of teacher education candidates are needed (Flippo, 2003; Mercer, 1984; Petersen & Speaker, 1996). Group Assessment Procedure A lesser known teacher candidate selection tool, the Group Assessment Procedure, has demonstrated reliability and predictive validity in some locales. The Group Assessment Procedure is a four-stage interview that requires approximately eight prospective teacher education candidates to participate together in a series of discussions and one problem-solving activity over the course of 90 minutes. It was first reported by Shechtman (1983) as an admission criterion used by the School of Education of Haifa University in Israel. The Group Assessment Procedure has since been validated numerous times in the same region. The Group Assessment score is the overall rating prospective teacher education candidates earn while they participate in the Group Assessment Procedure. Scores can range from 6 (exceptional level of competence) to 1 (poor level of competence). Other subscores are also generated by the Group Assessment Procedure: verbal communication, human interaction, and leadership. Repeated studies of the Group Assessment Procedure at universities in Israel and Utah suggest that Group Assessment scores are better predictors of student teaching performance than traditional academic indicators (Byrnes et al., 2003; Shechtman, 1983; Shechtman & Godfried, 1993). However, no studies of the Group Assessment Procedure had yet been conducted at independent, nonprofit institutions of higher education with enrollments of 4,999 students or less (Feistritzer, 1999). This was problematic because the majority of teacher preparation programs in the United States fit this demographic. Additionally, no studies of the Group Assessment Procedure in the United States had included the student teaching performance scores of students scoring below 3 in the Group Assessment Procedure because those students are generally denied admission to teacher preparation programs (Faulk, 2008). Furthermore, two recent studies of the Group Assessment Procedure (Faulk, 2008; Farnsworth et al., 2003) challenged its validity as a predictor of student teaching performance. Therefore, this study was conducted to address these isssues, and it was conducted to examine the predictive validity of this teacher candidate admission tool with a different target population. Structure of the Group Assessment Procedure. Unlike time-consuming individual interviews or 2- to 3-day assessment center evaluations, the Group Assessment Procedure requires an allocation of only 90 minutes (Shechtman, 1992a). Within the 90-minute timeframe, two trained raters observe eight students interacting with one another during a four-stage interview: impromptu oral introductions, discussion of controversial topics (one social issue and one educational issue), a “leaderless group discussion” (Shechtman, 1992b, p. 33) that requires


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candidates to reach a consensus in solving a problem, and a feedback stage during which candidates are directed to give feedback to one another, self-assessments regarding their own performances in the Group Assessment Procedure, and reflections on the Group Assessment Procedure (Shechtman, 1992b). Scoring of the Group Assessment Procedure. At the conclusion of the Group Assessment Procedure, each rater finalizes subtotals for each interviewee regarding the three previously identified dimensions (Shechtman & Godfried, 1993). Ratings for each of these dimensions are assigned to one of six levels of proficiency, ranging from a high level of competency (score of 6) to a low level of competency (score of 1). After raters finalize subscores for each candidate, they collaborate to determine a fourth score, the overall rating (Shechtman & Godfried, 1993). This score represents a candidate’s general fitness for the teaching profession (Shechtman, 1992a). Method Research Design The purpose of this study was to validate a previously used instrument and test hypotheses in an existing setting. Furthermore, it yielded numerical data that were analyzed to examine the relationship between teacher education candidates’ Group Assessment scores and GPA from select general education courses at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program with student teaching performance scores. The data analysis provided answers to research questions that are predictive by nature. Therefore, this study employed quantitative research methods. More specifically, a nonexperimental prediction study within the correlational design was used. Unlike many other available research designs, correlational designs allow for an exploration of several variables in a single study. Furthermore, such designs provide information regarding the magnitude of the relationship among the variables (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003). Considering the number of variables analyzed within this research problem and the need to measure the magnitude of the relationship between variables, the correlational design family was the most appropriate research design to be employed. Sample The study sample included 31 teacher candidates who qualified for the study, consented to participate, and completed their student teaching experiences during the 2009–2010 academic calendar. These teacher candidates had been selected according to traditional selection criteria, and they agreed to participate in the Group Assessment Procedure during their student teaching experiences so that the researcher could study the instrument’s concurrent validity. Though the


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size of the sample was small, it exceeded the 30 participant minimum deemed “desirable” for correlational research studies (Gall et al., 2003, p. 176). In many ways, the demographic composition of the sample closely mirrored the demographic composition of the entire university. Within this sample, 24 participants were seeking elementary certification, and seven were seeking secondary certification. The teacher candidate participants ranged in age from 21 to 44 years. The only significant divergence from the university’s demographic composition was that the research sample included greater racial diversity: 83.8% White, non-Hispanic; 6.5 % Black, 6.5 % Hispanic, and 3.2% Biracial. Study Variables According to Gall et al. (2003), “the likelihood of obtaining an important research finding is greater if the researcher uses theory and the results of previous research to select variables to be correlated with one another” (p. 323). Therefore, the variables analyzed in this study were based upon those identified by Faulk (2008) and Byrnes et al. (2003). The criterion variable examined was the student teaching performance rating as measured by cooperating teachers using the Group Assessment Procedure Rating Scale. The predictor variables were the participants’ GPA calculated from select general education courses that were required for admission to the School of Education and the Group Assessment score (overall rating) participants earned in the Group Assessment Procedure. Shechtman and Godfried (1993) reported the concurrent and construct validity of the Group Assessment Procedure and Rating Scale. Additionally, two trained raters were used to assess participants during the Group Assessment Procedure and two trained supervisors (a cooperating teacher and a university supervisor) were used to assess participants during student teaching Data was collected from the following three areas: academic admission criteria, Group Assessment Procedure scores, and student teaching scores. All data was generated by existing instruments or gathered from student records. Candidates’ GPAs based upon select courses at the time of admission were gathered from student records, and candidates’ scores on the Group Assessment Procedure were collected during an evening seminar class during which they participated in the Group Assessment Procedure. Candidates’ student teaching performance scores were evaluated by cooperating teachers and university supervisors at or near the conclusion of the initial student teaching placement. GPA. The academic admission criteria analyzed was the GPA participants had earned in a select group of required general education courses: Introduction to Psychology (PSY 100), College Writing (ENG 104), and either Oral Communication (SPE 100) or Fundamentals of Speech (SPE 212). These courses were selected because they were the only general education courses that candidates had to complete successfully before applying to the School of Education.


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Group assessment scores. The Group Assessment Procedure and the Group Assessment Rating Scale were used to generate Group Assessment scores. The Group Assessment Rating Scale, used by two trained raters, provided the basis for each candidate’s Group Assessment scores in the following four dimensions: verbal communication, human interaction, leadership, and overall rating. Scores ranged from 6 (exceptional level of competence) to 1 (poor level of competence.) Student teaching scores. Student teaching evaluation scores were also based upon the Group Assessment Rating Scale; however, the scale was independently completed by each teacher candidate’s cooperating teacher and university supervisor. The Group Assessment Rating Scale was employed for the evaluation of student teaching performance for two primary reasons. First, it provided all raters (whether evaluating Group Assessment performance or student teaching performance) with a common rating instrument and, therefore, identical indicators for relatively nebulous terminology, such as verbal communication and human interaction. (In fact, this discrepancy between indicators on instruments could be considered a weakness of previous validation studies.) Additionally, the instrument that this small, private university currently uses to assess student teaching performance, the “Teacher Candidate Midterm/Final Evaluation” instrument, does not solicit numeric scores for an overall student teaching performance rating. Instead, it provides the assessor the opportunity to recommend the teacher candidate for certification, to recommend with reservations, or to not recommend at all. Therefore, the Group Assessment Rating Scale, which solicits an overall fitness for teaching rating on a six-point scale, was used because it captures the rating of a teacher candidate’s student teaching performance score within a broader range of proficiency levels. Analyses. A paired samples t-test and multiple regression analysis techniques were used to generate correlational coefficients that reveal relationships among the following variables for each teacher candidate: Group Assessment Procedure scores, GPA in select courses at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program, and student teaching performance scores. Results Figure 1 is a multiline graph that depicts the relationship between Group Assessment scores and student teaching performance scores. The top line, identified as OR (CT), is the graphic representation of the distribution of the Overall Rating subscores student teachers were given by their respective cooperating teachers who supervised the participants’ student teaching performances. The bottom line, identified as OR (GI), is the graphic representation of the distribution of the Overall Rating subscores generated by students’ performances in the Group Assessment Procedure. Correlation between scores is evident in the pattern created by the lines. Low scores on one variable seem to be associated with low scores on the other variable, and high scores on one variable seem to be associated with high scores on the other variable.


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Furthermore, the graphic representation illustrates that student teaching performance scores reported by cooperating teachers were consistently higher than Group Assessment Procedure performance scores. Research Question #1 Is there a relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s overall rating score on the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest? A linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between overall performance ratings in student teaching reported by cooperating teachers and overall performance ratings in the Group Assessment Procedure rating. For the 31 participants in the study, the mean score (M = 4.90, SD =1.274) on overall performance in student teaching was greater at the p < .01 level (note: p = .006) than the mean score on overall performance in the Group Assessment Procedure (M = 3.94, SD =1.289). There was a statistically significant, positive correlation between the two variables (r = .483, p < .01). Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected. This analysis indicates that those teacher candidates who earn high ratings in the Group Assessment Procedure tend to earn high ratings in student teaching. Research Question #2 Is there a relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program at a small, private university in the Midwest? To answer this question, a comparison of a two different types of variables (ordinal and interval) was necessary. Therefore, a linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between the ordinal value (student teaching performance ratings) and the criterion interval variable (Group Assessment Procedure ratings). The mean score on overall performance in student teaching was 4.90 (SD = 1.274), and the mean GPA was 3.36 (SD = .449). The Pearson correlation coefficient (R = .182) indicated a low, nonsignificant relationship between the variables. The R Square value of .033 indicated that only 3% of the variance in student teaching performance ratings (OR-CT) can be explained by GPA. Therefore, the null hypothesis was affirmed. There was no significant relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program. Research Question #3 For teacher candidates who score 3 or lower in the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest, is there a relationship between the overall rating score


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a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching, and the candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program? To answer this question, only the data subset of participants who earned a 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure were included. A linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between the overall rating score that teacher candidates received from cooperating teachers during student teaching and the candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program. The mean score on overall performance in student teaching was 4.20 (SD = 1.549), and the mean GPA was 3.42 (SD = .377). The Pearson correlation coefficient (.052) indicated a low, positive correlation between student teaching performance scores and GPA. The R Square value of .003 indicated that only .3% of the variance in student teaching performance ratings (OR-CT) can be explained by GPA. Therefore, the null hypothesis was affirmed. For teacher candidates who scored 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure, no significant relationship was found between their student teaching performance ratings and their GPA at the time of admission. However, because only 10 participants scored 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure, results should be noted with caution. Discussion Findings of this study indicate that there is a significant, positive relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s overall rating score on the Group Assessment Procedure at a small, private university in the Midwest. Thus, teacher candidates who earn high ratings in the Group Assessment Procedure tend to earn high ratings in student teaching. These findings coincide with several studies of the Group Assessment Procedure conducted in Israel and Utah State University. Those studies reported a positive correlation between teacher candidates’ performance in the Group Assessment Procedure and subsequent student teaching performance (Byrnes et al., 2003; Shechtman, 1983; Shechtman, 1991; Shechtman, 1992a; Shechtman, 1992b; Shechtman & Godfried, 1993; Shechtman & Sansbury, 1989). The findings of this study are particularly intriguing because the significant, positive correlation was based upon a data set that included participants who scored 2 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure. This subpopulation of Group Assessment participants scoring below average on the instrument had not been studied before. Such findings suggest that the Group Assessment Procedure is a valid instrument for predicting student teaching performance of a wide range of candidates. Regarding Research Question #2, findings of this study suggest that there is no significant relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program. These findings coincide with the findings of previous studies that examined the relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives during


