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Implementing Change in Instructional Delivery of Classroom Curriculum: A Phenomenological Case Study of Classroom Teachers Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Approach Critical Review of the Literature, Qualitative Research Methods and Results


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Title: Implementing Change in Instructional Delivery of Classroom Curriculum: A Phenomenological Case Study of Classroom Teachers Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Approach Critical Review of the Literature, Qualitative Research Methods and Results

Implementing Change in Instructional
Delivery of Classroom Curriculum A
Phenomenological Case Study of Classroom Teachers
Implementing a Problem-Based Learning
Approach Critical Review of the Literature,
Qualitative Research Methods and Results
  • Maura A. Hart
  • Oral Defense Presentation
  • April 24, 2009

  • The research literature regarding the concept of
    school change will be examined through three
  • 1. The constructs of school change
  • 2. The work of the school teacher
  • 3. The institutional context and culture of

3 Areas of Literature
School Change versus Educational Reform
  • Educational Reform
  • Wide-scale, systemic efforts to
  • create changes on an institutional level
  • Examples
  • No Child Left Behind, 2001
  • National standardized testing
  • School Change
  • Change in education on a school building or
    school district level
  • Examples
  • Embracing The Responsive
  • Classroom
  • Introducing a teaming approach to
  • teaching

Part 1 School Change as Defined by Michael Fullan
  • Change itself proves Protean, its
    implementation Sisyphean. We try to define it,
    analyze it, plan it management experts speak of
    mastering it- all in vain (Evans, 1996 p.4).

Three Phases of Change (Fullan, 2001)
Student Learning Organizational Capacity
Three Phases of Change (An average of 5-7 years)
  • Initiation
  • Driving factors
  • Purpose or Scope and source of change
  • Implementation
  • Driving factors
  • The characteristics of the change project
  • Local roles
  • External factors
  • Institutionalization
  • Driving factors
  • Social infrastructure
  • Habits

5 Change Types (Fullan, 2001)
  • Teacher Change social, emotional or cognitive
  • Curricular Change Alterations in classroom
  • Systemic Change Embracing the institution
  • Innovation Specific new materials or teaching
  • Reform Changes to the system reflecting a
    politically driven values change

3 Components of Change (Fullan, 2001)
  • (1) The possible use of new or revised materials
  • (2) The possible use of new teaching approaches
  • (3) The possible alteration of beliefs

Complexity Theory
  • Unpredictable and non-linear
  • Systems that are too complex to accurately
    predict the future
  • Systems avoid extremes of order (- )
  • Underlying patterns help with navigation
  • Complex systems cycle through continuous learning
    and change
  • Over time the cycle becomes predictable

The Quest Program Rosetta Marantz Cohen (1995)
A Comparison to Fullans Change Process
  • 1. Change Types
  • Teacher change, curricular change, innovation
  • 2. Components of the change
  • Use of new materials
  • Use of new teaching approaches
  • Eventual alteration of beliefs
  • 3. Initiation
  • The purpose, scope and source of change were
  • 4. Implementation
  • 9th grade interdisciplinary 90 minute English
    and History course
  • logistical difficulties, differences of opinion,
    confusion (parents and students
  • 5. Institutionalization
  • Increased participation
  • Improvement in program quality and team

Part 2 The Work of the School Teacher
The Personal Process of School Change
  • Deep change requires new ways
  • of thinking and behaving
  • (Quinn, 1996)

The Alteration of Belief Systems A deep learning
cycle (Peter Senge 2000, p. 26)
Robert Quinn (1996)
  • Deep change differs from incremental change in
    that it requires new ways of thinking and
    behaving. It is change that is major in scope,
    discontinuous with the past and generally
    irreversible. The deep change effort distorts
    existing patterns of action and involves taking
    risks. Deep change means surrendering control
    (p. 3).

