Help Kibogoji Send Books To Students in Tanzania


I was able to collect over 5000 books for Kibogoji in the Spring, Semester, 2014. Actually, my students donated these books. I am very humbled with the generosity and support I have received from the students and their families. So, now we need money to send these books to Tanzania. My students suggested I should take the ice bucket challenge to raise funds that will be used to ship the books we collected to Tanzania. Below is a video of me taking the cold ice shower bucket. Please take a minute to put $5 to the donate button in this blog. I greatly appreciate your generous offer. Your donation, will help to put books in the hands of Tanzanian children. Just $5 dollars can be that difference. Thank you from Kibogoji Team. Click here to watch the video.

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Two Years Down, One More to Get it!


It has being two years. Two years of great learning in a treacherous and anxiety filled path. I am glad to say that these two years were challenging and rewarding personally, professionally, and culturally. Before talking about my professional experience, I would like to first talk about the cultural experience shift I have encountered in past two years. I believe the cultural shift has influenced my perceptions of how I view my personal-self and my profession growth. You will agree with me that there is a huge cultural difference between a master’s degree level kind work and the PhD level kind work. It was challenging for me to keep up with the classwork and research workload demands at first. I had to work twice as hard and with a wife, full time work, and with an eight years old child (and one the cooker) in the mix–it wasn’t easy!
Being in a PhD program as you know requires extended study times and intense intellectual effort. Without a doubt my professional experience has taken a leap forward. Professionally, I am an educator and NBPTS Trainer and Scoring Director for Pearson. As an educator, I spend most of my time teaching, giving homework, exams, and directing lab work and term research papers for my students. In my consulting work, I train educators to holistically evaluate written, spoken, and/or videotaped responses to a variety of teacher certification examinations. I prepare materials that exemplify state-specific standards, orienting scorers through an established calibration process, managing scoring sessions, and serving as a content expert in the science teaching content area. Therefore, starting a PhD program at Mercer University added a huge amount of responsibility to my already full schedule.
I had to start by taking foundational courses, taking seminar courses for my research, and including an unending amount of writing. It was intense to me at times. I had to sit in classes, listen, do homework, and exams— the smell of going back to all this school work was intense. The whole point of it is, the hands-on experience I received in my class sessions and in seminars, was easily transferable into my own teaching. As an educator, I must admit, I wasn’t doing much of the application side of teaching at my work and with my students. All of these new experiences were life changing personally and professionally. I have learned a lot in these two years, from the fundamental theories of teaching and learning, to practical application of the theories. Now I know more and I am starting to combine the practical part with the theoretical part in my own praxis.
I had to cross many bridges to get here. I believe this is very common in a PhD journey. I am not sure if crossroad is the right word, but it is rather a result of me gaining more knowledge and adapting to the new challenges. What my thoughts were before starting my PhD studies are quite different from what my thoughts are today. A good example is the research statement I wrote in my first PhD seminar course. The title of that research statement has changed four times in the past two years. This is due to my gaining more understanding of my area of research interest. All I can say at this point in time is that I have been liberated and the past two years have been an eye opening experience and mind boggling at the same time. I am looking forward to my last year in this program with much anticipation while preparing to concur the world.
After I graduate from my PhD program I plan to work with pre and in-service teachers here in America and in Africa to enhance their professional experience and effectiveness. I believe there is so much need for improvement in many education systems in Africa. In five years to come I envision myself holding one of the top positions in the education system in Africa and especially in Tanzania. I have many ideas on how to improve the Tanzanian education system from kindergarten to high school. I understand the challenges that the education system in Tanzania faces. Armed with a PhD degree from Mercer University, natural curiosity, and the let’s get it done attitude provides me with the leverage I will need to provoke the type of action that is needed to make education systems work better for our children.
I know it is not going to be easy. Empowered with solid skills, knowledge, exposure, and will power, I can make significant contributions that will affect the trajectory of education in Tanzania. My contributions in this area will impact the future of the Tanzanian education system for the benefit of many generations of Tanzanian down the road. I plan to enhance my leadership skills through participating in different professional and community groups. Currently, I am a chairman of the board for St. Carie Classroom Tanzania Chapter, an American not for profit organization working to increase access to girls education in Mwanza, Tanzania. Together with my own efforts at Kibogoji Education, Inc., I am learning the skills I need to effectively run a transnational educational program. As a chair of St. Caries Classrooms and a founder of Kibogoji Education, Inc., I have the opportunity to learn more about leadership and technology integration in resource poor countries. My hopes are to see technology driven education delivery gaining momentum in Africa. Moreover, I am participating in service and outreach programs to local schools, engage in research, and meet with leaders in the education field in many parts of Africa. This entire involvement is meant to sharpen my technical, research, and leadership skills. Hopefully, soon I will be on my way to help transform the teaching and learning process in Africa.
My advice to anyone who is interested to embark into the PhD journey is to prepare to work hard and to also think through thoroughly before applying. They should prepare to meet and solve many challenges along the way while maintain a positive outlook of the situation. I read many articles and some have had great advice on how to manage life, work, and a PhD madness and work load. I promise you, there are some times along the way you will have to stop and say “wait, am I sure I want to continue with this?” These are roadblocks where you have to think maturely and get advice from trusted friends and your academic advisors. It is not something to be proud of, but several times I have had my head so low and thought about quitting. Seriously, I am not proud of those moment. If you find yourself in those down moments, a few hours of rethinking and getting advice, will get you through. The good side of all of this is, others did it, others are doing it, and others will do it in the future! Why not me?

