ACTION RESEARCH IN SCHOOLS: THE PRACTITIONERS’ PERSPECTIVES
Liyan Song & Jeffrey M. Kenton
This paper presents a study on the effectiveness of an action research model from the perspectives of school educators as action researchers. The study design followed seven action researchers - inservice teachers and school library media specialists - as they completed research projects in their schools. Data came from three different sources: interviews with participants at three critical points in the process; sent and received emails reporting their progress; and a survey that was filled out after completing their projects. Results of the study indicated that the action research model was effective in supporting school educators to implement action research studies at schools.
Action research is an opportunity for practitioners to study their own environments in a specific way - collecting and analyzing data - for the purpose of improving some aspect of their work environments (Argyris & Schon, 1974; Schon, 1983; Toulmin & Gustavsen, 1996). Action research is often a focus in undergraduate teacher education programs, which may require students to complete action research projects. However, within graduate programs students may not have the opportunity to carry out action research projects in K-12 schools due to lack of resources and support. Some schools have started to engage graduate students with opportunities to carry out action research in schools. For example, the East Carolina University elementary education Master’s program engages their graduate students in action research projects over a year’s span (O’Connor, Greene, & Anderson, 2007). More practice as such is needed to help promote action research in schools.
In this paper, the authors present a study on the effectiveness of an action research model from the perspectives of school educators as action researchers. Specifically, the study examined action researchers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the action research model, their perceived challenges and benefits in the action research experience, and their suggestions for future improvement on the action research model. The following six research questions were answered:
Background - The Action Research Model
The action research model presented in the paper is called Action Research Fellows Project. The project was sponsored by the college of education at a metropolitan university in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The project seeks to support action researchers (who are graduate alumni) while they complete action research projects in their schools and to encourage school improvement through action research. The intent of the project was to close the loop between theory and practice and to build strong collaborative relationships between graduate programs and graduate alumni.
All of the participants in the Action Research Fellows Project were recent graduates of the College of Education’s Instructional Technology program. The program requires its students to complete at least one research methods course and students generally take this course at the end of their programs of study. The required research course covers essential topics about proposing, conducting and reporting research projects. The final project in this course is a full research proposal, which includes problem statements, a literature review, methodology descriptions, a budget estimate, and a proposed timeline. The Action Research Fellows Project mentors identify three to five best research proposals and invite the authors of those proposals to participate and become action researchers in the Action Research Fellows Project.
Chronology of Events
Soon after agreeing to participate in the Fellowship, action researchers are required to revise their research proposal to address the students that they will study, describe the actual proposed timeline for their project, and then to obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for their studies. This process is often daunting for the action researchers. Some action researchers need assistance from the research mentors to describe their project more clearly. Other action researchers narrow the focus of their projects, because the projects allow only approximately six months to design and implement their studies, including gathering, analyzing and describing data they collect.
After receiving IRB approval and focusing their studies, the action researchers begin to carry out their projects. Each action researcher is advised to pursue help from the research mentors, if and when needed. Email is the most common method for receiving help from the research mentors. At three times in the process – approximately at the IRB proposal stage, at the mid point, and at the data analysis phase – the research mentors (i.e. university professors) made on-site visits to each of the action researchers. Each visit included an interview about the action researchers’ perceptions of the process, and to determine if the action researchers required further guidance from the research mentors.
Upon completion of the action research project, each action researcher is asked to write a final report and submit it to the research mentors. In addition to the research report, each action researcher is asked to present their research experience to current graduate students at the university. The purpose of their presentations is for the action researcher to share their real world research experience with the current students to help them better understand the research process. To acknowledge the action researchers’ effort, they will be presented an award for completing their action research project at the annual award ceremony the college of education hosts each year.
Action research is popular not only because of its empowering effects on teachers, school administrators, and school improvement, but also because school teachers decide on the research focus themselves based on their experiences and they themselves benefit from the findings directly (Sagor, 2000). It is a good professional development approach (Johnson & Button, 1998). Action research has been identified as an effective way to improve teaching and learning in schools by way of teachers doing research in their own classrooms (Darling-Hammond, 1996; Parsons & Brown, 2002). Teachers who conduct action research in their classrooms often develop improved understanding of their field (Bennett, 1993), understanding of self as a teacher, and of their students (Levin & Rock, 2003). Research has shown that teachers often become more confident with their work because of their action research experience (e.g., Ferrance, 2000; Sax & Fisher, 2001). In studying a British Columbia-based action research project to support efforts to raise literacy and math skills in public schools, Raptis and Fleming (2005) found that more than 80% of teachers involved in the action research project reported that they were able to expand their knowledge and skill about literacy or numeracy. The project also allowed teachers to apply what they had learned from this project to other parts of the curriculum, which was outside the focus of the action research.
