Center for Teaching and Learning

2011 Symposium program

“Teaching to the in-between times: Helping students study and practice the course material” April 19, 2011

Matt McGarrity, senior lecturer, Communication

Matt McGarrity (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at UW Seattle and directs the university’s Public Speaking Center. His research focuses on public speaking pedagogy. While at Indiana University, he coached the nationally ranked speech team. More recently, he was awarded the National Speakers Association’s Robert Henry Outstanding Professor Award.

Posters and abstracts

Poster #1. Investigating Best Practices in the Research Mentoring of Underrepresented Minority Students in Engineering

Cheryl Allendoerfer, Jessica Yellin, UW GenOM Project, College of Engineering, UW Campus

Poster #1 abstract

This study addresses the need to increase the numbers of traditionally underrepresented minority (URM) students in engineering careers through an investigation of the role of research mentoring in recruiting and retaining URM students in engineering. Mentoring students in engineering and science research has long been acknowledged as an effective way to engage undergraduates in engineering majors, and is also an essential component of the doctoral degrees that represent the gateway to careers in engineering research. This study was guided by the following questions: 1) What can we identify as best practices in mentoring and supervising URM students as they conduct engineering research? 2) How is the effectiveness of these practices perceived by URM populations? 3) To what extent are these best practices in research mentoring congruent with commonly accepted guidelines for undergraduate and graduate students from majority groups? In order to answer these questions, data was collected through an online survey of a nationwide sample of URM engineering undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent PhD recipients. Semi-structured follow-up interviews were conducted by telephone with a sub-set of the survey respondents. Through coding and narrative analysis of qualitative survey and interview data and triangulation with quantitative survey data, several themes emerged regarding the impacts of mentoring and students’ perceptions of best practices in research mentoring. We propose that incorporating more informal types of mentoring into the research mentor-mentee relationship is one effective way for faculty to facilitate the retention of URM undergraduate students in engineering.

Poster #2. Assessment of the Biology Fellows Program, an Undergraduate Diversity and Enrichment Program

Brian Buchwitz, Emile Pitre, Catharine Beyer, Jon Peterson, Barbara Wakimoto
Department of Biology, Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, Office of Educational Assessment, Biology, UW Campus

Poster #2 abstract

Students’ interest in the sciences is increasing nationwide, and underrepresented minorities (URMs) express as strong an interest in pursuing science as majority students do. Yet, the training pipeline continues to leak at all levels. There are persistent needs to increase URM retention at K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. A recent National Academy of Science report evaluated these needs and defined the retention of URM undergraduates as the most urgent priority for immediate action.
The Biology Fellows Program (BFP) aims to increase retention and success of URM undergraduates in the biosciences. One goal is to narrow the achievement gap (0.3-0.8 grade points) between grades earned by majority and minority students in the introductory biology series. We select diverse cohorts of pre-majors, introduce the rigor expected of majors, help students assess strengths and weaknesses in study skills, and encourage strategies for continual improvement, before students enter the series. After completing the program, fellows progress through the introductory courses, largely as a cohort, and the BFP encourages them to maintain peer interactions and participate in research and other opportunities.
We used a mixed-methods approach to assess program impact. The 2007-2009 cohorts were 36% URM and 51% EOP (Equal Opportunity Program students). Both EOP and non-EOP fellows earned introductory biology grades that were on average equal or better than those earned by non-BFP peers across multiple courses, years, and instructors, indicating a consistent long term impact. A focus group study found that former fellows credited the BFP with teaching them the value of actively studying and study groups, providing skills for thinking like a scientist, and helping them use UW resources, including faculty and TAs. We conclude that the BFP is meeting, and in some respects reaching beyond, its goals for student development and retention, with effects on both EOP and non-EOP students.

Poster #3. Project-Based Learning: a Potential Methodology for Enhancing Learning Outcomes in Large Language Classes

Philip Dierking, English – Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESOL), UW Campus

Poster #3 abstract

A global problem historically plaguing language classrooms is the issue of large classes. Ironically, despite consensus among education professionals that large class sizes impede teaching and learning outcomes, little research has been devoted to refining methods for teachers in these classes.
Based on the assumption that large class sizes is not a problem isolated to only language classes, but rather a global problem affecting all academic fields, I am investigating project-based learning (PBL) as a potential pedagogical tool for effectively teaching in large classes. While PBL is a lesser-researched method than other styles commonly employed in large classes, current case studies indicate that if properly developed, it can produced very positive learning outcomes.
To determine the potential of PBL I explored current research in both PBL and large classes, and compared relevant case studies from the leading researchers in PBL. I also draw on my experience as a teacher in large university classroom settings in the east African nation of Djibouti, citing my own success and failures in my teaching approach to these classes. My initial findings reveal that PBL has the potential to encourage student motivation and learner autonomy, as well as promote successful learning outcomes. However due to the method’s drastic contrast to traditional learning styles, teachers using PBL are advised to follow certain guidelines for generating student by-in and avoid learner resistance to the method.
My intentions are to use this information to develop an adequate framework to adapting large language classes to a project-based style of learning. It is my hope to then empirically test this framework in an actual large language class in order to determine the effectiveness of its use.
While my research is focused primarily on language learning, I feel this issue, and potential remedies, are pertinent across educational disciplines and settings. It is my hope that significant findings in project-based learning can then be easily adapted to fit the pedagogical needs of teachers with large classes in other subjects.

Poster #4. “International or Gen 1.5? Ways teachers can meet writer needs”

Kent Hill, English Department – MATESOL, UW Campus

Poster #4 abstract

As state support for higher education falls, one outcome is that schools must consider increasing international student numbers to help pay the bills. Often referred to as “non-native English speakers”, Learned-English students (LEs) are a growing population at the UW. Whether they are newly arrived internationals, or ‘Generation 1.5s’, who finished their secondary schooling here in the States, LEs bring a new set of strengths and needs with them into UW classrooms.
One of the most difficult issues facing many instructors is how to help LEs learn what is expected of them when writing in the specific field of the course. It is often not considered, however, an instructor’s duty to get bogged down in the details of grammar, word choice and field-specific writing issues. Instructors usually do not have the time, nor the pedagogical training in writing, to handle all of these issues on their own. This concern is especially pertinent as the UW considers increasing class size averages. What is a teacher to do?
This research looked at LE user needs, tutoring practices and tutor training at the UW’s Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC). LE visitors to the OWRC were from first-year undergraduate through to PhD students. Important differences between LE international and Gen 1.5 students were discovered that could impact how the OWRC works the LEs in the future. In addition, unexpected findings were how the results of this research pointed toward implications and helpful recommendations for instructors in any department. These recommendations are especially salient for teachers of lower-division courses, but can nonetheless help all instructors to better understand and assist their LE students.

