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Paper Abstract

Assessing Interdisciplinary, Community-based Research Outcomes

Drs. Melissa Terlecki and David Dunbar, Cabrini College

Establishing community partners with a common purpose to address social issues is becoming more and more prevalent with many higher education institutions, as is embedding undergraduate research in undergraduate learning experiences across the curricula. Assessing outcomes of undergraduate research experiences, both formative and summative, is a challenging yet necessary part of building meaningful and lasting experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students across a variety of disciplines. The proposed article covers an interdisciplinary approach to community-based research across psychological and biological disciplines in an Environmental Psychology course. The course, research experience, and assessment tools were piloted and presented at the most recent CUR National conference, submitted as part of an NSF grant proposal, and are in preparation for publication in several pedagogical journals.

Engaging undergraduate students and faculty in community-based research is vital in creating environments where students can address research questions and issues that extend past the college campus, and which create a partnership between students, the school, and the local community. Interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to research are also very important in creating campus-wide opportunities for undergraduates from a variety of academic disciplines. We will show through our newly developed assessment piece and pilot results, including focus group feedback, that interdisciplinary teaching and research enhances student learning. Specifically, interdisciplinary student learning outcomes were linked to our assessment piece by merging pre- and post-measurement of attitudes and growth linked to research and community service experiences, as well as ideas of social justice and environmental stewardship in undergraduate freshmen through seniors. Assessment of interdisciplinary faculty as research mentors was also addressed, and community partner assessments are in development. Outcomes will be used to tailor further iterations of the course as well as for the purpose of extraction and adaptation by other faculty and institutions wanting to link undergraduate, community-based research to interdisciplinary fields through assessment. Our research design of community partnership is transferable to other colleges and universities, and our model provides mechanisms and methods for encouraging interdisciplinary faculty and community collaboration.

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258.47 kB09:24, 18 Jul 2008ddunbarActions
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How does an interdiscplinary team-taught course enhance student learning?
Posted 11:22, 18 Jul 2008
David,

Here are my comments from your presentation yesterday.
Strength of your idea: This type of course design is interesting and compelling, so I think you will have a wide audience. I also think that analysis of team-taught classes is crucial to inform instructors and administrators to the value of this type of teaching. Some institutes struggle with the logistics of these types of courses and your work could help persuade them work out the details.

Weaknesses of your idea: I am still not sure what you are going to do that is different than what you & Missy have already done. Can you clarify what is currently planned for the data you have collected vs. what your "new" idea as to how to analyze and enhance the analysis.

I think it is way cool because you are exposing the students to the research methods in Biology and Psychology. Even if they don't go on to do more research, you have most certainly made an impact on their perspective of doing research.

Hope this helps! Carol
Posted 04:01, 19 Jul 2008
Hi David,

Loved your presentation! The course you describe sounds amazing, and I think it's a great example of a team-taught interdisciplinary class. You have so much data that you've already collected (and can add on to) that I was confused by what your analysis will be--what exactly will you be looking at to answer your question?
Posted 10:11, 24 Jul 2008
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