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PI: Obed Norman Co PI: G. Prime & J. Wilson Morgan State University DRK12 Exploratory.

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Presentation on theme: "PI: Obed Norman Co PI: G. Prime & J. Wilson Morgan State University DRK12 Exploratory."— Presentation transcript:

1 PI: Obed Norman Co PI: G. Prime & J. Wilson Morgan State University DRK12 Exploratory

2 Project Research Question: Can a structured intervention aimed at fostering positive student academic attitudes be integrated with a quality inquiry science program to increase both student academic outcomes and positive achievement–oriented attitudes?

3 The Impact of No Child Left Behind(NCLB) Accountability Pressures on Instructional Practices In an Urban Middle School Science Class: The Case of the Downward Spiral

4 Sub Research Questions a. How are the instructional strategies of the teacher impacted by the accountability requirements of NCLB and related state mandates? b. How do the enacted instructional strategies compare with strategies that have been identified as holding the most promise for enhancing learning among urban students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds?

5 Methods and Data Sources This was a classroom case study Two classes taught by the same teacher were observed for a year Typical lessons covering a two-month period were analyzed.

6 Theoretical Framework Theory of symbolic interactionism (Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1968). SI: Interactions and contexts provide the interpretive lens through which actions, people, and objects acquire meaning, Accountability can be explored as generating potent incentives for individuals to engage in particular behaviors and avoiding others.

7 Theoretical Framework Threat rigidity: Organizations whose legitimacy is under threat adopt responsive strategies that can at times be characterized by rigidity. Olsen and Sexton (2009, AERJ) have described how schools can respond to these threats by ‘emphasizing routinized and simplified instructional/assessment practices, and applying strong pressure for school personnel to conform’ (p. 9).

8 Narrow Test Score Accountability as ‘Rigidity Threat’ The instructional strategies we observed can be interpreted as reflecting the ‘rigidity’ engendered by the threat of an accountability regimen narrowly focused on test scores as the sole indication of teacher effectiveness.

9 The Cultural Context of Urban Science Classrooms Urban classroom as ‘cultural interface zone’ (Norman et al. 2001) Ladson-Billings’(1994) notion of culturally responsive pedagogy. The Pedagogy of Successful teachers of African American students: a. The use of concrete experiences as a criterion of meaning. b. The use of dialogue in assessing knowledge claims. c. The ethic of personal responsibility. Helping students understand and participate in knowledge- building'

10 The Teaching Gap Overwhelmingly, students responded to teacher- directed, text-centered activity in this science class. They focused their attention either on the teacher and the teacher’s notes on the board or screen at the front of the room or upon worksheet packets that came with the textbook adoption that they completed either in class or as homework.

11 The Teaching Gap Defining new vocabulary terms dominated the lesson. Attention rarely focused on objects, events, or experiences. The lesson contained many occasions when student responses and questions provided opportunities for the teacher to engage the students in meaningful knowledge construction. These opportunities went unused.

12 The Response to Rigidity Threat “I love your questions, but we have to get through this stuff.”

13 The Teaching Gap ‘This means that students’ likelihood of receiving encouragement for their curiosity and exploration may depend less on the individual characteristics of their teachers than on the goals their teachers are trying to achieve and on the very human tendency teachers have to comply with the goals articulated by those in authority’ (Engel and Randal, 2009, p AERJ).

14 The instructional and pedagogic approach used by our study teacher was encouraged by the school. It was the same approach that Achinstein et al. (2004) have identified as being encouraged in schools serving large minority populations. Achinstein et al. raise the possibility that the instructional and pedagogic regimens promoted in schools with large minority populations may serve to perpetuate and even exacerbate inequities in student achievement. Our observations tend to confirm such a conclusion.

15 Table 1: Urban vs. Suburban School Data Study School(urban) Suburban School % of 8th-graders scoring below state benchmarks in science 75 2 % of 8th-graders exceeding state benchmarks in science 2 30 % of the students receiving free or reduced-price lunches % African American students 53 3 % White students 25 87

16 Appendix: Classroom Observation Measure I. Lesson Design and Implementation The instructional strategies and activities respected students’ prior knowledge and the preconceptions inherent therein The lesson was designed to engage students as members of a learning community In this lesson, student exploration preceded formal presentation This lesson encouraged students to seek and value alternative modes of investigation or of problem solving The focus and direction of the lesson was often determined by ideas originating with students

17 II. Content: IIa. Propositional Knowledge The lesson involved fundamental concepts of the subject The lesson promoted strongly coherent conceptual understanding The teacher had a solid grasp of the subject matter content inherent in the lesson Elements of abstraction (i.e. symbolic representations, theory building) were encouraged when it was important to do so. Connections with other content disciplines and/or real world phenomena were explored and valued

18 IIb.Procedural Knowledge Students used a variety of means (models, drawings, graphs, concrete materials, manipulatives, etc) to represent phenomena Students made predictions, estimations, and/or hypotheses and devised means for testing them Students were actively engaged in thought provoking activity that often involved the critical assessment of procedures Students were reflective about their learning Intellectual rigor, constructive criticism, and the challenging of ideas were valued

19 III. Classroom Culture: IIIa. Student/Teacher Relationships Active participation of students was encouraged and valued There was a climate of respect for what others had to say Students were encouraged to generate conjectures, alternative solution strategies, and ways of interpreting evidence In general the teacher was patient with students. The teacher acted as a resource person, working to support and enhance student investigations. The metaphor “teacher as listener” was very characteristic of this classroom.

20 IIIb. Communicative Interactions Students were involved in the communication of their ideas to others using a variety of means and media The teachers questions triggered divergent modes of thinking There was a high proportion of student talk and a significant amount of it occurred between and among students Student questions and comments often determined the focus and direction of classroom discourse


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