The Academic Minute The Academic Minute features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what's new and exciting in the academy and of all the ways academic research contributes to solving the world's toughest problems and to serving the public good.

The Academic Minute

From WAMC Northeast Public Radio

The Academic Minute features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what's new and exciting in the academy and of all the ways academic research contributes to solving the world's toughest problems and to serving the public good.

Most Recent Episodes

Tracy Hookway, Binghamton University – Cell Research Could Help Us Better Understand How O...

When it comes to the heart, we have much research left to do. Tracy Hookway, assistant professor in the biomedical engineering department at Binghamton University, outlines some remaining questions. The focus of our lab is to develop predictive engineered in vitro models of human cardiovascular tissues to interrogate the mechanisms that drive morphogenic developmental processes. To achieve this we use multi-scale, three-dimensional cultures of stem cells and their differentiated progeny to recapitulate tissue development, tissue homeostasis, and pathophysiological states. We focus on understanding the bi-directional interactions between cells and their local environment. Other areas of interest in the lab include age-specific changes in tissue state, cell-extracellular matrix interactions, bioprocessing and tissue fabrication. Cell Research Could Help Us Better Understand How Our Hearts Beat https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-14-24-Binghamton-Cell-research-could-help-us-better-understand-how-our-hearts-beat.mp3 Your Fitbit or smartwatch can measure the variability in your heart rate, but very little is known about how the neurons that speed up and slow down your heartbeat interact. Electrical signals from the nervous system stimulate a particular location in the heart, but neurons throughout the heart help fine-tune your heart rate. Thanks to a five-year, 500,000-dollar National Science Foundation CAREER Award, I can now advance research about these nerve cell populations that play a critical role in maintaining our heartbeat. To study these systems, I will create 2D and 3D models of human cardiac cells. Additionally, I will develop game-based educational models for high school and undergraduate students to introduce concepts such as tissue engineering, cardiovascular physiology, biomanufacturing, and stem-cell biology. Through this project, I aim to cultivate a greater interest in science, especially in rural communities lacking access to programs like those available on Binghamton University's campus. So why is there so little research in this field regarding one of the most essential organs in the body? Part of the issue is that the cardiac cells I work with are challenging to obtain. These specific cells don't divide and cannot be expanded in culture. The use of stem cell-derived populations has gained traction only in the last five to ten years, and the process is complex and expensive. Understanding more about the push-and-pull of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems will lead to increasingly accurate models of heart cells. This knowledge holds significance for heart transplants, neurodegenerative diseases, stem-cell therapies and pharmaceutical research. The post Tracy Hookway, Binghamton University – Cell Research Could Help Us Better Understand How Our Hearts Beat appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Tracy Hookway, Binghamton University – Cell Research Could Help Us Better Understand How O...

Ediz Ozelkan, University of Colorado Boulder – Music Artists Hurt by TikTok Licensing Snafu

