Examining Teachers’ Practical Experiences with Virtual Labs in High School Science: A Narrative Study


CHAPTER ONE

STUDY RATIONALE AND PURPOSE

Problem Statement

Virtual Laboratories are quickly replacing hands-on laboratory activities as the norm for teaching and learning science in the high school setting (Van Lejeune, 2002). Van Lejeune (2002) and Mint (1993) describe three main reasons for this shift.  First, materials for hands-on laboratory activities are very expensive. Second, the use of chemicals in the classroom could potentially lead to lawsuits if chemicals are not properly handled by either the teacher or student. Third, virtual labs can provide a quality experience for students, especially if the teacher lacks in-depth knowledge of the subject being taught. Research findings by Redish and Steinberg (1999) suggest that students learn most effectively in an active engagement learning environment.  Virtual labs, if used properly, can create and foster this kind of active learning environment. Virtual labs also provide a cheaper alternative to school systems struggling with tight budgets (Van Lejeune, 2002) and eliminates the potential for lawsuits associated with the use of strong or potentially poisonous chemicals (Mint, 1993).

Despite the numerous potential benefits associated with using virtual laboratories to teach science in the high school setting, few studies have been conducted to assess teachers’ practical experience with using virtual laboratories and how these experiences can be used to identify best practices for improving praxis among teachers, especially for new science teachers. Results from several studies suggest that online labs and videos can be as effective as physical or hands-on lab activities (Leonard, et al., 1992; Malderelli, 2009; Cengiz, 2010; Gobert, et al., 2011; Tatli, Z. & Ayas, A, 2013; Kun-Yuan, Y. & Jian-Sheng, H. 2007).  In addition, a study among high school students identified a number of positive effects associated with using technology in the classroom (Reid-Griffin & Carter, 2004). These positive effects include improved student achievement and better student engagement.  Furthermore, the individualized nature of technology empowers students to take more risks in their learning and to be more willing to make mistakes. Controversy around virtual labs remains, however, as some researchers (Kennepohl, D. 2001; Nedic, Z., Matchoska, J., & Nafalski, J. 2003; Finkelstein, et al., 2005) have found online labs to be less effective than hands-on labs.  These researchers also found that students preferred face-to-face labs over virtual labs.

Despite the mixed evidence around the effectiveness of virtual laboratories, the use of these labs in high school science classrooms continues to rise.  The purpose of this research study is to elucidate teachers’ practical experiences with using virtual laboratory activities in their science classroom.  Understanding how teachers experience and use virtual labs in their classroom may provide some context for explaining the discrepancy observed in the literature on the effectiveness of virtual labs at improving student outcomes.  

Why Is Organizational Learning Important?

Learning is an everyday occurrence for most humans (Dewey, 1938). The success of the human race, can in large part, be attributed to the ability of humans to learn and to use that new knowledge to adapt to changes in their environment.  Humans, unique among animals, are able to create and share knowledge.  This shared knowledge allows them to make improvements in their environment or organization. This type of learning is called organizational learning (Argyris & Schon, 1978).  To improve practice in organizations, including schools, it is crucial to understand shared practical experience.

Moreover, there are three types of informational knowledge.  These include: (1) the hard and formal character of knowledge (Childreth & Kimble, 2002); (2) the paradigm mode of knowing (Bruner, 1986); and (3) the soft, tacit, and practical knowledge (Takeuchi, 1995). Current research indicates that soft, tacit, and practical knowledge can be meaningfully captured using a narrative inquiry approach (Boje, 2007; Czarniawski, 2007; & Gabriel, 2000). This study, therefore, will use a narrative approach to investigate teachers’ shared practical experiences with using virtual laboratories to teach science in their high school classrooms. It is my assumption that teachers hold valuable personal and practical knowledge. This study will gather that personal and practical knowledge in order to facilitate the sharing of best practices with teachers unfamiliar with the use virtual laboratories as a teaching tool. This information will be especially useful for new science teachers who most often find themselves using virtual labs in their classrooms with little or no training.

What Led Me to This Topic?

I was born and raised in Tanzania. I attended school in Tanzania for primary school, secondary school, high school, and University. I came to the United States in 2001. I attended a graduate program in environmental science at Towson University from 2002 to 2004. While attending graduate school I worked as an Assistant Laboratory and Field Technician for the Center for Urban Research and Environmental Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In my capacity as an environmental lab and field assistant, I investigated water, air, and soil pollution in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. After I graduated with a Master degree in Environmental Science, I decided to teach for the Baltimore City Public School. I applied to the Baltimore City Teaching Residency (BCTR) in May, 2004, a program designed to attract experienced science and mathematics professionals to teach in the Baltimore City School System. I was accepted into the program and was formerly hired as a teacher in July, 2004. Through the BCTR program, I attended the Johns Hopkins University for a Master’s Degree in Education from July 2004 to May 2007.

Throughout my teaching career, I have witnesses many changes in the technology used in schools. When I was first hired as a science teacher, I had little exposure to classroom technology and its uses. I found it very hard to implement a new technology in the classroom especially when little or no training was offered to accompany that training. For the past five years, I have been using virtual laboratories to teach high school chemistry.  These labs teach a variety of concepts including the difference between chemical and physical changes, the periodic table, naming compounds, and the concept of “moles”.  I have found virtual laboratories to be an effective tool for teaching concepts where a hands-on lab either does not exist or is too expensive or dangerous to conduct.  Since many schools are shifting their investments from hands-on labs to virtual labs, I thought, it would be important to gather teachers’ personal and practical experiences with virtual labs to inform this shift and to identify best practices that could be shared with other teachers.  I plan to capture the experiences that teachers have when using virtual labs with their students through their narratives.

Conceptual Framework

            Learning from experience is central to the creation of practical knowledge in an organization (Cole & Wertsch, 2004). Dewey (1916) suggests that learning from experience is crucial in connecting the past, the present, and the future (as cited in Liu & Mathews, 2005). This study will examine learning from experience through the Vygotskyan social constructivist lens and also through personal reflections. According to Wolcott (1990a), personal experiences can be used to examine a phenomena such as teachers’ personal and practical experiences with virtual labs.

           Social constructivist theory originated from Vygotsky’s work. Social constructivist theory emphasizes collaboration and views learning or meaning as being socially constructed (Resnick, 1991). A central concept of Vygotsky’s work is the role that social collectivity plays in learning and development (Liu & Mathews, 2005). Individuals learn from each other and form their understanding of the world from their interactions with each other.  Social constructivist theory, however, is not without criticism. The major criticism of this theory is that it places too much emphasis on the role of social and collective, but, ignores the role of the individual in meaning construction.  While I acknowledge this criticism, I plan to use social constructivist theory as the basis for my study because I believe that teachers share their experiences with teaching tools, like virtual laboratories, with each other and it is through this communication that they decide whether or not to use these tools in their own classroom.  Thus, I feel that this theory is most aligned with the purpose of my study.  Figure 1 below illustrates the conceptual framework for my study.

 

Informed Future

Practical Experience

Teachers’ Past Experiences

Teachers’ Present Experiences

 

 

 

 

 

Socially Constructed Meaning through Stories

                                                

 

 

Figure 1: Socially Constructed Practical and Personal Experiences of Teachers When Using Virtual Labs.

 

Study Rationale

As mentioned earlier, the use of virtual labs and online learning continues to rise in in high school science courses. This rise in virtual lab usage has implications on how successfully the learning experiences are going to be for teachers and students. This research will identify teachers’ practical and personal experiences with virtual laboratory activities to help create a body of best practices for other teachers. As noted in my personal and professional narrative, most teachers do not actually receive formal training on how to effectively use virtual labs with their students. Therefore, teachers learn through trial and error how best to implement virtual labs in their classrooms.  The risk, however, is that they will not utilize virtual labs correctly, leading to poor student outcomes. This study will gather teachers’ experiences with virtual labs, including the knowledge they have acquired through the use of virtual labs in their own classrooms.  Best practices will be identified and shared with other teachers who are considering implementing virtual labs in their own classrooms.

Research Questions

As in any qualitative study, choosing the type of qualitative inquiry and the questions to fit the approach is the first challenge. In the beginning, I explored various approaches to qualitative inquiry to see which approach was most appropriate to answer my research questions.  After, much deliberation, I chose narrative inquiry to investigate teachers’ practical experience using virtual labs in their classrooms. In my interview, I asked eight main questions to elucidate teachers’ experiences with virtual labs.  These questions are listed below:

  1. Tell me about your educational and professional background.
    1. Probe: How did you become an educator?
  2. What is your teaching philosophy?
  3. How do virtual labs fit within this philosophy?
  4. How did you learn about virtual labs?
  5. When did you start using them?
  6. Why did you decide to use virtual labs in your classroom?
  7. What do you see as barriers and benefits to using virtual labs with your students?
  8. What adaptations (if any) did you make to ensure that all students in your class benefit from virtual labs?

Summary

In Chapter One, I provided a rationale for my research study and presented the theoretical framework that will form the basis of my study.  In addition, I reviewed the questions that I asked the teachers participating in my study in order to elucidate their experiences using virtual laboratories.  In Chapter Two I will review the origin and definition of several key terms related to my study including: Social Constructionist Theory, Deweyan Experience, Schon’s Reflective Practitioner, and Narrative Inquiry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Chapter One provided an overview of the purpose of this research study and described the theoretical framework that will be used as the basis of this study. Chapter Two will continue this discussion by reviewing some key terms related to the study. The terms described herein are “Social Constructivist Theory”, “Reflective Practitioner”, and “Experience”. This chapter will also describe Narrative Inquiry which forms the basis of this research study. At the surface level, these terms appear very different, but, at a deeper level they have inter-related meanings.

Social Constructivist Theory: A Vygotskyan Idea

            As described in Chapter One, social construction theory emphasizes the importance of collaboration and views learning or meaning making as socially constructed (Resnick 1991; as cited in Liu & Mathews 2005).  A central concept in Vygotsky’s work is the role that social collectivity plays in learning and development (Liu & Mathews, 2005).  Vygotsky’s social constructivist theory argues that “knowing is relative to the situations in which the knowers find themselves” (Liu & Mathews; 2005; p.392).  The concept of social and the individual being interconnected is the cornerstone of the social constructivist theory and it provides a valid explanation for social and individual change.

Reflective Practitioner: Schon’s Idea

Schon (1986) describes reflection as what practitioners do to examine their increased understanding of a phenomenon that arises from practicing. Reflectivity combines reflections from both past and present actions in order to improve future actions. Schon emphasizes that knowing with doing and thinking with action must go together because they work hand-in-hand.  We cannot “know” and “think” without “doing” and “acting” (Schon, 1986).  Thus, thinking with action is crucial to improving practice. In my experience, teachers and school administrators rarely use reflective action to enhance their praxis. Part of this research study will be encouraging teachers to use narratives or storytelling as form of reflection in action in order to improve and transform their teaching practice.

Experience: A Deweyan Idea

Dewey (1916) views experience as a continuum of reason. Dewey’s work shows his attempt to resolve the dichotomy between experience and reason.  According to Dewey (1916) experience and reason are a continuous mesh of consciousness most meaningful when connected to everyday life. There are two natures of experiences described by Dewey. The first is “trying” which is related to active experience. The second is “undergoing” which is related to passive experience. Dewey was more concerned with active experience because it involves changes of actions through reflection. In order to better understand the nature of active experience, I identified two qualitative studies that described the experiences of teachers who became students.  Their experiences as students helped them identify strategies to improve their teaching.  Mann (2003), a college professor, described her own experience as a student attending an online course.  From her experience, she identified several strategies that teachers can use to foster student learning in a virtual environment.  Similarly, Sinclair (2004; as cited in Case, Marshall, & Linder,2010) spent two years as a student in a mechanical engineering program.  During her time as a student, she identified several challenges that students encounter when entering a new discourse or discipline. She also identified strategies that educators can use to help their students be successful in a new discourse.

