Recent Submissions

  • Nurturing teacher agency to influence teacher professionalism through teacher action research

    Martin, Karen J. A.; Kaden, Ute; Gifford, Valerie; Topkok, Sean Asikłuk; Ickert-Bond, Stefanie (2024-05)
    The research described in this study sought to understand how teacher agency was influenced by engaging teachers in action research-based professional development. Teacher agency is a critical component of teacher professionalism and nurturing teachers to recognize and enact greater agency has the potential to elevate the profession of teaching. A mixed methods methodology was employed to study the lived experience of six teachers who engaged in teacher research in a rural Alaskan school district. The research addressed this overarching question: How does engaging teachers in action research-based professional development about their professional practices influence teacher agency? In addition, data was collected to understand these supporting research questions: 1) How does participating in the action research-based professional development influence teachers' professional practices? 2) How does participating in the action research-based professional development influence collaborative practices? Findings and results suggest that the teachers' agency was influenced in the following ways: teacher engagement, knowing impact, empowerment by trust, and critical consciousness. Findings and results suggest that the teachers' professional practices were influenced in the following ways: intention and design, research capacity, determining impact, and dispositions. Findings and results suggest that the teachers' collaborative practices were influenced in the following ways: shared experience and a culture of willingness to learn. Convergence was observed between qualitative results and quantitative findings. Implications for influencing teacher agency through specific contextual conditions of professional learning and development are discussed and recommendations for the direction of future research.
  • The influence of play as positive emotion on engagement and self-regulated learning in an online higher education classroom

    Frost, Kim; Sheppard, Daní; Webb, Richard; Dannenberg, David; Peterson, Jennifer (2024-05)
    Student demand for online learning is at an all-time high, making the identification of practical strategies for supporting student success in online learning more vital than ever. Positive emotion has been shown to promote self-regulated learning (SRL) and engagement, both evidenced predictors of student success. However, little is known about designing online learning environments to elicit positive emotion in students. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of play-infused learning design on SRL and engagement in an online, higher education classroom. This study is based on the premise that play is a positive affect emotional system that stimulates approach behaviors for the purpose of broadening an individual's thought-action repertoire, thereby preparing them to build intellectual and social resources that contribute to their ability to survive future challenges. The study used a mixed-methods approach to add to the current understanding of the ability of play, when it is designed into the higher education learning environment, to influence student engagement and SRL. In addition to three student surveys, data generated during normal course activities, primarily in the form of recorded student reflections, were analyzed using the systematic text condensation method. The thematic analysis provides insight into how play in the online environment resulted in student perceptions of enjoyment, fun, happiness, lowered stress levels, and social connection. These elements are discussed in relation to enhanced student engagement and SRL. The results of the study provide initial evidence that it is both possible and desirable to leverage the power of play in the design of higher education online learning environments to support student success.
  • A culturally sustaining/revitalizing English language arts curriculum for Yup'ik students in a Yup'ik community

    Williams, Holly; Topkok, Sean Asikłuk; Hum, Richard; Kaganak, Wanda (2023-05)
    This project, A Culturally Sustaining/Revitalizing English Language Arts Curriculum for Yup’ik Students in a Yup’ik Community, arose from the question of how to better incorporate cultural ways to teaching and learning into the everyday school curriculum. While there is a growing understanding of the importance of culturally relevant teaching, not very much research has been done for Alaska Native students in an English Language Arts classroom. To create this curriculum framework, I interviewed twenty-five Elders and community members in my village to learn about Yup’ik ways of teaching and learning, and how we might use some of those methods, activities, and mindsets in the contemporary classroom. The resulting project is a framework with practical tools, ideas, strategies, and lessons to help create a more culturally sustaining/revitalizing classroom.
  • The online challenge: how to design, build, and implement student-centered online introductory German language courses at the college level

