Journal of Teacher Initiated Research

The Journal of Teacher Initiated Research (JTIR) is a peer reviewed, online journal for teachers and teacher educators designed to advance knowledge, theory, and quality of teaching and learning. Contributors include Otterbein graduate students and faculty, as well as invited guests.

The overall objective is to advance knowledge, theory, and quality of teaching and learning. Readers and contributors include classroom teachers, teacher educators, and administrators. Editorial Objectives:

  • Present articles of interest on the research, development, and applications of PreK-post secondary education.
  • Provide practical strategies and research driven decision-making for the classroom.
  • Contribute to the professional development of practicing teachers and college instructors.
  • Serve as a forum for exemplary capstone projects for students in the MAE graduate program.

Special Summer 2018 JTIR Issue

Welcome to this special issue of the Journal of Teacher-Initiated Research (JTIR), Summer 2018.  This special issue is comprised of one Master’s capstone project that earned the distinction of publication in JTIR, our Otterbein University Education Department e journal.  The project was a curriculum development project, titled:

Teaching Academic Vocabulary in Math Classrooms to a Diverse Group of English Language Learners: An Exploration of Best Teaching Practices – By Miriam Sandoval

Miriam Sandoval is a passionate teacher who enjoys helping ELL (English language learners) students to acquire the English language and become familiar with the American culture so they can thrive in school and become successful global citizens. Miriam develops strong connections and relationships with ELL students and parents because she is a second language learner herself. As such, she understands the student experience when learning a new language and the frustration that sometimes this experience brings. She believes that teaching academic language to ELLs is a critical component in their learning, as it will ensure students effectively understand the content being taught.

Miriam was born and raised in Lima, Peru where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. She worked as an elementary teacher in a bilingual school for almost four years before moving to Ohio in 1998. Miriam currently holds Ohio teaching licenses in Multi-age Spanish, Early Childhood Education and a TESOL endorsement. She works at Westerville City Schools as an ESL bilingual paraprofessional and will complete her Master of Arts in Education at Otterbein University in the summer, 2018.

Capstone Project Miriam Sandoval- Teaching Academic Vocabulary- An Exploration of Best Teaching Practices 2018 > (PDF)

ELL Handbook MSandoval > (PDF)

JTIR Issues

Autumn 2011, Volume VIII

Our eighth issue finds us welcoming two new editors to our journal. Thank you, Kristin Reninger and Carrie Scheckelhoff! Our authors for this edition tackle a variety of questions: How can the preschool classroom nurture authentic writing? How can video clips improve the teaching of calculus? While those two examples illustrate the age range of students our authors teach, there continues to be that common thread: good teachers constantly seek ways to improve their practice. Read and learn with this year’s featured authors, as they incorporated Readers’ Theater, listened to families’ literacy stories, employed technology in mathematics instruction, and asked critical questions about kindergarten screening procedures. We hope this issue gives you something new to explore!

Dee Knoblauch, Karen Robinson, Kristin Reninger, and Carrie Scheckelhoff, Editors

Parent Stories of Struggling Readers (PDF) – Sandra J. Benton

Dusting Off the Writing Center: Creative Writing in the Preschool Classroom (PDF) – Betsi Byers-Spurlock

Does Reader’s Theater Influence the Reading Attitudes and Fluency of Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students in a Special Education Class? (PDF) – Christine Grant

iTouches in the Classroom, Do They Contribute to Student Achievement in Math Fluency? (PDF) – Daphne Irby

How Does Video Clip Technology Affect Student Motivation and Learning? (PDF) – Valerie Sharritts

Kindergarten Screening: What Results Are We Getting?  (PDF) – Rebekah N. Springer

Autumn 2010, Volume VII

Welcome to our 7th issue! Our teacher authors for this issue represent a great deal of variety, in their methodologies, areas of teaching, as well as the questions they have pursued. Nevertheless, we continue to honor the asking of classroom questions: those deceptively simple issues with which good teachers struggle: How best to get the point across? How to engage students more? What do they already know? How can I do it better? Please enjoy our authors’ good efforts!

