Concurrent Sessions 8: Research Paper Presentations

Thursday, June 19, 2014, 4:00 - 4:30pm (30 minutes)
McArthur Hall, Queen's University

CON8.01 – Assessing Engagement in a Large Inquiry-Based Geography Course (Room A234)
Anne Godlewska; Andy Leger; Scott Whetstone and Laura Schaefli (Queen’s University)

This presentation will explore the result of a five-semester experiment with a large first-year blended learning and flipped classroom geography course in which problem-based learning exercises and new technologies were deployed to enhance student engagement. We measured student engagement using the NSSE-based in-class survey (CLASSE), the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) which measures deep and surface learning, an in-class survey of demographic data, university student warehouse data, data from the online course management system, and data from an online survey designed to solicit student opinions and suggestions on the course designs. We also tracked instructor, teaching assistant and undergraduate student time. The results clearly indicate strategies and technologies that do work and those that do not in enhancing student engagement.

CON8.02 – La littérature active! (Room A301)
Annie Riel and Catherine Dhavernas (Queen’s University)

In the field of literary studies, students are traditionally evaluated through oral presentations, essays and exams. Although all three forms of evaluation have demonstrated their effectiveness in terms of measuring a student’s capacity for analysis and mastering concepts, our objective here is to try to integrate new and alternative forms of evaluation that are specifically adapted to the study of literature and which offer a more participative approach to learning. In this case we decided to place students in a simulated teaching situation, an evaluation strategy which was inspired by the Three minute thesis contest at Queen’s University, in which the goal is for students to present the most important elements of their thesis in three minutes. This evaluation strategy will be introduced into two different courses offered to students in 3rd and 4th year in the Department of French studies in the winter semester of 2014, namely FREN 325/ 425 Tendances avant-gardistes et post-modernes au XXe siècle et à l’ère actuelle and FREN 327/427 Le cinéma aujourd’hui: Études thématiques.

If, on the one hand, the more traditional evaluation tools offered by oral presentations and essays are designed to call up analytical and explanatory skills, the simulated situation scenarios that we propose to introduce should further allow us to evaluate students’ capacity to synthesize information through active learning. In this presentation, we propose to detail the results of this new approach as experienced in the two courses mentioned above. As such, we will share our thoughts on the process of implementing this new approach and our assessment of its effectiveness during and after having taught the courses. We will discuss its impact on our teaching practices as well as its potential to transform students into teachers ; teachers into students ; teachers into mentors who teach students how to be leaders ; and passive students into active learners.

Dans le domaine des études littéraires, les situations d’évaluation sont généralement ancrées dans une tradition dont les outils se résument la plupart du temps à l’exposé oral, la dissertation et l’examen sur table. Bien que ces trois situations d’évaluation aient démontré leur efficacité à mesurer la maitrise des concepts à l’étude et la capacité d’analyse de l’étudiant, nous souhaitons intégrer de nouvelles situations d’évaluation autrement adaptées à notre objet d’étude et ratta-chées à une approche davantage participative. Nous avons décidé de tenter l’expérience d’une mise en situation, à savoir une stratégie d’évaluation inspirée du concours « Votre soutenance en 180 secondes », dont le principe consiste à faire la présentation des éléments les plus importants d’un cours en trois minutes. Cette stratégie sera introduite dans deux cours différents offerts aux étudiants de troisième et quatrième année au premier cycle en Études françaises au semestre d’hiver 2014, soit Fren 325/425 Tendances avant-gardistes et post-modernes au XXe siècle et à l'ère actuelle, ainsi que Fren 327/427 Le cinéma aujourd’hui: Études thématiques.

Si l’exposé traditionnel et la dissertation mobilisent principalement des compétences analytiques et explicatives, la mise en situation que nous proposons d’introduire ici devrait permettre d’évaluer des compétences de synthèse et d’apprentissage actif. Cette communication propose ainsi de rendre compte de l’expérience de cette nouvelle approche dans les deux cours en question et de partager nos réflexions avant, pendant et après l’enseignement de même que son impact sur notre pratique d’enseignement en les rattachant entre autres plus spécifiquement aux questions portant sur la transformation d’élèves en professeurs et de professeurs en élèves ; de professeurs en mentors qui enseignent comment être leader et d’étudiants passifs en étudiants actifs.

