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Funding and Effectiveness of Staff Development Programs in Three North Texas School Districts

Description: This dissertation study focused on three aspects of staff development in North Texas: 1) funding sources, 2) types of professional learning programs, and 3) teachers' views of the effectiveness of the funded programs. Qualitative data came from interviews with nine district administrators concerning funding sources and how those resources enhanced teacher skills. Quantitative data came from 1,277 responses from teachers regarding their background and perceptions about staff development. Data from interviews with district administrators were diagrammed to depict elements of funding staff development and to reveal how resources were used to plan, implement, and evaluate staff learning. An analysis of interview data revealed that availability of grants, property tax rates, and student enrollment affected how districts funded staff development. Administrators reported that districts funded professional learning that was planned according to academic initiatives, met the needs of adult learners, and adapted to the changing needs of school communities. Both administrators and practitioners reported that time was a lacking resource critical to developing staff knowledge. Practitioners reported that sufficient opportunity to collaborate with colleagues about learning initiatives was more valuable than teaching materials. Teacher questionnaires were analyzed for possible relationships between participant variables and responses concerning knowledge about funding constraints and professional development experiences. Data revealed that practitioner experience and graduate degrees were not related to teachers' use of knowledge about financial constraints to more efficiently implement learning from staff development. Participants did not perceive professional learning differently than peers. Most teachers connected professional learning with improved teaching practices but a small percent attributed student achievement to their professional learning. The majority of teachers considered collaborative learning settings to elicit more personal professional growth than other formats. The findings of the teacher questionnaire suggest that teaching practices could be impacted if participants gained more knowledge about district financial constraints when developing ...
Date: August 2010
Creator: Ivey, Shannon Kay

International Distance Learning in Special Education: A Program Evaluation of a US-Ecuador Collaboration

Description: The internationalization of distance learning in special education is at a pivotal point in expansion. Even with concerted efforts through traditional means to increase the supply of special educators, shortages persist; therefore, teacher preparation programs are turning to online education. This dissertation study was a formative program evaluation of a bilingual, two-course sequence within a web-based special education master's program offered at the University of North Texas (UNT), in Denton, Texas, and at the Universidad Casa Grande (UCG) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The research design was based on the unfolding model of program evaluation, and it included mixed-methods of data collection. The model focused attention on (1) scientific evidence, (2) cost-benefit differential, (3) underlying values, and, (4) unintended consequences. Data came from archived documents as well as six semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and survey data from 23 student participants. The findings for the general-orientation course, Special Education Programs and Practices, revealed mixed results concerning multicultural awareness on the part of student participants. However, it seemed to have influenced their lesson design and made a difference in other areas. Some multicultural awareness concepts frequented the discussion board. The specialized course, Assistive Technology, which had more frequent communication between UNT and UCG on the discussion board, suggested larger increases in students' multicultural awareness. With respect to both courses, the stakeholders recommended that the structure be strengthened for non-bilingual instructors and students to be able to communicate more freely. Translation issues were a top priority in both courses. The study has implications for other international distance education programs.
Date: August 2010
Creator: McPherson, Rebekah

The Transfer and Sustainability of a School-Wide Writing Program: Year 2.

Description: Writing is an important life skill that all students need in order to succeed in today's society. However, proficient writing skills develop over time, requiring years of quality instruction combined with motivation, encouragement, and lots of practice. School-wide writing is an approach that provides specific writing instruction in a consistent manner across all grade levels, allowing students to develop increasingly complex writing skills and strategies over time. Implementation of programs, such as school-wide writing, requires teachers to transfer new understandings and skills from the training room to the classroom as well as efforts to sustain the program over time. This multiple case study examines the characteristics of an elementary school-wide writing program that was introduced in the field by local teachers and transferred five years later to another school in the same district. The study also examines factors affecting the transfer and sustainability of the program during the second year of implementation. Findings from the study indicate that the elements of school-wide writing transferred from School 1 to School 2 at a low road level of transfer. Factors affecting transfer included inquiry, ongoing training, support systems, authentic writing experiences, and time. Factors contributing to sustainability included ongoing support, accountability, communication, positive feelings, time, and individuality.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Dickson, Violet Myers

Well-Being and Academic Success in Gifted College Students: Early-College Entrants and Honors College Students

