EDSE 600: Research Methods I Professor: Anna CohenMiller, PhD Mini-Research Proposal “Contextualizing and Practicing Personalized Learning: A Qualitative Case Study of 8th Grade Teachers in Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS) in Southern Kazakhstan” Balnura Kydyrbayeva Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education November 13, 2019 2 Abstract New types of learning are being implemented in Kazakhstan annually. Personalized learning (PL) is one of initiatives has been implemented since this year. The main goal of PL is covering the program of two years within one year. PL aims at developing students’ autonomy and teaches them to be responsible for their learning. Childress & Benson (2014) highlight that PL meets learner`s individual needs, interests and skills. It is crucial to identify teachers` perception about PL in order to foresee the future result of the program. The benefits of PL are positive effect on learner`s performances and achievements as well as motivation to become a lifelong learner. Interview and focus group will be main tools in collecting data. Participants will be 8th grade teachers who currently practice PL in NIS in southern Kazakhstan. My findings will be used as recommendations for practitioners and policymakers to implement PL successfully. Moreover, as PL is not researched in Kazakhstan before it will be beneficial for all teachers, principals and vice principals and will be a starting point for further investigation. Key words Personalized learning, learners` autonomy, teachers` perceptions, accelerating student learning, personal learning and student-centered instructional model. The topic under investigation Childress & Benson (2014) defined PL like accelerating learning through adapting the learning environment to meet students’ needs and skills. It is a main mechanism which is aimed at student-centered approach. Today PL is an innovative program which is being implemented in all NIS schools. Thus, it is considered to be a topical issue. I want to conduct a research about PL in order to find out teachers’ perceptions about the program and to share the findings of effectiveness or ineffectiveness of it. As I am a part the school community where the research will be conducted, I would like to make a contribution to further successful implementation of the program in my school. Although NIS students are gifted, it will affect students’ psychology and performance due to complicated program of the school. Students are overloaded but with the implementation of PL their load will be doubled. Therefore, students who will experience PL while covering the program of two grades within one year should be encouraged and supported by the school community. The findings of my research will be beneficial for teachers who practice PL as they will be informed about general teachers’ perceptions as well as benefits and drawbacks of the program from their perspectives. As for researchers, they will have insights about PL which will contribute to their further investigation of the issue. Also, as PL is an innovative program in Kazakhstan which is not researched before, it will be a starting point for studying the topic thoroughly in the future. Literature review PL is a program which is being piloted in all NIS schools. It is an innovative program for Kazakhstan in terms of involving gifted children in the process. The international terminologies dual enrollment or dual credit system were used in the USA, while in Russia term external studies were used. Mansell & Justice (2014) stated that in order to fulfill the government goal of increasing the number of students in higher education and make the transitions easier; the initiative of using dual credit system was approved. It helped students to cover high school and college curriculum at the same time. The focus was only on high school. However, in Russia external studies were used from elementary school to high school. Shmankevich (2016) reviewed the evolution of external studies in Russia when students covered the program 3 without attending the classes. External studies were designed for 14 different groups of students including students who were bored by the program and were talented enough to cover two years program within a year. It was highlighted that the load was challenging even for talented students and it had an impact on students` psychology. Bingham, Pane, Steiner, & Hamilton (2018) pointed out that PL leads to improvement of students` performances as well as demands from teachers using tools like computer and the latest approaches in teaching. PL affect positively on less abled students and more abled students equally. PL consists of four main parts: 1) students profiles where information about learners’ aims, strong and weak sides are kept; 2) students’ learning paths which are changed according to each learner`s motivation, progress and aims; 3) assessment of students’ progress which encourages students to achieve their goals (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014, as cited by Bingham et al., 2018). These key components can be used in implementing PL in Kazakhstan. Chuong, Mead, & Bellwether (2014) pointed out the importance of using electronic appliances in effective use of PL. Gross, DeArmond & Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) (2018) also supported the idea of using digital tools such as flipped classroom one type of blended learning focused on activities outside the classroom. In their research the majority of teachers used videos and students completed the task depending on their pace. Research purpose statement The primary purpose of the research is to identify teachers’ perceptions on PL. As this initiative is being used in my school I want to study deeply the issue which in turns will help adapt the program regarding the findings. Later teachers who will experience the PL program will make changes taking into account the findings which will be spread to other NIS teachers because the benefits and drawbacks will be investigated during the study. Methods of research will be focus groups and interviews with teachers practicing PL. Moreover, in order to make my study more credible I will ask other teachers from NIS to take part in my research. Interviews and focus groups will be the best ways to identify how teachers perceive the PL and about its strengths and weaknesses. Research questions 1. How is personalized learning understood by 8th grade NIS teachers in Southern Kazakhstan? 