Cornerstone University Reaps Results from 2017 SoTL Grant Research
by Sydney Wheat (B.S. ’19)
During the fall semester, Cornerstone University faculty scholarship recipients of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) grants continue to integrate their summer research findings in the classroom. Through support from the university's CELT group, faculty are able to generate a more culturally diverse way of teaching and encourage their students to take part in the journey with them.
The Center for Excellence for Teaching and Learning (CELT) group was formed in 2014 to support teaching scholarships for faculty at Cornerstone University. CELT is an on-campus committee, organized by Dr. Nicole McDonald, professor of psychology, that is specifically designed to examine pedagogical strategies related to content delivery and how students learn.
CELT has been distributing SoTL grant research opportunities to faculty every summer since 2014. The scholarships fund summer projects and are awarded to new faculty each year through an application process. For the duration of the grant period, faculty recipients meet with the CELT committee three times to provide an update on the progress of their research.
"One of the most important contributions of the SoTL grant is the collaborative work done with colleagues," Dr. Sergio da Silva, associate professor of psychology said. "Feedback from SoTL group members was very helpful for me to get this research program as far as I did. My students also benefitted by collaborating in the conduction of the research studies, and presentation in conferences."
Grants for the summer 2017 research period were awarded to Dr. Erik Benson, associate professor of history; Dr. Leticia Espinoza, assistant professor of spanish; Dr. Sergio da Silva, associate professor of psychology; and Pamela George, assistant professor of special education.
During the summer 2017 research period, da Silva concluded the writing of an article titled "Embracing the Mismatch: The Value of Deep-Level Cultural Difference in the Classroom." It is a conceptual paper to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. He also conducted data analysis and started the writing of the manuscript for the study titled "Does Internationality Matter? The Effects of Faculty Internationality on Students' Attitude about Teaching" during the previous summer research period, collected data during the following year and plans on submitting the manuscript for publication. Because of the SoTL grant, da Silva was able to discover how certain aspects of cultural differences may play a significant role in teaching outcomes.
Also, during the summer 2017 research period, George researched the difference between educators, schools and universities who succeed in today's multicultural globalized world and those that fail. She was able to go beyond the existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness and research the capabilities of educators who are effective and equip her students to be successful at teaching anyone from any background. Because of the SoTL grant, George was equipped, through her research, to empower herself and her students to be less judgmental and reactive as they respond in a culturally intelligent way when encountering diverse experiences.
"The SoTL grant helped change the way I teach and equipped me to be an informed educator who, in turn, effectively imparts the knowledge I gleaned to my students and supports them in being the best educators in their field," said George.
By supporting faculty scholarship through this institutional grant process, Cornerstone gives professors additional motivation to pursue scholarly projects. As a result, the accompanying research results directly impact students and create a space for professors to become learners who constantly look for ways to enhance the learning experience for their students.