 

The two studies illustrate the need to understand teachers’ experiences with virtual labs as it may be one strategy to foster student learning in a virtual environment. Currently, little research has been done in this area, especially among high school science students. My study will address this existing gap in the literature by exploring teachers’ experience with virtual labs using a narrative inquiry approach. In addition, the teachers’ experiences and stories from my exploratory study will help other educators understand the challenges and opportunities associated with using virtual labs in their classrooms, including identifying best practices for integrating virtual labs into the science classroom.

Narrative Inquiry: Stories as a Reflective in Action Tool

Creswell (2013) identifies several approaches to conducting a narrative inquiry. These approaches include: biographical studies, auto-ethnographies, life histories, and oral histories. In my exploratory study, I used a life story narrative approach.  I am not, however, trying to portray the person’s entire life history.  Instead, my questions will focus on capturing a defined time period in the lives of two teachers, namely their experiences using virtual labs as a teaching tool in their high school chemistry course.   This life story narrative approach will take the form of a personal experience story. Denzin (1989a; as cited in Creswell, 2013) states that a personal experience story may be used to study an individual’s personal experience in a single episode and/or in multiple episodes. In this pilot study, I asked the teachers to recall the episodes where they used virtual labs in their classrooms and to relay to me their personal experiences using these labs in their classrooms.  In addition, I collected information about the teachers’ background.  The information helped me to contextualize how their experiences using virtual labs were influenced by their educational background and their teaching philosophy and how the information can be used as best practices for other teachers with little to no experience with virtual lab usage.

Summary

In Chapter Two I explained the key terms: Social Constructionist Theory, Deweyan Experience, Schon’s Reflective Practitioner, and Narrative Inquiry. In the narrative inquiry tradition, stories are used as a tool for capturing practical experiences through reflection. These stories can then be passed on from person to person in an organization as best practices. Brown, Denning, Groh & Prusack (2005) posits that stories are a powerful tool for sharing practical experiences and knowledge in an organization such as a school or school system.

Chapter 3 explains the research approach I have chosen for this study. I have chosen a narrative approach to conduct my study. In addition, I offer justification to why I chose a narrative approach for this study. Finally, I explain how the data was collected and analyzed using the narrative inquiry approach.

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

METHODOLOGY

In Chapter Three, I will explore the reasons behind why I chose narrative inquiry methodology for my research study. I will also explain how I conducted this study from data collection to data analysis, including how I selected my research site and participants.

What Led Me to Choose Narrative Approach

Clandinin & Connelly (2000) argue that practical knowledge gathered from people’s experiences is sharable in the story format.  Narrative inquiry is arguably the best method for capturing those stories and the inherent knowledge to be gained from these stories. In addition, narrative inquiry is a useful methodology for describing an insiders’ experiential knowledge in the form of story-telling (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).  My intention for this study was to identify practical experiences of teachers (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). In addition, I wanted to recognize my self –reflective knowledge and how to capture the experience of teachers who use virtual labs with their students.

To put my experience with technology in context, I will provide my life and professional history.  I was born and raised in Tanzania. I went to school in Tanzania from primary school, secondary school, high school, and University. I came to the United States in 2001. After I graduated with a Master degree in Environmental Science from Towson University, I decided to teach for the Baltimore City Public School. I began my career as a teacher in July 2004 at an inner-city middle school. Most of my students were African-American and from low income households. 

When I was first hired as a science teacher, I had little exposure to classroom technology and its uses. I found it very hard to implement a new technology in the classroom since I rarely received any training to accompany the new technology.  In 2009, I began teaching at a suburban high school in Atlanta.  It was at this high school that I learned about virtual laboratories.  I began using these laboratories in my chemistry classroom.  Again, I did not receive formal training on how to use these labs. Instead, I learned by doing.  I believe this is an experience that many new teachers face. Since many schools are shifting their investment from hands-on labs to virtual labs, I thought it would be useful to gather teacher’s personal and practical experiences with virtual labs. The challenge was that personal and practical knowledge is often hard to capture systematically.

In the process of finding which method was most appropriate to answer my questions, I started by trying the phenomenological approach. According to Creswell (2013), a phenomenological study, “describes the common meaning of several individuals of their lived experience of a concept or a phenomenon.” There are two types of phenomenological studies.  The first type is a heuristic phenomenological approach which brings to the fore the personal experience of the researcher (Moustakas, 1990b:9, as cited in Patton; 2002b).  The second type is a transcendental phenomenological approach that involves the researcher bracketing themselves through acknowledging their experiences with the phenomenon under investigation (Creswell, 2013). However, after a careful analysis of the method, I came to the conclusion that a phenomenological study was not the best for my research question because my sample size was too low and also I was relying on a single method for data collection which is not advisable for a phenomenological study. To conduct a well-rounded phenomenological study, a number of data collection methods such as surveys, observations, journaling, and photographs need to be used.

I then turned to a mixed method approach. A mixed method study uses both qualitative and quantitative research designs. In the 1990’s, mixed method study design gained popularity (Creswell, 2011). Green, Caracelli & Graham (1989) define a mixed method study as “research in which an investigator collects and analyzes data, integrates findings, and draws inferences using both qualitative and quantitative  approaches  or methods in a single study or program of inquiry” (p.20). According to Creswell (2011) mixed method study increases the breadth and depth of the research findings. Using more than one research method can also help corroborate the study findings, ensuring the findings have a stronger validity. To use a mixed method design, Creswell (2011) suggests that the research questions must include both quantitative and qualitative elements. It is important that the formulated questions address both the needs for a quantitative and a qualitative study design. Again, after a careful examination of the method and the question, I realize that my questions did not match well with the mixed method design.

While examining a possible method to capture teachers’ experience with virtual labs, narrative inquiry emerged slowly but surely as the best method for capturing teachers’ experience with virtual labs and identifying the practical knowledge inherent in these experiences. Narrative inquiry emerged as a new research method in social research in the 1980s (Clandinin & Connely, 1990). In 1986, Clandinin and Connelly experimented with narratives as an alternative way of representing experience in graduate courses at Ontario Institute of Studies (OISE). According to Clandinin & Connelly (2000), an individual’s story should be considered as a source of phenomenon and method. Atkins (1995) pointed to two advantages of using narrative inquiry. First, the story creating process is similar to the self-reflection process, thus, helps to expand experiences. Second, developing stories helps to connect a person to the human experience through narratives. Therefore, narrative inquiry can be used to gather personal and practical experiences and knowledge and to share them with the community.

Data Collection

This study takes place in a high school environment in an upper income suburban neighborhood in the Southeastern United States. I purposely chose my two participants for the following reasons. First, I wanted them to have different levels of teaching experience.  My first participant was a new teacher (two years teaching experience) who had limited experience with virtual labs. Thus, I chose her because I wanted to understand and chronicle new teachers’ experiences with virtual lab usage in the science classroom. The other participant was a veteran teacher with more than 15 years of teaching experience. I wanted to interview him because I wanted to gain deeper insights into the use of virtual labs by an experienced teacher.  The second reason for choosing these two teachers was a matter of personal convenience.  The participants and I work in the same hallway and have the same planning period; therefore, I have easy access to them.

I used the life story narrative to elucidate the personal practical experiences of my teacher participants. I took the life story approach because I believe each and every one of us has his or her story to tell.  I interviewed each participant for approximately 15 minutes in their classroom using a semi-structured interview guide.  I began with an open-ended question followed by a probing question whenever necessary to gain a deeper conversation of the participant’s experiences.  Even-though I had developed structured and open-ended questions for the interviews, I conducted the interviews mainly as conversations. The reason for choosing a conversational approach rather than a direct interview approach is that probing is most effective when it takes place in the form of a conversation (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).  Since I was using only a single method of data collection and a small sample of interviewees, I decided to record the interviews so I did not miss any relevant information and so I could produce a verbatim transcript for analysis. I used my IPad to record the interviews with the permission of each participant.  I received human subject approval in September of 2013 and conducted both interviews in October 2013. The open-ended questions used for this study are presented below:

  1. Tell me about your educational and professional background.
    • Probe: How did you become an educator?
  2. What is your teaching philosophy?
  3. How do virtual labs fit within this philosophy?
  4. How did you learn about virtual labs?
  5. When did you start using them?
  6. Why did you decide to use virtual labs in your classroom?
  7. What do you see as barriers and benefits to using virtual labs with your students?
  8. What adaptations (if any) did you make to ensure that all students in your class benefit from virtual labs?

Data Analysis

            After I conducted and recorded the interviews, I attempted to analyze the data through first listening and transcribing the interviews. To better understand the stories, I used the restoring or retelling method to reconstruct the participants’ stories as they were told to me during the interview. I identified and interpreted the major themes such as technology-related problems, when to use virtual labs, when not to use them, and in what instances they most benefit students’ understanding.  I then wrote summary statements for each of the identified themes using the information from the participants’ interviews.  Participants’ narratives are presented in Chapter Four and the conclusions and recommendations resulting from the research findings are presented in Chapter Five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

TEACHER STORIES

In this chapter, I examine each participant’s experience with virtual labs using a story-telling or retelling approach of the narrative inquiry methodology. I begin with a description of the classroom environment followed by narratives from each participant’s interview. In Chapter Five, I examine the data and offer analysis and interpretation. I then, conclude the chapter with conclusions and recommendations for future studies. What is presented here is a verbatim transcript of the participants’ own words. To the best of my ability, I refrained from adding any of my comments or additions to this transcript. However, I sometimes use my own words to help create smooth transitions, where necessary. Note that the names used below are pseudonyms to protect the confidentiality of the participants.

Mr. Physics Jones’s Class

            Mr. Physics Jones is 37-year old, white male who teaches physics and chemistry at the suburban high school. He has 13 years of teaching experience and has been with the science department for 10 years. Prior to working with this department, Mr. Jones worked for a private Christian high school for three years. Mr. Jones is a highly qualified teacher in the broad science category, but specializes in teaching Advanced Placement Physics and general chemistry.

            My classroom is located next to Mr. Jones’ classroom. We normally have lengthy conversations about teaching physics and chemistry. We also share a stock room for chemicals and laboratory equipment that we use to teach chemistry and physics. In his spare time, Mr. Jones likes to run. He is the head coach for the school’s running team. His team has won numerous awards including State championships and zonal championships.

            Mr. Jones’ classroom is very orderly. The classroom is arranged into eight two rows with eight lab desks. He has a promethean board, LCD projector, laptops, and a student response system that he uses on a daily basis. Mr. Jones also has five computers in the back of his classroom that are connected to the internet. Mr. Jones’ students are very diverse with a variety of racial and ethnic groups represented. His students also come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. His classes contain a fairly even gender distribution.

Mr. Jones’s Experience with Virtual Labs

Mr. Jones has aBachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and chemistry. He also has a Master’s of Arts degree in teaching with a specialty in chemistry education. Mr. Jones worked as a research technician for the state of North Carolina and he is now teaching. He decided to become a teacher because he thought his skills would be better utilized in educating the kids (children) of America. Mr. Jones teaching philosophy is a triangle between the teachers, parents, and the students.

