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sandyuga's Journal

10th February, 2006. 11:28 am. Continuing Evolution

The more I read about Design-Based research, the more I realize I have to learn. I have been thinking about my research goals and am not really certain where they are...this early in my program of study. I have so much to read and understand about the options available. Design-Based Research appeals to me as there are direct, intentional practical applications. However, realistically, I keep coming back to the initial question of whether this type of research works in a doctoral program of study. I guess my dilemma is whether one can have Design/Development Goals for their research agenda but not be fully involved with "design-based" research. Is there an interim path along which a newbie researcher can move with the ultimate goal being design-based research? Maybe initially, my research goals fall more into the Action/Evaluation Goals where I can learn and progress and keep my eye on the full cycle that design-based research represents.

I find that my interests and tendencies are very applied in nature. I have a lot of knowledge to gain about theory in the field and have relatively little to add to major theoretical discussions (YET). As I read, I continually think about ways to apply the wealth of knowledge that has been amassed in the field. In following that thread, will that lead me in the direction of design-based research somewhere in my future? My work thus far has been dealing with either evaluating online professional development opportunities or creating a video knowledge base of teacher best practices. I am beginning to read and develop ideas to support a professional development model, which will certainly bring in other theory that touches/supports the model. Maybe that is the better place for me to start towards determining my goals.

I guess, I have to say the jury is still out. I know that this class will help me along the way towards solidifying my place along this research continuum.

Current mood: contemplative.

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4th February, 2006. 2:14 pm. The essence of my research direction

Since this is my first year in the doctoral program, I am finding that my understanding and therefore my direction is on a continuous evolution. The more I read, the more I ponder, the more I adjust my thinking. This is all good, but it does make for a circling effect when it comes to my goals and direction for my research.

The more I read about Design Based Research, the more I like it, but question its place in my research during my doctoral studies. The time frame is the major issue, but the direction of DBR is having an influence on my thinking. As I read the postings in WebCT, I realize how far I have to go in my studies to get a better handle on the field I am entering. The gaps I have are very obvious and there is much reading to do! I know also that it would have been helpful in this particular course, had I been further along in my coursework ... especially the research courses. I'll get there, but there might have been a better way.

For my research:

The literature has shown that one-shot professional development workshops are ineffective at creating real lasting change in teaching pedagogies and learning outcomes (e.g. Borko, 2004, Loucks-Horsley, 1995). Educators need to view themselves as lifelong learners and through that personal understanding can create that possibility for their students. The key to long term change involves a cultural change within the school itself, developing mentoring processes, communities of learning, a culture of teachers as professionals, and support groups to sustain continuous learning for teachers. The evidence supporting effectiveness of a model of professional development, which permeates the school and system culture, exists. I would like to find ways to move this knowledge and insight into the schools where it can have a long-term positive impact on students and their learning.

During my PhD candidacy I plan to critically review the various types of professional development models currently in the literature and in action in the field. Through this analysis, I plan to develop an expertise in the field of professional development and classroom technology integration. Classroom teaching does not effectively integrate technology as a critical component of the curriculum. While there are many barriers to technology use in education, my focus is the teacher as the driver of change in the classroom. The purpose of my research will be to develop a plan to support teacher through sustained professional development to more fully integrate technology in meaningful ways.

Research Questions:

1. How do you scaffold teacher learning to help them transform their teaching practices to include technology in a student-centered classroom.
2. How can ongoing professional development within a school be created and sustained for long term results.

Borko, H.(2004). Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15.
Loucks-Horsley, S. (1995). Professional Development and the Learner Centered School. Theory into Practice, 34(4), 265-271.

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2nd February, 2006. 10:17 am. Need to focus

I need to find my focus. I have had so much going on in my life, it has made it difficult to begin the refinement process for my program of study. I have two teenagers, am going through the final stages of a divorce and have moved to a new home. Finding time and focus to clearly define my research agenda has been trying. However, the doctoral program has been helpful at nudging me along. Several of my current classes are moving me in the same direction, but I have some decisions to make. I am headed in a direction that makes me excited about the future. This is quite a candy store and there are so many items from which to choose!

