The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…

New Issue of JoSoTL Available

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The most recent issue of the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Editor-in-Chief: Michael Morrone, Indiana University) has been published, featuring seven articles focused on diverse topics such as the impact of gratitude on focus and resilience in learning, in-class vs. out-of-class learning, assessment, and attitudes toward technology. Articles have been linked below with abstracts excerpted directly from the JoSoTL website. Happy reading!

Brightening the Mind: The Impact of Practicing Gratitude on Focus and Resilience in Learning

Author: Jane Taylor Wilson

A growing body of groundbreaking research shows that gratitude has the power to heal, energize, and transform lives by enhancing people psychologically, spiritually, physically, and cognitively. This study contributes to the study of gratitude by exploring its impact on focus and resilience in learning. Specifically, this study examines the impact that practicing gratitude has on college students’ ability to focus in class and remain resilient in the face of difficulties while learning.

An Investigation of the Relationship between In-Class and Out-of-Class Efforts on Student Learning: Empirical Evidence and Strategy Suggestion

Author: Tin-Chun Lin

In this paper we explore and discuss an important research question in higher education – is there a trade-off relationship between in-class and out-of-class efforts for students? We used an empirical model to test the trade-off hypothesis between these two efforts. We identified a trade-off between in-class and out-of-class efforts, especially for those students who do not perform well on examinations. We clarified possible reasons for this relationship in a lower-performing student group and noted potentially harmful implications for higher education. We recommended that instructors work individually with students in setting appropriate goals for each exam and frequently offering feedback. Doing so can strengthen rapport between students and faculty, thereby enhancing students’ motivation to learn and confidence in utilizing faculty as a learning resource. We also recommended a classroom-based game play strategy to promote students’ motivation to learn and encourage their participation.

You Can Lead Students to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Think: An Assessment of Student Engagement and Learning though Student-Centered Teaching

Authors: Jennifer Bradford, Denise Mowder, & Joy Bohte

The current project conducted an assessment of three student-centered teaching techniques in a criminal justice and criminology research methods class: Team-Based Learning, Incentive-Based Learning, and Flipped Classroom. The project sought to ascertain to what extent these techniques improved or impacted student learning outcomes and engagement in this traditionally difficult course. Results provide empirical evidence that students were significantly engaged with the course and benefited from these pedagogical techniques.

Moving Beyond Assessment to Improving Students’ Critical Thinking Skills: A Model for Implementing Change

Authors: Ada Haynes, Elizabeth Lisic, Michele Goltz, Barry Stein, & Kevin Harris

This research examines how the use of the CAT (Critical thinking Assessment Test) and involvement in CAT-Apps (CAT Applications within the discipline) training can serve as an important part of a faculty development model that assists faculty in the assessment of students’ critical thinking skills and in the development of these skills within their courses. Seventy-five percent of faculty participating in a CAT scoring workshop at their institution reported greater understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses in critical thinking and 45% reported that CAT scoring had changed their teaching practices and/or assessment. In addition, participants attending a training session on CAT-Apps reported a greater willingness to place more emphasis on critical thinking assessments and less on factual knowledge assessments in their courses as a result of participation in training.

Assessing Public Health Majors thought the Use of e-Portfolios

Authors: Tara L. Crowell & Elizabeth Calamidas

When assessing an entire academic program, there are various possibilities; most require students to reflect holistically on knowledge learned. Final presentations, internships, theses, and dissertations all require the students to recall the entirety of their learning experience. These are more traditional ways to assess the student as well as the program as a whole. However, with advancement in technology, the use of electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) has been advocated to highlight student accomplishments as well as to document program and course outcomes. The following project illustrates the use of e-portfolios and develops specific rubrics in order to measure both student learning and program assessment. The use of e-Portfolios as an assessment measure was developed and implemented into the Public Health Program. All graduating students, upon completing their internships, create an ePortfolio. These portfolios are used by faculty for both student and program assessment purposes. Data collected over the 7 semesters provides valuable insight into both students’ level of competencies and program outcomes for both Pubic Health core goals and objectives.

Using Indirect vs. Direct Measures in the Summative Assessment of Student Learning in Higher Education

Authors: Christine Luce & Jean P. Kirnan

Contradictory results have been reported regarding the accuracy of various methods used to assess student learning in higher education. The current study examined student learning outcomes across a multi-section and multi-instructor psychology research course with both indirect and direct assessments in a sample of 67 undergraduate students. The indirect method measured student perceived knowledge and abilities on course topics, while the direct method measured actual knowledge where students answered test questions or solved problems reflecting course content. Both measures independently demonstrated increases from pretest to post-test; however the indirect measure did not correlate with final course grades. Results also showed respondents scoring lower on the direct measure were overconfident (as measured by indirect score) in their perceived knowledge and ability, the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Based on our findings, we concluded that the indirect method was not an accurate measure of student learning, but may have benefits as an instructional tool.

“I Tolerate Technology – I Don’t Embrace It”: Instructor Surprise and Sensemaking in a Technology-Rich Learning Environment

Authors: Jennifer Fairchild, Eric B. Meiners, & Jayne Violette

Assuming a dialectical approach to technology and pedagogy, this study explores sensemaking processes for instructors teaching in a technologically enhanced college classroom environment. Through a series of semi-structured individual and group interviews, seven instructors provided narrative accounts of the problems encountered with progressive instructional technology and their emergent strategies to make sense of and manage it. Three primary dialectical tensions were described: freedom vs. confinement, connectedness vs. fragmentation, and change vs. stability. Two related modes of sensemaking in response to these tensions were also uncovered: adaptation, involving day-to-day adjustments to non-routine failures, and reframing, entailing gradual reflection upon the instructors’ roles in the classroom. Implications for the current findings are discussed.

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