Innovations in Education and Teaching Pilot Grant Awards for 2020-2021

The Innovations in Education and Teaching Pilot Grant supports novel and creative instructional and learning projects to enhance faculty opportunities to develop and share innovative strategies aimed at remote and/or distance learning for students in all academic disciplines at Rutgers.

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the Rutgers–New Brunswick Innovations in Education and Teaching Pilot Grant awards for the 2020-2021 funding cycle.


Assessing Student Learning in Online and Hybrid Teaching with Systems Mapping

Robert Kopp, Carrie Ferraro

Complex systems, such as ecosystems, exhibit emergent behaviors that arise from feedbacks between and flows among different constituent components. System maps, such as causal loop diagrams and stock-and-flow diagrams, are powerful tools for representing and learning about the behavior of complex systems. Student-generated system maps can be used for assessment of student learning, but existing tools are designed for representation rather than automated assessment. Thus, assessment with system maps currently does not scale to larger courses. This project will build a new tool to allow students to produce system maps allow them to be assessed automatically using instructor-defined rubrics.


Computerized Adaptive Testing for Cognitive Diagnosis in E-Learning: Development of Item Cloning Techniques

Chia-Yi Chiu

Computerized Adaptive Testing and Learning for Cognitive Diagnosis (CATL-CD), recently developed by the PI, is an app for E-learning that combines online instruction with close monitoring of students’ learning progress. After every curricular unit each student is presented with an individualized set of items to assess which topics she has mastered and which require further study. The first version of CATL-CD is currently used for the PI’s online course in Introductory Statistics. We propose to build an algorithm for the automatic generation of test items—called “item-cloning”—to secure the supply of large numbers of test items needed for CATL-CD.


Digital Case Studies: An Innovative Pedagogy to Diversity and Global Urbanism in Planning Curricula

Mi Shih, Kathe Newman

The goal of this project is to develop digital case studies to address challenges of diversity and global urbanism in urban planning curricula. Working with graduate students and instructional technology specialists, we plan to launch two to four digital case studies between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. We seek to create a robust pedagogical approach to learning that synthesizes the benefits of innovative technologies, critical thinking, and experiential learning. The long-term goal is to institutionalize impactful collaborations both across faculty and with international partners. Assessment will be based on students’ listening sessions and the use of the Planning Accreditation Board’s learning competencies.


Extending the Conversation: Multimodal Innovations in Expository Writing

Abigail Reardon, Elizabeth Decker

With Extending the Conversation: Multimodal Innovations in Expository Writing, we seek an Instructional Design and Implementation Pilot Grant to support the research, development, and implementation of a new multimodal digital-humanities assignment in Expository Writing 01:355:101. By reconceiving the culminating work of this course—which more than 6,200 undergraduate students take each academic year—as a public-facing assignment designed to encourage reflection upon the interdisciplinary thinking at the core of the Rutgers–New Brunswick writing program’s curriculum, our project will enhance the educational experience of the undergraduate population, both within and beyond the walls of the composition classroom.


Gamification Strategies and Interactive Immersion In Healthcare Interpreting Education

Laura Ramirez-Polo, Hank Dallmann

The New Brunswick area hospitals and clinics serve a wide multilingual population, which poses the challenge of offering adequate interpreting and mediation services. Rutgers has been offering training to volunteers and bilingual staff through some dedicated courses and the Interpreter Project. However, due to the new challenges posed by the current pandemic and the need to extend this training to more participants, it is necessary to create materials for online and remote instruction. In this project we will explore strategies, limitations and solutions for simulation and gamification in healthcare interpreter education in the online environment. We will focus on four areas of healthcare interpreter education: 1) code of ethics, 2) medical terminology, 3) interpreting skills and protocols, and 4) cultural mediation and interaction between patient-healthcare providers.


Hands-On Virtual Engineering Laboratories – A Paradox or Oxymoron?