Mr. Jones feels that virtual labs give the kids a tool to explore the topic more on their own. He also feels that virtual labs form a good substitute when the student is absent. If a kid is absent, virtual labs serves as the lab.  Virtual labs also serve as the alternative when we don’t have the funds for the lab equipment or chemicals. Mr. Jones mentioned that he did not receive any professional development regarding the effective use of virtual labs. He learned how to use virtual labs through trial and error. Mr. Jones sees the barriers of virtual labs as that students don’t see the true results of what’s happening. They are pre-programmed and therefore devoid of real life experiences. Another barrier to virtual labs is that students tend to copy from each other without engaging themselves in the actual learning activity. In addition, virtual labs offer the same results, so it’s hard to talk about real life errors (e.g. experimental errors) that often occur during real life experiments.

Mr. Jones sees the benefits of virtual labs as that they can be accessed anywhere at any time. Another benefit of virtual labs is that there is no preparation time for the teacher. In addition, virtual labs are useful at substituting instruction especially when the equipment is too expensive. Mr. Jones uses several adaptations to make sure that all students in his class benefit from virtual labs. First, he discuss the lab with students ahead of time. Second, he does a demo for the class before-hand. Third, Mr. Jones does group discussions to enhance student understanding of concepts covered in the virtual labs session.

Ms. Biology Tanisha

            Ms. Biology Tanisha is a 34-year old black female who teaches general biology in the science department. She has two years of teaching experience and has been with the science department for one year. Ms. Tanisha is a highly qualified teacher in the broad science category, but, specializes to teach general biology. She explained her experience with virtual labs in her classroom during the interview.

            Ms. Tanisha’s classroom is very orderly. The classroom is arranged into two rows with eight lab desks. She has a promethean board, LCD projector, a laptop cart, and student response systems that she uses often. Ms. Tanisha also has five computers in the back of her classroom that are connected to the internet. The students in Ms. Tanisha’s classroom, like those in Mr. Jones’ class, are very diverse in terms of race and socio-economic status.  Her class also has an even distribution of boys and girls. 

 

 

Ms. Tanisha’s Experiences with Virtual Labs

Ms. Tanisha has a bachelor degree in education. She became a certified teacher two years ago. She decided to become a teacher for four reasons.  She is a people person.  She likes showing children the different ways to learn. She likes to give back to the community and she thinks that there are not enough people in the world who want to teach but just want to be a part of something so that they can get vacation time. She wants to give back and show why having a good education is important. She says that growing up, even though her mom and her relatives were educators, she never saw the importance of going home and studying or doing what she was supposed to do. As such her GPA after she graduated high school was below a 2.0 and she actually flunked out of college twice. The third time she went back, including grad school, her GPA was well above a 3.0. She learned the importance of an education but it took her awhile and now she’s at a point in her life that she wants to give back and to show why it’s important to be educated.

Ms. Tanisha’s teaching philosophy is every child can learn, however, not every child can learn the same way. She believes that teachers need to engage all students individually if possible throughout the week. To continually communicate with your students so you know where they are. She also believes that it is up to the teacher to actually engage each one of their students so that they can learn. In addition, Ms. Tanisha feels that virtual labs are good because the teacher has the ability to rewind as opposed to doing a lab in class step one, step two and typically you don’t even have the resources to go back and see where did I get this from? Virtual labs are good for proofing one’s work because of the ability to go back and check where the information came from.

Ms. Tanisha went to the Explore Learning workshop last year where she learned that a teacher had the ability to add to the labs everything he/she needs to engage students in their learning. She feels that the workshop she attended last year was beneficial in making the labs better. It helped her in different ways as far as getting the concepts across to her students. Ms. Tanisha sees the only barrier to virtual labs is that some students are not as engaged as others.  She feels as though these students would prefer hands on labs rather than virtual ones. In addition, some students just don’t want to do the lab because it does not fit their learning style. Ms. Tanisha recognizes several benefits for using virtual labs in the science classroom. First, virtual labs offer the ability to go back and redo the labs up to a certain degree. Second, students have to follow directions and engage themselves in the lab and learn at their own pace. Third, she thinks students learn more because virtual labs follow the learner centered approach.

Ms. Tanisha uses various adaptations to make sure that all students in her class benefit from virtual labs. She walks around and talks to students often to make sure they understand the lab. She checks for understanding and engagement by communicating with each student on a regular basis.

Summary

In this chapter, I presented participants’ narratives. In Chapter Five, complete data analysis, discussions, conclusions, and recommendations for future research will be presented.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5

DATA ANALYSIS, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

In this chapter, I first analyze the data, then, I present the conclusions of the study, and finally, I present my recommendations for future research. 

Data Analysis and Conclusion

Narrative inquiry was used in this study to shed light on the practical experiences that teachers have when using virtual labs with their students. The purpose of the study was to identify personal and practical experiences that teachers have when using virtual labs in their science classrooms. After reading and re-reading the transcripts from the interviews, I identified two characteristics that were shared by both teachers – a love of teaching and a belief that all children can learn.  In addition, I identified several best practices that these participants had used to maximize the success of virtual labs in their classrooms: (1) pre-lab discussions, often with a demonstration, (2) post-lab discussions where students’ questions were answered, (3) regular monitoring during lab sessions to check student understanding and engagement, and (4) receiving proper training on how to effectively use virtual labs as a teaching tool.

Love of Teaching

            Both participants expressed their love for teaching during the interview. I realize that teaching is not a get rich and/or money making profession. Mr. Jones is an environmental engineer. He has many job options, but, he choose to share his knowledge and engineering skills with the children of America. In addition, Ms. Tanisha spoke of her love of teaching very explicitly during the interview. She shared with me that she was a “people person” and loved to show students different ways to learn.

The Belief That All Children Can Learn

            The saying that all children can learn has been used in many educational articles and books. In many settings, this saying has become a cliché.  During my interview with both participants, I genuinely felt that these teachers believed what they were saying. Ms. Tanisha said “all children can learn, but, differently.” It is true that all children can learn. This is especially true when the needs of each of the student are met. For example, each child comes to class with his or her own capability, learning preferences, and world view. If these needs are not met by the teacher, some children will be left behind and deemed to be incapable of learning. Therefore, according to the participants, it is crucial to meet each individual child wherever they are and to help them to achieve success in learning. This will boost their confidence to learn.

Pre-Lab Discussions

            Since virtual labs are somewhat different than hands-on and real life experiments, it is paramount that teachers discuss the lab before students actually do the lab. This will improve student understanding by activating their prior knowledge and by making them ready to learn. Mr. Jones normally discusses the lab before students begin doing the lab. It is a good practice as it helps iron-out student misunderstandings and reduces the amount of questions that students may have during the lab session. Once students know what to do and how to do it, completing the lab becomes easier for them and they are more likely to learn from it. Therefore, Mr. Jones and Ms. Tanisha employ the pre-lab discussion to help their students understand what the lab is all about and how to complete it.

Post-Lab Discussions and Regular Monitoring during Lab Sessions

Mr. Jones discussed the use of post-lab discussions as an important tool for effective use of virtual labs with students in science. Once students have completed their virtual lab sessions, it is important to have a discussion regarding the concept or concepts covered. This is important because it helps students to consolidate what they have learned. It also helps the teacher to assess what students have learned and what topics may need further discussion. I concur with Mr. Jones’s views on this, I believe that post-lab discussions are crucial for helping student re-evaluate their understanding of the lab and also to receive confirmation regarding their understanding. Post-lab discussions also offer students the opportunity to explain and reflect on their understanding of the concept covered by the lab and to ask any clarifying questions.  In addition, both participants mentioned the importance of circulating throughout the classroom while students are completing the lab to monitor their understanding and to make sure they remain engaged in the task. This also allows students the opportunity to ask questions as they are completing the lab so that they are able to successfully complete all their assigned tasks.  Teachers can also monitor their progress and provide one-on-one guidance as needed.

The Importance of Proper Training

            Lack of proper training was one issue raised by the participants during the interviews. It is quite obvious that in the absence of training, things tend not to work as effectively as they should. This applies to virtual labs as well. Ms. Tanisha discussed a two day training she received on how to effectively use virtual labs. In my view, in-service training is needed for teachers to help them understand how to best use virtual labs in their classrooms. School districts’ tend to buy these programs with little or no emphasis placed on training teachers how to use the programs. Mr. Jones reports that he never received any formal training on how to use virtual labs. He trained himself through trial and error. Allowing teachers to train themselves on the effective use of virtual labs with their students is not a good practice. Teachers should be trained to use technology properly in order to increase student engagement and academic achievement.

Recommendations for Future Research

            This study was centered on two research participants’ practical and personal experiences with virtual labs. Six themes emerged from the interviews with research participants. The emerged themes include: (1) love of teaching, (2) the belief that all children can learn, (3) pre-lab discussions, (4) post-lab discussions, (5) regular monitoring during lab sessions, and (6) the importance of proper training. As discussed in the study results and discussion, these themes have direct implications for the effective use of virtual labs in science classrooms. In order to validate the results from this study, additional research with more teachers from different settings is needed.  For example, studies with teachers from middle school science or other high school science setting would be desirable. In addition, the questions used to capture teachers’ practical experiences with virtual labs in this study were not very focused. Therefore, studies with more focused questions on this matter are needed to capture the essence of these practical experiences. Finally, I realize that one’s cultural background influences one’s experiences.  My background, cultural experiences, and world view may have affected the way I analyzed the data. Therefore, research done by people with different cultural and background experiences are warranted.

           

           

 

 

 

 

References

Boz, Nihat., and Boz, Yezdan. (2008). A qualitative case study of prospective chemistry teacher’ knowledge about instructional strategies: Introducing particulate theory, Journal of Science Teacher Education, 19(33), 135-156.

Case, J. M., Marshall, D., & Linder, C. (2010). Being a student again: A narrative study of a teachers’ experience. Teaching in Higher Education,15(4): 423-433.

Cengiz, T. (2010). The effect of virtual laboratory on students’ achievement and altitude in Chemistry.

Clandinin, D.J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inguiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cole, M., & Wertsch, J. V. (2004). Beyond the individual-social antimony in discussions of Piaget and Vygotsky. Accessed: www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/virtual/cplevyg.htm [October, 2013].

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5): 2-14.

Creswell, J. W. (2011). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy of education. New York: MacMillan.

Falvo, D. (2008). Animations and simulations for teaching and learning molecular chemistry. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 4(1), 68-77.

Greene, J., Caracelli, V., & Graham, W. (1989). Toward a conceptual framework for Mixed-Methods Evaluation Designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 11:255-274.

Gobert et al. (2011). Examining the relationship between students’ understanding of the nature of models and conceptual learning in Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, International Journal of Science Education, 33(5): 653-684.

Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The laboratory in science education: Foundation for the 21st century. Science Education, 88, 28-54.

Hofstein, A. (2004). The laboratory in chemistry education: Thirty years of experience with developments, implementation, and research. Journal of Chemistry Education Research and Practice,5(3): 247-264.

Hofstein, A., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2007). The laboratory in science education: the state of the art. Journal of Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8(2): 105-107.

Kennepohl, D. (2001). Using computer simulations to supplement teaching laboratories in chemistry for distance delivery. The Journal of Distance Education, 16(2):58-65.

Kun-Yuan, Y., and Jian-Sheng, H. (2007). The impact of internet virtual physics laboratory instruction on the achievement in physics, science process skills and computer attitudes of 10th –grade students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16: 451-461.