Research supports that teachers are reluctant to
change for varied reasons.
  • Mary Kennedy (2005)
  • Teachers hold a number of important beliefs that
    are relevant to teaching beliefs about the
    nature of school subjects and what is important
    to learn about them, about how students learn and
    what motivates them, about how teachers influence
    students, and so forth. Researchers who have
    studied teachers beliefs (Kagan, 1992 Kennedy,
    1991 Pajaras, 1992) have identified their
    relevant features they tend to be very durable
    and resistant to change they are part of an
    internally consistent network of ideas, a factor
    that also makes them resistant to change and
    they are used to filter and interpret new
    experience in a way that reinforces the beliefs
    instead of challenging them(p. 13).
  • Andy Hargreaves (2004)
  • (Results reveal that teachers find change)
    entails abandoning all the familiar routines and
    relationships (and the) changes that teachers and
    other adults encounter are accompanied by
    profound feelings of loss (p. 288).

3 Characteristics of the work of the teacher
shown to negatively impact the change process
  • Overwork
  • Isolation
  • Technical Uncertainty (Rosenholtz, 1989)

Pervasive deterrents to teacher change
Teacher Time Workload
  • Researchers agree there is a sharp imbalance of
    teacher time and teacher workload
  • (Fullan, 1991 Hargreaves and Giles, 2003
    Kennedy, 2005 Newman, 1998 Senge, 2000 Wagner,
  • Daily lesson preparation Formal and informal
    student assessment
  • Extra-curricular duties Constant daily
  • Increase in social work National trend toward
    larger class sizes
  • Committee work Professional development
  • Parent communication Administrative duties
  • Greater accountability Increased emotional
    needs of students.

A Day in the life of a teacher
Tony Wagner (1994) Large numbers of teachers appear too weighed down by their own professional malaise to consider how to respond to the increased emotional needs and demands of the students (p. 63).
Michael Fullan (1991) Teachers and principals are dangerously overloaded. More social work responsibilities, greater accountability, and having to deal with a wider range of abilities and behaviors in their classrooms are now all part of the teachers lot (p. 4).
Peter Senge (2000) There is a sense of lightening striking from the outside. Six parents have already left messages for you to return their calls. The local newspaper just reported test scores for every school in the region. The assistant superintendent just returned from a curriculum conference bursting with ideas. You would be happy to work on the new curriculum committee if there were time in the day, but your planning periods have been cut. The school board has chosen new textbooks and rearranged the bus and cafeteria schedules theyre talking about adding five or six extra students in every class to save money (p. 101).
Judith Newman (1998) Life in the classroom is life in the fast lane. Given the way most classrooms and schools are structured these days, interruptions are common. Teachers and students have to run fast just to stay in place. By the end of the day, most people are just too tired to take courses, read professional articles, or write brief reflections in a journal (p. 8).
Teacher Isolation
  • The problem of isolation is a deep seated one.
  • Architecture often supports it.
  • The timetable reinforces it.
  • Overload sustains it.
  • History legitimizes it (Fullan, 1991).

Factors that Impact Teacher Isolation
  • Lack of time
  • Too much work
  • School structure
  • Schedule structure
  • Self selection into an autonomous profession

Teacher Technical Uncertainty
  • A technical culture is labeled uncertain if the
    outcomes of work are highly unpredictable where
    because of the variability in their students, for
    example, teachers do not reach automatically for
    solutions to the myriad learning problems they
    confront. Uncertain means there are few
    well-established techniques codified technical
    knowledge- to help teachers meet students widely
    varying needs (Rosenholtz, 1989, p. 4) .
  • Technical uncertainty leads to a lack of

Factors that Impact Technical Uncertainty
  • Teacher isolation
  • Teacher overwork
  • Self estrangement (Webb, 1983, p. 85)
  • Lack of feedback from administrators, parents,
    colleagues, students
  • Lack of a support system
  • Constrained financial resources (particularly
    teacher remuneration)
  • Targets for social and economic ills

Part 3 The Institutional Context and the
Culture of Schools
Institutional Obstacles to School Change
  • Hargreaves (2003) Instead of fostering
    creativity and ingenuity, more and more school
    systems have become obsessed with imposing and
    micromanaging curricular uniformity. In place of
    ambitious missions of compassion and community,
    schools and teachers have been squeezed into the
    tunnel vision of test scores, achievement targets
    and league tables of accountability (p. 1).

