International Journal of
Arts & Sciences
2007, VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2
2007, VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2
International Journal of
ARTS & SCIENCES Contents
Parentsâ€™ perceptions of the benefits of full-day and half-day kindergarten
Coping with the loss of a loved one: A small group intervention
Website evaluation form for teachers
Charles E. Notar, Donna F. Herring and Janell D. Wilson
The secondary education culture
The changing role of colleges of education in the teacher preparation process
Mary C. Clement
Technology and educational leader development: Using multimedia cases as professional learning tools
Technology learning impact on pre-service teacher education candidates after implementation of a web-based e-portfolio
Steve Hyndman, Paul Wirtz, Marcia M. Pierce and Paul Erickson th
Learning preferences of 5 and 6 grade students in Northwest Arkansas
Carleton R. Holt, Jack B. De Vore, George S. Denny, Roland M. Smith and Matthew Cooper
Conducting water chemistry analyses transforms information into ecological knowledge
Margaret B. Bogan and Michael D. Bogan
Teaching mathematics through pattern recognition
The impact of self-esteem on high school retention among girls in Northern Nigeria
James B. Kantiok and Linda H. Chiang
International Journal of Arts & Sciences (IJAS) is not responsible for the content of the individual manuscripts. All correspondence should be mailed to the Editor: Dr. Joseph Bonnici, Vance Hall, 4th Floor, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, PO Box 4010, New Britain, CT 06050-4010, USA. The manuscripts contained in this volume were double blind refereed. The acceptance rate for manuscripts in this issue, 28%, conformed to the editorial policies.
ÂŠ 2007 International Journal of Arts & Sciences
Vol. 2, 2.
INTERNATIONAL EDITORIAL BOARD Joseph Bonnici, Editor Central Connecticut State University Joseph Azzopardi, Associate Editor University of Malta Dexter Gulledge, Associate Editor University of Arkansas-Monticello Roger McKinney, Assistant Editor Jamestown College
H. Bakker Massey University
J.H. Munro University of Toronto
L. Beard Jacksonville State University
A.G. Orphanides Cyprus College
N. Cohen Bowie State University
V. Schroder Saint Leo University
M.Cizakca University of Bahcesehir
J. Shaw University of Leicester, UK
W. Fredenberger Valdosta State University
L. Sideris Indiana Univ - Bloomington
R. Kamla University of Aberdeen
J.P. Sosson Catholic University of Louvain
J.M. Kearns Hawaiâ€™i Pacific University
P. Taracha University of Warsaw
N. Khan Middlesex University
B. Turman Bond University
D. Lechtenberger, Texas Tech University
L.W. Watson Northern Illinois University
H. Li Florida State University
M.J. Whitelaw East Tennessee State University
J. McManus Pepperdine University
Z. Zhang, Long Island University
ÂŠ 2007 International Journal of Arts & Sciences
Vol. 2, 2.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 1 - 4 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Parents’ Perceptions of the Benefits of Full-Day and Half-Day Kindergarten Diana Brannon Elmhurst College
Parents’ perceptions about kindergarten were studied. Segmentation scores were analyzed to determine if there was a difference in achievement between full-day and half-day kindergarteners. Parents’ decision regarding kindergarten seems to relate to factors beyond achievement.
There is a great demand for full-day kindergarten programs today in America. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 61% of all schools in our country that have a kindergarten program offer at least one full-day class (Walston & West, 2004). This coincides with the dramatic rise in the number of children enrolled in kindergarten since the 1970s. The number has more than tripled (Miller, 2002). According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2001), 60% of kindergarten children attend full-day programs lasting between 5 to 6 hours (Brewster & Railsback, 2002). To meet this demand, public schools are spending millions of additional dollars each year to fund longer kindergarten classes. Changes in the American family structure have dramatically increased the need for full-day kindergarten and other childcare opportunities for young children. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of single-parent and dual-wage earner homes in the last decade (Miller, 2002). As early as 1993 almost 60% of married mothers of young children were in the workforce (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996). Because of this, there have been increasing numbers of children attending some sort of daycare or preschool before entering kindergarten (Gullo, 1990). Full-day kindergarten is often chosen by working parents because of child care and transportation issues associated with half-day programs (Elicker & Mathur, 1997). The purpose of this study was to gain insight into parents' perceptions regarding the effectiveness of full-day and half-day kindergarten programs in preparing students for success in first grade. Parents' perceptions of the academic benefits of full-day and half-day kindergarten and whether these perceptions reflect students' actual achievement in kindergarten and first grade were studied.
This study addressed the following questions: What are full-day and half-day kindergarten parents' perceptions of kindergarten and its importance to students' achievement in first grade? What are parents' perceptions regarding the benefits of full-day and half-day kindergarten programs? What is the effect of attending full-day kindergarten upon students' phoneme segmentation fluency in kindergarten and first grade? And, do parents' perceptions regarding the academic benefits of fullday and half-day kindergarten programs reflect students' actual achievement in kindergarten and first grade? Methods Data were collected at a small, suburban elementary school in the Midwest. Students' achievement at the end of kindergarten and first grade were evaluated by analyzing students' kindergarten and first grade phonemic segmentation abilities. Parents' perceptions regarding full-day and half-day kindergarten were studied by analyzing parents' responses to a questionnaire and their participation in focus groups. The study contained three different parts. The first part of the study investigated parents’ thoughts and perceptions regarding full-day and half-day kindergarten through qualitative analysis of full-day and half-day kindergarten parents’ responses to questions asked at focus group meetings. The focus group participants, consisting of parents of children in either full-day or half-day kindergarten, were asked (a) why they chose the kindergarten program type they did, (b) what they think the purpose of kindergarten is, (c) what they see as the advantages of the kindergarten program type that they chose, (d) why they think some parents choose the opposing kindergarten program type, and (e) if they think there are advantages to the opposing kindergarten type.
Parents’ responses were analyzed to identify themes regarding their perceptions of full-day and half-day kindergarten. Part two included an analysis of kindergarten and first grade parents’ responses to a questionnaire given to all parents of kindergarten and first grade students in the district being studied. The questionnaire was designed to elicit parents’ feelings regarding the importance of full-day and half-day kindergarten in developing the intellectual, personal, social, and health/physical skills necessary for success in first grade. Questionnaires were given to 153 parents of kindergarten and first grade students. A total of 141 questionnaires were returned. Questions regarding parents' perceptions of the personal, social, and health/physical outcomes of kindergarten were included to determine if parents' preferences for fullday or half-day kindergarten were related to things other than academic outcomes. In other words, there was an effort to determine if parents perceive full-day of half-day kindergarten as having purposes or benefits beyond academic instruction. The questionnaire consisted of 22 questions including multiple choice and Likert-scale questions. It was based on modifications to the work of Downey (1960), Cabler (1974), and Van Cleaf (1979). The study also included repeated measures analysis of students’ Spring kindergarten and Spring first grade scores on the phonemic segmentation portion of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment. This analysis was conducted to determine if there is a difference in phonemic segmentation abilities between students who attend full-day and half-day kindergarten. Students’ phonemic segmentation scores were compared at the end of kindergarten and at the end of first grade. Therefore, a mixed design including between (full-day / half-day) and within (kindergarten / first grade) subjects measures was used. Developed by Roland Good and Ruth Kaminski at the University of Oregon, the DIBELS assessment was designed to assess primary students' mastery and knowledge of skills identified as early indicators of reading success. The phonemic segmentation fluency portion of the DIBELS assessment has been shown to be a good indicator of students' current and future reading success (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins, 2001; Mann, 1993). Phonemic segmentation scores for 72 first grade students from four different classrooms were included in this study.
Results Parents expressed many commonalties regarding their perceptions of kindergarten and full-day and half-day kindergarten programs. Full-day and halfday kindergarten parents both expressed a desire for their children to receive exposure to "the basics". They also felt that socialization was important and that kindergarten is very important at influencing children's attitudes about school. Parents' decision regarding program type was influenced by who was home during the day, parents' confidence in their ability to teach their child, and parents' comfort level with being separated from their child. Parents' perceptions of their child's maturity level played a major part in their decision regarding enrolling their child in full-day or half-day kindergarten. Students who attended full-day kindergarten performed significantly better on phonemic segmentation skills than half-day students at the end of kindergarten. However, there was not a significant difference in phonemic segmentation ability between students who attended full-day and half-day kindergarten by the end of students' first grade year. As indicated by their responses on the parent questionnaires and during the focus groups, full-day and half-day kindergarten parents both expressed a strong belief that the kindergarten program type that they chose for their child was the most beneficial. Parents of half-day kindergarten students in this study expressed a concern that full-day kindergarten children are exposed to too much academic pressure. These parents also expressed a concern that full-day kindergarten could have a negative impact on students' feelings about school. Full-day kindergarten parents expressed a belief that their children were more socially, academically, and personally prepared for first grade than students who attended half-day kindergarten. On the questionnaires, parents were asked to rank from most to least important skills related to kindergarten including academic, social, self-esteem, and physical development. Half-day and full-day kindergarten parents both rated developing students' self-esteem as the most important skill students need to develop in kindergarten to succeed in first grade. Half-day and full-day kindergarten parents agreed that developing students' academic skills such as reading and writing was second in importance. Developing students' social skills was ranked as third in importance by half-day and full-day kindergarten parents. Physical development was ranked as least important by both groups of parents.
The questionnaire also revealed that full-day parents believe that full-day kindergarten does a better job of preparing children for first grade academically, socially, and physically, and of building children’s self-esteem. Half-day parents believe that both programs do an equal job of preparing children for first grade. Therefore, one can conclude that both groups of parents believe their children to be well prepared for first grade.
children may be ready for full-day kindergarten. Therefore, this study supports Elkind’s (1987) recommendation that schools provide a choice for parents regarding full-day or half-day kindergarten. Elkind is correct in his statement that “With respect to the full-day kindergarten issue, there are no good guys and bad guys, just parents with different, but equally legitimate, needs and values trying to do what is best for their children” (p. 2).
Full-day kindergarten teachers interviewed by Towers (1991) believed that full-day kindergarten was more developmentally appropriate for children. The teachers maintained that the extended day provided children with more time for language development, dramatic and social play, and enrichment activities. They also asserted that full-day kindergarten prepared students more socially, emotionally, and academically for attending school full days in first grade. The full-day kindergarten parents in this study agreed that these were benefits of full-day kindergarten.
References Brewster, C., & Railsback, J. (2002). Full-day kindergarten: Exploring an option for extended learning. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved June 10, 2004, from http://www.nwrel.org/request/dec2002/index.html Cabler, J. K. (1974). Two studies in early childhood education. (ERIC Documentation Reproduction Service No. ED101845) Downey, L. W. (1960). The task of public education. Chicago: Midwestern Administration Center. Elicker, J., & Mathur, S. (1997). What do they do all day? Comprehensive evaluation of a full-day kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 459-480. Elkind, D. (1987). Full-day kindergarten. Young Children, 42(5), 2. Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hosp, M. K., & Jenkins, J. R. (2001). Oral reading fluency as an indicator of reading competence: A theoretical, empirical, and historical analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(3), 239-256. Gullo, D. F. (1990). The changing family context: Implications for the development of all-day kindergartens. Young Children, 45(4), 35-39. Mann, V. A. (1993). Phoneme awareness and future reading ability. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 26(4), 259-269. Miller, A. (2002). Frequently requested information: Full-day kindergarten. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Retrieved April 7, 2002 from http://ericeece.org/faq/fullday.html Rothenberg, D. (1984). Full-day or half-day kindergarten? (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED256474) Towers, J. M. (1991). Attitudes toward the all-day, everyday kindergarten. Children Today, 20(1), 2528. U. S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. (1996). Ages for compulsory school attendance, special education services for students, state policies for kindergarten programs, and year-round schools by state, 1995-1996. Washington, DC: Author. Van Cleaf, D. W. (1979). A comparison of parents’ attitudes with those of kindergarten teachers and
Another advantage of the full-day program, according to full-day parents in this study, is that it provides their children additional time to work and form relationships. Elicker and Mathur (1997) found similar results. They found parents and teachers preferred full-day kindergarten because it seemed more relaxed, provided more time for creativity, and more opportunity for children to develop their interests. Implications Parents' perceptions regarding the benefits of full-day and half-day kindergarten go beyond the issue of students' academic achievement. Both full-day and half-day kindergarten parents rated developing their child's self-esteem and love of learning as more important than developing his or her academic skills for first grade. Therefore, the fact that full-day kindergarten students outperform half-day kindergarten students at the end of kindergarten, or the fact that this benefit seems to level off during first grade does not seem as important as parents' perceptions of their child's individual needs and preparedness for full-day or half-day kindergarten. The length of the school day is only one dimension of the kindergarten experience. Other important issues include the nature of the kindergarten curriculum and the quality of teaching. In general, research suggests that both full-day and half-day kindergarten programs can be effective at preparing students for learning provided that the curriculum is developmentally appropriate and stimulating (Rothenberg, 1984). This study has shown that not all
principals concerning kindergarten objectives and preferences relating to behaviorist and cognitivetransactionist methods. Dissertation Abstracts International.
Walston, J. T., & West, J. (2004). Full-day and halfday kindergarten in the united states: Findings from the early childhood longitudinal study, kindergarten class of 1998-99 (NCES 2004-078). U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 5 - 9 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Coping with the Loss of a Loved One: A Small Group Intervention Mira Mayer California State University, Stanislaus
This article submits data from an exploratory study of an 8- week small community group intervention. Comparison of pre-and posttest measures demonstrated a decrease in depressive symptoms and in use of distancing as a coping approach. Seeking social support and problem solving increased, as did knowledge about the grieving process.
Introduction Loss is defined as “the state of being deprived of or being without something one has had, or a detriment or disadvantage from failure to keep, have, or get” (Raphael, 1983. pp 3). Grief is the pain and suffering experienced after loss; mourning is a period of time during which signs of grief are shown; and bereavement, as discussed by Raphael, is the reaction to the loss of a close relationship. Most bereaved people feel distressed and anguished after the loss of a loved person (Parkes, & Weiss, 1983). They experience unique psychological needs associated with the loss. Although these reactions may, in some cases, be severe enough to require psychiatric or medical treatment, they are generally considered to be normal reactions to the death of a loved person. Some research has suggested that group counseling, as a counseling modality, is an effective intervention to use with people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The effectiveness of group counseling for such individuals has been based on the evidence that after group counseling, grievers experience (a) a reduction of feelings of isolation following the loss (Young, 1997), (b) an increase in feelings of support from others (Farrugia, 1996), and (c) instillation of hope when positive changes occur in group members (Yalom, 1995). Additionally, there is evidence that group counseling participation provides an appropriate setting for imparting information (Sprang & McNeil, 1995). Increases identification with the circumstances related to the loss of a loved one (Hazzaard, Weston & Gutierrez, 1992), and enhances opportunities to regain a sense of normality following the loss (Bowlby-West, 1993).
