Sunday, April 27, 2014

IHAQ#4 on EdTechTalk

IHAQ#4 on EdTechTalk (Google+ Community) begins later today.  Past questions that have led to potential questions for this week:

Featured Question:
From  +Paul Allison   via

What would a K-12 MOOC have in it? What connections would it nurture? Would teachers codesign it with students? Do they exist?

Other Questions That May Be Addressed:

From +Benjamin L. Stewart 
How can instruction and assessment (not accreditation) "live as one" within an online course.

Why does Mitra anger so many in education?

Curious, is it possible to pull info (using a hashtag) from blog posts without sharing in Twitter, facebook, Google+, etc? 

From +Clarissa Bezerra 
Best ways to approach/handle teenage smart-phone use/addiction <nervous-thumbs syndrome> :) in the classroom?

How can assess (and accredit) rhizomatic tasks in higher education? or, it is conflicting? 

Teachers are subverting education policy rubbish to ensure children have creative learning experiences! Good! #eduquestion time

Possible follow-up on last week's question

Friday, April 25, 2014

Parts of a thesis

Refer to the following when developing your thesis paper:

Parts of a manuscript (APA, 2001, pp. 10-29) SampleSample two

  • Title page

  • Abstract

  • Introduction (Introduction to APA)


  • Method (Express the appropriateness of the method and the reliability and the validity of the results.)


    • Participants or subjects

    • Instruments (Apparatus/Measures)

    • Design and procedure (Data collection)

  • Results


    • Data analysis

    • Tables and figures

    • Statistical presentation

    • Effect size and strength of relationship

  • Discussion (conclusions and recommendations)Multiple Experiments (if applicable)


    • Evaluate and interpret implications

    • Problem choice (limitations)

    • Levels of analysis

    • Application and synthesis


  • References

  • Appendix


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How can assessment and instruction live as one? (#eduquestion)

[caption id="attachment_1148" align="alignright" width="300"]Attribution: Attribution:[/caption]

During I have a question #2 (see video below), several questions were addressed (using the Twitter hashtag #eduquestion); one in particular that I posed and one which I would like to discuss in more detail here was, How can assessment and instruction (and not accreditation) live as one within an online course?

When I say, accreditation, I mean receiving grades, diplomas, certificates, etc. in formal education; and badges, certificates of completion, etc. in informal education.  Albeit important, I'd like to exclude the topic of accreditation from what I'd like to cover in this post and also will not need to make any real distinction between informal and formal education as I think my overall thesis applies to both.

TeacherRefresher presents a concise outline (PowerPoint presentation) of the differences between assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning.  If assessment and instruction are to live as one, some combination of these three types of assessment usually exists.

In an online learning environment, assessment of learning might be receiving constructive criticism from one's peers or outside experts (not just the instructor, trainer, facilitator, etc.) pertaning to what a learner understands (content) and can do (process and product).  Making the learning process as transparent as possible yields (i.e., through online blended learning scenarios) more dynamic interaction where assessment of learning can more effectively take place.

Assessment for learning can be linked to assessment of learning by allowing the instructor to reflect on learner progress to see what future changes in learning designs or instruction are needed, and what learning tactics are needed on the part of the student.  Perhaps a new video or different problem-solving activity is in order.  Maybe a subsequent review or more didactic learning session is required.  It's been my experience that any changes to a learning design and/or learning tactics be considered as a negotiation between instructor (trainer, facilitator, etc.) and learner through ongoing reflection (i.e., reflection-in/on-action).

Assessment as learning takes summative and formative assessment one step further by allowing learners to begin the process of matching individual goals with institutional or organizational goals (e.g., syllabus, curriculum, company mission/vision statements, etc.).  For instance, online courses with the various social media tools available allow learners to more actively design their own rubrics (as assessment tools), which in-and-of-itself gives learners a chance to interact and think critically about how they learn best, and how to best approach their individual weaknesses.

