2017-2018 Funded Projects

Raising the Bar: High Leverage Practices in Early Literacy Methods Coursework

Colleen E. Whittingham & Paola Pilonieta

Abstract: In 2019, the edTPA portfolio-based assessment will be required for teacher licensure in the state of North Carolina. At present, data indicate that approximately 19.7% of UNC Charlotte elementary education graduates would not be licensed on the first attempt. The licensure tests currently required will remain, and data from 2015-2017 reports only 70% of elementary education graduates passed the NC Foundations of Reading exam on the first attempt. Therefore, the objective of this research project is to investigate how the integration of selected high leverage practices (HLPs) (Ball & Forzani, 2009, 2010, 2011) in one initial licensure literacy methods course impacts 1) students’ preparedness to take the NC Foundations of Reading licensure exam; 2) students’ preparedness to pass the edTPA portfolio-based assessment; and 3) the pedagogical transfer of HLPs in their clinical teaching demonstrations, both immediately and over time. Using a concurrent triangulation mixed methods design (Creswell, 2003), the HLPs course modification of the literacy methods course will be implemented in one half of the Fall 2018 sections, with the other half of the Fall 2018 sections serving as the control. Assessment, interview, and video data will be collected and analyzed from all participants to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.

Full Proposal: Raising the Bar: High Leverage Practices in Early Literacy Methods Coursework [PDF, 345 KB]

Faculty Perceptions and Needs Regarding Application of Universal Design Principles in Online Courses

Carl Westine & Beth Oyarzun

Abstract: Online course delivery is on the rise at many higher education institutions (Allen & Seaman, 2016) including the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). Additionally, UNCC aims to become more socially and culturally diverse. Therefore, consideration should be given to delivery of content across all modalities, including online. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides a set of principles to guide faculty in designing online or face-to-face courses that effectively reach a variety of learners with different levels of prior knowledge, abilities, and education levels from multiple cultural backgrounds. However, designing online courses with the UDL principles takes significantly more planning and resources. The purpose of this two-year project is to identify and prioritize needs for successful application of Universal Design principles in the design of online courses at UNCC. 

Full Proposal: Faculty Perceptions and Needs Regarding Application of Universal Design Principles in Online Courses  [PDF, 642 KB]

Implementation of a Partially Flipped Classroom to Better Engage Engineering Students and Develop Higher-Order Cognitive Skills

Kimberly Warren

Abstract: This mixed methods, pre-test/post-test control group design study will pilot and evaluate a Partially Flipped Classroom (PFC) pedagogy in a required engineering course to 1) determine if the new pedagogy can increase student engagement in the classroom, 2) evaluate student gains and determine if students can achieve higher-order cognitive skills, 3) evaluate changes in student perceptions and self-efficacy, and 4) identify/overcome challenges associated with implementing a PFC to develop a simple, flexible model that can be adopted by other engineering/STEM classrooms. For the lectures that will be flipped, students in the treatment group will begin the learning process outside of class at their own pace by watching technology clips. Classroom time will then be utilized to participate in active learning strategies (cooperative, inquiry-based, and problem-based learning) intended to increase engagement, help the students achieve higher-order cognitive skills, make the classroom more inclusive, and provide students with a variety of learning styles. This study would provide an opportunity to evaluate methods of using classroom time more effectively, impacts on student learning on a deeper level, and the ability to impact self-efficacy. If successful, the proposed PFC model would be integrated into the other core civil engineering courses at UNC Charlotte as part of a larger research initiative that will help the CEE Department improve student retention and progression within the Department. The extensive evaluation plan includes both formative and summative assessment designed to accomplish the four project objectives while collecting both quantitative and qualitative data from control and treatment student groups.

