CET Faculty Awarded Texas A&M University Division of Research Grant

illustration depicting statistics and data

College Station, TX – Drs. Nicola Ritter, Molly Gonzales, and Karen Cornell at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, were awarded a $25,000 seed grant from the Division of Research’s Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities (PESCA). These funds will allow the Center for Educational Technologies to explore how learning analytics can be leveraged to predict first-year student success within the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional program.

The project focuses on two main research objectives, including the development of multi-level predictive models for veterinary student success using pre-admission criteria as predictor variables, and the creation of interactive dashboards to visualize resulting data from three stakeholder perspectives: program stakeholders, instructors, and student. This collaborative effort addresses the educational challenges unique to veterinary programs. Results of this project have the potential to impact veterinary education through establishing a data-driven matriculation process for a competency-based education program that promotes pre-enrollment adaptive interventions to increase students’ first-year academic success in a DVM program.

“Texas A&M University’s Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine is the first veterinary college to launch learning analytics. We are excited to have the opportunity to advance evidence-based education to support the program, faculty, and student needs through this project,” says Dr. Nicola Ritter, Instructional Assistant Professor and Director for the Center for Educational Technologies. “We’ve been collecting educational data for decades, but the research done in this area was siloed by course challenges or instructor interests. This project will move the DVM program from data-rich and information-poor to data-rich and information-rich.”

This deep dive into learning analytics research is led by a three-member interdisciplinary team of Texas A&M University faculty-researchers with collective expertise in data science, veterinary education, and learning science. Dr. Nicola Ritter, Instructional Assistant Professor and Director for the Center for Educational Technologies, will provide expertise in data science. In data science, statistical methods will be applied to generate predictive models of student success. Data scientists can analyze data to discover hidden information such as students’ learning patterns and anticipate which competencies will be a challenge for students to acquire. Dr. Karen Cornell, Associate Dean for Professional Programs, will provide her expertise as a veterinarian and coordinate multiple stakeholders involved in the DVM program’s matriculation process. Dr. Molly Gonzales, Instructional Assistant Professor at the Center for Educational Technologies, will serve as CoPI and share her expertise in learning science. In learning science, theories and empirical findings help researchers understand how students learn knowledge content and acquire competencies. Learning analytics can provide learning design specialists with insight into student real-time engagement, learning progression, achievement and evidence-informed teaching and learning strategies. This information informs adjustment of course structure and curriculum design and the provision adaptive intervention based upon students’ progress. Dr. Gonzales will provide insight into how students’ predictive learning performance can inform learning design.

For over 10 years, the Texas A&M University’s Division of Research PESCA Research Seed Grant program has functioned as an effective pathway for faculty members to obtain needed research seed funding for their collaborative projects. This year, the Division of Research received 70 proposals from across 15 colleges. Of these proposals, 13 were accepted from PI’s across 11 different colleges. The Division of Research will invest over $250,000 in these accepted PESCA Research Seed Grant projects. To learn more visit: https://today.tamu.edu/2019/01/30/division-of-research-awards-13-grants-to-texas-am-faculty/

About Research at the Center for Educational Technologies: At the forefront of veterinary education, the Center is making significant contributions to advancing education by developing, implementing and evaluating innovative educational tools and resources. Research conducted at the CET represented annual expenditures of more than $3.25 million in fiscal year 2018. The CET continues to serve our state, nation, and world through various research, teaching, and entrepreneurial endeavors – all of which are centered on providing engaging online educational resources.