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Archive for the ‘Current Research and Achievement’ Category

DaaneIt is hard to believe I am already beginning my 3rd year as a graduate student at Seattle Pacific University.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be supported by both the School of Education and the Physics Department here on campus.

My Education coursework has given me insight into the world of education beyond the classroom and my work with the Physics department has helped me hone my skills as a researcher on the teaching and learning of a specific discipline. Because I have a broad background that spans scientific research as well as classroom teaching experience, this connection to both departments helps support my growth in the Physics Education Research community.

In the past, I earned undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from Mount Holyoke College, an M.S. in Physics from Clemson University, and obtained a Physics Teaching Credential at Chapman University.  Professionally, I was a secondary educator for five years, three of which were spent teaching primarily physics courses to high school seniors. I received a fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, an incredible source of support and networking for novice teachers. It was during this time that I learned of a community that connected both research and education – the Physics Education Researchers at Seattle Pacific University.

My work now focuses on learning about energy in the context of the Physics Department’s Energy Project. I began my work by observing the K-12 professional development courses offered by the Energy Project as an Interdisciplinary Research In STEM Education (I-RISE) scholar my first summer at SPU. I found myself drawn to spontaneous teacher discussions, in which teachers brought up social and political aspects of energy that did not correspond to canonical physics topics explicitly supported in the PD. This lead me to realize that while I was a high school teacher, I also taught two units on energy that failed to connect school learning of energy with energy discussed in society. I had inadvertently been missing the opportunity to connect sociopolitical energy concerns with physics energy concepts and in doing so, I left my students with two conflicting, separated views of energy. I want to help other teachers develop ways to connect these ideas for themselves, so that they can take those resources back to their classrooms. Dr. Rachel Scherr, Dr. Stamatis Vokos, and Dr. Andrew Lumpe have supported me in identifying a worthwhile research topic on learner ideas about energy and responsive energy instruction. My aim is to help reconnect those energy ideas for teachers (and students) so that learning about energy in physics sources will be more relevant outside of the classroom. My recent work has been presented at the 2013 American Association of Physics Teachers conference, as well as the 2013 Physics Education Research Conference. Relevant publications can be found here:

http://www.spu.edu/depts/physics/EPPublications.htm

The author Abigail Daane is a current PhD student at SPU.

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ImageThe consistent focus throughout my career as a HS Science teacher, principal, and professor has been a passion for helping develop environments for improved learning. As a teacher, I strove to attract the struggling science student and develop  experiences and classroom systems to give under-represented children a better chance at success. As a principal, I tried to transform culture to create effective building environments. As a professor, I’ve continued that passion to help reform districts and governance systems.

District Reform

I’ve pursued the passion of helping students with my current National Science Foundation funded grant project entitled STEM Teams: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career interest, skills, and knowledge through Strategic Teaming. This initiative allows me to partner in districts with 97% African American and impoverished communities to improve the district. This is accomplished by creating teams of teachers, and school and district leaders and working to improve the implementation and sustainability of innovative curriculum and programs in the district. The current program is based in the middle school and purposes to increase the number of students of color and poverty to pursue STEM careers. This work has been presented recently at the 2012 UCEA conference and to be at the 2013 AERA meeting.  The process of district wide teaming was published in the following book chapter:

Alsbury, T. L. (2008). Promoting sustainable leadership within the reform system. In B. Hand (Ed.), Science inquiry, argument and language: A case for the science writing heuristic [177-194]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

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School Board Governance

Another passion has been my interest in the efficacy of local control of schools through school boards. The increased centralization of schooling is evident in national movement to standardize assessment and content, and now the policy agenda seems to be focused on removing the control of schools from local community boards to a state or national level. I am currently engaged in studies of school governance in Taiwan, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and India, to name a few. I also speak around the country debating the question, “Are school boards still relevant today?” Most recently I debated this issue the ex-secretary for the office of Civil Rights before 700 school board members, members of Congress, and USDE Secretary of Education. Reactions to the debate can be found at this link: http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org/2013/01/panel-discusses-research-and-relevancy-of-school-boards/

Some of my most recent and significant writings on the school board governance include the following:

Alsbury, T. L. (In Press, 2013). Hitting a moving target: How politics determines the changing roles of superintendents and school boards . In  B.  S. Cooper, J.  G. Cibulka, & L. D. Fusarelli (Eds.)  Handbook of education politics and policy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mountford, M.  E., & Alsbury, T.  L. (2012). School boards: Nobody does it better. UCEA Review, 52(3), 11-13.

Alsbury, T.  L. (2011). Should the K-12 organizational structure of schools in the U.S. be changed dramatically? In Russo, C. [Ed.] Debating issues in American education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Alsbury, T. L.(Ed.). (2008). The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Dr. Alsbury has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 2011. He teaches educational leadership courses and mentors many doctoral students. He is a recognized national expert in school board research and received the 2008 UCEA Culbertson award for influential researcher in educational leadership.

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