We received fifteen strong grant proposals requesting a total of almost $75,000. We were able to partially fund the six projects listed below.
You can view the reports and findings by clicking the grant title.
One Year Later: Assessing Student Outcomes from the Illinois State University/Alzheimer’s Association Service-Learning Partnership
Jacquelyn Frank, Frank Beck, and David Bull, Sociology and Anthropology
Student Engagement in learning and the translation of that learning to life beyond college are critically important to the mission of Illinois State University. One way in which faculty members have attempted to increase student engagement is through service learning. Service-learning actively seeks to balance academic learning with service to the community, and uses reflection as a critical link between service and learning. Student outcomes from service learning have been increasingly researched by scholars in a variety of fields. With few exceptions, however, little scholarship exits on the impact of service learning long after the course is over. It is the goal of this project to examine the long-term outcomes of student participation in service learning. In a qualitative study, a trained graduate student who has also taken the course will interview the sixteen students in the course one year after the course is completed. The interviews will focus on the learning goals of the service learning experience including the following:
Students’ Use of Writing Rubrics in Educational Administration and Foundations
Dianne Gardner, Amee Adkins, Linda Lyman, and Janice Malak, Educational Administration and Foundations
Statement of the Problem: Assessment of student learning achievement presents faculty in higher education with opportunities and challenges. An emerging body of knowledge about performance-based, criterion-referenced assessment offers opportunities to assess a rich array of student learning outcomes in such key areas as critical thinking and scholarly writing (Angelo, 2000; Huba & Freed, 2000; National Research Council, 2001; Palomba & Banta, 1999). One significant challenge in this assessment paradigm is the creation of rubrics as a means to represent desired student learning outcomes such that students understand and begin to internalize these expectations and then learn to use them to develop as independent learners (Arter & McTighe, 2001; Taggart, Phifer, Nixon, & Wood, 1998; Shindler, 2002; Wiggins, 1998). In this view, scoring rubrics serve another function than providing full disclosure of faculty expectations for student learning in order to assign fair grades; they are learning tools in their own right. Under this emerging assessment paradigm, the burden on faculty to design excellent rubrics that embody core educational values and on students to use them appropriately to become more independent learners increases dramatically if both groups understand and embrace the possibility that rubrics can support student learning.
In many cases, however, both faculty and students do not realize that well-developed rubrics can contribute to the development of valuable knowledge, skills, and dispositions in addition to the commonly recognized benefit of making grading practices more transparent. The most useful rubrics capture qualitatively different levels of multi-faceted performances and can be used as developmental scaffolds for students in ways that grades ordinarily do not (Biggs, 1995; Walvoord & Anderson, 1998; Wiggins, 1998). One common use of rubrics is to assess student writing. Yet, faculty may not know how to develop writing rubrics that support student learning nor do students necessarily know how to take advantage them. Many students appear to be most accustomed to writing assessments in which they prepare a single draft and faculty use a rubric to score that draft. Both then typically move on to the next assignment without exploring how the rubric could have been used to help students perform well the first time or to improve their work through revision. In this process, students remain dependent on faculty for each assignment as faculty judgment assumes a primary function. There is no apparent plan to wean students away from the faculty judgment that will be unavailable to them after they leave the university.
Further, self-assessment and feedback are common performance assessment processes that are necessary to optimize the use of rubrics to increase student independence but may be unfamiliar to faculty and students (Alverno College Faculty, 1994; Wiggins, 1993, 1998). Without these related assessment practices, the promise of rubrics to support student learning is undermined. Assuming that faculty assessment practices will become increasingly performance-based, criterion-referenced, and reliant on well-developed rubrics, it will be important to understand how students use them and then to see if these uses suggest how rubrics and their use can be improved to support student learning.