While the benefits of conducting action research in schools are obvious, there exist challenges for teachers and other educators to implement action research in the classrooms. For example, teachers often perceive the action research process as time-consuming (Johnson & Button, 2000), and they often imagine action research involving highly technical routines and engaging sophisticated research instruments and complex statistical analysis (O’Connor, Greene, & Anderson, 2007; Stringer, 2008). There exists a need to motivate school educators to engage in action research activities. To many school educators, participating in action research would mean adding more work to their already busy classroom routines. In addition, some doubt that research would serve a useful purpose because they tend to believe that the research studies they have read in teacher preparation programs seem highly theoretical (Stringer, 2008).
Effective school change requires support from both internal and external resources (Harris, 2000). For teachers or other school educators to successfully carry out action research projects, it is important that they get support from both within and outside of their schools. Internal support often needed comes from school administrators and peer teachers. Administrators' encouragement policy wise and peer teachers' collaboration to offer class time for action research projects are important internal support. When it comes to research skills, school action researchers could rely on university research faculty for their support.
With the above-mentioned challenges and issues in mind, a group of university professors partnered with county school district administrators, with the support from the college of education, developed this Action Research Fellows Project. The Action Research Fellows Project intends to provide a framework to establish a collaborative partnership to help support teachers conduct action research in schools. The model helps motivate school educators to engage in action research in their school practices in several ways: 1) it provides technical support such as data collection and analysis to school educators; 2) it helps keep track of fellows’ research process by visiting and talking to the fellows at their schools; 3) it recognizes their accomplishment by presenting a certificate to the fellows at college-wide award ceremonies; and 4 ) it provides a monetary award upon their completion of the project.
The value of the Action Research Fellows Project is embedded in the design: motivating school educators to implement action research to improve their practices using monetary award; support; providing research support (IRB application, data collection, data analysis, and writing up research report, etc.) during school visits and via email; and closing the loop between theory and practice by asking the action researchers to share their research experience with current graduate students. However, it is important to investigate - through research studies - whether the goals of the project have been fulfilled by identifying the benefits and challenges of the project and understanding the action researchers’ experiences – from the action researchers’ perspectives. The study intends to identify ways to help improve the Action Research Fellows model.
The research design for this study was qualitative in nature. Interviews with action research fellows were conducted to record Fellows’ action research experiences at three stages: at the beginning to answer questions about the research process, during the research to check on research progress, and at the end to help finalize the research. A post-survey (See Appendix A) was sent out to the seven action researchers who have completed the Action Research Fellows Project to collect data regarding the fellows’ experience in action research and their suggestions for improvement on the Action Research Model. Emails were also used as data sources because they often captured the questions that action researchers raised during their action research experience. Content analysis was conducted on the interview transcripts and email exchanges. The research questions were used as the codes for coding the interview transcripts and email exchanges. Data collected from the survey were analyzed for descriptive statistics such as frequency and median scores. These data helped provide evidence to support our assertions about the effect of the model on the action researchers’ projects.
Results and Conclusions
Upon analysis of different sources of data, the following findings are concluded for each research question. Data from different sources were quoted to support the findings.
1. Did the Action Research model effectively facilitate the action research process?
The “school visits” part of the design seems to be effective. While some of the questions were answered by email, most of them were answered during the first school visit by the Action Research (AR) mentors. Action researchers expressed their appreciation for those visits, and during the visits, they were able to get a lot of their questions answered. Early site visits revealed that many action researchers had questions about the formal aspects of the research process (IRB, Consent Letters, formal communication requirements etc.), as well as their perceived abilities to complete the project as they proposed it. The support structure of the model such as email communication and site visits was proved to be helpful for action researchers’ research process. For example, one action researcher was uncertain about the IRB process and asked the mentors for help in an email received during the first week of the project and had the question answered by the mentors via email. In this quote, the action researcher is asking advice about obtaining permission from the building administrator:
I will be meeting with my principal this morning to discuss the research to be conducted. I have attached a copy of a letter I composed to have him sign. Please let me know if this is sufficient, and what address I should use to send it to you.
