Tag Archives: Education

Learner-centered Teaching: A Historical Example

Evan Sharp, Brigham Young University

This paper intends to expand and deepen the current research on Learner-centered Teaching (LCT), a pedagogy that seeks to shift the focus of an educator from his or her own teaching to the learning of those being educated. It is modern application that stems from a significant amount of research conducted on learning. The research regarding LCT, however, seems to be focused on modern examples and contexts. No one has looked to the past to find examples of LCT techniques present in the methods of ancient educators. This paper begins the research on historical examples of LCT and intends to open a discussion on the comparisons that can be made between historical teaching methods and the methods included in LCT. One of the learning theories that plays a significant role in LCT is Constructivism. This paper illustrates the presence of constructivist learning in historical education settings through a case study analyzing some of the teaching methods of Jesus Christ. Regardless of one‰Ûªs belief in historical authenticity, Jesus is an excellent example because his teachings are well-known, widely available, and offer a look into ancient instruction. This paper analyzes interactions that Jesus had with others in the New Testament Gospels and makes connections between Jesus‰Ûªs teaching methods and those related to constructivism in LCT. The purpose of making these connections is not to suggest that Jesus taught exactly as is outlined in LCT; rather, it is to show the usefulness of studying historical examples of LCT and to encourage such research. Although Jesus does not fit the modern definition of a learner-centered teacher, certain aspects of Jesus‰Ûªs teaching closely resemble the methods of LCT. New historical insights will aid in a better understanding of LCT. The goal is to expand its area of research, which will undoubtedly lead to better implementation. It will also strengthen the argument for its use in modern education. Other historical teachers should be researched in this way, and connections with learning theories other than just Constructivism should be explored. This paper intends to point out this gap in current literature and call for additional research.

Enhancing Number System Knowledge to Promote Number Sense and Adaptive Expertise: A Case Study of a Second-Grade Mathematics Student

Cami Player, Utah State University

Instruction for developing students‰Ûª number sense is a critical area of research in mathematics education due to the role number sense plays in early mathematics learning. Specifically, number system knowledge‰ÛÓ knowledge of the systematic relations among Arabic numerals and the skills in using this knowledge to solve arithmetic problems‰ÛÓhas been identified as a key cognitive mechanism in number sense development. We view number system knowledge as a component of number sense and theorize that it plays a critical role in second-grade students‰Ûª understanding of relationships among numbers and adaptive expertise with mathematics problems. The purpose of this exploratory case study was to investigate the variations of an 8-year-old student‰Ûªs number system knowledge learning as she participated in an instructional treatment over 9 weeks. Our main research questions were: 1) In what ways does a student struggling in mathematics develop number system knowledge during a 9-week period in her second-grade classroom? 2) How does the instructional treatment influence her number system knowledge and number sense development during the 9-week period? The case in our study was selected based on her low pretest score combined with her desire for making sense of mathematics. Data were collected with a number sense assessment (which included a targeted number system knowledge assessment), student interviews, and classroom observations. Data were triangulated using these multiple sources. The analysis involved a multiple-cycle coding process that resulted in themes regarding the development of adaptive expertise and the union of procedural and conceptual knowledge in mathematics instruction. The results suggest that this instructional treatment provided this case-study student to develop more pronounced adaptive expertise in mathematical problem solving. Additionally, it revealed the importance of mathematics instruction that includes numerals linked to quantities in order to help students to conceptualize basic mathematical practices. Typical elementary school teachers are challenged by reaching the needs of students struggling in mathematics. Number system knowledge is a predictor of later mathematics achievement, and an in-depth analysis of how and why one struggling student develops number system knowledge during a 9-week instructional treatment within the context of her mathematics class provides exploratory evidence to help researchers and teachers develop and implement similar practices in elementary mathematics instruction.

