All posts by assemkaliaskarkyzy

About assemkaliaskarkyzy

~SelfMade~

Summarizing…

Saying goodbye is always sad but let’s summarize the main aspects of my covered study.

  1. Following the topic for research. From the first days of my study at Nazarbayev University I was ready to investigate the issue which was important for me during my work period. Each session and each course helped me how to explore the topic. In this case I think that it’s better to inform students who are going to be accepted by university on master programs about their desired theme to research in advance.
  2. Time management. During my study on bachelor programs I never met the problem with deadlines and here I faced some difficulties with the certain period of time for each assignment. Also it was new for me because even at work I have my personal assistant who is in charge of planning my day. It took quite a lot of time to adapt when only me is responsible for the right distribution of time. This challenge is solved only by the student and permanent practice which is given by our instructors.
  3. Real motivation to study. Looking through all my assignments that I have done, I really understand that at the each step I was inspired to read articles of different researchers and scholars and I started to think critically. I really enrich my knowledge with the help of information provided by our instructors. From each course I tried to take the best things and represent it for my further discussions in assignments.
  4. Self-study. Each course, especially the distances courses, encourages us to study by ourselves. Unfortunately sometimes I really doubted if I interpreted the theme correctly. And the recommendation here is to be in contact with the instructor who supports and directs you. It seems that they are 24 hours a day online and ready to help you. The main thing is not to ignore their help and address to them when it is necessary. We are not alone in study process.
  5. Further development. I really incline to not stop and develop further. This experience at university motivates me to perform, offer and realize other plans and recommendations how to improve our education!

Finally, in this phase of my study I’d like to prompt future students not to be afraid of hard study, on the contrary, be ready for a new knowledge, unforgettable experience and exciting feelings!

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It’s All for the Best!

I never thought seriously about online education as I always took it for granted. If they said that I had to study online, I just followed this instruction and learned online. However, fortunately with the help of our mini-project on online education suggested by our instructors of thesis writing I really explored this topic in details.

I really liked this experience and with every step (literature review, methodology) of the assignments I understand more how to apply given practice to my thesis. For my mini-project on online education I chose qualitative approach and one on one semi-structured interview.

Let’s start with the main challenges that I faced. Firstly, it was difficult for me to select appropriate number of participants in order to get more qualitative answers. Later, analyzed some expert works I understood that the main thing is not quantity but real quality of responses. And then I met the next difficulty – which questions do I have to ask? I sketched a lot of variants for my questions about online learning and the quantity of questions was enormous. After I realized that all my questions deviated from the stated purpose of research and established research questions. At this stage I remembered the advice of my supervisor who always tell me to follow the real purpose and research questions. Finally, I was full of questions and theory with posed research questions to investigate the reason of implementing the online education and why not all educators use such kind of learning system.

I had the list of questions and was ready to conduct the pilot interview. I decided that only 1 pilot interview is enough, nevertheless later I understood that it would be better to conduct one more interviews. During the pilot interview I realized that I could not really logically lead my participant to the right questions directed to my research questions. There were a lot of unnecessary information from my participants. Next challenge was adaptation to each participant. It wasn’t easy just asking the same question for each person. I was luck that my participants were my acquaintances from university and different educational institutions and they helped me to adjust to more successful way of interviewing.

The easier work was coding. I analyzed again the Creswell book on educational research and in more details I investigated the chapter on data collection of qualitative study. I found that Creswell (2014) mentioned that there are a lot of special programs for coding the information. Eventually I found wonderful special software for qualitative method data analysis. I was happy because it is very useful for my thesis as well.

Overall, mini-project on online education really helps me with my thesis and I learn a lot from this practice. I’m looking forward to our further assignments that lead us to more productive work on our final work with thesis.

Reference:

Creswell, J.W. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4thed.). London, UK: Pearson.

“Skype Education”

Who hasn’t heard about Skype? In the beginning, we used this program as a tool to keep in touch, however, as the years went by people became to adapt Skype to their real needs and finally the key role of Skype now is to bring education and spread it all over the world. I detach this type of education from the general kind and refer it to completely new way to be educated – “Skype education”.

If we take the example of Kazakhstan, one of the youngest developing countries, our government is trying to develop and strengthen the education in order to improve the competitiveness among other countries and fix our position in the world. Furthermore, citizens understand that they actively have to take part in this process and to be involved in this progress. Skype is accessible free program for the public and any can just download and practice it. There are a lot of qualified courses and academic programs around the world that are open to share their knowledge and train ‘new brains’ via Skype.

