• Schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement: a search for positive deviance in education

      Hill, Melissa M.; Jacobsen, Gary; Adams, Barbara; Richey, Jean; Barnhardt, Ray (2017-05)
      This study sought to identify schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement and study what factors contribute to that success. Alaska Native students make up a large majority of the students attending school in small remote villages across the state. Data, however, have shown that Alaska Native students constantly perform lower than any other demographic group on every subject level and lower at every grade level when tested using state assessments. This study begins with a journey to understand the complexity of the problems that affect schooling in rural Alaska, ranging from teacher turnover to school district size and oversight. However, it is important to examine this current challenge by examining the history of education and how that history has affected Alaska Native people today. To identify schools in rural Alaska with higher rates of student achievement, a binary variable was used to determine positive deviance. Data analysis drew on academic achievement of each school as measured by the 5-year average score of the school in three subjects: Reading, Mathematics and Writing. While the results did not yield a case study for positive deviance, the findings and conclusion, using a critical race theory lens question whether schools today, intentionally or unintentionally, are still modeled after the same framework and operate in the same fashion as they did when they were intended to assimilate Alaska Natives to become better citizens. Using an advocacy worldview, this study draws upon the unchallenged truth that schools in rural Alaska may never perform as a collective as well as or better than their urban counterparts under this model.
    • Seating patterns and their influence on classroom interaction and participation

      Scouten, Michele Marie; Hogan, Maureen P.; Titus, Jordan J.; Rickey, Melissa (2007-08)
      Research was conducted to find a link between student seating patterns and levels of classroom interaction and participation. Two classrooms were observed in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District over ten days of the spring semester of 2007. Observations were conducted in two English classes at Lathrop High School. A total of 53 students and two teachers took part in the study. The primary research question centered on the relationship between seating location and classroom interaction and/or participation. Further questions dealt with student grouping according to race, gender, academic ability and age as well as other factors that may influence student interaction and participation. The teacher's role in encouraging interaction and participation through changing the seating arrangement was also analyzed. Results indicate that while seating location played a role in classroom interaction and participation, it may be more important to look at who a student is sitting next to as a predictor of the level of interaction and participation. Grouping patterns exist to some extent for gender, race, academic ability and age. Other factors that can influence student behavior included the absence or tardiness of students. Teachers were also shown to play a role in influencing behavior.
    • A shifting paradigm: teachers' beliefs and methods for fostering ecological literacy in two public charter schools

      Sterling, Evan P.; Vinlove, Amy; Green, Carie; Carlson, John (2015-05)
      Ecological literacy is measured by a person's ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible and how to live in accordance with those systems. The emergence of the pedagogies of place- and community-based education during the past two decades provides a possible avenue for fostering ecological literacy in schools. This thesis explores the following research questions: 1) How is ecological literacy fostered in two Alaskan public charter schools? 2) What are teachers' beliefs in these two schools about the way children and youth develop ecological literacy? 3) What are effective teaching methods and what are the challenges in engaging students in ecological literacy? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six K-12 teachers in two public charter schools in Alaska in order to investigate these questions, and relevant examples of student work were collected for study as well. Qualitative data analysis revealed several emergent themes: the need for real-world connections to curriculum; the necessity of time spent outdoors at a young age; the long-term and holistic nature of ecological literacy development; and the importance of family and community role models in developing connections with the natural world. Based upon the research findings, several recommendations are made to support the efforts of teachers in these schools and elsewhere for fostering ecological literacy in children and youth.
    • Socioeconomic factors that lead to Latino male students leaving school before graduating

      D'Agostino, Joseph C.; Wong, Nga-Wing Anjela; Barnhardt, Raymond; Armstrong, Anne Brenner (2012-05)
      Students of color make up a predominant number of learners that leave high school before graduating (National Center for Education Research, 2009). I selected to study Latino males to narrow the scope of my research. The literature I reviewed pointed directly at socioeconomics as one of the primary factors. I feel there are more specific factors involved for many of the individuals impacted. I used a qualitative approach and utilized an anonymous survey and individual interviews to pinpoint some of these factors. The findings from my research further supported that socioeconomics were a leading factor. My data and literature review showed that school environment and stereotyping/discrimination also played a role. I intend to conduct further research to identify the additional sub-factors that are most prevalent to Latino males. My long-term goal is to provide information to my peers that can assist in the construction or reconstruction of programs that can offer the best support for these students.
    • Strengths-based analysis of student success in online courses

