Center for Teaching and Learning

2008 Symposium program

“Expanding Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom: Issues of culture, pedagogy, and technology” May 6, 2008

Tom Hinckley, Professor, College of Forest Resources

Professor Hinckley will present and discuss three instructional experiments conducted with undergraduate students interested in environmental sciences. These experiments have been motivated by years of “partially effective teaching,” participation in the Teaching Academy, and a transformation of the curricular offerings in the College of Forest Resources.

Experiments included the use of group projects, a field trip taking advantage of unique natural and cultural resources, and the use of Tablet PCs and Classroom Presenter™ as an instructional tool. The nature of the experiments and the outcomes for both students and instructors are detailed.

Posters and abstracts

Poster #1. Blooming Biology: Development of a Classification Tool to Evaluate Student Performance in Biology

Alison Crowe, Biology, UW campus

Poster #1 abstract

Considerable attention has been paid to how we can incorporate more active learning strategies into our classrooms. However, less attention has been placed on how we can better align our assessment methods with our learning goals. Alignment of course activities and testing strategies with learning outcomes is critical to effective course design. If faculty focus on teaching concepts that require higher order cognitive skills, but test only factual recall on exams, students quickly learn that they do not need to put forth the effort to obtain a deep understanding of the material. To better assess our own assessment methods in Biology, we have developed an explicit scoring rubric, based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive domains, which we named the Blooming Biology Tool (BBT). Our aim in developing the BBT was to translate Bloom’s Taxonomy into a form that was more easily recognized by biology faculty and students alike. Here we describe the BBT and discuss one example of how the BBT was used in a small senior cell biology laboratory class to gauge student performance and re-design course activities to enhance student learning.

Poster #2. Digital Recording – Interviews & Oral Histories as an Assignment

M.E. (Peg) Achterman, Communication, UW campus

Poster #2 abstract

“Interviewing” is a 5-credit (24 students) course within the Department of Communication and taught most years by teaching assistants. Many hands have contributed, but everyone agreed we needed to to get the students out doing real journalistic-style interviews with real people, but in a safe environment. This quarter Julie Holmchick and I worked with Harry Hayward of UW Info Services, developing a list of staff people who were open to an interview by a student pair.

  • the pairs were assigned and their subject chosen.
  • the students took an Olympus digital recorder (or sometimes their phones!) to the interview, with some set questions and some of their own.

We wanted to accomplish a several things in this exercise: As mentioned above, a real setting but a safe one; the creation and execution of an interview schedule; the technological know-how to carry this out.

When the interviews were completed the students uploaded their audio files to a site accessible by the instructor. We listened to the interviews, noting good and bad spots for discussion. We then met with each pair and played these parts of the interview back and discussed their impressions of the interview sessions. The interview was marked (both members getting the same score) on a rubric including quality of questions, question pitfalls, openings/closings, and general demeanor.

The students did an exceptional job with this assignment. They all commented that it was a tremendous learning experience to go out and practice with someone and use their new-found skills. The interviewees have all commented on their professionalism and poise.

We would like to encourage others with the use of this technique — use of the digital recording/upload – as it can be used in any course where an oral history or patient/participant interview is important.

Poster #3. Innovative Teaching Methods for a Large Introductory Epidemiology Course

Yuzo Arima, Kathryn Adeney, Zoe Edelstein, Sara Nelson, Amy Poel, Kerryn Reding, Britton Trabert, Jack Goldberg, Epidemiology, UW campus

Poster #3 abstract

Introduction to Epidemiology (Epi420) is an undergraduate course that focuses on understanding disease occurrence in human populations by introducing students to the epidemiologic tools needed to evaluate factors contributing to disease. The class typically enrolls 120 students, and includes weekly lectures and discussion sections. The lectures, conducted by the faculty instructor, are 2 hours and the discussion sections are of equal length led by 3 teaching assistants (TA’s). It is common in epidemiologic research to administer surveys to collect data on risk factors and health outcomes, and we invite all students to complete an anonymous Catalyst survey about their health and lifestyle. The collected survey data are used to illustrate epidemiologic concepts in a way that is directly relevant to undergraduate student life. For example, we present tables displaying the quantitative relationship between coffee consumption and sleeplessness. Students are asked to interpret these data using epidemiologic measures such as incidence and prevalence, and discuss the potential for bias and the challenges of making causal inference.

The use of health data derived from a class survey is an innovative way to teach epidemiology compared to typical methods using hypothetical or less relevant published data. We are exploring ways to expand the use of the survey to present more complex epidemiologic concepts (e.g. confounding) and planning an evaluation of our survey-based teaching method. Furthermore, for weekly class evaluation, the students write an in-class “minute paper”, where they identify material that was most difficult or unclear. These minute papers qualitatively and quantitatively address key issues for the course, helping the TA’s focus on certain topics or improve their teaching. Minute papers also gather information from less vocal students, thereby connecting the teacher to all students. The use of the student health survey and minute papers provides an innovative platform for active learning.

Poster #4. The Feedback Cycle: Assigning Empirical Research in Cultural Studies

Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges, English, UW campus

Poster #4 abstract

My SOTL proposal represents work currently in progress. During Winter 2008, I crafted an assignment designed to bring empirical research and writing into an English cultural studies class. The course, which focused on cyberculture, enrolled students across the disciplines seeking VLPA credit as well as a small number of English majors. The curriculum not only introduced students to cyberculture studies but also allowed them to draw upon knowledge and methods from their own fields, which included anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, and biochemistry, among others.

The course final project required students to analyze how individuals construct online identities, engage with digital games, interact in Internet spaces, or connect and distinguish their virtual and physical existences. To do so, they examined online primary sources: personal web pages, blogs, games, web communities and political action sites. Moreover, they interviewed and surveyed bloggers, members of virtual groups, and individual web authors about their online practices. The final project involved multiple assignments: electronic postings, a proposal, a poster presentation of tentative conclusions, and an essay or web site; students received feedback on ideas-in-progress from me and their peers (see for assignment details and grading criteria). I incorporated this four-stage process to discover whether a specific sequence of research, writing, and presentation tasks would allow students to successfully engage in empirical inquiry.

While students have yet to submit their final essays or web sites, I have already observed various effects of my teaching. As expected, students used their electronic postings to develop final project topics, and they drew upon my proposal feedback to refine their claims, integrate concepts from course readings, and examine a broader range of evidence. What I did not expect was the extent to which students privileged their peers’ feedback and collaborated on solutions to research challenges. During a discussion of students’ completed proposals, the class actively brainstormed approaches to common problems. An education student conducted an impromptu question-and-answer session on analyzing qualitative data. All class members also agreed to respond to their peers’ surveys. The final week of class operated as a poster conference, with half the class presenting each day and the other half responding to the presentations. I found that the poster sessions motivated students to make significant revisions to their work in progress. After seeing others’ posters, students narrowed the scope of their projects, investigated additional secondary sources and decided to collect additional empirical data.

To fully assess the impact of my teaching, I have developed a survey students will complete after submitting the final stage of the project. The short-answer survey asks them to comment upon the usefulness of each stage of the project, to analyze how extensively they incorporated feedback to revise their work-in-progress, and to discuss how observing people’s online behavior and surveying them about their practices provided answers to students’ research questions.

