TALLADEGA COLLEGE VIRTUAL LIBERAL ARTS INNOVATION CENTER
Section II
 

1.Modeling and Testing of Promising Practices
The purpose of the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Center is to test a promising practice of an interactive professional learning process. Professors study student response to active learning strategies during technology-enhanced lessons with critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills.

The innovation is a process, Lesson Study( LS),1 2 which is like Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s)3. The Lesson Study utilizes a test of the professional learning process and measures the impact of active learning and teaching of technology-enhanced lessons embedded with critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills. Lesson Study supports any subject4, in this case, ethics, and most notably supports research to improve instruction in STEM classrooms.5

Technology-enhanced learning that test faculty and student interactions increase student retention, learning6, and marketability for careers. Research demonstrates that even those who are technologically adept need the liberal arts skills of critical thinking, communication, and problem‐solving acquired through a liberal arts education. The combination makes graduates more marketable with strong writing and communication ability. Job markets demand “resilient thinkers who have a handle on digital literacies— basic technical skills like data analysis and digital fluency.”7

Lesson Study uses faculty and students as a vibrant resource much like the descriptions of Brian Bridges (2016)8 who state that interactions develop deep relationships. The interactions are visible in videos captured by SWIVL. Relationships forged result in student achievement and persistence rate9.

 

2. Researching and Testing of Promising Practices
Lesson Study (LS)10, a process for research of teaching, is a promising practice. Lesson Study generates data for reflection and testing the impact of active learning strategies with Decibel Analysis for Research in Teaching (DART)11. The Lesson Study professor and other participants in the study critique the learning impact of active learning lessons embedded with Liberal Arts skills and the content of ethics. The audio of student learning is collected and then measured with DART, a machine-learning-based algorithm to rapidly analyze audio-recorded classes. The analysis is done during the use of teaching strategies beyond the traditional lectures and analyzes classroom noise. DART classifies the sounds as a single voice, multiple voices, or no voice.12

SWIVL is a robotic mount for a camera that comes with a remote-control Marker that collects classroom audio and video. It is designed to track and, with the video capture abilities of the other device, record videos of a moving person, in this case, the professor. Research by participant observers13 of the Lesson Studies who use the Teaching and Observing Resource14 record the impact of professors’ active learning lessons on students and collect field notes for the after-discussion of the impact of active learning.

Another technique used during the LS by selected and trained participant observers15 is the Active Learning Inventory Tool16, which is a valid and reliable active-learning inventory tool for use in classrooms to compare faculty perceptions of active-learning. The methods of data gathering on the use of active learning strategies create conditions for triangulation of data to discern the impact of professors’ use of active learning strategies with students and the impact of active learning strategies and Liberal Arts skills. SWIVL videotapes of the Lesson Study provide a data source to share across classrooms, colleges, and on the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Center website along with written reports of the lesson results, all published on a website offered with a free membership.

 

3.Training and Development
Faculty and student interactions develop into deep relationships between HBCU professors and students17during active learning in the classroom and show results in HBCU student achievement and persistence18. The quality of teacher-student relationships during interactions are visible during the professors’ use of active learning and are examined during Lesson Study, a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) model.19 Lesson Study requires training and development delivered by the  Innovation Team, a group of Talladega College professors who are the Innovation Center leaders.

Training and development of this cycle of professional learning requires an Innovation Team, a group of Talladega College professors, to model a cycle of learning over time in classrooms focused on joint problem-solving. The Innovation Team asks the following questions of itself and provides training and development for other HBCU’s to do the same with resources provided by the virtual Talladega College Education Department Innovation Center:

Identify a Professional Learning Goal

What college core value is this connects to this professional learning?
Articulate Moral Purpose

How will this support better student learning?
Identify Success Indicators

How will we know this professional learning has been effective?
This initial step of what and why sets the stage for the cycle of professional learning. A description of the skill or teaching strategy and the theory are the goals. The moral purpose behind this work is discussed by the Innovation Team.

The second step, what it feels like, offers the Innovation Team an opportunity to become metacognitive about learning. The third step, what it looks like, is to observe, rehearse, apply, and refine the teaching process in a Lesson Study (LS). This step requires the most time to learn how to implement and internalize as a skill. This is a time where the Innovation Team takes risks in a non-evaluative environment.

In the final step, what now or what next, of the professional learning cycle, the group meets in order to come to an agreement about the value of the element of teaching that has been attempted. Those facilitating in the process aim to have participants summarize impressions of their effectiveness at implementing this element of the teaching, reflect on the learning process, and decide on the next step.

