Center for Educational Technologies Faculty Awarded Texas A&M Research Grant

Drs. Nicola Ritter, Molly Gonzales, and Karen Cornell, in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, have been awarded a $25,000 seed grant from the Texas A&M University Division of Research’s Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities (PESCA).

These funds will allow the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) to explore how learning analytics can be leveraged to predict first-year student success within the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) professional program.

The project focuses on two main research objectives, including the development of multi-level predictive models for veterinary student success using pre-admission criteria as predictor variables and the creation of interactive dashboards to visualize resulting data from three stakeholder perspectives: program stakeholders, instructors, and student.

This collaborative effort addresses the educational challenges unique to veterinary programs.

Results of the project have the potential to impact veterinary education through establishing a data-driven matriculation process for a competency-based education program that promotes pre-enrollment adaptive interventions to increase students’ first-year academic success in a DVM program.

“Texas A&M University’s CVM is the first veterinary college to launch learning analytics. We are excited to have the opportunity to advance evidence-based education to support program, faculty, and student needs through this project,” said Ritter, an instructional assistant professor and CET director. “We’ve been collecting educational data for decades, but the research done in this area was siloed by course challenges or instructor interests. This project will move the DVM program from data-rich and information-poor to data-rich and information-rich.”

This deep dive into learning analytics research is led by an interdisciplinary team of faculty-researchers who have collective expertise in data science, veterinary education, and learning science.

Ritter will provide expertise in data science, through which statistical methods will be applied to generate predictive models of student success. Data scientists can analyze data to discover hidden information, such as students’ learning patterns, and anticipate which competencies will be a challenge for students to acquire.

Cornell, associate dean for the CVM Professional Programs Office, will provide her expertise as a veterinarian and coordinate multiple stakeholders involved in the DVM program’s matriculation process.

Gonzales, CET instructional assistant professor, will serve as co-principal investigator and will share her expertise in learning science, through which theories and empirical findings help researchers understand how students learn knowledge content and acquire competencies. Learning analytics can provide learning design specialists with insight into student real-time engagement, learning progression, achievement, and evidence-informed teaching and learning strategies.

This information informs the adjustment of course structure and curriculum design and the provision adaptive intervention based upon students’ progress. Gonzales will provide insight into how students’ predictive learning performance can inform learning design.

For more than 10 years, the Texas A&M University’s Division of Research PESCA Research Seed Grant program has functioned as an effective pathway for faculty members to obtain needed research seed funding for their collaborative projects.

This year, the Division of Research received 70 proposals from across 15 colleges. Of these proposals, 13 were accepted from principal investigators across 11 different colleges.

The Division of Research will invest more than $250,000 in these accepted PESCA Research Seed Grant projects. To learn more visit: https://today.tamu.edu/2019/01/30/division-of-research-awards-13-grants-to-texas-am-faculty/.

At the forefront of veterinary education, the CET is making significant contributions to advancing education by developing, implementing and evaluating innovative educational tools and resources.

Research conducted at the CET represented annual expenditures of more than $3.25 million in fiscal year 2018.

The CET continues to serve our state, nation, and world through various research, teaching, and entrepreneurial endeavors–all of which are centered on providing engaging online educational resources. To learn more visit: http://www.tamucet.org.