      Gering, Carol; Sheppard, Dani'; Morotti, Allan; Adams, Barbara; Renes, Susan (2017-08)
      The purpose of this research was to increase understanding of post-secondary student success in online courses by evaluating a contextually rich combination of personal, circumstantial, and course variables. A strengths-based perspective framed the investigation. Mixed-method data were collected and analyzed sequentially in three phases: two phases of quantitative collection and analysis were followed by qualitative interviews and comprehensive analysis. The study first used logistic regression to analyze existing data on more than 27,000 student enrollments, spanning a time period of four academic years. The second phase of research enhanced the modeling focused on a subset of the total population; students from a single semester were invited to complete an assessment of non-cognitive attributes and personal perceptions. Between the two phases, 28 discreet variables were analyzed. Results suggest that different combinations of variables may be effective in predicting success among students with varying levels of educational experience. This research produced preliminary predictive models for student success at each level of class standing. The study concluded with qualitative interviews designed to explain quantitative results more fully. Aligned with a strengths-based perspective, 12 successful students were asked to elaborate on factors impacting their success. Themes that emerged from the interviews were congruent with quantitative findings, providing practical examples of student and instructor actions that contribute to online student success.
    • A study of Arkansas' implementation of an elementary art program

      Harris, Angela; Reyes, Maria; Hornig, Joan; Hogan, Maureen (2007-05)
      The purpose of this case study was to describe how Arkansas was able to mandate and implement their elementary art education program, as well as the possibility of using Arkansas' program as a model for implementing art education at the elementary level in schools in other states. Based on what I discovered through interviews and publicly available documents, Arkansas' program was mandated and designed in such a manner that other states could modify the process used to create an elementary art program to fit their own individual needs. The findings from this study of the elementary art program in Arkansas could have an impact on art education nationwide. The possibility that other states could follow this lead would be a positive step towards improving art education for all students.
    • A study of increased instructional time and the relationship with the mathematical achievement of intermediate elementary students

      Lower, Elizabeth Anne (2005-08)
      The purpose of this study was to determine whether two different approaches to increased instructional time led to a statistically significant increase in math achievement of fifth grade students. The null hypothesis stated that there would not be a statistically significant difference at the .05 level of significance between the math scores of the fifth grade students at schools A and B, as measured by standardized test scores. Data consisted of standardized test scores of annual statewide assessments. The test results were collected and analyzed using SPSS software. The null hypothesis could not be rejected. The results indicated that the largest gains were made by the lowest achieving students. Additionally, in both schools, the students who had scored in the highest quartile on the pre-test were not able to maintain their quartile ranking, and slipped into lower quartile rankings after the different time treatments were applied.
    • A study of the influence of media-based books on independent reading choices

      Fisk, Heidi Marie; Burmeister, Richard; Caldwell, Patricia; Kardash, Diane (2011-05)
      The purpose of the study was to discover if children's media programming influences the independent reading choices of students. With this purpose in mind, my research was designed to answer the following question: Did children's viewing exposure to the characters, setting, and story format in media-based books provide them with the essential scaffolding necessary to motivate them to read more independently? This project involved approximately 13 fourth grade students, male and female. All of the students have been asked to choose a book to read, fill out a summary sheet for the book, and participate in a reading conference. The researcher has observed the students during the independent reading times, recorded oral retells of the books and conducted interviews with the participants. The results of the study confirmed that students are indeed motivated to read media-based books more independently. It is recommended by the results of this research to offer media-based books for students' independent reading book selection.
    • "That's A Hard Question": Undergraduate Students Talk About Culture

      Montague-Winebarger, Caitlin N.; Leonard, Beth (2012)
      In this project I examine the ability of undergraduate students to articulate a working definition of culture and cross-culture. The students were predominately elementary education majors, enrolled in one of two culture-based elective courses at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during the 2010-2011 school year. Through the use of semi-structured interviewing and participatory/observational autoethnographic fieldwork, I provide several viewpoints from which to look at this complex issue. Through the examination of historical and institutional documents, I show that the School of Education within the University has had a long-standing commitment to teacher education in the Alaskan context, including creating teachers who understand the importance of cultural relevance. As this project shows, how students are taking up this aspect of theft teacher-training program is varied, and few students were able to provide a concise and applicable definition or framework for thinking about culture and cultural difference. In order to create culturally relevant teachers, the School must undertake more and better activities to provide students carefully structured experiences with cultural diversity, and culturally diverse learners, as well as ways to talk about those experiences. Like many other universities, students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks come to classes with many stereotypes about cultural groups and the importance, or lack thereof, of multicultural education. In my project, this came forth as resistance to talking about cultural diversity, and resistance to multicultural coursework. The students actively worked minimize cultural difference in favor of thinking in terms of individual, personality, and place-based difference.
    • The Influence Of Positive Mother-Child Verbal Interactions On Adolescent Mothers' Literacy

