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The need for a critical education in a democracy, its difficulties, and how to reform this field requires urgent attention. This project begins with the premise that education is necessary for a vibrant democracy. While examining differing voices that advocate for educational reform, mainly that of Critical Pedagogy, it is shown how conflicting forms are advocating similar ideals. Henry Giroux and David Horowitz, both reformers that are on opposite sides of the political spectrum appear to have similar goals. Yet, the question becomes how to solve these differences between these parties? By examining the philosophical origins of these projects and explicating differences rooted in human nature and the good, the basic differences can begin to be shown. In showing these differences it requires going back to the work of Kant. Kant shows the necessity of beginning with philosophy and examining basic assumptions in order to begin to critique and build an education that would guarantee equality.
Conceptual change has been a large part of science education research for several decades due to the fact that it allows teachers to think about what students' preconceptions are and how to change these to the correct scientific conceptions. To have students change their preconceptions teachers need to allow students to confront what they think they know in the presence of the phenomena. Students then collect and analyze evidence pertaining to the phenomena. The goal in the end is for students to reorganize their concepts and change or correct their preconceptions, so that they hold more accurate scientific conceptions. The purpose of this study was to investigate how students' conceptions of the Earth's surface, specifically weathering and erosion, change using the conceptual change framework to guide the instructional decisions. The subjects of the study were a class of 25 seventh grade students. This class received a three-week unit on weathering and erosion that was structured using the conceptual change framework set by Posner, Strike, Hewson, and Gertzog (1982). This framework starts by looking at students' misconceptions, then uses scientific data that students collect to confront their misconceptions. The changes in students' conceptions were measured by a pre concept sketch and post concept sketch. The results of this study showed that the conceptual change framework can modify students' preconceptions of weathering and erosion to correct scientific conceptions. There was statistical significant difference between students' pre concept sketches and post concept sketches scores. After examining the concept sketches, differences were found in how students' concepts had changed from pre to post concept sketch. Further research needs to be done with conceptual change and the geosciences to see if conceptual change is an effective method to use to teach students about the geosciences.
This study examines the experiences of participants enrolled in an online community college jazz history course. I surveyed the participants before the course began and observed them in the online space through the duration of the course. Six students also participated in interviews during and after the course. Coded data from the interviews, surveys, and recorded discussion posts and journal entries provided evidence about the nature of interaction and engagement in learning in an online environment. I looked for evidence either supporting or detracting from a democratic online learning environment, concentrating on the categories of student engagement, freedom of expression, and accessibility. The data suggested that the participants' behaviors in and abilities to navigate the online class were influenced by their pre-existing native media habits. Participants' reasons for enrolling in the online course, which included convenience and schedule flexibility, informed their actions and behaviors in the class. Analysis revealed that perceived positive student engagement did not contribute to a democratic learning environment but rather to an easy, convenient experience in the online class. Finally, the data indicated that participants' behaviors in their future lives would not be affected by the online class in that their learning experiences were not potent enough to alter or inform their behavior in society. As online classes gain popularity, the ability of these classes to provide meaningful learning experiences must be questioned. Students in this online jazz history class presented, at times, a façade of participation and community building but demonstrated a lack of sincerity and interest in the course. The learning environment supported accessibility and freedom of expression to an extent, but students' engagement with their peers was limited. Overall, this study found a need for more research into the quality of online classes as learning platforms that support democracy, student-to-student interaction, and community building.
Accounts in the media often demonize teachers and misrepresent what is happening in schools. Meanwhile, teachers' voices are largely absent from the national and international debates on school reform. This dissertation privileges the voices of nine participating Kindergarten through second grade teachers from a variety of public schools, including affluent schools and schools receiving full and partial Title I funding. Through observations and interviews teachers shared their narratives of classroom joys and challenges while also describing how policy has affected these experiences. A preliminary discourse analysis of these narratives was performed, identifying narratives related to nodes of the activity system of schooling. Further discourse analysis of these identified narratives revealed how these teachers' classroom experiences position them within an activity system strongly influenced by tensions between maternal relationships and the patriarchal project of schooling. A critical feminist theoretical perspective is utilized to respond to these tensions and to describe possibilities for future studies in education and the future of education in general.
This paper outlines the three research projects that I performed between 2009-present: Slow Movement Training (SMT) lab, Self-education Through Embodied Movement (STEM), and the Athletic Movement Program (AMP). It first evaluates the major issues that spawned each research project, and then provides a framework for understanding the shift in the student-centered physical and mental movement practices that I developed in response to the need for reform. The content will address the personal and professional paradigmatic shift that I experienced through the lens of a practitioner and educator. It will focus heavily on the transitions between each of the projects and finally the emergence of the Athletic Movement Program. The focal point becomes one of community needs, alternate resources and hybrid-online classroom support. The paper concludes with an overview and content comparison between the one-size-fits-all model used within public movement education and Athletic Movement Programs' strengths and challenges.
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.
