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Final Reflective Assessment MAT 723
1. What were your initial premise statements? Discuss your premise statements now that they have been refined and revised as a result of your action research.
Initially, I believed that action research was going to be “busy work.” I felt that it was just one more thing to do as a teacher, in the never-ending sea of work in which we swim. As far as student achievement is concerned, I believed that giving students individual time with me was the greatest tool in helping them learn. Through my research, however, I have discovered that giving students ownership and clear expectations as well as time to work together daily, peer tutoring can be a wonderfully effective tool in learning also. In addition, I have found that action research is one of the most valuable things teachers can do for themselves and for their students to better the learning environment and classroom practices as a whole. My premise statements have been dramatically redefined, as I now believe in action research and in peer tutoring as productive teaching and learning strategies to reach all learners in my classroom.
2. Your “practical argument” is the professional knowledge and language you use to support the decisions you make in your classroom. What were the key concepts and ideas from these courses that define your new practical argument in professional practice?
The key idea that defines my new practical argument is simple. I believe that teachers must do whatever it takes to help students achieve and have success in the classroom. In my research, I learned that peer tutoring is a great way for students to master the skills and concepts needed to meet grade level expectations. After conducting this research, I definitely believe strongly in peer assisted learning/peer tutoring.
A report by Laurel D. Puchner emphasizes the academic impact of students teaching other students in the classroom. She states, “placing [children] in appropriately structured peer tutoring and/or cooperative learning situations in the classroom is likely to increase academic achievement” (2003, p. 13). She also discusses the need for procedure instruction/training by the teacher beforehand to ensure the maximum effectiveness of peer tutoring for both students in each pair. This training should include helping, explaining and questioning skills or at least the ability to know when to ask for help from the teacher guide.
Another author, Michael A. Valaro, states in his study “Peer-tutoring has many benefits for both tutees and tutors. Some of these benefits include teamwork, increases in student achievement, enhancements of self-esteem, improvements of social skills and positive affects on thinking skills” (2003, p. 25-26). This study shows that peer-tutoring is a strategy that can be very successful and that it gives students a sense of responsibility for their own work and learning
In her article, Through the Looking Glass: One School’s Reflections on Differentiation, author Carol Tieso presents information from real classroom teachers who used peer tutoring for an entire year. She reports that these teachers were able to complete research and implement a peer tutoring strategy ideal for differentiation in the classroom that was a success. One of the major components of peer coaching, was students working together to meet each other’s needs. Tieso believes and shows through this article and study that this type of teaching can bring about change for the better in students and their academic achievement.
I am excited to share that my students had astounding results when using peer tutoring on a daily basis. My goal for them was to improve scores by 25%, and they far surpassed that goal in their achievement. My practical argument and belief is that, in using peer tutoring, I am doing whatever it takes to help my students learn and succeed.
3. What additional questions might be raised (or not fully answered) during the implementation of your action research that might lead you to further research?
I believe that people may have questions about how to set up peer tutoring and especially about how to pair students up for the maximum benefit for both students in each pair. Further research on grouping students effectively may be necessary in order for this strategy to help students achieve their greatest potential.
4. How has the semester’s work change you as a teacher? How has your study impacted your role in your school?
This semester and my action research project have made a huge difference in me as a teacher. It has given me a new tool to use with my students in the classroom! After reading about peer tutoring and then using it regularly and seeing positive results, I know that it is a successful strategy to help students learn what they need to learn. It gives them power and a chance to take ownership in the classroom as well, which makes the learning more meaningful to the students. I have also discovered that the students have very little behavior issues when using this strategy, so I am not wasting time with constant classroom management. The students take the peer tutoring sessions very seriously and they greatly enjoy it! In my school, I have had the opportunity to lead and share my research (and RESULTS!) with other educators and they have begun using this strategy also. My grade level partner and other primary teachers have been very supportive and excited about my research and we are all looking forward to the success that peer tutoring brings to our kids. All around, this has been a positive experience, and I hope to complete more action research on my own to better myself as an educator and to better my students as well.
Gaofeng, R. & Yeyu, L. (2007). An online peer assisted learning community model and its application in Zjnu. Central China: Zhejiang Normal University, Ming Jiang University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 500172)
Maheady, L. & Harper, G. (1987). A class-wide peer tutoring program to improve the spelling test performance of low-income, third- and fourth-grade students. Education and Treatment of Children, 10 (2), 120-133.
Maheady, L., Harper, G. F., Mallette, B. & Karnes, M. (2004). Preparing preservice teachers to implement class wide peer tutoring. Teacher Education and Special Education, 27 (4), 408-418.
Miciano, R. Z. (2006). Piloting a peer literacy program: implications for teacher education. Asia Pacific Education Review, 7(1), 76-84.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (n.d.) Retrieved February 4, 2009 from http://www.nbpts.org
Puchner, L.D. (2003). Children teaching for learning: what happens when children teach others in the classroom? Chicago, IL: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and The Hoenny Center for Research and Development in Teaching. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 478 759)
Tieso, C. (2004).Through the looking glass: one school’s reflections on differentiation. Gifted Child Today, 27(4), 58-62.
Varlaro, M. (2003). An analysis of students’ interactions in peer-tutoring situations. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED477758)