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Patton, M. Q. (2002b). Variety in qualitative inquiry: Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Pratt, K., and Sims, R. (2012). Virtual and physical experimentation in Inquiry-based science labs: Attitudes, Performance, and Acess. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(1), 133-147.

Smith, C., Maclin, D., Houghton, C., & Hennessy, G. (2000). Six-grade students’ epistemologies of science: The impact of school science experiences on epistemological development. Cognition and Instruction, 18(3), 349-422.

Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. New York: Jossey-Bass.

Tatli, Z., and Ayas, A. (2013). The effect of a virtual chemistry laboratory on students’ achievement. Journal of Technology and Society, 16(1):159-170.

Van LeJeune, J. (2002). A meta-analysis of outcomes from the use of computersimulated experiments in science education. Unpublished Ed.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University.

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Curriculum Evaluation Using Tyler’s Goal Attainment Model or Objectives-Centered Model


By: Shaaban Kitindi Fundi

In this paper I will describe the Tyler model while emphasizing its evaluative component. I will use the DeKalb County Science Curriculum in my analysis. Specifically, I will use Dunwoody High School students’ outcomes data (end of course test-EOCT) for physical science and biology to evaluate the curriculum. However, before I start the evaluation, I will provide a brief overview of the Tyler model (what is it? what are its parts? and what are the criticisms of the model?) and finally I will conclude by summarizing the steps I followed to complete the evaluation.

Tyler’s goal attainment model or sometimes called the objectives-centered model is the basis for most common models in curriculum design, development and evaluation. The Tyler model is comprised of four major parts. These are: 1) defining objectives of the learning experience; 2) identifying learning activities for meeting the defined objectives; 3) organizing the learning activities for attaining the defined objectives; and 4) evaluating and assessing the learning experiences. In this paper I will most deal with the evaluation component of the model. However, before I start evaluating the science curriculum for DeKalb County, I start with a brief discussion of the Tyler model, what it is, its parts, and what it emphasizes.

The Tyler Model begins by defining the objectives of the learning experience. These objectives must have relevancy to the field of study and to the overall curriculum (Keating, 2006). Tyler’s model obtains the curriculum objectives from three sources: 1) the student, 2) the society, and 3) the subject matter. When defining the objectives of a learning experience Tyler gives emphasis on the input of students, the community and the subject content. Tyler believes that curriculum objectives that do not address the needs and interests of students, the community and the subject matter will not be the best curriculum. The second part of the Tyler’s model involves the identification of learning activities that will allow students to meet the defined objectives. To emphasis the importance of identifying learning activities that meets defined objectives, Tyler states that “the important thing is for students to discover content that is useful and meaningful to them” (Meek, 1993, p. 83). In a way Tyler is a strong supporter of the student-centered approach to learning. Overall, Tyler’s model is designed to measure the degree to which pre-defined objectives and goals have been attained. In addition, the model focus primarily on the product rather than the process for achieving the goals and objectives of the curriculum. Therefore, Tyler’s model is product focused. It evaluates the degree to which the pre-defined goals and objectives have been attained.

There are several criticisms leveled at the Tyler’s goal attainment model or the Tyler’s objective centered model. The first criticism is that, it is difficult and time consuming to construct behavioral objectives. Tyler’s model relies mainly on behavioral objectives. The objectives in Tyler’s model comes from three sources (the student, the society, and the subject matter) and all the three sources have to agree on what objectives needs to be addressed. This is a cumbersome process. Thus, it is difficult to arrive to consensus easily among the various stakeholders groups. The second criticism is that, it is too restrictive and covers a small range of student skills and knowledge. The third criticism is that Tyler’s model is too dependent on behavioral objectives and it is difficult to declare plainly in behavioral objectives the objectives that covers none specific skills such as those for critical thinking, problem solving, and the objectives related to value acquiring processes (Prideaux, 2003). The fourth and last criticism is that the objectives in the Tyler’s model are too student centered and therefore the teachers are not given any opportunity to manipulate the learning experiences as they see fit to evoke the kind of learning outcome desired.

To evaluate the DeKalb County School System Science Curriculum, I downloaded the DeKalb County physical science and biology curriculum at a glance from the districts’ website. After a careful look at the curriculum, I realized that both the biology and physical science curriculum does not fit the many definitions of a true curriculum. They are plainly instructional guides with standards, units to be covered, and the time allocation for each unit. In my understanding, a curriculum should encompasses more than a list of standards, units, and time allocations. According to Robert Gagne (1966) curriculum encompasses four categories. These categories are: 1) subject matter or content, 2) statements of end objectives or goals, 3) the sequencing of content, and finally 4) pre-assessment of skills. The DeKalb County Science Curricular for physical science and biology lack many of these features.

The Dekalb County Science Curriculum at a glance document does not appear to meet Kerr’s definition of curriculum either.  According to Kerr (1968) a curriculum is “all the learning which is planned and guided by school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school (Kerr, J. 1968, as cited in Kelly A. V. 2009, p.12). Kerr’s definition of the curriculum together with Gagne’s categories of the curriculum appears to encompass more than just the standards, the units covered, and the time allocated for each unit. In other words, a curriculum is much broader than a course syllabus or a curriculum guide and it includes both the planned and the unplanned consequences/effects of the curriculum.

In order to evaluate the biology and physical science curricular at Dunwoody High School, I created a table containing the Spring EOCT scores for the two courses. The data spans a range of three years, from spring of 2011 to spring of 2013. I will also compare Dunwoody EOCT scores with the entire DeKalb Country scores to the score summary of the whole state of Georgia.

Spring 2011 to 2013 EOCT Score Summary

Location

Biology

Physical Science

2011

% Pass

2012

% Pass

2013

% Pass

2011

% Pass

2012

% Pass

2013

% Pass

Dunwoody High School

74

85

84

78

73

72

DeKalb County

59

62

63

66

66

83

State of Georgia

70

73

75

76

78

67

 

Based on the data for the past three years, Dunwoody High School has been meeting the science curricular objectives in physical science and biology. The year per year pass rates for biology are much higher at Dunwoody High School than they are for the rest of the county. For example, in 2011, Dunwoody High School students pass rate for the EOCT biology was 12% higher than the rest of the DeKalb County average. In the same year, Dunwoody High School outperformed the state average percentage pass rates by 4%.  Thus, the biology percentage pass rates appear to be much higher at Dunwoody High School when compared to the state’s EOCT percent pass averages for the same period.

Similar trends are observed in the percent pass rates of the EOCT scores in physical science. Dunwoody High school met the physical science curriculum objectives in the year 2011 to 2013. Dunwoody High School data shows a higher percent pass rate when compared to the average percent pass rates for the Dekalb County. For example, in the year 2012, Dunwoody High School had 10% more of its students pass the EOCT in physical science than the average percent pass rate of the entire county. However, Dunwoody High School percent pass rates for physical science was 5% lower than the average percent pass rate of the state of Georgia. Overall, Dunwoody High School appears to meet the science curricular objectives in both biology and physical science. I would recommend Dunwoody High School to set yearly improvement goals that will help the school to increase the percent pass rates in physical science from the mid 70’s to high 80’s in the next three years. In addition, I would recommend Dunwoody High School to set yearly improvement goals for biology from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s in the next three years.

In summary, I decided to evaluate the DeKalb County science curricular because of my interest in understanding the county’s science curriculum. I chose two courses (biology and physical science) that have the End of Course Tests to accomplish the evaluation task. In evaluating the two subjects, I chose to use achievement test data (EOCT). The EOCT data are readily available in the County website. In this evaluation, I chose the traditional perspective. The traditional perspective allowed me to look at the objectives, the data, and compare those to the percent pass scores of the students for my school, the county, and the state. This allowed me to determine whether the objectives were met or not and if they were met, by what degree?

I visited Dunwoody High School on numerous occasions during this exercise. I believe technology plays a bigger role on how students learn and achieve on the achievement tests. Dunwoody High School has three fully functional computer labs. In addition, the science department has  one hundred STEM LAB laptops, fifty IPADs, and eighty hand-held student response systems which provides opportunities for students to practice what they have learning in class using gizmos and virtual labs. We also use the flipped classroom model. I believe the combination of in class instruction and virtual classrooms help our students to meet the science curricular objectives for the county and the state.

 

 

Reference

Gagne, R. W. (1967). Curriculum research and the pro- motion of learning. In R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.), Perspectives of curricular evaluation. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Prideaux, D. (2003). Curriculum design: ABC of learning and teaching in medicine. British Medical Journal, 326(7383): 268-270.

Meek, A. (1993). On setting the highest standards: A conversation with Ralph Tyler. Educational Leadership, 50, 83-86.

Kerr, J. F. (1968). The problem of curriculum reform, in John F. Kerr (Ed.), changing the curriculum. London: University of London Press.

Keating, S. (2006). Curriculum development and evaluation in nursing. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Muungano Wa Tanzania: Serikali Mbili Ama Tatu?