Poster #5. Orienting students in core learning technologies at the Information School

Emily Lynch, Ben DeCrease, Grace Whiteaker, The Information School, UW Campus

Poster #5 abstract

At the beginning of each year, the Online Learning Team at the UW Information School runs a series of online and classroom-based technology orientation workshops for new students. These workshops, which began in 2001 as a student-led Technology Boot Camp, cover network resources, communication and collaboration tools, and presentation tools for our online and residential students to use for the duration of their time at the Information School. Tools covered range from proprietary “Catalyst Tools” developed by UW IT to third-party screen capture technologies such as Jing and VoiceThread. Our goal has been to provide options that suit both advanced and novice users.
The Information School currently enrolls 700 students in 4 programs, undergraduate and graduate. Each year we bring in roughly 300-350 new students and graduate roughly 300.
To evaluate our resources, we conduct a survey towards the end of students’ first quarter to collect feedback on their use of the tools, as well as a survey at the end of the year to see what their experience has been with our technology/workshops and other technologies. Our intention with these surveys was to improve our orientation process by learning the best ways to introduce resources, provide practice and create/make persistent resources available.
In this poster, we present student feedback from the workshops for the past 2 years, as well as insights from the 10 year process of developing and adapting these resources. Student feedback has led us to: limit workshop coverage to tools students may need in their first two quarters at the Information School; emphasize platform-independent technology; provide access to better real-time online collaboration tools; create persistent, accessible online instructions and recorded workshops; provide step-by-step instruction handouts for all live workshops; and repeat workshops in winter and spring quarters. Over time, we have upped the technology expectations and seen student responses to this through our surveys. We also made attempts to improve cohort interaction and collaboration by onboarding all students so that residential can cross into online courses at any time with little trouble. Moreover, we emphasized the use of tools to collaborate across programs. As a result of these efforts, we observed a better prepared student population in terms of education technology used to create, present and communicate in both online and hybrid classes.

Poster #6. Is an Image Worth a Thousand Words? On Incorporating Images in Text-Based Courses

Petia Parpoulova, Comparative Literature, UW Campus

Poster #6 abstract

In our image-saturated era, college students are accustomed to not only viewing but also communicating by means of images on a daily basis. In order to make dense and challenging material more accessible and appealing to students, faculty in entry-level courses in philosophy, literature, politics, and history has turned to developing presentation strategies that rely on images. My teaching experience has showed that images are not more immediately comprehensible than texts. Even though students are confronted with them on a daily basis, they still lack the critical awareness that would allow them to both understand and discuss images as carriers of meaning. In my poster, I would like to present a series of analytical exercises based on images, which I designed for my interdisciplinary class “How Humans Create Space and Time with Words and Images.” These exercises introduce students to basic conventions in visual representation that allow them to “read” an image and hone students’ understanding of the cultural embeddedness of visual communication.

Poster #7. Providing the Hook: Designing Assignments for Personal Relevance and Life-long Learning Skills

Deborah Pierce, UW Libraries, UW Campus

Poster #7 abstract

Between 2003 and 2011 I designed and taught three courses for two University of Washington departments utilizing various adult education models I had researched and tested over many years. I designed activities and assignments which focused on active learning, personal relevance, and life-long learning skills, including information literacy concepts. My purpose was to provide students with a deep learning experience in which they would learn how to learn and become critical thinkers. I also wanted to demonstrate that a course using carefully scaffolded instruction with integrated information literacy skills would provide students with an optimal learning environment. One course was an upper-level undergraduate topics course for majors, MusEd 496, Mind and Body Health for Musicians, taught in the School of Music; the other two courses were Freshman seminars, General Studies 197, Inspiration from Contemporary Thinkers: Exploring Your Place in the Universe and The Power of Music. All three were small seminars with less than twenty students. Assessment included observation of the students’ class participation and growth, review of assignments including their written reflection sheets and class presentations, and student feedback from class evaluations I designed and distributed at the end of each course. Although these evaluations showed that the students in all three courses were meeting my learning objectives, they also showed the surprising degree to which students were changed by the courses’ content. I observed several students change from introverted skeptics or pessimists to passionate and open-minded learners, and I found that the learning component they most appreciated was the personalized information literacy elements I labeled “The Path of Inquiry, or Inquiring Minds Want to Know.” My poster will share the insights, course structures, assignments, and student feedback I gathered during these classes as well as resource lists for instructors.

Poster #8. Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at University of Washington

Mary Pat Wenderoth, Alison Crowe, Jenny McFarland Biology, Basic Sciences, Edmonds Community College, UW Campus

Poster #8 abstract

The Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at University of Washington (UW) is an example of a community of practice (COP). “Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain … groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” (Wenger, 2006) BERG grew out of a desire to establish a regular conversation between faculty interested in biology education (providing opportunities for sharing expertise and problem solving). We encourage the formation of other, similar COPs to promote, encourage and sustain research on biology teaching and learning and implementation of best practices. This group was founded by faculty at the UW and has expanded to include participation of other regional college faculty. Importantly, BERG encourages participation of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and these members have now become an integral and essential part of the group. BERG goals include the creation of new methods for teaching Biology, production of research based teaching methods, development of testable hypotheses concerning student learning in Biology, creation of guidelines for conducting rigorous biology education research, providing a forum for discussion of effective teaching methods and fostering a diverse network to facilitate research collaborations.