CON8.03 – Teaching and Learning Fellows: A Model for Transforming Teaching and Learning (Room A313)
Andrea Han and Warren Code (University of British Columbia)

As a part of the Flexible Learning Initiative at the University of British Columbia, departments have been encouraged to employ Teaching and Learning Fellows (TLFs), postdoctoral fellows with a strong disciplinary background and an interest in teaching and learning. TLFs are embedded within a department where they engage with faculty and support a wide variety of evidence-informed transformation. Unlike traditional professional development models, which often focus on individual faculty and short sessions with limited follow-up, TLFs provide on-going support to faculty seeking to transform learning experiences. The model has been inspired by the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI; in the Faculty of Science, which has met with considerable success in pairing faculty with such fellows.

As most TLFs enter their roles with limited expertise in teaching and learning, early and sustained support to develop this expertise is critical. To meet this need, a professional development series was formed through a strategic partnership between the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and the Faculty of Science. The series builds on the success of the CWSEI model and integrates a learning community model to “create connections for isolated teachers, establish networks for those pursuing pedagogical issues, meet early-career faculty expectations for community, foster multidisciplinary curricula, and begin to bring community to higher education" (Cox, 2004). As research is an expectation for all post- doctoral fellows, the development series also includes a scholarship component to help prepare TLFs to be SoTL champions in their departments.

In this session, we will describe the TLF role (illustrated with stories from current TLFs), review the collaborative TLF Development Series used to build TLF expertise in teaching and learning (which could easily be adapted for new faculty, especially those in a teaching-stream position), discuss early examples of challenges and successes, and review recommendations for the role from current TLFs. Participants will leave the session with an idea of how the TLF role might be adapted to fit their own institutional requirements and will be provided access to development series resources including outlines, a reading list and examples of activities.

CON8.04 – Transforming External Scaffolding to Educator Self-Reflection by Using Advanced Learning Technologies (Room A241/242)
Anoop Saxena, Alenoush Saroyan, Lauren Agnew and Alejandra Segura (McGill University)

This study investigates the potential application of an alternative approach to externally mediated self-reflection. Typically, the self-reflection process occurs through a consultation process by an educational developer. The project explores the potential of Advanced Learning Technologies (ALT) in prompting reflection on action. The focus on quality teaching has serious implications for the way we conceptualize, deliver, and support teaching development in our universities. Reflection on action is an inherent and necessary process for ameliorating teaching. Self-reflection is typically mediated externally; by peers, educational and faculty developers and/or consultants. This is because individuals may not be able to observe and assess their own shortcomings or offer an honest and objective evaluation of themselves (Barber, 1990).   However, there are disadvantages to this model. For instance, it might lead to an unbalanced relationship between the learner and mediator. Being observed by someone may lead to embarrassment in discussing apparent areas of weakness, especially if there is lack of confidence in teaching.

To address this potential shortcoming, our team has been exploring the use of ALTs for self-reflection. ALTs and Computer Based Learning Environments (CBLE) are currently used to foster student learning about complex topics in science, math, computer literacy, and medical procedures (see Azevedo, Johnson, Chauncey, & Burkett, 2010; Graesser, Chipman, Haynes, & Olney, 2005; Lajoie, 2007; 2008; Leelawong & Biswas, 2008; White, Frederiksen, & Collins, 2009) and have been used effectively to scaffold self-regulated learning, metacognition, and decision making. Their successes in these contexts make them a potentially effective environment for fostering self-reflection on teaching. Some CBLEs use a pedagogical agent as a means of strengthening the social element for invoking cognitive processes, rendering the context more authentic to teaching and learning (Baylor, 2005). To date, the use of a CBLE with a pedagogical agent to scaffold self-reflection has not been explored despite empirical evidence that learners interacting with pedagogical agents can demonstrate higher motivation and deeper learning (Atkinson, 2002; Baylor, 2002; Driscoll et al., 2003; Moon, 2004; Moreno et al., 2001).  We have developed a prototype of a CBLE with a Pedagogical Agent to foster self-reflection.