I am observing a math class for middle school teachers. For course credit, I go through the class and reflect on my observations tying them back to my research direction of teacher professional develop and technology integration. The professor's teaching style models the type of teaching we look for in standards based teaching. It is especially interesting to note that she never taught in the classroom prior to coming to the University, and yet she is considered a model. In fact, my reflections for her class this week relate my observations back to the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). This mirrors my best practice video editing project where I highlight good examples of standards based teaching. Because this particular class is primarily composed of students who want to be middle school teachers, I have also gained insights into teacher professional development. My reading on this topic (e.g. Loucks-Horsley, 1995) illustrates how effective teacher professional develop must include content as well as pedagogical knowledge. This professor makes a special effort in focusing her efforts on both good content knowledge and modeling (as well as discussing) good teaching pedagogy. She continually refers back to how this particular point could be illustrated in a middle school classroom and how it meets the GPS. I reflect on this classroom as a "live" video feed as I continue to gain better understanding. I do not have a classroom teaching background, but have done extensive training of adults in a business background. I am working towards filling in the gaps of my classroom teaching knowledge.

While filling in gaps, I think back to my class last semester on motivation theory. It is not purely a motivational issue, but the driving question behind my research focus is why do some teachers teach with a student centered focus and others do not? Why are some teachers constructivists and others are instructionists? Why are some teachers life long learners themselves and others are not? (I found this to be the case in my professional life where some of my employees would work on self-development and others would not.) How can we as a research community help teachers become lifelong learners and therefore pass this desire on to their students? This is the core of my research agenda, now I have to work to refine this.

Loucks-Horsley, S. (1995). Professional Development and the Learner Centered School. Theory Into Practice, 34(No. 4), 265-271.

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29th January, 2006. 10:09 am. Research Goals

I find that my research goals tend towards design/development goals. If we can define “good” research as that which improves the human condition, our aim should be to tie theory to practice, and then use that practice to refine theory. During this past fall semester of EDIT 8990, we spent time discussing what makes good research and this portion of our collective discussion stuck with me. In deciding to return to school, I wanted to find a direction that would allow me to make a contribution in the field of education at the teacher level. During my Masters degree and now during my doctoral program, I have been struck with how much research and knowledge there is about learning, teaching, using technology...and just efforts to make education more effective. But how do we take that knowledge and understanding and move it out into the world on a large scale? There are pockets of teachers, schools and programs, but is it possible on a large scale?

Design-based research interested me because of its iterative nature combining theory and practice and then using practice to improve theory. However, the time element involved makes me wonder if I can find my place in this arena during my doctoral studies. Is it possible to begin to move in this direction in small ways? Currently, I am involved with shooting and editing video of teacher best practice for the Georgia Performance Standards. I have submitted a proposal to AECT to present a 30 minute session entitled: Creating Classroom Video of Teacher Best Practices to Affect Change in Teacher Pedagogy. This presentation is directed at the more practical end of using video in professional development. However, I am finding that there is opportunity for research in the use of video in education and especially in professional development. As Allan Collins remarked in "Understanding Design Research" Video Conference, video provides an opportunity to study the practice of teaching and learning. He noted there was a need to build theory around that. I am going to have to read more about this.

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27th January, 2006. 12:07 pm. Beginnings of a Research Agenda

I entered the doctoral program at UGA with a Masters in IT and 21 years in business (Prudential Insurance). This degree represents a new direction for me and presents some very exciting options. During my years with Prudential, I was responsible for:

• Training field agents, occasionally up to 300 at a time.
• Managing an underwriting staff of up to 110, ranging from clerical staff to college degreed underwriters.
• Managing, from home, a remote staff (located in AZ, OH, FL and NJ) responsible for countrywide training, auditing and process improvement.
• Managing a Sales Promotion Department responsible for business conferences, marketing programs, etc.
• Analyzing profit and loss results, developing budgets, reviewing risk concentration, etc.
• Developing technology applications to improve processes and training opportunities.

When I left Prudential to stay home, I completed my Masters Degree and began working as a volunteer in the local school system. It was there that I developed a passion for supporting teachers in better using the technology in their classrooms. I gained a new appreciation for their job and the challenges they face. As my life took on a new direction, I decided to find an opportunity to put my passion and skills to work. This program provided a good fit.

My experience in Oconee County schools led me to believe that the point person in the school for technology integration was the Media Specialist. It was through that route that I originally thought I would aim. However, during the application process for the doctoral program at UGA, I realized there were a number of opportunities to make a contribution to classroom teaching.

I am only at the beginning of my studies and have many ideas and interests. Whittling those ideas and interests down into a more narrow focus is my challenge and I think this form of reflective writing through a blog can help me greatly!

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