Na Ally Saleh,

Hii ni post niliondika kwa mmoja wa Wabunge la Katiba kutokana na reaction nilizoona akipongezwa kwa uwasilshaji wake akiwa Mwenyekiti wa Kamati ambao ulinivutia.
Ana uwezo wa kujieleza, kupanga hoja na kuvutia wanaomsikiliza.
Lakini yeye na wajumbe wengine wengi bado nina masuali kwao na kwa hivyo post hii si yake binafsi tu ni pamoja na wajumbe wote wa Bunge la Katiba na ndio maana nikaona pia nii post hapa ili tusaidiane kukwamua nchi yetu katika mgando w amawazo ya 2 + 3
Salaam,
kama wengine unatumbukia katika shimo la kunukuu nukuu unazozipenda au zinazopendeza. Na mtindo huu umetulemaza katika bunge. Hebu stand aside and look into things from a position of a dwarf enjoying staying on the shoulders of a giant….kama alivyosema Mchungaji Msigwa kwa maana una advantage ya kuwa msomi na sio mkereketwa wa kawaida wa CCM.
Nionavyo mle ndani ni woga, mazoea, mahaba na khofu za kujitisha tu si jengine. Sijashawishika na hoja za kubakisha mbili.
Nijibu mambo yafuatayo ili niridhike tubaki kuwa na mbili
1. Tutakuwa na Serikali mbili ambazo hatujazifafanua kwanza na tukijua kuwa mbili tulonazo sasa zimetufikisha hapa ktk lukuki ya migogoro.
- Tuna hakika gani Mbili Maboresho zina manufaa na pande zote mbili, maana kwa sasa kinachochukuliwa ni kuiridhisha Tanzania Bara tu.
- Cha kushanga tunachosikia Mbili Maboresho ni kuchukua yale yale ambayo yameletwa na Tume ya Katiba katika Rasimu na kuyatumia na kisha kusema haya ni ya maboresho.
- Suali kama kungekuwa na UBORESHAJI basi CCM ilikuwa wapi?
- Kama kungekuwa na UBORESHAJI na CCM ikijua kuwa kuna haja ya uboreshaji basi CCM kwa nini isingeyafanya hayo bila ya kupoteza Blioni 70 za kuunda Tume?
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2. Tatu zilizoletwa zimetolewa ufafanuzi. Kama kuna udhaifu au maeneo ya kukuziwa kwa nini isifanywe hivyo.
- Hoja gani za kiufundi za kukataa 3?
- Kwa nini tusikosoe 3 ili zibaki tatu na maslahi ya pande mbili yalindwe?
- Kwa nini CCM wanashindwa kuona kuwa kuna pande mbili za Muungano?
3. Utamshawishi vipi mtu akubali kubaki na mbili ambazo zitaboreshwa bila kujua na kuyaona hayo maboresho kwanza. Haitakuwa kuuziwa mbuzi katika gunia?
4. Hebu nijibu hizi inherent structural contradictions:
a) Tukibaki na mbili…chombo gani kitatunga sheria za Tanzania Bara? Kwa sababu kwa sasa Bunge al Muungano Art 64 ndio lina jukumu hilo lakini hakuna uhalali huo kwa sababu hizi
- Ni makosa kulipa Bunge hilo kufanya kazi ya kutunga sheria za Tanzania bara
- Wabunge wa Zanzibar hawana uhalali wa kutunga sheria za Tanzania Bara
- Wabunge wa Znz hawabanwi na sheria za TBara na haijawahi kutokea mtu anaetunga sheria na kisha sheria hiyo isimbane
b) Tukibakisha mbili Mahakama Kuu ya Tanzania ambayo kwa mazoea tumeiita hivyo kwa miaka 50 ina uhalali gani wa kuendelea kuitwa hivyo? Kiuhalisia hii ni Mahakama Kuu ya Tanzania Bara ikiwa hutaki kuiita Tanganyika. Hii inatokana na ukweli kuwa the so called Mahkama Kuu ya Tanzania ina concurrent jurisdiction na Mahakama Kuu ya Zanzibar ( mamlaka zilizo sawa). Na ndio maana Mzanzibari hakati rufaa Mahakama Kuu ya Tanzania bali Mahakama ya Rufaa kama Mtanzania Bara. Vipi uta reconcile hii bila ya kuwa na Tanganyika?
c) Mzanzibari anachagua Rais wa Tanzania. Lakini kwa mujibu wa Ibara 34 (3) huyu Rais wa Tanzania anakuwa pia msimamizi wa Tanzania Bara. Jee kuna haki gani kwa Mzanzibari kumpigia kura msimamizi wa Tanzania Bara, kwa maana nyengine Rais wa Tanzania Bara?
d) Je kwa nini tuendelea kumpa jukumu Rais wa Tanzania kusimamia mambo ya Tanzania Bara wakati ipo njia safi, salama na isiyo dhihirisha ujuha wetu ya kuwa na Rais wa Tanganyika na kuwa na eneo la Tanganyika na wananchi wanaoishi Tanganyika kumpigia kura Rais wao?
e) PM wetu, mimi kama Mzanzibari si wangu. Kama Mtanzania sawa. Lakini kichekesho kinakuwa PM wa Tanzania hana mamlaka yoyote yale na hana uwezo wowote wa kisheria wa kukamata hata kuku katika eneo la Zanzibar.
- Huoni kuondosha contradiction hii ni kumu elevate huyu PM awe Rais wa Tanganyika ashughulike mambo ya Tanganyika kama anavyofanya asilimia 100 hivi sasa.
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f) ni vipi tuta reconcile Waziri asiye wa mambo ya muungano kama walivyo hivi sasa kuitwa Waziri wa Muungano kama wa Tawala za Mikoa, Afya, Kilimo? Kuna haki gani kisheria na kikatiba Waziri kama huyu kuitwa wa Muungano?
- Ni mbili gani maboresho ambazo zitaondoa contradiction hii bila ya Waziri kama huyu ama kumwita Waziri wa Tanzania Bara au Tanganyika?
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g) Na tukibaki hapo hapo kwenye Uwaziri ni kwa haki gani Waziri huyu asiye wa Muungano alakini anayeitwa wa Muungano ana haki ya kuwakilisha Muungano wakati mamlaka yake kiuhalisia ni sawa na Waziri wa Zanzibar.
- Yeye anashughulikia pande la nchi la Bara na huyu pande la nchi la Zanzibar ambapo tumekubali mapande haya yawepo, tena kipi kimpe yeye hadhi kubwa zaidi?
- Ubaya pia anakuwa na jeuri na kiburi kuwa yeye ni mkubwa zaidi? Hebu nipe tuta reconcile vipi hili?
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h) Waziri huyu haendi nje kuisemea Zanzibar jee ana haki gani kuitwa wa Muungano? Waziri huyu kukutana na Waziri wa Zanzibar hufanya kama ni ihsani…kuna haja gani ya kuwa na Waziri kama huyu?
- Wallahi mawaziri wa Zanzibar wamefanyiwa jeuri. Wakitoka nje Serikali ya Muungano humpa ka-mkurugenzi tu instrument za kuwakilisha nchi na Waziri wa Zanzibar akawa anabeba mkoba wake.
- Muulize Waziri Omar Yussuf hakuwahi kulalamika hadharani kuwa wakati wa Waziri Mustapha Nkulo na yeye akiwa fedha Zanzibar kwa miaka 3 mizima Nkulo alikataa kuonana nae na kuchezesha foliti tu?
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i) Katika Afrika Mashariki katika mambo 17 basi 4 tu ni ya Muungano. Zanzibar imetoa lini idhini ya kusemewa katika mambo yasio ya Muungano? Tena anaekwenda kutusemea si Waziri wa Mambo ya Nje bali ni Waziri asie wa Muungano? Haki iko wapi? Si ndio maana tuna migogoro isioisha?
j) Kwa mujibu wa Presidential Decree ya 1964 ya Nyerere civil service yote ya Bara ni ya Muungano na ni pamoja na mfanyakazi wa kijiji cha Kitanda, Tunduru ambaye hatoki kabisa katika Wizara yoyote ya Muungano.
- Mfanyakazi huyu toka mwanzo wa ajira yake analindwa na pensheni ya Muungano hata kama yeye hatoki wizara ya muungano. Lakini ikitokea mfanyakazi wa Zanzibar akihamia katika muungano miaka yake ya kazi yote ya Zanzibar inafutika na anaanza upya.
- Hata hili pia litarekebishwa vipi? Ndo maana Tume ikasema tutenganishe ajira hizi. Iwepo civil service ya Tanganyika, ya Zanzibar na ya Muungano.
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k) Tanzania Bara kwa kuwa ina sit Bunge, ina sit Urais, ina sit Makao Makuu ya Nchi inakuwa na hadhi mbili ndani ya moja. Kukiwa na mzozo wowote Bara becomes Tanzania and Tanzania becomes Bara as against Zanzibar.
- Kwa hoja yoyote ya conflict Zanzibar haina nafasi ya kudeal na mshirika mwenzake Tanganyika bali ina deal na Tanzania. Where is the fairness? How can Zanzibar get her rights? Na ndio tumefika hapa leo.
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l) Ni namna gani tutakuwa na uwiano wa ajira za Wizara za Muungano bila ya kutenganisha Tanganyika na Zanzibar? Ni lazima tuwe na mamlaka tatu ili katika mamlaka tunayo share na twenye jukumu la pamoja kuwepo na utaratibu unaoeleweka wa ajira.
- Leo kuwepo Mzanzibari kwenye ajira ya Muungano ni ihsani tu na kidogo kupenyapenya
- Hivi sasa kuna Mzanzibari mmoja tu Mwenyekiti wa Mamlaka, Katibu Mkuu mmoja tu na Director General mmoja tu
- Siku zote ama Zanzibar haina nafasi au ikiwepo nafasi basi ni Makamu. Hivi sisi tumekuwa relegated kuwa hivyo tu? Hatustahiki, hatuna uwezo, hatuna elimu?
m) Tuna CAG anaitwa wa Muungano lakini pia anafanya kazi za Tanganyika. Kwa mamlaka gani? Huyu CAG alipokuja Tume na kuulizwa kwa nini hakuwachukua Wazanzibari kujiunga na ajira za UN kwa kuwa Tanzania ilipata nafasi 70 alisema, “ Ni hiari yangu silazimishwi na sheria.”
n) Inasemwa kuwa kero zimekwisha zimebakia za kiganjani tu? Kero zipo 49 na zote hazina suluhu baada ya miaka yote. Kama ni kujidanganya kusema Bandari si Kero, Mambo ya Anga si kero, Kodi ya Mapato si kero, Mafuta na Gesi si kero, double taxation si kero, leseni za viwanda si kero, takwimu si kero na kadhalika
- Hebu niambi ni sheria gani ya Tanzania ilotungwa kusafisha kero hiyo? Ni kifungu gani cha katiba kilichoondosha kero hizo?
- Jee kwa miaka 50 ni jambo gani la Muungano liloondolewa kwenye Katiba na kurudishwa kwa upande unaohusuka?
- Ndio maana Tume imesema sasa inaondosha kero hizo kwa kitendo cha kuyaondoa RASMI MAMBO HAYO kwenye orodha ya Mambo ya Muungano.
- Kwa maneno mengine Tume kufikia Mambo Saba mengi yamekwisha ondolewa lakini woga wa kuchukua hatua ya Kikatiba CCM walikuwa na kigugumizi au woga.
- Na kama hujui mwaka jana tu Zanzibar imeunda Baraza la Mithani huku ikielewa wazi kuwa Baraza la Mitihani kwa sasa ni katika Mambo 22 ya Muungano
Na kuna contradictions nyengine nyingi kama hizo. Pia tumeshindwa kuelewa kwa nini SMT na Zanzibar wasikae kwa miaka 50 kusuluhisha mambo kama yafuatayo:
- Kuunda mahaakama ya katiba ilotajwa kwenye katiba
- Kuunda tume ya pamoja ya fedha ilotajwa katika katiba
- Kutengeneza mfumo wa mchango wa muungano
- Kutengeneza utaratibu wa migogoro ya muungano
- Kutengeneza njia za kiila upande ku enjoy fursa za muungano
- Kujenga misingi ya kuimarisha muungano ambayo leo inasemwa zikija 3 zitavunjika
- Kushindwa kukubali ukweli kuwa Zanzibar ni visiwa na lazima ziishi kwa uchumi wa viiswa lakini badala yake kila siku kuikaba Zanzibar kiuchumi…unachukua mradi wa bandari huru unaopeleka Bagamoyo wakati suitable place ni Zanzibar.
- Hata akili ya kawaida kuipa Zanzibar eneo la kuwekeza Tanzania Bara haifanywi lakini mnatoa maeneo kwa ekari mamilioni kwa Wachina, Makaburu, Wakuwait halafu mnaitusi Zanzibar kuwa haiwezi kuchangia Muungano kwa uchumi wa karafuu na mwani.
- Kwa miaka 50 SMT imeshindwa kuonyesha presence yake kwenye eneo la Zanzibar. Kama nakumbuka kiji ofisi ya Immigration, TRA na Bot na Mamlaka ya Bahari
- Kwa miaka 50 SMT na SMZ zimeshindwa ku solve namna na mgawano mwema wa mapato ya taasisi za Muungano kama TCRA, Posta, Simu na kama hizo.
Inazungumzwa uwezo wa Zanzibar kutoweza kulipa mchango wake katika Muungano. Hii ni jambo la ajabu kwa sababu hilo lisemwe na Wazanzibari, lakini hata hao Wazanzibari wanaounga mkono hoja hii ni “sell out” na hawakijui wanachokisema
- Hakuna popote pale penye Muungano ambapo washirika hulipa 50-50 au kama ni zaidi ya wawili basi wote walipe kwa mgao sawa
- Principle ya Muungano huwa mbili. Ama ulipe kwa kuchaguliwa kodi maalum moja au mbili au zaidi na kuwa za Muungano au kila upande kutakiwa kiwango maalum au asilimia maalumu
- Lakini principle ya pili ni ile yenye pacha mbili. Moja ni capacity to pay na pili ni assessed contribution. Ndio maana kwa ku asses uchumi na mapato Marekani inalipa 300m dollars katika UN na Tanzania 48,000 dollars only. Lakini Denmark ambayo inaingia ndani ya Tanzania mara 20 inalipa 50m dollars.
- Principle ya tatu kwenye Muungano ni ile ya need assessment.
- Zanzibar ina watu 1,300 na Bara 44,000. Bara ina eneo la 960,000 sq miles na Zanzibar 2,600 sq miles na hatuwezi kuwa na mahitaji mamoja.
- Kwa mfano kwa kiwango cha kimataifa cha askari kwa ratio ya 1:400 mahitaji ya Zanzibar ya Polisi ni 3,250 na Bara kwa ratio hiyo hiyo ni 107,500. Vipi hawa watalipa sawa?
- Mahitaji ya Zanzibar na Bara ni ratio ya 1:33 kama ilivyo ratio ya watu wetu wa pande mbili za Muungano.
- Chengine ni mapato ya Zanzibar kama billion 270,000 visa vis ya Bara 1.7 trillion ambapo humo ndani yake yamo mapato ya Tanzania. Tafadhali pata vyema ripoti ya Tume ya Fedha uone mnyumbuliko wa mapato sekta kwa sekta ili uone jinsi ambavyo Zanzibar itaweza kujisimamia iwapo itakuwa na vyanzo vyake vya kiuchumi.
- Lakini hata kama Zanzibar isiwe na uwezo kwa sasa haina maana kuwa haitakuwa na uwezo maisha. Seychelles na Mauritius ni mifano mizuri. Mauritius per capita yake ni 15,595 dollars (2011) na GDP ya 345 billion.
- Na Seychelles wa kwa 2012 walipata GDP ya 1 billion dollars na kwa hivyo per capita ya 11,164.
- Hebu ipine Zanzibar haki na hadhi yake na muipe uhuru wa kiuchumi. Iwapo kwa sasa kwa kiwango cha assessed contribution ni 6 to 8 percent ya budget ya Tanzania mkiitengezea Zanzibar mazingira si hasha kwa figure kama za Mauritius na Seychelles basi Zanzibar kuweza kuchangia hata 20 -25 budget ya Tanzania.
- Hilo pia lishindikane basi pia katika Miungano kuna principles nyengine mbili tunapaswa kuzijua. Hizo ni ile ya SOLIDARITY na ile ya SUBSIDIARITY. Ukiingia katika Muungano hayo mawili ni lazima.
- Kuwa na mshikamano na kusaidiana. Huwezi kukubali Muungano na mtu au huwezi kukubali kumuuoa mtu kisha msiwe na mshikamano au msisaidine.
- Au kuoa mtu kisha ukasema “angekuwa mrefu,” au kusema “angekuwa na nywele za singa” Kama alivyo ndivyo umkubali. Siku moja nilimsikia Waziri Wasira akisema kuwa Serikali Tatu zingewezekana kama Zanzibar ingekuwa na saizi kama Tanganyika. Oh, what a lord of rubbish.
- CCM inajibana kwenye takwimu za Tume na kuonyesha kile kinachoonekana ni flaw katika takwimu. Nini takwimu katika yote ambayo nimeyaaleza hapo juu, Takwimu ni tool tu lakini bado zinaelezeka vyema.
- Kwanza ni kuzisoma takwimu kama pande mbili za Muungano. Jee inakatalika idadi ya hao hao wanaoswikiliwa kuwa ni kidogo kuonyesha sampling ya nchi? CCM haiji na mfano wowote ambapo sample ilikuwa 100,000 au zaidi duniani.
- UK sampling hufanywa kwa watu 1,000 tu hata ile ya kuamua kuingia au kujitoa EU au kutumia Euro au kubakisha pound. USA sampling hata ya kujua Urais wa Marekani utaenda vipi katika uchaguzi fulani hufanyika kwa watu 2,000 tu.
- Hata Synovet wakifanya uchaguzi kusema CCM ina nafasi ya kushinda uchaguzi sampling yao haijawahi kuvuka watu 1,000
- Lakini chengine CCM wanaji mislead kudai maoni ya Mabaraza ya Katiba hayakuingizwa katika takwimu za walikokataa mfumo wa Serikali Tatu.
- Kwanza wanajidanganya kwa sababu wanajua walivyo manipulate mabaraza ya katiba pili wanajipumbaza ( wanajidai hawajui) kuwa madhumuni ya mabaraza hayakuwa kukusanya maoni
- Maoni yalitolewa kabla na mabaraza kazi yake ilikuwa ni kutoa maoniya kuboresha RASIMU. Kusema pale palikuwa na maoni ya mtu mmoja mmoja ni kufumba macho na kujidanganya.
- CCM wanasema kwa nini maoni ya mabaraza yasichukuliwe. Kama ni kuchukuliwa basi ingekuwa kwa KILA BARAZA na sio idadi ya watu ndani ya Baraza ambao walikuwa kama 19,000.
- Lakini humo ndani ya mabaraza pia walikuwamo watu walotaka Serikali 3 lakini Tume ilisema VERY VERY VERY SPECIFI kwamba haitachukua takwimu. Inashangaza leo CCM inadai tena kwa nguvu kuwa Tume imekwepa kuchukau takwimu.
- Mimi nashangaa na strategist wa CCM na pia nashangazwa na wasomi ndani ya CCM kwamba hata hili hawalioni.
- Hivi CCM hawajui kuwa mabaraza ya CHADEMA yalikuja na maoni 6,000,000. Walifika Tume na canter mzima ya maoni. Yepi maoni mengi yale ya mabaraza 19,000 ( hata tuseme yote ni ya CCM) au maoni ya watu 6,000,000 yalokuwa yaletwe na Chadema?
- Kulikuwa na mabaraza ya taasisi kama 650 ambayo tume Hoja kwamba mbona Tume inataja maoni ya mabaraza kama ya Ofisi ya Makamo wa Rais, Ofisi ya Waziri Mkuu, TRA, Baraza la Wawakilishi kuwa yalitaka Serikali Tatu.
- Pia kwa taarifa hata hiyo Bakwata, Episcopal Conference na wengine wengi walitaka Serikali Tatu lakini sasa wanabadilisha msimamo wao.
- Hivi ungekuwa wewe katika Tume usingetaka mifano ya taasisi muhimu kama hizo kuonyesha nchi inakwenda wapi?
Tume haikufanya maamuzi yake kwa takwimu tu kama wengi wanavyotaka kuamini. Tumeshindwa kupata jawabu na ndio tukaona njia pekee ni 3. Na kama mtu anakataa basi hoja zisiwe za emotions, hisia, mazoea na urithi wa waasisi ambao ni wetu wote.
“ We should not be held prisoners of the thinking of the past generation.”
Ahsante kwa kusoma dada ummy, hata kama hutakuwa na nafasi ya kujibu, nimekusamehe.
Mambo mengine tumekubali kwa ujinga wetu. Na mungu amsamehe karume lakini mimi nisingekubali rais wangu aende akajikubalishe kuwa yeye atakuwa makamo tu na mwengine awe rais maisha. Hii sijapata kuona hii. Na ndio tukafika hapa nishawishi na nitakuwa pamoja na wewe all the way.
Samahani kama kutakuwa na ukakasi wa lugha
Ally Saleh

