Past Projects

Reflections on 2020 University Teaching Exploration Grants

by Christopher Richmann 12/1/21

This fall, several Baylor faculty finished research projects with the help of the ATL’s University Teaching Exploration Grant ( As was the intention with this grant from its inception in 2019, these projects have furthered the scholarly conversation on teaching and learning in higher education from a range of disciplines and context.

Programs often make pedagogy and curriculum decisions without the benefit of deep understanding of what happens at other institutions and classrooms. In “A Scientific Approach to Language Learning,” Jill Owen (MLC, French) explored the use and effectiveness of required language learning labs across the higher ed landscape. Using surveys and interviews, Jill captured instructors’ perceptions of the advantages, disadvantages, and keys to effectiveness in language learning labs. Among the many takeaways is the recommendation to create task-oriented (rather than rote drilling) labs with plenty of coordination between the lab instructor and the regular course instructor (see Jill’s discussion here). Jill will be presenting these findings at an upcoming MLC faculty colloquium and submitting an article based on this work.

In another language learning setting, Tracey Jones (MLC, Spanish) partnered with a local primary school to create a service-learning program for third-year Spanish students. In this program, called Bilingual Readiness through Interaction, Language, Literacy, and Alliances (or BRILLA for short; “brilla” is Spanish for “shine”), the Spanish students serve as tutors with native Spanish speaking primary school students. The college students get to practice their Spanish in an authentic environment; the elementary students get focused learning assistance. Through questionnaires, observation responses, and reflections, Tracey found that the program increased students’ confidence in speaking Spanish outside the classroom and prompted students’ awareness and value placed on bilingualism. An article, which Tracey co-wrote with one of the La Vega district partner teachers, will appear in The Journal of Multicultural Affairs.

In the context of “Global Baylor,” our current Quality Enhancement Plan, Jared Alcantara’s (Truett Seminary) project, “Pursuing Practices in Interculturally Skilled Instruction” is especially important. Jared used the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to assess the intercultural competency of 15 Baylor faculty from Truett Seminary and the School of Social Work. Jared, who became a licensed IDI administrator in the course of this work, followed up with these faculty participants in debriefing sessions. The instructors reported greater reflection on their teaching practices related to intercultural issues. Informed by this work, Jared addresses the recognition and reduction of stereotype threat in the preaching classroom in a forthcoming article in Homiletic.

Teaching during a pandemic, we all learned technologies for instruction. Jon Eckert (Educational Leadership) takes this a step further with his project, “Technology-Enhanced Engagement and Feedback.” Using survey and student outcomes data, Jon found improved retention rates and high reports of engagement from students by strategically incorporating lightboard technology, Mentimeter, Gimkit, Pear Deck, Slido, and Mural. Both instructor and students used these tools to aid a range of learning activities, including presentations and feedback.

Another technology-based project was from Kirsten Davin and Barbara Doucet (Occupational Therapy), “Telepresence Robot Use with Clinical Simulation in Occupational Therapy.” Kirsten and Barbara compared students’ experiences in simulated clinical work both with and without the assistance of a telepresence robot. The robot entered the simulation variously as a case manager, physician, and family member of the patient. Through surveys, Kirsten and Barbara found that students rated the simulations with the robot as better designed, and they were more confident and satisfied with their learning aided by the robot. Kirsten will present their work at the upcoming Online Learning Consortium annual conference.

The pandemic has increased our reliance on remote interactions. In their project, Tonya Davis and Jessica Akers (Educational Psychology) evaluated the effectiveness of remote performance feedback to pre-service behavior analysts in telehealth settings. Beyond comparing non-feedback conditions to feed-back conditions, Tonya and Jessica also explored the relative effects of and student preferences for immediate versus delayed (1-2 hours) feedback. They found that both types of feedback improved student performance, although students preferred immediate feedback. An article on this work is currently in the review process.

We congratulate our Baylor colleagues on their fine projects, and we look forward to watching how their work will continue to have “legs” in their departments and in broader scholarly discussions on teaching.  

If you would like to learn more about University Teaching Exploration Grants or apply, visit

-Christopher Richmann