Institutional Obstacles to School Change
  • Lack of resources of both time and money
  • Top-heavy in management
  • two and three tiered administration systems,
    school boards, local and state mandates, tax
    payers, parents
  • At the whim of local control
  • Increased Federal Government regulations
  • No Child Left Behind forces a narrow alley of
    method and curriculum and inspires fear
  • Size
  • Understanding the education systems
    capabilities in the context of the resources it
    has and the processes it employs reveals
    formidable obstacles to reinventing schools
    (Christenson, Aaron Clark, 2005 p. 548).

The Culture of Schools
  • School culture affects every part of the
    enterprise from what faculty talk about in the
    lunch room to the type of instruction that is
    valued, to the way professional development is
    viewed, to the importance of learning for all
    students (Deal, T., Peterson, K., 1999).

Bryk and Schneider, Trust in Schools, (2002)
  • 4 organizational conditions which foster school
  • orientation to innovation
  • outreach to parents
  • professional community
  • teacher commitment to school community.
  • There is strong statistical evidence linking
    relational trust to improvements in student
    learning the pattern of results proved highly
    consistent across all four organizational
    outcomes (p. 115 119).

Schools are distinguished from one another by
the interactions that are encouraged,
discouraged, or met with some degree of
indifference (Little, 1982, p. 326)
  • Cultural factors which diminish the creation of
    positive school change
  • isolation
  • lack of control of curriculum and method
  • teacher vulnerability
  • situational norms built over time
  • neglect
  • lack of collegiality.
  • (Little, 1982 Rosenholtz, 1989 Stoll Fink,
    1999 Stolp, 2004)

Literature Review Conclusion
(No Transcript)
Qualitative Research Methods
Introduction The world is changing at a
breathtaking pace and schools are not.
  • Obama (2009) In a global economy where the most
    valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a
    good education is no longer just a pathway to
    opportunity it is a pre-requisite. Right now
    three quarters of the fastest growing occupations
    require more than a high school diploma. And yet
    just over half our citizens have that level of
    education. We have one of the highest high
    school drop out rates of any industrialized
    nation. We know the countries that out teach us
    today will outcompete us tomorrow.
  • Friedman (2006) It is now possible for more
    people than ever to collaborate and compete in
    real time with more other people on more
    different kinds of work from more different
    corners of the planet and on a more equal footing
    than at any previous time in the history of the
    world using computers, e-mail, fiber optic
    networks, teleconferencing and dynamic new
    software (p. 8).
  • Wagner (1994) American schools (are) in
    shambles, threatened by a rising tide of
    mediocrity. As a result the countrys economic
    survival (is) endangered (p. 1).
  • Evans (1996) The futility of school change is
    legendary. Perhaps no American institution has
    been reformed more often, with less apparent
    effect than the school (p. xi).
  • Christenson (2005) Two decades of education
    reform have resulted in little real change (p.

Research Question
  • What is the experience of the classroom teacher
    as she changes her method of instructional
    delivery from that of a teacher-centered, lecture
    based tradition to a student-centered,
    problem-based learning approach?

Researcher Background and Interest
  • A classroom teacher and in-school change agent
    for 15 years
  • Prior work experience as a Consultant for the
    Department of Education (Northeast Educational
    Research Center)
  • Adjunct faculty member teaching core courses in
    the Education Department at Antioch University
    Keene, New Hampshire
  • School coach and consultant
  • Mom of little girls.

Conceptual Framework
  • Rossman and Rallis see the case study as
    in-depth and detailed explorations of single
    examples to understand the larger phenomenon
    through close examination of a specific case
    (2003, p. 104).
  • This Phenomenological Case Study examines the
    phenomenon of the change process of individual
    teachers within the bounded context of their
    school and classrooms.