To illustrate, in our education centre in Astana we have been working with some teachers online via Skype. For instance, it’s difficult to find tutors here who prepare for GRE or GMAT (verbal section) and Skype is the only approach of quality and value for money. Moreover, we work with our international partners (British Council, English UK, ICEF, ECE projects etc.) and with the help of Skype we can arrange courses for our students from Kazakhstan who cannot leave their homes to get education or to be trained. Through Skype we organize program with proficient teachers who teach the student and finally our students receive the international certificates or diplomas. And it is really cool, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, the main drawback in “Skype education” is sometimes imbalance of quality. Not all teachers in Skype are licensed to teach and they offer their services as they know that demand on education has been soaring and such kind of teachers can earn. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor the selection of suitable college or university, program and teacher. In most cases it is more trustworthy to address to accredited and certified centers which are approved and have experienced team. It is the only disadvantage and benefits of “Skype education” overshadow the given minus.

Overall, only knit work of the government, habitants and desire to advance facilitates the prosperity of the nation. We need not to resist the changes, on the contrary, to reach and realize our aim of better education, be ‘hi-tech’ developed and keep up with the times. Be creative, innovative and a bit risky!

Reference:

Skype in the classroom – Tony Bates (7 December, 2012). [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKdVlqH2Hi4

Almost ‘total’ dependence on literature review

No one can deny that the part of literature review in thesis plays a key part. I have been experiencing this work on literature review and I comprehend that success of my whole work depends on the right analysis of appropriate resources.

In the beginning with the help of system of key words I found several works on my topic about the entrance examinations to university and I was trying to find the relevant approach to classify the articles. After our sessions on Research methods conducted by our brilliant professors last year, I realized how to systematize the articles. In addition, course on English for professional purposes facilitated the correct selection of credible sources. In the end I chose only 6-7 reliable articles applicable and related to my topic.

Moreover, as I work with CT (Complex Test) exam, the kind of entrance exam to university, and its challenges with the implementation, I decided to consider exams of the former Soviet Union countries. On Kazakhstani level I faced the challenge with the significant gap in literature. I had expected to meet this difficulty before as CT is the one of the newest exams (it was launched only in 2012). Nevertheless, I wanted to follow my desire and made a lot of effort and spend enough time to investigate this theme. With different colors of markers I analyzed the works and authors’ conclusions about the main factors that influence on successful/unsuccessful students’ exam performance and completed the table that was very useful as visually it shows in short the main ideas of each work. And finally, fortunately, I could distinguish some opinions of foreign researchers about CT exam and in the list of references I found some articles about the CT exam and it was luck! After that the next step was to choose the necessary parts and paraphrase. This part work was achievable from the acquired knowledge on the aforementioned courses where I learnt how to use connected resources, how to cite and paraphrase using APA style.

However, on the previous session of Thesis seminar, I decided to change a bit the content and include my work experience in organizing the additional courses for students who prepare for CT exam in private education centre in Astana. With the aid of my supervisor I added the work on role of private sector. As a result, now I am in process of, firstly, stating the correct research questions and, secondly, looking for resources about private sphere and how it affects the students’ achievement. My supervisor gave me some advice how to organize my thoughts and not to deviate from my topic.

To conclude with, I can say that the more I study my topic on CT exam the more aspiration I get and it is good, on the other hand I must understand that all my thesis is being built on the basis of proper structure of literature review.

Is it good to be uniform? or Does APA formatting lead to positive outcomes?

APA universal formatting style facilitates the commonly accepted structure in research paper. As a result we get more standardized work which is recognizable by researchers all over the world.

On the one hand, such kind of standardization helps me to do my research paper credible, feasible, identifiable and accurate. When I pursue the definite rules, it is easier to write the paper, in addition, I have more time to be focused on the issue rather than on the design and structure of my work. Using the APA style gives me to ‘build’ my work in a logical progress of information from more broad ideas to more individual details. Moreover, APA style has improved my written skills, especially how to include in-text citation, furthermore, verifying the sources which maintain the claims in the paper leads to consistency. Following the standardized formatting shows my professionalism and respect for the basic rules of professional research in my field of education. As a consequence, my work looks as a classical performance.

Nevertheless, I asked myself several times: if this tendency of normalization doesn’t encourage researchers to be identical. What about creativity? On the other hand, what if we didn’t have the universal APA formatting? The answer is that in this case the works would be ‘chaotic’ and difficult readable. This phenomenon would complicate the process of well-organized and professional looking academic paper. Even if there are people who don’t like any standards and want to be creative, it is obvious that without any strict rules and regulations there are no any unity and cohesion. We can be creative in our ideas and show our original skills in our research paper but complying with the norms of definite formatting such as APA.

