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May 29, 2020

Profession-based coursework leads to publications for School of Ed students, faculty


The work of two Northwest Missouri State University faculty members and their graduate students in the School of Education was published recently in a special edition of Networks: An Online Journal for Teacher Research.

The special edition contains the action research conducted by four first-year teachers in the Independence (Missouri) School District. The teachers – Leia Baker, Caitlin Gritz, Christina Hall and Stephanie Nagl – completed the research as part of coursework in the area of academic inquiry and to meet the requirements of a capstone project in pursuit of master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction at Northwest.

The publication fulfills a goal Assistant Professor of Professional Education Dr. Shantel Farnan and Associate Professor of Professional Education Dr. Vicki Seeger have had since they began teaching and collaborating at Northwest in 2011. Their hope to publish the action research of their graduate students came to fruition when Networks Editor Dr. Suzanne Porath approached them about guest editing the special edition, titled “Classroom Research: Catalyzing Education through Inquiry.”

“We believe it is paramount to changing teaching and learning in classrooms and empowers educators to implement research-based strategies in methodical ways,” Farnan and Seeger wrote of action research in an introductory article for the series. “Each of the processes, from conducting a literature review to reflecting on results and developing new questions for the next action research cycle, assists a classroom teacher in embarking on effective ways to inform their practice.”

Seeger teaches in the Fellows Program, which helps first-year teachers in the Independence School District earn master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction through a collaborative program involving Northwest and the school district. Two courses, Academic Inquiry and Capstone Seminar, take the new teachers through an action research process with research questions focused on an issue in their classroom.

The research challenges the teachers to implement a strategy, process or resource that might work to solve a problem. Then, they collect and analyze data, and write about their results, findings and the implications for their teaching and student learning.

Nagl, a high school English teacher, researched whether the Readers’-Writers’ Workshop (RWW) is an effective tool for engaging secondary students and helps develop positive attitudes toward reading.

Hall, who teaches first and second grades, studied impacts of family engagement on student achievement. She coached families to give accurate feedback that helped students be successful and found that, as family engagement increased, students were motivated to work harder.

Baker, a kindergarten teacher, explored the self-care strategies of first-year teachers and discussed the impacts of practicing those strategies on their attitudes, attendance and well-being.

Gritz, a second grade teacher, examined the impact of spelling interventions for students who show signs of dyslexia and found that word study activities helped students stay positive and engaged with their learning.

Farnan serves as the coordinator of special education programs in the School of Education. She also chairs the Small Special Education Programs Caucus (SSEPC) of the Teacher Education Division (TED), a division of Council of Exceptional Children (CEC).

Seeger is the coordinator of the completion program at Northwest-Kansas City. She also is on the executive board of the Kansas Association of Teachers of English and reviews for The Reading Teacher and Kansas English.

Faculty in Northwest’s School of Education – Dr. Travis Dimmitt, Dr. Linda Gray Smith, Dr. Everett Singleton and Dr. Sara Taylor – also served as reviewers for the articles.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704