Poster #5. Group work has different impacts on high-performing and high-risk students

David Haak, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Scott Freeman, Biology, UW campus

Poster #5 abstract

In an effort to improve performance by high-risk students in an introductory biology course for majors, we instituted weekly, written practice exams that were peer graded. Half of the students in the course submitted their answers and did the grading by themselves, and half did the exercise as part of a group consisting of one high-achieving student, two mid-level students, and one high-risk student. We repeated the comparison in a subsequent quarter. Although all students did better in the course–meaning that the extra practice helped–we found that high-achieving students did better on actual exams if they practiced in a group, while high-risk students did better on actual exams if they practiced by themselves.

Poster #6. Microgenetic Analysis of Learner-Learner Discourse in a Second-year Korean Classroom

Hee Seung Kang & Julie Dykem, English, UW campus

Poster #6 abstract

In the recent years, the need for second language classrooms to include collaborative work has been evident. While existing studies have showed the effectiveness of pair work interaction by comparing it to teacher-centered discourse (Ohta, 1995, 2001; Antón, 1999), we will focus on learner-learner interaction in a second language classroom at University of Washington. In the poster session, we will present how students in a language classroom can contribute and benefit from a pair or small group work. The discussion will include the following

  • Review of the methods and theoretical framework that are used in the study
  • Methods of assistance and strategies used during classroom peer interaction
  • Learners’ identity: how learners construct their identity
  • Power among learners: how learners exercise power in and through their interaction

Microgenetic analysis allows us to observe learner participation in a semantic distribution activity, the cooperative planning of second language utterances, and the forces at play in their negotiation. Our presentation will provide an insight and practical pedagogical implications for second language classroom teaching.

Poster #7. What makes a good collaborative assignment?

Linda Martin-Morris, Biology, UW campus

Poster #7 abstract

Assigning students to work in groups helps them improve their content-area understanding in ways that are rich and that include wide perspective. Group assignments also facilitate the development of skills necessary for working in teams in the work force. But if the assignment could well have been conducted by an individual (write a paper on X) we find that the group inevitably deteriorates and sentiment toward the assigner turns sour.

What goes into making an assignment that is appropriate for group submission? I’ll give a few examples and I hope that folks who visit the poster will offer up ideas for assignments that have work and those that have not been good for groups. From this I hope to develop a formula, what requirements are most helpful in making an assignment that is rich enough for groups and relies enough on multiple inputs to be successful.

I use group work in non-majors Biology. I have assigned 3 – 5 group assignments per quarter, in groups ranging from 2 to 6 students. I will examine the effectiveness of group size and assignment type on equity – collaboration as evidenced by peer evaluation scores.

Poster #8. Creativity in Science: A discussion of methods to teach creatively in order to engage and enhance learning & creativity in your students.

Sara O’Brien and Jason Davis, Biology, UW campus

Poster #8 abstract

Science students often experience a passive “lecture & textbook” style to learning in their courses. Students are expected to memorize, and potentially synthesize the material, but are not often rewarded for creativity & the application/integration of the material to different subsets of science. We designed a course entitled; “Neuroscience & the Environment” aimed at upper level biology undergraduates as well as beginning graduate students. This course sought to expound upon and integrate previously learned material from different subsets of science, particularly physiology, evolution, ecology, and ethology to examine the influence of the brain on the environment as well as the influence of the environment on the brain. In order to engage student participation, solidify the integration of the science subsets and promote creativity, we used numerous multimedia formats to teaching, which included video & radio clips, case studies, games, and popular press articles pertaining in some way to neuroscience.

Through observation, student feedback, and catalyst postings we witnessed a quantitative increase in student participation among the lecture setting, discussion section and within online discussion groups…all of which were coincidental to a spectacular retainment in student attendance. Based on test scores, we also witnessed a quantitative & qualitative increase in student integration of the science subsets they had been studying while pursuing their biology degrees. We witnessed a qualitative increase in student creativity and ability to conceptualize relevance of their course work through a variety of carefully crafted, active participation assignments. These assignments called for group work, presentation of complex neuroscience concepts, time and classroom management skills, and creativity in the method of presentation while retaining/fine-tuning relevance of the subject matter.

Our course design sought to examine the effectiveness of using active participation, multimedia clips & the popular press to increase student engagement, to allow for a variety of student learning styles, to integrate of a variety of subsets of science, as well as to foster and reward student creativity and participation.

Poster #9. Connecting theory to practice through a revised teacher certification course project

Antony T. Smith – UW Bothell, Education Program, UW campus

Poster #9 abstract

Three years ago we moved our post-baccalaureate teacher certification literacy course from campus into an elementary school, enabling us to develop a course model featuring an in-class practicum where students work with children during each course session. We hoped the practicum would help our students transform course concepts into practical knowledge and understand the importance of knowing children as individuals in order to develop instruction. While students seemed to appreciate the practicum, it became clear that one project was not aligned with the new course model. This project, aimed at understanding the developing reading abilities of children, featured a diagnostic reading assessment that took considerable time to administer. Administration directions dominated course sessions, and practicum time became focused on giving the assessment rather than understanding the individual child. This year we reworked the project by replacing the diagnostic reading assessment with a series of less formal measures that we hoped would be more aligned with the new course model, allowing us to focus our teaching on connecting theory to practice rather than administering assessment protocols.

We used qualitative methods to examine the effect of the reworked assessment project, as part of the new course model, on student understanding of reading development and assessment. We also looked for connections students were making between course concepts and assessment project work with children, utilizing student project papers and online journal entries as data sources. A surprising result was a significant focus on child-oriented aspects of reading development, such as ownership and motivation to read. Student analysis of reading development appeared supported by evidence collected in practicum sessions. Insufficient organization of logistics appears to be an initial drawback of the reworked project. These findings suggest we are making progress in aligning the assessment project with the new course model.

Poster #10. Learning Paragraphs: A simple tool to develop student writing skills and metacognition

Mary Pat Wenderoth, Biology, UW campus

Poster #10 abstract

Two major concerns in undergraduate education are how to help students engage in meaningful learning and how to develop their writing skills. Research on human learning indicates that being able to monitor your learning (metacognition) is critical to gaining a deep and meaningful understanding of the material. If metacognition is such a powerful learning skill, how do we help students develop this skill? Similarly, we know writing is central to all learning. Yet most faculty view writing assignments as a labor intense activity that is only effective with small groups of students. Can any meaningful writing be done with large classes? One possibility is to design what are called “low stakes” writing assignments. These assignments provide much needed practice in writing without fear of “the red pen markings”. As a part of my project for the 4X4 Writing Initiative, I instituted a weekly writing assignment called “learning paragraphs”. The weekly assignments facilitated student reflection on two topics: connections they made between course material and everyday life and the effectiveness of various learning techniques introduced in class while also giving the students an opportunity to write. Students submitted their paragraphs via Catalysts WebQ. which made it easy to collect and view and the length of the assignment made it easy to read (even with a class of 120 students). The weekly learning paragraphs turned out to be amazing gems as they gave students regular opportunities to write, they provided students with a weekly opportunity to reflect on their learning as well as giving the instructor valuable insight into what students were learning and how students were contextualizing the information in their world. Examples of weekly writing assignments, student responses and “keys to success” to making this assignment work in your class will be presented.