Despite the fact that grievers are frequently encouraged to join support groups, any benefits they gain from the experience have yet to be documented. This article aims to begin such evaluative efforts by presenting exploratory data on a small group intervention for grievers, in Modesto California. The objective of the project was to design a group intervention in a normative community setting to provide an exchange of feelings and thoughts, as well as, socialization that would, in turn increase group members’ well-being, problem-solving skills, cohesiveness, typical and atypical grief reactions experienced by others, and social supports. Design The study used a structured time-limited small group intervention based on principles of psychoeducation. It was originally designed as a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design with a wait-list comparison group. However, the group was planned for mid summer, and all recruited grievers wanted to participate then rather than be wait-listed for another group in the fall. Time limits further barred recruitment of a matched control group from another setting. Pretests of outcome variables provided initial assessments in the pretest-posttest one-group design, but the lack of control condition poses multiple threats to internal validity (Campbell & Stanley, 1963). In addition, the small sample size (N=11) means that significant changes in other areas may not have been detected due to inadequate statistical power. The study should, therefore, be regarded as an initial investigative inquiry of an agency based group intervention whose findings suggest important areas for
further study with more rigorous, controlled designs and larger samples. The study also raises the matter of unit analysis in small group research, where individual change may be ignored in aggregate analyses. From a clinical standpoint, individual scores on prescreening and/or initial assessment measures may thus function as important markers for monitoring and evaluating individual as well as group progress. Recruitment and Participant Screening A community counselor used posters, crisis hotlines, and word-of-mouth to recruit participants. Additionally, participants were solicited through the dissemination of information about the aim and the purpose of the group to the mental health counseling community. When potential group members made contact, a face–to-face, pregroup interview was scheduled and conducted by the group leader and author. This pregroup interview served two purposes: participant screening and preparation. Screening took place during a one-hour face-toface meeting between the group leader, author, and the potential participant. Overall, the aim of the screening process was the determination of the appropriateness of the group for the potential participant and vice versa (Gladding, 1999; Yalom, 1995). In general, group members were considered appropriate for the group if they were adults who experienced the loss of a loved one, were experiencing difficulties coping, and were exhibiting an interest and readiness to participate in a group counseling experience. We excused from participation individuals who experienced symptoms of severe thought disorders, major mood disorder, disassociation, personality disorder, and/or when there was evidence of active alcohol and substance abuse. We encouraged individual counseling for those who could not participate in the group experiences. Individuals who seemed ready for the group exhibited the following characteristics: (a) curiosity about what others have done to cope with the loss, (b) willingness to receive assistance from others, (c) willingness to provide support for others, (d) willingness to talk about events related to the loss, and (e) desire to work through the difficulties related to the loss of a loved one. Group Composition and Intervention The homogeneity of the group originated from the experiences of losing a loved one. Differences in age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, and vocation established the group’s
heterogeneity. Most of the group members were between the ages of 35 to 55 years old. The group had closed membership (11), with specific goals and objectives for each session. Interventions consisted of eight weekly 90minute sessions led by the group leader and the author. Pretest measures were administered at the beginning of the first meeting, and the posttest was given at the end of the final session. Table 1 presents an outline of session topics, which were chosen on the basis of clinical experience and a review of relevant literature. Assessment and intervention topics are descriptive and are indented to suggest possible criteria for program planning and evaluation. The first half hour of each session consisted of a short discussion of the former week’s topic and an introduction to the present topic. The rest of the time was devoted to supportive group processes that centered around discussion of experiences, ideas, and problem-solving strategies. Group leaders worked to maximize the existing potential for group cohesiveness and mutual support. Group attendance was excellent, with one member missing only one session. The supportive component of group sessions included discussions of group members’ on; understanding the grieving process that follows a loss; learn to constructively cope with trauma; reduce self-blame, guilt and anger while increasing functional strategies to cope with situations brought about by loss, and the circumstances that surrounded it; promote techniques conducive to restructuring relationships; identify strengths and increase willingness to help others; increase adoptive memories of the loved one; and engage in the deconstructing the experience of guilt, anger and fear of losing one’s mind. The educational component of the group consisted of brief informative presentations, videotapes, and handout materials. In–depth discussion focused on Yalom’s existential factors brought to the surface by grief. Such as: existential anxieties, which are part of the philosophical perspective of the loss experience. Questioning the meaning of life and sharing common feelings of a deep sense of aloneness. Last but not least, the integration of the experience of loss and eventual rebuilding and resolution. Outcome Measures The 28-item U.S version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) was used to evaluate psychiatric morbidity. The instrument, widely
used for screening and assessment, addresses two major classes of observable phenomenon: the failure to carry out one’s normal functions and the appearance of new phenomena of a distressing nature. Factor analytic studies of the GHQ support a single higher-order construct representing general psychological health, and a global threshold score is recommended to classify “at-risk” cases (Goldberg & Hillier, 1979; Shek, 1993). Four subscales of distress in the GHQ-Somatic Symptoms, Anxiety and Insomnia, Social Dysfunction, and Severe Depression- were also examined pre-and posttest to assess changes in specific areas of functioning (Goldberg & Hillier, 1979). Composite subscale scores were calculated by summing the seven items in each area. Answers were obtained by asking group members how their health had been in general over the past few weeks, with items coded: 1=better than usual, 2=some as usual, 3=worse than usual, and 4=much worse than usual. The GHQ has acceptable levels of validity and reliability, with internal consistency and testretest scores for several versions at .70 or higher (Goldberg, 1978). The Ways of Coping (Revised) (WC-R) questionnaire (Folkman, Lazarus, DunkelSchetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986) is derived from the cognitive theoretical model of stress and coping developed by Lazarus, Folkman, and their colleagues (Lazarus, 1993; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). The theory states that both cognitive appraisal and coping processes are critical mediators of stressful person-environment relations and their immediate and long-range outcomes. Coping is held to have two major functions; regulating stressful emotions (emotion- focused coping) and altering problematic person-environment relations causing the distress (problem-focused coping). This study used a previously published shortened 31-item version of the 66-item WC-R Questionnaire (Folkman, Lazarus, Pimley, & Novacek, 1987; Tennen & Herzberger, 1987). Eight subscales make up the WC-R: confrontive coping, distancing, self-control, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escapeavoidance, planful problem solving, and positive reappraisal. Table 1 General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) (N=11) Q. Have had any medical complaints recently/currently, and how has your health been in general over the past several weeks? Please chose one response that best applies to you. 1 = better than usual
2 = same as usual 3 = worse than usual 4 = much worse than usual (Range = 7 to 28 on each subscale) Subscale
Pretest Mean (SD)
Postest Mean (SD)
Somatic symptoms Anxiety/insomnia Social dysfunctiona Severe depression Overall score
11.1 (2.1) 10.0 (2.4) 11.8 (2.7) 9.9 (2.8) 10.2 (3.8) 9.9 (2.5) 9.3 (2.0) 8.0 (1.6) 10.6 (2.1) 9.5 (1.8)
Note: Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed Ranks Test used to examine pretest-posttest differences. a Z = -2.52 p = .01
Researchers have used the WC-R to investigate coping as a means to maintain psychological equilibrium in situations such as stressful events, depression, loneliness, loss, and chronic illness (Vitaliano, Maiuro, Russo, & Becker, 1987). Research Question Based on the stress and coping theoretical model and operationalized measures of relevant constructs described above, the study sought to examine whether the group intervention affected mental and physical well-being as assessed by the GHQ; problem-and-emotion-focused coping strategies as measured by the WC-R inventory. Directionality of change was not specified in either case, as the question had not been previously examined with this population.
Results According to responses on the GHQ, group members were doing quite well. Overall and subscale scores for each griever were within normal, ranging from 8 to 12 on subscales (possible range 7 to 28) at pre-and posttest. Table 1. presents mean scores for these measures at both points and results of the Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed-Ranks test used to examine pretest-posttest differences for the four subscales. A nonparametric test was used because the sample was small, and the ShapiroWilks test which has good power in many situations compared to other tests of normality (Conover, 1980), suggested that the assumption of normality was not met. The only significant change observed was improvement in scores on severe depressive symptoms. This subscale, used to screen for depressive symptoms, assess feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and suicidal ideation.
Table 2 Ways of Coping Scales (N=11) Q. Please think of a specific situation that was very stressful for you during the past month. Then please circle the one choice that best describes the extent to which you used this strategy to cope with this situation. 1 = Does not apply or not used 2 = Used a little 3 = Used quite a bit 4 = Used a great deal Scale
Pretest Mean (SD)
Confrontive 2.48 (.83) Distancinga 2.50 (.75) Self-controlling 2.55 (1.1) Seeking social supportb 2.66 (.64) Accept. Responsibility (.53) .116 Escape/Avoidance 2.30 (1.4) Problem solvingc 2.45 (.69) Positive reappraisal 2.75 (.77)
Relative Posttest Scores Mean (SD) .143 .145 .148
2.59 (.28) .161 1.93 (.39) .115 2.09 (.41) .126
.155 2.95 (.49) .188 2.09 (.56) .118 1.94 .132 .141 .161
1.73 (.38) .102 2.84 (.46) .180 2.59 (1.0) .161
Note: Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed Ranks Test used to examine pretest-posttest differences. a Z = -2.40 p = .01 b Z = -1.48 p = .10 c Z = -2.08 p = .04
Data on the WC-R appear in Table 2. Scores on three of the eight subscales changed significantly. Distancing strategies decreased, whereas scores on Seeking Social Support and planful Problem Solving increased. As can be seen from the relative scores at pre- and posttest, there were significant changes in the priority of one emotion-focused (distancing) and one problemfocused (planful problem solving) strategy. Use of social support, which covers both types of coping, also increased. Bearing in mind design and sample size limitations discussed above, these findings suggest areas for future research on aspects of well being, coping strategies, and social support. In addition, group members were also asked to evaluate their participation in the group. Questions about perceived benefits from participating in the group were asked. Results indicate a high level of satisfaction with the experience and suggest that most benefits were derived from sharing their experience with similarly situated grievers and from learning problem-solving skills for coping.
Conclusion This study describes an attempt to examine important outcomes of a support group for individuals who lost a loved one. Findings suggest several potential areas for future studies using larger samples and controlled designs that would help to build knowledge about the formulation and delivery of appropriate group services for this population. Grievers’ score on the GHQ indicated high levels of well being overall and on each subscale of the instrument at the outset, and these appeared to be sustained during the 8 weeks. The only area of significant change was improvement on depression scores. Group members validated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness expressed by those who exhibited depressive ideation, and helped them to find ways to recognize and manage these feelings. Both group process and outcome thus suggest that the intervention may have contributed to observed improvements in depression, although competing explanations, such as regression to the mean, could not be ruled out. The intervention sought to improve both emotional and problem-solving coping strategies. Cohesion was achieved early in the group, fostered by the immediate relevance of the topic to their lives. The reduced use of distancing as a coping strategy may have been related to confronting painful issues with the support of other members in the group. Another major goal was for members to assist one another in anticipating problems and using the group process to problem solve. This skill was demonstrated and rehearsed in the group, notably in terms of setting limits on the behavior of adult children and in interacting with others. The increased use of planful problem solving may result in part from this aspect of group process. Higher posttest scores on this coping strategy, particularly relative to other ways of coping reported at that point, suggest that some group members may have acquired a valuable skill. Self- reports on the group evaluations also supported this finding. The literature on stress and coping theory emphasizes the neutrality of strategies for coping with stressful life conditions. That is, strategies are neither inherently “good” nor “bad”, but rather depend on an array of personal and contextual factors. It may be that the observed reduction in distancing and increases in seeking support and planful problem solving represent coping skills needed by grievers more generally. On the other hand, the coping strategies needed may very among individuals and/or
subpopulations. If so, careful pregroup screening may provide valuable information for group leaders in deciding which types of coping strategies to emphasize in a particular group. Much more research is needed to assess and address the ongoing needs of people who grieve. Mutual aid/support groups offer an intuitively appealing means of providing education and emotional support. The therapeutic merits of short term, task-focused groups, such as the one described in this article, may be especially appropriate given current and expected continued world terrorism. These groups may develop into long-term support networks, but the professionalâ€™s role in planning, implementation, and evaluation is briefer and more focused. The task for counselors is to use their expertise in small group interventions to build effective models of service delivery for this growing group of people. References Bowlby-West, L. (1993) The impact of death on the family system. Journal of Family Therapy, 5, 279-294. Campbell, D., & Stanley, J. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Chicago: Rand-McNally. Conover, W. J. (1980). Practical nonparametric statistics (2nd ed). New York: John Wiley. Farrugia, D. (1996). The experience of the family when a child dies. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 4 (10), 30-36. Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., Dunkel-Schetter, C., Delongis, A., & Gruen, R. j. 91986). Dynamics of a stressful encounter: cognitive appraisal, coping, and encounter outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 9921003. Folkman, S., Lazarus, R. S., pimley. S., & Novacek, J. (1987). Age differences in stress and coping processes. Psychology and Aging, 2, 171-184 Gladding, S. T. (1999). Group work, a counseling specialty (3rd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/prentice Hall. Goldberg, D. P. (1978). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. Manchester, U.K: NFER publication Company. Goldberg, D. P., & Hillier, V. F. (1979). A scaled version of the General Health Questionnaire. Psychological Medicine, 9, 139-145. Hazzard, A., Weston, J., & Gutierrez, C. (1992). After a childâ€™s death: Factors related to parental bereavement. Journal of
Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 13 (1), 24-30. Parkes, C. M., & Weiss, R. S. (1983). Recovery from bereavement. New York; Basic Books. Raphael, B. (1983). The anatomy of bereavement. New York; basic Books. Sprang, G.,& McNeil, J. (1995). The many faces of bereavement. New York; Brunner Mazel. Shek, D. T. l. (1993). Factors structure of the Chinese version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30): A confirmatory factor analysis. Journal of Clinical psychology, 49, 678-684. Tennen. H., & Herzberger, S. (19870. Ways of Coping Scale. In D. J. Keyser & R.C. Sweetland (Eds), Test Critiques (vol. 3, pp. 686-697). Kansas City, MO: Test Corporation of America. Vitaliano, P. P., Maiuro, R. D., Russo, J., & Becker, J. (1987). Raw versus relative scores in the assessment of coping strategies. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 10, 1-18. Yalom, I. D. (1995). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books. Young, M. A. (1997). Tailoring services to survivors of homicide victims (National Victim Assistance Academy, Grant No. 91-DD-CXK039, U.S. Department of Justice). Washington, DC: Office for Victims of Crime.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 10 - 12 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Website Evaluation Form For Teachers Charles E. Notar, Donna F. Herring and Janell D. Wilson Jacksonville State University
The website evaluation form is an Excel spreadsheet for pre-service and in-service teachers. The form has 57 weighted evaluation items, answered with yes or no, divided into four major categories: Credentials, Content, Technical, and Pedagogy.
Introduction Everyone is getting connected! The question that needs to be answered is “Are they being connected to the right stuff?” The evaluation of World Wide Web resources has become a critical information skill for teachers. Teachers are asked to integrate technology and the Internet into their teaching. This project consists of the development of an evaluation form for pre-service and in-service teachers so they can evaluate websites for their classes, schools, and individual use. The evaluation form is available at http://www.jsu.edu/dept/edprof/ dherring/.
visit the site and determine whether or not the site offers something for you and/or your students. Always check out any site before you plan to use it with your class. Have backup sites in case your chosen site is down. Decide if the site content matches your objectives and the content is presented in a way that’s fun and easily understandable for you and your students.
The website evaluation form was piloted in two university teacher certification courses that teach computer skills online. This group is the control group. An integrated technology elementary methods course at a different university was used to evaluate the website evaluation form and is referred to as the experimental group.
“Steps To Website Evaluation: -fill out general information of evaluation form. -enter URL and bring up site, follow directions and work through the site -work through site again making errors and responses you think your students might make -complete software evaluation form.”
Prior to the students evaluating the websites they were all given the opportunity to attend training on how to use the form. Students in the control group elected not attend the training course on the form. The students in the experimental group did attend instruction on the evaluation form. Instructors took roll for training attendance and students self reported on their evaluation of the website evaluation form if they attended training or not.
The evaluation of World Wide Web resources has become a critical information skill for students. The key to evaluating any website is you. You have to visit the site and determine whether or not the site offers something for you and/or your students. Always check out any site before you plan to use it with your class. Have backup sites in case your chosen site is down. Decide if the site content matches your objectives and the content is presented in a way that’s fun and easily understandable for you and your students.
