Session A: 9AM – 10:30AM

Education. Session A – Oral Presentations, Conference Room, Sill Center

SESSION A (9AM – 10:30AM)
Location: Conference Room, Sill Center


The Secondary School Writing Center University Partnership
Braden Slater, Brigham Young University
Quinn Blackley, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor Amber Jensen, Brigham Young University

SESSION A 10:00-10:15AM
Sill Center

As writing tutors from BYU’s Research and Writing Center (RWC) and preservice English teachers, we wanted to leverage our unique experiences as tutors and future teachers to build sustainable secondary school writing centers in Utah. We understand the benefit that peer tutoring is to all participating students, and we were disappointed to learn that very few writing centers exist in Utah secondary schools. Mentored by an English education professor and the director of the RWC, we proposed a project guided by our primary research question: How can universities partner with secondary schools to build and sustain peer writing centers? We wanted to know how we could support teacher-directors, develop training for new tutors, and work together as a partnership that benefits participants at both secondary and postsecondary institutions. Following the principles of participatory action research, we formed a partnership with teachers, administrators, and student tutors at Provo High School, which introduced a writing center course for students just this year. In this project, we are both researchers and participants, working together with our partners to identify the context-specific needs of this emerging writing center and to develop resources as necessary. Using action, research, and reflection, we and our school-based partners work together to build a program that can be sustainable and potentially replicable in other secondary settings. So far, our actions have included preparing and delivering tutor trainings and sharing additional resources to begin and sustain a new writing center. We have used student and teacher-director feedback to inform our lesson-planning decisions and to improve the quality of our trainings. Our learning from designing and enacting the original project grew into the Secondary School Writing Center University Partnership (SSWCUP), a model we hope will enable future collaborations. SSWCUP aims to not only foster a relationship between the BYU RWC and secondary schools in Utah Valley, but identifies and includes additional participants invested in peer collaborative learning, which is foundational to writing center work. Our partnership is modeled after the one implemented by Deans and Courtmanche at the University of Connecticut. But rather than being a partnership totally dependent upon the university, as the UCONN model is, we wanted members of our partnership to be in connection with and support of each other to ensure equal participation and sustainability. Our network of partners includes the BYU English Teaching program, the Secondary School Writing Centers Association, and The Journal of Peer Tutoring in Secondary Schools. By creating a network through which these organizations can interact, SSWCUP aims to build a collaborative community that supports, enriches, and expands writing center work. This network is a model that other universities, their local secondary schools, and other relevant writing organizations can adopt.



Teaching & Learning Principles in the Pirkei Avot: A Jewish Educative Perspective
Nicholas Bown, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor Isaac Calvert, Brigham Young University

SESSION A 9:20-9:35AM
Sill Center

This article outlines the principles of teaching and learning found within the Pirkei Avot (פרקי אבות), a primary sacred text within Mishnaic Jewish textual tradition. This project seeks to contribute to a growing scholarly conversation about educative principles from the perspective of various cross-cultural and multifaith traditions around the world. In other words, seeing that there are educative perspectives which have been largely under-researched among contemporary educationalists because of their origins in sacred texts, we seek to bring some of these perspectives (in this case, those within the Pirkei Avot) into the conversation based on the assumption that they may be of philosophical, historical and practical value in contexts outside those of confessional religious education. In order to identify the salient teaching and learning principles found within the Pirkei Avot, we did a qualitative textual analysis of an English translation while consulting with the original Hebrew text. We began with a preliminary analysis of the text and created an initial list of salient passages thematically related to educative principles (e.g., teaching, learning, etc.). We then conducted secondary and tertiary analyses that further honed these salient themes into six core principles. These include orality as a sacred mode of instruction, diligence as essential to a student’s character and practice, reverence as a core dimension of the student-teacher relationship, the need to act in accordance with one’s knowledge, the importance of an ethic of care in pursuit of knowledge, and that learning with others is essentially more efficacious than learning alone. It is our hope that these principles will add further context to and perhaps come to more deeply inform contemporary perspectives not only regarding the history and philosophy of education, but concerning current practices of teaching and learning, as well.




The Impact of Nevada’s “Read By Grade 3” Legislation on Student Performance
Cody Dirks, Southern Utah University

Faculty Mentor Joshua Price, Southern Utah University

SESSION A 9:40-9:55AM
Sill Center

In 2015, Nevada adopted a statewide systems aimed at accelerating reading proficiency in students who are k-3. Students who were in kindergarten are now of the age to take their high school reading proficiencies to graduate high school. Did this legalization actually aid students, or did it have a negative impact on their reading scores.



Investigating Student Engagement Patterns in First-Year Engineering Research Cohorts
Summer Stevens, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor Doug Schmucker, University of Utah

SESSION A 10:00-10:15AM
Sill Center

Across the academic world, countless universities have implemented first-year experience programs in order to improve student GPA and second-year retention. Backed by research-supported learning communities, freshman seminars, and one-on-one faculty mentorships, these programs focus on developing social and academic foundations for each student as they begin their academic careers. The University of Utah’s College of Engineering implemented its own freshman program in the Fall of 2022 by welcoming its first cohort of Engineering Scholars. As the academic year progressed, however, faculty, advisors, and staff noticed a decrease in event attendance and response to emails across all departments. Through individual consultations with current Engineering Scholars, this study seeks to understand how these students’ social and academic experiences in the program are affecting them, what the program is missing and doing well from the student’s perspective, and what they expect to gain from a first-year program. By combining the results from these consultations with feedback from program managers, faculty advisors, and previous research, the researchers will create recommendations for future engineering first-year cohort initiatives that seek to better support research-oriented students in their freshman year.


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program Copyright © 2023 by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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