Poster #9. The Value of Designing, Writing and Publishing a Case Study in the Sciences

John Withey, School of Forest Resources, UW Campus

Poster #9 abstract

Case study teaching is a flexible, cooperative learning-based technique. Long used in other disciplines such as business, law, and medicine, the use of case studies in non-medical science education is relatively recent. Case studies can be used in a variety of classroom settings, from small discussion-based seminars to large lecture halls, and from introductory to graduate-level courses. There are many sources of case studies, but designing and writing your own case is an excellent exercise. It requires substantial preparation before class, as well as engagement by both professor and students during class. The benefits include creating the opportunity for active learning and self-discovery by students, building critical thinking skills, discovering a fresh perspective on old problems, and (last but not least), a fun classroom experience. I briefly present two case studies I have used in biology courses, one in a large introductory course for non-majors (“The Case of Desiree’s Baby: The Genetics and Evolution of Skin Color,” by P. Schneider), and the second in an upper-division landscape ecology course (“Does the Matrix Matter?,” which I wrote myself). I evaluated these two case studies only through self-reflection after using them in class, but recommend using pre- and post-tests, questions on mid-course or end-of-course evaluations, or online survey methods to assess their effectiveness. I also recommend developing at least one case study from your own course(s) for publication, because through this process you are forced to: 1) clearly articulate the specific learning objectives and outcomes for the case, 2) think creatively to create a compelling story or scenario that forms the background of the case, 3) reflect on your successes (and failures) in the classroom, and 4) seek peer review of your teaching.

Poster #10. Interdisciplinary, guided inquiry on estuarine transport using a computer model

Kit Yu Karen Chan, Daniel Grunbaum,School of Oceanography, UW Campus

Poster #10 abstract

The National Research Council has highlighted the importance of active learning and fuller reflection of contemporary scientific methods in science classrooms. Computer modeling and visualization are tools that researchers frequently employ in their scientific inquiry. However, inquiry-based computer models are rarely incorporated into high school and introductory-level college classrooms.
The goal of this project was to address the lack of collaborative, inquiry-based computer modeling tools by developing and field testing a module that includes group-based, hands-on activities and computer modeling. We also highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary learning by modeling an estuary. Estuaries are good examples of how physics of currents affect organisms’ distributions through the interaction of physics and biology.
Working with OACIS GK12 fellows, we presented module to a “UW in High School” marine biology classroom. The course enrolled 107 students in 10th to 12th grade, and was equivalent to OCEAN 101. Our 3-hour long module included a physical model illustrating concepts on density, a mini-lecture on estuarine characteristics, and group modeling projects. Using the computer model, students generated and tested their hypotheses on how timing and location of particle release would affect retention within an estuary. To gauge students’ learning gain, we conducted and pre- and post- course surveys on students’ understanding of estuarine circulation and on the nature of scientific modeling. We also evaluated students’ worksheets and graphical presentations of their modeling results.
Students showed significant learning gain and improved their understanding of estuarine circulation, and of the use and the limitations of computer models. In-service teachers found our module engaging, and reported that it served as a unique opportunity for students to interact with a scientific research tool and to conduct authentic inquiry. Our experience showed that computer models are teaching tools with great but largely untapped potential as means of inquiry, venues for interdisciplinary learning, and intellectual challenges for student groups.

Poster #11. Is Dental School Making You Numb? Injecting Life into a Problem-Based Learning Course

Jacqueline Pickrell, Christine Riedy, Donald Chi, Peter Milgrom, Dental Public Health Sciences, UW Campus

Poster #11 abstract

This project was designed to improve the effectiveness of teaching at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. DPHS 510, Social and Historical Perspectives in Dentistry, is a required course in the first year dental school curriculum. The course examines dental care problems involving biological, behavioral, and community elements using a problem-based learning (PBL) approach. Combining rigorous academic activities with a commitment to reducing existing oral health disparities through community involvement, DPHS510 is uniquely structured to educate future dentists about access to care issues faced by subpopulations within WA State and to instill an appreciation for life-long learning. The DPHS510 course consisted primarily of unique PBL scenarios presented to small groups via a traditional paper-based format. Historically, student feedback emphasized the lack of engagement with the paper-based presentation. In response, we took three of the five problems used in 2008 and 2009, and converted them to a video-based format. We hypothesized that this would provide students more salient cues that would engage them to a greater degree in the material thus increasing student’s motivation to learn about the problem and seek solutions. When student course evaluations for the past 3 years were examined, the effectiveness of the new video-based format was evident. Compared to the ratings during the paper-based format years, students increased their mean rating of whether the course met its educational objectives (2010 (3.3); 2009 (2.8); 2008 (2.9)). Additionally, the students rated their instructors’ effectiveness at teaching the subject matter higher, and perhaps most indicative of engagement, students reported spending more hours, on average, per week on the class materials and, rated a greater percentage of those hours as “valuable to advancing their education.” DPHS510’s framework may serve as a useful model for other courses that are designed to link real-life scenarios with academic content.

Poster #12. Student Ownership of Learning through Enactment, Collaboration and Evaluation

Amalia Tonsor, Michelle Venetucci Harvey, Lily Nash Comparative History of Ideas, Community, Environment and Planning, Education, UW Student Farm, UW Campus

Poster #12 abstract

The UW Farm is an ongoing experiment in student directed learning, which is a hallmark of progressive education.  Often in higher education, learning goals are defined by professors rather than by students. How can students become more involved in helping to structure their own learning and refine the skills to collaboratively shape their own communities and societies?
In this presentation, students will attempt to address the above question by highlighting some student engagement techniques enacted in three UW Farm classes during the Spring of 2011(Food and Justice; The UW Farm and Coop: Student Organizing & Food Activism; and Learning the Land: Environmental Pedagogy).  Some of these methods include: interactive, community-based development of ideas, connecting theoretical issues to real life examples, encouraging students to think about their place in society and the food system, and student ownership of evaluation for their own learning experiences through such practices as collective goal establishment, shared facilitation and self-evaluation. In the UW Farm-inspired student led courses of Spring 2011, every student participant will have the opportunity to be a learner, a teacher and an experimenter in the true scientific meaning of that term. The vitality of the farm and of these classes emerges from the practice of recognizing the inherent uniqueness of each person’s learning process and creating community space for every student to discover their own sense for learning and how that freedom can collaboratively shape our shared world.

