Poster Presentations - 2009

SUNY Oswego Symposium on Learning and Teaching

Kathryn Johns-Masten and Barbara Shaffer, Penfield Library

Title:  "Engaging Your Students with the Journal Literature"

Abstract:
Knowledge of scholarly literature in the field and the ability to locate and access high quality resources heavily impact student learning and writing performance. This poster will offer sample assignments that will engage students in journal research. The first example will highlight finding and browsing the range of journal literature within a discipline, and accessing full text. The second assignment will focus on topic specific article searching in scholarly journal databases, such as SocIndex or BioAbstracts.

Tips for making the most of Penfield Library’s journal subscriptions will also be offered, including: how to locate articles from citations, how to use the library’s article linker and how to submit interlibrary loan requests.

 

 


Fehmi Damkaci, fehmi.damkaci@oswego.edu, Chemistry

Title: "Teaching Organic Chemistry Using Relationship Analogies"

Abstract:

Organic chemistry deals with reaction of molecules with each other including some restrictions
and selections. Since there are many reactions to be learned and many rules associated with each of them,
using analogies helps students to understand the concepts. In addition, Using relationship analogies,
brings fun into classroom atmosphere and decrease the anxiety against the subject.
Poster will present analogies of chemical concepts related to relationships and student's responses for an anonymous survey
regarding teaching with relationship analogies.

 


Annlorraine Edwards, annlorraine.edwards@oswego.edu, Business

 

Title: "Applying the Learning Organization Model to the Classroom"

Abstract:

 

            Teachers continue to struggle with a vast array of classroom challenges that include: i) integrating theory with practice as means of bridging the gap between college classroom and real world experiences; ii) engaging students in the learning process; and iii) promoting development of workplace competencies – i.e. teamwork, leadership, interpersonal and communication skills, adaptability, problem-solving and project management (Calloway, 2004).

            In his book, The Fifth Discipline (2006), author Peter Senge introduces the concept of the learning organization which is defined as “an attitude or philosophy of what an organization can become” (Daft, 2005; Senge, 2006). It is premised on the idea of operating with the intent to solve problems rather than o focusing primarily on organizational efficiency. Senge emphasizes the need to cultivate several disciplines including that of  personal mastery, shared vision and team-building, changing mental images, and systemic thinking (Senge, 2006). One version of the learning organization encourages employees to identify organizational problems and empowers them to find solutions to those problems by working in teams and by sharing information across the board (Daft, 2005). This approach recognizes that change is a constant in today’s turbulent business environment, as compared to the stable bureaucratic organization of the 20th century.  .

The Technique

Principles of Management (MGT 261) is a course designed to introduce students to fundamental management principles and concepts. Students in this course section were taught using a student-centered framework rather than a teacher-centered framework. As well, students were advised that they were considered to be members of an active learning classroom environment which meant that after being introduced to theoretical management concepts they would have the opportunity to apply those concepts.

There was a team-based, semester-long project where the class itself operated as one large hypothetical business organization divided into four distinct teams or "departments", each representing one of the four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading and controlling (Daft, 2005).

            To ensure the project's success, teams were required to operate cross-functionally. While team projects are the norm in most business schools, working in cross-functional teams is less common, presumably because of the sometimes chaotic process that may accompany this type of learning. More specifically, the assignment required that the class “create” a first-class hotel and convention center in New Orleans, post-Katrina, that catered to the needs of business and leisure travelers. Ultimately they would "pitch" their creation to a panel of corporate executives who would assign a project grade.

Benefits

The objectives of this assignment were manifold and required de-emphasizing the bureaucratic structure reminiscent of the 19th and 20th century work environments, and often replicated in today’s educational institutions.

The value of this active learning approach included the following outcomes:

-          Emergence of creativity among students

-          High student engagement

-          Integrated functions intended to foster collaboration rather than competition across teams

-          Team members development of diverse competencies

-          Improved understanding of the direct correlation between theory and practice

-          Students willingness to hold themselves accountable and responsible for active learning

 

Through this exercise of engagement, students demonstrated the disciplines of personal mastery, shared vision and team-building, changing mental images, and systemic thinking. Individually and collectively, they demonstrated the development of key competencies such as learning, teamwork, leadership, effective communication, and critical thinking skills. And they also developed an understanding of the learning organization model and its utility in today’s business environment. In their feedback, the panelists expressed their appreciation for the caliber of students and their obvious commitment to a learning process that both employees and employers find valuable..

 

References

Daft, R. L. (2005). Management. (Seventh Edition). Mason, Ohio: Thomson-Southwestern

 Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday/Currency.

