Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 30, 2014 – Recent Caldwell University graduate, Kate Zimmberbaum, is
being honored for her work as an educator and a researcher. The Pittstown, New Jersey, resident is the recipient of the Northeastern Educational Research Association Teacher-as-Researcher Award for her school-based project entitled “Will the Introduction of a Critical Questioning Technique and the Toulmin Model Improve the Argumentative Essay Writing Scores of Students in an Eighth-Grade English Language Arts Class?” The research was her final project for the master’s in curriculum and instruction that she received in May 2014.
Zimmerbaum, who teaches eighth-grade English language arts at Clinton Township Middle School in New Jersey, was thrilled to learn the news. “I am fortunate to work in a school district that encourages its teachers to continually grow and learn,” she said. “The administration was enthusiastic about my research project and shares my excitement about winning the award from NERA.”
She embarked on the research because she wanted to help students improve their argumentative writing skills and because she saw that there has been a shift in the Common Core standards toward argumentative writing. “I’d noticed a reliance on emotion rather than reason and on personal perception instead of data … I found students would ignore counterarguments,” Zimmerbaum said. Her research allowed her to combine an inquiry-based approach for examination of data with the conceptual framework provided by the Toulmin model of argument. This approach helped students “both interpret text and formulate logical arguments,” she said.
Zimmerbaum will present her research and receive her award at NERA’s annual meeting on Oct. 24. “The research I did was really a reward in itself because it taught me so much about how to be a more effective teacher of argumentative writing in my classroom,” she said. “I am so grateful to Dr. Edith Ries of Caldwell University, not only for encouraging me to submit my research to NERA for consideration, but for her guidance and support during the research process.”