All posts by almirazhakupova

A long way of research mastery is so close…

When we started our Educational Leadership Program in August 2014 it seemed so long to complete our program in  June 2016… Time flies so fast that now I  realise even these two years were not easy, sometimes overwhelming, but  it was the most memorable experience in my professional and self-development.

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to all our professors who taught us different courses during this time and my dear  groupmates. Namely to our supervisor, Dr. Rita Kasa and especially to our Instructor, Phil Montgomery for their great patience  in mastering our academic, research, critical analysis skills, for all support you are providing to us during this long and exciting way in completing our Master Thesis.

Thanks to our English for Thesis Writing course I learned so many useful things, that analysing and reviewing other’s writings  I have got meaningful experience to improve my own style of academic writing. Frankly speaking, all the assignments we had been given to do during two years seemed a real disaster. However now closer to the final end of our research paper writing  I feel the impact of all expereinces I have got from “not connected to our thesis assignments”. I confess and highlight the  course program for this course IS IDEAL!!! This course is the most helpful in thesis writing and it must be conducted from the first day of study!

Fast and crucial  feedback from our Instructor, Phil Montgomery  during this course regularly helps  me  to be an effective writer IN MY THESIS and  demonstrated how much success you can achieve being PASSIONATE about what you are doing!!!



I am getting a real researcher…

Writing a full thesis is … so exciting, if you choose the topic of your interest. From my last experience I can say that during one of the courses last semester we should have chosen the topic and written research proposal, which we could continue this academic year. Last year, I had difficulty choosing the worthy issue to research. I chose a topic for which I lost my interest in a couple of months. I remembered forever how one of our professors said: “If you have no passion to your research topic, forget about it. Don’t do it!” This is true, I had no continuous interest to study my topic further about perceptions of students working in homogeneous and heterogeneous groups, I got upset spending time for the research which seemed to me boring.

As last year was also my first year at NIS school I was learning a lot of things and thinking about various issues related to teaching. During the semester in a new academic year I changed my thesis topic. However, again I had a real trouble choosing the research issues, which findings could be beneficial in practice: I was thinking about the best option by reading educational magazines, analyzing issues at school and department meetings. A lot of topics were interesting to me, but how much or how long?

Our “Thesis Writing” course in fall session 2015 helped me to define the topic I am eager to research. Listening and discussing research topics with my groupmates in our thesis group, I have defined my topic of interest: “Perceptions of formative assessment by teachers in experimental schools in Kazakhstan”, because formative assessment one of new reforms in education system in Kazakhstani context. Reading more about it I was getting more excited to complete my full thesis. Inspiration from the topic drives me further to do my research about the topic with more passion. This makes me feel proud of making the right choice of issue for full thesis writing.

Another struggle I am still having is writing literature review, which is the core part of full thesis. To be honest, the more literature I read, the more difficult is to connect the ideas. As my lit review reminds more summary of lit review, rather than analysis and synthesis of the material I read. Having more practice and analyzing  common errors, the situation is changing thanks to  our instructors and professors for their support in organizing our work to be more effective. I am working hard to manage with this obstacle by following all their recommendations and readings. Gradually it is getting easier to write a lit review, not a summary.

If I were the instructor I would recommend to my students before they choose thesis topic, to think about the ways, how it could be connected with online learning for writing their  mini-thesises because online learners are working people, who lack   time to do extra assignments even they are important step in their  writing progress.

Another recommendation is I would ask students to write a small lit. review on a regular base as a sample for their full thesis, providing the chance to work effectively in the right way.

I wish productivity to all researchers!!!


My new experience in small-scale research …

Today online education is widely spread around the world. More and more universities suggest this approach to adult students. Graduate School of Education in Nazarbayev University is one of the bright cases in the context of Kazakhstan. Being an adult student in online learning environment I am interested in studying the perceptions of online learning by graduate students who are completing Master Program and working at the same time.

Due to the reason that it is small-scale research official consent form or ethics board approval was not necessary. The purpose of the study, how the data is going to be used and was clearly explained to my potential candidates.

I encountered some difficulties due to lack of research experience. The main challenges were defining the “right” number of   participants for my small-scale research study to get the full data. Consultation with one of our instructors helped me to define the suitable number for small-scale research.  Another one is how to make alignment of interview questions more effective, as repetitive questions took place.  The third one is that potential participants could refuse from being interviewed because of some reasons. The last one is that as a researcher you never know how the participants will react to some questions.

Choosing effective data collection tool for my small-scale research I based on the Cohen & Crabtree (2006), as the main purpose of this small-scale research was gathering reliable and comparable information, qualitative research has been considered an appropriate one and semi-structured interview was the most suitable one. The main strengths of  the data collection instrument I used was that this set of questions provided full picture of online education perceptions by adult students. Talking personally to each interviewee you can observe their emotions, tone of voice and their perception of online education.  The main weakness of semi-structured interview is creating questions and transcribing the interview is time consuming process, but it worth it.

In conclusion, semi-structured interview is a good way for getting comparable data, even though some questions could embarrass some participants. They were guaranteed about anonymity and confidentiality from the beginning of interview.


Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006). Semi-structured interviews. Qualitative Research Guidelines Project. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

Sway is a unique tool for bright and exciting presentations…

Nowadays modern development of technologies has impact on teaching and learning as well. There is a great deal of “innovative” technologies for diverse preferences. Everyone chooses the most convenient one for their teaching approach.

I am interested  to use Sway presentations by Microsoft at my lessons because it suggests lots of possibilities to make learning a real pleasure.  As most of  students percept better visually this will empower the study process. It is  a tool for interactive presentations from my browser, saves  time by adding photos  from my laptop, Internet, Onedrive or social nets. Also I can create electronic textbooks, by adding hyperlinks, interesting facts, photos and videos, questions mainly involving my students and raising their curiosity. Using Sway as modern innovative approach teachers can create exciting study material. Making photo-book provides an opportunity to create students’ own illustrated stories in Sway. Moreover, preparing scientific research  and reports gives a possibility to demonstrate students’ project results.

Using Sway as Multimedia portfolio of my open lessons  tell about my students’ achievements.  Sway is  perfectly suitable to make up a  picture dictionary for English teaching. Writing review about films and books  is a fine approach for development of analytical skills. Library database for professional development with various hyperlinks, recommendations, examples and instructions as  sharing is caring. We all learn something from somebody, so it is a good platform to get feedback from our colleagues around the world.

Flipped learning allows teachers to upload the lesson in sway format. It provides an opportunity to study material independently from house. Sharing sway presentation on school website is an excellent opportunity to share your school success with the whole world.

The main obstacles  is that it requires Internet connection and Microsoft account, created by organization ,namely by school. Overall without Internet access it is impossible to implement any “innovative” technology in a learning environment. Sway program should be installed on all computers in classrooms.

To overcome these obstacles teachers need to persuade the school administration in effectiveness of using Sway as one of the most pivotal elements of modern education approach. The second moment,  Microsoft accounts for the school students could be created by IT department. If to solve these two problems and let students to try what is Sway there is no doubt they will  be more excited to learn more and deeper about how the world works a  the main goal of education is to grow life-long learners, who think critically and are able to apply their knowledge and skills to solve problems.

Realize your ideas with Sway in your own way…

My long way to literature review…

My main theme is perceptions of formative assessment in Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools in Kazakhstan. Searching for close literature I defined the main themes: raising effectiveness of formative assessment in the classroom, understanding perceptions of teachers and students and implementation of formative assessment in experimental schools in Kazakhstan.

One of the main challenges for me is that while I was looking for the “right” literature, I faced with great deal of academic papers which looked like “almost fine” for my  research question. Reading them carefully I realized how far majority of them from my main interest.  Now I know the only thing:  the more you read, the deeper you start understanding your research questions from inside.  

Searching for suitable scholar papers for my research questions, as I am interested in perceptions of formative assessment by teachers is quite difficult. In most of articles I found the main concepts are the importance and effectiveness of formative assessment in science and math, whereas my main concern is English language field, even I changed  the key words according to our supervisor’s recommendation, I was not so lucky to find good literature about formative assessment of English teaching environment as a second language in other countries, but  I was lucky as one of my groupmates,  Guldana Tazhimbetova  advised me  to study Dylan Wiliam’s research, as he is one of the main experts in the issue of formative assessment for many years. Concerning the main audience, most of the research has been done in higher education and in primary schools all around the world. The main problem there has been no research conducted in Kazakhstan, as it is one of the new education reforms in the chain of NI Schools. The lack of resources highlights the necessity and importance of formative assessment in the context of experimental schools in Kazakhstan.

To be honest, I am still in the process of reading and analyzing 17 articles I chose from 52 for writing my literature review. I have just started organizing my lit review table and concept map, as well as I am trying to connect it with my research questions which   I mentioned above. With each reading I am getting more inspired  and enthusiastic to start writing my literature review, keeping in mind, that it is a non-stop continuous cycle process in thesis writing.


Implementation of uniform system in citing and formatting has pivotal role with the development of science and research. The needs of common requirements arose as it saves all users’ time, which is the most invaluable resource, taking into consideration, that everyday thousands of academic papers are written by students and accepted by professors and scholars at various educational organizations all around the globe. So could you imagine if there were not any common standards in citing and formatting? There would be a full mess because all users would use their own in-text citation, paraphrasing etc., bringing to plagiarizing, due to lack of knowledge in allowed and right using of other’s ideas. That would definitely lead to misunderstanding among all participants in academic paper writing and assessing process. Hence, unity of citing and formatting in APA system for all users makes their life easier through providing all necessary sources in text form, video, audio to use for avoiding plagiarism.