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student teaching and a teacher candidate’s GPA at the time of admission to the teacher preparation program. Byrnes et al. (2003) reported that GPA is not associated with student teaching performance. Olstad (1987) observed that GPA at the time of admission was not predictive of student teaching performance. Oldenkamp (2003) concluded that candidates with GPAs of 3.00 and higher at the time of admission were not predisposed to higher student teaching performance ratingsAdditionally, Oldenkamp noted that students with GPAs between 2.50 and 2.99 were not statistically disadvantaged from receiving higher student teaching performance ratings. With regard to Research Question #3, study findings indicate no significant relationship between GPA at the time of admission and overall rating scores earned on the Group Assessment Procedure for students receiving ratings of 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure. However, because only 10 participants scored 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure, results should be noted with caution. Compared to previous studies of the Group Assessment Procedure, this study included a higher percentage (32%) of participants who scored 3 or lower on the Group Assessment Procedure. The Byrnes et al. (2003) study reported 24% of participants who scored 3 on the Group Assessment Procedure, and Faulk (2008) reported 19% of study participants who scored 3 on the Group Assessment Procedure. There are two plausible explanations for these phenomena. First, this study examined a sample population that had not been selected into the teacher preparation program based upon performance in the Group Assessment Procedure. Therefore, it logically follows that the possibility that some below average (Overall Rating Score 2) performing candidates had advanced to the student teaching experience because only academic admission criteria had been used to determine their fitness for acceptance into the teacher preparation program when they were accepted into the program approximately three years prior. Second, participants in this study participated in the Group Assessment Procedure during their student teaching semesters instead of at the time of admission. Therefore, these participants may have not performed at their highest level of proficiency because they knew their performance had no ramifications for their status in the teacher preparation program. Conclusion Findings of this study indicate that there is a significant, positive relationship between the overall rating score a teacher candidate receives from a cooperating teacher during student teaching and a teacher candidate’s overall rating score on the Group Assessment Procedure. Additionally, data analysis indicates that a teacher candidates’ performance in the Group Assessment Procedure is more predictive of student teaching performance than GPA at the time of admission. Such findings support the results of previous studies that compared the predictive validity of performance in the Group Assessment Procedure and other traditional academic admission criteria with student teaching performance (Byrnes et al., 2003; Shechtman, 1983; Shechtman, 1991; Shechtman & Godfried, 1993; Shechtman & Sansbury, 1989). A conclusion that may be drawn from these findings is teacher candidates’ verbal communication skills,


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human interaction skills, and leadership skills have a greater influence on teaching performance skills than GPA at the time of admission to a teacher preparation program. Therefore, an analysis of these skills at time of admission is warranted even more so than the analysis of GPA at the time of admission. Recommendations for Future Research To further examine the validity and reliability of the Group Assessment Procedure as a teacher candidate criterion, it would be helpful to study more diverse populations that include higher percentages of teacher candidates who are racial or ethnic minorities, male, and teacher candidates pursuing secondary teaching certification. Additionally, studies of the Group Assessment Procedure used as an interview for the selection of new teachers or perhaps even mentor teachers in elementary schools and secondary schools would be of value. Author Biography An experienced, certified public school teacher, Dr. Sally Ingles transitioned to higher education in 2003. She currently serves as an associate professor in the School of Education at Spring Arbor University, teaching full time in the Master’s Degree program. Ingles’ research on the Group Assessment Procedure and teacher candidate selection criteria provided the impetus for the research-based teacher candidate admission process that was recently implemented by her institution. She serves as a conference speaker and consultant on those subjects, and she is currently writing a book based on her research and its practical application within teacher preparation programs. References Berliner, D. C. (2005). The near impossibility of testing for teacher quality. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(3), 205-213. Brown, J. R., Brown, L. J., & Brown, C. L. (2008). “Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs . . . and the sign says”: You got to have a PRAXIS II membership card to get inside. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(1), 29-42. Burke, K. (2005). Teacher certification exams: What are the predictors of success? College Student Journal, 39(4), 784-793. Byrnes, D., Kiger, G., & Shechtman, Z. (2003). Evaluating the use of group interviews to select students into teacher-education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(2), 163-173. D’Agostino, J. V., & Powers, S. J. (2009). Predicting teacher performance with test scores and grade point average: A meta-analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 46(1), 146-182.


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Denner, P. R., Salzman, S. A., & Newsome, J. D. (2001). Selecting the qualified: A standardsbased teacher education admission process. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 15(3), 165-180. Dobry, A. M., Murphy, P. D., & Schmidt, D. M. (1985). Predicting teacher competence. Action in Teacher Education, 7(1-2), 69-74. Dybdahl, C. S., Shaw, D. G., & Edwards, D. (1997). Teacher testing: Reason or rhetoric. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 30(4), 248-254. Farnsworth, B. J., Benson, L. F., Peterson, N. L., Shaha, S. H., & Hudson, L. A. (2003). Selecting the best teacher candidates: Can a group interview help? Education, 124(2), 341-346. Faulk, L. G. (2008). Predicting on-the-job teacher success based on a group assessment procedure used for admission to teacher education. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Utah State University, Logan. Feistritzer, C. E. (1999). The making of a teacher: A report on teacher preparation in the U.S.Washington, DC: Center for Education Information. Fisher, R. L., & Feldmann, M. E. (1985). Trends in standards for admission to teacher education. Action in Teacher Education, 6(4), 59-63. Flippo, R. F. (2003). Canceling diversity: High-stakes teacher testing and the real crisis. Multicultural Perspectives, 5(4), 42-45. Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2003). Educational research: An introduction (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. George, P. (1985). Teacher testing and the historically black college. Journal of Teacher Education, 36(6), 54-57. Ginsburg, R. & Whaley, D. (2003). Admission and retention policies in teacher preparation programs: Legal and practical issues. The Teacher Educator, 38(3), 169-189. Guest, L. S. (1993). Improving teacher preparation: What the reform reports recommend. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED364518). Hicken, S. (1992). The Pre-Professional Skills Test: How it affects teacher aspirants and predicts performance in teacher preparation programs. The Urban Review, 24(4), 253-261. Hilliard, A. G. (1986). From hurdles to standards of quality in teacher testing. Journal of Negro Education, 55(3), 304-315. Laman, A. E., & Reeves, D. E. (1983). Admission to teacher education: The status and trends. Journal of Teacher Education, 34, 2-4. Melnick, S., & Pullin, D. (2000). Can you take dictation?: Prescribing teacher quality through testing. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(4), 262-275. Memory, D., Coleman, C, & Watkins, S. (2003). Possible tradeoffs in raising basic skills cut off scores for teacher licensure: A study with implications for participation of African Americans in teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(3), 212-227. Mercer, W. A. (1984). Teacher education admission requirements: Alternatives for black prospective teachers and other minorities. Journal of Teacher Education, 35(1), 26-29.


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Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Michiels Hernandez, B. L., Ward, S., & Strickland, G. (2006). Predicting teacher certification success: The effect of cumulative grade point average and preprofessional academic skills test scores on testing performance. Teacher Education and Practice, 19(1), 41-54. Mikitovics, A., & Crehan, K. (2002). Pre-professional skills test scores as college of education admission criteria. The Journal of Educational Research, 95(4), 215-223. Mitchell, J. J., Robinson, D. Z., Plake, B. S. & Knowles, K. T. (Eds.). (2001). Testing teacher candidates: The role of licensure tests in improving teacher quality. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Oldenkamp, L. K. (2003). The relationship between grade point average at admission to teacher education and subsequent pedagogical measures. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of South Dakota, SD. Abstract retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. Olstad, R. (1988). The relationship of NTE exams to teacher education admission, performance, and employment. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. New Orleans, LA. Olstad, R., Beal, J., & Marrett, A. (1987). Predictive validity of GPA, CAT, and NTE science specialty tests on scores of a performance based student teaching evaluation instrument. (Research Report No. 87-1). Teacher Education Research Center. Washington University. Seattle, WA. Petersen, G., & Speaker, K. (1996, February). Bottom half of the pool: Who is admitted to teacher education? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Educational Research Association. Boston, MA. Quirk, T., Witten, B., & Weinberg, S. (1973). Review of studies of the concurrent and predictivevalidity of National Teacher Examinations. Review of Educational Research, 43(1), 89 113. Shechtman, Z. (1983). Validating a group interview procedure for the selection of teachereducation candidates in Israel. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). American University, Washington, DC. Shechtman, Z. (1991). A revised group assessment procedure for predicting initial teaching success. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 51, 963-974. Shechtman, Z. (1992a). A group assessment procedure as a predictor of on-the-job performance of teachers. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(3), 383-387. Shechtman, Z. (1992b). Interrater reliability of a single group assessment procedure administered in several educational settings. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 6, 31-39. Shechtman, Z. & Godfried, L. (1993). Assessing the performance and personal traits of teacher education students by a Group Assessment Procedure. Journal of Teacher Education, 44(2), 130-138.


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Shechtman, Z., & Sansbury, D. (1989). Validation of a group assessment procedure for the selection of teacher-education candidates. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 49(3), 653-661. Zimpher, N. L, & Howey, K. R. (1992). Policy and practice toward the improvement of teacher education: An analysis of issues from recruitment to continuing professional development with recommendations. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Education Lab.

Figure 1. Comparison of Group Assessment Procedure scores and student teaching performance scores.


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Exploring the Relationship between Media Choices and Teaching Experience in Online Courses Diane Hamilton University of Phoenix

Abstract The popularity of online education has brought attention to course content and delivery methods. While online professors may not always develop curriculum, they usually have the ability to add digital and social media links within courses. Rarely have training programs that provide guidance on using media in online courses been developed within universities. A group of LinkedIn online professors was requested to complete a survey in order to evaluate the use of media on teaching experience. Data were analyzed for gender, experience, age, and preference for the addition of specific media links in online courses. This study provides some insight into how instructors’ experiences may affect the type of media chosen for online instruction. This information may be used by curriculum developers and newer online professors who may not be familiar with the types of media available for course instruction. In addition, the importance for schools to continue improving their course offerings cannot be overstated in order for them to remain accredited: one possible method is through training and development with not only curriculum developers but also with online instructors. The results of this study indicate that experience, gender, and age, are not associated with the choice of using digital and social media. Keywords: education, media, online, teaching

In the United States, online education has experienced a recent increase in popularity (Seok, Kinsell, DaCosta, & Tung, 2010). Major universities now offer online courses as part of their curriculums. Even Ivy League schools have embraced this new way of reaching the modern-day student. Many reputable universities have joined together to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) such as those offered at Udacity, edX, and Coursera (Dennis, 2012). The demand for education options has made online courses a reasonable alternative for college students (Brown, 2012). While the frequency of MOOCs are increasing, online courses are also offered by traditional and private universities for a fee. For the purpose of this study, instructors from traditional and private universities (where costs are mandated for education completion) were queried.


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Popularity of Online Education Because of online education’s popularity, software delivery systems that did not previously exist are now provided for universities (Hyman, 2012). These systems may be referred to as learning system platforms. Most platforms offer professors the ability to add social media site links and other Web-based content to course materials. Each school has a unique way of providing course content. In 2005, the online sector was the fastest growing sector within higher education (Martinez & Martinez, 2007). By 2008, online education continued to grow. Milman (2008) explained that the number of postsecondary students who take online courses is growing at a higher rate than other forms of higher education enrollments. Mayadas, Bourne, and Bacsich (2009) found that nearly 25% of students were enrolled in online courses in 2009. This number continues to rise. There are over 6.7 million students who have taken at least one online course, and 32% of students currently take online courses (Sloan Consortium, 2013). However, popularity does not always mean acceptance. Martinez and Martinez (2007) explained that although online courses are popular, some presidents and provosts have not fully embraced the value of online education. Sloan Consortium (2013) found mixed views on whether the quality of online education compared to the quality of traditional instruction. There has also been concern about how the popularity will affect long-term education. Milman (2008) warned of possible problems with unfettered growth in online education. Nevertheless, there remains an expected continued growth in online education (Mayadas et al., 2009). While online education may not solve all education problems, the online modality may provide some new solutions to old problems. Friedman and Friedman (2011) explained that there has been concern among legislators regarding problems with low-retention rates and an increased length of time whereby students take to complete their undergraduate degree. While these are important issues, the supposition is that attractive learning may lead to higher retention. One way to do this is by offering courses that keep up with modern technology. Friedman and Friedman (2011) found that online learning has been proven effective. Online Professor Responsibilities The job responsibilities of an online instructor may differ from a traditional face-to-face instructor. As technology improves, instructors may be challenged to learn new ways of delivering information. The idea of a traditional classroom is changing. This has led to an increase in the number of faculty who teach online courses (Ali, Hodson-Carlton, Ryan, Flowers & Rose, 2005). With the increase of online teaching positions, it is important for faculty to think about how these changes affect students. “The focus of the research for needs assessment for online education is more prevalent in literature describing the assessment of student needs related to web-based instruction than faculty needs and perceptions” (Ali et al., 2005, p. 32). Online students may have concerns about keeping up with technology, but professors may share


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those concerns. Ali et al. (2005) found that many of these online instructors are advanced beginners or are, at least, competent with technology. There may be increased choices to incorporate innovation into the online classroom. Not all of the choices are easy to make. Suarez-Brown, Grice, Turner, and Hankins (2012) found there are challenges to delivering a high-quality education while incorporating technology into courses in which students and instructors connect in a virtual setting. Media Choices in Online Courses Because of the variety of existing media choices, professors should consider adding information in a way that best meets students’ needs. Students have demonstrated an interest in websites and other technological tools (Aviles & Eastman, 2012). At the same time, it is important to understand which of these tools appeal to instructors in order to develop attractive job positions and improve student retention. It can be difficult to make choices when students may have more technology and media-related experience than instructors (Dey, Burn, & Gerdes, 2009). Links that professors often consider adding to course content include links to blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, news sites, and other media sites. It is important for instructors to consider these options due to technology’s popularity with today’s students. “Most first-year college students now arrive on campus with their own personal computer, digital music player, cell phone, and other digital devices” (PuShih, Lambert, & Guidry, 2010, p. 1222). Students often expect visual media and other forms of technology to be utilized in the online classroom (Pearson, 2010). “Whether technology is used to answer e-mails, view web content, or play online games, the users (i.e., students) are engaged in the process and are actively seeking information through technology” (Revere & Kovach, 2011, p. 113). Online faculty may be more proficient with some technology use; however, many instructors embrace older ways of communicating, such as email, and fail to adopt social media that is more interactive (Cao & Hong, 2011). In order to determine what types of social media instructors may select to use, it was important to look at some of their available options. Online courses are taught by full-time or part-time instructors. The instructors who teach these courses on a part-time basis are referred to as adjuncts. Adjuncts and full-time online instructors teach courses delivered through a learning system platform. The learning system platform offers various ways for instructors and students to interact. Visual delivery has improved because adding media provides a new dimension for learning in a digital, more personal manner (Vijay & Chachra, 2012). Online instructors may not have developed the courses they teach; however, they have the ability to input some of their own information within discussions and feedback provided to students. Some instructors may find that social networking sites are one way in which they may reach out to college students. They provide feedback and allow instructors to answer questions in more real-time settings instead of in traditional settings in which social media communication is not used.


