MLFTC faculty members provide rapid research response to COVID


Erik Ketcherside

The transition from in-person to online learning required by the coronavirus pandemic left the education community rushing to find ways to meet the needs of all learners. Many Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College faculty members pivoted quickly to bring the benefits of their research to bear on empowering teachers to manage this new education landscape.

Expect More Arizona teacher survey

In May, the Phoenix-based education advocacy nonprofit Expect More Arizona conducted a survey of K–12 teachers asking how the pandemic was affecting their practice and their plans for the 2020–21 school year. EMA said, “The goal was to hear from Arizona teachers in traditional public and charter schools about what’s worked, what hasn’t worked and what advice teachers have for Arizona education policymakers.” The resulting report is titled “Elevating Teacher Voices: Arizona teachers weigh in on past and future impacts of COVID-19.”

MLFTC Associate Professor Jeanne Powers and PhD student Kristi Glassmeyer were responsible for analyzing the data generated by the survey, along with Joe O’Reilly, director of ASU’s Decision Center for Educational Excellence.

Powers says, “Expect More Arizona wanted to get the survey out quickly, before the end of the school year, so it's a snapshot in time of what teachers were thinking at the end of May. They distributed the survey through their social media channels, so it's not necessarily representative of all teachers in the state,” Powers cautions. “But we did some back-of-the-envelope comparisons with some teacher data and it looks like a fairly good cross-section.”

Powers says the survey found “... teachers are really committed to their jobs, but they're also really concerned about safety measures. And the second phase of the survey found a huge variation in students’ experiences [last spring],” she says. “A lot of that likely has to do with access to technology.”

Education research during a pandemic

Assistant Professor Amber Benedict co-authored an article for the journal, Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association titled, “From the Field: Education Research During a Pandemic.” The article was published July 7.

“Education researchers have been impacted by COVID-19 as school closures interrupted ongoing education research …” the authors wrote. “The recommendations we present here focus on immediate and future actions education researchers can take to support public health and educational institutions dealing with a pandemic.” Their paper was immediately adapted and made more widely available by the American Educational Research Association.

Benedict says, “The paper is a synthesis of the ways that we hope individuals from our field can provide support, can work in partnership — with school and state leaders, with teachers and families — to  solve current urgent and complex problems, while also looking to the future and how we want to educate children, including students with disabilities.”

Free ebook for educators navigating the virus crisis

In June, the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education released an e-book, “Teaching, Technology and Teacher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field.” More than 850 pages and 133 chapters long, the book is offered free of charge to assist educators with best practices, strategies and experience from teacher educators, professional developers, researchers and practitioners.

Associate professors Leanna Archambault and Teresa Foulger and Assistant Professor Danah Henriksen served on the editorial review board for the book, and several faculty members contributed chapters. Foulger says the value of the book is partly due to the combination of its comprehensiveness and its rapid release.

“It includes stories and preliminary studies related to the COVID experience from across the country and internationally,” Foulger says. “This was a very, very fast publication process. All papers underwent peer review, and many educational technology researchers pitched in as reviewers because we recognized the urgency of getting these stories out.”

Chapters contributed by MLFTC faculty members are:

  • “Together in Education, Apart from Brick and Mortar: Rapid professional development for online distance learning” — lead author: Shyla Gonzalez-Dogan, faculty researcher
  • “Implementing Virtual Learning in Teacher Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Teacher Training Center in Morocco” — co-authors: Wendy Peia Oakes, associate professor;  Tanya Pinkerton, clinical assistant professor; Nicole Thompson, division director–Teacher Preparation; associate professor; Mohammed Elmeski, clinical associate professor; Edith Gummer, executive director–Data Strategy
  • “Throw Me a Lifeline: A professional development program for teacher educators managing the demands from the rapid transition to online teaching” — lead author: Teresa Foulger, associate professor

“Stories from the Field” is available free of charge from the AACE page of the LearnTechLib website.