How students combine resources to build understanding of complex topics (Education Papers posted on May 15th, 2014 )

The field of Physics Education Research (PER) seeks to investigate how students learn physics and how instructors can help students learn more effectively. The process by which learners create understanding about a complex physics concept is an active area of research. My study explores this process, using solar cells as the context. To understand how a photovoltaic cell works involves drawing knowledge from many different areas of physics, so this provides a fertile area to study how students build understanding of complex ideas. I have used the “knowledge in pieces” theoretical framework to understand how students learn about solar cells by activating cognitive resources. In this framework, we can see learners building understanding out of more Basic bits of knowledge, known as resources, that are derived from students’ prior experience. This study seeks to learn more about how students combine multiple resources as they construct understanding of a complex physics topic. To achieve this goal, I have created instructional materials and assessment instruments used to collect written and spoken data on students’ reasoning. The analysis of this data revealed that students are most likely to successfully build understanding when they activate multiple types of resource simultaneously. I propose possible explanations for this pattern and present ways this finding could impact instruction.

Examining the effects of the flipped model of instruction on student engagement and performance in the secondary mathematics classroom: An action research study (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

In many of the secondary classrooms across the country, including the research site for this study, students are passively engaged in the mathematics content, and academic performance can be described, at best, as mediocre. This action research study sought to bring about improvements in student engagement and performance in the secondary mathematics classroom through the implementation of the flipped model of instruction and compared student interaction in the flipped classroom to that of a traditional format. The flipped model of instruction is a relatively new teaching strategy attempting to improve student engagement and performance by moving the lecture outside the classroom via technology and moving homework and exercises with concepts inside the classroom via learning activities. Changes in the student participants’ perceptions and attitudes were evidenced and evaluated through the completion of a pre- and post-survey, a teacher-created unit test, random interviews, and a focus group session. In addition, the researcher documented observations, experiences, thoughts, and insights regarding the intervention in a journal on a daily basis. Quantitative results and qualitative findings revealed the student participants responded favorably to the flipped model of instruction and experienced an increase in their engagement and communication when compared to the traditional classroom experience. The student participants also recognized improvements in the quality of instruction and use of class of time with the flipped model of instruction. In terms of academic performance, no significant changes were demonstrated between the flipped model of instruction students and those taught in a traditional classroom environment.

Building “consciousness and legacies”: Integrating community, critical, and classical knowledge bases in a precalculus class (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

Grounded in Freires 1970) notion that the purpose of education in an unjust society is to bring about equality and justice, Critical Mathematics CM) scholars consider mathematics to be a tool to understand, critique, and change the world by deconstructing power structures that marginalize certain groups. In particular, Gutsteins 2006) framework for integrating students Community, Critical, and Classical mathematics knowledge bases 3 Cs) advocates for mathematics instruction that incorporates students informal and everyday experiences. This involves investigations into Social phenomena that draw on students perspectives and experiences to inform critical analysis, while developing mathematical power. This dissertation presents the findings from a critical ethnographic study of a veteran teacher of colors approach to integrating the 3 Cs in his Precalculus class. In addition to discussing the creation and implementation of CM activities, this study examined the perspectives and participation of students of color during these curricular units. Data from 12 students of color, including interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, and student work, were collected over the course of a school year. Detailed descriptions are presented of three CM activities i.e., Local Poverty Unit, AIDS Lab, Gini Coefficient Unit). Analysis of student participation found that students engaged most fully when units integrated transparent mathematical concepts into non-traditional Social investigations. CM activities that lacked mathematical activity and/or reproduced traditional instructional norms resulted in high levels of open and passive resistance. Analysis of student perspectives found that repeated opportunities to integrate the 3 Cs promoted shifts in students orientation toward mathematics. Some students came to see new ways of learning and using mathematics that included various means of participation and connections to ones personal life. In the end, students recognized that mathematics could be relevant and powerful for making sense of the world reading the world), and acknowledged its potential for bringing about change writing the world). Findings point to the essential role personalization plays in helping students develop a sense of Social agency. That is, by prioritizing Community knowledge and inviting students to incorporate personal and family stories, teachers promote students integration of their personal perspectives and experiences into their critical analyses.

