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Tag: EDCI 568

Final Blog Post…well not FINAL Final, but for the summer.

Reflections on EDCI 515 and EDCI 568: A Culinary Analogy

An illustration of how the last three weeks have gone may be seen in reference to food. That is, for twelve class sessions we as students have been treated to two complete meals (with appetizer, main course, and dessert) each day. Each of the EDCI 515 and 568 menus has followed a particular theme, distinct from each other, and each menu consisted of a variety of dishes from its theme, from hot and spicy, to savoury, to sweet, to occasionally bland (in a good way). 🙂

“Superior sushi set” by jeremydeades is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Each day, we were treated and were asked to eat each meal, to go home to digest, and to prepare for the meal the next day by studying the next day’s recipes. At the end of each day we felt stuffed full of yummy food, perhaps wanting to let the flavours linger on our taste buds, but knowing that we had to be ready for the next day’s offerings.

By the end of the first week or so, we came to realize that we were really only supposed to sample the meals, not to eat them entirely every time. Our bodies could not possibly recover in time to eat two more complete meals again each day, so we learned to appreciate each meal for what it was, to write a review of the food, and to move on.

At the end, we were asked to reflect on how those meals contributed to our understanding of meal preparation and to look forward to how we might prepare our own meal. Would it be spicy? Savoury? Salty? Sweet? A mixture? Some already know what that meal will look like. Others have no idea, but are getting closer. Since each person’s meal will not be served for about 18 months, we have lots of time to prepare, but we are cautioned not to leave that menu item preparation until the last minute. It will take time to gather the ingredients, do the prep work of chopping, slicing and dicing, and to assemble the right utensils for the type of dish we are preparing. We look forward to the smorgasbord, and hope it is to your liking.

EDCI 515 and EDCI 568

photo used with permission – yes that’s me

The scientist in all of us likes to see positive results from our experiments. We like to put our theories into practice, to test our hypotheses and observe the effects. When it comes to education and education theories, it is no different. In the classroom a teacher may wonder, “If I try this activity, will students understand the concept better? Will it produce better result on assessments? Can I observe mastery of the skill?” and then test the theory, and track the results. If the results are not positive, the teacher may not do that activity again, or modify it to better address what hindered student achievement.

The difficulty with the scientific method is that it is not always appropriate for the type of questions being asked. If the question is “Which activity will allow student A to understand the concept better?” then the experiment and results look very different. Results may not apply to any other student, so no definitive conclusion may be made regarding the “right” activity a teacher might use.

How does this relate to me? I have my feet firmly planted in both camps. I often think of an activity, try it out in class, and decide whether it yielded the results I expected. The results further inform my use of that activity or approach. On the other hand (foot), I also guide students through the process of exploring their interests in a topic to find the connections to the course contents. One approach is not “better” than the other; they each have strengths and weaknesses, depending on what the question being asked is.

Perhaps, as we have seen in our look at different methodology, a mixed methods approach is appropriate for me. Or at the very minimum, using both methods independently, according to the situation. As I have noted before, with a background in psychology I am acutely aware that when dealing with humans and studies on human behaviour or thinking, achieving 1.0 correlation of data is impossible – unless it is biologically rooted, like whether humans can survive without blood. So the take-away is that even the most successful theories of education will apply to most (if that) of the population. It would be a disservice to our students for all teachers to use the same approach, regardless of what the research says. Unless that research on a particular approach to learning comes in at 1.0 correlation, it is not the answer for all. So as teacher-researcher, I must be aware that in a given time with a particular group of students, I aim to get the best out of each one, knowing that some methods will work better than others. At the same time, there will be factors out of my control, for example home life or misuse of drugs (especially in high school), that will prevent that student from engaging even if the methodology is perfect for them.

What I see moving forward is that in the pursuit of a Master’s of Education I will need to investigate research methodology more deeply first, then look to the one that best addresses the questions whose answers I am pursuing. At the moment I see qualitative study as the approach best suited to the question I am looking at right now. That is, “What role does school climate or connectedness have to play in students’ academic success or social engagement at school?”

