Master's Capstone Projects

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  • Publication
    American Private Foundations in Russia: Locating Priorities
    (2002-01-01) Kovalyova, Natalia
    The study describes the increasing international assistance in the field of education in Russia and focuses on programs implemented by the US private foundations, tracing, translation of the foundations goals into actual programs in the region. Using data from a variety of sources, foundations program portfolios are analyzed in relation to thematic diversity and geographic spread; types of support and major recipients of aid. Then, a comparative documentation analysis is applied to the programs' descriptions. A case study of two recent initiatives in Russian higher education is presented.
  • Publication
    Tractatus Pedagogico Peripateticus (the Walk of Future Learning)
    (1999) MacNeil, Daniel James
    Our understanding of human learning has been greatly improved by recent research findings from the fields of cognitive science, neurobiology, organizational studies, anthropology, linguistics, and evolutionary psychology. Despite all that is known, however, the majority of formal schools in the world operate much as they did 50 years ago. The pedagogy and the structure of the educational experience still reflect industrial age assumptions that are increasingly anachronistic in the modern knowledge production economy and in the post-modern cultural arena. Given the paucity of examples, it is difficult to visualize the characteristics of a future learning society - a society that embodies all that we know about human learning. This thesis develops two scenarios that attempt to describe two possible future societies; the first society is where learning flourishes and the other still labors under the industrial age assumptions. The purpose of these scenarios is to describe a utopian and a corresponding dys-utopian state that will serve as target conditions for current efforts at reform. The thesis presents an extensive literature review of recent research and writings from the above mentioned disciplines. The literature review is divided into three parts: the pupose of education, the way people learn, and lessons from the field. Much of the literature was complied during an internship at the 21st Century Learning Initiative, and educational policy think tank located in Washington DC and on the web at www.21 Learn.erg
  • Publication
    Malawi Teachers' Knowledge of and Attitudes Towards Standardized Tests
    (2002-01-01) Kaira, Leah
    Standardized tests play a great role in education. In Malawi, results of these tests are used to make: critical decisions about individuals, hence the need for students to be well prepared. Students' performance can be influenced by their teachers' attitude toward and knowledge of standardized tests. This survey was designed to establish Malawian teachers· knowledge of standardized tests and their attitude towards these tests. While the teachers displayed positive attitudes, it was found that they would benefit from more knowledge about standardized tests.
  • Publication
    Non-Native English Speakers and their Experience in College: a Study Based on Interview Conducted with International Students at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst
    (2004-01-01) Kamara, Amadou
    This study explores the experiences of international students within their learning environment and the community at large from the vintage point of being second, third, or fourth language speakers of English. Six undergraduate participants ( three male and three female) were selected from five disciplines and·one undeclared major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A phenomenological interviewing process was used to explore the experiences of the non-native English speakers. Three sixty-minute interviews were conducted with each of the participants and later transcribed. The study explores the educational and social experiences of the participants in college, and also their experiences of English language acquisition in preschool through high school and before they entered college. Material is presented in the form of profiles using the interview transcripts and topical issues generated from views expressed by participants. The study revealed obstacles participants confront and the sources of support they sought. Participants draw on a variety of resources in order to overcome the obstacles they face. Within their educational environment, participants faced specific problems related to spoken English, accent, proficiency, non-existent or minimal support services, and the need to meet institutional standards in speaking and writing. Conclusions were that socio-linguistic difficulties of non-native speakers of English can be enhanced by utilizing institution wide support mechanisms specific to both individual and group requirements, making personal endeavors aimed at improving oral speech and writing. The traditional attitude of non-acceptance and intolerance shown by native users of English towards non-native English speakers regarding issues.
  • Publication
    Farmer Literacy Practices: A Comparative Study of Farmers in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, India
    (2008-01-01) Chavva, Konda Reddy
    ABSTRACT The goal of the study was to understand farmer literacy practices, and how farmer participants perceive the usefulness of Farmer Water School (FWS) training. Studying the farmer literacy practices was to help identify farmer friendly methods, and design effective messages for dissemination on crop choices, decisions, and sustainable groundwater management. To understand the usefulness of FWS training to farmers, a comparative study of FWS participants and non-FWS pa11icipants' perceptions on crop-water management, crop choices, and agriculture practices was undertaken. The study focused on the farmers of Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The research questions driving this study included: 1. How do farmers use literacy for crop-water management and crop choice ? 2. How do farmer completing the Farmer Water School training view the usefulness of information they learned about groundwater management? 3. How have farmers adapted the information in their daily lives that they learned in the Farmer Water School training? In Chapter One, I discuss the rationale of the research. I briefly present my experiences of working in two different settings. One, designing and implementing literacy programs for illiterate rural women and second, providing assistance in the implementation of Farmer Water Schools - a participatory approach to groundwater management. I also, discuss my assumptions about literacy and the rationale for undertaking this research. In Chapter Two, I discuss the research context. First, I discuss the literacy scenario in India and the literacy statistics at the national, state and the district level. I also dicuss the Indian agriculture scenario, farmers' increasing dependence on groundwater, changing rainfall patterns, and the need for sustainable management of groundwater. Later on, I present the APF AMGS projects ongoing efforts to enhance the ability of farmers, water user groups, and communities to manage their groundwater resources in a judicious and sustainable manner. In Chapter Three, I discuss the use of case study research, data collection methods, field experiences in doing the research, and my location in the research. In Chapter Four, I use the findings to discuss the research questions. Chapter Five focuses on conclusions and implications. The findings can be summarized as follows: • Farmers use various means to record the transactions. Most of them calculate orally or mentally and can recollect transactions of the entire crop-sea on. Illiterate farmers seek the help of other literate members in their community to cope with the day-to-day needs. •Use of small learning groups in Farmer Water Schools (FWS) appears to have been an effective learning strategy to cope with the varied literacy levels of the farmer participants. • Farmer Water School (FWS) participants reported that they monitor water levels in their borewells and collect rainfall data to forecast water availability. They use this to make informed decisions about crop choices.