What is the perceived value of weekly participation of art classes in the elementary grades (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

This research study is dedicated to the importance of the arts, and the importance of being taught the subject of art from a licensed art educator. Bringing in a personal perspective of being an art teacher, the researcher shows his dedication to showing how the arts impacts lives on a daily basis. The overriding question of this study is, “What is the perceived value of weekly participation by fifth grade students in art classes taught by a licensed art educator?” Along with this question comes the idea of how the area of art impacts achievement in other areas of school at the elementary level. The researcher goes on to explain the rationale and the framework for the study, while detailing the research questions that will be asked to fifth grade students for his research. The research design and methodology of this paper explains that it is qualitative in nature. To conclude the paper, the researcher acknowledges the impact that being taught art has on the daily lives of each and every student that is involved in learning about the arts and taking part in creating the arts.

Achieving balance in music for chorus and band: Analysis and performance issues in Requiem by Frigyes Hidas (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

The purpose of this study is to provide a guide for conductors when evaluating issues of balance in works for chorus and symphonic band, and to assist them in realizing such works in performance. The principal focus of the document will be an analysis of vocal and instrumental textures in Requiem by Frigyes Hidas as they affect balance and textual clarity, using accompaniment types described by Hawley Ades as guides. The analysis shows that the scoring helps mitigate balance problems commonly found in other works scored for similar forces, making a variety of performance options and interpretations available to conductors. Ensemble issues are discussed as they relate to balance, as are practical solutions regarding stage setup.

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A critical content analysis of Korean-to-English and English-to-Korean translated picture books (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

This study explores cultural representations and cultural adaptations made by translators in translated childrens picture books. This study has two focuses. In the first part of this study, which is a critical content analysis, I examine the cultural representations depicted in Korean-to-English and English-to-Korean translated picture books, using cultural studies as a theoretical framework. In the second part of this study, I compare original and translated editions of Caldecott and popular Korean picture books to find out how the translators adapt cultural, ideological, and linguistic conflicts in the process of translation, using translation as a dialogic process. For the first part of this study, I found four categories related to the cultural representations: 1) a sense of belonging and societal membership; 2) constructing and challenging gender stereotypes; 3) constructing images of childhood; and 4) dominant visual images of South Korea/the United States. These findings indicate that the insider authors of Korean culture try to show authentic images of South Korea, using contemporary fiction stories. The Korean translated books also deal with various images of American culture authentically from historical fiction to contemporary fiction. However, a small number of books do not show broad cultural representations of both cultures. In the second focus of this study on cultural adaptations, the analysis directly compared original and translated editions of the same texts. The themes of cultural familiarity, adaptations regarding illustrations, completely different translations, omissions, additions, and changes of titles or book jackets were identified. These findings indicate that most American and Korean translators purposely made cultural adaptations in the process of translation in order to help target readers to have better understanding of these international books. Additionally, they did not change essential authentic features, such as the characters names and geographic names. I also found mistranslations between the original and translated editions of books. These changes could have occured because the translators lacked knowledge of both cultures or of the deep structures of the stories. The implication section provides recommendations to publishers, translators, educators, parents, teacher educators, and researchers and suggestions for further research.

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Significant life experience: Exploring the lifelong influence of place-based environmental and science education on program participants (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

Current research provides a limited understanding of the life long influence of nonformal place-based environmental and science education programs on past participants. This study looks to address this gap, exploring the ways in which these learning environments have contributed to environmental identity and stewardship. Using Dorothy Holland’s approach to Social practice theory’s understanding of identity formation, this study employed narrative interviews and a close-ended survey to understand past participants’ experience over time. Participants from two place-based environmental education programs and one science-inquiry program were asked to share their reflections on their program experience and the influence they attribute to that experience. Among all participants, the element of hands-on learning, supportive instructors, and engaging learning environments remained salient over time. Participants of nature-based programs demonstrated that these programs in particular were formative in contributing to an environmental stewardship identity. Social practice theory can serve as a helpful theoretical framework for significant life experience research, which has largely been missing from this body of research. This study also holds implications for the fields of place-based environmental education, conservation psychology, and sustainability planning, all of which look to understand and increase environmentally sustainable practices.

