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"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

- Abraham Lincoln -

 

        Welcome to my website! Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself. One of the highlights of my job is collaborating with other faculty members to implement strategies that help Baylor students achieve successful learning outcomes.  In particular, I tend to look for high-need opportunities.  Some examples of these are reducing the rate of Ds, Fs, and Withdrawals (Ws) in large-enrollment mathematics classes, promoting teaching/learning with technology, creating zero-cost course materials, and mentoring new faculty and graduate students.  All of these opportunities are directly supported by my research in self-regulated learning.

            My research was formally initiated in 2018, when I began Ph.D. coursework in Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas.  This program combined classes on learning theory, instructional design, and theories of educational technology with enacted qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.  My dissertation used self-regulated learning theory to design a learning analytics study investigating how undergraduate students learn Calculus in online and hybrid environments.  Specifically, self-regulated learning is concerned with the cognitive, metacognitive, and affective aspects of learning.  In my study, I used learning data to construct six binary logistic regression models.  There was only one variable that was statistically significant across all six models:  ‘Remembering’ from Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy’s Cognitive Domain.

            The timing of this conclusion from my research happened to coincide with the results of recent learning-data analyses in the Mathematics Department.  After examining pre- and post-pandemic learning outcomes in our Calculus I course, the department determined that the percentage of Ds, Fs, and Ws was higher than we would like.  After several internal discussions, we hypothesized that many students were intelligent enough to earn a placement in Calculus I but did not remember enough prerequisite concepts to be successful.  Therefore, I proposed the creation of a Co-Requisite Calculus Supplement Course.  To this end, I convened a committee of Calculus I instructors to identify the essential prerequisite skills, across the curriculum, that students need in order to be successful.  Then, I worked with my department, the College of Arts & Sciences, and Baylor Libraries to secure funding for the development of this course over the summer of 2022.  By design, the content for this course was sequenced to provide ‘just in time’ support for the sections and chapters in Calculus I.  I piloted two sections of this course in the Fall '22 - Spring '23 academic year, and the impact it had was significant.  Though most students enrolled in the Supplement Course enjoyed positive benefits in their Calculus I classes, statistics for two populations showed that they experienced particular benefits:  1) First Generation college students and 2) Freshmen, whose academic index (AI) scores were identified as belonging to the bottom quartile of incoming students.  The table below shows the impact these populations enjoyed in the first year the course was offered.

Based on this success, Baylor's Mathematics Department has doubled the number of sections of the Co-Requisite Calculus Supplement course in Fall '23.  I, personally, feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction, knowing that a course I created could have such a profound positive impact on so many students.            

            Though student success is the primary focus of my attention, it has been my privilege to extend my expertise at teaching with technology to my colleagues as well.  For example, a high-need opportunity for faculty arose during the spring of 2020, when Baylor did an abrupt pivot to emergency-remote instruction (as did most institutions).  My experience teaching online since 2017, and pursuing a degree in Learning Technologies, afforded me the opportunity to serve as a resource to other STEM faculty.  In coordination with the Provost's Office, I mentored 19 faculty members in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Statistics during Baylor’s remote instruction and hybrid semesters.  Though the needs of these faculty members were varied, the learning variable I tried to emphasize for all of them was ‘affect.’  No matter how they handled transferring their classes online, it was critical to help students maintain a positive feeling about their experience.  As with many things, communication was key.  For non-STEM faculty, I was also able to enlist members of Baylor's Teaching, Learning, and Technology Committee (TLTC) to become part of the network of faculty mentors.

            By way of background, I joined the TLTC in 2016 and became its chair in 2019.  Through this committee, I have the privilege of networking with other faculty members, administration, supporting departments, and students who care deeply about the privileges and pitfalls of teaching and learning with technology.  In addition to serving as online teaching mentors during the 2020 quarantine, we have led university initiatives related to online course quality and professional development.

            A high-need area that affects both faculty and students is affordable textbooks/quality Open Educational Resources (OERs).  When designing the Co-Requisite Calculus Supplement Course, one of my rigid objectives was that the new course would *not* generate any extra costs for students (beyond tuition).  However, there was no singular resource (free or otherwise) that addressed the topics in this course.  Yet, the imperative to have a reference artifact for Supplement students was supported by the results of my research and the statistical significance of ‘Remembering.’  Students cannot remember information to which they do not have access.  My work to create a quality, focused OER truly began in the mid 20-oughts and early 20-teens.  During this time, I sought to understand how textbook companies compiled and sequenced material for mathematics students.  So, I began consulting as a textbook and curriculum reviewer for several different companies.  As a consultant, my duties ranged from simply giving an opinion to sequencing mathematics objectives and creating PowerPoint content.  These skills were invaluable when I created the supporting OER for the Calculus Supplement Course.  Now, this resource is not only available to enrolled Calculus Supplement students but also to any Calculus student seeking support in prerequisite topics that are specifically mapped to the Calculus curriculum.  My desire to make/utilize free resources also extended to instructional technologies.  In 2003, I co-designed ‘Mathematics Through Technology,’ a junior-level course for middle/high school mathematics education majors.  Through many revisions over the years, this course now specifically addresses using free/ubiquitous technologies to communicate and explore mathematical concepts.  As of 2019, this course only uses free materials, a savings of over $100 per student.

            An area of high-impact that benefits students and faculty is mentoring.  I began serving as a Teaching Mentor to new faculty and graduate students in 2006.  This annually recurring role has included everything from discussions about content delivery strategies and preparing authentic assessments, to dealing with disgruntled students, to navigating Canvas.  My work as a mentor took shape more formally in Fall '23, when I designed and implemented a mentorship program for graduate students in their first year of teaching.  My research flows particularly well into this program because I am able to articulate a learning theory-supported and evidence-based rationale for pedagogic decision-making. Of course, that does not imply that I have – or anyone has – all the answers.  What I enjoy most about mentoring is that it creates a culture where all parties can stop and reflect on ways we cultivate successful teaching practices.

            As an aside, I am a firm believer in reflecting on what is working and what can be improved in my teaching.  I realized in 2001 that there had to be other/better approaches to teaching than the lecture-based pedagogy most mathematicians modeled (in my experience).  So, I joined the Mathematics Education committee to liaise with my counterparts in the School of Education.  I also began teaching Mathematics Education courses in the Mathematics Department.  Through this process, I was introduced to the theory of constructivism.  I learned to facilitate classes so that mathematical meaning was co-constructed by students actively working with each other (rather than by passively listening to my lectures).  This is my favorite mode of instruction, and 20 years later, I continue to structure my courses to include as much conversation about mathematics as possible, in order to foster successful metacognitive strategies for students.

            In (not so) short, I have enjoyed leveraging my research to impact teaching and learning by strategizing to lower D, F, and W rates in Calculus, promoting teaching/learning with technology, developing zero-cost course materials, and mentoring new colleagues and graduate students.  Through the experience, study, and skills I have attained over the last 20+ years, I am ready to broaden my horizons even further.  I would like to continue working through the relationships I have cultivated with faculty and campus administrators to continue the discussion about student success and faculty support on a larger scale.  I would also like to conduct educational research across STEM disciplines.  Working together, we can thoughtfully craft educational experiences that students (and faculty) will find memorable, impactful, and meaningful.

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