Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Topic: Case Studies in Teaching

10-second review: In working with student teachers, use case studies to discuss problems they encounter in teaching. What problems are they encountering? How have they tried to resolve them? What are some alternative solutions?

The article that suggested this activity in working with student teachers concerned the teaching of values in which students wrestled with ethical dilemmas. The article brought to mind the value of discussing case studies in preparing classroom teachers for the real world of teaching.

Title: “Discussing Moral Dilemmas in the Classroom.” J Mackey. English Journal (December 1975), 28-30. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Comment: The case study approach could also be used in inservice programs in which teachers learn how to write a case study for discussion. The case study involves the following elements: Setting. Situation. Tentative Resolution. Results. Questions.

Example of a case study:

Setting: Community college writing course. Teacher was an adjunct instructor.

Situation: Young man with severe writing disabilities that prevented him from putting words, sentences and paragraphs together coherently. I had received no advanced information about this student’s problems nor about the school’s program for students with severe learning disabilities.

Tentative Resolution: Student wrote for ten minutes a day for the entire semester. I corrected his writing and he rewrote, incorporating my corrections so that he could visualize his writing as coherent writing.

Results: In a semester, the student was able to put together coherent sentences and paragraphs and even a bare-bones composition.

Questions: How do you grade this student in a composition class in which students are expected to write college-level compositions? Because the student did what I asked, I felt he earned A’s for his efforts and his progress. However, his writing was not college-level work. How should I have graded the student?

How could the school continue my work with this student? Nothing was available for me, an adjunct writing instructor, to communicate my concerns and efforts to other English teachers or to the department head. As it was, he would go on to the next teacher who would see that he had received an “A” grade, quickly determine that he was not a competent college-level writer and would severely penalize him for his writing.RayS.

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