Does Affect Impact Student Achievement?


Background

Educators are experiencing an undue pressure to perform in this era of education accountability driven by evidence-based instruction. The pressure to show adequate student performance on standardized tests has caused many educators to allocate a larger portion of their classroom instructional time to test preparation instead of teaching higher-order learning and thinking skills (Tapia & Marsh, 2004). The shift in teaching time allocation is causing educators to sacrifice other crucial teaching and learning components believed to improve student learning. Such other education components includes: student interest, motivation, self–confidence, the value of the subject matter, and enjoyment (Chamberlin, 2010). In this article, I will define the term student affect, I will present the evolution of this psychological construct, I will present some of the challenges of measuring it, I will explain why I plan to measure student affect in my dissertation research study, and finally I will conclude by explaining affect as it relates to my dissertation research.

Definition of the “Term Student Affect.”

            The term affect in the field of psychology carries many meaning. It is referred to as motivation (Chouinard and Roy, 2008 & Shin, Lee, & Kim, 2009 as cited in Chamberlin, 2010), dispositions (Gresalfi, 2009 as cited in Chamberlin, 2010), belief (as cited in Chamberlin, 2010), emotions (Grootenboer, 2003 as cited in Chamberlin, 2010), and attitudes (Chouinard & Roy, 2008 as cited in Chamberlin, 2010).  The myriad of terms are sometimes confusing. However, Anderson and Bourke (2000) defines affect as a construct consisting of sub-components such as “anxiety, aspiration(s), value, attitude (s), interest(s), and locus of control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem” (p.1). Furthermore, Anderson and Bourke (2010) argues that motivation and affect are two words that carries the same meaning because motivation is shown throughout all sub-components of affect. Thus, the term affect is a complex psychological construct expressed in various words with similar and/or sometimes carrying same meaning.

The Evolution of the Construct and its Measurement

            The psychological construct, affect, gained recognition in the early 20th century, however, researchers did not have instruments or inventories to measure or quantify it at the time (Thompson, 1992 as cited in Chamberlin, 2010). In the 1920s and 1930s affect was considered a non-observable behavior due to an immense interest in behaviorist research. A type of research that concentrated in investigating observable behavior. Because of that, little interest and effort was directed to non- behaviorist research. Thus, researchers of this time period paid little or no attention to the research on student affect. 