Poster #11. Learning to Learn in the Biological Science

Fernanda Oyarzun and Christopher Himes, Biology, UW campus

Poster #11 abstract

At the University of Washington, the introductory biology series (BIOL 180, 200 and 220) has been identified as a gateway for students interested in science that come from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. We, a group of graduate students from the Department of Biology, have developed and implemented the course, “Learning to Learn in Science” to help increase the success of underrepresented students in BIOL180. This course is led by one graduate student and has an additional graduate student volunteer that rotates weekly. It is offered concurrently with Biol 180, but has only 20 student per section; and rather than focusing in course content, graduate students provide instruction on scientific reasoning, learning styles, resource utilization, time management, note-taking and test-taking strategies. The course aims to:

  1. help students develop personalized study strategies by connecting the material that they are learning in Biol 180 using their own ways of thinking and learning, and
  2. help students develop a sense of community, form study groups and create a social network of support.

Students enrolled in the learning seminar are exposed to the breadth of research performed within the Department of Biology and also provides mentoring relationships between undergraduate and graduate students. After three quarters of offering this course we present preliminary qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of this course, as well as a reflection of what we have learned in the process.

Poster #12. “The Internship Class”: A Practicum Model for Large Departments

Kevin Mihata, Nika Kabiri, Gretchen Ludwig, Sociology, UW campus

Poster #12 abstract

The classic practicum course works well in professional programs and smaller undergraduate programs. It is more difficult to implement in large departments with high student-faculty ratios and large numbers of majors. Staffing and logistical costs often limit such experiences to a small optional seminars, to independent study, or to service learning components in existing courses. While these are all worthwhile in their own right, we believe it is also worth the effort to more fundamentally connect this kind of learning into the curriculum.

Sociology is developing a practicum course that brings benefits well known to smaller programs—problem-based, experiential learning, a capstone experience, service to the community, and ongoing program assessment—in a model that affordable and sustainable in a large, research-based undergraduate department. We are developing partnerships with a number of organizations where we can place students in ongoing social science research projects. Recent partners include the US Department of Labor, Seattle Public School District, the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, the American Civil Liberties Union, and local community nonprofit groups. We plan to offer a number of practicum sections each quarter; eventually, it will be one of several options for a capstone course required of all sociology majors.

We summarize our model and report on experiences and lessons learned—in the classroom, in working with partners, in developing course curriculum, and working with other instructors—from several different practicum partnerships.

Poster #13. Creating Social Entrepreneurs: The Foster School of Business Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC)

Jane George-Falvy and Wren McNally, Foster School of Business, UW campus

Poster #13 abstract

The Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) is a business plan competition in which students from around the world find creative, commercially sustainable ways to address problems of poverty in the developing world. GSEC attracts diverse, interdisciplinary student teams for a competition supported by multiple departments across campus, the business sector, and members of the social venture community. Through partnership with the Department of Global Health and support from other campus units, GSEC provides an opportunity for students of varying backgrounds to blend their knowledge and experience in a collaborative effort that applies their learning to furthering economically sustainable social change. GSEC builds the skills of future global business leaders, creates more cross-culturally competent students, and contributes to the understanding of culture and business practices in other countries.

GSEC participants have a unique opportunity to increase their global awareness and develop their knowledge and understanding of how to take a business plan from inception to implementation with the advice and involvement of a wide base of knowledgeable contributors Business plans are evaluated on three criteria: 1) effect on the quality of life and poverty alleviation in the developing world; 2) financial sustainability; and 3) feasibility of implementation. The competition spans a five month period and culminates with GSEC Week at the University of Washington in Seattle.

GSEC business plans have covered various issues such as healthcare, education, the environment, energy, information and communication technology, social services, agriculture, and manufacturing. Some examples include organic farming projects in Zimbabwe and Ghana, mobile pharmacy units in rural India, water treatment systems in Vietnam, soil composting in China, sunflower oil production in Kenya, low-cost mobile wind turbines in Kazakhstan, biofuel in India and Ghana, and seaweed farms in India.

Poster #14. Going Global: Integrating Country Realities into Student Learning about Public Health

Mary Anne Mercer, Health Services and Global Health, UW campus

Poster #14 abstract

Courses in international or global health tend to attract a range of students, many of whom have had no direct experience of developing country realities. In order to engage these students in the most active way, we ask them to design projects that address critical problems in a specific country setting. The formal class sessions focus on both the health problems and the elements of program design and management needed for a health project.

The challenge is how to provide them with an understanding of the settings in which the projects would work. The skills and experience of international students are enlisted to fill this need. Each year the class is broken into groups of 3-5 students, at least one of whom is a “resource person” who is from the focus country (or has had extensive work experience there). The group utilizes the resource person both for background information that is not available from other sources, and also as a reality check on their thoughts and plans in program design and implementation. Students report high levels of satisfaction with the process, during which they learn very specific information about one country and are able to apply classroom learning to that setting.

Poster #15. The Pros and Cons of the “Process Model” in Writing Classes

Michelle LaFrance and Steven J. Corbett, English, UW campus

Poster #15 abstract

Despite thirty years of discussion over the nature of “process” in student writing, many composition programs and instructors have continued to reify the notion that “writing is a process” in the form of the regimented assignment sequence. This poster takes up the pros and cons of adhering to such formal structures in composition courses, drawing from scholars and researchers that have supported this approach in Composition and “Writing-in-the-Disciplines” courses (Elbow, Harris, Murray, and Rohman) and those that question the efficacy of this model (Tate, Gorrel, Heilker, and Kent). Writing Studies scholars who support the use of regimental assignment sequencing to reinforce the “process” of writing in their courses have argued that this heavy attention to writing as a “process” enables student writers to see that all writing can be made better with attention to the multiple stages of paper preparation, including: technes for invention, drafting, peer editing, instructor comments on initial drafts, and revision. These advocates have often developed courses that seek to produce three “final” papers within the quarter or semester, connect all writing produced within the quarter to the production of these final drafts, and require extensive engagement by instructors who comment on each piece of writing students produce.

Those who have asked us to re-think our attention to process have argued that heavy attention to process forces writing to be produced in unnatural (or overly linear) ways, may privilege middle-class and elite students, and does not sufficiently focus students on the importance of their final “product”—that is, the version of their work that is turned in or the sort of writing that non-academic communities will expect the student to produce. Instructors that design writing courses that do not rely on formal sequencing, have employed instead numerous opportunities for low-stakes “writing-to-learn” exercises, brief response papers on similar or successively complementary ideas (over requirements for extensive revision of the same draft), and varying degrees of peer editing and instructor comments. This poster will examine the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches to writing instruction, seeking to understand how each approach may enable and constrain critical thinking, learning in the disciplines, and students’ thinking about their own writing.

This poster directly relates to two of the key questions for the Fourth Annual Teaching and Learning Symposium: writing integration and connecting with diverse groups of learners in courses at the UW.

About the presenters: Michelle LaFrance is the current Research Assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program (which offers workshops in writing-integrated course design to faculty across the curriculum,) was the Assistant Director of the Computer-Integrated Classrooms Program in the English Department, and has taught courses for the Expository and Interdisciplinary Writing Programs on the UW campus. Steven J. Corbett is the current Assistant Director of the English Department Writing Center and former Assistant Director of the Expository Writing Program, and has taught courses for the Expository and Interdisciplinary Writing Programs on the UW campus.

