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AbstractThis paper explores the potential of Multiple Pathways as a strategy for improving the educational outcomes of immigrant and English Learner students and better preparing them for career and college opportunities. For most immigrants and English Learners, education, as it is currently structured, is not a vehicle of upward social mobility and the schools leave many behind. Many observers of these trends argue that another model of schooling needs to be considered. Immigrant and EL students generally have weak academic preparation in part because of their personal circumstances and in part because of the schools’ inability to meet their needs. They have language development needs that are unmet, are segregated and isolated in the least stimulating classes in the poorest schools, and are exposed to few postsecondary options. They have limited aspirations and little knowledge of how to plan for postsecondary schooling or entering the workforce. Some suffer from lack of legal documentation and many feel uncomfortable in school as though they “don’t belong.” Others feel ignored or discriminated against by other students, and most see few models of upward educational or job mobility. In low-income circumstances where families immigrate to find work, the pressure to be a contributing member of the family can be intense. Moreover, even if schools were able to provide the needed courses and supports for educational success, many of these students would still require more time to accomplish the cultural, linguistic, and academic tasks necessary to allow them to graduate from high school fully prepared for the workforce or for postsecondary education. Broad and fundamental reform is required to create schools that could meet these students’ needs. A Multiple Pathways strategy may be able to open doors to higher educational attainment and higher paying jobs. A curriculum that incorporates both academic and career technical education may be especially relevant to English Learners and immigrant students. The opportunity to learn and demonstrate learning by doing—hands-on, project and portfolio type activities—has been shown to improve the exam pass rates for English Learners. Moreover, cooperative learning strategies and project-based curricula scaffold instruction for students who have not yet fully mastered English. The opportunity to extend courses into the community with persons who also have knowledge of students’ language and culture can constitute additional human capital resources for these students. The potential of these models (that provide an integrated curriculum and off-site learning experiences) are many, including the provision of meaningful coursework, increased participation of some parents who can more easily support skill-based learning, and opportunities to “earn while they learn.” Additionally, Multiple Pathways could make available strong models of English and opportunities to use emerging English language skills in ecologically meaningful ways, provide greater exposure to career opportunities, and provide more flexible schedules through off-site learning experiences. Of course, Multiple Pathways also presents many challenges for immigrant and EL students, principally the concern that they will, once again, be channeled into the least prestigious and remunerative settings. However, while there are clearly hazards in attempting to construct Multiple Pathways to educate English Learner and immigrant students, it appears that there would be more benefits than liabilities with such an approach. If students can be engaged in meaningful activity, learn about workforce opportunities, and prepare for a postsecondary education and a college degree, school could become more compelling for students who have traditionally felt and been marginalized. Perhaps the greatest advantage of Multiple Pathways would be to demonstrate that immigrant students and English Learners can succeed in school given the opportunity. Successful implementation would demonstrate that immigrant students and English Learners can produce significant returns on the investment we must make in them.
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The Influence of Three Types of Interaction: Student-Instructor, Student-Student, Student Content, and Selected Demographic Characteristics on the Cognitive Achievement of Online Graduate StudentsDiaz-Cortes, Dagoberto (LSU Digital Commons, 2017-01-01)The primary purpose of this study was to examine the influence of selected types of interaction: Student-Instructor interaction, Student-Student interaction, and Student-Content interaction; and selected demographic characteristics on achievement of graduate students enrolled in an online engineering course at a university in the southeastern region of the United States. The study sample included 181 graduate students enrolled in an introductory level 7-week online course that was offered at different times between the fall semester of 2014 and the spring semester of 2016. The variables instructor, instructor preparation, course content, and course structure were integrated into the study design. The sampling plan involved the selection of students who enrolled in the same course and that were taught by the same instructor who had completed a training program in online teaching. Moreover, a score for the cognitive skill level targeted by the course and the degree of course alignment between learning objectives, learning activities, and the final exam was calculated using the Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. The demographic variables studied included gender, age, prior online learning experience, and undergraduate GPA. The selected interactions: Student-Instructor, Student-Student, and Student-Content interactions were measured in terms of frequencies and average time spent on selected type of interaction for each student throughout the 7-week course. Student achievement was operationalized as the final grades in the course. Three variables were significantly correlated with student achievement: Student-Student interaction frequency, Student-Content interaction mean time occurrence, and undergraduate GPA. Also, male achievement scores were higher than female scores, a statistically significant difference of t(179) = 2.486, p = .014, d = .07. Furthermore, a hierarchical regression analysis determined a statistically significant model that explains the variance in student achievement from the selected demographic and interaction variables R2 = .175, F(10, 170) = 30.740, p = .0005. The variables gender, undergraduate GPA, Student-Student interaction frequency, and Student-Content interaction frequency, were identified as significant contributors to the model. Based on the study findings the researcher recommends the integration of collaborative activities in the design of online learning given the significant contribution that Student-Student interactions made to student achievement.
