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Finishing up

Education

I wanted to continue to push on and finish this paper and have finished about 3 pages today of my conclusion.  I haven't quite finished my results summary yet, and plan to go back and finish that over the weekend.  I'd like to finish things by this Sunday so that it is out of the way. School is really busy and I have a number of things to do besides this paper.

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SNOW Day!

Education

Well today was a bit of a surprise as it was a snow day.  I woke up this morning and heard on the radio that schools in Lunenburg were cancelled.  Usually I have a little bit of a warning about potential storm days as my teaching partner Peggy is pretty good at predicting them.  Today was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one.  I hope to finish my results today and have already begun to make good progress on that. 

Update:

I had a good day and am almost finished my results.  I figure I just have to summarize my findings.  I have also begun on my conclusions section and have updated a number of my references and the tables/figures table of contents.  It's looking good so far.  I'm really glad we had a day off today, but I still want to push and get things done.

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Lots of Progress

Education

Lots of progress.  I've been examining the results and trying to put together trends, graphs and other results.  The results are not quite complete so I've given out more of my questionnaire to this semester's students to try and flush them out.  I can't really use their results for the testing part, but I can get general trends on how they like using computers and their stress level about taking tests.  I haven't really been putting too much here though, because by the time I finish, I'm really sick and tired of writing. 

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Chapter 3

Education

I have still been working on Chapter 3 and am getting near to the end.  It is rather difficult to summarize all of the information in all of the literature, but I am getting there.

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Progress at last - deadlines do work

Education

I have been working all weekend on various aspects of my paper.  The research data is still being collected but I have begun the revisions of my paper.  One of the first things to do was rewrite Chapters 1, 2 and 3 in the past tense.  A second thing I needed to do was improve my Literature review section and update my Table of Contents with the two new Chapters.  Most of my time has been trying to rewrite my Literature Review - there is a lot of information to go through!  In the process, I have visited several sites and found some excellent teaching resources for Math, Chemistry and Biology.  One of the hardest things I've had to do is concentrate only on my paper, as opposed to fiddling with Biology powerpoints and websites that I've found.  I did stop this weekend to spend a little quality time with my sweetie for Valentine's Day - some things are just too important to ignore. :)

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Time is running out

Education

This semester's schedule doesn't want to cooperate with last semester's plan to complete my research project.   This semester, I'm teaching Math 12, Chemistry 12, Biology 12 and a new grade 12 Technology course.  It leaves me with little or no time to think, let alone work on any project.  I don't think I've ever been more busy than I have this semester.  I did log in on the weekend to review some of the things that I need to do, and I intended to create a timeline/plan of when I would finish each of the sections of my research.  I had originally planned on doing most of the data gathering in January (and did quite a bit of it) and most of the research and paper writing on March break.  On the weekend, however, I discovered that March break is after the paper is due!  I have since drastically revised my timeline and will be completing my data collection within the next two weeks.  I have also booked every weekend off for the next 4 weeks to work solely on my paper, and will have it completed by the 12th of March - no matter what.  I will then use March break to take a break...just as it was intended.

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From the Software Company

Education

For my research project, I am using the software called ExamView.  I don't know if this is considered propaganda or not, but I found an interesting article from the company that has teachers proclaiming how much better their life is with the software than it was before.  I can't really attach articles here, so I'll just put a link up to keep everything all in one spot.

Examview Software Review

I also found out that this blog should really be posted on the Moodle server as opposed to my own website.  I'm going to post a link to this blog and hope that it won't impact my mark too much.

Jeff

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Nothing doing

Education

This has been the last week of classes for me and has been extremely busy.  Creating final exams and doing review sheets and catch-up projects isn't quite the same at the end of the year as I always seem to remember it  September 1st.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do any research or work on my project and it will probably be the same for next week.  Next week we have final exams and after marking, I'm scheduled to create a complete new online course for independent students.  One of the challenges we seem to have at LCAHS is that students need certain credits, but we are not offering them when they are demanded.  For example, I have been teaching Math 11, Chem 11 and Bio 11 this semester.  Next semester, I know there will be several students that will be needing Math 12 and Chem 12.  Unfortunately, they only figure this out when they get their conditional acceptance letter from NSCC.  This means they will be attempting to complete Math 12 or Chem 12 with little or no math or chemistry background.  Have you ever tried to teach someone Math 12 who hasn't taken math for over 20 years?  Do I sound a bit bitter?  I'm not really looking forward to the first week of second semester.  Anyways, as a result of the gap, I'm trying to create or teach courses that can be used by adults to a) graduate from high school and b) be useful in the workplace and c) parallel closely with what they will be learning at NSCC.  Next semester, I am going to teach First Aid, WHMIS and OHS.  Those are three required courses in college, but they are also useful for anybody wanting to get a job right out of school.  Another course I need to update is my computer course.  Our "WIP" or Word Information Processing course uses software that is a little dated now.  We have had students successfully pass our course, and then go on to the college and fail the challenge exam for their computer course.   Normally, I would feel rather badly for this, but the reason that these students are doing poorly is because the software is they are being tested on is different from what we teach in high school.  (For the technically minded, we teach MS Word 2003 and the NSCC test uses MS Word 2007 - there is a significant difference in the two and how they operate).  Next week on Thursday and Friday, it is my goal to update the course on our Moodle server, thus providing LCAHS with another resource that students can work independently on.  How well will this work?  That remains to be seen...

