Research: You’re an Educator, Therefore, a Researcher

Our first module shines a connective and cohesive light on the idea of research and education. In the age of hard data, the task of getting one’s point across to peers in the realm of teaching can be daunting if that point isn’t backed by valid and reliable study. Access to and literacy in various types of research gives the modern educator a voice loud enough to be heard over doubt and criticism along with proof to support claims overturn obsolete policy (an issue with which we are being presented as a nation as of recent).

Information literacy is crucial to deciphering what is needed and what is not when determining the proper use of hard data collected by educators. As a future educator in a world where an almost infinite amount of new information is available at our fingertips every day, we must understand what makes good quality information to support or discredit an argument and what makes for an unreliable source. It is when we have the ability to do this that we can be the most potent and influential we can be as educators.

With this being said, our class was presented with this image of a note sent home by an educator with a firm stance on the concept of homework:

Image result for no homework policy

Mrs. Young makes a strong claim in the second paragraph about how ‘research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance’ but never states the type of research, who that research is geared to (age of student or class subject), and the type of homework given. I can only assume that, because of the language use and activities listed, this is geared towards younger elementary school students. In three published studies, all stressed the importance of homework, but took their work a step further to indicate which types of homework work best, along with the concept of aptitude self-appraisal in regards to assignment difficulty levels. Senaratne and Kodippili state that “In addition to significant differences in success rates between students who do and do not use MML as a media for homework, both students and faculty benefit from MML (MyMathLab). For examples: MML enables faculty to spend more time with students; as homework grading is transferred to MML, students can learn according to the style and pace that best suit them.”

 

Granted, this study was done on high school students and, depending on the age group of her students, Mrs. Young may have some different insight as to what studies were done on elementary age children in regards to homework. In her defense, common elementary school objectives (especially in the younger grades) are socio-cultural (e.g. how to properly communicate in verbal and written form, developing a sense of time and punctuality, and mastery of fundamental cultural concepts like mutual respect). In reflection to the activities that she recommended for parents to participate in with their children, she really is lightly assigning homework, not only for the child but for the parents, that merely doesn’t fit with that we know culturally as homework. She is simply asking parents to reiterate what is being taught at school; to read, explore, and communicate effectively.

 

 

 

Sources:

Kodippili, A., & Senaratne, D. (2008). Is computer-generated interactive mathematics homework more effective than traditional instructor-graded homework?. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 39(5), 928-932. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00794.x

Introduction to my Journey: Who is Megan?

In terms of education and the desire to be a part of the process, the majority (from my experience) of those who wish to be teachers seemed to have known it their whole lives. They already mentally chose the subject and age group they would influence for the next 30 years of their lives. I was not that person. I started at a community college in the UW system and realized that I was decent in English, so that was the path I followed through my first 4-year degree. While I was completing it, I worked various jobs until I found myself at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in my hometown. It was there that I became a program coordinator and fell in love with the educational process. I enjoyed everything from the activity planning to the growth of each learning relationship (and let’s be real; all of the awesome school supplies).

After graduation, I worked in Madison, WI at a job that was comfortable, but lacked the luster that I saw in education, so after about 2 years I decided to enroll in school for Physical and Health Education. I realized that it was my passion back when I was in high school. I loved every aspect of athletic training, wellness, stress relief; the whole nine! Since my family health history was not A+, I took it upon myself early on to make those changes (seeing my dad at 55 years old appear to be closer to 80 due to poor health choices was more than enough motivation). Since high school was the age that I came to make my own choices, high school is the age group I aspire to teach. In regards to health and wellness, I believe that particular age group is more receptive to tools for positive self-change; physical or emotional.

Just because I decided to be an educator later in my scholastic career doesn’t mean I didn’t have teachers that influenced my decision to become one. I have a distinct memory of a conversation with my sophomore math teacher (who was in her late twenties at the time) about why I didn’t do homework but earned ‘A’s on all of my exams and tutored my classmates in some of the units. She was fun, knowledgeable, and most importantly, relatable. I never felt a sense of appraisal from her in terms of my aptitude or personality. She was clear in instruction and fair in her expectations. The conversation at her desk wasn’t to criticize or question me, but to merely make a statement. That statement stuck to the back of my mind ever since it was said: “Sometimes I think we [teachers] lose sight of what’s important and it takes someone to bring us back to why we are here. I hope you become a teacher someday. Don’t lose your perspective on what’s important.”

She reminded me very much of Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society; enthusiastic, intelligent, and (what I believe to be crucial in teaching) able to foster critical thinking and problem solving in the subject. Since math is a subject that contains many roots to the same outcome, she never hesitated to listen to a student’s differing way to solve a problem; if anything, she would use it as a segue into another concept!

The text assigned in the first week of this class had three main themes when it comes to being a good teacher; organization, enthusiasm, and knowledge. If she saw that I had all three when I was an emotional little rebel of a 15-year-old girl, who am I to not try to be the best educator I can be?

 

I got a B in that class and we still email each other from time to time. She couldn’t be more proud.

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