Kimberly Cook-Chennault

The goal of this project is to explore the perceptions, concept retention, and experiences of diverse populations of undergraduate mechanical and aerospace engineering students engaging in the department’s first virtual laboratories post COVID-19. Prior virtual lab research centers on case studies about its incorporation into classrooms or design of virtual laboratory technology. However, a validated engineering educational instrument for assessment of virtual laboratories that includes subcultural identities, e.g. gender, race does not exist. To initiate this endeavor, a Mixed Method Research Design Approach framed on two theoretical models: Technology Acceptance Model and Inputs-Environment-Outcome Conceptual Model for Assessment of Student Learning and Development is proposed.


Online Active Inquiry-Based Learning in General Chemistry

Darrin York

Active learning is an evidence-based approach that significantly improves student performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) [PNAS, 111, 8410 (2014)]. A particularly effective form of active learning is inquiry-based learning. We propose to develop, implement, test and scale a novel online active, inquiry-based learning paradigm in general chemistry. Focus will be on the theory of chemical bonding (approximately four chapters). Technology and activity materials will be delivered to approximately 2,500 general chemistry students in the fall as part of weekly homework and assessments over a three-week period. This will serve as an innovative model for active learning online.


Remote Immersion: Utilizing Technology to Incorporate the Patient Perspective into Biomedical Research

Kristen Labazzo

The Biomedical Engineering Department has developed a successful collaboration (entering its fourth year) with the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a facility for the severely disabled, as part of senior design. Students spend an immersion period at Matheny where they observe patients and talk to caregivers in order to understand the “voice of customer” and better ideate new or improved medical devices for the disabled. In this era of remote learning, we wish to try and adapt the immersion experience virtually so that the current seniors can benefit from these unique patient interactions while maintaining distance around a vulnerable population.


Teaching Intimate Partner Violence through an Interactive Online Case Studies Module

Sarah McMahon, Rachel Schwartz, Rupa Kheterpal

The purpose of the proposed project is to develop an innovative, interactive, scenario-based exercise to engage students in online learning about the barriers to help-seeking faced by intimate partner violence (IPV) victims. A key part of preparing professionals to work with victims in effective ways is to increase their understanding of the complex challenges involved with IPV and to develop empathy towards victims (Warrener et. al, 2013), which are two of the key goals of the proposed activity. Given a shift to online learning, it is essential to employ teaching methods that are engaging and offer aspects of experiential learning.


The Introduction of Metacognition to Promote Equity and Anti-Racist Pedagogy in the Online Classroom

Sara Plummer, DuWayne Battle

Higher education has a responsibility to offer students a platform to learn based on equity and anti-racism. The recent national events highlight the need to dismantle the status quo. The Bachelors of Social Work (BASW) program is leading the way by infusing an anti-racist pedagogy, supported by the use of metacognitive theory, and online delivery throughout its curriculum. Courses will be restructured in 1. content, 2. delivery, and 3. assessment. All three areas will be based on the concepts of anti-racism and metacognition with the goal to increase students’ knowledge of systemic anti-black racism, educational equity, and academic success.


Transitioning Active Learning and Engagement-based, Introductory STEM 

Geraldine Cochran, Roy Montalvo, John Kerrigan

Many introductory STEM recitations are based on the results of discipline-based education research and designed for in-person, active learning environments. We propose using qualitative and quantitative measures to evaluate the effectiveness of course coordinators’ efforts to transition these recitations to remote instruction. First, we will document the efforts of coordinators to attend to 1) modify workshops that rely on sophisticated technology/equipment typically used in recitations, 2) prepare TAs/recitation instructors for teaching online, and 3) create accommodations to mitigate the impact of access inequity and environmental inequality. Second, we will evaluate student perceptions of active learning in the online recitations.


Utilization of Virtual and Augmented Reality to Innovate and Diversify Earth and Planetary Science (EPS) Education

Lujendra Ojha, Lauren Neitzke Adamo, Roy Schlische, Gregory Mountain, Ying Reinfelder, Kenneth Miller

The switch to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the quality of numerous EPS courses that require field excursions and/or interaction with physical specimens of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Here we propose to create virtual field trips and 3D renderings of hand samples to alleviate the effect of remote instructions on EPS courses. The development and utilization of proposed technology also holds considerable promise to engage students with disabilities or other restrictions that would prohibit them from doing field work. After a successful pilot project, we plan on applying to NSF for external funding.