Research Examines How Teachers Self-Evaluate

Identifying and analyzing missed opportunities in the classroom is an important assessment in education, believes Marcine Adams, PhD Curriculum Studies student.

"A missed opportunity is when a teacher identifies a moment when they could have dug deeper," Adams said.

Due to both internal and external factors, including time constraints, missed opportunities happen frequently in the classroom. Adams calls these moments critical, and is interested in determining why they happen and how educators can avoid them.

“It will be interesting to see what teachers identify as a missed opportunity and how they approach it,” Adams said.

Adams’ research method involves videotaping educators during instruction, transcribing the footage and then coding the classroom data.

Adams is part of the Project ELMSA team, a grant-funded research group at UIC that works on professional development for English Language Learners (ELL) teachers in grades K-8. She is currently wrapping up her first, two-year cohort, comprised of roughly half a dozen teachers.

It is through this program that Adams will also collect her personal data. While not formulated yet, her dissertation will focus on the study of teachers’ identity among professional society.

“You listen to the radio and you hear that you can earn a teaching degree by the end of summer and it breaks my heart because it makes it seem like teaching and making a difference in a student’s life is easy and that anyone can do it– which isn’t true,” she said.

Aside from her research, Adams has been a tutor for five years. Her business, “Miss Marci Tutoring,” contains a unique formative approach that involves interactive game play to begin each session.

Adams previously developed a course called “Brainiacs,” which focuses on the impact educational interactive games have on student learning.

The games–some of which Adams created–reinforce cognitive skills and allow Adams as a tutor to assess her instructional approach.

“The students learn and take away so much from it,” Adams said. A lot of the students want to know if they’re doing it right, and I’ll say, ‘how do you think you do it’?”

The games give the students confidence in their ability to learn, she said.

“I work hard to get them not to look at exploration as a waste of time or a frustrating experience.”