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Effectively educating students with autism is a necessary element in providing all students with a free and appropriate public education, and as the number of students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder continues to increase in both public and private educational settings, providing successful and satisfactory professional development opportunities in the area of autism is becoming increasingly essential. This study explored the experiences of twenty-three educators in a suburban southwest K-12 public school district, as they participated in a fifteen-hour professional development course in an online or face-to-face format, and collaboratively problem-solved their challenges in educating students with autism. Qualitative data was collected from participants' weekly written reflections and comments from a pre- and post-survey on attitudes, to determine quality of and satisfaction with collaboration in relation to course format. Results indicated that the online format produced higher-quality collaboration when it came to presenting one's own situation(s) to the group, finding group discussions helpful, having enough time to collaborate, providing feedback/suggestions to group members, and perceiving suggestions for one's own situation as helpful (as evidenced by the number of suggestions that participants said they would likely implement). The face-to-face format produced higher-quality collaboration when it came to in-depth problem-solving regarding a situation, implementing suggestions for one's own situation, and relating course content to collaborative activities. Participants' attitudes about using technology as a means of collaboration showed little change overall from pre- to post-survey. Though slight increases in positive attitudes concerning technology were found in various areas, many participants still thought highly of a face-to-face format for collaborative purposes, even after participating in the online professional development course. Findings may be of use to educational institutions developing online or face-to-face professional development opportunities in the area of autism.
The purpose of this action research study was to implement and study a systematic
framework for using data inquiry and collaborative teams to improve practices that affect the post-school outcomes of students with disabilities. Teams at six high schools in a large public school district participated in a multi-level intervention involving work within their teams, collaboration with other schools, use of a web-based tool to examine data, and support from district leaders. Ultimately, teams used data to identify change targets, linked those to evidence-based predictors of post-school success, and designed action plans to change practices and programs related to post-secondary transition at their schools.
The researcher used a mixed methods concurrent design to explore how participants engaged in situated learning and a process of collaborative meaning- making to reflect on and change their practices. The researcher used a collaborative team survey and observations to collect data from all teams, as well as an in-depth case study of one team to collect further data through a focus group, semi-structured interviews, artifact analysis, and observations. Qualitative data analysis incorporated both inductive and deductive approaches through initial coding, focused coding, and mind mapping.
Results suggested the data inquiry process enabled school teams to construct meaning about their practices, and through collaboration, they were able to develop deeper understanding of problems and solutions. A comparison of means and standard deviations of five survey constructs indicated teams placed high levels of value on collaboration within their school teams and with other school teams. Furthermore,results suggested establishing a continuous improvement process to address post- secondary transition provided structure and sustainability for examining data and making changes in practices. This work resulted in the implementation of an ongoing continuous improvement process for special education practices in a large public school district.
This mixed methods classroom research examined if accountability groups in the lower proficiency levels of a university intensive English program would improve students’ language acquisition. Students were assigned partners for the study period with whom they completed assignments inside and outside of class, as well as set goals for use of language in their own context. Based in the ecological perspective and socio- cultural theory, activities reinforced social bonds, scaffolded the learning objectives in a communicative way, modeled the transfer of knowledge to the world outside the classroom, and allowed students to create new affordances in which to practice and use the language. Analysis of qualitative data from interviews, text messages, exit slips, and field notes, as well as quantitative data from student academic records, pre and post tests of curricular objectives, and pre and post attitudinal surveys, showed that students were developing a stronger sense of autonomy in their language learning. They viewed their peers and themselves as knowledgeable others, helping one another to learn vocabulary and structures in each student’s zone of proximal development. Learner engagement in the treatment groups, as measured by classroom attendance, increased over a control group, as did overall grade averages in all courses. Students with no previous time in the program showed more improvement than those who had been in the program for at least one session prior. Students also showed increased fluency, as measured by the word count on a constructive task in the pre- and post-test of curricular objectives.
Nursing school can be challenging for undergraduate students, largely because they do not know what to expect in terms of the demands of the rigorous academic program. Students who enter the program with unrealistic expectations of the demands, such as underestimated time needed for studying for exams or preparing for clinical and class time, as well as the emotional toll of time away from family and friends are often challenged with being adequately prepared for the day-to-day experience of nursing school. Once students have been in the program a few semesters, they begin to get the flow of the expectation as well as an understanding of how to manage their time. Unfortunately, if their adjustment period is not quick enough, they can academically or voluntarily withdraw due to the pressures of the demanding curriculum. In order to combat this phenomenon and give students a perspective that can assist them in their adjustment period, a Student Navigator Program (SNP) was implemented at a local community college. Data was collected from experimental and control groups using a mixed methods research design - comparing final grade percentage, performance on a standardized exam, and use of support services. The quantitative data suggest there is no statistical significance in participation in the SNP with the exception of a few select cohorts. The qualitative data suggest the SNP program is helpful at the beginning of the first semester of nursing school. Taken together, the data suggest the SNP can be helpful in the beginning of the semester for willing participants to assist with managing the unknown. Data from this study guides nursing programs as they aim to retain current nursing students through the first semester and progress through the program.