The students were given 25 websites to evaluate and they were to choose any three links to evaluate. The website links the students evaluated are located at http://www.sitesforteachers.com. The following directions were given to the students that were in the pilot and in the test: Website Evaluation “The evaluation of World Wide Web resources has become a critical information skill for students. The key to evaluating any website is you. You have to
“For this activity the instructor will provide you with three (3) different URLs for review and evaluation for their educational potential for classroom use.
The students selected and rated three websites. There were only five websites that both the control and experimental students rated 5 or more times. Table 1 shows the websites chosen by 5 or more students in the control and experimental sections. Students were informed that their rating scale had to be in the 85-100 range in order to warrant use (with 95-100 = outstanding; 85-94 = excellent; 75-84 =
good; and 0-74 = fair). Table 1 Comparison of the two groups’ ratings on the same website Website Title # Students Average Range Rating Rating ABC Teach Control 20 89.50 23 Experimental 17 79.88 54 Teacher 94 Gamequarium Control 06 80.17 52 Experimental 11 78.73 47 Teacher 78 Kidzone.ws Control 25 85.24 40 Experimental 10 90.7 18 Teacher 70 Learning page Control 05 88.4 40 Experimental 05 87.8 16 Teacher 80 School express Control 06 89.0 16 Experimental 10 73.4 36 Teacher 48
It is interesting to note that the ratings on two of the five websites are almost identical when comparing students who had training on the form with those who had no training. Only the scores on Gamequarium are close to the teachers score. Based on student comments it seems that the use of a scale rather than a discreet measure such as yes or no is more difficult to use. Also, several comments were made that the evaluation criteria were too encompassing and need to be broken into smaller distinct items. The students in both the control and experimental groups were given written instructions to evaluate the website evaluation form. However, a large portion of the control students did not follow instructions and the data obtained is not valid. The students in the experimental group did evaluate the website evaluation form. Table 2 shows the experimental group rating results of that evaluation. Table 2 Experimental Student Opinion: Website Evaluation Form Question Respond. Poor Fair Good Excel(#) 1(%) 2(%) 3(%) lent 4 (%) Complete1 1 (2%) 15 25 ness 42 (2%) (36%) (60%) Understand1 3 (6%) 15 24 able 43 (2%) (36%) (56%) Ease of use 44 2 8 10 24 (4%) (18%) (23%) (55%) Logical 1 1 15 26 sequence 43 (2%) (2%) (36%) (60%) Rating scale 43 1 2 15 25 (2%) (4%) (36%) (58%) Training 39 0 1 12 26 (0%) (3%) (31%) (66%)
The students gave a 90% good or excellent rating or better to four of the five items on the website evaluation form: completeness, understandable, logical sequence, and rating scale. In addition to providing a numerical rating the students were asked to provide comments. The 22% poor/fair rating for “Understandable” is clarified by several comments made by the students that they liked the yes/no discreet question and answer format of the software evaluation form. The students evaluated three multimedia software programs using a different form and rating scheme based on yes/no questions and answers. There were also three comments that the weighted rating system was more time consuming and three others stated that it was much easier to choose yes/no. Two changes are being made to the form based on the outcome of the evaluations of the classes and the rating of the form. One change is the addition of comment sections. Student comments are useful to understand the numerical ratings. The comments give user insight into what is perceived when the user rates an item or section. The second change pertains to the rating scale. The user gives specific instances of why something is not working and ways to correct the problem. The rating scale will no longer have a fair rating and anything below good will be rated as do not use. This change was made because even if the website was rated fair it should not have been used. The rating scale had to be in the 75-100 range in order to warrant use (with 95-100 = outstanding; 8594 = excellent; 75-84 = good; 0-74 = do not use). Taking into consideration the information from the pilot, a revised website evaluation form was developed. The students were given three websites to evaluate: Kathy Schrock Website http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide BrainPop http://www.brainpop.com ABC Teach http://www.abcteach.com The revised website evaluation consists of a demographics section and covers 57 weighted evaluation criteria in four major categories. The items are divided into categories worth a total of 100 points as follows: Credentials (6 criteria/value six points), Content (21 criteria/value 44 points), Technical (15 criteria/value 29 points), and Pedagogy (15criteria/ value 21 points). All answers are yes or
no. The website evaluation form is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. When using the evaluation form the weights are not shown and the calculations are preformed for the user. The website evaluation form is balanced between technical delivery criteria and content and pedagogy criteria. Technical has 29 points, pedagogy 21 and content 44 points. The authors reviewed numerous website evaluation forms and did not see the content and pedagogy emphasis that has been incorporated into the revised form. The form was tested on pre-service teachers in stand alone technology classes. Table 3 shows the students rating compared with the average rating of three “expert” raters. Table 3 Comparison of the Test Group Ratings with Expert Scores on the Same Website Website Title # Average Range Students Rating Rating ABC Teach Test 52 82.6 45-100 Teacher 91 Brain Pop Test 51 80.6 52-98 Teacher 82 Kathy Schrock Test 52 90.7 79-99 Teacher 89
The only answer for the 98-100 ratings was that the students did not actually do a “valid and reliable” rating. They just marked everything yes. Table 4 shows the rating results of the test group evaluation of the website evaluation form. Table 4 Test Student Opinion: Website Evaluation Form Question Respond. Poor Fair Good Excel(#) lent Complete2% 2% 24% 57% ness 42 (1) (1) (16) (24) Understand0% 37% 39% 24% able 41 (0) (15) (16) (10) Ease of use 42 0% 10% 33% 57% (0) (4) (14) (24) Logical 3% 6% 36% 57% sequence 42 (1) (2) (15) (24) Rating scale 26 0% 15% 19% 65% 0 (4) (5) (17)
There were no written comments to explain the ratings. The students 37% Fair rating for Understandable may be explained by the fact that this course and use of the evaluation form is the students’ first encounter with website vocabulary and evaluation. Conclusion The website evaluation form is free for educational purposes, but as a condition of use it should not be changed. Those who decide to use the form should link to the home page: http://www.jsu.edu/dept/edprof/dherring
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2 (2): 13 - 15 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright ÂŠ 2007 IJAS.
The Secondary Education Culture Stu Ervay Emporia State University
The pedagogical culture of secondary schools is more like higher education than of elementary and middle schools. That causes problems with district curriculum alignment and school improvement, causing a need to find common ground.
Introduction As consultants to school districts throughout the United States, those of us associated with the Curriculum Leadership Institute experience many pedagogical cultures among educators employed to work with children and young people. Numerous and diverse professional cultures can exist in just one school district, caused by distinctions in subjects taught, grade level assignments, specific job descriptions, special categories of service to students, and perceived goals of subunits (usually buildings). This definition of culture has nothing to do with ethnicity, gender, age or any other human variable. So, for the purposes of this article, a pedagogical culture is a professional segment of an organization that may work at cross-purposes with holistic school improvement efforts. While there are many aspects of a pedagogical culture we might address, the one discussed here pertains to secondary education, defined as high schools that contain grades 9 through 12. High schools across the country are the targets of criticisms related to (1) size (critics such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and Theodore Sizer want to reduce high school enrollments to no more than 500), (2) mission (viewed primarily as being college preparation), (3) a smorgasbord elective curriculum, (4) allegiance to traditional forms of grading and reporting progress, (5) the inadequacy of twelfth grade requirements, and (6) a frequently perceived over-emphasis on interscholastic sports programs. Criticizing secondary education is dangerous because it: (1) has many positive characteristics, (2) is in a position to define excellence in the academics and sports, (3) sits atop the vertical grade level hierarchy, (4) is closest to the post-secondary market and its
perceived needs, and (5) can be righteous in its indignation by suggesting that incoming students from previous grades have been poorly prepared. It is fair to say that high school teachers perceive themselves as being more akin to college professors than their colleagues in the lower public school grades. Therefore, the professional educators they most wish to emulate are their professors, not the teachers they once had in elementary or middle school. Finally, their view of the high school, as an institution, is that it is most like a post-secondary college. These circumstances often complicate the work of consultants from the Curriculum Leadership Institute, who wish to create a seamless pre-K-12 curriculum by improving the quality of communication among all divisions of the district. Even in small districts, high school teachers can distance themselves from discussions about curriculum and instructional strategies because they don't understand the evolving professional language and improvement models commonly discussed by elementary and middle level educators. Older high school teachers still accept the lecture and note-taking process for conducting class, and may even stick with text-based assessments and the bell curve approach for evaluating student learning. The situation is certainly better now than it was 10 to 20 years ago, possibly because high school teachers and administrators see themselves in the same boat with other district colleagues when it comes to complying with NCLB stipulations and meeting AYP requirements. On the surface, that may seem like good news. However, it is our belief that high schools â€“ while working closely with elementary and middle schools in terms of curricular structures and
implementation processes – should create a new niche for themselves. Instead of blithely accepting the college preparatory mission with the notion that all students – regardless of their talents and interests – will be admitted to and graduated from the same kind of liberal arts colleges they attended, high school educators should create a broader kind of mission. Theodore Sizer, founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools and author of such highly regarded books as Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School (1997), Horace's School: Redesigning the American High School (1992), and more recent publications has much to say about how high schools should be reformed. Sizer's ideas align pretty well with what elementary and middle level educators believe and do, but with a twist. Table 1 shows a few of his thoughts. Although much of Sizer's academic career was as a member of the faculties of Harvard and Brown Universities, his attitude toward higher education is not very positive. Packing students into lecture halls to listen to tenured professors with a stagnant view of the world isn't a practice for which high schools should be preparing their students. Sizer believes the primary role of a high school is to help students use their minds well. That way they can be contributing members of society in any appropriate context, including readiness for various kinds of postsecondary education (vocational-technical schools, community colleges, industry-based training programs, training programs in governmental agencies or the military). Good colleges and universities have gotten the message that disjointed programs of study, huge lecture classes, trivial pursuit curricula, unapproachable or tyrannical professors, and a lack of continuous mentoring do not together constitute a suitable educational experience. Good colleges and universities offer programs that: stimulate reflective thinking, promote academic teamwork, give opportunities for effective writing and speaking, encourage problem solving activities reflective of real world conditions, nurture the development of applied research skills, encourage a depth of understanding that only classical and contemporary thinkers can elicit, and provide an environment where creativity is a logical outcome of educated thinking and action. That last goal includes a myriad of possibilities, not the least of which is entrepreneurship and the confidence to take measured risks for the purpose of benefiting society.
As a matter of fact, all goals in the above paragraph are appropriate in post-secondary training programs, even in technical areas. Reflection, teamwork, writing, speaking, problem-solving, research skills, cultural literacy, and creativity are not the exclusive domain of four year liberal arts colleges. They are necessary characteristics in all aspects of our society, and high schools can do a better job of preparing students for that society if their teachers:
• "coach" students in ways that insist on quality • • • • •
performance challenge them to think/advocate/justify cause them to realize that a skill is more than a rote reflex; that it is the result of intellectual processing depend less on pencil and paper tests, and depend more on performance or "exhibitions" to assess learning give students a chance to disagree and even debate, as an appropriate part of using the mind well prove to students that they are cognizant of contemporary and evolving conditions in our society, and that students must be similarly motivated
Districts that follow the suggestions of the Curriculum Leadership Institute are already making decisions and taking actions that emphasize the above principles in all subjects and grades. However, the continuing challenge is that every pedagogical culture in the district, including high schools, accepts and uses those principles in the context of professional performance and intended student learning outcomes. The Curriculum Leadership Institute is a nonprofit consultant and publishing organization based in Emporia, Kansas. For more information about the work of the Institute visit cliweb.org. The author of this article is the Institute's founder and Professor of School Leadership at Emporia State University. References Sizer, T. (1997), Horace's School: Redesigning the American High School, Mariner Books. Sizer, T. (1997), Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School, Mariner Books.
Table I BASIC SIZER PRINCIPLES A good teacher is a good coach Real learning is developing a "habit of mind" Curriculum should go beyond lists Developing intuitive thinking skills Skill development and an intellectual education are compatible approaches
QUOTES TAKEN FROM SIZER'S WRITINGS The only way to learn and think well is by practice. The way a teacher assists this learning is by coaching. True education means students who exhibit the right "habits of mind" ask inquiring questions and utilize knowledge in thoughtful ways. The average school is "stuck with the notion that a curriculum is primarily a list". Schools that always insist on the right answer, with no concern as to how a student reaches it, smother the student's efforts to become an effective intuitive thinker. Skills are acquired by a demanding intellectual education.
• Give room to teachers and students to work and learn in their own, Five imperatives for better schools
Student performance is a better measurement than pencil and paper tests Curriculum is constantly in motion because not everyone can agree Preparing students for universities as a primary goal is not sufficient Good teachers should change to meet societal needs
appropriate ways. • Insist that students clearly exhibit mastery of their school work. • Get the incentives right, for students and for teachers. • Focus the student's work on the use of their minds. • Keep the structure simple and thus flexible. Measuring achievement should come from student presentation of "exhibitions" rather than standardized tests mandated by the national and state government. Beyond the obvious matters of literacy, numeracy, and understandings of civics, thoughtful and decent people can disagree, especially about curriculum The majority of the people in the universities really don't understand what's going on or keep up with the fact that society's changing and that what kids need now is different from what they needed in 1981. The world shifts and good teachers are with the world as it shifts
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 16 - 19 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
The Changing Role of Colleges of Education in the Teacher Preparation Process Mary C. Clement Berry College
• For decades colleges of education have existed to train and certify teachers for the k-12 schools. As the routes to becoming a teacher have changed, so too have the roles of colleges of education.
Introduction Historically, when students made their career choice to become teachers, they knew that their decision also meant going to a college or university and being a student in the school or college of education within that institution. Upon completing the requirements of the education program, they would then apply through the college to their state for teacher certification. However, as the conception of “a teaching career” has changed (Peske, Liu, Johnson, Kauffman, & Kardos, 2001), so too have the entrants into teacher education programs. Many now seeking teacher certification are nontraditional students, not 18 to 22-year old undergraduates, and they seek shortened, alternative routes to entering the teaching profession. Because of teacher shortages, both real and perceived, politicians tend to endorse multiple routes to teacher preparation, leaving colleges of education asking, “what is our role and how is it changing?” The many routes to becoming a teacher There is no “easy” route to becoming a certified teacher. However, the clearest route remains deciding early in one’s undergraduate career to major or minor in education, earning a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification at the same time. For those who decide to become teachers after earning a bachelor’s degree, there are several paths to certification. Individual
states retain the right to set their teacher certification standards. For each state’s guidelines, see www.rnt.com or www.professionalteacher.com. For those students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a field, the choice of routes to teacher certification include: 1. Pursuing undergraduate coursework With an earned bachelor’s degree in any field, a student may return to college and take all the same courses that undergraduates are taking in the chosen education field. For example, the student majors in elementary education or middle grades education, or majors in mathematics with teacher certification, depending on the area in which he/she wants to teach. In some colleges, this earns teacher certification only, and the student is not a candidate for a second bachelor’s degree. Whether to pursue the second bachelor’s degree or just take the coursework for a teaching certificate depends on the college’s offerings, state requirements, and student choice. Some programs for teacher certification after the earned bachelor’s degree are referred to as “fifthyear” programs or professional degree ones. 2. Earning teacher certification Students may enter a Master’s in Teaching (MAT) program or a Master’s of Education (M.
