All posts by botagozispambetova

It is high time to reflect….

This semester with our online English course was much more productive than that we had last year. I would like to share the strong points of this course and some struggles I had during this semester.

I really liked the way the course was organized. We were provided all the assignments beforehand uploaded on Moodle. It helped me to organize my time properly. Every week blog posts were neither difficult nor time consuming. Moreover, instaneous feedback our instructors provided helped me to improve my next tasks. I could improve my writing not only from the feedback the instructor provided, but as well from the feedback the instructor left under my peers’ work. I think it was very beneficial for everybody. Commenting on my peers’ blogs was another interesting and useful activity. Although we are separated by distance and we are too busy with our jobs, commenting appeared to be an opportunity to interact, to reflect and to improve.

As for struggles, I found conducting mini research to be distractive task. Personally, I hardly found time to read literature on my large-scale research, and reflect on it. Dealing with one more research was difficult for me. Especially in terms of defining research problem, finding relevant literature and writing literature review for mini thesis. I think I could benefit more from writing mini thesis if the task was assigned last year. If I were the instructor I would, at least, assign to write mini thesis on the topic students have chosen for their large-scale research project. It would be much support for both students and supervisors to fulfill a good work on proposed research thesis.

Finally, I want to say that if we had good time management skills we would have dealt with any task easily. So, I suggest online learners to learn how to organize their time properly and not to procrastinate. It is bad habit thing to leave everything to the last moment. Doing your tasks the last moment makes your tasks of poor quality and lower grade. Therefore, I suggest everybody who decided to undertake online learning to learn not to procrastinate and organize their time properly.

My first interviews

The purpose of my mini research is to explore the challenges that graduate students of Msc School leadership program at Nazarbayev University face over their 2 years of online learning. This study aims to answer one research question: 1)What are the challenges that graduate students of Msc School leadership program face during online learning? To answer this question I utilized qualitative method. The sample for this mini qualitative research was selected purposefully. I intentionally selected my classmates as participants because I found them to be “information rich” (Patton, 1990, p. 169).To collect data, I used individual interviewing. I prepared semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions.I found this instrument of data collection to be suitable for two reasons:

  • Interviews allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of the obstacles that students faced over their online learning (Lune & Berg, 2012).
  • Interviews provided the opportunity to “probe and expand interviewee’s response” in order to clarify the responses or to get more broader information on the barriers that students experienced during online learning (Hitchcock & Hughes, 1995, p.83).

However, interviewing has its own weaknesses. Personally, for me, it was difficult to assign convenient time and place both for me and for participants. All my classmates were too busy with their intensive sessions. Interviewing is not as survey or questionnaire that participant may answer anywhere and anytime. Therefore, I had to rely on my two classmates as well as colleagues who agreed to take part in my research at weekends in return to my participation in their mini-research.

Overall, this mini research served me as pilot experience for my proposed thesis research, because I am also planning to conduct qualitative research with semi-structured interviewing. In this mini research, I used a Dictaphone in my mobile phone which seemed to be of poor quality with unclear recordings. Therefore, in my large-scale research I decided to use a real Dictaphone.

Reference

Berg, B., & Lune, H. (2012). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

 

Hitchcock, G., & Hughes, D. (1995). Research and the teacher: A qualitative introduction to school-based research (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

 

Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Oxford dictionary App

Dictionary use has always played central role in learning languages. However, today dictionary use is not so much promulgated. Instead, more and more students are encouraged to guess unknown words in the context rather than translating words into their native language. Haynes (1982) conducted research on contextual guessing and found that students could guess less than half of unfamiliar words in the text, consequently students could understand very little from the text. Moreover, Walz states that “… guessing depends on student’s knowing enough of the other words in the sentence to create a context” (1990, p.80). Thus, it seems that dictionary use is still actual and crucial in learning languages.

Since almost every student has a smartphone and not every student has a dictionary book, so Oxford dictionary app is for help. Teachers of English language can encourage their students to download this app and use it in the classroom. This online dictionary provides:

  • more than 3000 most important words in English
  • highlights academic words
  • correct pronunciation
  • synonyms and antonyms
  • pictures related to the word

Personally I would be interested in using it. However, there is a threat that students could be distracted by overuse of this dictionary from the main focus of the lesson. Moreover, since the access to the app requires Internet connection, students can easily search in social networks. Therefore, for those who are interested in implementing, I would suggest to think of how this app could be utilized so that it may bring much benefit without distraction. For instance, teachers may ask their students to change their phones with each other so that students will utilize the phone for translation purposes. What do you think of it? What are other ways you can suggest to use innovative technologies in the classroom without much distraction from them?