  • Twin River Technical Center
  • Rural, Northeast United States
  • Serves public high school students from five
    sending schools
  • Geographic area of about 450 miles across two
  • 18 teachers
  • Some offered courses welding, carpentry, public
    safety, law, certified nursing aid, business,
    travel and tourism
  • Mission statement emphasizes the changing
    workplace and helping students to become
    life-long learners

  • 12 total teachers ranging in years of teaching
    experience from 0 to 30
  • Range of personal education experience
  • Some had no formal teacher training some had
    Bachelors degrees in their subject area but not
    in education, others had Masters Degrees in
    their subject area but not in education others
    had Bachelors degrees in education as well as
    their subject area,
  • 2 teachers were in their second year enrolled in
    a Masters Degree Program for Experienced
    Educators at Antioch University

Data Collection
  • Interviews with three teachers at three different
    times of the school year (fall, mid-winter, and
    late spring)
  • Three focus group sessions (fall, mid-winter, and
    late spring) with four or more teachers during
  • Document collection journal entries and survey
  • Field notes from formal and informal
  • three faculty meetings (fall, mid-winter, and
    late spring)
  • Classroom observations

Approach to Data Analysis
  • We are capable of coming to know about events,
    ourselves and other people in different ways.
    The way in which we know about things guides how
    we act (Fisher, 1991, p. 3).
  • With this Social Constructivist approach to data
    analysis I was able to embrace the individual
    perceptions and interactions of my participants
    with an eye for meaning which they attributed to
    events, and the ways in which they responded to
    these meanings.
  • With this framework, I was better able to avoid
    presupposition of the participants experiences
    and perceptions in order to more clearly
    understand their experiences of their change

Data Analysis
  • Predominant data analysis construct used
    Constant Comparative Method (Straus Corbin,
  • Immersion in the data
  • Micro analysis for identification of categories
    and themes
  • Open, axial and selective coding
  • Matrixes, charts, concept maps and researcher
  • Data analysis coincided with data collection
  • Individual and focus group interviews were
    affected by questions generated by data review
  • The survey was a spontaneous tool also
    generated by data review

Research Validity
  • Triangulation in multiple data sources
  • Diversity in experiences and philosophical
    orientations of participants
  • Repetition of data collection
  • Member checks of transcriptions and initial data
  • Informal professional study group
  • Single Critical Friend
  • Non-field oriented, informal Critical Friend

(No Transcript)
  • Background-
  • In 2006, the TRTC faculty read, discussed, and
    adopted some of the ideas presented in Thomas
    Friedmans book, The World is Flat (2006).
  • In chapter seven, Friedman asks, what is the
    right kind of education to prepare our young
    people(p. 302)?
  • Friedman identified four abilities
  • To learn how to learn
  • Have a sense of passion and curiosity
  • To be skilled at managing and interacting with
    other people
  • To constantly develop right brain skills (think
    out of the box, synthesize the big picture)

The Critical Skills Classroom
  • The faculty decided to take a methodology course
    to help them better prepare their students for
    the near future described by Thomas Friedman.
  • The Critical Skills Classroom utilizes a
    problem-based learning approach to instruction
  • It is
  • Experiential
  • Problem-based
  • Standards or outcomes driven
  • Collaborative in nature

Category I The Practice of Changing
Instructional Delivery from Traditional to
  • Range of emotional investment and attitude
  • Variety of strategies used to make the change
  • Experiencing writing challenges (turning the
    curriculum into problems for students to solve)

Emotional Investment and Accompanying Attitude
Complete Surrender
  • I think it will be extremely powerful. Thats
    it. Im not afraid to take the risk, but I do
    want to go in with some information. I can just
    try. Just try. And the most risk is, ok that
    didnt work. Well, you might get embarrassed.
    Theres no mystery, and Ill be straight with
    you. Im committed with two feet. You only get
    out of it what you put into it. Jason
  • Giving it half is simple. I want to do it all!
    Ive got this wonderful plan in my head that Im
    going to be able to do all of it! And its
    organized and its outlined! -Lisa

Emotional Investment and Accompanying
Attitude Questioning and Combining Theory and
  • Its like any other good training that you go
    to. You know you pick and choose what pieces of
    it fit into your repertoire
  • I dont see Critical Skills as something thats
    going to come in and replace the way Ive been
    doing things. I think its going to enhance.
  • For me it isnt change. It is simply having
    something I can sink my teeth into with support
    and structure. -Gina

