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Reading Reflections

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How would you describe your “research problem” to the Research Scholars Group?

While teaching my courses, I routinely find that several students are having difficulty with long-term retention of the course material.  Since my courses interweave course content throughout the semester, I need to find a better approach to improve long-term retention of the material.  This problem does not seem to only affect my classes, but those of my colleagues as well.  I feel it is imperative that I find the best way to teach the course so that ALL of the students can fully understand the course and then make connections by being able to retain material throughout the semester. What I want to explore is:  Is there a teaching strategy that is more effective than what I normally use?    In this context, I would like to see if flipping some of the class meetings will lead to improved long-term retention of the material.

What theme(s) based on your readings, resonate with your “problem” and/or proposed approach to address your problem.

To be honest, I found all of the required readings quite valuable in helping me think more clearly about the research problem I want to study during this residency.  In particular, I liked how the Hutchings article discussed about the necessity at times to “change the script as you go.” The article continues in which “Mona Phillips states, this need to strike a balance between rigor and flexibility and to let the investigation unfold and take shape as the course itself, as well as the student’s experience, unfolds and takes shape is part of the power of the scholarship of teaching and learning.” This information is very valuable as I embark on this research study.  Though when I begin the study, I plan to have defined plans for the study, the path will probably need to change somewhat for the sake of student learning.  I also found the entire article about classroom action research very important in helping me better formulate the research problem.  It was a great way for me to logically see the organized steps involved in classroom action research.  The one step I was not familiar with was the triangulation of data.  That part of the paper really helped me start to think about possible ways to collect useful data. 

Based on Hutchings article, what taxonomy would you use to describe your research question and why?

I believe that possibly 3 of the taxonomy questions are relevant for my research question.  First, “what works” is important because I want to see which instructional activity (flipped class sessions compared to non-flipped sessions) will lead to better long-term retention of the course material.  Second, “what is” will be extremely important for my research question.  Through this study, I want to learn about the students’ experiences using either of the learning environments.  For example, were many uncomfortable teaching themselves the basic material prior to class? Did that uncomfortable feeling turn them off from being willing to learn the material and fully participate during the in-class activity? The last taxonomy question that is incorporated into my research question is “visions of the possible,” since, in order to retain course material, students will not be able to compartmentalize course content.

Do you have any questions/concerns/comments that have evolved from your reading?

The more I “dive” into the reading about scholarship of teaching and learning, the more fearful I become regarding how little I know about this subject.  I have been regularly integrating active teaching into my classes from several teaching workshops I have participated in, but have never had a chance to study a research problem.  Quite often during each semester, I come up with many problems that can be investigated, but never have a chance to study them because I did not utilize active classroom research.  The many tasks laid out so nicely in the CAR paper seems quite daunting.  I fear that my question is still too broad and hope that I will get great constructive feedback during the residency to narrow the question so that I can come up with several different ways to collect data.  I hope that the institute will give us many examples of how to collect data for the study.  I also hope to learn how to design a thorough assessment survey for my study. 

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