    Wagenleiter, Helga; Kaden, Ute; Siekmann, Sabine; Holland, Sean; Beks, Christian (2023-05)
    Online teaching has become a regular delivery method at higher education institutions, and with education shifting from traditional classrooms to online, instructors are encouraged to teach their courses online. In 2015, and with the assistance of eCampus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I started developing professional online courses from previous face-to-face courses. I not only transposed/translated my teaching approach to an online format; I built a professional online course with an architecture that is my own design. To better understand the transition from teaching in the classroom to online, I wanted to hear from students who had taken both types of courses. This led to the included project, “The Online Challenge,” which describes and explains the process of translating and transposing faceto-face courses and their teaching approaches into professionally designed online courses. It gives insight into the differences between teaching a foreign language course face-to-face and online, as well as the students’ opinions about those differences. Now, eight years later, the German department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is offering eight different 100- and 200-level online college courses in the German language. Student numbers have tripled, eCampus uses the architecture of my course for the development of other courses at the university, and my design has been recognized and chosen to be presented at a national conference by the American Online Consortium, the premier organization for online learning. Hopefully, other colleagues making the switch to online learning find inspiration from this paper for their field and student body.
  • Place-based computer science curriculum

    Bellamy, Andrew; Child, Robin L.; Wildfeuer, Sandra J.; Coursey, Dianne K. (2023-05)
    Technology inclusion in the classroom has been shown to support student engagement and acts as a means of incorporating reading in a way that can benefit and interest students. How this shows itself in rural Alaskan communities, and specifically how it balances with cultural, placebased curriculum, however, has gone widely unnoted. Limited research has been performed regarding technology inclusion in rural Alaska and most information pertains to wireless communications, as specified in published news articles. The intention of this project is to help find connections between Alaskan cultural standards and the utilization of technology in the classroom by creating a set of place-based computer science lessons. An additional component of this project is to also enhance student math and ELA understanding, as evidenced in previous literature and studies.
  • Providing interrelation between an individual and place

    Roberts, Jaliah; Hornig, Joan; Child, Robin; Carlson, Mary (2022-08)
    This proposal looks at the influence of place-based education, educational frameworks, the natural environment, and the impact of an individual’s place to propose a community resource for Fairbanks, Alaska.
  • Examining indigenous perspectives on the history of Fairbanks: a historical fiction work for fourth grade study

    Edwards, Amanda J.; Hornig, Joan; Skinner, Olga; Hilker, Elizabeth (2022-08)
    A historical fiction story, Carried by the current: a history of Fairbanks, Alaska in the Tanana Valley, told in eight chapters, is an attempt to tell the story of the history of Fairbanks, Alaska with an emphasis on the perspective of the Indigenous people of the area, and how the settling of the city and surrounding area affected their lives. There is a need for educational resources that are told from perspectives other than that of the conqueror, as well as a need for representation of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This story can stand on its own or be incorporated into a unit study, providing a background of Indigenous ways of life pre-Russian contact, how Indigenous people in the Tanana Valley reacted to Westerners coming into their territory, and how their ways of life changed as a consequence. The story is written for an audience of 4th or 5th grade students in an urban Alaska public school setting.
  • Differentiated instruction

    Bolton, Shellonda S.; Carlson, Mary; Hornig, Joan; Dickey, Brittany (2022-08)
    Teaching is my passion. I have always enjoyed it and consider myself an educator at heart. Once I retired from the military, I decided to pursue a career in elementary education. I completed a teaching internship at Anderson Elementary School through the University of Alaska. While at Anderson, I worked in a second-grade classroom. In my observations, I noticed that some students were totally disengaged during daily lessons. I began to ponder why these students were not engaged. Over time, it appeared to me that students who were not actively participating were either bored or overwhelmed. My observations caused me to become intrigued with differentiated instruction. With this in mind, I decided to do research on the relationship between differentiated instruction and student performance. I wanted to understand how differentiated instruction and student performance were related. In today’s classrooms, there are a vast number of differences in students. Students come from many diverse backgrounds (Cox, 2008). They have different cultures and upbringings. They also have a variety of strengths and areas of needed additional support. Students learn in different ways (Cox, 2008). Students also express their learning in a variety of ways. Over the years, these differences have caused there to be a growing need for teachers to adjust their teaching styles in order to meet the many different needs of the students they teach. In this paper, adjusting one’s teaching style in order to meet the diverse needs of students will be referred to as differentiated instruction. To be more specific, differentiated instruction or differentiation will be defined as altering of content, product, process and the learning environment to fit the needs of3 students in the areas of their learning profile, readiness and interest (Bondie et al., 2019). This paper will examine the relationship between differentiated instruction and academic achievement in elementary schools. It will aim to answer whether or not differentiated instruction has an impact on academic achievement in elementary school students and the nature of that impact.
  • Experiences of Alaska new teachers: are they supported?

