Vanderbilt Inspires Research Methodology
CHILD-doctoral student Madeleine Sjöman went on a four month doctoral exchange program to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Here she shares her experiences from the EU-US research exchange program.
I have just finished my first stay at Peabody Collage at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. During my time I have been staying with Professor Dale Farran. Dale’s household consists of herself, her dog Tox, and her cat Inky, and they have all been wonderful hosts. During my first Saturday Dale invited me to join her and her friend to listen to a symphony concert that took place in the most wonderful concert hall. It then became clear that music is the very essence of Nashville regardless of whether it is country music or classical. You can easily listen to music just by walking to Downtown or you can do as Dale and I did and visit a beautiful concert hall. During the concert I and Dale had the privilege to sit behind the orchestra.
Focusing on effects of programs
Peabody College is a part of Vanderbilt University and specializes in education and human development. I belonged to the Peabody research institute which is an institute that focuses on the effects of programs on children and families.
To the right you can see a picture of one of the dormitories at the Peabody campus. As you can see I had the opportunity to experience Nashville in spring which was absolutely beautiful since both the cherry trees and magnolias were in full bloom.
Development of research instruments
At Peabody campus there is a preschool called Susan Grey-school which was founded 1968 for children with disabilities and children at risk for development delay. In between each of the classrooms there are observations rooms with one screen mirror so you can both see and hear the teachers and children in action. The purpose of that is to explore how inclusive classrooms can work out and develop research instruments. I have had the possibility to learn to use an observing assessment, called Child Observing Protocol (COP), which is used in research projects at Peabody Institute, and which we are going to use in our own project in Sweden.
Learning new skills
I have also attended two courses, Foundations in learning and development and Teaching as Social Practice. In Foundations in learning and development, I was studying under Karen Anthony and Kathy Yun which was a very interesting experience with interactions between teachers and students in the classroom being very intense. The teachers had a less central role while teaching which demanded much more of the student’s verbal activity and interaction. The second course, Teaching as Social Practice, was led by professor Marcy Garcia and communication was an essential part of teaching in this course as well. The course also gave me an insight in the complex American school system with the different states having their own curriculum and also due to their organization of their different classes. I have come to realize the advantages of living in a small country with its goal to strive for equal education.
At this moment I am back in Sweden to prepare for my next stay which will be during July and August (in all, four months). I am very much looking forward to my next visit and will use the opportunity to acquire more musical experience as well as developing observation instruments together with Professor Dale Farran and her doctoral student Sascha Mowrey.
Thank you so far for my lovely stay and I look forward to meeting you all in July,