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Importance to the Field Social media sites have become a common way of communicating in the university setting (Morris, Reese, Beck, & Mattis, 2010). It is important for instructors to reach students in ways students prefer to communicate. One avenue might be through the use of social media sites in which students often communicate outside the classroom with family and friends (Chen & Bryer, 2012). The use of social media has surged globally in recent years. Based on individual companies’ statistics in July 2011, Facebook passed 750 million users (2011); Linkedin had over 100 million members (2011); Twitter hit over 177 million tweets per day (2011); Youtube reached three billion views every day (2011). (Chen & Bryer, 2012, p. 87) With the popularity of social media sites, it is valuable to understand the advantages associated with how the sites may be incorporated into the online classroom. Kaplan and Haenlein (2012) defined social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (p. 101). Social media software may engage learners by increasing interaction (LeNoue, Hall, & Eighmy, 2010). Institutions may be interested in incorporating social media to not only engage students, but also to retain students (Eckles & Stradley, 2012). If social media could be used to engage students, it is prudent to determine accessible options and the return on those options. Tucker and Courts (2007) explained that higher education institutions have access to many different types of technologies that may demonstrate a return on investment. As professors are able to add content to their courses, the importance to determine the type of content they choose remains paramount. According to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCAHLC; 2013), higher educational organizations must meet certain guidelines within the standards of the HLC in order for schools to remain accredited. One of the HLC’s core components (NCAHLC, 2013) is to ensure that institutions provide effective strategies, based on reliable evidence, that lead to improvement in attaining student outcomes. Universities may be interested in determining the type of information that is added to online classrooms in order to provide evidence that they strive for continuous improvement. If professors are given the opportunity to insert additional materials into the core curriculum, it may behoove administrators to learn what types of information instructors choose and if demographic factors affect those choices. Research Question and Hypotheses The research question pursued in this research study was the following: What factors are important in adjunct online instructors’ choice in using digital and social media tools? The corresponding hypotheses were


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1. Adjunct online instructors who are younger will use more digital and social media tools than adjunct online instructors who are older. 2. Adjunct online instructors who are female will use more digital and social media tools than adjunct online instructors who are male. 3. Adjunct online instructors who have more experience teaching in an online environment will use more digital and social media tools than adjunct online instructors who have less experience teaching in an online environment. 4. The most common form of digital and social media tools used by adjunct online instructors is YouTube videos, Twitter, Facebook, and news sites. Methods In order to determine what online professors choose as digital and social media for course offerings, a survey was made available to a LinkedIn group of online professors. The use of a social media site was chosen due to the possibilities of gathering input from a variety of geographic locations and different university settings. This increased the generalizability of data collected. LinkedIn was chosen for the current study as a means of reaching online professors who had joined a group dedicated to discussing online education. LinkedIn provided a large population (2,000 people belong to the group); it was possible to obtain data from 110 respondents. A sample size using a confidence interval of 10 and a confidence level of 95% required a minimum sample size of 92 respondents. A four-question survey was created using PollyDaddy software. Three questions obtained demographic data used as predictive variables (age, gender, and years of experience). The survey requested information on what types of social media or media links were most often used by the instructor. A note requested adjunct professors within the LinkedIn group to complete the short, anonymous survey concerning their use of social media. Digital and Social Media Choices Online courses may be designed with curriculum that contains links to sites such as YouTube. Friedman and Friedman (2011) found that having students watch YouTube lectures may be more appealing than having them listen to a traditional lecture. An advantage of receiving lectured material this way is the ability for students to hit the pause button and take a break if necessary. Therefore, the use of YouTube video links or the embedding of videos within discussions and/or announcements was considered as one choice of digital media within the study. Blogs were chosen as one possible option for this study because they have become a popular way of obtaining information by students under 30 (Halic, Lee, Paulus, & Spence, 2010). Some learning management platforms, such as Blackboard and Moodle, integrate blogs as a means to facilitate learning (Halic et al., 2010). Blogs may be a way for instructors to


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incorporate a lecture or links to other information within their courses. Students may also have access to material that has been published on blogs once courses have ended. “From a teaching and learning perspective, blogs have the capability to make student learning transparent and become a space where a greater understanding of student meaning making can be gained” (Halic et al., 2010, p. 206). Although blogs may integrate additional information into the online classroom, there may be some preparation required by professors (Santos, 2011). It is important to note that blogs may require specific designs in order to be effective. For instance, Peck (2012) found that students responded better to blogs with shorter titles. Facebook was also considered for this study due to its popularity. Unlike other social networking sites, Facebook has its roots in academia and remains unique in its organization of academic networks where in faculty and students are connected by their association and most possess an “edu” extension in their user email to gain access. (Loving & Ochoa, 2010, p. 121) Lampe, Wohn, Vitak, Ellison, and Wash (2011) explained how Facebook may help students organize and explore the classroom in a unique way. While Facebook may be popular, not all students react the same way to how it is used within an online classroom setting. Teclehaimanot and Hickman (2011) found that men were more likely than women to find Facebook appropriate to use in class. Twitter was also chosen because it has been studied as a pedagogical tool. Rinaldo, Tapp, and Laverie (2011) explained that the benefits of using Twitter include engaging students and generate interest in real-time postings. Wankel (2009) studied the use of Twitter, YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, blogs and Second Life in education. These types of social media are important due to their potential implication for use in the working world. For example, Wankel (2009) believed that having a high proficiency in the use of social media may be especially appealing to organizations in the recruiting process. Procedures A link was posted in the LinkedIn discussion forum with a note that asked online professors to answer a quick, anonymous survey that was designed to learn more about online professors’ media choices added to already designed curriculum. The goal was to obtain at least 92 responses. A total of 110 total responses were received. The information was analyzed. Results Social network sites were described with examples including Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and Google+. YouTube was second in terms of popularity. While news-based websites were the most popular choices (60% for women and 51% for men), women tended to have a higher affinity for social network use (see Table 1). This is similar to what has been found in female acceptance versus male acceptance of social media outside of the classroom setting


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(Gerlich, Browning & Stermann, 2010). The majority (73%) of respondents were over 46 years of age. However, age was not found to be an indicator of choice of digital or social media (see Table 2). The final results indicated that more online professors chose traditional news website links to add to online discussions as compared to adding links to social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. The results indicated that out of 110 online professors, the majority preferred adding links to traditional websites including news sites and organizationbased sites. Traditional news sites were described with examples including NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Wall Street Journal, or local news. There tended to be a higher likelihood that professors would choose this type of link to add to classroom discussions as they gained experience (see Table 3). The professors’ tendency to use more news-related sites increased as their years of experience increased. Professors with less experience were more likely to pick the option titled none or not listed. Social networking sites like Facebook and blogs were the most popular with professors with three to eight years of experience. They were the only group to select those options. Neither blogs nor social media sites like Facebook were used in the group with under three years of experience. The option for “none” was not chosen by the group with over eight years of experience. This group had a stronger affinity for the choice of “news sites,” followed by the choice of “not listed,” and finally the choice of “YouTube.” Based on this study, the option for “none” was not chosen by professors with experience. This invites the discussion of whether teaching experience may correlate with confidence in adding materials to online classrooms. Further research would be required to determine if any correlations exist. There were 51 men and 59 women who responded in the study. The majority (90%) of respondents had over three years of experience. Due to the number of counts within some cells being less than five, Fisher’s Exact Test was used to test the hypotheses for inferential determination. None of the hypotheses were found to be significant, and, therefore, the null hypotheses were upheld. A chi-square test of independence indicated that the choice of a digital or social media tool was not associated with the adjunct instructor’s gender with Fisher’s probability at p = .784 or p > .05. A chi-square test of independence indicated that the choice of a digital or social media tool was not associated with the adjunct instructor’s experience with Fisher’s probability at p = .234 or p > .05. A chisquare test of independence indicated that the choice of a digital or social media tool was not associated with the adjunct instructor’s age with Fisher’s probability at p = .403 or p > .05. Discussion The results of this study provide some insight as to what online professors find appropriate to add to previously-designed curriculums. Most of the professors found news sites as appropriate content to add to class. The data indicated that the majority of online professors who took this survey were over 46 years of age. There is a certain minimum technology-related ability that online professors would need to have in order to navigate within an online classroom.


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While younger generations may be prone to adopt social media and technology, this sample group may be unique in their acceptance. If online courses continue to grow, it is important to understand what professors add to already-developed content with the influx of MOOCs and the changing landscape of online course delivery. In this study, it appeared that professors chose to add more news-based links if they had more experience. This brings up the importance of the type of training online professors receive. Each institution may provide different approaches for training faculty that may or may not contain mentoring. Only six percent of institutions with online offerings report that they have no training or mentoring programs for their online teaching faculty. The most common training approaches for online faculty are internally run training courses (72 percent) and informal mentoring (58 percent). Smaller institutions are more likely to look outside the institution for their training than are larger institutions. (Allen & Seaman, 2011, p. 6) If optional links and information are allowed in the online classroom, it may behoove institutions to train faculty about appropriate choices related to digital and social media use within online courses. This study may give some insight about the demographics of the typical adjunct online instructor. The only group that included more men than women was the group of professors with less than three years of experience. There were only 10% of respondents in that category; however, 72% of that group was men. With such small numbers, it is difficult to determine if there may be a change in the numbers of men versus women in online education. Limitations Adding predictive variables to the data collected could enhance the findings. For example, the present study did not include a differentiation between instructors who had received training on incorporating social media tools into course methods and instructors who had not received training on incorporating social media tools into course methods. Another limitation in the present study is not comparing the extent of course development the instructors are expected to do while selecting various modalities of digital and social media. Although the sample size was appropriate for the population of the LinkedIn group, the sample size is small when compared with the entire population of online instructors in the United States. The study’s generalizability and its replication would be enhanced if the higher educational organization’s type was captured in the data (e.g., college, university, 2-year, graduate). A final improvement in this study would be to add a comparison of teaching styles to choice of digital and social media in order to understand if and, perhaps, how teaching style may affect choice.


