click on above images to play video

Nexen Scholars Program

The Nexen Scholars Program brings together faculty from a range of academic disciplines committed to investigating and documenting significant issues and challenges in teaching and learning in higher education. The central work of the Nexen Scholars is to develop course-based inquiry projects, conduct research that sheds new light on a significant aspect of student learning, share evidence and findings publicly in an effort to influence practice in the field, and help build a culture of teaching and learning scholarship at Mount Royal University.

Nexen Scholars are selected for a 16-month term, participate in an off‐site residency in February, and engage in monthly collaborative activities during the time that they develop and conduct their inquiries. The Nexen donation also supports Going Public Awards for scholars to present their work at conferences, as well as annual data analysis (May) and writing residencies (August) to assist scholars in furthering their work and preparing an article for publication.

2016 Nexen Scholars Program Call for Proposals was due December 1, 2015

Going Public Awards

In an effort to support the dissemination of research results produced by Nexen Scholars, the Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is pleased to sponsor the Nexen Scholars Going Public Award. This award is available to all Nexen Scholars who are presenting findings resulting from data gathered for their Nexen-sponsored project.

2015-16 Going Public Call

**details of past awards can be found in Institute annual reports

Publications About the Nexen Scholars Program

Miller-Young, J., & Yeo, M. Conceptualizing and Communicating SoTL: A Framework for the Field. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, the ISSoTL Journal, 3(2), 37-53.

Miller-Young, J., Yeo, M., Manarin, K., Carey, M., & Zimmer, J. (in press). SoTL2: Inquiring into the Impact of Inquiry. New Directions for Teaching and Learning.

The program has also been featured in:

Hutchings, P., Huber, M. T., & Ciccone, A. (2011). The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact (Vol. 21). John Wiley & Sons.

Gurung, R. A., & Wilson, J. H. (2013). Doing the scholarship of teaching and learning: Measuring systematic changes to teaching and improvements in learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning.
 

Nexen Scholars and their projects

The following scholars and projects have been funded through the Nexen Scholars Program. For updates on the progress and impact of these projects, see the Nexen Scholars section of the I-SoTL blog.

2016 Projects

REAL (Real Experience And Learning) Labs: Designing Authentic Learning Experiences in Biochemistry, John Chik, Chemistry and Physics

What is the Impact of Web-based Pre-laboratory Preparation Modules on Learning in the Microbiology Laboratory?, Ana Colina, Biology

Screening identities: Exploring How Film Studies Students Use Canadian Identities at/on the Border of Race, Nation and History, Lee Easton, English

How Students Experience Learning in Simulation from both Active Participant and Observer Roles, Heather MacLean, Nursing and Midwifery

Studying Undergraduate Research in a Course on Language Acquisition, Teresa Merrells, Humanities

Using an Online Discussion Platform to Engage Students in General Education Courses about Communities and Societies, Semiyu Aderbigbe and Rita Yembilah, General Education

In 2016 we were also joined by scholars from MacEwan University (funded by MacEwan University):

Enhancing Motivation and Engagement in Economics Courses, Rafat Aalam and Shahidul Islam, Economics

Student Engagement with Feedback, Mark Arnison, Business

Problem Solving Strategies used in Immersive Virtual Reality Learning Environments, Jeffrey Davis, Engineering

Effects of Computer vs. Handwritten Exams, Nancy McKeown, Environmental Earth Science

Preparing Students to Practice in an Imperfect World, Cheryl Webster Pollard, Nursing

2015 Projects

 