Ed.) to earn teacher certification. The coursework is delivered at the graduate level, designed to meet the same certification requirements as undergraduate courses. Many of these programs focus on significant field experiences in schools, in addition to stressing more theory than undergraduate courses. These programs vary in length, from “fast-track” to two and one-half years. Teacher certification can be pursued as a graduate non-degree seeking student. In some universities, this means that students with a bachelor’s degree must be listed as graduate students, paying graduate tuition, but may be in undergraduate or graduate level courses that lead to teacher certification only, and no degree. 3. Provisional certification In some states, teachers can begin teaching after having completed some teacher education courses, and then they may complete their teacher certification through a college, in the district where they teach, or through a nearby regional office of education. Regional offices of education have different names in different states and have traditionally been agencies that provided continuing education for practicing teachers and administrators. Staff developers tend to teach the district-level or regional office courses for certification. Obviously, new teachers are supposed to be monitored closely by mentors and administrators when hired without full certification or the benefits of student teaching. 4. Test-out options Some states are experimenting with test-out options to certify teachers provisionally. In Georgia, teachers may begin teaching after passing a series of tests. If they decide to remain in teaching, they then have to complete teacher certification by taking a minimum number of courses at the college, district, or regional office of education level. They must be supervised in an internship at some time, as proof that they have the skills that a student teacher would have, if they choose to become fully certified.
5. Alternatives to certification There are some alternatives to certification that allow people with a bachelor’s degree to begin teaching. One is a national program, Teach for America, and some states have replicated it within their state (see www.teachforamerica.org). Georgia, for example, has the TAPP program, which is a Teacher Alternative Preparation Program. People who enter these programs take summer courses, begin teaching, and are monitored by their respective program. These teachers generally teach one to three years, unless they then decide to seek teacher certification. They are often assigned to very challenging classrooms in areas of the country where certified teachers cannot be recruited to teach. 6. Online/distance learning programs Online teacher certification programs may prove to be another way for those with a bachelor’s degree to enter teaching, and more programs appear every year. For a clearinghouse of programs, see www.degree-site.com. Distance learning courses can be an option in geographically isolated locations where small numbers of candidates make an off-campus course impractical. 7. The community college option While a four-year degree remains a minimal standard for full teacher certification, some twoyear colleges offer basic teacher education courses, such as introduction to education and educational psychology. The community college may become a more vital link in teacher education than ever before because of cost, accessibility, and convenience. Community college links to universities can be invaluable in combating the teacher shortage, for both traditional undergraduates and returning students. New and changing roles When some professors of teacher education hear of “test out” options and certification programs offered by school districts and regional offices of
education, their first reaction is “Oh no, I won’t have a job.” Others view the non-campus providers of teacher certification as collaborative partners. Robert Gray Holland (2004) writes about the emergence of a competitive education industry in his book, To Build a Better Teacher. Much has been written in the professional education journals about the roles of the colleges of education as America seeks to have competent, qualified teachers in classrooms, yet provides alternative routes to teacher certification. The executive director of the National Staff Development Council, Dennis Sparks (2002), reminds all that there are “no shortcuts in learning how to teach” (p. 6). Linda Darling Hammond (1998) has written extensively on the need for quality learning for teachers, stating that “At its root, achieving high levels of student understanding requires immensely skillful teaching…” (p. 7). Why is it so important that teachers be highly qualified and highly skilled? Because “Creating a profession of teaching in which teachers have the opportunity for continual learning is the likeliest way to inspire greater achievement for children, especially those for whom education is the only pathway to survival and success” (Darling-Hammond, 1998, p. 11). “Few educational problems have received more attention in recent times than the failure to ensure that elementary and secondary classrooms are all staffed with qualified teachers” (Ingersoll, 2003, p. 146). He reminds readers that the teacher shortage may not be from a lack of candidates, but rather from high teacher turnover and drop-out rates. When the retention of qualified teachers increases, the teacher shortage decreases. So, what are the roles of colleges of teacher education in resolving the problems of preparing enough teachers? Colleges of education can be criticized for offering how-to courses; yet, even more criticism erupts for their course offerings that are too theoretical. Much debate abounds
about whether the ability to teach is an art or a science. Blackwell, Futrell, and Imig (2003, p.356) write, “Today, the paradox lingers through uncertainty about whether teaching is a profession or a form of blue-collar work that requires just a soupcon of formal training, followed by an apprenticeship.” Paradigm shifts Professors and career counselors sense the frustration when a senior with an LAS major comes into their office and expresses a desire to teach, only to find out that another two years of college will be needed to earn teacher certification. The frustration multiplies for students who do not get clear answers and feel that they are wandering in a maze seeking answers as to how to become a teacher. A prime place to recruit teacher education students is right on our campuses, yet recruitment is just a first step. The need for more advisors must be recognized by the administrators of colleges of education, whether that means providing professors with more time for advisement, or hiring professional advisors. These advisors must be available to talk with undergraduates on the campus, graduate students considering education, and anyone who calls or walks in to find out how to become a teacher. Having a clear path to becoming a teacher does not by any means lesson the quality of the program – it just makes it user-friendly! The tenets of adult learning are different than those of pedagogy, and adult students who return to campus for teacher preparation may need different types of learning experiences. An adult student who is married with three children won’t have the patience to complete a course that does not seem relevant and meaningful toward the goal of teacher certification. Adult students who have raised children and worked as volunteers in schools do have background experience that may help them. Having worked with post-baccalaureate teacher preparation candidates for over 12 years, I know
that they are each different and unique, yet the one thing that they seemingly have in common is the desire to be teachers as quickly as possible. To have the opportunity to finish a program in a timely manner is important, but quality of the program cannot be sacrificed. To meet the needs of adult students, coursework has to be made accessible, in some cases with course offerings similar to those at community colleges or the regional offices of education, where night and weekend courses are the norm. I’m not advocating that professors teach all day, all night, and on weekends, but some professors may need to be hired who want the night and weekend courses. Advising future teachers, supervising student teachers, and even delivering courses off-campus must be given the same professional respect with regard to promotion and tenure decisions as teaching on-campus is given for professors of teacher education. The college of education can’t do it all alone; therefore, expanded partnerships with community colleges, regional offices of education, and school districts are needed. Communication about which entities can teach courses, supervise student teachers and interns, and provide induction support of new hires is critical. If school districts and regional offices of education grant teacher certification, they need to abide by the national and state standards for teacher education that the colleges of education use in gaining their own professional accreditation. There is research-based evidence that supports teacher training. “The research literature on teacher quality sends a strong message to policy makers and practitioners that teachers need to know their subject matter and how to teach it” (Berry, Hoke, & Hirsh, 2004). Teaching IS rocket science and those entering the profession need the best possible preparation. Colleges of education have changed and will continue to evolve in their roles to produce teachers. What
we should not allow to happen is an “us vs them” situation, where colleges of education see other routes to certification as “wrong” or “the enemy.” However, an adherence to quality standards must be maintained, since children deserve the best teachers. There is indeed enough work for all of us who work in teacher preparation. Through communication and collaboration, teacher preparation can meet the needs of schools and can provide high quality teachers who help all children succeed. References Berry, B., Hoke, M., & Hirsch, E. (2004). The search for highly qualified teachers. Phi Delta Kappan, 85 (9), 684-689. Blackwell, P. J., Futrell, M. H., & Imig, D. G. (2003). Burnt water paradoxes of schools of education. Phi Delta Kappan, 84 (5), 356361. Darling-Hammond, L. (1998). Teacher learning that supports student learning. Educational Leadership, 55 (5), 6-11. Holland, R. G. (2004). To build a better teacher: The emergence of a competitive education industry. Westport, CT: Praeger. Ingersoll, R. M. (2003). The teacher shortage: Myth or reality? Educational Horizons, 81 (3), 146-152. Peske, H. G., Liu, E., Johnson, S. M., Kauffman, D., & Kardos, S. M. (2001). The next generation of teachers: Changing conceptions of a career in teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 83 (4), 304-311. Sparks, D. (2002). Overview. Journal of Staff Development, 23 (4), p. 3.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 20 - 24 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Technology and Educational Leader Development: Using Multimedia Cases as Professional Learning Tools Joseph Claudet Texas Tech University
This article presents perspectives on benefits of applying multimedia technology to enhance the career-long professional development of school leaders. Funded development efforts of one multimedia project—the Administrator Case Simulation (ACS) Multimedia Library—are highlighted.
Introduction Currently, a special interest of researchers and multimedia developers is in exploring the potential of applying available interactive computer technologies to design and develop professional learning resources to assist educators in addressing the complex challenges of effectively managing and leading K-12 schools. A particular design challenge in professional learning contexts, as in classroom teaching and learning environments, is to tap the potential of computer technologies as new kinds of creative thinking and learning tools to support and enhance the work of school leaders (Claudet, 1998). This article presents an overview of one ongoing, externally funded multimedia research and development effort—the Administrator Case Simulation (ACS) Multimedia Library—to design, develop, and use multimedia case simulations as assessment and professional learning tools for school principals and assistant principals confronting the ongoing challenges of real-world collaborative leadership in their school communities. The ten-year research and development efforts summarized here represent an important step toward developing entire libraries of multimedia professional assessment and development resources to enhance the reflective thinking, leading, and learning of all school leaders. Administrator Case Simulations (ACS) Administrator case simulations developed by university-school partner teams at the ACS Multimedia Lab are designed to artistically link multiple school leadership knowledge and skill bases (e.g., national and state standards and competencies, current knowledge about school
change and improvement, etc.) with multiple kinds of case-specific, district- and school-level operational and performance data to provide school principals and other school leaders with new kinds of digitally-integrated, standardsdriven assessment and professional learning tools. The individual case simulations utilize a variety of text, graphic, and video databases to portray real-world organizational leadership dilemmas which challenge the reflective leadership thinking and decision making capabilities of school principals and their school community colleagues. ACS case simulation resources are currently being used in a number of universities and regional education service centers in Texas for performance assessment and professional development of pre- and in-service school principals and assistant principals. However, the overall nature of the case simulations—and, especially, given the collaborative team atmosphere within which they are developed—make them equally effective as organizational learning tools for whole groups of school leaders working in concert (principals, assistant principals, classroom teachers, content and program specialists, community members, etc.) who are interested in studying and finding solutions to complex school leadership challenges. The case simulations are produced using interactive, multimedia computer technology to involve school principals and other school leaders (e.g., teachers, counselors, curriculum specialists, etc.) in the study of their own reflective thinking processes and the leadership decisions they make affecting students. Individual cases target principals' and other school leaders' abilities in reflectively analyzing complex, multidimensional case challenges,
selecting and applying relevant information from multiple school leadership knowledge domains to a context-specific case situation, and then generating sets of focused short- and long-term action plans that can address organizational issues and move a school forward. The overall aim of the case simulations is to provide a multimedia-enhanced, simulated learning environment in which school leaders can study their own reflective leadership thinking and decision making. Research And Development Activities External support for initial ACS project case simulation research and development activities was provided during 1996 through 1998 through major grants (totaling US $400,000) from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation (Fort Worth, Texas), the Abell-Hanger Foundation (Midland, Texas), and the Franklin Charitable Trusts (Post, Texas). The ACS Multimedia Lab acquired broadcastquality betacam SP cameras and digital nonlinear editing system hardware and software to facilitate field production work and to support case simulation design and post-production refinement efforts. ACS case development project teams consist of a variety of multimedia specialists—including specialists in camera and lighting, dramatic arts, digital editing, and postproduction—working in collaboration with university researchers and regional school district and education agency personnel. A primary focus of ACS funded collaborative development efforts from 1996 to the present has been on working in close partnership with principals, teachers, and other school community leaders in regional schools throughout Texas who provide the real-life school leadership dilemma situations on which the case simulations are based. Case simulations are all constructed from actual real-world situations and experiences of principals and their school community colleagues who participate as full members of ACS project teams in case development and field testing activities. From 1996 through 1998, ACS project case development teams (which included individual school site administrators, teachers, other professional staff, and community members as key team members) researched and prepared databases and scripts for filming and multimedia production for each site-specific school leadership case developed. Case video, expert
panel perspectives, and other reflective scenes were filmed at various school case production sites in Texas. A unique feature of case production work was the intensive effort invested by groups of administrators, teachers, staff specialists, and community members at each school in discussing, analyzing, and then scripting their school leadership case dilemma. These case scripting and development activities served to focus individual school community groups on the deep issues involved in their school leadership case challenges, and emphasized for them the extent and impact of stakeholders' multiple perspectives on these challenges and how these perspectives were often in conflict. This multi-perspectivist analysis of school organizational leadership challenges confronting each school community became an important ongoing aspect of school site case development work. The process of case development involved a number of critical steps occurring both on-site and at the university-based ACS Multimedia Lab, including: (1) selecting and articulating individual school organizational leadership cases; (2) storyboarding individual case video scenes; (3) rehearsing and filming case scenes (involving actual school community members themselves studying and taking on case "roles" of other school stakeholders with varying perspectives); (4) researching relevant case materials (e.g., student and community demographic information, school performance and improvement data, available content information and resources relating to the case, etc.); (5) preparing various video, graphic, and text databases; (6) laying out, editing, and refining the multimedia presentation; and (7) developing reflective thinking and decision making prompts and user response/data collection mechanisms for inclusion in each case simulation. Individual case production teams typically spent approximately one calendar year developing and refining a case simulation at each participating school site. Collaborative Leadership Case Set Funded collaborative project efforts described above resulted in the production of a five-case Collaborative Leadership Case Simulation Set (ACS Multimedia Library, 1998). This multimedia set includes cases dealing with: Collaborative Leadership—This case addresses challenges involved in developing genuine
collaborative leadership in schools and the difficulties school leaders often face in attempting to build shared leadership vision among school community stakeholders. Equal Access—This case addresses the issue of student equal access rights in schools. Inclusion—This case explores the challenges school leaders face in providing high-quality, inclusive learning environments for students. Resistance to Change—This case portrays some of the complex challenges often encountered by school leaders involving performance assessment and development of school personnel. Instructional Leadership—Challenges to school leadership related to improving student performance and instructional effectiveness are explored in this case. The ACS cases are keyed to multiple sets of school administrative leadership standards, including the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) standards (NPBEA, 1993) and the Texas Standards for the Principalship (Texas State Board for Educator Certification). More recent editions of the Collaborative Leadership Case Simulation Set are also keyed to the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards (ISLLC, 1996). The ACS case simulations feature a simulated office environment design that serves as a visual, organizing metaphor and interface for multiple databases (e.g., student demographic information, school performance data, personnel records, etc.) a principal would normally have access to. Within this simulated office environment, case simulation users can: (1) obtain information regarding the specific national and state standards each case addresses; (2) access online virtual mentors; and (3) search case-relevant information contained in digital file folders within the simulated office environment. Users can view short scenes portraying multiple stakeholder perspectives and situations informing the overall case dilemma in the Case Video Scenes Database. Individual scenes portray interactive clashes among multiple stakeholders and their conflicting perspectives on critical school leadership issues, and how these interactive encounters contribute to the case
dilemma. Users can “video-mark” specific sections of video to isolate and analyze individually selected sections of video, then link their selected scene clip analyses to relevant information found in multiple national and state standards (accessed via the Standards databases included within the simulation). Users then document their reflective case thinking in a Knowledge and Skill Base Application Rationale Area. Within this area, users have ready access to all information databases (e.g., school demographic profiles, student performance data, video-marks, etc.) available in the case's school leadership environment. Finally, users apply insights developed through engaging the school leadership case simulation within the Case Reflective Decision Making Area. This area stimulates users to directly apply organizational leadership insights about case dynamics gained from their scene clip (video-mark) reflective analyses to develop specific decision making action plans. In summary, the ACS multimedia cases incorporate a number of key design features, including simulated environment authenticity, platform/database interactivity, and diagnostic assessment capabilities, that collectively reflect an integrated systems approach to school leadership assessment and professional learning. Present And Future Directions ACS multimedia case resources developed thus far represent the foundations of a new generation of interactive, digital tools for school leader personnel assessment and professional learning. Several general characteristics of multimedia case resources are discernible that combine to potentially enhance personnel assessment and professional development programs for school leaders: Availability: The widespread use of computer technology coupled with the development of multimedia performance assessment tools such as those described in this article bring the prospect of easily available, technologyintegrated assessment and professional learning programs to school leaders' computer desktops. Accessibility: In addition to enhanced resource availability, the multimedia design capabilities of these digital resources enable users to simultaneously access and navigate through multiple kinds of school-relevant databases, thus acquiring a more integrated view of how these
multiple data interact and collectively impact school improvement challenges. Authenticity: The special emphasis of the multimedia cases on using real school leadership situations as the context for assessment and professional learning—and challenging users within this context to engage in reflective analysis and develop real-world action strategies to address case challenges—make the multimedia cases immediately relevant to users and encourage principals and other school leaders to mentally cultivate a reflective stance (Schön, 1983, 1987, 1988) to their own ongoing school organizational challenges. Functional integration: Multimedia case resources tap the integrative capabilities of digital technology to seamlessly link multiple knowledge and information databases, personnel performance standards, case-specific data, and user reflective thinking and decision making input. In addition, data-driven performance assessment profiles dynamically integrate and inform school leaders' professional growth opportunities through forming direct connections among school leaders': (1) understandings of critical leadership knowledge bases and competencies; (2) applied analyses of real-world, school leadership case situations; and (3) resulting action plan strategies generated from case analyses. Considered collectively, these characteristics highlight the potential of present ACS case simulation resources for enhancing the performance assessment and career-long professional learning of school leaders. Looking ahead to new multimedia integration challenges posed via the prospect of “virtual global classrooms” to support career-long professional learning and development in both business and higher education (Taylor, 2001), ACS multimedia lab case development teams are continuing to explore new applications of the ACS case resources to internet-based teaching and research. Case simulations developed and refined over the past ten-year period are currently being configured to be streamed directly on the internet for use by university professors, education service center staff developers, school district administrators, etc. involved in the career-long professional development of pre-service and in-service school leaders. In addition, ACS development teams
are experimenting with a variety of newly available multimedia internet communications/ webcasting (i.e., broadcasting and archiving) technologies, such as IP/VCR (internet protocol VCR), instant messaging, podcasting, etc., that hold potential for enhancing the scope, depth, and quality of synchronous and asynchronous interactive multimedia communications (interactive video and audio conferencing and dissemination) via the internet. These technologies enable education and other professionals to conduct live virtual classes, hold online research meetings, and deliver on-demand web learning. New possibilities are opened up by these new communications tools for teams of geographically dispersed case researchers/developers to collaborate at a distance (via the internet) to design and develop next generation multimedia case resources. Conclusion This article has presented an overview of ongoing research and development efforts associated with one multimedia project—the Administrator Case Simulation (ACS) Multimedia Library. A unique feature of the ACS project is its focus on using the lived experiences and challenges of practicing school principals and their school community colleagues as the basis for producing contextspecific cases to inform school leaders' own collaborative, career-long organizational learning and development. The benefits of producing and using multimedia case resources for assessment and development of school personnel seem likely to continue to evolve as school leaders and program developers continue working together— as ACS project teams are doing—to creatively tap the rich resources of multimedia technology to enhance the professional thinking, leading, and learning of all school leaders. References Administrator Case Simulation (ACS) Multimedia Library (1998). Collaborative Leadership Case Simulation Set. Administrator Case Simulation Project, ACS Multimedia Lab. College of Education, Texas Tech University. Claudet, J.G. (1998). Administrator Case Simulation Library Documentation Guide. Lubbock, TX: College of Education, Texas Tech University. Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) (1996). ISLLC standards for school leaders. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from http://kli.kresa.org/isllc.htm
National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) (1993). Principals for our changing schools: The knowledge and skill base. National Policy Board for Educational Administration, S.C. Thomson (Ed.). Lancaster, PA: Technomic Publishing Company. Schรถn, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books. Schรถn, D.A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Schรถn, D.A. (1988). Generative metaphor: A perspective on problem-setting in social policy. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and thought (pp. 255-283). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Taylor, M.C. (2001). The moment of complexity: Emerging network culture. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Texas State Board for Educator Certification (n.d.). Texas Standards for the Principalship. Retrieved November 25, 2005, from http://www.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/stand test/edstancertfieldlevl.asp
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 25 - 28 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright ÂŠ 2007 IJAS.
