Volume:7, Issue: 1

Mar. 1, 2015

In This Issue
A Letter to the Readers
Tsyrlina-Spady, Tatyana [about]
With this publication we return to the problem that seems old and eternal – I mean higher education. It feels that it is in the process of constant change, which is actually good, as the journal will always remain viable. Two things are worth mentioning: first, this is Issue No.18, and the journal can consider itself an adult (!); second, and much more important, 150 (!) countries in the world have become our readers. In fact, there are very few journal-free spots left on the map. So, you may feel proud being part of such a genuine global community that is interested in studying problems of education.
The Ideal Polis and the Man Who Cares for It: Plato on Theory and Practice of Higher Education
Pichugina, Victoria K. [about], Bezrogov, Vitaly G. [about]
Traditionally, we consider that higher education was born in the Middle Ages as the term ‘higher education’ was hardly ever used in connection with antiquity. In ancient times there was not a single term that could summarize views on the higher stage of education. However, many ancient teachers focused on educational activities of the higher levels which were supposed to help individuals achieve excellence in a certain type of a really higher ‘school’. A Greek ‘student’ lived in tune with the rhythm of the polis, which consisted of open educational spaces and individual daily experiences including people’s behavior, ways of thinking, desires, aspirations, actions, and achievements, which received public evaluation and had an educational impact on the young people. Socrates established polis as an aid to long-lasting and deliberate self-improvement and as a guarantor of educational opportunities for students. He advised mentors to ensure that their students would discover rather than forget themselves in the stream of everyday life (care for children, property, winning in competitions, etc.). In Plato's dialogues, Socrates often described those who competed for educational success at the stage of higher education as students caring only for themselves. Socratic ‘care for the self’ (“ἐπιμέλεια ἑαυτοῦ") was bound to an active participation in the life of the polis. According to Wilhelm Windelband, this Socratic ‘care’ was to a great extent the type of care produced for the sake of the whole polis. It had less to do with care for oneself as an individual (Windelband, 1910, p.7). Caring for oneself could be found in the care for others. Socrates prioritized the polis over the individual and displayed loyalty to this view by drinking his final cup of hemlock.
Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov as a true hero of public education
Boguslavsky, Mikhail V. [about]
A prominent medical doctor, a citizen and patriot of Russia, Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov (1810 –1881) devoted only five of his fifty-some-year-long scientific and public activities to his work in public education. However, even this time was enough to rank his name among Russian most renowned educators and thinkers. According to V.A. Volkovich, “one may say that Pirogov’s whole educational system is a true quintessence of his personality. The core of Pirogov’s educational system is idealism and love to mankind” (1, p.69). The roots of Pirogov’s outlook are very deep and, as it often happens, go back to his childhood. To a large extent, Pirogov’s character formation was influenced by the very life of his close-knit, devout (all religious rites were strictly and zealously observed) and patriarchal family where Nikolay was one of fourteen children. His parents made a strong foundation of such crucial traits of Nikolay’s character as religiousness, patriotism, and love to Russia. The next factor which strongly influenced the formation of the future thinker’s outlook was his studies at the Medical School of Moscow State University which he entered on September 24, 1824. The first-year student had hardly reached the age of 14. That time, the eve of the Decembrist uprising, was the time of dynamic social events, heated political discussions about the situation in the country and a strenuous search for the ways to develop the state and society.
Cultural practices of undergraduate students’ self-organization at the university level
Alexandrova, Ekaterina A [about], Pichugina, Galina A. [about]
Traditionally, the concept of teachers’ training is connected with the idea of professional higher education. Currently this situation is changing due to a number of new curriculum standards and the necessity to develop certain competencies together with just passing along knowledge and mastering certain skills. It is presupposed that after acquiring the necessary competencies a bearer of an undergraduate degree will be able to work independently in the field of school education. However, the question arises, how to develop such competencies? And whether a traditional education system is oriented towards this process? Naturally, competencies will become the result of students’ cognitive activities. As we all know, there are certain educational maxims: teaching is a specially organized and goal-oriented process operated by a teacher; teaching is an interconnected and interdependent activity of a teacher and learners; and finally, the process of teaching is closely connected with the cognition process. The latter is especially important for us. From the philosophical point of view, cognition is a set of processes, procedures, and methods of knowledge acquisition. Therefore teaching can be considered one of special cases of the knowledge acquisition process. Misunderstanding of the essence of this process leads to errors in the interaction between an undergraduate student and his/her instructor. To organize a productive instruction process, which will allow to develop a successful teacher, demands a clear understanding of conditions and regularities of knowledge acquisition together with a no less clear comprehension of the existing connections between cognitive and practical activities.
Some reflections on the development of graduate degree studies in psychology at one pedagogical university
Polyakov, Sergey D. [about]
For many Russian universities, graduate (master) schools are a new academic endeavor. The Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University launched graduate degree programs four years ago. Their formation and development raised two organizational and content-related problems taking into account the specific characteristics of graduate students. The first problem raised the question concerning the choice of specialization and an academic content of graduate studies. The second was purely technological and related to appropriate ways and strategies of academic training within the chosen specialization. Here is how these problems were solved in shaping the Psychology of Education graduate degree program. This academic degree program was launched at the Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University in 2011. Enrollment was available to graduates with the degree of specialist (a traditional level of university education in Russia, five years of training) who have majored in any subject. The Russian Ministry of Education and Science allocated a certain number of state funded vacancies for each specialization. In the first year, the Psychology of Education graduate degree program had 5 state-funded students. By now this number has doubled. Prospective applicants are required to take a competitive entrance exam in psychology. The graduate degree program involves two years of studies.
Evaluating the Integration of Intel Teach Elements Modules and Critical Thinking Skills in Teacher Education Coursework
Gautreau, Cynthia [about]
