Winter 2009 Newsletter

Department Inaugurates Peer Assistant Program

Tim Tift
Lecturer SOE Emeritus

The Department of Education Peer Assistant (PA) Program is an innovative approach for course delivery that engages undergraduates as educational support in the classroom. Instructors identify potential Peer Assistants from students in their undergraduate education classes who demonstrate high academic achievement in the course. The students are offered an opportunity to participate as Peer Assistants in the next offering of the same course with the same instructor. In general, PA responsibilities include: helping with course logistics (taking roll, distributing handouts, facilitating PowerPoint presentations, collecting homework assignments); facilitating small group discussions during class; communicating student needs and interests to the instructor and Teaching Assistant; meeting with students during office hours, and assisting the Teaching Assistant and instructor in planning class activities. The idea of utilizing the experience and expertise of undergraduates to assist in courses, with instructors from whom they had already taken the course, was the inspiration of Lecturer Emeritus Tim Tift.

AERA Presentations

Professor Mark Warschauer with Researchers Kylie Peppler and Alicia Diazgranados
“Developing a Culture of Critical Game Designers within a Second Grade Math Community”

Professor Mark Warschauer

Recent discussions about gaming and learning are part of a larger debate about the need for 21st Century skills. Moreover, it’s important that young people are able to constructively critique what they are learning as well as creatively extend and apply it. We utilized a mixed-methods design that analyzed data from participants’ observations and archival data and focused on developing a classroom culture of critique and gaming literacies. Results indicate that this system of ground-up peer evaluation prompted students to use vocabulary relevant to game design and computer programming as well as to develop the ability to make choices and defend (i.e., develop logic and reasoning) – a key standard in elementary curricula that is oftentimes overlooked.

Professor George Farkas with Paul Morgan and Steve Maczuga
“Risk Factors for Learning-Related Behavior Problems at 24 Months of Age

Professor George Farkas

We used a large and non-high risk sample of singleton children to estimate the effects of socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, gender, additional socio-demographics, gestational and birth factors, and parenting on children's risk of displaying inattention, a lack of task persistence, disinterest, non-cooperation, or frustration as he or she completed a series of cognitive and physical tasks with a non-caregiver. Results indicated that boys are about twice as likely as girls to display learning-related behavior problems. Children from lower SES households are about twice as likely as those from high SES households to display such behavior problems. This study helps provide population-based estimates of children's risk for learning-related behavior problems while at an age when early interventions are most effective.

Professor George Farkas with Professors Paul Morgan and Steve Maczuga
“Predictors of Mathematical Proficiency: Separate Estimates for Children Entering Kindergarten With and Without Learning Difficulties”

We used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) to estimate growth trajectories of a sample of 8,141 children entering kindergarten with and without learning difficulties in mathematics. We then identified predictors of these children's growth trajectories. Results indicated that children entering kindergarten as relatively low skilled in mathematics continued to be so by the end of 5th grade. Children who were retained, who were infrequently engaging in learning-related behaviors, or who had been identified as disabled displayed less skills growth in mathematics. Relative reading proficiency predicted the initial mathematical knowledge and skills growth of children with learning difficulties, as well as the initial mathematical knowledge of children without learning difficulties.

Associate Professor Judith Haymore Sandholtz
“Preservice Teachers’ Conceptions of Effective and Ineffective Teaching Practices”

Associate Professor
Judith Haymore Sandholtz

In a climate of accountability, there is growing recognition that well-prepared, highly qualified teachers make an important difference in students’ achievement. Teacher education programs face increasing responsibility to prepare new teachers who can effectively enhance learning in all students. The aim is that teachers will not just manage classroom activities but assess and promote student understanding. Using written documents collected over a five-year period, this study examines the extent to which preservice teachers, at the end of their teacher preparation program, focus on instruction versus classroom management, identify issues of student understanding, and consider factors related to student learning in their reasoning.

Assistant Professor AnneMarie Conley
“A Person-oriented Perspective on the Multiple Goals Debate”

Assistant Professor
AnneMarie Conley

This study used a person-oriented approach that treats the individual as the unit of analysis to explore patterns of mastery and performance achievement goals. Participants were 1,870 students (primarily Vietnamese and Hispanic) taught by 40 teachers in 148 math classrooms in 7 urban middle schools. Questionnaires given at the beginning seventh grade included items from Midgley et al.'s (2000) Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales. Cluster analysis revealed seven patterns of motivation associated with differences in negative and positive affect and later achievement. In one adaptive pattern, students reported a sole focus on mastery goals of developing competence, supporting a traditional perspective on how goals operate. In another, students focused on both developing and demonstrating competence, suggesting that goals function differently for different students.

