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11th annual Kump Education Research Seminar

Kump Education Research Seminar has changed over the years, but it is always a time to observe progress in local teacher education. When we began in 2011, it was a research competition for students from Alderson-Broadus, Davis & Elkins, and WV Wesleyan Colleges. Last April during the dark days of Covid-19 shutdown we did not actually meet, but aspiring teacher Skylee Watson sent in her research and earned an award. This year we had nine people in the room, and others could participate on Zoom.

Vanessa Collette and Samantha Westfall, future teachers in EDUC 312/313 at Davis & Elkins College, presented WebQuests for sixth grade distance learners. A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which students find information from the web. The teacher provides documents including links to websites with information needed for the class activity. A sample lesson plan incorporated passages from Ghost Boys and readings from the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter Movements. D&E Instructor Scott Biola was in touch with the following virtual presenters from his class: Kaitlin Dixon, Allyson Green, Haley Grindstaff, Kailynn Parks, Courtney Roth, Julianna Singleton, Caitlin Weese, and Ava Willis.

Dr. Jennifer Tesar and Danielle Riggins were working on an initiative to strengthening clinical experience for D&E student teachers through co-teaching. In the fall of 2019 they started to apply concepts and strategies for co-teaching by placing D&E student teachers with classroom teachers for two semesters of sharing responsibilities for planning, instructing, and assessing students. The goals were to provide ongoing support for D&E student teachers, offer ongoing professional development for the classroom teachers, and improve the academic achievements of learners. This program was interrupted by the Covid-19 shutdown, but those who have participated in co-teaching find it very helpful.

Nathaniel Sams, winner of the 2021 Lois Latham Award for Teaching Excellence from Davis & Elkins College, is a math instructor who has been helping future teachers perform better on national math exams required for certification. From 2015 – 2018 he observed that less than a third of education students passed the Praxis Core Math test on their first attempt. Drivers of this problem of practice included attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of test-takers. Often, students with a history of negative experiences in mathematics suffered from a cycle of math anxiety involving a lack of confidence and avoidance of math. Mr. Sams used online interventions from Stanford University and Khan Academy in a semester-long PDSA cycle to decrease math anxiety while increasing success with a focus on growth mindset and productive struggle. These interventions were especially helpful during the pandemic, and 100% of the last group had success.

The seminar ended with a Panel Discussion titled, “Distance learning impact on Elkins High School students” with teacher panelists: KJ Shaffer (math) and Andrew Carroll (English). Mr. Shaffer said that educational technology was not available at home for about 30% of students in March 2020, and Chromebook did not become available for all students until spring 2021. Mr. Carroll observed that parents were not involved with helping his high school students do online lessons. Starting to use technology was not difficult for Mr. Shaffer because he had been using Zoom and other educational technology for tutoring and teaching, and Mr. Carroll has been using it with his English classes and debate team. This is a time when all teachers and students must become comfortable with online learning.

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