Virtual schools and courses are increasing in popularity across the country, and a new study from the University of Kansas shows that teachers in online settings prefer approaching education intellectually, socially and emotionally, while brick-and-mortar teachers are increasingly limited from doing so because of high-stakes testing demands.
Nicole Singleton Babalola, professional development schools coordinator in the School of Education, conducted a study of the curriculum preferences of K-12 teachers in virtual settings compared with teachers in traditional settings. The study undertook a survey of nearly 50 full- and part-time teachers who work in virtual settings. The teachers were asked about their curriculum preferences, training, support, mentoring and related experiences in virtual teaching.
Results showed that virtual teachers preferred to approach education holistically, including families and focusing on intellectual, emotional and social development of the child. Teachers in more traditional settings reported they had to focus more on cognitive process curriculum, or simply on what and how the student learned. The virtual teachers reported they greatly enjoyed and appreciated being able to work closely with families in crafting and meeting holistic educational goals for students.
Brick and mortar teachers were limited in their ability to focus on areas other than intellectual development, not because they don’t believe in such an approach, but because they have the challenge of not being able to realistically work with all parents and because of the demands of meeting proficiencies in standardized testing and programs such as No Child Left Behind.
“Teachers are losing their capability to teach the whole child, socially, emotionally and intellectually,” Babalola said. “Having high-stakes testing be the focus at all times does not fit the profile of the teachers in my study.”
Babalola said she hopes to continue her research into virtual school curriculum by asking similar questions of a larger sampling of teachers and to expand the study to Texas and Florida, two high-population states that are very active in virtual education.
Read the full article on KU News.