Poster #16. Universal Design of Instruction: Making your class accessible to all students

Rebecca Cory, Michael Richardson, Lisa Stewart, DO-IT: Disabilities, Opportunities Internetworking and Technology, UW campus

Poster #16 abstract

Students from more diverse ethnic, racial, religious, national and disability backgrounds are attending post-secondary education. Faculty and teaching assistants need to be prepared to be responsive to the diverse needs of students. Universal design helps instructors be proactive in planning these diverse needs. This poster will outline the principles of universal design. Designing a class to be accessible to all minimizes the need for special accommodations for those who use the services and for employees as well. Universal design helps to make sure everyone

  • feels welcome,
  • can get to the facility and maneuver within it,
  • is able to access printed materials and electronic resources, and
  • can participate in all learning activities.

This poster, suitable for a broad audience, will provide concrete steps for improving the accessibility of instruction. The work is based on 9 years of research on Universal Design conduced by DO-IT and a national team of 22 disability services providers and published in a 2008 book from Harvard Educational Press entitled Universal Design of Postsecondary Education: From Principles to Practice. These researchers have applied universal design principles in classes in four year and two year colleges, in the arts, sciences and humanities, and at the undergraduate level and graduate level. Our poster will present the principles of universal design, findings from our research and help faculty understand how to apply the principles of universal design in their classroom.

Findings of the research include the experiences of faculty in changing the climate of their classes, the enhanced learning for all students, students achieving higher grades, students knowing where they stand in classes more accurately, and a higher level of organization for the faculty.

This interactive poster will include a video display as well as an activity that faculty can complete to evaluate how to implement universal design in their classes.

Poster #17. Across the Disciplines: Strategies for Teaching Cyber-Savvy

Katherine Deibel, Sarah Read, Timothy Wright, Computer Science and Engineering, English, History, UW campus

Poster #17 abstract

The growth of the World Wide Web as source of information is pervasive, both in and out of the academic world. Google, Wikipedia, and Yahoo! have become 21st-century reference portals and the ease of posting material on the web has lead to a dizzying array of “sources” of widely disparate quality and usefulness. Like it or not, the web is usually the first stop for students—regardless of discipline—or consumers looking for information.

Yet, while the amount of information available online continues to grow, students and others ability to critically assess those sources has lagged behind. Novice information users are often encouraged to use rote checklists or rubrics to mechanically judge the “accuracy” or “reliability” of a website and its contents even though those checklists often provide misleading results. There is unquestionably a need to teach students, across the disciplines, how to become more critical in using web sources in ways they can continue to use beyond their academic careers. Our proposal will do just that, providing instructors with guidelines on how to construct and integrate web assignments that give students tools that allow them to become more thoughtful online information consumers, to become, in short, cyber-savvy.

Our approach, drawing on a variety of interdisciplinary research studies, takes a holistic view of online information analysis, taking learners beyond the checklist and through a process that teaches them how to critically approach most sources of online information. Our presentation will outline that process and seek partnerships across the university in deploying and refining those strategies in real learning environments.

Poster #18. Audience Response Systems: Effects on Student Engagement and Learning

Janet Primomo, Christine A. Stevens, and Darcy Janzen, Nursing and Academic Technologies, UW Tacoma

Poster #18 abstract

The UW Tacoma Academic Technologies (AT) and Nursing Program implemented a pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of an audience response system (Clickers). We were interested in knowing how use of Clickers influenced students’ engagement and how they affected learning.

Clickers were used by four faculty members in seven Autumn quarter courses: six undergraduate and one graduate. Five of the courses were required Nursing Program courses and two were interdisciplinary elective courses. Classes ranged in size from 15 to 39. One faculty member used Clickers in an off-site class.

The TurningPoint audience response system that operates with Microsoft® PowerPoint®) invites participation by allowing individuals to submit responses to interactive questions using a keypad. Faculty and a staff member received training prior to the beginning of the quarter, and AT staff were available to trouble-shoot during class sessions.

At the end of the quarter, a Catalyst survey was used to evaluate the use of the Clickers. Clickers were used to measure comprehension and opinion, engage students in the content, facilitate discussion, and obtain anonymous responses. Clickers were rated as being effective or highly effective by at least 70% of the 28 respondents in achieving these goals. All students agreed that Clickers made the class more engaging. 93% felt Clickers created a stronger sense of community with other classmates, 79% felt they improved the amount of instructor interaction, 68% felt they improved their comprehension of the lecture content, 68% felt Clickers made them more willing to contribute to class discussions, 53% felt they helped them learn the subject matter in greater depth, and 50% felt they made the class more challenging. Qualitative comments supported these results. Faculty who used Clickers stated they planned to continue to do so because of the increased engagement students reported in their courses.

Poster #19. CommonView: Helping meet students’ needs for course Web sites

Jason Civjan, Miles Crawford, Janice Fournier, Jim Laney, Ammy Jiranida Phuwanartnurak, Bill Schaefer, William Washington, Catalyst, Learning & Scholarly Technologies, UW campus

Poster #19 abstract

The Catalyst team is making it easier to manage and access online teaching tools and resources. With CommonView, released in March 2008, instructors can create a course workspace providing students with online access to files, images, announcements, links, and Catalyst Web Tools for quizzes, discussion boards, and file-sharing spaces.

CommonView was developed as a result of a user-centered design process that began in January 2007. To understand UW faculty and students’ needs for managing and accessing course resources, we conducted focus groups and individual interviews with students from UW-Seattle and faculty from all three UW campuses. Our inquiry focused on the use of the Catalyst Tools as well as commercial courseware (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle). We identified the fundamental goals of faculty and students, and we used this understanding to determine and prioritize functionality for a “course workspace.”

The single, most expressed need was to have all course resources in one place that was easy-to-access–“one-stop shopping.” The design and development of CommonView, therefore, was guided by the mantra, “Everything in one place, for you, for them.” Additionally, both instructors and students expressed a need for finding files and Catalyst Tools in the context of a schedule or syllabus and by type such as “files,” or “quizzes.” Users also wanted a central place for announcements.

To address these needs, CommonView allows owners (instructors) to:

  • have content appear on multiple views (views are like pages of a Web site);
  • add files and Catalyst Tools which by default appear on automatically-created views;
  • create resources and have them hidden until later display;
  • make the course workspace available to an automatically-updated class list;
  • post announcements; and
  • designate collaborators to help with the class

Poster #20. Comprehensive Assessment of Online Discussion Board Participation in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses: The relationship between student’s participation and achievement

Michael Vannatta, Chemistry, UW Campus

Poster #20 abstract

Analysis of online discussion board use in multiple undergraduate chemistry courses is presented. Utilizing the University of Washington’s Catalyst webtool, “GoPost”, comprehensive and accurate discussion board statistics were obtained for each student in each class.

The Pearson statistical test was implemented and demonstrated significant positive correlation between student’s posting/viewing of the discussion board and their final course GPA. That is, students who achieved higher course grades were also more likely to “post on” as well as “view” the board. Three courses in the Department of Chemistry’s curriculum were analyzed: CHEM 162, CHEM 238, and CHEM 452. The positive correlation was significant to the 0.001 level for the 162 class in contrast to a 0.05 level for the 452 level course indicating a possible greater benefit to introductory students.