      Baron, Heather-Lee M.; Rickey, Melissa; Melvin, Mary Jo; Reyes, Maria Elena; Rickard, Anthony (2010)
      The purpose of this six-month qualitative microethnographic case study was to determine what influence a family literacy program based on positive mother-child verbal interactions would have on the participating adolescent mothers' literacy skills. The design of the program was founded on the Hart and Risley study (1995) and their findings regarding the five categories of significant family experiences that enhance children's vocabulary: language diversity, feedback tone, symbolic emphasis, guidance style, and responsiveness. These experiences stress the importance of affirmative interactions between children and their parents. The three adolescent mothers who participated in the study were single, white, of low socioeconomic status, and enrolled as high school seniors in the same school district in rural northwestern Pennsylvania. One participant was 11 weeks pregnant with a boy, one participant was parenting an 11-month old girl, and one participant was 18 weeks pregnant with a boy and parenting a one-year-old boy. The study found that the girls who participated in this program showed a growth of one grade level in their expository text reading levels. The results also suggest a relationship between the participants' attitude and motivation scores and their participation level in the study. Finally, the researcher believes that external/environmental factors may also have influenced the participants' participation level and the overall results.
    • The practice of teachers reading aloud in the classroom

      Bost, John C.; Hogan, Maureen P.; Noon, Doug; Kardash, Diane (2014-05)
      This inquiry, which involved use of a teacher survey and classroom observations, was designed to explore how teachers use the practice of reading aloud. This small case study, of one urban elementary school in Alaska, also set out to examine how teachers view the practice of a read-aloud. Studies have identified a number of effective components of a read-aloud. This study found teachers in agreement on some important reasons to read aloud and the components of a read-aloud that they value. The teachers in my inquiry appear to value reading aloud and they all share similarities in how they use the read-aloud practice. All of the teachers agreed that the three most important reasons to read aloud are: for enjoyment, to expose students to texts that they may not read otherwise, and to promote a love of literature and/or reading. Most of the teachers rated two components in particular as very important: animation and expression, and modeling fluent reading.
    • The Quality Schools Model Of Education Reform: A Description Of Knowledge Management Beliefs And Practices Using Baldrige In Education Criteria

      Nelson Cope, Dale L.; Porter, David; Monahan, John; Allen, Jim; Johnson, Paul; Lofthus, Jeffrey; Morotti, Allan (2008)
      This study used a concurrent nested mixed-methods approach to analyze the implementation of the Quality Schools Model of education reform through the lens of the seven Malcolm Baldrige Education criteria. Specifically, this study was an inquiry to determine the difference in beliefs and implementation related to knowledge constructs between and within groups of school staff based on professional role, years of education experience and years of experience working in the Quality Schools Model district. This research also used structural equation modeling to examine the fit between the Baldrige in Education theoretical model and actual practice of the Baldrige concepts in the context of rural Alaska school districts implementing the Quality Schools Model of comprehensive education reform. A 72-item questionnaire was used to measure beliefs about importance of concepts and perceptions of the concepts in practice. The questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 212 administrators, teachers, and classified staff in three rural Alaska school districts. Qualitative data was gathered through 14 semi-structured interviews with community members, elders, school board members, parents, and school staff. Results from the questionnaire data showed that job classification was the greatest predictor of mean responses. Administrators perceived knowledge activities were in practice to a greater degree than teachers. There were no significant differences in beliefs about importance or practice among participants based on years of education work experience or on experience in the current school district. The results showed ambivalence and sticky transfer in the street-level implementation of the QSM with significant large differences between belief and practice scores for all groups. A structural model of Baldrige in Education factors with leadership as the exogenous factor was created for the QSM. Results showed that leadership had a direct effect on knowledge management, and knowledge management had a direct effect on strategic planning, and an indirect effect on process management and the outcome variables of student, stakeholder and market focus, and results. There was no direct or indirect path between the knowledge factor and staff focus factor, leading to a recommendation to increase knowledge creation and sharing opportunities for that group.
    • The Quality Schools Model Of Education Reform: A Description Of Staff Focus Beliefs And Practices Using Baldrige In Education Criteria

