Authentic Application


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Authentic Application

  1. 1. Running head: AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 1 Final Application: Proposed Solutions Rinda Montgomery Conwell Walden University
  2. 2. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 2Final Application: Proposed Solutions Introduction The problem addressed in this proposed study is the isolation of rural and remote schoolsand lack of teacher participation in professional development, a professional practice accepted asnecessary (Webster-Wright, 2011). The conceptual framework behind this problem is thatteaching, as a profession, requires ongoing professional development that guides the growth,knowledge, and abilities of the practitioner, and that without this growth, particularly in a fieldthat fluxuates as rapidly as education, continued student achievement is not possible (Desimone,2009). Rural schools have historically performed lower than urban schools (“Rural Education:Student Achievement in Rural Schools,” n.d.). Regional service agencies are the largest providerof professional development (Association of Educational Service Agencies, 2010). Stanley(2005) indicated that consolidation of services is the best solution to provide for the needs ofrural districts. Data on rural teacher job satisfaction (Huysman, 2007) revealed teacher confusion overtheir roles as educators and in the community, including a suggestion that teachers might often beconsidered outsiders simply because they don’t possess the needed social capital (Falk &Kilpatrick, 2000). Huysman (2007) demonstrated rural teachers experienced role confusionbetween who the individual was as a professional and as a community member. Al-Zaidiyeen,Mei and Fook (2010) indicated there was little use by the teacher of technology options eventhough their attitudes revealed a positive view of educational technology.
  3. 3. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 3 Eppley and Corbett (2012) addressed how rural cultures reversed the standard approach toevidence-based practice. Rather than “I’ll believe that when I see it,” rural cultural moresreversed the trend and stated, “I’ll see that when I believe it.” This demonstrated a significantlydifferent epistemology found in rural areas. The focus of attention was not on data, but onrelationship, social connection, and community investment. Problem The problem in the North Central Education Service District region is that despite studentachievement gaps, individual teachers and districts on the whole demonstrate little interest inprofessional development which research shows can increase student performance. The dataoffered in public meetings of North Central Education Service District’s (NCESD) regionalsuperintendents based on their district surveys indicated a 37% interest rate of teachers inparticipating in school improvement activities (Lathrop, 2011, May 17). Additionally, that samemeeting indicated that only 16% of the schools wanted a full school improvement program; 67%requested occasional on-call trainings, and 16% opted out of regional school improvementoptions completely. A report to NCESD in September 2011 (Lathrop) revealed survey results indicating 87%of the regional staff declined participation in the state school improvement project. Statewide,48% of the districts participated in the state school improvement project (Oregon DATA Project,2011). Of the state’s rural districts, only 23% participated. In the NCESD region, no districtsparticipated in the state school improvement project. The guiding question is how can an outside
  4. 4. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 4service agent foster professional communities of practice among rural teachers with an eyetoward reflection and improvement in student achievement? The local data was obtained through the public archives of the minutes of the NorthCentral Education Service District Superintendents Meetings available at the main office.Additionally, information regarding participation in the statewide school improvement projectwas obtained through that project website, including a map of the state and a list of whichdistricts were participating. Comparing that to the Oregon Department of Education’s website-accessed list of all the districts in the state and their student numbers, it was left then only tocalculate which percentage of smaller and larger districts participated in the project. The initial conception of the existence of a problem came from participation in both localand regional meetings related to school improvement, and participation in the statewide schoolimprovement initiative. Having direct experience with comments at these meetings, along withmultiple requests from outside the region for services that schools inside the region do not desire,gave a clear indication that something was amiss. Possible Solution A possible solution to the problem of rural teachers’ isolation and lack of professionaldevelopment interests lies in addressing the needs of rural teachers in terms of their perception oftheir circumstances, and providing coaching opportunities related to much-desired technologyallocations to the teachers themselves who ask to be involved in such a project. The writings ofEppley and Corbet (2012), Huysman (2008), and Falk and Kilpatrick (2000), clearlydemonstrated that rural teachers focused on relationship and social capital, yet found themselves
  5. 5. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 5confused in the multiple roles they played. In order for someone involved in professionaldevelopment to be seen as part of that community, it is imperative to be involved in those variousroles and relationships. This would move beyond school-related multiple roles into communityactivities which may not even seem to touch on school issues, but do relate to the school’s townsand rural residents, and overall goes toward enhancing the lives of all. Bryant (2007) indicated a primary reason for a lack of quality teachers in rural areas wasthe sense of cultural and professional isolation. He further indicated that the lack of funding inrural areas which prevented advancement into 21st century technological approaches was alsohaving a detrimental effect on rural education. One possible way to address isolation and fundingissues is to provide opportunities for teachers to participate in technology enhanced teachingmodels which would connect the rural schools within a region via video conferencing andincluding class sets of mobile devices. As a voluntary activity, teachers will not feel compelledto spend a day or a series of days in training and get nothing out of it. Beesley (2011) noted that schools with fewer than 300 students had a higher teacherturnover rate than larger schools. She recommended teacher mentoring programs and access toprofessional learning communities to increase retention. As part of a program to address thetechnology needs and isolation issues of teachers, the delivery model would be a mentoring orcoaching design. The national budget crisis hits rural schools hard, so finding a way to attachreal gains in terms of technology and improved connectivity to other schools and educationalresources would pique interest in teachers (Wei et al., 2009). The hypothesis is that with accessto up-to-date technology, coaching, and a relationship-based professional learning network,