Musical artists are being hurt by a new TikTok licensing snafu. Ediz Ozelkan, lecturer in the media studies department at the University of Colorado Boulder, takes a listen to find out more. I graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2023 with my PhD in media research and practice. I am currently a lecturer in the media studies department. My dissertation asks if music streaming services helped or hurt economic opportunities for music professionals, using a political economic lens and quantitative methods to measure the impact of technology on opportunity in media. This project is being reworked into a book-length manuscript. I also have an M.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and a B.S. in sociology from SUNY Old Westbury. My research has ranged from cultural sociology; hip hop and music studies; political economy; media and labor economics; and pedagogy. Music Artists Hurt by TikTok Licensing Snafu https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-13-24-Colorado-Boulder-Music-Artists-Hurt-by-TikTok-Licensing-Snafu.mp3 For much of the year, TikTok has been on the defensive. Recently, the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would force TikTok to be sold off from its Chinese parent company or face a ban in the U.S. due to national security concerns. Meanwhile, Universal Music Group, a major record label, stopped licensing its music to TikTok at the end of January. Artists like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish can no longer have their songs used on the platform, affecting millions of TikTok videos and stifling music discovery. Universal claims its artists deserve better compensation and protection from AI-driven harm while TikTok argues that the platforms role in artist development is unparalleled. Technology was supposed to democratize the music industry, but my dissertation research demonstrates that there are less music professionals employed in 2022 than there were in 1999. Meanwhile, wage gains have disproportionately favored top earners, far from a democratization of opportunity. TikTok, despite its challenges, remains a beacon for musicians in the digital streaming landscape. However, both TikTok and record labels should prioritize the creators who sustain them. After all, the promise of platforms like TikTok lies in their ability to generate opportunities for artists, and the data shows that this has not materialized yet. Further pressures like this disagreement between a major music discovery platform and major record label further threaten artist livelihoods. The post Ediz Ozelkan, University of Colorado Boulder – Music Artists Hurt by TikTok Licensing Snafu appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Ediz Ozelkan, University of Colorado Boulder – Music Artists Hurt by TikTok Licensing Snafu

Gerald LeTendre, Penn State University – Will We See Robots in Our Child's Classroom?

Is ChatGPT the professor of the future? Gerald LeTendre, Harry Lawrence Batshelet II Chair and professor of educational administration at Penn State University, examines the possibilities. Gerald LeTendre is the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair of Educational Administration at The Pennsylvania State University. He was editor of The American Journal of Education, and served for eight years as head of the Education Policy Studies Department at Penn State. His current research focuses on how disruptive technologies affect teacher work roles and professionalization. This includes looking at attitudes towards robots in the classroom; how online education and disruptive technologies are shaping the professional status of teachers around the world; and how international and cultural differences can be effectively integrated into online teaching environments. Will We See Robots in Our Child's Classroom? https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-12-24-Penn-State-Will-We-See-Robots-in-Our-Childs-Classroom.mp3 How would you feel if your child was being tutored by a robot? We have heard a lot of news about ChatGPT and Generative AI changing the nature of education, but consider what might happen if AI could move around the classroom, talk to students and respond to human emotions. Researchers around the world are working on developing social robots for use in schools. In Singapore, a Pepper robot was used to read stories to pre-schoolers. Other applications that have been studied include helping students learn languages. Some experts believe these robots could become as common in schools in the future. Many companies are spending a great deal of money to develop robots for the home service, health care and educational sectors. The current generation of social robots is not up to the task of taking on the role of tutor, much less replacing teachers. The robots our team studied could not interact with more than one person at a time, recognize individuals, or navigate the constantly changing classroom space. However, linking AI to social robots holds promise that some of these basic problems might be surmounted in the years to come. This raises real concerns. Both adults and children respond to robots differently than they do a computer or other forms of technology. Studies have shown that little children sometimes accept social robots as peers, and that even high school students want to form emotional connections with robots. By embodying AI in robotic form, researchers could dramatically enhance a social robot's ability to mimic human behavior. How do we prepare our children for a future in which AI may be embodied in a robot? Social robots could be useful tools to teach children how the form and functioning of AI affects our perception. As AI becomes a bigger part of our work and lives, educators need to prepare students to think critically about what it means to live and work with social machines. The post Gerald LeTendre, Penn State University – Will We See Robots in Our Child's Classroom? appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Gerald LeTendre, Penn State University – Will We See Robots in Our Child's Classroom?

