Topic: Rural Education
Purpose: The mission of the National Research Center on Rural Education (NRCRES) is to conduct research that addresses the diverse educational needs of rural schools, which face particular challenges that affect students' academic performance, such as: (1) high rates of child poverty; (2) limited resources for educational materials and professional development; (3) difficulty in attracting and retaining appropriately and highly qualified teachers; and (4) staffing issues stemming from sparse and remotely located populations that meet student needs.
Established through a five-year, $13.2 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, the NRCRES is staffed by researchers with strong backgrounds and training in the fields of developmental psychology, linguistics, and education. They are nationally recognized experts in the area of rural education. Some of the methodology they will employ include conducting randomized control trials, random-assignment evaluations, and national surveys.
Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI)
Researchers will evaluate both an intervention and a teacher training program employed to help rural teachers, who often work in isolation, turn struggling early readers (kindergarten and 1st grade) into fluent ones. The TRI stresses the importance of phonemic awareness and phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension through one-to-one diagnostic teaching by the classroom teacher, and the Listen, Empathize, Encourage, Problem Solve framework that combines teacher in-service training with a professional development model that attempts to reduce teacher isolation and increase teacher success.
The Center is conducting a random-assignment evaluation to determine the effects of the curriculum on student outcomes in rural elementary schools in North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico and Nebraska. The Targeted Reading Intervention has been implemented in three studies in rural, low-income schools. The first and second studies examine the TRI in kindergarten and 1st grade classes in non-Reading First schools over one semester (Study 1) and Reading First schools over two semesters (Study 2). The third study examines the TRI using distance collaborative consultation with laptop computers and web cams over two semesters.
Rural Early Adolescent Learning Program (REAL)
The purpose of the REAL Program is to develop and evaluate a professional development model to help teachers support students who are at risk for academic and behavioral problems 5th through 7th grades. Building from research on adolescent school adjustment problems, this program focuses on the academic, behavioral, and social difficulties that together contribute to school failure and dropout. Accordingly, this project consists of intervention components designed to address key factors that contribute to the behavioral and educational success of rural youth: (a) academic engagement; (b) competence enhancement behavior management; and (c) school social dynamics.
The research design involved randomized control trials in 10 states. Initial results indicate that students of teachers who completed Project REAL professional development activities showed more favorable results on indicators in three key outcome domains: perceptions of the social-academic context; affective relationships with schooling; and achievement. These findings suggest students' developmental outcomes can improve across multiple domains of adjustment when teachers better understand multiple dimensions of early adolescent development and employ strategies for promoting positive development.
Distance Education Program
Distance education can play an important role in rural schools by offering advanced coursework to a small number of students while reducing the need for teachers certified in a particular subject. This project investigates the use of distance education in rural schools, and the feasibility of using distance education to offer students in rural schools advanced courses in science, mathematics, and foreign languages.
The Center is conducting a national survey of distance education in rural schools across the nation in order to determine the current: (1) use of distance education; (2) variety of courses being offered; and (3) different types of technologies used for distance education courses. This survey will also help to pinpoint barriers encountered in distance education, satisfaction with distance education, and the interrelationships among these factors.
One project in this program is the Enhancing Rural Online Learning (EROL) Project. Rural schools are challenged to offer a full curriculum, especially Advanced Placement (AP) courses, due to geographical isolation, insufficient numbers of students, and difficulty finding and retaining AP certified teachers. Online learning provides a potential way of addressing these issues in rural schools but real improvements in the effectiveness of technology-based instruction (such as distance learning) are unlikely without specific applications of well-documented research on what best supports learning for diverse learners, such as the incorporation of learner-centered principles and practices.
The EROL study is a randomized control trial testing the effectiveness of the Facilitator Preparation Program, a program based on Learner-Centered Principals, broadly delineated into four factors: (1) cognitive and metacognitive; (2) motivational and affective; (3) developmental and social; (4) and individual-differences. Initial results indicate that students receiving the Program had higher rates of course completion, and were enrolled in the AP courses for more weeks than students in the control condition.
The Rural High School Aspirations Study
Many rural communities across the United States are undergoing tremendous economic and population change that has significantly affected the employment opportunities and adult-life choices that are available to rural youth. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate high school intervention programs based on new information about: (1) rural high school students' aspirations and preparatory planning for postsecondary education, career training, and adult life; (2) commonalities and differences in the students' perspectives regarding the futures of rural youth; (3) the availability of high school programs and activities to help prepare them for their futures.
