Monday, January 6, 2014

Be The Research

            This semester service learning students at Ringwood High School participated in a quantitative study designed to provide insight to possible correlations between mood, physical activity, and diet. The study was conducted by Dr. Chris Cushing from Oklahoma State University. The nine students, six girls and three boys, were asked to wear an apparatus called an accelerometer around their wrist for twenty-eight days; in addition, a heart monitor was worn to analyze sleep patterns and sleep quality. The heart monitor fastening like a belt or a gun holster that crisscrossed their chest and back. Students were each given an Android phone. Students received an electronic survey via a text four times each day. The surveys asked personal questions designed to reveal information about their individual daily choices. At the end of the study, each student was asked to volunteer a saliva sample. 
            The study’s long term objective was to determine whether specific DNA traits were characteristic of certain behaviors. For example, is one student more prone to be physically active over another; and, did their mood, diet, or sleep have any significance? Data obtained through Dr. Cushing’s research will provide valuable information. Efforts in the medical field  are currently being made to personalize medicine. The study benefits were twofold. First, physicians could base diagnosis and treatment upon tailored information about the patient; and, second, patients could base decisions and choices for a healthier lifestyle upon the tailored information, as well. 
            Students were monetarily compensated for their participation. Each student will receive forty dollars for their efforts. Students were asked to document their experience in a Wiki they created. The experience gave the students insight into the field of research. They not only learned about research, they were the research. 
          Common Core State Standards will require our students to understand relationships between ideas, investigate ideas, and make informed predictions. Research is an anchor standard that first appears as early as kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. Seniors will be required to conduct short, sustained research projects to answer self-formulated questions and solve problems. They will have to demonstrate an understanding of the subject under investigation. Students will have to become proficient with retrieving information, citing information, and organizing information into a succinct presentation that supports broad opinions, arguments, and inferences. Students will be expected to use technology to retrieve information and present information. As early as 1st grade, the Common Core State Standards will require students to use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish independent writing assignments. 
           Education is, indeed, transitioning into an era where knowledge is created, produced and presented. Learning will be more relevant and connected to the world and community. Students will be an active participant as opposed to a passive participant. Learning will be more authentic as students are asked to advocate issues, defend their position with evidence based text.  The CCSS represent a progression toward more self-directed, self-regulated learning. 
          Stephen Covey writes in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, that one must continually reinvent themselves. CCSS is designed to prepare our students for a radically changing diverse world. John Wooden is quoted as saying, “Failure is not fatal; but, failure to change might be.” Common Core is a change, but a good change.

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