Creating Course Materials for Doctoral Students to Develop Approaches and Skills for Researching Equitable Learning

Creating Course Materials for Doctoral Students to Develop Approaches and Skills for Researching Equitable Learning

Academic Year:
2019 - 2020 (June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Graduate Student/Postdoc:
Kathleen Easley
Jared Ten Brink
Ashley Jackson
Rachael Gordon
Jacqueline Handley
Maggie Hanna
Nicole Brass
Overview of the Project:
This project supports the development of materials for survey courses on learning theory that emphasize the application of theory to practice, in particular addressing how power, privilege, and oppression/resistance operate within learning contexts. These courses currently serve master’s and doctoral students in separate sections. This project will develop materials to integrate doctoral students into the first half of the course while creating new content to differentiate the second half of the course to emphasize research preparation. Current doctoral students will guide the process and join the design team. New course materials will emphasize a “behind the scenes” dialogue with scholars to learn more about how research programs on equitable learning unfold. Project deliverables will feature a set of video-based interviews with contemporary educational scholars. Participating doctoral students will learn to:
· Communicate with scholars in the field about research programs and questions related to equitable learning
· Deepen understanding of educational research methods focused on equitable learning
· Use insights from dialogue with scholars to think about dissertation and early career research
· Build professional networks
· Play an active role in shaping the Educational Studies doctoral program for themselves and for future cohorts
I will assess the impact of the project on doctoral students through course assignments, surveys, and course evaluations. Design team students will write final reflective projects. This course will serve all future Educational Studies doctoral students (as a required course) and could serve all doctoral students in the School of Education (as an elective course).
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

This project sought to experiment with teaching a course on human learning for master’s and doctoral students together by building from an existing master’s course and differentiating content for doctoral students during the second half of the semester to focus on research on equitable learning and equitable research on learning.  This course addresses how power, privilege, oppression and resistance operate within learning contexts and within research on learning.

Project Achievements:


a. Summarize the project’s major achievements, including the impact this project has had on your teaching and on your department, program, school or college.

Project achievements include a redesigned syllabus and accompanying materials including focal readings, multimedia texts, reading guides, lesson plans, Trello board summaries of scholars’ discussions with students, and in some cases videos of invited scholar discussions (due to COVID-19 shifting scholars to home-based work, on three weeks we were asked us not to record the interviews.  We used Trello boards to create summaries instead).  These products will be used for future cohorts of doctoral students.    

b. How many students were impacted by this project?         
Graduate students: 

9 students enrolled in the course (6 Educational Studies, 1 Combined Program in Education and Psychology, 2 School of Information); 6 Advanced Doctoral Students supported the development of the materials and took turns acting as co-facilitators during scholar visits.

c. How many courses were impacted by this project?  

1 Course

Yes, the materials will be used in the future. Lessons learned in this course will inform future iterations as we try to find innovative ways to meet the needs of master’s and doctoral students together in the School of Education. This course also addresses how to center issues of educational equity and justice in discussions of human learning.
These activities were presented to faculty in a School of Education Educational Studies faculty meeting (virtually) on May 14.
Advice to your Colleagues:
Students really enjoyed this opportunity and benefitted in significant ways including: 1) Making scholarship more accessible and developing deeper understanding as a result of talking directly with the authors of the work, 2) Building confidence in asking questions of scholars, each other, and themselves, 3) Noticing different approaches, identities, and personalities of the scholars encouraged students to see the academy as more diverse and welcoming than they thought (“there is room for all kinds of people”), 4) Making the “invisible work that makes the visible work possible” was appreciated and named, 5) Working together with advanced doctoral students and getting to know students across cohorts. Students also demonstrated their learning in research proposals they wrote as culminating projects for class.
The biggest challenge was COVID-19 moving all but the first scholar session fully online. This meant that the hard work of preparing for scholar visits had to happen virtually as well. We managed this but there is no doubt it would have been easier to accomplish face to face. Students reported that being online did impact their experience (zoom fatigue) but that they still fully appreciated the opportunities to learn from scholars and found it very interesting and valuable.