Description: As a society, we seek to have our young people, including the gifted, be healthy and happy, and go to good schools with good teachers. Framed by Sayler's theoretical model of giftedness and thriving, this study examined psychological constructs (i.e. general self-efficacy, theories of intelligence, hope, gratitude, religiosity, disposition, and resiliency) to determine their mediating effect on personal well-being and academic success in gifted college students. The 213 subjects for this study included gifted college students from two distinct programs at the University of North Texas. One hundred twenty-two participants were students from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS). TAMS is an early-college entrance program allowing gifted students to enter college after their sophomore year of high school. Ninety-one participants attended the UNT Honors College. Honors College students are gifted students who enter college after high school graduation. Latent transition, latent class, general linear model repeated measures, and regression analyses were used in the examination of the data. Results of the study revealed that positive disposition and hope-agency were significantly related to the development of personal well-being for gifted students during their first year of college. The ability to identify pathways to goals and the self-theory of intelligence as a fixed trait were significantly related to academic success during the first year at college. Knowledge of psychological constructs that are facilitative of the positive personal well-being and academic achievement helps parents, teachers, administrators, and counselors prepare gifted students for success in college.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Boazman, Janette Kay

A Case Study of the Impact of the Middle School Data Coach on Teacher Use of Educational Test Data to Change Instruction

Description: With the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in 2002 and its attendant increases in accountability pressure, many districts and schools currently embrace data analysis as an essential part of the instructional decision making process. In their attempts to overcome low achievement on state-mandated tests, some districts have begun employing data coaches. The study reported here, which was set in three middle schools in a northeast Texas school district, assessed the influence of the campus data coach on a middle school mathematics teachers' use of analyzed data to make instructional decisions. It also examined the extent to which the Data Coach/teacher relationship resolved teacher concerns about data-driven decision making. Phenomenological interviews with data coaches were guided by Seidman's (2006) three-series interview. Measurement of teacher use of data to make decisions was based on the concerns-based adoption model's levels of use interview protocol, stages of concern questionnaire, and innovation configuration map. By the end of one school year, two out of the three teachers never used data to make instructional decisions, although the non-users both had moved closer toward employing the innovation in their classroom. Data indicated all teachers were aware of the innovation, but all three ended the study with high personal concerns, signifying that the minimal efforts made by the data coaches to resolve concerns were not successful. This study's small sample gave the research paradigm of data-based decision making an in-depth glimpse into the process of implementing data-based instructional decision making and the Data Coach position on three middle school campuses in one large northeast Texas district.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Hill, Rachelle Phelps

Eighth Grade Science Teacher Quality Variables and Student Achievement

Description: While No Child Left Behind ushered in the age of the "highly qualified" teacher, accountability focus has been shifted to the "highly effective" teacher, defined as teacher impact on student achievement. The Science Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is used to judge the adequate yearly progress of students in Texas public schools. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of teacher factors (i.e., ethnicity, gender, teaching experience, university selectivity, certification route, National Center for Education Statistics Locale/Code, number of science content and pedagogical course semester credit hours, grade point average for science content and pedagogical coursework) on student achievement using the eighth grade Science TAKS. The primary dependent variables were students' five objective scores and their overall scores on the eighth grade Science TAKS examination. The sample was 44 eighth grade science teachers and 4,119 students in Texas public schools. Multiple linear regression models enabled examinations of the relationships between teacher quality variables and student achievement. No significant relationships between the variables were found. Small effect sizes for the beta weights and structure coefficients occurred between teachers' science credit hours and TAKS objectives to explain 20% of the variance for TAKS Living Systems and the Environment, 39% of the variance for TAKS Structures and Properties of Matter, and 21% of the variance for TAKS Earth and Space Systems. Teacher experience accounted for 24% of the variance with TAKS Structures and Properties of Matter, and pedagogical credit hours explained 30% of the variance with TAKS Motion, Forces, and Energy. Science GPA explained 31% of the variance for the TAKS Earth and Space Systems objective. Policy makers should examine NCLB assumptions about teacher content knowledge as a significant indicator of teacher effectiveness via student achievement on standardized tests. While measuring content knowledge provides a simple, efficient, ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Harp, Amy

Preschool Mathematics: An Examination of One Program's Alignment with Recommendations from NAEYC and NCTM

