The SoTL Advocate

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


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ISU’s FY18 SoTL University Research Grants Awarded

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

STATE_YourLearningIn mid-June, a total of $20,000 was awarded by the Office of the Cross Endowed Chair at ISU to fund SoTL research in the approaching fiscal year. A total of 21 project proposals were received, making this year’s competition very competitive! Grant awards were made to seven faculty and five students representing a diverse mix of six schools/departments and five colleges across ISU’s campus. Abstracts from each project are presented below. Congratulations to all who earned project funding in this cycle!

Information about this grant program can be found here.

Assessing Dietetics Students Self-Efficacy, Knowledge, and Competence of Small Bowl Feeding Tube Insertion Using Patient Simulation

Julie Raeder Schumacher (Associate Professor) & Jamey Baietto (Gradaute Student), Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Minimal research exists to validate feeding tube insertion simulation as an effective strategy to teach dietetic students. The purpose of this study will be to assess the change in self-efficacy and content knowledge of ISU dietetics graduate students to place bedside small bowel feeding tubes in simulated patients. Specifically, the following research questions guide this study: 1.) How will students’ knowledge of feeding tube insertion change from per-test to post-test after a simulation lab experience? 2.) How will students’ self-efficacy of feeding tube insertion change following a simulation lab experience? 3.) What will students’ level of competence be during the simulation lab as measured by the Memorial Medical Center Competency Checklist? and 4.) What will students’ perceptions be of their learning experience during the feeding tube insertion simulation lab (assessed via a focus group after lab is completed)?

Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Participation in Study Abroad Programs at ISU

Lea Cline (Assistant Professor, School of Art), Kathryn Jasper (Assistant Professor, Department of History), & Erin Mikulec (Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning)

As a result of internationalization efforts at Illinois State University, more students are participating in study abroad programs offered through the Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP), which estimates there are currently over 90 programs operating in 47 countries. This study will evaluate the professional and personal learning outcomes of students participating in study abroad programs at ISU. The participants represent students participating in these study abroad programs of diverse class rank and major. The proposed project clearly fits SoTL as defined by ISU as the focus of the study is to gather data about and evaluate ISU students’ learning outcomes resulting from living and studying in a unique educational setting. The results of this study will be used to evaluate the impact of study abroad experiences on students’ personal and professional development, including intercultural competence, and to inform current practices for study abroad programs at ISU.

The Rewards of Civic Engagement & Out-of-Class Learning: One Stitch at a Time

Elisabeth Reed (Instructional Assistant Professor) & Sophia Araya (Undergraduate Student), Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Fix It Friday is a program at Illinois State University in which students majoring in the Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) program set up sewing machines in various locations within the surrounding Bloomington-Normal community and offer free basic sewing, mending, and clothing repair services to anyone in need. The fashion students lend their time, talent, and skills on a completely volunteer basis. The purpose of this study to explore student perceptions before and after their volunteer experience, and collect testimonials of both students and customers during the Fix It Friday events. This information will be compiled into a short documentary film to provide a framework and rationale for other schools and Universities to which this program could be implemented. By collecting data on what types of items are fixed while simultaneously accumulating testimonials and feedback from both students and customers, we can attest to the overall holistic merits of the Fix It Friday program. While it is believed that the program has been meaningful and transformative for the students thus far, strategic and methodical research is required in order to assess the out-of-class learning outcomes and the value of civic engagement the Fix It Friday program has brought to both students and community members.

Agile Scrum in a BIS Undergraduate Capstone Course: Going from Being Students to Being Professionals

Roslin Hauck (Associate Professor), Gunjan Amin (Graduate Student), & Cole Mikesell, (Graduate Student), Department of Accounting and Business Information Systems

Agile Scrum is a developmental approach that is becoming increasingly popular as a framework to guide complex software and systems development projects. While the tools, artifacts, and events that are part of Agile Scrum are used to manage teamwork, it does so with the principles of transparency, adaptation, and inspection to encourage the values of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect within the Scrum Team (Schwaber & Sutherland, 2016). While the purpose is to ultimately create a technical system, much of the focus of Agile Scrum is on aspects of teamwork, including reflection, communication, self-organization, iterative and empirical learning. In this proposed research study, we will share our experience from both an instructor and student perspectives of the use of Agile Scrum in a Business Information Systems capstone course. In addition to presenting data collected from students from four semesters of  this course (sample size of ~50-60), we will also discuss key artifacts, roles, and activities used in the classroom, such as demonstration exercises, Scrum Master and Product Owner leadership roles, and student and team derived learning objectives and self-assessments.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation: An Experiment on the Role of Competitions in Teaching and Learning

