As a professional in higher education, Research and Curriculum Development are vital companions to the teaching and learning process. Both my doctoral studies and work at Mercy College have allowed me to participate in research and curriculum development such as creating Pre & Post Course Assessments, Open Educational Resources (OER) and, e-Portfolios while conducting scholar-practitioner research.
Throughout my career, my professional academic practice has informed my research practice. For example, I was invited to participate in a grant funded Next Generation Learning Challenges OER project. This innovation interested me in a multitude of ways and ended up informing my dissertation problem of practice. The research focused on the faculty innovation and adoption process. I believe that providing college students with a “no textbook or educational material cost” curriculum is important, but unless faculty members use the materials, the initiative can’t work. I am disheartened to see my colleagues embrace a new idea and believe in it, but be afraid to adopt it or become discouraged because of technological issues. I wanted to find out what factors influence whether they adopt OER, and what can be done to support them to do so in a sustainable way.
The study used Rogers’ (2003) Diffusions of Innovations theoretical framework to guide the description of the innovation and adoption process of OER. The significance of this research for scholar-practitioners was to investigate faculty adoption of OER to facilitate valuable and sustainable adoption of OER. To identify the connection between the creation and continued adoption of OER, certain aspects such as the characteristics of OER, the innovation-decision process, and the kind of supports institutions should provide have been investigated.
I have always been interested in the organizational culture of higher education, especially how faculty choose what instructional methods and curriculum to employ. Methods used a century or even a decade ago may be obsolete, or might not be. What makes the difference? Is it the students, technology, organizational support, faculty preferences?
These questions predicated my current research initiative that revolves around the benefits and range of options for adopting ePortfolio in various Undergraduate Curriculum. Mercy College’s School of Liberal Arts Seminars Program has been implementing Digication ePortfolios in the Critical Inquiry and Junior Seminar courses as a platform for the: archiving of student work; demonstration of applied skills; and narration and meta-cognition of personal and academic growth. The Program is also using ePortfolios to aid in the areas of assessment, curricular redesign and cohesion.
Critical Inquiry faces challenges of making learning visible, relevant, and applicable to the process of lifelong learning for students. The gap between Critical Inquiry and Junior Seminar, plus the number of transfer students (who have not taken Critical Inquiry at Mercy), also lend to challenges in capstone course, as Junior Seminar must address gaps in the conceptualization and achievement of general education competencies. I am seeking to find out how ePortfolios have allowed the Seminars Program to address these challenges and if using ePortfolios to aids in the areas of assessment, curricular redesign, and cohesion. I look forward to completing this important project and continuing to allow my academic practices inform future research initiatives.
Doctoral Thesis from Northeastern University