Climate Confusion in the Classroom; Perceptions, Methods, and Background of Utah Secondary Education Science Teachers

Tyler Hole, Weber State University

In 2016, a nationwide study out of Pennsylvania State University surveyed 10,000 secondary education public school science teachers and found that ‰ÛÏteachers‰Ûª knowledge and values can hinder climate education‰Û (Plutzer, 2016). This groundbreaking study showed that a teacher’s knowledge of and belief in climate change, affected what they taught in the classroom. A 2017 study, focusing on the northern Utah area, is an attempt to replicate and verify the above results. The study area, which includes some of the largest school districts in the nation, encompasses Weber, Ogden, and Davis school districts, which serve approximately 113,000 students. To assess the views of the teachers in these districts, an email invitation to take the survey was sent directly to all associated junior high and high school science teachers that had publicly available email addresses, a total of 190 of the 220 listed science teachers in these districts. Survey participants were asked questions to assess their knowledge of climate change as well as their teaching practices in the classroom. These responses, as well as answers to demographic questions were evaluated to determine the impact that their knowledge and beliefs had in their teaching. While the survey is ongoing, preliminary data analysis indicates that even in the context of a conservative state, teachers in northern Utah, in general, follow the same patterns shown in the nationwide Plutzer (2016) study. This strengthens the theory that teachers who lack a knowledge of or belief in climate change, tend to convey that message to their students, thus clouding the scientific consensus on climate change.

The Effect of Algebra on Critical Thinking Skills of Students

Edgar Judd, Southern Utah University

This study investigated the effect of college-level algebra on critical thinking skills. Students were given critical thinking tasks to perform at the start, middle, and end of math classes during the 2016-17 academic year. They were also offered the opportunity to discuss their performance afterwards. Results did not show a clear relationship between mathematical reasoning and improved critical thinking skills; however, several possible influences on the findings raise interesting questions for additional research.

Are Humans Just Animals? A Study of the Acceptance of Evolution

Chad Talbot, Utah Valley University

Evolution is central to understanding Biology and Health. Nevertheless, many people still don‰Ûªt accept evolution as a well founded principle and mechanism of change (Pew 2016). The central research of this project is to examine the acceptance of evolution among Biology majors at the beginning and end of their undergraduate experience, the reasons as to why they accept or reject evolution, and if applicable, why they changed their minds during their undergraduate experience. Previously, the acceptance of evolution in non-major Biology courses (Ferguson and Ogden) has been investigated. The results show that students can change their opinions on evolution and the leading factors for this were: 1) the teaching of evolutionary evidences drove changes in acceptance; 2) the importance of a role model; and 3) helping students overcome misconceptions. Further, previous studies examined students’ observations and knowledge of evolutionary theory and found that the degree of conflicts perceived between religion and science was negatively correlated with their knowledge of evolution. Main Objective: The objective of this research is to better understand the acceptance of evolution among students majoring in Biology. Methods: We will administer a short “pre-interview survey” and we will conduct interviews with students majoring in Biology, that are enrolled in Biol 4550 and Biol 4500, in order to better understand the reasons why they accept or reject evolution and why they change or don’t change their minds throughout their undergraduate experience. The survey and interview questions are designed to investigate the opinions of evolution and how the students changed throughout their undergraduate experience and over the course of the semester. The recordings will be transcribed and quantified by binning answers into categories. Given the high % of students that are LDS, we will ask a few additional questions concerning religion and the student’s knowledge of their religion’s position concerning evolution. Hypotheses: We proposed that as students knowledge of the evidence for evolution increased over their college years that acceptance would increase. We further hypothesized that religious students would have to reconcile their religion’s position on science and evolution with their growing knowledge of evolutionary theory.

Student Perceptions of Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Teamwork