Project Snapshot as of January 2016:
I am interested in the experience of students from having witnessed the suffering of others in their post-secondary curriculum.  The question will be posed to a particular population of students; those already interested in the sociology of disaster.  Regardless of the interest in the topic, some students may experience certain impediments to learning if overwhelmed by emotion while witnessing suffering and trauma.
In this SoTL project, I did not use my own classroom but accessed students in Associate Professor, Dr. Tim Haney’s class: The Sociology of Disaster.  We both believe that the inquiry into the practice of delivering material that depict suffering is a practice that requires investigation and is appropriate given the relationships between the teaching practice and the learner.  I am fully aware that although I am not using my own classroom for this inquiry, the learning gleaned from this work will foster reflection on my own practice.  I hold a strong belief that as teachers we are obligated to understand the impact our practice of depicting suffering has on students (Kostouros, 2008, 2012).
It would be appropriate to glean information from students about their experiences of the teaching practice as it relates to the delivery of materials that depict suffering.  By focusing on a class that is immersed in this topic (Sociology of Disaster) we may have more opportunities to understand the student experience in a deeper way.  
Data for this project is being collected in Winter 2016.
January 2016 project snapshot:
While a statistics curriculum has the potential to provide students with much needed skills in an information-driven society, from our many years of experience as undergraduate statistics instructors, we have observed that many struggle to connect the post-secondary statistics curriculum to real world experiences outside of the classroom. That is, students are learning “skills, procedures, and computations”, but are not learning “statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking” (Ben-Zvi & Garfield, 2004, pg. 3).

Our Nexen Scholars project involves teaching three sections of MGMT 2262 (Business Statistics) using a story-driven approach to illustrate the concepts that are currently taught via short text-book type examples. The aims include the following:
  • Shifting the focus of the class from formulae and computations (which can be readily generated by computers) to a broader focus on statistical reasoning and thinking
  • Incorporating more real-world data and situations
  • Focusing more on active learning and discovery through the use of stories
  • Moving away from a heavily exam-based approach of assessment towards alternative forms of assessment, such as story analyses and group experiments
Data for this project is being collected in Fall 2015 and Winter 2016.
 Exploring Arts-Based Approaches to Developing Leadership in Senior Nursing Students, Joanna Szabo, Nursing

Developing Student Noticing with the Use of Recorded Speech Samples in the ESL Classroom, Sheri Rhodes, International Education

2014 Projects

 

Dr. Oliver and colleagues' work is in progress.  The abstract from their recent presentation at the SoTL Symposium can be found in the online program and is copied below:

Reflexivity in the Field: Preliminary Results from a Collaborative Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Study Exploring the Use of Reflexive Photography in Field Education

Mary Goitom (York University), Darlene Chalmers (University of Regina), and Brent Oliver (Mount Royal University)

 

This workshop will identify and discuss preliminary results from a recent scholarship of teaching project that was designed as a collaboration between three distinct and diverse programs offering social work education in Canada. The study examined the learning processes that social work students experienced as they participated in a reflexive photography project and how this learning contributed to their emerging professional practice. The study utilized grounded theory methodology to better understand the processes students experience as they strive to make meaning of, and reflect on their practicum experiences. Grounded theory is an inductive, qualitative research methodology that is well suited to studying social and psychological processes. Key informant interviews were conducted with 18 social work practicum students enrolled at Mount Royal University, York University and University of Regina. Data analysis focused on students’ pictures and texts as well as their perspectives as student learners. Study results included themes related to students’ experiences with the reflexive photography project, descriptions of the meaning and insight they draw from participating in the project, their perspective on the strengths and challenges experienced as part of the process, and their ideas on alternatives to enhance their learning. These findings are relevant to the current discourse in social work field education and have potential application for other disciplines.


