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Appendix A

Theoretical and Empirical Underpinnings and Conceptual Framework

The Impact of Technology
on

Students


Social Skills

The contextualization of this B@²DGE²S project is based on theoretical, empirical, and
conceptual frameworks needed to illustrate the ideas behind this innovative and creative
development. For instance,
Lloyd, Dean, and Cooper (2007) stated that student en
gagement
with
in campuses
has
significantly changed compared to ten years ago (p. 481). Technology
evolved beyond the desktop computers and printers that are confined
to
schools, business
organizations, and government establishments. Technology presently extends to the immediate
fingertips of students, such as (a) social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter), (b) web 2.0
technologies and open
-
sourced applications (i.e.

Prezi, Google, Moodle), (c) mobile devices (i.e.
mobile phones, mp3 players, iPads, tablets, and laptops), and (d) Internet or wireless accessibility
(i.e. mobile devices, coffee shops


cyber connections, commercial chains). The current
generation of stud
ents is understood to be highly tech
-
savvy compared to the students of
10
years
ago. In a study that was conducted in 2005, students were found to spend 11 to 15 hours a week
using technology (Lloyd et al, 2007, p. 483). Despite the use of these different
types of
technologies, students do not have a clear understanding on the appropriate use of technology in
academics. Students know how to consume information using different technology resources, but
lack the knowledge and skills in creating or building ne
w ideas from newly learned concepts and
methodologies (Lloyd et al, 2007).

In addition, there is evidence to suggest that excessive
use
of technology, such as the
Internet, provide negative psychological effects on its users. According to Affonso (1999),

a
recent Carnegie Mellon University study suggests an increase in misery and loneliness among
excessive Internet patrons. Likewise, these individuals who are constantly exposed to and use the
Internet have been found to interact less with people face
-
to
-
f
ace. This includes the diminished
development of communication skills and
personal
relationships.

With the ongoing increase of technology
use
among students, addiction to the Internet is
common. This contributes to isolation and a constant retreat to the
use of computers or mobile
devices (Lloyd et al, 2007). In today’s education

system
, students


use of different technology
resources is a regular part of
their
daily routine. Shraman (2010) explained that the excessive use
of the Internet results in academ
ic dishonesty among heavy users. This includes the inability of
students to segregate gathered information from original ideas (Shraman, 2010). Students, for
instance, would easily resort to plagiarizing than being critical in evaluating relevant from
irre
levant information. This eventually leads to students’ failure to write research information in
their own words.

Freirean Critical Pedagogy

Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator, described the positive effects of an education that
bases itself on the student
s’ daily life experiences and cultural background. H
is research focused
on analzying

the negative effects of the oppressive realities and of politics of exclusion on the
performance of low
-
income and underprivileged students.
We are proposing to design an
educational project based
on
Freire’s
philosophical approach of dialogic
pedagogy
,
, as a way
to
empower
students and facilitate their access to quality and holistic education.

Only after achieving conscious awareness of their own reality, it is possible for students
and teachers to promote social change and increase the academic performance of students.
Rossatto (2005) says that this liberation can occur when individuals are abl
e to transcend from a
passive form of
optimism
such as
fatalistic
,
blind,
and
resilient
to the active form of
Transformative

optimism
(See

Appendix C
for a Freirean Mapping of Optimism and Desires)
.

The consequence of
Blind optimism
is an emphasis on indiv
idual hard work and a de
-
emphasis on collective action or struggle. Because students from disenfranchised groups must
learn to survive in institutions controlled by dominant groups, some select a strategy of
conforming to the hidden curriculum of
Blind opt
imism. Fatalistic optimism
is an immobilizing
acceptance of an alienating reality and a dismal future, in one sense a kind of “anti
-
optimism.” It
is a belief that events are fixed in time resulting in feelings of impotence and inability to change
the cours
e of events, as if a given bleak future is to be expected as a natural unfolding
consequence of events.