Jonathan Jacobs, Brigham Young University

Purpose: Evaluate the effect of interprofessional education (IPE) on undergraduate students‰Ûª attitudes of IPE, perceptions of working together, and ratings of teamwork. Background: The culture of education prepares healthcare professionals in silos, then expects them to work collaboratively upon graduation. Medical errors, resulting from communication issues, are considered a leading cause of patient death. Interdisciplinary education of future professionals may prevent communication issues and reduce patient deaths. IPE of undergraduates may improve communication of future professionals educated in universities without medical schools. Research Questions: Following a semester-long IPE class: 1. How do students describe their perceptions about ability to, value of, and comfort in working in interprofessional teams? 2. What are students‰Ûª ratings of teamwork, interprofessional interactions and relationships? 3. What are students‰Ûª attitudes toward IPE and opinion of usefulness of IPE activities? 4. What are the differences between healthcare student groups‰Ûª (nursing, dietetics, medical lab science, pre-professional etc.) perceptions of working together, attitudes of IPE, and ratings of teamwork? Methodology: A pre-post descriptive quantitative design was used. A total of 110 undergraduate students completed questionnaires at the beginning and end of an interprofessional health professions course. Study subjects included students from the following majors: nursing, dietetics, medical lab science, pre-professional, and other health-related professions. Quantitative data included survey results of three validated instruments used in IPE research: Attitudes Towards Healthcare Teams (ATHCT), Interprofessional Socialization & Valuing Scale (ISVS), and The University of West England Interprofessional Questionnaire (UWE IPQ). Data were analyzed using a two-tailed paired t-test. Findings: Student responses showed significant increases in IPE scores with two of the three instruments. Students participating in the interprofessional course reported significantly increased scores on the ATHCT (M baseline = 3.75; M follow-up = 4.17; p = .000; 5-point Likert-type) and ISVS (M baseline = 3.72; M follow-up = 5.35; p = .000; 7-point Likert-type). Results of the UWE IPQ were mixed. Students reported significantly increased scores on the interprofessional relationships subscale (M baseline = 3.42; M follow-up = 3.92; p = .000; 5-point Likert-type), while scores on the other three UWE IPQ subscales were not significant. Conclusions and implications: IPE of undergraduate students in health-related majors can significantly improve their attitudes toward interprofessional collaboration. While IPE may serve to augment collaboration among future health professions, it cannot substitute for hospital interaction. In the undergraduate setting for future health professionals, IPE should be used in conjunction with hospital experiences.

Organizational Learning in Inpatient Hospitals: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Jonathan Jacobs, Emily Hammond, Maggie Gunn, Brigham Young University

Purpose: This systematic review was conducted to gain a better understanding of the contextual factors, mechanisms, and outcomes associated with organizational learning in inpatient hospitals. Background: Organizational learning is a positive change process by which organizations enhance their ability to achieve their desired outcomes. In hospitals, examples of desired outcomes include improvements in patient safety, care quality, patient experience, and financial viability. Although a growing body of research supports organizational learning as an effective strategy for achieving gains in each of these performance areas, the literature on organizational learning in inpatient hospitals has not been systematically reviewed. Thus, nursing researchers and leaders are without a practical resource to guide their efforts to study and foster organizational learning. Methods: Databases searched were CINAHL, MEDLINE, Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, PsychINFO, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Sociological Abstracts. The search terms used were (“organi?ational learning” OR “team learning” OR “group learning” OR “collective learning” OR “learning organi?ation*” OR ‰ÛÏworkplace learning‰Û) AND (hospital OR hospitals) with no limits set on date of publication. After an initial scan for duplicates, approximately 2,300 articles remained. Article titles were sorted for relevance based on the following criteria: reports empirical data from an inpatient hospital setting, treats organizational learning as a process rather than an output, situated in an inpatient hospital setting, written in English, published in a peer-reviewed journal, refers to human improvements in knowledge, cognition, or behavior. Article abstracts were reviewed, followed by a review of the full text. The remaining 197 articles were scored using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. During the appraisal process, 47 additional articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria or had critical methodological flaws were removed. Data extraction was performed for the remaining 150 articles, with a focus on contextual factors, mechanisms, and outcomes associated with organizational learning in inpatient hospitals. Results: Contextual factors associated with organizational learning included: shared purpose, motivation, psychological safety/relationships, infrastructure, skills in organizational improvement, and experience as a team. Mechanisms associated with organizational learning included: interaction, collective reflection, deliberate learning, practice, retention, and leadership. Outcomes associated with organizational learning included: clinical outcomes, patient outcomes, team outcomes, financial outcomes, and adoption of new/improved clinical practices. Implications: Organizational learning is an important process for improving patient care and performance in inpatient hospitals. This systematic review provides a practical resource for nursing leaders and researchers to advance the practice and science of organizational learning.

