Firstly, I would like to say that I am very happy that NUGSE offers programs based on distance learning. Due to flexibility of distance learning in time, schedule and place, it is very convenient for students with jobs, family duties, etc. Nowadays, distance or online learning is very popular among students, since it gives opportunity to obtain knowledge for those, who cannot participate full time due to various reasons. Nonetheless, like a coin with two sides, distance learning has several limitations as well, and I would like to share them from my own perspective later in this post.
Unlike ordinary educational program, distance learning allows to pursue jobs along with learning programs, which is mainly suitable for graduate students. Furthermore, you can decide by your own when and where to do you assignments, so, time and place depends on your own comfort. This kind of programs is very comfortable for students with parental duties and students with high multi tasking skills. However, lack of face to face interaction with instructor could result in technology dependence, since you contact via emails, the lack of discipline and the learning curve for some students.
Personally, I suspect that I fall into the category of students, for whom distance learning resulted in the ‘learning curve’. Sometimes it is very hard to manage time for the online assignments after hard working day. And if you miss one work, you start to perceive late submissions as an OK thing. While on intensive courses you try to do every single assignment on time. Therefore, I need to manage properly my time for online discussion and posts next semester. Nonetheless, it totally depends on the personality itself to gain quality education from distance based learning, and some students are able to make the most from this pattern of learning having jobs and family duties.
To conclude, I would like to advice for online learner and myself as well, to properly manage the time for successful outcomes from distance learning.
The nature of the human being involves constant search for the answers in the process of discovering new knowledge. Thus, researches are very crucial to shape some understanding in societies. While societies and people are diverse, requirements for the research designs are also different in different countries. For instance, in Kazakhstan, the governmental officials and researchers mainly value facts and numbers. If you want to change something and prove that your statements are true and worth to pay attention, then bring numbers and statistics to the Ministry of Education and Science. This is the way research is valued in Kazakhstan.
In my viewpoint, there is a reason for this pattern in the country. There are so many reports and papers educational department deals with each day, and quantitative data is the most effective way to simultaneously demonstrate the significance of the study and it is also effective in terms of timing. I made this claim based on my undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Statistics. However, this kind of attitude towards research in the country lacks a various aspects, such as details, circumstances, and perceptions, which could be found in qualitative research designs. Therefore, I strongly believe that both sampling ways should be paid attention.
To be honest, being Statistics teacher and having degree in Mathematics, I valued studies supported with numerical data more, than qualitative ones before. However, after Research Methods courses, I changed my attitude. There is important detailed information missed in numeric statistics. Though, the first one is usually easier to analyze. My thesis on alternative assessment and curriculum alignment, which is a case study, will be based on numeric data showing performance of students, and will include qualitative data with the help of interviews. I think this is one of the effective methods in sampling, since it involves both quantitative and qualitative data.
Last year, I had child with cognitive disability in my classroom, who was constantly struggling with concentration and, therefore, could not write an ordinary exam on the lessons. I knew that his abilities are beyond the results he shows on exams, since he demonstrate good knowledge when he is asked verbally. Thus, as an alternative solution for him, I proposed to use alternative assessment approach, which was also part of my work-based project last spring. The results of my students significantly improved after application of alternative approaches, especially in Mathematics, which was a motivation for me and the turning point to change my research topic to “The alignment of Mathematics curriculum and assessments applied for students with special needs and its connection to student performance in one of the schools in Astana, Kazakhstan”.
According to the legislative documents, students considered as having special needs should be taught by individualized programs. Nonetheless, due to vague instructions, students with special needs and disabilities studying at mainstream institutions are taught and assessed in accordance with state standards. As a result, they mainly show underachievement and poor performance, which negatively affects their personal esteem and motivation to study. Thus, I would like to suggest making a study on the alignment of national curriculum, instruction and assessment for students with cognitive disabilities, and observe how performance of students changes after using alternative assessment methods. I believe that in this way Kazakhstani curriculum and assessment could be modified and accommodated according to the needs of students, and it will show progress in results as well.
Though, I have very limited experience in the field of education, work-based project I made and the research studies conducted before show that this area needs further study. Especially, in Kazakhstan, where child oriented approach and inclusive education in general are on their initial steps. To conclude, I am very excited about my thesis work, and hope that it would be beneficial in the inclusive education field.
As I missed the first blog post, let me start from short description of my thesis work. The area of my research is dedicated to study of alignment of national curriculum in Mathematics for students with special needs in Astana. In other words, I will try to analyze approaches of Math teachers in adopting core state standards for Mathematics for vulnerable students. Moreover, I will study in what ways objectives of the course are met and assessed.
One of the challenging parts of such uneasy thesis work is to find quality academic studies and articles. Since this is very time consuming process, I kept on just reading for the couple of months prior to this period. It helped me a lot to shape the idea of my thesis work and to figure out in what manner I should organize it. There are a lot of sources on alignment of national curriculum in context of other countries. Nevertheless, only number of them could be related to my topic.
After reading and synthesizing diverse sources I started to write one of the most crucial components in research work, which is writing a literature review. Basically, literature review discusses and summarizes previously published information in a clear manner, so that it could give a reader background information about the topic. In order to follow the general function of this part of thesis study, I decided to divide this section into several subtopics, which covers studies related to state curriculum for Mathematics and its limitations, the general understanding of alignment of national curriculum in diverse contexts, experience of Math teachers teaching students with special needs and assessment of students’ learning outcomes. Moreover, I will highlight similarities and differences of authors’ works related to the alignment. For instance, researchers, such as Kurz, Elliott and Wehby have done significant studies in this area, and I will constantly recall their works in my literature review section.
To add, throughout the whole process of writing my thesis work I will continue to adjust this part, as more and more valuable sources will be found.