Reference

Haynes, Margot. “Patterns and Perils of Guessing in Second Language Reading.” On TESOL ’83: The Question of Control. Ed. Jean Handscombe, Richard A. Orem, and Barry P. Taylor. Washington, DC: TESOL, 1984, 163-76.

Walz, J. (1990). The dictionary as a secondary source in language learning. The French Review, 64(1), 79-94.

Literature review is to convince your graduate committee that….

Probably, almost every person who is conducting research struggles with a literature review part. What is literature review then? According to Creswell (2014) “A Literature review is a written summary of journal articles, books, and other documents that describes the past and current state of information on the topic of your research study” ( p. 96) After having read this definition, it may seem that you know what literature review is and you are ready to complete it. But it is not as easy as it seems.

Personally, I heard the term ‘Literature review’ for the first time on our course “Research methods”. What stayed in my memory is only that literature review is the most arduous part of research. Once I heard that literature is not so easy deal, I tried not to miss any information provided on literature review, steps in conducting it, and how to organize the themes. My head was full of right answers to my wrong questions and visions of literature review. However, it was not until  I come across the sentences from Creswell’s book that I understood what literature review is. “You conduct literature review to convince your graduate committee that you know the literature on your topic; you also complete literature review to provide evidence that educators need your study” (Creswell, 2014, p.96). So what do these sentences imply?

The first sentence implies writing everything closely related to your topic so that a person who is from different field may understand both your research purpose and research questions. You search for information in many different journal articles, books and other sources for the sake of convincing your audience that you possess enough relevant knowledge about the topic. Whereas, the second sentence can be interpreted as if you are shouting everybody that your topic deserves attention because it is actual and there is research conducted somewhere else and why not to research it with different participants in different research site? Thus, do not complicate your vision of literature review. Just think about your audience and your strong desire will lead you to the right track.

These definitions have become bedrock principles that I adhere while writing my literature review. This is exactly how I am currently working on literature review part. I do believe that my own interpretation of these sentences may serve as suggestion on easing your task with compiling literature review.

Reference

Cresswell, J. (2014). Educational research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 1-672). London: Pearson Education Limited.

My experience with using APA

I got introduced with APA style last year when I started my Msc.School leadership program. The program included online English courses that aided me a lot with their tasks oriented on good APA referencing. Although I learned enough about APA from the course, the question ‘WHY APA?’ bothered me a lot. It was not until I started to work on my proposal that I understood its significance and need. I found it very beneficial when I worked on my literature review part. APA referencing helped me with finding relevant, reliable and credible sources. Once you find very strong and relevant article, you may refer to other very closely related articles in the reference list of APA formatting. That way, I learned how to cite and make proper referencing.

However, APA is not just something one can learn at once, it is a kind of study standing on its own with particular goals and principles. In order to acquire good skills in APA, one needs to practice it, exactly, to conduct research. It is commonly acknowledged that the main goal of research is filling the gap in knowledge, adding new knowledge to the existing one (Cresswell, 2014)  and lastly, “sharing the outcomes through dissemination in a scientific journal”. (Algozzine, Spooner & Karvonen, 2002 p.24)Thus, APA seems to be an efficient tool providing this “clear communication” among researchers. (APA, 2001 p.23)

To sum up, I would like to suggest all current and future researchers not to disregard the importance of APA, so that we do not disrupt the chain of “clear communication”. It is crucial to be honest and clear in citing and referencing, because our proper referencing and citing may help many other researchers in their research.

Reference

Algozzine, B., Spooner, F., & Karvonen, M. (2002). Preparing Special Education Research Articles in APA Style. Remedial and Special Education, 24-30.

Cresswell, J. (2014). Educational research: Planning, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative research (4th ed., pp. 1-672). London: Pearson Education Limited.