    Posey, Ashley; Topkok, Sean; Kardash, Diane; Mendelowitz, Tanya (2022-05)
    Teaching is a stressful job. New teachers especially experience stress as they are not only experiencing the typical stresses of being a teacher, but also experiencing the stress of learning a new profession. Teacher attrition is a significant problem in Alaska. Losing effective teachers is detrimental to schools and students. Therefore, it is important to ensure that teachers feel supported so that they will stay in the teaching profession. Mat-Su school district teachers, within their first three years of teaching, were surveyed to determine whether they felt supported as they began their teaching careers. Survey questions asked whether teachers felt supported by their school district, principals, and coworkers. Questions also asked if teachers have considered leaving their school district to teach in another district, or if they have considered leaving teaching altogether. Although survey participants typically felt supported by their principals and coworkers, they expressed dissatisfaction with the support received from their school district. Teachers in the Mat-Su school district reported experiencing stress. Many have considered quitting their jobs. The Mat-Su school district should consider the suggestions the survey participants provided about the ways their school district could support them better. If the Mat-Su district implements some of these ideas, perhaps their new teachers will feel more supported and will be more likely to continue teaching in the district.
  • Take me outside! Balancing children's social-emotional lives using a forest school approach

    Downing, Kristi; Hornig, Joan; Sivin, Barb; Freeburg, Brooke; Child, Robin (2022-05)
    As our fast-paced society brings children indoors at an increasing rate we are losing the essence of childhood experiences in nature. The ability to connect with the land, engage in our environment, and connect to the place we call home is essential for developing healthy social connections and skills. The Forest School ethos and principles uphold the sacredness of child-led, nature-based learning, and of giving children autonomy and agency in their lived experiences while exploring and learning outside. Forest School is based on a Swedish philosophy and way oflife,friluftsliv, literally “free air life” which has more recently been adopted across other countries and other cultures. The importance of spending time exploring and learning in nature has been shown to improve social and emotional health, restore attention to task, and support cooperation, community building, problem-solving skills, and empathy. The literature and research support the profound experiences of those embracing a long-term Forest School approach and the successes with improved social-emotional skills. For my project, I created a usable, informative website that helps make outdoor learning with a Forest School approach a feasible option for all parents and educators. The website outlines a collection of activities for educators and parents to use in the outdoors that support children and young people’s social-emotional skills in a holistic way.
  • A place-based canoe unit for middle school students

    Davies, Laura; Kardash, Diane; Vinlove, Amy; Howe, Heather (2022-05)
    Behavior problems are steadily increasing at the middle school as a result ofthe COVID-19 pandemic and the trauma it caused in the students’ lives. Not only do educators want to reduce the behavior problems, but we also want students to feel safe and know that their individual needs will be met. Educators are striving to find creative ways to increase academic success, inspire students, teach important life skills and address social-emotional needs. One way I would like to address this is by creating a four week interdisciplinary place-based education unit focused on the significance and importance of canoes in Southeast Alaska. Place-based education is community based learning that provides students with an opportunity to learn more about the local history, culture, geography and natural environment. The unit will be designed for middle school students and will provide opportunities for students to connect with community members, get outside, do hands-on projects, and learn to canoe. Students will share their reflections and learning throughout the unit and wrap-up the unit with student presentations for their peers and family members. The project will be available for other educators in Alaska.
  • Arts and science integration on the Kaleidoscope School Nature Trail and Greenhouse