Elahe Javadi (Assistant Professor) & Shaivam Verma (Graduate Student), School of Information Technology

Understanding, analyzing, and interpreting data for making reasoned decisions is a crucial dimension of being a responsible citizen in the digital era. To advance students’ learning experience in an applied data-mining course (IT344), this project aims to design, implement, and evaluate competition-based learning in the course. The study will employ a within-group field experiment design. During the course, students will complete interleaved competition-based and regular predictive modeling assignments. Students’ motivation for learning, satisfaction with learning process, and learning outcomes will be compared for competition and regular assignments.

 


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University-School Partnerships and Pre-Service Teacher Preparation: A Travel Grant Report

Written by Sherry Sanden, Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 10.18.48 PMWith support from a SoTL Travel Grant awarded by the Office of the Cross Chair in SoTL at ISU, I attended the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida in February, 2017 to present a paper titled Examining the Impact of Multi-Year School-University Partnerships on Pre-service Teacher Learning. In this presentation, my research colleagues and I explained our planning, implementation, and outcomes of the exploration of a university-school partnership that enabled us to prioritize and study three significant components of ISU pre-service teachers’ learning: their classroom field experiences, the in-service teachers with whom they worked, and the university structures that supported them in the field.

In our presentation, we explained how we supported the preparation of ISU pre-service teachers through a collaborative partnership between our early childhood teacher preparation program and a local public elementary school. Important components of the partnership included 1) two-day per week pre-student teaching clinical experiences in the kindergarten through Grade 3 classrooms of the partner school for a full year; 2) weekly collaborative sessions between the pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and clinical supervisors; 3) a content course for the pre- service teachers, co-taught in the school setting by an early childhood faculty member and in-service teachers from the partner school; and 4) professional learning opportunities in the form of book studies conducted by early childhood faculty members and attended by pre-service and in-service teachers.

Relying on focus groups and interviews with pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, school administration, and university faculty; as well as on observations of pre-service teacher instruction, interactions, and reflections occurring across the school year, we evaluated the ability of the partnership to support the growth of pre-service teachers while maintaining the mission of the school in educating its student population. Utilizing the perceptions of all stakeholders and participants, we determined some aspects of the partnership that appeared to be most beneficial in supporting growth in the pre-service teacher participants, including strong and frequent faculty presence in the school setting, a university course embedded on site, support and mentoring for the pre-service and in-service teachers, and a consistent year-long location for teacher candidates. Demonstrated gains included a) increased pre-service teacher confidence in their practice, (b) improved teaching skills and abilities among pre-service teachers, and (c) stronger relationships and greater collaboration among pre-service and in-service teachers, school administrators, and university faculty.

Implications from this study include more clarity regarding the critical aspects involved with university-school partnerships, a better understanding of how pre- and in-service teachers can be mutually supported, and ultimately, identification of ways that clinical experiences can be maximized through a partnership model. Our interactive presentation provided an opportunity to discuss structures of university/school partnerships in the varied contexts of our presentation attendees. As we explained the results and implications of our ISU partnership practices, we provided opportunities for our audience to share questions or suggestions that further expanded our ideas. I believe this collaborative sharing inspired all of us to delve more deeply into the possibilities for partnerships that move beyond the traditional methods of placing pre-service teachers in schools and toward mutually beneficial collaborative relationships.

Our research work and subsequent presentation at ATE were consistent with the conference theme of Teacher Educators: Inspiring the Future, Honoring the Past in its goal of exploring innovative ways to improve on established methods of teacher education. Having the opportunity to share with teacher educators outside ISU the ways we have studied the learning of our ISU teacher candidates allowed all of us to grow in our understanding of options for building even stronger supports for university/school relationships in support of pre-service teacher growth as well as of methods of studying that important work.


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New Funding Opportunities for ISU SoTLists!

The Office of the Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University is accepting applications for two grant programs: FY18 University Research Grants and FY17 Summer Mini Grants. Information related to each of these funding programs can be accessed via the Cross Chair website. An overview is provided for each program below. Contact Jennifer Friberg (jfribe@ilstu.edu) with questions.