However, affect re-gained traction again due to a new breed of researchers in the early 1960s and 1970s. In the past 40 years there has been an increased attention to the research regarding affect especially by researchers in mathematics, science, and the social sciences. During this time, researchers have attempted to define, characterize, and develop instruments for measuring student affect in mathematics more than in any other subject areas. The sheer number of instruments developed to assess affect during this period is enormous and I will not attempt to list them all here, however, I will mention a few of the most popular instruments. A summary of the popular instruments used to measure affects’ sub- components is presented in Table 1 below:

 Table 1

Summary of Student Affect Instruments

Name of Instrument

Acronym

Affect Sub-Component

Grade Level

Person(s) Who Conducted the Study

Attitude Towards Mathematics Inventory

AtMI

Self-efficacy, Value, Anxiety, and Motivation

Secondary: High School

Tapia & Marsh

Mathematics Attitude Scale

None

Value and enjoyment

Tertiary: Freshman in College

Aiken

Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale

MARS

Anxiety

Tertiary: Freshman to Senior.

Richardson & Suinn

Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scale

None

Attitude, Self-Efficacy, Anxiety, and Motivation.

Secondary: High School

Fennema & Sherman

National Longitudinal Study of Mathematical Ability

NLSMA

Attitude

Secondary: Grade 8

School Math Study Group

 

Challenges Associated with Measuring Students’ Affect

            The biggest barrier to measuring affect is the fact that affect is a psychological construct. Adding to the complexity and difficulty in measuring affect is the fact that affect is composed of many sub-components, namely, anxiety, aspiration, attitude, interest, locus of control, self-control/efficacy, self-esteem, and value. Since affect is a psychological construct it clearly consists of non-measurable attributes. Unlike measurable attributes such as length, weight, and height where we as a society have agreed upon units of measurements such as Meters for length, Kilograms for weight, Kelvin for temperature and what have you. Affect attributes such as anxiety, self-confidence, and enjoyment do not have society agreed upon measuring units and therefore are far more difficult to measure (Chamberlin, 2010). Moreover, another fact that makes measuring affect difficult is that each of affects’ sub-component consists of three characteristics. These characteristics of affect are: target, direction, and intensity. Target refers to the objective, activity, or idea to which the feeling is directed, direction refers to the negative or positive direction of the feelings, and intensity refers to the strength degree of the feeling. Thus, with the lack of agreed upon measurement unit and the many characteristics associated with affect, it is indeed difficult to measure.

 Quantifying affects’ sub-components is complex and problematic, but, not impossible. Recently, some psychologists have successfully attempted to quantify and assess some aspects of student affect using sophisticated statistical programs and software in schools. However, a great deal of the research regarding affect still lack empirical evidence (Tapia & Marsh, 2004). Thus, in light with this promising development in measuring affect, I plan to assess three sub-components of affect in my dissertation research study. I believe self-confidence, enjoyment, and value of the subject matter are important factors to measure as they related more closely to student performance in an academic setting.  However, I will not include other sub-components of affect (i.e., anxiety, aspiration, attitude, interest, locus of control) in my dissertation research study as they are not closely related with my research topic and the course of study.

Why Will I Measure Student Affect in my Dissertation Research Study?         

            Affect is an important ingredient for learning. In 1916, Binet and Simon stated that non- intellectual characteristics were the greatest single most important factor affecting student teaching and hence, their learning (Chamberlin, 2010). The non-intellectual characteristics they were referring to at the time is what we call today as student affect. The name student affect has changed over the years from non-intellectual characteristics, to non-cognitive characteristics, to affect components in the present time. Unfortunately at the time, Binet and Simon did not conduct experimental studies nor did they have empirical evidence to support or discredit their claim. However, currently there is ample of evidence from the Trends for International Science Education (TIMMS) supporting the idea that student affect is as important as cognitive components of teaching and learning (Martin & Kelly, 1996, Martin & Foy, 2008; Messick, 1979; as cited in Chamberlin, 2010). The only anomalous data from TIMMS are those by Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez, and Chrostowski (2004). This study did not show a correlation between student affect and academic achievement.

The central focus of my dissertation topic is to determine whether when students’ learning style preferences are matched with instructional materials, student academic achievement will improve. As I continue to examine this hypothesis, I plan to also investigate students affect as one of the factors affecting student learning. I especially would like to investigate the three components of student affect, namely, self-confidence, perceived value of the subject matter, and whether students will enjoy instruction when the learning materials matches their learning style preference. To do this, I plan to use a modified public domain affect inventory instrument created by Drs. W. James Popham of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Rick Stiggins of ETS Assessment Training Institute.  Both are experts in educational assessment. Therefore, this instrument will help me collect data to assess the three components of student affect in my research study.