Over the past two decades, achievement goal theory has emerged as one of the most prominent theories of achievement motivation. In light of this study, student’s achieving higher grades may be forming mastery goal approaches while students with lower grades remained performance focused. Psychological research has demonstrated significant advantage to forming mastery goal approaches. Therefore, low achieving students should be encouraged or required to extensively participate in online discussion boards with the hope that some may progress from performance to mastery goal approaches.

Poster #21. Extending Our Reach: Rapid Course Development & Online Course Delivery Using Web Conferencing

Erik Bansleben, UW Extension; Emily Bender, Linguistics, UW campus

Poster #21 abstract

UW Extension is developing new online delivery methods which allow for rapid delivery of course materials that parallel live, classroom sessions. This new delivery uses a conferencing platform such as Adobe Connect to present instructor materials to online students who can engage with the instructor and students remotely through live chat. The remote students can hear the instructor through voice-over-ip or telephone conference bridge and feel as though they are an active part of the classroom environment. Additional advantages to using this approach are that

  1. courses can be archived to the benefit of both classroom and online students;
  2. development costs are considerably less and
  3. course development is far more dynamic than other online course development since the instructor initiates all change in course materials.

This poster session will present several topics involving this technology:

  • Pilot study in a Computational Linguistics degree course
  • Hybrid classroom/online delivery model
  • New rapid delivery to remote audiences
  • Discussion of this new learning environment as an equal learning experience to classroom delivery
  • An instructor checklist to prepare for this approach
  • Potential pitfalls
  • Student reactions

Dr. Erik Bansleben will present the technological innovations, the overall approach in online delivery, and how this approach is being used and piloted for different Certificate and Degree programs at UW Extension. Dr. Emily Bender will present her experiences as a faculty member in the pilot study as the Director of the Computational Linguistics Masters Program and address firsthand feedback received about the ease and effectiveness of the approach.

Poster #22. Leveraging UW Campus-Wide Resources to Enhance Student Engagement

Hanson Hosein, Gregory Koester, David Cox, Communications, Learning & Scholarly Technologies, UW campus

Poster #22 abstract

The aim of COM597 Multimedia Storytelling is to produce a single, collaborative project, which will be distributed through social networks, user-generated content sites, film festivals and UW-supported content portals (UW TV, iTunesU, mobile).

There are 20 graduate students in a seminar-style course. Together, we will explore the traditional, timeless notion of storytelling in how it applies to the proliferation of digital media and digital distribution.

We will discover what it takes to conceive, develop, create and distribute a compelling multimedia story, while employing consumer-level technology (including inexpensive flash video cameras and off-the-shelf editing systems) to build a groundbreaking, engaging narrative that can potentially reach a worldwide audience.

In this course, the process is as important as the final product– and is, in itself, deemed content worthy of study and distribution (through such devices as work-in-progress blogs, discussions about the technology, marketing the content while in production, etc.).

In an effort to enhance student engagement in the classroom, as well as extend the learning beyond the classroom, I leveraged many UW campus-wide resources from Catalyst, Classroom Support Services, UW Marketing, UW Technology, UW TV, as well as non-campus resources, Flip, Facebook, YouTube, and others.

Throughout the course, I surveyed students regularly on what was working, and what needed to be adjusted. We used Facebook and a class blog to communicate with each other and share technology advice, concerns, questions.

In the end, I learned that one quarter is not long enough to cover so much ground — both technical and creative. In the future, I will spread this course over two quarters. Also, it’s impossible to achieve consensus in such a large group on creative matters, especially story ideas. It makes more sense to deliver a concrete story idea to the students.

Poster #23. Plagiarism-Avoidance Tool for Writers

Werner Kaminsky, Sandy Moy, Efthimis Efthimiadis, and Linda Martin-Morris – Faculty Council on Educational Technology, UW campus

Poster #23 abstract

The current University of Washington policy on plagiarism is a no-tolerance policy with strict guidelines for reporting and punishing plagiarism. The administration of that policy is somewhat more didactic with opportunities for students who violate plagiarism rules to learn about what plagiarism is and how to avoid plagiarism, but this takes place only after a student is caught submitting a plagiaristic assignment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all students could learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it themselves as an integral part of their writing assignments? Such opportunities exist with several commercially available software options.  Plagiarism detection software is often used by instructors to help them catch assignment violations. But students in classes can also self-test their document using such plagiarism detection software and rectify problems before submission. The Faculty Counsel on Educational Technology has been working on a recommendation that assignments require students to test their own assignments and fix problems prior to submission. We have also been steering toward the implementation of such software and are piloting a test of several of the available software options this spring quarter. Our SoTL station will afford interested participants an opportunity to preview some software and test a document in order to experience what students might experience if required to perform this screen.

Poster #24. Transforming Nursing Education with Technology

Jerelyn Resnick, Nursing Program, UW Bothell

Poster #24 abstract

I am exploring best practices and challenges of adapting learning technologies to the needs of our BSN completion students, a population that is place-bound, diverse and multi-generational, and which must balance work, family, community and school responsibilities with our region’s worsening traffic. Taking advantage of the expanded learning experiences offered by new media such as discussion boards, virtual classrooms, webcams, chat rooms, blogs, wikis, podcasts and video- and audio-streaming allows students and teachers to create and critique knowledge and to apply theory to real-world problems in ways traditionally-taught courses cannot. In addition, I am exploring how these technologies can support the interactive and dynamic flow of discovery, critique, contribution and growth. Currently, I have far more questions than answers, some of which revolve around what the technologies can offer, and some which center on how technologies can transform pedagogies. Additional critical aspects of this exploration, while not SOTL questions in themselves, are the issues of faculty buy-in, student adoption of new ways of learning, and availability of technical support for students taking our courses on-site and online.

This poster presents highlights of what I’m learning about using these technologies in hybrid courses. Formative evaluation of their integration in these courses was accomplished through observation of student performance on projects and feedback. Summative evaluation occurred through course evaluations and specific technology-related questions. The poster also illustrates how I am transforming a traditionally-constructed adolescent health course into a highly interactive distance-learning course. Taught this fall, it will be the first distance learning course in our program and will be used as a model for the transformation of additional nursing courses to distance learning formats. Formative assessment of the course development includes feedback from technology experts. Implementation assessment strategies will be based on best practices for distance learning courses.

Poster #25. Using Blogs to Enhance Classroom Learning

Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Business Administration Program, UW Bothell

Poster #25 abstract

Every year, I teach the introductory marketing class to Business undergraduates and MBA students. I have long felt the need to- a) provide students with a forum where they can express themselves to a public and authentic audience, b) allow interaction among current and past students and c) use interactive communication technologies to enhance learning. I have been running the Marketing College blog ( to achieve these goals.

I find that blogging empowers students and enables them to find their voice. Students who do not speak in the classroom suddenly find a way to say what is on their mind.

I was surprised to learn that a segment of the class- perhaps, 5% of students- were intimidated by blogging technology. This “digital divide” is a real issue among college students. As a result, some students did not have the same chance to participate than others. I have started providing more workshops and introductory sessions to remove the intimidation factor and to make the blog a welcoming space.