This project is in progress.  The abstract from a recent presentation at the SoTL Symposium can be found in the online program and is copied below:
Tammy Sherrow (Mount Royal University) and Vanessa Gilbertson (Mount Royal University)
In this session the results of a SoTL research project exploring the student experience of learning in a flipped classroom model of instruction in an introductory health research course will be presented. Flipped classrooms use digital technologies to shift direct instruction outside of the classroom. In this instructional model students explore concepts before coming to class through video/audio lectures, contentrich websites, readings and/or podcasts. Taking advantage of the student’s preparation, the teacher devotes more time to opportunities for integrating and applying their knowledge, via a variety of studentcentered, active learning strategies. Through the flipped classroom model, time becomes available for students to collaborate with the professor and peers, engage more deeply with content, practice skills and receive feedback on their progress. The following research question was explored through a mixed methods approach: What happens with student learning and engagement when the flipped classroom is used to teach students Health Research? Data gathered through focus groups, online survey, classroom observations and classroom assessment techniques will be presented to demonstrate how the flipped classroom increased student engagement and supported learning. This session may be of interest to individuals considering moving away from a traditional lecture-centered instructional model and devoting more time to opportunities for integrating and applying knowledge, via a variety of student-centered, active learning strategies.

This project is in progress.  The abstract from a recent presentation at the SoTL Symposium can be found in the online program and is copied below: 

Full Circle: Cultivating the Link Between Theory, Practice, Teaching and Research

Meaghen Johnston (Mount Royal University) and Carolyn Anderson (Mount Royal University)

This is a presentation on an active SoTL project currently underway aimed at understanding how the use of an integration model supports the link between theory and practice for first year social work students.

The ability to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real life social work practice is a key competency for the beginning practitioner. Discussions in Social Work programs across the country indicate that the challenge of teaching students to link theory and practice is a widespread problem. There is common agreement among educators and field supervisors that the terrain between the academic setting and the field of practice does not offer a smooth and clear transition. In response, we developed an innovative teaching tool “The Practicum Integration Model” that has been used to engage students, faculty, and social work field supervisors in a collaborative and transformative learning experience. The premise of the model is to assist students in developing a professional social work identity by learning to examine case examples and field experiences through a social work lens. Practicum seminars then create an environment of case consultation that mirrors social work practice by maintaining a focus on the knowledge, skills, and values that guide our work in the field. In an effort to devise creative way to collect student data, “The Social Work Practicum Journal” with specific pages flagged for data collection was born. In this presentation we will share our experience of developing a data collection tool that resulted in an effective teaching and learning tool. The presenters discuss the cross over between research and the evolution of effective teaching tools.

Full Circle: Cultivating the Link Between Theory, Practice, Teaching and Research

Meaghen Johnston (Mount Royal University) and Carolyn Anderson (Mount Royal University)

This is a presentation on an active SoTL project currently underway aimed at understanding how the use of an integration model supports the link between theory and practice for first year social work students.

The ability to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real life social work practice is a key competency for the beginning practitioner. Discussions in Social Work programs across the country indicate that the challenge of teaching students to link theory and practice is a widespread problem. There is common agreement among educators and field supervisors that the terrain between the academic setting and the field of practice does not offer a smooth and clear transition. In response, we developed an innovative teaching tool “The Practicum Integration Model” that has been used to engage students, faculty, and social work field supervisors in a collaborative and transformative learning experience. The premise of the model is to assist students in developing a professional social work identity by learning to examine case examples and field experiences through a social work lens. Practicum seminars then create an environment of case consultation that mirrors social work practice by maintaining a focus on the knowledge, skills, and values that guide our work in the field. In an effort to devise creative way to collect student data, “The Social Work Practicum Journal” with specific pages flagged for data collection was born. In this presentation we will share our experience of developing a data collection tool that resulted in an effective teaching and learning tool. The presenters discuss the cross over between research and the evolution of effective teaching tools.

To what extent do students identify with the concept of global citizenship, Priscilla Wamucii, General Education
 
What Happens for Students when they use a Pedagogical Analogical Model (an Idea Model) While Learning to Come up with Ideas?, Alex Bruton, Entrepreneurship 2013 Projects

 

With the support of the 2013 Nexen Scholars Program, the McCollum Chemistry Education Research Group investigated how students describe using printed images, physical models, and computer renderings on tablets to problem solve in chemistry. They found that the choices of between educational technologies have a meaningful impact on the way students view a problem, and the problem solving strategies they develop. As a result, McCollum has reoriented student learning of molecular geometry and stereoisomers in his classrooms to take advantage of high-impact resources.