This inventory instrument is similar to the one developed by Aiken (1974) and it assesses student enjoyment, self-efficacy, and how students value the subject matter. This instrument was chosen because it is user friend, appropriate for high school students, with high validity and reliability, and the results are easy to interpret. Thus, this dissertation research study will include a section on student affect assessment and particularly the three sub-components of affect, namely, enjoyment, self-efficacy, and value. I believe this will add value and fill-in an important gap in these two areas of research in education.

 Reference

Aiken, L.R. (1974). Two scale of attitude toward mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 5, 67-71.

Anderson, L. W., & Bourke, S. F. (2000). Assessing affective characteristics in the schools. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Chamberlin, S. A. (2010). A review of the instruments created to assess affect in mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Education, 3(1), 167-182.

Mullis, I.V.S., Martin, M.O., Gonzalez, E.J., & Chrostowski, S.J. (2004). TIMSS 2003 International Mathematics: Report Findings from IEA’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the Fourth and Eighth Grades. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.

Tapia, M., & Marsh, G. E. (2004). An instrument to measure affect. Mathematics Education Quarterly, 8(2), 56-62.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chimney Tops, Smoky Mountains National Park


There were many good moments in Gatlingburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. However, this one was among the best. And the best days were many. I do not have a good recollection of the events of each day that we spent at the Great Smoky Mountains. I would say, this was either the third or fourth day there. Each day we took a walk in the wild side to witness the beauty of nature. On this particular day, we went to climb and see the famous Chimney Tops Trail.

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This trail is designated as strenuous. Therefore, we packed our rucksacks lightly with some juice, dry fruits, and a sandwich for the Pili-Pili. The trail is located half-way up the mountain on the singularly road to Cherokee, South Carolina. Once you pack your vehicle, the trail start slowly by descending to the bottom of the river. It was a beautiful sight and hugely deceiving of the long and uphill graded hike to come.

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Once you cross a few bridges, steep and thoughtfully placed steps starts. There are 256 steps. Pili counted them out of boredom. The trail keeps going up, up, and up, and up again. Meandering like a giant river approaching the ocean. It’s not the hike that brings hordes of people here. It’s the amazing views on the way up and at the top of the chimneys. I know the pictures that you see here don’t give justice to the actual views there. The 2.3 miles up and 2.3 miles down was joyous as anything i have never done in a few years. 

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Big Results Now: A Quick Fix Solution to Education in Tanzania


The tables have turned. Or am I seeing the work of a magician. Enough with the jokes! Seriously, Tanzania has been the laughing stock in East Africa with regards to its education system for a while. We all know that change do take time. Especially, meaningful and lasting changes in education don’t happen overnight (read here, here, and here). And quick fixes have unintended consequences (read here). However, I am happy to say that Tanzania has found a magic formula to raise student achievement in the shortest amount of time through its Big Results Now program.

Two years ago, the failure rates at the primary, secondary and high school levels were up the roofs (read here). The 2012 examination results for secondary schools was the lowest in the history of the Tanzanian education system. However, in less than a year of BIG RESULTS NOW, we are seeing the highest jump in exam results never seen anywhere in the world of education. Has the system really changed? Or is it a mirage?

What I believe is this, for change to happen, underlying causes needs to be addressed. Has the education system in Tanzania addressed the challenges it faces? Challenges such as lack of teachers, lack of quality instruction in the classrooms, teacher absenteeism, lack of teaching resources, lack of laboratories and lab materials for science related courses. In my sane mind, I can’t believe that all these challenges have been addressed in less than a year. Unless you believe in miracles, which I don’t, something really shady is in the works here. As they say in Swahili “kuongeza ukubwa wa magoli” is not a genuine solution to this problem. The problems facing the education system in Tanzania are multi-faceted and needs multi-faceted solutions to address them. Quick fixes, No. They will just create a spillover effect. What I see is a disaster in the making. The consequences of which, will be difficult to remediate with simple and quick fixes.