Education Ideologies: A comparative Study


By: Shaaban Fundi

In this essay, I will start with a brief history of the Social Efficiency and Learner Centered ideologies of education. I will then compare and contrast the two educational ideologies.  For each ideology, I will describe how the ideology treats the nature of the learner, the subject content of the ideology, how the ideology views the needs of society, and which type of knowledge the ideology deems most important.   Finally, I will discuss the supporting arguments and criticisms of the two ideologies of education.

 

Historical Backgrounds of the Learner Centered and Social Efficiency Ideologies of Education

Ideal schools or what we now call, Learner Centered schools, have existed in the past and continue to exist today at all levels of education. The ideal school originated in Europe and were promoted by four early educationists.   First, John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) emphasized that learning was developmental.  He argued that learning progressed from concrete to abstract thought (Schiro, 2013).  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), however, is the person most credited with introducing the Learner Centered ideology. He believed that children were not miniature adults.  Instead, he insisted that children’s natural growth should be the focus of children’s education which he called “child-centered” education. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) put Rousseau’s theory into practice by emphasizing that children should be free to explore their own interests and draw their own conclusion from their experience.  Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) invented kindergarten as we know it today. He emphasized the use of games, songs, stories, crafts, and manipulation as tools for early education.  

In the United States, the Learner Centered ideology was first promoted by Francis Parker in the 1890s in the Quincy, Massachusetts public schools. The ideal school then became known as organic schools at the turn of the 19th century. Marietta Johnson promoted her organic schools with students from elementary school to secondary school in the first few decades of the 20th century.  Her school is still in operation today. The organic schools became the progressive schools in the 1920s. Progressive schools became popularized in the 1920s through the 1940s and reached their peak during the Depression Era. Notable educationists who supported the Learner Centered ideology in the United States include John Dewey, H. O. Rugg, and A. Shumaker. The open education movement promoted Learner Centered education in the 1960s and 1970s in K-12 education. The Sudbury Valley School still practices Learner Centered education from elementary through secondary school. At the higher educational level, Learner Centered education took the form of the free university in the 1970s through the 1980s. Most adult education centers in the United States align themselves with the Learner Centered approach.

In contrast, the Social Efficient ideology is truly an American invention. It gained influence in American educational spheres at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It was popularized in reaction to the rising concern regarding utilitarian forms of education such as agriculture education, manual training, industrial education, and vocational training. The central focus of Social Efficiency education was to equip students with the ability to perform useful skills rather than filling their minds with useful information. This ideology is credited with making the American educational system more practical over the last century. Notable educationists who strongly supported the Social Efficiency ideology in the United States include Franklin Bobbitt, Ralph Taylor, and Thorndike. Currently, the Social Efficiency ideology is the most influential educational ideology in the United States with its focus on improving efficiency and accountability.  This ideology forms the basis of the federal Race to the Top funding and the No Child Left Behind mandates (Schiro, 2013).

Comparing and Contrasting the Learner Centered and the Social Efficiency Ideologies of Education

The main focus of the Leaner Centered ideology is on the learner.  The child’s needs and interests are central to his/her learning and must be incorporated in the learning experience.  I agree wholeheartedly with this view. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the semester to learn my students’ names, interests, prior knowledge, learning styles, and abilities.  I believe that in order to teach students effectively, I need to know who they are and what they like. Being aware of my students’ interests and abilities is useful in the process of creating the experiences from which students will create their own meaning of the curriculum content.

The “child” or leaner is not the main focus of the Social Efficiency ideology.  Instead, the focus is on helping students develop the necessary skills to allow them to fulfill society’s needs. In this ideology, each child is viewed as potential adult member of society. As a result, the Social Efficiency ideology places less emphasis on the individual needs of the child and more emphasis on the capability of each child to become a productive member of society.  I take issue with this approach of educating children. I believe in educating the whole child and that other aspects of the individual child are equally as important as teaching them the skills needed to fulfill the social needs of society.  In my opinion, the individual needs of the child must be taken into account in the process of teaching and learning

The Social Efficiency ideology views a teacher as a “manager of the conditions of learning (Gagne, 1970, p. 324; as cited in Schiro, 2011). In essence the teacher’s role is to implement curriculum developed by developers with little or no input of their own. As a teacher I feel that this role is misguided.  Teachers should be able to adapt the curriculum as necessary to meet the needs and interests of their students. This will help students remain engaged, learn, create meaning, AND develop the necessary skills to be fully functioning members of a democratic society.

