Category Archives: Research

Learning

“Learning Through Research”

Written by Dr. Jennifer Lanter

Earlier this year I learned that I had been elected to serve as a Councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).  The tagline for this organization is “Learning Through Research,” a statement that is very much in line with the way I view my experiences with students as they serve as undergraduate research assistants in my Language Learning Lab.

For example, the undergraduate students in my lab have typically taken an Infancy and Early Childhood class where they have read about numerous clearly-described studies showing significant results related to child development.  Often, when reading about it in a textbook or even reading the primary source article, the whole process can look “easy” and problem-free.  However, once they are actively involved in executing studies with two- to six-year old children they learn that the studies do not always go as planned and that being prepared for a three-year-old to launch a toy across the lab or to not want to answer your question becomes essential.  In short, the process that may have seemed “easy” now looks “messy” and their realization of what research with children can be like becomes much more realistic.

5850264509_667d3f2b86_o

In addition, now students aren’t just reading about inter-rater reliability but are, themselves, seeing how their coding of a testing session lines up with how another research assistant codes a session.  They are not just summarizing the methodology of a student but are, instead, attending to such precision in a student’s design so that they execute the method exactly the same way as two or three other research assistants.  They are now no longer learning through reading about research studies but are instead “learning through research.”

I think I get especially excited about my undergraduate researchers around this time of year because this is typically the point in the semester where they have the opportunity to present their work to the local and state-wide community.  My research assistants and I have been very busy lately preparing for the local Academic Excellence Symposium, the Posters in the Rotunda event in Madison, and the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity.

These three events take place in mid- to late-April and will allow my students the opportunity to showcase their experiences with undergraduate research and their understanding of the related literature, methodology used, results, and implications of our study on the impact the meaning of the plural form has on children’s ability to produce the plural form.  My research assistants have learned through this research assistant experience that our findings could ultimately help a child who has difficulty with the plural forms of words as we seek to find the ideal conditions to foster plural production.

As you can likely tell, I am passionate about these undergraduate research experiences.  After all, had it not been for the undergraduate research experience I had at the University of Illinois in the Language Acquisition Lab I doubt I would be directing my own Language Learning Lab today and “learning through research.”

Joanne DolanJennifer Lanter, Ph. D
Human Development & Psychology,
CATL Director

outside the box

Taking Student Research to the Next Level

Wriiten by Aaron Weinschenk, Assistant Professor

One of the things that I enjoy most about my job is the chance to work with students who are engaged, exited, and eager to learn. It probably does not come as a surprise that I especially enjoy working with students on independent study research projects. As you might guess, students who want to do an independent research project are usually pretty engaged, exited, and eager to learn more. I think that such experiences are impactful for students (an independent study that I did as an undergraduate student propelled me to graduate school!) but they are also impactful for me because I usually learn a lot along the way as students explore their research question (bonus!).

Continue reading

FrenchMacaroon

The engaging spirit of ISSOTL

Written by Alison Staudinger, Assistant Professor

The jetway was strewn with canes and walkers, my first indication that I would be one of the few on the flight to Quebec City without an AARP membership. I wondered if, perhaps, the meeting of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) catered to an octogenarian crowd. But these passengers were tan and toting beach wear, not pedagogy journals, and when my seat mate asked me what cruise I would be embarking upon, I got it. Continue reading

Vintage picture of female school teachers sitting in classroom

Myth of the Gender Neutral Classroom

Many of my female faculty colleagues probably experienced being addressed as Mrs. or Ms. at least once every semester and not just by incoming freshmen. Or they read comments about shoes in their end-of-semester evaluations. But are those isolated incidents or does gender matter in how students perceive the knowledge and expertise of an instructor? Do they see differences in pedagogies? Types of course work that male and female faculty assign? Do students find female instructors more relatable? Do they themselves behave differently in the classrooms of male and female instructors? Last academic year, I finally got a chance to collect data on several of these research questions as part of our Teaching Scholars Program. Continue reading

Puzzle

Finding the right fit: integrating URSCA

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Workshop on integrating undergraduate research into faculty workload and tenure and promotion guidelines.  You may wonder, why would the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning be interested in this topic?  Continue reading