Dee Knoblauch and Karen Robinson, Editors

Going From “I Can” to “I Can and Here’s How!”: Writing About Math in a 3rd and 4th Grade Mathematics Classroom (PDF) – Emily Garner and Jennifer Duncan

Can Modified Reciprocal Teaching Strategies Improve Kindergarten English Language Learners’ Comprehension and Enjoyment of Read Aloud Books? (PDF) – Ann Englehart

How Do Clickers Affect Student Engagement and Test Performance? (PDF) – Andrea Arner

Promoting a Healthy Breakfast Composition Among Kindergarten Students (PDF) – Jennifer Krites

Will Reciprocal Teaching and Double Entry Journals Increase the Comprehension of My Struggling Seventh Grade Students? (PDF) – Toni Roltgen

Autumn 2009, Volume VI

How can we assist our English language learners to be more fluent readers?

In central Ohio, this question is being asked frequently by our teachers as our classrooms become increasingly more diverse. This sixth issue of JTIR is our largest ever! In addition to 3 articles addressing the needs of English language learners, this issue also focuses on children with special needs and their parents, the teaching of vocabulary and other literacy practices, and the transition from a student athlete to college coach. The array of topics in this issue reflects our teacher authors’ varied interests and challenges. Enjoy!

Dee Knoblauch and Karen Robinson, Co-Editors

Increased Communication with Parents of Special Needs Children and Its Effect on Special Needs Children’s GPA (PDF) – Sarah Ealy Cashin

Strange Sensations: Dealing Effectively with Sensory Issues in the Early Childhood Classroom (PDF) – Elizabeth English

English Language Learners and Fluency Strategies (PDF) – Joan Klemek

Can Vocabulary Study for High Schools Students Be Fun? (PDF) – Janet Pickens

Transitioning from Player to Coach: A Self-Study (PDF) – Brett Neiderman

A Fluency & Technology Learning Center for Struggling Readers (PDF) – Karen Small

“I Forgot That Quotient Meant to Divide so I Added Instead and Got the Wrong Answer”: The Link Between Math Vocabulary and Problem Solving (PDF) – Kelli Sprosty

Digital Storytelling Closes the Gap Between Schools and Immigrant Parents (PDF) – Mirka Visnjic

Making the Standards Fit the Kids, Rather Than the Kids Fit the Standards (PDF) – Kiley Wilkins

How Can I Get the Answer If I Don’t Understand the Question?: Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners (PDF) – Betsy Wood

Autumn 2008, Volume V

Welcome to our fifth issue!

Second grader Ben’s self-portrait and illustrated goals for the year are just a sample of the innovative efforts that our teacher authors share with you in this 2008 Journal of Teacher Initiated Research. Our mission continues to be to showcase the action research of professional educators. Our authors have critically examined their teaching and made the systematic effort to improve their classroom practice. We hope that you can learn from these educators and as you do, take an idea for yourself!

Dee Knoblauch and Karen Robinson, Co-Editors

Academic Outcomes for Students with Learning Disabilities in an Inclusive Mathematics Classroom (PDF) – Susan Casto

Does Oral Storytelling Help First Graders Become Better Writers? (PDF) – Kim Cody and Teresa Wagner

How Do Spanish-Speaking Youngsters Respond to Culturally Relevant Read-Alouds When Paired with Imaging Techniques? (PDF) – Jackie Crews

Audience Impact on Standard Spelling: Second Graders’ Daily Journal Entries vs. Authentic Books for Kindergarteners (PDF) – Andrea Hayson

Word Boxes: Helping Students Spell (PDF) – Christine Jajack

Tools for Writing: Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs (PDF) – Jennifer D. McCord

Finding Identity in Text for Sexual Minority Youth: A Critical Analysis of Middle School Health Texts (PDF) – Kara Putinsky-McCoy

Shared Ownership of Assessment: Student Portfolios in a Second Grade Classroom  (PDF) – Jacqueline K. Ryan

Autumn 2007, Volume IV

Welcome to our fourth issue!