Common Characteristics of Effective Educators of Hispanic and Latino Students (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

Hispanic and Latino students are regarded as one of the most uneducated and educationally at-risk and disadvantaged groups in the United States, yet few studies have focused on teaching and learning in classrooms where they are making significant academic gains due to high quality teachers. Current research in this area lacks strong theoretical foundations and has produced little empirical data. As such, it was the goal of this study to identify common characteristics of effective educators of Hispanic and Latino students via theoretical elucidation through the lens of cultural competency and proficiency and culturally relevant instruction. Research questions included: (1) What do effective teachers of Hispanic and Latino students need to know about teaching, learning, and Hispanic and Latino students?; (2) What skills and abilities do they possess?; and (3) What are their dispositions? Given the study’s purpose, the research approach was that of a qualitative study employing a case study design that utilized interview as a data collection method and constant comparative analysis. Interviews from eight effective educators in a southeastern Wisconsin public, urban high school with a 98.8% Hispanic student demographic corroborated that a diverse set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions were shared amongst these educators and were consistent with findings generated by the literature review, with some additional characteristics, such as college knowledge, being brought forth, and others not being substantiated, such as analysis of instructional materials and resources. Implications of this study suggest that there is a set of principal behavioral patterns and teacher qualities that auspiciously influence student achievement and that applying these principals and replicating them in diverse contexts will help meet the needs of Hispanic and Latino students. The study’s findings also provide implications for a pre-service education and professional development framework that adequately prepares responsive educators and assists them in meeting the needs of a student population that has traditionally been underserved. In addition, findings also implicate that educators can take measures to address the challenges they face in educating Hispanic and Latino students, as well as amend the educational disparities in these students’ performance.

A case study of general education teacher use of picture books to support inclusive practice in the primary grades of an inclusive elementary school (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

Scholars advocate the use of childrens literature to help build awareness, understanding, and acceptance of disability in elementary school classrooms. Moreover, childrens literature has been used as a component of disability awareness studies seeking to improve relationships between students with disabilities and their typically developing peers. Despite this interest in the potential for childrens literature to positively impact connections between children with and without disabilities, there is a lack of empirical data describing general education teacher use of childrens literature to support inclusive practice. This study was conducted to fill this gap in the professional literature. General education teachers in Pre-K through Grade 3 classrooms n=10) in an inclusive elementary school were interviewed to understand their views about school culture and climate, strategies for reading aloud, and knowledge of inclusive picture books, the format of childrens literature most often read aloud in the primary grades. The results of the study suggested that teachers are trained to use interactive read -aloud practices but have little knowledge about picture books that feature characters with disabilities. Implications for practice include professional preparation of pre-service teachers and in-service professional development for practicing teachers regarding guidelines for selecting inclusive pictures books and how these books can be integrated into routine classroom read alouds.

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An Examination of the Phenomenon of Growth after Trauma and its Influence on Leadership (Education Papers posted on May 14th, 2014 )

Leadership development programs focus studies on the positive attributes and experiences of effective leaders. From this focus comes the next generation of leadership. This study, however, suggests that there is much to be learned in the development of new leaders from an examination of the traumatic experiences leaders face. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the influence of growth after trauma on leadership. Using a validated screening tool to determine if a leader who experienced trauma grew as a result, the co-researchers interviewed leaders to investigate the phenomenon of how growth as a result of trauma changed their leadership. The findings of this study revealed that leaders who grew as a result of a traumatic event were more learning centered, more relationship centered, and more purpose centered. Given that these findings are also attributes of effective leaders as documented in the leadership literature, the implication of these findings is that leaders who grow as a result of trauma have the opportunity to be more effective leaders.