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which a preschool program followed the recommendations outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in their joint position statement "Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings." Six teachers were randomly selected from three of the preschool program's six locations that are situated in an urban city in North Texas. Two parts of this program's approach to mathematics were investigated: the teachers' instructional practices and the program's curricular materials. Data came from observations using the Classroom Observation of Early Mathematics-Environment and Teaching (COEMET) protocol and field notes. Each teacher participated in three interviews over the course of this research. Analyses of these sources provided insights into teachers' instructional practices for mathematics. Reviews of curricular documents and lesson plans for mathematics instruction provided information pertaining to the math curriculum used at this preschool program. All of these data sources were analyzed using the framework presented in NAEYC and NCTM's position statement. Analysis of the data indicated that, although teachers did not have any knowledge of these guidelines, teachers followed some of these recommendations; such as presenting children with daily developmentally appropriate mathematics activities and connecting mathematics to classroom routines. Other practices did not align with NAEYC and NCTM's suggestions, such as offering children few opportunities to engage in problem-solving situations and providing an inconsistent integration of mathematics into meaningful activities related to other content areas. Several possible factors may have influenced teachers' use of these recommendations. Teachers' prior educational opportunities, the program's curriculum materials, and the teachers' prior experiences with mathematics all may have contributed to the teachers' understandings of high quality mathematics instructional practices. Results from this research help to provide the foundation for future investigations of ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Johnston, Elisabeth

Sheltered Instruction: A Case Study of Three High School English Teachers' Experiences with the SIOP Model

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the current status of secondary teachers' implementation of the sheltered instruction operational protocol (SIOP) model and its effect on Hispanic English language learners' (ELL) English language proficiency and academic achievement. In addition, this study sought to determine whether teachers perceive the SIOP model as an effective tool for instruction of high school ELL students to increase English language content and English language proficiency. This study employed qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Data were collected from four sources: Hispanic ELLs' English language proficiency scores, students' English Language Arts scores, an oral interview with participating teachers and teacher observations. Each teacher was observed at four points during the school year with the SIOP instrument. Quantitative data on student achievement were collected employing a pre-experimental, one-group pretest-post-test design. Qualitative data were collected using a time-series design. Findings revealed that on the two student assessment measures there were increases in English proficiency and English language arts achievement among the Hispanic ELLs. On the assessment of English language proficiency, the students of the teacher with the highest level of SIOP implementation made the highest gains; the students of the teacher with the second highest SIOP implementation level made the second highest gains; and students of the teacher with the lowest level of SIOP implementation made the smallest gains. These findings suggest that the higher the level of SIOP implementation, the greater the student academic achievement gains. The gains in academic achievement attributed to the proper implementation of the SIOP model can have an extensive impact on English language learners who have not previously experienced academic success. Teacher participants perceived the SIOP model as effective for delivery of content through sheltered instruction lessons for high school ELLs. The teachers agreed that the SIOP model's components provided a consistent structure ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Bertram, Rodney L.

Novice Generalist and Content teachers’ Perceptions of Contextual Factors Affecting Personal Teaching Efficacy

Description: New teachers begin the school year with optimism and enthusiasm, but their excitement quickly wanes as they encounter the realities of the everyday life of a teacher. When they do not experience the successes they predicted, many begin to doubt their capabilities, which results in a lowered sense of teaching efficacy. This descriptive study was designed to identify the contextual factors novice teachers perceive as influences on personal teaching efficacy and to examine the relationships between the factors. Two groups of novice teachers who were concurrently enrolled in a post-baccalaureate accelerated educator preparation program and working as first-year teachers were the participants in the study. Data were gathered for the study through focus group activities, twice weekly journal entries completed during the teaching year, and a culminating “lessons learned” paper written during the last month of the first year of teaching. Each of the two focus groups identified nine contextual factors they perceived to affect personal teaching efficacy. Six factors were identified by both groups: parental involvement, support from administrators and colleagues, classroom discipline, testing results, teaching strategies and outcomes, and relationships with administrators and colleagues. The groups, however, perceived the relationships between the contextual factors differently. The generalists perceived recursive relationships between the factors, while the content group perceived a linear relationship.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Hooten, Dorleen Billman

The Impact of Collegial-Teaming on High-School and University Instructors: A Descriptive Multi-Case Study