The blog also enhances classroom discussion. Posts on the blog are brought up as examples to make or refute points within the classroom. Similarly, discussions within the classroom sometimes spill over onto the blog.

I have also learned that the job of the instructor in this space is to be a ruthless deleter. I routinely delete posts that do not follow my taste guidelines or that are poorly written. This reminds my students of the importance of an external audience. Rather than writing a term paper that only the instructor reads, blog posts are read by a wide audience and are crawled by all major search engines.

I am still in the process of assessing the impact of this on learning. Assessment will be through blog portfolios and reflections.

Poster #26. Students as Teachers: Undergraduates as Informal Educators in a Museum Setting

Larkin Hood, Diane Quinn, Julie Stein, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, UW Campus

Poster #26 abstract

The Burke 101 Program at the Burke Museum was developed to give undergraduate students at the UW an opportunity to share their knowledge in a particular discipline and gain experience as informal educators in a museum setting. The program is organized around a course in which students work together to create hands-on, interactive activities for museum visitors using museum specimens. Students introduce these activities to museum visitors, assess the success of each activity, and make changes to the activities according to the nature of visitor response.

Observations of student interactions with visitors as well as student oral and written reflections on gallery activities indicate some of the characteristics of informal learning environments (ILES) which make them so appealing to museum visitors are often initially challenging to students who may be used to teaching and learning in more traditional classroom settings.

By the end of the course, many students report increased confidence in assuming a role of facilitator, rather than feeling inadequate because they are not content experts. Students also become more aware of the needs of informal learners to construct personal meaning, exercise control over their own learning, and adjust task challenges. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that the experiences that students have in the museum galleries make them more aware of their own learning in informal and classroom settings.

Poster #27. Creating a Student Council: A Curricular Experiment in Enhancing Self-Authorship

Diane Gillespie and Sandra Penney, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

Poster #27 abstract

(1) Marcia Baxter Magolda has argued that college education should prepare students for self-authorship, “the internal capacity to define one’s belief systems, identity, and relationships.” From this capacity to self-author, she has argued, students are able to achieve complex learning outcomes, which involves examining situations from multiple critical perspectives. Without a strong sense of one’s own authoring capability, students rely on external authority. She advocates learning experiences that develop self-authoring. A teacher and student, we explored whether participation in a course designed to start a new council for our 500+ student program might facilitate students’ ability to self-author, given the open-endedness and complexity of such a task.

(2) The IAS program at Bothell has never had a student council. The course was created so that students could respond to and co-create the syllabus. Once they had crafted their syllabus, they broke into groups and designed their own pilot projects around issues of concern to them, which they then carried out with little intervention from the instructors. Penney’s group undertook an analysis of the program’s course descriptions, analyzing all of them from winter quarter. The group then compared them to the program’s learning objectives and those advocated by Liberal Education and America’s Promise. The group is now in the process of making specific recommendations to the IAS faculty about how to redesign course descriptions so that they are more useful to students. An article by Baxter Magolda helped the group formulate what they had learned in terms of the development of self authorship.

(3) The challenge for Penney was to trust her capacities to do the research and to explore her values as a student devoted to her learning. She wanted to be an advocate for all students who care about learning in the program. The challenge for Gillespie was to encourage the group without intervening or directing, especially when the group encountered the very complexity they needed to experience to learn self authorship.

(4) Both Gillespie and Penney learned to recognize the habitual ways teachers and students try to simplify the complexity that then prevents students from exercising their skills. We also found ways of communicating through the complexity by identifying and valuing the expected learning outcomes, including the ability to work across situations and through multiple critical perspectives.

Poster #28. Lessons in Democracy: CEP and the Practice of Radical Equality, or Is this Any Way to Run a Major?

Christopher Campbell, Urban Design and Planning, Community, Environment and Planning, UW Campus

Poster #28 abstract

For more than a dozen years, the Community, Environment, and Planning (CEP) program has tried to practice a different kind of education based on empowering students to make fundamental decisions about their learning – what they learn and how – about their major – how it is run, and who it is for – and about their education – where they are going and how they are getting there. But perhaps the most controversial aspect of this unusual major is its radical commitment to equality between students and faculty and its accompanying practice of consensus-based democracy to resolve all significant decisions regarding the program. Celebrated by some, maligned by others, and misunderstood by many, we ask, is this core CEP practice a case of the inmates running the asylum, or are their lessons here for others to imitate?

In this presentation to the UW community, we will briefly describe the CEP philosophy and the practices and structures that support it, and then critically evaluate its impact on the student and faculty experience. In particular, we will focus on how the roles of teacher, student, and program administrator change under a model of radical equality, and how these changes can be both beneficial and costly. By engaging in this discussion, we hope to both debunk some of the myths surrounding democratic, student-centered learning while also helping others decide whether or not this approach might be right for them.

Poster #29. Unveiling experience thinking and identity thinking: A look into the educational significance of engineering students creating professional portfolios

Jennifer Turns, Kejun Xu, and Matt Eliot, Technical Communication, UW Campus

Poster #29 abstract

The engineering education community is exploring activities that can support learning from experience. Theories of expert knowledge, transfer, and reflection underscore the importance of students connecting educational experiences to future engineering practice. However, little systematic investigation has been done about students’ abilities to make connections between prior learning, current experience, and future professional life.

We have been investigating this issue via asking students to create a professional portfolio where students explained and provided evidence of ways in which their past coursework, experiences, and accomplishments have prepared them for future engineering practice. These portfolios consist of three elements: a professional statement where students describe their qualifications for their engineering profession; artifacts (i.e., papers, project deliverables, etc.); and annotations explaining how an individual artifact is evidence of a particular qualification.

In our current study, we worked with 37 engineering students as they constructed cross-curricular professional portfolios (professional portfolios in which the artifacts were drawn from all curricular and extracurricular experiences to date) and collected data from these students via extensive open-ended surveys. Our analysis efforts focus on how the students talk about their past experiences and also about their identities as engineering students and future engineers. Participants have reported seeing past experiences in a new light, starting to see their experiences as a certain type of professional capital, better understanding what they wanted to do in the future, and seeing themselves as more of an engineer that they had thought.

Overall, the results are providing an understanding of how professional portfolios may serve as a tool to bridge students’ educational experiences and future engineering practices. Our poster will focus on the themes introduced in this description: the overall context of the research, the type of portfolios we have been studying, the design of the current study, and emerging results from the study.

Poster #30. International Students with Long-Term Trauma: A Safer Class Space to Restore Learning

Mary Giles, UWMC Interpreter Services, UW Campus

Poster #30 abstract

Classes in English as a Second Language generally focus on language acquisition to enable performance of professional tasks in an English-speaking setting. As a rule, if students have personal issues, they resolve them outside class. It would be inefficient and perhaps irresponsible for a teacher to intervene in their personal problems. Counseling is not usually part of our training, and is not our job. However, among my ESL students there were talented individuals who developed difficulty learning, interacting with the class, and coping with America. (Overall, these were men from Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia; but issues could certainly arise with other groups as well.) My peer teachers, supervisors, and counseling staff provided suggestions. But the problem persisted until in each case the student confided to me, and then to the class, some burdensome past experience. Given respect, validation, and support, each student found resolution and settled in to the class. This is not to recommend that ESL teachers take up amateur counseling! But sometimes trauma causes learning difficulties and cultural stress, and a student may choose to confide in a teacher and classmates. Then a teacher can draw on campus support resources for perspective, referring the student to appropriate professionals when necessary. At the same time, we can work to facilitate an emotionally safe class space where students can cope with a troubling past event. Then class support for culture shock can actually help students practice language and cultural insights, and strengthen group morale.

