Category Archives: Education

Posts about education in general.

Tips on How to Develop a Unified Curriculum for Institutional Amalgamation

Developing a curriculum for an institute or university is a complex task that needs in-depth knowledge, expertise, and collaboration. However, what if the purpose of developing a curriculum is for institutional amalgamation, would it be more difficult? The answer is, yes! Please read on to know some important points that you need to consider.

The curriculum is the heart of the school. Touching it (in terms of revision, reconstruction, expansion, among others) would mean changes that may be beneficial or detrimental to all its stakeholders. Thus, careful strategic planning coupled with innovation and international benchmarking through research and development must be conducted first.

International benchmarking is important because of the pressing issues and trends worldwide. Many countries now are in a dilemma as to how they will cope with the changes brought about by the knowledge-based economy and the 21st-century education. Issues like institutional amalgamation, global communities of learning, accreditation, world university rankings, outcomes-based education, and the future of higher education (globalizing higher education) are today’s buzzwords. If a country or the Commission on Higher Education would like to be at par with other countries that have a world-class education, then a need for innovative curricular landscaping and architecture must be made now!

However, before any enhancement or change in the curriculum, ask yourself first: what is the primary purpose of developing a curriculum? If the purpose is to unify a curriculum for institutional amalgamation with global standards, the following tips can help you a lot:

1. Philosophy, Vision, and Mission of a University

It is important for the governing body or the authority in a university to come up with its vision and mission. For example, if a big private company owns many institutes and universities located in one place, then, there must only be one philosophy, vision, and mission for all the combined schools.

2. Outcomes-based Education, Institutional and Programs Accreditation

Institutional and program accreditations nowadays are based on outcomes. There are national and international accrediting bodies that look at the outcomes (what students can do) to address the needs of the global communities of learners in the 21st century. This means that the curriculum, particularly at the macro level must have international standards. A curriculum committee can benchmark and decide which international framework suits to their stakeholders’ needs.

3. Textbooks

In some countries, unless approved by the Curriculum Development Committee (CDC), teachers are not allowed to use textbooks or any instructional material. So, it is appropriate to select textbooks from credible publishers, preferably with international recognition, to guarantee that the books comply with the criteria set by the CDC. Some publishing companies provide books that suit the learning outcomes of the students, they can customize the books according to the preferences of their clients. Having prescribed textbooks is advantageous because it gives many freebies in terms of discounts, training and support to the administration, faculty, and students. A university can save, and at the same time, earn much money if the books to be used by all students are the same.

4. Levels and Streaming, and Exit Point

Placing students according to their levels of proficiency is also given importance in the development of curriculum. Some countries spend much money by buying licenses to assess students’ proficiency level, and aptitude test scores. Personality test scores can be included (in some cases) to place the students at their appropriate levels. Likewise, the exit point must be also determined to make sure that they already possess the outcomes expected from them when they finish their degree or course.

In conclusion, developing a unified curriculum for amalgamation will only be possible if it serves the purpose of organizations governing it, and it addresses the needs of its stakeholders. The curriculum must be developed and designed according to the philosophy that academic institutions believe in and adhere to. This view will help them craft their vision and mission, and help them come up with the curricular programs through research and innovations. However, there is no perfect curriculum. There are skeptics about it, but if the curriculum is well-planned and manned by a team of experts in curriculum development and subject areas, the proposal will succeed. It will likely to succeed if a pilot testing be conducted first, to determine its viability, prior to its implementation.

Reference:
Bilbao, P. P., Lucido, P. I., Iringan, T. C., Javier, R. B., (2008). Curriculum development. Quezon City, QC: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.

Thesis Writing: 9 Tips on How to Write the Results and Discussion

Writing the results and discussion section could be one of the difficulties that you encounter when writing your first research manuscript. There is no simple hard and fast rule in doing it but the following guide can help you start off with confidence.

The results and discussion section is also referred to as the data presentation, analysis, and interpretation section. You present the results, show the analysis, and interpret the outcome of the analysis.

As a take off point, it would help if we separate these two terms, i.e., results and discussion, into simply the results and the discussion as separate parts of the paper. In some universities and usually in scientific journals, however, these are taken as one.

Writing the Results

As the term connotes, you should write only the results of your study. What comprises the results? I describe it in detail in the following paragraphs.

1. Graphs, tables, or photographs

Observations are derived from the application of your methodology or method. These can be best presented using tables and graphs as objective representation of the measurements that you made. Numbers are more definite approximations of reality compared to just mere words. Words are more subjective and replete with misunderstanding.

Be consistent with your units of measurement. If you start off with kg, then use the same unit all throughout your paper.

