Modern Languages: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru

Title: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru: Guamán Poma de Ayala and Primer nueva crónica y buen gobierno
Authors: Omar Granados and Rose Brougham, Department of Modern Languages, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline: Modern Languages, Spanish
Submission Date: March 1, 2014

Abstract: Spanish 321 is the first upper level cultural studies course than Spanish majors and minors take after three semesters of language courses. This class challenges students to develop analytical and critical thinking skills in the foreign language (specifically those of close reading). Until they come to SPA 321, students have been able to identify simple cultural similarities and differences between particular contexts.  However, in their first encounter with historical content in Spanish, students are unable to recognize that control and access to information, class hierarchies, language, race, religion and other social factors have influenced the historical sources we access today.

As a means of developing analytical skills regarding Spanish cultural products and the power hierarchies imbedded in their writing, we decided to focus our lesson study on a chronicle finished around 1615 by indigenous Peruvian author Guamán Poma de Ayala, tiled Primer nueva crónica y buen gobierno. In this 800-page handwritten manuscript sent to King Philip III of Spain, Ayala creates a historical account of the Andes from the earliest human beings to the Incas and the Spanish conquest; and denounces the corruption and abuses of the Spanish toward the indigenous tribes. Ayala offers both text and illustrations to make this argument. For our lesson study we focused on Ayala’s illustration to design an introductory lesson, which challenged conceptions of History writing, authorship, and at the same time, introduced the study of language as a power structure.

Modern Languages Lesson Study: Indigenous Views of the Colonial Period in Peru (Full Report and Appendix)

Biology and Health Professions: Improving Career and Skills Focus for Students in Radiation Biology

Title: Improving Career and Skills Focus for Students in Radiation Biology
Authors: Scott Cooper; Anne Galbraith, Anton Sanderfoot, Biology; Aileen Staffaroni, Nuclear Medicine Technology; Melissa Weege, Radiation Therapy; University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Biology, Radiation Therapy, Nuclear Medicine Technology
Submission Date: June 12, 2014

Abstract: The intent of this lesson study was to improve the content of the lecture and lab to add more career and professional materials to better prepare the students for their future.  The new material added to the labs and case studies added to lecture led to a general improvement in student interest and focus compared to earlier semesters.

Biology & Health Professions Lesson Study:
Improving Career and Skills Focus for Students in Radiation Biology (Full Report and Appendices)

English: Student Interpretation and Application of Instructor Writing Comments

Title: Student Interpretation and Application of Instructor Writing Comments
Authors: Ryan Friesen, Jennifer Mohlenhoff-Baggett, and Bruce Handtke, English Department, University of Wisconsin La-Crosse
Discipline: English
Submission Date: June 16, 2014

Abstract: In 2012-2013, we undertook a lesson study to understand how student writers perceive peer comments and what value or usefulness they assign to them.  In 2013-2014, we completed the second park of our planned study, during which we performed a similar observation of how students attempt to read, understand, and apply instructor comments.

We collected evidence of how students understand instructor comments, how they translate them into a process, and how they use the comments to evaluate their revisions.  In order to make student learning visible, we observed how students read comments that we as instructors have written in the margins and at the end of a typical paper assignment, and we asked them to paraphrase our comments, to assign them a value for priority in the revision process, and to describe how they would go about revising based on the instructor critique.  We evaluated how accurately the students described the revision we had suggested, assessed how self-aware the writers were regarding the need for revision in their writing, and attempted to determine how able and willing they were to apply instructor critique to future writing scenarios.

Student Interpretation and Application of Instructor Writing Comments – Full Report and Appendices

History: Analyzing How Context Shapes Content

Title: Analyzing how context shapes content
Authors: Marti Lybeck, Gita Pai, and Tiffany Trimmer, History Department, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Discipline / Field: History
Submission Date: May 20, 2014

Abstract: The History Department has selected the General Education Student Learning Outcome (SLO), “Explain how content is shaped by the context in which it was created” for assessment in all sections of HIS 101 and 102.  For historians this learning outcome means making a persuasive argument about was a particular source allows them to understand about the historical setting in which it was created. Our main goal was to encourage students to analyze the primary source and explain why its author chose to write in the way he did during his historical context-influenced lifetime.  In this way, students would not merely describe the historical setting; instead, they would think critically about how context informed the actual primary source and why its author wrote in a certain manner and expressed certain arguments.  Our observations revealed that many students had difficulty in comprehending the author’s strategies that were specific to the historical context. Most students who could understand strategy relied on the easiest of strategies only: the author’s appeal to emotion and in use of vivid detail.  Their analysis was mainly rooted in present-day values, i.e. “slavery is bad.” In addition, many students could not make use of their understanding of the relevant historical context in a way that explains an author’s arguments and strategies.