The site visits also proved to be helpful. For example, one action researcher voiced the following concern about the IRB application during the first site visit and interview:
With me not being a student anymore. I wasn’t sure how to fill some of the sections. The other thing I wanted to get some help with was the form I need to send home to the parents.
Later site visit transcripts revealed how the action researchers were dealing with a different range of issues, appropriate to researchers who are nearing the end of their projects. Those issues included data analysis and writing up the research reports. For example, one action researcher asked a question about compiling data in an email:
What I now need help with is how to compile the information on the survey forms that I have collected. Could we meet, or could you give me some direction as to how this should be done? I would like to complete this portion of the project by the end of February so that I can present the results to the focus group in March.
The survey asked this question in a very direct way. The first question on the five-point Likert scale portion of the survey (#1a and #1b) had a median response score of 5 (strongly agree). The positive nature of responses was also found in answers to open-ended question #16. The following are three samples:
I do feel it is a valuable program. I never would have attempted the research without the program
I believe the ARF program was a valuable resource that built upon a well designed course already in place. It was great to follow up on the course we took.
The guidelines in class were well explained so that I could use the research proposal to carry out the actual research with few adaptations or questions. The [faculty mentors] were extremely helpful and supportive, guiding me through the entire process.
Based on these responses, it seems that the action researchers were able to effectively complete the action research process under mentor guidance. All of the responses noted positive impressions of the support that action researchers received, and that action researchers believed that their research mentors were assisting them in necessary ways.
2. Were action researchers willing and/or motivated to integrate their findings into their present practice?
Understandably, information related to integration came in later emails, and in final (or end-of-project) site visits. In each of these data sources, evidence can be found that the action researchers were interested in continuing their projects, or integrating their results into their daily classroom practice. One action researcher indicated in email that she would integrate the findings from her action research study in designing the action plan for the school library where she was working:
The focus group met last week and designed an action plan for the library that was very different from the one designed by the Library Media Specialists. [My coworker] and I have found the project to be enlightening and will design our plan to include the suggestions of the focus group.
Another researcher mentioned in a site visit that integrating his project into practice had some unexpected results:
There is definitely some higher level thinking skills going on I didn’t really identify early on. It was a huge shift to me teaching in this style. It has been good for them. Even now they have just been exposed so much more, they have discussed, and they are using different formats. So when they are in the classroom, when they see things, they are able to use the vocabulary in their mind.
Survey questions #4 and #5 address this issue. Median response scores were 5 (strongly agree) for both of these questions. None of the open-ended questions directly addressed this issue.
3. Were action researchers satisfied with the experience?
The AR Fellows expressed their satisfaction in a number of ways, and evidence of that satisfaction came from emails and site visit interviews. On a general level, there was much evidence that fellows enjoyed their experience, and their anticipation of success:
I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. Working with both of you has been a tremendous pleasure.
I am very excited and I really want this project to be perfect.
The time commitment seemed to play a very strong role in students’ willingness to undertake another solo project. The following are some quotes from the interviews:
Possibly. The time it took may be too great from beginning to end. We have so much on our plate now.
I was not fully prepared for the amount of time the research project took, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing in the beginning. Overall, the project was extremely worthwhile and I would do it again.
I would be willing to complete another research project with someone else or in a group. Alone it was a tremendous amount of work, even with the wonderful support provided by the faculty.
When asked if they were satisfied overall with the experience, there was broad support, but there was one student who wanted more help than was initially offered:
Yes, my experience was satisfactory. I enjoyed taking my research from my grad program and building on it, refining it, learning from it, and sharing it with others. I appreciated knowing I could always seek assistance when I needed it.
The professors were so helpful. They were always available and I liked the fact that they were able to visit my workplace to discuss the stages of the project. They also gave me lots of ideas, such as using interviews with groups of students, which I had not thought of using, but the information was very valuable to the project.
I was very satisfied with the program. Not only did I have the opportunity to conduct “real” research (as opposed to creating a fictional study for a class assignment), I learned a lot about myself as an educator and a deeper look at “how” students learn.
Ultimately, when asked about the positive aspects of the action research experience, respondents said that they enjoyed being acknowledged for their hard work, and saw the benefit and value of doing an action research project in their schools.
