Faculty member uses CATL grant funds to engage future teachers in undergraduate research
Increasing opportunities for UW-La Crosse students to engage in high impact practices or HIPs is part of a university-wide strategic goal of advancing transformational educational opportunities.
HIPs are applied, hands-on experiences — ranging from internships to community-engaged learning — that studies have linked to greater gains in student learning and retention.
Teacher education naturally involves high-impact practices as university students gain hands-on experience working with K-12 students in classrooms as part of their teacher preparation.
Scott Baker, Educational Studies, gave students in one of his foundational education courses a taste of another high impact practice during the 2018-19 school year, providing another opportunity for students to deeply engage with the course material.
About 150 students in his “Intro to Curriculum and Pedagogy “course went through an in-depth research and writing process. They researched questions of interest to them related to curriculum or pedological practice on topics such as racism, poverty, social justice, special education, mental health, community involvement, standardized testing and ability grouping.
“This course-embedded undergraduate research project allows teacher candidates to challenge, question, provoke, prod, and deconstruct what it means to teach with/in curriculum guidelines imposed upon today’s preservice teachers,” writes Baker in his grant application.
The class project was funded through a UWL Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning course-embedded research grant. Baker presented the project as part of the 21st Annual UWL Conference on Teaching and Learning Monday, Aug. 26, at UWL.
“As teachers we are always ‘experimenting’ in the classroom to try to figure out how to help our students learn,” says Scott Cooper, UWL Biology professor and director of Undergraduate Research & Creativity. “Scott is innovative in giving his students formal training in educational research methods, and I hope his model spreads to other education courses.”
Baker says it was worth his efforts to incorporate undergraduate research in this core teacher preparation course. “Students learned so much more at the end of the day,” he says. “And there was a sense of pride so many of them took in their work.”
Teacher candidates learned how to conduct research, write professionally, and explore data analysis in ways most of them had never done before, says Baker.
The project also led to community-engagement opportunities. Baker is co-authoring several articles with students, which they are submitting for publication. Baker will present on their work at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in April 2020.
Also, the students and Baker are sharing articles, posters and results in a variety of settings including:
- SOE/EPC Equity Day, Nov. 2, 2018
- UWL Social Justice Week, April 1, 2019
- UWL Research & Creativity Symposium, April 23, 2019
- Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) conference, February 2020