Researching active learning20 in LS with the structure of the Continuous Professional Learning (CPL)21 model ensures that the core values are met in a research-based process that studies relationships built through active learning strategies based on the values and content of the liberal arts. Evaluation of training and development is an audit using Learning Forward’s Standards for professional learning22 and Guskey’s23 five levels for measuring the effectiveness of professional development.

 

Section III
What is the problem or critical issue which your concept seeks to resolve?
The problem or critical issue that Lesson Study seeks to resolve is the ability of college faculty to engage in the study of their own classroom instruction as it relates to active learning strategies. Furthermore, another issue is the lack of a process such as LS to build a reflective space with a non-judgmental facilitator where professors work together to improve the retention and engagement of students. Professors spend years in the study of their content with less time to define the dissemination process of their knowledge often defined as pedagogy and many classrooms including STEM predominately use lecture, critical information since about 25% of black Americans earning STEM degrees do so at HBCU’s.24

Classroom lecture is still used prominently even though the following is reported: 

Analysis supports theory claiming that calls to increase the number of students receiving STEM degrees could be answered, at least in part, by abandoning traditional lecturing in favor of active learning. 25

In the largest-ever observational study of undergraduate STEM education classes, researchers monitored nearly 550 faculty as they taught more than 700 courses at 25 institutions across the United States and Canada. In 2,000 college classes in science, technology, engineering and math has imparted a lesson that urges colleges and universities to focus on training faculty members in active teaching methods, not just reading articles about their effectiveness.26 Lesson Study (LS), a process for the research of any content, supports the resolution of this issue as evidenced on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Lesson Study Project Website which showcases STEM classrooms: https://lessonstudyproject.wordpress.com/author/lessonstudyproject/.

 

How does your proposed concept relate to other relevant national work being done in the area you intend to focus?
Relevant national work to the concept presented in this document is guided by universities whose professors have researched the Lesson Study process internationally, many in Japan and Singapore. The following leaders with relevant Lesson Study work are:

Dr. Akihiko Takahashi professor of math education at DePaul University
Dr. Makoto Yoshida director of the Center for Lesson Study (CLS) at William Paterson University
Dr. Tad Watanabe Mathematics Professor at Kennesaw State University
Dr. Catherine Lewis research scientist at Mills College https://lessonresearch.net/
Dr. Bill Cerbin University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Dr. Bryan Kopp University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Organizations supporting Lesson Study:

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) with focus in Rochester, New York. Florida, and Pennsylvania
Center for the Collaborative Classroom https://www.collaborativeclassroom.org/professional-learning/professional- learning-system-for-collaborative-literacy/
The Chicago Lesson Study Group http://www.lessonstudygroup.net/index.php
Lesson Study Alliance http://www.lsalliance.org
The Lesson Study Project University of Wisconsin https://www.uwlax.edu/sotl/lsp/overview.htm
World Association of Lesson Study https://www.walsnet.org
Catherine Lewis: Mills College-U.S. Department of Education research projects The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1708 https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=520 https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1179
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse https://www.uwlax.edu/sotl/lsp/
The organizations, all predominately white institutions (PWI), are examples of how learning communities are using technology to review and distribute lesson studies among their colleagues similar to Talladega College Education Department Innovation Center plan. The examples have full-functioning websites with interactive tools, videos, research and guides to establish and facilitate a Lesson Study program.

Are there other programs and activities both on and outside of your campus that will complement the concept you are proposing?
Other programs and activities that will complement the concept of Lesson Study (LS)are the Lesson Studies conducted at Summits that the Talladega College Department of Education sponsors four times a year. A Summit is a gathering of local and statewide educators, leaders, and interested parties to learn about a topic of significance to teaching, learning, and leading. Talladega College sponsors the Summits on campus, in schools, and in any venue large enough to house the plan for the Summit. The Summits showcase a lesson taught using the Summit focus with LS as the observation process.

The Education Department sponsors Rising Up and Writing Retreats using authors such as Faye Gibbons as guest readers and writers. During the retreats, we utilize LS practices and elements of the professional learning cycle described here. Teach Off’s led by the Education Department provide LS as process for participants.

Teaching Marathons utilize the LS practices and elements of the professional learning cycle. Students from local schools attend and are taught a lesson by Education faculty and students. The Great Talladega College Tornado Band members who aspire to become band directors in public schools invite the community to a LS on music instruction.

