This web site is primarily oriented towards my position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I serve in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning within the College of Education and Human Development. I have two main research objectives: explore issues related to academic access in postsecondary education and develop strategies to increase the success of underrepresented student populations in college.
I have three research questions that I am pursuing:
Question #1: What is the comprehensive history of academic access in postsecondary education and does it provide lessons for the present and future?
Question #2: How can I effectively teach my students not only “what to know,�? but also “how to know it�? through appropriate class activities and assignments
Question #3: What are the critical components that are needed to create a new, more powerful and relevant peer cooperative learning model?
For more than two decades I have taught college students, administered developmental education programs, and trained faculty and staff from many institutions how to implement one specific academic intervention program (Supplemental Instruction).In my role as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, I am investigating a series of research questions to expand the scholarship concerning postsecondary education academic access.
Question #1: What is the comprehensive history of academic access in postsecondary education and does it provide lessons for the present and future? Questions of who has the right to pursue postsecondary education in America have been debated since the founding of Harvard University in 1636. A major focus of my research will document the history of the debate over access to higher education -- a subject which has been largely overlooked in major historical accounts of the American higher education. I will investigate the chronology of the debate, including the various iterations of access programs, currently known as developmental education.
This research has three components. The first is identifying the history of this topic since the founding of American higher education. This reveals the historic relationships among academic access, postsecondary education, and public secondary schools. The second component reviews the present state of this topic area with policy analysis and recommendations for changes in access programs The final component is an analysis of access models in other countries. This permits a comparison of the models and identification of best practices.
Question #2: How can I effectively teach my students not only “what to know,�? but also “how to know it�? through appropriate class activities and assignments? I have had two careers, the first as a community college social science instructor and then a subsequent career as a learning center administrator who also trained individuals to adopt a specific academic intervention program. My current position allows me to integrate those life experiences together to explore how to integrate “what to know�? and “how to know it�? simultaneously through my role as an assistant professor teaching a world history course.
Embedding the best practices of developmental education within my course is part of my approach to delivering effective developmental education within a research institution. With the growing trend of eliminating developmental education courses at public four-year institutions, it is essential to identify models that others can adopt. Research with my students reveals the most effective methods to integrate relevant learning strategies into the class activities that permit them to successfully adopt them for use within my course and other classes they will encounter at the University. This scholarship has resulted in conference papers, publications, and faculty development workshops.
Question #3: What are the critical components that are needed to create a new, more powerful and relevant peer cooperative learning model? For more than a decade I designed a training curriculum, wrote descriptive and research-based publications, and conducted workshops to encourage hundreds of colleges in the U.S. and other countries to implement the Supplemental Instruction (SI) academic intervention program. I see an opportunity to develop a new model more relevant for today’s student body and based upon emerging theories of learning for today’s increasingly diverse student body. A more flexible model is needed that will meet the needs of individual students rather than expecting students to imitate the behaviors of the culture of the institution.
Related to this is the need to explore “help seeking behaviors�? of students regarding their access and voluntary use of services such as advising, counseling, peer tutoring. This behavior needs to be deconstructed, analyzed, and new programs developed that meet the needs of students. Too often the students who could most benefit from services do not avail themselves of the resources and quietly drop out of the institution.
I am working in collaboration with other colleagues at the University and other institutions in Minnesota with diverse student populations to develop a new, more relevant peer-led cooperative learning model. The new model is being tested with students at the University. External funds will be sought to support national dissemination of the model or the efforts could be supported through workshop fees charged for participants much as the SI model has been disseminated nationally and internationally. The working name for the new cooperative learning model is Excel Learning Groups (ELGs).