Amit Kumar, University of Texas at Austin – Conceal Less, Reveal More

What secrets are you keeping? Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, says maybe it's better to conceal less and reveal more. Amit Kumar is currently an Asst. Professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the McCombs faculty, he completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Cornell University and his A.B. in Psychology and Economics from Harvard University. Professor Kumar's research focuses on the scientific study of happiness and has been featured in popular media outlets such as The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, Harvard Business Review, Hidden Brain, The Huffington Post, National Geographic, The New York Times, NPR, Oprah Daily, Scientific American, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. His scholarly work has been published in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Current Opinion in Psychology, Emotion, The Journal of Consumer Psychology, The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Psychological Science. Conceal Less, Reveal More https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-11-24-Texas-Conceal-Less-Reveal-More.mp3 Secrecy tends to carry with it a psychological burden; concealing negative information can therefore negatively affect someone's well-being. Why, then, do we keep secrets? People keep negative information secret from others partly to protect their reputations—but our data suggest the concerns that people have about revealing negative information are systematically miscalibrated. That is, people expect they will be judged more harshly than they in fact are when they actually reveal such information, compared to simply imagining such interactions. These mistaken beliefs can create a somewhat misplaced barrier to greater transparency in our relationships with others. The misguided expectations we observe in our studies arise across a broad range of relationship types, from strangers to spouses. Our research further suggests that part of the reason people are often overly worried about revealing negative information is because potential revealers focus primarily on the negative aspects of the information they are conveying. What they don't fully consider is that there are also positive qualities associated with the act of revelation, such as being more open and honest. Revealing negative information does communicate negative content, but it also communicates positive attributes like trust and vulnerability. Although potential revealers of information might focus largely on the negative content of the disclosure itself, those on the other end of these interactions are likely to focus more broadly, on both the content being revealed and the decision to reveal this information. More generally, our decisions about whether to open or not are guided by how we expect to be evaluated by other people. That said, our experiments make clear that people are likely to overestimate how harshly they will be judged for revealing negative information to others. These miscalibrated expectations may leave people carrying a heavier burden of secrecy than might be ideal for their well-being. The post Amit Kumar, University of Texas at Austin – Conceal Less, Reveal More appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Amit Kumar, University of Texas at Austin – Conceal Less, Reveal More

Bruce Johnson, Centre College – Benefits of Public Goods Do Not Justify Stadium Subsidies