Full Proposal: Implementation of a Partially Flipped Classroom to Better Engage Engineering Students and Develop Higher-Order Cognitive Skills [PDF, 1.76 MB]

Taking Laboratories Virtual: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Video Based Online Laboratory Experiments in Fire Safety Courses through Analysis of Student Assessments

Scot R. Rockwell

Abstract: This study will analyze the ability of video based laboratory exercises to teach students the specific learning objectives for a lesson. To accomplish this goal, assessments will be taken before and after the completion of the virtual laboratory exercises and student opinion surveys will be administered and analyzed. This type of information is critical as the UNCC student population grows and laboratory spaces become less available and for distance education students who do not have access to campus facilities. Virtual labs have been used in teaching science for many years in fields such as chemistry and physics. The virtual lab is beneficial because it allows the students to do many simulated experiments without the cost, danger, and time constrain of actual experiments. Fire Safety related combustion can occur at a wide variety of length and time scales. Some reaction happen very fast which are difficult for the human eye to see and other reactions occur so slow that they cannot be completed in a typical class period. Some situations occur in small spaces which cannot be viewed by the human eye and some fire types occur at large scales which will not fit into the typical academic laboratory space. The use of virtual laboratories allows student to analyze the types of fires that cannot be done in a typical academic laboratory space. In addition, some science experiments such as reactive chemistry can be inherently dangerous and difficult to control which can lead to injuries when mishandled. By doing virtual laboratories students are able to see the results of reactions without the danger of experimenting with combustion processes.

Full Proposal: Taking Laboratories Virtual: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Video Based Online Laboratory Experiments in Fire Safety Courses through Analysis of Student Assessments  [PDF, 338 KB]

Examining the Impact of an Embedded, Multi-Semester Internship on Teacher Education Candidates’ Knowledge and Skills

S. Michael Putman

Abstract: Within the current educational context, teacher preparation programs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their effectiveness in producing teachers that impact P-12 student learning. As a result, programs must investigate organizational features that are powerful for preparing preservice candidates to enter the classroom. This research will examine how an embedded internship delivered in within partnership with a local district over multiple semesters can be used to support the development of teacher candidates. It is theorized that the activities associated with this proposal have the potential for the partnership to be a powerful way to structure teacher learning to impact theory to practice connections and improve efficacy for teaching and learning. Resulting conclusions will be utilized to examine coursework and clinical experiences within the teacher education programs within the Department of Reading and Elementary Education and to engage in revisions to the various facets of the program that maximize candidates’ preparation entering the teaching field.

Full Proposal: Examining the Impact of an Embedded, Multi-Semester Internship on Teacher Education Candidates’ Knowledge and Skills [PDF, 514 KB]

An Assessment of the Impact of Library Instructional Strategies on Engineering Students’ Information Literacy

Jeffrey McAdams & Rebecca Croxton

Abstract: In support of UNCC’s goals for student success and retention, this mixed methods project seeks to assess the impact of the current information literacy instructional program offered by J. Murrey Atkins Library on engineering students’ abilities to critically evaluate and select credible and meaningful resources in their research and writing. Current trends in the literature suggest today’s undergraduate learners are opting for quick, easy, and convenient alternatives to meet their information needs that do not include the library. This elicits cause for concern, as significant, positive correlational evidence suggests library utilization is closely associated with students’ academic performance and university retention. This study will include multiple data sources that will be used to examine students’ information literacy skills, comparing findings between those who have engaged with the library’s information literacy instruction program and those who have not. The findings from this study will help the research and instructional staff at Atkins Library make improvements to their information literacy curricula and will be used to develop a replicable model for information literacy instruction that will promote student success and retention through graduation. Findings from this study will be disseminated locally, nationally, and internationally via professional presentations and a peer- reviewed published manuscript.