Online Learning for Students from Diverse Backgrounds: Learning Disability Students, Excellent Students and Average StudentsMiri Shonfeld; Ilana Ronen (The International Academic Forum, 2015-09-01)The perceived contribution of science education online course to pre-service students (N=121) from diverse backgrounds - students with learning disabilities (25 LD students), 28 excellent students and 68 average students is presented in this five years research. During the online course students were asked to choose a scientific subject; to map it and to plan teaching activities; to carry out the proposed activities with students in a classroom experience; and to reflect the process. The assumption was that adapting the online course by using information and communication technology following formative assessment will improve students' self-learning ability as well as broaden their science knowledge, their lab performance and teaching skills. Data were collected using quantitative and qualitative tools including: pre and post questionnaires and nine (three students from each group) depth interviews upon completion of the course. Findings, based on students` perceived evaluation, pinpointed on the advantages of the online course for students of the three groups. LD students’ achievements were not inferior to those of their peers, excellent students and average students. Yet, it carefully reports on a slight but explicitly marginal perceived evaluation of the LD students in comparison to excellent students and average students regarding: forum participation, authentic task and water lab performance. The article discusses the affordance of the online course via additional features that can be grouped into two categories: knowledge construction and flexibility in time, interaction and knowledge. Further research is suggested to extend the current study by examine the effect of other courses and different contents and by considering various evaluation methods of online courses, such as: observation, the think aloud, text and tasks analysis, and reflection.
Use of online asynchronous discussion boards to engage students, enhance critical thinking, and foster staff-student/student-student collaboration: A mixed method studyOsborne, Debora M.; Byrne, Jacqui H.; Massey, Debbie L.; Johnston, Amy N.B. (Churchill Livingstone, 2018-11-01)Background: The ongoing challenges of managing large student enrolments and increasing demand from students for online learning platforms and teaching strategies has helped drive tertiary implementation of asynchronous online discussion boards (AOD). However, supporting and assessing students in such a forum remains contentious. Methods: This explorative, mixed methods study examined and evaluated the usage and perceptions of a unique form of AOD used in a postgraduate nursing course. Student survey and semi-structured interviews with staff (n = 3) were used to explore the structures, processes and outcomes of inclusion of an AOD in this online course. Triangulation of themes emerging from the staff interviews, survey outcomes, and student free text responses enabled appraisal of AOD, focusing primarily on its contribution to course content and assessment. Results: Students’ survey responses (approx. 24% of the cohort; n = 34) were largely positive. Themes that arose from the qualitative data included i) AOD to build a sense of student community, ii) AOD to encourage interaction with and deliberation of course content, iii) stimuli and challenges around assessing the discussion board, and iv) easy to use IT interface made it a more positive experience. Student responses suggested that scaffolding, feedback and sufficient time allocation were required. Many factors impacted on student interaction with the AOD, including a lack of time due to paid work and other coursework and assessments. Discussion: Overall, staff and students reported the assessed AOD was a positive course component. It encouraged engagement with staff, other students and the subtleties of complex course content, critical appraisal and discussion of evidence, and application to clinical practice. Exemplars and explicit marking criteria setting out the need for informed contributions were considered crucial by all stakeholders.