Never should you manipulate the outcome of your measurements. Be honest in presenting information even if the result is unexpected. Whether the result is positive or negative, present it. This is an objective move.

You may also add photographs whenever needed but make sure these are relevant, not just whimsical addition to your paper or a means to flaunt your good photography skills; although it would be advantageous to show such skill coupled with relevance. Pictures can speak a thousand words.

In general, give as much detail as possible in your presentation of the results. Read and reread your statements for clarity. Engage a competent friend or a colleague’s discerning eye for details.

2. Topic sentences or subheadings

It is easy to follow your presentation if you break this into meaningful subtopics based on your stated objectives. A one-to-one correspondence would be great. Say, the first subheading will be about objective one, the second subheading about objective two, and so on.

Notice that in writing this article, it is an easy read to have a subheading for every major thought. This makes for easy reading thus understanding. And the writing becomes logical.

3. Key results

Your key results should be stated clearly at the beginning of each paragraph. It should serve as the topic sentence (see the TSPU Principle). Support that statement with more detail such as presenting the results of statistical analysis.

For example:

There is a significant positive relationship between the number of hours spent by students in answering Mathematics questions and their examination score. This result is consistent across all grade levels in the three schools examined. Table 1 shows the correlation coefficients and their corresponding significance level.

Writing the Discussion

After examining several theses of previous years, I noticed that many undergraduate and even graduate students miss this part. The results were presented as well as the analysis but no discussion is in sight.

So what comprises the discussion? Here’s what should be present in the discussion part:

1. Trends and spatial differences

Trends refer to changes over time. Are your results showing an increasing, decreasing or just plain, constant direction? This should be evident in the graph that you presented.

Spatial differences refer to differences in space or location within the same time frame. Is there a significant difference between the two groups examined? Is there a difference in the morphological measurements of one group of animals obtained from one location compared to another group? These are questions that explore spatial differences.

2. Insightful interpretation of results

Insightful interpretation means well thought explanations. That means you will have to ponder deeply the results of your study and make a knowledgeable statement of your interpretation using the body of evidence at hand. This is where you cite evidences obtained by other authors. You either confirm or affirm other people’s work or refute using your own findings.

3. Generalizations

Be on guard in writing your generalizations. Make sure that the data you analyzed can be extrapolated or will allow you to predict somehow the behavior of one variable. If you have enough samples then you may make a generalization.

How enough is enough, you may ask. If your data has little variability as indicated by low variances, then it is possible that additional measurements will not change whatever trend you have.

Always match your generalization with whatever results you have. Conversely, do not generalize when you have very few samples. Don’t say 50% when you actually have only two, three, or even four samples described in your study. That’s plain absurd.

4. Exceptions to the rule

In scientific inquiry, not all things or factors are discovered. There are always unknown or unaccounted areas. This is the reason why everything is founded on probability. No one’s 100 percent sure. So you should never say “prove” as a matter of contention. Prove means 100% sure which never happens. There are always expected deviants from the norm.

5. Reasons why things happen

Things happen due to something else. Reaction arises from action. These are called determining factors.

Are there reasons why your results follow a trend? Is it evident in your study? If there is, then say it and explain why so, again based on your observations or evidence.

You may guess but make it educated, meaning, you have done your homework. You have reviewed the literature and use it as a leverage for advancing your hypothesis or inference.

Does your finding support or refute what has been done so far? Does it support previously advanced hypotheses?

Remember that there is no such thing as a simple explanation of a complex phenomenon. Find one that is most aligned to your findings.

It would be interesting to be in the controversial side as long as you have done your study systematically and bias is reduced to a minimum.

6. The contribution of your work

What the are the important things that your study has contributed so far in view of what has been laid out in the body of literature? Why is your work important and what things need to be investigated further?

From your set of questions, if many other questions arise, then your work has helped unravel other areas worthy of investigation. This is just how science works. The mysteries of the universe are uncovered yet there are still many unknowns.

No human has absolute understanding of everything. But if your work has potential to make life better, then it’s a great accomplishment.

Reference:

Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz (n.d.). How to write your thesis. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/thesis_org.html

Learning Effective Argument-Building through Writing an Argumentative Essay

Writing effective arguments and convincing your adversary to accept your point of view is a highly challenging task especially in academic settings. The process of mastering various techniques of arguing learnt in your school/college writing classes can prove to be lifelong skills. If learnt effectively, they can help students in writing better research proposals, job applications, research grants, and business letters for achieving success at various walks of life.