    Boersma, Sara; Hornig, Joan; Child, Robin; Daniels, Kimberly (2021-12)
    The Kaleidoscope KSAS Nature Trail and Greenhouse provide a gateway to pathways of understanding the immediate natural space surrounding our school. In addition, students are provided arts and science education informed by a critical place-based pedagogy. This emphasizes the activist, restoring possibilities of art making and affirming the need for students to become involved in learning outside the physical school building (Graham, 2003). The possibilities ofunderstandings and stewardship are encouraged through arts and science integration and experiences on the nature trail and greenhouse. Through these experiences, students can gain a sense of awareness and understanding oftheir natural environment and this further fosters a love and appreciation for their surroundings. Due to the pandemic, in person learning experiences during the last few years have been impacted and our school would benefit from a reminder and redirection to the vison and beliefs of our school model. My project aims to encourage place- based, art and science integration on the trail and in the greenhouse through a virtual guide for staff at KSAS. This project is intended to encourage staff at KSAS to use the trail system to help promote the integration of arts and science in students’ natural surroundings, provide access to resources that can be directly applicable to place based learning experiences across grade levels, and encourage all staff to input their own creative ideas and talents to further foster the vision and core of our school family.
  • Loving school in the time of corona: stories of families navigating uncertainty in education in Alaska

    Swanson, Tara; Topkok, Sean Asiqluq; Kardash, Diane; Haskins, Alan (2021-05)
    While students navigated their transition from the school shutdown in March to their re-entrance back to school in August, parents were faced with the tough decision of “what do I do with my kids?” Unprecedented times called for parents to reexamine their child’s participation in education and determine the best of seemingly not-so-great options for their student and their family. This project utilized qualitative research and a phenomenological approach to examine how families have made choices about their children’s education between March and December 2020. Thirteen families were interviewed throughout the fall and asked a series of guiding questions to examine emergent themes and to understand the perspective of individual families within the community of Seward, Alaska during this unprecedented time in history. The aim of this research was to gain insight into how parents and schools within a rural area have reckoned with this historic moment and continually seek the best outcomes for their youth provided the resources in their environment and a seemingly ever-changing call to adapt.
  • From burnout to balance: a teacher's journey back to the classroom

    Martinez, Lauren; Hogan, Maureen P.; Kardash, Diane L.; Defilippo, Lynn A. (2021-05)
    This project used self-reflection to investigate my experience with teacher burnout. What began as an effort to explore effective teaching practices for new teachers, quickly evolved into a critical examination of self. Through the use of the self-study research approach, reflection became a powerful tool in determining the ways in which my beliefs about teaching conflicted with my actual practices. In an attempt to align theory with practice, a literature review helped to reveal specific causes of burnout as well as solutions for overcoming it. While the final project includes a series of strategies to address my teaching challenges, larger self-realizations emerged throughout the research process. The overarching theme, however, became the uniqueness of the teaching experience. Rather than attempting to generalize my experience as true for all teachers, the final project illustrated how a teacher can use reflective practice to identify their own areas of meaningful professional development.
  • Changing negative teacher beliefs regarding technology integration in Alaska's frozen north

    Geuea, A. Kathleen; Topkok, Sean Asiqłuq; Hogan, Maureen; Guthrie, Owen (2021-05)
    The field of education was facing great changes long before the onslaught of COVID-19. Beyond social-distancing, budget-friendly ways of structuring education, and practicing personalized learning, effectively using educational technology in the classroom is vital to connecting with youths who are increasingly social media-driven. Despite the development of advanced educational technology, many teachers remain either technologically illiterate or unable to incorporate this transformative technology into their teaching practices. This study of 93 teachers in Alaska’s Interior identifies the most significant obstacles to integrating technology and how they believe their school district can best support them in learning about and implementing that technology into their classrooms. If seasoned educators are given a voice, then they will tell their school districts that they need more and better ways to integrate technology successfully into their classrooms.
  • Finding solace in the fight: a memoir for those who dare to teach

    Foster, Emmett J.; Hogan, Maureen P.; Green, Carie J.; Topkok, Sean Asiqłuq (2021-05)
    For my master’s project, I have drawn upon personal, academic, and creative work to formulate a memoir that can be read, digested, and internalized by those who dare to teach (Freire, 2005). This act of decolonization and resistance against Eurocentric academic standards is a hybrid of genres, including personal journal entries, poetry, and academic documentation, thematically splicing together these different forms ofwriting to understand the pain and confusion education inequity poses upon educators. The following themes emerged: antiracist education practices, the 2020 civil rights resurgence, COVID-19’s toll on public education and educators, equity and access within the United States public education system, the status of educator morale, and the critical hope needed to continue marching on toward equitable opportunity for all students. This memoir is informed and framed from an antiracist pedagogical standpoint to synergize both academic and personal phenomena. More importantly, this project has served to bring about personal and communal healing through a renewed sense of critical hope.
  • A flexible approach to a project-based learning science unit