Education technology resources are readily available on websites. Teachers, particularly new teachers, benefit from evaluating resources to determine potential benefits and application of learning objectives in instruction. Intel Teach Elements (ITE) are web based instructional modules designed for classroom teachers as a source of professional development and provide lesson ideas that support technology integration and critical thinking at all levels. As a professor of education, evaluating innovative resources is a common practice to promote currency in courses. This study reports findings after integrating the ITE module titled Working with Data. Findings include information about pre-service teachers perceptions, evaluation feedback, and faculty recommendations. As with most resources, the more often faculty utilize technology resources as an integral part of instruction and promote change, the more likely formal adoption will occur. Therefore, as illustrated in the following review of literature (Bates, 2005; Morgan & Hill, 2005; Richlan, 2006), an effective method of including new resources into instruction demonstrates the potential advantages of resources. 
Statistical Analysis of the Construct “Creative Self-Efficacy”
Maslak, Anatoly A. [about]
This research demonstrates the applicability of Rasch models for measurement of the construct “creative self-efficacy” and all its aspects on a common interval scale. All aspects of creative thinking self-efficacy (fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality), creative performance self-efficacy (domain, field, and personality), Beghetto's Creative Self-Efficacy (BCSE), and openness to experience are positively correlated that confirms the construct validity of latent variable creative self-efficacy. The measurement properties of indicators after consolidation appear adequate for practical applications with policy and implications. The questionnaires have a good enough discriminative ability of students depending on their gender and chosen major at the university level. Creativity has proved to be a very important competitive advantage of the human mind. The rise of computers and Internet mean that many forms of work are gone, and others are being destroyed. People can no longer monopolize logical thinking in such domains as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Individuals without creativity will be left behind in today’s world where non-creative thinking can be automated, but creative solutions to problems are at a premium. Modern research of creativity goes back to a famous Guilford's APA Presidential address (1950).  Although studies of creativity have been commonplace for decades, but research which would specifically address the internal structure of creativity constructs is still rare (Beghetto, 2013; Mathisen & Bronnick, 2009; Starko, 2013; Yang & Cheng, 2009).
Mathematics and Language: An Analysis of Elementary Teachers' Lesson Plans in Elementary Geometry Lessons
Herron, Julie K. [about], Summers, Robert [about], Chao, Xia [about]
The language of mathematics is a topic that has come to the forefront of mathematics education over the last decade (Schleppegrell, 2007; de Freitas & Zolkower, 2009; Ng & Rao, 2010). This trend, it is argued, has been ushered in part with the implementation of Common Core Mathematical Practices, which have increased awareness of how language impacts the teaching of mathematics (NGACBP& CCSSO, 2010). Many educators believe that mathematics is a universal language. Some even go so far as to suggest that mathematics is language free (Walkerdine, 1988) and culture free (Burton, 1994). This is contrary to the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM, 2009) position statement that contends: “Mathematics is neither value free nor culture free, but a product of human activity. Thus race, class, culture and language play a key role in its teaching and learning” (p.1). To inform this debate, we argue that it is necessary to understand the role and scope of language in a context of mathematics education at various developmental levels. The purpose of this study was to examine the mathematical vocabulary used in lesson plans by elementary school teachers (grades K-6) to determine ways in which their planned language in mathematics lessons transmits or hinders students’ mathematics register.
Humor in Higher Education: A Research Brief
Lovorn, Michael G. [about], Augustine, David [about], Dutton, Lauren [about]
Humor may be broadly defined as the quality of being amusing or comic; the ability to make other people laugh. In a context of higher education and this paper, humor more specifically refers to a professor’s use of amusing or comic words, actions, or reactions while instructing, engaging, and interacting with students, managing her classroom, and/or setting a tone for timely and appropriate mirthful response to content or activities (Lovorn & Holaway, 2014). Examples of a professor’s use of humor relating to content might include augmenting lectures with witty or mirthful anecdotes, enriching PowerPoint presentations with satirical imagery or multimedia, incorporating comical examples or scenarios in written assignments or assessments, or inviting and facilitating students to express irony, hyperbole, or parody in their writing or course activities. Studies indicate these and similar applications of humor in contexts of education are popular with college students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels (Torok, McMorris & Wen-Chi, 2014). The purpose of this research brief was to conduct a review of recent literature on this topic, and to outline and describe a content analysis study intended to investigate students’ perceptions of professors’ uses of humor and the impact it has on their likelihood to engage in higher order or critical thinking, take more intellectual risks, and provide high course evaluations.
Development of a positive university character-building environment
Zaretskaya, Inessa I. [about]
Modern social and economic life dictates the importance of professional training to provide an intellectual, cultural, social, and scientific potential of Russia. Education is declared to be the sphere that is responsible for production of primary values and human capital. It is higher education that should develop every individual, not only as a professional in a certain area but also as person of culture, who is loyal to his/her national traditions, a citizen of his/her country, and of the world. We consider that a character-building environment is a specially organized space created in the sphere of students’ and faculty’s joint activities which incorporate a dynamic network of interrelated character-building events contributing to students’ personality development and their self-realization. Innovative approaches to higher education along with the development of traditional (information, research related and professionally oriented) functions reinforce the functions that contribute to character-building development of future professionals including socializing, values- and culture-oriented functions of professional training. Since 2002, the Academy of Qualification Improvement and Professional Retraining (Moscow, Russia) has been holding regular professional development programs for vice provosts for student affairs. In the 1990s students’ character-building activities were absolutely ignored, and the respective vice provosts’ positions were canceled. In early 2000s, the importance of character formation was reevaluated within the Russian system of higher education and returned to universities. Judging by its development dynamics we may observe the relevant experience growth within the last decade and determine character-building priorities which ensure university students’ social competences.

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