EDCI 515

In looking at phenomenology as a research approach, I began to see my own research question framed by a phenomenological point of view. Perhaps, as I initially looked for research that produced causality, I was doing the “square peg, round hole” type of thinking; trying to push my research question into a quantitative framework that was not the right fit. As I read more and more about phenomenology, I came to understand that that was the square hole into which my square peg was fitting. However, even though methodologically this was a better fit, I am left to answer the question that my research poses: So what? Qualitative research yields results, but what do you do with that information? If hypothetically my research yields results that say that teacher-student relationships greatly contribute to a feeling of school connectedness, what is to be done with that information? That is, so what? If I decide to try to make my interactions with students better so they have an increased connection to the school, how important is that? By what measure do I consider what is “important”? Are grades important? Is attendance? Is participation? Is long-term attitude towards life-long learning? Yes, the results are informative, but again, so what? Am I researching for research’s sake? How does this inform my practice?

What may be necessary is a reframing of the question including a different demographic of subjects. Rather than looking at subjects who are in school, it may be better served to interview subjects who are in their 20s or 30s, asking them to reflect on their connectedness in high school and how that impacted their current lives. This keeps the qualitative nature of the research but tries to address the influence in the long term, outside of the direct high school experience itself.

EDCI 568

The central question that Jeff Hopkins and Trevor Mackenzie have looked at answering is, “How do we design learning around the student instead of the teacher?” For Jeff Hopkins the answer was, after trying with limited success within the system, to go outside of the system and to literally construct a school that addressed that question. For Trevor Mackenzie, the answer was to stay within the system and look at learning design within the confines of the structure that is in place. At the heart of both approaches is Inquiry-Based Learning, which gives students ownership over their process. While the concept of inquiry as methodological approach is not new (John Dewey, 1938), it has gained momentum as educators look to make learning more individualized. Given that I am a teacher in the public education system, radical changes such as Jeff Hopkins has made, cannot be made at my level; those are structural, at an administration, senior administration, or Ministry of Education level. What I can implement is at Trevor Mackenzie’s level: in my individual classroom.

As noted in the above section, like all approaches, it is not a one-size-fits-all methodology. It has its benefits, but when dealing with humans, it may work for many, but not all, or at least all the time. Given that, it is a tool to use when it suits the time and the students. For educators, it is vital to consider using this approach because it has clear benefits to student learning, and I will use this information to guide future projects in my classes.

The other major side of the course load included a focus on engaging with the digital world of education. One of the biggest take-aways from this focus was a heightened awareness of the rights and responsibilities of education online. Having taught the New Media 10 course, in hindsight I did not do my due diligence in preparing students (or myself) on FIPPA or BC’s Digital Framework as an introduction to the course.  This is not limited to the New Media 10 course, as students and teachers need to know that any assignment or project that requires their presence online must keep those guidelines in mind.

photo used with (my) permission

Regarding that last point, in my blog submissions for these courses, after seeing the dangers of overstepping privacy concerns, I made decisions not to include images or video that might identify students or staff. As a result, the blog posts look quite sterile; devoid of personality. I could add creative commons images or video, but I still regard them as devoid of personality, or at least a personal touch. So the result is a “better safe than sorry” approach that, while cautious and better than heedless, is legitimately constrained. I leave the personal touch to wearing costumes. 🙂

568 Presentation

568 Presentation and Critical Reading of One Course Reading

Reading – School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High School Students

Overview

This study (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019) builds on previous studies on school climate and academic achievement that found a positive school climate may promote academic achievement and well-being. To look at this relationship further, the authors used a measurement called the School Climate Measure (SCM) (Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010) to further break down the term, “school climate” into ten domains, and thus identify specifically which domain had more influence than others on self-reported academic achievement in English and Math. The student population in the study was comprised of middle and high school students in a mid-Atlantic U.S. state. Students were given a survey to complete, and answers were grouped according to the SCM domains.

The study was a quantitative look at identifying which domains had the largest effects on academic achievement in English and Math self-reporting of grades. The sample size was large (n=2405) which allowed for a fair representation of the general student population. The ten different domains used in the SCM were:

  1. Positive Student-Teacher Relationships
  2. Order and Safety
  3. Opportunities for Student Engagement
  4. School Physical Environment
  5. Academic Support
  6. Parental Involvement
  7. School Connectedness
  8. Perceived Exclusion/Privilege
  9. School Social Environment
  10. Academic Satisfaction

(Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010)

Findings

Their findings indicated that the effects are small to medium, and that for both middle (Table 2) and high school (Table 3), Academic Support had the highest effect, although it was a medium effect (13% of the SCM variance for middle, and 17% of the SCM variance for high school). Among the next highest for both groups were Academic Satisfaction (11% middle, 12% high) and Positive Student-Teacher Relationships (10% middle, 12% high). As for noted limitations to the study and the findings, one limitation as noted by the authors was that the ethnic demographic was predominantly white. The results may look different with a student population that is more ethnically diverse. As well, grades were self-reported, so the risk of skewed memory and bias needed to be considered.