The purpose of this study is to explore how students understand and use rubrics and to determine whether their use of rubrics actually supports their learning and helps them to become independent writers. The following questions guide our inquiry:
The Impact of Learning Styles and Course Delivery Method on Learning Outcomes: A Quasi-Experiment Investigating the Case Method of Course Delivery
Daniel J. Goebel, Michael A. Humphreys, and Erin E. Miller, Marketing
The case method is a common and accepted course design in business education. In courses that are designed around the case method, concept development and student learning occur in the context of examining cases written about existing companies confronting specific business problems. Critical thinking and in-class discussion are keys to the case method. The undergraduate marketing strategy course is an example of a course for which the case method is widely accepted as being an appropriate pedagogy for achieving desired outcomes. Yet, extant research examining the relationship between the case method and student learning outcomes as compared to other course designs (e.g., problem simulation software or client projects) is nonexistent. Furthermore, as with all courses, students taking the marketing strategy course undoubtedly have different learning styles. However, once again, extant research investigating the potential for student learning style to interact with the case method of teaching as predictors of student performance does not exist. Consequently, the specific teaching-learning issues under consideration in this research are twofold. First, our research seeks to examine the relationship between the case method of course delivery and learning outcomes in the marketing strategy course compared to the outcomes of courses that use an alternative course design. The second major issue under consideration is an investigation of the relationship between student-learning style and student performance in a course that relies on the case method of teaching as the principle means of delivering the course content. This second issue examines the potential for case method pedagogy to moderate the relationship between learning style and outcomes assessment. Thus, the research project proposed herein addresses key learning topics that have been identified as important areas of investigation for better understanding and managing educational quality, including course design, student learning styles, and student satisfaction.
The goal of the proposed research is to gather evidence regarding the efficacy of one pedagogy (case methodology) for delivering course content in senior-level marketing courses as compared to other course designs. In addition, the research described in this proposal seeks to determine if a student’s particular learning style interacts with the case method of teaching to influence course outcomes. Consequently, completion of this research and dissemination of its findings should provide better insight into the relationship between course design, student learning styles, and course outcomes in marketing education. This insight can be the basis for improving educational quality and student performance by better matching course design and student learning style in marketing courses.
First, to examine the relationship between the case method of course delivery and course outcomes compared to an alternative course design, pre-course knowledge and attitude assessments and post-semester outcome assessments will be conducted in targeted courses within the marketing curriculum. Assessments will include measurement of critical thinking skills, student course design opinions and preferences, and specific course content knowledge. Students within the courses will be similar in terms of age, college major (marketing), and class standing (seniors), thus controlling for these variables as potential sources of affect and variance in the dependent variables of interest. T-tests on the differences between the pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to determine if the differences for the case method course design classes are statistically greater than for those classes using a alternative course design. Second, to determine the potential for case method pedagogy to moderate the relationship between student learning style and learning outcomes, data on each student’s learning style will be collected. Such data will be matched with the student’s respective pre- and post-semester outcome scores. Subsequent to data collection, multiple regression analysis will be conducted to examine the potential effects of learning style on learning outcomes.
Impact of a Student Contest on Knowledge of Crop Production and Marketing
R.L. Rhykerd, K.W. Tudor, B.R. Wiegand, and D.M. Kingman, Agriculture
Current pedagogical research supports the theory that student comprehension is increased through critical thinking exercises and applying course concepts to real-world situations (Kraft, 1985). Developing group-learning activities that require student participation also increases student comprehension (Johnson et al., 1990; Kraft, 1985; and Plotnik, 1997). The Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University has developed a crop production and marketing contest, which incorporates this pedagogy. It is designed to enhance student learning by encouraging critical evaluation of classroom activities and to develop and implement crop production and marketing strategies on a 5-acre plot of land at the Illinois State University Farm near Lexington, IL. Teams of students will compete with the goal of making the largest profit. This contest will be held annually and make long-term analysis of student learning possible.
In Illinois, the majority of college students enrolled in agriculture classes come from non-farm backgrounds. Demographics of students enrolled in agriculture classes reveal that 55% are from urban areas, 27% are from rural non-farm areas, and only 18% are from a farm background (2000 Illinois Agricultural Education Report, 2000). First-hand knowledge of crop production planning and direct exposure and experience with farming practices are fundamental to many career paths in agriculture. While crop production and marketing skills are taught in courses offered by the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State University, no one class provides the holistic approach to instruction that includes the production cycle of planning and planting to harvesting and marketing. This contest will provide a holistic approach to instruction.
