Current Size: 100%

The Howard University Graduate School Addresses the CIRTL Principles

At Howard University, we have long since taken as a responsibility the dedication to a broader perspective on the role of graduate education in preparing students for diverse challenges in their careers.

With respect to those graduate students who envision a career in the Professoriate, we have committed substantial resources in developing experience in teaching and learning strategies in preparation for futures as professors.

As one example, Howard initiated its Preparing Future Faculty program over 15 years ago, and to date over 300 doctoral students have completed the four semester program. Howard has also been engaged in numerous other initiatives in the renewal of graduate education including the Ph.D. completion project, the Carnegie Foundation initiative on the doctorate, AGEP, graduate certificate programs, professional science masters programs, and our own Pre-Faculty Internship.

Thus it is in this spirit that we have embraced the CIRTL concept and its drive to infuse the CIRTL network with an important perspective on the integration of research, teaching and learning.

Undoubtedly our most active contribution to CIRTL has been the development of a graduate course, “Effective Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning” (ETTL) that has now been offered for the past three years.

ETTL is a course offered to Howard University graduate students; the course instructor/facilitator is Dr. Folahan O. Ayorinde, Acting Chair of the Department of Chemistry, who has invested enormous efforts in developing and offering this course. ETTL is offered within the context of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning at Howard (CIRTL@Howard) in collaboration with the CIRTL Network. To date, 23 Howard graduate students have taken the ETTL course.

ETTL’s main objective is to train graduate students on the use of instructional technologies in enhancing teaching and learning. Successful participation will provide students the ability to do the following: Choose appropriate technological tools based on learning needs, design and complete independent project in the effective use of learning technologies such as interactive web applications, streaming video, clickers, and course management tools, use technology to solve learning problems through Teaching-as-Research, use technology to solve learning problems through Learning communities, and collect data that demonstrate the impact of technology on learning outcomes at Howard. In spring 2009, CIRTL-at-Howard and CIRTL Network jointly conducted the ETTL instruction to HU and UW-Madison students simultaneously at both campuses via web casting and forum postings.

In the past year at Howard, 13 Graduate students enrolled in ETTL: 4 from Preparing Future Faculty (PFF); 6 from Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP); and 3 from other programs. All 13 students are doctoral students, representing several HU Graduate school departments including: biology, chemistry, education, communication, social sciences and economics.

A set of assessment questionnaires were developed to evaluate the effectiveness of the ETTL course offering. These questionnaires evaluated how well the course objectives were met and what needs to be improved in course offering to align course objectives, course shortcomings, and challenges students faced. From the assessment, we have learned: 

  • What is clear is the ETTL participants had more positive understanding towards teaching-as-research, learning communities and learning-through-diversity and infusing technology in classroom instruction as they progressed through the program. The survey findings produced some evidence that HU doctoral students, particularly those who participated in ETTL are more inclined to collaborate with HU faculty members to improve instructional delivery and are more comfortable with using instructional technology in their own class instruction.
  • However, in general, HU doctoral students’ perceptions of ETTL objectives improved considerably by the end of the semester. In addition ETTL participants’ interests in conducting research; to improve the learning environment was well observed and documented in their research project design and findings. They exhibited a better understanding of using research to improve student outcomes, the three CIRTL pillars, and their survey responses indicated a better understanding of the role of instructional technologies and the desire and willingness to integrate specific instructional technology tools which they identified to improve instruction and learning outcomes.
  • In conclusion, findings derived and analyzed from ETTL participant responses indicated support for the CIRTL core principles, and that the course likely has an impact on doctoral students’ teaching and learning. As a result of their participation in the course, they are more willing to integrate technology in classroom instruction.

Additional CIRTL activities at Howard included:

  • We offered the ETTL-Network course in spring 2009. Thirteen students were enrolled and they executed final projects in line with the cross-network faculty seminars from the University of Wisconsin
  • The spring ETTL course included contributions from Drs Akinyele, Jones, and Redd from Howard; and Drs. Barnicle, Patton, Blanchard, and Moses from Wisconsin.
  • The spring ETTL course was also used to test the efficacy of the Wisline Online presentation across the CIRTL Network.
  • Two ETTL alumni and one STEMES student were sponsored to the June 2009 STEMES conference in Vanderbilt University to present their projects that were submitted at the end of the spring ETTL course. With the exception of the one STEME student from biology, the alumni projects were the final projects produced from the ETTL course.