Start with a simple question. Isn’t there something in your classroom that you would like to change? Think about aspects of your teaching day that may not be going exactly as you wish…How can we frame that challenge into a question that can be addressed in some systematic way?

As advisors for our graduate students’ capstone projects, we often say these words. We work carefully to help our teachers find the questions that will yield a workable action research study. This issue continues to celebrate the inquiry that drives good teachers to explore their practice. In this, our fourth issue of JTIR, we share our most diverse group of articles: from preschool to high school settings, from vocabulary instruction, to parental involvement, to problem-solving in mathematics. Each of our eight authors has tackled a problem that mattered. Two of our authors, Bre Cady and Michelle Mason, stated, “we are always looking for valid, authentic, and meaningful activities to enhance our teaching.” Good teachers everywhere are involved in that same search. We hope that you find food for thought in this issue. Enjoy!

Karen Robinson, Ph.D., and Dee Knoblauch, Ph.D., co-editors

Discovery Bags: Home-School Connections for Preschoolers (PDF) – Bre Cady and Michelle Mason

CGI: A New Way to Teach Fractions to Middle Schoolers (PDF) – Trish English and Scott Von Almen

Got a Context Clue? Vocabulary Development in Middle School (PDF) – Jill Hotchkiss

Using Literature Circles in a Scripted Reading Program: A Self-Study (PDF) – Cheryl L. Kanuckle

Focused Reading for English Language Learners (PDF) – Denise Mundy

Promoting High School Girls’ Interest in Math-Related Careers (PDF) – Deborah Rosensteel

Autumn 2006, Volume III

Welcome to our third issue!

Our four authors all happen, coincidentally, to be middle school teachers. We hope you will appreciate how each of them started their action research with the kind of challenge that all teachers face. In each case, the teacher was not satisfied with some aspect of his or her classroom practice – there was a real problem….something was not working as it should.

Vivian Dodson struggled with a common problem of the middle school language arts teacher – getting her students started with ideas down on paper and peer editing their writings. She shares how she broke the tasks of writing and assessment down into small steps. Focusing on traits of good writing, Ms. Dodson showed students the difference between plain “rice cake” and more descriptive “salsa” words. Another language arts teacher, Tawnya Schroeder wrote, “I struggled with how to get students to develop an appreciation of the world they would come to know.” Ms. Schroeder tackled the factual inaccuracies and stereotypical thinking of her reading students through a multicultural literature approach. We find interesting Ms. Schroeder’s use of concept maps as a tool for documenting her students’ thinking about migrant cultures. A music teacher, Nicole Williams, was unhappy with the results of traditional assessment at the beginning of her music classes. Her results with reflective journal writing as an alternative to tests and quizzes are impressive. Finally, science teacher John McCoy wondered “whether there was anything I could do to have a positive influence on my students’ attitudes toward science and school.” In his article, he shares his efforts to encourage his students to use reading strategies as they read news articles of science.

As seasoned educators, we have come to appreciate that reflecting on one’s practice and systematically attempting an intervention are marks of a good teacher. Furthermore, that kind of dissatisfaction, coupled with decisive action, is needed for sustained change in education. We are pleased to offer you the accounts and stories of the problems these teacher-researchers encountered and the solutions they attempted!

Patti Albaugh, Karen Robinson, Dee Knoblauch

Blending Writing Traits and Brush Strokes for Successful Writers (PDF) – Vivian Dodson

Creating Multicultural Understanding in a Monocultural Setting (PDF) – Tawnya Schroeder

Reflective Journal Writing as an Alternative Assessment (PDF) – Nicole Williams

Improving Middle School Students’ Attitudes Toward Science (PDF) – John McCoy

Autumn 2005, Volume II

Welcome to the second volume of the Journal of Teacher Initiated Research!

Seven classroom teachers share their classroom research and stories. This volume’s articles, incorporating more graphics and even some video, cover a wide range of classrooms and topics.