Taxpayers are told to ante up to keep sports teams in their cities, but is it worth it? Bruce Johnson, James Graham Brown professor of economics at Centre College, examines this question. Bruce K. Johnson is the James Graham Brown Professor of Economics at Centre College, where he has taught since 1987. He became interested in sports economics when he developed a baseball salary model as a teaching example for his econometrics class. It led eventually to a chapter in a Brookings Institution volume on the economics of baseball in 1992. To answer the question of whether sports public goods could justify large stadium subsidies, Johnson teamed up with Centre alumnus and environmental economist John Whitehead to adapt the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) survey technique to sports public goods. Their analyses of a new basketball arena and a minor league baseball stadium in Lexington, Kentucky demonstrated the feasibility of CVM in sports. They teamed up with Peter Groothuis and Michael Mondello, respectively, for the Pittsburgh and Jacksonville studies. Their subsequent research on sports public goods has involved collaborators in Canada and Germany, with the former financed by the Alberta Gaming Research Institute and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The one exception my coauthors and I found where the value of sports public goods exceeded the subsidy costs was in Canada. We conducted nationwide telephone surveys before and after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC. We found that willingness to pay for government to identify and train young athletes with the potential to compete for medals in Winter Olympic sports was many times the actual subsidy. The difference from the stadium results was that the amount of the actual subsidy cost was much lower than the typical stadium subsidies and the public goods had nationwide appeal. Johnson has also written on sports economics for general audiences with op-ed articles in USA Today, the Atlanta Constitution, Cincinnati Enquirer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, and others. He served as Vice President of the North American Association of Sports Economists 2010-12. Johnson has won four teaching awards at Centre and was Faculty President 2013-2016. He has twice been a Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia. He chairs the Consensus Forecasting Group, the nonpartisan panel which produces the official forecast of state government revenues for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Transylvania University and his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia. Benefits of Public Goods Do Not Justify Stadium Subsidies https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-10-24-Centre-Benefits-of-Public-Goods-Do-Not-Justify-Stadium-Subsidies.mp3 When sports teams ask their cities for new stadiums, taxpayers hear an implicit threat. "Build it, or they will go." Oakland recently said no to its baseball team, which will move to Las Vegas. Did Oakland win or lose? The answer requires benefit cost analysis. But it's tricky because sports produce public goods. Unlike private goods, such as tickets to games, public goods are free to anyone. Teams bring people together, foster civic pride, and improve the quality of life. In 1999, a federal judge in Pittsburgh blocked the hockey team from leaving because, he said, its public goods were woven into the fabric of the city. But what are they worth? Unless we know what people would pay to keep them, benefit cost analysis is inconclusive. To solve that problem, my coauthors and I adapted a survey technique from environmental economics, which also deals with public goods. We ask people demographic and economic questions. We ask about their consumption of sports public and private goods. We then describe a hypothetical referendum to keep the team in town. We ask if they would vote to raise their annual taxes by a specific amount. Their responses enable us to estimate net present value of the benefits of the new stadium. Two of our surveys proposed hypotheticals like Oakland's case. We asked Pittsburgh hockey fans and Jacksonville football fans what they would pay to keep their teams from moving. In both cities, willingness to pay for public goods justified about one-fourth of the hypothetical stadium costs. Private goods justified about one-eighth. We and others have since conducted many other studies, with comparable results. Some evidence suggests this survey method overstates willingness to pay, which strengthens our conclusion—taxpayers lose when they subsidize stadiums. Read More: Johnson, Bruce K., and John C. Whitehead, "Value of Public Goods From Sports Stadiums: The CVM Approach," Contemporary Economic Policy, 18:1, 48-58, January 2000. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2000.tb00005.x Johnson, Bruce K., Peter Groothuis, and John C. Whitehead, "Value of Public Goods from a Major League Sports Franchise: The CVM Approach, Journal of Sports Economics, 2:1, 6-21, February 2001. https://doi.org/10.1177/152700250100200102 Johnson, Bruce K., Michael J. Mondello, and John C. Whitehead, "The Value of Public Goods Generated by a National Football League Team," Journal of Sport Management, 21:1, 123-136, January 2007. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.21.1.123 Johnson, Bruce K., John C. Whitehead, Daniel S. Mason, and Gordon Walker, "Willingness to Pay for Downtown Public Goods Generated by Large, Sports-Anchored Development Projects: The CVM Approach," City, Culture, and Society, vol. 3, no. 3, 201-208, September, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccs.2012.06.007 Wicker, Pamela, John C. Whitehead, Daniel S. Mason, and Bruce K. Johnson," Public Support for Hosting the Olympic Summer Games in Germany: The CVM Approach," Urban Studies, 54:15, 3403–3422, November 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098016675085. Humphreys, Brad R. and Bruce K. Johnson, Daniel S. Mason, and John C. Whitehead, "Estimating the Value of Medal Success in the Olympic Games," Journal of Sports Economics, 19: 3, 398-416, April 2018. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002515626221 The post Bruce Johnson, Centre College – Benefits of Public Goods Do Not Justify Stadium Subsidies appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Bruce Johnson, Centre College – Benefits of Public Goods Do Not Justify Stadium Subsidies

Lindsey Davis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Projects Narrow Self-Efficacy Gaps for Women

