UMBC Faculty Development Center (FDC)

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The goals of the work of the FDC align with those of the UMBC Strategic Plan to:
  • Provide exemplary support for educators in creating state-of-the-art undergraduate and graduate curricula delivered through innovative and effective approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Continue to build a culture of academic assessment to support our faculty as the primary drivers of continuous improvement in student learning outcomes.
We support faculty and instructors in their teaching role at the University by providing a comprehensive program of services and resources, including:
  • Individual consultations and classroom observations
  • Help in gathering student feedback through the CATALyst process
  • Workshops and book discussions on teaching and learning topics
  • Support for pedagogical innovation and research
  • Learning assessment services
  • Consultations in writing and communication in the disciplines
  • Management of the Hrabowski Innovation Fund grant program
  • Support for faculty learning communities (FLCs)

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 30
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    Student Responses to Spaced Practice in Two Large Gateway Chemistry Courses
    (ACS, 2024-01-11) Carpenter, Tara; Hodges, Linda
    Spaced practice is a recognized effective study approach that fosters mastery of learning and retention of information. In this paper, we share one instructor’s experience in introducing a spaced practice intervention in a large general chemistry course and in encouraging students to continue the strategy in the next semester organic chemistry course. The curricular implementation spanned two years during the COVID pandemic and encompassed the instructors’ ongoing responsive efforts to enhance students’ success. Student perspectives of the perceived value and their use of spaced practice varied with the instructor’s conditions of the implementation. Offering spaced practice midway in a semester as an optional approach to homework garnered a positive student response and outcomes. However, moving to a required format for spaced practice in a subsequent semester resulted in much more mixed student feedback and outcomes. The instructor also encouraged and guided students in utilizing the strategy in the following organic chemistry course, and although over 70% of students planned to use it, only about a third actually persisted in the practice. When offering students effective study approaches through course design, instructors also have the challenge and opportunity to cultivate students’ intrinsic motivation and self-regulation, skills that enhance their success more broadly. Instructors need to consider investing time in promoting and demonstrating the impact of the method on students’ learning, nudging and encouraging students to persevere, and demonstrating metacognitive approaches to learning throughout the course to help students realize its rewards.
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    Issues of Question Equivalence in Online Exam Pools
    (National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA), 2023-04) Goolsby-Cole, Cody; Bass, Sarah M.; Stanwyck, Liz; Leupen, Sarah; Carpenter, Tara S.; Hodges, Linda C.
    During the pandemic, the use of question pools for online testing was recommended to mitigate cheating, exposing multitudes of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students across the globe to this practice. Yet instructors may be unfamiliar with the ways that seemingly small changes between questions in a pool can expose differences in student understanding. In this study, we undertook an investigation of student performance on our questions in online exam pools across several STEM courses: upper-level physiology, general chemistry, and introductory physics. We found that the difficulty of creating analogous questions in a pool varied by question type, with quantitative problems being the easiest to vary without altering average student performance. However, when instructors created pools by rearranging aspects of a question, posing opposite counterparts of concepts, or formulating questions to assess the same learning objective, we sometimes discovered student learning differences between seemingly closely related ideas, illustrating the challenge of our own expert blind spot. We provide suggestions for how instructors can improve the equity of question pools, such as being cautious in how many variables one changes in a specific pool and “test driving” proposed questions in lower-stakes assessments.
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    Building Community: From Faculty Development to Pedagogical Innovation and Beyond
    (Springer, 2022-12-01) Hodges, Linda C.; McDermott, Patrice
    This chapter offers a compelling case study of one center’s approach to building community around teaching and learning. The 20-year history of the Faculty Development Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, draws on theories of organizational development to document the importance of matching faculty development approaches to an evolving institutional culture and vision. The authors recount stories of connecting with faculty through the professional practice of creating courses and curricula and, later, through the scholarly work involved in pedagogical innovation. By forming interrelationships with integral institutional units and responding to institutional needs and priorities, the Faculty Development Center works within the community to act as a generative force in advancing the university’s vision of inclusive excellence in undergraduate education.
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    The Social Science of Board Games w/ Dr. Kerri Evans
    (UMBC Center for Social Science Research, 2022-06-13) Anson, Ian; Evans, Kerri; Lee, Jiyoon; Allen, Keisha; Chen, Eric; Gawens, Sarah; Li, Xiaoming; Javed, Shahana Abdul; Pereira, Ashley; Alonso, Diane; O’Brien, Eileen; Brodsky, Anne
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    The Challenge of Choices When Teaching During COVID-19
    (The Scholarly Teacher, 2020-07-23) Hodges, Linda C.