In all three examples - assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning - instruction is "baked in".  Many of the open, online courses that I have experienced (we used to call them distance courses before MOOCs came along), learners really had to take it upon themselves to see how these three types of assessment fit within their own learning experience - course facilitators tended to lecture and attendees conducted discussions as they pleased.  In formal educational settings, assessment (along with accreditation like grades etc.) is typically forced onto the learner, which too tends to interfere with finding the right mix of this assessment trilogy.

Regardless if in a formal or informal educational setting, recognizing that assessment and instruction are not mutually exclusive but rather reciprocal and iterative throughout the learning experience does away with the antiquated notion that instructors must first teach learners (or students must learn something first), then assess what students (theoretically) have learned later (i.e., two separate and isolated processes).  Online learning, with its inherent potential for interaction and transparency, embraces assessing of/for/as learning so that both intentional and incidental learning can emerge in more effective, effecient, and engaging ways.

What do you think?  How does assessment and instruction intertwine within an open, online course?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Narrowing down a research topic


Narrowing down a research topic

Selecting a topic (handout): Move from an everyday problem that you would like to investigate (stage 1) to defining a specific subject, perspective, and vantage point that defines your research topic (stage 2).  The final stage (stage 3) is to remove yourself from the personal domain of refining the topic of interest to the formal world of academia.  In this final stage, switch from everyday language to technical terminology used in a particular academic discipline (e.g., applied linguistics). See list of possible research topics in applied linguistics below as a guide. Source: The Literature Review

Merge your topic with an area of linguistic focus: a) individual skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening, speaking), b) grammar, c) vocabulary, d) or some combination of the aforementioned (e.g., reading and writing, listening and speaking, speaking and vocabulary, etc.). 

Moving from a topic to questions (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 2008)

Brainstorm a set of questions from a variety of perspectives, beginning with asking who, what, when, where, but focusing on how, and why.  Then continue brainstorming through the following types of questions:
  • Topic history

    • Ask questions about developmental context.  How has this problem, technique, method, material, etc. changed over the years?  Why has it changed over the years? etc. 
  • Structure and composition

    • How does your topic relate to a bigger context?  What is the composition of your topic?  How do the pieces fit together?
  • Categorization

    • How can your topic be grouped together?  How does your topic compare and contrast with topics within the same or similar category.
  • Positive to negative questions

    • Turn positive questions to negative questions.  Why have wikis not become a prevalent web tool in today's language classroom?
  • What if... questions
    • What if all language teachers had to use wikis with their learners?
  • Questions from sources
    • Search primary research articles and find questions for further research.  Or tailor research questions from primary research articles to local research topic interests.  Find questions from outside sources that allow you to fill the literature gap so that what you investigate adds to the body of knowledge that currently makes up the field.

Moving from questions to a problem

To move a question to its significance, try using the following prompts:
  • I wish to learn more about...(a topic).
Here are some examples with key words (nouns deriving from verbs) italicized...
  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessments and related teaching techniques.
  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class.
  • I am trying to learn about teaching covert grammar and how students feel about different related teaching techniques.
Add an indirect question (in bold) to your topic to indicate what you don't know or would like to understand better...
  • Example: I wish to learn more about _________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students

  • etc.
Build research questions specifically around the indirect question (bold text) that you have created above.

So what?

Your topic must be interesting to you, the researcher, but must also be interesting to others in the field.  Add to your topic and indirect question the significance of your research.
  • Example: I wish to learn more about __________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________ in order to __________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques in order to demonstrate the role of formative assessment in the English language classroom. 

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students in order to place less emphasis on the coursebook as a syllabus

  • etc.
Moving from a topic to questions involves a three-part process: 1) stating what you want to learn more about, 2) tagging an indirect question to your topic (beginning with a because clause), and 3) concluding with the significance of your research (an in order to clause).

Moving from questions to a problem

Reflect on your topic-to-question statement:
  • Topic: I wish to learn more about...