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Benefits of Project-Based Learning Week: Narrowing self-efficacy gaps for women is crucial. Lindsey Davis, assistant professor of teaching in the humanities and arts department, looks into how projects can do so for female students. I am a broadly trained interdisciplinary scholar of 19th and 20th American history and critical feminist studies. Along with Dr. Rebecca Moody, I serve as the co-founder and co-director of the Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies (GSWS) program. My scholarly and pedagogical interests vary widely, ranging from reproductive justice to sexual harassment law to the intersection of feminist theory and STEM. Projects Narrow Self-Efficacy Gaps for Women https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-07-24-WPI-Projects-Narrow-Self-Efficacy-Gaps-for-Women.mp3 Project-based learning has been documented as providing significant benefits to students when done well, and there is mounting evidence that women may benefit even more than men. In most cases, this has been assumed to be because women tend to be more community- and service-oriented—preferences that can be more readily leveraged through projects than lecture-based teaching. This narrative doubles down on traditional gender roles in society by messaging that women should be helpers and projects can help them be better helpers. My colleagues and I wondered whether there might be explanations for project-based learning's effectiveness with women that do not rely on contributing to this stereotypical narrative. We examined data from a survey of 2,236 alumni of a project-based STEM university. The sample was 39% women, offering a representative look at alumni who graduated between 1980 and 2019. We found that women in the study attributed significantly greater gains in self-efficacy to their project work than men did. Closing the self-efficacy gap may be a particularly useful mechanism for retaining women in STEM education and careers. Researchers like Sarah Lubienski and colleagues have found that many girls lose confidence in their math skills, a requirement for most STEM fields, by the time they are in third grade, compared to boys' tendency to indicate particularly strong math identities at the same time. These gaps in self-efficacy and identity emerge early despite a lack of differences in ability or performance. In our study, gains in self-efficacy amplified skills and helped alumni feel more prepared for their careers. Our findings suggest that PBL can be an attractive pedagogy for recruiting and retaining women in STEM. To maximize this potential, faculty should pay particular attention to how they leverage projects to build students' self-efficacy as they experience what it means to be a scientist or engineer. The post Lindsey Davis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Projects Narrow Self-Efficacy Gaps for Women appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Lindsey Davis, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Projects Narrow Self-Efficacy Gaps for Women

Sarah Stanlick, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Failing Forward with Project-Based Learning

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Benefits of Project-Based Learning Week: Can a negative project experience still provide benefits to students? And if so, how? Sarah Stanlick, assistant professor in the department of integrative and global studies, answers these questions. Sarah Stanlick, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies and the Director of the Great Problems Seminar at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She was the founding director of Lehigh University's Center for Community Engagement and faculty member in Sociology and Anthropology. She previously taught at Centenary College of New Jersey and was a researcher at Harvard's Kennedy School, assisting the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. She has published in journals such as The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, The Social Studies, and the Journal of Global Citizenship and Equity Education. She co-chairs the Imagining America Assessing Practices of Public Scholarship (APPS) collective, which focuses on democratically-engaged assessment practices to empower and transform systems, communities, and individuals. She is a member of SSSP and serves on the Steering Committee for the Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative (The Collaborative). Her priority for teaching, research, and service is to encourage and model engaged, active citizenship and help create conditions for all community members to be able engage similarly. Her current interests include global citizenship, health and human rights, transformative learning, and the internet's impact on empowerment and capacity to build community. Failing Forward with Project-Based Learning https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-06-24-WPI-Failing-Forward-with-Project-Based-Learning.mp3 There are many reasons why students may have a negative project experience. Difficulty feeling empowered to make decisions. A dysfunctional team. The assumption can be easy to make that students who have a negative project experience, regardless of the cause, will not learn much. However, even projects that do not seem useful to students at the time can have lasting positive benefits. In 2021, our study gathered data from 2,236 alumni on how well their project experiences contributed to a range of outcomes. This included a group of 207 students who opted to take a first year, interdisciplinary, project-based course. Each of these alumni was matched with someone in the study who had not taken the course, yet was otherwise similar—same gender, same race, same pathway through other projects. Analysis of these pairings suggested that those who had negative experiences in their initial project still benefitted from those experiences. We assessed whether students were better off having no first-year project experience than a poor one and found that, for communication, project management, and using information, students were not negatively impacted in the long run. Those who had a positive project experience after a negative one recouped lost learning gains. Furthermore, having a negative project experience in the first project still had a significant, positive influence on how prepared alumni felt for their current career—and at a size more than twice that of the courses in their major. Students who have experienced a majority of teacher-centered lecture-based classrooms might need time to adjust to student-centered, experiential learning. Initial struggles with project-based learning can still amplify the positive impact of subsequent project experiences. These findings shed light on the differences between satisfaction and learning—a distinction that is increasingly important amid competition for a shrinking student market. The post Sarah Stanlick, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Failing Forward with Project-Based Learning appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Sarah Stanlick, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Failing Forward with Project-Based Learning

Ryan Madan, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – The Unexpected (and Expected) Benefits of Pr...