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Further Research It may be important to follow up with further research that delves into the reasoning behind choices of using or not using digital or social media and specific choices of modalities. As stated above, a future study could include obtaining information on who had received training and who had not received training. While this is a small study, a larger study could provide more insight about the types of media that online professors prefer. A more extensive study may be able to investigate why choices are made for specific digital or social media usage. In the end, it may be discovered that a variance due to acceptance of benefits in using digital and social media. Further research could also help to determine if course outcome can be predicted based on combining types of media and student learning styles with various teaching styles. If online education continues to grow at its current pace, there will be more data available to determine more extensive predictions of outcome based on social media use. While Babb Research Group continues to publish online education statistics, there is very little information about instructors’ social media use and even less information about the choices of additional content used to supplement online courses. Further research could provide some insight about what type of additional content is effective and why. Answering questions about the efficacy of digital and social media use is important because they relate to student retention and student achievement of learning outcomes. Without a specific purpose for using digital and social media, we may be seeking to implement technology just because it is unique rather than helpful in education. Perhaps, with further research into the effectiveness of student achievement and retention due to digital and social media, training and development for online instructors could be initiated more effectively. The use of online tools may then be more enthusiastically received by instructors. Conclusion Online education has experienced recent growth. Because of online learning’s nature, it may be important to understand the links to content that online professors have control over within their classrooms. If professors are able to add links to various types of media, it may be important to understand the types of media chosen. If there is a correlation between experience and type of media chosen, it may be important to determine if professors are making choices that have an effective increase in learning. “Results show a general positive relationship between the use of learning technology and student engagement and learning outcomes” (PuShih et al., 2010, p. 1222). Based on these results, online professors tended to be older and had more than eight years of online teaching experience. This older, experienced group of professors tended to incorporate news-based sites into their predesigned courses. McCabe and Meuter (2011) believed that course design should consider course management tools that connect important principles of education. It may be important to see how students perceive these links and whether learning


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outcomes are affected by instructors’ choices. More research would have to be performed to make that determination. Author Biography Diane Hamilton (DiHamilton@email.phoenix.edu) has a doctorate degree in business management. She is a doctoral chair and has taught online courses for seven years. She has worked with most online delivery platforms and has developed curriculum for several online schools. She has authored three books, one of which is titled The Online Student’s User Manual. She is a qualified Myers-Briggs instructor and a certified emotional intelligence instructor. She wrote her dissertation regarding the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance. She serves on a faculty research team at University of Phoenix that is dedicated to producing collaborative academic research. References Ali, N., Hodson-Carlton, K., Ryan, M., Flowers, J., & Rose, M. A. (2005) Online education: Needs assessment for faculty development. Continuing Education of Nursing, 36(1), 3238. Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States, 2011. Babson Park, MA: Babson Survey Research Group. Aviles, M., & Eastman, J. (2012). Utilizing technology effectively to improve Millennials’ educational performance. Journal of International Education in Business, 5(2), 96-113. Brown, J. (2012). Online learning: A comparison of web-based and land-based courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(1), 39-42. Cao, Y., & Hong, P. (2011). Antecedents and consequences of social media utilization in college teaching: A proposed model with mixed-methods investigation. On the Horizon, 19(4), 297-306. doi:10.1108/107481211111179420 Chen, B., & Bryer, T. (2012). Investigating instructional strategies for using social medial in formal and informal learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 87-104. Dennis, M. (2012). The impact of MOOCs on higher education. College and University, 88(2), 24-30. Dey, E., Burn, H., & Gerdes, D. (2009). Bringing the classroom to the Web: Effects of using new technologies to capture and deliver lectures. Higher Education, 50, 377-393. doi:10.1007/s11162-09-9124-0 Eckles, J., & Stradley, E. (2012). A social network analysis of student retention using achival data. Sociology Psychology Education (15), 165-180. Friedman H. & Friedman, W. (2011). Crisis in education: Online learning as a solution. Creative Education, 2(3), 156-163.


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Gerlich, R. N., Browning, L., & Westermann, L. (2010). The social media affinity scale: Implications for education. Contemporary Issues in Education Research 3(11), 35. Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 206-213. Hyman, P. (2012). In the year of disruptive innovation. Communications of the ACM, 55(12), 20-22. doi:10.1145/2380656.2380664 Kaplan, A, & Haenlein, M. (2012). Social media: Back to the roots and back to the future. Journal of Systems and Information Technology, 14(2), 101-104. Lampe, C., Wohn, D. V., Vitak, J., Ellison, N., & Wash, R. (2011). Student use of Facebook for organizing collaborative classroom activities. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (6), 329-347. doi:10.1007/s11512-044-9115-y LeNoue, M., Hall, T. & Eighmy, M. (2010). Adult education and the social media revolution. Adult Learning, 4-12. Loving, M., & Ochoa, M., (2010). Facebook as a classroom management solution. New Library World Emerald Group Publishing Limited 112(3/4), 121-130. doi:10.110870307480111111170223 Martinez, T. & Martinez, A. (2007). Online education goes mainstream. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 24-27. Mayadas, A. F., Bourne, J. & Bacsich, P. (2009). Online education today. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(2), 49-56. McCabe, D., & Meuter, M., (2011). A student view of technology in the classroom: Does it enhance the seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education? Journal of Marketing Education, 33(2), 149-159. Milman, N. (2010). Online education and the wild wild web. Distance Learning, 7(4), 95-97. Morris, J., Reese, J., Beck, R., & Mattis, C. (2010). Facebook usage as a predictor of retention at a private 4-year institution. Journal of College Student Retention, 11(3), 311-322. NCAHLC.org (2013). Criteria for accreditation. Retrieved from http://www.ncahlc.org/Information-for-Institutions/criteria-for-accreditation.html. Pearson, A. (2010). Real problems, virtual solutions: Engaging students online. Teaching Sociology, 38(3), 207. Peck, J. (2012). Keeping it social: Engaging students online and in class. Canadian Center of Science and Education, 8(14), 81. PuShih, D., Lambert, A., & Guidry, K. (2010). Engaging online learners: The impact of Webbased learning technology on college student engagement. Computers & Education, (54), 1222-1232. Revere, L., & Kovach, J. (2011). Online technologies for engaged learning: A meaningful synthesis for educators. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 12(2), 113-124. Rinaldo, S., Tapp, S., & Laverie, D. (2011). Learning by tweeting: Using twitter as a pedagogical tool. Journal of Marketing Education, 33(2), 193.


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Santos, A. (2011). Blogs as a learning space: Creating text of talks. Contemporary Issues in Educational Research, 4(6), 15. Seok, S., Kinsell, C., DaCosta, B., & Tung, C., (2010). Comparison of instructors’ and students’ perceptions of the effectiveness of online courses. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(1), 25-36. Sloan Consortium, (2013). Changing courses: Ten years of tracking online education in the U.S. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/changing_course_2012 Suarez-Brown, T., Grice, H., Turner, T. & Hankins, J. (2012). The challenges of delivering quality online and distance education courses. The Review of Business Research, 12(5), 94-104. Teclehaimanot, B., & Hickman, T., (2011). Student-Teacher interaction on Facebook: What students find appropriate, TechTrends, 55(5), 19. Tucker, J., & Courts, B. (2010). Utilizing the Internet to facilitate classroom learning. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 7(7), 37. Vijay, A., & Chachra, V., (2012). Virtual ICU and e-learning tools: Scope in critical care medicine in India. Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine, 16(3), 148-150. Wankel, C., (2009). Management education using social media. Organizational Management Journal, 6(4), 251-262.

Table 1 Digital and Social Media Choice by Gender Media News (official) Count Male Female

Gender

News (unofficial) Count

Blogs

YouTube

Count

26

0

2

33

0

3

Facebook (Social Media) Count Count 10 1 11

Not Listed

None

Count

Count

1

9

3

7

4

Table 2 Digital and Social Media Choice by Age Group Age

Media News (official) Count

Age

18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 >55

News (unofficial) Count

Blogs

YouTube

Count

0

0

0

3 9 17 30

0 0 0 0

0 1 3 1

Facebook Not Listed (Social Media) Count Count Count 0 0 0 2 6 7 6

0 0 1 1

1 4 3 8

None Count 0 1 2 0 4


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Table 3 Digital and Social Media Choice by Years of Experience Experience

Experience

<3 years 3–8 years >8 years

Media News (official)

News (unofficial)

Blogs

Count

Count

Count

YouTube Count

Facebook (Social Media) Count

Not Listed

None

Count

Count

4

0

0

3

0

2

2

31

0

3

11

2

6

5

24

0

2

7

0

8

0


Volume 1, Page 147

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Conceptual Model-Based Teaching to Facilitate Geometry Learning of Students Who Struggle in Mathematics Yan Ping Xin Purdue University Casey Hord University of Cincinnati

Abstract In the current educational climate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 and No Child Left Behind, teachers are required to find methods to give all students (including students with disabilities) access to higher-level mathematical concepts. Little research in special education has focused on the higher-level mathematical concept of geometry. The purpose of this single subject design study was to explore the potential effect of an instructional program that teaches basic geometry concepts through building on the fundamental mathematical idea of multiplicative reasoning. Results indicated that all four participants improved their performance on solving geometry problems including finding the area of irregularly shaped polygons and the volume of rectangular prisms. An emphasis was given to the connection between mathematical ideas for promoting conceptual understanding. Keywords: Disabilities, Geometry Concepts, Higher-Level Mathematics

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (United States Department of Education, 1997, 2004) required schools to give students with disabilities (SWDs) access to the general education curriculum. No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002) mandated that all students, including subgroups such as SWDs, be proficient on state assessments by the school year of 2013–2014. It is imperative that researchers find methods for teaching mathematics that will be effective in the classrooms of this era of inclusion, which often contain students with diverse needs. While recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data show positive gains overall in mathematics for 9-year olds from 2004–2008, the lowest-performing 10% did not show significant improvement (Rampey, Dion, & Donahue, 2008). NCLB (2002) requires schools to close the gap and raise the performance levels of the lowest-performing 10% of students. While struggling students need to develop basic skills to close this gap, these students


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also need deep conceptual understanding to gain access to higher-level mathematics (e.g., algebra and geometry) for success in middle school and high school (National Math Advisory Panel Report, 2008). Few studies have been done on teaching the higher-level mathematical concept of geometry to students with learning disabilities (LDs), mild intellectual disabilities (MIDs), other disabilities, or SWDs who struggle with mathematics (Cass, Cates, Smith, & Jackson, 2003). There has been an overall lack of studies in special education mathematics research geared toward students with LDs learning geometry (Gersten et al, 2009; Woodward & Montague, 2002; Zhang & Xin, 2012). More importantly, there is an absence of studies that attend to the connection between geometrical concepts and fundamental mathematical ideas. Connections, as one of the five Process Standards stipulated by the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM, 2000), emphasize students’ ability to understand the connections among mathematical ideas. In fact, the only study found by the researchers that addressed geometry learning for students with LDs was conducted by Cass, Cates, Smith, and Jackson (2003). Specifically, Cass et al. applied manipulatives to the teaching of geometry problems, including perimeter and area of rectangles, to junior high and high school students with LDs and found positive results. For calculating perimeter and area, the teacher demonstrated on the geoboard by counting the distance from one nail to another (that is one unit) to figure out the perimeter of shapes, and the teacher counted the number of square units to find out the area of a rectangle. While the study by Cass et al. has laid a foundation for teaching geometry to students with LDs, the study did not go above and beyond the use of manipulatives (geoboard) to solve perimeter and area problems. For instance, in solving problems presented on paper (e.g., figures of tables with measurements presented in inches and/or feet), students were taught to “represent the figures in the book on the geoboard” (p. 116), and then they “compared the figure on the board to the figure in the book” (p. 116) to make sure it was the same. Students would then count the number of squares on the geoboard to determine the figure’s number of square units. It was not clear how the students transitioned to solve, via paper and pencil, problems involving large numbers without relying on the geoboard. It seems that the students in this study were only taught to use the concrete model (i.e., geoboard) to solve perimeter or area problems; the connection between the concrete model and the abstract model that may involve applying a formula to solve area problems was not addressed. It is common to believe that teaching for understanding involves only concrete object manipulations or representations that are “away from symbolic formalisms” (Sherin, 2001, p. 524). In fact, the transition from concrete models to abstract models is a weak link in current educational practice, especially in elementary mathematics instruction and particularly with students with LDs. To promote advanced conceptual understanding and generalizable problemsolving skills, it is critical that students develop abstract levels of operation through establishing the connection between concrete modeling and symbolic expression of mathematical relations.