Interesting Findings: Male vs. Female in online learning

The 21st century is the century of technology and World Wide Web platform which is bringing changes into many realms. Probably, the most significant and useful changes were brought into educational field. The platforms of online learning, computer mediated collaborative learning and distance education are expanding with the speed of light. Due to the expansion of online learning environment, there have been much papers and reports written on this topic as well. At the rise of online learning programs and distance education, papers mostly focused on advantages and disadvantages of online learning, while now, when online learning has become inseparable part of whole educational system, there appeared papers discussing more specific and narrow topics in depth. One of those topics which I found interesting and worth sharing is about “Gender difference in online learning environment”

Several decades ago Internet was of mostly male usage, because of both male’s high interest and high technology literacy level. Recent studies show that Internet usage is shared equally among males and females. (Price, 2006) In contrast, for the past several years females are utilizing more the services of online learning. It is explained by the fact that female students execute and balance many functions like: being a mother, wife and employee at the same time. (Yukselturk & Bulut, 2009) It seems that online learning is the most convenient mode of learning that allows women to combine studies with the rest multifunctional roles. (Kramarae, 2003; Rickert & Sacharow, 2000; Price, 2006 as cited in Yukselturk & Bulut, 2009)

The study by Yukselturk and Bulut (2009) “Gender differences in self-regulated online learning environment” analyzed this topic in terms self- regulated learning components, motivational beliefs and achievement in self-regulated learning environment. The findings do not report significant differences in motivational beliefs and achievement relatively to online learning. In contrast, the study by Price (2006) “Gender differences and similarities in online courses: challenging stereotypical views of women” refutes the stereotypical view that women are less successful in sciences and technology. Moreover, the study also found that female students even outperform their male counterparts in online learning (Price, 2006). As a reason the study points to the significant difference in the way males and females participate and perform tasks in computer mediated communication, for instance, women posted and read more messages than males.(Kramarae, 2003; Sulluvan, 2001 as cited in Price, 2006)

Overall, I think, despite the differences in performance and in the ways male and female work on online platform, we cannot deny that both male and female benefit a lot from online learning environment in terms of knowledge acquisition and time management. What do you think about these findings?

Reference

Price, L. (2006). Gender differences and similarities in online courses: Challenging stereotypical views of women. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 349-359.
Yukselturk, E., & Bulut, S. (2009). Gender Differences in Self-Regulated Online Learning Environment. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (3), 12–22.

High time to write thesis

I found “MSc school leadership” programme to be quiet interesting and useful experience that I could ever have. Despite the fact that the courses are intensive and some of them were quiet arduous to cover in a week or more time, I received much knowledge that is closely related to my job. Of all courses, I liked most the course “Professional Identity”, my choice is explained by my great respect to the Professor Duishon. Not only did he provide much information about “teacher professional identity”, but also he himself served the best sample of professional teacher.

Having learnt enough, we are close to finish, which means we are to write our thesis papers. I am not going to concentrate on a topic of professional identity while writing my thesis, though I was inspired enough. The last course “Assessment: Theories, policies and practices” inspired me more and made me look at assessment in education from absolutely different angle. In a hope that my small research will make other teachers to change their perception of formative assessment as well, my focus is going to be on “Formative assessment as a tool to improve student academic performance”

In our accountability environment assessment has become a tool solely for marking and grading while its initial application is of improving student achievement. “Marking is usually conscientious but often fails to offer guidance on how work can be improved” (Black & Wiliam, 1998 p.141), while effectively used formative assessment can provide direction for teachers on how to reconsider their practice and adapt to meet students’ need. Chappius & Stiggins, 2002) Many studies claim the significance of teacher professional development programs in terms of both improving students’ learning and overall educational improvement, while formative assessment seems to be another “magic bullet” (Black & Wiliam, 1998 p.140), which may contribute more. Therefore, I found research into assessment as a tool to improve student achievement useful in Kazakhstani context. I am eager to learn how formative assessment is perceived by teachers in my school and how formative assessment helps them to improve student’s learning, if it helps, in what ways. I hope that my study will be beneficial both for me and for my school.

Reference

Black, P. J. & Wiliam, D. (1998b) Inside the black box: raising standards through classroom assessment (London, King’s College London School of Education).

Chappuis, S., & Stiggins, J. (2002). Classroom assessment for learnng. Educational Leadership,         60, 40-43.

Heritage, M. (2007). Formative Assessment: What Do Teachers Need to Know and Do? Phi Delta Kappan, 140-145.