Description: This descriptive multi-case study systematically explored the team teaching relationship between a secondary teacher and a university faculty member. Multiple interviews, classroom observations, and analysis of available data provided insights into the interactions of these particular collegial-teams, drawn together for the purpose of providing rigorous STEM curriculum to high-ability students during a three-week residential program. Data revealed that successful collaboration can be described by the emergent themes of reciprocity, respect, flexibility, and time. It appears that an active interchange, or reciprocity, and mutual respect between partners during curriculum/lesson/unit planning, instructional delivery, and assessment facilitate effective collaborative instruction. Findings further revealed that instructors expressed an overall positive experience with collegial-teaming; one that has been valuable to them as professionals. The university instructors reported acquiring and improving upon their own pedagogical skills, while the high-school instructors reported gains in terms of obtaining in-depth content knowledge. The partnership also assisted in bridging insights between the secondary and college arenas in terms of content and academic expectations at both levels. The overall experience provided professional growth and development that would not have occurred without the unique pairing of a high-school instructor and a university faculty member.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Dearman, Christina T.

Student to Teacher Racial/Ethnic Ratios as Contributors to Regional Achievement Gaps, 1999-2008

Description: With the advent of No Child Left Behind legislation in 2002 and its mandates for annual yearly progress for all students, many districts and schools in Texas have had difficulty elevating African American and Hispanic students’ scores. The current study examined these students’ achievement on the annual Texas high-stakes measure as a function of a numerical construct that aligns the race/ethnicity of students when the teacher race is White. Earlier studies have shown that racial/ethnic compatibility between students and teachers improves student achievement in the primary grades. The study, which was set in 10 north Texas school districts and 30 high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, examined African American and Hispanic students’ achievement on the Texas state assessments in reading and mathematics over a 10-year period. District performance data came from 4,664,192 African American, Hispanic, and White students and 222, 834 White teachers. Campus level data encompassed 188,839 10th graders, 93,573 eighth graders, and 40,083 fourth graders, and 20,471 White teachers. Analysis revealed that, as the ratios of African American and Hispanic students to White teachers increased, the percentages of these two student groups passing the Texas assessments decreased. These patterns differed for White students whose passing percentages increased as these students’ numbers increased relative to White teachers in all settings except in elementary schools. These preliminary findings suggested that racial alignment at the high school and middle school levels might elevate African American and Hispanic achievement. Implications may lead to shifting focus on teacher quality and class size as the primary determinants of student achievement. Findings need validation with further study using larger data sets and sequential grade levels. If validated through further studies involving larger samples, contiguous grade levels, and more sophisticated statistical analysis, this study’s findings may have implications for teacher education curriculum, recruitment of minority ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Hays, James M.

The Development of Algebraic Reasoning in Undergraduate Elementary Preservice Teachers

Description: Although studies of teacher preparation programs have documented positive changes in mathematical knowledge for teaching with preservice teachers in mathematics content courses, this study focused on the impact of a mathematics methods course and follow-up student teaching assignment. The presumption was that preservice teachers would show growth in their mathematical knowledge during methods since the course was structured around active participation in mathematics, research-based pedagogy, and was concurrent with a two-day-per-week field experience in a local elementary school. Survey instruments utilized the computer adaptive test version of the Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) measures from the Learning Mathematics for Teaching Project, and the Attitudes and Beliefs (towards mathematics) survey from the Mathematical Education of Elementary Teachers Project. A piecewise growth model analysis was conducted on data collected from 176 participants at 5 time-points (methods, 3 time-points; student teaching, 2 time-points) over a 9 month period. Although the participants' demographics were typical of U.S. undergraduate preservice teachers, findings suggest that initial low-level of mathematical knowledge, and a deep-rooted belief that there is only one way to solve mathematics problems, limited the impact of the methods and student teaching courses. The results from this study indicate that in (a) number sense, there was no significant change during methods (p = .392), but a significant decrease during student teaching (p < .001), and in (b) algebraic thinking, there was a significant decrease during methods (p < .001), but no significant change during student teaching (p = .653). Recommendations include that the minimum teacher preparation program entry requirements for mathematical knowledge be raised and that new teachers participate in continued professional development emphasizing both mathematical content knowledge and reform-based pedagogy to continue to peel away deep-rooted beliefs towards mathematics.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Hayata, Carole Anne

