Teaching and Learning

Recorded five-minute presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category H: Teaching and Learning, Projects H-01 through H-06.

H-01: An Application/Research Analysis of Theories, Philosophies, & New Concepts Related to Modern Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Preschool Education Programs

Kiesha Pettway, Interdisciplinary Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Lisa Beckelhimer
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United States students are being outperformed in Science and Mathematics and are not achieving STEM disciplines at the same rate as students in other countries. According to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP), "most children acquire considerable knowledge of numbers and other aspects of mathematics before they enter kindergarten." Therefore, preschool is a very critical timeframe in a child's development. This is important because the knowledge preschoolers bring to school is related to their mathematics learning for years thereafter (elementary, middle school and high school). Furthermore, preschool age children must have access to high-quality education that effectively integrate STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are also very important disciplines which are needed to fulfill the millions of STEM jobs that continue to go unfulfilled.  In order to combat the shortcomings of traditional programs, it is imperative for preschool directors and administrators to design effective STEM classrooms/curriculum, utilize the National Science Foundation, fully understand the Americans with Disabilities Act, and apply the following three educational philosophies: (Piaget, Vygotsky and Bronnfenbrenner) approaches to ensure that new STEM-focused programs are intentionally designed to prepare students and educators for success in STEM fields.

H-02: Choosing Your Own Learning Adventure: Does Autonomy Facilitate Academic Achievement?

Abigail McCarthy, Psychology
Emily Winia, Psychology
Project Advisor: Dr. Heidi Kloos
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Autonomy is a key component of one of the largest theories of motivation, Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Self-Determination Theory has become increasingly relevant in explaining motivation, especially in academic settings. Highly structured and strictly organized learning criteria for schools have the potential to limit student choices and reduce feelings of autonomy. This literature review seeks to understand how adding autonomy to classrooms relates to academic success and functioning in students. Peer reviewed journal articles were chosen from the UC libraries database PsycINFO during the Spring 2021 semester. Articles that examined autonomy's links to parenting styles or autonomy in nontraditional academic classrooms were excluded. We were specifically interested in elementary, middle, and high school aged students, so we excluded any studies that examined prekindergarten and undergraduate students. 351 articles were generated by the initial literature search and further narrowed down based on these parameters. Literature was selected by choosing articles with relevant titles and keywords such as (autonomy, autonomy support, personal autonomy, autonomous goal setting, self-directed learning, intrinsic motivation, self-guided learning, self-determination, self-determination theory, academic achievement, academic success, children's learning, student engagement, school engagement). The present literature concludes that autonomy supportive environments are linked to academic success, engagement, and improved need satisfaction in students. Further implications are discussed and future research regarding mediating or moderating factors of autonomy in the classroom may be beneficial.

H-03: Do After-School Intervention Groups Improve Social-Emotional Competence?

Jared Knight, Social Work
Project Advisor: Dr. Anjanette Wells
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Social-emotional competence has been a growing topic of discussion and concern in recent years, especially among adolescent youth. Research has shown the benefits of being socially and emotionally aware, but many institutions of learning, particularly secondary schools, have struggled with incorporating structured programs that teach and improve social-emotional skills. Fortunately after-school programs have shown interest in improving social-emotional competence among youth, one of them being the Boys & Girls Club of America. This qualitative study explored the effectiveness of structured social-emotional learning (SEL) programs in an after-school program by way of intervention groups. Teenage members of the Sheakley Boys & Girls Club completed pre and post-assessments that gauged their competency in social-emotional skills that would be the focus of the intervention groups: self-awareness, social awareness, decision-making, and relationship building. The purpose of the study was to emphasize the need for a structured social-emotional curriculum among adolescent youth and promote ongoing social-emotional learning.

H-04: Early Intervention: Administering the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to Pre-Med Students as a Tool for Cultural Humility and Racial Justice

Fatima Khan, Medical Sciences
Project Advisor: Dr. Robin Selzer
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Medical education has emphasized the need for D&I trainings to meet the needs of diverse patients and understand social determinants of health that lead to healthcare disparities. The question remains about how to best accomplish this. There is no required intercultural training for pre-meds. It is important to offer trainings early on to reflect on implicit biases, teach cultural humility, and foster advocacy for health equity long BEFORE getting to medical school. The IDI® is a cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence used by many organizations to achieve international and domestic diversity and inclusion goals. This session will 1) focus on how the Intercultural Development Inventory IDI® is being used with pre-med students to help them navigate complex differences and adapt to find common ground 2) use a first-hand testimonial and 3) explicate how IDI® is can be used as a tool to teach and understand racial justice in particular.

H-05: Pedagogy in Early Science Learning: A Review of the Effectiveness of Preschool and Kindergarten Science Instruction

Joseph Zang, Psychology
Emily Keith, Psychology
Project Advisor: Dr. Heidi Kloos
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Early science learning has become more prominent in recent years, in both education and research fields. Yet there is little consistency on what is the best pedagogy to use for this age group. Different teaching styles may work better for different ages, science concepts, and concrete vs abstract ideas. It is due to this that the current study looks at the research conducted on early science learning for kindergarten- and preschool-age groups. In doing so, we seek to uncover what pedagogies work best and when to apply them. To determine this, we conducted a literature review spanning from the years 2010 to March of 2021. The articles all included original data conducted on young children in educational contexts. Preliminary findings show that pedagogies tend to fall into one of four types, which we developed over the course of our review. These four pedagogies are direct, indirect, combination, and mixture. This presentation is meant to convey what these pedagogy models are and examples of what they look like in a classroom setting. In addition we also include some preliminary findings on the situations in which these pedagogies are effective. For instance, indirect pedagogy is associated with teaching abstract science concepts. In contrast, direct pedagogy is used more often to teach concrete concepts.

H-06: The Influence of Math Anxiety and Emotional Control on Math Learning in Elementary School Students

Aditi Tarkar, Neuroscience
Lizz Herbert, Psychology and Criminal Justice
SJ Jacobs, Psychology and Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Heidi Kloos
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Many studies have explored the relation between math anxiety and math performance. However, the relationship between emotional competence and math performance is still unclear. In this research, we seek to address this gap, focusing specifically on elementary-school children, an age group where emotional competence might still be developing. We first looked at the literature then analyzed existing data to see if it agreed with the literature. We have defined math anxiety as negative emotions toward math and emotional competence as the ability to deal and cope with negative emotions.

Specifically, we hypothesize that math anxiety and math performance are inversely correlated, while emotional competence may have a slight positive correlation with math performance. To test our hypothesis, we looked at the combined effect of math anxiety and emotional competence on math performance. Students from 3rd and 4th grade were given a battery of assessments to capture their emotional control, math anxiety, and math performance.

The first assessment given was the Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy (RESE), which tested how well students would manage negative situations. A higher score correlates with higher emotional control. The second assessment was the Math Anxiety Rating Scale - Elementary (MARS-E), which measured how nervous students were when presented with math-related situations. A higher score correlates with higher math anxiety. Math performance was measured by the percentage of correctly solved questions in the students' respective grade levels.

The literature review revealed that high math anxiety can negatively affect math performance. The existing data somewhat confirmed our hypothesis.