The object of this study is to evaluate the contest by measuring the impact it has upon student comprehension. Specific objectives are to:
Participation in the contest is voluntary. It will run annually from November 1 through harvest of the following year. Teams will consist of at least 5 undergraduate students, and will represent one of the following organizations: the Student Agriculture Association, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, CERES Fraternity, and FarmHouse Fraternity. Each team will be given one 5-acre plot located at the ISU farm in Lexington, IL. A soybean/corn rotation will be used: soybeans will be grown in odd years and corn in even years. Teams will select and implement their own crop production strategies, including seed variety selection, method of planting, fertility, tillage and pest management programs, and marketing strategies. Teams are encouraged to perform all field operations. Farm equipment owned by the Department of Agriculture is available for teams to use with training and supervision provided by farm personnel. To ensure that production plans do not threaten environmental quality, a committee of agricultural faculty will review each team’s crop production strategies. Cost of all inputs will be recorded. Harvested yield will be measured by weight and the largest profit will be calculated using a budget spreadsheet designed for this contest by ISU faculty. The team with the highest profit margin will be declared the winner. Cash awards, provided by the ISU Agricultural Alumni Association, will be given to the organizations with the top three profit margins.
Student learning will be directly measured by using the pretest-posttest control group design as described by Campbell and Stanley (1963). Approximately 25 students participating in the contest and another 25 students, also representing the participating organizations, will be given a pretest and posttest, subject to their consent. Students in the control group will be selected for the pretest with the requirement that they will not graduate before the posttest is given. The pretest and posttests will be the same test. The pretest will be given in November before team members prepare their production and marketing plans. The posttest will be given following crop harvest in October of the following year. Significant differences in scores between contest participants and the control group will be determined using an analysis of variance (SAS ANOVA) at a = 0.05 (SAS Inst. Inc., 1985).
In addition to the pretest and posttest, learning will also be determined indirectly through focus groups. The purpose of the focus groups will be for students to comment on positive learning outcomes that they have observed by participating in the contest. The focus groups will also give participants an opportunity to provide feedback on how the contest could be improved. Such suggestions may be incorporated into future contests to further enhance student comprehension. Non-agriculture faculty or staff will facilitate the focus groups to minimize bias.
Student Engagement: The Use of Reading Objectives and Participation Sheets as Effective Tools To Help Motivate Students and Assess Students’ Preparation for and Participation in COM 110 (Language & Communication)
Allison Rattenborg, Cheri Simonds, Steve Hunt, Communication
Instructional communication scholars are look for ways to enhance classroom instruction. Due to the associations made among participation, motivation, and learning, finding new ways to encourage students to participate is a concern for these scholars. In the current investigation, the researcher is examining the use of two pedagogical tools that assess students’ preparation for and participation in class: reading objectives and participation sheets. Reading objectives, "a ticket into class" are objective questions about the assigned reading for each class period. These questions may provide evidence of students’ engagement in the material. Participation sheets are used daily to rate students’ involvement in the classroom (Simonds & Carson, 2000). This method asks students to self-assess their own preparation for and participation in class based on a set of criteria. The idea of reading objectives, “a ticket in to class,” has been tested in the past (Rau & Heyl, 1990); however, the concept of testing both tools, reading objectives combined with the use of the participation sheets, is new.
This quasi-experiment is utilizing five instructors, who each teach two sections of the Language and Communication course. In one of their class sections, students are required to use both tools, and in the other class section students are not required to use the tools. Ultimately, students will self-report about how these tools affected their perceived participation, motivation, learning, and willingness to talk in class. Also, instructors will be asked to complete several open-ended questions regarding how the tools affected their teaching and if any notable differences were observed between the two classes. It is predicted that students who are required to complete reading objectives and participation sheets for class will report (at the end of the semester) higher perceived participation, motivation, learning, and willingness to talk in class than the class sections who are not required to complete the reading objectives and participation sheets.