To generate a blueprint for the scope of such a CBLE, we used a two pronged approach. We first generated a framework for reflection based on the existing empirical literature. We then asked 15 faculty members to plan and deliver a 10 minute micro-teaching, which was video-taped. Faculty were asked to view their video and think aloud as they reflected on their teaching. We also elicited detailed feedback on their potential use of an ALT system for the purpose of self-reflection. Data generated in this way was used to complement what we had compiled from the literature. The prototype CBLE was then built based on these data. During the paper presentation, we will demonstrate the prototype and engage the audience in a discussion about the value and usability of such an environment.

CON8.05 – Transforming Healthcare Quality for a New Generation of Learners (Room A207)
Kim Sears, Briana Broderick and Denise Stockley (Queen’s University)

In 2012, Queen’s University established the Master of Science in in Healthcare Quality [MSc(HQ)] program. Combining both synchronous and asynchrony web learning, independent study and face-to-face encounters, the MSc(HQ) is at the cutting edge of delivering high quality distance higher education.  The MSc(HQ) program offers students a unique mix of both theoretical study and practical, real world, application. Students from disciplines as wide ranging as architecture, nursing, engineering, and data management are taught by faculty from the disciplines of law, policy studies, nursing, and medicine. Facilitated by a successful collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the MSc(HQ) has been built on solid educational pedagogy.  Further, this program will offer Canadian and international perspectives on quality, risk, and safety in healthcare. After the implementation of the MSc(HQ), it is imperative that an evaluation of its core components is completed in order to ensure that the philosophy under which it was developed is being upheld.  We have evaluated student and faculty responses to the core curriculum, the student experience, flow of information (given it is a part-time, distance program) and the effectiveness of the community of knowledge we have built. 

The research questions underpinning this study include the following:

  1. What effect has the curriculum in the MSc(HQ) had on the learners’ knowledge of quality, risk and safety in healthcare? 
  2. How has blended learning affected student success in the MSc(HQ)?
  3. Are students, staff and faculty satisfied with the delivery of the program? 
  4. Has the interdisciplinary nature of the program posed difficulties/obstacles not associated with homogeneous programs?
  5. What are the lessons learned in this program that could apply to professional development opportunities in clinical settings?

Answering these questions will aid in the development of new curriculum, new interdisciplinary programs, and the development of other online distance courses.  The concepts of online distance education, interdisciplinary studies, and creating new curricula which meet the needs of today’s changing workforce are at the forefront of issues in higher education. The knowledge generated from these research questions will help guide future university programs (both graduate and undergraduate) develop distance courses by providing a template on how to successfully build an engaging distance program, promote interdisciplinary cooperation, and develop a curriculum that is interdisciplinary in nature. 

This presentation will demonstrate the evolution of the program from conception to delivery and evaluation. It will highlight the benefit of building the program on strong pedagogy and with collaboration between faculty, educational developers, students, library support and administration. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in an extensive question and answer session.

CON8.06 – Measuring Learning Dispositions (Room A211)
Natalie Simper and Jake Kaupp (Queen’s University)

Measuring learning dispositions is one step in fostering and developing life skills in students, and it is one of the goals of a HEQCO-funded three-year pilot project studying the implementation and assessment of generic learning outcomes.  The Task Learning Orientation (TLO) tool was developed to provide a sustainable and reliable self-assessment method specific to the research goals. The TLO combines existing self-report measures, rubric descriptors and qualitative responses, and is used to measure motivation, learning beliefs, self-efficacy, transfer, organization and self-regulation.

In this research, we randomly sampled students from three first year University courses, from the Faculties of Arts and Science (n= 176) and Engineering and Applied Science (n=216). We used scales from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) to derive our initial data. Analysis of results, together with feedback from faculty was used to develop the TLO. The TLO was piloted within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (n= 426) with partial success, and has been improved based on those results. Presented here is the TLO, and associated Learning Orientation/ Self-Regulation rubric. Also demonstrated is how the qualitative component of the tool guides student reflection, focuses on strengths and weaknesses, thus informing instructors on areas for course improvement. Testing is continuing with alternate populations to further refine the tool, and audience members will be encouraged to reflect on measurement of learning dispositions within their own context. The longitudinal use of this tool is designed to track learning orientations and self-regulation of students through their undergraduate program, with the desire that they become more intrinsically motivated and develop self-regulatory life skills as they progress to become highly employable graduates.

