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Barbara B . Howard, Paul Wallace & Terry McClannon Department of Leadership and Educational Studies Reich College of Education Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.

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An evaluation of cross program collaboration among graduate students in educational leadership in a virtual learning environment

Barbara B . Howard, Paul Wallace & Terry McClannon

Department of Leadership and Educational Studies

Reich College of Education

Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina

An Evaluation of Cross-Program Collaboration Among Graduate Students in Educational Leadership in a Virtual Learning Environment

Introductions who we are
Introductions – Who we are…

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

    • 17,344 students total in Fall 2011

    • 15, 460 undergraduates; 1,884 graduate students

    • 140 undergraduate & graduate major programs

  • Department of Leadership & Educational Studies

    • Graduate major programs:

      • Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)

      • School Administration (MSA and Ed.S.)

      • Higher Education Leadership (MA, Ed.S.)

      • Instructional Technology (MA)

      • Library Science (MA)

Background of o ur programs
Background of Our Programs

Cohorts of students on satellite campuses within 100-mile radius of main campus

Cohorts attend evening classes 2x weekly in face to face, hybrid or totally online

Interaction among cohorts and programs limited previously by logistics

Expectations for school leaders who can share collaborative leadership

Our conceptual framework five principles
Our Conceptual Framework:Five Principles

Learning occurs through Community of Practice;

Knowledge is socially constructed;

Learners proceed from Novice to Expert;

A Knowledge Baseemerges from the Community of Practice;

Dispositions reflect attitudes, beliefs, and values common to the Community of Practice.

Conceptual Framework, Reich College of Education,

Goals of our project
Goals of our Project

To challenge traditional “ethnocentricity” of most graduate programs

To encourage development of shared leadership skills and collaboration

To engage students in School Administration and Instructional Technology Programs in transformative learning experiences through realistic simulations

Overview of the project
Overview of the Project

10-week summer term in 2011

30 School Administrator students

48 Instructional Technology students

Total 78 students divided among 15 “School Leadership Teams” with assigned roles (principal, AP, tech facilitator, teacher, etc.)

Instructions provided to students
Instructions Provided to Students

Design a proposal for the District Superintendent and the Central Office Leadership Team to convince them that your school deserves the 200 iPads available through a grant to the district to be distributed among teachers and students

Requirements for proposal
Requirements for Proposal

Description of school/department

Professional Development Plan

Specific student outcomes in learning (beyond test scores)

Specific applications of integrating iPad hardware and software in classrooms

Alignment with Core Curriculum in NC

Alignment with National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)

Technology requirements
Technology Requirements

Justification for number of iPads requested

Plan for distribution among teachers & students

Plan for upkeep, management, & support

Plan for telecommunications access & support for connectivity and internet security

Logistics of project
Logistics of Project

Instructions reviewed by each professor with his/her students

Assignments into teams by June 1, 2011

Each student assumes assigned role within team

Teams will meet online as often as necessary outside the regular class meeting time

Platform for communication decided by all members of team

Format of plan decided by team

Accountability of students
Accountability of Students

  • Each instructor decides on course requirements for project assessment as well as any grading decisions:

    • Regular weekly blog postings on progress

    • Reflection paper at end of project

    • Summaries of the project

    • Participation in project as judged by team mates

Technology tools and platforms
Technology Tools and Platforms

Most commonly chosen by student groups:






Evaluation questions
Evaluation Questions

How effective was the project in meeting our stated goals?

To what extent and in what ways were needs of the participants met?

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the project and how can it be improved?

To what extent did the benefits of the project provide sufficient value to justify continuation for future cohorts?

Utilization focused evaluation
Utilization-focused Evaluation

  • Applied inquiry process for collecting and synthesizing evidence culminating in conclusions about worth of program or project

    • (Patton, 2008)

  • Evidence collected and analyzed:

    • Online survey

    • Reflection papers

    • Weekly blog postings

    • Review of completed projects


  • Online survey results
    Online Survey Results

    • 18 Questions

      • 15 forced choice Likert Scale with opportunity for comments

      • 3 Open-ended

    • Respondents (n = 51 or 65%):

      • Instructional Technology – 32 or 68%

      • School Administration – 15 or 32%

      • Skipped this question – 4

    Open ended questions what were the strengths of this project
    Open-ended Questions: What were the strengths of this project?

    We were able to get different points of view

    Sharing responsibility for interdisciplinary project development

    Working with members of a school committee that would make decisions about technology

    Being able to talk with “admin” who weren’t up on the latest technology. It was good practice!

    Developing the ability to communicate and provide constructive criticism and direction to underperforming team members.

    Suggestions for improvement
    Suggestions for improvement project?

    Themes that emerged:

    Pleas to hold all members accountable for participation as some team members did not fully participate

    Help resolve scheduling differences resulting in inconvenience for some students

    Holding all students responsible for the same amount and type of coursework (e.g., reflection papers, blogs)

    Some representative sample take away s
    Some representative sample project?“Take Away’s”

    I love what I am getting my masters in, and this project allowed me to get my feet wet

    When to listen, and when to take charge

    The job of making tech decisions is much more complex and far-reaching than I thought

    The necessity of communication skills

    Being flexible and understanding of each person’s ideas but not allowing one person to take over the project

    Blog and forum postings
    Blog and Forum Postings project?

