Research Center for Teaching and Learning

The primary mission of the Research Center for Teaching and Learning (RCfTL) is to create a sustainable setting in which diverse teams of faculty and students conduct research that will improve deaf education, expose students to research practice, and prepare a future generation of NTID educational researchers and scholars. A secondary mission is to facilitate the development of collaborative partnerships between NTID faculty and faculty in the other colleges of RIT focused on education of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students.

The primary and secondary missions include four goals:

  1. Identify and support applied research focused on (1) learning styles of the increasingly diverse population of DHH students, and (2) best practices for instruction of these students. Research will address these topics across all ages of students and instructional and learning environments, with a primary focus on middle, secondary, and postsecondary settings. 
  2. Develop teams that draw faculty from across the university and, when possible, other universities nationally and internationally. Teams reflecting diverse levels of experience and methodologies are encouraged.
  3. Engage RIT/NTID students in research teams to expose them to the field of applied research and possible careers as researchers.
  4. Implement a cyclical “seed to harvest” model of growth and sustainability. Project teams supported with initial start-up funds will be expected to secure external funding within three years, which in turn will provide funding to maintain the initial projects and contribute seed funds to support new teams and start-up projects.

Current Projects

Team

  • Matthew Lynn, PI, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics
  • Sandra Connelly, Co-PI, COS Gosnell School of Life Sciences
  • Annemarie Ross, Co-PI, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics
  • Carla Deibel, Senior Personnel, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics
  • Denise Lengyel, Senior Personnel, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics
  • Karen Tobin, Senior Personnel, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics

Abstract

Upon completion of NTID’s Laboratory Science Technology program, increasing numbers of students are choosing to pursue baccalaureate-level degrees in STEM fields elsewhere within RIT. This transition can be difficult for students who are not ready for the various commitments required for success in courses such as those offered in RIT’s College of Science (COS). We plan to investigate the factors that impact the academic performance of students who are undergoing this transition by using quantitative and qualitative methods to assess these students’ attitudes during their transition year for comparison with other students who are deaf, hard-of hearing, and hearing. We also intend to pair students with student mentors who themselves have made this transition in order to understand the situation from both perspectives and to support the students undergoing the transition. Our ultimate goal is to develop an intervention program for subsequent groups of students that undergo this transition.

Team

  • Carol Marchetti, PI COS School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Jane Jackson, Co-PI, NTID Department of Science and Mathematics
  • Penny Arndt, Senior Personnell NTID Science and Engineering Interpreting Team
  • Chris Kurz, Consultant, NTID Masters of Science in Secondary Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Program

Abstract

It is known that deaf and hard of hearing students struggle with some statistical concepts, often resulting from challenges in conversion of the spoken English to signed ASL versions of the concept, words that have multiple interpretations, and lack of visual representation of the concept.  The goal of this project is to document areas of difficulty and create communication strategies to help students better understand these topics. The project will use collaborative methods that involve students, interpreter, tutor, and instructor working together to develop these strategies, and we expect that the outcomes will include a variety of techniques, including fingerspelling, signed English, explanation in ASL, and displays or graphics. It is expected that several videos will be created to serve as a resource for RIT students, interpreters, and instructors of our Data Analysis course.  We will also document the process of developing these strategies with student participants as we work towards development of a model that could enable instructors in other disciplines to replicate this project.

Team

  • Brian Trager, PI, NTID Department of Information & Computing Studies,
  • Gary Behm, Co-PI, NTID Department of Engineering Studies
  • Chris Kurz, Co-PI, NTID Masters of Science for Secondary Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Program

Abstract

Technology has become an integrated instructional tool in the classroom nowadays. A team of three colleagues and two deaf undergraduate students in STEM fields created a technological prototype (now filed as a provisional patent at USPTO) that includes an interactive communication center where information can be shown on both sides of the screen boards between the teacher and the students. Face-to-face communication is maintained as writing, showing illustrations and videos, and pointing to images are performed on the board. The team would like to investigate how this technology might be used to enhance learning for D/HH students and hearing students as well. How might it enhance information proximity to teachers for D/HH students to follow during lecture? This project will help generate preliminary findings on using the newly created prototype designed for teaching content areas (e.g., STEM-related fields, computer science, ASL) to deaf and hearing students effectively. 

Team

  • Wayne Walter, PI, COE Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Patricia Iglesias, Co-PI, NTID Department of Engineering Studies
  • Michael Schrlau, Co-PI, COE Department of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

The case study method of teaching is used routinely in college business programs but is not widely used in teaching engineering courses. Some examples exist in the literature that show that it engages hearing students’ interest and helps them better appreciate the importance of understanding fundamental principles, that otherwise may be somewhat dry and uninteresting. The authors have not found any articles in the literature where the method has been used successfully to stimulate deaf and hard of hearing engineering students. The hypothesis of this project is that the case study method will also engage the interest of deaf and hard of hearing students, improve their performance in these courses, and ultimately improve their retention.

Team

  • Elissa Weeden, PI, GCCIS Department of Information Sciences and Technologies
  • Kathryn Schmitz, CoPI, NTID Academic Affairs

Abstract

A mainstream course has several components that a deaf student must reconcile.  In class, components can include the instructor, projection display, whiteboard, interpreting, and real-time captioning.  Outside the classroom, components can include materials from the instructor, note taker generated notes, and a lecture transcript generated via real-time captioning. Web conferencing software can be harnessed to create inclusive experiences for deaf students.  Such software can place all components of a class session on a single screen viewed by students in real-time and recorded for later, self-paced review.  This solution may increase performance and comprehension of deaf students in mainstream courses. This study will focus on the implementation of web conferencing software in mainstream courses to explore utilization by deaf students inside and outside of class sessions.  Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected and analyzed to determine impact on student performance and perceptions of the solution.

Co-Directors

Susan Foster portraitSusan Foster, Ph. D.

I have worked in the field of deaf education for almost 30 years, both as an educator and as a researcher. I have taught and mentored deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students in our Masters of Science Program in Secondary Education (MSSE) for over 20 years and conducted qualitative research to discover students' and teachers experiences' in separate as well as mainstream educational programs. Publications include journal articles and two books that examine access and inclusion in both schools and at work. I have degrees and teacher certification in English and special education. My research interests include emerging trends in education models for deaf and hard of nearing children and youth, and the physiological, educational and psychological impact of biomedical and technological interventions designed to improve hearing such as cochlear implants and digital hearing aids. Current classroom based projects focus on discovering and implementing practices that increase access to learning for all students in mainstream settings, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Sara Schley portraitSara Schley, Ed. D.

My research background has focused on access to education and language by deaf and hard of hearing students.   Recent work has concentrated on managing diverse classroom linguistic modalities and languages (deaf, hard of hearing, hearing; ASL, English) in the college classroom.  I was the PI on an NSF CAREER project studying longitudinal pathways of K-12 education and impact on college and careers.  I was part of a collaborative team (NTID, Cornell University and the Social Security Administration) studying the impact of an NTID education on lifelong earnings, employment, and use of SSI and SSDI funding.  I have mentored a number of students on how to work with large longitudinal databases, including how to manage multiple data sources, and how to display results visually.  I have taught deaf, hard of hearing and hearing students at NTID/RIT for 11 years, including students in the Masters of Science Program in Secondary Education, the ASL/English Interpreting program, and the Psychology Department in the College of Liberal Arts.  Current research additionally includes evaluating the incidence and placement of deaf and hard of hearing students with additional disabilities.

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