 

Smoky Mountains National Park


This year we decided to chart a new course for our family summer vacation. We decided to take a path less traveled. Once you have been to the Sunshine State too many times, it becomes less difficult to choose to go elsewhere. I have no complaints with my vacations in Florida. Florida is always going to be the best destination for a summer vacation. With all the amusement parks, serene beaches, and warm weather. I love the place and I could visit there anytime. However, July’s Florida heat can be a turd too much to bear sometimes.

As we were trying to expose our daughter to other forms of summer travel adventures this year. We decided to climb the mountains. The decision was easy. While there, we saw some of the best kept secret places in the Southeastern Mountains Ranges of the United States. Gatlinburg is at the base of Smoky Mountain National Park. Next to it, is Pigeon Forge, the land of Dolly Patton. While there, you can do just anything touristy like amusement parks, you can scare your pants off by visiting many of the Ripley’s scare places or you can grab a cabin in the mountains and live a completely quiet week all to yourself. We chose the latter.

Here are a few pictures from my nature hikes at the Laurel Falls and Clingmans Dome. Enjoy.

 

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Laurel Falls Nature Trail

Laurel Falls Nature Trail

The Counter-factual Causal Inference in Experimental Design


By: Shaaban Fundi

The article entitled “The Qualitative Method of Impact Analysis” by Mohr (1999) attempts to qualify qualitative study design as rigorous and explicit methods for impact analysis (Impact evaluation purposes). In this article, Mohr discusses the problems facing qualitative methods when it is used to study impact. He asserts, impact is fundamentally a causation type of a problem and causation type of impact analysis are better evaluated using a quantitative methodology. Mohr argues that the main issue here lay squarely on the definition of causality. The most accepted definition of causation is based solely on the counter-factual definition of causality. That is if Y occurs, then, X must have occurred. This align perfectly with the quantitative methodology of impact evaluation. According to Mohr (1999) a more defensible version of the counter factual definition is called factual causation. Factual causation states that “X was caused by Y if and only if X and Y both occurred and, in the circumstances, if X had not occurred, then neither would Y” (Mohr, 1999; p. 71). Because of this, causation is better established when things are compared. Thus, causality is derived from the comparison of results from the experimental group to those in the control group. Without this bases of putting two sets of observations together to determine the variance on the treatment variable statistical analysis would not be possible.
Based on the counter-factual definition of causality it seems impossible to use qualitative methodology to evaluate impact. To determine impact, qualitative methods must rely on something other than evidence of counter-factual to establish causal inferences. Therefore, it renders impossible for a qualitative methodology to show the concurrence of X and Y without the use of a treatment group and a control group that is prevalent in quantitative designs. However, Stricken (1976 as cited in Mohr, 1999) offer us an approach called the “modus operandi’ method that could be used to bypass the counter-factual definition of causality. The modus operandi method can be described as follows: It is an elimination process. For example, to demonstrate that treatment T has caused Y to occur, other possible causes of Y such as U, V, and W must be eliminated as contenders for causing T to occur through elimination. The modus operandi is commonly used in daily works of professionals such as doctors, police, educators, and investigators. Modus operandi does not meet the counter-factual definition of causality used in quantitative study designs. However, because of the modus operandi methods, qualitative study designs can be used to determine impact of programs using the elimination process to determine causal inferences. Thus, no variables are needed to establish causation in qualitative designs because physical causality rather than factual causality does indeed produce compelling evidence for ascertaining the occurrence of T occurring when Y occurred after all the other contenders have been eliminated. Moreover, causal reasoning can be reliably used in qualitative designs to determine causal inferences in program and impact analysis.
I enjoyed reading this article because it offered me very practical and useful insights in conceptualizing causality inferences. I have learned that the debate on causation between researchers in the quantitative design and those in the qualitative design is hugely centered on the definition of causation. For the supporters of the quantitative design, causation is defined majorly based on the counter-factual definition of causality. That, causation is determined through comparing two sets of variables (control and experimental values). On the other hand, the proponents in the qualitative design camp sees that causation can be established through the elimination process. They argue that the process of elimination is commonly used in our daily lives without a comparison and/or variables. I can relate this to my research. There are several similarities between my research design and the process of elimination described in this article. My research follows the quantitative design tradition but does not involve a control group. Thus, the causal inferences I can draw from my research design (single-participant research design) are largely a result of better controls of the internal threats to validity rather than the comparison of results from the control group and that of the experimental group because none exists. Thus, as a researcher I plan to incorporate the useful, practical, beneficial insights, and steps of determining causal inferences discussed in this article in my own research especially during the design phase (to eliminate all other possible causes that may have caused the increase in student scores) of the research and during data interpretations.
Reference
Mohr, B. L. (1999). The qualitative method of impact analysis. American Journal of Evaluation, 20 (1), 69-84.

