EDER 603.21 – Research Methodology in Education (Summer 2015)

July 1, 2015

I get to teach another one of my favourite courses this summer. This one has undergone a facelift recently and now, all the instructors who teach it in the summer will use the same texts, themes and assignments. We have collaboratively developed the course outline and learning tasks. Here’s an overview of what we came up with:

Course Description

This first course in educational research methodologies provides the background necessary to make intelligent decisions around the kinds of research questions that might be asked and the sort(s) of insights and answers particular methods can provide.

Extended Description

This introductory course is designed for graduate students in the first year of their cohort-based Master’s of Education programs. It focuses on various issues, methods, and techniques in educational research. The course includes some of the issues and dilemmas that frame the context for contemporary research, as well as a preliminary consideration of research strategies, methods, and techniques in a manner intended to assist participants in selecting research questions, methods, and strategies for further study. Participants will also be encouraged to approach research articles and reports with a critical perspective and develop some skills and techniques for this kind of close reading. In relation to a subsequent course, EDER 692 Collaboratory of Practice, this first course will have a focus on action research in education.

The field of education sits at a point of intersection of many other domains – including neurology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and the many disciplines represented in various subject area specialties. This positioning compels a particular sort of methodological breadth across all programs in education. For that reason, it is not the purpose of the course to develop extensive technical (operational) competence in any particular method of research. Rather, the broader aim is to support an initial understanding of the nature and purpose of various approaches – all of which are useful in understanding educational phenomena, though they may appear to differ substantially.

Over the past 50 years, there has been a proliferation of theories and associated research methodologies in the field of education. A principal aim of the course is to nurture a sort of ‘methodological connoisseurship’ – by interrogating the distinctions and commitments that are associated with various approaches to inquiry rather than by championing specific emphases and approaches. To achieve this end, we should aim for a radical departure from traditional research methods courses that focus on clusters of specific methodologies. The emphasis here will be on the decisions, attitudes, and commitments that take one to a particular approach and that compel certain methods.

The guiding question or attitude is not “How is this perspective or methodology different or wrong?” – which is deemed unproductive as every frame can be critiqued. The orientation is more toward “How is this perspective or methodology right?” To that end, among the simultaneous considerations are: What is the focus (the subject, object, phenomenon, unit of analysis) of interest? Does it change? If so, at what pace? Is it self-transformative and do other agents or phenomena (e.g., educators and researchers) participate in its change?

Course Objectives

  1. To review the range of purposes for, and products of, educational research – including the gathering of empirical data, the application of theory, the generation of theory, and the critique of theory.
  2. To establish a basic literacy in research methodologies. Participants should be able to offer preliminary definitions of principal approaches to research in education and to distinguish among them according to phenomena examined, theoretical commitments, and relevance to their own research interests.
  3. To appreciate that methodological breadth is better articulated in terms of complementarities than conflicts, recognizing that methods are developed in conversation with the phenomena they are intended to ‘investigate.’ As such, any comparison of methods demands a range of questions, including queries on what is being studied, who is doing the studying, the purposes of study, the time frames of the inquiry, etc. Details around technical differences among methods are at best secondary considerations in this conversation.
  4. To interrogate the personal pre-judgments and methodological positionings that frame one’s questions, orient one’s selection of techniques, influence the details one notices, and affect the inferences one draws.
  5. To introduce participants to the issues and challenges of conducting ethical research.

Learner Outcomes

Throughout the course of study students will be able to:

  • Identify viable and interesting research questions and ideas, both in their own potential research endeavours and in the work of published academics (LT1, LT2, LT3)
  • Identify, compare and critique a variety of educational research methodologies based on their primary assumptions and methods (LT1, LT2)
  • Evaluate the relevance of educational research methodologies with special consideration being given to stated research questions and the knowledge being sought (LT1, LT2, LT3)
  • Differentiate between the central tenets of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis strategies with special consideration being given to the strengths, weaknesses and relevance of each in education (LT1, LT2, LT3)
  • Assess the validity of a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, commonly used in education (LT1, LT2, LT3)
  • Examine and interrogate the relationships between research questions, research methods and interpretation of findings in educational studies (LT1, LT2, LT3)
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of ethical considerations in educational research, particularly with regard to the use of human participants (LT2)
  • Formulate and evaluate their own preliminary research questions in response to both their research interests and professional context. (LT3)
  • Understand how action research applies to educational settings and contexts (LT1, LT3)

Here’s a link to the full course outline: EDER 603 21 Summer 2015 – Eaton

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


A Review of the Literature on Rural and Remote Pre-Service Teacher Preparation With a Focus on Blended and E-Learning Models

June 29, 2015

U of C logo - 2015Over the past several months I have been working with a team in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary to investigate the benefits and challenges of a blended pre-service teacher education program. We did an extensive survey of recent literature and our work has been archived on the U of C’s digital space.

We are excited to share the results of our work. You can check it out here:

Eaton, S. E., Dressler, R., Gereluk, D. & Becker, S. (2015). A review of the literature on rural and remote pre-service teacher preparation with a focus on blended and e-learning models. Calgary: University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/50497

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


EDER 669.73 – Language Teaching and Technology (Summer 2015)

June 25, 2015

U of C logo - 2015I am so happy that I get to teach this course again in the summer semester!

Course description

This course has been designed for students who want to learn how to effectively incorporate technology in their present and future careers as language teachers. The course will cover both theoretical and practical issues in teaching second language and the use of new technology to support and enhance the learning process.