Personal and Professional connection to the paper

The personal and professional connection to the paper revolves around the idea of “school spirit.” Outside the classroom there are many factors that can affect a student’s academic achievement. According to the domains of the SCM from a teacher’s point of view, the factors that a teacher may affect are “positive student-teacher relationships; academic support, school connectedness; order and safety; and academic satisfaction.” Of the preceding list, the aspects that resonate personally are the socially themed, “positive teacher-student relationships” and, “school connectedness.” While the domains are not specifically defined, what may be gleaned regarding their scope can be seen in the questions that were in the survey. According to the SCM survey, the categories broke down to the following groups of statements:

 

Factor 1: Positive Student–Teacher Relationships

Teachers understand my problems

Teachers and staff seem to take a real interest in my future

Teachers are available when I need to talk with them

It is easy to talk with teachers

Students get along well with teachers

At my school, there is a teacher or some other adult who notices when I’m not there

Teachers at my school help us children with our problems

My teachers care about me

My teacher makes me feel good about myself

 

Factor 2: School Connectedness

My schoolwork is exciting

Students can make suggestions on courses that are offered

Students are publicly recognized for their outstanding performances in speech, drama, art, music, etc.

If this school had an extra period during the day, I would take an additional academic class

This school makes students enthusiastic about learning

Students are frequently rewarded or praised by faculty and staff for following school rules

(Adapted from Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010, Table 2)

Research Topic

School climate and its effect on student academic achievement.

While there are many theories about methods of teacher instruction and student learning that contribute to student academic achievement, this topic concerns those factors outside the classroom (which may or may not include direct contact with the teacher), that may also contribute to academic achievement. While others have focused on connectedness and student health (McNeely & Falci, 2004), this is concerned more with academic achievement.

Research Problem

How can school climate contribute to increased student academic achievement?

The difficulty in trying to find causality with these two subjects is that school climate at best, has a moderate direct effect on student academic achievement (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019). What is more likely is that school climate has an indirect effect, and the long term results of the benefits of school climate may not be seen for years afterward. Nonetheless, the question may still be addressed in the moment by connecting school climate with positive student attitude towards schooling, which may then lead to increased academic achievement. In the Daily et al. study, while the effects were not high, there was a significant increase in self-reported academic achievement.

Purpose of interest

The purpose of my interest in this topic is to determine whether active efforts to create a positive school climate makes a significant impact on academic achievement of high school students. This may lead to a greater emphasis on school administration and school staff working on “school spirit” as much as pedagogy.

As a teacher who not only likes to inject energy into a class, but moves beyond the classroom to all areas, both physical and metaphorical, of the school, I am interested in knowing whether those efforts have a tangible outcome in students’ lives. While the effects of wearing a costume in school may create school spirit in the moment, how does this affect students’ achievement, or sense of belonging/ connection/ community, mental health, or future attitude towards education?

Future research questions

Among the many questions that arise from this inquiry are whether it is the job of the teacher to do this work, and what factors create the greatest increase in academic achievement? What expectations should be placed on the school to monitor school climate? 

 

References

Daily, S. M., Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Smith, M. L., & Zullig, K. J. (2019). School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High                      School Students. Journal of School Health, 89(3), 173–180. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12726

McNeely, C., & Falci, C. (2004). School Connectedness and the Transition Into and Out of Health-Risk Behavior Among Adolescents: A                                   Comparison of Social Belonging and Teacher Support. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 284–292. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-                                       1561.2004.tb08285.x

Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., & Hedges, L. (2004). How Large Are Teacher Effects? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,26(3), 237-257.                        Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/stable/3699577

Zullig, K. J., Koopman, T. M., Patton, J. M., & Ubbes, V. A. (2010). School Climate: Historical Review, Instrument Development, and School                             Assessment. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 28(2), 139–152. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734282909344205

 

568 Week 3

Monday July 15

ReadingsDive into Inquiry (for the 6-12 educator) & Inquiry Mindset (for the K-5 educator)

GuestTrevor MacKenzie

Reflections – Trevor presented a good overview of Inquiry-Based Learning and its practical uses in the classroom. That he is both a Master’s student and a classroom teacher brings some level of solidarity to his talk. I have not read his Dive Into Inquiry book yet, but again, with someone in our cohort having the book already and referencing it lends more credence to its everyday use. This is not to say that other books are not useful, but knowing someone who has read the book and found it useful is a powerful statement.