      Mccauley, Susan Ann; Madsen, Eric; Monahan, John; Lofthus, Jeffrey; Allen, Jim; Jorgensen, Spike; Porter, David (2008)
      This study used a mixed-methods approach to analyze the implementation of the Quality Schools Model through the lens of the seven Malcolm Baldrige Education Criteria. Specifically, this study was an inquiry to determine the beliefs and practices of one of the criterion, Staff Focus, and the effect on these perceptions of professional role, years of education experience and years of experience working with the Quality Schools Model. Through structural equation modeling, this research also examined the fit between the Baldrige in Education theoretical model and actual practice of the Baldrige concepts in the three studied school districts implementing the Quality Schools Model. A 72-item questionnaire with two response scales was used to measure staff members' perceptions of the importance and practice of Staff Learning and Staff Motivation. The questionnaire was administered to 212 administrators, teachers, and classified staff in three rural Alaska school districts. Qualitative data about the implementation of the model was gathered through 14 semi-structured interviews with community members, Elders, school board members, parents, and school staff. Results from the questionnaire data showed that Staff Learning and Staff Motivation were considered very important by staff members irrespective of job classification, years of educational experience, or years of QSM experience. While the majority of staff members perceived Staff Learning and Staff Motivation as practiced frequently or always practiced, they perceived them as significantly more important than in practice in their district and schools. Administrators' perceptions of the frequency of practice of Staff Motivation were significantly higher than those of teachers or classified staff. Qualitative data revealed that learning required by staff for QSM implementation is demanding and complex, particularly during initial implementation of the model. However, staff and community members attributed improvements in student learning and the increased participation of students in their learning to implementation of the QSM, and these were motivating factors for staff members, as were the shared vision and shared leadership components of the QSM. The structural model corroborated the importance of Staff Focus showing that it was directly, positively effected by Leadership and that it had a direct, positive effect on Results.
    • The use of social network analysis by school librarians to evaluate and improve collaborative networks in their secondary schools: a pilot study

      Rinio, Deborah; Jacobsen, Gary; Adams, Barbara; Stanley, Sarah; Richey, Jean; Gerlich, Bella (2018-05)
      Social capital, in the form of relationships among teachers, results in sharing information and resources, which leads to improved student academic achievement. As schools continue to seek out ways to improve performance, social capital is often overlooked in favor of development of human capital in the form of professional development and training. Schools that have implemented collaborative groups have the potential to increase social capital, but often fail to structure the groups intentionally or evaluate their outcomes. School librarians in secondary schools often face challenges when it comes to collaboration. The job of a school librarian is inherently collaborative. To effectively serve the school's population, school librarians must understand the needs of their community. To teach information literacy skills, they must have access to students, typically via classroom teachers. Not surprisingly, collaboration between teachers and librarians is a major focus of both professional and research literature, yet librarians report it is one of their biggest challenges. Librarians are urged to start small, work with the teachers who are willing, and hope that others in the school will see the value of collaboration; in other words, build it and they will come. This research sought to determine if school librarians could use social network analysis as an evaluative and strategic planning tool. This study used a mixed-methods approach in a three-phase process to collect social network survey data in two secondary schools, develop the Social Network Analysis for School Librarians (SNASL) Process, and pilot test the process with the school librarians in the pilot schools using participatory analysis. Analysis revealed that the SNASL Process has the potential to enable school librarians to evaluate and improve upon the collaborative network of their school by identifying individuals in specific role positions and producing generative insight regarding the structure of the school network.
    • What Would Captain Underpants Do? A Literary Analysis Of Children In School

      Carter, Jeanne Noelle; Reyes, Maria (2006)
      Using cultural studies and critical discourse analysis as guiding theories, this study focuses on the literary representation of school experience by analyzing popular children's literature. The study focuses on literature appealing to the 8--12 year-old audience. Books of primary examination include L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series, Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby books, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Andrew Clemenet's Frindle, C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books, Betty McDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, and Walter Dean Meyer's Monster. The general trends found are: (1) Books featuring female protagonists are often concerned with relationships. The protagonists are frustrated that the roles and expectations of school do not allow space for discussing relationships or personal information. (2) Books featuring male protagonists generally focus on themes of power structures and how the students use subversive methods to assert their values in spite of the dominant administrative authority. (3) When books feature children who are working on character or ethical development, those children are often removed from the school context and placed in a more fantastical context. (4) The literature surveyed implies that students value unrealistically committed teachers with no interests outside of the children, who can make lessons clear, relevant, and interactive.
    • Who's "fat", who's not: sociocultural influences on female adolescent's body image

      Paxton, Lindsay Astheimer (2004-12)
      Sociocultural influences, media, parents and peers, on adolescent females' body image, as perceived by female high school students of a military related community were investigated. A body image survey was administered to 26 adolescent females. Ultimately, the research revealed that media, parents and peer groups influenced adolescent body image and significantly contributed to female students' perceptions and attitudes.