This article guides you to produce a successful argumentative essay through various phases of planning, drafting, writing and revising to write a successful and well-crafted argumentative/persuasive essay to convince your reader. The skills learnt through this essay can equally benefit students and professionals in building arguments for gaining success with their audiences to fulfill various purposes in their professions and businesses.

Introduction

An argumentative piece of writing is meant to express your clear opinion on a certain topic with respect to a particular position on the issue by providing evidence to prove your position. The aim of the essay is to convince the reader of your opinion or position on a certain issue.

In this type of essay, you need to take a position in order to change the way readers think or make them act in a certain way. It is mostly a controversial or debatable issue as it involves presenting lots of evidence to convince the reader of your opinion. The topic should not be a non-controversial one because if everyone agrees on the issue, it would be an explanation/expository essay.

Writing an argumentative essay in English can be challenging especially if you are an English as a Second Language (ESL) learner. This article guides you through various stages of writing in order to persuade the reader to accept your opinion.

Argument-building has several elements essential to its structure. Taking a look at those might give you an idea of what an argumentative piece of writing might contain:

Elements Essential to Argument Building
Introduction to the topic – provision of background information on the topic, explanations and details required on the issue to bring the reader in context.

A comprehensive thesis statement – a concise statement for outlining the position you have taken and what are the points of your defense or reasons to take up that position later to be explained in the body paragraphs.

Evidence to prove your opinion – facts, figures/statistics, examples, quotes by relevant people while defending your claims.

Text cohesion – achieved through transition words and repetition of key terms to develop a link between ideas.

Language to engage the readers – a hook or a catchy phrase to catch reader’s attention, words having emotional appeal, rhetorical questions, a proverb that could well describe your point, a shocking detail.

Conclusive remarks to sum up your position – restatement of thesis in a conclusive way, some suggestions or warnings pertaining to the solving of the issue.

Theory Testing and Extension or Development: The Two Outcome Oriented Research Approaches

What is theory testing and extension or development? These two outcome oriented research approaches are discussed in detail below. Read on to appreciate the importance of these approaches.

Introduction

Almost in every undergraduate or post graduate research methodology class, the originality of the research outcome, or the anticipated knowledge contribution of a research work is emphasized. However, the extent of originality certainly depends on the student’s capacity, time devoted for the research, the level of study (i.e., Undergraduate, Post graduate or Doctoral), etc. Furthermore, the presence of a pertaining theoretical base is highly valued in academic research despite the level of the study mentioned above.

The presence of a pertaining theory leads to different outcomes, say, to test the existing theoretical base, to propose an extension or to develop new theoretical inferences. Usually in undergraduate level, students propose theoretical testing approaches whereas in post graduate level, say doctoral students propose theory extension or development oriented outcomes provided the level of study. Therefore, in this concise article, the value of theory testing and extension or development approaches are introduced.

Theory as a governing body of a research

The need of a theoretical base is not overstated in research. In fact, as I mentioned in the topic, it governs the research.

Generally, theory is defined as a set of interrelated concepts or propositions that explains situations or events by determining relations among variables. So, the presence of a theory act as a framework (usually known as theoretical framework in research) and researchers determine causal effects within the limits set.

Say for an example, Trait theories of leadership. The trait model discusses the characteristics of leaders, both successful and unsuccessful, also it discusses how to predict leader’s effectiveness. Usually researchers on leadership identify physiological, demographic, intellective, task-related, and social characteristics in assessing the leader’s effectiveness. Provided that, if a particular researcher who is interested in researching trait attributes in effective leadership is inevitably guided by the said traits above. Thus, it indicates the presence of a theoretical framework.

Furthermore, depending on the capacity and the objectives of research, a researcher can determine, say, the intellective characteristics as leadership traits. Thus he/she identifies intelligence, decisiveness, judgment, and knowledge as attributes of the intellective characteristics. All these attributes are supported by the theory and thus, on the other hand, governs the researcher.

At this point, will the researcher be able to produce a novel outcome (new knowledge) if the researcher tests the existing theory? That question is answered in the proceeding section. It is important to determine the presence of a theoretical body as the governing body of academic research.

Theory testing approach

This section starts with the question raised above. Will the researcher be able to produce a novel outcome (new knowledge) if the researcher tests the existing theory?

Frequently, testing of a theory in a different context, say in a geographical location (usually in a country), brings novel outcome only if that context has not been addressed with the desired theory. Such cases are known as context specific research. Context specific research attempts are relatively easy to pursue. Mostly, this approach is anticipated in undergraduate levels.

