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Posts Tagged ‘Ph.D.’

Alex JohnLast year I decided to take the leap. I am currently a high school counselor and I was looking for the next thing in my career. At the Washington Education Association (WEA) state conference in 2012 I happened to pass a booth that SPU was at and noticed that there was a PhD program in counselor education. The light bulb went on in my head – I could get a degree in counselor education and work with the next generation of professional school counselors?! Sign me up! After dragging my feet (and brain) to the GRE testing center – I survived yeah!! – I began my journey of becoming a college educator.

The courses that I have taken at SPU have me reflecting on my practice as a counselor, educator and learner. I look forward to continually stretching myself and discovering new topics of interest. Most recently I have been fascinated with Self-Efficacy and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Studying these topics allows me to think about how I can apply them to my school program.

I look forward to working with future and current counselors throughout my PhD program and beyond. Sharing my experiences and learning from new student’s insights will bring another element to my practice and allow me to always be learning!

Alex currently serves as a School Counselor at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, WA. 

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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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By Robin Henrikson

The coursework at SPU for my doctoral program has been quite fulfilling. To be perfectly honest, I have learned more than I thought I would and have been challenged to grow in many ways, including improvement in my knowledge about my specialization, growth in my writing skills and in my ability to understand statistics. Perhaps most important has been growth in my self-confidence and in my ability to critically examine new research, initiatives and programs to help advise and support educators in making decisions about programs for their schools.

My area of specialization is in professional development and pre-service teacher preparation. I have been able to design a doctoral program that met my needs with a combination of coursework, independent study and hands-on experiences that will enable me to be prepared to work in a variety of positions within my area of expertise once I have completed the program. One of the main reasons I wanted to pursue my Ph.D was to help support leaders in the improvement of their schools and to support pre-service, novice and experienced teachers so they are competent and prepared to be effective teachers.

This program has been challenging and I have had to learn how to be disciplined. Balancing school, part-time work as a math and professional development specialist as well as a wife and mother of three young children is no simple task, not to mention the more than two hour commute one way just to take classes. However, throughout my time in this program so far, I have had support from different professors, each offering me a different way to grow through their unique teaching styles. I have also built great relationships amongst other doctoral students. The flexibility of taking night, weekend and online classes has allowed me to pursue my degree whereas I would not have been able to without that type of coursework design.

I am happy with my experiences at SPU and once I am finished with my program I will be a stronger person in many ways including academically, emotionally and professionally. I thank God for the support He has given me throughout the past two years.

When I am finished with this program my goals are to pursue a career working at a university where I can continue to support teachers, whether they are at the beginning of their career or a veteran. I feel confident that this program has prepared me to do that.

Robin Henrikson is a student in SPU’s Ph.D. in Education program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. She holds Washington state certification in Special Education K-12, General Education K-8, and Building Principal. Robin served as a middle school special education and mathematics classroom teacher before becoming a teacher leader. She currently works as a Professional Development Specialist for the Olympic Educational Service District 114 in Bremerton, WA. She is married and the mother of three children.

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