Program to Help Schools Cope With Education Reform, Solve Problems

Release Date: June 15, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Collaborative Research Network (CRN) has been established by the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education (GSE) to work with local schools, teachers and administrators to substantively reform their curriculums and teaching methods or solve problems unique to their schools.

The network is co-directed by Robert Stevenson, professor and chair of the GSE's Department of Organizational Leadership and Administration, and Suzanne Miller, associate professor in the school's Department of Learning and Instruction.

Through the network, Stevenson said, school personnel work together with UB education researchers to research and resolve problems identified by the schools.

The UB faculty, he said, brings to the effort a body of up-to-the-minute educational research and research methods. The schools bring first-hand knowledge of administrative and teaching practices in the field and familiarity with some of the obstacles and incentives to educational reform.

Projects are currently underway in several area school districts.

o Clarence and Buffalo schools are studying the most effective ways to teach multicultural humanities curriculums.

o In Grand Island, Williamsville and Cheektowaga, instructional technology directors are conducting research as to how teachers use technology to enhance the quality of their teaching.

o At Buffalo's Grover Cleveland High School, research is underway that focuses on diverse community involvement with the school.

o Ten schools in different districts are conducting an empirical examination of how teaching practices in their schools are effected by the state's student testing methods.

Teachers, administrators and UB faculty members can propose ideas for 1998-99 projects to CRN by calling 645-2696. Immediate assistance is available to help applicants clarify ideas and connect with faculty members having expertise in a particular area of concern.

The CRN will provide a simple application for a small grant to be used for equipment, materials and labor for collecting and analyzing data, but participating schools are expected to provide matching resources. The extent of involvement of UB faculty members in and support of the collaborative research will be negotiated separately for each project.

Stevenson said the network is a mutual-assistance program that can help bring teaching practice up-to-date and research practice down-to-earth.

The kinds of questions a local school might answer through collaborative research with UB faculty members are many and varied, he added. Researchers might help schools determine how well different kindergarten and preschool programs prepare children to learn to read in the first grade, for instance.

They can help a school discover the most effective way to integrate reading and writing into its primary-grade curriculum or determine if and how use of original documents, photos and artifacts can promote a more authentic teaching and learning of history.

.The CRN replaces and extends the UB school's 3-year-old Professional Development Network, which increased cross-disciplinary collaboration among the GSE's several departments and the specialized research programs within them.

Stevenson said the new network promotes the study of the relationship between educational research and the administrative policies and teaching practices of individual schools. This relationship is of concern to many in the educational field, since it can influence the validity of research findings as well as their application in the field.

"CRN provides UB faculty researchers a much greater degree of familiarity with the specific problems our schools struggle with on a day-to-day basis," Stevenson said. "It gives them an opportunity to conduct research with front-line educators whose perspectives and insights are different from their own.

"Their collaboration he said, "actually helps education reform efforts initiated by individual schools or teachers and helps improve classroom practices right here in Western New York."

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