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    Mapping the Curriculum: A Low-tech Model for Synthesizing Assessments and Improving Learning at Multiple Levels
    (Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE), 2017-06) Harrison, Jennifer M.; Williams, Vickie
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    Identifying Effective Assessment Technologies
    (EDUCAUSE, 2018-01-29) Braxton, Sherri; Harrison, Jennifer M.
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    Defining and Dashboarding Student Success: Jump-Starting Data-Driven Decision-Making
    (EDUCAUSE, 2018-11-02) Braxton, Sherri; Harrison, Jennifer M.
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    Supporting Academic Continuity by Building Community: The Work of a Faculty Development Center During COVID-19
    (Journal on Centers for Teaching and Learning, 2021-02-22) Hodges, Linda C.; Harrison, Jennifer M.; Kephart, Kerrie; Swatski, Sarah; Williams, Tory H.
    In the initial rush to remote instruction during COVID-19, educators focused on technologies to ensure academic continuity and relied on instructional technology teams to teach them how to use them. Soon after, instructors turned to educational development professionals for more comprehensive help to rethink face-to-face pedagogy to fit the affordances and constraints of online teaching. Historically, our Faculty Development Center (FDC) had focused primarily on pedagogical support for face-to-face classes. During the crisis, we needed both to re-envision our work to support remote instruction and distinguish our work from that of our in- structional technology colleagues. We also needed to re-evaluate our work in two other areas of our mission: pedagogical research and assessment of student learning outcomes. We recognized that a key goal of our FDC’s work provided a guiding principle in the new situation: to build faculty community around teaching and learning. Although faculty needed instruction and solutions for teaching online, they also needed a venue to think through the existential change in their teaching practice and the multiple challenges and choices they faced. In this paper, we discuss our three-pronged approach to build a vibrant, virtual faculty community: provide a sense of continuity through our offerings and services; prioritize program content to meet immediate needs; and promote complementarity between our support and that of instructional technology. Our efforts resulted in significantly expanding our reach, renewing the culture of inquiry around teaching among our faculty, and refining and reinforcing our role as complementary to, but distinct from, instructional technology.
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    Synthesizing Outcomes at Scale: Connecting the Dots to Inform Institution-wide Decision Making
    (Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE), 2020-04-15) Harrison, Jennifer M.; Braxton, Sherri
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    Measuring Pedagogy and the Integration of Engineering Design in STEM Classrooms
    (Springer Nature, 2018-11-03) Williams, Tory; Singer, Jonathan; Krikorian, Jacqueline; Rakes, Christopher; Ross, Julia
    The present study examined changes in high school biology and technology education pedagogy during the first year of a three-year professional development (PD) program using the INSPIRES educative curriculum. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) calls for the integration of science and engineering through inquiry-based pedagogy that shifts the burden of thinking from the teacher to the student. This call is especially challenging for teachers untrained in inquiry teaching and engineering or science concepts. The INSPIRES educative curriculum materials and PD provided a mechanism for teachers to transform their teaching to meet the NGSS challenges. This study followed a longitudinal triangulation mixed methods design. Selected lessons were video recorded, scored on the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP) rubric, and examined for qualitative trends. Year 1 results indicated that teachers had begun to transform their teaching and pointed to particular lessons within the INSPIRES curriculum that most facilitated the reform. Instructional practices of participants improved significantly as a result of the INSPIRES PD program and also aligned with previous, similar studies. These findings provide insights for rethinking the structure of professional development, particularly in the integrated use of an educative curriculum aligned with intended professional development goals.
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    A Personalized Automated Email Tool to Connect Faculty with Students in Large STEM Courses
    (The Chemical Educator, 2019-12-31) Carpenter, Tara S.; Bass, Sarah M.; Hodges, Linda C.