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Benefits of Project-Based Learning Week: A capstone project in the arts and humanities fields could have benefits for many types of students. Ryan Madan, associate professor of teaching in the humanities and arts department, determines why. When new acquaintances find out I teach writing, it's not unusual for them to lament a broad decline in the nation's writing skills. How does it make me feel, they ask, that students, say, don't know the difference between adjectives and adverbs? Or, can I believe it that people hardly even know what apostrophes do, let alone where to put them? As someone who treasures good, careful prose, I'm sympathetic to these worries. But as an educator, I think it's important to steer the conversation in a different direction. What makes us think that students' knowledge of the parts of speech would "fix" their writing? What assumptions underlie our surety that ignorance of grammar or punctuation is what's holding students back? That those are the things most important to reviving literate culture? I turn the conversation to these questions because it's easy to forget that in literacy education, we have choices about what to prioritize. And those choices should rest on careful reflection about what we value (where we want students to end up) and careful interrogation of the assumptions we hold about how students get there. The Unexpected (and Expected) Benefits of Projects in the Humanities https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-05-24-WPI-The-Unexpected-and-Expected-Benefits-of-Projects-in-the-Humanities.mp3 Project work in one area can have positive crossover effects in other disciplines. The longstanding debate about the value of a liberal arts education has been further sharpened by the current landscape where students and their parents expect a strong return on the immense investment of a college education. This was the debate we explored in a study of alumni from a STEM university in New England. Using data from a survey of 2,236 alumni, we first examined the impact of a capstone project in a humanities or arts field on several outcomes expected of the liberal arts. For example, we found that on average, alumni indicated that project experiences were influential in enriching their understanding of themselves—about as influential as the courses they took in their major. Next, we examined whether requiring a capstone project in a humanities or arts field might actually amplify learning of technical skills for engineering students. Alumni indicated the capstone project in a humanities or arts field boosted development of a solid base of knowledge an additional 50% beyond the influence of courses in the major. After controlling for the influences of student demographics and response bias, the experience with this humanities project significantly and positively influenced the extent to which a technical design project in the senior year influenced their lives. Our evidence suggests that a projects-based humanities and arts curriculum helps students to explore themselves and the human experience, while also equipping them with tools and perspectives to deepen their learning in STEM fields. Long-term, the humanities project significantly improved career preparation, but it also positively influenced experiences that changed students' plans for their futures. This dual benefit seems critical to the value proposition of higher education for incoming students. The post Ryan Madan, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – The Unexpected (and Expected) Benefits of Projects in the Humanities appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Ryan Madan, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – The Unexpected (and Expected) Benefits of Pr...

Kimberly LeChasseur, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Project-Based Learning: More is Better

