All posts by dinarashaimakhanova

About dinarashaimakhanova

MSc School Leadership program interested in studying the topic of relationship between students' giftedness and consecutive teachers' professional development practice

My first Thesis writing experience

Writing thesis is not an easy process. However, it is very interesting and engaging for me. Once, one of our professors said that if you don’t have passion to write about this topic, don’t even start writing until you find the one you are really passionate about. Having studied for about 1,5 year on Master’s program I realised that this is a true  thing. Before starting my full thesis work, I was thinking a lot on my focus. I brainstormed the most actual issues in the educational system of Kazakhstan, even did my first steps in finding literature on those topics. But  I still felt no passion and was very upset.

This summer session we had an interesting course on Inclusive education. I had a chance to present and later to write final work on giftedness as a learning barrier. Before, I couldn’t even imagine that giftedness can become a learning barrier for some students. While doing my final assignment on Giftedness I found an interesting article about “Twice exceptional” students. I was really confused as hadn’t heard about such a notion ever.

Having read that article I thought about my teaching practice and came to the conclusion that I have a lot of twice exceptional students whom I teach. By the way, a twice exceptional student is a gifted student who at the same time has some other learning barriers (different disoders, challenging behavior, social-cultural barriers, etc.).

I tried to find some articles on this topic, and found out that this issue is been researched across the globe. Unfortunately, it is not deeply researched in Kazakhstan. It was one of the gaps in our research studies on education. Then I got access to one chat where parents and teachers talk about their children’s problems. Listing the free chat it became obvious to me that most of schools and families struggle with how to educate gifted students with ADHD disorder (twice exceptionals). I decided that I need to help the educational system and research this topic deeply.

Having started my research i faced several problems in the very beginning. As I said there is no information on this topic in the context of Kazakhstani education, so I was looking for the literature on my topic. And paper by paper I found a plenty of articles and even books on my topic. The best resource fir me was the online library system of NU with its great databases.

I learnt one more new thing for me about ethics approval. It was difficult to see any risks that my research participants can face. It seemed to me as there are no risks there. However, my supervisor, helped me to understand what do risks for participans really mean. And I looked at my research from a totally different angle.

So, I am passionate about my research, and that’s why feel happy.

I’d like to give one advice to the researchers that you should never lose motivation for doing your research and don’t be alone in this process. Talk to your groupmates, family, colleagues, students, professors, instructors and get brilliant ideas from them. As once the process starts it will continue forever.

Finally, I want to appreciate our instructors and professors for their work and constant support. The work they are doing is invaluable.
Wish everyone all the best in our research way!!!

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Data collection on Online Learning for Adults

Today Graduate Education Programs all over the world provide education for adults through an online educational environment. As I am a student of one of such programs and experience the online education myself, I am eager to study the benefits and challenges of using the online learning environment.

Having formulated my Research Questions on the mini-thesis research, I found it useful to explore the topic through  qualitative research design. The literature review on factors of challenges and benefits of online education for adult learners showed that there are various factors which lead to advantages and disadvantages of online education. Most of these research findings were made through the qualitative research design, namely, the semi-structured interviews with the participants. As Cohen and Crabtree note a semi-structured interview is an effective tool to get “reliable, comparable” data for qualitative research design (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006).

However, it is not easy to conduct an interview. During my first experience in preparing and conducting the semi-structured interviews with the current graduate education program students and with the students whohave  already graduated this year, I faced several challenges.

Firstly, the organisational moments on getting permission from the participants to be interviewed and organizing appropriate timing and place was a little bit difficult task. I decided to interview only the current students of Graduate School of Education during my intensive session at the university. That idea didn’t  work 100% as most of the students had different reasons which didn’t allow them to take a part in my interview. That is why,  I decided to conduct interviews also with students who have already graduated and experienced the online learning environment.

Secondly, and the most important challenge, was connected with formulating the right questions which would help me to answer my reseach questions. For this matter, I decided to pilot the first interview in order to test the interiew protocol. That was a great Idea as I understood that some of the questions were not relevant, while it was better to add some other questions. I think that piloting helped me to conduct other interviews in a good quality, and also as Cohen (p.2) mentions allowed the interviewer to be competent during the interview.

To conclude, it is important to say  that while a semi-structured interview is a good way for the interviewer to get relevant information, it can raise some embarrasement for the interviewees while answering. In this case, I guaranteed my participants about the anonymity and confidentiality of their participation.

I hope that this data collection will help me to answer my main research question and explore the benefits and challenges of online education not only as a researcher but also as an adult student experiencing them myself.