Dr. McCollum’s undergraduate student research assistant, Ana Sepulveda, also talks about the benefits of the project here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LYC-...
Dr. Kevin O’Connor and Dr. Gladys Sterenberg wanted to know more about their students’ experiences when they reoriented an introductory education course to focus on practice-theory connections. Students in the course spent three hours a week in an on-campus education lecture and one half-day per week in a school placement. Kevin and Gladys questioned the traditional teacher education process of exposing students to theory (coursework at the University) and then practice (classroom-based practicum). They implemented deliberate pedagogical interventions intended to better integrate theory and practice that included school-based seminars, class-based discussions, reflective writing, team-teaching, and overlapping communities of practice and then studied the impact of these on sixty-one students.
Findings of their study indicated that strong practice-theory links were made most effectively in the school-based seminars. Students’ learning was enhanced through the place-based in-school seminars by developing relationships, reflecting on shared experiences, and by shifting their professional identities.
This study profoundly impacted the development of the new Bachelor of Education degree program at MRU. School-based seminars have been introduced in four of the eight semesters of the program and integrated semesters involving practicum and courses in the final two years have been implemented. This study informed Kevin and Gladys’ longitudinal SSHRC-funded study designed to investigate the impact of alternative pedagogies by mentor teachers and teacher educators throughout students’ field experiences in years one and two of the program, practica experiences in years three and four of the program, and their initial year of teaching after graduation. Central to their current research is the investigation of how alternative pedagogies provide sustained realistic experiences within field-based, integrated education courses that contribute to a more realistic theory-and-practice approach to teacher education.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor and Dr. Gladys Sterenberg wanted to know more about their students’ experiences when they reoriented an introductory education course to focus on practice-theory connections. Students in the course spent three hours a week in an on-campus education lecture and one half-day per week in a school placement. Kevin and Gladys questioned the traditional teacher education process of exposing students to theory (coursework at the University) and then practice (classroom-based practicum). They implemented deliberate pedagogical interventions intended to better integrate theory and practice that included school-based seminars, class-based discussions, reflective writing, team-teaching, and overlapping communities of practice and then studied the impact of these on sixty-one students.
Findings of their study indicated that strong practice-theory links were made most effectively in the school-based seminars. Students’ learning was enhanced through the place-based in-school seminars by developing relationships, reflecting on shared experiences, and by shifting their professional identities.
This study profoundly impacted the development of the new Bachelor of Education degree program at MRU. School-based seminars have been introduced in four of the eight semesters of the program and integrated semesters involving practicum and courses in the final two years have been implemented. This study informed Kevin and Gladys’ longitudinal SSHRC-funded study designed to investigate the impact of alternative pedagogies by mentor teachers and teacher educators throughout students’ field experiences in years one and two of the program, practica experiences in years three and four of the program, and their initial year of teaching after graduation. Central to their current research is the investigation of how alternative pedagogies provide sustained realistic experiences within field-based, integrated education courses that contribute to a more realistic theory-and-practice approach to teacher education.
2012 Projects
2012 Nexen Scholar Sally Haney designed a fourth-year journalism course where students worked as the editorial board of an online publication. Each student had a different role on the board and thus was required to develop a “student-authored learning plan” where they determined very specific goals and objectives based on their editorial role, their interests, what they wanted to learn in the course. It was also students’ responsibility to bring forward their own evidence of how they were meeting those goals. Students appreciated having say in developing their own objectives, being able to set goals and be accountable for their own learning, and also being in continual conversation with their instructor to assess their progress. 

Said Haney, “Personalized learning plans made visible, both to students and to me, a lot of the learning that was happening that I otherwise never would have seen...”

