All posts by gulzina1

My last post for this semester

This semester was full of useful information and enjoyable assignments which really helped me to enhance my research and language skills. One of the things which was valuable for me is my Instructor’s feedback. According to feedback given on time, I could try to prevent them next time. As a teacher I was motivated to use blogs in my teaching practice and conduct mini-thesis about the use of blogs.

Despite the shortage of time, writing mini-thesis and reading supplementary materials on each section were truly beneficial for my main thesis. For example, this week I have known how to write findings and results section.

One of the issues I am facing with now is lack of free time and energy to write full thesis. But I understand I should manage my time. So I will find time to continue my data collection process.

Online learning requires responsibilty from students to meet deadlines and self-manage. Therefore one of the advice I can give to online learners is to manage and plan their work beforehand. One of the mistake I did last year was postponing of completing assignments for the last day. Due to that, I was always nervious and stressed. This year I try to do them as earlier as possible.

If I were the Instructor, maybe I would give assignments which were relevant to my online learners’ practice and thesis topic. For this pupose I would conduct survey and found out the most common topics and areas to investigate.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my Instructor and groupmates whose energy to teach and learn, and support motivate me to love this course and programme.

Advertisements

Data collection

At the beginning of writing a methodology part of my mini-thesis which is called «Blogging as a platform to improve writing skills», I had no idea how to write this part and collect the data. However, after the effective meeting with my Instructor I started to think of the research design, sampling, and methods of data collection. Thus, I decided to use qualitative “interview-based study” to address the research question which is “What are the Kazakhstani secondary school teachers’ perceptions on the usage of educational blogs in their teaching, especially to improve learners’ writing skills?”.

As this is “interview-based study”, a semi-structured interview was used to collect data. As Flick (2013) describes, the semi-structured interview design gives participants time to express their view and allows the researcher to use follow-up questions to develop the participants responses.

After developing an interview protocol, I asked two of my group mates, who were studied at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education and three of my colleagues at Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Uralsk to take part in my study. First two participants do not use educational blogs in their teaching and learning, however they shared their own practice of using blogs for learning and sharing. But three others who work at NIS Uralsk have experience of using educational blogs in teaching, especially to improve writing skills.

While interviewing the participants I noticed the differences between the just writing and conducting research. One of the differences is that interview gives in-depth analysis and description of the topic. I could find some interesting ideas that were not assumed by me. Interview really gives more opinions and perceptions. I also think that participants’ openness and wish to participate in the study affect to the interview results. For example, one of my interviewee’s responses were so short that I could not find any unusual or interesting answer from the conversation. So one of the lessons I made from the research collection part is that participants should be effectively selected and motivated.

Reference:

Flick, U. (2013). The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781446282243

Schoology is my best online tool-friend

The innovative educational technologies are being developed, but at the same time the quality and improvement of the educational programmes, curriculum and assessment are also required. Teachers are asked to differentiate the teaching and learning, use different active learning approaches, work with low able and high able students, provide them effective feedback, and promote learners’ self-learning, research, reflective and critical thinking skills. The list of suggested methods can be continued.. but, complains about a lack of teachers’ and students’ time and energy are heard everywhere. Therefore, there is a need to keep all the data in one environment and organize the work time effectively. Also collaboration and communication with students and colleagues are very essential. One of the online learning environments and the best friend of mine in solving these issues is Schoology.

Teachers and students can have access to the schoology.com for free. As it is written in the webpage of the environment, there are plenty of opportunities the online tool can offer: to create new courses, new groups, school wide or world wide communities, create various types of tasks for students or him/herself, upload any data, set up restrictions or permissions to a particular group of students or assignments, make a grade book, share resources, and etc. One of the convenient options of the website is a creating of quizzes and tasks according to the criteria- based assessment model. The online tool is also can be downloaded from appstore or playmarket for smartphones and tablets.

