Tag Archive: Secondary

Investigating mainstream teachers’ beliefs and experiences with English language learners (Education Papers posted on April 12th, 2014 )

Due to the rapidly evolving global demographics, the student population in Canada has become increasingly diverse, a transformation that has created extraordinary challenges for mainstream teachers with whom English language learners (ELLs) spend the majority of their instructional time. This qualitative study investigated mainstream teachers’ experiences, perceptions, and attitudes towards ELLs and the challenges associated with teaching ELLs. Through semi-structured interviews with 4 secondary school teachers, the study captured the situated experiences and stories of mainstream teachers who work with ELLs. While the findings indicate that most teachers have very positive attitudes and high levels of awareness of the learning needs of ELLs, the study also found that participants felt inadequately prepared to teach ELLs effectively in mainstream settings and that most teachers needed to move beyond the narrow perceptions of vocabulary as the only difficulty that ELLs experience to include the broader political, socio-cultural, and historical contexts of learning. This study could significantly add to our understanding of ELLs’ unique needs in mainstream classes and should be helpful to many educators, especially those who have an interest in instruction that is responsive to individuals and groups within our school system.

Understanding school dropout for teenage mothers with learning disabilities (Education Papers posted on March 27th, 2013 )

Educators have reported separate and extremely high dropout rates for youth with learning disabilities (LD) and teenage mothers. Although a dropout rate has not been reported for teenage mothers with LD, IT is noteworthy that many young women who experience LD also become teenage mothers, and many young mothers with disabilities drop out of high school. Researchers have identified factors that are related to school dropout for youth in general, youth with LD, and teenage mothers. Yet, until the present dissertation study, there had not been an indepth investigation of the experiences that lead teenage mothers with LD who live in poverty in urban environments to drop out of school. In the present study, I built a theory of school dropout that was grounded in the experiences of 10 teenage mothers with LD who had dropped out of school and 10 teenage mothers with LD who had never dropped out. I found that network support, school support, and motivation were critical to school persistence. In general, I also found that a lack of support, together with other priorities, eroded the motivation for school of teenage mothers with LD. After dropping out, the teenage mothers with LD reported feeling unhappy about their dropout status and developing motivation for school. As a result, all of the teenage mothers who dropped out engaged in strategies to re-enroll and sustain their reenrollment in some type of secondary educational setting. The teenage mothers who were successful at sustaining their re-enrollment in secondary education programs were those who were able to compensate for the lack of network and school supports that had led them to drop out of school. These results have important implications for future research on the school experiences of teenage mothers with LD. In addition, the study findings have important implications for designing interventions to prevent school dropout and to promote school retention and recovery of teenage mothers with LD.

The technical adequacy of curriculum-based measurement in writing with English language learners (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )

The purpose of this study was to examine the validity and reliability of writing measures that could be used to indicate general writing proficiency among English language learners. Participants were 57 students in three high school ESL classes. Students in ESL 1-2 had the lowest English proficiency n = 21); students in ESL 3 had moderate English proficiency n = 17), and students in ESL 4-5 had higher English proficiency n = 19). Predictor variables were passage-copying and free-writing. For passage-copying, students copied Hard and Easy passages. For free-writing, students wrote in response to a prompt. Three types of prompts, Picture, Narrative, and Expository, were used. Free-writing was found to be more reliable and valid than passage-copying. Alternate-form reliabilities for passage-copying were generally in the moderate range, while free-writing produced moderate to strong alternate-form reliabilities. Observed validity coefficients were also stronger for the free-writing than for the passage-copying tasks. Ultimately, 5 or 7 minutes of writing in response to Narrative prompts, scored for %CWS or CMIWS, were found to be the most promising measures for determining ELL writing English performance. Both passage-copying tasks and free-writing tasks differentiated between low proficiency and high proficiency students. Easy copying scored for CWS or CMIWS discriminated between ESL 1-2 and ESL 4-5 as well as ESL 3 and ESL 4-5, but did not discriminate between the lower levels of ESL 1-2 and ESL 3. Scoring %CWS and CMIWS for 5 and 7 minutes of writing in response to a Narrative prompt discriminated between ESL 3 and ESL 4-5 students.

