Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
Catharine Field, Rhonda Bell, Linda McCargar, Vera Mazurak, Tom Clandinin, Diana Mager, Carlotta Basualdo, Leah Gramlich, and Paula Robson
Improving Student Self-Efficacy in Research in Human Nutrition through Collaboration
This study will evaluate the role of an innovative research experience course sequence for senior students in improving self-efficacy in research and fostering collaboration across multi-sectoral groups. Changes in student attitudes and self efficacy in research will be determined at multiple time points in the academic year using surveys and focus groups. Educational strategies will be documented from analysis of research passports and Hot Topics forum sessions. Strategies that help sustain collaboration between faculty members and partnering groups will be assessed by interview. Mentors’ attitudes toward continued research in nutrition will be documented through a survey. Collaborative networks will be described using social networking analysis. Research experience is a critical educational method for advancing personal learning at this level, and it takes on added importance as it forms the foundation of the evidence-based, dietetics profession. Detailed analysis of this course sequence may provide a framework for knowledge transfer to other faculties or institutions.
Modern Languages & Cultural Studies
Gabriela Zapata and Patrick Bolger
The Acquisition of Vocabulary in Second Language Spanish Classes
The purpose of this classroom-based research project is to investigate the variables that affect the acquisition of vocabulary by second-language (L2) learners. The study will examine the effectiveness of different methods of vocabulary presentation in beginning, Spanish language classes in MLCS. The results will be analyzed using two innovative statistical procedures which have rarely if ever been applied in L2 investigations. In addition, this study will be the first to offer an in-depth examination and analysis of the current methods of vocabulary teaching. It will constitute an important step towards a better understanding of teaching methodologies that can facilitate or hinder the acquisition of vocabulary in the L2 classroom setting. The findings of the study could result in the improvement of current L2 methodologies and textbooks, which, in turn, would benefit students’ learning not only at the University of Alberta, but also at other institutions.
Glen Hvenegaard, Anne Marie Link, Sean Moore, and Janet Wesselius
Improving Directed Studies Courses by Evaluating Student and Instructor Perspectives
Directed Studies courses promote undergraduate research, as desired in our academic plans, but little is known about the role and dynamics of these courses and little information is available for prospective students or instructors. The purpose of this project is to examine the motivations, benefits, opportunities, and barriers of Directed Studies courses from student, instructor, and institutional perspectives. Based on past experiences, focus group discussions, and survey research, the team will explore the similarities and differences in these perspectives. In offering recommendations for preparation, delivery, and evaluation of Directed Studies courses, the team will create a user’s guide for students and instructors involved in future courses across the University of Alberta. This project builds on Dr. Hvenegaard’s 2008-09 McCalla Professorship exploring the theory and practice of undergraduate teaching with fieldwork.
Patricia Boechler, Eleni Stroulia, Mike Carbonaro, Jacqueline Leighton, and Mark Gierl
Using Virtual Environments for an Interprofessional Communications Skills Instructional Program for Health Science Education
Virtual interactive environments such as Second Life are emerging as innovative tools that can support and enhance learning in various educational domains. Virtual environments (VEs) are interactive, on-line, 3D spaces that have been shown to improve students’ motivation (Carbonaro et al., 2008a) and skill acquisition (Rose et al., 2000). The purpose of this study is to develop a research-based virtual environment (VE) aimed at the creation of a communication skills instructional program for health science education. The program would address some of the resource issues (cost, time and infrastructure) associated with traditional training approaches using Standardized patients. This project will contribute new knowledge about the learning/cognitive models that should be used as frameworks for VEs and help to determine effective educational mechanisms and principles for VE learning.
School of Library and Information Studies
Lisa Given, Heidi Julien, Kathleen De Long, Anne Carr-Wiggin, and Susan Barker
Making the Transition from High School to University: Assessing Students’ Information Literacy Experiences
This research assesses undergraduates’ information literacy skills and explores students’ experiences with digital resources. The project examines undergraduates in writing-intensive disciplines (i.e., in arts and social sciences) as they make the transition from high school to the first years of university. By using mixed methods (i.e., skills tests, interviews, focus groups, journals), the results of the first two years of the project inform targeted information literacy instruction, to be implemented in year three. As students’ academic success depends on their ability to conduct research effectively, this project takes a unique, longitudinal approach to examine how students experience information literacy in today’s digital environment. The findings have implications for the design of University of Alberta (U of A) Libraries’ instructional programs, for the development of U of A courses (e.g., in the Bachelor of Education and Master of Library and Information Studies programs, whose graduates will educate undergraduates in future), and for technology planning across the U of A campus.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Yang Liu, Ania Ulrich, Ying Cui, and Robert Lederer
Microbiology and Molecular Biology in Environmental Engineering
Over the past twenty years, the application of microbiology and molecular biology tools in Environmental Engineering has moved dramatically beyond a few research labs to become a widespread analytical capability within the field. However, biological developments have not been transferred to the engineering classroom. This fundamental disconnect between necessary skills for success in the field and undergraduate classroom curricula results in poorly trained students. The objective of this project is to address this disconnect through introducing microbiology/molecular tools to engineering students without prerequisite courses in Biology. To stimulate creative and tangible learning, a wall of algae will be designed (in collaboration with Industrial Design) and built in the 2nd floor foyer of the NREF building. The wall will provide seed algae for studies on its ability to degrade various contaminants. Visually the wall will be a neon green reminder of some very small but powerful organisms.
