1. Heather Galloway
  2. Dean, Honors College & Professor of Physics
  3. Faculty-Student Communities for Culturally Relevant Institutional Change
  4. https://www.cose.txstate.edu/STEMCommunities
  5. Texas State University
  1. Eleanor Close
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Faculty-Student Communities for Culturally Relevant Institutional Change
  4. https://www.cose.txstate.edu/STEMCommunities
  5. Texas State University
  1. Li Feng
  2. https://lifeng.wp.txstate.edu/
  3. Associate Professor of Economics
  4. Faculty-Student Communities for Culturally Relevant Institutional Change
  5. https://www.cose.txstate.edu/STEMCommunities
  6. Texas State University
  1. Cynthia Luxford
  2. http://luxford.wp.txstate.edu
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. Faculty-Student Communities for Culturally Relevant Institutional Change
  5. https://www.cose.txstate.edu/STEMCommunities
  6. Texas State University
  1. Alice Olmstead
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Faculty-Student Communities for Culturally Relevant Institutional Change
  4. https://www.cose.txstate.edu/STEMCommunities
  5. Texas State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Alice Olmstead

    Alice Olmstead

    Co-Presenter
    May 4, 2020 | 05:58 p.m.

    Thank you for watching our video! We would love to hear your feedback, particularly around the following questions:

    1. What does “culturally relevant instruction” or “culturally responsive instruction” mean to you?
    2. How do you invite students to provide meaningful input or feedback within your courses?
    3. What do you think are effective strategies for building authentic instructional partnerships with students? 
  • May 5, 2020 | 01:58 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing what you are doing at Texas State!  I've heard of many institutions that have had great success with the LA model. What sort of training and support do you need to provide to faculty and students to help them incorporate culturally relevant instruction?

     
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    Sara Yeo
  • Icon for: Alice Olmstead

    Alice Olmstead

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 02:13 p.m.

    Within the Physics department our LA program is particularly attentive to bringing up issues of systemic inequity and encouraging collaborative relationships between all of our LAs and faculty (e.g., through our weekly prep sessions that show up in the video). In our new project we're adding a couple layers of training/support for faculty before we give them extended funding to work with LAs and do course redesigns, including teaching-focused workshop and department self-assessments where we act as consultants and collect/analyze/share student data by request.

     
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    Barbara Reisner
  • Icon for: Travis York

    Travis York

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:08 p.m.

    It is really exciting to see how this program is working to involve students in the process of institutional change. We work with a lot of HSIs and EHSIs in our project (check out our video here: https://stemforall2020.videohall.com/presentations/1897) to support faculty professional development for inclusive teaching, advising, and research mentoring. 

    I'm really interested in learning more about how your team seeks to leverage learning with students to effect institutional organizational change - what lessons have you learned to help senior administrators consider students as partners in this work? 

    We'd love to think about how to leverage those lessons in our Aspire Alliance!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Li Feng
  • Icon for: Alice Olmstead

    Alice Olmstead

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 06:18 p.m.

    While we certainly try to involve administrators in conversations and keep them up to date about what we are doing, at this point I would say our primary focus is on working with faculty (individually and in groups) and helping them to collaborate effectively with students. Our theory of change assumes that faculty themselves, particularly department-specific groups of faculty, will be the best at determining and advocating for the ways they want STEM instruction to look at our institution. As such our long term plan is to help grow and sustain a strong community of STEM faculty who work with us and advocate for the institutional changes they want to see. 

  • Icon for: Sara Yeo

    Sara Yeo

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:45 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your video. I enjoyed learning about the Learning Assistant model. Two quick questions:

    1. How scalable this is--are there training materials that other instructors/departments could use to start this type of program for their own students?
    2. How do you measure the impact of LAs on other students?

    Looking forward to more discussion, thanks!

  • Icon for: Eleanor Close

    Eleanor Close

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 06:32 p.m.

    Thanks for your questions!

    The LA model is highly scalable, and the national Learning Assistant Alliance runs conferences and workshops to support instructors /departments who have LA Programs or are interested in implementing them. The Learning Assistant model has been implemented at around 200 institutions world-wide, and programs range in scale from just a few LAs to hundreds each semester. For example, at University of Colorado-Boulder, they hire over 400 LAs each year, and LAs work in about 15 departments. The Learning Assistant Alliance has resources on their website:  https://learningassistantalliance.org/ -- all resources are freely available. For institutions or departments interested in starting an LA program, I would recommend starting by attending a Regional Workshop or a National Learning Assistant Conference if possible, preferably with a team of interested folks.