This study is being conducted in 73 schools in geographically diverse regions of the United States. Preliminary findings suggest that the vast majority rural youth (about 89 percent) are seeking ways to extend their educational opportunities beyond high school: 12 percent at a 2-year community college, vocational, or trade school; about 40 percent at a 4-year college degree program; and 37 percent at graduate or professional schools. Of the remaining 11 percent of rural youth, 7 percent indicate uncertainty regarding their educational plans and four percent expect to discontinue their education after high school.
The Complementary Rural Education Research Fast Track (CRERFT) Studies
The CRERFT Studies program is designed to conduct studies of relatively short duration to answer key issues in rural education research, and to promote new programs of research and collaborative partnerships in rural education. Below are some current studies.
Key Personnel: Tom Farmer, Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Wallace Hannum.
Amendum, S., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Ginsberg, M. C. (in press). The Effectiveness of a Classroom Teacher Webcam-Coaching Program for Struggling Readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Elementary School Journal.
Carver, R., King, R., Hannum, W. H., and Fowler, B. (2007). Toward A Model of Experiential Elearning. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3 (3). Retrieved From http://Jolt.Merlot.Org/Vol3no3/Hannum.Htm.
Dexter, D.D., Hughes, C.A., & Farmer, T.W. (2008). Responsiveness to Intervention: A Review of Field Studies and Implications for Rural Special Education. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 37: 3–9.
Estell, D. B., Farmer, T. W., Irvin, M. J., Crowther, A., Akos, P., & Boudah, D. J. (2009). Students with Exceptionalities and the Peer Group Context of Bullying and Victimization in Late Elementary School. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18: 136–150.
Estell, D. B., Farmer, T. W., Irvin, M. J., Hutchins, B. C., Mcdonough, E. (2007). Patterns of Middle School Adjustment and Ninth Grade Adaptation of Rural African American Youth: Grades and Substance Use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36: 477–487.
Estell, D. B., Farmer, T. W., Irvin, M. J., Thompson, J. H., Hutchins, B. C., & Mcdonough, E. M. (2007). Patterns of Middle School Adjustment and Ninth Grade Adaptation of Rural African American Youth: Grades and Substance Use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36: 477–487.
Estell, D. B., Farmer. T. W., & Cairns, B. D. (2007). Bullies and Victims in Rural African American Youth: Individual Characteristics and Social Network Placement. Aggressive Behavior, 33: 145–159.
Farmer, T. W., Dadisman, K., Latendresse, S. J., Thompson, J., Irvin, M. J., Zhang, L. (2006). Educating Out and Giving Back: Adults' Conceptions of Successful Outcomes of African American High School Students from Impoverished Rural Communities. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21(10):1–12.
Farmer, T. W., Farmer, E. M. Z., Estell, D. & Hutchins, B.C. (2007). The Developmental Dynamics of Aggression and the Prevention of School Violence. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15: 197–208.
Farmer, T. W., Hall, C. M., Weiss, M. P., Petrin, R. A., Meece, J. L., and Moohr, M. (2010). The School Adjustment of Rural Adolescents with and Without Disabilities: Variable and Person-Centered Approaches. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Advance Online Publication. Doi: 10.1007/S10826-010-9379-2.
Farmer, T. W., Irvin, M. J., Thompson, J. H., Hutchins, B. C., & Leung, M.-C. (2006). School Adjustment and The Academic Success of Rural African American Early Adolescents In The Deep South. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21: 1–14.
Farmer, T.W. & Mcauliffe, M. (in press). Revealing The Invisible Hand: The Role of Teachers in Children's Peer Experiences. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
Farmer, T.W. & Xie, H.L. (2007). Aggression And School Social Dynamics: The Good, The Bad, And The Ordinary. Journal of School Psychology, 45: 461–478.
Farmer, T.W. (2007). Studying the Individual Within The Peer Context: Are We on Target? New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 118: 101–108.
Farmer, T.W., Dadisman, K., Latendresse, S.J., Thomson, J., Irvin, M.J., and Zhang, L. (2006). Educating Out and Giving Back: Adults' Conceptions of Successful Outcomes of African American High School Students from Impoverished Rural Communities. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 21 (10): 1–12.