  6. 6. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 6teachers would begin to drive their own professional development focused on studentachievement data. It is time to begin to move from a professional development approachof Positivism tobegin to accommodate an Apositivistic stance. Rural teachers are more inclined to focus first oncultural norms and values—to be more subjective in their evaluations and judgments. Theemphasis is on relationship, personal and community, and an aspect of social action whichprecedes any level of trust and openness required for successful professional development. Ruralschools have a higher teacher turnover rate which mentoring may help to resolve. Just as current K-12 practices incorporate differentiated instruction into learning, researchindicated (Coooper, 2009 and Neuman & Cunningham, 2009) it would be wise to utilize apersonalized approach in professional development activities to accommodate different learningstyles and differing teacher learning needs (varying goals and objectives). While implementing acoaching-based technology and video conferencing model for bringing together student learningactivities regionally, the coaching should be different for each teacher. The teacher would beinvolved in designing their own goals and objectives for growth for theselves and their students.They would also assist in designing the types of observations the coach would employ ingathering data regarding the teacher’s progress. In this way, the teacher has the lion’s share ofresponsibility for what data is collected, how, and steps to change the outcomes. This truly putsthe power of improvement for teachers and students into the hands of the teachers. Proposed Methodology
  7. 7. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 7 The proposed methodology for this study is the interrupted time-series experiment. Thiswas chosen specifically because the target group of teachers in the ELO cohort will be part ofongoing interventions which will change over time. In a discussion of the value of this type ofdesign, Biglan, Ary, and Waggenaar (2000) offered information which derailed the originalchoice of the pretest-posttest control group design. Biglan et al. (2000) demonstrated that control-group designs begin with the assumption ofthe relationship to be studied, leaving out the possibility for identification of other causalrelationships. As the purpose of the ELO project is to determine how to successfully introduce achange in pedagogy along with one-to-one mobile devices and interactive video conferencing,and there is not enough current research on one-to-one mobile devices to identify potentialeffective independent variables for that intervention, attempting a control-group design wouldnot yield desired results. Control-group designs are also particularly inappropriate for community interventionsresearch (Biglan et al., 2000). As the purpose of the ELO grant is work with teachers within sixdifferent school districts, this is community intervention. Additionally, as indicated by Huysman(2008), rural teachers are more influenced by their place in rural communities, to the extent ofexperiencing role confusion related to the expectations of their place in their professions and theexpectations related to their social roles in the community. Therefore, it is not possible in ruralschools to separate teachers’ roles from the expectations of their place in the community, makinginterrupted time-series experiments most appropriate.
  8. 8. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 8 Another reason control-group studies would not be appropriate in this proposed study isthe difficulty of monitoring the influence of the community from other factors during the courseof the project (Biglan et al., 2000). The three-year grant-funded project will take placeconcurrently with district-based training efforts and teacher-chosen professional development.There would be no way to control all the variables which may affect teacher knowledge andinstructional interventions. When using an interrupted time-series study, there is greater confidence that the use andvariation of the independent variables are responsible for the changes in the data being collected(Biglan et al., 2000). A multiple baseline design allows for manipulation in the independentvariables, giving a stronger relationship between the introduction and manipulation of theindependent variables and their effects. Statistical analysis must be accomplished to autocorrelatedata collected in multiple events over a longer period of time. One well designed method fortransforming this data and estimating the effects is known as ARIMA, auto-regressive integratedmoving average (Biglan et al., 2000). One ethical consideration will be whether to inform the teacher cohort of the intentionalshift to personalize not only the topic of coaching intervention—each person to identify his or herown individual learning needs, but the style or manner in which that coaching will occur with agreater emphasis on building a personal relationship. There is a sense of deception involved inhaving previously kept a professional distance from individuals and now taking steps towardapparent friendship involvement. Aside from that, students involved will only be reflected interms of data related to grades and their achievement, privacy will be maintained, accuracy will
  9. 9. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 9be upheld, and all participants applied for seats on the cohort, so no further ethical considerationsarise. Conclusion As this paper is the result of work over a number of weeks, there has been some difficultymaintaining a constant vision throughout. However, the process also highlighted to me aneffective approach to tackling larger projects such as that of the doctoral study. This applies notonly to the concept of breaking a large project into smaller chunks, but the order in which thiswas taken on assisted me in the understanding of the entire process. My understanding of the types of data which I could access to reveal the local problemserved to be a major stumbling block at the start. It was through the prompting to revisediscussion posts that I was guided toward adjustments that clarified my understanding, andtherefore how I communicated the initial problem. This indicates to me the need for closecommunication with my advisory committee during this aspect of writing my doctoral study, andindeed every step. When I first began the literature research on a possible solution, it was difficult toformulate the search parameters because I had a particular sense of what should work and waslimiting my search. When that proved unsuccessful, I began to broaden my search to generalizeterms and look to cultural factors of rural schools, and that brought to me the most significantdiscoveries, quite recently published, indicating a drastic epistemological difference betweenrural and urban communities, including their teachers. This completely changed my hypothesisand further research.