    Coffeen, Caitlin J.; Vinlove, Amy; Hornig, Joan; Kardash, Diane (2021-05)
    The global pandemic of COVID-19 has impacted education for more than 1.5 billon students worldwide. Many governments are urging or requiring schools to implement some form of online learning due to the concern of disease transmission. This requires educators to remain flexible and adaptable in their pedagogical approaches. The project-based learning (PBL) model allows for flexibility while aligning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). PBL is a student-driven, real-world unit that uses a driving question that leads an investigation. The student learns through the creation of a product, which is then shared with an authentic audience. The purpose of this project is to provide a flexible approach to a problem-based learning (PBL) unit on how individuals can impact the environment. This unit is geared towards the fourth and fifth grade traditional or distance learning classrooms and alternative schooling options such as homeschools and co-ops. This month-long unit includes 15 comprehensive lesson plans, a field trip guide, and corresponding graphic organizers and instructional aids. This project is available for free on an online platform.
  • Integrating the science and social studies curriculums in the fifth grade classroom

    Braden, Melody; Vinlove, Amy L.; Hornig, Joan E.; Thompson, Megan E. (2021-05)
    This project is a cross-curricular integration plan for a fifth-grade classroom in suburban Alaska. This project implements the Alaska Science Curriculum into a yearlong study of American History using the Fairbanks North Star Borough Social Studies curriculum guide to incorporate the science and social studies curriculums. Each module includes a focus topic with justification for integration, associated standards and skills, and a big idea. Each module concludes with a performance task or culminating activity. Modules also include key resources and a list of related activities.
  • Buddy reading for reading comprehension growth and reading engagement

    Triplett, Kimberly L.; Rickey, Melissa; Austin, Terri; Waltenbaugh, Eric; Waltenbaugh, Jennifer (2008-12)
    "Teachers wonder how to motivate students to become better readers. Teachers of older remedial readers are challenged to provide reading material at students' reading levels relevant enough for them to want to read. Students are less likely to learn strategies to help them comprehend text if they are not engaged with the material. This project provided seventh grade remedial reading students a purpose for reading books at their level by reading children's picture books to first grade students. Prior to the buddy reading sessions, seventh grade students practiced reading with expression and fluency. In addition, their teacher taught cognitive strategies to assist comprehension. Concurrently, their first grade partners were exposed to the same strategies during classroom instruction. The seventh grade readers assisted their first grade 'buddies' in applying the taught strategies during the sessions. This research examined the interaction and engagement of students during buddy reading experiences. In addition, attention was paid to how students used the taught comprehension strategies during buddy reading. Conclusions were drawn from field observations, transcribed recordings, student work, and interviews indicating buddy reading had a positive impact on reading engagement and students' awareness of comprehension strategies to be used during reading"--Leaf iii
  • Classroom culture and indigenous classrooms

    Sikorski, Hishinlai' Kathy R.; Siekmann, Sabine; Marlow, Patrick; Leonard, Beth (2008-12)
    "Indigenous languages have been traditionally learned by doing activities on the land, with the family or around a village. Sometimes, because this is not feasible, Indigenous languages can be learned in a classroom. This is a qualitative research on the author's own Indigenous language classroom with the theoretical foundations of second language acquisition and group formation processes. Data collected were videotapes, audiotapes, student journals, and an exit interview, which were triangulated and verified by an interrater. Results were that the instructor had to possess a philosophy of second language teaching and learning; set high expectations, and create a positive classroom culture. Learners had to be extremely motivated; participate, and pull their own weight. The overall recommendations are that (a) learners need to learn their ancestral language as a second language, (b) Native language teachers need training on theories of second language acquisition, (c) Native language teachers need to have a strong philosophy of second language learning and teaching, and (d) learners need to have a mindset that they will learn to speak their ancestral languages by practicing. These recommendations have worked in the researcher's classroom, and can be extended to any second language teaching or learning arena"--Leaf iii

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