Resilient optimism
is manifested in conformation to normative order, despite an
alienating reality, as a means of achieving a desired individualistic go
al, the optimism being the
belief that such a goal will be accomplished through conformity. Yet within the school structure,
these students feel that they have to give up aspects of their cultural identity in order to achieve
the academic goals that will l
ead them to economic success.
Transformative optimism
sees the
formation of collective resistance against social processes that produce alienating realities, with
the hope of achieving a liberated future. The transformative optimist does not only hope for
the
best possible outcomes, but sees him or herself as a vital instrument in the realization of those
outcomes.

In short, the challenge is how to deconstruct the problematic temporal notions such as
those of fatalistic, resilient, and blindly optimistic id
eologies. This process will entail a change of
focus for the teacher, which means that teachers would have to unlearn old beliefs. Fatalist
ideologies and passive notions of time have to be transformed at school into positive future
visions.

According to G
iroux (1988), teachers must become transformative intellectuals who
practice pedagogy where both teachers and students become agents committed to the study of
daily life, as opposed to memorization. Students have difficulty
going through
this process alone
;
they need a teacher who can help them identify hegemonic structures and create a critical
language (Aronowitz and Giroux, 1985). Consequently, the teacher has a leadership role and
knowledge that is potentially liberating and important or limiting for st
udents.

Critical pedagogical approaches can help students construct an engaging knowledge

based on their realities and also help them to use their background experiences as a self
-
empowerment tool (Freire and Macedo, 1987). This means building schools as s
ites for cultural
contestation, as they must be places for historical, critical, and transformative action (McLaren
and Leonard, 1993). In this process, critical educators emphasize how social identities are
constructed within unequal relations of power in

the schools (Weiler, 1988). The
interdisciplinary approaches to learning and cultural differences address the dialectical and
multifaceted experiences of everyday life. One particular example illustrated by Freire (1970),
says that if the agents, (teacher
s and students), are dichotomized, the knowledge, which ought to
be constructed between and among both, will be very limited.

Systems, Design, Nature and Technology

Systems engineering once borrowed from nature to design and build technical systems
.
Now

engineers have the possibility to look at nature and analyze it as a technical system.
Bioengineering analyzes the human body
’s various
system
s

to design and build rehabilitation
devices such as exoskeletons. Sustainability engineering looks at the impact

that technical
systems have on natural systems (i.e. the environment) to make decisions on the materials,
processes, transport, use, and disposal of products. There are many lessons
regarding
how natural
systems (e.g. animals and plants) heal themselves,
and engineers are currently working on
developing self
-
healing structures using nano
-
materials. The beauty and efficiency of natural
designs is undeniable, taking thousands and even millions of years to develop, with engineers
now trying to copy nature th
rough biomimicry, creating robots and mechanisms that mimic
birds, fish, insects, etc. Engineers have always been inspired by nature. Looking at birds,
humans had the desire to fly, and early engineers devised wings and later airplanes for that
purpose.
Nature can be such a good example that engineers use a method called Synectics to
generate ideas to solve technical problems using natural solutions; following this, Velcro was
inspired by dry flower seeds with little hooks that attach to animal fur and hu
man clothes to
travel and improve survival chances growing in other regions; composite materials resemble
honeycomb shapes found in bee hives and plants, and exhibit extraordinary physical properties
while having a low weight.

As students study the origin
of life in DNA and cells, eventually recreating the Tree of
Life with interdependent flora and fauna, an analogy will be brought to mind and to the
classroom, the analogy that modern Systems Science draws between living organisms and the
integrated, cooper
ative human systems that we aspire to build.

The founder of General Systems Theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901
-
1972), looked to
B
iology
for inspirations in defining a framework of relationships that are necessary for the
collective emergence of a syste
m that can be identified as an intelligent entity

(Bertalanffy, 1933,
1968, 1981).

As opposed to mathematical system theory, general systems theory describes its
models in a qualitative and non
-
formalized language. Bertalanffy was one of the most importan
t
theoretical biologists of the first half of the 20th century, conducting research on comparative
physiology, biophysics, psychology, and on the philosophy of science.