Assistant Professor Thurston Domina
“Paving the Way: K-16 Partnerships for Higher Education Diversity and High School Reform”

Assistant Professor
Thurston Domina

After the elimination of affirmative action in 1997, the University of California pursued an aggressive college outreach strategy. UC's outreach programs -which include professional development programs for teachers in disadvantaged high schools, as well as several programs that provide academic services and college information to students at high-poverty high schools -- attempt to maintain campus diversity by enlarging the admissible black and Hispanic applicants from the state's public schools. In the proposed paper, we will take a time-series regression approach to evaluate these efforts, measuring the effects that UC's various college outreach programs have had on California's public high schools.

Assistant Professor Lindsey Richland
“Learning to Reason Analogically”

Assistant Professor
Lindsey Richland

This project examines children's development of analogical reasoning using longitudinal data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a prospective study of children and families from birth through sixth grade. The poster describes a repeated-measures MANOVA examining the longitudinal associations between cognitive and environmental factors and children's later analogical reasoning. Specifically, predictor variables included measures of knowledge (vocabulary), and cognitive skills administered at 54 mos, 1st grade, and 15 years (N = 539). Cognitive measures included two executive functions - planning and strategy manipulation (Tower of Hanoi task) and inhibitory control (Children's day-night and traditional Stroop tasks), and a short-term memory measure (Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised (WJR) Memory for Sentences). The outcome measures were children's scores on a WJR Verbal Analogy subscale repeated at 3rd grade and 15 years. In addition to the cognitive factors, the model also included family and environment measures as controls: SES, maternal education level, ethnicity, and data collection site. These types of controls have rarely been considered in studies of analogical reasoning. Between-subjects effects revealed knowledge and cognitive factors of short-term memory, executive function, and inhibitory control as predictive of children's analogical reasoning skill across both time periods. Mother's education level was the only predictor of children's analogical reasoning within the control variables. In the within-subjects data, short-term memory and executive function (planning and strategy manipulation) predicted change in analogical reasoning scores over time. These data provide a unique insight into the contributory roles of cognitive factors in the developmental trajectory of analogical reasoning, as well as a suggestion that mothers' roles in shaping children's analogical reasoning must be considered.

Assistant Professor Rossella Santagata, with Joi Spencer (UCSD) and Jaime Park (UCLA)
“Teaching Mathematics for Understanding in Urban Settings: A Model that Integrates Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions toward Students”

Assistant Professor
Rossella Santagata

International studies reveal that lessons in the United States involve less mathematical connections between concepts and procedures compared to lessons taught in countries where student achievement is higher (Stigler & Hiebert,1999; Hiebert et al., 2003). Although U.S. teachers present just as many rich problems as the teachers in the other countries, they often reduce the conceptual aspects of the problems to computations and algorithms during a lesson. Hence, the main goal of this project was to provide teachers in an U.S. urban setting opportunities to develop mathematical knowledge and pedagogical skills necessary to teach mathematics for understanding. We developed a two-year video-based PD program that featured two main goals: (1) to deepen teachers' understanding of 6th-grade mathematics concepts and (2) to develop their ability to teach in ways that are responsive to student thinking by maintaining the cognitive demand of the mathematical task. The PD model was designed to integrate mathematics knowledge and teaching skills through a multi-dimensional analysis of videotaped lessons. The PD program consisted of 40 hours paced according to the district instructional guide. All 6th-grade teachers and their students from 5 high-poverty and low-performing middle schools participated in the study. Teachers were randomly assigned to either a treatment or a control group. During year 1, the treatment group participated in the PD program, while the control group did not. During Year 2, the control and the treatment groups participated in the PD program.

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Assistant Professor Rossella Santagata with Nicole Kersting (UA) and Karen Givvin (Lesson Lab)
“Teachers' Analysis of Classroom Video as a Predictor of Students' Mathematics Learning: Further Explorations of a Novel Measure of Teacher Knowledge”

The Capturing Teacher Knowledge (TeKno) project is an instrument development effort that explores a novel approach to assessing teacher knowledge in mathematics. This approach uses video clips of actual classroom instruction as stimuli (i.e., item prompts) to elicit teacher knowledge of teaching mathematics. Teachers are asked to respond to events in the video clips, much like they might do when facing similar situations in their own classrooms. We reasoned that the analyses teachers produced in their responses would reveal not only their knowledge as it relates to the teaching situation depicted in the video clip, but also their ability to bring that knowledge to bear on a classroom situation. A series of video-analysis assessments is being developed under this project. In this paper we report results from the Teaching Fractions assessment.