Collaboration is a recurring theme for four of our teacher-authors. Heather Uncapher trained fifth grade students to help her first grade students with their writing skills. The first graders’ writing skills improved as did their attitudes towards writing. Read this article for Heather’s tips on managing a Buddy Program with another class. Sonja Johnson and Staci McCafferty, urban second grade teachers, collaborated to improve their high achieving students’ work in math. They found that their teaming and resulting techniques helped students learn independently of the teacher and that the students were also able to actively assist each other. Heather VanAlstine found that using literature circles increased her 6th grade students’ participation and personal responsibility for their learning. One can sense Ms. VanAlstine’s enthusiasm for literature circles when she writes, “My students are visibly confident in their reading and discussion skills.” Collectively these four teachers found that collaboration empowers both learning and teaching.

Two other teachers focused their research on reading skills and literature. Gretchen Dougherty, a high school reading teacher, was able to create an SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) program for her 11th and 12th grade English students. Ms. Dougherty found that her approach reduced off-task behavior and increased literary engagement among her students. Michelle Fraley used the software program KidPix to increase meaning-based reading strategies of her 1st grade ELL (English Language Learners). Ms. Fraley’s article contains techniques as well as many wonderful student products.

Finally, Jenger Schmersal tackled a timely topic for today’s teachers: testing. Her study focused on the effects of teaching test taking strategies to 3rd graders. In this article one can both read and watch videos of Ms. Schmersal’s productive and successful study.

We hope you enjoy reading the research results of these talented and committed teachers. We did!

Patti R. Albaugh, Ph.D. and Karen S. Robinson, Ph.D., Editors

Creating a Successful SSR Program in a High School Classroom (PDF) – Gretchen Dougherty

Literature Circles: Effective Practices That Promote Participation (PDF) – Heather VanAlstine

The Rules of Engagement: Teaching Test Taking Skills to Urban Third Graders
Jenger Ann Schmersal

Using Kid Pix to Help ELL Student Respond to Literature (PDF) – Michelle R. Fraley

Why Work Together? Collaborative Conversations Lead to Student Success (PDF) – Sonja Johnson and Staci McCafferty

Writing with Study Buddies (PDF) – Heather Uncapher

Autumn 2004, Volume I

Our first issue of JTIR showcases action research conducted as capstone projects for the MAE Curriculum and Instruction and the MAE Reading degrees at Otterbein University. The featured articles and the portrait of classroom practice demonstrate teachers’ efforts to help their students interact with curriculum in meaningful ways.

All the teachers in this volume of JTIR address the challenges of working with special populations. In an effort to make her curriculum available to all her students, Patty Randall developed a unique “collection box” system that emphasized focus points for her seventh grade writers. She wondered if limiting the feedback and making concrete the students’ writing tasks would be successful. Kelly Wood helps to answer the question that all teachers ask: Does this program do what it purports to do? She wanted to know if the district-adopted math program worked for her learning disabled students. Eileen Tamasavich asked about her high school vocational education students, “What role does intrinsic motivation play in a reading program?” Her results are thought-provoking. Amanda Solether practiced the art of reflective practitioner; she probed into the results of a standards-based, assess-teach-assess model for reading instruction for her fourth grades.

Enjoy learning from these thoughtful teachers, as we did.

Patti R. Albaugh, Ph.D. and Karen S. Robinson, Ph.D., Editors

Digging for Gold (PDF) – Patty Randall

Motivating High School Special Needs Students with Significant Reading Problems (PDF) – Eileen Tamasovich

Effects of SuccessMaker Math on Students with Learning Disabilities in Inclusive and Special Education Classrooms (PDF) – Kelly Wood

Testing Out the Ohio Assess-Teach-Assess Model for Fourth Grade Problem Readers (PDF) – Amanda Solether

Contact Dr. Dee Knoblauch at for information on submitting a paper.

JTIR Author Instructions

General Guidelines

Material should be original, accurate, editorially correct. They may not submitted for review elsewhere. The format of headings, citations, and references should follow APA style as described in the current Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition.


Authors will assign copyright of any article published in the eJournal to Otterbein University. Permission is granted to make hard copies of the articles as long as the use falls under the guidelines of Fair Use (materials used for personal or classroom use and not for profit) and if the author, title of the article, the journal and notice of copyright appears on each copy.