Traditionally when the topic of secondary traumatic stress (STS) is discussed, it is often in regard to medical professionals and first responders. People who have STS or compassion fatigue, as it has been renamed, have been defined as people who are dealing with traumatic stress and/or emotional burdens via their “patients.” This study, conducted at a major university in the southwest, measured educators’ perceptions of the extent of their compassion fatigue using the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL) before and after a voluntary online support training during last four weeks of the semester. Educators who were full time scored better than the educators who worked part time on the three components of the Compassion Fatigue Scale. Results from this study suggest that additional training surrounding compassion fatigue may be needed in the future.
This mixed methods action research study explores the phenomenon of Navajo storytelling from the student perspective, exploring views of their experiences, and how those experiences and perceptions impact their learning. Navajo storytelling reflects the traditional teachings of the Dine, and serves as the foundation to character building promoting the concepts and processes of T’aa Sha Bik’ehgo Na’nitin (“sense of direction”). The design of the study supports the students’ achievement by utilizing a storytelling approach to teaching that organizes learning around the principles of critical thinking (nitshakees), planning (nahata), reasoning (iina), and creativity (sihasiin) found in the Dine educational philosophy model, Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon. Goals of this study focus on the subject of traditional storytelling, Navajo folktales, to determine how the teaching and learning influences the processes by which a student makes decisions. Through oral storytelling the teachings place priority on creating a nurturing, respectful, and culturally inclusive environment based on Diné knowledge and language.
This study investigates the success of a method used to encourage active engagement strategies among community and research faculty in a College of Medicine, and examines the effects of these strategies on medical student engagement and exam scores. Ten faculty used suggestions from the Active Engagement Strategies Website (AESW), which explained four strategies that could easily be incorporated into medical education lectures; pause procedure, audience response system, think-pair-share, and muddiest point. Findings from observations conducted during sessions where an active engagement strategy was implemented and when strategies were not implemented, faculty and student surveys, and exam question analysis indicate faculty members found active engagement strategies easy to incorporate, student engagement and exam score means increased when an active engagement strategy was implemented, and students reported perceptions of attaining a higher level of learning, especially when the pause procedure was implemented. Discussion and implications address low cost and easy ways to provide faculty development in medical education that potentially improves the quality of instruction and enhances student outcomes.
International schools and international education initiatives are experiencing tremendous growth as the world’s economy continues to globalize. International schools operating outside of the traditional boundaries of state and national contexts have become havens noted for their diverse and multicultural staff, student bodies and school communities. However, the challenges facing international education have only recently begun to be studied independent from their traditional teaching counterparts. International schools, and any study associated with them, require an individual approach for identifying and solving the challenges unique to their context.
“I’m Leaving!” is an action research study which incorporates phenomenological hermeneutics, action research, and a transformational innovation to examine the social structures associated with the decision-making process of the “I’m Leaving!” phenomenon and the administrative action developed in response. Guided by Transformational Leadership Theory (TLT), this study combined the latest action research methodological perspectives with hermeneutic tradition and Professional Learning Community (PLC) theory to provide a deep and unflinching view into the real and lived experiences of the one subject often forgot about in educational research: the teacher. The study results confirm previous study findings that teacher feelings and perceptions of the leadership effectiveness, teacher-leader relationships, and teacher professional growth opportunities were all improved after teachers participated in an action research communities.
Arcadia Elementary School is an urban Title 1 school that serves 800 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school uses a commercial program called Make Your Day to manage student behavior. This program, aligned to the tenets of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), meets the needs of most students but not the most frequent classroom disruptors. This mixed methods participatory action research study explores the how an understanding of a frequently disruptive student's ecology can lead to more effective support and improved behavioral outcomes. The Behavior Intervention Team process consists of effective data tracking tools and practices and a team-based, data-driven approach to student behavior analysis and is a model for how urban schools can leverage existing resources to better support disruptive students.
The purpose of this project was to research the effects of a professional development intervention designed to build local capacity for technology integration among teachers at the school level. This was done by providing focused face-to face and online training to twelve teachers referred to as the Technology Core Teacher (TCT) group. This project utilized the theoretical framework of social learning and communities of practice to provide an environment of ongoing support for technology integration. The findings addressed four areas: the TCT teachers' practice, their technology skill levels, the use of the online collaboration tools utilized for collaboration and virtual synchronous meetings, and whether the TCT teachers demonstrated signs of being a self sustainable community of practice. The findings demonstrate that the intervention had an influence on the participating teachers' practice and influenced the practice of other teachers as well. TCT teachers increased their skills when applying new learning with their students. TCT teachers used online collaboration tools minimally for communication, and synchronous meeting tools presented some difficulties. TCT teachers showed signs that they may be a sustainable Community of Practice. Although teachers reported that their technology skills increased, a pre-post survey of skills based on the ISTE NETS-T Assessment yielded lower confidence scores after the intervention. A follow up survey designed to explain these results indicated that teachers rated their skill set lower in light of more knowledge, indicating a possible paradox in self reporting of skills prior to awareness of technology based learning possibilities.