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Professional Development

During my time at Auburn, I was fortunate to work with one of my adult education professors, Dr. Leslie Cordie, on several research projects focusing on professional development. These projects have led to four publications so far. Here’s a summary of each:

  • Cordie & Adelino (2020) - Authentic professional learning: Creating faculty development experiences through an assessment institute.
    • This was a case study about an assessment initiative that had been carried out by University Writing, where I worked as a graduate assistant at the time. The assessment initiative trained faculty to score ePortfolios based on a rubric that had been developed by University Writing staff. We examined the results from a post-session survey of participating faculty to analyze what they had learned and what could have been done for them to learn better. To frame the analysis, we used Jack Mezirow’s (2003) theory of Transformative Learning1. We have also presented a poster based on this study at the 2021 Adult Education in Global Times conference.
  • Cordie, Cagney Graham, & Adelino (2020) - International faculty collaborations: Social learning through communities of practice.
    • This was a study about the experiences of faculty who had gone abroad on Fulbright scholarships. We interviewed faculty to understand the impact of international collaborations and social learning networks on their careers, using Wenger-Trayner’s (2015)2 concept of communities of practice to shape our analysis.
  • Cordie, Rhodes, Adelino, & Wooten (2021) - Professional Development And Lifelong Learning: Analyzing 21st Century Problem-Solving Skills In The U.S. Workforce.
    • In this article, we analyzed the results of the of the 2012 and 2014 editions of the PIAAC, a worldwide survey that assesses adult skills. We were interested in whether there were statistically significant relationships between problem-solving skills and several demographic variables. We found a linear relationship between problem-solving and education level, but the relationships to other variables such as age and income did not follow a linear pattern.
  • Cordie, Adelino, & Sondermeyer (2021). Modified faculty learning communities as reflective scholarship: A progress report.
    • In this project, we interviewed faculty about their experiences in a multi-disciplinary, two-year-long faculty learning community that focused on incorporating high-impact practices into curricula.

In both these articles, my contributions involved performing qualitative analysis, writing sections of the articles (usually the findings, discussion sections, and further research sections), and editing and proofreading the final drafts. These experiences taught me much about qualitative research, and I especially enjoyed the qualitative research process of looking for patterns in the data, formulating hypotheses, and refining those hypotheses through discussion. Thanks to the invaluable guidance of Dr. Cordie, I also learned much about how faculty members grow and change throughout their careers.

Master’s Thesis

The idea for my master’s thesis came from my first college experience as a computer science major. During that time, I saw many of my colleagues learn new languages or frameworks from scratch, almost entirely self-directedly, with no supervision from professors. I remember hearing that his was part and parcel of working in IT: since technology is always changing, those who work with technology need to be highly self-directed to stay relevant. At the time, this seemed like a truth so obvious it didn’t even need saying—it was just common sense.

Thesis 1

Years later, when I was in my master’s in adult education, I became interested in the study of self-directed learning. I was immediately reminded of my time as a computer science major. I became curious to know, empirically, whether that old common-sense view about the self-direction of computer science college students actually held true. This question eventually evolved into my master’s thesis.

Thesis 2

After receiving IRB approval, and with permission from the Department of Computer Science at Auburn, I surveyed computer science undergraduate and graduate students. I used the Personal Responsibility Orientation to Self-Direction in Learning Scale (PRO-SDLS)3, a 25-item instrument designed to measure the degree of self-direction of college students. I found that students’ scores were average, compared to scores reported by other studies. I was also interested to know if there were any differences in PRO-SDLS score means between different demographic groups (gender, age, ethnicity, and academic standing). To answer that question, I employed parametric (t-test, ANOVA) and non-parametric (Kruskal-Wallis) tests, but found no statistically significant results.

Thesis 3

Conducting my master’s thesis research was daunting but immensely rewarding. The challenges I am most proud of overcoming were becoming proficient with SPSS and knowing when to use different statistical tests. I was fortunate to have the assured direction of Dr. James Witte, my advisor, to guide me through that process. But the part of the finished product I am most proud of is the literature review. I took a deep dive into the fascinating scholarship of self-directed learning. The literature review also showed me how unexplored the topic of self-direction is among computer science learners, and I am proud to have made my own, small contribution to that area. You can access the lit rewview using the link above.

You can access my thesis on Auburn’s database of theses and dissertations.

Linguistics Poster

During my master’s, I decided to pursue a certificate in teaching English as a second language that my program offered. To that end, I took a linguistics course called applied linguistics in second language acquisition. In that course, we studied phonology, syntax, and morphology, and their implications for language teaching.

Poster presentation

For one of our assignments, we were asked to perform discourse analysis on a conversation between native and non-native English speakers. The focus of the analysis could be anything related to what we had learned in class. I chose to focus on the differences in the use of filled pauses (such as ‘uh’ and ‘like’) between first and second-language English speakers. We then had to and create a poster with the results. We presented in the Auburn Public Library, in an event open to the whole Auburn community.

Taking that class was one of the most important events in my academic career so far. The experience of designing and presenting a poster was amazing: I got to learn more about linguistics from my professor and from my peers who were also presenting that night. I had been fascinated with languages, but that course introduced me to the academic study of linguistics, which I found absolutely enthralling. That course set me on the path I am today, seeking further graduate studies in linguistics.

My poster is available here: Linguistics Poster

  1. Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discourse. Journal of transformative education, 1(1), 58-63. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1541344603252172 

  2. Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice: A brief overview of the concept and its uses. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/) 

  3. Stockdale, S. L., & Brockett, R. G. (2011). Development of the PRO-SDLS: A measure of self-direction in learning based on the personal responsibility orientation model. Adult Education Quarterly, 61(2), 161-180. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0741713610380447 

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.
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