Learning and Teaching Style Assessment


Multiple Intelligences

                In his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner challenged the traditional definition of intelligence as being too narrow and argued that a broader definition was needed in order to more accurately reflect the different ways that humans think and learn.  Each individual, he argued, possesses a unique blend of multiple intelligences (MI) and he opposed the idea of using the same techniques to teach and assess every child.  He defined eight types of intelligences including: musical–rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. When I took the MI test, I was not surprised to find out that I have the naturalist intelligence with some musical-rhythmic intelligence. This observation explains perfectly the path I took during the early years of my education. I spent four years of my undergraduate education studying marine science and microbiology, two years in graduate school studying environmental science with a specialty in water resource management, and three years studying a master’s degree in science education. Currently I am pursuing a PhD in curriculum and Instruction.
I have always been fascinated with nature and the natural environment. I have been especially fascinated by the interdependence amongst living things, their interaction with each-other, with other species, and the environment. I now realize how my MI affect the way I teach and learn. Furthermore, I have come to understand that my MI could have a positive or a negative effect on my students’ learning experiences in the course. I plan to diversify my teaching and learning strategies to meet the varied MIs of all students in my courses.

Self Assessment

            As I reflect on the strength and weaknesses of my teaching, three things comes to my mind. First, I believe I have a firm understanding of content knowledge in chemistry, environmental science, and ecology. Second, I believe that I have a firm understanding of teaching methodology in science education. Third and last, my experience teaching and learning in two contrasting schooling environment in the United States (urban resource poor schools and suburban resource rich schools) has added tremendous value to my teaching experience.  I believe a combination of all these factors has made me a better educator not only for content knowledge, but also for emotional knowledge, values, and critical thinking skills. Like everything in life, I realize that I am no near perfect at what I do as an educator. There is always a room for improvement. Thus, I would like to improve on two things. First, communication with stakeholders. I have found myself in troubled situations on many occasions due to lack of communication. This stem from my belief that I and only I should handle course related problems. I realize that opening up to others’ suggestions may be a good thing. Therefore, I plan to open up a little and hear advice from others. It’s not a weakness to incorporate others’ point of views into your own. Second, I tend to offer too many choices to students, choices on what to do, how to it, and on how they should represent their work. It becomes difficult to give students a fair assessment on their products especially when everyone decide to do and represent their work differently. I plan to stream-line my assignments and projects to allow for some level of standardization especially in light of the accountability educational era we working under.

 Peer-Assessment

Self-evaluation can be a good thing, however, because of inborn biases inherent to this process I decided to call my co-teacher and ask him to evaluate my teaching. This process will help me to understanding the areas of strength and weaknesses that my peers see in my teaching. Therefore, I asked Mr. Miller to reflect on my teaching and especially the areas where he sees strength and those areas that he sees I need improvement. Based on our conversation, these are some of the highlights and the lowlights of my teaching.

The highlights: He thought I was very good at managing instructional time and students. He thought I handled classroom related issues appropriately, and I do a good job at making sure each student has a say in the course. He also pointed to the fact that I seem to be fair in my treatment of all students and also in grading students’ work. He added that I do a good job in connecting what is learned in the course to students’ prior, present, and future interests. He though I do a good job at making content relevant to students’ lives. He also noted my pleasant and jovial mood. This makes my class a place where every student want to be and feels appreciated.