Historically, African American students have been underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). If African American students continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields, they will not have access to valuable and high-paying sectors of the economy. Despite the number of African Americans in these fields being disproportionately low, there are still individuals that persist and complete science degrees. The aim of this study was to investigate African American students who excel in science at Arizona State University and examine the barriers and affordances that they encounter on their journey toward graduation. Qualitative research methods were used to address the research question of the study. My methodology included creating a case study to investigate the experiences of eight African American undergraduate college students at Arizona State University. These four male and four female students were excelling sophomores, juniors, or seniors who were majoring in a science field. Two of the males came from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, while two of the males were from higher SES backgrounds. The same applied to the four female participants. My research utilized surveys, semistructured interviews, and student observations to collect data that was analyzed and coded to determine common themes and elements that exist between the students. As a result of the data collection opportunities, peer support and financial support were identified as barriers, while, parental support, financial support, peer support, and teacher support were identified as affordances. In analyzing the data, the results indicated that for the student subjects in this study, sex and SES did not have any relationship with the barriers and affordances experienced.
ABSTRACT This study examined the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled sub-Saharan African middle school refugee students in a metropolitan area of the United States Southwest. The research questions underpinning this study included: What are the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled sub-Saharan African middle school refugee students in a southwestern U.S. state? 1a) How do they view their relationships with their teachers and peers? 1b) Can they identify a teacher or school staff member in their school community who is a significant resource for them? and 1c) What factors contribute to their challenges and successes in their school community? This qualitative study documented and analyzed the schooling experiences and perceptions of resettled refugee middle school students, who are relatively new to the U.S. educational system. Purposive and convenience sampling were sources utilized in selecting participants for this study. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used to capture the stories of 10 resettled sub-Saharan African refugee students enrolled in 7th and 8th grade, who have lived in the U.S. not more than 10 years and not less than three years. Among the participants, half were male and half female. They came from six countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia. Findings of the study revealed six major themes: teachers' helpfulness, positive perceptions of school, friends as resources at school, disruptive students in the classroom, need for better teachers, and before and after school activities. Overall, the participants in the study expressed a positive perception of their teachers and their schools, yet presented a dichotomous view of their schooling experiences and perceptions.
Due to federal mandates, Title I schools now are being asked to implement parent involvement programs that meaningfully involve parents in the schools to increase academic gains. This action research study was based on three different concepts from the literature: a) critical pedagogy theory from Paulo Freire, b) parent involvement from diverse scholars including Epstein, Olivos, Mapp, Henderson, and Gonzalez-DeHass, and c) Wenger's communities of practice approach. The study was designed to determine whether a community of practice approach could provide the necessary conditions to meaningfully involve Latino Spanish-speaking parents in school. This innovation took place for 14-weeks, during which the community of practice approach was developed and utilized during meetings. Data were collected during each community of practice meeting at two schools. The data sources were surveys, audio video transcriptions of the meetings, journal, field notes, leadership meetings, and analytic memos. To add reliability and validity, mixed methods were applied to triangulate the data sources. Results indicated that through a community of practice approach Latino Spanish-speaking parents could become meaningfully involved in their children's schools. Parent participants reported that the community of practice allowed them to dialogue, contribute, learn, reflect, and become self-aware of their role in the schools. Data also showed that parent participants applied the community of practice approach to contribute to the solution of problems at their school. After participating in the study, parent participants realized their potential to impact in their children's school. Additionally, they started purposefully becoming more interested in participating and planning activities with the parent liaison. Based on the results, further cycles of action research are suggested.
This dissertation is an exploration of various identity labels available for first-year composition (FYC) students that tend to classify them into categories which may or may not relate to the students' perception of themselves. If there remains a gap between self-identification and institutional labeling then students may find themselves negotiating unfamiliar spaces detrimental to their personal goals, expectations, and understanding of their writing abilities. This may trigger a rippling effect that may jeopardize the outcomes expected from a successful FYC program stipulated in the WPA Outcomes Statement. For this study I approached 5 sections of mainstream FYC and 7 sections of ESL/ international FYC with in-class questionnaire based surveys. The 19 questions on the survey were cued to address students' concern for identity and how course labels may or may not attend to them. With feedback from 200 participants this study endeavors to realize their preference for identity markers and definitions for mainstream and ESL sections of FYC. The survey also checks if their choices correlate and in some ways challenge ongoing research in the field. The survey reports a marked preference for NES and English as a second language speaker as prominent choices among mainstream and ESL/ international students, respectively, but this is at best the big picture. The "truth" lies in the finer details - when mainstream students select NNESs and / or resident NNESs the students demonstrate a heightened awareness of individual identity. When this same category of resident NNESs identify themselves in ESL/ international sections of FYC, the range of student identities can be realized as not only varied but also overlapping between sections. Furthermore, the opinions of these students concur as well as challenge research in the field, making clear that language learning is a constant process of meaning making, innovation, and even stepping beyond the dominant mores and cultures.