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The purpose of this study was to examine the potential effect of Conceptual Model-Based Problem Solving (COMPS) in teaching geometry to elementary students who struggle with mathematics through building on the fundamental mathematical idea of multiplicative reasoning (MR). Unlike the study by Cass et al. (2003), the COMPS approach used in this study was intended to move students from concrete situational models to abstract mathematical models to facilitate generalizable problem-solving skills. The specific research question is: Does COMPS, when built from concrete to abstract, result in an increase of participating students’ performance on solving geometry problems involving area and volume? Before the method section, the researcher provides a brief description about COMPS, MR, and the connection between geometry and MR. Conceptual Model-Based Problem Solving (COMPS) Conceptual models represent underlying mathematical relations in the problem rather than superficial story contexts. Yan Ping Xin has developed the COMPS program in teaching additive and multiplicative word problem solving to students with LDs. Xin and her colleagues have conducted a series of studies (e.g., Xin, 2008; Xin, Wiles, & Lin, 2008; Xin & Zhang, 2009; Xin et al., 2011) to facilitate elementary-mathematics problem solving with students with LDs in particular. These studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of model-based problem solving in helping students make the transition from a real-world problem’s situational model to a mathematical model. Specifically, with the assistance of concrete modeling and word problem story grammar (Xin et al., 2008), students learned to use the model ( “factor × factor = project” or “unit rate × number of units = product” for the equal-group problems) to represent and solve a range of word problems with different cover stories and large numbers. Multiplicative Reasoning (MR) MR is the reasoning about multiplicative relationships; it involves the concept of equal groups or quantities and the relationships among them (Simon & Blume, 1994). MR involves an understanding of the concept of the composite unit (CU) and an ability to operate on the CU. For instance, in a situation of “4 groups of 3 marbles in each,” “3 marbles in each” represents a CU of 3 (or in other words, it is a unit rate). An ability to operate on this CU as “one” rather than “three” signifies a certain level of MR. MR is fundamental to all advanced mathematical thinking (Mulligan, 2002). Connection between Geometry and MR As MR encompasses arithmetic and geometry learning, the multiplicative conceptual model used in the COMPS (i.e., unit rate × number of units = product, Xin, 2012) can serve as an overarching idea that connects geometry with arithmetic learning. For instance, Simon and


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Blume (1994) related the concept of dimensions to MR while explaining how an area of a rectangle problem can be used as a tool for reinforcing MR. Specifically, Simon and Blume demonstrated how the area of a rectangle can be evaluated “as a multiplicative relationship between the lengths of the sides” (p. 472). Geometry serves as an ideal context for the extension of students’ MR from when it is first introduced to more advanced mathematical concepts. By connecting geometry and MR, the researchers set the goal to not only improve students’ ability to solve geometry problems, but also to promote deeper conceptual understanding of high-level math through building on elementary mathematical ideas. Method  

Participants and Setting The study was conducted in an urban elementary school in the Midwestern United States. Participant selection was based on the school’s recommendation of fourth and fifth graders with identified LDs or fourth and fifth graders who were struggling with mathematics in school. The participants were four elementary school students in the fourth grade (one student) and the fifth grade (three students). Two students were identified by the school as having LDs, one was identified as having a mild intellectual disability (MID) (her IQ was in the 55-70 range), and another student was identified as at risk as a result of failing high-stakes tests (i.e., Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus, ISTEP+). The median age of the four participants was 11.5 years old. Table 1 presents demographic information of the participants. Instruction took place in a classroom, the teachers’ lounge, or the school gymnasium. Dependent Measures The criterion test was designed in alignment with fourth-grade curricula standards in geometry (see Table 2 for sample problems). Most of the items were derived from the textbook adopted by the school (Maletsky, 2004) and state-wide assessment (ISTEP+) practice test items. Specifically, the criterion test was made of 15 items including tasks for which students were expected to find the area and perimeter of rectangles, find the area of irregularly shaped polygons containing only right angles, solve for an unknown side (or unknown factor) when the area and one of the sides were given, and find the volume of a rectangular prism. The second author designed sets of alternative criterion tests for use during baseline assessment and post intervention assessments. Alternate forms of criterion tests were equivalent in problem construction with variation only in numbers involved. Participants had the option of having test questions and directions read to them to prevent reading difficulties from skewing data. The percentage of problems solved correctly was used as the dependent measure for students’ problem-solving performance. One point was given for each problem solved correctly. The second author scored all the tests administered before and after the intervention. The first


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author independently rescored 40% randomly selected test sheets. Inter-rater reliability was computed by dividing the number of agreements by the number of agreements and disagreements and multiplying by 100. Inter-rater reliability for scoring was 99.3% (149/150 = .993). Design An adapted multiple probe design (Horner & Baer, 1978) across participants was employed to explore a potential functional relationship between the COMPS intervention and students’ performance on the criterion tests. Single-subject research design was chosen because of the exploratory nature of this study. In particular, with the multiple probe design, intervention effects can be demonstrated by introducing the intervention to different baselines or participants at different points in time. “If each baseline changed when the intervention is introduced, the effects can be attributed to the intervention rather than to extraneous events” such as history, maturation, testing, etc. (Kazdin, 1982, p.126). General Procedure All four participants completed one criterion test in the beginning of the baseline condition and two more equivalent baseline probes (i.e., the criterion test) before entering the intervention phase. The intervention was introduced to each of the four participants (Eric, Matt, Freya, and Dan) one at a time following the establishment of each of their respective baselines. A posttest was given at the end of the intervention followed by two additional posttest probes. Participating students received the intervention three times a week with each session lasting approximately 20–35 minutes. Each student received about eight sessions of instruction. During session one, concrete modeling was used to help students understand the concepts of perimeter and the area of rectangles (including squares), and it was connected to mathematical expressions at symbolic level. During session two, the students were transitioned from concrete modeling to semiconcrete modeling to further develop their understanding of the concept of area. During session three, the abstract, conceptual model equation for the area of rectangles was introduced and connected to the concrete/semiconcrete models. During sessions four and five, the participants continued to use the abstract model to solve area-context problems including finding out one of the unknown factors (i.e., one of the sides of the rectangle) when one of the sides and the area were given. Session six served as a review of previous sessions and provided students with explicit instruction for solving the area of an irregular polygon that can be broken into two rectangles. During session seven, students extended their understanding of the area of a rectangle to solve for the volume problems by using both the concrete/semiconcrete models and the abstract models. Session eight was designated for a mixed review of solving various problem types. At the end of each session (except for sessions six and eight, which served as cumulative review of previous sessions), students were guided to complete a worksheet involving problems


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pertinent to the topic of each respective session. Calculators were allowed throughout the study to accommodate participants’ skill deficits in calculation. During each instructional session, students’ performances on the worksheets were used to assess students’ learning. The worksheets involved questions that assessed the concepts learned, which ranged from single-step, direct questions to multi-step, narrative story problems (see Table 2 for problem samples). Models (as seen in Figures 1 and 2) were utilized during instruction to help students make connections between concrete/semiconcrete representations and abstract representations. Participants’ methods and strategies for solving geometry problems were assessed and used as a diagnostic tool for addressing students’ gaps in conceptual understanding during subsequent instruction. Intervention: Conceptual Model-based Problem Solving (COMPS) Materials. The researchers used many different types of concrete items including safety mats and shapes in the school gymnasium, tables, microwaves and refrigerators in a teacher lounge (which was often used as a classroom in this study), cardboard in two-dimensional and three dimensional forms, unit squares/cubes, tape measures, and rulers. Graph paper and worksheets, with many diagrams of rectangles, rectangular prisms, and other shapes, were used to represent geometrical concepts to students in a semiconcrete manner. COMPS. COMPS was used to help the students understand the concept of the multiplicative relationships in the rectangular area model. During the instruction’s beginning stage, concrete modeling was used to facilitate the conceptual understanding of the area of rectangles. For instance, to help students understand the area model (area = length × width), unit squares were used for the concrete modeling. First, students used unit squares to cover the length of one side of the rectangle (for instance, 4 unit squares). Students counted the number of unit squares (in one row) used to cover the length of the figure. Second, with the first row as the CU (i.e., a strip of the unit squares involving 4 unit squares), students then went on to find out how many such “strips” or how many rows of 4 unit squares would cover the entire area of the rectangle; that number (e.g., 3) represented the “number of [composite] units” or the width of the rectangle. Students counted the total number of unit squares (12) that represented the area of the rectangle. After using unitary counting (count unit squares one by one) or skip counting (count by 4: 4, 8 and 12) to find out the area of a rectangle, students were guided to think about a more efficient way to find the total of the unit squares for covering the area of a rectangle. That is, instead of using unitary counting, students were guided to use MR to figure out the total number of unit squares. That is, the total number of unit squares can be solved by multiplying the number of unit squares in each strip/row (i.e., unit rate: 4) and the number of rows (i.e., the number of CUs: 3) to cover the area (i.e., 4 × 3 = 12). Finally, students were guided to compare the answer they obtained from unitary counting with the answer they acquired from multiplying the unit rate and the number of CUs; students eventually realized that the answer they got from


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two different approaches would be the same. To this end, the idea of MR they learned from third grade was reinforced and connected to the geometry learning. Following the concrete modeling stage, a semiconcrete level of instruction with graph paper was used for students to create the unit squares for covering the area based on the given scale on the two dimensions (i.e., length and width) (see Figure 1-upper panel for reference). Building on their understanding from the concrete/semiconcrete modeling, students were then transitioned to the conceptual model equation for area problem solving (see Figure 1-lower panel) without relying on concrete models. Students engaged in a discussion about how the model equation tells the story about the multiplicative relationship between the length and the width. That is, the area is expressed as a multiple of the CU (the base strip). In a mathematical expression, A (length) × B (width) = Area. At this point, students were ready to advance to using the abstract model for area problem solving. For instance, to solve “How much carpet do you need to cover the floor of a room that is 18 feet long and 9 feet wide,” students would first identify from the problem, the number of units (of ones) for the length (i.e., the unit rate = 18) and the number of CUs for the width (9). Next, students would map the information of the two dimensions onto the model equation (see Figure 1-lower panel) and use the equation to solve for the area (18 × 9 = 162). To strengthen conceptual understanding, students were guided to verify the answer they obtained from the abstract model (the formula) through building a mini-sized concrete model and counting the actual unit squares that covered the area. Through this “two-way” connection (from concrete to abstract, and then from abstract back to concrete), the students realized that the symbolic model equation indeed represented the concrete model and could be used directly for solving area problems. The abstract model was no longer “abstract” or unfamiliar to them when it was attached to a concrete model, and, consequently, the students could make sense of the abstract model. After solving problems with the area as the unknown, students were also provided opportunities to solve problems with a missing factor (e.g., “What is the length of a rectangle that has an area of 54 square feet and a width of 18 feet?”). Students were engaged in representing the problem in the area model equation with a letter x to represent the unknown quantity. Then, they completed the problem through solving for the unknown quantity in the equation (Length × Width = Area). After students learned to use the model equation (Length × Width = Area) for solving relevant area problems, the model equation for solving the volume of rectangular prisms was introduced (see Figure 2). The same instructional sequence was applied to the teaching of solving problems that involve the volume of rectangular prisms. Again, the instructor (the second author) started the instruction with concrete manipulatives for modeling the concept. Students covered the prism’s base with the unit cubes, and they counted the number of unit cubes that made up the base. Next, students counted the base’s number of layers to complete the rectangular prism. The students were guided to discover that the number of iterations of the base unit would be the height (or thickness) of the prism. Finally, students could find out the volume


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by counting all the unit cubes that make up the prism or by multiplying the base (the “unit rate”) by the base’s number of layers (i.e., the height). Again, MR was reinforced by solving the volume through multiplying the area of the base (obtained by multiplying the length and width) by the number of layers (or the thickness or the height of the rectangular prism) rather than executing the unitary counting of the cubes. Comparing the results from both approaches (unitary counting or skip counting and multiplication) helped students to understand the meaning of the formula for solving the volume of a rectangular prism. Similar to the learning of the area model, semiconcrete modeling was used to ease the transition from the concrete model to the abstract model. Once the connection was established, students engaged in representing the information from a word (or pictograph) problem to the model equation with a letter x to represent the unknown quantity. Then, they completed the problem-solving process through finding the unknown quantity in the equation. After solving problems with the volume as the unknown, students were provided with opportunities to solve problems with a missing factor. Results In Figure 3, the four participants’ geometry problem-solving performance during the baseline, intervention phase, and postintervention assessments are presented. Baseline performance. During baseline, median percent correct scores for each of the four participants (Eric, Matt, Freya, and Dan) were 33, 40, 13, and 40, respectively. There were a few variations in the participants’ baseline assessments; however, there was no consistent pattern of either an increase or a decrease in trend. The low and stable baseline performance across participants indicated the need and set the stage for the intervention. Intervention effect. As described in the procedure of the method section, students’ performance on the worksheet at the end of each intervention session (except for two review sessions, sessions 6 and 8) was plotted (see Figure 3). Worksheets used for each intervention session involved problem solving that corresponded to different stages of the intervention phase. That is, students moved from a concrete level of problem solving, to a semiconcrete level of problem solving, and finally to an abstract level of problem solving. Overall, the four participants’ performance during the intervention showed an increasing trend), and the median percent correct score for each of the four participants (Eric, Matt, Freya, and Dan) across six instructional sessions were 95.5, 57.5, 100, and 100, respectively. Postintervention assessment: Following one to two sessions of reviewing all the problems, the four students took the posttest assessment at different points in the time following the intervention. As shown in Figure 3, median percent correct scores for each of the four participants (Eric, Matt, Freya, and Dan) were 100, 73, 100, and 93, respectively. In comparison


