All posts by kadyrova2

Reflecting on some issues…

We are coming close to the end of third semester and this last post will help us to reflect on what we have been doing till present time. So, in this last post I would like to share the challenges I faced being an online learner. Afterwards I will provide my readers with my own opinion about “English for Thesis Writing” course with follow-up recommendations.

There were several difficulties I have encountered this semester.  Probably the biggest challenge for me was combining motherhood and study. There is no doubt that motherhood plays a crucial role in my life; however, education also takes a significant role. I think that my study increases my sense of fulfillment and intellectual stimulation. Both roles are important, but they can be in a conflict. The support from my family, especially from my husband, empowers me not to drop out. The second issue I would like to point out is no absolutely time for main thesis project. Since I came home, I did not open it up even for looking through the comments of my supervisor. However, during “Thesis Seminars” course we finished three chapters: introduction, literature review and methodology.

Undoubtedly, the assignments were created for the sake of helping us in writing main thesis. However, according to the comments of my supervisor I am more successful in my main thesis rather than in mini-thesis project. Honestly, I was referring to my main thesis all the time while writing mini-thesis… Besides, I still have difficulties in formatting papers according to APA style. Thanks to my instructor I began to pay attention even to details in order to avoid slight errors.

Although the course could have been less intensive I liked it, especially blog writing. I was very engaged in the process of looking through the thoughts and experiences of my master peers and commenting on them. I suppose that blog writing fosters such skills like openness, responsibility, and creativity. Besides, blogs facilitate us to give constructive feedback to each other. Next recommendation I would give is to create a learning trajectory for every student separately, perhaps by differentiating the tasks. The only suggestion I would give to future students is to know what you want from the programme and to take the best from it.

 

Advertisements

What are the experiences of online learning for graduate students? Let’s find out…

My small scale research aims to investigate the experiences of online learning for graduate students at NUGSE. I am interested namely in the experiences of students who learn online because being a mother of a little child myself and at the same time learn is rather challenging for me.  Therefore I am eager to investigate how my peers combine distance learning and other components of life, probably family or work. The responds of the participants will illustrate how. For the purpose of the study the following research question is addressed: What are the experiences of online learning for graduate students at NUGSE? Qualitative case study research design has been selected to answer the research question and develop better understanding of the central phenomenon, i.e. online learning.

The first step before collecting the data is actually designing the questions that could help me answer the research question. Semi-structured interviews were considered suitable for this study as they allowed me to obtain in-depth qualitative data by probing and asking open-ended questions. Afterwards, as the potential participants of my mini-thesis are graduate students, I emailed my master peers by asking them to take part in my study. After getting few positive responses, I arranged the date and time of the meeting with each potential participant individually. At the beginning of the interview I described the purpose of my study, duration of the study and what is required from the participants. I also emphasized that participation was voluntary, that all interview data would be confidential. Each interview lasted for about 30-40 minutes and was audio-recorded.

According to Creswell (2014) there are following advantages of the interview instrument: participants can tell stories through their words, what is important for them and the interviewer can control the process and guide the participant. However, conducting interviews is time consuming in comparison with surveys or questionnaires. I personally think that quick surveys with closed questions do not allow obtaining in-depth qualitative data. Moreover, during the interviews the interviewer might ask follow-up question if necessary to clarify some moments.

The main difficulty I encountered in data collection process is finding the appropriate time and place for conducting interviews. Firstly, my master peers were overloaded by the assignments related to the elective courses and main thesis project. Secondly, it became even unrealistic to record the interviews in silence as I had to provide interviews in Atrium. Nonetheless, it was a great experience for me which, I am sure, will facilitate me in writing my main thesis.

 

References

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Have Fun with ClassDojo App!

ClassDojo is classroom software which helps teachers to provide real-time feedback and therefore control the behavior of students at the lesson. Having been created in August, 2011, it has gained thousands of users around the world. The only things teachers need in a classroom are digital device, Internet access and very good awareness. This tool is very EASY and HANDY! In this blog below I would like to share my own experience of using ClassDojo software and provide some useful tips for my colleagues.

I got acquainted with ClassDojo two years ago after observing the lessons of my fellow teachers. After trying out it in my own lesson, it has become a part of my lesson. Whatever I teach English language subject or Global Perspectives and Project Work, I turn ClassDojo application on. Interestingly, ClassDojo is welcomed not only by kids but by elder students too. My students love it and ask me to display their results on the whiteboard especially during group activities.