    • Supported findings of survey

    • Tended to focus on the following issues:

      • Scheduling challenges

      • Progression of work among teams

      • Inequity of effort on part of teammates

      • Sharing of ideas

    Reflection papers representative sample quotes reflecting themes
    Reflection Papers – Representative Sample Quotes Reflecting Themes

    • I truly learned more from this project than from writing any research paper during my graduate studies

    • I think I felt most challenged in this assignment because I was not the leader (School Admin)

    • Nothing says “need” like a principal who does not know how to use technology!

    • I learned that collaboration is key in effectively running a school

    Themes surrounding challenges
    Themes surrounding challenges Reflecting Themes

    Discomfort with new technology

    Issues with scheduling around classes and work for synchronous meetings online

    Challenges in actually assuming the assigned roles when some resented not being assigned as principal

    Challenges in working in online environment rather than face to face

    Conclusion Reflecting Themes

    Continue to develop and implement opportunities for students to engage with those from other areas

    Continue refining the process through greater collaboration among faculty involving more program areas and faculty

    Examine effects of participation in this type of experience on work of graduates

    Selected references
    Selected References Reflecting Themes

    Acker-Hocevar, M., & Cruz-Janzen, M. (2008). Teacher and Principal Preparation Programs: Reforms that Sustain High Performance and Learning in High Poverty and Diverse Schools. [Article]. International Journal of Learning, 14(10), 87-95.

    Bramming, P. (2007). An Argument for Strong Learning in Higher Education. [Article]. Quality in Higher Education, 13(1), 45-56.

    Buskey, F. C., & Pitts, E. M. (2009). Training Subversives: The Ethics of Leadership Preparation. [Article]. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 57-61.

    Cannon, R. (2001). Pedagogy: a point of view. [Article]. Teaching in Higher Education, 6(3), 415-419.

    Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of Adult Learners with Implications for Online Learning Design. [Article]. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.

    References continued
    References (continued) Reflecting Themes

    Ettling, D. (2006). Ethical Demands of Transformative Learning. [Article]. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education(109), 59-67.

    Flumerfelt, S., Ingram, I., Brockberg, K., & Smith, J. (2007). A study of higher education student achievement based on transformative and lifelong learning processes. [Article]. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 15(1), 107-118.

    Fried, J. (2007). Higher education's new playbook: Learning Reconsidered. [Article]. About Campus, 12(1), 2-7.

    Greyling, W. J., & du Toit, P. H. (2008). Pursuing a constructivist approach to mentoring in the higher education sector. [Article]. South African Journal of Higher Education, 22(5), 957-980.

    Gulati, S. (2008). Compulsory participation in online discussions: is this constructivism or normalisation of learning? [Article]. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 45(2), 183-192.

    References continued1
    References (continued) Reflecting Themes

    Hambright, W. G., & Franco, M. S. (2008). LIVING THE "TIPPING POINT": CONCURRENT TEACHER LEADER AND PRINCIPAL PREPARATION. [Article]. Education, 129(2), 267-273.

    Jaruszewicz, C. (2006). Opening windows on teaching and learning: transformative and emancipatory learning precipitated by experimenting with visual documentation of student learning. [Article]. Educational Action Research, 14(3), 357-375.

    Johnson, H. H. (2008). Mental models and transformative learning: The key to leadership development? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 19(1), 85-89.

    References continued2
    References (continued) Reflecting Themes

    • Kerka, S. (2006). Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning: A Guide for Educators of Adults. 2d ed. [Book Review]. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 54(3), 55-56.

    • Kowalski, T. J., Place, A. W., Edmister, J., & Zigler, T. (2009). Need for Practice-Based Research in School Administration. [Article]. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 22(4), 2-8.

    • Kyungmee, L., Junghwa, Y., & Yeongmahn, Y. (2009). Why do Professors Refuse to use Constructivist Teaching Methodologies? [Article]. International Journal of Learning, 16(8), 47-56.

    • Patton, M.Q. (2008). Utilization-Focused Evaluation (4th Ed.).

      Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    • Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. [Article]. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education(74), 5.

    References continued3
    References (continued) Reflecting Themes

    Roberts, B. (2008). School Leadership Preparation: A National View. [Article]. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 75(2), 5-19.

    Szeto, E. (2011). Transformingg learning and teaching in higher education: The impact of ICT on pedagogy, peer interaction, and support in a networked virtual learning environment. The International Journal of Learning, 17(11).

    Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative learning theory. [Article]. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education(119), 5-15.

    Von Kotze, A., & Cooper, L. (2000). Exploring the transformative potential of project-based learning in university adult education. [Article]. Studies in the Education of Adults, 32(2), 212.

    Zepke, N., & Leach, L. (2002). Appropriate Pedagogy and Technology in a Cross-cultural Distance Education Context. [Article]. Teaching in Higher Education, 7(3), 309-321.