The main difficulty in the use of APA style for me as a student was when I started studying on Master’s            Program in NUGSE one year ago. When we wrote research proposal   and we started online course “Academic English”. Even though reading of guidelines supported us, however lack of practice in writing of academic papers lead to face with plagiarizing. There were two main troubles paraphrasing and citing, when there were secondary and third sources with several authors. To overcome this barrier I regularly made revision of rules suggested by University of Saskatchewan:  A concise guide to APA Citation Style (6th edition)  on, also to cite reference of diverse sources I use

In terms of advising, in order to avoid plagiarizing I would recommend to revise variety of credible sources on the use of American Psychological Association style, as not enough and regular practice using  APA is obvious in your paper. Moreover, I would suggest to read more academic papers to get used to the way how it looks like indeed. Also it makes sense to add that our online course for academic writing is helpful to improve our skills from practice to practice. So the only approach is constantly practice, try, and study carefully details of this system if you are eager to have high quality paper…

Online education today

Nowadays in the context of fast changing world, with the development of technologies, online education is being considered as a unique opportunity to get access to programs in universities in various fields. Online education is getting more and more popular all around the globe, providing potential learners favorable circumstances   to be well educated without in-campus learning. This article reflects all “stakeholders” interests, such as learners’, faculty members’, regulators’ of education, and universities themselves involved in “a new trend” in education.

According to Noam (1995) thanks to the speedy internet development, online education is getting “the pivotal element” of education. This article contemplates the impact of online learning on its participants (as cited in Mayadas & et al. 2009, p. 85)

Impact on students

Online learning is valuable opportunity for those people, who already work and do not have time to be in classroom, but are eager to grow professionally. From the data in research it is obvious that the quality of well-designed online course leads to similar results as in classroom lessons, which highlights level of instructors’ proficiency at universities.

Impact on faculty

Even though preparation for online teaching takes more time than for classroom teaching most of respondents among professors are satisfied with a new system in education due to certain meaningful reasons, e.g. flexibility, as for learners, so for instructors; professional development; teaching from home; importance for students and interactivity. However, those part of professors, who have been working for many years and not willing to learn working with new tool of education, are given assistance by the university. (Mayadas & et al. 2009, p. 87)

Governments, regulation and accreditors

Individual states are more powerful than Congress and Department of Education in regulating online education in the USA. Federal and State governments are searching the ways to protect potential online education users not impeding the growth of online education.


The authors emphasize that leadership representatives support online education strategic  priority. According to them, those  institutuions, which are not going to implement online learning will stay behind as they will not be competive in new conditions of modern world, as their profits are dependent from potential customers. (Mayadas & et al. 2009, p. 89)

In conclusion,  in this mode of learning there are advantages and disadvantages. Everything depends on an individual case and from which perspective to look at the situation. Each case depends on such factors as students’ educational and professional background and personality traits.

The main strengths are that online education improves  self- discipline, time-management, self-organization, it provides flexibility to study of “when and where” and “as long as it is necessary” to make it convenient for each student’s needs.

The main weakness of online learning, as  Xu & Jaggars (2011, p. 375) claim lack of “additional instructions and institutional support” for students. Because of not enough technical skills some students can have trouble completing the course. Another problem is the quality of internet access (especially in remote areas).  Asynchronous learning deprives experience exchange as it is classroom.


Mayadas, A. F., Bourne, J., & Bacsich, P. (2009). Online education today.Science323(5910), 85-89.

Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The effectiveness of distance education across Virginia’s Community Colleges: Evidence from introductory college-level math and English courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis33(3), 360-377.

what are the teachers’ perceptions and experiences, implementation of formative assessment in experimental schools in Kazakhstan

Nowadays in the light of changes in Kazakhstani education system approach to learner’s assessment also has been impacted by new standards. Assessment has also taken a new way to measure students’ performances. In Kazakhstani mainstream schools there is still a system of grading from “1” to “5” points, where “5” is the highest mark. Unfortunately there is no reflection for students of how to improve their skills in school subjects.

There are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative and summative. The purpose of the first one is to test the level of knowledge at the beginning of learning or academic year, in formative assessment students should be supported and directed by a teacher to improve weak sides of their learning through regular and constructive feedback. Summative one is just a final measure of student’s performance.

Since I have graduated from Professional Development Program for Teachers in Nazarbayev University, Graduate School of Education where I found out about new assessment system, namely Formative Assessment and since I started working in the system of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools I faced with the use of Formative Assessment. Undoubtedly, formative assessment is helpful students’ performance measurement tool indeed to support learners in developing their skills in various subjects.

Working in a new system, I noticed that due to the reason that everyone’s perceptions are different, hence each teacher can interpret formative assessment in his/her own way, so I became interested in the perceptions of formative assessment among local teachers in experimental schools who apply this stage of new assessment in their practice and to what extent is it helpful for teachers and supporting for students’ progress to assess learners by our teachers. Surely, all teachers in experimental schools follow new standards of assessment; however there is an assumption that formative assessment used in experimental schools in Kazakhstan sometimes reminds more summative assessment due to the reason that formative assessment takes places mainly through worksheets.

Taking into consideration that formative assessment is the pivotal stage for the learners’ progress in their final performance there is need to study teachers perceptions to find out how much effectively do teachers  use this meaningful stage of assessment in their practice. To sum up I chose this topic for my thesis because I would like to understand better perceptions of formative assessment as a new tool to measure and support learners’ progress by Kazakhstani teachers.