As a recommendation for those who just start to work with APA formatting: do not find any negative points in the given universal APA standardization – start to experience it together with your thoughts and suggestions in every work and in the end you will discover that APA really helps to write a clear, consistent and qualitative paper. Likewise, combined work of the professional teachers, instructors and online automatic tools will help students to become familiar with APA formatting.

How we came to Online Education

Online education is getting more and more commonplace, acceptable and achievable. Most universities are in process to transfer their education to worldwide with the help of e-learning. I have investigated two more reputable articles about online education and found the main advantages and disadvantages of this innovative way of getting education.

Tucker S. (2001) in her work on distance education posed several questions, in particular: “Does the teacher have to be personally present?” “Does distance education work better for some students as opposed to others?” “Does student assessment in distance education differ from that in the traditional classroom”. From the positive side “distance education classes are good enough and feel that students are not sacrificing an on-campus education in order to get an education through distance education.” (Fox, 1998) The results of research by Beare L. (1989), McCleary D. & Egan W. (1989), Sonner B. (1999) showed that e-learners are “as well as or better than traditional learners as measured by homework assignments, exams, and term papers.” We can notice that even in those years in the 19th century researchers understood that online education was more advantageous. Therefore, now in the era of modern technologies we are more developed and online education has been more enhanced.

Shachar M. and Newmann Y. (2003) applied meta-analytic approach in order to describe the difference between traditional and distance education academic performances. The main benefits of distance learning are: comfort, availability, easier access to cutting-edge data and unlimited learning resources. The only possible drawback considered by Shachar & Newmann is: “Is there a difference in the quality of learning outcomes of distance education programs compared to traditional face-to-face programs?” Therefore, the result of their research question demonstrated that “students engaged in distance education academically outperform their face-to-face counterparts.”

William T. (2015) in his article revealed the fundamental challenges of online education and discovered the myths about this kind of learning. Firstly, it is not so easy as it seems and needs more labor. In addition, as Shachar and Newmann already mentioned, many students think that online education has lower level of quality education. However, Grant M. and Sedehi R. refuted this opinion and claimed that instruction in e-leaning requires to be much better than traditional education. Furthermore, cheating and ‘no real’ meetings with tutors can be viewed as challenges, nevertheless nowadays there are special tools that track plagiarism, tutors mostly use online tests or webcam while completing an exam. In terms of interactions with tutors, students mainly keep in touch via phone, e-mail, Skype or during on-line chat sessions and it is not necessary to have direct eye contact to communicate.

In a nutshell, in my opinion internet-based education is on the rapid prosperous way. If you have come to online education, it means that traditional method was not completely successful. We need to keep up with the time – not resisting to make changes, be more flexible and adjustable.

References:

Shachar M. & Neumann Y. (2003) Differences between traditional and distance education academic performances: A meta-analysis approach. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 4(2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1086/1905

Tucker S. (2001) Distance Education: Better, Worse, or As Good As Traditional Education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(4)Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter44/tucker44.html

Williams T. (2015) 7 Myths about Online Education. U.S.News Education. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2015/03/09/7-myths-about-online-education

To Study Further or To Work?

CT (Complex Test): Challenges with the implementation

Before getting into the university the students are in two minds: either to study technical/vocational disciplines beneficial to employers or to learn the general disciplines. Eventually, those who choose the former face the difficulties to return to general lessons content to fresh their knowledge of Kazakh history, mathematics, Russian language and other subjects that are of course not suitable for their career plans. As a result, entrants show low results and cannot be accepted by universities to study. It shows that Complex Test (CT) has some essential weaknesses.

According to the results of CT from the launching year (2012) till present year (2014), we can observe the phenomenon that it is getting much harder to gain by entrants even the passing minimum score. As a consequence, majority of students is not able to get higher education. Regarding the OECD review team (2014) the 2012 unsuccessful results analysis attributes this to “insufficient attention to the level of general subjects teaching in technical and vocational education institutions and a strong focus on the students training for special disciplines”.

Moreover, as I’m working in private education institution, now I’m in process to add to my thesis the role of private sector in preparation process for CT. Finally, this work will suggest the solution for passing the CT exam by students that in due time helps to increase the level of our education. This work will be very beneficial, chiefly for policy makers.What has been the single most helpful course or reading in the past year?

What has been the single most helpful course or reading in the past year?

I found the course ‘Education Policy’ very valuable. With the help of relevant readings I understood how to set my thesis topic in the right direction. I learnt from the course how to implement correctly the new policy and for me as a future agent of change it will be very helpful!

What challenges have you faced in the first year?

The first year was a bit hard for me in the case of subjectivity – the full focus is on education, especially on the example of NIS schools. However, as I’m not working and did not work in NIS school, it was a bit difficult for me.