Continuing from the previous example, a researcher can determine intellective leadership traits to be tested in a different context with the attributes of intelligence, decisiveness, judgment, and knowledge. If a researcher tests these intellective leadership attributes which have not been addressed in the desired context, he/she may certainly be able to produce novel outcome out of the attributes of intelligence, decisiveness, judgment, and knowledge as per the context studied. However, this attempt does not create or extend the existing theoretical base. Rather, this confirms the theory in a different context and thus theory testing approach.

Theory extension approach

Theory extension approach is comparatively a hard attempt. As the term implies the objective of such an attempt is to extend the existing theoretical base by incorporating different theories imposing rationality.

Usually, doctoral students produce theoretical extensions as their knowledge accumulation since their scope and capacity are comparatively broad. In order to extend the existing theory, incorporating two or more subject domains with rationality are required. Say, strategic management and marketing are subject domains which can be incorporated with the objective of proposing theoretical extension.

Importantly, when a researcher is incorporating two or more subject domains, he/she should provide supportive evidences from the literature. For instance, the Resource Based View (RBV) theory in strategic management discusses the importance of rare, valuable, inimitable, non-substitutable resources for a company in acquiring competitive advantage in a firm.

Let’s assume that there are research evidences stated in the literature highlighting the need of scholarly inquiry of market orientation (a theory in marketing) referred to as how “the organizational culture that most effectively and efficiently creates the necessary behaviors for the creation of superior value for buyers and, thus, continuous superior performance for the business” (Narver & Slater, 1990). Thus, a research attempt can be brought forward incorporating the subject domains of marketing and strategic management to propose a theoretical extension.

In this example, researcher may assess how the competitive advantage (inference of RBV) be achieved provided the inference of market orientation. This example demonstrates how the theoretical extension is executed with the objective of producing new knowledge incorporating two subject domains. Very importantly, the incorporation of two or more subject domains should be followed by literature evidences.

Putting it very simple, there should be literature evidences stating that such an importation is required for scholarly inquiry. Perhaps, theoretical extension does not always require incorporation of two or more subject domains. Rather, it can assume two theories in one single domain as well. Finally, whatever the approach followed in producing new knowledge there should be literature to support it.

Summary

Research is an attempt to create or to update the knowledge base. Different approaches are available in this process. However, this knowledge accumulation process can either be theory testing or extension. Depending on the capacity, time consumed, among others, these two research approaches may be perceived as feasible.

Literally, theory testing refers to the knowledge accumulation process of an identified theory tested in a different context provided that the context has not been research using the desired theory. Whereas, theory development refers to the knowledge accumulation process incorporating two or more subject domains or two theoretical inferences in the same subject domain.

Work Cited

Narver, J. C. & Slater, S. F., 1990. The effect of a market orientation on business profitability. The Journal of Marketing, pp. 20-35.

The Role and Importance of Writing Prompts

This article explains the role of writing prompts, and in what ways this can be applied. If you are a writing teacher, the article below will prove helpful in honing the writing skills of your students.

Should writing prompts be used or not? With the advent of technology and globalization, the idea of writing across the curriculum becomes popular. However, it becomes difficult for teachers to design writing prompts for students in the content-based language instruction.

Writing prompts are guides that stimulate learners to write. It may be an open-ended sentence, a question, a topic, or a scenario that generates writing. It can also be used for children and adult learners.

Writing prompts are used as a tool in order to groom the writing style of students. Prompts are actually the foundation for writing that most students do in their academic career, such as essays and research papers.

The prompt must be authentic. An example of an authentic prompt is RAFTS prompt which aims to make writing more authentic. In this prompt, students are asked to think and write from a real world person’s perspective. It also makes students think at a much deeper level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Now, in which respect can writing prompts be used? It can be used for written assignments. According to Nunan (2009), written assignments must be carefully constructed to assure their success and their contribution to promoting the goals of the course.

There are six guidelines for the preparation of successful writing assignments (adapted from Reid and Kroll 1995) that prove helpful in reviewing the efficacy of any given assignment.

6 Guidelines for Successful Writing Assignments

First, a writing assignment should be presented with its context clearly delineated such that the student understands the reasons for the assignment.

Second, the context of the task/topic should be accessible to the writers and allow for multiple approaches.

Third, the language of the prompt or task and the instructions it is embedded in should be un–ambiguous, comprehensible, and transparent.

Fourth, the task should be focused enough to allow for completion in the time or length constraints given and should further students’ knowledge of classroom content and skills.

Next, the rhetorical specifications (cues) should provide a clear direction of likely shape and format of the finished assignment, including appropriate references to an anticipated audience.

And lastly, the evaluation criteria should be identified so that students will know in advance how their output will be judged.

Following the guidelines above can make students more engaged in the completion of their writing tasks. Thus, a great deal of thoughts must go into crafting an authentic writing prompts for the students.

