Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Professor of Physics, Carleton College
Jonathan Leamon, Director of Instructional Technology, Williams College
Laura Muller, Director of Quantitative Skills Programs and Peer Support, Williams College
Janet Russell, Director of Academic Technology, Carleton College
QLAB Session A: Thursday, May 31, 9:30am-10:30am Location: Weitz 231 Focus: Small group discussion with QLAB core team. Strategies for building a faculty community and engagement with online modules that support students with QS/QR.
QLAB Session B: Thursday, May 31, 1:30pm-3:30pm
Location: Weitz Idea Lab
Focus: Hands-on time to explore various QS modules and their potential.
QLAB Session C: Friday, June 1, 1:30-3:00pm Location: Weitz 231 Focus: Group discussion on directions for the project.
This summer and fall, teams of faculty and technologists collaborated intensively to launch QLAB, a shared framework for curating, implementing and assessing online instructional modules for quantitative skills (QS) and reasoning for just-in-time review and skill-building across disciplines. The goal of the QLAB project is to assist faculty teaching quantitative subjects who find they need methods to support students with gaps in preparation. The strategy draws on a body of research in higher education and experience at our institutions showing that online modules can be a beneficial component of an overall QS support program.
The individual modules, known as Qbits, review quantitative topics and demonstrate the topic’s applications in different disciplinary contexts. For example, a module might review logarithms and then consider the application to decibels and sound perception in psychology, the Richter scale in geology, the concept of pH in chemistry, etc. In Fall 2017, Qbits are being implemented through a combination of videos and quizzing, and consist of an initial knowledge check, short videos to review specific quantitative skills, structured application problems that give students practice applying the quantitative skill in disciplinary contexts, and a final knowledge check.
Developing online resources that can be used in multiple contexts to help students strengthen their quantitative skills serves two purposes. First, by demonstrating the relevance of specific QS in various disciplinary contexts, students learn to view quantitative skills as fundamental and transferable skills that they can draw on in many areas of their liberal arts experience. Second, the consortial effort allows us to collect meaningful data about the effectiveness of the various modules for a greater number of students in a wider variety of contexts. Using what we learn in this pilot, we plan to expand the collection of useful modules.
Aims of the pilot include:
Developing a collaborative framework for design, implement and assessment of online modules for QS/QR instruction and review at residential liberal arts institutions.
Crafting an initial set of instructional modules on high-priority QS topics, drawing on high quality instructional content, developed in partnership with Yale ONEXYS and others.
Assessing module effectiveness as refreshers for tutoring and as just-in-time instruction embedded in coursework.
Gathering data to evaluate the impact of modules on student learning and confidence in each phase of the project and beyond.
This January, LACOL’s Quantitative Skills working group held a 3-day intensive workshop (also known as a hack-a-thon) to explore a shared framework for review of online modules designed to strengthen students’ quantitative skills (QS) and quantitative reasoning (QR). The face-to-face event was designed by a core team of faculty and technologists from the QS group. The workshop was hosted at Carleton College, with support from the Office of the President, Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, and Office of Academic Technology.
Goals for the LACOL QS hack-a-thon:
Identify aspects of existing QS/QR curricula, frameworks, and methods to be adapted as an online module/program by participating colleges. The goal for the collaboration is to enhance, not replace, local offerings.
Plan for participating campuses to pilot one of the frameworks and agree to a process for assessment and sharing results among campuses.
Document workshop outcomes and recommendations to share with colleagues across the liberal arts.
Throughout the year, the QS working group has been exploring ideas for a collaborative framework to curate or build online tools and resources – including metadata on related pedagogical practices – to support students with QS/QR. Earlier this year, QS group members contributed to a joint exercise informally titled “What do we mean by quantitative skills?” to generate a shared list of key skills across the quantitative disciplines that students will need to have or acquire early in their academic careers. This common skills list provides input into strategies for helping students identify and close gaps. (more…)
Colleagues with wide-ranging expertise and disciplinary interests from seven LACOL schools spent three days sharing, working and learning side-by-side at the hack-a-thon. Together, the team developed an initial draft and prototypes of a collaborative framework for creating/curating and evaluating online QS/QR modules that can boost students success and improve access. With inspiration from special guest Jim Rolf from Yale ONEXYS, we delved deeply into collaborative strategies for design, implementation and measuring effectiveness. A grand time was had by all … and more to come! (Read more about the project.)
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Debrief on Carleton’s CUBE pilot (online summer bridge program for quantitative skills)
On October 19, LACOL held a webinar with special guests Melissa Eblen-Zayas and Janet Russell from Carleton College. In this one-hour session, Melissa and Janet shared their experiences running the first iteration ofthe ‘Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience’ or CUBE, a new online summer bridge program designed to support entering students with quantitative skills and reasoning. Carleton’s creative approach to developing CUBE riveted the audience at the June LACOL workshop as the pilot was just getting underway. Now in this “debrief” session, you can hear all about what went into running the program in the first round, how students responded, and the lessons that were learned. The meeting was held in Zoom with ample opportunity for Q&A and discussion.
Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Associate Professor of Physics and Director of the Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, Carleton College
Janet Russell, Director of Academic Technology, Carleton College
LACOL’s Quantitative Skills Group is focused on providing students with the preparation they need to engage in quantitative reasoning across the disciplines. In addition, the group is exploring ways our network may enrich opportunities for advanced study and collaborative faculty-student research.
Activities and Interests of this group include:
Study group for ongoing dialogue about emerging pedagogies for liberal arts teaching and learning for the quantitative disciplines; comparing campus data
Collecting and sharing of online and adaptive tools and resources to support student learning
Experiment with online communities and peer networks to support students and peer tutors
Opportunities to connect faculty and students for upper level learning through online exchange
A major initiative of the QS group is the QLAB Project, an initiative to develop a set of online Q-bit modules to support students with quantitative skills and reasoning across the disciplines.