“IMG_1047” by Lindy Buckley is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

I have done guided inquiry with success in the classroom, and will continue to explore how I can use it in other ways, especially in Japanese. As Trevor and most other instructors have pointed out, well-done Inquiry projects are guided, leading to free. There still needs to be checks and balances to keep students to a standard. At the same time, many assignments can incorporate elements of inquiry that allow students choice and acknowledgement of, and nurturing of, their passions.

Tuesday July 16

ReadingsThe Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course by Tessaro, Restoule, Gaviria, Flessa, Lindeman, & Scully-Stewart (2018)

GuestColin Madland

Reflections – Our two guests – 515 guest, Shauneen Pete, and 568 guest, Colin Madland – provided interesting perspectives on two issues connecting aspects of the Truth and Reconciliation report. As Dr. Pete pointed out, her call to action has been 30 years in the making. Her life’s work has been to change how the educational system, mostly centred on post-secondary, has not allowed for a substantive shift in incorporating Indigenous ways of teaching and learning. Colin Madland’s research and interests lie in bridging the gap between Indigenous ways of learning versus Online learning. Both guests are asking the question, “How can this be done?” At the heart of both perspectives is the acknowledgement that Indigenous ways of learning are different than the dominant settlers’ ways of learning. This does not mean “less than,” or that because it is different, that in a win/lose situation, that the Indigenous ways must bow to the dominant culture’s ways. So the challenge for Colin Madland is to find a way to blend the venn diagram in a way that keeps the Indigenous ways intact.

Wednesday July 17

Readings – In Public: The Shifting Consequences of Twitter Scholarship by Stewart (2015)

Guest – Bonnie Stewart

Reflections – On the one hand, there are many examples of Twitter gone bad; on the other hand, there are many examples of positive Twitter interactions. The reality is that all social media platforms have their positive and negative aspects. What all users of social media (and commenters of social media) must come to grips with, is that the power is in the hands (or fingertips) of the user. I can’t remember who brought up the TV analogy, but those who use or grew up with TV, got used to turning the channel until they found a program or station that they found to their liking, skimming over the “garbage” – or content that they disliked. One may argue that Twitter (and all social media) poses the same problems of navigation. Twitter scholarship can get very divisive and heated, but with the right people and attitude, it can be uplifting and full of growth.

Thursday July 18

Viewing – Education as if people mattered TEDxTalk by Jeff Hopkins

Guest – Jeff Hopkins

Reflections – I appreciated Jeff Hopkins coming to talk about PSII and his background. As I reflected about his talk over the next day, I came to a realization. This is not about the importance or relevance of the school he has set up, because it clearly has exceptional educational practises. This is about how humans receive information. Based on an understanding of human psychology, it is easier to change behaviour than it is to change beliefs. That is, it is easier to change what one does, than what one believes. In light of that, when anyone – and in this case, an educator – talks about a better way to do things, the approach is as important as the information itself. The person receiving that information can absorb the content in one of two ways: one, as a reflection of what he or she does, which can, without much effort, be changed quite easily; or two, as a reflection of who he or she is, or what he or she believes, which strikes much deeper, and is much more difficult to change. If the implied message is, “You are doing things wrong,” and the interpretation of that message is about what one does, then the response may be, “I will change my behaviour.” However, if the interpretation of that message is about who one is, or what one believes, then the response may be, “I must defend my core belief that I am a good person/teacher.” This is a protection of the ego, and it puts people on the defensive. Having said that, this is not an indictment about the worth or credibility of PSII or of Jeff Hopkins as an educator, but rather how he may broach the topic of changing the educational system, especially to teachers who are in the system. His information is valuable and necessary for growth, but as he acknowledged himself, he couldn’t affect wholesale change from within the system, which is why he got out. Of course there is no doubt we all came away from his talk with ideas on how to improve what we do.

 

My apologies for the post with nary an image or video (well, one). I am getting there (I searched the creative commons images and attributed the image! 🙂 ) but my energy mostly went into organizing my thoughts in time to post.

 

 

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