 

Section IV Project Lead
1. Describe the relevant experience and capabilities of the project lead.
Rebecca McKay,Ph.D., Talladega College Dean of Social Sciences and Education, leads the Innovation Team. She is trained in Lesson Study (LS), has acted as a Japanese Lesson Study Delegate to Tokyo, Japan and in 2007 studied with international experts, Akihiko Takahashi, Tad Watanabe, and Makoto Yoshida, all Japanese American professors. She directs the Talladega College Education Department in LS to assist preservice teachers with Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a candidate support and assessment program for Alabama teacher certification. She led the Education Department in the writing of an article featuring details of the practice, “Small Things Make a Big Difference: The Teacher, The Lesson, The Students, The Environment” and published in the MidSouth Literacy Journal (2016). Dr. McKay presented “Lesson Study: An Authentic Field Experience” at the National Field Experience Conference in 2017. She is knowledgeable and credible in the Lesson Study (LS) process. Beginning in 2007, she has attended and worked with Lesson Study experts in the United States and following countries: Singapore, Japan, and Exeter, U. K.

Since Dr. McKay completed the ACUE27 Association of College and University Educators course in 2019, she will share components with the Innovation Team and team members will complete the training. Dr. McKay is an individual with many talents, intelligence, and a true passion for teaching. Since her employment in the Talladega College Education Department in 2015, she has led numerous Lesson Studies (LS) on the college campus and in local education systems.

 

Section V Collaboration
Describe how your institution, through a Liberal Arts Innovation Center, proposes supporting and being a resource to the broader HBCU community? (243 words)
Promoting active learning based on culture is an action that increases engagement and retention. The student to student connections that are formed on college campuses as well as those formed with professors are critical. This action creates an inclusive climate that encourages student success, risk-taking, and retention. The Innovation Center promotes all of the above descriptors while modeling active learning strategies through the process of Lesson Study (LS).
The HBCU community will be offered face to face and video exemplars as an opportunity to view lessons using active learning strategies during the Lesson Study. The primary dissemination of the LS Innovation is via live streaming sessions that are also captured, edited, and made available via compact disc and on a protected website requiring a free membership. The LS Innovation Team further documents the innovation with an electronic magazine designed for the dissemination of the LS process, reflection, and results of the lesson study events.

Other resources include opportunities to participate in on and off campus Lesson Studies led by the Talladega College Innovation Team. Implementation documents used in the LS process are available along with virtual meetings to answer questions and guide the process for those interested in implementation. The innovation center provides access and connections to experts in the field such as the Center for the Collaborative Classroom professional learning experts and international experts such as Dr. Tad Watanabe from Kennesaw State University who is a U.S. leader and expert in Lesson Study.

 

1. How do you intend to assess the impact of your center both at your institution and across the HBCU sector?
Early first phase assessment in the first year is collection of quantitative data on numbers of participants and amount of LS materials requested and disseminated. Qualitative data collected through interviews provide a close evaluation of the process with an eye toward suggestions to improving the entire LS innovation and the process. Assessing the impact of the Talladega College Innovation Center includes the collection of interview data from all participants before, during, and after the Lesson Study events. All LS Innovations delivered via livestreaming sessions will be assessed by the numbers of participants viewing the events, their written reflections afterward, and written reflections of their next steps toward implementation of their own LS events. The number of people reached, and attendance logs will be kept at face-to-face as well as virtual meetings. The number of participants using the implementation documents for the LS process are data collected as well as the number of people requesting the materials and visiting the LS website.

A second phase assessment measures the actual use of the LS materials/tools, videos, and livestreaming events through collection of observational data using LS review checklist jointly designed with the participating colleges to answer their questions regarding their process. This second phase assessment includes the Talladega College Innovation team observing and collecting data during livestreamed video of LS sessions at other participating colleges. The data will be collected in a written review document and provided to the participating college immediately after the livestreamed LS thus providing another data source. Interview data will also be collected.

 

2. Please describe your existing relationship with institutions you are expecting to collaborate within developing a Liberal Arts Innovation Center.
Dr. Rebecca McKay is the elected 2018-2019 Alabama Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (ALACTE) HBCU representative and became a member of the Executive committee, thus beginning a formal statewide role in leadership and service to Alabama’s HBCU’s. This is a formal opportunity to serve and connect with others regarding the Innovation of LS. Through this role, Dr. McKay will share the Innovation Center opportunity to all Alabama HBCU’s.

The plan for LS connections among HBCU’s started in 2018 when Talladega College Education presented at the Southeastern edTPA Conference in a session entitled: Lesson Study: An Authentic Field Experience. Connections made at the conference included HBCU’s and other colleges within driving distance of Talladega College. For other HBCU partnerships beyond driving distance, livestreaming and videotape of the LS planning, enacting the plan and delivery of the lesson, and the reflection is available and disseminated.