Poster #13. Coping Strategies of Non-native English Speaking Students in the Composition Classroom

Hee-Seung Kang, English, UW Campus

Poster #13 abstract

This poster reports on my doctoral study entitled “Academic Socialization of Second Language Learners in a First-year Composition Class,” which examines six non-native English speaking (NNES) students’ learning of academic literacy discourses and practices in the first-year composition course at the University of Washington. Despite growing population of linguistically and culturally diverse students, we know little about NNES students’ strategic position and deft use of resources in the composition classroom. This research attempts to address the gap by presenting their experiences, challenges, and positionings.
This study employed ethnographic methods and triangulated data from multiple sources such as interviews with the participants and their instructor, observations, class handouts, and written assignments provided by the participants. To closely examine the participant’s experiences, the data was collected over one academic quarter. In an effort to look for the threads among massive data collected in this study, I used analytic induction and looked for emerging categories and themes.
The analysis of data indicated that the strategies these students employed were both numerous and diverse, with different individuals replying on them to differing degrees. These strategies include (1) using current experience or feedback to adjust strategies, (2) looking for models (sample papers), (3) collaborating with peers, (4) maximizing use of class time, and (5) seeking all the assistance possible from their teachers. Through students’ use of strategies, I examine what contributed to students’ success and failure in the composition course. This study has implications on pedagogy on both conceptual and practical levels regarding how to facilitate NNES students’ socialization in the academic community. On a conceptual level, it is important to recognize that students struggle to negotiate discourse, competences, and identities in order to be recognized as legitimate and competent members in the first-year composition course. On a practical level, this study offers a suggestion for pedagogical intervention: instructors can consult with NNES students to learn what strategies they already consciously use, help them bring to consciousness others that they may use and not be using, and perhaps suggest strategies that might work for them. The researcher will present students’ narratives and the interpretation of the research findings. In addition, ideas for educators will be shared and discussed.

Poster #14. Scientific practice in an inquiry-based activity that explores changes in skull shape in humans and their ancestors

Rebecca Price, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Bothell

Poster #14 abstract

The Council of Undergraduate Research distinguishes between inquiry-based curricula and research-based curricula, arguing that the research experiences are far better at teaching the nature of science because students can engage in discovery and create new knowledge. On the other hand, inquiry-based activities result in a known outcome, but are often shorter and easier to incorporate into a course. Can an inquiry-based activity teach the scientific method effectively? The activity in this study uses inquiry to test the hypothesis that human skulls evolved from small changes in the timing of development of a chimpanzee-like ancestor. Students measure skull shape in fetal, infant, juvenile, and adult chimpanzees and compare them to adult skulls of Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, and Australopithecus afarensis. The students then re-interpret their findings in light of Ardipithecus ramidus, whose discovery indicates that the ancestor shared by humans and chimpanzees was actually quite different from the chimpanzee. To conclude, students revise their original hypothesis. After completing the lab, nineteen students in an upper division evolution course at UW Bothell (BBIO 466 Evolution) outlined the lab as they would a scientific paper. 8 students were able to evaluate the data they collected and information about Ardi to construct a reasonable alternative hypothesis. An additional 6 students were able to evaluate the data they collected, but did not construct a reasonable alternative hypothesis, in part because they failed to incorporate the evidence from Ardi. (Data on student performance in other courses are not available, so these results cannot be standardized based on student ability.) This outcome suggests that, although research-based experiences may be more desirable, inquiry-based experiences can still be a component of learning about the scientific method.

Poster #15. Developing leadership and teamwork skills through the capstone design project

Jie Sheng, Computer Engineering and Systems, Institute of Technology, UW Tacoma

Poster #15 abstract

The Computer Engineering and Systems (CES) program of the Institute of Technology at the UW, Tacoma was established in 2006.
The mission of the program is to educate each CES student to be a responsible and productive engineer who can effectively apply emerging technologies to meet future challenges. The program culminates with a two-quarter sequence capstone, senior design project. During the two quarters, seniors apply what they have learned from earlier courses in the program to develop an engineering project. And the most important, seniors are required to work with freshmen-level CES students. They take on a project leader’s role and provide the freshmen “interns” with the opportunity to learn how projects are developed and to participate in the development.
The courses were first offered in the year of 2009 involving 7 senior students and 10 interns. They have met and worked through the whole 20 weeks. Although both sides were excited about the experience, seniors felt a big burden to teach interns hands-on knowledge about circuits and programming, and interns were frustrated with the fact that they had very little to contribute. Based on the students’ feedback and comments in course evaluation, we made a number of changes in the year of 2010, when 9 senior students and 7 interns participated in this learning experience. During the first quarter, the interns only worked with the seniors for four weeks. The remainder of the time they were sitting in the lab learning MATLAB and given brief introductions to logic design and circuit design. It turned out that the interns helped and contributed a lot to seniors’ design projects in the second quarter. Both sides were quite happy and thought it a successful journey in developing their leadership and teamwork skills.

Poster #16. How can we teach students to think like scientists?

Christina Walcher, Katherine Sopher, Michael Fleming, David Hays, Scott Freeman, Mary Pat Wenderoth, Alison Crowe Biology, College of Forest Resources, UW Campus

Poster #16 abstract

Science education has undergone considerable changes within the last two decades. First generation research contrasting active-learning methods with traditional learning methods has clearly shown that incorporating active learning into classrooms significantly increases student learning (Freeman et al, 2007; Handelsman et al, 2004; Handelsman et al, 2007; Donovan and Bransford, 2005). Many different active-learning tools and approaches have been incorporated into introductory science courses across the U.S. to increase students’ scientific reasoning skills. In an effort to create research-validated student activities, which will increase student learning for three core concepts in biology, we have designed in-class pencil-and-paper exercises that can be completed in groups of 2 to 3 in a large class setting. The three concepts/skills that we have focused on are: 1) phylogenetic tree analysis, 2) natural selection and 3) experimental design. For each of these three concepts we have tested the effectiveness of two different exercises. Here we describe our findings for the 3rd concept, experimental design. For this, we have focused on enhancing student ability to develop hypotheses and design well-controlled experiments. Exercise effectiveness was assessed using the Experimental Design Assessment Test (EDAT) (Sirum and Humburg, 2011) and an exam question. Preliminary data suggest that while both exercises were equally effective in teaching students about designing an experiment, the exercise that required students to identify both poor and well-controlled experiments, was more effective at helping students recognize the need to control multiple variables and the importance of having a sufficiently large sample size. In addition, we are in the process of developing benchmarks for undergraduate performance by administering identical assessments to first year science graduate students. Preliminary data from this assessment suggests that undergraduates beginning introductory biology have a basic understanding of when to do an experiment and what the variables will be, but compared to the graduate students they do not understand the need to control multiple variables. Using this information, we will redesign the exercises in order to address these gaps, helping undergraduates become more proficient at designing experiments.