References

Kroll, B. (2006). Teaching english as a second language of foreign language. (3rd ed.) (M.C. Murcia, ed.). Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

Nunan, D. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

McCallister, C. (2004). Writing education practices within the reconceptualized curriculum.

An encyclopedia for parents and teachers, ed. J.L. kincheloe and D. Weil, CT: Greenwood Press.

© 2015 February 13 M. G. Alvior

Seven Criteria for the Selection of Subject-Matter or Content of the Curriculum

This article clarifies the two viewpoints of the curriculum and discusses the 7 criteria for the selection of subject matter or content of the curriculum (Bilbao et al., 2008).

The term curriculum is viewed in two different ways: the micro and the macro. The micro curriculum refers to subjects while the macro curriculum refers to curricular programs. For example, the subject biology is a micro curriculum while BS in Civil Engineering is a macro curriculum.

What do the micro and the macro curriculum contain? The following criteria discusses the content of these two levels of the curriculum.

 Seven Criteria for the Selection of Subject-matter or Content of the Curriculum

The selection of subject matter for micro curriculum employs the seven criteria below. For the macro curriculum, the subjects needed for the curricular program or course.

1. Self-sufficiency

To help learners attain maximum self-sufficiency in the most economical manner is the main guiding principle of subject matter or content selection (Scheffler, 1970) as cited by Bilbao et al. (2008). Although the economy of learning implies less teaching effort and less use of educational resources, students gain more results. They can cope up with the learning outcomes effectively.

This criterion means that students should be given a chance to experiment, observe, and do field study. This system allows them to learn independently.

With this principle in mind, I suggest that for a high school curriculum or preparatory year, there should be a one-day independent learning activity each week. However, this should be carefully planned by the teacher. When the students return, they should present outputs from the activity.

2. Significance

The subject matter or content is significant if it is selected and organized for the development of learning activities, skills, processes, and attitude. It also develops the three domains of learning namely the cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills and considers the cultural aspects of the learners. Particularly, if your students come from different cultural backgrounds and races, the subject matter must be culture-sensitive.

In short, select content or subject matter that can achieve the overall aim of the curriculum.

3. Validity

Validity refers to the authenticity of the subject matter or content you selected. Make sure that the topics are not obsolete.

For example, do not include typewriting as a skill to be learned by college students. It should be about the computer or Information Technology (IT).

Thus, there is a need to check regularly the subject matter or contents of the curriculum, and replace it if necessary. Do not wait for another 5 years to change it.

Modern curriculum experts are after current trends, relevance and authenticity of the curriculum; otherwise, the school or the country becomes obsolete.

4. Interest

This criterion is true to the learner-centered curriculum. Students learn best if the subject matter is meaningful to them. It becomes meaningful if they are interested in it. However, if the curriculum is subject-centered, teachers have no choice but to finish the pacing schedule religiously and only teach what is in the book. This approach explains why many fail in the subject.

5. Utility

Another criterion is the usefulness of the content or subject matter. Students think that a subject matter or some subjects are not important to them. They view it useless. As a result, they do not study.

Here are the questions that students often ask: Will I need the subject in my job? Will it give meaning to my life? Will it develop my potentials? Will it solve my problem? Will it be part of the test? Will I have a passing mark if I learn it?

Students only value the subject matter or content if it is useful to them.

6. Learnability

The subject matter or content must be within the schema of the learners. It should be within their experiences. Teachers should apply theories in the psychology of learning to know how subjects are presented, sequenced, and organized to maximize the learning capacity of the students.

7. Feasibility

Feasibility means full implementation of the subject matter. It should consider the real situation of the school, the government, and the society, in general. Students must learn within the allowable time and the use of resources available. Do not give them a topic that is impossible to finish.

For example, you have only one week left to finish the unit but then, the activities may take a month for the students to complete. Thus, this requirement is not feasible.

Do not offer a computer subject if there is no even electricity in the area, or there are no computers at all.

Further, feasibility means that there should be teachers who are experts in that area. For example, do not offer English for Business Communication if there is no teacher to handle it.

Also, there is a need to consider the nature of the learners. The organization and design of the subject matter or content must be appropriate to the nature of students.

So, it would be better if students in a subject-centered curriculum (with pacing schedule that must be religiously implemented every week) shall be grouped homogeneously; otherwise, many will flunk in that subject.

In conclusion, teachers in elementary and high school are not directly involved in the selection of subject-matter because there are already lesson plans made by the Department of Education. All they have to do is to follow it. However, they can also customize the lessons if their department heads or principals allows them.