  • Question: because I want to find out what/why/how etc....

  • Significance: (Reflect on the reader's point of view.): in order to...
First, distinguish between a practical problem and a research problem...
  • Practical problem: Students are afraid to speak in class.

  • Research problem: How can I provide feedback to students in such a way that they feel more confident to speak English with their peers?

  • Research solution:  Provide individual feedback when requested during the task, and group feedback once the task has been completed.

  • Practical solution:  Avoid overcorrection or providing too much feedback to students.
A problem consists of a condition and a cost or consequence.
  • (topic) I am studying teacher feedback (question #1 & condition) because I want to find out when giving feedback allows students to feel more confident when speaking L2 with their peers (significance, question #2, & cost or consequence in order to answer the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class.

The first question (the condition) helps answer the second question (the cost or consequence).

Example: Knowing when to give feedback that allows students to feel more confident when speaking with their peers (question #1 or condition) addresses the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class (question #2 or cost/consequence). 

Here are additional tips when searching for a problem to research:
  • Ask teachers, students, administrators, and other experts in the field about problems they face related to teaching and learning an additional language.

  • Search primary research articles for related problems to find relevant examples.

  • Begin with a problem at the onset of your research, but understand that research problems may morph or emerge in different forms as one conducts a study.
Unit of Analysis

Lesson 1-5 Units of analysis
Possible Research Topics in Applied Linguistics 

  • Grammar

    • Overt/cover
    • Implicit/explicit
    • Chomsky's Universal Grammar

  • Bilingual education

  • Classroom discourse

  • Corpus linguistics

  • Cognitive linguistics

  • Discourse analysis
    • Grice and Implicatures (part 1part 2, & part 3)
    • L1 use in language teaching
    • L2 transfer
    • Learner autonomy
    • Interactive/collaboraitve language learning.
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning
    • Language learning strategies

  • Language exchanges

  • English for Academic Purposes
  • English for Specific Purposes
  • Generative grammar

    • Chomsky's Universal Grammar

  • Innatism

    • Krashen's monitor model

  • Language and culture
  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Identity
  • Language Emergence as a complex adaptive system
  • Language learning and technology
  • Language teacher education

    • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), in-service educators

    • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), pre-service educators

  • Language testing

    • Formative assessment in the language classroom
    • Formative vs. summative assessment in the language classroom
    • Dynamic assessment in the language classroom
    • Language exchanges
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning

  • Lexis
  • Linguistic Imperialism
  • Multilingualism
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • Multimodality
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociocultural theories
  • Sociolinguistics
    • Motivation
  • Translation

Additional reading

Six steps for conducting a literature review (Machi & McEvoy, 2009)

  1. Select a topic.

  2. Search the literature.

  3. Develop an argument.

  4. Survey the literature.

  5. Critique the literature.

  6. Write the review.


Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The craft of research. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Machi, L. & McEvoy, B. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

#Eduquestion Matrix

EdTechTalk brought up a question I had this past Sunday about how to best foster/curate #eduquestions...

Here is my response and a possible #eduquestion matrix...

If you would like to post education-related questions and engage in the discussions, use the Twitter hashtag #eduquestion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Participatory Action Research

Review what is meant by participatory action research as this is the type of research we'll be doing this semester.  As with any type of research, the "secret" is not to get behind.  This week we discussed what applied linguistics is and the importance of being able to define a problem.

Your assignment for this week is to come up with a problem you can investigate as part of a PAR project.  The problem you choose should be something that interests you but also a problem that others have already investigated.  I recommend that you visit the UAA virtual library in order to get ideas.  See how others have research your problem to help you get some ideas.  You are free to duplicate or modify someone else's study, which includes using their instruments.  Just make sure you reference their study according to APA.


  • Create two Google Documents using your own Google (email) account.

  • Copy and past the text from the Problem and Argument template and the PAR template to each of your Google Documents; create links to your Google documents and add them to the class projects page.