 

P.S.  As an addendum to the above, I was rereading that Adult Education site mentioned previously, and I really like what they say about adult learners, because it emphasizes what I believe and am trying to do as outlined above:

Boud, Keogh, and Walker (1985) found that adults have a broader base of experience to which new ideas and skills can be attached; furthermore, a broader experience base allows adults to incorporate new ideas and skills with much richer and fuller meaning than do youths. The more clearly defined the relationship between the old and the new (through discussion and reflection), the deeper and more permanent the learning will be. For example:

    * On-the-job training, small group discussions, case study work, or even computer-based training all embrace the concept that participation helps increase involvement in the learning process and retention of the knowledge.

Information that goes into the participant's memory will likely be remembered if learners practice remembering the information soon after they process it. Therefore, it is important to provide opportunities in the session for review and remembering by means of activities like written summaries, application exercises, and discussions (Zemke and Zemke 1995).

Studies show that over a period of three days, learning retention is as follows:

    * 10% of what you read.
    * 20% of what you hear.
    * 30% of what you see.
    * 50% of what you see and hear.
    * 70% of what you say.
    * 90% of what you say as you do (e.g., orally work out a problem) (Pike 1989).

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Interesting link

Education

Over the Christmas break I was doing some reading and came across an unusual link that directly related to my research project.  Although the link is meant for the website "Office for Victims of Crime", the site has a section on Adult Learning and excerpts from a text called  "The Ultimate Educator" by Edmunds, C., K. Lowe, M. Murray, and A. Seymour, 1999.  This looks to be extremely promising and after having quickly read some of the material can immediately relate.  The site quotes Malcolm Knowles when he says that adult students are different from regular students in four ways.  Quoting verbatim:

 

  1. As they mature, adults tend to prefer self-direction. The role of the instructor is to engage in a process of inquiry, analysis, and decision-making with adult learners, rather than to transmit knowledge.
  2. Adults' experiences are a rich resource for learning. Active participation in planned experiences—such as discussions or problem solving exercises, an analysis of those experiences, and their application to work or life situations—should be the core methodology for training adults. Adults learn and retain information more easily if they can relate it to their reservoir of past experiences.
  3. Adults are aware of specific learning needs generated by real-life events such as marriage, divorce, parenting, taking a new job, losing a job, and so on. Adult learners' needs and interests are the starting points and serve as guideposts for training activities.
  4. Adults are competency-based learners, meaning that they want to learn a skill or acquire knowledge that they can apply pragmatically to their immediate circumstances. Life or work-related situations present a more appropriate framework for adult learning than academic or theoretical approaches.

The link for this valuable resource is http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/assist/instructor/section2.html and makes for good reading.

Jeff

 

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Jeff VanderWal Researcher Blog

Education

I work at the Lunenburg County Adult High School which serves about 45-55 students each semester.  There  are two teachers in my school, one for English and Social Studies, and I teach the Math and Sciences.  We operate through the South Shore Regional School board and have three satellite locations.  Due to the differing ages, interests and backgrounds of my adult students,  individual attention must be given to each student. The goal of my research paper will be to measure the educational value of computer software to teach students more efficiently by allowing them to work independently.  I will be using evaluation software - or testing software, so that students can work at their own pace and take unit tests to self-evaluate.  Students will be taught the material and then split into two groups.  The first group will use regular evaluation techniques (ie paper tests, assignments etc) and the second group will complete their tests on computer.  All tests/assignments are the same for both groups and everyone will have an opportunity to experience both types of evaluation.  After a sufficient amount of evaluations, results will be tallied and examined.  

One of the added benefits of completing such a project is that once completed, online resources can be used again with little or no marking.  The time saved in not having to mark can then be redirected into developing more resources and helping students one on one with their areas of difficulty.

Over the next few weeks I'll be adding useful links and comments about my progress and I'll continue to post here as this is the same location I use to update my course files from school.

Jeff