PANEL & ROUNDTABLE: Reimagining Student Projects (90 mins)


  • Elizabeth Ferguson George Mason University
  • Robert Dietrich George Mason University
  • Dann Sklarew George Mason University
  • Ying-Ying Kuo George Mason University
  • Cara Frankenfeld George Mason University



Panel Topics:

  • Project Planning as Part of Reflective Learning (Elizabeth Ferguson)
    • This activity addresses the teaching challenge of students not having a comprehensive understanding of the type of work required from them throughout the course of the semester. Instructors create course schedules with detailed overviews of major project dates, small homework assignments, and exam dates; however, many undergraduate students that I've worked with don't dig into the calendars for each class and put all of that information in a single location. Therefore, I created a project planning activity at the beginning of the semester to have students, to the best of their ability, fill out a 16-week calendar where they input all of their course assignments, readings, homework, and exam dates for all of their classes in a single spreadsheet. The spreadsheet has a location for the course, assignment type, how much time they estimate each assignment will take, and the due dates. Then throughout the semester students are able to use this spreadsheet to reflect on their progress and adjust the time they thought the assignment was going to take and what they learned about how much time the assignment actually took. Students have found this helpful because they were able to get a better handle on their workload and even know when their final exams were scheduled at the beginning of the semester.
  • Running Project Demos in Collaborate Ultra (Robert Dieterich and Ying-Ying Kuo)
    • In a fully online course, it is easy for students to feel isolated from each other as well as from the teacher. This is especially true for a course that is built primarily around individual work. Without special effort, an online course may provide fewer opportunities for interaction and rapport-building on a student-to-student, as well as a student-to-teacher, level. In my online course, GAME140 Applied Coding for Game Design, I hold periodic video meetings using Collaborate Ultra as a venue for students to demonstrate their completed projects for other students to see. GAME140 is an undergraduate course that surveys basic programming techniques used in game design through hands-on development of several rudimentary game projects. On Collaborate Ultra, I use a strategy where I demonstrate students’ projects on my computer using screen sharing while the student elaborates answers questions about their project. Using this strategy, the teacher is the primary speaker alongside the currently demonstrating student. Other students are welcome to use the chat feature to comment / ask questions. Between the chat on Collaborate Ultra and the creative nature of the projects themselves, students can express themselves and be known by their peers as more than usernames on Blackboard. Stylistically, I adopt a tone reminiscent of a Twitch streaming narrating gameplay online. This format allows me to express my own personality as I play through students’ projects which helps me brand myself as an approachable, friendly teacher.
  • Inter-cohort learning via hand-me-down action research projects (Dann Sklarew)
    • Students conducting action research (AR) projects to affect real-world change are often challenged and constrained by the limits of the course of finite duration. In one semester, they may complete a full AR cycle (reflect, plan, act, observe, reflect) without achieving or perceiving any substantial impact on the object of their desired change making. For example, one cohort's intervention may not even dent the problems of hunger among their peers or native bird casualties on campus. This talk demonstrates how the creation of AR artifacts -- final reports -- from one AR cohort for the next can inform and even guide the AR projects of future AR cohorts, thereby creating a conscious bucket brigade to affect social change across multiple semesters and AR iterations. In this manner, students learn to appreciate their incremental and brief yet critical roles in the "long-now" march for greater socio-ecological justice and sustainable development. They become part of a bigger picture that extends beyond their cohort or even their academic career. Participants will be able to formulate an AR approach that catalyzes cross-cohort scholarship, collaboration and impact. They will also be provided with a rubric to adapt this approach to their own capstone and Mason Impact courses.
  • Incorporating Student Choice into Projects and Navigating Assessment (Cara Frankenfeld)
    • There are ways to add student interest and engagement to individual or group assignments by allowing students to tailor the assignments to their specific interests. This can create interesting challenges around grading and feedback, and there are times when this approach is more or less successful. Will provide examples and discussion about using individualization in assignments.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Ferguson, George Mason University

Elizabeth is a PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric at George Mason University (GMU), where she studies the rhetoric of epidemics, international technical communication, and crisis communication. She is a founding member and current President of the GMU student chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (GMU STC).


Robert Dietrich, George Mason University

Rob Dieterich has a B.S. in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. in Computer Game Design from George Mason University. He is a 10 year veteran of the games industry, the majority of his career being at iNiS Corporation in Tokyo, Japan. He is an expert game programmer with experience in PCs, consoles, and mobile devices and is fluent in Japanese. Games he has worked on include Gitarooman Lives (Sony PSP), Elite Beat Agents (Nintendo DS), Lips (Microsoft Xbox 360), The Black Eyed Peas Experience (Microsoft Xbox 360 + Kinect), Infinity Blade Cross (iOS), and Eden to Green (iOS and Android).


Dann Sklarew, George Mason University

****TEA 2010 Winner****

Promoted from Associate Professor in 2019, Dr. Sklarew's role has evolved to incorporate career and academic advising for scores of Environmental Science majors, contributing to and facilitating student contributions to Mason's first Strategic Plan for Sustainability and second Climate Action Plan. His research now spans issues from micro-plastic pollution in the Potomac River to advancing sustainability pedagogy and practice in higher education. He also serves as faculty advisor for Mason's chapter of the AKX co-educational professional environmental fraternity and frequently as an invited presenter advancing sustainable development at personal to global scales.

Ying-Ying Kuo, George Mason University

In her role, Ying-Ying often highlights the importance of integrating technology to support pedagogy and learning outcomes in design. Her designs promise efficient and effective online teaching and learning as well as course management. Her biggest reward comes from instructors and students who become proficient in teaching and learning in the digital world.

Ying-Ying received her EdD in Technology Education from West Virginia University. She is interested in complex educational topics using data derived from surveys, Blackboard, and instructional documents. She has devoted herself to educational research that will assist educators and ensure quality in online courses and programs.

Cara Frankenfeld, George Mason University

Dr. Frankenfeld is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on understanding the influence on complex exposures on health. She applies advanced quantitative methods to research questions in the areas of nutrition (public health nutrition, microbiome, phytoestrogens), environmental health (chemical exposure), and social determinants of health (residential segregation, spatial factors), with applications across different diseases and health conditions. She teaches courses in epidemiologic methods and biostatistics, and has developed courses across multiple platforms in-class and on-line. Dr. Frankenfeld also applies her epidemiology and biostatistics skills to understand trends in career skills needed for epidemiologists in order to inform her teaching. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Nutrition and is an Associate Editor for the Annals of Epidemiology.





MONDAY 1:00pm-2:30pm