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to the baseline, this indicates an increase of 67%, 33%, 87%, and 53% from the baseline for Eric, Matt, Freya, and Dan, respectively. Discussion The purpose of this study was to explore the potential effect of teaching fundamental ideas for connecting mathematical concepts across arithmetic and geometry learning. COMPS was applied to facilitate conceptual understanding of geometry problem solving pertinent to area and volume. Overall, the results indicate that, across all four participants’ data paths, there was no overlap between baseline performance and the performance during the post intervention assessment. This is evidence of a relatively strong treatment effect (Percentage of Nonoverlapping Data [PND] = 100%, Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1998). However, there were individual differences across participants. In particular, Matt did not do as well as other participants on solving volume problems (see Figure 3). While other students only needed one session for learning how to solve volume problems, he might have needed more training sessions for extending the strategy he learned from solving area problems to volume problems. In addition, Matt was absent from mixed-review sessions, although numerous opportunities were offered. These factors might have contributed to his relatively low performance during the posttests. Matt and Eric also seemed to experience some difficulty when the instruction transitioned away from concrete modeling; however, they caught up with the other two participants toward the end of the intervention phase for area problem solving (see Figure 3). Limitations The external validity of this study was limited due to the small sample size. On the other hand, due to the heterogeneity among students with special needs (i.e., students who were struggling in math due to various disabilities or risk factors), the single-subject design offered unique opportunities for looking into individual differences in responding to the intervention, which provides valuable information for designing future group comparison studies on this topic. Because single-subject studies provide relatively weak external validity, it is necessary for the study to be replicated with a large sample size to strengthen the argument for implementing the intervention used in this study. As the intervention’s focus was on facilitating student’s conceptual understanding and connection between mathematical ideas, future research may also evaluate the effects of strategy implementation in inclusive classrooms that include students with and without disabilities to explore the intervention’s benefit for all students. In addition, we only conducted immediate follow-up assessments for assessing the maintenance of the learned skills. In future studies, researchers should check for long-term maintenance effects. Future research may also explore the intervention’s generalization effect by using some kind of external measure such as standardized assessment. Although the measure or


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the tests used in this study were created by the researchers, they were similar to the items on the state high-stakes assessment test (i.e., ISTEP+). Potential Effect of COMPS The intervention’s goal was to not only apply interventional strategies (i.e., COMPS) that have been proven successful in previous studies in other areas of mathematics and the teaching of geometry, but its goal was to also help students develop connections between mathematical concepts through fundamental ideas such as MR. The researchers focused on MR because of its important place in the learning trajectory for mathematics. For example, facilitating the growth of the students’ MR skills grants them access to proportional reasoning, which grants them access to algebraic reasoning (Lesh, Post, & Behr, 1988; Singh, 2000). Hopefully, at least a portion of the foundation was laid for making these transitions in later years in mathematics. Providing interventions that focus on fundamental mathematical ideas and connections between them might provide students who struggle with mathematics an opportunity to succeed at their grade levels in geometry. The findings of this study, as part of COMPS research (e.g., Xin, 2012; Xin et al., 2008; Xin & Zhang, 2009; Xin et al., 2011), may provide teachers and researchers with insights and models in helping students “understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another” (NCTM, 2000, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics) to facilitate powerful conceptual understanding and sustainability of acquired knowledge. Upon examination of participating students’ pre- and postintervention performance, it was discovered during baseline that the participants mostly applied an addition strategy to solve area problems, which indicated their lack of conceptual understanding of the problem. After the intervention, most students had internalized the conceptual model of area and volume and directly applied the operation of multiplication to solve for area or volume. For problems with missing factors (e.g., the width, length, or height as the unknown), most students represented the numbers in the model equation (i.e., area = length × width, or volume = length × width × height) with a letter to represent the unknown, and then they solved for the unknown factor in the equation. On a more fine grained level of analysis, Eric made an error on a problem involving critical thinking during the second post intervention assessment probe. The question asked “what other information do you need to know to find the volume of the cereal box if the box is 14 inches high and 3 inches wide?” (See Table 2); he mistakenly checked off the choice of “width” rather than “length.” Most likely, it was either a careless error or his “misconception” of the word “wide” as “the length.” As for Matt, considering that both his cognitive ability and IQ measure were below or at the borderline of normal range, he might have needed more sessions of instruction to fully understand the problem-solving processes involving the concept of volume. His mistakes or misconceptions were mostly pertinent to solving volume problems (he treated them as area problems). He also had difficulties in solving problems with a missing factor.


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Similarly, Freya, who was identified by the school as manifesting a MID, might have needed more instruction for reinforcing the concept to improve her maintenance of the skill. Lastly, Dan made one careless mistake in calculation on the first and last postintervention probe. Relating the current study to the one by Cass et al. (2003), the participants in the Cass et al. (2003) study were more homogeneous. In addition, the probes they used for pre- and postintervention assessments were identical to the probes used during the intervention. , Therefore, there was less variability in data collection throughout the study. In addition, the problems in the probe they used were unidimensional (i.e., only one problem type would appear in the probe, either the perimeter or the area problems). That might have contributed to the data path’s consistency and steadiness. However, one of the weaknesses of including only one problem type in an assessment probe is that students would not know which strategy (and operation) to use when they were presented with problems involving different problem types or even similar area problems with different problem construction (e.g., the product being the unknown vs. the factor being the unknown). The flexibility of strategy use, which is one of the emphases of the NCTM’s (2000) standards, might be compromised. For instance, the Cass (2003) study did not include problems with a missing factor, which may require students to use the model equation (and relevant basic algebra knowledge) to solve for the unknown factor. In comparison, the COMPS model used in this study would help students to solve a range of area or volume problems (including those with the “product” or “factor” being the unknown) with an intention to promote generalized problem solving skills. Implications for Research and Practice COMPS, which involves both concrete and symbolic levels of modeling, helps students make the connection between concrete and abstract representations of mathematical ideas. The concrete level of operations should not be the ending point for conceptual understanding instruction. Connections between concrete and abstract modeling need to be made to move students beyond concrete level of operation for them to access higher-level mathematics. The positive results of the intervention applied in this study suggest that students with LDs and MIDs can be successful in higher-level mathematics when the instruction is carefully designed to provide the necessary support these students need. Regarding students with MIDs, Freya’s success in this study is consistent with findings that students with MIDs are capable of much higher-level thinking than rote memorization and drill and practice (see Baroody, 1996; Parmar & Cawley, 1991) if they are supported with explicit instruction designed to develop conceptual understanding. The mix of students with LDs and MIDs that often occurs in classrooms (Polloway, Patton, Smith, & Buck, 1997) provides justification for the inclusion of SWDs (e.g., LD and MID) and those who are at risk for failure in mathematics in this study and future studies. Teachers have always been faced with the challenge of teaching in classrooms with students that possess a wide range of ability levels and special needs. With the inclusion movement and


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pressures on schools resulting from NCLB (2002), this challenge has been intensified, and researchers need to find methods that work for teaching a wide variety of student types together. Conclusion This study has provided more evidence that students struggling with mathematics, including students with LDs and MIDs, can and should be prepared for advancement into higherlevel mathematics. Instruction that emphasizes conceptual understating (at both concrete levels and abstract levels) and connections among mathematical ideas is necessary for building the appropriate foundation for these children to advance into higher-level mathematics. Higher expectations for these students, along with the necessary supports that make these expectations realistic, should be the primary goal of the remediation or the intervention practice. Author Biographies Yan Ping Xin is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Purdue University. Her program of research focuses on improving mathematics performance of students with learning difficulties. Her work has been referenced in prestigious sources including the National Mathematics Advisory Panel Report, the What Works Clearinghouse, the Institute of Education Sciences Practitionerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Guide, and many books as an exemplar of effective intervention strategies in mathematics problem solving. She has received over 3.5 million dollars of grant funding. Currently, she is the Project Director of a National Science Foundation-supported fiveyear multi-disciplinary project in developing a math problem-solving intelligent tutor. Casey Hord is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Cincinnati. His primary research interest is developing interventions in mathematics for students with high incidence disabilities. Other research interests include mathematics curriculum analysis with regards to the needs of students with learning disabilities, the role of visual representations in mathematics teaching for addressing working memory deficits, and the mathematical reasoning processes of students with high incidence disabilities. References Baroody, A. J. (1996). Self-invented addition strategies by children with mental retardation. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 101, 72-89. Cass, M., Cates, D., Smith, M., & Jackson, C. (2003). Effects of manipulative instruction on solving area and perimeter problems by students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(2), 112-120. Gersten, R., Chard, D. J., Jayanthi, M., Baker, S. K., Morthy, P., & Flojo, J. (2009). Mathematics instruction for students with learning disabilities: A Meta-analysis of instructional Component. Review of Educational Research, 79(3), 1202-1242.


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Horner, R. D., & Baer, D. M. (1978). Multiple-probe technique: A variation of the multiple baseline. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 11, 189-196. Kazdin, A. E. (1982). Single-case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. New York, NY: Oxford. Lesh, R., Post, T., & Behr, M. (1988). Proportional reasoning. In J. Hiebert & M. Behr (Eds.), Number concepts and operations in the middle grades (pp. 93-118). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Maletsky, E. M. et al. (2004). Harcourt Math (Indiana Edition). Chicago, IL: Harcourt. Mulligan, J. T. (2002). The role of structure in children's development of multiplicative reasoning. In B. Barton, K.C. Irwin., M. Pfannkuch, & M. O. J. Thomas (Eds.), Mathematics Education in the South Pacific (Proceedings of the 25th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Auckland, NZ (pp. 497503). Sydney: MERGA. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM, 2000). Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Retrieved August 7, 2009 from http://standards.nctm.org/document/appendix/process.htm#bp4 National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). The final report of the national mathematics advisory panel. Retrieved June 10, 2008, from http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/index.html No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425 (2002). Otis, A. S., & Lennon, R. T. (1995). Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (7th ed.). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation. Parmar, R. S., & Cawley, J. F. (1991). Challenging the routines and passivity that characterize arithmetic instruction for children with mild disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 12(5), 23-32, 43. Polloway, E. A., Patton, J. R., Smith, T. E. C., & Buck, G. H. (1997). Mental retardation and learning disabilities: Conceptual and applied issues. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 30(3), 297-308. Rampey, B. D., Dion, G. S., & Donahue, P. L. (2008). The Nation's Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress in Reading and Mathematics 2008. Retrieved on May 4, 2009, from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/main2008/2009479.asp#pdflist Scruggs, T. E., & Mastropieri, M. A. (1998). Summarizing single-subject research: Issues and applications. Behavior Modification, 22, 221-242. Sherin, B. (2001). How students understand physics equations. Cognition and Instruction, 19(4), 479-541. Simon, M. A., & Blume, G. A. (1994). Building and understanding multiplicative relationships: A study of prospective elementary teachers. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 25(5), 472-494. Singh, P. (2000). Understanding the concepts of proportion and ratio constructed by two grade six students. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 43(3), 217-291.


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United States Department of Education (1997). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/Policy/IDEA/the_law.html United States Department of Education (2004). Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cdynamic%2CTopicalBrief%2C3%2C Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler intelligence scale for children (4th ed.). San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corp. Woodward, J., & Montague, M. (2002). Meeting the challenge of mathematics reform for students with LD. The Journal of Special Education, 36(2) 89-101. Xin, Y. P. (2012). Conceptual model-based problem solving: Teach students with learning difficulties to solve math problems. Boston, MA: Sense Publishers. Xin, Y. P. (2008). The effect of schema-based instruction in solving word problems: An emphasis on pre-algebraic conceptualization of multiplicative relations. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (JRME), 39, 526-551. Xin, Y. P., Wiles, B., & Lin, Y. (2008). Teaching conceptual model-based word-problem story grammar to enhance mathematics problem solving. The Journal of Special Education, 42, 163-178. Xin, Y. P., & Zhang, D. (2009). Exploring a Conceptual Model-based Approach to Teaching Situated Word Problems. The Journal of Educational Research, 102(6), 427-441. Xin, Y. P., Zhang, D., Park, J. Y., Tom, K., Whipple, A., & Si, L. (2011). A Comparison of Two Mathematics Problem-Solving Strategies: Facilitate Algebra-Readiness. The Journal of Educational Research, 104, 381-395. Zhang, D. & Xin, Y. P. (2012). A follow-up meta-analysis of word problem-solving interventions for students with learning problems. The Journal of Educational Research, 105(5), 303-318.


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Table 1 Participant Demographics Variable

Eric

Matt

Freya

Dan

Gender

M

M

F

M

Ethnicity

Caucasian

Black

Black

Black

Age

12

12

11

10

Grade

5

5

5

4

Classification

LD

LD

ED/MID

At-Risk

Reduced/Free lunch

NA

F

F

F

Years in special ed.

1.5 year

6 months

1 year

0

IQ

OLSAT

OLSAT

OLSAT

NA

Total/Full

84

64

90

Verbal

89

62

94

Non-verbal

82

70

86

WISC=71

WISC = 59

Note. LD = Learning Disability; ED = Emotional Disorder; MID = Mild Intellectual Disability; NA = not applicable or not available; OLSAT = Otis - Lennon School Ability Test (Otis & Lennon, 1995); WISC = Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV (Wechsler, 2003).

Table 2 Sample Problems in Criterion Tests What is the area of the rectangle?

What is the length of a rectangle that has an area of 54 square feet and a width of 18 feet?