Technology Learning Impact on Pre-service Teacher Education Candidates After Implementation of a Web-Based E-portfolio Steve Hyndman, Paul Wirtz, Marcia M. Pierce, and Paul Erickson Eastern Kentucky University
This study examined the role of student competence, attitude, and training on the production of student eportfolios. Neither student background nor experience had a significant impact on their attitude toward developing an e-portfolio.
Background As the demand for technologically competent teachers increases, educator preparation programs are finding it necessary to expand their technology requirements. Some teacher preparation programs are attempting to address this concern by requiring students to develop electronic portfolios (eportfolios) rather than the hard copy or binder portfolios that have been a mainstay of education majors for well over a decade. E-portfolios differ from traditional portfolios in that information is collected, saved, and stored in an electronic format (Barrett, 1998). The College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University has been using education portfolios since 1992. Originally, the portfolio was a hard-copy, standards based portfolio, designed around the Kentucky New Teacher Standards. In the summer of 2000, the college embarked on a challenge to move from the paper portfolio to an electronic portfolio (Hyndman & Hyndman, 2005). Today, we have more than 2,000 eportfolios online with more being added every term. While the implementation process of an e-portfolio at Eastern Kentucky University has required a considerable investment of time and effort on the part of instructors and students in the College of Education, increased technology content knowledge and a positive attitude toward technology use were expected at the start of the program. Issues dealing with production, assistance, and evaluation have arisen over the course of the implementation of this format, and have led to the development of this study. Statement of Problem With the requirement for web based e-portfolios, comes the need for basic technology skills in order to build confidence early in the studentsâ€™ programs. If students do not establish a technology base, they tend
to struggle with technology throughout their college careers. This study attempted to answer the following questions: What is the impact of student computer experience and background on student attitudes toward the e-portfolio? Does the category of student (traditional or non-traditional) affect student attitudes toward the e-portfolio? Does the experience gained in initiating an e-portfolio change student attitudes toward developing and using the e-portfolio? Research Design & Methodology Sample The sample for this study consisted of 120 students and three faculty members from EDF203 (Schooling & Society) classes taught during the spring term of 2004. All professional education students in the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University are required to develop an e-portfolio during their second course (EDF203). Early in the term, the professor conducts one class period in the computer lab to provide students with their initial orientation and training. Procedures Nine EDF 203 Schooling & Society classes were selected to participate in this study. The classes were taught by three different professors and each class consisted of between 8 and 25 students. At the beginning of the term, following initial e-portfolio training, all students in the sample were asked to complete the e-portfolio self-assessment survey (Appendix A). During the last week of class all students from the sample group were again asked to complete the e-portfolio self-assessment. Data Presentation and Discussion The outcomes of the survey were analyzed and a paired-samples t-test (p.<.05) was calculated across
the outcomes of the pre- and post self-assessment surveys. As Table 1 shows, no significant differences were found between the pre- and post-survey for the first three questions. This was not unexpected, as the course is not a technology course. The primary reason for asking these questions was to assess students’ perception of their current technology abilities. The mean rating for question 2, which asks students about their usage frequency of web-based search engines, was 1.48 on both the pre- and post-survey. The mean rating for question 3 for the pre-survey was 1.70 and the post-survey was 1.76; this question asks students about their use of the internet to do homework. Question 4 asks students whether they have access to the internet at home; 91% of students indicated that they had access. Question 5 asks students whether they had ever created a web page prior to this class. Thirty-four percent of students answered “yes” to this question. Question 6 dealt with the students’ perceived comfort level with the idea of creating an e-portfolio. Question 6 was scored on a 5 point Likert scale with 1 being Very Comfortable and 5 being Very Uncomfortable. We did expect to see a mean increase from the pre-survey to the post-survey, based on the assumption that the students’ experience during this class would help them develop confidence and skills with the required technology and increase their comfort level in producing the e-portfolio. However, the mean pre-survey rating was 2.86, and the mean post-survey rating was 2.84. This difference was not significant at the p.<.05 level as reflected in Table 1. Upon further examination of the data however, a trend was seen within individual classes that seemed to indicate there were some pockets of improvement, which appeared to be associated with the individual instructor’s attitudes toward the e-portfolio requirement. This is an area for further study to determine how much impact the instructors’ attitude influences the students’ perception and value of the e-portfolio. Question 7 asked students for their preference for producing a portfolio, giving them a choice between an e-portfolio and a hard-copy portfolio. The percentage of students preferring the e-portfolio over the hard copy changed from 55% pre-survey to 51%
post-survey. Students seemed to be split evenly between the hard-copy portfolio and the e-portfolio. At the end of the course, there was a slight decrease in the number of students preferring the e-portfolio. Since all students are creating e-portfolios the issue does not seem to be related with student ability, but rather with their perceived value of the e-portfolio. This would seem to suggest that we are not, at least during this course, persuading students of the eportfolio’s value. This is an area for further study to determine why nearly 50% of students who prefer the hard-copy portfolio at the beginning of the course still prefer the hard-copy after being introduced to the e-portfolio. Question 8 was used to determine the computer instruction background of the students. Our interest in asking this question was to attempt to identify the students’ average level of computer training. Seventy-three percent of the students indicated that they had taken a computer science course. Of those students, the average number of computer science courses for each student was less than two. Most students have at least some course work in computer technology. The question remains as to the relevance of that course work to educational technology and the preparation of an e-portfolio. Question 9 asked the students for the value they placed on the e-portfolio as it pertains to their program of study. The mean of the post-survey was 2.31, while the mean result of the pre-survey was 2.15. This did show a slight increase in perceived value, but was not significant at the .05 level. Trends in the comments provided on both the preand post-survey responses to questions 10 and 11 seem to focus on fears and specific limitations related to the e-portfolio rather than concerns about students’ ability, skills and/or willingness to produce the eportfolio. For example, some of the common concerns focused on areas such as time, available help, fear of losing work due to computer failure, computer limitations, accessibility to editing the eportfolio from home, and the like. There were very few concerns expressed that focused on the student’s lack of technical ability, value for the e-portfolio, or willingness to create an e-portfolio. Therefore, what is suggested is that students’ responses to earlier questions regarding “value” of the e-portfolio may, in fact, have more to do with logistical concerns and specific limitations (such as inability to work from home) than with the value or willingness of students to create an e-portfolio.
Question 12 separates students based on their high school or GED graduation date. Forty-nine percent of the students graduated within the last two years; 40 percent graduated within 2-10 years; and 11 percent graduated more than ten years ago. The responses collected for questions 6 and 9 were separated based on these graduation periods. The t-test run on preand post-survey results for these categories of students showed no significant difference at the p<.05 level. This indicates there was no difference between the traditional and nontraditional studentsâ€™ perceptions of the e-portfolio. Conclusion In a study conducted by Bartlett (2002) at the University of Hawaii, a group of 26 pre-service teachers were used as a test group for the use of electronic portfolios. This study found that the eportfolio was viewed positively by the students (7.51 on a 10.0 scale). Students also stated that the eportfolio gave them the opportunity to learn about educational technology and new ways to organize
and present data. Unfortunately, we did not see similar positive results in our study. Our study has shown that introduction of an eportfolio to professional education students in a single course could be effective. However, the gain in skills and attitude during only one course is minimal. What is concluded from this research is that much support outside of class time is essential and that it appears that to achieve the goal of improved technology skills for professional education students the issue must be addressed across numerous courses of a studentâ€™s program. References Barrett, H. (1998). Strategic questions: what to consider when planning for electronic portfolios. Learning and Leading with Technology, 26(2), 6. Bartlett, A. (2002). Preparing preservice teachers to implement performance assessment and technology through electronic portfolios. Action in Teacher Education, 24(1), 90. Hyndman, S. & Hyndman, J. (2005). Creating an Eportfolio with MS FrontPage: It Doesnâ€™t Get Any Easier! Essays in Education, Vol. 14, Summer 2005.
Table 1 Dependent Samples t-test on Selected Survey Questions
Q1. How would you rate your ability to work with computers?
Q2. How often do you use a Web-based search engine such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.?
Q3. How often do you use the internet as a tool to do homework?
Q6. How comfortable are you with the idea of creating an e-portfolio?
Q9 What value do you place on the e-portfolio as it pertains to your program?
*Mean scores based on a 5 point Likert scale with 1 being high and 5 being low in each category.
Appendix A College of Education E-portfolio Student Self-Assessment Survey
1. How would you rate your ability to work with computers? Scale: From 1 (Excellent) to 5 (Poor) 2. How often do you use a Web-based search engine such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.? Scale: See Q.1. 3. How often do you use the internet as a tool to do homework? Scale: See Q. 1. 4. Do you have access to an internet connected computer at home? Yes No 5. Prior to this class, have you ever created a webpage? Yes No 6. How comfortable are you with the idea of creating an e-portfolio? Scale: From 1 (Very Comfortable) to 5 (Very Uncomfortable) 7. Given the choice, which kind of portfolio would you prefer to produce? E-portfolio? Hard copy (binder) portfolio? 8. Have you ever taken a computer science Yes No course? 8a. If Yes to 8 above, how many courses? 1 2 3 4 >4 9. What value do you place on the e-portfolio as it pertains to your program? Scale: From 1 (Very Valuable) to 5 (No Value) 10. What MOST concerns you about producing an e-portfolio? (Use back of survey if more room is needed)
11. What LEAST concerns you about producing an e-portfolio? (Use back of survey if more room is needed)
12. Which of the following categories describes your educational experience? a. High School graduate or GED within last 2 years. b. High School graduate or GED between 2 and 10 years. c. High School graduate or GED more than 10 years ago.
13. Please provide any additional comments you may have concerning the e-portfolio (use back or additional pages if more space is needed)
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 29 - 33 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Learning Preferences of 5th and 6th Grade Students in Northwest Arkansas Carleton R. Holt1, Jack B. De Vore1, George S. Denny1, Roland M. Smith2 and Matthew Capps1 1 2
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
The purpose of the study was to describe the learning preferences of 5th and 6th grade students, based on students at four elementary schools and measured by the 22 scales of the Learning Style Inventory
Introduction Over twenty years ago, Benjamin Bloom wrote: “‘Individual differences’ in learners is a fact that can be demonstrated in many ways. …That these variations must be reflected in learning standards and achievement criteria is more a reflection of our policies and practices rather than the necessities of the case. Our basic task in education is to find strategies which will take individual differences into consideration but which will do so in such a way as to promote the fullest development of the individual” (Bloom, 1981, p. 156). Two decades later, Public Law 107-110 stated, in part, that the purpose was “closing the achievement gap between high- and lowperforming children…” and “holding schools, local educational agencies, and states accountable for improving the academic achievement of all students …” In this era of increased student performance and teacher accountability as mandated by the “No Child Left Behind” legislation, educators are faced with the challenge of providing an environment that facilitates increased student learning or facing consequences that include allowing other enterprises to educate their children (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002). The challenge has never been greater to be cognizant of learning variations and to utilize that information to promote this “fullest development of the individual” as stated several decades ago by Bloom. Eighteen studies concerning learning preferences identified differences in the type of learning styles studied but supported for the importance of learning preferences to student learning (Dunn, Beaudry, & Klavas, 1989). Dunn (1996) concluded that while persons can learn basic information despite incompatible learning styles, children and adults learn most easily through their learning style strengths.
