Summer 2014 awarded projects

Deconstructing cutting edge biomedical research

Sally Osborne
Cellular & Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

We are introducing a new course for second year students in the Faculty of Science at UBC in order to expose students early to the scientific process, demystify and humanize science, provide exposure to accomplished research faculty within the department and create opportunity for summer research and help facilitate student transition into research careers.

Evaluating the impact of humanities coursework on students’ practical reasoning and theory of mind: a preliminary study in philosophy

Michael Griffin
Classics & Philosophy, Faculty of Arts

How can we measure the effects of undergraduate study in the humanities on students’ critical thinking, self-esteem, and capacity to empathize with others – qualities often associated with the mission of the university to “educate global citizens”? Can (and should) qualities like these be treated as learning outcomes?
This pilot project will develop a survey to explore such measures in the classroom and pilot the survey in three courses in Classical Studies and Philosophy in the 2014/15 academic year.

Examining the success of VANT 140 tutorials in supporting international students’ academic English development

Sandra Zappa
Language and Literacy Education, Faculty of Education & Vantage College

This project aims to investigate to what extent the content-and-language enriched tutorials (CLET) known as “VANT 140” offered through the UBC Vantage College International Program achieve the intended goals of helping non-native English speaking students to further develop their academic English proficiency, better understand course content, and increase their level of confidence. The tutorials represent an innovative pedagogical approach to providing principled, sustained, integrated language support to English language learners studying at UBC.
The following research question is proposed: How successfully are the content-and-language enriched tutorials in achieving these intended goals?

Flexible Assessment in large undergraduate classes: a way to enhance student motivation and learning?

Candice A. Rideout
Food, Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Land and Food Systems

This study will examine students’ perceived academic control, motivation, engagement, and academic achievement when 1) they are able to choose how their final grade will be calculated and 2) when they are not able to alter their assessment.
Using a mixed methods approach, quantitative online surveys will be administered to approximately 1000 students to determine the impact of a flexible assessment strategy, and qualitative focus groups (with students) and interviews (with teaching faculty) will be conducted to understand impressions of the utility of a flexible assessment approach.

Pre-, In-, Post-class learning activities – does the order of learning activities undertaken have an effect on student performance

Sunita Chowrira and Karen Smith
Biology, Faculty of Science

Students are required to complete various learning activities (readings, quizzes, worksheets and problems) in a specific sequence i.e. pre-class, in-class, post-class. We are going to examine if altering the assigned order of these learning activities can improve conceptual learning.

Tracking a dose-response curve for peer feedback on writing in a writing-intensive, year-long course for first-year students

Christina Hendricks
Philosophy, Faculty of Arts

There is a good deal of SoTL research showing that engaging in peer feedback can help improve student writing (e.g., Topping, 1998; Paulus, 1999; Cho & Schunn, 2007; Cho & MacArthur, 2010; Crossman & Kite, 2012). There are, however, some gaps in the literature.
There is missing from the literature any analyses of what one might call a “dose-response curve”—how are the “doses” of peer feedback related to the “response” of improvement in writing? In other words, do students tend to use peer feedback to improve their writing more after a few sessions, when they’ve gotten to know the students giving the feedback a bit better? Accordingly, we are asking the following research questions:
(1) How is peer feedback (both that given and received) related to improvement in writing over the course of the 10-12 essays students write in Arts One?
(2) Does this relationship change over time (e.g., is peer feedback more effective after a certain number of peer feedback sessions, and/or are there diminishing returns after many sessions)?