Farmer, T.W., Farmer, E.M.Z., & Brooks, (2010). Recasting the Ecological And Developmental Roots of Intervention for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Problems: The Promise of Strength-Based Perspectives. Exceptionality, 18: 53–57.
Farmer, T.W., Hall, C.M., Petrin, R., Hamm, J.V., & Dadisman, K. (in press). Evaluating the Impact of A Multicomponent Intervention Model On Teachers' Awareness of Social Networks: The Beginning of Middle School In Rural Communities. School Psychology Quarterly.
Farmer, T.W., Hamm, J.V., Petrin, R.A., Robertson, D.R., Murray, R.A., Meece, J., & Brooks, D.S. (2010). Supporting Early Adolescent Learning and Social Strengths: Promoting Productive Contexts for Students At-Risk for EBD During the Transition to Middle School. Exceptionality, 18: 94–106.
Farmer, T.W., Irvin, M.J., Sgammato, A., Dadisman, K., & Thompson, J. H. (2009). Interpersonal Competence Configurations in Rural Appalachian Fifth Graders: Academic Achievement and Associated Adjustment Factors. Elementary School Journal, 109: 301–321.
Farmer, T.W., Leung, M.C., Banks, J.B., Schaefer, V., Andrews, B., and Murray, R.A. (2006). Adequate Yearly Progress in Small Rural Schools and Rural Low-Income-Schools. Rural Educator: 1–7.
Farmer, T.W., Leung, M-C., Keagy, K., Boudah, D.J., Akos, P., Mcdonough, E., & Hall, C.M. (2009). Social Preference Choices in Late Elementary School: Within and Across Group Nominations. Psychology in the Schools, 46: 362–374.
Farmer, T.W., Vernon-Feagans, L., And Hannum, W. (in press). Educational Issues in Diverse Rural Communities: The Research Agenda of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support. Journal of Research in Rural Education.
Gallagher, K.C., Kainz, K., Mayer, K.L. & Vernon-Feagans, L. (in press). Development of Student-Teacher Relationships in Early Education. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Ginsberg, M. C., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Amendum, S. J. (2010). Webcam Coaching For Professional Learning. Academic Exchange Quarterly: 14 (1).
Hamm, J.V., Farmer, T.W., Dadisman, K., & Gravelle, M. (in press). Teachers' Knowledge of Classroom Social Dynamics and Students' Perceptions of the Classroom Social Ecology Following the Transition into Middle School. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
Hamm, J.V., Farmer, T.W., Robertson, D.R., Dadisman, K., Meece, J.L., & Song, S.Y. (2010). Effects of a Developmentally-Based Intervention with Teachers, on Native American and White Early Adolescents in Rural Schools. Journal of Experimental Education, 78 (3): 1–26.
Hamm, J.V., Schmid, L., Locke, B., & Farmer, T.W. (in press). The Influences of Descriptive and Injunctive Norms on Rural American Early Adolescents' Academic Adjustment. Journal of Early Adolescence.
Hannum, W. H. (2007). When Computers Teach: A Review of The Instructional Effectiveness of Computers. Educational Technology, 47 (2): 5–13.
Hannum, W., Irvin, M.J., Banks, J.B., and Farmer, T.W. (2009). Distance Education Use in Rural Schools. Journal of Research in Education, 24 (3): 1–5. Retrieved from http://Jrre.Psu.Edu/Articles/24-3.Pdf.
Hannum, W. H., Irvin, M. J., Lei, P.-W., and Farmer, T. W. (2008). Effectiveness of Using Learner-Centered Principles on Student Retention in Distance Education Courses in Rural Schools. Distance Education, 29: 211–229.
Hannum, W. H., and Mccombs, B. L. (2008). Enhancing Distance Learning for Today's Youth With Learner-Centered Principles. Educational Technology, 48(4), 11–21.
Irvin, M. J., Farmer, T. W., Leung, M., Thompson, J. H., and Hutchins, B. C. (in press). School, Community, and Church Activities: Relationship to Academic Achievement of Low-Income African American Early Adolescents in the Rural Deep South. Journal of Research in Rural Education.
