2017 TLTR Pilot Projects

Technology for Innovative Learning & Teaching Pilot Project Grants 2017

The following grants were approved for implementation in Spring, Summer or Fall 2017 or Spring 2018.

Integration of Enhanced Digital Graphing Software and Cytokine Analysis into the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory

Jessica Boyette-Davis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology & Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Research supports the idea that experiential learning has the capacity to greatly enhance learning outcomes, and perhaps more importantly, these experiences can increase enjoyment of learning and greater internalization of course concepts. Behavioral Neuroscience (PSYC 4442) is a required course for Behavioral Neuroscience majors and is also taken by students in several other majors. The current project would allow for a much-needed incorporation of current and more advanced experiential learning approaches. Specifically, students taking this course would design research questions around the concept of the effects of stress on the body. Molecules known to be associated with stress (termed cytokines) would then be modified, collected, and analyzed using the method of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results would be graphed using the digital software package Sigma Plot. The TLTR pilot grant would allow for the purchase of equipment and supplies needed to conduct ELISA testing as well as a network license for Sigma Plot. Ultimately, this exciting new approach to teaching Behavioral Neuroscience would improve learning outcomes and serve the proposed QEP theme of vocation.

Integrating StoryMaps and Citizen Science into Classrooms:  Sharing place-based ecological data with students and the community

Dr. Amy Belaire, Dr. Barbara Dugelby, and Dr. Bill Quinn, School of Natural Sciences, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Wild Basin Creative Research Center

The proposed project focuses on integrating StoryMaps and Citizen Science into classrooms to connect students with place-based scientific data.  Wild Basin recently launched two long-term research projects using wildlife cameras and bioacoustic recorders to investigate the biodiversity in natural areas across Austin. In order to share these data with students and the broader public, we propose developing an interactive, participatory website that allows learners to become Citizen Scientists by identifying and classifying wildlife species in images and sound clips. In addition, the website would contain a series of StoryMaps, which combine geospatial data with photos, video, audio, and text, allowing users to visualize multi-media content and scientific data linked to an interactive map (see example StoryMaps below). This grant would fund two training opportunities that directly support this project:  (1) attendance at the ESRI Edu conference, which would enable Belaire and Quinn to gain skills in creating and teaching about StoryMaps and other pedagogical applications of GIS, and (2) collaborating with staff at Chicago’s Urban Wildlife Institute and Zooniverse headquarters to design and develop a Citizen Science website for students to identify and classify wildlife photographs/sounds.  Attendance at the ESRI Edu conference would ensure that SEU is getting the most from our ArcGIS investment and would have direct benefits for courses in MSEM, BIOL, and ENSP. In addition, Citizen Science applications would engage a diverse audience – both on campus and in the broader community – in learning about Austin’s biodiversity.

Environmental contaminant mapping and monitoring in Travis County:  A participatory, hands-on, service learning based approach to teaching environmental chemistry in the ENSP program

Amy Concilio, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

The 2015 public health crisis caused by lead contamination in drinking water of Flint, MI, called attention to the problem of aging infrastructure in US water delivery systems and subsequent human health impacts. Although Flint was a somewhat unique situation in that the contamination occurred in a large municipality and involved negligence on the part of public officials, investigations have since revealed that elevated levels of lead and copper in drinking water may be relatively common in the US due to aging pipes and lax regulation enforcement- particularly in rural communities served by tiny utilities. Indeed, the small town of Ranger, TX, was the subject of a recent investigative report in response to a high incidence of lead poisoning in children due to exposure through elevated lead levels in drinking water. This environmental problem provides an ideal case study for investigation by students majoring in the interdisciplinary Environmental Science and Policy program. In particular, I propose here to develop a heavy metal contaminant monitoring and mapping project for my “Chemistry in the Environment” class using a participatory, hands-on, service-learning approach. To develop the project, I am requesting funds to purchase water quality testing equipment that can be used for rapid, onsite testing of heavy metal contaminants. The project has the potential for broad cross-disciplinary and off-campus community collaboration. Further, this equipment will be of interest for use in a variety of courses and research by St Edward’s students and faculty, including ENSP, MSEM, Biology, and Chemistry.

Bringing home into school with mobile devices in an elementary afterschool program literacy project

Elisabeth Johnson, Associate Professor of Literacy Education, School of Education

This is a proposal to fund a set of mobile digital and analog image and video capture devices for use in the St. Edward’s at St. Elmo afterschool writing and research program –an afterschool literacy program lead by faculty in the teacher education program and facilitated by St. Edward’s elementary, special education and bilingual education interns as part of READ 4343 (Content Area Literacy) and EDUC 4338 (Elementary Curriculum and Pedagogy). Funding mobile devices participating elementary school students can freely transport between home and school, would create opportunities for:

  1. 12-20 low-income elementary school students to generate content from their lives beyond school for after school writing and research projects,
  2. Edward’s intern inquiries into the affordances and limitations of different analog and digital image and video capture devices in school writing and research,
  3. Edward’s literacy faculty pilot of a range of mobile devices in a course curriculum that up to this point has been bound to in school device use
  4. contributions to literacy research literature that explores young English Language Learners’ multimodal compositions with youth generated content via mobile devices that travel beyond school

Mapping Austin Inequality: Documenting Disparities Across Time and Place

Rachael Neal, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminology, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences

This TLTR proposal will support the revision of an assignment used in Honors 1340: Diverse Communities Across Space and Place. In my course, students examine how historical socioeconomic circumstances have contributed to varying life experiences for residents living in different geographic areas. Since part of the course focuses on the history of Austin, students conduct observations in historically segregated East Austin. Students currently post pictures from their field visits in Google slides and describe their observations in an essay; however, this platform makes it difficult to share their reflections with each other or with future classes. ArcGIS’s Survey123 will allow students to document their observations about specific geographic coordinates, map the information online in an easy-to-view digital format, and archive the information for use by future students. The information collected by students will also contribute to an online archive of materials about East Austin, and will be available for students taking other courses in the future. This project will also enhance my pedagogical skills through a deeper understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) mapping. GIS software allows users to create interactive maps analyzing spatial and socioeconomic data. Understanding how to use GIS will prepare me to integrate mapping into my field visit assignment, and to identify ways to incorporate GIS into exercises in other classes such as SOCI 3330: Social Research (which I will teach in the spring of 2018) and SOCI 4343: Race, Class, and Gender (to be taught again at an unidentified date in the future).