NRMERA 2011 Distinguished Paper

Instructors’ Perceptions of Community and Engagement in Online Courses

Authors: Athena Kennedy, Suzanne Young, Mary Alice Bruce
Institution: University of Wyoming

Abstract: Instructor facilitation and communication is foundational in building online community and engagement. Instructors’ perceptions about strategies they use are key to improving online community and engagement. Findings of this study indicate that instructors’ perceived high levels of community building and engagement in online classes. Instructors identify student contact with instructor, personal connections among students, and organization as critical factors in a positive online learning environment.

Reference: Kennedy, A., Young, S., & Bruce, M. A. (2012). Instructors’ perceptions of community and engagement in online courses. The Researcher, 24(2), 74-81.

Accommodations = Good Teaching: Strategies for Teaching College Students with Disabilities

Author: Shanon S. Taylor, University of Nevada, Reno

Abstract: The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that faculty in all colleges and universities make reasonable accommodations in their courses for students with disabilities. But who defines “reasonable” and what do these accommodations have to look like? This article will show how using evidence-based practices in teaching adults often will meet the needs of students with disabilities, and what faculty can do when slightly more support is needed.

Reference: Taylor, S. S. (2012). Accommodations = good teaching: Strategies for teaching college students with disabilities. The Researcher, 24(2), 82-85.

Teaching Constructivism Constructively: What a Novel Idea!

Authors: Lisa Kindleberger Hagan and Aaron S. Richmond
Institution: Metropolitan State University of Denver

Abstract: In the last 20 years, constructivism has been both a leading philosophical approach to learning and a tool for guiding instructional design. Thus, it is important that pre-service educators are properly trained on how to teach constructively. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to conduct a field experiment investigating the effect of teaching constructively in an educational psychology course, and (2) to develop and share a methodology for teaching future educators about constructivism. Over an 8-week period, 34 pre-service educators were taught constructivism through constructivist techniques and administered pre and two post measures of knowledge and perceptions of constructivist teaching methods. Results indicated that using a constructivist approach to teaching constructivism in educational psychology helped pre-service teachers to make significant gains in their academic and self-reported knowledge of constructivist theory. In addition, students reported that they enjoyed being taught constructively. The results imply that teaching constructivism constructively is educationally beneficial to educational psychology students.

Reference: Kindleberger Hagan, L., & Richmond, A. S. (2012). Teaching constructivism constructively: What a novel idea! The Researcher, 24(2), 86-95.

The Impact of Verbal Fluency Skills on Writing: A Comparison of Fifth-Grade Students with Learning Disabilities and Students with Typical Development

Author: Anne M. Nathan and Tammy V. Abernathy
Institution: University of Nevada, Reno

Abstract: The relationship between verbal fluency skills and writing skills in developing writers was explored in a sample of fifth-grade students: 30 students with an identified learning disability (LD) in written language; 30 typically developing students (TD). The relationship between scores on three D-KEFS Verbal Fluency Tests and the composite writing score on the State Fifth-Grade Writing Assessment was explored. The results showed that for students with a LD, two D-KEFS tests were significantly correlated with the composite writing score. For students with TD, there were no statistically significant correlations. These findings suggested that verbal fluency skills have more of a relation to writing skills for students with LD than for students with TD. Research significance of findings is discussed.

Reference: Nathan, A. M., & Abernathy, T. V. (2012). The impact of verbal skills on writing: A comparison of fifth-grade students with learning disabilities and students with typical development. The Researcher, 24(2), 96-112.

Top Ten Tips for Successful Graduate Students

Author: Suzanne Young, University of Wyoming

Abstract: This brief article presents advice for graduate student success. The article offers ten tips for success including the following: connect with peers, balance life demands, get advice from a recent graduate, attend conferences, provide support to others, create a supportive faculty committee, publish, involve friends and family, provide personal care, and find a good mentor. Following these simple suggestions can help graduate students build a collegial network of support through graduate school and beyond.

Reference: Young, S. (2012). Top ten tips for successful graduate students. The Researcher, 24(2), 113-115.

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