Negotiating between subject area and student: The devolution and evolution of language arts traditions in Hawaiian-based education (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )

This dissertation researched how sixth, seventh, and eighth grade language arts teachers in a Hawaiian language immersion school and a Hawaiian public charter school culturally negotiate their students’ contrasting Social and educational worlds (the indigenous and mainstream Euro Western) through specific culturally based language arts teaching practices. In the first phase of the study, grounded theory design was used to compare common practices across the sites and determine where and how these practices intersected two differing educational frameworks—the language arts state standards and the Hawai’i Guidelines for Culturally Healthy and Responsive Learning Environments (also known as Na Honua Mauli Ola), which is specific to Hawaiian-based education. Teaching practices that were found to intersect the two educational frameworks were characterized as “culturally negotiated” language arts teaching practices and contextualized further during the second phase of the study, consisting of case study analyses of four teacher-participants. Five significant culturally negotiated commonalities in content, methodology, and ideology surfaced throughout the study, each characterizing the actualization of culturally negotiated language arts teaching: (1) the relationship with the “traditional” uses of and the attitude toward language, (2) the understanding and incorporation of mo’olelo [Hawaiian myth], (3) the creative means of language expression; (4) the “family” environment of the class and the connection to community, and (5) the physical learning environment in which learning takes place. These findings are presented in terms of the learning benefits for Native Hawaiian students and the innovative and necessary evolution of language arts teaching.

A study of literacy efficacy and student achievement among beginning middle school teachers in an urban context (Education Papers posted on March 25th, 2013 )

Many U.S. school districts are addressing concerns in the areas of literacy education, teacher shortages, and overall student achievement. Teacher preparation in the area of literacy education and the ability of core subject teachers to include literacy components in their daily lessons appears vital to student achievement. Teacher shortages, particularly in high need, “hard to staff urban schools, are a serious problem that alternative preparation programs help to address. Alternative preparation programs can provide highly qualified teachers in urban schools. The Transition to Teaching TTT) trained teachers provided literacy education that in turn helped improve benchmark tests, end-of-year tests, cumulative scores, and standardized test scores. The TTT Program, a joint partnership between a southeastern Virginia urban school system and a local four-year public university, provides a viable solution which addresses the need for highly qualified core teachers with literacy training in the school division. A quasi-experimental design was used to compare achievement levels of students taught by beginning core-area teachers prepared with content-specific coursework for teaching literacy skills in the TTT school-university partnership program with students taught by beginning core-area teachers who did not experience content-specific coursework for teaching literacy skills. The two groups of teachers, TTT and non-TTT, were also measured on literacy teaching efficacy based on scores from a literacy survey instrument. Results from the study in the area of student achievement revealed that middle school students taught by the beginning TTT teachers trained with content-specific coursework in teaching literacy skills achieved better overall than those students taught by the beginning non-TTT teachers who had no specific training in teaching literacy skills. Results from the literacy survey revealed no significant differences between TTT and non-TTT teachers in overall literacy teaching efficacy and their beliefs about the importance of teaching literacy skills across the curriculum. In summary, the study showed that the experience of completing content-specific coursework in teaching literacy skills positively impacted student achievement in middle school core academic content areas.

The development of a professional learning community: One high school’s experience (Education Papers posted on March 24th, 2013 )

The purpose of this study was to examine whether, and how, a group of Nooksack Valley High School teachers developed as a professional learning community through participation in a nine month action research project focused on understanding and improving student motivation and engagement. The specific research question that framed this study was; In what ways, if any, does a professional learning community develop among a group of teachers and administrators engaged in a jointly constructed action research project focused on increasing their high school students motivation and engagement in learning? This study served as an opportunity to learn about how and why professional learning community develops in a high school that appeared to be challenged with creating such communities of adult learners, focused on teaching and learning. The study used a literature based, preconceived professional learning community conceptual framework as a lens through which to conduct the analysis. The framework outlines five key elements and corresponding operational indicators. The study found that this team did develop as a professional learning community, and suggested three main categories as important factors in this development. These included leadership roles and decisions, the establishment of specific content for the action research team to learn, and common processes through which the team could learn and apply the content.

