Memo- Observations

This week I was able to present pre-survey data and the reason behind why we are working to increase our cultural responsiveness in mentoring CLD students.  There were 15 mentors in attendance and meeting notes were sent out to all particpants the next day.

Mentors expressed an increased awareness just by simply being asked some difficult questions.

Throughout the week I observed and heard multiple mentors asking students about their families and the languages they speak at home.  I heard encouragement and praise to students that are bi/trilingual.

I was more in-tune to when/how students were using their native language.  Once during this week I picked-up on a time when I thought two girls were speaking in swahili specifically to exclude another girl in the class.  This scenario opened the doors for a deep conversation with the students about how knowing multiple languages is a strength, but how it shouldn’t be used to be hurtful to others.

I believe that because of the conversations we are having with mentors about recognizing our differences our mentoring time has been more successful.  I see mentors stepping out of their comfort zones to connect with students and I see them pushing themselves to help students academically.

This week I shared with mentors what it means to be culturally responsive (specifically the three dimensions of CRP).  And we looked at our demographics which hit home the point of us having these discussions.

Snapshot of demographics:


20 Males (10 African, 7 Hispanic, 2 African- American, 1 White)

16 Females (5 African, 9 Hispanic, 1 African-American, 1 White)


6 Males (1 African, 1 Hispanic, 4 White)

38 Females (6 Hispanic, 32 White)


I have another week to send out professional development information to mentors and staff and then I will begin analyzing post-survey data.


Memo 2- Pre-Survey Short Answers

Analyzing 48 short answer responses (two per participant) was more difficult than the quantitative data analysis that I’ve done thus far with the pre-survey data.

I started by doing a quick read through of all the responses about mentors strengths in working with culturally and linguistically diverse students.  From the quick readings I tried to quickly find themes in the data in order to start the coding process. From there I read through the second short answer responses about mentors areas of growth in working with CLD students.  Once again, I did a quick reading in order to pick-out themes.

From there though I was feeling stumped.  So, in order to mainstream my process of analyzing the qualitative data, I typed all responses into a word document.

Typing the responses slowed me down enough to slowly digest what I was reading and helped me to compare responses.  I believe this helped the data to guide me rather than me to guide the data.

Themes/Codes found in the analysis of the pre-survey data:

SE- Similar Experiences (Multiple mentors wrote about having similar experiences to students by living cross-culturally, learning new languages, and/or being a CLD person themselves).

CR-Connecting/ Relationships (Many mentors named connecting and relationships as a strength)

DR- Diversity/Respect (Respect for diversity was a common theme in strengths)

These themes were found at least three times in mentors reflections of their strengths: P- Patience; E- Encouraging; O- Open; A-Accepting; U-Understanding; PO-Positive

BL- Bilingual (As an area of growth many mentors discussed the desire to learn another language for personal reasons and/or to speak with families)

NT- No time (Many responses said that little/no time to was a reason for not meeting their areas of growth whether it be learning a new language, building relationships outside of mentoring, etc.)

LB- Language Barriers (Consistently showed up in response to areas of growth)

AL1- Appropriate use of First Language (i.e. L1) (This was really interesting to me!  A few mentors wrote about wanting to encourage use of L1, but felt sometimes students were using it inappropriately- to gossip, discuss inappropriate topics, etc..,).

Memo 1- Pre-Survey Data (Likert Items)

Over the weekend I finished analyzing my pre-survey data.  There is a quick turn around for the time that I have to connect with mentors, provide professional development, and ask for post-surveys.

I received 31 consent forms from mentors at Common Good and was hoping for an 80% response rate (25 surveys).   I received 24 pre-surveys (so a bit below what I was hoping for).  However, with the university spring break I am glad that I was able to get data for 77% of participants.  I hope that all 24 participants will participate in the post-survey and would like to hear from the 7 participants that did not get to turn in pre-surveys.

In the 24 pre-surveys that I analyzed one question received 5’s from all participants.  The statement, “I recognize and value the cultures represented by the students at Common Good” was given a “strongly agree” by everyone that responded.

The second highest Likert scale item (average of 4.95) was for the item “Building positive relationships with those different from me is important.”

I am not surprised that these two items received such positive responses.  However, the positive responses need to be analyzed beside some of the lower scoring responses such as:

“I take time to learn about the culture respected by the students at Common Good.” (mean= 3.86)

“I know how to communicate with culturally diverse students and their parents or guardians.” (mean= 3.23)  This specific item had the most 3’s (neither agree nor disagree/neutral).

And two items both dealing with students native languages had a mean of 3.5.

“I learn words in students’ native languages.”

“I encourage students to use their native languages.”  (mean= 3.5)

I am interested in looking into why mentors value and recognize the cultures of Common Good students, but do not take time to learn about the cultures.  I’m also curious as to why if building relationships was personally of high value why the indifference towards skills to communicate with CLD students and parents.

Calling attention to the possible gaps in our thoughts/ values of other cultures and our actions (learning about the cultures, communicating with parents, etc.) is an area of interest to me in my research.


Why write memos while researching?

This week in Edu 626 we have an assignment to write a memo about the data we are collecting.  Since research is new to me and may be to you, I’d like to give a bit of background about why researchers write memos.  In chapter 4 Charmaz states, “Memo writing provides a space to become actively engaged in your materials, develop your ideas, and to fine tune your subsequent data gathering.”   Charmaz also says that memo writing gives researchers “space and a place for exploration and discovery.”

