Topic: Rural Education
Purpose: The National Center for Research on Rural Education (R2Ed) is conducting a focused program of research on teacher professional development to improve instruction and support student achievement in reading and science in rural schools. The center is also engaged in two related sets of studies: the first explores potential moderating effects of the rural context on early school success and the second investigates statistical and methodological solutions to the unique challenges posed by conducting research in rural settings. The research team at R2Ed is also engaged in leadership and outreach activities to support the advancement of scientific knowledge related to rural education.
National Center for Research on Rural Education Website: http://r2ed.unl.edu/
Emily J. Doolittle, Ph.D.
Education Research Analyst
National Center for Education Research Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
The Focused Program of Research includes three projects:
The center is also engaged in two sets of supplemental studies.
The Leadership and Outreach Activities of the center include:
Teachers Speak Survey Study
The Teachers Speak national survey study investigates (1) variations in existing rural professional development (PD) experiences; (2) differences in PD practices between rural and non-rural settings; and (3) the potential influence of PD characteristics on teacher knowledge, perceptions, and practices. Respondents (268 rural and 327 non-rural teachers) answered questions about their best professional development experiences and instructional knowledge, perceptions, and practice corresponding to one of four instructional content areas: reading, mathematics, science inquiry, or using data-based decision making to inform reading instruction/intervention.
Results: Although PD characteristics, teacher perceptions, and reported classroom practices were found to be similar for rural and non-rural teachers, a larger proportion of rural teachers reported that their PD involved peer collaboration and some form of follow-up coaching. Emphasis during PD on specific instructional topics was related to: (1) increased perceptions of knowledge gained pertaining to those topics, (2) increased positive perceptions of the utility of those topics, and (3) an increased focus on those topics during classroom instruction. In addition, perceived utility of instructional topics was found to be a significant predictor of classroom practice.
Key Personnel: Todd Glover, Tanya Ihlo, Gwen Nugent, Edward Shapiro, Guy Trainin
Project READERS (Response to Effective Assessment-Driven Early Reading Support) is a randomized trial examining the impact of professional development with distance coaching for rural K3 teachers' knowledge, perceptions, and practice and students' reading outcomes. Participants from 61 rural schools in eight states in the Midwest and Northeast included 207 classroom teachers, 182 school-based interventionists, and 5,466 students. Participants were randomly assigned at the school level to either professional development with distance coaching or to a business-as-usual control condition. Classroom teachers and school-based interventionists (e.g., reading specialists, school psychologists, paraprofessionals) assigned to the intervention condition participated in workshop-based training and distance, web-mediated coaching throughout the school year. Training and support for classroom teachers focused on the use of data to identify and regularly monitor individual students' reading needs and response to reading interventions. School-based interventionists received training and coaching in the use of research-based, small-group interventions. Teacher knowledge, perceptions, and practice were evaluated via pre-post surveys, video recordings of intervention implementation, and teacher logs. Student reading performance was evaluated using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS Next) and reading subtests from the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement.
Results: Data analyses are still in progress.
Key Personnel: Todd Glover, Tanya Ihlo, Edward Shapiro, Michelle Howell-Smith, Stacy Martin
Coaching Science Inquiry (CSI) in Rural Schools
This randomized controlled trial with 119 rural middle and high school science teachers across 109 schools in Nebraska examines the impact of professional development with technology-delivered follow-up coaching (compared to a business as usual control) on teacher and student inquiry knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and attitudes. Coaching Science Inquiry (CSI) infuses instruction of scientific inquiry knowledge and skills with science content (e.g., physical, life, and earth science) and is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (2013) practices of questioning, investigating, collecting data, and explaining and communicating results. Teachers in schools randomly assigned to the treatment group participated in a two-week summer institute employing evidence-based professional development practices followed by technology-delivered instructional coaching sessions led by project-based science coaches over 68 weeks during the school year. The coaching process focused on teacher-coach planning followed by opportunities for teachers to practice, refine, and analyze new and existing skills. Teacher inquiry knowledge, self-efficacy, beliefs and teaching behaviors were assessed pre-post using project-developed scales and coded from videotaped observations. Student inquiry knowledge and skills, attitudes toward science, and engagement were assessed pre-post using project-developed scales and the Nebraska Science Assessment (NESA) along with select items from the State Collaboratives on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) scales.