Full Proposal: An Assessment of the Impact of Library Instructional Strategies on Engineering Students’ Information Literacy [PDF, 782 KB]

Student Expressions of Geospatial Inquiry: The E-Communicative Art of Research Storytelling in the Classroom

Laurie Garo

Abstract: Technology increases student critical thinking and engagement through active and participatory learning. Digital storytelling, conveyed or showcased via e-communications, offers exciting possibilities for student engagement in scholarship via technology. Digital media afford the platform and technologies for communicating stories that describe research, utilize critical thinking and analyses, and relay information. Communications take place by showcasing on the internet, social media, as videos and other electronic transmission. These forms of communicating research may be particularly attractive to groups underrepresented in STEM. The purpose of the project is to increase student interest and efficacy of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as STEM research method within the Geog 4110-5110: GIS for Non Majors course. This course attracts multidisciplinary students from research areas across all colleges. The project is thus approached from the perspective of communication across the curriculum. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to assess digital storytelling/e-communications for deeper learning of content and enhancement of technological competencies as well as for increased interest in GIS and STEM research. Pre-post storytelling student Likert-scale surveys and course grades will provide data for quantitative assessment via T-tests. Thematic analyses of focus group responses and of comparative examination of story map content will be made with reference to student self-identified racial/ethnic group. Project results will be disseminated to promote digital storytelling as culturally responsive pedagogy effective in GIS course mastery and for increasing multicultural interest in geospatial STEM research.

Full Proposal: Student Expressions of Geospatial Inquiry: The E-Communicative Art of Research Storytelling in the Classroom [PDF, 1.13 MB]

Advanced Oral Proficiency: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Preparing Spanish Teachers

Kristin Davin & Scott Kissau

Abstract: Reflecting national trends, approximately half of all UNC Charlotte foreign language teacher candidates since 2010 have been unable to demonstrate advanced oral proficiency on a gatekeeper performance assessment (the Oral Proficiency Interview: OPI), as required by national accreditation standards (see ACTFL, 2002). At a time of declining enrollment in teacher training programs and a critical shortage of qualified foreign language teachers, we cannot afford to lose so many aspiring teachers. In response, the researchers propose to create and evaluate the impact of a convenient and cost-effective online (distance education) course to be taken by all aspiring Spanish teachers at UNC Charlotte. Interdisciplinary and interactive in nature, the course will focus on enhancing students’ oral communication skills in Spanish, exposing them to the type of language skills and vocabulary they will need as K-12 Spanish teachers, and familiarizing them with the procedures and expectations of the OPI. The project has the potential to a) enhance teacher candidate preparation to complete licensure tests, b) improve graduation rates among aspiring Spanish teacher candidates, c) help to alleviate the local and national shortage of qualified Spanish teachers, and d) provide a model to other departments across campus of how to work together to enhance candidate outcomes.

Full Proposal: Advanced Oral Proficiency: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Preparing Spanish Teachers [PDF, 338 KB]

Using Worked Examples to Enhance Learning in an Upper-Level Meteorology Course

Casey E. Davenport

Abstract: For many students, the atmospheric dynamics course sequence (METR 3250 and METR 4250) represents a formidable requirement for graduation, as it represents the first experience students have in explicitly integrating the principles of physics, calculus, and meteorology. The worked examples approach may help in this regard; its ability to improve student understanding in scientific disciplines is well-documented. Students examine sample problems that demonstrate an expert’s solution, accompanied by self-explanation prompts that illuminate the reasoning behind each step. The goal is for students to construct a basic understanding of concepts and their application; in-class time solidifies key concepts and provides additional depth. Despite its successes, the pedagogy has yet to be applied in atmospheric science courses. The proposed study fills that gap by quantifying the impact of worked examples into METR 3250 and METR 4250 on student learning.
Beginning in Spring 2017, the atmospheric dynamics course sequence went from being lecture-driven (Fall 2014/2015 and Spring 2015/2016 semesters) to application- driven (via worked examples). The impact of this change on student learning will be measured by comparing scores on various assessments (quizzes, homeworks, and exams) and overall course grades. The significance of differences among these measures will be assessed through a variety of statistical tests. It is anticipated that these results will help remove some of the stigma associated with the course, giving students more confidence moving forward through the meteorology curriculum. Results will be presented to the UNC Charlotte community and the American Meteorological Society to inspire changes in other courses.