Sally Haney is now collaborating with three other Nexen Scholars to study MRU journalism students’ development of professional identity across all 4 years of their program.
Librarian Margy MacMillan’s project in the 2012 Nexen Scholars Program investigated how students read and connected to scholarly articles. In a class on reading articles within a research methods class, she collected the connections students noted while reading a part of an article. Using a phenomenographic approach, she saw that the connections illuminated how students were reading at different parts of the text – at times connecting only with the words and at times with the deeper meaning. The work suggested several ways that instructors can support students to read more deeply and integrate knowledge from readings more successfully.

You can read more about Margy’s findings here:
MacMillan, M. (2014). Student connections with academic texts: A phenomenographic study of reading. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(8), 943-954.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.20...

and an overview here:
Rhem, J. (2014), How Are They Reading? Could We Show Them a Better Way?. Ntl Teaching & Learning Forum, 24: 6–8. doi: 10.1002/ntlf.30011

Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10...
2012 Nexen Scholar April McGrath knew that even though many of her students struggled with statistics, they did not come to her for help — so she decided to explore the effects of mandatory office hours on student performance. In this video, Dr. McGrath describes the teaching intervention focused on office hour attendance and how students in her introductory statistics course performed better when they completed a structured meeting with her followed by a learning reflection. This study provides supporting evidence for the influential role that student-instructor meetings can have on student learning.

Said McGrath, “I have a much better understanding of my students now. I know what concepts they struggle with, and how their attitude is affecting their study habits. And I can help them
work through those challenges.”

Her findings are published here:

McGrath, A. (2014) Just Checking In: The Effect of an Office Hour Meeting and Learning Reflection in an Introductory Statistics Course. Teaching of Psychology, 41(1), 83-87.
http://top.sagepub.com/content/41/1/8...

McGrath, April L. (2014). Content, Affective, and Behavioral Challenges to Learning: Students’ Experiences Learning Statistics. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2).
http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern...

Learning in the Liminal: Being, Becoming, Transitioning, Transforming, Bev Mathison, Child and Youth Studies

Making sense of the research literacy learning experience: A study of journalism students’ connection to practice in COMM 3737: Research Design and Methodology, Amanda Williams, Communication Studies

2011 Projects

Finch, D., Peacock, M., Lazdowski, D., & Hwang, M. (2015). Managing Emotions: A case study exploring the relationship between experiential learning, emotions, and student performance. The International Journal of Management Education, 13(1), 23-36.
Stephanie Zettel, a 2011 Nexen Scholar, was interested in how beginning nursing students in their first clinical practicum bridged the gap from theory to practice in learning to become professional registered nurses. In her study, students’ learning was assessed through various different means, one of which was guided by narrative feedback from the instructor, situated in the context of their clinical experience and directed toward specific course outcomes they must meet in order to progress in the program. Classroom assignments and evaluation interviews were other assessment strategies.

Exploring what learning strategies students identify as supportive to their understanding, Joanne Bouma, School of Nursing

Doing the Right Thing? Encouraging Students' Critical Awareness of Race and Nation in an Introductory Film Studies Class, Kelly Hewson, English

Team-Based Learning in financial accounting: is it more effective than an individual approach? Valerie Kinnear, Accounting, Bissett School of Business

Understanding Why and How Students Apply Learning Strategies, Catharine Lindland, Student Learning Services

Developing Academic Writers in General Education, Glen Ryland, General Education

A study in studio pedagogy, as it relates to voice training for classical singers at the undergraduate level, Reid Spencer, Music Performance

2010 Projects

Dr. Nickel, 2010 Nexen Scholar at Mount Royal University, describes her Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) study, which aimed to discern the impact of formative assessment upon teacher candidates’ ability to write deep journal reflections. Teacher candidates in a first year education course were required to keep a reflective journal about their field experience observations. They also responded to prompts from their professor and a peer. While these prompts helped some to write more thoughtfully, the end of semester synthesis was an especially powerful tool for generating deep reflection. Jodi also talks about the value of “wondering” – wondering about one’s students’ learning and what could be done differently to improve student learning.