From my own experience, I have been using this tool for four years, which means from the beginning of my teaching career I use schoology in my classroom. Nowadays all of my colleagues are trained to use this tool. We are using it not only to teach, but also for the collaboration and sharing purposes. According to the students’ feedback about schoology, it is very effective for assessment preparation and to get instant feedback from the teacher.

I can discuss the advantages of the website infinitely, however as my colleagues said, there are some drawbacks of the tool. The language of the website content is English. So it is problematic to understand the instructions for Kazakh and Russian speaker teachers. As the second disadvantage is relevant to any other educational technology, it is time consuming to construct and set up the environment and create assignments. Nevertheless, after making and regulating it for the first time, it will be applicable and usable for multiple times.

Reference list:

Video. Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/learning-management-system.php

Writing a literature review

bkr-Beha-t_CA0-articleLarge

Writing a literature review is not only reading the different authors’ papers, it also requires from the writers sufficient skills of analyzing, interpreting, comparing, and critical thinking. Therefore, the skills of writing literature review need training and practice.  Internet resources might be very useful for this purpose. If we ask Google for the question “How to write a literature review?”, it will give us more than 200 million responses. However, any writer has his or her own writing, interpreting and planning styles.

Writing the literature review, especially in English requires me much time and energy. But, I had good knowledge and practice of writing research papers at the University (bachelor’s) and Professional development (PDP) course. During my University years I was an active participation of science clubs and had experience of writing scientific and reserach papers. Thus, nowadays reading research papers, interpreting and analysing them are not much difficult for me. However, I have a little challenge with writing the literature review in terms of language, grammar and syntax. But in comparison with the first year at NU, I notice improvements in my academic writing.

I start writing the lierature review section with a making plan. After the planning whole process of writing the section, I spend 1-2 days for thinking over the plan and structuring the ideas in my mind. If some ideas come up, I change the plan or add the new ideas into the plan. Then, according to my plan, I start searching literature and read them highliting main ideas. While reading the literature, I note all the ideas under the sections in the plan. After reading, note-taking, I start comparing different ideas and structure them. The last action in this process is to present all the ideas in an academic way.

To conclude all the thoughts written above, I would like to add, that writing a lierature review is very exciting process which requires creativity and patient.

My experience with using APA style

I was introduced with American Psychological Association [APA] style for the first time four years ago when I started doing my first Action research in the professional development program. Since that time I tried to follow the rules and structure of this style while writing various research papers. However, before entering NU for master’s degree, I thought that APA style is only a rule of formatting, citing and referencing. But after reading Algozzine, Spooner, and Karvonen (2002), I understand that a general structure of the research paper, content and meaning of sections, word limit are also regulated by APA. As Algozzine et al. (2002) state, “According to APA style, a special education research article should include an abstract, an introductory section, a description of the method, a presentation of results, and a discussion section in which the outcomes are evaluated and interpreted..” (p.24). Although I did not have any experience using other styles, I would like to focus on two important sides of using APA:

Firstly, APA style helps me to structure my writing. As it was mentioned, a research paper includes abstract, introduction, methods, etc. I plan each section accordingly to the style.

Secondly, APA style is used by many researchers and organizations. So, there are a lot of guidelines, technologies which can support writers to check their referencing and citing format.

However, one of the challenges of using APA for me is a citation of an author’s idea when the author cited another author’s ideas (secondary source).

Today I realize that, improvement of writing in accordance to APA style comes with regular practicing the writing skills and reading different sources. For example, the papers called “Preparing special education research articles in APA style” and “How to prepare research article in APA style” by Algozzine et al. published in 2002 and 2010 respectively provide good examples of articles written in APA style.

Reference list:

Algozzine, B., Spooner, F., & Karvonen, M. (2002). Preparing special education research articles in APA style. Remedial and Special Education23(1), 24-30.

Online learning environment: collaboration or dissociation?

Currently it is impossible to imagine any human beings sphere of activities without technologies. Such evolution of ICT led to the development of Web 2.0 usage in education. One of the mainly discussing issues around the implementation of ICT in teaching and learning is a growth of online learning environments. Articles written by Reese (2014) and O’Shea et al. (2015) anaysed effectiveness and challenges of implementing virtual learning environments in education. According to the authors, there are supporters and critics of this model of teaching and learning.