Variety of Strategies Used to Make Things Happen
  • Talking with other teachers formally (through a
    CFG) and informally
  • And then to see it come back revised! Oh my
    gosh, it was likeactually we all made the same
    mistake and we could learn by your mistake!
    Robert (reflecting on a CRG protocol)
  • Oh I will just chase someone down the hall if I
    see them! -Kathy
  • Observing other teachers
  • It was really something to see it in action in
    Ellies room. It made it concrete for me.
  • Journal writing
  • It helps. I can work things out with it.
  • Focusing on single tools and strategies at a time
  • Were doing a lot with the carousels, with the
    sweeps and daily reflections. -Mary
  • Connecting new knowledge with past practice
  • Its kind of come full circle for me take some
    of the knowledge that I gained ten years ago and
    reinvigorate what I do in the classroom. -Kyle

Experience Writing Challenges
  • Just to take even verbal challenges Ill just
    wing it off the top of my head but Ill put it in
    challenge form. Robert
  • That first one, I bit off way too much! Robert
  • Im never positive of how long its going to
    take! Kathy
  • I am attempting to work on challenge writing for
    my accounting class but I am struggling
    horribly! -Mary

Category II Teacher Focus on Students
  • Teacher Student relationship
  • Lack of student skills
  • Pay-back of Problem-Based learning methodology

Teacher-Student Relationship
  • At the end of lab, I will debrief individually
    with students and with the whole class. Many
    times I walk out to the bus with students to
    finish up the conversation Students need to be
    approached in a fashion that makes them feel good
    about themselves. Dan

Lack of Student Skills
  • I get so frustrated with students these days
    because they are just looking for the answer and
    I cannot respect that. Jason
  • What I see myself needing now, and I thought it
    was patience, but its not really patience. Its
    a tolerance for where theyre at and a
    willingness that they are not where I want them
    to be. And they may not get there. My tolerance
    for students not willing to take risks really,
    really dropped. Kyle
  • Students dont have the confidence. When I ask
    them what they could do next (when problem
    solving), its as if they just crumble. We
    (referencing schools in general) must be doing
    something wrong. They (students) dont know how
    to answer those questions. Is it lack of
    initiative? I dont know, but its lack of
    something, or a lot of things! -Mary

Pay-back of Problem-based Learning Methodology
  • And now when I give them a task, theyre like,
    cant we do a challenge? The kids really they
    love it and they get a lot our of it. I mean, I
    can see the difference even in our conversations
    that they really got (the concept) of the work
  • And they (students) were like, can we use a
    computer? and can we make a Power Point? and
    can we do this? and can we do that? You know
    they just get right into it. It sure beats
    teaching to the test! Deirdre
  • Everything gets re-connected backIt links
    together for them (students) and they are like
    Oh! Now I see where this fits! For me, that is
    satisfying. -Ellie

Category III Working Within a Culture of Change
  • Shared Goal helping students learn and master
    the necessary skills to be successful in the
    Twenty-first Century
  • Common Experiences
  • Text
  • Course
  • CFG participation
  • Shared language
  • Successes and failures in the classroom
  • Support

Common Experiences
  • You can commiserate with your colleagues, like,
    oh my God, that totally blew up in my face!
    You know, well be able to sympathize with each
    other because we all know what were trying to
    do. Mary
  • I liked learning that everybody else was making
    mistakes too! I was pretty sure it wasnt just
    me, but I was just as glad to find out for sure!

Shared Language
  • Let me tell you about one of my Critical Skills
    Moments. -Dierdre
  • I would say that one of the immediate influences
    that this has had on us as a building and staff
    is its given us a common language. We are able
    to talk to each other about whats going on in
    our classroom and have a common platform to do
    that Having that (terminology) in common has
    enabled us to have more open conversations with
    each other across programs. Ellie
  • I think it would be scary (if the rest of the
    staff didnt know what I was talking about.) It
    is really hard to sum up for any person what the
    Critical Skills model is all about.

