ARCC SoTL Project Abstracts

Megan Breit-Goodwin

Transforming the Teaching and Learning in Introductory Statistics

Traditional teaching and learning practices in introductory statistics fall short of engaging students in authentic statistical thinking and processes. Reform efforts in undergraduate statistics education seek the transformation of the course from computational focused and skill based, to conceptually connected and contextually meaningful. This study examined the teaching and learning in an introductory statistics course at a two-year college in which reform methods were practiced and students explored data representations and descriptive statistics using large data sets and statistical software. Student learning and confidence were assessed using pre and post assessments. Learning gains were demonstrated and increases in student confidence were documented. Study results are descriptive of the experiences and outcomes of the classes in which the inquiry was conducted. The study suggests opportunity for further inquiry into the experiences and outcomes of reform statistics teaching and learning practices in larger scale studies across multiple postsecondary contexts.

Kristen Genet, Biology

Assessing the Impact of Undergraduate Research for Non-majors Biology Students in Online and Seated Classroom Environments

Undergraduate Research is a high impact practice that has been shown to increase student engagement and success.  The goals of the project are to assess the impact of undergraduate research for these students for improvement of scientific literacy skills, attitudes towards science and scientific research, and evidence-based decision making.  Students participate in a research project that extends over the first 8 weeks of the semester. Students work through each stage of the scientific method, and the project culminates in a research symposium where they present posters. Survey responses indicated that online students did not obtain the same benefits and learning gains as seated students, so interventions including video tutorials and synchronous group conferences are being developed and implemented to ensure the online students are receiving the same benefits of undergraduate research as seated students.

Peggy Guiney, Biology

Effectiveness of a First-Year Experience/General Biology Learning Community Course

First-Year Experience courses are a common strategy in many colleges and universities to improve student success.  I am interested in the structure of the course and how adding a learning community, where the same students enroll in First Year Experience and a content specific course, will impact the students. This mixed method study conducted in the fall of 2017 at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Minnesota involved all students in one lecture split into two groups: 21 students in the learning community (co-enrolled in biology and First-Year Experience course) and 48 students enrolled in biology.  I found a higher percent of students in the learning community group passed the biology course (67%) compared to the control group (54%.)  The demographics showed some differences as the learning community group included a higher percent of students of color (38%) compared to the control group (23%).  The groups had a similar percent of both low income students and first generation students.  A smaller subset of students were eligible to respond to a survey because survey responses were limited to students 18 years of age or older.  The survey results showed the learning community group was less emotionally engaged in the biology course than the control group.  Finally a majority of learning community students did not perceive that the First Year Experience course helped improve his/her grade in biology yet some students did provide comments that he/she learned useful study and time management skills in the First Year Experience course.

Mo Janzen, Philosophy

Assessing Experiments in Ethics

This study examines the efficacy of scaffolding in a revised civic engagement project at a community college as compared with the outcomes of a previously studied civic engagement project that did not utilize scaffolding. The new project, Experiments in Ethics, consists of small scale, interrelated assignments. Course design ensures that scaffolding is built into this new project through an iterative process of reflection and feedback to support community college students. Results show that using scaffolding significantly helps students gain important communication, citizenship, practical, and critical thinking skills. Investigators believe that replacing semester long CE projects, that culminate in a large scale assignment, with scaffolded and supported smaller scale, interrelated experiments is a highly effective strategy.  A limitation of this study is that data are self-reported by students. It is believed this scaffolding strategy can be applied to assignments from various disciplines in introductory classes at both two and four-year institutions. Future research could examine this.

Emily Kuhn, Physical Therapy Assistant Program

The Impact of Participation in a Self-Contained Physical Therapy Clinic on a PTA Student’s Self-Assessment of Professional Behaviors

Clinical experience is an integral part of the curriculum in a physical therapist assistant (PTA) program. Typically, when a PTA student fails a clinical experience, it is because they have not developed or refined their professional behaviors. For many students, when an instructor identifies professional behaviors with which students are struggling, the student has not been able to self-assess the same struggles. This study explored the self-assessment of professional behaviors for PTA students, and examined differences in self-assessment among students who participated in a self-contained physical therapy clinic and students who did not have this experience. Twenty-six physical therapist assistant students participated in this study in 2019. Using a questionnaire, students ranked themselves as beginning, developing, or entry level for six professional behaviors at beginning, midpoint, and end of the semester. When comparing average rankings for each of the six professional behaviors that were self-assessed, interesting trends were noted in the degree of decline following completion of the clinic, consistency in rankings, and degree of improvement. Limitations of this study include a small sample size and the potential for students in the clinic to have a deeper understanding of the professional behaviors needed when working with patients, leading to inconsistent self-assessment. Students also expressed that they felt the professional behaviors assessment tool was not a consistent or accurate way to measure professional behaviors. The Professional Behaviors form utilized by the ARCC PTA program was modified to be more inclusive of professional behaviors or soft skills that students could have developed in other aspects of their lives, or order to collect a more consistent self-assessment. It is being piloted in Fall 2019 to determine its viability. In the future, a potential study could be performed to test the significance of this new tool.

