Secretary King and senior officials got on the bus and went back to school this week during #OpportunityTour, which visited exemplary PK-12 schools and institutions of higher education and celebrated local ideas and initiatives across several southern states, including Alabama. This week’s edition of Voice from the Classroom brings us perspective from the 2008 Alabama Teacher of the Year, Dr. Pamela Harman.
After teaching for more than 20 years, I can say that everything about a new school year is exciting (except maybe having to wear shoes).
When I was a new teacher, the beginning of the school year intimidated me. I was nervous about both my content knowledge and my pedagogy. So my goals for the year focused on improving my practice and strengthening my teaching skills. I worked to deepen my science content knowledge, and I developed a repertoire of instructional skills and habits of mind necessary to promote my students’ success and capacity for life-long learning. It was difficult for me to push students’ learning because I was still honing the skills I needed to teach and evaluate it.
Now, with 20 years under my belt, I still want to improve my teaching, but my primary objective for the year is about my students — how I can push them beyond what they think they can learn. As a science teacher, I want to help my students develop the skills to master the Next Generation Science Standards. These standards require students to critically evaluate content, data and ideas, and communicate their learning through argument-driven inquiry. My primary goal is to create a classroom culture that supports students as they ask questions, collect data, summarize the evidence, and craft arguments to justify their answers to their questions.
The pressure is on me, but it’s an exciting, positive pressure. This is not how I learned science. It is more rigorous and challenging. Many students are not accustomed to taking ownership of their learning in this way. Some are reluctant to accept that they have something valuable to contribute.
From experience, I have learned that every student has untapped learning potential. This potential is released when students gain confidence in their abilities, as I continually support their learning. My hope is that I will be able to help my students move ever closer to their best version of themselves; that they will learn more than they thought they could; and they will come to expect even more from themselves. My hope for this year is that students will recognize the potential I already see in them — and strive to exceed it.
Dr. Pamela Harman is the 2008 Alabama Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). Dr. Harman holds a Doctorate in Teacher Leadership, a Master of Geosciences from Mississippi State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, Earth and Space Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has been teaching in the Hoover City School system for 20 years. She is a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps and a National Board Certified Teacher.
Even though my father was a guidance counselor, choosing a college was still an overwhelming process. There were few independent reviews of colleges and no real way of knowing if the information I found was accurate. Unearthing lesser known, high quality colleges outside of my region was tough. It was even tougher to figure out if a college’s students found jobs after graduating or even graduated at all. In short, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
The College Scorecard, called for by President Obama, solves this challenge by giving everyone – students, families, guidance counselors and non-profits – access to a whole host of data verified by the U.S. Department of Education on thousands of institutions across the nation in an easy-to-use online tool. College is still the best investment a person can make in them self—bachelor’s degree-holders earn roughly $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates. The College Scorecard makes choosing between thousands of institutions easier by providing simple to understand information on institutions’ incoming students and the graduating students’ outcomes. Along with 1.5 million other folks, I’m using the Scorecard as I help my daughter in her college search.
Today, we updated the Scorecard as a part of our first annual data refresh. It includes updates to our data on college completion, debt and repayment statistics, and post-college earnings. This refresh now brings the College Scorecard to 19 years of higher education data that is made available, encompassing over 1,700 data points across 7,000 institutions. Also, we highlighted key efforts to measure accurate completion rates and other student outcomes, including the Student Achievement Measure and the Voluntary Framework of Accountability.
Since its redesign in September 2015, the Department has improved the Scorecard to make it better for you. For example:
- In December 2015, we held a Technical Review Panel with representatives of institutions, researchers, web developers, higher education associations, and other experts, where we talked about improvements to the College Scorecard website, data, and Application Programming Interface (API) – a tool to make our data more easily accessible for the development of new applications and tools by outside developers (to date, over 600 developers have accessed the Scorecard API).
- In January 2016, we added nearly 700 additional institutions that predominately grant certificates to the Scorecard for users to have even more options when searching the website.
- In March 2016, through an interim data update, we removed closed institutions and updated our “caution flags” for schools facing financial or federal compliance issues. Providing information about institutions under review by the Department helps ensure accountability for schools and protect the interests of students.
And we’re not done yet. The higher education landscape is changing, and this tool will itself change over time. We’re working to integrate the College Scorecard into the FAFSA; considering other cautionary indicators that students should be aware of before enrolling in an institution, and continuously improving the quality of our data, particularly around completion rates.
We’re working hard to make sure the Scorecard keeps up with students’ needs. Check out the updated College Scorecard and stay tuned for more!