How much carpet do you need to cover the floor of a room that is 20 feet long and 10 feet wide?

What is the area of the figure?


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What is the volume of a rectangular prism, if the length = 2 cm, the width = 7 cm, and the height = 3cm?

What is the width of the rectangular prism if… length = 7 meters height = 14 meters volume = 588 cubic meters

If you folded this net, what figure would you make?

A cereal box is 14 inches high and 3 inches wide. What other information do you need to know to find the volume of the cereal box? a. The weight of the box b. The width of the box c. The length of the box d. The color of the box

a. b. c. d.

a. b. c. d.

cone rectangular prism triangular pyramid square pyramid

3 2  1  1

2

3

4

Figure 1. COMPS (semiconcrete [upper panel] and abstract [lower panel]) models for area of a rectangle.


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Â

Figure 2. COMPS (semiconcrete [upper panel] and abstract [lower panel]) models for volume of a rectangular prism.


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Figure 3. Percent correct of geometry problem solving during the baseline, intervention phase, and postintervention assessments across four participants.


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The Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program: A Pilot Study Kenneth J. Kohutek University of Tampa

Abstract The relationship between cognitive skills, including working memory, and academic ability has received much support in recent literature. Similarly, the ability to intervene in order to enhance those skills has found recent support. This study explored the feasibility of using a cognitive training manual to improve the working memory in a sample of students diagnosed with learning difficulties. The manual is unique in that it is in paper-and-pencil format and designed for an adult or older peer to work with the student in brief (10 to 20 minute) sessions. Through the techniques of scaffolding, thinking aloud, and modeling structured problem-solving, the student is guided through their “zone of proximal development.” Repeated met-tests found significant improvement in both verbal and visual spatial working memory. These findings are encouraging and merit an additional follow-up of the program. Recommendations include comparing this program to other programs that may have similar objectives, including those provided in a software format, adding a control group, assessing the ecological validity and duration of improvement as well as addressing related constructs such as fluid reasoning. Keywords: cognitive training, learning difficulties, working memory, verbal working memory, visual spatial working memory

The comorbidity of learning deficits, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, with cognitive deficits, such as attention, working memory, and problem solving, is well documented (Alloway et al. , 2005; Beringer, Raskind, Richards, Abbott, & Stock, 2008; Fuhs & Day, 2011; Gathercole, Alloway, Willis, & Adams, 2006; Gathercole, & Pickering, 2000; Packiam & Gathercole, 2005; Singer-Harris, Forbes, Weiler, Bellinger, & Waber, 2001). Singer and Bashir (1999) stressed that attributing deficits in academically related skills to learning deficits alone is “necessary, but insufficient” (p. 267). Hence, remediation of learning difficulties should include enhancement of cognitive skills. Research suggests that cognitive skills can be taught, or enhanced, through direct intervention in either the classroom or in clinical settings (Jaeggi, Buschkue, Jonides, & Perrig, 2008; Kloo & Perner, 2008; von Bastian & Oberauer, 2013). Two recent reviews of the


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literature assessing cognitive-focused instruction (CFI) and skills-based instruction in the classroom setting (Kearns & Fuchs, 2013; Montague & Dietz, 2009) have been published. Kearns & Fuchs’ review of CFI with low-achieving students concluded that, while CFI appeared promising, there have not been enough studies with a large enough sample and/or experimental control to warrant an evidence-based practice. Suggestions include more rigorous studies as well as novel approaches, which would include both larger samples and more experimental control (2013). Montague and Dietz limited their article review to studies that assessed the efficacy of cognitive strategy instruction with students who experienced mathematical difficulties. The point that many students with learning deficits do not develop, implement, or follow through with problem-solving skills in the same fashion as students described as “strategic learners” was a major factor in addressing the issue. The authors utilized four questions, or indicators, assessing the quality of group design studies: describing the participants, specifying the implementation, balancing outcome measures with tightly aligned and generalized data, and making sure the analysis of data was linked to research questions (2009). The conclusion of their review was similar to those of Kearns & Fuchs (2013) in that the studies reviewed did not provide support for using cognitive strategy instruction as an evidenced-based strategy for working with students experiencing academic difficulties due to weaknesses of research design. Articles describing the training of cognitive skills in the clinical setting for students with learning deficits flourish in the literature. Most studies involve working with students diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Beck, Hanson, Puffenberger, Benninger & Berringer, 2008; Dahlin, 2011; Holmes, Gathercole, Dunning, Hilton, & Elliott, 2010; Klineberg, et al., 2005; Gray, et al., 2012; Mezzacappa & Buckner, 2012; Rabiner, Murray, & Skinner, 2010). Gray et al. described a study in which students with severe learning deficits as well as ADHD are studied (2012). One study addressed the utility of a computer program in the school as an adjunct to instruction in a high-risk population and reported positive results (Mezzacappa & Buckner, 2012). An example of a study that addressed students with a comorbid diagnosis of attention and reading deficits using an experimental group and a control group was completed by Dahlin (2011). The experimental design study involved 57 students ranging in age from 9 to 12 years of age. Students in the experimental group received daily individual training for 30 to 40 minutes in a quiet room with an adult providing support. The program consisted of a computerized program (RoboMemo©), which was designed to enhance working memory in children with attentional difficulty. The control group received the standard special education curriculum. Findings supported previous research in that both the working memory dependent variables as well as reading comprehension were improved in the computerized program group. The majority of the studies involve the use of a computer program with the most cited being CogMed (htttp://www.cogmed.com/) or Jungle Memory (http://junglememory.com). Websites for both programs make rather bold claims about the outcomes, which are often not supported by the literature. A recent issue of the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and


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Cognition (Volume 1, Issue 1) contained several articles suggesting that current claims about treatment outcome may not be supported (Hulme & Melby-Lervag, 2012) but that the development of research design remains a “work in progress” (Shipstead, Hicks, & Engle, 2012, p. 217). An approach blatantly missing from the above review is the utilization of a program that does not utilize a computer-based program. Roediger & Pyc (2012) reminds the reader that, while a popular trend, technology in the classroom has not been empirically proven to be the best method. The authors continue with a number of recommendations, which include the best approaches to learning and memory including distribution of material and practice, on-going assessments, explanatory questioning, and developing effective learning strategies. Considering the fact that the majority of research aimed at enhancing cognitive skills utilizes software that an alternative approach needs to be explored. Programs that have proven successful involve a more intense working relationship between the teacher/mediator and the student (Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Feuerstein, Feuerstein, & Falik, 2010). The importance of the mediator, or the person who serves as a conduit between the environmental cues and the student’s response, is emphasized in both models. Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment program, developed while working with child survivors of the holocaust, developed into the Instrumental Enrichment program (Feuerstein et al., 2010). As to be expected from his earliest classrooms, the program is intense and consists of 12 characteristics, the first of which is to remedy deficit cognitive functioning. A meta-analysis of available research up to the time of publication found that achievement was a variable that demonstrated significant improvement as a result of completing the program (Romney & Samuels, 2001). While they are not as structured as the Feuerstein model, Vygotsky’s philosophies have found themselves entrenched in the educational system. For example, he is credited with the concepts of scaffolding and the construction zone (Bodrova & Leong, 2007). The “zone of proximal development” is entrenched to the point that the computerized interpretation of the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Skills provides a “zone of proximal development” for each subtest (Woodcock, McGrew & Mather, 2001). The reported success of the Instrumental Enrichment program, the impact of Vygotsky’s works, and the marginal impact of current technological programs suggest that a possible criticial factor, the relationship between instructor and student, is missing. For that reason, the Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program (CCEP) was developed (Kohutek & Kohutek, 2012 a & b). While the CCEP does not have the rigor of the Instrumental Enrichment Program it does stress the importance of human relationships. Also, the population served by the CCEP does not reflect the severity of the program developed for children who have faced the trauma of a holocaust. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of the CCEP with students diagnosed with learning deficits. The hypothesis for this pilot study was that, upon successful completion


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of the program, students would demonstrate a significant improvement in both verbal and visuospatial working memory over their preassessment performances. Method Participants After approval from the university Institutional Review Board and the school administration in which this study took place, a letter of introduction, including a consent form, was sent to parents of prospective participants. Participants were recruited from a 6th grade study skills lab located in a charter school devoted to assisting students with learning deficits. Eight of the 11 forms were returned on which parents granted permission for their child to participate. Included in the sample were two males and six females with an average age of 13 years, 1 month (s.d. =0.89; range = 2.5). While several of the students had comorbid diagnoses, the primary diagnoses included five students with a diagnosis of language impairment (reading or speech difficulty), one with Asperger’s syndrome, one with intellectual disability, and another with “Other Health Impairment.” Material The CCEP provides a number of challenges that start with very basic patterns/designs and work the student through increasingly complex challenges. There are two manuals in the program: the first includes a series of challenges in which the student must look for clues and search for patterns. With the aid of a “guide”, the student is encouraged to look for clues, including what pattern is found on the page and what is missing. The model for this program includes a “guide”, an adult or one who understands the model, working alongside the student throughout each session. The guide may be a parent, teacher or older student who understands the process described in the manual. The inclusion of a guide is based on the writings of several educators/scientists who describe the relationship between the student and adult as pivotal (see Feuerstein and Vygotsky references at end of Introduction for more information). The guide is provided specific information at the beginning of each Level as well as notes embedded within the pages. The guide’s responsibilities include providing verbal and physical scaffolding cues and positive reinforcement as the student advances. Included within the scaffolding cues are “thinking aloud” opportunities where either the student describes the strategy to successfully complete the task or the guide provides verbal cues by “thinking aloud” to assist in training the student in effective problem-solving. It is also the guide’s responsibility to be sure each challenge is completed correctly. Hence, the guide is encouraged to be familiar with the manual and challenges on each level. Because the challenges (and strategies) build on previous sessions, it is recommended that the same guide work consistently with the student is able to progress to more difficult challenges. Both manuals include specific instructions to the guide with the


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clarification that the instructions can be modified to fit the situation as based on the child’s understanding. This would include the elaboration or the summarization of the instructions. Similarly, the second manual (Kohutek & Kohutek, 2012b) requires the student to look for clues and search for patterns in order to complete the challenges. In this manual, however, a visuospatial, visuomotor aspect is included in that the student must complete the challenge by reproducing a design on a geoboard. Initially, the guide plays an active role by providing prompts that assist in developing strategies. As the challenges become more complex, the prompts are decreased while the student is encouraged to continue their searching for clues in order to complete the challenge. While successful completion of the challenges is important and a tangible measure of success, the ultimate goal is to increase the student’s awareness of problem-solving skills as well as the ability to verbalize those strategies. Another important aspect of the desired outcome is the student’s ability to reevaluate the unsuccessful strategy should their initial approach be incorrect. Design and Procedure There were three portions of the design: preassessment, completion of the program, and the postassessment. Students were administered the screening portion of the Alloway Working Memory Assessment-Second Edition (AWMA-2) (Alloway, 2012). This computerized assessment provides standardized scores for verbal working memory (VWM) and visual-spatial working memory (VSWM) described by Baddaley (2000). Working memory, a trait tantamount in mastery of many tasks, is an essential construct in the learning process and has been found to be weak in students experiencing learning deficits (Alloway & Archibald, 2008; Jeffries & Everett, 2004), and it is a possible predictor of future deficits in mathematics (Clark, Pritchard, & Woodward, 2010; Swanson, 2011; Passolunghi, 2008) and language acquisition (Fuhs & Day, 2011; Chung & McBride-Chang, 2011). Upon completion of the preassessment, students, with the author, special education classroom teacher, and two trained college seniors majoring in psychology that functioned as “guides,” worked through the CCEP in a small group setting. The program was incorporated into the curriculum of the school’s study skills lab and was offered three days a week. The guides worked in tandem with the students in searching for patterns, determining how to solve the challenge, and completing the patterns. Intervention included instructions, scaffolding, “thinking aloud,” and providing encouragement to complete each challenge in spite of the fact that the solution may be initially difficult. This aspect of the program is crucial because it follows the writings of both Vygotsky, as described by Bodrova and Leong (2007), and Feuerstein (Feurerstein, Feuerstein & Falik, 2010) with the relationship between student and instructor being important while developing strategies for learning. Except for spring break and usual school activities the three-a-week sessions were held until each student completed the program. Students were encouraged to work at the pace at which they were able to gain mastery of the