Perception of the future need for family and consumer sciences teachers in North Dakota’s public schools (Education Papers posted on March 23rd, 2013 )

Family and consumer sciences FACS) school programs provide some of the earliest opportunities for students to learn relationship, communications, teamwork, and decision-making skills that support and strengthen family life and to make healthy lifestyle choices that have a positive impact on all of society. Unfortunately, research data document a shortage of FACS teachers across the nation. Without an increasing supply of teachers, many programs may be weakened and some may be eliminated. The purpose of this study is to identify the future need for FACS teachers in the North Dakota public schools. A secondary purpose is to identify the reasons why FACS middle and secondary programs are closing and what North Dakota could do to stop this trend. A survey was sent to 185 FACS teachers in North Dakota public schools and to 147 of their principals. Completion and return rates for FACS teachers were 157 surveys 85%) and the principals were 77 surveys 52%). Frequency distribution and percentages was computed on the teachers and principals personal and teaching or administrative data, career plans, and their beliefs about the future of FACS as a teaching profession. Total means were computed for the sections using the five-point Likert-type scales for each time period next year, five years, and ten years) and for both the teachers and principals surveys. A t-test was used to determine if there was a significant difference between the FACS teachers verses the principals beliefs about the future of FACS as a teaching profession. The FACS teacher crisis will happen in the next five years and steadily continue for ten years. Retirements will decrease the supply, thus not meeting the need of middle and secondary programs. North Dakota State University FACS education graduates will not keep up with the retirements. The reason why FACS middle and secondary programs are closing is because of the lack of qualified teachers. The solution: Encouraging 7-8th graders to acquire additional life and occupational skills from high school FACS classes and to pursue a FACS teaching career by updating the curriculum and image of both the FACS teacher and the program.

A black classroom culture: Student code-switching in an inner city secondary school (Education Papers posted on March 21st, 2013 )

This project is a study of the speech of African American students within the High School classroom and their verbal communication before, during, and after class. The overall goal is to observe and study their varying use of Standard American English (SAE) and African American Vernacular English (AAVE) with a focus on the code-switching practices among these students. Through the analysis of salient parts of classroom communication, an examination of African American speech dynamics when African American students use both varieties (SAE and AAVE) is performed, extrapolating to which factors influence the use of each variety. Using the tenets of bi-dialectalism and code-switching as they exist in a speech community, this research aims to draw conclusions on the culture of this phenomenon. An inner city secondary school in Baltimore, Maryland, is used as the research site for this study.

Micro level impacts of foreign language test (university entrance examination) in Turkey: A washback study (Education Papers posted on March 21st, 2013 )

The way standardized tests affect teaching and learning is usually called backwash in educational arena and washback in Applied Linguistics. The purpose of this study is to find out whether the foreign language examination—university entrance test—influences the way teachers teach and students learn in senior three classrooms the last grade of high school) in Turkey. Secondary goal is to see the outcomess of teaching to the test and attitudes of different stakeholders towards the test and senior three English teaching in general. The data were collected through online surveys, and participants comprise of four major groups. Senior three high school students and English teachers were invited to participate to find out the nature and the scope of washback, while college students and professors are asked to participate to investigate the outcomes of teaching to the test. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the responses of the participants. The results suggest that the test is a major factor determining the flow of English lessons in senior three classrooms. The classroom materials that were reported by both students and teachers including mock tests, commercial exam preparation materials and sample test questions directly serve to the purpose of practicing for the test and indicate the relative effect of the test on language learning. The results also suggest that high school students and teachers focus more on the immediate goal of language learning which is to score high on the test and be admitted to the university by cramming for the test, and learning and practicing the language areas and skills that are measured on the test grammar, reading, vocabulary) and ignore the ones that are not tested listening, speaking, writing). Professors and college students, on the other hand, feel the shortage of not having enough practice especially in productive skills. They opine that long term goal of language learning should be to improve the ability to use the language. Based on the gap reported by these different stake-holders, findings lead to recommendations for a change in the curriculum and in the format of the test towards a more communicative and integrative one.

A black classroom culture: Student code-switching in an inner city secondary school (Education Papers posted on March 21st, 2013 )

This project is a study of the speech of African American students within the High School classroom and their verbal communication before, during, and after class. The overall goal is to observe and study their varying use of Standard American English (SAE) and African American Vernacular English (AAVE) with a focus on the code-switching practices among these students. Through the analysis of salient parts of classroom communication, an examination of African American speech dynamics when African American students use both varieties (SAE and AAVE) is performed, extrapolating to which factors influence the use of each variety. Using the tenets of bi-dialectalism and code-switching as they exist in a speech community, this research aims to draw conclusions on the culture of this phenomenon. An inner city secondary school in Baltimore, Maryland, is used as the research site for this study.