Poster #17. Institutional, Individual AND Intentional Geographies: working on diversity across the UW campus

Anu Taranath, Miriam Bartha, Betty Schmitz, Ratnesh Nagda, Beth Kalikoff, English/CHID, Simpson Center for the Humanities, Center for Curriculum Transformation, OMAD, Social Work, Center for Teaching and Learning, UW Campus

Poster #17 abstract

This poster session draws on the generative and reflective process of five colleagues co-leading a faculty/staff development seminar. The seminar focused on connecting and deepening the practices and networks of diversity pedagogy as they span classrooms, campuses, and communities. We asked participants to metaphorically and literally map themselves in their complexity, both on and off campus. We wondered: how to visually represent the nexus between personal, political, and professional selves joined in teaching and learning about social diversity, inequity, and justice? How do we make visible—for ourselves, our students, and the university—the institutional AND intentional geographies by which we seek to create spaces supportive of challenging and transformative learning about difference and power? Our poster session proposal seeks to give the 5 of us an opportunity to more fully complete our own mapping exercise that we began in the seminar. We hope to provide an example of how we can—as colleagues and educators—map the links between our individual and institutional locations in order to create intentional geographies that offer places of support, creativity, and hope to sustain our challenging work. Locating ourselves in this way occasions the myriad stories that inform our professional contributions, makes visible a collective map of connection and ideas, and helps orient institutional engagement and action. Our collective map also registers an instance of reflective practice that helps connect faculty learning to student learning, and movements for curriculum transformation and campus climate change.

Poster #18. Using a Survey of Benthic Invertebrates in Commencement Bay to Engage Interdisciplinary Majors in Applied Conservation Biology

Bonnie Becker, University of Washington Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (Environmental Science), UW Campus

Poster #18 abstract

Environmental Studies is a major within Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences that attracts students who are interested in looking at environmental problems from a number of perspectives. These students are not science majors, but need to be able to understand, evaluate, and communicate scientific information including detailed technical reports. Conservation Biology in Practice (TESC 332) is a required core course taken mostly by juniors, and for some “Studies” majors is their only required upper division biology class. The course was designed around a large class project, repeating part of a Department of Ecology (DOE) monitoring effort in urban bays. During the first part of the quarter, students delved into the DOE report, completing a number of assignments to learn the required statistical, taxonomic, and writing skills necessary to implement their project. Students then collected benthic samples and associated environmental data from Commencement Bay, sorted and identified all of the organisms, calculated a number of indices using their data, interpreted their results compared to past years, wrote a technical report and presented their data to community partners. Self-assessment of student confidence with associated skills was conducted at the beginning and end of the course, as was a test of student attitudes about environmental issues. Qualitative data were also collected on student perception of the relevance of the material to their career goals. Student motivation and engagement were greatly enhanced by the project-based nature of the course. The protocols and assignments created for this class will form the basis of a long-term monitoring program associated with this course and a number of independent capstones in the near future.

Poster #19. Assessment as Collaborative Tool: Librarian and Faculty Partnership on Information Literacy Assessment

Jackie Belanger, Rebecca Bliquez, Sharleen Mondal, UW Bothell/Cascadia Community College Library, UW Bothell, Center for University Studies and Programs (CUSP)

Poster #19 abstract

This poster session will present details of an ongoing collaborative assessment project focused on the University of Washington Bothell’s BCUSP135 “Research Writing” class. For this project, librarians and faculty partnered to embed information literacy instruction and assessment tools into the regular curriculum of this lower division composition class. Since Winter Quarter 2010, faculty and librarians have collected assessment data in the form of pre- and post-surveys, a student research journal, faculty and student feedback, library instruction worksheets, a librarian self-reflection and citation analysis of bibliographies from students’ final research papers. The aim of this project is to better understand student learning of key information literacy skills (such as finding and evaluating information sources), and to develop a set of best practices for information literacy assessment.
We believe that that this presentation will be useful to the wider UW community in a number of ways. Firstly, we believe that this work can provide a model for collaboration between faculty and librarians interested in using assessment data to improve their understanding of student learning. One of the key lessons we learned from this project is that this collaborative model can result in benefits for librarians, faculty, and students: librarians who teach information literacy skills, for example, are able to embed their assessment tools into class assignments, resulting in a more authentic form of assessment. Faculty are able to benefit from having instructional partners who work with them to gather and analyze assessment information and suggest changes to course content. Working closely with librarians also enables faculty to tailor their assignments to library sessions in order to optimize student learning. Students benefit from having both faculty and librarians who can respond to their needs using evidence gathered from a variety of perspectives. Based on the assessment data we gathered, faculty and librarians working on this project learned what students understood (and did not understand) from information literacy instruction, and modified their instruction and course content accordingly.
Secondly, we believe this presentation would also benefit UW faculty, librarians, and staff by providing a holistic illustration of our assessment journey that includes tips, “dos and don’ts” and best practices for success based on our own experiences. In this way, we will provide other librarians and educators with ideas for new ways to assess their own information literacy and research writing instruction and to develop partnerships with colleagues from departments across campus. We will provide examples of innovative assessment techniques that we have utilized, and our long-term goals for developing our project into a polished toolkit that can be customized by faculty and librarians for use with a variety of subject disciplines and student learner levels. We will also include information about third parties that bring important perspectives to the planning and implementation process and ways that information literacy serves as a building block to develop long term collaborative relationships throughout a campus community.

