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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Terry Mason
School of Education

Valarie Akerson
School of Education

Rebecca S. Martínez
School of Education

Learning Matters

News tips on education from Indiana University

As countries around the world, including Iraq, move toward more democratic forms of government, they need to consider the role of education in the process," said Terry Mason, director of the Social Studies Development Center at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Education. Mason, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has traveled to two of the new democratic republics of Eastern Europe, initiating a multiethnic, multilingual teacher preparation program at Southeast European University in Macedonia, as well as conducting workshops in Lithuania on creating democratic classrooms. He reported that students in both countries expressed the need for teachers to instill in the next generation an appreciation for how to think and behave in ways that are different from the past. "In many ways, these departures from previous educational practices reflect a movement toward embracing values consistent with those associated with democratic societies -- social responsibility, tolerance and respect for differences," he said. Mason also surveyed teacher education students on their understanding of democratic education and how they would implement these practices into their own classrooms. While learner-centered education models historically conflict with the region's traditional lecture-oriented classroom methodology, students indicated that more positive, collaborative relationships between teachers and students would help promote democratic ideals. "In spite of the difficulties, students are optimistic," he said. "They believe the university can change Macedonian society and help it become a multi-ethnic, open, tolerant society that can bridge differences." For more information, contact Mason at 812-856-8190 or

Elementary science instruction is receiving a boost from a partnership between faculty from Indiana University Bloomington's School of Education and Department of Physics, and teachers from three Indiana school districts. IUB has begun working with the Monroe County Community School Corp., Spencer-Owen Community Schools and Richmond-Bean Blossom Community School Corp. to provide professional development through a combination of summer intensive institutes and monthly Science EDUCATES workshops. "Time constraints for elementary teachers have made it necessary for much of the focus to be on tested subjects such as reading and mathematics," explained Valarie Akerson, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The workshops, which began this summer, will focus on science content, teaching strategies and interdisciplinary instruction. "Basically, we want to focus on the nature of science, which shows how science is different from other disciplines and how scientists go about doing their work, making claims from evidence," Akerson said. "Science EDUCATES will provide teachers who might be a little apprehensive about science instruction valuable teaching tools." Akerson said it's admirable that teachers have signed up for the workshops even though it's not required, because so many feel less comfortable teaching science. "In fact, we have a waiting list," she said. For more information, contact Akerson at 812-856-8140 or

Teachers with experience are more favorable toward inclusion compared to pre-service college students, according to a study by Rebecca S. Martínez, assistant professor in the IUB School of Education's Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. Incorporating a measurement of attitudes created for a similar study done in England, Martínez looked at service and pre-service teacher attitudes toward inclusion of children with disabilities. "Earlier research suggested that teachers were pessimistic about the increased mainstreaming of children with exceptionalities. However, my findings show that experienced teachers generally embrace inclusion. While the findings are extremely encouraging, more work needs to be done in pre-service teacher education programs to promote positive attitudes toward inclusion," she said, "since more than half of all students with disabilities spend the majority of their school days in inclusive settings, and all teachers, at some point, will undoubtedly have a child with disabilities in his or her classroom." For more information, contact Martínez at 812-856-8322 or