Wayne Calloway School of Business and Accountancy. (2004). A Report on Recruiters’ Perceptions of Undergraduate Business Schools and Students.


Bill Goffe, bill.goffe@oswego.edu, Economics

Title: "Team-Based Learning in the Economics Classroom"


Abstract:


This teaching method has been in development for some 20 years by a variety of higher education
instructors. References include Team-based Learning: A Transformative Use of Small Groups in
College Teaching
, Michaelsen, Knight, and Fink (eds.), 2004, Stylus Publishing; New Directions for
Teaching and Learning
, Michaelsen, Sweet, and Parmelee (eds.), 2008, Jossey-Bass; and
http://teambasedlearning.apsc.ubc.ca. It also recently received national publicity in "Team Program
Is an Experiment in Active Learning," Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, New York Times, April 29, 2009.
This method is highly polished given its numerous higher-ed instructors who have contributed to
its development. Perhaps the most appealing feature is that the developers have structured it so
that students face numerous incentives to do well in the class. Briefly, it works as follows. The
semester is broken up into 5 to 7 "modules," each of which is comprised of 2-3 textbook chapters.
Students are assigned into teams of 6-7 members that are carefully chosen to be diverse; teams
are kept for the semester. Each module begins with a quiz over the basic material of the chapters;
students are responsible for learning this material on their own. Immediately after they take it on
their own, they retake the quiz as a team. "IF-AT" cards are used so teams receive immediate
feedback (IF-AT cards use the same technology as lottery scratch-off cards). This rapid feedback
aids team building as good suggestions are quickly recognized. It also encourages learning as it
is obvious to team members who is not prepared for class. The results of these quizzes are used
by the instructor to briefly address common areas of difficulty. The rest of the module is spent
working in teams on questions of increasing difficulty. The teams report their answers to them at
the same time. If there is a difference, teams are asked to explain why their answers differ. Once
again, students are held accountable for their learning.


Team-based learning might be thought of as the ultimate in cooperative learning as almost all
learning occurs in teams. This is also something of a drawback as the transition cost to the
instructor is relatively high. This might explain why it is use isn’t more common. As the article in the
New York Times puts it, “It's a completely different way from teaching and lecturing.”


This poster will contain a description of how team-based learning is implemented, the biggest pitfalls
for those new to it, a list of resources, and tentative outcomes that I have found. The handouts will
includes summaries of these same points.

 


Adrian Ieta, adrian.ieta@gmail.com, Physics

 

Title: "Improved Student Engagement in Introductory Physics Classes"

Abstract:

The Physics general education courses may sometimes present challenges due to the highly heterogeneous student population and to the level of interest in the course. Large classes also present challenges in engaging students during class time. Presentations can engage students, but using the technique in large classes may be problematic. We report on an innovative teaching method used in Introductory Physics for general education students. We have particularly designed the course to increase student interaction and to allow them to make connections among the taught concepts and their relevance to personal interests. The method was tested on a class of sixty-six students. An initial in-class survey shows that student interest varies from 0 to 10. Students were divided in six groups and discussion groups were created accordingly. Questions pertaining to the covered topics and related to the students’ majoring fields were formulated progressively in sets of six, weekly. Students from each group had to negotiate and be responsible for the question assigned to the group. A presentation session was introduced once a week. The goal of teaching the course in this special manner was to engage students independently and collaboratively in exploring relevant engineering applications and the outside world, as they relate to the studied physics laws and principles. The method did support collaboration among students, although not to the extent initially intended. Our experience shows that the benefits of the reported experiment greatly outweighed the challenges introduced by the method.


Carolina Ilie, carolina.ilie@oswego.edu, Chemistry

Title: "How to Implement JITT (Just In Time Teaching)"

Abstract:

Reforms in education and the desire to improve the quality of learning were the incentive to search for more efficient teaching strategies. Here is presented Just In Time Teaching, JITT, which is an exciting new methodology intended to engage students by using feedback from pre-class web assignments. In this process the students are more in control of the learning process and they become more active and interested learners. Even though some examples from physics are presented, this method can be successfully implemented in almost all the fields. The implementation of this method at SUNY Oswego, SUNY Brockport and Pacific Lutheran University is discussed.

Gregor M. Novak, Evelyn T. Patterson, Andrew D. Gavrin and Wolfgang Christian, Just in Time Teaching – Blending Active Learning with Web Technology, Prentice Hall Series in Educational Innovation, 1999.