Auciello (2003) reported from his research that learning is “not necessarily a reflection of good or poor teaching, but rather it’s the fit between various characteristics of the child and the teacher that counts. …Different children, depending on their own personality and learning style, will be more responsive to certain traits or a pattern of traits than others” (p. 1). Good teaching, therefore, requires an understanding of the learning preferences of children and then providing instruction that capitalizes on those learning strengths. A Georgia Tech University seven-year research study of engineering teaching and learning found that “software tools and engineering teaching should be based upon student learning styles, faculty teaching styles, and includes elements of active reflection, scaffolding, and visualization” (Nelson, 2003, p. 1). A study by Sternberg (1995), based on 200 students participating in a Yale Summer Psychology study, developed a series of conclusions. Two of these findings were that: 1. “Students whose instruction matched their pattern of abilities performed significantly better than the others…” 2. “By measuring creative and practical abilities, we significantly improved our ability to predict performance” (p. 23). While recognition of learning preferences is recognized as important to learning, and while increased student learning has become a national mandate, Anderson (2001) suggested four reasons why conceptual models of learning styles have not evolved into successful practice:
1. Learning styles have become locked into the places where they originated as research projects. 2. They have not connected them to classroom performance, writing, thinking, student success indicators, and retention models. 3. At the college level, many campuses are not student-centered. 4. To truly differentiate, one must discuss the relationship of performance of diverse groups to learning preferences. A study of learning preferences of 3rd and 4th grade students at four different schools by Holt, De Vore, Denny, Smith, and Cambiano (2003) resulted in the identification of learning preferences that could be translated into classroom preferences. Some of the findings in that study were that these students preferred a formal classroom environment with mobility included in the structure. While they preferred a formal, structured setting, they also preferred time for independent learning. Not surprisingly, they indicated that they were strongly motivated by their parents â€“ once again indicating the importance of parental involvement in education. That study of 3rd and 4th grade students also found some variations in learning preferences across subgroups suggesting that no single approach to instruction works equally well for all students. During follow-up interviews with building administrators after the study was completed, administrators indicated to Holt that teachers in the schools participating in the study consciously modified their classroom instruction to facilitate student preferences. A longitudinal analysis of the effects of the instructional changes would have been a useful follow-up to the research (Holt et al., 2003). This paper studies the learning preferences of 5th and 6th grade students in these same four Northwest Arkansas Schools with the purpose to provide this information back to the participants so that they could utilize this research to improve teaching and learning. Research Questions 1. What are learning preferences of fifth-graders and sixth-graders? 2. Do the learning preferences vary by grade level? 3. Do the learning preferences vary by gender? Methodology The purpose of the study was to determine the learning preferences of fifth- and sixth-grade students in Northwest Arkansas. Outcomes of the study were
determined from the analysis of the Learning Style Inventory 8 (LSI). The items on the inventory were designed to assess individual preferences in four areas: (a) environment (sound, temperature, light, and design); (b) emotion (motivation, responsibility, persistence, and the need for structure or flexibility); (c) social needs (self-oriented, peer-oriented, authority-oriented, or learn in several ways); and (d) physical needs (perceptual preferences, time of day, intake, and mobility). The 22 scales had internal consistency reliability estimates ranging from .44 to .92 for the grades 5 and 6 sample reported in the LSI manual (Price & Dunn, 1997), with 19 of the 22 scales having reliability estimates of .60 or higher. Sample The LSI was administered to the students enrolled at four elementary schools. The elementary schools were selected from the public, private, and at-risk school sectors in Northwest Arkansas. The sample consisted of 160 students. By gender, 66 were male and 94 were female. There were 79 in Grade 5 and 81 in Grade 6. Data Analysis Descriptive statistics were computed for the 22 scales of the LSI. A series of 1-sample t tests compared the mean of the entire sample to a population mean of 50. A series of independent-sample t tests determined whether the scores differed significantly by grade level, or by gender. Significant differences were followed up with four contrasts that compared each schoolâ€™s mean to that of students in the other three schools. Results On the 22 LSI scales (Table 1), the fifth and sixth grade students were near the population mean of 50 on five scales, but seventeen scales had a sample mean significantly different from 50. The students preferred quiet sound levels, dim lighting, informal design, and a high desire for motivation. They gave high self-ratings for persistence, responsibility, more structure, learning with peers, and a preference to learn with authority figures present. The students liked varied learning opportunities and preferred visual, tactile and kinesthetic approaches. They preferred to learn in the afternoon and evening. They wanted high parent and teacher motivation. The strongest learning style for this group of students showed them to want more structure in their learning environment (M = 57.03). By grade level, three scales showed a significant difference in the responses of fifth and sixth graders (Table 2). Sixth graders preferred intake (food or drink) at a higher level than the fifth graders. The sixth graders preferred to learn in the evening more
than did fifth graders. Fifth graders were more motivated by teachers than are the sixth graders. By gender, two scales showed significant differences between boys and girls in the sample (Table 2). Boys preferred a dim-light learning environment. Also, boys indicated a higher preference than girls did to late morning learning. Conclusion and Recommendations There is an extensive research base that has established a relationship between learning styles, teaching styles, and student achievement. There is some research indicating that this knowledge is not being widely disseminated in the classroom to assist teachers to focus conscious attention on the learning preferences of their children. This study examined the research preferences of 5th and 6th grade students in four Northwest Arkansas schools with an objective to translate findings to those schools in a way that would allow principals and teachers to realign teaching and learning. This study found there were statistically significant learning preferences by these 5th and 6th grade students. Students preferred quiet noise levels, dim light, high structure, informal design and authority figures around; yet, they also preferred learning that allowed them to work with peers, allowed them to assume responsibility for their learning, high persistence, and high motivation. Students also preferred a variety of materials and a variety of learning methods especially tactile and kinesthetic. Interestingly, these students did not prefer visual learning. This study found a student desire for parent and teacher motivation, and they preferred learning in the afternoon and evening. These seventeen characteristics were all found to be statistically significant. While this paper reports the preferences of students in these four schools, the study found variability in learning preferences by individual school and by subgroups including gender and grade. This suggests that matching learning preferences to teaching styles means giving attention to school structure, grade structure, class structure, and each individual student as teachers and school leaders work to meet the new state and federal â€œNo Child Left Behind Actâ€? (2002). References Anderson, J. (2001, March). Tailoring assessment to student learning styles. AAHE Bulletin. Retrieved January 18, 2004, from http://www.aahe.org/ bulletin/styles.htm, p. 2. Auciello, D. (2003, May/June). Learning styles and environment: Finding the right match, Child Study
Center, 7(5), 1. New York: New York University School of Medicine. Bloom, B. S. (1981). All our children learning. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. Dunn, R. (1996). How to implement and supervise a learning style program. Retrieved Jan. 20, 2004, from www.ascd.org/readingroom/books/dunn96book .html, p. 3. Dunn, R., Beaudry, J., & Klavas, A. (1989). Survey of research on learning styles. Educational Leadership, 46, 50-58. Holt, C. R., De Vore, J. B., Denny, G. S., Smith, R. M., & Cambiano, R. L. (2003, August 7). Learning preferences of 3rd and 4th grade students in northwest Arkansas. A paper presented at the NCPEA Conference in Sedona, AZ. Nelson, B. (2003, November 25). Georgia Tech University seven-year research study of engineering teaching and learning. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Tech, Atlanta. Retrieved January 19, 2004, from http://epitome.ce.gatech.edu/findings.htm, p. 1. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107110 (2002). Price, G. E., & Dunn, R. (1997). Learning Style Inventory manual. Lawrence, KS: Price Systems. Sternberg, R. J. (1995). What does it mean to be smart? Education Leadership, 54(6), 20-24.
Table 1 Descriptive Statistics for the Learning Styles Inventory
Low = 40
High = 60
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
Time of day
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
Does not prefer
(n = 160) * Differs significantly from a mean of 50 (p < .05)
Table 2 Learning Styles Differing Significantly by Subgroup N
t(158) = -2.49
d = .39
p = .014
t(158) = 2.56
p = .011
t(158) = 3.21
p = .002
t(158) = 2.63
d = .42
p = .009
t(158) = -2.31
p = .022
Learning Style by Grade Intake
Time of day d = .40
Learning Style by Gender
d = .49
Late morning d = .37
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2 (2): 34 - 39 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Conducting Water Chemistry Analyses Transforms Information into Ecological Knowledge Margaret B. Bogan1 and Michael D. Bogan2 1
Florida Gulf Coast University Florida Institute of Phosphate Research
Teachers performed wet chemical water analysis following soils and forestry techniques, plant identification, macro/micro biotic stream analysis, taught with expert pedagogy. The biology and chemistry of the Earth and teaching thereof became a functional interconnected unit.
The Program Six groups of 20 in-service teachers participated in 10-day environmental education institutes in NE Alabama, funded by the US EPA and Alabama Eisenhower Foundation. Federal and state agency specialists and in-service lead teachers instructed participants in soil analysis, forestry study techniques, terrestrial plant identification, macro and micro biotic stream analysis, the chemical analysis of water and the Native American relationship with Earth. These professionals were chosen as community resource consultants useful as expert guest speakers in the secondary classroom. Research scientists were employed to instruct in wet chemistry data collecting techniques analysis and reporting the health of free flowing streams. Groups of 6-8 teachers participated in water chemistry studies at any one time. The HACH Fish Farmers Kit was used to determine stream temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), nitrite (NO2+), ammonium (NH4+), carbon dioxide (CO2), bicarbonate (HCO3--) and carbonate (CO3--). Teachers constructed intellectual bridges among the natural sciences, the nature of inquiry teaching and teaching about the environment(1). Program Day 1-4: Teacher Participants established heterogeneous groups based on the Gregorc MindStyle instrument. Each “home team” designed a crest that best represented the team as professional educators. During the first five days of the program, “crest” teams worked together on all activities. Activities were designed to invite teachers to work in a classroom setting (inside and out-of-doors) where the responsibility for learning was on the learners (2). Teachers became active learners experiencing the
teaching/learning event from the perspective of the student and the teacher. They performed plant ID/vegetative analyses on multiple quadrats through numerous communities along a common transect line, dug pits to investigate soil layers in addition to experiencing and processing environmental ethics/awareness readings using expert pedagogical strategies. Program Day 5: Teacher teams were mixed so each home team had a member on a specialty water chemistry analysis research group. The “It’s a Puzzle” or the jigsaw teaching strategy was implemented (3). The dissolved oxygen team collected data on stream DO2 levels at several designated stations along the stream; the hardness team collected data on stream hardness at several designated stations along the stream, etc. Reports on each chemical parameter were delivered to the home teams. The entire class then participated in an open discussion. During the early part of the first five days of the program, teachers referred to each academic discipline in environmental science as its own entity. Teachers reported single bits of factual information in “Today I Learned,” statements, e.g. “the alkaloid on the skin of the common gray tree-frog tastes bitter.” On day five of the program, two integrated areas in environmental science were studied together, water chemistry and the biotic community of the stream being tested. Teachers began to weave threads among the information gathered during the preceding days of the program, and inter-relate the natural sciences towards fashioning an understanding of environmental health. The voice of the teachers and the expert will be used to elucidate “what the teachers
learned and wanted to learn” during the instruction in water chemistry analysis (4). Research Method Storytelling is an excellent way to capture the ambience of the learning environment. In a constructivist paradigm, the story not only unfolds from the mouths of participants, analyses stresses emergent learning and understanding (5). The language of this paper is often first person descriptive to facilitate the developing understanding of the interrelationships between the: • Activities performed • Hands-on discovery learning experience • Paper format of HACH kit directions • Group practice • Reflective practice • Philosophical approach to learning in this program. Data were collected from three major sources, two end-of–day conversations and a nightly reflective journal. Each individual responded to the, “Today I learned” prompt. These statements were recorded on a microphone. Each home team then generated 5-Questions that came to mind as a function of having experienced the events of the day. These were presented for in large group open forum. In addition, each participant kept a nightly reflective journal. All data triangulated and are reported as the exact words of the teachers. Comments made during discussion or heard during group conferencing are also presented. Expert Report The environmental side of analytical chemistry has occupied most of my 30 year professional career. I’ve discussed water chemistry and the practice of determining analyte identity, concentration and technique many times with groups of varied backgrounds. The title of this article suggests that the authors’ will present information about the transferal of information about the chemical analysis of water. What really took place in these outside classrooms is much more about the nature of science; inquiry, asking how and why and what if; and integrating information into knowledge (6). How Do These Parts Fit Together Each time I begin teaching I think of James Burke, author of Connections expressing the thread that must run through all of our professional careers as people interested in spreading information, causing knowledge (7). James Burke’s Connections are devoted to bringing diverse information to focus on a single topic. He weaves the details together in a
tapestry that covers the point of the dissertation. It is my opinion that many who desire to promulgate knowledge, practice this weaving. In this vein, I ask us to look at some rhetorical questions about interconnections. This is how I started my lesson: “How many of you have had the opportunity to: • React cyanide for disposal (8) • Clean up spilled table salt • Sweep up dirt from the floor? Each act is a waste disposal problem. Each requires the same thought processes and consideration to select the appropriate method of performing the task: safety, containment, and disposition (9). To determine the most appropriate disposal methods, you make many subjective and knowledge based decisions. You made many decisions that may have been erroneous because your knowledge of the situation was limited. Because of the particular situation, you might have assumed that the dirt on the floor did not contain any toxic or hazardous materials. However, Love Canal is real and the dirt on the floor was contaminated; and Love Canal has a large-scale environmental impact. Due to lack of information, even the experts were not sure how to handle this disposal properly (10, 11). Consider the following five topics. • Studying the release of high pressure gas from a small orifice • Performing the pararosanaline reaction to determine NO3+ • Examining how gravity affects a falling object • Studying the redox properties of NO3+ • Considering the oxidation products of explosives. At first glance these topics may seem to be fairly loosely related. However, in criminal forensics, determining gunpowder residue and gunpowder residue dispersal patterns depends on all of these topics. Seemingly simple topics require understanding many diverse knowledge bases and their correlation to garner useful information. After all, information is the essence of scientific investigation. A single piece of datum, such as the quantity of NO3+, is enigmatic. The process of acquiring this datum can be even more unfathomable. We ask: Why collect the datum and how does that datum relate to others like it? Are other data describing a quantity of NO3+ really related? Does the aggregate of NO3+ quantities convey information? Are there
ways to evaluate this aggregate of data to elicit information or delineate a story that is interesting?” The previous discussion relates to the title topic because the teaching of water analysis techniques is not just the reiteration of a scheme for carrying out a series of chemical reactions in a manner that is reproducible and accurate. Useful water analysis is the compilation of many facts and seemingly unrelated data to structure a coherent and comprehensible whole. This whole dictates what can live in the stream, how well “it” can live in the stream, what needs to be done to clean up a “dirty” stream and or what policy needs to be developed or conscience and ethical stance practiced, so that the stream does not become polluted again. Water Chemistry Stream Analysis Teaching Events Study sites were selected, specific procedures in the HACH Fish Farming water chemistry kit described and small groups were formed. The pedagogical strategy served to facilitate individual interdependence within each group (interdependence is an underlying principle of ecology). Discussion acquainted teachers with the operational procedures necessary for measuring several chemical parameters in the field. The plan included introducing the portable analytical kit, describing the techniques and allowing the teachers perform the tests with environmental samples. Our English, Math and Art teachers learned technique while our science teachers learned or enhanced their technique. During data collection, teachers began to realize, to think about the ramifications of and to ask questions about the environment and teaching. Teacher Reports Data collected from three qualitative sources will be used to present the teacher-participant view of their learning experiences on the “Water Chemistry” day of the 10-day program. These include Reflective Journals, “Today I Learned” statements and “Five Questions.” Reflective Journals Sample reflective journal writings show teacher thoughts about the events of the water chemistry day (12). “I enjoyed the chemistry behind the chemical testing. The why’s if you will, behind the recipes. I also learned the chemical substances released by trees besides O2 and CO2 & antibug stuff. I also learned the “scum” and oily areas are caused by the decomposition of plants releasing hydrocarbons and not pollution. It never occurred to me nature could
release nasty looking stuff. I want to share this with my students. This idea that nature can surprise you or how our own schemes can prevent us from seeing other options.”
