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Four faculty members have received grants for Intentional, Notable, and Valued Teaching Experiences (INNOVATE) Research Projects, awarded by the Office of the Provost.

The awards are one-time mini-grants to conduct research that investigates the development, evaluation, and promotion of student success through innovative teaching practices at the University.

Mariche Bayonas (LLC) received the INNOVATE grant in Spanish to support the assessment of “Boomalang” software to facilitate speaking practice in both online and face-to-face introductory Spanish courses. The software was studied across four courses using both self-report data from student questionnaires and comparative data from summative assessments in the form of exams and compositions. The research has been presented widely, including an international conference (AESLA in Cadiz, Spain), two national conferences (AAAL in Chicago and ACTFL in New Orleans), and two regional conferences (SLINKI at Wake Forest and MIFLC in Knoxville). Those presentations have now become manuscripts submitted to the Hispanic Studies Review journal, in addition to several Conference Proceedings.

Diane Gill (Kinesiology) received an INNOVATE grant for evaluation of the online EdD program with a focus on how the program facilitates student progress through the dissertation and professional development. The Doctor of Education in Kinesiology Online program provides a distinct case for evaluation of the factors that promote student success in this environment. The study, with assistance from an independent consultant, looked at a variety of metrics across each of the four existing cohorts, including course evaluations, student self-efficacy, and sense of community. Internally, the Kinesiology department has used the evaluation findings to help better meet the needs of students, especially the students starting their dissertations, through a task force and EdD faculty committee. Externally, the project leads have presented the evaluation work in two sessions at the AIESEP World Congress in Edinburgh, UK. The findings are also being prepared in two related manuscripts to be submitted for publication.

Hemali Rathnayake (Nanoscience) The interdisciplinary graduate program in Nanoscience used the INNOVATE grant to pilot a new model for scientific communication education to practice written, visual, and oral communication skills through professional skills in synthesis of literature reviews, oral presentations, and research proposals. Measurable targets included the ability to interpret and synthesize scientific literature and effectively communicate scientific material in written and oral formats, which were assessed using the National Communication Association’s evaluation rubric. The grant helped to fund seven group sessions in collaboration with the Speaking Center, modeled on their sessions for non-native English speakers, that were open to all JSNN students. The project culminated in several workshops and an open forum, which included practice “TED-like” talks. The project has produced two manuscripts which are currently under revised submissions. It has also served as the foundation for a grant proposal to the NSF-IGE program, which is under review.

Iglika Pavlova (Biology) The INNOVATE grant helped the Biology department to expand research capacity for evaluation of the effect of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) on improving equitable access and preparation toward STEM careers. Initial data from implementation of CUREs in BIO 112 showed promising improvement in research skills, but the INNOVATE grant facilitated research into whether effects persist across semesters and different instructors, expanded the markers of improvement to be observed, and helped to work towards an expansion of available CURE labs. This work was done in collaboration with Mark Davenport in Institutional Research, John Wilse’s team in ERM, and Sara Heredia in TEHE. Preliminary findings from the research have already been shared with the UNC System, as well as at two national conferences (ASM and SABER). Since the research continues following the INNOVATE grant, submission to peer-reviewed journals is planned for 2020, upon completion of data analysis across four semesters.

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