My next post will be my first memo.  It will include information on the pre-surveys (both the Likert scale items and short answer items), some field notes, and where I plan to go with my data collection in the next week.

Thanks for journeying with me!

Mid-Way Through Data Collection

I have finally collected all of the pre-surveys that I will be analyzing.  As they have been turned in over the past week I’ve been sorting through them and trying to find commonalities.

I am noting this as being mid-way through the collection process because in two to three weeks I will be sending out the post-survey.

As I am processing my thoughts on my action research process I see the high importance of the pre-survey, but it has stalled some of my other efforts.  I believe it was necessary for a starting point.  I needed to see how mentors would reflect on their skills in working with culturally and linguistically diverse students in order to know which next steps to take in providing professional development.

I’ll post another entry later this week about some of the themes in my data and then my next step will be to provide PD to the mentors.


The Steps Within The Steps

The four steps of Action Research were discussed in an earlier post.  Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about “the steps within the steps.”  The previous steps were listed as:

  1. Identifying an area of focus
  2. Collecting data
  3. Analyzing and interpreting the data
  4. Developing a plan of action

In Chapter 2, Mertler uses some different wording to explain the steps.  He switches to using the word “stages” instead of steps and they appear a bit different.  The four stages are as follows:

  1. The planning stage
  2. The acting stage
  3. The developing stage
  4. The reflecting stage

I’d like to draw attention to these differences so that readers can understand that within the broad four steps (or stages) of Action Research, come nine other steps/ processes.

Mertler breaks it down like this:

  1. Identifying and limiting the topic
  2. Gathering information
  3. Reviewing the related literature
  4. Developing a research plan
  5. Implementing the plan and collecting data
  6. Analyzing the data
  7. Developing an action plan
  8. Sharing and communicating the results
  9. Reflecting on the process

I am  currently on “sub-step” number 5.  I am still pre-survey collecting data from mentors.

I had to google “what percentage of people can you expect to complete a survey” over the weekend.  I was feeling disappointed that I hadn’t heard back from more people.   This was something that I had never Googled before because I’ve never NEEDED surveys back.  After a bit of reading I decided that I am going to aim for an 80% return rate (i.e. wanting about 28 pre-surveys to analyze).

I read the blog of a classmate that said she offered chocolate to teachers turning surveys in (I may have to resort to these measures).

My next post will be about the process of analyzing my pre-survey data (both quantitative and qualitative).  So, it should be a fun one!

Creating Awareness and Starting Conversations

Over the past week I’ve received 13 of the 35 pre-surveys back from mentors.  And though I wished to have had closer to 25 or so I am still thankful for the time and energy mentors are putting into answering questions for me.  These surveys are guiding me in selecting professional developments to share with them.

I’m going to do one last push for surveys next week and then will start sharing resources the following week.

The best thing that has come so far is the conversation I had with a mentor where she said, “You know, this is just something I’ve never thought about.”

So, no matter what is to come from the research, our mentors and staff are thinking deeply about the cultures of our students and ourselves and are opening up to some interesting conversations.

Data Collection Has Started!

I have been giving out hard copies of the pre-survey this week and have received a few back.  I’m in need of an online tool that will let me send out 13 likert scale questions and 2 open-ended.  I created part of a survey on Survey Monkey (super user friendly, nice design), but the free version only allows 10 questions.

It has been surprisingly harder than I thought to give out and collect the surveys.  Mentors arrive at the same time as students and once things get started for programming the afternoon FLIES by.  Hopefully, e-mailing an electronic copy will ensure survey completion.

Step 1.5– IRBs and Consent Forms

For this action research project, between steps 1 and 2 (step 1: identify an area of focus; step 2: collect data) I had to submit my plan for research to the Institutional Review Board at Georgetown College.   This was my first time completing an IRB.  The IRB helped me to brainstorm effective ways to complete this research project, ensured that all participants would both be safe and anonymous, and helped lead me to my next steps.

My IRB was approved a few weeks ago so I immediately started gathering consent forms.  All of my participants are over the age of 18 so I only need to get consent forms (if you have participants under the age of 18 you need consent from parents and assent from students).

I have asked 35 mentors to be participants in this study and currently have 23 consent forms returned.  I plan to do one more “push” for getting them turned in before sending out the first survey next week.

Step 1: Identify an Area of Focus

Professional Development for Cultural Responsiveness in an After-School Program

For the population of students that the non-profit serves, the goal of increasing our cultural responsiveness will be to increase our connection, relationships, and success of our students.  However, with a staff of four this is close to impossible.  So, I will be including all mentors over the age of 18 in this research and professional development.

In my role as Elementary Program Director, it is my responsibility to train mentors who commit to mentoring one day a week for a full semester. We have a mandatory training that all mentors must attend before starting to mentor that focuses on the policies and procedures of the non-profit but does not include best practices for working with CLD students. During the next four weeks I will be sharing relevant information, tips, and strategies for tutoring and mentoring CLD students.  I will share at our community mentor meeting and staff meetings.  I hope that the research, data analysis, and findings will enhance our training materials for mentors in the future.

Here is my focus question: ‘What Effect Will English as a Second Language (ESL) Professional Development for Cultural Responsiveness Have on an After-School Programs’ Staff and Mentors’ Practices with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students?’