Reference

Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006). Semi-structured interviews. Qualitative Research Guidelines Project. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from http://www.qualres.org/HomeSemi-3629.html

Sway: a new way to present Ideas

About a month ago there was a meeting with the representatives of Microsoft company at our school. During that meeting we, the teachers, knew about a new way of creating interactive presentations, which was called Sway. Sway is an innovative method to not only present a new material of the lesson, but also to use it as a portfolio of your lessons or different reports and research. As the Microsoft representatives say it is an excellent opportunity to keep information of teachers’ professional development  and at the same time use Sway as an interactive book.

As for students, Sway (an interactive presentation) is an interesting way of studying and investigating something new. It could be easily used for Flipped Learning and, at the same time, could be a helpful teaching-learning tool during classes.

After that presentation of Sway, I became really interested in how I can use it during my classes. However, it is not that easy and affordable for me at the moment. Even though Sway is a really good and interesting way of conducting lessons and, moreover, the teaching-learning process as a whole, not all the teachers and students have open access to it. The main reason is that using of Sway requires you to have Microsoft account and access to Internet.

Some schools have contract with Microsoft company and that is why teachers and sometimes students are provided with Microsoft accounts there. However, we cannot say that all Kazakhstani schools are logged in Microsoft account. In addition, not in every Kazakhstani school there is a constant free access to Internet, which can also be a great obstacle in using Sway.

To sum up, innovative technologies are very useful for an educational process, but we should not forget about our real opportunities to get access to them. Anyway, let’s try our bests in order to apply new technologies in our classrooms and engage our students in the education process!

Microsoft Sway Hands on Review!. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPNwJb3z80Q

Literature Review still in the process …

Today, is alomst the end of September and, as for me it is high time to start to organize what I have already found on my topic into some parts of my future literature review!

Thesis writing is not an easy thing to do. Even if you think that you have decided to study this or that problem, sometimes you find it difficult to find appropriate literature on the theme you have chosen. Such thing happened to me. Starting my way in researching Giftedness and some of its subtopics I faced the problem that there are not so many researches done on my focus of this problem. Having understood that I can’t find credible literature on my research focus I started just to read the literature connected with the topic Giftedness. After about the 10th article I had read I came to the problem that made me really passionate to search and research it. I understood that I, finally, found the topic I want to study.

At the moment I am thinking on some ideas how to organize my literature review part. And the conclusion I draw is that the more literature you have the more ideas appear. That is why I made some codes (or parts) how I’m going to study the resources I found. The table for the literature review (provided by my supervisor), which shows the most suitable way of organizing the main ideas on what you read is a really good tool in order not to forget and keep in mind the papers you already read and analyzed.

So, at the moment, I am researching the information and taking notes on main ideas provided in those resources. I also try to make some correlations between the article I read and the “codes” I created.

As for resources, I can say that the NU library databases are really great for finding different articles and even books to explore my new topic, and sometimes I use google scholar, which is also as helpful as NU databases.

However, I didn’t start writing the literature review as a chapter of thesis yet, as I consider that there are still not enough literature articles explored on the topic.

Regards,

Dinara

APA

The first time I started to use APA citation style was in 2011, when I studied at Professional Devepolment Program for teachers at Nazarbayev University. While writing my action research project during this course, I learnt how to write a paper of good quality. “Good Quality” for me is the effective way of using paraphrasing and citing, organising appropriate reference list and in-text citation, using right format and style and avoiding any kind of plagiarism (including self-plagiarism).

Today, I want to share my experience on how to start your route for a “Good Quality” paper.

Firstly, APA citation style is a uniform system which can help us to examine any article fast, paying attention to both general ideas of the article and details (retrieved from “Why Is APA Style Needed”  http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/why-apastyle-needed.aspx). As different academic and non-academic resources are following some kind of citation styles, it is necessary to be aware of how to work with the resources with less time consuming. However, there are some difficulties which can be met in the context of using APA citation. How to organise the reference list correctly? How to refer to different sources inside the text? One of the most important issues which is still difficult for me how to cite the secondary source? Moreover, how to know that the interpretation of the secondary source is correct and appropriate one in the given article?

In order to answer these questions I found out that different universities across the globe have an APA guidelines for their students, which are accessible for any person via internet. In addition there are some useful websites and tools in the internet (www.apastyle.org, and http://www.citationmachine.net). Here you can find the answers to these questions and organise your reference list automatically on any academic formatting style (APA,MLA, …).

A not less important idea, I would like to share is connected to paraphrasing and in-text citation techniques. In order to avoid any kind of plagiarism, or self-plagiarism, it is better to refer to the author of the ideas, words, phrases, notions we are going to use. However, sometimes we find it difficult to introduce someone’s words or ideas. For this matter, I usually use a special wordbank of verbs for making in-text citations (Khoo, 2005). Certainly, it is not the whole list of academic verbs for citing, nevertheless this list is very helpful for my academic writings.

To sum up, I want to say that once you have accustomed to use APA style you will not be able to imagine your life without it.