The Beliefs and Expectations of Effective Secondary Choral Teachers in Culturally Diverse Schools

Description: Through the years, educational theorists and researchers have been interested in a possible relationship between teachers' effectiveness and their beliefs and expectations. Three concepts underpinned this work: teacher effectiveness, cultural diversity, and teachers' beliefs and expectations. The premise of the study was that the beliefs and expectations of effective secondary choral teachers are related to the social-cultural contexts in which they teach. The study implemented critical discourse analysis as the theoretical framework and the in-depth phenomenological long interview for data collection. Three secondary choral teachers were selected to participate in the study based on the researcher's criteria. The study revealed how each teacher conceptualized student cultural diversity during the teaching experience. Teacher beliefs about effective teaching in culturally diverse settings were described as developing over time in phases along a continuum. The study also confirmed that teachers' beliefs about students can be changed through experiences and reflection. The study revealed effective teachers focused on three different types of expectations in the teaching and learning context and affirmed diverse cultural identities and backgrounds. Recommendations included the development of stronger mentorship programs to increase effective teaching strategies for the secondary choral classroom. The findings of this study support my previous work, which introduces a sequential learning framework for teaching music in culturally diverse schools.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Spradley, Mackie V.

An Examination of How 4-8 Preservice Teachers Understand and Implement Multicultural Concepts

Description: Preparing teachers to teach in the diverse classroom has become one of the most important goals for universities and teacher training programs. The main purposes of this study included to examine what type of multicultural concepts were taught preservice teachers who sought certification in Grades 4-8 and how these preservice teachers understood and implemented multicultural concepts in their educational portfolios and coursework, field experiences, and student teaching. The population of the study consisted of 53 undergraduate, preservice teachers enrolled in the last two years of a 4-8 teacher certification program. A modified grounded theory methodology and interpretive approach was used in the analysis of the course syllabi, required readings and student coursework. The study found that this particular program exposed the preservice teachers to a significant number of multicultural concepts in preparation for teaching in the ethnically diverse schools in the area. In addition, the study looked at which of Grant and Sleeter's five multicultural approaches were found most often in the course syllabi and required readings, as well as the preservice teachers' portfolio artifacts, key assessments, and reflective writing samples. The research found the majority of the course syllabi and assigned readings covered concepts in the human relations and multicultural education approaches. The majority of the preservice teachers in this study identified most often with the multicultural education approach, although all five multicultural approaches were found in various portfolio artifacts, key assessments, and reflective writing samples. The study further indicates it was a combination of the multicultural courses, the field experiences, the student teaching, and the preservice teachers' adaptability to ethnic diversity that helped the preservice teachers experience successful opportunities with the students. The adaptability of the preservice teachers in the study also appears to match recent research that suggests that university students in general may be growing more ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Schellen, Julie K.

Parallels Between the Gaming Experience and Rosenblatt's Reader Response Theory

Description: The world of literacy has expanded alongside technology, and new literacies are being used as an alternative or an addition to traditional text. By including video gaming as literacy, the connection can be made between students' multimodal world outside of school with the world of literacy they encounter in school. This study took two approaches of a content study and a case study. A collective case study was used to examine the gaming experience of participants with three commercial video games falling into three separate genres: Sims FreePlay (simulation); Halo 1 (first person shooter); and World of Warcraft (role playing game). The 15 gamers were placed into three sets of five participants for each video game, and interviews were conducted to explore the gaming experience in relation to stance and transaction, which are major components of Louise Rosenblatt's reader response theory. Limited research has been conducted regarding reader response theory and the new literacies; by using the reader response lens, the gaming experience was compared to the reading experience to add the new literacies to the existing literature on reader response. As a way to look at both the text and the experience, a content study examined three mainstream video games to establish literacy content by using Zimmerman's gaming literacy theory. Even though this theory is useful by detailing elements found in video games and not traditional literature, literary value cannot be fully assessed unless the theory is developed further to include other components or discuss how the depth of the components can relate to literary value. The literature does not currently contain substantial research regarding how to assess the literary value of video games, so this study begins to add to the present literature by demonstrating that at least for these games the presence of the components of the ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Sanders, April

The Politics of Grading: a Comparative Study of High School English Teachers' Personal Beliefs, Self-reported Systems, and Actual Practices