Bertalanffy led a movement that has developed the systemic concepts of self
-
organizatio
n, self
-
regulation, homeostasis, autopoiesis, self
-
control and self
-
determination.
Modern day application of System Science has led to the development of Systems Engineering,
which has become a medium of communication across engineering disciplines, just

as the study
of Biology is a common ground in the understanding of human interdependence with all the
citizens of the biosphere.

Problem
-
Based Learning (PBL) and Critical Thinking Curricular Model (CTCM)

Two fundamental pedagogical and philosophical ideas support the
B@²DGE project.
First, the Problem
-
Based Learning (PBL)

will serve as the instructional approach to guide
students in their understanding of the phenomenon and attempt to provide solutions to
the issue
under investigation. Problem
-
Based Learning (PBL) is an inquiry
-
based approach that can be
defined as both a curriculum and a process. The curriculum consists of carefully selected and
designed problems that engage the learner in the process of a
cquiring critical knowledge,
developing proficiency in problem solving, engaging in self
-
directed learning, and participating
in collaborative teams. PBL approaches give students the ability to retain facts though critical
thinking by working through probl
ems logically and making connections to the real world.
Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) showed that several innovative pedagogical approaches,
particularly those that focused on active engagement with a subject matter in “real world”
settings, produced gre
ater learning gains and cognitive skill development than did traditional,
lecture
-
and discussion approaches. Other studies indicate collaborative learning and group work
promote leadership abilities (Colbeck, Campbell & Bjorklund, 2000). PBL is a multidisc
iplinary
approach that integrates effective teaching and learning practices with computer technology. This
curriculum integration process engages students in collaborative research that can be shared in
the classroom, across a community or around the globe
.

A PBL approach coupled with the Critical Thinking Curricular Model (CTCM) will be
used

to design and deliver the science content embedded in the study of locally relevant
environmental issues. This approach also provides the participating teachers with
a clear vision
of both the curricular and process elements of instruction. The curriculum consists of carefully
selected and designed problems that engage the learner in the process of acquiring critical
knowledge, developing proficiency in problem
-
solving
, engaging in self
-
directed learning, and
participating in a collaborative team structure. The process is centered on problem
-
solving
strategies that are needed in order to synthesize the large of amount of content information that,
because of technology,
is at the fingertips of learners everywhere. As computer technology has
become more affordable and available, increased numbers of students have access to new and
widely variable information sources. The central approach of the CTCM provides students the
o
pportunity to learn and retain facts by thinking critically and working through problems
logically while making real world connections. Facts and figures brought to life, adding
relevancy to the students


learning.


The Critical Thinking Curriculum Model c
onsists of four equal and important
organizational components that form the backbone of the model. The four parts of the

model are:



Educational components



Technology components



Assessment components



Community components

Second, Socio
-
Transformative
-
Constru
ctivist (STC) (Rodriguez, 2002) is a theoretical
framework
which
merges multicultural education with social constructivism. Therefore, “STC
provides an orientation to teaching and learning that pays close attention to how issues of power,
gender, and equit
y influence not only what subject matter (curriculum) is covered but also how it
is taught and to whom” (p. 1019). In STC settings, both teachers and students engage
in
“empowering dialogues” (p. 1019), which do promote deeper understanding of the content
and
the application of school knowledge in socially relevant ways.

The STC the
ory consists of four elements:



Dialogic Conversations
: (Who is doing the talking? Whose interests, values, and beliefs
are represented by the speaker and listener?). In the cont
ext of the proposed study
,

the
teacher and students
will
discuss the intersections of human activity with issues regarding
environmental decline of the Rio Bosque wetland in our city.



Authentic Activities
:
S
paces
in which students explore how the subject

under study is
socially relevant and connected to their everyday lives. In the B@²DGE project, students
not only will become aware of an issue affecting their community in terms of the quality
of local environmental resources
,

but will
also
engage in hand
s
-

and minds
-
on student
-
led
projects in the Rio Bosque Park.



Metacognition:
The goal is to instill in the learner a concept of consciousness and agency
of their own learning. In this proposed project
,

students will ponder questions such as:
"Why am I learning about this topic?" "Why am I learning these concepts in this way?"
"What control [voice] do I have in how to proceed?" and "By what other method(s) can I
learn this subject matter best?"



