APS Convention, 2014!

Student and Faculty researchers in SNC’s psychology program submitted and were accepted to present two research projects at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Convention (http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/convention#.Uvp8E8t8PIU)!  This is an honor and a journey we are all excited to be on!

The titles, abstracts, and supporting summaries for each accepted project are included below.   The Active Learning research will be presented as part of a special Teaching Institute at the APS Convention.


Title: Active Learning in Practice: Alignment and Misalignment of Faculty and Undergraduate Perspectives

Authors: Christina M. Frederick, Kallie B. Day, Constance A. Barnes, Robert D. King, Carly S. Courtney, and Briana T. Crespo

Abstract: This study redefined and empirically scrutinized active learning pedagogy.  40 faculty and 75 undergraduates completed institutionally-tailored surveys regarding active learning; comparative analyses were applied.  Survey data indicated general alignment between undergraduates and faculty in perception with notable exceptions in practice.  Considering exceptions, strategic modification to college practice is developed.

Supporting Summary: Active learning methods are variegated among the pedagogy literature, ranging across educational contexts from childhood through higher education and extending back to the origins of pedagogic theory.  Despite differences, students learn to actively construct knowledge in their educational experiences through heightened participation and self-reflection (Bonwell & Eison, 1991; Prince, 2004).  We operationalized active learning as self-caused learning, a definition we employed axiomatically.  This allowed us to show how active learning methods require students to engage in activities that explicitly demand their increased participation in the learning process.  Next, we viewed active learning from the perspective of both college undergraduates and faculty.  75 undergraduates, across class standing and major, completed the Student Active Learning Survey (SALS) which inquired into their understanding of, experience with, and perception of outcomes produced via active learning.  40 faculty, ranging in teaching experience from 1 to over 15 years, completed the Faculty Active Learning Survey (FALS) measuring their understanding of active learning, familiarity and use of specific techniques, and concerns about incorporating them in the classroom.  Data were sorted and analyzed by group membership.  SALS and FALS data revealed notable alignment between undergraduate (97.3%) and faculty (100%) views on the importance of incorporating active learning techniques in the classroom.  Undergraduate (93.3%) and faculty (97.5%) responses also aligned indicating their value of active learning techniques.  Undergraduates and faculty did, however, express various concerns.  Primary student concerns included 1) the capability of faculty to effectively use active learning techniques to convey important content and 2) the overuse of particular techniques (e.g., student presentations).  Primary faculty concerns included overuse of particular techniques, but also the potential cost of losing content traditionally provided via lecture and the need for financial support to facilitate development of effective techniques. SALS and FALS indicated misalignments as well.  For instance, where faculty (100%) indicated the benefits of active learning outweighed the costs, students (36%) were not convinced.  The SALS and FALS also offered opportunities for institutional assessment. For instance, we assessed active learning techniques currently used or experienced, undergraduate willingness to prepare outside of the classroom to balance content exposure with deeper learning, and the importance of faculty discussing the purpose of new techniques with their students prior to implementation.  Ultimately, SALS and FALS data were used to forecast new institutional directives regarding active learning techniques that align perspectives across faculty and undergraduates.  Based on the results of the current study, we began a series of development workshops to promote effective use of active learning techniques and expose faculty to a greater variety of techniques.  Taking faculty feedback into account, we refined our axiomatic definition of active learning and also considered what it means to be an active learner.  Our conclusions contribute to literature on active learning pedagogy in terms of alignment between faculty and student perceptions about its uses, aims, and purposes.  Future studies will investigate the relative effectiveness of various active learning techniques for maintaining engagement and promoting student outcomes.


Title: Cosmetics Use Among Teachers is Irrelevant When Considering Student Retention

Authors: Margaret K. Burns and Christina M. Frederick

Abstract: Cosmetics positively influence confidence (Stuart & Donaghue, 2011).  60 undergraduates viewed a lesson taught by a teacher in full or no cosmetics and, then, completed a teacher confidence assessment and content quiz.  Results show no significant difference in confidence (p = .22) or quiz (p = .58) scores across conditions.

Supporting Summary: Research evidence shows cosmetics positively impact female teacher confidence (Stuart & Donaghue, 2011).  Female teachers who wear cosmetics indicate they feel more productive, knowledgeable, and confident than their counterparts who do not wear cosmetics (Dellinger & Williams, 1997).  Confidence has also been shown to increase teaching effectiveness (Sadler, 2013).  The purpose of the current study was three-fold, (1) assessment of whether female teachers appear more confident to students when wearing cosmetics, (2) analysis of whether students retain more information when provided by a teacher who appears more confident because she is wearing cosmetics, and (3) examination of a potential correlation between teacher confidence produced by wearing cosmetics and student retention.  These questions were experimentally assessed with 60 participants (39 females and 21 males) who were randomly assigned to view an 8 min, pre-recorded and projected, lesson on facial anatomy led by a teacher in full cosmetics or no cosmetics.  The topic of facial anatomy was strategically chosen for the lesson to draw attention to the teacher’s face and allow the teacher liberal use of facial gesturing.  On conclusion of the facial anatomy lesson, participants completed a teacher confidence assessment on a 5-point Likert scale and 10-item multiple choice quiz on lesson content.  Data were sorted by condition, summarized, and submitted to an Anderson-Darling test (Ryan & Joiner, 2001) to determine properties of the sample.  As the Anderson-Darling test indicated the data did not source from a normal distribution, the non-parametric alternative to the two sample t-test, the Mann-Whitney U (Ryan & Joiner, 2001), was used to test for differences in confidence ratings and content quiz scores.  Results show no significant difference in confidence ratings (p = .22) or quiz scores (p = .58) between cosmetics conditions.  A Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated between confidence ratings and student retention in the cosmetics condition (r = -.166) and confidence ratings and student retention in the no cosmetics condition (r = .107). No significant correlations were found.  These results address the three-fold purpose of the current study: (1) no significant difference was found in teacher confidence ratings across conditions indicating student perception of female teacher confidence is not impacted by the presence of cosmetics, (2) no significant difference was found in retention of lesson content delivered by a teacher wearing cosmetics or not wearing cosmetics (confidence not considered given previous finding), and (3) there was no significant correlation between a teacher wearing cosmetics and student retention.  As we did not show a significant difference in perceived confidence between the cosmetics and no cosmetics condition, this lack of a correlation is no surprise.  While previous research (Stuart & Donaghue, 2011) may suggest teachers who do not wear cosmetics should wear cosmetics to increase their confidence, the current study provides evidence there is no need for adjustment to cosmetic use rates.  The internal feeling of increased confidence produced by cosmetics is not perceived by external audiences and, thus, does not impact content retention in those external audiences.

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