Description: The purpose of this study was to attain and analyze data regarding high school English teachers' beliefs about grading practices and their self-reported grading practices, to identify and understand disparities that exist between teachers' beliefs and self-reported practices, to identify discrepancies between the same self-reported practices and evidence of the practices actually utilized, and to consider teachers' perceptions as to the causes for these discrepancies. Instrumentation for this study included two surveys with both Likert and Likert-like items and an interview/portfolio analysis of teachers' grading systems. A combined total of 204 high school English-language arts teachers representing thirty-eight states and eighty-five schools comprised the sample. Corresponding pairs of Likert-type items were analyzed using studies of the mode, median, mean rank, and the Mann-Whitney U Test to study a comparison of the medians, and comparisons of true Likert scale item results were completed using studies of the means and an independent samples t-test. Interview/portfolio analysis data were analyzed both descriptively and inferentially including the calculation of 95% confidence intervals for generalizability. All open-ended items were considered qualitatively through a process of identifying and categorizing trends in language and over-arching themes. Results indicate that the sample finds grading practices recommended by experts in the field to be best grading practices, and respondents generally report the use of these same practices in their own grading systems. The data reveal, however, discrepancies between the majority of teachers' reported practices and their actual practices. Study participants are likely to place blame for these discrepancies on these sources: campus or district authorities, the limited time available, and the interferences caused by parents.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Thibodeaux, Lisa M.

Secondary Teachers’ Concerns about Response to Intervention: Using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model

Description: This case study addressed the problem of implementing response to intervention (RTI) in general secondary education. To investigate this problem, one north Texas school's RTI implementation was examined using the theoretical framework of the concerns-based adoption model (CBAM) and defining RTI as the innovation. RTI-related practices were studied for 10 secondary teachers, two from each core subject (i.e., mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies) and the fine arts who had been implementing RTI for several years. Data regarding participants' stages of concern about and levels of use of RTI were collected across three time intervals using the three diagnostic instruments of CBAM (i.e., Stages of Concern Questionnaire, Levels of Use interviews, and Innovation Configuration Checklist matrix), behavioral observations during instruction and RTI meetings, and structured exit interviews of participants. Overall, findings indicated that the secondary teachers were at similar stages of concern and levels of use of RTI. Teachers' RTI concerns scores remained highest in the Self phase and lowest in the Impact phase of concern at all three intervals of data collection. As levels of RTI use increased, observed RTI use increased; however, teachers' RTI levels of use scores remained in the early levels of RTI implementation at all three intervals of data collection. Patterns in teachers' responses during exit interviews suggested that contextual factors unique to this setting (e.g., unexpected changes in RTI protocol, priorities of administrative personnel, and demands placed on teachers) may have influenced teachers' concerns about the teacher's role in, the professional development in, and the sustainability of RTI as an innovation. The literature does not currently address secondary teachers' concerns about and levels of use of RTI in relation to CBAM. Therefore, this study not only fills a gap in literature but also has implications for how teachers are trained and supported ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Isbell, Laura J.

Central Office Administrators' Perceptions of the Professional Learning Community Process

Description: This study provides a qualitative interpretation of the work done by central office administrators in a school district in Texas as they supported and built capacity for the professional learning community (PLC) process over a five year time period. Literature by PLC scholars, especially R. DuFour, R.B. DuFour, Eaker, Hord, Hipp, Huffman, and Olivier, informed development of the study. In a school district of 19,000 students and 2,000 staff members, ten central office administrators were interviewed to gain their perceptions of their roles in the PLC process. Interviews were analyzed through the processes of initial, focused, and theoretical coding. Documents were examined and used as supplemental sources of data to corroborate the perspectives provided. Findings revealed the story of central office administrators who worked interdependently to support and build capacity in the implementation and sustainment of the PLC process. A thick description of the work based on their perceptions offers actions and behaviors of administrators specific to their roles and practices and protocols developed to hold the work together. A grounded theory was developed with regard to central office administrators' support and capacity-building for the PLC process. From the administrators' perceptions, six theoretical categories relating to central office support and capacity building of the PLC process emerged: 1) establishment, 2) deployment, 3) accountability for implementation, 4) adult learning, 5) collaboration, and 6) leadership development. The study contributes an interpretivist description of the involvement of central office in the PLC process and confirms the importance of the change process in the implementation of the PLC framework.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Pruitt, Mary E.