CON8.07 – Art and Art Galleries in the Social Science and Humanities Classroom: Transforming our Teaching and Learning Spaces (Room A342)
Heather Smith and Dana Wessell Lightfoot (University of Northern British Columbia)

Heather is trained as a political scientist and Dana is trained as a historian. Our disciplines often focus on the textual, on reading, thinking and writing critically about written primary and secondary sources and classroom assignments that reinforce the power and place of the written word. This approach to understanding and knowledge translation, however, privileges particular learning styles, emphasizes the cognitive over the affective, and places the written word over other forms of expression. Understanding this, we have both independently altered our major assignments in one of our third year classes. In both cases, we introduced a component that provides for alternative forms of expression and, in particular, we have introduced art and art galleries into our curriculum. Our research paper and presentation will share our reflections on the design and delivery of our art and art gallery projects. We will also share feedback we received from the students about the assignment. It will be seen that the use of art in the social sciences and humanities classroom challenges traditional assumptions of what constitutes scholarship, provides the students with learning opportunities that allow them to connect with their research in ways that are often more personal and relevant than the traditional essay and fosters more collaborative learning in the classroom.

CON8.08 – Student Textbook Use in the Sciences – How Do They Read and Does it Matter? (Room A339)
Franco Taverna, Michelle French, Melody Neumann, Lena Paulo Kushnir, Jason Harlow, David Harrison, Charly Bank, Scott Browning, Cecilia Kutas, Ruxandra M. Serbanescu, and Karen Ing (University of Toronto)

A textbook or course reading pack is a requirement of most first- and second-year undergraduate science courses. Instructors in these courses expect and encourage students to complete the assigned readings, and guides for student success promote textbook reading as a way for students to improve their academic performance. In spite of the general assumption that textbook reading enhances student learning, student-reported reading compliance is low. Perhaps even more surprising, in the few instances where it has been studied, there are conflicting results about whether textbook reading is correlated with improvements in student grades. If there is truly little or no correlation between textbook use and grades, what’s the point in even assigning one?

Given the ubiquitous use of textbooks, their expense and the possibility that textbook reading might not improve student performance in some instances, we surveyed students in several large undergraduate science courses about how they used their course textbook and examined whether there was a correlation between textbook use and performance in the course as measured by final course grades. We also surveyed the course instructors about their use of course textbooks in order to assess whether a textbook was truly required (i.e. if quizzes/tests/exams/assignments contained questions drawn solely from the textbook). Surprisingly, we found that students who reported “never” or “rarely” reading the textbook earned better course grades than those who read “sometimes”. Those who read “often” also did better than those who read “sometimes”.  In addition, the timing of textbook reading (i.e. before class, after class, etc.) had no bearing on final course grades. In conclusion, our study suggests there are different subgroups of learners in courses; some read “often” to do well, while others do not rely at all on the textbook to do well.   This presentation will feature an audience engagement opportunity to brainstorm and design methods to increase textbook reading compliance in courses, including identifying the types of courses that most benefit from textbook reading.

CON8.09 – Transforming our Learning Experiences through Universal Design for Learning (Room A334)
Roberta Thomson (McGill University)

The conference theme of classrooms as learning experiences that embrace diverse student needs will be explored in this session through a grant-funded research project recently begun. The significance of Universal Design for Learning is growing rapidly in the context of postsecondary education and pedagogy. In order to widen access to learning and create an inclusive learning environment for a diverse student population university and college campuses in Quebec have started to work with Faculty to implement principles of Universal Design in their teaching practices.   UDL promotes a proactive approach to planning a course, which can create more sustainable teaching practices and reduce the need for more costly ‘retrofitting’ methods done through classroom accommodations, often used to support the needs of today’s diverse student population.