Reflexivity:
Process by which we question how our social, ideological, and academic
location affect our perception of what is worth teaching and learning. Students in this
project will reflect on the roles that they play or might play in the future in the
decision
-
making process regarding the protection and preservation of environmental resources in
their community (e.g., who gets access to clean water and who should be held
accountable when policies to protect the environment and the community are ignored)
.

Peer Mentoring

Research within psychology and education has long identified that secure caregiver
attachments, love, and a firm sense of belonging are essential components for a child’s well
-
being (Ellis, Small
-
McGinley, & De Fabrizio, 2001, p. 1). For
many high need students
,

the
above considerations were never firmly established. Brendtro and Long (1995), within their 30
years of working with aggressive youth, support this notion. In order to “reclaim” violent youth,
developmental needs must be met. Th
is includes what Brendtro and Long refer to as the “four
A
’s of reclaiming school ethos:
Attachment
: Positive social bonds are prerequisites to pro
-
social
behavior;
Achievement
: Setting high expectations means refusing to accept failure;
Autonomy
:
True di
scipline lies in demanding responsibility rather than obedience; and
Altruism
: Through
helping others, young people find proof of their own self
-
worth” (p. 56). Parallel to Brendtro and
Long’s four A’s, Native American cultures also consider sense of belon
ging, in addition to
“Mastery, Independence, and Generosity,” as essential components necessary for the healthy
development of children (Brokenleg, 1998, p. 131).


Mentoring is one avenue which can assist in fostering the above considerations among
hig
h need students. In order to demonstrate how mentoring can assist in this process, Fromm’s
model of positive relationships will be applied. This model consists of four elements: caring
addresses the concern one experiences for another; responsibility refer
s to what one will do to
meet the spoken and unspoken needs of others; respect allows the other to be who they are; and
knowledge denotes a genuine understanding of the feelings of others (1956; as cited in Ellis,
Small
-
McGinley, & De Fabrizio, 2001, p.5).


In their study of cross
-
age peer mentoring programs, researchers Karcher, Davidson,
Rhodes, and Herrera (2010) determined that “d
espite

the potential for iatrogenic effects that can
result from peer interventions, under certain conditions, peer mentoring has the potential to serve
as an exemplary positive youth development (PYD) program” (p. 213). Study results indicated
that PYDs directl
y impact a mentee’s sense of connectedness, increase in self
-
confidence, and
competence. Mentors facilitate these reported traits through a solid and caring relationship. In
addition, through the development of this positive relationship, mentors also demo
nstrate an
increase in “academic connectedness and self
-
esteem” (p. 213).

Carefully considered mentee and mentor matching within cross
-
age peer mentoring
programs is essential to the success of any PYD program (p. 226). Positive youth development
programs

focus on emphasizing and fostering student strengths. Peer mentors who have a
positive perspective on youth within their communities “have a more positive influence on
younger mentees and may be especially helpful to mentees whose academic performance,
re
lationships, and behaviors render them disconnected” (p. 224). Therefore, caregiver beliefs
whether positive or negative in reference to achievement will yield appropriate results. In other
words, caregiver attitude will create a self
-
fulfilling prophecy b
y engendering specific student
behaviors.

Since this is the last badge within this proposed content, targeted students will have been
engaged in positive mentor/mentee relationships with school faculty, university project staff, and
community members. Men
tor training will consist of pre
-
match and in
-
service training with
university project staff. During in
-
service phase, students will be guided through this process by
pilot staff and document
their
experience
s

within a journal.

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Appendix B

Organizing Team for B@²DGE²S Project


The team organizing the B@²DGE²S project is composed of five professors and three
doctoral students. Two professors are from pedagogical and science backgrounds in education
two are from engineering systems, innovation and creativity and one professor is
an expert in
authentic assessment:

PI Dr. Cesar A. Rossatto

earned a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. in 1999. His research and
expertise are focused on critical pedagogy, multiculturalism, Freirean philosophy and social,
historical, and philosophical foundations of
education, within interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary,
and transdisciplinary studies.