Assistant Professor Rossella Santagata
Chair of the Symposium: “Teacher Learning about Student Mathematical Thinking: A Discussion of Various PD Models and Research Methodologies”

There is a growing consensus about the fundamental role that teacher professional development (PD) plays in improving student learning experiences in mathematics. Yet, providing effective PD is complex. Part of the difficulty is related to the interdisciplinary nature of the knowledge teachers need. The projects summarized in this symposium share two assumptions: (1) a crucial aspect of what teachers need to know is an understanding of students' thinking about core mathematical concepts, and (2) teachers need to apply that knowledge by attending and responding to students' ideas during instruction. Yet these projects differ in the strategies they use to engage teachers with this kind of knowledge and in the way they combine this knowledge with other aspects of teacher knowledge..

Assistant Professor Elizabeth van Es
“Facilitating Teachers’ Learning to Notice in a Video-Club”

Assistant Professor
Elizabeth van Es

A central question related to using video in teacher education concerns how to design and facilitate video-based professional development. As Le Fevre (2004) reminds us, video in and of itself is not a curriculum. Thus, careful attention must be given to how to design such environments so that they are productive for learners. This paper focuses the role of the facilitator in a particular type of video-based professional development, a video club. In a video club, teachers meet on a regular basis to view and discuss video segments from each other’s classrooms. Thus, important issues arise related to how to facilitate a video club to develop trust among the group so that they will open up their classrooms for analysis, establish norms for inquiry based discussions, and manage conversations in the moment so that the goals of the group are accomplished. Using the situative perspective, I examine the nature of facilitation of a video club designed to help 4th and 5th grade elementary teachers “learn to notice” student mathematical thinking. Data analysis suggests that the facilitators adopted a particular discourse structure that enabled the group to accomplish this goal consisting of three phases: Opening Up the Discussion, Probing Particular Student Ideas, and Comparing and Contrasting Interpretations. Through this three-phase structure, the facilitator provided space for teachers to voice their interpretations of what they attended to and their goals for participation, while also modeling how to engage in a sustained, grounded evidence-based discussion of student thinking. Understanding these practices provides insight into the ways that facilitators apprentice teachers into adopting a discourse for analyzing teaching and learning and the structures that need to be considered in order to accomplish this goal.

Ph.D. Student Nayssan Safavian
“Ethnic Identity and Academic Efficacy in the Classroom”

Ph.D. Student
Nayssan Safavian

While adolescent psychosocial adjustment and achievement have been each linked separately with self-efficacy and ethnic identity, very few studies have examined the implications of ethnic identity for competence beliefs. This study examined the role of ethnic identity development on early adolescents’ academic efficacy beliefs, and whether ethnic identity operated in the same manner across African American and Caucasian boy sand girls. Middle school students (N=350) completed the Academic Efficacy scale from Midgley’s Pattern of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS) and Phinney’s Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM). The hypothesized 2-factor structure was replicated in this sample. Ethnic identity positively predicted self-efficacy, but only for African American boys.


Professor Michael Martinez Announces Publication of Latest Book
Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind

Michael Martinez

What is the design of the mind? What does that design imply for education? This comprehensive and engaging introduction to human learning and its applications to education focuses on these vital questions by exploring the theories of knowledge, complex cognition, and human intelligence, presenting a clear and interesting overview of the human mind through multiple theoretical lenses. The author delineates how the mind has a clear design, or architecture, that explains simple acts of memory and complex cognition, as well as highly creative acts and leaps of scientific or artistic insight. Topics covered throughout the text include: memory, motivation, cognitive development, the brain, and intelligence. Unique to this text, the author has provided an interdisciplinary chapter dedicated to theories of knowledge, extended coverage of expert-novice differences and talent development, and a chapter devoted to intelligence. Readers will appreciate special features like Learning Strategies which cover specific application of the theories to classroom practice, and Interest Magnets which explore fascinating topics such as photographic memory, sleep learning, and Einstein's brain. Written like a narrative, Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind will delight its readers' interest and attention as they learn about the theories of human learning and cognition and the improvement of the mind through education.

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The design of the mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Congratulations to our Recent Doctors of Education

Peter Jones , Ed.D., UCI/UCLA

Dissertation: Validity of the No Child Left Behind Act Teacher Effectiveness Assumptions

Current Position: Assessment & Evaluation Coordinator, UC Irvine Department of Education

Feliza Ortiz , Ed.D., CSU/UCI

Dissertation: A Space of Their Own: The Symbiotic Relationship between Cities and Schools

Current Position: Director of Education, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Los Angeles

Amit Schitai, Ed.D., CSU/UCI

Dissertation: Ableism And Inequality On Line: Analysis Of Web Accessibility And Implementation In Higher Education

Current Position: Director of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Long Beach City College