Classroom Research and Assessment

An important reason why many students come to community colleges, and why many faculty choose to work at community colleges, is our emphasis on teaching and learning, without a bit push for formal research. But, does this mean that community college faculty do not conduct research? Not on your life!. Many of our faculty are deeply involved in subject area research. Even more of our faculty are profoundly interested in the phenomenon of learning and are actively engaged in both formal and informal classroom research on methods and techniques.

It could be very enlightening to have a dialogue here about research on learning and effective methodologies that faculty are doing as part of your classroom (including virtual) practice. Please consider sharing some of the research and assessment activities you have done to learn more about how your students are learning and how you are teaching.

Here are a couple of examples:

A faculty member told of how he wanted to see if involvement in a learning community affected performance in a particular class. The faculty member had two sections of the course, one linked into a learning community, one that wasn't. The two groups seemed to be quite similar in make up. The faculty member paid particular attention to comparing the quality of the written work and was able to find significantly higher quality of work in the section linked to the learning community. Not necessarily "scientific" research in the traditional sense, but extremely important assessment work by the faculty member.

Another faculty member explained how he uses a web-based discussion board to survey students from time to time to see if the students feel they are "getting in" in the class. It is anonymous and she got great response. It helped to know when she could move more quickly and when she needed to slow down a bit.

Let's hear some more!!


At 11/29/2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love doing research; however I prefer the unstructured kind that doesn't require committee approval. That is one reason I came to teach at a CC rather than a University. I teach because I love to learn and sure enough, that old saying is true: the best way to learn something is to teach it!

I was surprised that teaching past the k-12 level does not require a teaching credential so we are left to our own devices to learn how to teach. I do that primarily by observation of my students, by peer discussions, and by following various online discussions. My favorite is the ACM SIGCSE (The Association of Computing Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education). Here, on almost a daily basis, are CS instructors discussing teaching methods and suggesting improvements to getting CS concepts across.

Although I don't collect statistics or publish, I do find the research very helpful to get ideas of how to improve my classes.

Besides methodology, I constantly research changes in Computer Programming languages and environments. That is required for any CS teacher since it changes so rapidly. For example, how does Microsoft's .NET framework change the way we teach CS concepts? How does the rapidly expanding interest in Linux and open source software change the way to think about software?

Research is a labor of love and a service to our students as well. I am very happy to have the opportunity to do both in such a supportive environment here at Ohlone College!

-Dave Topham

At 11/30/2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few years back I convinced the bookstrore to place on display our faculty publications. That didn't last very long--hey, they have to sell T-shirts. So what I am recommending is a permanent display in the Library of faculty publications and research projects. And, now with Howard gone there should be lots of room for the work of others.

I hold that this will be an inspiration to other faculty as well as show our students that Ohlone faculty members can not only BS in class, but we can perform written Academic BS on the level of University faculties.

I have always held that good teaching is enhanced by good research--published or not.


At 12/01/2006, Blogger Ohlone Library said...

As a librarian, I'm interested in this question from two perspectives:
1) If faculty are indeed doing research, is the library supporting this research well enough? With limited funds, our primary spending goes to the resources students need, but we also want to support our faculty. If you are constantly finding yourselves using resources from another library, what are those resources? Perhaps we need them. We will soon be sending out a survey to faculty asking this and other questions. Please take the opportunity to tell us what you need!
2) Alan beat me to this point. One of the central roles of an academic library can/should be is a repository, increasingly a digital repository, of our campus's scholarly output. Permanent display? Yes. Digital Commons? Maybe...$$$. But if there is an interest, the library will gladly explore this role. (Yes Jim: We'll include that in our Program review!)
Kathy Sparling


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