Co PI: Dr. William Medina
-
Jerez

earned his PhD (2005) and M.S in Science Education (2002)
from the University of Iowa.
He is experienced in teaching elementary and
secondary science
education courses, as well as graduate
-
level courses on science teaching in bilingual classrooms.

His scholarship focuses on
science education for ELLs, science education in less developed
countries, and scientist and science teacher coll
aboration.


Co PI Dr. Eric D. Smith

earned a B.S. in Physics in 1994, an M.S. in Systems Engineering in
2003, and his Ph.D. in Systems and Industrial Engineering in 2006 from the University of
Arizona in Tucson, AZ.


His dissertation research occurred at t
he interface of systems
engineering, cognitive science, and multi
-
criteria decision making, facilitating his current
research interests of teaching, complex systems engineering, risk management, and cognitive
biases.

Co PI Dr. Noe Vargas
-
Hernandez

is a des
igner, designologist and design educator. He has a
B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Mexico, UK, and the US respectively.
His areas of interest include design for sustainability, creativity, innovation, biomechatronics,
rehabilitation de
vices, and design education.

Dr. Angela Valenzuela

is a B@²DGE²S consult expert on multiple and authentic assessment;
she is Associate Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the
University of Texas at Austin and Director for both the Texas Center for Education Policy and
t
he National Latino Education Research Agenda Project. A Stanford University graduate, she
also teaches jointly in the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction and Educational
Administration.

Dr. Valenzuela is also winner of the AERA 2000 Outstanding Book Aw
ard and the American
Educational Studies Association 2001 Critics’ Choice Award for
Subtractive Schooling:


U.S.
Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring.
She is also author of

L
eaving Children Behind:


How
“Texas
-
style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth
,

a text that thoughtfully critiques Texas’
penchant for high
-
stakes testing.

Dr. Valenzuela’s work centers squarely on the public schooling experiences and outcomes for
poor, minority, immigrant, and English language learning youth, and how policies, pract
ices, and
the organization of schooling impact these same youth and their families.



As director of the Texas Center for Education Policy, Dr. Valenzuela further ensures that
student
-
centered research that promotes equity is made accessible to key legisla
tors so that
policies take minority students' needs into account.


During the 2009 81st Texas state legislature,
Dr. Valenzuela’s research on the harms of testing resulted in a monumental shift in the way third
grade children are assessed.


No longer will
promotion to the fourth grade for these children be
solely based on test performance.


Rather, a holistic assessment based on grades, attendance,
classroom performance, teacher and parent assessments, and test performance will be
considered.


Doctoral stud
ents from College of Education

with vast public schooling teaching experience
and expertise in science and technology:

Albertina Valdez, M.Ed.

program manager; she had been a public school educator for many
years and is now a doctoral student at The Unive
rsity of Texas at El Paso. She has a Bachelor of
University Studies with an emphasis in Spanish Literature and Film from UNM and an M.Ed.
Instructional Specialist in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Second Language
Acquisition from The Univers
ity of Texas at El Paso. Her areas of interest within Education are
at
-
risk youth, Second Language Acquisition, Critical Pedagogy, Curriculum Studies, and Social
Justice.

Maria Elena Rosario Dickerson, M.Ed.

is expert on technology; she

received her B.S. i
n
Commerce, major in Management with Management Information Systems, in 1991 at the
Assumption College in Makati City, Philippines. She also completed an Education Certificate
Program in 2000 at the Assumption Graduate School. She received her M.Ed., major

in
Educational Administration, in 2009 at the Grand Canyon University of Phoenix, Arizona. She is
currently a doctoral student in Teaching, Learning, and Culture, with emphasis in
Math/Science/Technology, at the University of Texas at El Paso.


Anna Carol
ina Barbosa, M.Ed.

is expert on Biology; she

received her degree in Biological
Sciences, with major in Genetics, in 2007, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She also received a Science Teacher degree in 2009 at this same university. She h
as obtained a
Master in Education degree at PUC (Catholic University) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is
currently a Ph.D. student at the Teaching, Learning and Culture program at the University of
Texas at El Paso.