Poster #20. Interdisciplinary Visual Literacy learning outcomes: new ideas for developing student competencies around visual materials

Denise Hattwig, UW Libraries, UW Campus

Poster #20 abstract

Students across disciplines engage with visual materials throughout the course of their education and beyond, and typically feel confident in their ability to use visual materials in many contexts. Yet there is often a gap in students’ research, analytical and critical thinking, and self-evaluation skills when it comes to finding, using, and creating visual media in a higher education environment. Incorporating visual literacy learning outcomes into the curriculum can help students develop the visual literacy skills they need to engage with visual materials in a scholarly context.
I am working with a Task Force in the Association of College and Research Libraries to develop national Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. A draft of these Standards has recently been released, and is available on the project blog at With the Standards, we address a need for clearly defined visual literacy learning outcomes, and provide tools for faculty seeking to cultivate and assess students’ visual literacy competencies. The Standards provide interdisciplinary learning outcomes for researching, using, interpreting & analyzing, evaluating, creating, and citing images and visual media. These specific learning outcomes can be incorporated into assignments and projects, and used by faculty to develop and support student learning with visual media.
The draft Visual Literacy Standards have undergone an extensive national review process, with librarians and faculty from over 47 colleges and universities evaluating and critiquing the Standards. The project blog has been used as a communications hub to both inform about the Standards, and encourage comments and feedback. The Standards have recently been discussed at several national conferences as well, and have been incorporated into broader conversations around transliteracy and metaliteracy. Edits and revisions have been informed by this community outreach and discussion-based assessment of the Standards, and a second draft will be released by early May. A core group of librarians from five institutions has also been selected to test implementation of the Standards with students in the classroom, and will be reporting on their experiences at the annual American Library Association conference in New Orleans, June 2011.
Through the Visual Literacy Standards development process, I have learned that the greatest value of academic standards does lie in the specific learning outcomes that can guide instruction and provide students with a structure for building complex and high-level competencies. The process has also reinforced my commitment in all projects to consulting and engaging stakeholders; the early and sustained investment of multiple academic communities in the standards development process has resulted in a strong Visual Literacy Standards document, and has generated excitement about implementation.

Poster #21. Google Sites Hub: Working with the UW Community to Identify a New e-Portfolio Solution

Cara Lane, Karin Roberts, UW Information Technology, UW Campus

Poster #21 abstract

Historically, two Catalyst tools supported electronic portfolios: Portfolio and Project Builder. By 2009, these tools were aging, expensive to support, and no longer meeting the needs and expectations of campus clients. We began an 18-month project to decommission the portfolio tools, assess client needs, and help them transition to other tools. Conversations we had with campus users revealed that some disciplines, such as Expository Writing and Teacher Education, had an intense need for a tool that supported reflective portfolios. The curriculum of these programs is structured around reflection, and assessment of students is based on student artifacts that range from essay drafts to images and videos. Independent investigations by these programs had not turned up an acceptable commercial solution; most tools either provided rich Web publishing without access control or workflow (such as a wiki), or emphasized collecting examples of work that met learning objectives, not reflection and publication.
At the same time, the UW Windows Live and UW Google Apps services were coming online. After completing our needs assessment, we determined that Google Sites met the needs for student artifact collection and Web publication — indeed, much better and with more rapid release of new functionality than our in-house development ever could. We also concluded that we could meet the workflow and access control needs with relatively small effort that mashed up Catalyst CommonView, a course site tool, with Google Sites, and made UW class lists available in the UW Google domain.
In 2010, we released the “Google Sites Hub” feature to help instructors manage templates, enforce due dates, gather submitted student sites, and enable sharing of student sites with instructors and peers. This solution uses UW NetIDs for authentication and UW Groups for access control, and required close work with Google to enable provisioning of UW class lists to the UW Google domain. This poster shares the user stories we collected to inform the process and provides information about this new e-Portfolio solution for the UW.

Poster #22. Huckabay Teaching Fellowship Projects

Karen Chan, Sasha Lotas, Caroline Krejci, Leah Podwizd, Julia Michalak
Oceanography, Education, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Music, Urban Design and Planning, UW Campus

Poster #22 abstract

No abstract.

Poster #23. Forging Community Partnerships through Problem-Based Learning

Jordana Pickman, Health Services/Community-Oriented Public Health Practice, UW Campus

Poster #23 abstract

The Master in Public Health in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) is an innovative program that prepares students for careers as public health practitioners. Throughout the 11 years the program has been operating, COPHP students have approached the various disciplines of public health through problem-based learning (PBL). PBL is a teaching method that uses case studies about public health issues to encourage active inquiry and analysis among students, as opposed to a traditional lecture approach.
Many of the PBL cases are designed in cooperation with a local health department or community organization. Involving public health practitioners in the design of the case provides benefits to both students and the community partners. The students get to work on a case that is timely and relevant to local public health issues, while the community partner receives a product that contributes new knowledge to their current public health efforts.
Over the years, we continue to expand the number of community partners that work with the COPHP program, in addition to working on new topic areas with the same partners. Community partners are eager to work with the COPHP program because they are able to receive a valuable service that they might otherwise not have the funding for, while contributing to the practice-oriented education of future public health professionals.”

Poster #24. What can website statistics tell us about online learning? A pilot study with

Gregory Crowther, Department of Medicine (Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), UW Campus

Poster #24 abstract

Along with traditional feedback surveys, website statistics offer potential insights into people’s use of educational materials. The website ( includes a searchable database of 3900+ science and math songs, covering a wide range of topics and grade levels. Statistics on recent database searches, as captured by Google Analytics, reveal that the website is being used regularly but somewhat differently than intended. The primary target audience of the website was initially assumed to be educators and science enthusiasts looking for songs on specific topics, rather than specific songs (which could presumably be found with standard search engines). Somewhat consistent with this, about 50% of all searches were of the Keyword field, which maps to songs’ lyrics (if available); however, another 25% of searches targeted songs’ titles, suggesting that many users were looking for specific songs that they had already heard or heard of. Only 10% of searches were of the Performer or Songwriter field. Perhaps most surprisingly, although’s search results pages offer links to songs’ lyrics, music, and/or purchasing information, most website visitors did not follow these links. This suggests that many visitors are not finding what they are looking for, perhaps because (A) the songs they seek do not exist, (B) the database’s current listing of songs is incomplete, and/or (C) their searches are poorly executed (e.g., misspelled words, overly restrictive criteria). Those who do follow links to external sites generally do so in order to hear a song’s music (65%) rather than read its lyrics (27%) or obtain purchasing information (8%). Thus, although the standard use case for the database was thought to be an educator who finds songs containing certain keywords, then checks the songs’ lyrics for clarity and relevance, this scenario is not representative of most visitors.