Full Proposal: Using Worked Examples to Enhance Learning in an Upper-Level Meteorology Course [PDF, 361 KB]

On the Efficacy of Interactive Preparatory Work in a Flipped Computing Course

Lijuan Cao & Audrey Rorrer

Abstract: In the College of Computing and Informatics several sections of ITSC 1213, which is a second semester programming course, are taught using the flipped classroom pedagogy. This pedagogy hinges on students doing the preparatory work, which includes reading the textbook and watching videos, before class. To encourage the students to do this work, they are also required to complete a short multiple-choice online quiz. Yet, many students do not spend enough time on the preparatory work despite the quiz incentive. To address this challenge, we will introduce a new approach that is designed to be more engaging. We will replace the regular textbook with an interactive textbook and replace the multiple-choice quizzes with small programming assignments, which will be graded automatically to give students immediate feedback. We hypothesize that this will improve student engagement with the material and will lead them to be more prepared for class. To test the efficacy of this approach, two sections of the course will be offered with the only difference being in the preparatory work; the experimental section will use an interactive textbook and small programming assignments and the control group will use the current textbook and multiple-choice quizzes. This study will address a noticeable gap in computing education literature by testing the effect of combining the flipped classroom pedagogy with an interactive textbook.

Full Proposal: On the Efficacy of Interactive Preparatory Work in a Flipped Computing Course  [PDF, 462 KB]

Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Preparing Teacher Candidates for K-12 Urban Classrooms

Bettie Ray Butler & Scott Kissau

Abstract: Results from a recent survey of graduates published by the University of North Carolina General Administration, indicated that approximately 40% of UNC Charlotte graduates from a teacher licensure program feel ill-prepared to maintain classroom discipline. Multiple other sources, including feedback from K-12 school partners has echoed these same concerns. Classroom management is a critical skill necessary to be an effective teacher, yet a review of the related literature suggests that teacher candidates do not receive adequate training in this area. Reflecting this trend, none of the seven initial licensure programs in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education (MDSK) at UNC Charlotte has a required course devoted to classroom management. To address this limitation, the Department piloted an elective course (EDUC 6000: Culturally Responsive Classroom Management), available in fall 2017 and spring 2018 to all graduate teacher candidates. As the Department embarks on a major redesign of its initial licensure programs, data are needed measuring the effectiveness of this new course in addressing this programmatic weakness, in order to determine whether or not to include EDUC 6000 as part of the required course sequence in the redesigned curriculum. Using a mixed method design, involving survey, interview, and classroom observation data, as well as assessment scores, the researcher seeks to investigate the extent the curricular innovation enhances teacher candidate self-efficacy to manage their classroom and improves their classroom management performance.

Full Proposal: Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Preparing Teacher Candidates for K-12 Urban Classrooms [PDF, 831 KB]

Problem Based Learning: Perceptions and Impact on Student Learning in a Liberal Studies-Critical Thinking and Communication Course

Nicole Barclay

Abstract: There is an increased use of active learning strategies in higher education to create more student-centered learning environments. This proposed work seeks to investigate the influence of problem-based learning on student learning, and the perception of problem-based learning as an active learning strategy. The main objectives are to evaluate the impact of this instructional method on students’ critical thinking and communication skills, and to provide recommendations based on insights gained from this work. Qualitative and quantitative approaches are used to answer the research questions and to fulfil the research objectives. The context of this work is embedded within a Liberal Studies-Critical Thinking and Communication (LBST 2301) pilot section offered by the Engineering Technology and Construction Management department. This work can serve to complement UNC Charlotte LBST 2301 pilot group’s efforts and to bolster the department’s future LBST 2301 offerings.

Full Proposal: Problem Based Learning: Perceptions and Impact on Student Learning in a Liberal Studies-Critical Thinking and Communication Course  [PDF, 394 KB]