TAR Fellows

Jaskirat Singh Batra

TAR Project Abstract

Virtual Reality (VR) technology is being used in materials science and engineering education to immerse the students in a virtual environment through 3-dimensional visualization and audio narration. The use of VR as a supplement to traditional lecture slides can enhance student interest in the field of materials and improve their learning. To test this hypothesis, a study will be conducted in introductory materials science and engineering course for undergraduate students. The preliminary assessment was done in Fall 2017 where students were given an initial PowerPoint-based lecture followed by a VR lecture. In general, there was a positive response from students about learning through VR platform and they valued the ability to learn the concept in-depth and from different points of view using VR. Some students felt that the 360-video in VR allowed them to really immerse themselves into the concept, which is different from showing them a video on the computer screen. While VR may not completely replace the PowerPoint lecture style, it can provide tremendous opportunity for teaching specific concepts in detail. Based on student feedback, VR could be used as a deep learning tool for concepts that are visually complex in the materials science and engineering classrooms.

Fellow Biography

Jaskirat Singh Batra is a doctoral student in Materials Science and Engineering department. He is actively involved in research, teaching and mentoring. His research in developing ‘soft material-based’ medical technologies crosses the disciplines of materials, engineering and life science. Jaskirat Batra is a graduate of the Academy for Future Faculty program, and has worked as Teaching Assistant for research-based lab course and lecture-style undergraduate courses. He wants to utilize his diverse teaching and research experience to promote the use of innovative technology (e.g., Virtual Reality) in educating STEM students

Mahati Kopparla

TAR Project Abstract

Mathematics is a subject often associated with negative emotions such as anxiety. Developing a community of learners within the classroom may help students develop a more positive attitude towards mathematics. Through my research, the students’ experience in a problem solving course are studied in relation to the type of group activities during the course. Two sections of the problem solving course were observed and a total of seven pre-service teachers were interviewed. From the class observations and interviews, the overall experience of pre-service teachers appeared to be shaped by the following four themes (1) Self-perception, (2) Perception of teacher, (3) Structure and organization of class, and (4) Extent of student involvement. While working as a group for an assignment is a common occurrence in undergraduate courses, the results of this study suggest that persistently working with peers leads to a more positive attitude towards the subject. A clear distinction is evident between experiences of students involved in group assignments and those that build communities of learners. 

Fellow Biography

Mahati Kopparla received her master’s in applied mathematics from the University of Hyderabad, India. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in mathematics education at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include developing novel teaching methods for mathematics and studying students who transition into college mathematics.

Steven D. Koether

TAR Project Abstract

Brookfield’s Critical Incident Questionnaire was explored as a practice for improving student dispositions toward critical thinking, gaining greater instructor insight, and improving instruction in an online non-majors' science course. Preliminary pre-post data was collected via the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory. In addition, anonymous student questionnaire responses and instructor reflections were also collected and analyzed.

Fellow Biography

Steven is a doctoral student in the Educational Human Resource Development program, with an emphasis on Adult Education. He works in the College of Science & Engineering Technology at Sam Houston State University, managing the Foundations of Science course, data, and labs.

Erica Malone

TAR Project Abstract

Visual aids such as diagrams and drawings as well as cadavers and models are commonly used in teaching and learning anatomy, however these illustrations are rarely able to demonstrate concepts related to movement. Incorporating aspects of design and sculpture to the task of demonstrating movement could provide valuable tools for teaching and learning Gross Anatomy. In order to test this concept, I have designed a tactile, kinetic and interactive model which illustrates concepts related to the biomechanics of the canine and human thoracic limbs as well as basic skeletal muscle histology and physiology. I plan to implement a full lesson plan centered around the model in an undergraduate biomedical anatomy classroom. Evidence of the models’ impact regarding four specific variables will be collected: perception (via observations and surveys), performance (via pre- & post summative and formative assessments), learning (via critical evaluation of cognitive processes), and attitude toward learning (via observations and surveys).

Fellow Biography

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Art and a minor in Creative Studies, a Master of Science in Visualization, and am currently working on a doctorate in Developmental Biology and Physiology. My passion is for teaching the anatomical sciences which I have been doing as a teaching assistant and instructor of record since the beginning of my career as a graduate student. My research revolves around the design and implementation of innovative tools for the enhancement of life science education.

Yash Parikh

TAR Project Abstract

Success in engineering education is paramount because a nation’s technical advancements and competitiveness rely on the growth of its engineering workforce. Individuals’ success in engineering depends not only on their ability and accomplishment but also in their self-beliefs. For undergraduate engineering students to perform most effectively in their degree programs, they must not only possess the required skills and competencies but also have the belief that they are able to execute these skills. Students’ self-efficacy belief has found to be a remarkable factor contributing to their determination and achievement. Therefore, self-efficacy has been used as a key factor for assessing engineering students’ readiness for pursuing multi-faceted nature of engineering education. There has been a limited success in forecasting students’ motivation and achievement in engineering using general self-efficacy scales. This project aims at understanding and recognizing the academic factors that will predict undergraduate engineering students’ motivation and performance, particularly their self-efficacy during their engineering studies. This study will also provide the relationship between academic success and motivation to pursue engineering.

Fellow Biography

Yash Parikh is a Ph.D. student from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He holds M.Tech. in Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) and B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from India. He has 5 years of academic experience as an Assistant Professor at renowned engineering institutes in India and a yearlong experience as a Manager with a manufacturing organization. His areas of interest include Additive Manufacturing, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Product Design, Total Quality Management, and Engineering Education. His current research focuses on developing Functionally Gradient Materials using Additive Manufacturing techniques. He is also a recipient of NSF student research grant.

Wendi Kamman Zimmer

TAR Project Abstract

The Digital Learning Identity Survey is an instrument designed to support teachers in recognizing their own digital learning identity (i.e., how they use technology for higher purposes of learning). This survey assists in linking pre-service teachers personal use of technology for learning to their classroom instruction. Fifty-four senior level pre-service teachers enrolled at a university in the Southwestern United States took part in this study. Using pre- and post-survey data, a mixed method approach was conducted. Quantitatively, a Wilcoxon Signed Rank Comparison test analyzed both survey administrations for participant growth and development. Qualitative measures analyzed interview responses and reflections for further evidence of change. Analysis results demonstrated an increase in digital learning identity when participants received direct instruction in better interpreting how they use technology for higher purposes of learning. Instruction included evaluation of available apps, common for personal use (e.g., Skype, Google Earth), with facilitated reflection on use for personal learning and application for student learning. Research needs to examine how and why teachers' digital learning identities impact classroom technology integration. Therefore, to determine this association, we must first help teachers recognize their own digital learning identity.

Fellow Biography

Wendi Zimmer, M.Ed., is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University.  She is currently majoring in Curriculum and Instruction in the department of Teaching, Learning, & Culture with an emphasis in Literacy.  Her research interests include digital literacy in the K-12 classroom, specifically directed at teacher preparedness and how teachers' personal learning transfers to classroom technology integration.  Additionally, she focuses on perspective taking and how using children’s literature to recognize different perspectives increases students' emotional vocabulary and empathy.  Furthermore, through her work with graduate education, Wendi researches methods for increasing graduate students' writing proficiency, which includes weekly writing sessions with graduate students.  Wendi holds a M.Ed. in Reading Instruction from Sam Houston State University and has 15 years of teaching experience in all levels of education, including administrative rolls and classroom teaching.