The SoTL Advocate

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

SoTL University Research Grants Awarded for FY19

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sotl-sealAt Illinois State University, University Research Grants (URGs) are awarded by each of our seven colleges and by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL. On average, five projects are awarded funding of up to $5000 to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students.

At Illinois State University, we define SoTL as the “systematic study/reflection on teaching and learning [of our ISU students] made public.” This definition allows for research in any discipline and the use of various methodologies. The work may be quantitative or qualitative in nature and focus on class, course, program, department, cross-department, and co-curricular levels. Specific criteria for this award can be found on the Cross Chair website. All funded SoTL URG work must be made public and peer reviewed in some way via presentation, performance, juried show, web site, video, and/or publication.

Outcomes of past SoTL URG-funded projects have been archived here.

This year’s call for proposals was highly competitive, with 17 team applications submitted. After careful peer-review, five student/faculty teams have been awarded SoTL URGs for FY19. These teams represent five disciplines across four ISU colleges. Funded projects are summarized below:

Decoding Geometry Constructions as Generalizations

Research Team: Jeffrey Barrett (Professor, Department of Mathematics) and Darl Rassi, Doctoral Student, Department of Mathematics

In an ISU undergraduate course, students learn to generalize and form arguments based on the use of geometric figures and measures. Generalized constructions of figures are important as a conceptual foundation for argumentation; however, the best means to teach students to construct geometric objects that represent general cases of figures are not evident. We propose a repeated measure design to cycle through instructional support with examples of construction steps and with analytical processes identifying the level of generalization for different examples. By analyzing reflective interview transcripts with an instructor, we expect to identify expert steps to generalize constructions like this, and analyze steps in the process of such work. By collecting weekly data in cycles, we expect to learn how many repeated trials provide adequate support for students to construct a generalization concept enabling them to build on their understanding of geometry.

The Impact of University Experiences on the Intercultural Effectiveness of ISU Students

Research Team: Meredith Downes (Professor, Department of Management & Quantitative Methods) and Aron Applegate (Student, Department of Management & Quantitative Methods)

Many students enrolled as majors in Illinois State University’s international business program are well-traveled and have interests that extend beyond the midwestern United States prior to beginning their college careers. However, it is important that students’ international skills and abilities be developed further as a result of their attendance here in order to gain critical professional skills for the workforce. Thus, this study assess students’ intercultural competence upon joining the international business program and again when they are close to graduating to identify factors most influential in increasing cultural competence. Specifically, a variety of university-sponsored experiences (e.g., internships, study abroad, student clubs and organizations) will be explored to understand their impact on students’ intercultural competence.

An Ethnographic Investigation of Future STEM Teachers’ Development of Disciplinary Practices

Research Team: Rebekka Darner (Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences) and Kara Baldwin (Graduate Student, School of Biological Sciences)

The Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics require STEM educators to not only teach content but also engage students in actions of scientific and mathematical inquiry (disciplinary practices). Doping so requires teachers to have knowledge of disciplinary practices to develop authentic learning experiences for their students. This research will explore the connection between undergraduate research experiences and the development of pre-service STEM teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary practices. Specifically, the research will examine the development of community within each research setting to identify factors that may influence or enhance pre-service teachers’ knowledge of disciplinary practices. Pre/post measures to identify changes in participant knowledge of disciplinary practices will be administered. Additionally, the iterative-reflective practice of ethnography will allow researchers to identify factors within undergraduate research experiences that might impact future teachers’ ability to engage their students in STEM disciplinary practices.

Examining Pre-Service Teacher Embodiment of Critical Issues

Research Team: Alice Lee (Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning) and a student researcher to be determined

The study will examine how pre-service teachers embody critical issues within a critical literacy course (TCH: Reading and Language Arts in the Elementary School). Framed in a grounded theory developed from previous work, “teachers as embodied toolkits” is a lens that theorizes the ways teachers embody race and language and how pedagogy is something a teacher lives. Employing case study methodology, the Spring 2018 section of data will be collected and analyzed to describe how the learning processes of this cohort of pre-service teachers can be described relative to issues such as race and diversity.

Synthesis Journals as a Path through the Forest: Analyzing the Effectiveness of Synthesis Journals in Helping ISU Music Majors Contextualize Music History

Research Team: Allison Alcorn (Professor, School of Music) and a student research to be determined

MUS 253 (Music History Until 1750) is a required course for ISU undergraduate music majors. The course is usually a student’s first exposure to serious study of music history. As a result, students often report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information and the level of detail required across the course. In response to such concerns, synthesis journals were integrated into this course with the goal of helping students keep sight of the “larger context” and not lose the forest for the trees. Through student reflections, this project seeks to understand the impact of synthesis journals on student learning of course content and connection-making to broader contexts of Western European culture.

 

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