City University of New York - York College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 1830-1840
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
This presentation will discuss a project designed and developed to improve teaching skills of the professorate and to increase students’ reflective practice, higher-level critical thinking and oral and written communication skills in undergraduate classes at a major urban public institution of higher learning. Additionally, a major focus of the project was to develop a strategy to actively engage students in a constructivist educational environment by providing opportunities for small group interaction among students who were ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse. This focus was a prime motivation for the researchers since the academic research shows that as student populations become more ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse, professors need to restructure their teaching methodology to allow for meaningful interaction, where students can be more engaged and involved in their own learning [2][3]. In 2007, the undergraduate students at this institution hailed from over 120 countries and spoke more than 86 different languages. More than two thirds of the student population self identified as being ethnically or culturally diverse along with almost one third who self identified as being second language learners [4].

The project centered on the use of a Tuning Protocol (TP), a means by which students interact with each other in meaningful ways, to reflect on, assess, evaluate and discuss their work in class. The Tuning Protocol is a structured format for peers to provide constructive feedback about each other’s work. As part of this research project, the Tuning Protocol was introduced in undergraduate teacher education classes (Foundations of Education and Health Education) with the goal of providing opportunities for students to become reflective practitioners, effective communicators and critical thinkers. While the literature on the Tuning Protocol has included ways of incorporating it into instruction, to the knowledge of the researchers, no meaningful research has been conducted on its effectiveness.

This innovative project was based on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) philosophy of discovery through basic research and integration and application of knowledge to improve faculty instruction and student learning [1]. It is built on the idea that professors can improve their teaching and their students’ learning through reflection and inquiry. This knowledge is then made available to peers in the profession. This presentation, then, is the natural offshoot of the SoTL tradition, and as such, it will provide the academic community with the research-based results on the effectiveness of using the Tuning Protocol to increase communication skills, higher order thinking skills and interaction among diverse learners.

This presentation will provide background information on the student population and classes where the research was conducted. It will discuss the methodology that was developed to incorporate the Tuning Protocol into two distinct subject area content classes. It will present the data that was collected and analyzed. Findings will be discussed and implications for the continuing the project will be analyzed. Session participants will be provided with a copy of the Tuning Protocol and instructions for its use.

[1] Boyer, E. L. (1990).
[2] Huber, M.,& Hutchings, P. (2005).
[3] Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. (1999).
[4] York College, City University of New York (2009).
Higher Education, Critical Thinking, Communication, Active Engagement.