  • Colleagues, support staff
  • Administration and Guidance
  • Infrastructure
  • CFGs
  • Students
  • Parents

Teacher Community
  • I think one of the obstacles that Ive overcome
    already on this program is that well, being
    hired a week ago. I know a lot of you face
    value, because Ive been through this school and
    Ive volunteered here a lot. But you know, I
    held up a one yesterday (referencing when they
    were asked to indicate their comfort level with
    the other members of the faculty at the beginning
    of the first day of a two day long session, by
    one of their Critical Skills Classroom
    instructors) on how well I knew all of you. And
    through this model, creating our own community of
    staff, today I held up a four I was just very
    excited that that obstacle of knowing who I can
    turn to for what type of thing, well I just feel
    very comfortable! -Wyatt

Category IV The Personal Experience of
Implementing Change
  • Perceptions of Self
  • My parents are teachers. Its always been a
    part of who I am. Kyle
  • Its a constant struggle. But when I set out to
    do this (earn her Masters degree while
    implementing Problem-based learning in her
    classroom), I said, Im going to be selfish for
    the next two years. And thats a hard decision
    but Ive got to do it. Mary
  • A way to compare it, I guess, (would be) if I
    were a piece of clay going in to be made by an
    artist into something You know its my first
    year of teaching, everything that Ive been
    taking in from Methods and from this program is
    what I know about teaching its who I currently
    am as a teacher. -Wyatt

Personal Challenges of Change
  • Lack of time
  • Number one on the list of challenges is time.
    It seems to always be the challenge to develop
    and deliver what I would consider quality
    activities with authentic assessment and not
    spend every waking hour planning, developing and
    implementing that. Kyle
  • None of us have time to do that. I mean there
    are only so many hours in the day! Mary
  • Am I behind? Absolutely! About four units!
  • I always seem to find myself in this pressure
    cooker each and every year due to the fact that
    I have so much to cover state competencies,
    college dual enrollment curriculum, operating the
    school store, our youth leadership group and the
    normal class interruptions. -Mary

The Journey of Change
  • Thats where Ive always wanted my classroom to
    be. I just couldnt figure out how to get there.
    So now Im seeing the possibilities of where I
    can go. My philosophy hasnt changed. How I am
    getting there has changed. Mary
  • For me its been a rollercoaster! Days where
    Im gung ho behind it and days where the delays
    and snow days and missing half your classes
    because of sickness and whatever, its just too
    much! -Lisa

(No Transcript)
  • Very little research looks at the experience of
    the teacher in school change, yet it is the
    classroom teacher on whom the onus frequently
    falls (Fullan, 2001 Wagner, 1994 Hargreaves,
  • Furthermore, this case study examined a school
    change phenomenon that is rare in schools today
    that of virtually an entire faculty adopting,
    learning and implementing a new classroom method

Findings from this Case Study that Resonate with
Existing Literature
  • Teachers approach change in the classroom in a
    deeply personal way
  • Lack of time continues to be a dominant deterrent
    to teacher change
  • Inherent isolation and the resulting feelings of
    lack of self-efficacy can be mini-millized by
    establishing a culture of change with an
    infrastructure of supports
  • Administrators who participate in the change
    process with teachers
  • Establishing Professional Learning Groups and
    making time for them to meet
  • Providing common experiences which promote shared

Results From this Case Study that Are Not
Resonant with Existing Literature
  • Teachers in this case study were driven to change
    by a focus on helping students and sharing a
    common goal
  • Teachers wanted to help students learn the skills
    necessary for success in their lives after school
    (Friedman, 2006).
  • Strong relationships with students were
    meaningful to the teachers
  • Teachers overwhelmingly felt that student skills
    were lacking
  • Teachers were inspired and motivated by resulting
    changes they saw in students as a result student
    immersion in Problem-based learning

Teacher Change A Theoretical Framework
Future Research
  • A longitudinal study of this phenomenon
  • A deeper probe of this phenomenon
  • Similar case studies of teachers implementing
    different types of instructional method to do a
    comparative analysis
  • Similar case studies of teachers implementing
    change in different grade levels

  • Im really afraid that what were sending out of
    our high schools is not prepared. And its not
    that theyre not smart. Its that we, in the
    last 20 years have changed our educational
    structure to a point where we want to make sure
    we look good so that we do rote skills and they
    (students) can regurgitate the information so
    that they look good on a standardized test.
    (Students) dont think for themselves. They
    dont want to problem solve. They dont. Its
    too much work. -Kyle