Ted Mitchell is U.S. Under Secretary of Education.
The post Choosing a College Easier with the College Scorecard appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) is wrapping up its second year of a national U.S. Department of Education funded effort to conduct rigorous research to identify key factors influencing student success in blended, online, and competency-based education.
The DETA Research Toolkit was launched in 2015 intended to help overcome the lack of research literacy in distance education practice and the methodological disciplinary divisions by providing a common language for educators to conduct research. It contains guides on designing experimental and survey research, support for data collection through institutional warehoused data and student surveys, a student survey instrumentation packet for dozens of meaningful measures, data codebooks to facilitate merging of data sets, and more. Notably, the DETA Research Toolkit has been downloaded by almost 600 individuals in every state of the U.S. and in over 20 countries throughout the world in less than a year. These research tools facilitate cross-institutional empirical data collection examining students, courses, programs, and institutions to identify instructional and institutional practices that influence student outcomes, in particular for underrepresented students.
As shared on the WCET Frontiers blog last fall, DETA Subgrant Awards included a competitive proposal process to identify and fund faculty and institutional partners to employ these research designs to address top questions in distance education as outlined in toolkit. These top research questions were developed at a national summit held last year bringing 50 experts from across the country to guide the DETA research agenda. Since last fall, several institutions have partnered with DETA to conduct research at their institutions, including Oregon State University, University of Central Florida, California State University Fullerton, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Florida SouthWestern State College, San Diego Community College District, Montana State University, and WCET. Each of these institutions collected student data in survey or quasi-experimentally designed studies in the Spring 2016 semester and completed preliminary analysis over the summer months. Several were part of cross-institutional studies. With a good foundation of national research, we look forward to bringing on several new partners this fall.What’s Coming Up?
We still have several studies in which we are looking for institutional partners for a fall data collection. Interested in being a DETA Partner? The data collection consists of DETA gathering institutionally warehoused data, most likely from your student information system, and the administration of a survey to your blended, online, or competency-based education students. Please complete this form to show your interest.
We are working on preparing a series of DETA Research Briefs and DETA Webinars to help share the findings of our research. The research briefs will be 2-page documents that contain an abstract, introduction, methods, results, and conclusions. The webinars will go into much more detail explaining the university or college demographics, particulars about their online courses and programs, description of the intervention, if applicable, recommendations for future research, and implications for practice. This series will be coming later this fall.
We are putting together a special edition of the Online Learning Journal of DETA-supported research that will be released in 2017. The special edition will contain 8 peer-reviewed journal articles highlighting DETA research designs. Each article will discuss implications for future research and practice.
We are looking to release DETA Research Toolkit 2.0 this fall. We are currently looking for contributors and reviewers. Feel free to email us to express your interest.
Learn More about DETA at the WCET Annual Meeting
Join the DETA Community in Minneapolis! We will be at the WCET Annual Meeting next month holding sessions to bring folks together, share research, and discuss challenges and opportunities in conducting research in an effort to build a community to increase awareness of research being conducted, build collaborations in research and funding, and support each other in conducting rigorous research. If you are interested in attending our sessions, helping facilitate a session, or presenting at one of the sessions, check out more details. There will be primarily 3 sessions that you can attend:
- A workshop: Creating and Diffusing Online Instructional & Institutional Practices From Data & Evidence. With a goal of discovering how we turn our research findings into practice, this workshop is a roundtable brainstorming discussions that takes findings from a cross-institutional study and challenges the participants on determining how to interpret these findings, turn them into practice, and develop diffusion processes across the institution.
- A lightning round session: Research in Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) (Part 1/2). With a goal to increase everyone’s awareness of research being conducted, we will hear from awardees and others who are conducting research in distance education at their respective institutions. Each researcher will briefly describe their study in a lightning round format of 5 minutes and 5 slides per presenter.
Note: If you are interested in presenting, please contact DETA via email. We encourage all folks conducting research no matter how big or how small to come share.
- A small group discussion: Research in Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) (Part 2/2). With a goal of better understanding how DETA can support research in this area, participants will gather in small groups to discuss a) challenges in conducting research and needs of the research community, b) possible solutions or resources to meet needs and overcome challenges, and c) opportunities for funding and collaboration. In previous DETA community discussions, we identified some of the top challenges in conducting research. We have been working to identify and implement recommendations to increase each individual’s and institution’s capacity to carry out DETA Research. Come ready to ask questions, pose problems, brainstorm solutions, share opportunities for funding or collaboration, and more!
Tanya Joosten, PhD
Director, eLearning Research and Development, Academic Affairs
Co-Director, National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee