Faculty get grants to improve undergrad teaching, learning

PULLMAN, Wash. – Thirteen grants to develop innovative undergraduate teaching strategies have been awarded to Washington State University faculty members from the Pullman, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses.

“We had a record year in terms of the number and quality of proposals,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “Many of the projects build upon strong preliminary data or are taking best practices in new directions. It’s exciting to anticipate the cumulative impact on student success in the coming years.”

Faculty members were challenged to focus their proposals on one of two areas: increasing student success in large classes or devising model assessments for student learning in lower-division UCORE (general education) courses.

The winners and their project titles are:

• Jennifer Beller, associate professor, education leadership and counseling psychology: “Teaching Kinesiology Core Course Concepts through an e-Learning Integrative Approach in Medium to Large Enrollment Classes.”  Based on years of e-learning research and development, Beller will develop an integrative e-learning model that will allow students and faculty to engage with a common issue or problem in health, fitness or physical activity across core program courses.

• Linda Bradley, professor, and Ting Chi, assistant professor, both in apparel, merchandising, design and textiles; John McNamara, emeritus professor, and Martin Maquivar, clinical assistant professor, both in animal sciences: “Improving Student Learning of Specific WSU Learning Goals in UCORE Classes Across a Range of Disciplines.”  This team is looking at freshman and senior UCORE courses in CAHNRS to develop ways of determining growth in learning in specific areas (critical thinking, information literacy, scientific literacy) over the four years, with particular attention to the effects of interactive pedagogies (e.g., Socratic, team-based).

• Paula Coomer, instructor, English:  “Archives and Special Collections and the Future of Undergraduate Education: Teaching and Assessment Modules.”  Building on her experience of tangible archival materials as antidotes to digital disconnection and sources of profound engagement, Coomer will build teaching modules using WSU archival materials that can be used across a range of courses.

• Dogan Gursoy, associate professor, hospitality and business management: “Improving Teaching and Learning in the Undergraduate Hospitality Curriculum.” Gursoy will revise curriculum in the program based on employers’ views of knowledge and skills needed by new graduates in hospitality.

• Theresa Jordan, clinical assistant professor, history: “Improving Student Writing without Rewriting or Re-grading Essays.”  Jordan will develop methods of sharing her proven strategies of improving student writing while conserving faculty grading time.

• Kristin Lesseig, assistant professor, mathematics education, and Paul Krouss, instructor, mathematics, Vancouver: “Flipping the Classroom: A Study of Effectiveness and Systemic Improvement of Math 103 (Introduction to Algebraic Methods).”  This project seeks to restructure Math 103 to allow instructors more opportunities to monitor and respond to individual students and to foster productive interactions among student groups.  Students’ short- and long-term success will be evaluated.

• Hang Liu, instructor, and Ting Chi, assistant professor, both in apparel, merchandising, design and textiles: “Engaging Students in an Introductory Textile Course: An Integrated Approach to Effective Teaching and Learning.”  In this multi-pronged project, the instructors are restructuring this challenging course to increase active learning before, during and after class time using a variety of tools and techniques, from online video to visible and tangible product samples to clickers, debates and role-playing.

• David Makin, clinical assistant professor, and Vikki Carpenter, Ph.D. student, both in criminal justice and criminology: “Flipping toward Assessment.”  This project addresses the disappointing learning outcomes in large course sections by using online tools to engage students, create interactions and generate multiple, deeper assessments of student learning through projects, adaptive quizzes and other mechanisms.

• Kathleen McAteer, clinical assistant professor, biological sciences, Tri-Cities:  “Hanford: An Interdisciplinary Team-Taught Freshman Seminar.” McAteer is developing a version of the roots of contemporary issues course that is anchored in the history and contemporary issues of Hanford, explored through various disciplinary lenses and through embedded high-impact practices such as writing, research or community service.

• Starla Meighan, clinical assistant professor, integrative physiology and neuroscience: “Writing in Neuroscience.” Meighan will develop a multiyear, progressive, integrated writing program for neuroscience majors in which each course develops specific writing skills, building on previous courses. A single grading standard will be developed for writing assignments in the curriculum.

• Laurie Smith-Nelson, clinical assistant professor in psychology: “Impacts of Comprehensive Sexuality Education on High Risk Behaviors.” Smith-Nelson will develop research opportunities for undergraduates to analyze and extend the findings of several years of data from Psychology 230, which show that the course has an impact on high-risk sexual behavior and alcohol use. She will continue to revise the curriculum in light of her research findings.

• Clif Stratton, assistant director of the roots of contemporary issues program and instructor in the department of history: “Roots of Contemporary Issues Digital History Project.” Stratton will restructure his course to introduce freshmen to digital humanities and employer-sought skills by having them create digital history exhibits based on primary and secondary historical research.

• Xiuyu Wang, associate professor, history, Vancouver:  “Primary Source Encounters:  Fostering Student Knowledge and Analysis of East Asian Societies.” To help students become better informed world citizens and leaders through understanding eastern Asia’s impact on Western society, Wang will create a compendium of translated primary sources accompanied by critical, analytical and contextual materials where none exists at a level accessible to students.

The Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Endowment was established in 2000 by alumni and friends following the retirement of WSU president Samuel Smith who led the university for 15 years. The Smith grants are intended to “recognize and reward innovative ideas to enhance learning and teaching at WSU.”