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Benefits of Project-Based Learning Week: Can too much of a good thing be bad for you? Not when it comes to project-based learning. Kimberly LeChasseur, senior research and evaluation associate, examines why. As a Research & Evaluation Associate with the Center for Project-Based Learning, Kimberly LeChasseur focuses on what we know about the value of project-based learning, both at WPI and at other colleges and universities where the Center is facilitating professional learning. She helps those invested in project-based learning at the college level to clarify, document, communicate, and use what they know about their work to improve the quality of project-based learning in action. Her PhD is in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with training in sociology and anthropology. Project-Based Learning: More is Better https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-04-24-WPI-Project-Based-Learning-More-Is-Better.mp3 Participating in a high-quality project-based learning experience is undeniably beneficial to college students. Is it reasonable to expect a single experience of student-centered, active learning to reverse the expectations and behaviors instilled in students over more than a decade of teacher-centered, passive learning? I don't think so, which is why I am exploring the dosage effects of project-based learning, or PBL. In education, dosage effects describe the amount of a particular type of learning experience an individual must have to receive the potential benefits. My research leverages a dataset from a STEM university that requires all undergraduate students to complete multiple projects. Consequently, many faculty at the university have begun to use PBL in their courses, allowing for a natural experiment where we can assess differences in learning outcomes across groups of students with varying proportions of project-based coursework. First, we found that low doses of PBL were mostly insufficient. There were no differences in learning skills for using information effectively, project management skills, or cross-cultural awareness between those who had no projects in their courses and those who had projects in about 25 percent of their courses. Those with projects in 25 percent of their courses did report greater gains in communications skills than those with no course-based projects. A moderate dose with PBL in approximately half of courses, however, is significant for developing all skills examined. While increasing the amount of PBL further to 75 percent of courses did not develop any of these skills at higher rates, increasing to a fully PBL-based curriculum did, specifically for the improvement of communications skills and cross-cultural awareness. This tells us that faculty who offer projects in isolation and signature programs that offer a limited project experience are missing the opportunity to reap the full benefits from this high-impact practice. The post Kimberly LeChasseur, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Project-Based Learning: More is Better appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Kimberly LeChasseur, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Project-Based Learning: More is Better

Kris Wobbe, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Maximizing Learning through High-Impact Practices

Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Benefits of Project-Based Learning Week: Developing high-impact practices for students can be beneficial for institutions. Kris Wobbe, associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, explains why. Kris Wobbe is the Director of WPI's Center for Project-Based Learning. Most recently she directed the Great Problems Seminar program, WPI's first-year project's program. Her teaching awards include the Moruzzi Prize for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, and she a co-recipient of the 2016 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education awarded by the National Academy of Engineering. She received her BA in chemistry from St. Olaf College and her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University. She is the co-editor of Project-Based Learning in the First Year: Beyond all Expectations (Stylus, 2019). Maximizing Learning through High-Impact Practices https://academicminute.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/06-03-24-WPI-Maximizing-Learning-through-High-Impact-Practices.mp3 Colleges and universities have become masterful at marketing a signature program—first year seminars to bridge to success, service learning to connect with community, capstone projects to jumpstart professional portfolios. Little research has examined whether a one-touch experience is sufficient to reap the benefits of these highly visible educational practices. Called high-impact practices (HIPs) because of the evidence supporting their effectiveness, some research suggests that students might need to experience more than one to maximize learning and long-term outcomes. A recent study I conducted with colleagues confirms that stacking high-impact practices over time provides unique benefits to students. Using data from 2,236 alumni of a small STEM university in New England, the study examined the unique contribution of five HIPs—projects in courses, a first-year seminar, a global experience couple with community-based learning, and a capstone project in the major field of study—on a range of outcomes. In terms of skills development, each HIP contributed significantly and positively to gains in teamwork skills, communications skills, information use, and cross-cultural awareness. Project-based learning, community-based learning, and capstone projects also significantly and positively influenced gains in content mastery. Long-term, each HIP uniquely contributed to both career preparation and to personal growth, in areas such as developing a stronger character and achieving work/life balance. All of these effects were found after controlling for aspects of alumni identity, such as marginalized race and gender, as well as an indicator of response bias. These high impact practices work, but only if they are done well. Critical to this study's conclusions is that the analyses rely on measures of quality, not only participation indicators. This suggests that the quality of implementation likely plays a noteworthy role in obtaining the promise of high-impact practices. Having one high-impact practice is advantageous; having more is better, as long as care is taken with how they are supported. The post Kris Wobbe, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Maximizing Learning through High-Impact Practices appeared first on The Academic Minute.

Kris Wobbe, Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Maximizing Learning through High-Impact Practices