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6 Faculty, 2 Staff Receive 2023-24 LA Mini Grants

$2k professional development awards renewable annually

To encourage, identify, and share effective practices in the use of data to inform teaching and learning, the Provost's Office has once again awarded learning analytics mini grants to six faculty and two staff for the 2023-24 academic year (the three new grants and three renewals are described below):

2023-24 UMBC Learning Analytics Mini Grant Recipients Katie Birger, Emily Passera, Joby Taylor, Rebecca Williams, Sarah Bass, Tara Carpenter, Cody Goolsby-Cold, and Karen Chen

Katie Birger (Public Health): "Analyzing Factors Affecting Student Success in Public Health Courses." This new proposal aims to standardize PBHL 300: Research Methods in Health, to address observed inconsistencies that potentially impact students' success in the subsequent PBHL 420 course (Epidemiology). Birger plans to investigate these discrepancies by analyzing data from Blackboard sections of both courses, to identify variables such as instructor differences, textbook usage, attendance, homework submission, and access to Panopto recordings that might affect student success rates. The findings will help standardize effective learning activities and enhance the learning assessment plan. To do so, Birger aims to implement and test evidence-based curriculum changes in PBHL 300 and then monitor student performance in PBHL 420. The overall goal is to improve student knowledge and skills in public health, better preparing them for the workforce or graduate education and enhancing the continuous improvement of the Public Health curriculum.

Joby Taylorand Emily Passera (Shriver Center): "Knowing the student, knowing the staff: How a reciprocal relationship alongside data-informed insights improves student outcomes in community engaged learning."This new proposal will delve into the Shriver Center's student data to help improve practitioners' understanding of what interventions and environments best scaffold success. Additionally, the researchers will investigate the potential benefits of incentivization through micro-credentialing. Through these approaches, Taylor and Passera hope to support both student growth and improve their pathways to academic success.

Rebecca Williams(CS/EE): "Improving Student Visual Literacy & Critical Thinking in CMSC 436/636 (Data Visualization)."This new proposal focusing on course redesign as an intervention to address student misconceptions about visualizations, such as the misunderstanding that simple, easy-to-read, charts are always effective and the belief that data visualizations are entirely objective. Williams' proposed interventions include having students search for, annotate, and critique visualization examples, to supplement those she provides (and models) herself. As such, students are more likely to develop these skills and the process is likely to lead to the long-term retention of these same skills.

Sarah Bass and Tara Carpenter(Chemistry): "Nudging CHEM 101 Students with myUMBC Personal Posts."This is a renewal proposal building off of Carpenter's prior efforts to advance student metacognition and responsibility for learning as well as conducting focus groups about student motivation in moving from general to organic chemistry. Specifically, Bass and Carpenter will use myUMBC's "personal post" functionality to nudge students in their initial exposure to and use of course resources for practice and exam preparation in CHEM 101 "Principles of Chemistry I," which they are co-teaching this semester. DoIT staff have also worked with Math and Psychology faculty to use myUMBC personal posts in this way to scale course-based nudging of students. As such, Bass and Carpenter will customize messaging focused on nudging students about their engagement and preparation for key course milestones and assessments.

Karen Chen(Information Systems): "Learning Analytics by Students for Students." In this renewal proposal building on her 9/30/22 LA community of practice presentation of the same name, Chen intends to further explore student agency and literacy in the development and use of learning analytics. She's particularly interested in leveraging de-identified UMBC data to inform student analytics projects in two data science courses, IS 428 "Data Mining Techniques and Applications" and IS 733 "Data Mining" in Fall 2023. These include the use of "Spaced Practice" in General Chemistry courses as well as student use of and anonymous feedback about the myUMBC Check My Activity (CMA) feedback tool for students.

Cody Goolsby-Cole(Physics): "How Does Student Performance on Ungraded Practice Questions Correlate to Performance on Exams?"In this renewal proposal, Goolsby-Cole seeks to increase student use of a growing CNMS practice of using online questions banks to prepare for high-stakes exams. Specifically, he has used ungraded practice questions, in terms of points contributing to a final grade, but including correct and incorrect answers displayed to students. Students in his PHYS 122 "Introductory Physics II," who use the practice questions clearly perform better on unit, midterm and final exams, but he'd like to see more students do so. He plans to continue development of his practice questions, but also do more proactive nudging with myUMBC personal posts (similar to Carpenter and Bass in Chemistry described above) to see if and how more students might use and benefit from the practice question bank.

"On behalf of Interim Provost Dauwalder, we're pleased to continue offering these learning analytics mini grants to help faculty use institutional data that might inform their course designs and instruction to the benefit of our students," says Robert Carpenter, associate provost and deputy CIO. "We are excited by these interesting projects and look forward to what the faculty may find."

These one-year learning analytics awards are renewable pending receipt of a final report, paper submitted for publication or conference presentation. In addition to use of UMBC's Report Exchange (REX) data warehouse, and a Tableau "viewer" license, faculty recipients can consult with staff from Analytics and Business Intelligence, Instructional Technology and Institutional Research and Decision support (IRADS). 

For more information about this year's workshops, speakers and another learning analytics mini-grant call for proposals to be announced in Spring 24, please visit doit.umbc.edu/analytics/community.

By John Fritz

  • Image "Alt" tag: "2023-24 UMBC Learning Analytics Mini Grant Recipients Katie Birger, Emily Passera, Joby Taylor, Rebecca Williams, Sarah Bass, Tara Carpenter, Cody Goolsby-Cole, and Karen Chen"

Posted: September 29, 2023, 2:15 PM