Poster #25. Informational Table on the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) UW Student Chapter

Brook Sattler, Ashley Thompson, Kate MacCorkle, Kate Mobrand, Robert Ricadio, Human Centered Design & Engineering, UW Campus

Poster #25 abstract

Graduate students from the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, whose research interests include engineering education, have taken the initial steps to begin an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) student chapter at the University of Washington (UW). The efforts were initiated by Brook Sattler (president), Ashley Thompson (vice-president), Kate MacCorkle (treasurer), Robert Ricadio (secretary), and Kate Mobrand (public relations), and Dr. Jennifer Turns (advisor). Through an ASEE student chapter they desire to create and sustain a community of emerging engineering education researchers and practitioners. And this community will support students’ professional development as researchers and educators. To announce the organization to the university community, the UW ASEE student chapter is participating in the university’s Scholarship on Teaching and Learning Symposium and hosting an open house (April 26, 2011, 4-5pm in Sieg 420). Through these initial events they hope to begin building bridges across campus, which will be the foundation for a strong community. Beyond these initial activities, the group is initiating a journal club, which encourages members to explore and share engineering education literature with an eye towards implications for teaching and research. As an organization, we look forward to actively participating in engineering education at the local and national levels!

Poster #26. Best Classroom Practices for Supporting Multilingual Students

Xuan Zheng, Jennifer Zinchuk, English, UW Campus

Poster #26 abstract

Over the past three decades, many U.S. colleges and universities have seen an unprecedented growth in the number of linguistically and culturally diverse students. National demographics indicate that the population of non-native English speaking students, including international students and immigrant students, makes up 13% of undergraduate students in the U.S (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000). Despite bringing foreign capital and visible ethnic diversity to campuses, multilingual students often face greater learning challenges due to their lack of language proficiency and relative unfamiliarity of American academic culture. Universities themselves, however, are often under-prepared to address the increasingly diverse student population. Our study seeks to address this need to support multilingual students in the U.S. academic community.
Based on relevant literature (Canagarajah, Zamel), experiences as English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors, and our studies of multilingual classrooms, we have found that awareness of the needs of multilingual students at the University of Washington is crucial. As instructors encounter these students, having some basic “best practices” can help support this growing population in our classrooms. First, understanding the resources available on campus allows instructors to focus on course content as well as respond to student needs by referring students to the appropriate location to help refine their language skills (often at a writing center). Second, an awareness of varying student learning styles and cultural norms can help instructors become more explicit about classroom procedures and assignment tasks. Third, effective prompt design for assignments and clear grading rubrics will create transparent expectations for both international and native-speaking students. Finally, giving written feedback to multilingual students can seem like an overwhelming task—grammar and rhetorical construction may prevent effective responses. However, encouraging students to utilize campus resources can help mitigate these problems and allow instructors to respond specifically to student content not writing style. Those strategies turned out to be very successful in our teaching as college writing instructors, as students have responded to them positively in their final reflection papers and teaching evaluations.

Poster #27. “Close Playing, or, Video Games as Practicum”

Edmond Chang, Timothy Welsh, English, UW Campus

Poster #27 abstract

Building on our work on “Teaching (with) Video Games” from last year’s symposium, this year’s presentation engages the question, “How do you critically play and analyze video games?” Drawing on our 2-credit Winter 2011 focus group class called “Close Playing, or, Bioshock as Practicum,” we will define and demonstrate the practice and pedagogy of “close playing” and “paired playing” to think about ways to read, analyze, and play video games like you would close read a novel or a film. Like close reading, close playing requires careful attention to how the game is played (or not played), to what kind of game it is, to the design of the game, to what choices are offered (or not offered) to the player, to what the goals of the game are, to how the game interacts with and addresses the player, to how the game fits into the real world, and so on. In other words, before we can take video games as serious objects of study, we need to develop ways to frame them, study them, and to seriously play them.

Poster #28. “It’s the connections you make”: Integrating Undergraduate Education through Electronic Portfolios

Amy Piedalue, Laura Harrington, Amanda Hornby, Geography, Honors, UW Libraries, UW Campus

Poster #28 abstract

“Undergraduate Honors education at the University of Washington values holistic and lifelong learning. The Honors Program’s curriculum creates a framework for undergraduate general education that values interdisciplinarity and experiential engagement. A new element of the curriculum, the integrated learning portfolio, provides students one way to meaningfully connect their experiences and community engagements with their intellectual pursuits.
Learning portfolios are often used to facilitate student learning. They encourage connections between courses and academic disciplines; create connections between student experiences inside and outside the classroom; and engage students in reflective practice.
In an effort to gather and incorporate student feedback in the Honors portfolio process, we held a discussion-based seminar called “Crafting Honors Education: A Working Group” in Spring 2010. The seminar was designed to include small group work, hands-on work in the computer lab, readings and guided discussions. We gathered student feedback throughout the quarter and held specific focus groups on technology, experiential and interdisciplinary learning, and the portfolio process. Over the course of the seminar, students were required to gather, archive and share previous course work; write a learning statement that integrated the various aspects of their education; and present their final portfolio.
The seminar generated the following key outcomes:
• Student recommendations were incorporated into portfolio requirements for the Honors curriculum
• Seminar participants’ portfolios now serve as examples for current Honors students.
This poster session will give attendees a practical sense of how to incorporate student perspectives and voice into curriculum design; tips on how to implement online learning portfolios; and ways that portfolios can foster student reflection and connections throughout their education.”

