By Felicia Anderson
Assistant Principal at David Starr Jordan High School
Doctoral Candidate at CSU Long Beach
Education is about creating links – between facts, concepts, real world situations and people. I am so privileged for the links that I’ve been able to forge in my time as a doctoral candidate at Cal State Long Beach. The Doctor of Education program immediately combines the efforts of seasoned educators and researchers with new teachers who are earning a first-time credential. The result is a powerful blend of experience and energy. Foremost, results-based best practices and techniques are seamlessly introduced into teacher and administrator preparation.
The approach Cal State Long Beach is taking with its own programs parallels the Linked Learning concepts at the center of my doctoral dissertation. With the support of the James Irvine Foundation, I’ve been able to explore how small-group project-based team learning influences student learning at Millikan High School.
I jumped at the opportunity when Professor Anna Ortiz, director of the Cal State Long Beach Ed.D. program, asked for volunteers to study educational practices at Millikan. It was a calling. The school was my professional home as GEAR UP program facilitator, and my daughter is a Millikan graduate. I knew of the great work going on at that campus and was eager to study and share the results.
A major theme that keeps recurring in my qualitative research of Millikan is ownership. Students and teachers own their small-group Linked Learning projects – whether that project is a black box theater performance or a fundraising drive for hurricane relief. They go out of their way, dig in deep and work late hours after school. These small groups add to the classroom experience.
Part of how I know that this program is having a great impact on students is that so many have been eager to share with me as part of my study. As word of mouth spread, students would come to my office or stop me in the hallway to talk about their projects and experiences.
As demonstrated at Millikan, Linked Learning is about bringing knowledge to life. It is about teachers going from good to great and beautiful works of student expression. As I finalize my dissertation and grow in my new role as an assistant principal at David Starr Jordan High School, I will share this lesson with future teachers and students.
Thank you to Cal State Long Beach and the James Irvine Foundation for this opportunity.