As regards macro curriculum, the Commission on Higher Education sets guidelines and policies on what subjects to offer as minimum requirements for the course. Then, the Curriculum Development Committee will takes charge of the selection, organization and implementation of the curriculum with the approval of the Academic Council.

The Curriculum Development Committee headed by the Director of Curriculum Development sees to it that the selection of the subject-matter and the subjects for a curricular program be examined and scrutinized using the 7 criteria mentioned above.

But, this is not the end of the process yet! The selection of the subject matter or content of the micro and macro curriculum is only one of the considerations in designing the curriculum.

Reference

Bilbao, P. P., Lucido, P. I., Iringan, T. C., Javier, R. B., (2008). Curriculum development. Quezon City, QC: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.

© 2015 February 7 M. G. Alvior

Cite this article as: Alvior, Mary G. (February 7, 2015). Seven Criteria for the Selection of Subject-Matter or Content of the Curriculum. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/07/7-criteria-for-the-selection-of-subject-matter-or-content-of-the-curriculum/

Qualitative Interview Designs

The critical part of a research process is the data collection procedure. Even if you have an apt and interesting topic with an appropriate framework, if the corresponding data collection method is a slapdash, the results would be unreliable and weak. Research is scientific, that is, it should follow a carefully planned methodology.

Interview, for one, is not just going into the field and starting the conversation after obtaining the consent of the participant, and preparing a set of questions and recording tools. It should be designed.

How many levels should it take? How will the interaction flow? What should be the medium of dialogue? The answers should always correspond to the objectives of the research.

Setting Style

One-shot. For baseline exploratory design, this one setting interview would be enough. If the goal is just to provide an initial reference for a specific inquiry, then a follow-up may not be necessary. All the inquiries could be compressed in one short time. Rapport could be built within the first part of the interview. This is ideal for less sensitive and/or simple topics that do not require extensive data.

Multi-tiered. For emergent design and/or in-depth inquiry, a multilevel setting interview is recommended. When topics are more sensitive, more complicated, and more prone to biases and prejudice, a strong rapport is needed to encourage the full disclosure of the participant. This implies longer time for rapport building. You may set the first level for establishing the needed relationship and for preparing the participant for the next level/s. For example, you may start with the easiest and most comfortable topics and may ask the general questions in this level. This deductive arrangement will guide and help the participant retrieve, organize and share the information needed. If the approach is emergent, the next levels will provide opportunity for clarifications and confirmation as a result of preliminary analysis.

Interaction Design

Structured (Narrow Setting). This design is formal and is strictly on the script which could be a highly organized questionnaire set or a standardized interview schedule (Best & Kahn, 1995). The interviewer follows the protocol in uniformity so as to have maximum control of the setting to minimize extraneous variables such as the possibility of researcher influence like gender, age, biases, emotions, preconceptions, assumptions, and the like. Extraneous variables are those which may contaminate the data from the participants. For example, an interview with women participants, if the interviewer is a woman, the interviewee might be more accommodating and open. In another interview of the same topic and participant, if the interviewer is a man, the interviewer’s gender may influence the way the participant provides the answer.

Semi-structured. This design requires a prepared guide question (schedule) that is flexible but retains continuity with spontaneity and fluidity of the conversation process. If the conversation slightly deviates from the topic, the interviewer allows it but tactically returns to the topic to maximize resources. This is usually recommended if the inquiry may allow other important information that may emerge and thus may enrich the data (Dawson, 2007).

Unstructured (Free-flowing Conversation). In Filipino indigenous method, this is known as pakikipagkwentuhan. There is no need for a guide question or list of topics here. The interviewer has only the topic and allows wherever the conversation flows with little directional influence from him/her. The interviewer subtly emphasizes the topic to serve as cue (for the participant) to put into the surface all the elements of the data that the researcher wants to extract from the participant. Interviewer may ask questions sometimes to clarify some information and to retain the conversation process. This design is ideal for in-depth studies like life history and phenomenological research (Marvasti, 2004).

Medium of Dialogue

Face-to-face. This is the most common medium since this allows collection of other details like behavioural and context observation. This is ideal for in-depth study since in this kind of inquiry, trust is critical for rapport.

Phone Interview. This is suggested if distance will not allow a face-to-face interaction and/or the goal is for the participant to answer few simple questions for structured or semi-structured design. This is an alternative to face-to-face interview if the verbal data are the only source for analysis and behavioural and context observation like facial expression and physical setting are no longer necessary for the research.

Online. This could be a video call or internet chat. Chatting is ideal for interviews that allow anonymity of the participants and/or interviewer. This could also be useful in minimizing extraneous variables to reduce bias (Jupp, 2006). While a video call could be a substitute to face-to-face interview.