Online learning environments promote collaboration..

Virtual educational environments provide all learners regardless of their any background (age, ethnicity, social status, prior knowledge level, etc.) equal access to knowledge (O’Shea et al., 2015, p.42). Diversity of contingent improves the cultural and social communication of participants in the virtual classroom. For instance, most of the on-campus undergraduates in HEIs in Kazakhstan are the learners of the same age, whereas students studying virtually might be of various ages. As O’Shea et al. (2015) describes, the age of the youngest student in the online classroom who took part in the survey was 22, when the oldest undergraduates’ age was 68 (p.45).

Online learning environments lead to dissociation ..

On the other hand, critics of online learning environments argues about the connectivistic way of this type of studying. O’Shea et al. (2015, p.43) discusses the idea of researchers about the impact of engagement level of students to their performance. The authors also state the importance of development of students social, personal, intellectual and academic engagement with instructors, teachers and their peers rather than isolation(p.48). Reese (2014, p.583), when examining the papers of Saugstad, wrote that online learning without face-to-face interaction does not develop learners’ learning and professional skills necessary for their future career.

Both of the authors recommend the ways of improving effectiveness of online collaboration, teaching and learning through usage of appropriate tools and methods of teaching, support and involvement of virtual classmates (O’Shea et al, 2015, p.43; Reese, 2014, p.580).

Reference list:

O’Shea, S., Stone, C., & Delahunty, J. (2015). “I ‘feel’like I am at university even though I am online.” Exploring how students narrate their engagement with higher education institutions in an online learning environment. Distance Education, 36(1), 41-58, DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2015.1019970

Reese, S. A. (2014). Online learning environments in higher education: Connectivism vs. dissociation. Education and Information Technologies, 20(3), 579-588.

Action research in teachers’ professional development

One of the most struggling first year issues for me was managing my time. Last year was full of new events and changes in my professional career, I was promoted for the new position which required more than half of my job time. So, little time was dedicated for writing weekly assignments. A few have been changed this year, however the understanding of the essence of writing a successful piece of paper – a thesis is outmatching other priorities..

The topic of the thesis is “Action research in Kazakhstani secondary schools: challenges of implementation”. Being a Teacher research coordinator in one of the Kazakhstani schools I worked with a lot of teachers who were conducting action research. Most of the teachers are participants of various action research workshops and seminars. However, the effectiveness and reliability of teacher research findings were not discussed and measured. Also, not all of the teachers who took part in the workshops could conduct action research in their schools. While talking to teachers, some issues dealt with teacher research conducting and implementation were found and discussed. Consequently, this thesis topic was occurred. Reading and analyzing different literature on the topic, majority of the issues which were identified by teachers were found in some authors’ works (Zhou, 2013; Mingucci, 2001; Megowan-Romanowicz, 2010). However, action research implementation challenges in Kazakhstani schools were not discussed yet.

The purpose of this qualitative study is to identify the challenges of action research implementation in teachers’ professional development in one of the Kazakhstani secondary schools.

The findings of the study will be useful for administrators, teachers, and students of one of the Kazakhstani schools, as well as for other educational organisations. Teachers and managers should be familiar with the action research implementation challenges. Also, as a Teacher Research Coordinator, I can help promote the culture of conducting action research within the school community.

Reference list:

Megowan-Romanowicz, C. (2010). Inside Out: Action Research from the Teacher–Researcher Perspective. J Sci Teacher Educ, 21, 993-1011.

Mingucci, M. M. (2001). Action research as ESL teacher professional development. (Order No. 3042012, University of Missouri – Kansas City). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 229-229 p. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/276407216?accountid=134066.

Zhou, J. (2012). Problems Teachers Face When Doing Action Research and Finding Possible Solutions. Chinese Education and Society, 45(4), 68-80.