The project is a collaboration between five post-secondary institutions in Montreal: McGill University, John Abbott College, Marianopolis College, Dawson College and Centennial College. Spanning a three-year process, the project culminates in the creation of a user-friendly pedagogical toolkit using a qualitative mixed method action research approach. Initial research began during the winter semester of 2014 and will conclude in the fall of 2014.

The project’s goals are:

  1. To identify general key facilitators and stressors reported by Faculty that hinder or support the implementation of Universal design across all five institutions. 
  2. To create a user friendly pedagogical toolkit based on the research findings, which will assist Faculty to integrate UDL principles into their teaching.   

The audience will engage in exploring access and barriers to learning through an interactive exploration of the topic of UDL (for those unfamiliar with it). A questions and answer period will follow the presentation.

CON8.10 – Transformative Learning and Teaching Through Inclusiveness, Power-Sharing and Critical Enquiry (Room A333)
Alice U-Mackey and Maria Hayward (Auckland University of Technology)

Learner diversity has become the norm in many academic learning environments internationally. This has been accompanied by increased recognition and prominence of intercultural learning and teaching. All learners bring with them individual cultural experiences and skills which, if acknowledged and enhanced, can lead to successful further learning, as well as more culturally competent communities. The provision of opportunities in the formal learning environment that enable individuals to engage in meaningful interactions which foster awareness and encourage comparisons of experiences can lead to positive and transformative  outcomes.

This presentation describes the development and implementation of an intercultural education program model designed to enhance the settlement process for newcomers. It also includes discussions on teacher attributes and skills that are required for implementing the program. Preliminary findings from the research highlight the importance of incorporating teacher-learner as well as learner-learner interactions within an environment of inclusiveness, power-sharing and critical enquiry. The pedagogical approach and flexible features of this intercultural education program model can be effectively adapted for different learning and teaching programs to suit learners at a range of levels and needs. The presentation concludes with recommendations and suggestions for similar intercultural education programs and further research.

CON8.11 – Fostering an Inquiry-based Approach to Learning Through the Use of Digital Technologies (Room A240)
Norman Vaughan (Mount Royal University)

The purpose of this research study was to investigate if and how an inquiry-based approach to digital technology integration could be utilized in a pre-service teacher education program. All students enrolled in an educational technology course during the winter 2013 and 2014 semesters completed an inquiry-based learning project related to the integration of digital technologies in their future teaching practice. Through blog postings, an online survey, and a face-to-face focus group, the study participants indicated that this approach to technology integration is useful when teachers provide a big picture orientation, use clear guidelines, scaffold the process, ensure that students make informed question for inquiry selection, facilitate weekly technology instruction related to the project, and incorporate digital storytelling to convey the results.

This session will begin with an overview to the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework and Practical Inquiry (PI) Model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) that were used to guide the inquiry-based learning process for the students’ projects about digital technologies. A brief summary of the findings from this action research study will be provided. Recommendations and strategies for utilizing the CoI framework and PI model to guide an inquiry-based approach to learning through the use of digital technologies will be discussed.

CON8.12 – Threshold Concepts and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Room A239)
Andrea Webb (The University of British Columbia)

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is an important international movement, which contributes to the quality of teaching and learning in higher education, as well as to a growing body of educational literature (Hubball, Pearson, & Clarke, 2013). With a focus on student learning in diverse educational contexts, SoTL encompasses a broad set of practices that engage educational leaders in examining curriculum and pedagogy in a methodical and rigorous way (Glassick, Huber, & Maeroff, 1997; Hutchings, Huber, & Ciccone, 2011). Providing a literature informed, peer reviewed justification for program and policy changes, SoTL is a practical and complementary undergirding for research in teaching and learning. However, many institutions lack internal SoTL expertise to effectively develop and evaluate curriculum and pedagogical practices (Hubball, Lamberson, & Kindler, 2012). There is a need for better and more integrated theoretical work in designing SoTL programs (Gurung & Schwartz, 2010; Hutchings, 2007; Kandlbinder & Peseta, 2009). Recent studies illustrate that threshold concepts have proved useful for initiating cross-disciplinary discourses (Carmichael, 2010), acting as a starting place for curriculum making (Carmichael, 2012).