In a word, ClassDojo is an online classroom management tool for computer. However, it is available not only for teachers; it could be shared by students and parents too. In order to use this software, teacher should simply to sign up with an account in ClassDojo website. Once the teacher signed up, he or she could add the classrooms into the system. If the teacher is eager to invite parents to be involved in a learning process, an invitation card could be sent to parents’ emails or just taken home by children. Further actions totally depend on the creativity of the teacher himself as there are many functions in a menu which prompt what to do next.

ClassDojo is quite beneficial and worth to use for many reasons. First of all, using ClassDojo increases students’ motivation to learn better as they are interested in getting rewards and pluses. Moreover, parents as well as students follow their progress which makes students more responsible for their study. Secondly, it encourages students to behave appropriately; good behavior such as helping each other, being active is reworded whereas bad behavior is punished by taking away the points and automatically sending to parents. In other words, it is a good inceptive to keep students work productively. Thirdly, teachers could spend more time teaching and less time writing disciplinary feedback home. Finally, ClassDojo app brings colossal joy and fun to classroom.

       Try my dear reader! You won’t regret!

References

Student Introduction to ClassDojo (22 August, 2012). [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaeNSYJvrn0

Literature review

Literature review is an essential part of any research work. The main aim of literature review section within a research work is to link notions and concepts from previous secondary sources which have been done earlier to one’s own research. Due to this section readers of research papers get thorough introduction of the topic you investigate. However, conducting literature review is not so easy as it may sound at first thought. It is a complicated process which requires a lot searching, a lot reading, note-taking, organizing…and only then writing! In this blog below I will share my own experience about writing literature review which might be useful for my readers.

The theme of my master’s thesis is “The role of mentor in teacher induction period”. I have chosen this topic because when I started to work two years ago I faced many challenges starting from classroom management to various bureaucratic works. Therefore, the purpose of my study is to explore the effectiveness of mentorship relationships in addressing the beginning teachers’ challenges in their induction period. Unlike the majority of my group-mates who complain about the lack of related materials, I have found enough scholarly scientific articles on my topic. I have already started to combine the articles into a literature table which was shown by our teachers last year. I could assure that I have not faced big challenges in writing literature review section. However, this is only the beginning, let’s see…)))

I assume that the reason why students often seem overwhelmed even before starting to do something is because they do not actually know how to start and where to start). The right way to start, to my mind, is to refer primarily to reputable articles in extensive databases such as ERIC, EBSCO, and JSTOR which include dozens of journal articles, dissertations and links to full texts of articles. Another recommendation I would give is to create a folder on the desktop somewhere in the center, name it by CAPITAL letters and download all related materials there; afterwards to fulfill the literature table with necessary information. Another valuable suggestion would be is to look at the reference list of the articles as they could refer to other reputable articles.

Wish good luck to everyone!

One more opinion about APA…

APA (American Psychological Association) style is one of the prescribed uniform format in writing academic papers within social and behavioral sciences nowadays. It is well-known not only for its reference and citation system, but also it offers guidance on choosing the word choice that best reduces bias in language. Moreover, it is famous for its easy-to-use formatting the papers such as choosing the appropriate tables, graphs and figures that will be in accordance with scientific communication (American Psychological Association, 2011). Although there are lots of materials and citation tools, the majority of people find APA style quite challenging. In this blog I am going to provide my personal experience of using APA, consider challenging that I still face and give recommendations for current and future students learning this uniform system.

I got introduced with APA format when I worked on my first Action Research project at Nazarbayev University four years ago. Since that time I realized the essential role of this format. Having become a teacher of Global Perspectives and Project Work at Nazarbayev Intellectual school I have solidified my knowledge about APA as this subject demands writing course works. However, as I remember my students struggled a lot and I devoted even several lessons for the explanation this format.

To tell the truth, I still face some difficulties while writing assignments and final papers on my Master’s degree at GSE. I refer to the Manual of APA again and again in order to make sure that I do everything correctly. First difficulty is to cite the author which has been already cited in the paper you are looking through. The second difficulty is to show competence in interacting audio or visual materials, films and websites. The third difficulty, I suppose, is quite familiar for most of the students: correct paraphrasing. In order to avoid plagiarism I read the words of the author several times, try to catch the main idea, and then only paraphrase.

For current and future students I strongly recommend to spend enough time for making a thorough study of APA style. Another thing is to look through scholarly articles and examine how scholars and academics do proper citing and formatting. The last two points I suggest are willingness and practice.

References

American Psychological Association. (2011). The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 978-1-4338-0562-2 (spiral bound)

Pros and Cons of Online Learning

Along with the development of technology, new ways of learning are becoming available nowadays. Online learning can serve as a brilliant example of this alteration. Whereas the majority of people believe that online learning is the most convenient and beneficial way of learning, others condemn that conventional learning cannot be substituted by any other alterations.

