M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership – Research Projects 2014

Coaching secondary students’ historical inquiry and textual interpretation using a contrasting case intervention
Author: Maryam Emami
Affiliation: Rangeley Lakes Regional School
Author: Eleni Margaronis
Volunteer Center Coordinator United Way Tri-Valley

Abstract: This study presents findings from a Documents-Based ABA study conducted at a rural high school in Maine. The study focused on three history topics, and examined the impact of a contrasting-case intervention on secondary student’s historical inquiry and textual interpretation skills. The intervention was conducted with ten participants who engaged in a lesson that modeled historical thinking. The intervention lesson used two hypothetical student samples: one featured sophisticated strategies used by experts, and the other simple strategies commonly employed by secondary school students. Students compared and contrasted the two protocols. A Multiple Text Strategy inventory adapted from Braten and Stromso’s self report inventory, (2010) was also used to see how participants valued specific textual and intertextual elements. The findings revealed that after the intervention half the students demonstrated growth in historical inquiry and textual interpretation. Additionally 80% of participants experienced growth in at least one element of the essay task. We discuss the instructional implications of the Documents-Based Lesson and the Cognitive Apprenticeship model in bringing disciplined historical inquiry into the social studies classroom are also presented.


Impacts of the Implementation of Standards-Based Education on Teacher Practice
Author: Donald Ferrara
Affiliation: Lewiston High School

Abstract: In schools where standards based teaching and assessing have been officially implemented, what effects has it had on teacher practice? The purpose of this study was to examine the effects a standards based educational curriculum has had on teacher practice.  Data was collected using an anonymous survey. Five hundred and one teachers were sent the survey and there were twenty eight responses.  The researcher found a very diverse reaction from teachers with some finding very dramatic changes to their practice, such as addition time needed for preparation, More professional development needed, and less content being taught, while others have not reported significant changes at all.
Keywords: Standards Based Education, Teacher Practice, Classroom Management


The Relationship Between Homework Completion, Perceptions of Homework Importance, and Technology
Author: Heather Freeman
Affiliation: RSU 14 Windham-Raymond Schools

Abstract: The purpose of this mixed-methods research was to examine homework completion rates and student perception of homework value in one middle school mathematics classroom.  Twenty-four 7th grade students from Windham Middle School participated in two conditions, and completed a pre- and post-survey regarding homework perceptions.  The study was designed to compare traditional homework to iPad-based homework. The first condition was four weeks of paper and pencil homework, and the second condition was three weeks of iPad homework using the online math program IXL.  Homework completion rates indicated that paper and pencil homework was completed more often than IXL homework. Survey results showed a student preference for paper and pencil over IXL.  This research encourages conversations with colleagues, administrators, and students about the use of homework and professional development around designing effective homework.  Further research is needed in the area of IXL effectiveness and general homework effectiveness.
Keywords: Homework, iPads, student perception


Perceptions of Adult Education: Two Case Studies From A Community Corrections Program
Author: Susan Knight
Affiliation: Skowhegan Adult and Community Education, Somerset County Jail

Abstract:  A form of alternative sentencing, community corrections programs require adults to check in with a supervisor and participate in employment, counseling and/or educational programming. This qualitative research project focused on two women sentenced to Somerset County Community Corrections Program (SCCCP) and sought to understand their perspective on personal educational needs, goals and individual efficacy in furthering their education.  Administrators involved in SCCCP and the local adult education program were also surveyed about their perspective on educational programming within SCCCP and whether access to educational information and opportunities was appropriate.  Findings indicate that for participants, education is perceived as a highly desired opportunity and presents specific challenges each individual must address.  Stakeholders also value educational opportunity within this program particularly its impact on increasing employability.
Keywords: Adult Education, Community Corrections


The Correlation of Grades and Achievement in Standards-Based and Non-Standards-Based High School Science Classrooms as Measured by the Maine High School Assessment Science Test
Author: Karl Matulis
Affiliation: RSU 11

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to compare the degree to which standardized test scores and grades corresponded in both standards-based and non-standards based science classrooms.  Data was gathered from three high schools in Maine: one standards-based, and two non-standards-based.  The correlation of student grades and test scores was calculated using Spearman’s Rank Order Correlation and Kendall’s Tau-b Correlation.  Although the results show a striking similarity between two of the schools, when the third school is factored in there is no significance in the difference between the correlations in any of the systems.


The Relationship Between NWEA’s, DRA’s, and Educator’s Methods of Identifying Students who Qualify for Gifted and Talented Services
Author: Tanya Nicols
Affiliation: MSAD 44 Woodstock Elementary School

Abstract: This mixed methods study was conducted in SAD #44 with teachers at the three elementary schools. It first examined the relationship between Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Scores and Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) Score. Second, the study investigated methods used by teachers, as well as their opinion of identifying students for gifted and talented services. The data collected found a moderate correlation between the NWEA and DRA data in reading. It also found that NWEA and DRA scores were not identifying the same group of students for gifted and talented services. Lastly, it established that teachers use a range of methods to qualify students.


Peer Mentoring As An Intervention For Ninth Grader Transition To High School
Author: Walter L. Perry
Affiliation: Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School

Abstract: This study will gather data on the “Kick-Off” peer mentoring program used in two Maine schools and determine if the programs have improved school culture, attendance and decreased number of failures in the freshman class they seek to aid. This is a mixed methods study where qualitative data was acquired from administrator interviews regarding school culture and the quantitative portion uses survey data from staff regarding attendance and course failures.  While the program solves many issues that hinder ninth graders, the program has little observable impact on attendance and grades. The greatest result is improving culture and student connections to the school.

Using Transformative Experiences in a Science Class to Improve Students’ Conceptual Understanding of Biological Evolution and Promote Meaningful Classroom Experiences.

Abstract: For students within a high school science classroom content and understanding can become isolated within classroom walls, with little connection to everyday life. This 8-week mixed-methods study focused on using the Teaching for Transformative Experiences in Science (TTES) model in a 10th grade high school biology classroom in order to provide students with relevant experiences and enhance their understanding of biological evolution. The researcher found that through using the TTES model students’ conceptual understanding of the topic increased, they experienced positive emotions while studying the topic, and made connections to situations outside of the classroom. Further research needs to address how the TTES model could be applied to strengthen transformative experiences more often within all content areas taught at the high school level.