Her findings are published here:
Nickel, J. (2013). Formative Assessment and Syntheses in Reflection Journals. Transformative Dialogues: Teaching and Learning Journal, 6(3), 1-16.

Factors Impacting on EAL Nursing Students’ Journey to Becoming a Nurse, Liza Choi, School of Nursing

How Term Projects Help Students to Connect Theory with Practice, Israel Dunmade, Environmental Science

What Are the Barriers to Understanding Financial Concepts for First-Year Students in the Foundational Communication Course in the Public Relations Degree?, Jane Stoneman McNichol, Public Relations

What is it About the Clinical Practice Course Experiences That Generate Student Involvement in Patient Advocacy?, M. Helena Myllykoski, Nursing

Coffee House Questions, Heather Nelson, Humanities and General Education

Exploration of Students’ Experience of Learning the Disciplinary Thinking in a First Year Physics Course, M. Qasim Syed, Mathematics, Physics & Engineering

Transitioning to Practice: Exploring the development of 4th Year Nursing Students into professionals, Joanna Szabo Hart, Nursing

Student Evidence of Change in Themselves as Learners When They Take a Course That is Intended to Enhance Their Learning Effectiveness, Lee Wertzler, Psychology

Learning to Communicate and Communicating to Learn in Teams: Student Perceptions of Teams in a Business Communication Course, Andrea Williams, Business Communication, Bissett School of Business

2009 Projects

Dr. Miriam Carey participated in the 2009 Nexen Scholars Program. She wanted to know how instructors could help students understand the connections between their studies and the world around them.

“Students tend to treat their courses as though they’re separate from each other and don’t apply to anything else. I want to show them how what they’re learning in one class can be applied to other classes, the workforce and their own lives.”

Miriam used non-traditional teaching methods, such as journaling, small group work and reflective papers to inspire integrative learning, analyzing the students’ journals to determine the efficacy of her methods. While her study confirmed her assumption that these non-traditional methods inspire deeper learning, she was surprised by the strength and self-awareness students displayed in their writing.

“One student described themselves as a sleeping giant, whose excitement for learning was re-awakened in this course. The suggestion is that more explicit cultivation of integration may help other sleeping giants — both students and faculty — to awaken.”

In this video, Miriam also talks about engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) as an opportunity for change, and advises colleagues that once you engage in a SoTL research project, “your teaching will be changed”. 

Miriam published her study in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning:
Carey, M. (2012). "In the valley of the giants: cultivating intentionality and integration." International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,6(1), 7.
http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern...
Karen Manarin, PhD, created a 2009 Nexen project examining how students read in a required first-year writing class. In particular, she was interested in learning more about the reading strategies students choose when they encounter different types of texts. She discovered that students rely on the same repertoire of strategies regardless of efficacy. She also discovered that having students write about the strategies they chose seemed to encourage students to experiment with different reading strategies. An article describing this research was published in Pedagogy and reviewed in Faculty Focus and the Teaching Professor. 

This project changed Dr. Manarin's approach to teaching different courses. It also led to several other SoTL projects, including a collaborative book on critical reading in higher education.

“Becoming involved in the scholarship of teaching and learning has dramatically changed my teaching practice and my scholarship."

Her findings are published here:

Manarin, K. (2012). Reading value: Student choice in reading strategies. Pedagogy, 12(2), 281-297.
http://pedagogy.dukejournals.org/cont...

And reviewed here:

Weimer, M. (2012, July 25). An Exemplar of Pedagogical Scholarship Takes on Student Reading. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/...

Weimer, M. (2012). Students and reading: an impressive analysis. Teaching Professor, 26(7), 4. Retrieved from http://www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/t...

 

How Students Learn to Use a Stereonet, Katherine Boggs, Earth Sciences

Learning Disciplinary Ways of Thinking and Practicing in Two Introductory Journalism Courses: Evidence From Online Discussion, Ron MacDonald, Communication Studies

Impact of an on-line-web-based financial accounting learning tool on student success, Rik Smistad, Bissett School of Busines