Poster #31. A Case of Culturability: Designing a Workshop for Chinese Software Engineers

Kathleen Gygi, Technical Communication, UW Campus

Poster #31 abstract

The poster will describe research associated with a cross-cultural communication design project: the development and delivery of a workshop on effective engineering communication for software engineers in China employed by a US corporation. This project provides the opportunity to surface issues related to the professional practice of engineers working in distributed, cross-cultural contexts and how to localize training in such contexts. By April only the conceptual phase of the project will be completed, so this poster will focus on the underlying conceptual framework and research approach. Culturability refers to the incorporation of cultural dimensions and preferences into a design or usability testing process. This project draws on Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Edward Hall’s notions of contexting, and a modified version of Robert Kaplan’s contrastive rhetoric, as well as field reports from instructors who have recently taught in China, in understanding important differences between Chinese and U.S. technical communication. For example, the workshop acknowledges the preferences for inductive over deductive arrangement of ideas and the characteristics of situational (synthetic) versus categorical (Cartesian) means of communicating that are thought to characterize the writing of engineers educated in China. The workshop will be field tested in China during summer 2008.

Poster #32. Graduate-Undergraduate Research Mentoring: A Narrative Reflection on Expectations and Motivations

Jerusha Achterberg, Biocultural Anthropology, UW Campus

Poster #32 abstract

Graduate work at a major research university is designed to train the student to be an active researcher and contributor in his/her chosen discipline. It is not necessarily designed to train future teachers, and still more rarely, future research or academic mentors. Indeed, the system often prevents graduate students from exploring educational roles beyond the traditional teaching assistant—to do so, the graduate student may have to make difficult compromises in his/her employment or research work.

What then are the advantages in taking the road less traveled as a graduate student? How can a graduate student balance the challenges and rewards of mentoring undergraduates in a more holistic way than teaching assistantships allow?

In this poster, I reflect on my own experiences as a graduate student attempting to be both a scholar and an educator. While performing traditional roles from teaching assistant to instructor, there are ways to carve out space to more fully explore the scholarship of teaching and learning with undergraduates. Non-traditional paths, including course design and independent research, also offer avenues for professional and personal development, but have greater associated challenges. Understanding the positive aspects of a deeper immersion in holistic education, including teaching and research mentoring, can actually aid graduate student training. By skillfully negotiating expectations of traditional graduate training, a dedication to undergraduate mentoring can be used to facilitate graduate student goals as well as long term professional aims. Using an anthropological approach, I explore these themes in my own graduate experience, and reflect on the intrinsic relationship between graduate student research and undergraduate mentoring.

Poster #33. “How are we doing?”: Efforts to Encourage Undergraduate Research in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities

Jennifer Harris, Janice DeCosmo, Jessica Salvador, Torrey Morgan, and Hazelruth Adams, Undergraduate Research Program and Mary Gates Endowment for Students, Center for Experiential Learning, UW Campus

Poster #33 abstract

Ten years after the Boyer Commission Report, “Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities” (1998), we, along with our peer institutions, have come a long way in fostering student engagement in inquiry-based learning through undergraduate research. However, engaging undergraduates in social science-, arts-, and humanities-based research remains a challenge. The reasons for this are varied and complex, calling into question the ways that we work (e.g., teams or solo-practitioner) and the tools that we require scholars have in order to produce research, among other issues.

Our presentation highlights activities we have engaged in to encourage undergraduates to pursue research in the social sciences, arts, and humanities, as well as ways that we help students extend that research through funding mechanisms, training, and conference presentations. Some of these activities are recent: collaborative trainings with the Human Subjects Division; modifying program materials and planning panel presentations involving undergrads, graduate students, and faculty about what such research might look like. Other activities are more established: this year marks the Seventh Annual Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities; the sixth year of the URP’s General Studies 391: Research Exposed course; and the second year of offering a dedicated performance space for students to present their scholarly creative work in the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium. We invite visitors to discuss ideas and challenges they have experienced in engaging undergraduate researchers in the social sciences, arts, and humanities, and to suggest ways that we can extend our support of student research in these critical areas.

Poster #34. Mentoring the Undergraduate Research Experience: A CIDR Teaching and Learning Bulletin

Janice DeCosmo, Jennifer Harris, and Margy Lawrence, Undergraduate Research Program, Center for Experiential Learning, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Center for Instructional Development and Research, UW Campus

Poster #34 abstract

In collaboration with the Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR), the Undergraduate Research Program has created a CIDR Teaching and Learning Bulletin, “Mentoring the Undergraduate Experience”. The Bulletin offers guidelines for faculty on how to make an undergraduate research experience successful for both students and mentors. In it, we offer suggestions on how to get started on an undergraduate research experience (from defining the scope of the project to advertising the position and selecting students), things to pay attention to “as you go” (i.e., encouraging students to become more effective researchers, get more involved in the field, and identify funding resources), as well as on “taking it to the next level” by helping students to identify opportunities to present their work, document their learning, publish, and consider their post-graduation plans. We invite visitors to comment on the Bulletin and discuss ideas and challenges they have experienced in mentoring undergraduate researchers.

Poster #35. Dance Major Learning Goals: The Circuitous Path from Curriculum to Assessment

Betsy Cooper and Kory Perigo, Dance, UW Campus

Poster #35 abstract

In 2004, the Dance Program—in collaboration with Office of Educational Assessment—began to devise a strategy for developing Learning Goals for the Dance Major. This pilot project, funded by the College of Arts & Sciences, aimed to: 1) convey concrete objectives for Dance Majors so that they could increase their learning potentials, and 2) develop assessment methods to ensure that students were indeed learning what we claimed they should be learning. While it is understood that the University of Washington currently operates in a climate of learning accountability, it has been recognized that Student Learning Goals vary greatly across campus, due to the diversity of disciplines taught. The current mandate to develop departmental student learning objectives offers units the opportunity and the autonomy to generate goals based on their own disciplinary demands and departmental missions.

Since beginning the Dance Major Learning Goals project, we have discovered that this is by no means a linear journey. In this presentation, we will share the circuitous process that began with mapping the DMLG through the curriculum and discuss the steps taken to arrive at our current position—a reappraisal of departmental mission and values leading to the narrowing and consolidation of the DMLGs and the development and implementation of a senior seminar writing/reflection lab centered around the creation of dance major portfolios.

Poster #36. Psychology Department Learning Goals: Developing the Information Skills Pathway

Erika N. Feldman, Psychology; Laura Barrett, UW Libraries; Beth Kerr, Psychology, UW campus

Poster #36 abstract

We detail an interdepartmental effort to address learning goals for undergraduate psychology majors at the University of Washington. The Psychology Department began by identifying five categories of learning goals: Content, Methods, Critical Thinking, Diversity & Multicultural Awareness, and Communication. To further enhance the curriculum, we identified skill development pathways that cut across different psychology courses; these pathways include writing skills, quantitative skills, and information-literacy skills. We collaborated with UW Libraries to outline the information-literacy pathway.