The best part was having data to support the use of instructional practices I had beliefs in but no verifying data. I feel good about knowing more about how to teach my students.
Working with new participants for my study was interesting and the awards ceremony was a nice touch.
I really liked the fact that at the end of the project I learned so much about my students. Some of the information really surprised me. I also liked the fact that I was able to share my findings with the students via a power point presentation.
The most rewarding part was finding out information that would improve our school library. Also, it was gratifying to design research that others would be able to replicate for their benefit. An additional positive was the fact that the project drew in partnerships with teachers and parents who would normally not be a part of the decision making process. Finally, having the research published in a renowned journal for school libraries worldwide was an honor and a tribute to the thorough guidance of the University faculty.
It appears from the interview transcripts and survey responses that the fellows were very welcoming of comments from the faculty mentors, and for their guidance throughout the process. It was clear from prior comments that the fellows were very busy and also concerned about the potential quality of their projects. So, it became an important issue for the fellows to depend on the mentors for good help. The positive responses from the fellows indicated that this aspect of the project was well-received.
4. If and when there were concerns raised by research fellows, what are some practical suggestions for addressing the concerns, so future fellows would have a more fulfilling experience?
When asked about challenges in the open-ended questions section of the survey, respondents identified time and unexpected occurrences as factors.
Time was a huge challenge - there was never enough.
Things don't always happen like you expect them. Little kinks that have to become part of the research.
It was tough trying to work full time and get my “stuff” done. I tried to space out my surveys, but at the end I was VERY stressed because I thought I only had a short period of time to input my data from the April surveys and perform my analysis. I wound up using many of my planning periods at school to get it done.
We ran into a problem with a teacher's ability to provide her class with the amount of SSR time we had proposed. In that case, we went ahead with the amount of time she could allow the children and noted the difference in our analysis. One of our study groups changed over the course of the school year. Students moved out of the class and other students moved in. In that case, we kept the students who stayed from the beginning and did not add new students into the study.
In addition, respondents offered some comments to potentially head-off future problems:
Set it up before the school year begins!! This way all components can be in place without ‘regular’ interruptions to distract.
I think it would be useful for the research fellows to meet with the professors one more time after the data is collected and analyzed, but before the final paper is written. Spring is a very busy and chaotic time of the year for a teacher. Our data was rich, but we had never completed action research before, and I believe we may have interpreted our data with more confidence if we had taken the time to go over our data and analysis with our professor.
More feedback, in writing preferably, about the final product. Working so hard for so long just to be told "Looks great!" is not enough. I wanted to know if my thoughts and conclusions made sense to those with experience.
I would have liked a calendar with specific dates – i.e. – when is the final project due, when should the research begin, what date should all the data be collected by?
In this case, the fellows were very clear that the existing model deserved a bit more attention to preparing for the project. In some cases, the fellows were having difficulties getting all of the external requirements (reporting, IRB approval, etc.) completed so that the actual data gathering and analysis could take place. This may be an instance where the model may be expanded to prepare students on a longer time frame to complete their projects. For example, students who are interested in eventually completing an action research project may be approached about participation during the research methods class. In that manner, the student's project proposal would be completed prior to finishing the program, and could be easily implemented in a quick time frame. Many students faced delays related to completing the IRB process, and focusing their project upon their specific idea. In some cases, these students' plans were focused on something much different during the research methods courses, and those proposals had to be adapted for use with the action research fellowship.
5. When action researchers "ran into trouble," with their projects, how do they attempt to address this trouble?
The challenges that action researchers ran into during their Action Research experience include the following: scheduling; support from administrators and colleagues; IRB process, and; research methodology.
Scheduling. Although action researchers considered the school visits by the faculty mentors were helpful and important, most action researchers experienced a challenge when scheduling a time to meet with mentors and integrating action research activities into their daily work schedule. The scheduling of site visits was often interrupted by action researchers’ various school responsibilities, and weather-related school cancellations. To address such challenges, most action researchers scheduled their meeting with the mentors to coincide with their planning periods. The following quote is representative of a request to reschedule a previously cancelled site visit:
Wednesdays are great for me because I have quite a few planning periods for administrative duty.
Administrators’ and Coworkers’ Support. While it has not been a big concern for most of the action researchers getting support from their school principal and colleagues, it can be an issue when implementing action research studies in schools. All action researchers in the Action Research Project were able to get the support, but some of the action researchers experienced challenges collaborating with other teachers during the process. One action researcher wasn’t able to implement the study as she planned because the collaborating teacher wasn’t able to give her enough time to implement her action research related activities in the collaborating teacher’s class.