Analyzing how context shapes content – Full Report and Appendices

History: Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization

Title: Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization
Authors: Gerald Iguchi, Patricia Stovey, and Julie Weiskopf; History Department, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline: History
Submission Date: February 12, 2014

Abstract: We approached this lesson study as a way to research how we as History Department faculty can better meet our goal of teaching students in freshmen world history courses (HIS 101 and HIS 102) how to comprehend, interpret, and express relationships between given texts or content on the one hand, and the contexts constructing and informing texts on the other. This is the learning outcome that we assess for General Education.  We often find it difficult to encourage students to engage texts in a such a way that they produce meaning instead of merely repeating information. Using Julie Weiskopf’s online (Fall) and hybrid (Spring) course as our laboratory, our first semester impression was that in order to meet the goal in question we need to primarily – nearly exclusively – focus on promoting students’ orientation towards interpretation or analysis of texts, which is contrary to their overwhelming tendency to merely summarize.  Our efforts were rewarded with better student writing during the second semester.  As a result of our lesson study, Gerry Iguchi, Pat Stovey, and Weiskopf have a better perspective regarding how to advance our students’ capacities to creatively and insightfully interpret rather than mechanically repeat information.  In short, we have learned that we need to say “don’t summarize, analyze.”  We have also learned that we need to focus on better explaining and modeling what analysis is.  We will share our insights and the results our our now increasingly inspired further experimentation towards these sends in course at the 100, 200, and 300-400 levels with the rest of the History Department.

Lesson Study Analysis of Primary Source Contextualization – Full Report

Economics: Efficient and Effective Feedback – A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow up to Feedback on Their Writing

Title: Efficient and Effective Feedback: A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on Their Writing
Authors: Taggert Brooks, Elizabeth Knowles, James Murray, Laurie Strangman, Department of Economics; Bryan Kopp, English Department; University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline / Field: Business Communications, Research Methods
Submission Date: August 1, 2013

We developed and implemented a systematic and efficient approach to give feedback on student writing in a business research methods course. In this lesson study, we investigate how students respond to this feedback. The lesson takes place at mid-semester, after students have spent some time developing their research question and reviewing the literature. At the time of our classroom observation, the students receive the first feedback of their first draft of the introduction section of their final paper. We observed their conversations upon receiving the feedback and noted how it influenced their revision plans. We conducted our lesson study over two semesters, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.

To make the process of giving feedback efficient, we developed a database of comments on student writing which were specific to the objectives of the assignment. There are seven goals of the introduction assignment, some of which are specific to an introduction section of a research project, such as “State the purpose of your research project”, and some of which are very general, such as “Communicate in a clear and meaningful way.” Using these goals as the traits for a rubric, we developed a set of feedback comments that align to each goal suggesting improvements or noting when the objective was met. While the comments are specific enough to address specific goals of the
assignment and common writing problems, they were general enough so that they could be used for any student’s writing for the given assignment. We use text expanding software (Breevy for Windows, TextExpander for Mac) that allows the instructor to quickly populate a letter to each student with a set of comments appropriate for their submission.

Our classroom investigation revealed some challenges in giving feedback that effectively guides students on how to revise their work. One significant example concerns how students communicate purpose. While students may have attempted to communicate a specific purpose in one part of their introduction, often the introduction as a whole lacked focus. Even after receiving feedback, students were largely unable to recognize this problem or understand what kind of revision was appropriate.

Efficient and Effective Feedback – A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on their Writing (Full Report)

Chemistry: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength

Title: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength
Authors: Melissa W. Anderson, Nadia Carmosini, Katherine Friesen, and Yevgeniya Turov; Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Discipline/Field: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Submission Date: June 2013

Abstract: During our time working with students in CHM 104 [General Chemistry II], we have observed that concepts related to acid-base equilibrium are particularly challenging for students. Even after a significant amount of lecture and laboratory instruction, students still appear to have only a superficial understanding of the topic at the completion of the course. Therefore, the main goal of this study was to improve students’ understanding of the relationships between acids and bases and their conjugates, one of the most fundamental aspects of acid-base chemistry. This goal was approached by modifying the first lab experiment to deal with acid-base chemistry (Experiment #5). Students typically arrive to a lab period having skimmed the experiment procedure at best. Therefore, the instructor spends a significant amount of instruction time (~45 min) discussing the theory behind the experiment, as well as practical aspects of the lab. By removing the bulk of the pre-lab instruction out of the set experiment time (3 hours), and also asking students to complete work before they attended the lab, we hoped to focus their attention to the outcomes of the experiment having come to lab more prepared than in the past. Through this lesson study we found the modifications made to the experiment were useful in allowing the students to demonstrate their proficiency with equation writing skills, and also reinforced their understanding of many of the differences between acids and bases. However, common misunderstandings surrounding pKa, pKb, and pH we not fully addressed and still need some attention.

Lesson Study in Chemistry: Exploring Students’ Understanding of the Relationship Between Acid-Base Conjugate Pairs and Their Relative Strength (Full Report)