    Undergraduate student success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors often hinges on the satisfactory completion of large gateway introductory courses such as general chemistry. First-year or transfer students’ achievement in such courses may be affected by their first exposure to the large class format. Specifically, a sense of belonging, a factor shown to be important for student engagement and effort in STEM classes, may be difficult to attain in large classes. We report here on the development and implementation of a personalized, automated email tool as a way for instructors to connect with students, signal their concern for students’ performance, and offer them support. Instructors across the two-semester sequence in a large university general chemistry course used a spreadsheet to sort students into email categories based on their exam performance, differentiating by degree of grade improvement or decline. The corresponding messages offered advice, encouragement, or cautions and invited students to avail themselves of various resources. The emails were sent batchwise but personalized using a Google script function. In an end-of-course survey, students indicated that the emails made them feel the instructor cared, helped support and encourage them, lessened their feelings of anonymity, and helped them improve. This tool provides an easy way for instructors to create a sense of connection and caring in a large class and contribute positively to students’ motivation and achievement.
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    A Methodology to Analyze Self-Reflection in E-Portfolios
    (IEEE) Sanchez, Maria; Kephart, Kerrie; Jones, Kiplyn; desJardins, Marie
    This Research to Practice Work-In-Progress offers an approach toward assessing self-reflections in e-portfolios written by undergraduate student-Scholars in a Grand Challenge Scholars Program within the College of Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The proposed approach applies two existing frameworks—Robert Grossman’s levels of reflection and the Reflection and Self-Assessment criterion in AAC&U’s Integrative Learning VALUE Rubric—to develop a methodology that could facilitate the assessment of self-reflections as instruments of students’ learning. Preliminary analysis of portions of the e-portfolios submitted by Scholars in the first two cohorts to complete the program shows that the Scholars did not reach high levels of self-reflection when guided only by a generic prompt that asked them what they learned about themselves and how it changed or broadened their perspectives. Our analysis of portfolios is ongoing as additional Scholars graduate from the program, and we expect to see evidence of deeper levels of self-reflection and greater transformation in these newer portfolios as a result of the changes in expectations and prompts.
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    Effect of Exam Wrappers on Student Achievement in Multiple, Large STEM Courses
    (NSTA) Hodges, Linda C.; Beall, Lisa C.; Anderson, Eric C.; Carpenter, Tara S.; Cui, Lili; Feeser, Elizabeth; Gierasch, Tiffany; Nanes, Kalman M.; Perks, H. Mark; Wagner, Cynthia
    Metacognition, the ability to think about and regulate one’s thinking, is an important factor in effective student learning. One intervention to promote student metacognition is the exam wrapper—a reflection students complete after an exam noting how their performance related to their preparation. Results are mixed on the effect of the exam wrapper use on student achievement in single STEM courses. In this study, we implemented exam wrappers in five large science and math courses and examined their impact on students’ course outcomes, as well as students’ self-reported behaviors on the Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (results for over 1,100 distinct individuals). Our data include a subset of students who completed exam wrappers in multiple courses simultaneously. We observed a modest but statistically significant positive relation between exam wrapper use and course grades in each course. The relation between exam wrapper use in multiple courses and cumulative grade point average was also statistically significant for male students. These results did not correlate with students’ metacognitive awareness, however. These findings have important implications for how instructors construct and implement wrappers to maximize their potential usefulness.
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    Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design in Science and Technology Classrooms
    (Cadre One) Singer, Jonathan; Rakes, Christopher; Ross, Julia; Williams, Tory; Krikorian, Jacqueline
    This Engineering Teacher Pedagogy project implements and assesses the promise of an extended professional development model coupled with curriculum enactment to develop teacher pedagogical skills for integrating engineering design into high school biology and technology education classrooms.
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    A High Quality Educative Curriculum in Engineering Fosters Pedagogical Growth
    (Elsevier, 2019) Williams, Tory Holland; Krikorian, Jacqueline; Singer, Jonathan E; Rakes, Christopher R; Ross, Julie M
    The Next Generation Science Standards call for the integration of engineering into mainstream science education, yet challenges arise for teachers unfamiliar with engineering-based pedagogy or concepts. The INSPIRES Hemodialysis educative curriculum may address such challenges by explicitly integrating all areas of STEM in an authentic learning experience with pedagogical support for teachers. Preparation and implementation of the INSPIRES curriculum is paired with professional development (PD) guided by the PrimeD framework. The present three-year study explored the role of the INSPIRES curriculum and PD in strengthening teacher pedagogical skills while implementing engineering ideas and practices in high school biology and technology education classrooms. Teachers’ classroom practices were measured with the RTOP and qualifying themes emerged through further analyses across multiple time points. Initially, PD focused on the INSPIRES curriculum but later supported teachers in individual areas of concern. Growth in design-based pedagogy was evident in both engineering-rich INSPIRES lessons and subsequent teacher-developed lessons which highlighted the transfer of new skills. While skill transfer occurred within the teacher population discussed here, sustained pedagogical reform may require continued PD support over time. Overall, educative curricula may provide a vector for integrating elements of educational reform to address NGSS challenges, especially in engineering education.