In contrast, the role of the teacher in the Learner Centered ideology is to provide consultations with the child. This consultation will help the child to reach whatever destination s/he needs to go. I am in favor of this teaching and learning approach. I see myself in this role while teaching my courses. I create experiences and put myself in the background to watch and admire as my students create their own meaning from their experience.  In conclusion, while I see the value of both ideologies and borrow from each in my praxis, I tend to more closely align myself with the Learner Centered ideology in my teaching philosophy.

In terms of instructional content, the Social Efficiency ideology views education and schools as a shaping process through which an educated person is produced in much the same way as the railway industry manufactures steel rails in a factory. Social Efficient ideologists obtain the purpose of education from their client such as the parents, businesses, teachers, scholarly organizations, and publishers.  Educational purposes are mostly behaviorally stated and they specify what the learners should acquire throughout the learning process. Bobbit (2004a) believes that education is a social process that perpetuates the existing social functions. Social ideologists view themselves as behavioral engineers who shape the behaviors of the learner to satisfy the needs of society and not that of the child. I take offence to this view I feel as though education is more than a cookie cutting business where everything must match the client’s needs and specifications without regard to the learner’s needs. I value the contributions, experiences, and curiosity each individual student brings to the learning process. Students should have a say in what they learn and how they learn the content. The skills based education is misguided because it misses the central objective to learning, which is the experience of the student. Therefore, learning content should be geared to students’ needs, interests, and capabilities and students should be free to learn at their own rate.

The Learner Centered ideology views subject content in a different way. This ideology emphasize that the role of schools is to meet the needs, interests, and desires of the child. Their belief is that if the present needs of the child are fully met, the future of the child is assured. The Learner Centered ideology does not view the child as lacking social, intellectual, artistic, and physical interests but rather as individuals full of self-expression, curiosity in their own world, and an active maker of meaning resulting from their interaction and interests with their world. According to Learner Centered ideologists, experience is the mother of all learning and children must discover facts for themselves through their experiences. I subscribe to this view of learning. I believe that learners must personally experience reality in order to grow, learn, and construct meaning. Therefore, I reject the belief that students need to develop skills by learning mere facts from books that others have written. I believe in the idea that learning comes through the interaction of an individual with their surrounding world. Creating meaning (knowledge) through experiencing reality by physical and social encounters is the best way to learn.

Under the Social Efficiency ideology, society’s expectation and needs drive the learning outcomes. In this ideology the client, which is society, has specific demands that must be met. Society’s needs for certain skills drive the entire learning process. The child is seen as a miniature adult that needs to acquire certain skills in order to fulfill society’s need to build a stronger economy and advance the existing society.  Society’s needs are not the main focus of the Learner Centered ideology.  The main focus is on the child and the child’s needs, desires, and abilities are central to the learning process. The learning process under the Learner Centered ideology is activity based. Students engage in stimulating activities through the manipulation of objects such as making models, airplanes, radios, videos, and websites rather than watching a video about them or listening to didactic lectures from their teachers. Thus, to construct meaning, students are provided with the reality they need to experience in order to create meaning for themselves.

Current Literature Supporting and Refuting the Learner Centered and the Social Efficiency Ideologies of Education

As with any educational philosophy, there are many arguments for and against each of the two learning and teaching ideologies. Lea and colleagues (2003) reviewed several studies of the Learner Centered ideology and found that it was indeed an effective method of instruction. In the review, Lea (2003) reported that students felt more respected in the Learner Centered approach and found the approach to be exciting, interesting, and a boost to their confidence in their ability to learn.  In addition, a six year study in Helsinki, Finland found that when compared to a traditional didactic learning approach, the Learner Centered approach was associated with the development of better study skills and with a deeper understanding of the concept (Lonka and Ahola, 1995). Also, Hall and Saunders (1997) found that students who received an active learning type of instruction in a first year information technology course had increased motivation, participation, and grades. Furthermore, 94% of the students in the study would recommend a student-centered approach over the conventional approach.

There are three main criticisms of the Learner Centered approach. These are: the focus on the individual learner, the amount of resources needed to successfully implement the approach, and the belief that students hold about their learning.  Edwards (2001) warns that the student centered approach may lead some students to feel isolated. He argues that if the focus of instruction and learning is mainly geared to each student’s need, then the needs of social interaction with peers will be ignored. Another criticism of the Learner Centered approach is that it requires a lot of resources to be implemented successfully. This may make it difficult to implement in resource poor schools and countries. O’Sullivan (2003) argues that the Learner Centered approach may not be transferable to developing country settings where the resources are scarce and there is a different learning culture. Students belief system is another criticism levelled at the Learner Centered ideology. Students conditioned to the teacher-centered learning approach may not be receptive to the student centered approach.

On the other hand, the Social Efficiency ideology is credited with making education relevant and practical in the United States. It has transformed education from being informational or knowledge based to being focused on helping students acquire useful skills that are transferable to their careers and societal needs. There are several criticisms to the Social Efficiency ideology. First, critics believe that the Social Efficiency ideology perpetuates the existence of the current exploitive and capitalist society. Students are not taught to question the ills of society nor taught how to change the existing exploitive mode of society. Rather, they are taught to unquestionably fit in the existing society. Second, critics believe this model places too much emphasis on testing and separating students based on the results of that testing. Third, critics believe that this ideology focuses almost exclusively on developing students’ skills with little or no regard to educating the whole child.

In conclusion, I have learned that both educational ideologies have their pluses and minuses. In my career as a curriculum manager, I plan to use not just the two educational ideologies discussed in this paper. I also plan to use other educational ideologies when developing curriculum for school districts and nations in order to develop a balanced curriculum. I believe that there is a place for both ideologies in education. I will try to keep balancing between these two competing ideologies so that the pendulum does not end up swinging too much towards either of the two ideologies. I strongly believe that balance is needed when preparing a good and effective curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

Edwards, R. (2001). Meeting individual learner needs: power, subject, subjection. In C. Paechter, M. Preedy, D. Scott, and J. Soler (Eds.), Knowledge, Power and Learning. London: SAGE.

Hall, J. and P. Saunders (1997). Adopting a student-centred approach to management of learning. In C. Bell, M. Bowden, and A. Trott (Eds.), Implementing Flexible Learning. London: Kogan Page

Lea, S. J., D. Stephenson, and J. Troy (2003). Higher Education Students’ Attitudes to Student Centred Learning: Beyond ‘educational bulimia’. Studies in Higher Education 28(3), 321-334.

Lonka, K. and K. Ahola (1995). Activating instruction: How to foster study and thinking skills in Higher Education. European Journal of Psychology of Education 10, 351-368.

O’Sullivan, M. (2003). The reconceptualisation of learner-centred approaches: A Nambian case study. International Journal of Educational Development 24(6), 585-602

Schiro, S. M. (2013). Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc

Curriculum Mapping: The Essentials


By Shaaban Fundi

Curriculum Mapping and Explanations

As I was planning to design my curriculum model, several ideas came to mind. In the beginning, I thought maybe I should make my model fit models such as the Taba Model, the Tyler Model, or the Oliver Model. However, I realized through this process that, I really did not need to come up with a completely new curriculum model. Rather, what I should spend more time on is how to enhance the existing curriculum model in my school district. The current curriculum model in my district works perfectly well in some parts, but in other parts it does not work at all. Therefore, I thought it would be unwise to use the meagre district resources to create or buy an entirely new curriculum, but rather, to enhance the parts that are currently working successfully and to focus on revising the parts that are not working well. The best way to achieve this is through the curriculum mapping process. Therefore for this assignment, I deviated from the norm and decided to create a curriculum map that is relevant to my district’s current needs.

Since teachers are the most important professionals when it comes to educating and implementing any curriculum, I plan to engage all the teachers in the district throughout the process so that they can be informed of the curriculum changes and be able to implement those changes successfully. Currently, my district has two curricula in place. The written curriculum and the taught curriculum. Through the curriculum mapping process, I hope to harmonize the two curricula such that the elements that are actually taught are highlighted and the elements that are only in the written curriculum but are not actually taught are either dropped or incorporated into the taught curriculum. This process will be a collaborative bottom up approach. Below is my curriculum model and explanation for how to address the challenge. Figure 1. The Phases of the Curriculum Mapping Process

Phase 1 – the “finding what is actually taught phase”

This will be an individual level process. In this phase, I will ask each educator in each school to list the topics they really teach during each month from August to May. Each teacher will be given a two column sheet with months on one column and what topic is taught in the other column. In this process, I will ask teachers to refrain from looking at the district standards and benchmarks. They should only use their lesson plans to fill in the month and the topics they teach on those months. The purpose for this phase is to identify which topics are actually covered in each month to be able to understand what is really taught. Therefore, it is extremely important for educators to only list the topics that they actually teach each month and not what is on the district’s written curriculum.

 

Phase 2. The “collaboration phase”

This will be a department level phase. In this phase each department will work together to look at the maps produced in the individual educator phase. This phase will be led by a trained department head or a teacher leader. In this process each teacher will work collaboratively with others in the department to iron out the difference in the taught curriculum and the written curriculum. It should be done at the subject level. The topics that are taught by some teachers but are not part of the curriculum will be dropped and those that are not taught but happen to be in the curriculum will be added to the maps. This process will allow teachers to develop the monthly topic maps for each subject in each school in the district.

 

Phase 3. The district-wide map review phase

This is a district-wide professional development phase. In this phase, educators will be grouped based on the subjects they teach. I realize that some educators teach more than one course and therefore the district-wide process may take longer to accommodate the teachers’ needs. In this phase, educators will compare the subject maps developed at the department level for each school. The purpose of this phase is to have the same subject maps in the entire district. Therefore, teachers will add or remove topics to make sure that all teachers have the same maps for each subject in the entire district. This phase can also be used to share strategies and approaches that are effective to teach the topics. In addition, teachers can use this phase to develop activities that will be used to teach each topic. Caution: This phase may take longer for elementary school teachers since they normally teach more than one course.

 

Phase 4. The educator self-reflection phase

In this phase, educators can reflect on the process and how they will use the new maps they have developed to align instruction to benchmarks and standards. This phase can also be used to share strategies and approaches that are effective to teach the topics. In addition, teachers can use this phase to develop activities that will be used to teach each topic.

 

In conclusion, instead of creating an entirely new curriculum every other year, this process may help improve learning across the district. In addition, this process can improve student outcomes through the harmonization of the district’s standards and benchmarks to instruction in the classrooms across the county. Furthermore, since the process involves teachers from start to finish, it will have a higher buy-in during the implementation phase.

 

Reference

Den Keyer, K (2013). The challenges of curriculum change, ATA Magazine, 93(4): 16-19

Blanchard, L.J. (1978). Creating a climate of rapid response to needs for change. Journal of Educational Leadership, 37-40.

