Research

My PhD dissertation was on the political role of intellectuals according to Michel Foucault, and since then I published and presented on Foucault’s work for a number of years. Please see my CV for a list of my publications as well as my conference presentations.

Since the early 2010s, though, my research area has moved into the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). I have done SoTL research on peer feedback on writing as well as on the use of open textbooks and other open educational resources.

 

Recent SoTL research projects

 

Studying students’ use and perceptions of open textbooks at UBC. Primary investigator, with Stefan Reinsberg and Georg Rieger (both from Physics at UBC) as co-investigators.

  • In the Fall of 2015 Physics 100 at UBC adopted an open textbook, and we conducted a survey of students who took the course in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 to gauge their use and perceptions of that open textbook. We also asked them about how the cost of textbooks has affected them, such as whether they have ever gone without buying a textbook, whether they have dropped a course because of the textbook cost, etc. Our article on this research is in press for The International Review of Open and Distributed Learning as of Summer 2017. A pre-print of this article can be seen here.
  • We are conducting a similar survey for students who took Physics 100 in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.

 

Pilot research project investigating the impact of peer feedback on writing in Arts One (2013-2015). Primary investigator, with Jeremy Biesanz (Associate Professor, Psychology, UBC) as co-investigator.

  • We studied the “dose-response curve” in student peer feedback on writing: how many “doses” of peer feedback sessions are needed before one begins to see results in the form of students using the feedback from their peers, and are there diminishing returns after a certain number of sessions? This question has not been adequately addressed in the SoTL literature on peer feedback: there have been many studies showing that peer feedback improves students writing, but little on how many sessions of peer feedback are needed to provide optimum results.
  • Our research questions included:
    • To what degree do students use peer comments to improve their later essays (both those they receive from peers and those they give to peers)? Many research studies on peer feedback focus on the use of peer comments on drafts of a single essay, rather than looking at whether students transfer peer comments to their work on later essays.
    • Do students tend to use peer feedback comments (given and received) more after a few feedback sessions, or do they use such comments even just after one peer feedback session? Are there diminishing returns after many sessions? We call this the “dose-response” curve: how many doses are needed before one gets a response? Arts One is a good environment to study this question, because students write an essay every two weeks and have a peer feedback session on every essay, with a group of four students plus their instructor.
  • As the data analysis for this project was quite complex, we started with a pilot project involving 12 students in my Arts One seminar group for 2013-2014, to refine our data gathering and analysis procedures in preparation for a larger study involving more Arts One students. We collected ten essays from each of the 12 students in the pilot group, as well as all of the peer and instructor comments on each essay.
  • We had hoped to extend this pilot study into a larger study with more Arts One students, but have not been able to secure funds to do so.

 

Studying how students use educational videos and creating a new video tool (2014-present). Principal investigator: Sidney Fels (Faculty of Applied Science); co-investigators: Gregor Miller (Faculty of Applied Science), Ido Roll (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC), Christina Hendricks (Faculty of Arts).

  • We also received a large TLEF grant in 2015 to engage in more research, to further develop the tool and make it available for any UBC instructors who want to use it.

 

 Survey of faculty attitudes on open textbooks and other open educational resources (2014-2015). Co-investigator, with Rajiv Jhangiani (Kwantlen Polytechnical University), Jessie Key (Vancouver Island University), Clint Lalonde (BCcampus), Beck Pitt (The OER Research Hub).

  • We designed, implemented, and analyzed the data from a survey of faculty members across BC (and beyond) regarding their views of the value and quality of open textbooks and other open educational resources. Among other things, we asked faculty about the factors that enable or hinder their use and creation of open educational resources and open textbooks, the kinds of open educational resources they use and for which purposes, the perceived pedagogical value of using open educational resources, and more.
  • We are able to break down the data by factors such as type of institution (research intensive, community college, special purpose teaching university (such as a polytechnical university)), years of teaching experience, and full-time or part-time faculty.
  • We presented some of the preliminary results of this research at the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit in May, 2015 and gave a full report of our results at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver in November, 2015. See the list of conference presentations on my CV.