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challenges. Because of the various skill levels in completing the challenges, the number of weeks to completion varied from 5 to 10 weeks. Upon completion of the CCEP, the AWMA-2 was readministered as a postassessment measure. Students were debriefed and presented with a certificate of completion in addition to a letter sent to parents that provided debriefing information and an offer to meet individually should there be questions concerning the study. Results Each student completed the pre- and postassessments. A review of individual students’ performance found three students who demonstrated minimal improvements on the pre- and postassessments. Those students had the primary diagnoses of intellectual disability, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Student #3, whose diagnosis included intellectual difficulty, required the most prompting with the smallest overall standard score gain (VWM pre/post = +8; VSWM pre/post = 0). Student #4, whose primary diagnosis was ADHD, also demonstrated minimal gains on the dependent measures (VWM pre/post = +8; VSWM pre/post = +5). This student required a great deal of prompting because of the difficulty in complying with the procedure of developing a strategy prior to completing the challenges. Finally, the student who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (student #6) showed little improvement on the verbal working memory index (pre/post = +5 standard score points) and a 10 point improvement on the visual-spatial working memory index. In that the majority of students were dealing with language difficulties, it is not surprising that the preassessment VWM mean was lower than the VSWM scores (preassessment VWM =80.63, s.d. = 14.85; preassessment VSWM = 84.63, s.d. = 15.82). The difference, however, was not statistically significant (t (7) = 0.521; p =0.6). Because of the small sample size, the students described above were included in the data analysis. Repeated measure t-tests were utilized to compare the pre- and postassessments on both verbal and visual-spatial working memory. The t-test for VWM determined the pre- and postassessment as significant (t (7) = 9.63. p = .001). The t-test for VSWM also recorded a significant difference between the pre- and postassessments (t (7) = 14.50; p =.003). Both of these significance levels exceeded the predicted .05 increase in scores. The larger increase in VSWM compared to VWM was also expected due to the primary diagnoses and deficits of the sample being in language skills (post VWM = 90.25, s.d. = 11.78; post VSWM = 99.13, s.d. = 17.24). Discussion These findings are encouraging in that they support previous findings that working memory is a construct that can be improved through direct intervention. The findings also lend support to the efficacy of the CCEP in a small group setting with students who are experiencing learning difficulties. A comparison between pre- and postassessment scores indicates a


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significant improvement in both aspects of working memory. While the challenges were designed to primarily enhance visual-spatial skills, the “thinking aloud” throughout the experience by either the guide or the student could have contributed to the increase in verbal working memory. It is reported that research in this area remains in an embryotic stage and requires more study before the utility is demonstrated on a larger scale (Bostrom & Sandberg, 2009). Future studies need to consider a larger sample, compare treatment groups as well as consider a control group, ecological validity as well as the long-term effect of training, and assess cognitive constructs besides working memory. Because of the type of students considered in this study, the class size was small, which makes for a small sample size in this study and similar studies. Future studies might address several classes, which would serve as nonrandom groups. Such a model would also provide the opportunity to compare treatments. A major question about similar interventions is ecological validity. While the pre- and postassessments look promising, the impact on academic success both on-going and future is the ultimate goal of any intervention. Melby-Lervag & Hulme (2013) describe the difficulty in maintaining long-term gains and generalizing the gains to other skills remains a challenge to studies attempting to increase student’s working memory. Studies in the future will include additional dependent variables as well as both classroom and standardized testing performance. Individual differences are factors to be considered when assessing the long-term impact of interventions (Jaeggi, et al., 2011). This aspect of conducting similar research was borne out in this study. While an extremely small number of students with diagnoses of intellectual disability, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome were included in the study, the differences in gains from this program was noted. While working in inclusive classrooms, being able to obtain a sample of sufficient size with similar difficulties is extremely difficult. In spite of the challenge of diversity, the importance of an empirically based intervention needs to be addressed. Even with this variable being considered, the different difficulties found in similar diagnoses makes similar research a challenge. With this in mind, it might be wiser to explore individual differences in cognitive skills rather than attempt strategies for a specific diagnosis or groups of students at this time. Finally, a construct other than working memory might be assessed. While the study indicated an improvement in working memory, it is not certain that working memory is the construct that would most likely benefit the student. Additional constructs addressed in studies conducted by the author have included fluid intelligence (Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Shah, 2011; Woodcock, McGrew & Mather, 2001). Similar, positive findings were found in a mainstream classroom (Kohutek, submitted). In spite of the possible shortcomings discussed above, the importance of direct intervention in the training of cognitive skills in a population of students with learning difficulties is encouraging and relevant. It is encouraging because it indicates that there are strategies that enhance cognitive skills. Through the enhancement of these skills, the need for modifications in the environment may be decreased. In today’s society, it is relevant because


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those lacking in cognitive skills are at a greater loss than previous generations in which a literate society may not have been as important as it is in today’s society. References Alloway, T. (2012). Alloway working memory assessment-second edition (AWMA-2). London: Pearson Assessment. Alloway, T. P., & Archibald, L. M. (2008). Working memory and learning in children with developmental coordination disorder and specific language impairment. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41, 251-262. Alloway, T. P., Gathercole, S. E., Willis, C., & Adams, A. M. (2005). Working memory and special educational needs. Educational and Child Psychology, 22, 56-67. Baddeley, A. D. (2000). The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Science, 4(11), 417-423. Beck, S. J., Hanson, C. A., Puffenberger, S. S., Benninger, K. L., & Benninger, W. B. (2010). A controlled trial of working memory training for children and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(6), 825-836. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2010.517162 Berninger, V. W., Raskind, W., Richards, T., Abbott, R., & Stock, P. (2008). A multidisciplinary approach to understanding developmental dyslexia within working memory architecture: Genotypes, phenotypes, brain and instruction. Developmental Neuropsychology, 33(6). 707-744. Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2007). Tools of the mind: The Vygotskian approach to early childhood education 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Bodstrom, N., & Sandberg, A. (2009). Cognitive enhancement: Methods, ethics, regulatory challenges. Science and Engineering Ethics, 15, 311-314. doi 10.1007/s11948-009-91425 Chung, K. K. H., & McBride-Chang, C. (2011). Executive functioning skills uniquely predict Chinese word reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(4), 909-921. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a002474 Clark, C. A. C., Pritchard, V. E., & Woodward, L. J. (2010). Preschool executive functioning abilities predict early mathematical achievement. Developmental Psychology, 46, 11761191. Dahlin, K. (2011). Effects of working memory training on reading in children with special needs. Reading And Writing, 24, 479-491. doi: 10:1007/s11145-010-9238-y Feurerstein, R., Feuerstein, R. S., & Falik, L. H. (2010). Beyond Smarter: Mediated learning and the brain’s capacity for change. New York, NY: Columbia Teachers College Press. Fuhs, M. W., & Day, J. D. (2011). Verbal ability and executive functioning development in Preschoolers and Head Start. Developmental Psychology, 47, 404-416. Gathercole, S. E., & Pickering, S. J. (2000). Working memory deficits in children with low


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achievements in the national curriculum at 7 years of age. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 177-194. Gathercole, S. E., Alloway, T. P. Willis, C. & Adams, A. M. (2006). Working memory in children with reading disabilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93(3), 265281. Gray, S. A., Chaban, P., Martinussen, R., Goldberg, R., Gotlieb, H., Kronitz, R…. & Tannock, R. (2012). Effects of computerized WM training program on working memory, attention and academics in adolescents with severe learning difficulties and comorbid ADHD: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(12), 12771284. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02592x Holmes, J., Gathercole, S. E., Dunning, D. L., Hilton, K. A., & Elliot, J. G. (2010). Working memory deficits can be overcome: Impacts of training and medication on working memory in children with ADHD. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(6), 827-836. doi: 10.1002/acp.1589 Hulme, C., & Melby-Lervag, M. (2012). Current evidence does not support the claims made for CogMed working memory training. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 197-200. Jaeggi, S. M. Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J. & Perrig, W. M. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 105(19), 6829-6833. Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Shah, P. (2011). Short-and long-term benefits of cognitive training, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 108, 10081-10086. http://www.pnas.org/content/108/25/10081.full?sid=0d20b83a-fa77-49e3-bedfaed3201432c Jeffries, S., & Everett, J. (2004). Working memory: Its role in dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. Dyslexia, 10(3), 196-214. doi 10.1002/dys.278 Kearns, D. M., & Fuchs, D. (2013). Does cognitively focused instruction improve the academic performance of low-achieving students? Exceptional Children, 79(3), 263-290. Klingberg, T., Fernell, E., Olesen, P.J., Johnson, M., Gustafsson, P., Dahlstrom, K. …& Westerberg, H. (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD—A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(2), 781-791. Kloo, D., & Perner, J. (2008). Training theory of mind and executive control: A tool for improving achievement. Mind, Brain, and Education, 2(3), 122-127. http://amyalexander.wiki.westga.edu/file/view/training+theory+of+mind.pdf Kohutek, K. (Submitted). Cognitive enhancement in an elementary school setting. Kohutek, K., & Kohutek, A. M. (2012a). Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program: Elementary Levels Research Edition. Tampa, FL: Authors. Kohutek, K., & Kohutek, A. M. (2012b). Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program Yellow Book: Elementary Levels Research Edition. Tampa, FL: Authors.


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Melby-Lervag, M., & Hulme, C. (2013). Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review. Developmental Psychology, 49(2), 270-291. doi 10.1037/a0028228 Mezzacappa, E., & Buckner, J. C. (2012). Working memory training with attention problem or hyperactivity: A school-based pilot study. School Mental Health, 2(4), 202-205 doi: 10.1007/s12310-010-9030-9 Montague, M., & Dietz, S. (2009). Evaluating the evidence base for cognitive strategy instruction and mathematical problem solving. Exceptional Children, 75, 285-302. Packiam Alloway, T., & Gathercole, S. E. (2005). Working memory abilities in children with special education needs. Educational and Child Psychology, 22(4), 56-67. Passolunghi, M. C. (2008). Cognitive abilities as precursors of the early acquisition of mathematical skills during first through second grades. Developmental Neuropsychology, 33, 229-250. Rabiner, D., Murray, D., Skinner, A. (2010). A randomized trial for two promising computer based interventions for children with attentional difficulties. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(1), 131-142. RoboMemo©, Cogmed Medical Systems AB, Stockholm, Sweden. www.cogmed.com Roediger, H. L., & Pyc, M. A. (2012). Inexpensive techniques to improve education: Applying cognitive psychology to enhance educational practice. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 242-248. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.09.002 Romney, D. M., & Samuels, M. T. (2001). A meta-analysis evaluation of Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment. Educational and Child Psychology, 18(4), 19-34. Singer, B. D., & Bashir, A. S. (1999). What are executive functions and self-regulation and what do they have to do with language-learning disorders? Language, Speech and Hearing in Schools, 30, 265-273. doi 0161-273.0161-1461/99/3003-0265 Singer-Harris, N., Forbes, P., Weiler, M. D., Bellinger, D., & Waber, D. P. (2001). Children with adequate academic achievement scores referred for evaluation of school difficulties: Information processing. Developmental Neuropsychology, 20, 593-603. Shipstead, Z., Hicks, K. L., & Engle, R. W. (2012). Working memory training remains a work in progress. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 217-219. Http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2012.07.009 Swanson, H. L. (2011). Working memory, attention and mathematical problem-solving: A longitudinal study of elementary school children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(4), 821-837. von Bastian, C .C., & Oberauer, K. (2013). Distinct transfer effects of training different facets of working memory capacity. Journal of Memory and Language, 69, 36-58. Woodcock, R. W., McGrew, K. S. & Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson III: Tests of cognitive abilities. Itasco, IL: Riverside.


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NOTES


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Building a Trusting Relationship: Appreciating the Linguistic and Cultural Influence of Three Hispanic Families on School Learning Gilbert Dueñas, Auburn University at Montgomery Charles J. Eick, Auburn University Too Much Reform, Too Little Progress: Teacher Education Still in Limbo Josephine Sarvis, Dominican University Debra Vinci-Minogue, Dominican University Exploring a Modified Solomon Four-Group Design for Support of Value-Added Claims in the Accreditation of an Educational Leadership Program John C. Hanes, Regent University Glenn L. Koonce, Regent University Leading Special Education Programs Collaboratively: Good News, Bad News Ted Price, Virginia Tech Deborah L. Wells, Virginia Tech Students and Faculty Speak Out: When Technology in the College Classroom is Productive or Distractive Myrna R. Olson, University of North Dakota Austin T. Winger, University of North Dakota Practice What You Teach: Pre-Service Educators' Writing Apprehension Brooke A. Burks, Auburn University at Montgomery Marie Kraska, Auburn University The Group Assessment Procedure: Predicting Student Teaching Performance Sally A. Ingles, Spring Arbor University Exploring the Relationship between Media Choices and Teaching Experience in Online Courses Diane Hamilton, University of Phoenix Conceptual Model-based Teaching to Facilitate Geometry Learning of Students Who Struggle in Mathematics Yan Ping Xin, Purdue University Casey Hord, University of Cincinnati The Children’s Cognitive Enhancement Program: A Pilot Study Kenneth J. Kohutek, University of Tampa

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ISSN: 2330-6556 (print) ISSN: 2330-6564 (online)

Journal of Scholastic Inquiry: Education, Volume 1, Issue 1  

Educational Research Journal

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