IRB. Many of the questions asked in the emails and during the early interviews (as mentioned above) were related to the IRB process. There were questions on the endorsement letter for the principal to sign, where to send the IRB form, how to write consent form, when they could start the study, and so on. Most of the questions were answered during the first school visit to action researchers’ schools by the university faculty mentors. As a result of this early meeting, the action researchers were able to complete their IRB applications.
Research Methodology. Action researchers asked many questions on research methodology in the emails. They asked for advice on research instruments (e.g., surveys), compiling data, analyzing data, and writing up research reports. Early interviews provided insight into the action researchers’ processes as they tried to understand the research process better, and activate their research proposals. Similar questions during later interviews focused upon writing and preparing their final reports.
6. Who initiated the conversations between action researchers and the University-based research mentors?
Questions 7 and 15 on the Likert portion of the survey addressed this concern. Question seven asked whether action researchers felt that they received enough guidance from the mentors. The median response score was 5 out of 5 (strongly agree). Question 15 asked more directly about who initiated conversations between action researchers and mentors. 15a asked if the action researchers initiated all communication, and the median response score was 2 out of 5 (disagree). 15b asked if both mentors and action researchers initiated conversations, and the median score was 5 out of 5 (strongly agree). 15c asked if mentors initiated all conversations, and the median score was 1 out of 5 (strongly disagree). 15d was somewhat of a replication of question 7 and asked if action researchers felt that the level of communication was sufficient. The median score on 15d was 4.5 (between agree and strongly agree).
Along with email and telephone conversations, the mentors completed site visits at up to three points during the action research process. When asked whether the site visits were helpful, respondents said:
Yes. It gave me a chance to get answers to many questions. The support was encouraging.
Yes, very. They listened carefully, gave very thoughtful suggestions, gave alternatives to problems, and helped you feel you were being successful.
Yes, the visits by the faculty were extremely helpful. Each visit the professors helped me lay out my plan of action so that the research was conducted properly. They explained in detail how to do each step of the process to ensure the results would be credible. At each meeting I had many questions, which they answered completely and patiently, making sure to give details about the process.
School visits from the University faculty were very helpful. They reinforced our efforts and gave us perspective. I think our professor visiting us in our own setting was a great way to honor what we were doing.
Communications between the action researchers and the mentors appeared to occur as needed, and were initiated by both action researchers and mentors alike. This view about the two-way communication is valuable because it indicates that the action researchers were willing to ask for help when needed, and also that the mentors were willing to try to head off problems before they could get out of hand. In this kind of research project, providing reliable and timely support was valuable to the action researchers, whose experience was very low prior to completing these projects.
Discussions and Implications
This study has given further evidence that a well-designed support model can help action researchers successfully implement action research in schools. The results of the study related to time commitment are consistent with other literature on action research (e.g. Johnson & Button, 2000). Not only does it take time and effort to carry out the research process, but it is sometimes challenging to schedule the project activity into their existing curriculum and to schedule to meet with research mentors from the university even though they considered those meetings as helpful and important. This implies that it is important that we bring our support to the action researchers instead of them seeking support from us. This part of the design in the model seems to be effective in facilitating the fellows’ action research process.
Keeping open channels of communication is one of the most important aspects of the process (after finding the time to do the projects themselves). The action researchers in this project were very welcoming of comments from the faculty mentors, and seemed to be very comforted by the fact that they would have frequent opportunities to get help, express concerns, or share successes. The action researchers were also very appreciative of the mentors’ periodic communications through email or during site visits.
Providing technical support to action researchers is found to be a key element in the success of the action researchers’ research experience. The findings from the study indicate that the model seems to be able to help facilitate the research process by giving researchers appropriate and timely help at three different points in the research process: while filling out proposals and other official paperwork (such as IRB); during the data collection and data analysis phases, and; during the report writing phase. The participants in this fellowship project indicated that the guided approach was helpful for them navigating these sometimes complicated and unknown research issues.
Another implication of the study is that it is important to establish a collaborative partnership among the university, the school, and the school district. With this collaborative partnership, action researchers (i.e. school educators) would get support, as opposed to hurdles, from the school administration and peer teachers during their research process.
