This week we looked at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTP), examining how we could learn from scholarly research in education and how this research could influence our classroom practice. We were asked to select five pieces from educational journals or similar publications on topics of interest to us in the education field. We were also asked to utilize the Michigan State University library system, searching online databases, going in person if possible, and contacting a librarian for recommendations.
I chose to search the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) online database through the MSU Libraries website. The topics I was interested in were elementary/middle school math, classroom management, educational technology, and Catholic education. I tried a few different searches using these topics in different combinations and was able to find several interesting articles from different journals. I also emailed an MSU librarian and exchanged a few messages on the assignment. It took a couple emails to define exactly what I wanted but eventually she was able to give me search guideline suggestions and names of specific journals I could search within. I used these search suggestions and came up with the five articles I decided to read and discuss. These five articles and their annotations are listed below:
This article is mainly a review of literature inquiring into connections between bullying in schools, teacher classroom management styles, and instructional practices. The concepts of classroom management, discipline, and bullying are defined and discussed, including describing the difference between classroom management and discipline, ways teachers learn classroom management skills, how teachers gain knowledge of student bullying, and overall ways bullying is prevented and dealt with. In terms of forming a link between classroom management and bullying, the article describes several factors that lead to “negative school environments” and asserts that bullying seems more common in schools and classrooms where control is “punitive,” expectations are unclear, and students have little responsibility and ownership in the classroom. The article makes suggestions for creating positive classroom environments that would support bully prevention, ways to educate student teachers and new teachers on effective classroom management, and ideas for future research on the topic.
Overall I found this article very informative and well-written, describing a believable link between classroom management styles and bullying and citing many different research sources to support claims. As a relatively new teacher just beginning a new position, creating a positive classroom environment and developing effective management skills is very important to me. This article gave me helpful information to think about for my own classroom, some things I already knew, and some I didn’t.
This article describes a study from the late 1980s analyzing the types of classroom activities (individual, competitive, or collaborative) used by a sample of teachers from four school districts in the Midwest U.S. The study looks at how various factors such as years in the teaching profession, grade level taught (1st-6th), and overall comfort with the subject area influenced these teachers choices of individual, competitive, or collaborative learning activities in both math and reading. The study showed various patterns in instructional choices such as younger teachers tending to use more collaborative activities and an overall greater occurrence of individual activities in late elementary math than early or middle elementary. The authors then gives possible causes for these patterns in the discussion section.
I thought this article was very informative and gave me some ideas to reflect on for the types of learning activities I choose to use in my classroom for math and reading, why I choose these activities, and their effectiveness. However, given that the study was conducted more than 20 years ago some of the findings might not be entirely current, given the countless changes that have occurred in education in this time. The authors do acknowledge this large time gap between the study itself and the publication though.
This article examines three elementary teachers (1st, 3rd, and 5th grades) at one particular elementary school and their teaching styles in terms of using methods that are either student-centered or teacher-centered. The article defines the difference between teacher-centered and student-centered instruction, giving comparisons between these two philosophies and presenting a continuum of characteristics that are either teacher or student-centered. For example, lecture, recitation, and drill and practice are considered more teacher-centered practices, while projects, inquiry, and self-assessment are more student-centered. Data was collected on each teacher through a teaching methods survey and classroom observations. For each teacher the authors presented the teachers’ scores on the survey, observations of instructional methods and motivational strategies, and quotes from the teachers. The authors observed that all three teachers seemed to use mostly student-centered strategies, although in varying degrees, and a few teacher-centered strategies were present for all three as well. In general, the authors seemed to view all three teachers positively, despite their differences.
I liked how the case-study model in this article allowed for the discussion of student-centered and teacher-centered instruction/management through both theory and specific examples. Although the methods and techniques of only three teachers at one school can’t be generalized to all teachers, their stories did give me ideas to use in my own classroom and gave me a better understanding of the benefits of student-centered instruction. I also appreciated the explanations of the differences between both types of instructions and the lists of different types of instructional methods. My hope is to provide a balance of different types of instruction in my classroom based on the needs of the students and this will be a useful resource to refer to.
This article describes a study conducted with more than 1,300 Catholic school students in 4th-6th grade at 21 schools of varying sizes. The study focused on these students’ attitudes and feelings toward math and science and how these attitudes varied across genders, school sizes, poverty level, and grade levels. The authors were looking to find evidence of how a student’s school environment could influence their achievement and attitude in math and science and whether the Catholic school environment promoted higher levels of positive feelings in these subjects. Surveys were conducted asking students to rate six school subjects in order of preference (math, science, social studies, language arts, art/music, and religion) and also to determine whether they liked, didn’t like, or felt they were good at math, science, and their chosen best subject on a scale of 1-9. The results of these surveys were analyzed overall and broken down by gender, grade level, and school size. Some of the patterns found in the results included more positive feelings about math and science for boys than girls and for the younger grades in the study compared to the older grades, which was stated as consistent with similar studies.
I hoped this article would include information about ways in which specific characteristics of a Catholic school environment could influence student achievement and attitude in math (since I’ll be teaching math at a Catholic school). However, apart from a brief mention early in the article that students in religious schools tend to show generally higher “academic achievement, self-discipline, and responsibility” (p. 334) I found very little discussion of this topic. That being said, the authors did state that little research has been done on Catholic schools specifically related to math and science achievement, so that does make this study a small step in that direction. I would like to find a similar study comparing Catholic schools to public schools on this topic.
This article describes a 2011 study conducted in two third grade classrooms in the same Midwestern elementary school, focusing on whether or not math practice activities on mobile electronic devices were more effective than traditional math practice methods (flash cards, drill sheets, etc.). The authors acknowledge how electronic mobile devices such as iPods, smartphones, and tablets are becoming more pervasive in our society and wanted to learn more about how these devices could be used effectively in educational settings. The two classrooms in the study both used the Everyday Mathematics curriculum for their main math instruction. iPod touches were implemented in one classroom for supplemental math activities for nine weeks, while the other classroom used other forms of supplemental activities. The study found that the students who used the mobile devices performed significantly better on a math assessment following the nine week period than the students who did not.
I feel that the study was well conducted and explained in terms of controlled variables, presenting data, and describing how the mobile device intervention was carried out in the classroom. The authors also mentioned limitations to their study such as too much similarity in students’ background and the short length of the intervention. This study would probably be more generalizable with a larger sample of students from many schools over a longer period of time. Regardless, the fact that in this particular case the use of mobile devices did seem very effective is of interest to me. My school encourages technology use and has a set of iPads that teachers can check out for student use. This article is more support for using these technology resources.