Lucas Center Blog

CourseSource Follow-Up

March 04, 2024 

CourseSource Follow-Up

Coincidentally (and serendipitously), Matt Palmtag, another fine FoLC (Friend of the Lucas Center), emailed us today to share an example of a quantitative teaching assessment that he and Dean Croshaw published in CourseSource a few years ago. Matt and Dean are both New Faculty Academy mentors, and they regularly participate in conversations about how we can support the professional goals of our new faculty colleagues. One of those ways is to help them develop strategies for scholarly teaching that will enable them to generate scholarship from the work they’re doing in the classroom. Matt and Dean demonstrate this teaching-scholarship synergy in their article Fruit Fly Genetics in a Day: A Guided Exploration to Help Many Large Sections of Beginning Students Uncover the Secrets of Sex-linked Inheritance.

In his email, Matt wrote that if he were going to explain how a relatively simple classroom activity could lead to a scholarly publication, here’s what he would say:

  1. The assessment in our publication centered around a ninety-minute lab activity. The same type of assessment can easily be performed for a simple 5 - 30 minute in-class active learning activity, or other types of teaching innovations.
  2. Since this was published it required an IRB (a necessary but horribly tedious and time-consuming process in my opinion), but similar assessment for use in a [promotion] portfolio does not require an IRB.
  3. This process takes time in the classroom. If you are assessing a new activity, the duration of the new activity will take time, the pre and posttests will take time in class. Therefore, if your class is packed with content from start to finish you will need to eliminate some material that you would normally cover (just for the one day of this semester that the assessment is conducted) or assign it outside of class.
  4. When discussing this topic with other faculty some have debated with me the potential bias that this experimental design may introduce.  There may be some biases that are difficult or impossible to eliminate when students in a classroom are part of your experimental design. Many faculty are not familiar with pedagogical literature; my argument is if you take a deep dive into peer reviewed pedagogical literature, this experimental design is a staple within that discipline; there are hundreds or thousands of publications that utilize this design.
  5. There are faculty like me that are happy to work with colleagues that would like support designing and/or conducting such an assessment.

Thanks a lot to Matt for sharing this fine example of the scholarship of teaching and learning and for offering to support colleagues who are interested in developing similar projects. In doing so, he provides a significant and meaningful service to his peers and the university. You can reach Matt at