Dr. Alecia Curry, Dean of Education at Stillman College acted as a Talladega College Consultant and was invited to observe at one of our Lesson Studies (LS) in 2017. She reviewed the process and provided a feedback report. Dr. Curry expressed an interest in the process and has invited us to her campus to lead a LS. We also have a professional relationship with the education professors at Miles College and plan to work with them through the Innovation Team. There are connections among Alabama HBCU’s through our work with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALADE) and Alabama Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (ALACTE) meetings.

 

3. What are some of the foreseeable challenges in partnering across multiple institutions?
Time is a daily challenge faced by professors in small HBCU’s and this innovation takes time. Many professors are balancing writing syllabi, advising students, and grading assignments. Time for self-development is often not an option in smaller colleges.

Promoting the Innovation Center as virtual will make the opportunity favorably accepted as a useful way to connect. The ideal plan for the HBCU partnerships will be for those participating to appoint a Lead Professor to be the liaison between the Talladega College Innovation Team and the HBCU. The liaison will be invited to Talladega College for training and to the virtual sessions. Another possible challenge might be the technology needed for watching the livestream videos of the Lesson Study (LS). Prior to livestreaming, Talladega College will secure the physical space for the in-house lesson study to be videotaped and the necessary technology.

Increasing Bandwidth to the building to secure appropriate live streaming capability is critical.

Another challenge is the capacity and numbers of hands to implement this simple but ambitious process. The personnel and expertise to collect and disseminate the data before, during, and after the early and late phase assessment process is a critical need and presents a challenge.

The biggest challenge is the courage to take risks regarding daily instruction, professional learning, and development. High achieving professors reach many milestones in their career. Being open to show your classroom interactions to a supportive but unfamiliar audience is often a barrier to the Lesson Study. Those colleagues who possess a growth mindset will likely be the first to embrace LS.

 

Proposed Outcomes & Outputs
1st Outcome

The outcomes this investment achieve are the results of a promising practice, an interactive professional learning process referred to as Lesson Study where teaching and learning are measured by DART, SWIVL Video and Audio records, participant observer notes, and student surveys to determine the activity level of students during lessons. The key outputs to determine whether the investment is on track are an increase in students’ active learning due to professors’ change in teaching practice as they move from lecture driven to student centered active learning.

Success looks like teams of HBCU professors’ planning and delivering active learning lessons by using the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team’s professional learning tools for Lesson Study and the materials provided via the Talladega College Innovation Center Website. Observing live streamed Lesson Studies that provide models of active learning with students who demonstrate high level liberal arts skills of critical thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills in studies of the ethics inspire a change. The formal completion date of the innovation grant is September 2022; however, the work is already embedded in the Talladega College teaching and learning culture, so the longevity of the innovation is insured.

The “Output” or “Funded Development” includes development of an interactive website to house all content and intellectual property developed by the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team.

Further output of products includes nine (9) live, recorded, and archived Zoom Webinars used as Lesson Study development tools on research, lesson planning, observation, discussion of Lesson Study, and collection of data. Zoom Webinars on ACUE active Learning Strategies and team planning of Lesson Study are offered live and in archives. The content of other archives demonstrates the cycle of Lesson Study data analysis, using results in planning next steps, and preparing for a next cycle of Lesson Study. The Webinars are housed on the Talladega College Education Department Innovation website and are completed and available to all who apply for a free membership to the website.

Other outputs of products for professional learning are four (advertised to the HBCU community) on campus and live-streamed Lesson Studies conducted by the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team that are live-streamed and videotaped on the following topics and dates that produce the listed materials:

