Alumni Update Kenneth Graves | Mathematics Science and Technology

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Mathematics, Science & Technology

Alumni Update: Kenneth E. Graves Awarded AERA Dissertation Grant

Alumni Student Profile: Kenneth E. Graves, M.A., Instructional Technology & Media (2013); Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership in the Department of Organization and Leadership

After earning his M.A. in Instructional Technology and Media from the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design program at TC, Kenny went on to pursue his Ph.D. in Education Leadership in TC’s Department of Organization and Leadership. In Fall 2016, Kenny was awarded the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Dissertation Grant. Kenny’s research touches on his lingering frustrations of how researchers and practitioners approach technology integration. He reflects, “It’s interesting that we have been encouraging teachers to integrate technology for decades, but how many people like to repeat themselves? No one does. But we seem to approach technology from the same perspectives. One-to-one laptop programs, cool, but they don’t really work. Maker spaces might help…well, hold on that requires money. iPads for everyone, ah, never mind, LA Unified. The list goes on and on.”

While thinking of ways to address problems of figuring out what works and does not work with technology in schools, Kenny decided to fill the gap and address two huge moderating factors—school leaders and digital inequity. In working with Professor Ellen Meier, he has dedicated part of his time to researching and “assisting leaders as they navigate the complex world of technology leadership, particularly as the threat of inequality and systemic disparity that pervades many schools.” Through his research, Kenny hopes to refocus the collective conception of relationship between teachers, leaders, and technology. He explains, “The first part of my dissertation grant uses latent class analysis (LCA) with a national database to explore the extent to which there are different types of teachers who use technology to help leaders and policy makers tailor professional learning opportunities’ valuate measures of teacher technology usage, or even how school leaders purchase technology.” His analysis found four different types of technology-using teachers, whom he calls: Dexterous, Presenters, Evaders, and Assessors. His research found that Assessors, or teachers who simply use technology to have their students practice "drill and kill" activities, were more likely to be in low-income schools. Using national statistical weighting, Kenny was able to generalize his findings to all two million public school teachers in 2009. Through his work, he hopes to promote more empirically-sound, nationally generalizable research on technology in schools. 

In part, Kenny credits his experience at TC in the CMLTD Program with helping him see the “possibilities of technology to catalyze growth in many different levels of our educational system here and around the world.” Having felt so welcomed during Admitted Students Weekend, Kenny recalls loving the breadth and depth of the courses and the appreciation of many avenues the master’s program allowed him to pursue, in addition to the diverse experiences that other students brought to the program. He also credits Professor Meier, who really engaged with his interests and encouraged him to apply for an internship at the Center for Technology and School Change. After four years of working with Professor Meier, Kenny refers to his experience of bridging theory to practice in his current work as an Ethics teacher and the Upper School Academic Technology Integrator at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Kenny offers this advice for incoming (and current) students: “Talk to current students and program professors during Admitted Students Weekend. You wouldn't believe how many people you can connect with during that time. Don't be afraid to take courses that are outside our department. There are SO many connections to technology that you can offer to others. I've taken classes in education policy, art education, health and behavior studies, and many more. I've never been disappointed. Don't be afraid to take discreet technology courses at TC or over in the School of Engineering. Tinkering, coding, and other CS-related skills are needed more than ever before, so take the time to learn it. It may be hard now, but believe me, it will come in handy. Take time to explore the surrounding community of Harlem and look for opportunities to provide your expertise in technology around the neighborhood.”

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