Photography by Nancy Wozniak
Research Interests Statement
My passion in life is education. To quote the philosopher and psychologist, John Dewey, “Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” I mirror his philosophy. My work at The Faculty Center at Stony Brook University provides me with a supportive and vibrant environment to continue my research on the use of technology with a purpose in the classroom to help level the learning field for all learners despite their unique learning styles, intelligences, and differences. I believe our goal as educators is to ignite a passion in our students to learn throughout their lifetimes. Technology is one of the tools that can be used to achieve this goal. However, with this fast-paced, ever-changing influx of technologies, the question becomes, “To what degree do purposeful uses of technology in the classroom engage students to learn and enhance the learning process for all?”
As a graduate student studying assistive technology, I discovered online and computer software applications and techniques that enhanced students' reading comprehension. As a result, I discovered a new style for my teaching and incorporated these technologies in my face-to-face and online classrooms. These applications helped broaden the scope of my course activities and I was able to reach and teach more of the students in my classrooms. I found that the use of these technologies balanced with sound pedagogical practices sparked a level of intrinsic motivation in my students to actively participate in the course and take responsibility for their own learning. Student persistence and learning outcomes increased. However, I became aware of the continual need to analyze and evaluate the use of technology in my courses. It became apparent that without continual analysis and evaluation, technology could take over and drive my teaching. It could become pointless and a source of frustration for my students and me. As an instructional designer and technologist, I began to put an emphasis on purpose when working with faculty on the uses of technology in the classroom and stressed the need to evaluate the correlation between the technology and the learning outcomes. I found a critical need to research, measure, and document the various educational technologies and their effects on learning outcomes.
As the ePortfolio Project Manager at Stony Brook University, I am responsible for the evaluation and research on the enhancement of student learning through the use of eportfolios. The eportfolio initiative involves the collaborative efforts between the College of Business, Engineering, Writing and Rhetoric and The Faculty Center to integrate the use of student eportfolios for course assessment, program development, and career showcase purposes.
With the eportfolio initiative, I want to take the study beyond the classroom and look at intrinsic learning motivators and lifelong learning. Using Richard Ryan’s and Edward Deci’s Self-Determination Theory, along with Michael L. Wehmeyer’s Self-Determination Model for Instruction, eportfolios successfully became the intrinsic motivator for learning and professional development in my Student-Faculty Partnerships program at Dutchess Community College. The student eportfolios instinctively incorporated the component elements of Wehmeyer’s model, (1) self-realization, (2) autonomy, (3) psychological empowerment, (4) self-determination, and promoted lifelong learning tendencies with the students. Stony Brook’s ePortfolio Initiative provides an excellent opportunity for us to formally research this technology and its part in promoting self-motivated learning beyond the classroom with our students. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and Learning Model would be interesting to apply to the eportfolio study, as well.
Another of my interests in educational technologies involves all of us as educators. Through my visits to classrooms and conversations with faculty, I find a dramatic shift in the learning preferences and behaviors of our current traditional student population. Never before have have I witnessed such a surge in the unassigned use of portable technologies in our classrooms. As the professor lectures from behind the podium, the students are texting with their mobile devices and updating their status on Facebook. In many classrooms the professors use student response systems (clickers) to regain the focus of the students with questions. The students are adept with moving from their mobile devices, to their laptops, to their clickers and back to their mobile devices without a moment of hesitation. This is the multi-tasking, technology-based, social behavior of the Millennial Generation. The frustration with this learning population is evident among the faculty and more so with those that has limited skills and use with electronic technology. Educational research shows that the use of games and simulations engage this group of learners and provide real-world experiences that stimulate a sense of relatedness, a key to the learning process. There is strong evidence that the use of games and simulations in the classrooms provide valuable experiential learning opportunities for our students. However, there is a strong resistance among some faculty to consider games and fun as a component of quality learning. This is a critical area for research in educational technology, but not one without its educational, social, psychological, and cultural conflicts.
In conclusion, I am very proud to be a part of Stony Brook University. My life goal is to make a significant contribution to the next generation of educators. Working with the scientists at Stony Brook University will help me accomplish this. This is my purpose. This is my passion.