The purpose of this session is to share recent research conducted to identify the threshold concepts in SoTL in order to (re) consider how educational leaders approach the SoTL and engage the audience in conversation around the areas of engagement and key challenges that they face as they begin work/study in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Theorization in threshold concepts (Meyer & Land, 2003; 2005; 2006) works as a lens with which to investigate SoTL and as a frame to consider curriculum for SoTL programs.  Focusing on the ‘stuck places’ in SoTL programs, this research considers the experience of faculty members previously and currently enrolled in a SoTL program at a research-intensive university in Canada. Semi-structured responsive interviews (Rubin & Rubin, 2005) were conducted with 10 current SoTL program members and 20 past graduates to explore their experience of learning the ways of thinking and practicing SoTL. These interviews revealed a variety of troublesome concepts and coping strategies to navigate within a liminal space. In preliminary analysis, potential threshold concepts include the challenging epistemic shift required when designing and conducting SoTL research in an educational frame, the uncertainty of working across disciplinary boundaries, and the openness of participants’ to make their teaching public.

In light of the potential institutional benefits afforded by the adoption of SoTL for pedagogical and curricular investigations, an understanding of SoTL that includes threshold concepts will help to facilitate the requisite cultural shift within departments and institutions. And yet, the troublesome nature of threshold concepts in SoTL provokes the uncomfortable, liminal spaces that are a feature of learning to do SoTL. It is hoped that participants at this session engage in rethinking their SoTL experience and consider the troublesome nature of aspects of enculturation into scholarship in teaching and learning; how do we develop and support SoTL scholars?

CON8.13 – Students' Motivations for Participation in Course Evaluations Outside of the Classroom: The Role of the Instructor in Online Course Evaluations (Room A236)
Cherie Werhun and Carol Rolheiser (The University of Toronto)

The summative course evaluation process represents an important feedback mechanism in a course learning space: here, students, as members of this space, provide information, more formally, about their learning experiences to their instructors, institution, and in some cases, their peers. With the continuing integration of technological facilitators that expand the learning space to outside the physical classroom (i.e. online course evaluation systems), the course evaluation mechanism has expanded as well, offering students the opportunity to provide their perceptions about their learning experiences on their own, unconstrained by time set aside in the classroom. Indeed, the movement to a flexible, online, and reflective course evaluation process has been met with concern by some: instructors are wary of students’ participation rates (Crews & Curtis, 2011), the quality of students’ responses (Hardy, 2003), and the perceived reduction in control over how and when the information is collected (Morrisson, 2013).

Whereas extensive research has investigated instructors’ perceptions of effective communication mechanisms to encourage student participation in online course evaluations (Ballantyne, 2013), research on students’ actual perceptions of what motivates them to respond in this online course evaluation feedback space is limited. Thus, in the present study, we surveyed a large sample of undergraduate students (N > 10,000) across a number of academic divisions about their perceptions of not only the extent to which our institutional communication strategies effectively educated students about course evaluations, but also about the strategies that they felt motivated them personally to complete a course evaluation for their course(s). In addition, we asked students to list factors they feel motivate students generally to complete online course evaluations on their own as well as factors that motivate them personally. Results demonstrated that students felt institutional messages from the online system, which encouraged them to participate, were educationally effective; however, students also indicated messages from their instructors were also effective. When these factors were statistically regressed onto actual online course evaluation response rates (controlling for various course demographic variables), results demonstrated messages from the course instructor were more strongly associated with student participation than were messages from the online system. Moreover, qualitative themes from students’ written responses confirmed that the instructor, and his or her level of engagement in communicating the importance and meaning of course evaluation feedback, played a key role in student willingness to provide feedback online. Taken together, results suggest that although the online evaluation experience creates a more open and flexible feedback experience for students, student participation remains highly influenced by the instructor’s communicated value of the course evaluation to his or her teaching and course development.

Based on the data presented in this paper presentation, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. As well, using our results as a guide, presenters will ask participants to generate ideas for how instructors can best communicate the importance of course evaluation feedback to students when this feedback occurs outside of the classroom.