In order to find the answer I have reviewed several scholarly articles and books about online learning. However, the works of Terry Anderson and Jullie Harvard seemed to me as the most informative and appealing. The first work I would like to describe is the article by Jullie Harvard. Jullie is the author of accredited online schools; therefore, she is supposed to be an expert in this field. However, in her article she considers only the pros and cons of online learning environment which could be a limitation of her work.

“The Theory and Practice of Online Learning” by Terry Anderson, on the contrary, is a collection of several practitioners’ works in the field of distance education. The book consists of four chapters. The opening section provides the theoretical foundations by presenting the foundation of education theory for online learning. It opens the debate by discussing the contributions of behaviorist, cognitivist, constructivist, and connectivist theories to the design of online materials. The second chapter discusses the various factors that should be considered in developing the infrastructure for online learning, including planning, structural and organizational issues, the components of a system and the interfaces among them. The next section is concerned with operations, design, and production of quality online courses. It also provides the detailed look on the costs of online learning. The final chapter continues the discussion by stressing the importance of setting up a supportive learning environment for online learners, by providing some practical advice (Anderson, 2004). The authors of the book attempt not only to provide authors the necessary information and knowledge about online learning, but also share their expertise and concerns about it. I find both of these works extremely valuable for gathering the information for my mini-thesis.

There are many definitions of online learning in the literature, definitions that reflect the diversity of practice. Online learning as an innovative approach for delivering instruction to a remote audience, using the Internet as the tool (Khan, 1997, as cited in Anderson, 2004). However, online learning process should not been considered as the processes of presenting and delivering the information through the Web; the learner and the learning process should be the focus of online learning.

Admittedly, online learning is advantageous for many reasons. First of all, online learning is giving people new choices and flexibility with their personal learning. The only things people need are computer and Internet access which is increasingly becoming available in many countries. Such form of learning is quite beneficial for people who live in rural areas, for people who prefer or have to work instead of full-time study. Besides, it is very useful for women who are in their maternity leave and are eager to continue their study. Moreover, students have a chance to choose the courses they want to learn or repeat the material again and again before passing it. The last point I want to mention is that online learning is cheaper than the conventional one.

However, the biggest argument that raises doubt is the quality of courses offered by online learning. As the only method of communication with a teacher is through e-mails or chatting, students have lack of information as for the effectiveness of the courses. Furthermore, students cannot interact with their classmates, which is also unnatural way of communication. The flexibility of planning the schedule in online education could be the disadvantage for a person who cannot manage his or her time probably between work, family and study (Harvard, 2015).

All in all, there are both advantages and disadvantages of online learning environment. People choose either conventional or online learning according to definite circumstances and personal favours. However, if students choose to pursue their degree online, they should be highly motivated and well organized.

References

Anderson, T. (2004). The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, Athabasca, Canada: AU Press, 1200, 10011-109 Street Edmonto, p. 3-23

Harvard, J. (2015). Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning, Online University Degrees, retrieved from streetdirectory.com

The role of mentorship in teacher induction period

The topic of my thesis is “The role of mentorship in teacher induction period”. I have chosen this topic because when I started to work two years ago I faced many challenges starting from classroom management to various bureaucratic tasks. The purpose of this study is to explore the effectiveness of mentorship relationships in addressing the beginning teachers’ challenges in their induction period.

It is known that teaching is a challenging and complicated profession and the requirements can be overwhelming especially for beginning teachers. Novice teachers face many challenges in their inaugural period of work such as learning the organizational structure of the school, developing curricula, writing lesson plans, implementing effective classroom management, and working with different students and their parents.

New teachers often obtain employment in school organizations with stable curricula. This means that in addition to getting accustomed to the structure and rules of the school, many novice teachers must align the school’s curricula with what was previously learned at university when student teaching. The dilemma of learning and developing in a new teaching context is always a complicated period. Very often first year teachers are undergone achievements and frustrations, by discovering the lows and praising the highs of their professional experience. Finally, it could bring to potentially negative consequences by making them resign from their profession. As a result, one-third will leave the profession in the first three years and nearly half will be gone within their first five years in the profession.

Besides commonly known and organizational challenges and difficulties of adjusting school culture and regulations, beginning teachers now face the challenges of the absence or very little support from senior teachers. Sometimes senior teachers refer to the lack of time; however, this part of a job is usually free of charge. I do believe that the support from senior colleagues could have decreased the half of beginning teachers’ challenges.