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2013-2014 CTG Recipients

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Susan Groenke

Susan Groenke redesigned her Teaching Composition course (ENED 508) to incorporate experiential and service learning. As previously designed, the course helped participants develop professional competence in composition instruction theory but provided limited opportunity for learning by application. By having course participants assist high school students as tutors, and by participating in formal dialogues with high school and UTK composition instructors, the redesigned course will merge theory and praxis. (College of Education, Health and Human Sciences: Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education).

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Jackie Jacobs

Jackie Jacobs is interested in the motivational, supportive, and accountability benefits of teacher immediacy in large classes. In small classes connections between students and teachers are easily sustained through verbal and non-verbal interactions as well as the typical feedback of formative and summative assessments. In large classes one-to-one interactions with all members of the class are difficult at best, and students can become discouraged in their anonymity. Drawing on a large body of research into the benefits of targeted communication between teachers and students, and her personal experience as a teacher, Jackie uses an old technology- email, to research the effects of different email contact content and timing on student attitudes and success. (College of Business Administration: Department of Management)

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Jain Nitin

Nitin Jain is harnessing the power of analogies to help students master the abstract intricacies of complex biological processes. Simplistic analogies are standard in the pedagogical tool-kit of introductory biology instruction, but are rarely employed to help students grasp the more complex processes studied in advanced courses. Because these complex processes require integration of concepts from math, physics, and chemistry students often have difficulty comprehending the core concepts. “An analogy-based instruction model can initially help stimulate interest in students without them getting bogged down in associated nuances and complexities, leading to a smoother progression for students in developing a more comprehensive understanding of the subject and facilitating long-term retention of conceptual information.” Nitin will continue to work with his students to develop and refine analogies in his Biochemistry 401 class, and will expand his work to include other BCMB 401 instructors. His eventual goal is to develop a library of analogies and methodologies for their development, refinement, and application across biological sciences courses. (College of Arts and Sciences: Department of Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology)

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Ramki Kalyanaraman

Ramki Kalyanaraman redesigned his Materials Thermodynamics (MSE 260) to address difficulties consistently encountered by course participants. Thermodynamics is a necessary subject in engineering and the sciences, and one of the most difficult ones to master. The primary obstacles identified by students are difficulties in problem solving due to the large number of thermodynamic variables and equations, and lack of real-world examples that relate to thermodynamic problems they will encounter in subsequent courses. Ramki will address these obstacles by “flipping” his course: Easily mastered basic and background knowledge will be delivered in short video lectures for students to engage online prior to coming to class. Time in class will be devoted largely to problem solving, including with students working in groups to solve open-ended real-world problems, which he is developing. (College of Engineering: Department of Materials Science and Engineering)

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Srinivasan “Rajan” Mahadevan

Srinivasan “Rajan” Mahadevan is incorporating peer and collaborative learning in his Research Methods and Cognitive Psychology courses. He is particularly interested in understanding the best ways to design, guide, and assess group work for maximum learning benefit in in different learning situations and for different learning objectives. Over the past thirty years many hundreds of research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of peer learning using a variety of group learning designs. Rajan will build on this research base to explicitly investigate which combinations of design variables: group size, types of assessments, level of instructor guidance and feedback – are most effective for different kinds of objectives (e.g. cognitive and affective), and objectives of different complexity. (College of Arts and Sciences: Department of Psychology)


Mary Jane Moran

Mary Jane Moran developed a new graduate level course Cross-cultural Perspectives in Early Care and Education. She conceptualized the course as a praxis-oriented experience where theory and practice are united in the process of reflective action. Cross cultural perspectives explored through the research literature is enhanced through a virtual community of practice involving students at UTK and at the University of Milan-Bicocca (Italy). Students from the two universities meet in a virtual research community to develop shared conceptual models and action research studies. Through the research group processes of conceptualization, negotiation, planning, and reflection students develop an experience based understanding of the social construction of knowledge, of research as knowledge, and a deeper understanding of their own learning. (College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences: Department of Child and Family Studies)

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Joy Radice

Joy Radice is enhancing her first year criminal law course with experiential lawyering components for learning, assessment and reflection. The traditional approach in first year law instruction involves faculty engaging students in Socratic dialogue to dissect and assess the legal reasoning in seminal case law. This approach has served legal instruction well, but has recently been criticized for neglecting important aspects of professional development and practice. Radice unites the two sides of legal knowledge: formal criminal law doctrine and professional practice.  In addition to engagement of case law, students use a criminal law case file acting as prosecutors and defense attorneys to engage in simulations of criminal law practice.  For example, they conducted a preliminary hearing and took part in plea negotiations.  The course also integrates research from other connected disciplines such as sociology, criminology, and psychology, and undertakes a service learning project where students can apply their legal and cross–disciplinary knowledge. (College of Law)

Robert Spirko developed his English 254 Themes in Literature course (“Freaks, Gimps, and Angels: Disability in Literature”) to help students think critically and reflectively about their own concepts of “abilism”. Rob and his students engage with poems, memoirs, novels, plays, and documentaries as ways to view or to express ideas about variations in the body, and to develop a richer appreciation of the wide variation in human existence and in the literary expression of that existence. To achieve his goals Spirko flipped his classroom, developing background and contextual materials for online delivery, and design multimodal writing assignments that go beyond the simple written paper with an emphasis on knowledge creation and sharing with peers. Class time is devoted to critical engagement with the texts and other expressive vehicles, and critical reflection on unconscious conceptions and bias. The class also incorporates an experiential and/or service learning component where students work with a disabilities group or participate in an event with a disabilities advocacy group. And in his own practice as a teacher Rob designed his course to be universally accessible. (College of Arts and Sciences: Department of English)


Joseph Weigel

Joseph Weigel developed a new elective course for veterinary students, Skeletal Modeling in Clay. Modern veterinary practice offers surgical and diagnostic imaging technologies that demand three-dimensional (3D) anatomical knowledge for competent execution of these technologies. However, a 3D perspective is not easily learned from 2D images and models, and development of those skills constitutes a bottleneck in veterinary education. In Joe’s course students develop their analytical and diagnostic skills by using surgical tools to model in clay skeletal structures depicted in 2D diagnostic images. Students will keep a detailed photographic record of their models which is then used for peer evaluation and feedback on the accuracy of the models. Comparison of models with radiographs will improve the students’ accuracy in interpretive diagnostic images, and peer evaluation will help students develop critical evaluation skills necessary for successful clinical performance. (College of Veterinary Medicine: Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences)

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Erin Whiteside

Erin Whiteside developed a new course in sports journalism, Issues in Sports Media. Most of the sports journalism curriculum is skills based, focusing on practical skill-sets that prepare students for professional careers in sports media. Erin’s new course will broaden the curriculum by helping students to think critically through contemporary issues facing the sports media industry and foster a consciousness toward their role as sports media content producers on a cultural level. To help students better appreciate the role of sports in society and their responsibilities as sports journalists, the course incorporates a cross-disciplinary approach including content drawn from sociology, women’s studies, cultural studies, history, economics and psychology. Working in groups that model professional collaborative sports media production, students produce a multi-media blog detailing a research project of a contemporary issue in sports media or an issue of sports in society. This combination of a focus on broader cultural issues with content production that further enhances skills and models professional practice will help prepare students for careers in 21st century sports media. (College of Communications and Information: School of Journalism and Electronic Media)




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