Irvin, M. J., Hannum, W. H., De La Varre, C., and Farmer, T. W. (in press). Barriers to Distance Education in Rural Schools. Quarterly Review of Distance Education.
Irvin, M. J., Hannum, W. H., Farmer, T. W., De La Varre, C., and Keane, J. (2009). Supporting Online Learning for Advanced Placement Students in Small Rural Schools: Conceptual Foundations and Intervention Components of the Facilitator Preparation Program. The Rural Educator, 31(1), 29–36.
Keane, J., De La Varre, C., Irvin, M. J., and Hannum, W. H. (2008). Learner-Centered Social Support: Enhancing Online Distance Education for Underserved Rural High School Students in The United States.
In Robertson, D.L., Farmer, T.W., Fraser, M.W., Day, S.H., Duncan, T., Crowther, A., And Dadisman, K.A. (2010). Interpersonal Competence Configurations and Peer Relations in Early Elementary Classrooms: Perceived Popular and Unpopular Aggressive Subtypes. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 34 (1): 73–87.
Vernon-Feagans, L., Gallagher, K. C., Ginsberg, M. C., Amendum, S. J., Vandergrift, N., Kainz, K. & Rose, J. (in press). A Diagnostic Teaching Intervention for Classroom Teachers: Helping Struggling Readers In Early Elementary School. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice.
Keane, J., De La Varre, C., Irvin, M.J., and Hannum, W. (2008). Learner-Centered Social Support: Enhancing Online Distance Education for Underserved Rural High School Students in the United States. In Whitelock, D., and Wheeler, S. (Eds.), Reframing the Digital Divide. Research Proceedings of the 15th Association for Learning Technology Conference.
Whitton, N., and Mcpherson, M. (Eds). Rethinking the Digital Divide (pp. 39–48). Research Proceedings of the 15th Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C 2008).
De La Varre, C., Keane, J., Irvin, M. J., and Hannum, W. H. (2009). Social Support for Online Learning in Rural High Schools. In Whitworth, B. and De Moor, A.(Eds). Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems (pp. 575–588). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Farmer, T. W., Xie, H., Cairns, B. D., & Hutchins, B. C. (2007). Social Synchrony, Peer Networks, and Aggression in School. In P.H. Hawley, T.D. Little, & P.C. Rodkin (Eds.), Aggression and Adaptation: The Bright Side to Bad Behavior (pp. 209–233). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hamm, J.V. & Zhang, L. (2010). The Schooling Context of Adolescents' Peer Relations. In J. Meece & J. Eccles (Eds.), The Handbook of Schooling Effects on Development (pp. 518–554). Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hannum, W. H., Irvin, M. J., and De La Varre, C. (2010). Extending Educational Opportunities in Rural Areas: Application of Distance Education in Rural Schools. In S. Mukerji and P. Tripathi (Eds.). Cases on Technological Adaptability and Transnational Learning: Issues and Challenges (pp. 276–294). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Sutherland, K. S., & Farmer, T. W. (2007). Classroom Contexts and Problem Behavior. In G. D. Sideridis & T. A. Citro, T. A. Best Practices in Learning Disabilities: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice. Boston, MA: LDW.
Vernon-Feagans, L., Gallagher, K., & Kainz, K. (in press). The Transition to School in Rural America: A Focus on Literacy. In J. Meece & J. Eccles (Eds.), Schooling and Development. Mahweh, NJ: Erlbaum.
Technical Reports and Monographs
Arnold, M.L, Biscoe, B., Farmer, T.W., Robertson, D.L., and Shapley, K.L. (2007). How the Government Defines Rural Has Implications for Education Policies and Practices (Issues and Answers Report, REL 2007-No 010).
Dadisman, K., Farmer, T.W., Gravelle, M., and Petrin, R. (2010). Issue Brief: Grow Your Own and Other Alternative Certification Programs in Rural Districts. National Research Center on Rural Education Support.
Southerland, K.S., Carter, E., Farmer, T.W., Hoover, H., and Kostewicz, D. (2007). Reexamination of Effective Classroom Management With Focus on Learners With or At-Risk for Emotional /Behavioral Disorders. Monograph Published by the Division of the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders, Reston, VA.
Center Website: http://www.nrcres.org/.
IES Program Contact: Dr. Allen Ruby
Telephone: (202) 219-1591