$500,000 earned to study deaf/hearing interactions
National Science Foundation funds will develop tools and strategies for complex problem solving
Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology are using an National Science Foundation grant valued at nearly $500,000 to study the challenges of how STEM students from diverse backgrounds—specifically hearing, deaf and hard-of-hearing students—effectively communicate with each other and understand common subject material.
The grant, which will be distributed over three years, will help researchers investigate strategies for mixed teams of students to more effectively communicate and solve complex problems. RIT is a unique environment with hearing students and 1,400 deaf and hard-of-hearing students at its National Technical Institute for the Deaf learning together on one campus.
RIT/NTID professor Michael Stinson said the university is the perfect place to put their research into action as mixed teams of deaf, hearing and hard-of-hearing students often struggle to communicate with each other in critical STEM learning activities.
“Access services, such as sign-language interpreting, real-time captioning and note takers for deaf students have been designed for traditional lecture courses,” explained Stinson, co-inventor of the C-Print real-time captioning service that is used at RIT and leader of C-Print research. “But, this model is often inadequate in team learning situations. At this time, little is known about what happens in these mixed team situations and what communication approaches will work in them. This research will explore ways to facilitate communication in these team situations that are being used more and more.”
The study includes teams of four students—two deaf/hard of hearing and two hearing students—who will each receive unique information that must be shared and understood in order to solve a problem. The initial problem involves using statistics to describe and make predictions about tornado occurrence, intensity and destruction. According to Stinson, statistics are used in many STEM fields and he believes that studying tornadoes will encourage student engagement. Additional topics will also be explored. His hope is that the development of effective communication strategies and knowledge-sharing tools will help future students engage in problem solving in mixed groups.
Stinson is working alongside co-principle investigators Lisa Elliot, senior research scientist in NTID’s Center on Access Technology, Carol Marchetti, professor of statistics, RIT College of Science, and Joan Rentsch, professor of communication studies and director of the Organizational Research Laboratory, University of Tennessee.
“Once students graduate, they will also face similar situations in the workplace,” added Stinson. “That’s why it’s even more important to understand and work through these communication issues earlier, rather than later.”
March 17, 2019
RIT/NTID to expand education and training through DeafTEC Resource Center
The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.65 million to DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, which will be used to transition the program into a resource center. The goal of the DeafTEC Resource Center is to increase the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in highly skilled technician jobs in which there continues to be underrepresentation and underutilization of such individuals in the workplace.
March 17, 2019
RIT heads to Game Developers Conference 2019
More than 100 RIT students, faculty, alumni and staff are visiting San Francisco this week to attend Game Developers Conference 2019, the world’s largest professional gaming industry event of the year. The RIT MAGIC Spell Studios booth is displaying four games created at RIT.
March 15, 2019
Data science community to gather at RIT for regional DataFest hackathon March 29-31
Teams of three to five students will have 48 hours to mine a complex data set pertaining to a real-world problem. Teams will test their statistical analytic and data science skills to find the best solution.
March 13, 2019
RIT Associate Professor Suzanne O’Handley nationally recognized for mentorship
RIT Associate Professor Suzanne O’Handley has been selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation as the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. O’Handley, a faculty member in RIT’s School of Chemistry and Materials Science, was chosen from 10 finalists for her considerable achievements as a dynamic scholar, teacher and mentor.