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Name: Brianne Schoolcraft
Major/minor: Studio Art/English (planning on declaring English as a double major)
Expected date of graduation: 2015
Hometown: Bethlehem, Pa.
Project title: How Do Teachers Define Their Values & Virtues? An Examination of Moravian College Teacher Action Research Studies 2003-2013 and Teachers’ Reflective Responses
Project advisor: Joseph Shosh
Brianne Schoolcraft has enjoyed the SOAR experience so much, she’s completed research projects in each of the past two summers. She called the success of her project last year – “Teacher Action Research: Contemporary Leaders in Practitioner Inquiry and Their Epistemological Belief Systems” – as one of the major motivating factors for returning in summer 2013.
“Last summer’s project, as well as this summer’s, helped to sharpen my research, writing and verbal communication skills,” Brianne explains. “Of course, I was also motivated by the thought that our research could make a difference through our collection and sharing of the perspectives of Moravian’s graduates.”
During the summer of 2013, Brianne compiled and analyzed data from graduates of Moravian College’s graduate education program relating to their teaching epistemologies, the effectiveness of Moravian’s graduate education program, the impact of the No Child Left Behind legislation in the classroom, and their use, or lack of use, of Action Research in their practice. Additionally, she collected data by reading and coding thesis documents written by the graduates, conducting surveys and video interviews, and analyzing and coding the compiled information.
It was an ambitious endeavor, though one aided by Shosh’s “bountiful enthusiasm and encouraging support,” Brianne says.
At the completion of the project, Schoolcraft compiled the findings from surveys and interviews in a series of spreadsheets, graphs and video montages. She then took the stage, presenting at a series of events, including Moravian’s Annual Action Research Conference and Graduate Education Symposium. Brianne was one of several students who also presented in front of an international audience at York St. John University’s Third International Conference on Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research, which was held in York, England.
These appearances were no easy task considering Schoolcraft suffers from stage fright. “Even if I do not end up in a field which requires public speaking, strong verbal communication is an invaluable skill to possess and is a skill I hope to continue to improve on in the future,” says the dean’s list student.
Brianne and company wasted little time getting back to work in the fall semester, continuing their research and data collection. Since the summer, she has circulated a third wave of surveys and continued to conduct interviews. “We will also continue to code the information we receive from these surveys and interviews, analyze our findings, and hopefully present these final findings at next year’s Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA) Second Annual Conference, which will be taking place at Moravian College,” Brianne concludes.
With solid research in hand, she should have little fear of an audience.