    LAs impact other students in many ways, so we have many different possible measures to look at. One of the most common measurements is to look at changes in DFW rates (the percentage of students who receive a grade of D or F, or who Withdraw from the course) -- STEM gateway courses commonly have DFW rates between 35% and 50%. LA programs can often cut that rate in half. One recent study looks at the relationship between LA support and equity of DFW rates across race and gender. Various measures can be used to compare student learning in LA-supported sections of courses to that of students in sections of the same courses without LA support. At CU Boulder they have found that students who take an LA-supported course also go on to earn higher grades in future courses. These are some of the most common approaches to assessing impact.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Sara Yeo
  • Icon for: Sara Yeo

    Sara Yeo

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 02:32 p.m.

    Thanks for pointing me toward resources and your suggestions, Eleanor. Wonderful to learn about this, thank you so much!

  • Small default profile

    Billy Jackson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 07:53 p.m.

    Hi -- So I have a question about what the particulars are of professional development for the faculty are during these prep sessions.  In what ways specifically are faculty building intercultural competence and by what mechanisms are they doing this?  How does this affect their practice?

  • Icon for: Alice Olmstead

    Alice Olmstead

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 05:27 p.m.

    Each of our 2-hour weekly LA prep sessions in Physics include time for faculty-student and student-student dialogue about a specific aspect of teaching, learning and (in)equity in STEM, as well as student-focused announcements and focused preparation to teach specific course content. Students are highly vocal in these sessions, which provides opportunities for our faculty to learn. Our faculty also receive some faculty-only training outside of these weekly prep sessions that focus on helping them to build a shared vision around the value of collaborating with and listening to students, which will be more true on this larger project. In Physics we have found that these things together contribute to healthy teaching partnerships and as well as a healthy overall department climate. Our faculty tend to be highly attentive to collaborating with LAs in the classroom when facilitating small group work among students, and several faculty have carved out time for the LAs to lead the class themselves during pre-determined activity. The Biology prep sessions are very new and still evolving, but share similar characteristics.

  • Small default profile

    Billy Jackson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 07:53 p.m.

    Hi -- So I have a question about what the particulars are of professional development for the faculty are during these prep sessions.  In what ways specifically are faculty building intercultural competence and by what mechanisms are they doing this?  How does this affect their practice?

  • Icon for: Nancy Shapiro

    Nancy Shapiro

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 08:19 p.m.

    It is good to see how the LA model is being used in the context of HSIs.  I am familiar with the model in other large, public universities, such as the University of Colorado, but seeing it in the HSI context gives it a valuable "spin."  Culturally responsive pedagogy is often not easy to incorporate into an existing status quo--so bringing it in by using LAs looks very promising.  LAs become a "bridge" in multiple ways in this project--nicely done!

  • Icon for: Heather Galloway

    Heather Galloway

    Lead Presenter
    Dean, Honors College & Professor of Physics
    May 6, 2020 | 03:01 p.m.

    Thanks!  We are privileged to work at an institution with a diverse and inspiring student body, so we are excited to see this work play out. 

  • Icon for: Lisa Flores

    Lisa Flores

    Researcher
    May 6, 2020 | 08:08 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work! I’m curious about the STEM workforce outcomes of the program. What outcomes are you tracking and what are you finding?

     
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    Li Feng
  • Icon for: Li Feng

    Li Feng

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 04:13 p.m.

    Dear Lisa,


    Excellent question. We are examining students' future salary earnings, college loan debt levels, unemployment rate, and possibly industry they enter post graduation. 


    BTW, your project looks really interesting!

  • Icon for: Ivory Toldson

    Ivory Toldson

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 04:04 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing! I can appreciate the utilization of more advanced students on the "front lines". It is great to see the impact of this work and learn about how the project has expanded. It is clear that this project has done well to implament a culturally responsive pedagogy which addresses student needs. I think is important to learn from how barriers that have been overcome throughout the process. What challenges have you faced, and how were they addressed?

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Li Feng
  • Icon for: Eleanor Close

    Eleanor Close

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 09:35 a.m.

    Thanks for your comment! Having more advanced students on the instructional team (as LAs) has been hugely beneficial, for the students and also for the faculty and the LAs. Among other benefits, it gives students just out of intro sequence opportunities to get to know students ahead of them in the major as they LA together. 

    Here at TXST, we first implemented an LA program in 2012, then gradually expanded into all sections of all three courses in the introductory sequence for physical science and engineering majors (“calculus-based”). One of the initial challenges was supporting instructors in changing their teaching methods – it’s effort-intensive to overhaul a course. For the first few years, the department was able to offer a course release to faculty during the semester they switched to LA-supported interactive instructional methods. Now that we have reached a steady-state, we have systems in place to provide continuing support to both new and experienced faculty, including pre-semester workshops and weekly check-in meetings of faculty teams.