Another important finding of the study is that the action researchers recognize the value of their research projects within the context of their schools. Failing to see the relevance and value of a research project is generally one of the reasons that students give for being unwilling to complete action research in their own schools. The final loop is closed on this process when “alumni action researchers” return to the research course that they completed as students, but this time as research presenters. During these visits, the action researchers share their findings, outcomes, trials and tribulations. As a result, the students in the class get a sense for how the process might go for them, personally. A few students may even express interest in participating in the next iteration of the fellowship, following their graduation.
Research has indicated that challenges exist for educators to carry out action research in schools. Among these challenges are the technical skills required to design and develop research instruments and the ability to analyze data and write up a research report (O’Connor, Greene, & Anderson, 2007; Stringer, 2008). The essential, important components of the model are the selection of willing, motivated participants, open communications with the action researchers, and developing and maintaining strong ties with the partnering schools and/or districts. It is our belief that similar action research mentoring models can help action researchers overcome similar obstacles and successfully implement action research in schools.
We continue to work to improve the action research model and hope that our model could help provide a framework for other institutions, groups, organizations, and school districts to implement action research in schools.
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Action Researchers’ Survey:
Investigating the effectiveness of the Action Research Fellows Project
Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements, on a scale of
5 = Strongly Agree, 4 = Agree, 3 = Neither agree nor disagree, 2 = Disagree, 1 = Strongly Disagree.
|1. I believe that the action research fellows model helped me to:|
|a. complete my action research project effectively|
|b. complete my action research project efficiently|
|2. If there was another chance to complete an action research project, I would be willing to complete it:|
|b. As part of a school improvement team|
|3. I would be motivated to design and implement another action research project|
|4. I plan to use the lessons I learned during the action research experience within my classroom practices.|
|5. I feel that my action research project and its outcomes align well with my present classroom practice.|
|6. I am satisfied with my experiences related to action research.|
|7. I am satisfied that the University faculty mentored me effectively.|
|8. It was easy to find:|
|a. a collaborative teacher for my action research study.|
|b. participants for my study|
|9. I shared my research findings with:|
|a. school administrators|
|b. school faculty and staff|
|c. students in my school|
|d. parents of students|
|e. members of the community|
|10. My school administrator was:|
|a. interested in my study|
|b. supportive of my study|
|If you ran into some complications while completing your project, please answer the following question, otherwise skip to question #12|
|11. I believe that I received timely and effective assistance from:|
|a. University faculty|
|b. personnel from my school|
|c. another person (please specify)|
|12. My research skills have improved as a result of the action research experience|
|13. My action research experience helped me to understand my students better|
|14. The action research process went smoothly|
|15. With respect to communication between yourself and the University faculty:|
|a. I initiated all communications|
|b. Sometimes I initiated communication, and sometimes the faculty mentor did|
|c. I believe the faculty mentor initiated all communications|
|d. I believe the level of communication between myself and the faculty mentor was sufficient|
The following questions are open-ended in nature. Please attach a separate sheet of paper if necessary.
16. Regarding your experience with the action research fellows program, do you have any comments about the value of the program, and its effectiveness helping you complete your proposed project?
17. After completing the action research project, how likely are you to complete another, similar action research project? Why or why not?
18. Were you satisfied with your experience in the action research fellows program? If so, please explain some strengths of the program.
19. If you experienced challenges while completing your study, please describe them, and any actions you took to try to overcome them?
20. Did you find the school visits from faculty to be helpful? Please elaborate.
21. Which components of the action research experience did you find the most rewarding? Please elaborate.
22. With consideration for future participants in the program, what are some things about the project that you'd like to see changed? Please give some details about why those changes would be particularly useful or necessary.
Thanks very much for your time and effort! Please send the survey back to us in the provided pre-paid envelope.
Liyan Song, Ph.D., is assistant professor in the Department of Educational Technology and Literacy at Towson University. Her research interests include technology integration in education, pre-service teachers' conceptual change learning experiences, action research, and distance education. She may be reached at the College of Education, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, Maryland 21252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeffrey M. Kenton, Ph.D. is assistant professor in the Department of Educational Technology and Literacy, and graduate program director for the Instructional Technology Master’s degree program at Towson University. His research interests include the design of purposeful digital learning environments, case study analysis in digital learning environments, and the use of metacognitive and reflective cognitive activities in learning. He may also be reached at the College of Education, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, Maryland 21252 or at email@example.com.