Walter Archer, Alison Dunwoody, Susan Burwash, and Susan Mulholland
Critical Thinking in CSL and Practica
This research project will promote university-community engagement in learning. Specifically, it will add to our understanding of how community service-learning (CSL) and practica can contribute to the development of critical thinking by students in higher education. It will do so through content analysis of written work and contributions to small group discussions by students engaged in these forms of experiential learning. The content analysis will make use of a proven model of critical thinking known as the Practical Inquiry model. Our preliminary pilot studies have already resulted in changes to the way in which one instructor (co-investigator Dunwoody) integrates CSL into her courses. We expect that the broader and more in depth study proposed here will result in more general understanding of CSL and practica, and improvements in their use at the University of Alberta and in higher education generally.
Medicine and Dentistry
Sarah Forgie and Jennifer Walton
Speed Dating and Speed Learning – Is There a Connection with Medical Students?
The purpose of this project is to introduce a novel peer learning strategy – “speed learning” into the Triple I block of the medical school curriculum and compare it with problem based learning. Our hope is that speed learning will create an enjoyable and interactive milieu where students can synthesize the course material and develop early clinical reasoning skills. We will use several subjective and objective methods to determine whether this strategy is effective, when compared with traditional problem based learning. Observations of each group will be recorded using a PDA-based data collection instrument to measure the degree of interactivity during sessions. Students will be surveyed about their experiences in the sessions and response sheets for cases will be collected from each student. Finally, performance on pre and post MATCH examination questions will be compared to determine whether introduction of this novel strategy results in an objective improvement in student performance.
Bev Williams, Jude Spiers, Barb Gibson, Liz Richard, Ann Fisk, Willy Kabotoff, Debra McIlwraith, and Azizah Sculley
The Influence of an Undergraduate Context Based Learning Program on Evolving Professional Nursing Graduate Practice
Professional education aims to improve nursing practice. Empirically, knowledgeable and competent nurses are more likely to remain in practice. Problem/Context Based Learning (PBL/CBL), a model of self directed contextualised learning, enhances knowledge acquisition, clinical competency, and professional behaviour during the program, however there is a complete lack of research about its effectiveness beyond graduation. In 1997, the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing (FON) established a Collaborative CBL- based Baccalaureate Nursing Program with partner sites in Red Deer, Grande Prairie, and Fort McMurray. The purpose of this innovative qualitative research is to examine how graduates perceive the CBL program contributed to the evolution of their professional practice following graduation. Focus groups will be used to collect information from individuals who are 2, 5, and 8 years post graduation. No such information has been collected before from graduates past the one year mark. Detailed information will be used to develop a survey instrument to compare CBL and non-CBL graduates in a proposed Phase 2. Results will also be used to refine the curriculum and contribute to best practice in nursing education at the University of Alberta.
Speech Pathology and Audiology
Developing Speech-Language Pathology Students’ Clinical Decision-Making Skills Using Web-Based Interactive Case Tutorials
This project will create and evaluate web-based interactive tutorials for four case studies to use in training speech-language pathologists. The tutorials will be designed to model “best practice” and engage students as they are guided in making decisions at each stage of the clinical process (planning appropriate assessment protocols, interpreting sample assessment results, planning and implementing treatment and selecting measures to evaluate speech outcomes) for children with speech intelligibility deficits and motor speech disorders. The opportunities for active learning and mentoring provided by the structure of the tutorials are expected to increase students’ skill and confidence in applying their knowledge base and awareness of areas where they need to increase their knowledge. This project is part of a larger initiative to improve and transform clinical practice for children with speech intelligibility deficits secondary to neurogenic speech disorders.