  10. 10. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 10 Probably the greatest lessons learned from this process are to identify locally, from the500 foot view, then back way up to the 30,000 foot view to research. I had been looking fornational trend research to demonstrate the validity of my perception of a local problem, thenassuming a solution and narrowing in too closely toward research I thought would back me up. The results of this study would encourage social change because it could affect a quarterof schools in the United States which are considered rural (Bryant, 2007). Evidence on bringingabout change to the social construct of these school communities and enabling I’ll-see-it-when-I-believe-it teachers to openly look at and respond to data could revitalize rural schoolachievement.
  11. 11. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 11 ReferencesAl-Zaidiyeen, N. J., Mei, L. L., & Fook, F. S. (2010). Teachers attitudes and levels of technology use in classrooms: the case of Jordan Schools. International Education Studies, 3(2), 211- 218. Retrieved from of Educational Service Agencies. (2010). Improving American education through educational service agencies. Arlington, VA: Author. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from, A. (2011). Keeping rural schools up to full speed. THE Journal, 38(9), 26-27.Biglan, A., Ary, D., & Wagenaar, A. C. (2000). The value of interrupted time-series experiments for community intervention research. Prevention Science, 1(1), 31-49. Retrieved from rupted%20Time%20Series%20Studies/The%20Value%20of%20Interrupted%20Time- Series%20Experiments%20for%20Community%20Intervention%20Research.pdfBryant, J. A. (2007, Fall). Killing Mayberry: The crisis in rural American education. The Rural Educator, 29(1), 7-11. Cooper, E. (2009, November). Creating a culture of professional development: A milestone pathway tool for registered nurses. The Journal of Continuing Educaation in Nursing, 40(11), 501-508. doi:10.3928/00220124Desimone, L. M. (2009, April). Improving impact studies of teachers professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-199.
  12. 12. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 12 Retrieved from, K., & Corbett, M. (2012). I’ll see that when I believe it: A dialogue on epistemological difference and rural literacies. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 27(1). Retrieved from, I., & Kilpatrick, S. (2000, January). What is social capital? A study of interaction in a rural community. Sociologia Ruralis, 1(40), 87-110. Retrieved from, J. T. (2007). Rural teacher satisfaction: An analysis of beliefs and attitudes of rural teachers job satisfaction [Doctoral Dissertation]. Retrieved from University of Central Florida website:, R., Knaack, L., & Petrarca, D. (2009). Exploring teachers perceptions of web-based learning tools. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 5, 27-49. Retrieved from, D. (2011, May 17). NCESD May 17 Superintendents Meeting. [Meeting Minutes]. Retrieved April 19, 2012 from the ESD Office.Lathrop, D. (2011, September 8). NCESD April 2011 Board Meeting. [Meeting Minutes]. Retrieved April 19, 2012 from the ESD Office.Neuman, S. B., & Cunningham, L. (2009, June). The impact of professional development and coaching on early language and literacy instructional practices. American Educational Research Journal, 46(2), 532-566. doi:10.3102/0002831208328088
  13. 13. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 13Oregon DATA Project. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2011, from Oregon Department of Education website: education: Student achievement in rural schools. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2012, from University of Michigan website:, M. C. (2005). Massachusetts collaboratives: Making the most of education dollars. Boston: Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from, A. (2009, February 25). Reframing professional development through understanding authentic professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 79, 702- 739. doi:10.3102/0034654308330970Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Ricchardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009, February). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the U.S. and abroad. Retrieved from National Steff Development Council website:
  14. 14. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 14 AppendixPrensky, M. 2009. H. sapiens digital: From digital immigrants and digital natives to digital wisdom. Innovate 5 (3). (accessed April 4, 2009) Prensky (2009) gives an overview of the differences between digital natives and digitalimmigrants, focusing on how people from different generations in the Information Age arelearning to cope with the increase of information available and the means by which we are ableto access and utilize that information. The final focus is on how to use this information toincrease our wisdom in our approach to this new era of instant media.Sterrett, W. (2011). Insights into action: Successful school leaders share what works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Sterrett (2011) indicates the following are steps to address when overcoming challenges:develop critical thinking skills, affirm student and staff work, use technology to communicate,and share meaningful data. Further, Sterrett (2011) indicates these action items for turningchallenges into success: develop a crisis plan, align the organization, prioritize personal health,find success partners, and learn to triage.Stewart, V. (2012). A world-class education: Learning from international models of excellence and innovation. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD. Stewart (2012) lists the comment elements of successful systems as: vision andleadership, ambitious standards, commitment to equity, high-quality teachers and leaders,alignment and coherence, management and accountability, student engagement and motivation,
  15. 15. AUTHENTIC APPLICATION 15and global and future orientation.alignment and coherence, management and accountability,student engagement and motivation, and global and future orientation.