An Exploration of Teachers' Adoption of the Bring Your Own Technology Program

Description: The purpose of this study was to explore teachers' concerns, use, and actual practices in their adoption of the bring your own technology (BYOT) initiative. Twelve secondary teachers in a private school setting participated in this study. The participants represented all content areas including reading, math, science, and electives. The private school was in its third year of implementing BYOT. This case study incorporated multiple methods to collect data to gain a better understanding of teachers' adoption of an innovation, BYOT. The concerns-based adoption model (CBAM) was used as a theoretical framework. All three CBAM tools provided data: the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ), levels of use interview protocol (LoUIP), and the innovation configuration (IC) map. Twelve of the participants completed the SoCQ across three different points in time. Six of the twelve teachers participated in three one-on-one interviews, including the LoUIP. Additionally, six teachers were observed in their classrooms during instruction. After triangulating all pieces of data, the majority of teachers had highest concerns related to self. Teachers were concerned about their ability to implement the innovation and managing BYOT in their classroom. Four of the six teachers had a level of use (LoU) at mechanical, and two teachers had a LoU at routine. The teachers' LoU indicated that they are using BYOT in the classroom; however, the majority of teachers observed had adoption practices mostly in the non-ideal variations of IC. The teachers' LoU and IC indicated that teachers had implemented BYOT in their own way and not necessarily in alignment with the campus' vision or expectations. This case study had several limitations, including the small number of participants and the brevity of classroom observations. Additionally, this study was limited to one school setting. Recommendations for future research include exploring teachers' adoption of BYOT in various school settings ...
Date: August 2013
Creator: Cardoza, Yanet

Factors Related to Teacher Retention: the Lived Experiences of Four Teachers in an Urban, Hard-to-staff High School

Description: Retaining quality teachers is critical to the success of America's schools. How to retain quality teachers, especially in high needs schools, is a question of fervent debate among educational researchers, policy makers, administrators, parents, and students. This study examines the issue of teacher retention from an emic perspective, focused on understanding the perspective of those closest to the retention decision, teachers in hard-to-staff schools. This study examines the lived experiences of four teachers at a hard-to-staff, urban, secondary school as these experiences impact their decisions to remain in teaching and at their current campus. Research methods adopted an existential phenomenological perspective and focused on understanding deeply the perspective of participants and how participants make meaning of their lived experiences as they relate to the retention decision. Three hour-long interviews were conducted with each of the four participants utilizing methodology laid out by Seidman (1991). Data were analyzed using NVIVO 10 to apply a series of coding and recoding procedures to interview transcripts. Conclusions suggest four factors motivated these teachers to teach and remain in their current hard-to-staff, urban, secondary school. These factors include: belief in the power of education, relationships with students, mentoring and professional partnering, and remaining professionally challenged. Findings suggest factors that drive teachers out of teaching and out of hard-to-staff schools include: inconsistent administrative support, low student motivation, and lack of resources.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Julian, Chris

An Investigation Into the Relationships Between the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge of University Teacher Education Faculty and Their Age, Rank, and Gender

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine what relationships exist between the age, rank, and gender of university faculty in teacher education and their technological pedagogical content knowledge. The survey instrument used was the Survey of Teacher Educators’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) which is an adaptation of the Survey of Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Teaching and Technology developed by Schmidt. A total of 347 public Texas university teacher education faculty members participated in the study. Multiple regressions were utilized and the effect size was considered to determine the strength of the relationship between the variables. A statistical significance was found relating to the age, rank, and gender of the university teacher educator faculty member and their technological knowledge (TK). Based on the information provided for the b weights, age was found to be the best predictor of their technological knowledge (TK). The discriminant analysis identified what relationship exists between the ages of university teacher education faculty technology knowledge. The results of the discriminant analysis indicate the range 20-30 and 60+ contribute equally to teacher educators’ technological knowledge. Although no statistically significant results were determined with respect to the correlations between gender, age, and rank and technological content knowledge, technological pedagogical knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge, the descriptive data does suggest that some insight maybe gained from further analysis.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Hamilton, Christina