The lowlights: He mentioned my low-level of communication with parents and other stakeholders regarding students’ progress or lack thereof in class. He also noted that I tend to repeat concepts a lot which can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing depending on the group of student in the class.

Student Assessment of my Teaching

            It is my custom to ask my students’ opinion about the courses I teach. I always try to give them an opportunity to reflect on my teaching. I find this type of evaluation refreshing and an important part in improving my craft as an educator. This year it was no different. At the end of the semester I created a course evaluation post in my blog where my student could go and evaluate the course. On the blog post I asked my students to rate my teaching on three aspects: 1) what did I do well in my teaching? 2) what I did not do very well, 3) if you were to take this course next year, how would you like me to teach the course? The reflections from my students were as varies as they were interesting. In general, most students enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the class. They reported enjoying the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities, creating videos for some of the projects, and presenting their ideas to the class in a form they felt comfortable with. Some the things they did not like were: 1) lack of immediate feedback, 2) I spent more time on easy topics (such as the periodic table and physical and chemical changes) and less time on harder concepts (such as nomenclature, stoichiometry, and gas laws). Thus, next school year I plan use some of the suggested ideas to make the course and the environment under which the course is taught better. I know that as educators we tend to maximize the content and cognitive aspects of teaching and learning while forgetting the student affect side of learning. I plan to pay more attention to the student affect side of learning especially in areas such as self-confidence, how they value the course, and course enjoyment. In my 11 years as an educator, I have come to the realization that when the course is not enjoyable,has little or no value to the students; students tend not to care much about the course. I am constantly working to change that.

Buying or Selling in Tanzania?


Africa is changing really fast. That is a fact. Is Africa changing for better or for worse? This is a fundamental question, however, the answer to this question depends entirely on your worldview. Are you looking at Africa in terms of its economic opportunities? Or are you looking at Africa in terms of its destruction to the environment? Do you believe in a sensible and sustainable growth? In this series of posts about Africa, I will look at Africa and Tanzania in particular using the lens of Tanzanias’ communication evolution.

So, how technology especially mobile phone usage has changed in Tanzania over the years? Technology is changing the way people access and process information in Tanzania. I remember vividly when cellphones were introduced in the early 1990s. Service was sporadic, expensive, and mainly a symbol of status in society rather than a form of communication. Fast forward 20 years later, the World Bank claims that an average Tanzanian has two or more mobile phones (World Bank, 2012). According to the World Bank website on technology, the service is quite good and can be accessed almost anywhere in the country. The advancement of mobile phone usage has coincided with the advancement in internet connectivity and usage. Internet connectivity in Tanzania is still highly accessed through mobile phones. It is what I call the mobile phone internet affair. The combination of cellular phone service penetration and internet connectivity in the country has sparred growth in trade, communication, and soon will be felt in the education sector.

As the share of internet connectivity gets bigger, so does the promise for its use in transforming the education industry in Tanzania. For that matter, here is a link to connect you with that possibility. Hopefully, you will find this new website not just a lone tree in a forest of many advertising websites in Tanzania. At OLX Tanzania we go further to connect you with your clients and the buying needs you may have.  It gives you the penetrability you need and deserve. If you have a cell phone, you can buy and sell from the comfort of your village kigoda. Enjoy the service.

Course Evaluation


Hello everyone. It was great to have you in my course this semester. I hope you enjoyed the experience. In my quest to make the course more enjoyable to you, I would like your input. Additionally, I hope you will find a way to use the information you learned in this course in the near future to make your lives better. As we are approaching the end of the semester, I would like for you to share your opinion about the course by clicking this link. It is my hope that you will take this opportunity seriously and that you will offer genuine suggestions to improve the course.

Here are three things I would like you to respond to:

1) what did you like about the course (think about pacing (too slow, too fast, just about right), information, field trips, out of class activities, in class activities and so forth)?

2) what did you not like?

3) what could I have done differently?

This is completely anonymous. Feel free to express your opinion to help me improve students’ experiences in the course.

Good-luck and Happy Summer Y’all!!