2. How do teachers perceive the benefits of personalized learning, if at all? 3. How do teachers perceive the drawbacks of personalized learning? Philosophical statement The interpretive or constructivist worldview described by Leavy (2017) will be used in my research. As the theoretical framework phenomenology will be used which focuses on participants’ personal opinions. Phenomenologists` aim is to study experiences, perceptions and understandings of participants concerning the topic. After that investigation participants’ perceptions and experiences will be analyzed. Genre/design and methods of data collection Methods of data collection will be interviews and focus groups consisting of 8th grade teachers who practice PL from NIS in southern part of Kazakhstan. I will use in-depth interviews where participants will not have ready answers since the questions will be openended and will require using their own languages. In my research semi-structured questions will be used as these questions encourage interviewees to give full answers and they can give extra information which will be used later in my study. While asking interview questions I 4 will start from general questions to specific ones in order to logically structure my research. If participants will hesitate, give short answers or struggle while answering I will use probes to direct them and to push to speak more about the topic. Focus groups and participants will undergo face-to-face interviews. In order to make my research more credible I will use conversation and interview and reflexivity notes. Sampling, participants and setting While choosing participants I will not pay attention to demographics of participants but will choose them according to their experiences. In focus group will be involved six teachers who currently teach PL in 8th grade on a voluntary basis. The main participant criteria will be having at least 3 years of teaching experience. In addition, in order to have credible and reliable results I will conduct an interview with 15 teachers who currently teach 8 th grade students and practice PL. The participant criteria will be the same as for focus group. I will use snowball sampling to interest participants, as it is an innovative program teachers will have a desire to share their positive or negative experiences with others. The research will be conducted in artificial setting as my data collection methods are interview and focus groups. Data analysis and interpretation strategies Data analysis and interpretation are significant while conducting a qualitative research. After conducting an interview it is necessary to transcribe interview recordings. First step is to collect data from interviews separately in different files. Second step is to look at the data to get general insights. Then each interview should be reviewed thoroughly by taking notes, highlighting and underlining key words and phrases (Saldaña 2014, as sited in Leavy 2017). As my research topic is identifying teachers` perceptions In vivo coding will be used. In comparison with other coding tools by using In vivo teachers` perceptions and feelings will be described in details. Also it will allow using participants` language in the research. After that the data will be categorized by themes. While coding it is crucial to write memos where researchers’ thoughts, feelings, understandings and comments will be written. The last step is interpreting data by using memos and patterns. Evaluation In order to find out how teachers perceive PL I will interview my colleagues since they are currently practicing it in the school. The research will contribute to further development of the program or to changes which will be made after conducting the study. Semi-structured interview questions will make the research credible as not only open-ended but also closed questions will be asked, which in turns will assist in getting trustworthy data. The design and language of the study will be comprehensible for all readers. Representation The intended audience of the research will be teachers, principals, vice principals as well as researchers who are interested in PL. The best way of presenting the findings will be writing an article and publishing it in the journal. Also the findings can be presented in the conferences for the school community. Ethics statement All participants will be chosen on a voluntary basis. Before conducting a research they will sign a consent letter. Participants will be guaranteed confidentiality. At the beginning they will be informed about beneficence and risks. If participants will refuse taking part in the research their desire will be fulfilled. Being experienced teaching 8th grade students I will include my feelings, reactions towards the topic while conducting the research. 5 References Bingham, A. J., Pane, J. F., Steiner, E. D., & Hamilton, L. S. (2018). Ahead of the Curve: Implementation Challenges in Personalized Learning School Models. Educational Policy, 32(3), 454–489. https://doi.org/10.1177/0895904816637688 Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day: the best hope for accelerating student achievement is by using a range of pedagogical and technological innovations that deliver personalized learning to each student. Phi Delta Kappan, (8). Retrieved from https://ezproxy.nu.edu.kz:2358/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.3674 21139&site=eds-live Chuong, C., Mead, S., & Bellwether Education Partners. (2014). A Policy Playbook for Personalized Learning: Ideas for State and Local Policymakers. Bellwether Education Partners. Bellwether Education Partners. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED553985&site= eds-live Gross, B., DeArmond, M., & Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). (2018). Personalized Learning at a Crossroads: Early Lessons from the Next Generation Systems Initiative and the Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools Initiative. Center on Reinventing Public Education. Center on Reinventing Public Education. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED584719&site= eds-live Leavy, Patricia. (2017). Research design: Quantitative, Qualitative, Mixed Methods, ArtsBased, and Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches. New York: Guilford Press. Mansell, N., & Justice, M. (2014). Learning from the Past: Dual Credit. Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research, 4(1). Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1058483&site= eds-live Shmankevich, T. Y. (2016). Evolution of school of external studies: concepts, practices, issues. SOTSIOLOGICHESKIE ISSLEDOVANIYA, (9), 73. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswss&AN=00038642030 0009&site=eds-live 6 Appendix 1 SUGGESTED TIMELINE September – ethics forms submitted to NU IREC October – planning for implementation November – interview protocol development December - pilot testing of interview and focus group protocol January – recruitment and interviews of participants 7 Appendix 2 BUDGET № 1 2 3 Necessary things Recruitment letters 21 (printed) Coffee Consent letters 21 (printed) Amount of money 210 tg 500 tg 210 tg 8 Appendix 3 Interview questions 1 What do you know about PL? 2 Could you describe you experience of practicing PL? 3 What are benefits of PL to you? 4 What are benefits of PL to students? 5 What are benefits of PL to parents? 6 Are there any challenges you face while practicing PL? 7 What are drawbacks of PL to you? 8 What are drawbacks of PL to students? 9 What are drawbacks of PL to parents?