A special emphasis will be on combining both face-to-face and the use of technologies in and beyond the classroom walls to enhance the second language learning process. Although the course may address the different types technologies such as Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blogs, wikis; audio and video podcasting; online videos; mobile tools); mobile technology (e.g., mobile phones; MP3 players; digital cameras; camcorders), and other type of interactive technologies, the focus of the course is on the pedagogical and practical aspects of integrating new technology to face-to-face language teaching.

The course is open to second language present and future teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level. The course also invites language teachers with limited knowledge of the target language to learn how to enhance their language teaching by integrating blended teaching into their practice.

Learner Outcomes

The intent of this course is to explore the integration of technology to enhance language learning, particularly in in blended or distance environments.

Specific objectives include:

  • understand different learning theories informing pedagogical practices, and in particular the TPACK and SAMR models, as they apply to language learning;
  • review current research on the learning of additional languages enhanced by digital technologies;
  • explore digital mediated communication methods that can be used effectively in distance and blended language learning programs;
  • examine current and emerging trends in educational technology as they apply to language learning; and
  • design and evaluate language-learning modules integrating digital technology for online or blended environments.

Here’s a link to the full course outline for EDER 669.73 – Language Teaching and Technology for Summer 2015: EDER 669.73 Language Teaching and Technology – Eaton – 2015 Summer

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Language Learning and Technology (EDER 669.79)

January 24, 2015

U of C logo - 2015This winter I am so excited to be teaching Language Learning and Technology for the Master’s of Education program at the University of Calgary.

Here’s the course description:

This course has been designed for students who want to learn how to combine a face-to-face language teaching approach with the use of technology in their present and future careers as language teachers. The course will cover both theoretical and practical issues in teaching second language and the use of new technology to support and enhance the learning process.

A special emphasis will be on combining both face-to-face and the use of technologies in and beyond the classroom walls to enhance the second language learning process. Although the course will address the different technologies (Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blog and wiki; audio and video podcasting; online video; mobile tools), mobile technology (e.g., mobile phones; MP3 players; digital cameras; camcorders), and other type of interactive technologies), the focus of the course is on the pedagogical and practical aspects of integrating new technology to face-to-face language teaching. The course is open to present and future second language teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary level. The course also invites language teachers with limited knowledge of the target language to learn how to enhance their language teaching by integrating blended teaching into their practice.

We are two weeks into the new semester and I’ve been working with an excellent group of students who are actively sharing their ideas and experiences about teaching languages with technology. I am so excited to see what the rest of the semester brings!

Here’s a copy of the course outline.

Here’s the reading list for the course.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


2014 in review

December 29, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 240,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 10 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


5 Websites to avoid referencing in your research papers

October 27, 2014

In one of the graduate-level research courses I teach, we guide students through an action research project. Each student choses the topic, shares a problem of practice and crafts a research question before starting the research topic. The projects include a substantive review of the literature on whatever topic they’ve chosen. Here are 5 websites I advise them to avoid (and why):

Dictionary.com

If you need to define a term for a research paper, look to published research, not a dictionary. Why? Because you’re a university student who is a novice researcher and part of your job entails going beyond simple dictionary definitions to understand the deeper, more complex meaning of terms, particularly in the context of research.

BrainyQuote

If you want to quote someone, for heaven’s sake, don’t use this — or any other — quotation website. Referencing websites like this sends a clear message to your prof: “I am too lazy to find the original source myself.” You’re a university student! You have the ability and resources to find the original source material yourself and cite that instead.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s say you can’t easily access the original source because it is an ancient text in a foreign language (like the work of Plato or Socrates). You can still find modern translations of the work of the ancient philosophers and quite honestly, if you do then you are well on your way to developing your own skills as a scholar.

Oprah

Who doesn’t love Oprah? She’s inspiring and magnetic. But she’s not a scholar. She doesn’t publish academic papers and she doesn’t conduct research. Feel free to talk about Oprah’s views and visions for a better world at the dinner table or with your friends when you are out for a latte, but when you put on your researcher hat, seek out the “big names” in the field of research you’re interested in. Chances are, they won’t have a TV show, but they’ll probably have one hell of a publication list.

Dr. Phil

Let’s get one thing straight. Just because someone carries the title of “Dr.”, that doesn’t mean you should cite them in your research papers. Even if your research topic is about relationships, coping, resilience or some other topic related to psychology, unless you can find a research article published by Dr. Phil McGraw in a peer-reviewed academic journal, then don’t cite him. Learn to distinguish between TV personalities who are experts in a given field and scholarly authorities whose work is peer-reviewed and academic. For research, always opt for academic sources over mass media.

Dr. Oz

Are you getting the picture here? Like Oprah and Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz is a well-known TV personality who is a credentialed  physician in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you should take his views on medical issues as evidence for your research papers.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of these websites. They’re meant for popular consumption. But as a researcher, you want to dig deeper and be relentless in your quest for using quality scholarly sources in your research papers. Don’t settle for sources that are not deeply credible and obviously academic.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: 5 Websites to avoid referencing in your research papers  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1IA

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Let’s fix our broken education system

June 27, 2014

I’ve got some fun news to share. I’ve been invited to write a regular column for Troy Media. My job is to write provocative, edgy, thought pieces on education in Canada. They’ve just published my first column:

“Let’s fix our broken education system: How to go from B-roken to A-wesome while there’s still time”

Canada was recently ranked against 15 other countries around the world for the quality of its education. How did we do? Read more…

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Let’s fix our broken education system http://wp.me/pNAh3-1It

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


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