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Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

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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A doctoral program includes more than just attending and passing courses. As the highest level of formal learning, it is important to develop skills in scholarly writing, literature reviews, critical analysis, and making recommendations. These skills transfer to the dissertation process and the colloquium provides a strong foundation upon which to build.

After completing the core foundations and research courses, doctoral students are asked to begin to explore the literature about a chosen topic which will eventually lead to a dissertation topic. According to our doctoral handbook,

“This requires the student to write a scholarly paper and to present that paper in a formal, public seminar to the educational community. Presentations are scheduled each summer. The scholarly expectation is that the paper will not be simply descriptive, but will also include (the student’s and not someone else’s) analysis and evaluation. This will generally require the student to state and defend his/her own thesis about the topic.”

After multiple edited drafts of the paper, the students present their papers in formal and public forums which are held each summer. Students present their papers in a research presentation format. They are limited to 20 minutes which is followed by a question and answer period. This format is modeled after the format of a research conference.

Below is a list of the 2013 Colloquium papers being presented this year. There are a wide variety of educational topics which reflect the varied professional and personal interests of the students.

School Board Impact on Student Achievement: A Review of the Research on the Influence of Locally Elected School Boards, by Jon Holmen

Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) Use and Students’ CAS Self-Efficacy in Undergraduate College Mathematics Classes, by Daphne Sluys

Service-Learning and Character Development, by Owen Sallee

Discipline-Based Art Education K-8 and Student Achievement, by Patti Hayes

Passive Recipients or Active Participants: Exploring Views of Children in the Christian Church, by Heather Ingersoll

Principal Technology Leadership Attributes for Effective Integration of Information and Communication Technology in Schools, by Jon Tienhaara

Toward a Transformative History Education: Project- and Problem-based Learning, Reflective Assessment, and Academic Discussion, by Kimberly Jensen

Principal Instructional Leadership and Improved Student Growth, by Alison Brynelson

The Role of Resilience among High School Principals Leading Change, by Paige Wescott

An Application of Jerome Bruner’s Cultural Psychology Theory to Teaching and Learning in the History Classroom, by Eric Boyer

Pedagogical Reform in Tanzania: Issues Raised When Adopting a Learner-Centered Instructional Approach for Implementing the Competency-Based Curriculum of the Tanzanian Primary Schools, by Michael Msendekwa

Supporting Preservice Teachers in Preparation of Teacher Performance Assessment through Facilitating Reflective Writing in E-portfolios, by Daihong Chen

The Relationship Between Leaders’ Supervisory Behavior and Teacher Reflective Practice, by Lisa Truemper

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I initially began my doctoral journey solely for intrinsic reasons.  As a person who simply enjoys the process of learning, pursuing an advanced degree was a natural step in my life journey.  Well, that, and I also made a promise to my grandmother that no matter what it took, I would obtain my doctorate sometime during my adult life.  My doctoral journey was something that I was doing just for myself, just because I wanted to experience that particular level of challenge and engagement. 

I knew that I’d learn a lot during the course of my studies at SPU, and I knew that my studies would also further my understanding of theory and knowledge as it applies to education in general.  What I never really anticipated, however, was how useful and applicable my learning in doctoral program would be to my career.  I’m happy to report that I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I have put my learning to work in my day-to-day work life.  My doctorate has benefitted me in ways big and small in my professional pursuits, and for that I am doubly grateful that I persevered and completed the doctoral program at SPU.

Yes, it is true that having the letters “Ed.D.” after one’s name is a nice plus when you are a brand new building principal.  Staff, colleagues, parents, and even kids seem to hold a hefty respect for that level of educational pursuit.  That fact, in and of itself, has been a nice side benefit of my decision to complete the program.  There just seems to be an inherent respect for a person who undertakes and completes a rigorous course of study from a well-respected program such as the one offered by SPU’s School of Education.  However, the true professional benefit of having my doctorate runs deeper than just providing others with a positive perception of my ability. 

Prior to undertaking my doctorate, I had a basic knowledge of theory and relevant literature for the field of education, but now, I truly own the knowledge.  In talking with staff, parents, or colleagues, I have an extensive learned knowledge base that I can pull from at any time, because after the intensive degree of research offered by the program, I now just “know” the information.  Furthermore, I’m able to distill credible researchers and theorists from those who lack a basis for their conclusions.  Even more important, I am able to concisely and clearly articulate why one theorist has credence while another may not, and I can do so without jargon or confusion.  This has been enormously helpful as my building leadership team discusses pedagogical decisions for our team.  I also learned the art of staying current on research trends, which I know will pay enormous dividends as my career progresses. 

Another essential benefit to my work is the fact that the strong statistics emphasis provided in the SPU program has translated into my being able to guide my staff through assessment results in a way that I was not able to do previously.  In this era of growing accountability for student performance, understanding the way in which assessments are crafted and evaluated is of paramount importance.   Our discussions about state testing data and results were made more applicable and meaningful to our staff and students because I had the ability to clarify just what the results meant and how they translated into gains for student achievement.  I was also able to take complicated results and craft trend data that was eminently more useful in our building discussions.  Being able to handle staff questions about testing data, even highly detailed questions, felt very empowering to me and it clearly gave the staff confidence in my abilities as an instructional leader.    

I began my doctoral work with the goal of making myself a better person and offering myself the opportunity to engage in extended and meaningful discourse with like-minded students.  I concluded my doctoral work realizing thatthe experience transcended all of my expectations.  Yes, I became a better person, and yes, I ended the program with a wonderful cohort of intelligent and dedicated educators whom I now call my friends.  However, the journey transcended my expectations due to how it is benefitting not just me, but how it’s also benefitting my school community.  I am already witnessing the ripple effect of this on my staff and students.  It is my hope that I can continue to translate those small ripples into greater and greater effects on the achievement of my students.

Laurynn Evans, Ed.D.

Principal

Rose Hill Junior High School

Stella Schola Middle School

levans@lwsd.org / 425.881.2079

photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catspyjamasnz/

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