Poster #29. Markets are Messy: Teaching the Economics of Water

Jan Whittington, Urban Design and Planning, UW Campus

Poster #29 abstract

When addressing real world conditions of scarce water, economists have been drawn toward solutions in the form of relatively inexpensive technology and the sale of water from those with generous rights to willing purchasers; the latter known as water “markets.” However, in my research as a planner I have witnessed overwhelming opposition to trade from those with water rights. To turn these findings into opportunities for experiential learning, I have created a game for my graduate seminar, Planning for Water.
The game begins with each student selecting a role within a hypothetical watershed. As mayors of towns or proprietors of agricultural or manufacturing enterprises, players are given biographies and a few constants, including the right to use a particular amount of water, a price for technology, and a ratio of returns from the market in relation to expenditures. Water, technology, and money are real objects (ribbon, toys, and playing cards) thus students must strike deals in person, which they do as much as they would like, without my knowledge. Each week, students turn in “annual” expenses and receive returns from the instructor, who also subjects the watershed and its inhabitants to recession, flood, drought, contamination, and offers to privatize their operations or purchase their rights.
Accompanied by readings on the hydrologic cycle, water quality, and theories of economics, I hoped that the game would give students motivation and opportunities to reflect on otherwise distant concepts in an integrated way. With the freedom to trade, they would experience trials and errors, and the transaction costs of establishing “markets” for water. To assess the effect of the game, I have charted their trades and performed content analyses of their journals, communications, and papers. Furthermore, a majority of students shared their insights in short video clips. As anticipated, virtually all found that the game eased their understanding of economic concepts. To my surprise, however, several also encountered the nexus between personal beliefs and market realities, and thereby realized the means by which market prices may convey or hide the true cost of water.

Poster #30. Questions of Pedagogy/ a Pedagogy of Questions

Anu Taranath and undergraduate and graduate students, English, CHID, UW Campus

Poster #30 abstract

In the normative classroom framework, questions are linked to answers. The two seem to be magnetically connected, one naturally leading to the other. We have been trained as a society and culture to imagine the task of ‘questioning and answering’ as an already established pairing, so much so that students might feel anxiety when one is present without the other. What shifts in a classroom that conscientiously raises questions without necessarily providing corresponding answers? How do students navigate the changes from a normative framework of needing an answer, to creatively and intentionally using questions to synthesize their learning? In other words, how might we bring attention to and value a pedagogy of questions?
This poster presentation showcases a collaboration between a professor and 9 undergraduate (and 1 graduate) students who have all shared the space of English 470 this quarter. English 470 is a new course in the department focused on theories and practices of pedagogy, and this term we have spent our time mulling over many interrelated ideas on teaching and learning, identity, difference, power, and classroom politics. We work on this poster together to 1) highlight the deep learning that undergraduates have experienced IN THEIR OWN WORDS, and 2) to enter ongoing conversations on campus on the ways that different and intentional pedagogical strategies (in this case, a pedagogy of questions) can incite different and intentional learning, both in our students and the faculty who are lucky enough to work with them.

Poster #31. Promoting Life-long Learning, Integrated Knowledge, and Professional Identity in Undergraduate Engineering Students through a Portfolio Development Process

Brook Sattler, Jennifer Turns, Deborah Kilgore, Cynthia J. Atman, Kate Mobrand, Ashley Thompson, Human Centered Design & Engineering, Center for Engineering Teaching & Learning,  UW Campus

Poster #31 abstract

To effectively prepare to be engineers in the 21st century, students must acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes relevant to engineering; the type of integrated understanding of these competencies that is a hallmark of expertise; and the life-long learning skills and professional engineering identity that enable students to apply their understandings in rapidly changing contexts and circumstances. In order to accomplish these complex and interrelated goals, students need a variety of learning experiences (class, labs, design experiences, internships, research experiences, etc.). They also need opportunities to understand and articulate what they have learned from their educational experiences and how what they have learned relates to their futures as engineers—argument about one’s engineering preparedness. In this research, we advance the scholarship on undergraduate engineering student learning by examining the efficacy of professional portfolio development as a mechanism for reflection and ultimately for developing life-long learning competencies, integrated knowledge, and a professional engineering identity. Through this research we’ve learned that students engage in making meaning of past experiences in light of developing an argument about their engineering preparedness. We have also found that the process of reflecting on past experiences encourages students to engage in goal setting and monitoring; identity formation and awareness; and communication understanding and sharing. Finally, the implications for such research include the possibility of adding a portfolio or a studio-like components to classrooms, which would provide students the opportunity to collectively brainstorm, engage in meaning making in a low stakes and liberating environment, and give and receive feedback.

Poster #32. Assessing Active Learning within a Civil Engineering Graduate Course

Kelly Pitera, Anne Goodchild, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UW Campus

Poster #32 abstract

The Transportation Education Development Pilot Program is a Federal Highway Administration sponsored collaboration aimed at developing active learning modules to teach transportation engineering students. At the University of Washington, within the development of a freight transportation module, we have had the opportunity to test and assess several newly developed activities to a group of students currently enrolled in a freight class. These activities promote a student-centered learning environment where students learn by doing and lectures are minimized. Four activities have been tested within the class. In addition to assessment observations made by the instructor, students were asked to assess each activity. Based on these assessments, the following general observations were made:
• Students did not like open-ended questions. They asked for more clarification on what the instructors “wanted” in an answer, when the questions were intentionally open-ended to elicit out-of-the-box thinking. We need to make it clearer that there are many “correct” answers to the questions.
• All of the students actively participated when working in small (4 people) groups, whereas only a small number of students actively participated in entire class discussions.
• Several of the activities required students to do some online research to either make notes/fill out a matrix or answer questions. The assignments were rather informal and the information (via references/website) to use was provided to the students, but some students directly copied and pasted information into their assignments, instead of synthesizing and rephrasing answers. We will need to determine how to discourage this in the future.
• Most of the activities were longer than expected when actually put into use.
Observations and student assessments have indicated that students are reception to and engaged in the activities. As we continue to develop activities, we will use these observations to improve activities to better facilitate learning.

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