sealPurdue Education & Careers Briefs

July 1997

Computer endorsement a 'must' for new teachers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Computers are becoming as common in K-12 classrooms as the No. 2 pencil. That's why Purdue University's School of Education has developed a computer education endorsement that can be added to the teaching certificates of its graduates.

"Clearly, the national trend is that this is becoming a common skill expected of new teachers," says James Lehman, professor of educational computing and co-director of the school's Technology Resource Center.

The most recent figures available show that 18 states now require certification in computers and technology for their new teachers. Purdue's home state of Indiana is not one of them, but Lehman says it's just a matter of time.

"We're finding that more and more K-12 schools in Indiana won't even look at our people unless they have some sort of computer experience," he says.

Purdue's computer education endorsement includes 12 hours of undergraduate study in areas of computer literacy, fundamentals of computer languages, teaching with computers and computers in other disciplines. The endorsement is designed not only to help teachers better utilize computers in the classroom, but also to prepare them to serve as computer resource people for their schools.

Purdue students also are exposed to the fundamentals of distance education by tutoring K-12 pupils more than 100 miles away via e-mail, and by teaching lessons to students in another school system using two-way video equipment in Purdue's Ameritech Distance Education Classroom.

Lehman says technology will continue to transform education: "Not only do we know more about teaching and learning than ever before, but the means to apply that knowledge have changed dramatically. The tools at hand, particularly personal computers, are revolutionary in their potential. They are forcing us to rethink what we mean by education and schooling."

CONTACT: Lehman, (765) 494-5670; e-mail,; Web,

Internet redefines the role of travel agent

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University travel expert predicts that the Internet will change the way travel agents do their jobs.

"It's inevitable that the business of travel agencies will change," says Alastair Morrison, professor of restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management. "The Internet is a way to bypass travel agents, and, though it doesn't signal their demise, it is impacting the travel industry."

Among the travel services on the Internet are currency converters, weather forecasts, customs information, lists of restaurants and accommodations, and ticket-ordering sites. "There are even sites that will send postcards to your friends," Morrison says.

Morrison, who is director of the Purdue Tourism and Hospitality Research Center, says the Internet is like a double-edged sword for the travel industry. "Yes, people can bypass travel agents, but for those travel agencies that are on the Web, the Internet gives them the opportunity to market themselves beyond the local community and go global."

He says about 20 percent of travel agencies now have a Web site. And some in the travel industry are finding new ways of doing business. "Consolidators," which are electronic travel agencies, buy bulk airfares and sell them over the Internet.

While the Internet is creating new business, it is also moving the travel industry back in time. He says travel agents need to get away from the role of "order takers" and go back to being "order makers."

"Travel agents will soon go back to their old way of doing business, becoming travel counselors instead of just agents," he says. For example, these counselors will personalize travel for individuals and organize group tours. You can easily book a cruise on your own, but you don't know which cruise line has the largest cabins or what the other travelers are like. A travel agent has that knowledge.

Morrison advises travel agents to become Web savvy. He says the resources of the Internet combined with their own knowledge of the travel industry will continue to make them a valuable expert source.

As travel professionals take on their new roles, he suggests they start by exploring some Web sites:

CONTACT: Morrison, (765) 494-7905; e-mail,; Web,

Dean: Education reform should follow alternative schools' lead

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The dean of Purdue University's School of Education says successful alternative schools are an excellent example for education reform to follow.

"Alternative schools developed out of the need to educate a growing number of children who have dropped out of regular schools or are in our juvenile court systems, but many of the methods that are working for at-risk youths can and should be applied in traditional school settings," says Marilyn Haring, who is also a professor of counseling and development at Purdue.

Haring has identified several characteristics of successful alternative schools that already are meeting the goals of educational reform.

"These schools have placed increased emphasis on experiential learning," Haring explains. "The students in alternative schools are more engaged as active learners, so they find schooling much more relevant."

Another characteristic Haring noted is extraordinarily caring teachers who involve themselves very closely with their students. Haring further says that instruction in alternative schools is typically innovative and varied, and the teachers in these successful schools are skilled at individualized teaching methods in order to meet the widely varying needs of their students.

"These are precisely the characteristics we need to adopt in all of our schools if we are going to transform them into effective institutions," Haring says. "I believe we can address the needs of at-risk youths and facilitate educational reform for all students by developing alternative programs rather than separate schools. By incorporating the best features of alternative schools into the traditional schooling designed for most students, everyone wins."
CONTACT: Haring, (765) 494-2336; e-mail,

A longer academic year may boost student achievement

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A copy of the study "Effects of Extended-Year Schooling on the Achievement of Low Socioeconomic Students in Elementary School" is available from Julie Frazier at (765) 494-2947. The study was presented at the American Education Research Association's 1996 annual meeting during a poster session.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Less time off in the summer may translate into greater academic achievement for elementary-school students, says a Purdue University expert on year-round schooling.

"When we consider academic achievement, lower-achieving kids lose ground over summer vacation," says Julie Frazier, assistant professor of child development and family studies. "And even though good students improve over summer break, it's not known what additional strides in achievement they might make if they were in school."

Frazier followed the academic achievement of students in an extended-year school, which is a type of year-round school that shortens the summer break by adding mandatory instruction days to the academic calendar. She says there are roughly 100 schools doing so nationwide.

Beginning with kindergarten and following them through first grade, she compared the students' progress to students in a traditional program. Students in both groups had similar characteristics except for the difference in academic year, which was 30 days longer in the extended program.

She says the students in the extended-year school outpaced their counterparts in math and reading achievement by the beginning of first grade and maintained their "achievement gap" to the end of that year. Frazier has continued to follow the students and is currently analyzing their progress through third grade.

Concerns that keeping children in school longer would lead to boredom or negative feelings toward school did not materialize. "I saw no evidence of 'burnout' among the kids. In fact, the students in extended-year schools felt slightly more confident of their cognitive skills by summer's end than did the students in the traditional schools," she says.

Frazier is hoping to determine whether it's the additional instruction time or the shortened summer break that proves most beneficial in improving student achievement. "It is possible that improved achievement is more a function of a 'continuous learning schedule,' rather than more learning time," she says.

A continuous schedule also can be accomplished by rearranging the current 180-day school year to replace the long summer break with shorter breaks throughout the year, as is the case in most year-round school programs.

In a research project to begin this fall, Frazier will compare the academic achievement of socioeconomically disadvantaged children in a year-round calendar, extended-year calendar and traditional September-to-June school year.
CONTACT: Frazier, (765) 494-2947; e-mail,

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2096; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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