The Qualitative Report Annual Conference
Jan 6th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am presenting my research on both problem finding and reflexivity at The Qualitative Report Annual Conference, in Ft. Laduerdale, FL. Here are the resources for the presentation:


Reflexivity Paper |
Reflexivity Presentation |
Creative Student Scientists Paper |
Creative Student Scientists Presentation


New Publication
Oct 3rd, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am proud to announce a new publication that was just released in The Science Teacher entitled “The 21st century oral presentation toolbag.”  Link is here.  You can see the article if you are a member of NSTA.  Others can send me a message, and I will be happy to email a copy.

New research report on reflexivity
Jun 30th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am proud to announce the release of my paper:  Online Dynamic Asynchronous Audit Strategy for Reflexivity in the Qualitative Paradigm, just published in The Qualitative Report. It was a long process to publication, but I am really excited about this work.  The data for the study originated here on this blog back in 2007.  This study is about this BLOG from 2007-2008.   I first presented the research concepts in 2009 at the Connecticut State University Faculty Research Conference, and then in 2010 at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in Denver.  Feel free to read it and leave a comment below.

Thinking about the role of textbooks
Feb 14th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

from Desales University Library

I was recently reading the Foundation for Excellence in Education (2010) Digital Learning Now! document.  Of particular interest to me was “Element #5:” Content:  digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.  Check out this forward-thinking statement:

States should abandon the lengthy textbook adoption process and embrace the flexibility offered by digital content. Digital content can be updated in real time without a costly reprint. The ongoing shift from online textbooks to engaging and personalized content, including learning games, simulations, and virtual environments, makes the traditional review process even less relevant.

Transitioning to digital content will improve the quality of content, while likely saving money in production that can be dedicated to providing the infrastructure for digital learning.

This will be a tough nut to crack, but once schools and districts start thinking this way, there will certainly be an improvement in quality.  I started down this path in 2007 when I assumed the role of the first science department chair at Oxford High School.  My perception of the biggest challenge is the time to develop and maintain the high quality resources as part of the blended learning environment.  This, unfortunately, probably is not “doable” by the classroom teacher alone because there is just not enough capacity to give teachers the necessary time to make it all work.  But . . . teachers are key to the process.  So partnerships are a necessity.

The Proud Father . . .
Jun 2nd, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

My kindergarten daughter brought home a book from school today, When I Grow Up.  My daughter’s teacher has, throughout the year, had the students complete “Think Books,” where the children draw a picture and write a sentence to explain their “story.” I can tell by the book that the teacher was working on “evidence.” The student had to say what she wanted to be, then explain the reason.  The teacher then assembles the student work and makes a bound book that the children bring home on different nights to share with their families.

What I like about the “Think Books” is that the students are making an authentic product that they share with their families.  There is a certain level of quality when it is shared with many.  Here’s her page:

Maggie's Career Think Book

Maggie’s Author’s Tea
May 21st, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Maggie reads to the class

Today I had the opportunity to visit my daughter’s school for her Kindergarten Author’s Tea.  I LOVE when teachers give their students the opportunity to present their work in an authentic setting.  It doesn’t matter what grade, K-12 – giving students the opportunity to share their work with the community increases the value and quality for the child.  I’ve included a few pictures and embedded a video of her reading the story.  Be sure to leave a comment for Maggie below!

Maggie shows us her book

Maggie is joined by her sister Anna

Problem solving isn’t always obvious
Apr 26th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

from: kidsaccident.psy.uq.edu.au


As some might notice, I had a friend design a new header for my blog.  Mark maintains his consulting business at www.mokturtle.net.  He designed the header (which is similar to my homepage labanca.net), sent me some files, and then I had to figure out how to upload them and get them working on my WordPress blog.  I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to get it all to work. My problem solving involved several different techniques and cognitive mechanisms (from Wikipedia): 

  • Brainstorming:
  • suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and combining and developing them until an optimum is found.
  • Lateral thinking: approaching solutions indirectly and creatively.
  • Means-ends analysis: choosing an action at each step to move closer to the goal.
  • Morphological analysis: assessing the output and interactions of an entire system.
  • Research: employing existing ideas or adapting existing solutions to similar problems.
  • Trial-and-error: testing possible solutions until the right one is found.

Often, when some think of problem solving, especially from an educational standpoint it comes down to: 

  • Hypothesis testing: assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts, disprove) the assumption.
This linear method may have applications at times, but doesn’t really allow for the creative potential that is often necessary when solving ill-defined problems:  problems that have more than one possible method of reaching the outcome, or perhaps problems that have more than one acceptable outcome. 

Enter a project that I conducted with my students:  Each student was required to create a short blog post, which had to include a graphic and a self-made media clip (audio or video) about a genetic disorder.  I created a blog (actually two:  here and here), established student accounts, and let them go.  In my usual style, I was intentionally vague so as to not limit the creative potential of the students. 

It was interesting to see that most of the questions I received as the students worked on their projects over the course of  a week were focused on operating the blog platform.  Questions were simple, directed, and easy to provide support. They had to troubleshoot the best ways to make their presentations work.  I think, though, they really could focus on the content without getting bogged down in the idiosyncrasies of technology.

What do I take away?

  1. The tools allow students to focus on content rather than the minutia of form to create attractive products.
  2. Using the tools has its own challenges and allowing students to work through these problems is good problem solving.
  3. Quality of content is still important.  Glitz does not take away understanding.  Just because we made something fancy doens’t mean that we can allow the quality of the concepts to slip.
  4.  In just 4 years since I gave this assignment last, student IT skills have improved tremendously.  I needed to provide very little support for students to make their media components – they know how to do it, and most of them have the tools.  I did loan some digital voice recorders to some, but did NOT have to provide instructions for usage.
  5. Making and editing video has become incredibly easy and there are a wide variety of tools to do it:  webcams, digital cameras, cell phones, video cameras; PC: Movie Maker, MAC: iMOVIE.

Allowing students to be creative producers is critical; these kinds of projects move us in the right direction.

Defining Inquiry Literacy
Jan 7th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

My colleagues at McGill and I recently published an article in LEARNing Landscapes entitled, Inquiry Literacy: A Proposal for a Neologism. You can read the article here.ll-no5-dec2009

Publishing in Education
Feb 13th, 2009 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I’ve started a post-Ed.D. writing group with my colleagues for the purpose of generating articles for publication. We’ve all done significant research, and now is the opportunity to share this great, original knowledge with others. We invited Dr. Karen Burke as a guest speaker last night.  Karen spoke so eloquently on the topic and I am podcasting her presentation here.  Dr. Burke speaks about a wiki that is currently by invitation only.  Please contact me or leave a comment if you need further information.

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