Lisa Lentner, Physical Therapy Assistant Program

Video Feedback Impact on Students’ Professional Behaviors and Clinical Skills

A challenge faculty face teaching in a health care career program is generating awareness of the importance of professional behaviors in students and helping them identify when their professional behaviors are not meeting the expectation of the physical therapy field. When students fail either of the two clinical internships that are required by the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program, it is typically not because of their technical skills, but because of deficient professional behaviors. If these behaviors do not improve before graduating from the PTA Program, it puts students at risk of being fired from future jobs. In this study, physical therapist assistant students were videotaped during two lab skills tests. After each skills test, they watched the video while completing a reflection form, ranking their professional behaviors and making comments about their performance. The scores on these reflection forms were compared to student and clinical instructor rankings of professional behaviors on the Clinical performance Instrument (CPI) during their first clinical internship. Potential limitations of the study are variances in interrater reliability of faculty assessing students during skills tests, inaccuracies in student self-assessment, and variance between clinical instructor evaluations. All students reported on the reflection form that they felt viewing a videotape of their skills test was a helpful form of feedback to improve their professional behaviors and critical skills. They all also reported that they would be interested in viewing recordings of future skills tests. The majority of students who participated in the study were rated by their clinical instructor as being “Intermediate” or “Advanced Intermediate” with professional behaviors on the Clinical Performance Instrument (CPI). Overall, these ranking were higher than those students who did not participate in the study. Further research is needed to determine if it is more beneficial for students to view recordings of their skills tests during both years of the PTA program rather than just during the first year of the program. This future research will explore the goal of incorporating videotaping skills tests into the PTA curriculum and assessing long-term improvements in national licensing exam scores and hiring reports.

Kate Maurer, English

Community College Students’ Attitudes Toward Writing

My research centered on three questions. First, what are community college students’ attitudes toward writing? Next, which type of writing apprehension is most common (stress apprehension, product apprehension, and evaluation apprehension)? And finally is writing attitude at all influenced by gender, race, age, campus, format of course, or credits completed? The study’s goal is to assist writing instructors in better serving students through increased understanding of their unique writing attitudes. The study is limited by the original instrument (old and rather confusing), as well as the cumbersome process of enlisting faculty and student assistance. Overall, my study found that ARCC writing students experience limited writing apprehension. Our students value writing well and show less writing stress than average when assessed by the original Writing Apprehension Test (WAT) instrument. Prominent findings include white men indicating the most apprehension while non-white men indicating the least. Data also revealed women had the greatest evaluation discomfort, and that online students had fewer fears about writing overall, yet indicated more difficulty in starting writing projects. Findings suggest two areas where instructors may want to focus: pre-writing and initial drafting, as well as better preparing students for the evaluation phase of a writing project.

Kelly Meyer, English

Assessing the Effectiveness of Literature in Developing Multicultural Consciousness

The role of literature courses in facilitating goals of diversity and inclusion in the two-year college has not been formally studied. This study aims to illuminate how literary texts are a vital tool in developing students’ “multicultural consciousness” (Dean, 2017). The student sample was limited to students over 18 enrolled in a global literature course. The results draw from a pre- and post-course survey using the Cross-Cultural World-Mindedness Scale (Der-Karabetian, 1992) and show a reconsideration of views on personal identity and citizenship within a global context. Future applications should assess a broader sample of literature students, ideally with a qualitative assessment instrument for more precise identification of the impact of diverse texts.

Penny Rivard-Sherman, Physical Therapy Assistant Program

Student Attribution of Pass Rate on the National Licensure Examination to the Scorebuilders and PEAT Licensure Preparation Courses

The Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program at Anoka-Ramsey Community College currently recommends student participation in licensure exam prep courses and is questioning mandating participation which would allow financial aid to cover the expense. Cost of the courses is the most common reason students don’t participate.  This quantitative study attempted to capture the student perspective of the value of the PEAT and Scorebuilders test preparation courses. One hundred twenty four graduates of the program from the past 5 years received a one-time survey. There were 35 program graduate respondents. No respondents failed the exam, so that perspective is absent.  Students recommended each of the courses and valued both enough to report the cost was justified.  Most graduates supported making both courses a mandatory component of the program.  The ARCC PTA Program will use the information gathered to make an informed decision regarding program requirements.


Christina Sonnek, Mathematics

Impact of Requiring Peer Tutor Visits in Beginning Algebra

Although the benefits of tutoring are well known to faculty, voluntary use of tutoring services by developmental students is low. An integrated classroom and tutoring center system of assignments, assessments and tutoring engagement was developed to increase tutor use by students in an Elementary Algebra course. The tutoring system includes in-class assessment followed by specialized tutor assignments. The data did not show a significant improvement in student exam scores. Further study is required to decrease the impact of single semester influences, increase sample size (n=18), and expand to other sections of the class.

Jasmin Ziegler, English

Community College Students’ Engagement With and Attitudes Towards Undergraduate Research in the English Classroom

Students in a Two-Year College Writing Classroom overwhelmingly do not perceive themselves as scholars or researchers and they overwhelmingly see writing as a chore and not as a vehicle for success with real-world application. Student experience with primary research further changes students’ attitudes towards self and writing, and increases students’ course engagement. As part of this course, students were required to complete primary research. This study uses both quantitative and qualitative data to measure students’ attitudes and engagement as a result of participating in writing of undergraduate primary research. The Student Course Engagement Questionnaire (SCEQ) (Handlesman, Briggs, Sullivan, & Towler, 2005) was used as a pre-test and post-test in conjunction with open-ended survey questions. Additionally, a qualitative end-of-course reflection asked students to expand on their feelings about and interface with the undergraduate research project and writing. The limitations of this study include self-report data and the variance of depth in student research projects. Thus far, it appears that the ability of student primary-research in the two-year college writing classroom to affect student self-concept and course engagement is dependent upon how the primary research is contextualized, but there does appear to be a strong link between student course engagement and primary research. Future research might include a comparative study between writing courses that do not include primary research. Also, it might be of interest to compare two-year and four-year writing courses that include primary research.

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