Results: Data analyses are still in progress.
Key Personnel: Gwen Nugent, Gina Kunz, Jon Pedersen, Jim Houston
Results: Rural children experienced parent-reported externalizing behavior problems more often than children in non-rural settings. Further, rural parents displayed less emotional support than parents in other settings. Parents' emotional supportiveness was found to account for the relationship between geographic setting and parent-reported children's social skills, such that rural parents who provided less emotional support had children with lower social skills in kindergarten.
Key Personnel: Susan Sheridan, Natalie Koziol, Brandy Clarke
Results: Parents in rural settings provided less computer access for children than suburban parents during preschool, and accessed library resources less often than city or suburban parents. Rural children's kindergarten literacy scores were negatively impacted as a result, even after controlling for SES and other demographic variables. Living in a rural setting did not influence the number of books in the home nor parent language and literacy behaviors.
Key Personnel: Brandy Clarke, Natalie Koziol, Susan Sheridan
Key Personnel: James Bovaird, Greg Welch, Leslie Hawley, Natalie Koziol, Ann Arthur, Carina McCormick
Key Personnel: James Bovaird, Frances Chumney, Chaorong Wu
Key Personnel: James Bovaird
Key Personnel: James Bovaird, Chaorong Wu
Sheridan, S. M., Koziol, N. A., Clarke, B. L., Rispoli, K. M., & Coutts, M. J. (2014). The influence of rurality and the role of parental affect on kindergarten children's social and behavioral functioning. Early Education and Development. Advance online publication. doi:10. 1080/10409289.2014.896682
Semke, C. A., & Sheridan, S. M. (2012). Family-school connections in rural educational settings: A systematic review of the empirical literature. School Community Journal, 22(1), 2148.
Clarke, B. L. (2014). Rurality and reading readiness: The mediating role of parent engagement (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20141). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
DeChenne, S., Nugent, G. C., Kunz, G. M., Luo, L., Berry, B., Craven, K., & Riggs, A. (2014). Coaching in a science, technology, engineering, and math professional development experience: A case study (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20147). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Glover, T. A., & Ihlo, T. (2014). Project READERS: An evaluation of rural professional development with distance coaching in response to intervention and early reading supports (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20143). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education
Glover, T. A., Ihlo, T., Nugent, G. C., Trainin, G., & Shapiro, E. S. (2014). The influence of rural professional development characteristics on teacher perceived knowledge and practice (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20142). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Hellwege, M. A., O'Connor, M.A., Nugent, G. C., Kunz, G. M., & Sheridan, S. M. (2013). Advancing rural education research: Importance of interdisciplinary research partnerships (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20132). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Kunz, G. M., Nugent, G. C., Pedersen, J. E., DeChenne, S. E., & Houston, J. (2013). Meeting rural science teachers' needs: Professional development with ongoing technology-delivered instructional coaching. R2Ed Working Paper No. 20138). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Semke C. A., & Sheridan, S. M. (2011). Family-school connections in rural educational settings: A systematic review of the empirical literature (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20111).
Smith, T. E., Myers, Z. R., Moen, A. L., Kim, E. M., & Sheridan, S. M. (2013). A quantitative synthesis of family engagement interventions: A preliminary examination in rural context (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20137). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Witte, A. L., Coutts, M. J., Holmes, S. R., & Sheridan, S. M. (2013). The impact of teacher motivation for intervention on rural student behavioral outcomes (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20134). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.
Witte A. L., & Sheridan, S. M. (2011). Family engagement in rural schools (R2Ed Working Paper No. 20112). Retrieved from the National Center for Research on Rural Education.