  • Complete the Problem and Argument template which now resides in your Google Document.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It amazes me that I am even writing about this.

Yesterday, I read Klein's (April 8, 2014), Longtime Substitute Teacher Leaves Job After Being Told To Unfriend Students on Facebook, and didn't think much of it.  But today, I read Whitby's (April 9, 2014) sloppy critique (see Revoked Rights For Educators), which made me take another look.

I read a post today about a teacher in a New Hampshire school district who was forced into retirement for refusing to unfriend students on Facebook.

If you are going to comment on another post, at least provide a link back to the source.  I will assume Whitby is referring to Klein's piece.

I lived in the community in which I taught for 25 years. This is not unlike many educators in our country. At no time during my tenure in that district did anyone call me into an office and instruct me on how to interact with the children of the community.

It's not clear if he is referring to that last 25 years to the present, or some 25-year period in the past; regardless, it's impossible to compare his context with the context of Thebarge's, given what we know.

No one told me I could not be friends with children in the community. I was never told where I could, or could not go in that community. I don’t think any administrator would have even considered such a discussion. Yet, these are the discussions some administrators are having with teachers today about their social media communities.

It's easy to get lost in the vagueness.  What does it mean exactly to be "friends" with children in the community? And is befriending students in facebook the same as befriending students outside social media?  Perhaps the issue here is not whether teachers are friends with students, but what type of behavior is appropriate between teachers and students.  I get the feeling that Whitby is trying to compare teacher-to-student relationships before social media with teacher-to-student relationships via social media.  He's trying to compare apples with oranges.

Statistics tell us that our children are more in danger from family, close family friends, and even clergy, much more than people on the Internet

First, when forming an argument, include the source (citation or link).  Fine, there are statistics out there that support your argument.  But it weakens your argument if you are unable to tell the reader where you got the information; this allows the reader can make a more informed decision on how valid, reliable, and unbiased the statistics are.  Second, the evidence here compares family, close family friends, and clergy with everyone else on the Internet.  Klein's piece has to do more with teachers than all other people on the internet.  And since I don't have access to the statistics I can't confirm this, but is it not a stretch to think that relationships with teachers might also fall within the category of family, close family friends, and even clergy?

I heard a TV celebrity say recently that parents need not prepare the road for their children, but they must prepare their children for the road.

In other words, prepare students to expect some teachers to behave inappropriately with them.

Social media communities are open to the public where everyone sees all.

Again, apples and oranges.  Facebook, unless it's a public page, is not quite the same as an open community.

Some people will be inappropriate, but the community will deal with that as it develops and matures. 

Incredible.  I would love to see how this would go over at a school board meeting.  "Parents, realize that some people (teachers) will behave inappropriately, but don't worry.  The community (school) will deal with this as it develops and matures." need to take preventative measures, or take action to try to prevent bad things from happening.  Sure, you might argue that Stevens High didn't do enough (absent of any real details of the entire story), but still...

If administrators are fearful that their image, or that of the school will be tarnished by people speaking publicly about the school, then maybe these administrators should look at themselves, or their policies. 

So administrators of Stevens High are shutting down facebook because they are fearful of their image, or that the school will be tarnished by people speaking publicly about the school?  Well, perhaps, but without knowing all of the details, I have to think that it's also possible that they are just very concerned that teachers and students conducted themselves appropriately going forward.  The post seems to suggest that they did try to allow teachers to use facebook (against school policy) until they had problems. And we also do not know what other measures they are taking in addition to disallowing facebook.

I cannot see any court supporting the idea that a person gives up a constitutional right, just because they are employed by some backward thinking school district.

Again, it's impossible to know just how "backward" Stevens High is without knowing the details.  I'm just surprised at the rush to judgment when the seriousness of an inappropriate student/teacher relationship seems to be an afterthought.

It amazes me that I am even writing about this.

I couldn't agree with you more!