Doctoral candidates Christina Dobbs, Ed.M.'06, and Jessica Scott, Ed.M.'08, recently received two of the four Presidential Instructional Technology Fellows (PITF) program awards given by Harvard University.
The PITF program attracts undergraduate and graduate fellows to work with faculty and librarians, in conjunction with Harvard, on developing digital course materials for educational purposes. Each year the PITF program awards students whose projects demonstrate a significant impact on learning and teaching a $500 gift for their work.
"It's flattering and nice because we spent a lot of time working on the project," Scott says. "It is nice to get the recognition and know that our project is being used in the classroom."
While working as teaching fellows in the Language and Literacy Program, Dobbs and Scott noticed that many master's students, being inexperienced teachers, had difficult conceptualizing certain aspects of literacy instruction in classroom practice. Although these topics had been taught theoretically, Dobbs and Scott thought there was a "better, more concrete way to provide students with the experiences to help them understand what had previously been presented abstractly."
Dobbs and Scott reviewed 165 hour-long videos, took notes, catalogued each one based on the type of lesson and age of students, and created a checklist detailing the content. The videos were digitized and uploaded to course websites (specifically Literacy Assessment and Intervention Practicum and Reading Instruction and Development) for student and faculty use. The videos became such popular teaching tools that faculty requested their use in two additional courses.
"The work that Christina and Jessica did on the video library PITF project provided the master's students in my classes with examples of teachers at work with students of various ages, learning styles, and literacy challenges," says Lecturer Pamela Mason. "The videos also provided examples of the use of a variety of literacy teaching strategies. These videos brought the readings to life and provided for rich discussions about practice in class, especially for international students unfamiliar with American schooling."
The video catalog is still available in the library for use by all faculty members interested in exploring how the lessons can benefit their students. Scott points out that there are many different subjects contained in the videos.
In the future, Scott, a third-year doctoral student, plans to research schools of the deaf and how these schools are changing considering student population and technology growth. Dobbs, a fifth-year doctoral student, is interested in the development of writing and academic language, specifically students who speak dialectal variants of English.