Evaluating the effectiveness of Comprehensive versus Risk-Avoidance Sexual Education Curriculum in Northern Utah

Alyson Rasmussen, Ellen Seely, Valentina Pastrana, Weber State University

In the United States, there are two approaches to sexual education in publics schools: risk-avoidant curriculums; often referred to as “abstinence-only”, and comprehensive sex education (Alford, 2001). Currently, Utah educators must follow a state-mandated curriculum and without special permission, it is illegal for health teachers to deviate from the state-mandated curriculum at all (Steadman, Crookston, Randy, & Hall, 2014). As outlined by the state of Utah, educators are only allowed to discuss contraception with written parental permission. In addition, any discussion that appears to advocate, promote, or teach the logistics of contraception is forbidden and punishable by law (Steadman, et al., 2014). The Institute of Medicine found that abstinence-only programs do not reduce high-risk behaviors that put youth at risk for HIV and other STI infections. However, comprehensive sex education was found to be effective and does not have an impact on a teen’s first reported intercourse, frequency of sexual interactions, or number of partners (Starkman, 2002). For the purpose of this study, parental attitudes towards the two sexual education curriculums will be evaluated to determine if there is a discrepancy between what is currently being taught in public schools regarding sexual education and reproductive health; and what parents would prefer to be taught to their children. Working in conjunction with a small, urban city health department, a cross-sectional social survey will be disseminated to parents with children under 17 years old in two, northern-Utah counties. Utilizing a social survey to gather qualitative data, parental preferences towards sexual education curriculums will be assessed to determine what Utahans want to be taught in public schools. The findings may be utilized to advocate for more research to be done and for policy changes that will improve sexual heath education in Utah and other states.

Aggies Global Observatory

Catherine Miner, Utah State University

The mission of Utah State University is to be one of the nation’s premier student-centered land-grant and space-grant universities by fostering the principle that academics come first, by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery, and engagement. Aggies Global Observatory is an effort to fulfill this mission statement by providing a resource which interprets current events through geopolitical frameworks in order to encourage a variety of perspectives, inform the public, provide resources for continual learning, and cultivate undergraduate engagement with the public. The project is accessible to the public as a website with a set of essays which explain basic premises of political geography. The essays define geopolitics, geographical entities, power, geopolitical codes, identities, boundaries, and flows. Student authors who work on the project write essays about topics which appear in the news in which they clearly attach defined concepts to actual events. Essays are added continually and older pieces are organized into archives. Geopolitical assessments do not often offer rose-colored lenses through which to view historical or continued action. Introducing concepts through relevant topics helps encourage individuals to expand the perspectives they are comfortable discussing and promotes active reflection on how to craft a better future. Our project will be successful if readership better understands the relationships which drive the world they live in and can further interpret news related agendas and information. In the process, the project enhances students‰Ûª knowledge of political geography and provides experience in writing about academic concepts in a way that allows communication to a non-academic audience.

Physical Activity Education for Refugees Resettled in Utah

Mandy Robison, University of Utah

Many barriers hinder refugees from regularly exercising upon immigration to the United States. The purpose of this research project is to improve program planning with the goal of helping refugees achieve optimal wellbeing. This project involves ten sessions with refugees, including a component of exercise teaching preceded by a focus group and self-administered survey. Sessions are conducted at the Refugee Education and Training Center in Salt Lake City throughout the fall of 2017. Focus group discussion includes perspectives on perceived susceptibility of getting enough exercise, perceived severity of conditions accompanying sedentary lifestyle, perceived benefits of regular exercise, and perceived obstacles that make regular exercise difficult. Class participants are also asked to discuss their motivation for exercise and their opinion on resources for exercise. Though data is still being gathered for this project, current analysis shows that participants enjoy the exercise class. Focus group data shows that some participants believe a lack of regular exercise will lead to sickness, weight gain, and the potential for diagnosis of diabetes. Data shows that few class participants exercise regularly. In general, participants who did not exercise regularly tend to be unclear about benefits of physical activity for physical and mental health. The majority of class participants do not know of community resources for exercise. Conclusions drawn from our preliminary data show that more exercise classes should be offered to refugee populations in the community. In addition to exercise classes, there is a need for refugee education surrounding the benefits of physical activity as it pertains to physical and mental health.