Reference

“Citation Machine.” Citation Machine. Web. 17 Sept. 2015. <http://www.citationmachine.net/mla/cite-a-website/edit&gt;.

Khoo, E. (2005). Verbs for citing sources. Academic Vocabulary Series. Retrieved September 17, 2015, from http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/ccds/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.ccds/files/5.pdf

“Why Is APA Style Needed.” APA Style. American Psychological Association, 2011. Web. 17 Sept. 2015. <http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/why-apastyle-needed.aspx&gt;.

Online learning? E-learning? Distant learning?

Online learning is kind of learning which has become more popular with not only schools and high schools, but also with different training centres. According to Moore and other researchers, online education environment is a common notion for three different types of learning environment: online, distant, and e-learning.

The earliest one is a distant education (Moore et al, 2011). This kind of educational environment takes place when the instructor as well as learners are working in different geographical places and not simultaneoulsy. As Moore (2011) states Distant education is not the same as distant learning. While the latter one is an ability of learners to study in distance, distant education is an activity which provides the opportunities for distant learning to take place. The limitations of time and place are the only things that differ this kind of learning environment from the real life classroom education (Moore et al, 2011). However, the learning materials can be both electronical or paper-based. Another type of education environment is e-learning (or E-learning, e-Learning). The main aim of this learning environment is to provide education on the basis of Web-tools, or as researchers call it “web-based learning, web-based training” (Moore et all, 2011). Online learning is the most complicated of all three types (Moore, 2011). The use of some technologies is the main idea of online learning. This kind of education environment is sometimes understood as the modified version of distant learning which includes elements of e-learning (Moore et al, 2011). However, the studies on the perception of these three types of learning showed that people confuse, or even do not feel any difference between them (Moore, 2011).

The most common definition which is used by people across the globe is online learning. In 2004 there was conducted a research in the University of Georgia, the USA among University students of different courses (Song et al, 2004). The aim of this research was to find the advantages and disadvantages of online learning environment. The researchers showed that “instruction design, time-management and overall online learning experience” (Song, 2004) were identified by learners as helpful. However, there were some challenges for learner. Those students, who were studying online synchronously found time management as a big challenge for them. At the same time asynchronous learners referred to instructions and tasks as difficult to understand without any immediate help. The sense of community was also identified as one of the drawbacks of online educational environment (Song, 2004).

To sum up, online education environment is a helpful and useful thing to be used by teachers, instructors and learners. Being aware of what type of non-traditional educational environment is better for your program or course is needed, so that it will be more beneficial for both instructor and learners to conduct a teaching-learning process.

Reference

Moore, Joi L., Camille Dickson-Deane, and Christa Galyen. “E-Learning, Online Learning and Distant Learning Environments: Are They the Same?” The Internet and Higher Education 14 (2011): 129-35. Print.

Song, Liyan, Ernise S. Singleton, Janette R. Hill, and Myung Hwa Koh. “Improving Online Learning: Students Perceptions of Useful and Challenging Characteristics.” The Internet and Higher Education 7 (2004): 59-70. Print

Students’ giftedness vs Teachers’ practice

Teaching is not only about teaching students but it is also about self-studying.

While teaching students with different backgrounds teachers may face different issues on how to teach this or that student. That is why, each teacher starts educating himself (herself) in order to cope with such problems.

Looking for the topic for my future research I found out that in teaching practice most of teachers pay a lot of attention to the less-able students so that to help them not to be behind others. However, there are also gifted children in almost each grade. As Kokot (2011) stated teachers are people who should facilitate gifted children to find the way when their giftedness becomes beneficial to the society. Nevertheless, some teachers do not take it into consideration, paying much more attention to the less able students. I think, the majority of teachers know how to work with less-able students and help them to study better. As for gifted children, not every teacher knows the most suitable approaches and techniques how to work with gifted children. That is not the mistake of teachers, sometimes there is no time to just educate yourself in this sphere so that it will help you in your future work with gifted children.

That is why I want to explore the following issue in my research “The relationship between the identification of students’ giftedness and consecutive professional development practice of teachers”. Teaching gifted children is not only about knowing some usefull techniques, it is also a matter of adapting curriculum, conducting and participating in different workshops on differentiation, being aware of psychological features of gifted children and so on.

This year we had a course on inclusive education and I had a great opportunity to present the topic “Giftedness as a learning barrier” during our classes. Reflecting on my own teaching practice I understood that giftedness of students should have impact on teaching practice and self-education. If teachers do not ignore the fact of having gifted children in the classroom, those gifted children may find their gift to be beneficial for the whole society, especially the effective school improvement.

Kokot, S., & Kruger, D. (2011). Addressing Giftedness. In E. Landsberg (Ed.), Addressing barriers to learning. A South African Perspective (2nd ed.). Pretoria: Van Schaik.