2009-2010 Funded Projects

Improving the Impact of Learning Communities at UNC Charlotte through Research-Guided Program Development

Kim Buch, Cynthia Wolf Johnson, and Liz Fitzgerald

Abstract: We are applying for a SoTL Grant to support an extensive evaluation of the Learning Community Program at UNC Charlotte to better understand how and why they are successful. The program currently consists of 17 learning communities in seven colleges and several units within Academic Services and Student Affairs. The study would produce a set of best practices that could be used to improve the impact and cost-effectiveness of the Learning Community Program and its results would also help to develop a comprehensive vision and direction for the first year experience at UNC Charlotte. The study would utilize quantitative (regression analyses) and qualitative (brainstorming sessions and focus groups) methods to identify which design elements of learning communities have the greatest impact on the academic success and retention of learning community participants. Tangible products of this project include a design elements rubric; a longitudinal database of multiple learning community outcomes (over time and across the 17 communities) and design elements; and an evaluation template that could be adapted for evaluating and improving other first year programs and initiatives. Finally, this study would support the research of faculty in the area of SoTL (the scholarship of teaching and learning), which simultaneously contributes to faculty and university program development.

Full proposal: Improving the Impact of Learning Communities [PDF, 485 KB]

Comprehensive Musicianship: An Innovative Approach to the Music Curriculum

John Allemeier and James A. Grymes

Abstract: This project seeks to develop an innovative curriculum for upper-division music courses by creating a sequence of courses that survey the history, literature, theory, composition, and improvisation of music from classical antiquity through the present. The integration of the two seemingly disparate fields of Music History and Music Theory—an approach known throughout the discipline as “Comprehensive Musicianship”—has been explored by a variety of musicians over the past several decades, but efforts to generate a sustainable collegiate curriculum based on its principles have thus far failed. UNC Charlotte music professors John Allemeier and Jay Grymes plan to solve this longstanding problem by pioneering a novel approach to the academic study of music that combines their expertises in the fields of Music Theory/Composition and Music History, respectively, with their passions for undergraduate instruction and commitments to collaboration.

The Comprehensive Musicianship curriculum will increase the efficiency of instruction on our campus by consolidating five courses into a three-course sequence. It will also improve learning outcomes for the majority of music majors for whom three of those five courses are not currently required, thereby enhancing student professional development and better preparing all of our music majors for the complex demands of the twenty-first century. Most importantly, this project will provide both a methodology and a variety of pedagogical materials for Comprehensive Musicianship that will revolutionize the teaching of Music History and Music Theory through an integrated survey of the history of musical thought.

Full proposal: Comprehensive Musicianship [PDF, 88 KB]

Redesign of Introductory Chemistry Courses through a Chemistry Resource Room

Kathryn S. Asala, Banita W. Brown, Richard L. Jew, and Katharine L. Popejoy

Abstract: We propose to create a Chemistry Resource Room (CRR) to increase the competency and success rate of students enrolled in CHEM 1251. This service course has an enrollment of over 1200 students and currently suffers from a high DFW rate, resulting in large numbers of students who retake the lecture and co‐requisite laboratory. The proposed CRR will incorporate technology and invite peer and faculty‐student collaboration as methods of remediating the study skills and comprehension of lower‐achieving students. By actively targeting students based on performance, we expect to lower the DFW rate, thereby decreasing costs for the University as fewer sections of both lecture and laboratory will be needed if fewer students repeat CHEM 1251. For students, higher passing rates will translate into lower tuition costs and shorter graduation times, while the personalized attention available at the CRR will promote better retention of chemical concepts. To set up the CRR, we will first renovate space in Burson and purchase furnishings and equipment conducive to group study. We will then accumulate and develop paper and online materials and resources that cater to students’ specific needs, and train TAs and UAs to administer and assist students with these materials. Low performing students in a pilot section of the course will be required to complete activities in the CRR to boost their participation points, which are initially awarded on performance. The CRR will eventually incorporate computing resources to benefit a broader range of classes offered by the Department of Chemistry.

Full proposal: Redesign of Introductory Chemistry Courses [PDF, 528 KB]

Developing an Open Educational Resource for Secure Software Development

Heather Richter Lipford and Bill Chu

Abstract: Software flaws are at the root cause of many of today’s information security vulnerabilities. Yet, relatively few programs offer any education in secure software development – techniques that reduce the security bugs and problems found in software. We aim to improve this education for our students by the creation of an online Open Educational Resource as a supplement to existing textbooks and exercises that are used across the curricula of the College of Computing and Informatics. We will do this by determining the security flaws in existing course examples and exercises, developing new exercises without these flaws, and creating a website to share this content to course instructors and students who are not trained in security. These activities will seed our efforts to create a general and broad resource that can support the training of secure software developers in a variety of academic and industrial organizations.

Full proposal: Developing an OER for Secure Software Development [PDF, 82 KB]

Redesigning SPAN 1201 and SPAN 1202 as Hybrid Courses

Heather McCullough

Abstract: The Department of Languages and Culture Studies proposes to expand its pilot program for delivering Elementary Spanish via a hybrid method to all sections of SPAN 1201 and 1202 beginning Fall 2010. This effort is a continuation of a major course redesign undertaken during the 2008-2009 academic year under the guidance of the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) through its Colleagues Committed to Redesign program. Through our participation in the program, we learned about the NCAT methodology, strategies and techniques for successful course redesign, and received guidance from NCAT staff and scholars in the development of plans for our redesign of Spanish. Expanding the hybrid course method (a combination of online and face to face delivery) to all sections is a significant undertaking that will require ongoing redesign efforts during Spring and Summer 2010 that respond to information gleaned from the pilots of SPAN 1201 offered this Fall and SPAN 1202 offered this Spring. In addition to incorporating feedback from students in the pilot program and evaluating data collected during the pilot program, retraining all of our Spanish adjuncts, GTAs, participating full time faculty and peer tutors during summer 2010 will be required. The purpose of the Spanish redesign project is to increase section size (from 30 to 60 students) without decreasing learning outcomes as measured by common final exams this Fall and Spring comparing pilot and regular sections. The SOTL grant will allow us to develop and deliver a training program and supporting materials for all SPAN 1201 and 1202 instructors and GTAs. The expanded redesign will offer significant financial savings and improved distribution of physical classroom space for the university as well as increased student access to these courses. Once implemented, we believe this model could be used by other European language courses and other large enrollment courses at the university.

Full proposal: Redesigning SPAN 1201 and SPAN 1202 as Hybrid Courses [PDF, 1021 KB]

Supporting Elementary Education Yearlong Interns

Marvin Chapman, Drew Polly, Joyce W. Frazier, Cindy Hopper, and Heather M. Britt

Abstract: The Supporting Elementary Education Yearlong Interns project will enhance the internship experience for elementary education students at two Professional
Development Schools, University Meadows Elementary and David Cox Road Elementary. Yearlong interns at selected schools will participate in ongoing seminars designed to further prepare them for student teaching internship, which will occur one semester later. The seminars will be facilitated by elementary school Project supervisors (Teacher-Leaders), who will be working with the interns during the entire school year. The expected outcome from this project is that student teachers who participate will demonstrate more readiness for the role of teacher and report a greater feeling of preparedness to teach than their peers who do not engage in the project. Outcomes will be determined by multiple data sources, including surveys, classroom observations and interviews.

Full proposal: Supporting Elementary Education Yearlong Interns [PDF, 82 KB]