References:

Best, J.W. & Kahn, J.V. (1995). Research in education. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India Private Limited

Dawson, C. (2007). A practical guide to qualitative research: A user friendly manual in mastering research techniques and projects. Oxford: How To Content.

Jupp, V. (2006). The Sage dictionary of Social Science research methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Marvasti, A.B. (2004).Qualitative research in Sociology: An introduction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

© 2015 February 1 J. G. Pizarro

Peer Coaching: A Sample of Professional Development Plan

This article describes how the findings of a dissertation can be applied in coming up with a plan to develop teachers professionally. Specifically, it deals with professional development for teachers using peer coaching as a tool.

Read on and find out how you can plan for your own professional development by reading the article below.

How can you develop yourself professionally? This can be done by undertaking steps which you can do by yourself.

However, aside from self-directed activity as described in my previous article titled “Reflective Journal: A Sample of Professional Development Plan,” you may also use a school-based activity to come up with your professional development plan. Among those approaches you could use is “peer coaching” since this is a common school activity applied by teachers.

Steps in Peer Coaching to Develop Pronunciation Skills

Since peer coaching falls under the school-based category, how can you make use of this approach? As an example, here are steps in order to improve your pronunciation skills if you find that you need to develop your skill along this line:

1. Look for a partner or a friend who is good at pronunciation and is willing to serve as your coach. If you find one, set a specific time to engage in this activity on a regular basis.

2. During the scheduled time, you may discuss a particular topic or problem in pronunciation and ask for the coach’s suggestions on how to improve on it.

3. You must do the suggestions for a prescribed period of time. Perhaps, the session could last for two weeks, or maybe a month. After practicing for some time, you may request your coach to evaluate your pronunciation skills after using his/her suggested activities.

Example Dialogue of Peer Coaching

Below is an example of a dialogue between an expert (the peer coach) and a group of teachers.

Teachers: Sir, we know that you are good in pronouncing words. Can you help us improve our pronunciation skills?

Peer Coach: Thank you. Yeah, I’m willing to help you, but I am too busy. Anyway, we can schedule it during my free time. Is it okay with you? My free time is every Friday afternoon, from 2-4pm.

Teachers: Yes, Sir. We can meet you up at that time.

During the Meeting with the Peer Coach

Teachers: Sir, we have noticed that we cannot pronounce well the words with /f/. We pronounce father as “pather.” How can we pronounce the word correctly?

Peer Coach: (He can give as many suggestions as he can).

Teachers: (They listen to the peer coach and apply the suggested activities).

During the Evaluation

Peer Coach: Now, let’s try to see if you have improved your pronunciation.

Teachers: (They do the evaluation techniques given by the peer coach).

Basically, peer coaching as a professional development activity is designed to improve student performance. It is in this activity that teachers form small groups in order to share, reflect on, and refine their teaching practices to address their students’ needs.

However, in the Customized Professional Development Model, any professional activity can be used and customized to address the specific needs of the teachers. Therefore, any activity that is originally designed for students can be used by teachers to improve their own professional skills.

Reference

Louisiana Department of Education Initiatives: Best Practices (2006). Examples of Job Embedded Professional Development. Retrieved 3 July, 2010 http://www.wbrschools.net/curriculum/sip/LaDOE%20Best%20Practices.ppt

2015 January 25 M. G. Alvior

How to Apply Suggestopedia as a Method of Teaching

This article briefly discusses Suggestopedia, a teaching method developed by a Bulgarian psychologist Georgi Lozanov. Particularly, this article explains the method’s goal & characteristics, and provides sample activities for teaching. This method is commonly used in English language teaching, but I believe that this can also be used in other foreign languages like Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and others.

The Goal of Suggestopedia as a Method of Teaching

To learn a foreign language at an accelerated pace for everyday communication by tapping mental powers and overcoming psychological barriers.

9 Characteristics of Suggestopedia as a Method of Teaching

According to Villamin et al. (1994), the nine characteristics of Suggestopedia are the following:

1. It uses the power of suggestion to help students eliminate the feeling that they cannot succeed.
2. There should be a relaxed, comfortable environment with dim lights and soft music to facilitate learning.
3. Students’ imagination is used. They can assume new names, and new identities and respond to the teacher accordingly using the target language.
4. Present and explain grammar and vocabulary words, but not discuss at length or thoroughly.
5. Native language translation is used in order to get the clear meanings of words in the target language.
6. Communication takes place in the conscious and subconscious of the learners. The former is about the linguistic message. It is where the students pay attention to a dialogue that is being read, while the latter is where the music is played as a background. Music suggests that learning is easy.
7. Teaching is done by integrating music, song, and drama.
8. The emphasis of teaching is more on content. Errors made by students are tolerated at the beginning of the lesson but in the later part, the correct forms are used by the teachers.
9. No formal tests are given, but the evaluation is done during the normal in-class performance.