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    Supporting Deaf Students in Undergraduate Research Experiences: Perspectives of American Sign Language Interpreters
    (American Society for Microbiology, 2019-09-29) Ott, Laura E.; Hodges, Linda C.; LaCourse, William R.
    Deaf undergraduates are eager to engage in research but often feel marginalized due to lack of appropriate accommodations to allow for effective communication within heterogeneous research teams consisting of hearing peers and/or mentors. In this case study, we interviewed four American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who provided full-time accommodations to teams consisting of one deaf student and two hearing peers during a six-week internship. We queried the interpreters on their role and experiences in supporting the research teams. Our findings indicate that the interpreters can be a valuable asset to heterogeneous teams by supporting both deaf and hearing individuals and advocating for the deaf student. That said, interpreters also had to overcome challenges unique to interpreting in the research environment, such as deciding when and how to interpret. The insights provided by the interpreters interviewed here are valuable as undergraduate research programs evaluate how to provide appropriate accommodations to deaf students engaged in research. In addition, they also highlight the need for research experience coordinators and mentors to consider supporting diverse teams in developing effective communication strategies and applying universal design for learning to the research environment.
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    Student Engagement in Active Learning Classes
    (Springer, Cham, 2020-02-24) Hodges, Linda C.
    As the evidence for the value of active learning in STEM classes grows, questions arise about how to implement such approaches to maximize their effectiveness. Definitions of active learning can lead us to believe that if students are doing content-related work in class rather than listening to lecture, their learning will naturally be improved. But research has shown that this is not necessarily the case. Successful active learning strategies in face-to-face classes depend on a multitude of factors, including question and activity design, faculty prompts, student incentives for participation, and group dynamics. In this chapter I discuss what research suggests is a key underlying reason that these factors impact the results of active learning approaches—their effect on the level of students’ cognitive engagement. In this chapter, I discuss the ICAP (interactive, constructive, active, passive) framework for student engagement and how it manifests in various active learning formats. This framework explains how certain student behaviors during active learning evoke deeper processing of ideas and, thus, lead to better student learning.
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    Factors Influencing Quality of Team Discussion: Discourse Analysis in an Undergraduate Team-Based Learning Biology Course
    (American Society for Cell Biology, 2020-02-14) Leupen, Sarah M.; Kephart, Kerrie L.; Hodges, Linda C.
    Group activities as part of active-learning pedagogies are thought to be effective in promoting student learning in part because of the quality of discussion they engender in student teams. Not much is known, however, about which instructional factors are most important in achieving productive conversation or how these factors may differ among different collaborative pedagogies. We explored what provokes meaningful group discussions in a university physiology course taught using team-based learning (TBL). We were most interested in discussions that evoke explanations that go beyond statements of basic facts and into disciplinary reasoning. Using transcribed conversations of four randomly selected teams three times throughout the semester, we analyzed three distinct discursive phenomena—conceptual explanations, re-evaluations, and co-construction—that occurred in productive conversations. In this paper, we provide examples from student discussions showing the role of each of these elements in moving students toward conceptual understanding. These phenomena were more likely to occur in response to higher-order questions in Bloom’s taxonomy. Preclass preparation and student accountability as part of TBL may be important factors in this finding. We share implications for practice based on our results.
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    A Professor's Pathway through problem‐based learning
    (Wiley Online Library, 2006-11-03) Hodges, Linda C.
    Numbers of articles document the power of problem‐based learning in promoting various facets of student learning, yet many faculty are still hesitant to use this pedagogy. Balancing the complexity of the classroom dynamic in student‐centered strategies and the content demands of our discipline with our personal philosophy of teaching is a challenging task. In this article I share my personal insights in adopting problem‐based learning in an undergraduate survey course in biochemistry and the rewards and challenges that this pedagogy posed for my students and for me. I offer a rationale for adopting a holistic model of teaching that takes into account both our students' and our own intellectual and personal growth in the classroom.