The Qualitative Method of Impact Analysis


The article entitled “The Qualitative Method of Impact Analysis” by Mohr (1999) attempts to qualify qualitative study design as a rigorous and explicit method 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 it fundamentally is a causation type of a problem. Causation impact analysis is better evaluated if one uses a quantitative methodology. Mohr argues that the main issue here is based upon the definition of causality. The most accepted definition of causation is based solely on the counterfactual definition of causality. Therefore, if Y occurs, then, X must have occurred. This aligns 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). As a result, causation is better established when variables are compared. Thus, causality is derived from the comparison of results from the experimental group to those in the control group. Without this base of combination of observations it would be impossible to determine the variance on the treatment variables. Hence, statistical analysis would not be possible.

Based on the counterfactual definition of causality it is impossible to use qualitative methodology to evaluate impact. To better determine impact, qualitative methods must rely on something other than evidence of counterfactual 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 which can be used to bypass the counterfactual 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 the daily works of professionals such as doctors, police, and investigators. Modus operandi does not meet the counterfactual definition of causality used in quantitative study designs. However, because of the modus operandi methods, qualitative study designs can be used to determine the programs impact using the elimination process to determine causal inferences. Therefore, 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 when Y occurred after all the other contenders have been eliminated. Thus, 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 practical and useful insights in conceptualizing causality inferences. I have learned that the causation debate between researchers in quantitative design and those in qualitative design is based on the definition of causation. For the supporters of quantitative design, causation is defined by the counterfactual definition of causality. Thus, causation is determined by comparing two sets of variables (control and experimental values). On the other hand, the proponent in the qualitative design camp proves that causation can be established through the elimination process. The process of elimination is commonly used in our daily lives without comparisons 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 it does not involve a control group. 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 to that of the experimental group. There are no control groups in my proposed experimental design. Thus, as a researcher I plan to incorporate the useful, practical, beneficial insight, and steps of determining causal inferences discussed in this article.
Reference
Mohr, B. L. (1999). The qualitative method of impact analysis. American Journal of Evaluation, 20 (1), 69-84.

Escaping the realities of the health care system – at your expense.


Shaaban Fundi:

Here is an article from the blog entitled “Africa Development Politics” by Mike Jennings that touches on MP salaries and the perks that goes along with it. In addition to their exorbitant salaries, they also have perks for medical treatment abroad on tax-payers money. For more information, read Mike Jennings article below.

Originally posted on Africa Development and Politics:

There’s nothing like allowances for representatives of national assemblies to really get people fired up. Annoyed as people get about MPs salaries, it’s the perks that lurk below the headline wage that cause righteous spluttering and indignation. The UK’s parliamentary expenses scandal that erupted in 2009 resulted in resignations, de-selections, and even jail sentences for those MPs unable to come up with even the barest semblance of a plausible reason as to why they should pay rent to their partner, have their hedges trimmed, or buy new toilet seats or duck houses with public money (OK, the duck house claim was actually rejected – but the picture of some hapless MP trying to argue it was legitimate is too good not to mention).

The salaries and benefits of MPs in Tanzania and Kenya have in recent years come under fire. In Tanzania, reports over the past few months – denied…

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Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center Funding Proposal


Turiani is a small town located in Mvomero district of Morogoro. Turiani is comprised of six villages including: Kichangani, Mhonda, Kilimanjaro, Lusanga, Manyinga, and Komtonga. It is a diverse area with many tribes and composed primarily of low income residents. The majority are subsistent farmers and a few are cattle herders. There are seven primary schools and two secondary schools with approximately 5,000 students. Like many other rural areas in Tanzania, access to technology and quality education is a huge problem in Turiani. Out of 1200 students who complete primary school each year, approximately 150 students continue with secondary education (Tanzania National Examination Data, 2012).  At the secondary school level students’ achievement gains are atrocious. For example, in 2012, Lusanga Secondary School (the better of the two secondary schools in the area) had 109 students who sat for the Ordinary Level National Examination, however, only 5  students out of the 109 received enough credits to continue with high school (shule.info, 2013).

Because of these disappointing results, Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc developed a survey to identify educational needs in the community. We learned from our household survey that students and the community at large are facing a number of challenges. First, the majority of our students come from poor families who cannot afford electricity in their homes. Out of the 200 students we surveyed, only 67 students had access to electricity supplied by TANESCO.  This access was often unreliable with frequent black-outs. Second, our survey found that only six out of the 200 students surveyed had a computer in their homes. However, none of the six computers was reliably connected to the Internet. Third, our survey found that only 17 out of 200 students had at least one book to read in their household. Fourth, our survey found that there was a shortage of qualified teachers and resources at all the schools.

Explain your Innovative Solution to the Problems

Kibogoji is an innovative organization that believes in equal access to technology and quality education for all children. To improve the quality of education and access to technology in Turiani, Kibogoji plans to use a two prong solution. First, Kibogoji plans to open an after school program called VIJANA POA to serve children ages 5 to 19 year olds in our community. This after school program will provide students access to computers connected to the Internet. The program will also offer qualified tutors to help students with homework. In addition, Kibogoji will offer books to improve students’ reading and comprehension in both English and Kiswahili. Second, we plan to use school visits to our center as an opportunity for teaching and learning using our innovative experiential learning approach. Our expert tutors will also visit the schools to train teachers on how to use the experiential learning approach in their classrooms to improve student learning, engagement, and achievement.

 

How will your idea improve the life of children, now and in the long-term?

Kibogoji Experiential Learning, Inc believes that the number of students who get selected to continue with secondary and high school level education in our community is unacceptably low.  Kibogoji Experiential Learning, Inc plans to increase the number of students who have the opportunity to pursue higher education by providing our young people with access to technology driven, brain based, developmentally appropriate learning through after school programs, school visits to our center programs, and teacher trainings. To meet the educational needs of our children and the challenges stipulated above, Kibogoji Experiential Learning, Inc has come up with the following solutions. First, Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc plans to use solar power at our center to offer a conducive environment for learning with a reliable power supply. This will increase study time for students who are otherwise dependent on natural sunlight for most of their study time. In addition, the center will have tutors who are qualified teachers to help them with their homework in math, science, reading, and writing.

Second, in the 21st century computer technology is a very important tool for student learning and for developing work related skills. In realizing the importance of computer technology for our students and the community at large, Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc. has 10 computers obtained through individual donations that will be connected to the Internet for students and community members to access information and to also receive basic computer operating skills. In addition, Kibogoji plans to implement the flipped classroom model in order to help students master what they normally learn in class.  In the flipped classroom model, students study what they will be taught in class the following day so that they come prepared to learn the new material.  Furthermore, computers will be used as a tool for supplementing and complementing classroom instruction.

Third, the number of students that do not have access to books in their homes is troubling. Kibogoji recognize the importance of early exposure to reading and learning through books. Kibogoji plans to open a community lending program for books, games, and videos for students and the community to have access to quality books, games, and educational videos. So far, Kibogoji has received over 3000 books, 30 educational videos, and 15 different game boards from individual donations that we plan to use at our Reading and Lending Center. Students and community members can stop by Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc to read books, daily newspapers, play games, and watch educational videos. In addition, students and the community at large will be able to obtain books, videos, and games after paying a small membership fee. Kibogoji believes that this multi-prong approach will help our students improve their achievement at the primary and secondary levels now and in the long-term.

 

How will you develop, scale or replicate your idea so you are able to improve the lives of as many children as possible in the future?

 

Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc believes that its idea has the potential to meet the educational needs of students in rural areas across Tanzania. The educational challenges identified in Turiani are not unique to Turiani alone. These challenges are universal to most rural areas in the country. We believe that since it is hugely expensive to supply solar panels to every household, the idea of having a center where students can come to learn with a constant solar power supply, access computers connected to the Internet, and learn in the presence of qualified tutors is extremely important for improving students’ achievement. This idea can be replicated elsewhere in the country because Kibogoji believes that the same needs exist in rural areas across the country. To implement this plan, Kibogoji plans to start small with one center first.  This will give us the opportunity to learn from our challenges and mistakes. Then, we will use the lessons learned in the first year to scale-up our operation to the entire district of Mvomero. Kibogoji Experiential Learning Center, Inc sees itself in the next 3-5 years as having the potential to impact children in rural areas across the Morogoro Region.

 

How do you plan to finance the solutions?

Currently Kibogoji is exploring a four prong funding model.  First, we plan to submit funding proposals to several local and international organizations that support children’s equal access to education.  Second, Kibogoji plans to use volunteer retired teachers from the United States and other countries to lower the running cost of the center.  Third, Kibogoji plans to open an educational supply store and a chicken farm along with the center to generate income and profit.  Fourth, Kibogoji plans to run an educational consultancy business by developing educational assessment and management courses, creating education materials at the secondary and primary school levels, and writing children’s books to obtain additional funding. It is our belief that these four funding models will generate enough income to help the center be self-sustaining and allow expansion to additional centers throughout the District and Region. 

 

Describe your experience and personal skills that show that you can build and lead an organization that will make a difference in the world.

 

I have over 13 years of experience in education. For the first two years of my career, I worked with Frontier Tanzania to implement an environmental education program in the coastal areas of Mtwara and Lindi regions of Southern Tanzania. I organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 12 primary schools and one secondary school on marine resources and conservation methods that included 186 students and 36 teachers. In addition, I organized and facilitated a marine environmental education program for 19 local fishermen and 2 fisheries officers on marine resources and conservation, coastal zone management, power boat handling, and the collection and handling of fisheries data. Together with other Frontier Tanzania staff members, I wrote and developed a bilingual (Swahili and English) teaching manual for secondary schools on coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses. This book was the first of its kind in Tanzania.

For the past 11 years, I have worked as an educator and educational consultant in the United States. I am a certified science educator in both Maryland and Georgia and have over 11 years’ experience teaching high school chemistry and physics.  In addition, I have an extensive background in the areas of planning, developing, monitoring, and managing educational programs for schools and for private organization. I have also worked as a consultant for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in the Accomplished Science Instruction (ASI) project.  As part of this project, I helped develop, pilot, and evaluate an online science course for new science educators in the United States. I also work as a part time Trainer and Score Director for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As a Scoring Director, I train educators on holistic methods for evaluating a variety of teacher certification examinations. My other duties are to prepare materials that exemplify state-specific standards, to orient educators on established calibration processes, to manage educators’ scoring sessions, and to serve as a content expert in the science teaching area.

I believe my past experience and education background has provided me with unique skills and leadership that will help me to develop and run a successful educational organization that will benefit many children in rural areas across Tanzania. The seed money from Reach for Change will give me the resources I need to empower rural Tanzanian children with the knowledge, exposure, and experiences that will help them realize the dreams they have for themselves.

Snow-Wintry Mix Hits Atlanta


Here are some pictures I took this morning showing the snow fall in Atlanta. I know, it isn’t much. Atlanta rarely gets snow and this the second snow storm this year alone. So, we are a bit jaded down here. I guess there is no global warming after-all! lol!

Most of the pictures were taken in my backyard for you to enjoy. Happy Winter Everyone!

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My foot prints this morning…….

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage                                            Here are some pictures I took this morning showing the snow fall in Atlanta. I know, it isn’t much. Atlanta rarely gets snow and this the second snow storm this year alone. So, we are a bit jaded down here. I guess there is no global warming after-all! lol!

Most of the pictures were taken in my backyard for you to enjoy. Happy Winter Everyone!

Florida Christmas, 2013


ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage                                      Every year, my family and I take this journey down to the swamp. This annual ritual remind me of how blessed I am. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to come to Florida, go fishing, and splash for a couple of days while waiting for Christmas. This year, the temperatures have been an extra bonus (they are in the 80s for the whole week).

I am not going to be rumbling all the way through. I will just share with you some of the shots I took today. Enjoy the photos.