    It is also an ongoing challenge to get student buy-in, since the kind of interactions and learning we expect of them in class are somewhat counter-cultural in STEM. One of the ways LAs can support introductory students is by helping them manage the vulnerability of working through difficult concepts with (and in front of) their peers – LAs can normalize the struggle and reassure students that feeling confused is often a sign of learning, not an indication that they are failing.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Ivory Toldson
  • Icon for: Gerhard Salinger

    Gerhard Salinger

    Funder
    May 6, 2020 | 10:56 p.m.

    Do you also evaluate changes in the Learning Assistants?  How has their undestanding of phyiscs concpets changed?  How has thier ability to explain physics changed?  How has their ability to deal with different ways of understanding physics increased?  

  • Icon for: Eleanor Close

    Eleanor Close

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 10:09 a.m.

    We do! One of the three research strands in this project focuses on communities of practice among faculty and LAs. This builds on our current research on the impact on LAs themselves of participation in our existing Physics LA Program. My primary focus in this research has been on LAs’ development of positive physics identity, using a theoretical framework drawn from Communities of Practice theory and from quantitative work done by Hazari et al. We have found that LAs have a strong sense of belonging to a supportive and collaborative community, and that they develop increased confidence in both their physics knowledge and their ability to learn new content and succeed in difficult coursework. They regularly reflect on the practice they received in our weekly preparation sessions on understanding and working with many different ways of approaching physics questions, and how that helped them deepen their own understanding. They often describe learning to “LA themselves” while working on challenging assignments.

    In a separate identity study focused on successful physics majors with multiple minoritized identities (women of color and LGBTQ+ women), our interviewees described the LA program as a critical support, both in the experiences they had as LAs themselves and in the impact the program has on the overall sense of collaboration and mutual support among the majors in upper-division courses.

    We are excited to see how LAs in courses re-designed by our faculty-student teams experience the program and how it impacts their academic trajectories and their STEM identities.

  • May 8, 2020 | 07:54 a.m.

    This is important work! 

    How are you measuring the impacts across across the range of first class to workforce outcomes? I'd love know how any specific tools you are using, as well as the plans for how to stay connected with student participants as they enter the workforce.

  • Icon for: Li Feng

    Li Feng

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 12:10 p.m.

    Dear Megan,

    Thank you for your question. That is an excellent question. We have three research strands in this project. We are collecting student level qualitative data through survey instruments and focus group. We also conduct secondary analysis using quantitative data through our institutional data office. These datasets will help us to examine the impact of classroom transformation before and after the instructional change has been implemented.

    We also use several different institutional-level data to examine student’s workforce outcomes for the Learning Assistant Model adopting institutions. We also plan on using student-level data in state of Texas to track students once they enter the workforce. These long-term outcomes will take longer to track and are hard to track.

    We are happy to hear what prior success your team has had in terms of using any specific tools to track student participants.

    Li

  • Icon for: Renee Cole

    Renee Cole

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 11, 2020 | 12:33 p.m.

    I'm very interested in the work - and in the answers to the questions. We're planning to pilot an LA program in our introductory chemistry course this fall, so it will be a new experience for both instructors and students. What ideas have you explored for deploying this program in an online or hybrid model? It's unlikely that our large lectures will meet face-to-face this fall, although we're hopeful discussions and labs may be able to. It's critical to provide space for students to engage in productive discourse, but we've found that challenging to promote even in small synchronous sessions.

  • Icon for: Eleanor Close

    Eleanor Close

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 05:37 p.m.

    That's exciting! Here at TXST we switched to entirely remote instruction after spring break, and the LAs have been a huge help in keeping our intro physics courses interactive. We were told a few days before break that we would be going online for at least a few weeks, so we were able to work out some logistical issues ahead of time, and to meet with our LAs and practice break-out rooms and virtual collaboration skills. The majority of our LAs applied to be in the program again Fall semester, so I think the experience was overall positive for them.

    We have found that it's challenging to get discussion going in even small synchronous sessions, as you have also experienced -- but once students are in break-out rooms with three or four peers, the conversations seem to come more easily. The Learning Assistant Alliance has some resources available on using LAs in e-Learning, pulled together this spring, and I expect the resources will become more comprehensive as we all continue this instructional adventure.

  • Icon for: Alice Olmstead

    Alice Olmstead

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 07:56 p.m.

    Hi Renee! Thanks for your questions. I don't have anything substantive to add to what Eleanor said, but would be happy to chat on Zoom (where else?) at some point over the summer if that seems like it would be useful.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.