Review Procedure

The review process is an online peer-review system. The editors will acknowledge receipt of the manuscript and determine if the manuscript is worthy of blind review (see rubric). After reading the manuscript, each reviewer will determine the rating: 1 = not acceptable, 2 = may be acceptable with extensive revision, 3 = probably acceptable with minor revisions, 4 = definitely acceptable, publish. After receiving the results of the reviewers, the editors determine the final publication list. Topic, visual appeal, and audience, for example, can determine the final contents of the journal.


All submissions must be sent in electronic form to the editor, Dr. Dee Knoblauch. No hard copy submission papers will be accepted. Do NOT submit compressed files, and do not use any word processing options/tools such as strike through, comments, etc. The submission deadline is July 15.

Since this is a blind review, please do not use your name on the document or in the file name. Do include your name and daytime phone number in the email in which you are attaching the manuscript.

Submitters are encouraged to format the publication for optimum visual presentation on the Internet. When a manuscript is accepted for publication, the manuscript will be converted to a read-only portable document file (.pdf) by the editor.


To submit your manuscript, first download and follow the instructions provided for  formatting your manuscript submission in Word 2003 or Word 2007. Right click on the link that indicates the version of word you are using and select “Save Target As” to download. Then open and read.

These instructions linked above will require you to download the JTIR template to format your document.

After you have followed the instructions and formatting your manuscript, submit it in either of the following formats via email attachment to

Dr. Dee Knoblauch
· DOC – Microsoft Word (preferred)
· RTF – Rich Text Format

Text should be single spaced, double spaced between paragraphs, no paragraph indent, size 12 font, Times New Roman, and between 1500-3000 words (6-12 pages).

Use margins: 1 inch top and bottom, 1 inch right and left margins. Insert page numbers (top right).

DO NOT use headings or footers.

DO NOT use the space bar to align your references. Left justify references and do not attempt to use indents.

All graphics and tables should be embedded in the document file in the correct location and have clear descriptive captions below the embedded graphic. Do not use APA guidelines for tables and figures.

The first page should include a single spaced, flush left, 150-200 word abstract. A picture inserted next to the title is recommended.

Provide an auto-generated table of contents on the first page. See the template for explanation.

For the reference section, include only works cited. The subtitle should be “Works Cited.” Follow APA guidelines.

General Evaluation Criteria

  • The topic of the manuscript addresses the mission and objectives of the Otterbein eJournal.
  • The manuscript follows format guidelines described above.
  • The topic should add to or support the current knowledge base or offer a new perspective to teaching and learning.
  • The tone of the writing is interesting and readable; the author’s voice is welcome.
  • The manuscript is written with clarity of presentation and organization of ideas.
  • The manuscript is visually rich with photographs, text boxes, and other multimedia.

Reviewers’ Rubric for Evaluating Submitted Manuscripts

Reviewers and the editors will use this rubric.

JTIR Editorial Review Board

Leslie Ortquist-Ahrens, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Daniel Cho, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Roland Sintos Coloma, Ph.D., University of Toronto

Sue Constable, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Marlene Deringer, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Mary Donovan, Columbus City Schools

Michelle Erklenz-Watts, Ph.D., St. John Fisher University

Harriet Fayne, Ph.D., Lehman College

Wendy Gardiner, Ph.D., National Louis University

Brian Harper, Ph.D., Cleveland State University

Susan Hersh, Ph.D., retired educator

Sunhwa Jung, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Kelly Kidder, Ph.D., Lipscomb University

Clare Kilbane, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Dee Knoblauch, Ph.D., Otterbein University (Co-Editor)

David Levine, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Grace McDaniel, Otterbein University

Kristen Reninger, Ph.D., Otterbein University (Co-Editor)

Karen S. Robinson, Ph.D., Otterbein University (Co-Editor)

Diane Ross, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Patty Ryan, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Carrie Scheckelhoff, Ph.D., Otterbein University (Co-Editor)

Wendy Sherman Heckler, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Jeff Smith, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Susan Thompson, Ph.D., Otterbein University

Adele Weiss, Ph.D., Otterbein University