A Descriptive Analysis of the Critical Thinking Model in Texas Elementary Education

Description: Contributions from elementary education to the practice and reality of critical thinking are rare, largely because attempts in basic education to elucidate a concept of critical thinking have a hard time breaking through the elusiveness and indeterminacy that characterize the history and reality of the concept. This situation is due to, and a consequence of, the difficulty of delimiting critical thinking from related fields, such as metacognition, higher-order-thinking, problem solving, informal logic, reasoning skills, and decision making, to name a few. Texas school authorities designed and put into practice a battery of tools to evaluate critical thinking through the assessment programs TAKS and STAAR, without taking a position regarding the indeterminacy problems of the content of critical thinking. The purpose of this study was to reconstruct the pieces of the critical thinking model imparted to Texas elementary school children since 1999 and continues today. The findings indicate that the critical thinking model implemented in Texas elementary schools is a particular version of a skills-only approach of critical thinking that follows the classical logical paradigm, consisting of two sets of complementary skills. This model acquaints students with the components and structure of five types of arguments while it fails to substantiate the logic of argument support that demonstrates how reasons support claims and the strength of support. The application of an adequacy conditions rubric showed the strengths of the model at the argumentation analysis level, yet it showed clear signs of incompleteness and inconsistencies at the argument structure level that distort its purpose and function.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Quijano, Oswaldo Jorge

An Examination of Mathematics Teachers’ Use of Student Data in Relationship to Student Academic Performance

Description: Among educational researchers, important questions are being asked about how to improve mathematics instruction for elementary students. This study, conducted in a north Texas public school with 294 third- through fifth-grade students, ten teachers and three coaches, examined the relationship between students’ achievement in mathematics and the mathematics teaching and coaching instruction they received. Student achievement was measured by the Computer Adaptive Instrument (CAT), which is administered three times a year in the district and is the main criterion for students’ performance/movement in the district’s response to intervention program for mathematics. The response to intervention model employs student data to guide instruction and learning in the classroom and in supplemental sessions. The theoretical framework of the concerns based adoption model (CBAM) was the basis to investigate the concerns that mathematics teachers and coaches had in using the CAT student data to inform their instruction. The CAT data, based on item response theory, was the innovation. Unique in this study was the paralleling of teachers’ and coaches’ concerns and profiles for their use of the data with student scores using an empirical approach. Data were collected at three intervals through the Stages of Concerns Questionnaire, the Levels of Use interviews, and the Innovation Configuration Components Matrix from teachers and at three intervals student CAT-scaled scores. Multiple regression analyses with the concerns and CAT scores and levels of use and CAT scores were conducted to determine if relationships existed between the variables. The findings indicated that, overall, the teachers and coaches who scored high in personal concerns at the three data points remained at low levels of use or non-use of CAT data in their instruction. Only two teachers indicated movement from high intense personal concerns to high concerns regarding the impact on students. This correlated with their increased use of CAT ...
Date: December 2013
Creator: Hartmann, Lillian Ann

Funds of Knowledge in a Hispanic Household: a Case Study of Family Experiences, Values, and Connections to Education

Description: Traditionally, the field of education has often adopted a negative perspective in their views of minority families’ contributions to the educational progress of their children. However, research embodying the theoretical framework of ‘funds of knowledge’ attempts to counter that model through its assertion that all families possess extensive bodies of knowledge that have developed through social, historical, and cultural contexts. Teachers carry out studies of familial funds of knowledge in order to understand how family experiences shape the knowledge that a child brings to the classroom. There is then, the potential to use that body of knowledge to create meaningful learning experiences that connect prior understanding and experiences to classroom practice. This research served as a case study of the funds of knowledge existing in the home of a Hispanic family and the connections that existed between that knowledge and literacy. The results indicated that the family possessed extensive funds of knowledge that developed through their historical, cultural, and social experiences. They often used family networks, as well as formal and informal literacy experiences to share this knowledge with their children. A key component of the literacy value system that they communicated resulted from a desire to maintain aspects of their culture and heritage through maintaining and improving their children’s reading and linguistic abilities in Spanish. Furthermore, along with their emphasis on Spanish literacy, they held aspirations for their children related to familial and educational values that often stemmed from their expressed desire for their children to lead lives with greater opportunities and positive examples than they had experienced.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Feild, Kelly A.