Research: Teaching and Learning

Purpose and Mission

The Teaching and Learning SPRIG brings together faculty who are interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning, so we can collectively conduct research, deliver extension and outreach programming, and improve our teaching.  By doing so, we develop synergy for partnering with colleagues in ways that address the strategic plans of the department, college and university.

In addition, the Teaching and Learning SPRIG is interested in using formal and nonformal teaching strategies to target Ohio’s underrepresented, non-college-access populations to keep them in school through graduation; when our youth graduate from high school, they are better equipped to contribute to the economies of their communities.


Background

In the second half of the 1990s, fundamental pedagogical change began taking place in U.S. higher education (Rice, 2006).  The teaching role was being questioned and transformed. New instructional strategies were challenging assumptions that had been taken for granted. Rice (2006) stated that the Professional and Organization Development Network in Higher Education (POD) was established, grew rapidly and evolved into a major professional association committed to the improvement of teaching. Centers for Teaching and Learning, Excellence in Teaching, and Faculty Development, and many others known by different names, were established on most college and university campuses in the U.S. funded by the institution for the purpose of improving teaching (Rice, 2006).

However, researchers have stated that the same instructional methods are still used to teach today’s students that were used to teach students from the early 1900s, despite the differences in students (Boggs, 1995). According to the Commission on the Future of Higher Education (USDE, 2006), many postsecondary institutions have not embraced opportunities for innovation such as new methods of teaching and content delivery. Results of scholarly teaching and learning seemed to be disconnected from practice (USDE, 2006).  “Many traditional instructional approaches respond ineffectively to the learning needs and life situations of today’s college students” (Weimer, 2003, p. 49). 

Teaching and Learning was identified as a high priority in the National Research Agenda: Agricultural Education and Communication, 2007-2010 (Osborne, n.d.).  The 2010 – 2014 Strategic Plan for our new department suggested a strategy to develop and advance disciplinary focus and impact through the use of self-populated research interest groups (SPRIGs).  The Teaching and Learning SPRIG will be supported by a self-selected team of faculty, staff, and students for the purpose of focusing disciplinary and interdisciplinary efforts on teaching and learning research, outreach, and teaching activities that address issues of critical importance in the state of Ohio, US, and beyond. 


Goals

  • Improve research, extension and outreach programming, and improve teaching as advocated by the department, college, and university strategic plans.
  • Encourage synergy among faculty and partners related to programming initiatives.
  • Engage faculty in collaborating on externally funding opportunities.
  • Use extramural funding to support graduate students who are interested in initiatives related to Ohio’s underrepresented populations.
  • Seek opportunities for disseminating our results in ways that have not been previously explored.

Targeted Projects

  • Implementing STEM opportunities as extension and outreach programming.
  • Partnering in university and community efforts for improving the economic development of Ohio communities.
  • Appalachian and rural programs exist in which we can partner to achieve their goals and ours.