This individual developed an understanding of the rationale for doing water analyses. (S)he also identified that plants can “take care of themselves”, that plants have biochemical protection mechanisms to ward off insect infestations. Notice that this person passes a value judgment on the “look” of plant decay by-products. Another participant takes the thought a bit further. “Mike told me many things that were new to me. I always thought that all oily spots you see in lakes were due to boats leaking fuel. …I had never been taught that as plants decay they give off or should I say decompose into some hydrocarbons that appear as that oily matter on the water’s surface. I also did not realize that trees release hydrocarbons (with some oxygen attachments) through the leafy tips & that this is what can cause a crown fire to spread so quickly. He also said that trees can give off poisonous chemicals to protect them from harmful insect infestation when they have been “warned” by an infested tree of what was happening. It’s no wonder that the Native Americans can believe that they need to get permission from the plant to take its life. We don’t think about plants having the ability to communicate with each other. It gives them a more human-like quality.”
The participant bridged the natural sciences with the social sciences with his/her “no wonder” statement, indicating the beginning of developing an understanding for Native cultural perspectives on humankind’s necessary relationship with other Earth beings (13). One participant overcame his/her fears of working in the out-of-doors: “…I know from the start that I would be far less familiar with those procedures than Bette & Jane, so I volunteered for the dirty work so that I could do my part and still let the more apt perform the actual analysis. The more I think about crawling out there in the muck, the less I dislike having had to do it. I think… my resistance to doing it was a basic fear of the unknown. Whether or not I’d get sucked up to my waist, whether I’d jump into nasty things like moccasins or leaches [sic]. I think I am over that fear. Though I would probably carry a stick the next time [sic].”
Others waxed philosophically about the upcoming events of the new day.
“Breakfast started our fifth day at Noname State Park. It was the day of reckoning: Water Quality Day. A day for which all awaited. Why is getting wet something that little kids and Big kids look forward too? Perhaps, it’s ancestral or it’s just because we are so closely linked to the sea, our mothers and the earth, or could it be that it is just “plain fun” We journeyed down the mountain near the base of the falls. …We tested several stream parameters under…Mike’s…leadership. … He was a very competent scienetist [sic]. After testing PH, temperature, alkalinity, Nitrate and ammonia levels, we cleaned up, shared our data with the other group working besides us, and started our ‘marvelous’ dinner.”
Some learned how: “The water quality – Again we felt like scientists. IT was not new for me but it certainly was a great review – Mike was a big help with this – I like numerical data.”
Some asked how and connected what was done to teaching in the classroom: 1. “Water quality assessment: Today I learned how to perform water quality tests. 2. How often are lakes and streams sampled for water quality? 3. If water quality is poor how and when are wheels set in motion to improve the situation. Reflections today include realizing once again the value of hands on. I am participating in learning experiences that are challenging me to learn my way.”
One participant even laid out a plan to teach using the techniques of the day: 1. 2. 3.
“Should I go out on Sun picnic and gather water samples If I bring water w/ great macroinvert will students bring it in for another time Can we use the same water for chem parameters. How can I make chemical analysis more interesting (spike the samples!). DO2 standards”
Some learned why: “Later we did chemical analysis of the stream water for such parameters as hardness, pH, Alkalinity, ammonia, nitrites etc., …I learned a lot about stream water quality which was great since I used to work as an analytical chemist in an Environmental lab. Now I know a little more about the why of the things we tested for.”
The professional opinion of the Project Directors is the imperative for learning experiences to be fun
experiences. Several program participants describe the learning event: “Today we worked in water – by far the best day yet. Chemistry and biological studies were interesting hands – on fun; I learned things I know I will never forget.” “I really enjoyed the Water Chemistry business. I have always wanted to know how to do it – we have several kids who live near streams or lakes, and I would love to test them H2O. Mike helped us – he let us make mistakes – then made us re-analyze our procedures and see where we went astray. We learned to watch such factors as how much water to test, and how much of the chemical tester to use. We tested ammonial[sic]/nitrites, PH, O2 level, and hardness. We learned how to do it right! Nice activity –” “Our leader Mighty Mike first took us down by the stream and talked about stream composition and factors that effect a stream. The site was beautiful as usual – hope we are not taking this beauty for granted. Our group tested water oxygen levels, ammonia levels and pH. This would be excellent in Sixth Grade.”
Today I Learned These statements demonstrate that the teachers’ hearts are with the students. Teachers are learning content information previously unknown; finding a sense of wonder about their studies and realizing pedagogical content knowledge (14,15). “While we were out doing water quality studies, I learned about the hydrocarbon production in trees, and (laughter) I’m just going to stop there. I can’t go on. (Laughter)” “Today I learned that, that shiny stuff and soap scummy stuff in the water isn’t necessarily pollution. It’s actually natural caused by the plants or caused by the micro-organisms breaking down the plants. And something else I learned is in terms of chemistry, I learned what chelate means. It means claw because if you have a chemical that looks like this. . . you can knock off the edges and add a new one and it claws it up. That’s chelate.”
Five Questions At the end of each day, each team designed five questions that came to mind as a function of having participated in the discussion. Topics ranged from hazardous wastes to showering with hard water to purifying water to drink while hiking, to septic tanks! Teachers then posed general questions: • How do you know when you've got a good survey? • Is there a soil test that can test the health of the soil like the water test we did? Or top layer, lots of earth worms…You can do bio-indicators. There are a
lot of bio-indicators that you can use. Soil is more difficult to analyze because generally speaking the contaminants that would be a problem with soil are in even lower concentrations than are even in the water. And you have a maintenance problem. Water is fairly easy to isolate things. But the way you have to separate chromium and manganese from iron, it's a bit more difficult. It's not as easy.” • What are the criteria for an accurate water ecology survey? • What is sulfanic acid? • Why did our minnow die? Did it drown? No, it's a fish. Lack of oxygen. Oh! Lack of oxygen. So, in a little of water, the oxygen is used up really fast? It may have. The handling may have shocked it? You may have crunched an internal organ.
Teachers’ interest was heightened as they began to draw the web between geological substrate, plant emissions and the complexity of chemicals found in stream water. A discussion about the rate of crown fire propagation developed further. The water cycle became the unifying dynamic connecting humankind, forest vigor, atmospheric/weather conditions, stream health, and biological inhabitants therein. Data collection and sampling techniques were discussed. How does a researcher determine sampling locations in a stream? How do the preconceived notions that the scientist brings to the research control how (s)he collects samples and interprets data? How do these notions influence results?
Conclusion The multiplicity of comments and questions generated by teacher-participants serve as a model to Burke’s treatise. The underlying ecological principal that all things are connected was reinforced. The process of conducting water chemistry analyses was the stimulus that transformed the information gathered during the first five days of the program into ecological knowledge. Teachers experienced a learning process and drew interconnections among what they knew, thought they knew, and were amazed to learn, about the ecosphere.
Teachers expressed new formulations of classroom strategies which incorporated the teaching techniques in which they had participated. They wanted to use the group data collecting and handling schemes to increase dialogue and thought, creating interdependence and respect and to augment classroom projects. Teachers identified that hands-on activities stimulate both interest in learning and retention of material, (e.g. using Brock scopes for macro and micro invertebrate identification, HACH Fish Farming water chemistry, soil substrate analyses). They described implementing the procedures in which their students’ would sample local waterways. Inquiries were made concerning the role of teacher interest as a tool for generating interest in academic content. Several teachers now value the importance of implementing hands-on activities in their own classrooms. Field biology study techniques surfaced as new information for classroom curriculum design.
Numerous topics for discussion emerged during the two, 4-hour sets water chemistry technique training. The interrelationship between pH and buffering capacity is based on CO2, Mg++ and Ca++ levels in the water. Mud with a low pH usually equates to high sulphur compounds and anaerobic bacteria. The Ca++ content in the water determines the hardness of invertebrate shells. The entirety of chemical health of a waterway system is inexorably intertwined with the biological inhabitants therein. The geology of an area determines the quality of land runoff into a stream. Plants are a result of the geology of the environment and a contributor to the nutrients released from soil. Incinerators introduce air pollutants and solid precipitation into surface water threatening ground water contamination. Water can be cleaned with clay runoff which is absorptive, unlike a quartz substrate. Many connections were realized among the scientific disciplines. Plants became more complex than previously considered. Plant biochemistry, recycling of plant material by microbes and water chemistry became intimately interrelated through the teaching of water analysis techniques. A discussion of fire ecology (propagation and control) followed analysis.
Although the initial intent of the activity was to teach the chemical analysis of water, participants grew in many divergent ways. Initially data collection, recording and analysis techniques were learned or enhanced. Teachers began to think about teaching with hands-on labs in the science classroom. Social Studies teachers developed a foundational understanding of the reasons for existing environmental policy and need for the development of policy based on state-of-the-art data analysis. Teachers became comfortable to ask questions tangential to the investigation. The biology and chemistry of the Earth became a functional interconnected unit. Teachers had fun playing science. References 1. Bogan, M., Easton, S., Kromrey, J., Fitzgerald, J., & McCabe, D. (1998). A metacognitive model for
environmental education: A study in curriculum congruence. College Student Journal, 32, 93-110. 2. Bogan, M. B., & Easton, S. E. (2000). Creating environmentally literate citizens: A curriculum guide (2nd ed.). Birmingham: Kailyn Press. 3. Bogan, M. B., & Uline, C. S. (1998). Teaching Teaching: Experiencing the Other Side of the Desk. Dubuque: Kendall-Hunt. 4. Bogdan, R., & Bicklen, S.(1982). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods. Boston:Allyn & Bacon. 5. Denzin, N. K.; Lincoln, & Y. S. (1994). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks:Sage Publications. 6. Bauer, H. (1994). Scientific literacy and the myth of the scientific method. Chicago:University of Illinois Press. 7. Burke, J. (1978). Connections. Boston:Little, Brown and Co. 8. Sittig, M. (Ed.) (1981). Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals. New Jersey: NOYES Publishers. pp 197.
9. Furr, A. K., (Ed.). (1991). CRC Handbook on Laboratory Safety, West Palm Beach:CRC Press. 10. The 20th Anniversary of Love Canal. Retrieved 2004, from http://www.essential.org/cchw/lovecanal//cindex/html
11. Love Canal, USA. Retrieved 2004, from www.wed.globalserve/~spinc/atomcc/lovecana/htm 12. Posner, G.J. (1989). Field experience: methods of reflective teaching (2nd ed.), New York:Longman, Inc. 13. Grim, J. (1992). Cosmogony and the Winter Dance: Native American Ethics in Transition. Journal of Religious Ethics, 20, 389-413. 14. Carson, R. (1998). A Sense of Wonder. New York:Harper Collins. 15. Bogan, M., & VanSickle, M. (1994). Changes in pedagogical content knowledge of preservice teachers from three universities in the southeastern United States. Journal of the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators, 3, #2, 23-30.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 40 - 43 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
Teaching Mathematics Through Pattern Recognition Emam Hoosain Augusta State University
Mathematics is replete with patterns. Therefore, it is appropriate to incorporate a study of patterns in the teaching of mathematics. This article illustrates how mathematical relationships can be discovered by recognizing patterns using inductive reasoning.
Introduction A sequence is a meaningful arrangement of objects or events. A pattern can be described as a sequence that repeats. There is some kind of regularity in a pattern. Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus (1996) defines pattern as “a design; a regular way of acting or doing.” Van De Walle (2001) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1989) refer to repeating patterns and growing patterns. In the former, a sequence of terms repeats; in the latter, each term is obtained by applying a certain rule; or each term after the first one in a sequence is derived from the previous term according to a rule. An example of a repeating pattern is ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC . . . in which the sequence ABC is repeated. An example of a growing pattern is 1 4 9 16 25 36 . . . or
6 2 . . . . This can be
represented pictorially as in Figure 1.
• • • •
• • • • • • • • •
• • • •
• • • •
• • • •
• • ... • •
Figure 1 Patterns exist everywhere in the natural and unnatural environments. “The world is full of pattern and order: in nature, in art, in buildings, in music. Pattern and order are found in commerce, science, medicine, manufacturing, and sociology” (Van De Walle 2001, p. 16). In the natural environment, the hexagonal structure of the honeycomb of bees is an example of a pattern. In the unnatural environment, patterns are designs on wallpaper, tiles, etc. Patterns abound in mathematics. The identification of patterns is integral to a study of sequences and series. As a matter of fact, mathematics is sometimes defined as a study of patterns and relationships. “. . .
mathematics is a science of pattern and order” (Mathematical Sciences Education Board [MSEB] 1989, p. 31). Elaborating on this idea, Van De Walle (2001) says “. . . mathematics is a science of things that have a pattern of regularity and logical order. Finding and exploring this regularity or order and then making sense of it is what doing mathematics is all about” (p. 16). NCTM (1989) claims that “One of the central themes of mathematics is the study of patterns and functions” (p. 98). In view of the centrality of the notion of patterns in these definitions of mathematics, meaningful learning of mathematics must necessarily include a study of patterns. Recognizing the importance of patterns, NCTM (1989) lists patterns as part of the content standards of the K-12 mathematics curriculum. It states that one of the objectives of the 5-8 mathematics curriculum is that students should describe, extend, analyze and create a wide variety of patterns. NCTM (1989) goes on to state that “Exploring patterns helps students develop mathematical power and instills in them an appreciation for the beauty of mathematics” (p. 98). This focus on the study of patterns is reiterated in NCTM (2000). For example, in Grades 9-12, NCTM recommends that students should understand, analyze, and generalize patterns. In this paper I report some of my favorite experiences and activities that I share and discuss with middle and high school pre-service mathematics teachers. Background I teach mathematics education at a University which offers Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs in various disciplines. It offers Teacher Education Programs at the Early Childhood, Middle, and Secondary levels. I teach the mathematics methods courses at all three levels but in this article I will focus on some of the things I do in the courses for middle and secondary grades.
At the commencement of the semester, after the customary introductions and discussion of course requirements, etc., I talk about NCTM: Its role in current reforms in mathematics education, membership, conferences, publications, and so forth. I then give a historical sketch of the events that led to the publication of the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (PSSM): An Agenda for Action, Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics, and Assessment Standards for School Mathematics. I then talk about PSSM: The six principles, and the content and process standards. At this stage I give students a problem (such as the checkerboard problem which requires one to find the total number of squares [length of side is a whole number] of all possible sizes that can be found in a regular 8 × 8 checkerboard) to solve. Students would then share their solutions with the class and a whole-class discussion will ensue. The purpose of this activity is to show that if a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics is adopted, all the process standards can be addressed. Additionally, this activity is intended to introduce the ideas of pattern recognition and inductive reasoning. Examples I then zoom in on the Reasoning and Proof process standard, focusing on inductive reasoning which is essentially the process of reasoning from specific cases to the derivation of a rule. In this process a large number of examples is examined for a pattern and a generalization is obtained to capture the pattern, if there is one. This inductive process was exemplified in one of the solutions to the problem that was given earlier.
(or more if necessary) a pattern should be recognized and a conclusion made that in an 8 × 8 square the total number of squares is 1 + 4 + 9 + 16 + 25 + . . . + 64; or 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 . . . + 8 . Therefore, in an n × n square, the total number of squares is 2
2 × 2 square, there are four 1 × 1 squares and one 2 × 2 square; so the total 2 2 number of squares is 1 + 4; or 1 + 2 . In a 3 × 3 square, there are nine 1 × 1 squares, four 2 × 2 squares, and one 3 × 3 square. So the total number
12 + 2 2 + 3 2 + 4 2 + . . . + n 2 =
n (n + 1)(2n + 1) . 6
Another task that I usually give to students is to find a formula for the sum of the measures of the interior angles of a convex polygon. (If the sum of the measures of the interior angles of a triangle is not known, we would establish this result using the Geometer’s Sketchpad (GSP) or any other discovery method.) Here again students would examine specific cases such as quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon, etc. In each polygon, all possible diagonals are drawn from a vertex and the polygon is divided into triangles. Their observations are summarized in a table from which the rule is derived. A typical solution is reported below (see Fig. 2, (a) – (d) and Table 1); n is the number of sides in the polygon and T is the number of triangles.
