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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Barbara Bichelmeyer
School of Education

Christine Leland
School of Education

Rex Stockton
School of Education

Learning Matters

News tips about education from Indiana University

Universities are more concerned with stipulating students' responsibilities than students' rights, and most of these stipulations involve non-academic behaviors such as alcohol and drug use and sexual conduct, according to two studies conducted by a faculty member and four graduate students in the Department of Instructional Systems Technology in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Education. Associate Professor Barbara Bichelmeyer and the students discovered that very few stipulations have to do with students' rights related to classroom learning, and the few that do involve students' rights to academic freedom, privacy of records, pursuit of educational goals, grade appeals and evaluation of faculty. In contrast to the rights and responsibilities detailed in university handbooks, graduate students perceive their most important rights related to learning as having access to instructors, receiving prompt, detailed feedback on assignments and being graded fairly. They feel that their most important responsibilities for learning include class attendance, class participation, taking initiative to be prepared for class and communicating with instructors. Bichelmeyer and her students conducted two studies probing the question of college students' rights regarding their classroom learning experience. The first was an analysis of student codes of conduct from 40 top universities; the second was a survey of graduate students regarding their perceptions of rights and responsibilities for learning. For more information, contact Bichelmeyer at 812-856-8468 or

Introducing children to books that are frontloaded with social issues and often do not result in typical happy endings helps students become critical readers, writers and communicators throughout their lifetimes, according to Christine Leland, professor in the Department of Language Education in the School of Education at the Indianapolis campus. A member of the Indiana Study Group, a successful partnership between language education faculty on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, Leland has been investigating critical literacy books and participating in research that examines how students deconstruct stories about individuals or groups who are marginalized in society. "Research tells us that students are really interested in social issues," she said. Because of that intense interest, there are fewer discipline problems when assignments focus on critical literacy. Students also feel they are being treated more like adults and react positively when given an opportunity to look for solutions to problems such as bullying. Children also read about poverty, racism, gender issues, homophobia, religious differences, and cultural or ethnic differences. "These readings invariably segue into conversations about topics that aren't typically talked about in schools," Leland said. Critical literacy has also had a positive impact on teacher education students. "Their eyes are opened to issues they might previously have overlooked," she explained. "Now they find themselves reading books critically and actively looking at how individuals and groups are portrayed." For more information, contact Leland at 317-274-6832 or

Training counselors and other human services personnel from sub-Saharan Africa in culturally-relevant group counseling techniques is at the heart of a research effort headed by Rex Stockton,Chancellor's Professor in the School of Education's Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at the Bloomington campus. In Botswana, where Stockton will begin his preliminary work with the help of a School of Education Peace Grant, the HIV/AIDS incidence rate is the world's highest at nearly 40 percent. Parents, teachers and community leaders are dying at an extremely fast rate, leaving behind orphans, fields without crops and communities without adults. Stockton will be training counselors and human services personnel in how to provide counseling to victims and family members, dealing with such issues as prevention, compliance (taking medication) and bereavement. "AIDS is one of the biggest threats to world peace because it immobilizes individuals and communities," Stockton said. Because communities and groups form the basis of African society, the president of the African Association for Guidance and Counseling in Botswana approached Stockton for help. Stockton is widely known for his research in group counseling. "The integration of existing methods of helping in indigenous African ways, combined with group counseling, offers a powerful approach to working with diverse populations," he explained. "This method will be employed in the current project to develop and implement a training model for Botswana counselors and personnel." For more information, contact Stockton at 812-856-8344 or