Former SoTL Projects at WashU

Engaging in SoTL research is a way for graduate students and postdocs to explore incorporating a scholarly approach to teaching in their practice. The Center for Teaching and Learning supports graduate students and postdocs from all disciplines who are interested in developing and implementing SoTL projects. Those who are interested must have taken (or be enrolled in) the Intro to SoTL Seminar. They will work closely with a Center for Teaching and Learning staff member to refine their project proposal, submit an IRB application, design relevant course materials, refine evaluation materials and plan, collect and analyze data. This experience culminates in the participant presenting their findings in a public forum (e.g. conference, departmental event, campus group event, online CIRTL webinar). After the presentation is completed, participants will also be asked to reflect on the experience and how it has impacted their teaching philosophy and their plans to continue engaging in SoTL.

Implementing a SoTL project is a component of the Scholar level of the Center for Teaching and Learning Professional Development in Teaching Program.

For more information about conducting a SoTL project please contact Rick Moore.

Recent SoTL projects implemented through work with The Center for Teaching and Learning

Effect of Active Learning Tools in Introductory Anatomy and Physiology
Lisa McLellan, DBBS – Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
Implemented Spring 2019

Recently there has been a push to implement active learning in undergraduate STEM education, shown to stimulate a more vibrant class atmosphere while improving student outcomes. In this study, we focus on an introductory anatomy and physiology course primarily for pre-nursing students, a unique student population due to the fact that at many universities, many pre-nursing students are non-traditional students and a class often considered one of the more difficult courses due to the vast amount of memorization in the curriculum. We redesigned the laboratory curriculum for 150 students at Purdue University, Fort Wayne enrolled in Biology 203, Introductory Human Anatomy and Physiology during spring semester 2019. Purdue University, Fort Wayne has a 11% four- year graduation rate and 80% of the students live off campus, giving us access to look at non-traditional undergraduate students. In this study, we tested the question: Does student performance on memorization-based test questions improve by changing anatomy and physiology lab activities to include active learning class activities, including in class creation of flashcards for student independent study and performing movements relating to muscle actions? We redesigned lab activities to include kinetic based motions to learn muscle actions and muscle flashcard creation so students have study materials for self- study and then asked for students to complete a survey reporting their perceptions of the activity. We found that student grades during implementation were worse than previous years, which could not be explain by any single factor asked about in our post-activity survey. This matched a consistent decline in grades over the past 4 years, which appears to be due to some unknown, external factor. However, a majority of students said they enjoyed the activity and would continue to implement their own flashcards on future exams, suggesting that we did encourage student use of flashcards.

Teaching Introductory Psychology Students How to Critically Evaluate Scientific Claims

Kendra Smith, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Implemented Summer 2018

Students often struggle to critically evaluate scientific claims, and scientists frequently report dissatisfaction with the way their discoveries are reported in the popular press. The present study seeks to implement an intervention that teaches students a variety of strategies to become better informed consumers of science. During the first week of an Introductory Psychology course, students will complete a pretest assessing their ability to evaluate scientific claims on a variety of dimensions. Throughout the course, students will read four academic and four popular press articles and complete assignments related to the articles. The articles and assignments will be discussed during class on the day the assignment is due. At the end of the course, students will complete a posttest. Pre- and posttest performance will be assessed for the students involved in the intervention, and their performance will be compared to a control group that does not read the articles or complete the article assignments. Student confidence will also be evaluated through a survey. If the intervention is effective, educators should implement similar strategies to help students learn to critically assess scientific claims

Immersive 3D Augmented Reality Models in Geoscience Education
Kelsey Prissel, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Implemented Spring 2018

The main goal of a geologic field course is to teach students how to use spatial relationships to interpret the geologic history of a rock outcrop. This SoTL project tests whether 3D augmented reality representations of rock outcrops are as effective as field trips in illustrating complex geometries observed in the field. Several studies have documented increased student engagement when using virtual or augmented reality teaching tools; however, studies often do not focus on whether student academic performance is enhanced by digital models. This study contributes to the existing literature by assessing how well 3D augmented reality models help students learn, rather than focusing on student engagement and perceived learning gains. To test whether student comprehension is affected by the type of outcrop representation, we asked students to sketch rock outcrops (1) from a 2D photo, (2) from a 3D augmented reality representation, and (3) from the field. Preliminary results suggest that, in the case of rock outcrops, the fine-scale details observable on field trips cannot be well-represented by digital models in the classroom. However, large-scale spatial relationships can be adequately represented in the classroom with 3D augmented reality models.