Our process had three major phases:

  • articulating information skills,
  • identifying activities that develop these skills and placing them in a developmental sequence, and
  • creating a curricular map for information skill development

We began by articulating specific information skills using the broader literature and pedagogical materials already used in Psychology (e.g., Psychology Writing Center and UW Libraries handouts). Next, we created a table with all of the information literacy skills taught in librarian-led workshops in Psychology classes over the last three years. Then, we built a menu of activities with an appropriate sequence of information skills development. For example, we classified basic library research skills, like finding and reading the full-text of journal articles, as appropriate for 200-level classes. We will use the menu to advertise information-skills activities to instructors and to promote awareness of information literacy among students.

To assess how well psychology courses address information-literacy skills, we created a curricular map for the information skills pathway. Individual professors are currently reviewing how their course-specific learning goals fit with the broader department learning goals and skill development pathways. Soon, we will begin to plan assessment of information-literacy skills. We expect information skills to be assessed in conjunction with communication, methods, and critical-thinking goals by evaluating student work in labs and 400-level classes.

Poster #37. Identifying curricular learning goals through qualitative research

Siri O. Nelson, Noelle Machnicki, Mary Pat Wenderoth, Alison Crowe, Biology, UW Campus

Poster #37 abstract

In a multi-track discipline such as Biology, identifying course-specific learning goals and relating them to overall departmental learning goals can be challenging. Many courses are content-specific and while content goals are usually well-defined, it can be difficult to identify course-specific skills emphasized by teaching faculty in individual courses. We used qualitative research methods to determine the following:

  • How individual course learning goals support departmental learning goals.
  • If students in a given track take courses that support departmental learning goals.
  • If departmental learning goals need refinement.
  • If there are any areas that are over- or under-emphasized in the Biology undergraduate curriculum.

With the assistance of the Office of Educational Assessment, we developed an interview framework designed to gather qualitative data on individual course content and learning goals. We conducted hour long one-on-one interviews with faculty about their courses and collected course syllabi. After transcribing interviews, we were able to identify course-specific content and skills and analyze them by using previously established departmental learning goals as out template.

We found that the curriculum supports departmental learning goals overall, but some learning goals are very highly represented while others are frequently underrepresented. We also discovered that the emphasis on certain skills shifts depending which track students take through the Biology major. In addition, we identified several skill sets that are emphasized by the faculty but were not previously recognized made recommendations to refine departmental learning goals.

Third party qualitative interviews on course content, skills, expectations, and assessment methods require a relatively small time commitment from teaching faculty but can provide a solid basis for examining how individual courses contribute to the overall departmental curricular strategy.

Poster #38. Odegaard Writing & Research Center: The Hidden Curriculum

John W. Holmes, University Libraries; Tish Lopez, College of Arts and Sciences, UW campus

Poster #38 abstract

Recently, The College of Arts and Sciences has been trying to restructure their writing requirements to provide more opportunities for departments to develop writing activities to replace, supplement, or alter existing content-based courses. Because, the curricular structure of the University is saturated and will not accommodate new courses, the Odegaard Writing & Research Center (OWRC) is interested in determining whether an interdisciplinary writing center offers a more realistic and effective solution to the challenge of writing to learn and is better equipped to make more explicit the kinds of writing and research valued across disciplines.

The OWRC was established as a result of a series of faculty task forces convened by the College of Arts and Sciences; these task forces saw writing not simply as a discrete activity to be taught in selected courses in a few departments, but also as a powerful mode of learning. In linking writing and learning, these faculty groups argued that their proposals followed directly from the University’s mission statement that it should “[cultivate] in its students both critical thinking and the effective articulation of that thinking” (

Our ongoing research reveals that the OWRC can offer students a “hidden curriculum” that may introduce scholarly conventions and academic culture over periods of time longer than a course or an academic year. Our “syllabus,” built upon a set of learning outcomes, provides learners with frameworks for understanding how different disciplines may approach writing, thinking, informal communication, information-based research, and other activities. By drawing students into guided reflection and conversation about their learning through their writing and research, we hope to show that the OWRC provides learners with opportunities to practice developing and communicating new knowledge for a variety of audiences, developing their own personal voices in the process.

Poster #39. Learner centered? How engineering faculty talk about students when reporting teaching decisions

Jessica M. Yellin, Yi-Min Huang, Jennifer Turns, Brook Sattler, Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching and the Department of Technical Communication, UW Campus

Poster #39 abstract

Creating a learner-centered environment within an instructional setting is a goal which engineering faculty are encouraged to achieve. However, little has been studied of how engineering educators actually incorporate learner issues into their teaching. We report on this issue by describing how 33 engineering educators talked about learners in the context of talking about teaching decisions. In particular we characterize the range of dimensions mentioned by the educators, the source of their information, and the way they used the information. We focus on learner characterizations in three specific areas related to: interacting with students, student ratings and in the context of active learning. We situate this work in notions of theories of learner-centeredness and the current body of scholarship providing characterizations of engineering students and their learning. The findings remind us of the complexity of on-the-ground teaching activity.

Poster #40. Investigating the Teaching Decisions of Engineering Educators

Yi-Min Huang, Jessica Yellin, Jennifer Turns, Brook Sattler, Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching and the Department of Technical Communication, UW Campus

Poster #40 abstract

Our work focuses on using a cognitive science methodology for investigating the phenomenon of teaching decision making in engineering education. Teaching decisions offer a lens for understanding engineering educators’ teaching practices. In our study, we invited engineering educators to talk about two teaching decisions that they had made, how they made each decision, and their level of satisfaction with each decision. Because we found their accounts of their decisions to be more consistent with a notion of a decision as a commitment to action (rather than a choice among alternatives), we report our findings through this lens. Specifically, we report themes related to the actions the educators chose to commit to, their processes of committing to these actions, and their reported satisfaction. Overall, the results serve as a reminder of the complexity of teaching.

Poster #41. Systematic Assessment of a Problem-Based Learning Curriculum

Alison Moore & Bud Nicola, Community-Oriented Public Health Practice, UW Campus

Poster #41 abstract

The Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) program began in 2002 in the Department of Health Services with an emphasis on problem-based learning to prepare graduate students to become public health practitioners. The curriculum is based on a case study model where students integrate discussion, research, writing, and analytical skills to learn about the core competencies of public health with an emphasis on community development. Students also take part in a weekly skills seminar designed to enhance the problem-based learning curriculum. In addition to classroom learning, the students participate in a number of practice-oriented fieldwork opportunities through field-based cases, practicum experiences, and capstone projects.

The COPHP program has incorporated systematic evaluation to gain a more thorough understanding of the learning process and incorporate changes into the curriculum. Students have a number of opportunities to provide feedback to faculty members about the program. The evaluations have been developed through a partnership with the Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR). At the end of each block, students complete written evaluations about the course content and facilitation of faculty members. Additionally each quarter, students evaluate the skills seminar. There are annual reviews, facilitated by CIDR, in which students provide feedback about the entire program. All of the evaluations have been integrated and used by faculty members to improve the curriculum since its inception. In departmental assessments, COPHP graduates have consistently expressed a high level of confidence in their mastery of public health competencies when compared with other students in the Department of Health Services.

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