School Of Education, Waco ISD Showcase Undergraduate Research

April 7, 2009

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Baylor University's School of Education and the Waco Independent School District will shine the spotlight on undergraduate research conducted by Baylor teacher education candidates at the inaugural Research Showcase Symposium from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center on campus.

The symposium - called "The Science of Wondering" - will feature more than 60 "action" research projects and case studies and the implications for professional practice carried out by Baylor junior and senior education majors. The students currently serve alongside mentor teachers and clinical instructors in Professional Development Schools (PDS) through Waco ISD, as well as other partner school districts, such as Connally, La Vega, Midway and Robinson.

"A big push with our partnerships and our professional development schools is to really engage in 'action' research," said Dr. Rachelle D. Meyer, lecturer in curriculum and instruction in the School of Education at Baylor." Many of our in-service teachers and our candidates took that to heart and had what we call a 'wondering,' and that's what they began researching."

Meyer said Baylor teacher candidates explored numerous topics that address questions directly connected to their work with students in the classroom, such as:

    • "foldable" note-taking versus traditional methods in math education (Tennyson Middle School),
    • the effects of small group instruction on the literacy and mathematics development of urban PDS students (Mountainview Elementary),
    • timers and productivity (Robinson Junior High School),
    • how gender affects academic achievement in middle school (Midway Intermediate School) and
    • equitable participation in the foreign language classroom (A.J. Moore Academy).

The research symposium will include a poster session, with all teacher candidates available to answer questions about their research.

"This kind of research is very powerful, because it is in their environment, it's in their classroom, it's with their students," Meyer said. "They see the effects and based on the results and the conclusions are able to modify what they're doing in the classroom. It's teacher-owned and teacher-driven."

This is the first undergraduate research symposium presented by the School of Education. As the university continues to strengthen its research environment through Baylor 2012, the university's 10-year vision, the School of Education has committed to enriching their students' undergraduate experience through research and other scholarly activities.

"When we first say research, it's like headlights coming at them," Meyer said. "But action research is unique, because it's based on the questions they have - their wonderings. Some of the studies are data-driven and are definitely more quantitative, but there are a lot of qualitative studies. This introduces our students to all the different types of research that are valid."

Baylor School of Education students also are learning the next steps in research, such as presenting papers, drafting abstracts and finding resources to support their research. In fact, the School had two action research proposals accepted for presentation at the February national meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) in Dallas. Meyer said she and several teaching associates (juniors) and interns (seniors), along with mentor teachers and clinical instructors from local schools, were able to experience and present their research at the national level.

"They don't fear research," Meyer added. "And it's really exciting when you read their reflections based on this first wondering that they have a new question, and then they're talking about what they want to look at already next year before we even assign it. So they have the buy-in to research and lifelong learning. I'm sold on it wholeheartedly. It's one of the best things I've seen."

For more information, contact Meyer at (254) 710-6069.

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