Student Teachers Presented at National Conference

Monday, May 2, 2011

Six Westminster College student teachers, a graduate student, and two education faculty presented "The Kindle Project" at the National Student Teaching and Supervision conference April 28 at Slippery Rock University.

The project was a research study conducted in partnership with the Mohawk Area School District in Bessemer to determine if Kindles (electronic reading devices or e-readers) would help struggling readers improve their reading skills in the areas of fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. 

Sixty students with individualized education plans in grades five-12 were randomly selected to participate.  Half of the students continued to read paperback books (control group) and half were chosen to use Kindles purchased through a grant from Westminster's Endowed Research Fund and Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  All students in the project were required to read 30 minutes a day for a minimum of three days per week and maintain a record of their reading hours. 

Overseeing the project and supervising the research were Westminster education faculty Dr. Amy Camardese, associate professor and chair of Westminster's Department of Education; Dr. Eileen Morelli, associate professor; and Dr. Yehuda Peled, Fulbright scholar-in-residence from Western Galilee College.

"We are in the process of analyzing the data and expect results in the next few weeks," Camardese said.  "It was an enlightening experience for all of us--the Mohawk teachers and students, the student teachers, and the Westminster faculty--and everyone is eagerly awaiting the outcome."

The Westminster students involved in the project and the presentation are all senior elementary education majors:

Leah Badolato is a daughter of Frank and Victoria Badolato of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Mount Lebanon High School.  "The sixth-grade students I had loved the Kindles and those who didn't have them wanted one.  The features were an amazing asset for the students.  Those who did not enjoy reading very much started to learn to love it."

Mallory Ference is a daughter of Thomas and Marie Ference of Lower Burrell and a graduate of Burrell High School.

Cassey Hogue is a daughter of Brian and Vivian Hogue of Portersville and a graduate of Slippery Rock Area High School.

Thomas Holoman is a son of Timothy and Leslie Holoman of West Mifflin and a graduate of West Mifflin Area High School.  Of the ninth- and tenth-grade students in Holoman's section, eight received Kindles and five were in the control group.  "Most of the students enjoyed the Kindle and some said they are going to buy their own.  One great example is a ninth-grade student who absolutely hated the idea of using a Kindle.  The first day after taking it home she was already on chapter nine of a book that was put on her Kindle the day before."

Alissa Little is a daughter of William and Ellen Little of McKeesport and a graduate of Elizabeth Forward School District.  "The Kindle project gave students an opportunity to use technology in a different way.  It allowed them to make the font larger so they could actually see the words; they could use the text-to-speech feature to hear how the words are supposed to be pronounced; and the dictionary allowed them to press a few buttons and find the definition of a word.  Some students really enjoyed the Kindles because of all the features, while others really didn't like reading or the robotic/monotone voice of the text-to-speech."

Sarah Nee is a daughter of Ronald and Maureen Nee of McMurray and a graduate of Peters Township High School.

Maile Kirkpatrick, a 2010 alumna who is enrolled in Westminster's graduate program, also assisted with the project and the presentation.  She is a daughter of Thomas and Luann Kirkpatrick of Meadville and a graduate of Meadville Area High School.

The Westminster students received Drinko Center travel/presentation grants to attend the conference.

The Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education.  The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences.  Visit www.westminster.edu/drinko for more information about the Drinko Center and its programs.

Contact Camardese at (724) 946-7183 or email camardah@westminster.edu for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top tier liberal arts college, a national leader in graduation rate performance, and a "Great School, Great Price," according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 38th among liberal arts colleges, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 373 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.


Click image to enlarge.
(L-r) Maile Kirkpatrick, Dr. Eileen Morelli, Leah Badolato, Cassey Hogue, Alissa Little, Sarah Nee, Tom Holoman, Mallory Ference, Dr. Amy Camardese



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