FY18 University Research Grants:

The Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning requests proposals for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning URG Grant Program. The program provides scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) small grants to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students. For 2017-2018, funded projects can focus on the systematic study/reflection of any teaching-learning issue(s) explicitly related ISU students.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available. Funds may be used for any appropriate budget category (e.g., printing, commodities, contractual, travel, student help, and salary in FY18). While 4-5 grants are expected to be awarded, all awards are subject to the availability of funds allocated for FY18. Proposals should be submitted by 5/22/17.

urg summer

FY 17 Summer Mini Grants:

The Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning requests proposals for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning URG Grant Program. The program provides scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) small grants to study the developmental and learning outcomes of ISU students. This funding program will award six mini-grants of $600 each to ISU faculty via a competitive application process. These funds will be awarded as a June 2017 stipend for work on a new or ongoing SoTL project at any stage of completion (e.g., writing an IRB, analyzing data, writing up findings). Proposals should be submitted by April 24, 2017.

mini summer


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Improving Writing Through Revision: Stop Complaining and Start Supporting

Written by Rebecca M. Achen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Illinois State University

A photo by Joanna Kosinska. unsplash.com/photos/1_CMoFsPfsoIn the spring of 2016, I embarked on a project to discover a revision strategy that would help my graduate students become more accomplished writers. After spending my first semester at ISU hearing students lament about writing and voice frustration with their scores, I decided to implement three revision strategies into one graduate course in the spring of 2016. I received a SoTL Research Mini-Award for June 2016 from the Office of the Cross-Endowed Chair to support the analysis of the data and writing of the manuscript.

Bean (2011) highlights the importance of encouraging revision for improving writing and critical thinking skills. He suggests faculty focus on strategies to help students understand the process of writing. As such, I embarked on a project to improve students’ writing through revision to determine which revision strategy is most effective. In a graduate course, I assigned four written concept papers, with identical assignment instructions and rubrics, but varying concepts. After completing the first paper, students were given the opportunity to rewrite it. Prior to writing the second paper, students were invited to send me a rough draft for feedback. For the third paper, students were required to bring a draft to class for peer review. Finally, none of these revision options were afforded for the fourth paper. After final course grades were submitted, I reviewed student consent forms and then compared scores across papers. While the average score was the highest on the assignment they were allowed to rewrite, t-tests revealed no significant differences in average scores across the written assignments.

I also asked students their perceptions of each revision strategy. Overall, students found rewrites and rough drafts to be useful for improving their writing skills. However, their comments clarified their focus was less on improving their writing skills, and more on getting feedback from the individual who would be grading their paper. Also, they did not value peer review. Most students did not feel feedback provided by peers was detailed or specific enough to be useful.

After reflecting on the results, my own experience teaching the course, and what I observed using the revision strategies, I plan to make systematic changes to my course to help students improve their writing through revision. Below are my suggestions for faculty who wish to encourage revision in their classes.

  1. Teach students to be effective peer reviewers. Being able to provide useful and critical feedback is an essential skill for students in their academic and professional careers. However, students need to be taught how to provide good feedback. First, I intend to spend class time discussing effective and targeted feedback strategies. Then, I plan to provide students with peer feedback forms to use. Finally, I will review the feedback they provide to peers, so I can provide advice to improve their peer review skills.
  1. Require students to provide a rough draft or complete a revision for at least one assignment during the semester. Overall, students were not motivated to revise their work, and less than half the class took advantage of rewrites and rough drafts. Requiring them to do so at least once will help them see writing as a process, and not as something they can complete the night before the paper is due. While I realize this might be time intensive for faculty members, doing so only once a semester provides a good balance between resources and student needs.
  1. Help students understand why improving their writing skills will help them as professionals. While students indicated they valued improving their skills, they were not interested in putting in time or effort to improve. Brandt (2006) interviewed professionals about their writing in the “knowledge economy.” Having students read this article, which includes a plethora of quotes from professionals on writing, will help them understand why technical writing and creativity are valuable skills to foster while in college. Also, this article highlights the use of peer review in the work force. The more we can connect students’ learning to their lives after college, the more likely we will get buy-in from students.

While not all courses are focused on improving writing skills, we have a duty as educators to help students continually learn and develop their communication skills. Writing should be encouraged, assessed, and fostered in each class we teach so that, at ISU, we graduate professionals who defy the stereotype of young employees with poor writing and communication skills.

Blog References

Bean, J. (2011). Engaging ideas: The professor’s guide to integrating writing, critical thinking and active learning in the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brandt, D. (2005). Writing for a living: Literacy and the knowledge economy. Written Communication, 22, 166-197.