Fig. 2(a) n = 4, T = 2
Students usually solve this problem by examining a number of specific cases, counting the number of squares of different sizes, and tabulating these results. For example, in a 1 × 1 square there is one 1 × 1 square.
Fig. 2(b) n = 5, T = 3
12 + 2 2 + 3 2 . In a 4 × 4 square, there are sixteen 1 × 1 squares, nine 2 × 2 squares, four 3 × 3 squares, and one 4 × 4
Q U R
of squares is 1 + 4 + 9; or
square. So the total number of squares is 1+ 4 + 9 + 16; or
12 + 2 2 + 3 2 + 4 2 . From these examples
Fig. 2(c) n = 6, T = 4
Fig. 2(d) n = 7, T = 5
4 5 6 7 . . . 10 . . . n
2 3 4 5 . . . 8 . . .
4-2 5-2 6-2 7-2 . . . 10 - 2 . . . n-2
Sum of the angle measures in right angles 2 x 2 = 2(4 – 2) 2 x 3 = 2(5 – 2) 2 x 4 = 2(6 – 2) 2 x 5 = 2(7 – 2) . . . 2 x 8 = 2(10 – 2) . . . n(n – 2) = 2n - 4
n 2 3 4 5 6 . . . 10 . . . n
s 1 3 6 10 15 . . . 45 . . .
s 2(2 – 1)/2 3(3 – 1)/2 4(4 - 1)/2 5(5 - 1)/2 6(6 – 1)/2 . . . 10(10 – 1)/2 . . . n(n – 1)/2
Table 2 Table 1
A third task is to determine a formula for the total number of segments that can be drawn if n points are selected on the circumference of a circle. The usual approach to solve this problem is similar to the approaches used to solve the previous problems; that is, the results obtained from specific examples are tabulated (see Fig. 3, (a) – (e) and Table 2) and examined for a pattern which would yield a generalization. In this case, n is the number of points and s is the number of segments.
Other tasks that I usually use in my class are: • If there are n persons at a party and if each person shakes the hand of all the others once, find a formula for the total number of handshakes. This task leads nicely into the sum of the first n positive integers; that is, 1 +2+3+4+5+6+...+n=
n (n + 1) . 2
I usually pursue this task using physical, pictorial, and symbolic representations and focus on pattern recognition. Find a formula for the total number of diagonals in a polygon of n sides. This is related to the segment problem. The Rules of Exponents: For example,
a m × a n = a m + n ; and a m ÷ a n = a m − n Fig. 3(a) n = 2, s = 1
Fig. 3(b) n = 3, s = 3
Fig. 3(c) n = 4, s = 6
In each case students are encouraged to use inductive reasoning; that is, examine specific cases for a pattern, then derive a rule or generalization to capture this pattern. The focus is on the recognition of patterns. On a regular basis, students are encouraged to use technology (e.g., GSP, Graphing Calculator) to investigate specific cases for patterns. For example, they investigate the behavior of the graph of x + a as a varies and derive a rule to describe this behavior. The advantage of the technology is that many cases can be investigated in a relatively short period of time. 2
Fig. 3(d) n = 5, s = 10
Fig. 3(e) n = 6, s = 15
Very rarely do students use the idea of finite differences; so I would introduce it as an alternative solution. For example, in the segments problem, we have the following information, where n is the
number of points; s is the number of segments; and d1 and d2 are the differences between the consecutive terms of s and d1 respectively.
2 1 3 4
45 Table 3
From this we can conclude that s is a quadratic function of n, because we had to subtract twice (d1 and d2) to obtain a constant difference; so if we let s =
References Mathematical Sciences Education Board, National Research Council. (1989). Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1980). An Agenda for Action: Recommendations for School Mathematics for the 1980s. Reston, VA: NCTM. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989). Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1991). Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1995). Assessment Standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM. Van De Walle, John A. (2001). Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally (4th ed.). NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus. (1996). NY: Hungry Minds, Inc.
a n 2 + b n + c and substitute corresponding pairs of values of n and s we can find by solving the
1 1 , b = − , and c = 0. 2 2 n(n − 1) Therefore, s = . 2 equations that a =
Conclusion Based on my observations of the pre-service students and oral feedback from them, the experiences are beneficial to them. Their own problem-solving skills are refined and their repertoire of teaching skills is enhanced. They experience another way to solve problems and they develop another way to teach mathematics meaningfully. Some of them have actually tried this inductive reasoning approach in classrooms where they do their apprenticeship and other field experiences and have observed increased motivation, interest and perseverance among the students. Users of this approach develop conceptual understanding, they are engaged in doing meaningful mathematics, they discover relationships for themselves, and they learn to collect and organize data. Admittedly, this approach is time-consuming.
International Journal of Arts & Sciences 2(2): 44 - 47 (2007) ISSN: 1557-718X Copyright © 2007 IJAS.
The Impact of Self-esteem on High School Retention Among Girls in Northern Nigeria James B. Kantiok and Linda H. Chiang Azusa Pacific University
This study ascertained the problem of female dropout from secondary schools and its overall impact on their self-esteem in Northern Nigeria. Variables included early pregnancy rate, unwed mothers, poverty, social and religious practices.
Introduction Western education has had many problems right from its introduction in Northern Nigeria. Before the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914, the various entities maintained their independence and advanced educational systems that were highly contextual. The Northern Protectorate was strongly influenced by Islam’s traditional values and educational system contrary to the South that had embraced western civilization and its educational system. Islamic civilization was opposed to western civilization, which it perceived as secular and lacking morality. A major problem associated with western culture and education which Islam frowned at is the equal access granted to men and women. Each region maintained separate educational policies thus creating an imbalance especially between boys and girls in Northern Nigeria. Hausa-Fulani cultural practices that marry out girls at pre-puberty further diminished the opportunity for girls to attend school. The main purpose of this study was to gain insights into reasons of high drop-out rate among female secondary school students in Northern Nigeria and how this influences their selfesteem. Variables included early pregnancy, unwed mothers, poverty, social and religious practice. A comparison of girls from Christian and Muslim families was discussed and examined. The sample included 501 from the Northwestern Geopolitical Zone, which is predominantly Muslim with 102 from junior
secondary schools secondary school.
Historical Perspective Prior to the existence of the Nigerian state, education was a regional affair. Western education was more or less restricted to the south. With the amalgamation in 1914, education was officially regionalized but uniformity of the curricula was enforced to ensure the maintenance of standards. In 1955 the Western Region launched the Universal Free Primary Education while the Eastern Region stepped up the development of education in its area. While this move advanced the development of Western education in the Western and Eastern regions, the North was reeling from the effects of the Usman Dan Fodio jihad (1804-1807) that had brought almost the entire region under the control of Islam. The adoption of Western education that stressed the use of English as the medium of instruction and its association with Christianity raised suspicion among Muslim leaders who felt it was meant to convert them to Christianity (Tamuno, 1989). Between 1959 and 1960 over 40% of children of school age were enrolled in primary schools in the West and East Nigeria. Under 10% of the total enrollment was from the North. Despite the rise in school enrollment since independence, the figures for female enrollment in the North
remain very low. Between 1960 and 1996 female enrollment only rose from 37.1% to 45.5% in the area. In 1991, the National Population Commission gave the figures for female enrollment in elementary school at 51.6% of the total enrollment for the country showing a drastic increase. The figures look even grimmer when we compare the number of female students enrolled in the secondary schools. Between 1992 and 1996 less than 16% of female students were enrolled in secondary schools in the Northwest. There was less than 20% female primary school intake for Sokoto State between 1992 and 1996. Katsina State on the other hand showed some dramatic rise in numbers between 1992 and 1994 (113.8%) but witnessed a sharp decline between 1995 and 1996 to 32%. Poor enrollment in primary schools greatly impacts secondary school enrollment. Only a small fraction makes it to the secondary since girls marry between the ages of 12 and 15 in this area. Among the Hausa-Fulani, girls are married out early in life before they have developed their full potential and are inhibited by religious beliefs from expressing their true and full capabilities. A survey conducted in 1990 by the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) revealed that the rate of illiteracy was higher among women. In the Northeast and Northwest, the average illiteracy rate among men was 69% while that for females was 84.3%. Pitin (1990) indicated that although the Nigerian government has put a series of policy initiatives aimed at expanding education over the last decade, gender and class differentiation persists. Odekina (1997) believes that religious and cultural practices and indoctrination have prevented women from performing public activities and functions leading to gender subjugation. The average rural woman, especially in the Northwest, is exposed to limited education and so acquires only very few skills. The challenge of Female education In Northern Nigeria, women receive little or no education and are generally married to uneducated or semi-educated men. A girl could be very brilliant and doing well in school but some underground forces including parents and grandparents who exercise undue authority over the girl might be working against her reaching her full academic potential. Parents under intense
pressure from Islam and other societal norms or customs may be compelled to withdraw girls at the age of twelve or thirteen to marry them out sometimes to old men who already have two or more wives. If such a little girl is so unlucky and the marriage breaks up, she may resort to prostitution. This has given rise to rampant children prostitution through the Magajiya system in the area. Magajiya is the term used for an older lady who brings together young girls in her dwelling, often a large cottage or compound rented for the sole purpose of harboring prostitutes The Problem The far north is predominantly Muslim where very different cultural norms and roles have been traditionally assigned to each gender. Although Islam does not completely prevent women from going out to pursue an education, cultural misconceptions in this society have put women at a disadvantage and contributed to their general underdevelopment and financial constraints. These traditions have given girls very little opportunity to be educated beyond studying Arabic for religious purposes. Divorce is also very rampant in this area attributed to early and forced marriages. Most of these divorced rural women and their daughters often gravitate to the cities after divorce, hoping to find menial jobs in the homes of the middle and upper class men and women. However, because they are uneducated and have no knowledge of modern domestic and childcare practices, they are unable to get or keep jobs. Many simply survive by begging on the streets. Data Analysis The research studied 501 students from three states of the Northwest geopolitical zone, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano. The three states have a large Muslim population. Of the 501 girls studied, 257 were Christians while 242 were Muslims. The sample also consisted of 314 from Day schools and 186 from Boarding schools. The data showed that majority of the respondents (53.3%) went to school because they wanted to. A significant number of the girls (37.5%) indicated that they went to school because their parents wanted them to. The research sought to explore if girls enjoyed going to school. The data showed 89% went to school out of their own volition or for the joy of learning. On why girls dropped out of school, (50.3%) mentioned finance while 32.7% attributed it to
pregnancy. Poverty (34.5%), fear of failure (19%) and teasing by boys (12.8%) were other reasons for disliking and dropping out of school. On the contrary, when the girls were asked why they liked school, the majority (69.3%) said they wanted to have a successful future. Medicine (49.4%) and Banking (16%) were top choices for the girls. What could be done to make girls become more interested in school? The data showed parental involvement (79%) as a catalyst. To become more successful in life the girls felt they needed to acquire university education with 90.8% saying they would want to finish high school and go to university. Comparison between Muslims and Christians In comparing responses between the Muslim and Christian girls, the data showed that 58.8% of Christian and 47.5% of Muslim girls went to school because they wanted to. Parents’ involvement was a slightly more important issue for Muslim girls (42.6%) than for Christian girls (32.7%). Both groups enjoyed going to school with 93.8% of Christian versus 85.5% of Muslim girls. Why do girls drop out
from school? 47.3% of Christian and 55% of Muslim girls said finance was a major reason why they dropped out of school. Analysis of pregnancy rates revealed a significant difference between Muslim (23.6%) and Christian girls (39.7%) dropping out of school. Dropping out of school due to poverty was almost even for the two groups: 36.8% for Christians and 38.4% for Muslim girls. Both Muslim (60.7%) and Christian (77.4%) girls like school as a means to better their future. On the professional choice, the data showed 44% of Christian and 60.3% of Muslim girls wanted to be in the medical profession. What would make girls become more interested in going to school? The data showed 84.4% of Christian and 73.6% of Muslim girls said parental support would be a major factor for liking school. Both Christian and Muslim girls expressed a deep desire to finish high school and go to university (91.4% for Christian and 90.1% Muslim girls). Comparing the states in the north, the data showed that in Kaduna State, 61.6% went to school because they wanted to while 31.8% did so because of their parents. In Katsina State,
39.3% went to school because they wanted to while 44.3% did so because of their parents. In Kano State, 52.6% said they went to school because they wanted to while 42.1% said they did so because of their parents. Why did they enjoy school? The data showed 78.9% in Kano State, 80% in Katsina State and 96% in Kaduna State said they went to school because they enjoyed learning. On why they dropped out of school, 52.5% from Kaduna State dropped out because of financial reasons while 34.8% dropped out because of pregnancy. In Katsina State, 42.1% dropped out due to financial reasons while 35% due to pregnancy. The situation was no different in Kano State where 52.6% dropped out due to financial reasons while only 5.3% dropped out due to pregnancy. Recommendations To improve female education and give girls equal opportunity to compete in tomorrow’s world the following must be given prompt attention. • Governments at the local, state and federal levels must make every effort to bridge the educational gaps between men and women by providing scholarships to indigent female students. • There is an urgent need to address the inhibiting cultural beliefs that discriminate against women. • All constitutional constraints that affect basic legal, political, social and economic rights for women must be addressed in the constitution. • The present school curricula must be reviewed to remove gender-biases. • More women should be involved in planning and policy making, especially policies relating to women’s education. • Special programs such as networking and mentoring should be provided to encourage girls to remain in school. • Laws should be enacted to protect girls against early marriages and protect young girls from sexual predators. Conclusion This study found that formal education is in crises in Northern Nigeria and needs an urgent attention. Nigeria cannot afford to be unserious about the education of her womenfolk. There can be no significant, sustainable transformation of
the nation and reduction in poverty until the girlchild receives the basic education she needs to take her rightful place as an equal partner in development. The unique and far-reaching benefits of educating the girl-child include the proven fact that educating her is the best investment for societal development. The short and long term benefits to girls are based on the evidence that educated girls develop essential life skills, including self confidence, the ability to participate effectively in society and protecting themselves against sexual exploitation and pressures for early marriage and childbirth. Getting girls into school means the difference between life and death for millions. Other Islamic countries are attaining advances well ahead of the Northern Nigerian experience; Nigeria should distinguish between cultural and religious issues. These writers strongly recommend that the Northern Nigerian governments take action to allow women to be educated and reach their potential. References Ahiante, A. (2003). “The State of the World’s Children” in UNICEF (2001). Table 4: Education Statistics, p. 93. National Population Commission (1994). Census ’91 National Summary. Lagos, Nigeria: NPC. Odekina, B.O. (1997. Integrated Rural Development: Women involvement. Durban, S. Africa: 23rd WEDC Conference in Kantiok, A. (2001). Strategies for Promoting Small Business Among Women in Northern Nigeria: A Case Study of Kaduna State. Fullerton, CA: Hope Int’l University. An unpublished MBA project. Pitin, R. (1983). House of Women: A Focus on Alternative Lifestyle in Katsina City. In C. Oppong (Ed.). Female and Male in West Africa. London: George Allen and Unwin. Udugwomen, A.F. (2004). A Philosophy of Education for Nigerian Women: Problems and Prospects. African Symposium 4/1. UNICEF (2001). Girls Education in Nigeria. African Girl Initiative (AGEI). Tammuno, T.N. (1989). “A New National and Learning Process” in Nigeria Since Independence: The First Twenty-Five Years Education. Vol. III, eds, Tammuno, F.N. and Atanda, J.A. Ibadan, Nigeria: Hienmann Educational Books. 47
International Journal of Arts and Sciences. Vol 2 (2). 2007.