Sample of Classroom Activities using Suggestopedia

If you are a teacher or mentor, you may use the following activities using the Suggestopedia method.

1. Choose a background music that will give an impression or feeling that you are in a forest. For example, the music may be punctuated by the chirping of the birds or the sounds of the leaves as they dance in the wind, or any sound indicating that the location is in the forest.

In the classroom, turn off the lights and play the background music. Then, group the students into three, and ask them to close their eyes, and let them imagine, for one minute, that they are animals, birds, trees, or flowers.

After that, ask them to create their own dialogues on how people should take care of the environment. But in their dialogues they have to remember their roles. If one assumes to be a bird, his/her point of view and dialogues should be like a bird, and not as a human being.

2. Choose a story. Practice reading the story with emotions or feeling. Then, choose appropriate background music for the story. It would be best if you prepare it in advance.

In the classroom, ask the students to relax and make themselves comfortable. Allow them to sit on the floor or lie down, and to be with their classmates or listen by themselves while seated at their desk. Then, turn off the lights, play the music and start reading the story. You may ask questions in between to check that they are listening intently to you and to keep their motivation high. In answering your questions, don’t correct the students’ grammatical errors immediately. Focus first on the content. Before you end the lesson, at the later part, you may give the correct form by repetition.

Don’t you think these are good ideas to start the ball rolling in class? If you believe so, then try Suggestopedia as a method of teaching!

References

Rhalmi, M. (2009). The origin of Suggestopedia. Retrieved 16 January 2015 from http://www.myenglishpages.com/blog/suggestopedia/#.VLjUy5X9ljo

Villamin, A.M., Salazar, E.L., Bala, E.C., & Sunga, N.R. (1994). Innovative strategies in communication arts. Quezon City, QC: Phoenix Publishing House, Inc.

2015 January 21 M. G. Alvior

A Sample of Conceptual Framework with Statement of the Problem

This article shows how a conceptual framework, along with the corresponding statement of the problem, is organized and written in a dissertation. Take a look at the example on how it is done and try to make one for your paper. You may also use this in your thesis.

You may be thinking about too many theories to base your study on. However, a conceptual framework in built on a theory that serves as the basis for your study. Once you have decided which theory to adopt, try to figure it out if the phenomenon, with all the associated variables in your study, can be best explained by that theory. The example below illustrates how this works.

Example of a Conceptual Framework

This study zeroes in on the professional development activities for teachers by espousing the idea that the classroom performance of teachers is a critical factor for student academic performance. The researcher based her assumption from Weiner’s Attribution Theory that external and internal factors can improve performance.

For example, students may attribute their academic performance to their teachers (external factor) while the teachers may attribute their teaching performance to in-service trainings (external factor) and perhaps, to their teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession (internal factors). These relationships are illustrated in Figure 1.

conceptual framework
Figure 1. Paradigm showing the relationships among the variables in this study.

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this study is to provide baseline data on in-service training for English, Mathematics, and Science Fourth Year High School teachers from School Year 2006 up to 2010. Also, a professional development model for teachers is proposed.

Specifically, this study sought answers to the following questions:

1. What are the most familiar in-service training activities among teachers? And what are their insights about these activities as to: (a) applicability in the classroom, (b) importance in the teaching profession, and (c) impact on student performance?

2. What feedback do teachers have of the in-service training programs attended in terms of (a) perception, and (b) satisfaction?

3. What are the teachers’ level of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession?

4. What is the performance of the fourth year high school students in their Subject Achievement Tests in three subject areas: English, Mathematics, and Science during the first semester of SY 2010-2011?

5. Are the teachers’ perception and satisfaction regarding the in-service training programs predictors of their levels of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession?

6. Are the teachers’ levels of teaching efficacy, job satisfaction, and attitude towards the teaching profession predictors of their student performance in the Subject Achievement Tests?

7. What enhanced professional development model for teachers can be developed on the basis of the results of this study?

Now, you have learned how a theory is used, and how the questions in the statement of the problem are formulated. Take note that the questions in the statement of the problem are arranged according to the flow of conceptual framework. First, it has questions on inventory of in-service training activities, followed by the feedback. The next question is about teacher factors, then results of student performance. The last question relates to the development of the enhanced professional development model.

Can you make it? Yes, you can!

© 2015 January 19 M. G. Alvior