CIRTL-GTA TAR Fellows Projects
Here is a list of CIRTL-GTA TAR Fellows and abstract for their projects.
An Evaluation of Instructor's Use of Blogging in a Science Writing Class from the Perspectives of Students
Bernard Appiah (Public Health, 2011-2012 CIRTL-GTA TAR Fellow)
Undergraduate students in the sciences usually have their minds focused on becoming scientists. Thus, teaching a writing seminar course for such biomedical science students may need more engagement approaches that will make the students learning a friendly manner. Although, blogs help students learn in collaborative environments and have been used effectively in librarian teaching activities, blogs appear not to have been explored in teaching writing courses for undergraduate biomedical science students. Thus, the purpose of this teaching as research project is to explore how instructor’s blog on a writing course for biomedical science students can improve student learning and engagement. Specifically, the main objectives of the study are (1) to identify whether students like the blogs; and 2) to identify the influence of the blogs on student learning and engagement. The Web blogs will focus on the four C’s of effective writing: (a) Writing clearly (e.g. avoiding convoluted phrases or over-long sentences); (b) writing concisely (e.g. being specific by using specific words in given situations); (c) writing concretely (e.g. using fewer words to express ideas), (d) writing correctly (e.g. using correct grammar to express ideas). Participants will be required to post a comment on at least one of the four blogs. Pretest and post-test self-administered questionnaire surveys would be used to identify and assess any change in beliefs or attitudes to instructor's use of blog posts in a science writing class. The findings from this project may determine how instructors’ blog posts on science writing may influence student learning and engagement.
Ethnographies – an instrument to teach perspectives
Manoj Prasad (Computer Science & Engineering, 2011-2012 CIRTL GTA TAR Fellow)
User’s experience with any software depends largely on interface of the software. An interface is a component of software that users interact with. Computer Human interaction (CHI) is a field of computer science that specializes in interface design principles. [Norman 2002] Norman in his book, Design of everyday things, insists upon understanding the user’s mental model for a good interface design. Understanding user’s mental model requires the developer to change his/her perspective to that of the user. Most often these principles are taught through reading assignments and interface design projects. Such assignments do not help in changing the perspectives of a developer. Dr Hammond in her class, CSCE 436 – Computer Human Interaction, uses ethnography assignment as an instrument to teach these principles. In this project, we propose to evaluate the effectiveness of the ethnography assignment in CHI teaching.
Computer Programming for Non-Computer Science Majors
Ralph Crobsy (Computer Science & Engineering, 2011-2012 CIRTL GTA TAR Fellow)
Computers are part of all of our lives but perhaps even more so for practitioners of science and engineering. Within the STEM disciplines there is a need for more than browsing the web and writing e-mails. Scientists, engineers and mathematicians need to be able to perform process oriented tasks for analytic and research purposes. In order to prepare new scientists, engineers and mathematicians a firm grounding in what is known as “Computational Thinking” is required. Computational thinking is strongly related to the art and science of Computer Programming. During the Spring semester of 2011 the first course in Computer Science for non-majors was redesigned here at Texas A&M University. This course leverages current research in computational thinking as well as focusing on the specific needs of STEM students. This project is intended to assess the effectiveness of this course and provide feedback for further improvement. This will be accomplished by understanding the needs of the students in the course and their future career requirements for computational thinking.