Saturday, February 6, 2010

In school research

I started my studies for my masters this year and it's good to be doing something thought provoking again. There's a bit of a rush on post graduate studies at school at the moment, with many feeling more comfortable to start now that many NCOS subjects are bedded down. Lots by coursework, I think I am the only one doing it by thesis.

This term I'm looking at group dynamics and seeing how student/teacher interaction can be made more fruitful. Everyone that I explain my topic to seems to think I'm trying to do groupwork with my students (and I get a lecture on the validity of groupwork and assessment). These discussions have helped crystallise my resolve to assist students use their classtime more fruitfully and have students engage in meaningful conversation with a wider range of students. It's not really about collaboration and groupwork in the "put four people in a group and watch one do the work" mould.

It goes back to the 60 minute period - ~20 minutes instruction (10+ 10 or 7 + 7 + 7) and 40 minutes intervention time. In a class of 20, if all students are relying on the teacher for help, that's two minutes per student and a lot of time wasted waiting for the teacher, in a class of 30 it's worse.

A few minor issues have arisen that has forced me to widen the scope of my project. The first being that I need benchmark information at the start of the year but classes are fluid until week 4 when streams are set in stone. The second being the raft of hurdles that need to be jumped before research can begin.

The hurdles thus far:
Acceptance by university into the Masters course (a discussion, two phone calls and an email).
My WACOT registration expired whilst the transition from registered teacher occurred (and was an absolutely painful process to resolve with the same document lost multiple times by WACOT).
My WWC expired during the break (and required signing by the principal before a new one could be applied for and something that the screening unit needs to consider)
Approval by the university that the topic would comprise valid research (relatively painless as was done as part of a summer school unit)
Human Research Ethics Committee approval from the university (relatively painless as was done as part of a summer school unit)
Approval to proceed by the department (this was the big surprise - Policy and Planning at DET are a well oiled machine and made this a really pleasant experience with a fantastic turnaround)
Approval by my site manager (our principal).

Still to go:
Approval by parents
Approval by students
Approval by staff

The good thing is that now I have passed all of the third party stakeholders, I only need approvals directly related to the participants.

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