Phase 1: Lesson Study 1 planning begins with ACUE training and uses technique 3A and 3B as a pedagogy for the lesson study plans. The Lesson Study content is the ethics of reading instruction using critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills to discuss retention of elementary school students who are not reading on grade level by third grade. Timeline: In process within the fifth or sixth month of the funding during the months of December 2020 and January 2021 with completion January 2021.
Phase II: Lesson Study 2 planning begins with ACUE training and uses technique 3D and 3E as pedagogy for the Lesson Study plans. The Lesson Study content is the ethics of standardized testing in teacher education using case studies to exercise critical‐ thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills to discuss tracking and ability grouping students. Timeline: Completed within the ninth or tenth month of the funding during the months of April and May 2021 with June/July 2021.
Phase III: Lesson Study 3 planning begins with ACUE training and uses several techniques of One Minute Paper Free Write, Think Pair Share, Paired Interviews, Consensus Building. The Lesson Study plans are drawn from the ACUE Training and McGill Teaching and Learning series of videos that highlight Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) and use of strategies to increase student engagement with course materials. The Lesson Study content is the ethics of confidentiality in special education regarding the legality of student disclosure of private information. The liberal arts skills used are critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving as preparation to discuss teacher behaviors regarding students with exceptionalities. Timeline: In process within the fifteenth and sixteenth month of the funding during the months of October and November of 2021 with completion December 2021/January 2022.
Phase IV: Lesson Study 4 begins with ACUE Training and uses several techniques of One Minute Paper Free Write, Think Pair Share, Paired Interviews, Consensus Building. The Lesson Study plans are drawn from the ACUE Training and McGill Teaching and Learning series of videos that highlight Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) and use of strategies to increase student engagement with course materials. The Lesson Study content is from the NEA Code of Ethics regarding teachers’ commitment to students. The liberal arts skills used are critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving as preparation to discuss teacher behaviors regarding commitment to students. Timeline: In process within the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth month of the funding during the months of August and September of 2022 with completion August/September 2022.
The significant cost drivers of the budget over the twenty-four months are services to develop and disseminate professional learning and tools to the HBCU network. Another driver is the use of experts and participant observers to provide feedback and guidance. The quantitative and qualitative perspective on the support that Talladega College needs go beyond the $300,000 dollars to include support of technology advisers and data analysis experts. The Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team allocate funds to do this work as described here and detailed in the Talladega College Virtual Liberal Arts Innovation Center spreadsheet.

Services purchased are a Team Coordinator (part-time person) to assist with the coordination, data collection, and dissemination of the data. Purchased services of a webmaster are necessary to design an interactive website with the ability to design manuals and documents for professional learning and active learning strategies. The contracting of a videographer/photographer to capture the four phases of Lesson Studies, two mini-conferences, and to develop edited videos to be kept on the website as tools and resources for the HBCU network is a key component. Finally, the purchased services of a mass media specialist are required to develop an electronic magazine designed for the dissemination of the Lesson Study process, reflection, and results of the Lesson Study events. The output of the Mass media specialist will be publishing seven magazines related to Lesson Study events and the two mini- conferences. Another service purchased is expertise of Dr. Alecia Curry, Dean of Education at Stillman College to serve as trained participant observer for Lesson Studies and webinars and to complete 9 written evaluations/reports as an outside observer for the events.

Media materials produced after each Lesson Study are four electronic magazines designed for the dissemination of the Lesson Study process, reflection, and results of the Lesson Study events are published on the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team website in the form of an electronic magazine.

Other output of products includes two onsite Lesson Study mini conferences (livestreamed and videoed), one in May 2021 open to the HBCU network with mathematics as the content and the other in June 2022 on Ethics in Education. Technologies purchased are three SWIVL robots to collect video and audio of teaching and learning for data analysis and creation of training materials.

Personnel and Benefits: The project lead is Rebecca McKay, full-time faculty member to be supported by a budgeted Team Coordinator (part-time person) to assist with the coordination, data collection, and dissemination of the data including responsibilities as they relate to the grant and under the direction of the project lead. Assumptions for this Team Coordinator to-be-hired, include the estimated salary of $15,000 per year for two years and the induction by, support of and supervision by the project lead, Rebecca McKay who receives no remuneration for the project lead role.

Travel: The rationale for the travel budgeted for the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team to travel to the World Association of Lesson Study on December 3-5, 2020 Elevating Student Equity Through Effective, Research-based Lesson Study is to provide international exposure to the Lesson Study and research conducted in the Talladega College Innovation Center. The assumption used to determine the appropriateness of one trip for four members of the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team is the international connections made at the conference and the reasonable cost for the conference that is being held in the United States (San Francisco) for the first time. Travel costs were estimated based on previous WALS Conferences attended by the Project Lead, Rebecca McKay and the WALS conference website.

Consultants: The work to be performed by consultants in support of the Talladega College Virtual Liberal Arts Innovation Center are Dr. Alecia Curry ($10,000 for 9 onsite participant observations and 9 written reports) and Dr. Tad Watanabe to act as Knowledgeable Other ($5,000 for 2 visits to refine the expertise of the Talladega College Education Department Innovation Team and advise the conceptual development of the innovation).

Capital Equipment: There are no expenditures of items required for the Project with a unit cost of greater than $5,000 (USD) and a useful life of more than one year.

Other Direct Costs: The cost of two Mini Conferences for the Cohort of Alabama HBCU’s and others who are interested is nominal compared to the provision of an opportunity to see in real-time a living model of an innovation center designed to change professor’s teaching practices from a lecture where student activity is limited to active student learning. The amount of money to develop and enact a two-day mini-conference with space, food, keynote speakers, documents, technology, and oversight is achievable with the allotted amounts of money.

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