 



Virginia Macentee, virginia.macentee@oswego.edu, Curriculum and Instruction

 

Title: "Simulations and Active Learning"

Abstract:

Constructivist learning and authentic learning are based on students’ active participation in problem-solving and critical thinking regarding a learning activity that they find relevant and engaging. Dewey emphasized the need for learning to be grounded in experience. Lewin stressed the importance of people being active in learning.

A simulation is an interactive exercise (may be computer generated) that replicates some real world object or process.  The use of simulated activities in education is widely becoming recognized as an important tool that can supplement other pedagogical approaches. They have considerable educational potential because they provide an opportunity to 'learn by doing'.  They simulate some activity so well that real learning takes place.

The poster elements would highlight the literature concerning constructivist and authentic learning and explain why simulations are an effective method for engaging students. 

Viewers would have the opportunity to try some of the simulations themselves.

 


 

Alex Pantaleev, aleksandar.pantaleev@oswego.edu, Computer Science

Title: "Constructing Programs with Dzver"

Abstract:

Contemporary Software Engineering education focuses heavily on Object-
Oriented Programming (OOP) in introductory courses to the field. OOP allows
students to draw parallels between the real world and the hierarchies in their
programs, thus helping them design good software blueprints. Unfortunately,
it does not allow them to become aware of the internal workings of the digital
computer, thus limiting their ability to implement the blueprints they design.
OOP undoubtedly has its place in modern software engineering. It is the
single most popular development paradigm in industry nowadays, and there is a
very good practical reason for that: it allows for much larger software projects
than other paradigms, mainly through focusing on clear and understandable
design. However, in the author’s experience, the exclusive reliance on OOP as
a teaching paradigm can be an issue when preparing students for industry.
All engineering is synthesis: engineers construct useful combinations of the
elementary particles of their trade. For software engineering those particles are
the operations that the digital computer provides. But in order to accomplish
synthesis, students must first be aware of what those particles are, and how
they can be made to fit in a larger picture. Having realized that, the author
introduced elaborate visual descriptions of how the digital computer works in
the introductory programming courses he teaches. An example is a mouse in
a maze, where the mouse can only do one of a set of predetermined actions,
and its goal is to exit the maze. The role of the student is to build such a
maze that a mouse can simultaneously traverse and accomplish a certain goal
(e.g., draw a square on a piece of paper). The response from students has been
overwhelmingly positive: suddenly they know what the computer actually does.
They feel confident and empowered, they produce better programs, and the
transition to OOP is smooth.


A useful expansion of the above is a simulated environment that allows students
to visualize the inner workings of the digital computer. The environment,
named Dzver, is currently work in progress. Some of its planned features are
sequence and branching (a mouse running in a maze, the maze being the computer
program), stack variables (the mouse carrying a backpack full of boxes),
subroutine calls (the mouse entering a teleport and emerging at the start of
a different maze, whose exit is a “return” teleport), and multithreading (more
than one mouse running in the same maze). Obviously, similar examples can be
devised (and implemented) for, e.g., method dispatch, thus seamlessly turning
Dzver into an OOP environment; the difference from existing such tools is that
students will follow a natural path of learning, from sequential processing to the
high levels of abstraction that OOP provides.


A question that naturally arises is why build a simulated environment, when
a real one (the digital computer) already exists? The answer is that a computer
is different from all other mechanisms. Observation of the inner workings of a
mechanism and experimentation is essential in all engineering fields. However,
while in most engineering fields the mechanisms are physical and it is possible
for a human to directly observe them, many of the essential aspects of a
computer are not physical but logical. Thus, using only the unadorned digital
computer as a learning tool, a student of software engineering is blindfolded,
forced to fully rely on his or her imagination and abstraction abilities in order to
learn. However, humans, even those with great abstraction potential, often need
something they can see or touch to ground them and make them feel secure, so
this “walking in darkness” is what often scares otherwise capable students away
from software engineering and computer science.


This is where a simulated environment shines: it can acquaint students
with the non-physical aspects of a computer by representing them with familiar
concepts. Dzver will take full advantage of advances in computer graphics as
exemplified in recent computer games. An example is a student being able
to seamlessly switch his or her point of view from looking from a “god’s eye”
perspective down on the mouse in the maze to looking through the mouse’s eyes, thus understanding the process of computing better.


As students understand computing through visualizing example programs
increasing in complexity, they will begin to realize that the execution of a computer program is nothing but emergent behavior on the part of the computer.

The natural next step is to try manipulating that emergent behavior through
the elementary steps the mouse takes. Thus the simulated environment can
be thought of as a new visual programming environment, allowing students to
simultaneously design and implement programs in an intuitive way.