Previous MILRF Cohorts

2023-2024 Cohort

Dr. Lily Davidov is the Faculty Chair for  Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Risk Management & Insurance, and Small Business at Rio Salado College. She is credited with over 20 years of expertise in entrepreneurship, college instruction, executive administration, accounting and finance, strategic planning, curriculum development, and facilitation.  Dr. Davidov comes from a long heritage of international entrepreneurs and is fluent in Russian. 

She is currently studying the effectiveness of incorporating 21st Century Skills micro-credential (badges) into courses as a co-curricular (optional/non-graded) and (mandated/graded) learning activity. Incorporating badge earning into courses may translate into higher retention, completion, and job-ready graduates. In addition to the established curriculum in business studies, online students will have the opportunity to demonstrate skills and competencies in real time. Furthermore, students may better understand the most in-demand skills that are transferable across multiple industries, which may drive student engagement and create relevance to career opportunities.

Jason Farrington is a residential faculty member in the mathematics department at Paradise Valley Community College. He earned a B.A. in political science from Southern Utah University in 1999 and a J.D. in 2002 from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. After practicing law for 12 years as a corporate bankruptcy attorney, he became a math teacher at Higley High School in Gilbert, Arizona in 2014 and joined the faculty at PVCC in 2021. He earned his M.Ed in secondary education from Arizona State University in 2016 and his M.S. in mathematics from Grand Canyon University in 2019. He is now in his fourth year of a Ph.D. program in mathematics education at ASU, where his research broadly involves making mathematics accessible to all students and is currently focused on retrieval practice in undergraduate mathematics.

Jason’s research project is focused on further developing a learning tool that he calls a “learning inventory.” Learning inventories ask students to recall from memory and reflect upon at least two things that they learned in a previous lesson. Prior research suggests that low-stakes retrieval practice activities like learning inventories can improve the retention of mathematical knowledge as well as the transfer of mathematical reasoning from one context to another. The goal of this research fellowship is to explore ways to improve student engagement with learning inventories in both in-person and online modalities.

Dr. Amanda Hundley is a nursing faculty member at Estrella Mountain Community College. She has been a nurse for 23 years. She started teaching nursing students in 2010. Her practice experience is in cardiovascular intensive care and emergency trauma. Dr. Hundley has extensive experience in simulation and clinical learning. 

She is conducting a mixed-methods research study to evaluate how experiential learning impacts clinical judgment in nursing students. The information from the study can be used to inform nurse educators how experiential learning in the classroom impacts students' clinical judgment.

Dr. Krysten Pampel has been a residential faculty member in the mathematics department at Glendale Community College (GCC) since 2017. She is an alumnus of GCC, earned her master's degree in adult education and training from the University of Phoenix, and earned her Ph.D. in undergraduate mathematics education at Arizona State University. She began her career in education in 2009 as a dual enrollment high school math teacher in the Tolleson Union High School District and began teaching college courses in Fall 2012 for Paradise Valley Community College. 

She is currently studying the effectiveness of oral examinations on entry-level STEM students from MAT151: College Algebra classes. She hopes to show how having students prepare and take an oral examination for each chapter will assist them in creating a deeper understanding of the concepts which will, in turn, show that the students score higher overall on exams. The project seeks to answer the following question: What effect do oral examinations have on students’ retention of mathematical concepts?

Vanessa Sandoval is a residential faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where she has taught COM100 Introduction to Communication, COM110 Interpersonal Communication, COM225 Public Speaking, COM230 Small Group Communication, COM263 Intercultural Communication, and COM282AC Volunteerism for Speech Communication: A Service-Learning Experience. Most of her teaching has been in the classroom (in-person), although she has also taught hybrid, online, and live online. For over twenty years, Vanessa has enjoyed teaching a variety of classes in different modalities, with ten years of team teaching in learning communities and over twenty years of incorporating service-learning into her classes. 

Accessibility has been an overall focus of her work at CGCC, which she channeled into promoting and scheduling hybrid and online offerings over 15 years ago and then utilizing a free public speaking textbook in the fall of 2015. More recently, she worked with CGCC OER representatives and found an OER textbook for COM100 Introduction to Communication. COM225 and COM100 are CGCC’s largest offerings in Communication, so the OER impact has large financial savings as well as making the materials accessible from day one.  In addition, an OER text was adopted for COM110 Interpersonal Communication just last year. Her research goal is to understand how inclusivity impacts CGCC students’ perceptions and preferences when understanding and utilizing textbook chapters and materials. Specifically, she is interested in OER Communication materials and how the visual representation in those materials makes a difference to students.

Her educational background consists of a Bachelor of Arts with a Communication Major and a Mexican American Studies Minor from the University of Arizona; a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University; and a Master of Arts in Applied Communication from Northern Arizona University.

2022-2023 Cohort

Danielle Cowan is a library faculty member at Scottsdale Community College with primary responsibility for collection development. She has over 15 years of experience in librarianship, with an emphasis on information literacy instruction in the health and life sciences. She teaches information studies courses and partners with instruction faculty to embed contextualized information literacy into their curriculum. Recently Danielle founded the Maricopa Native Seed Library which provides free seeds of Sonoran desert plants to the community as well as education on how to establish native plant gardens that support pollinators.

She is currently working on a research study to understand how today’s community college students are using print library collections. Through surveys and analysis of library usage data, she is seeking to better understand the context in which students turn to library print collections. Is usage primarily driven by assignments, or are students using the collection to take deeper dives into their subject area or for personal interest? Do students prefer print or electronic books and what factors might influence such preferences? What percentage of students are considered non-library users, why are they not using the library and how can we encourage the use of library resources? What patterns can be found by analyzing library usage data and how can these patterns better inform our selections of print material?

Roxanna S. Dewey has served as Residential English Faculty at Glendale Community College since 2012. She received a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in Spanish from Miami University of Ohio in 1999. Both her M.Ed. with an emphasis in English (2001) and a portion of her doctoral coursework in Higher Educational Leadership were completed at Northern Arizona University. Prior to GCC, she taught high school English, and in her 23rd year as an educator of diverse student populations, she teaches college level composition and research, and literature courses in varying modalities and lengths. Currently, she serves on the Curriculum Committee, as the English Faculty Representative for Guided Pathways Applied Technology Field of Interest, as a volunteer in the Writing Center, and as a Scholarship Reviewer for the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation. As a member of TYCA and NCTE, she is currently serving on a National Taskforce to Study the Impact of 2020 on Two Year College English. Her passion for teaching and student success drives her career. A determined advocate for her students and their success, Roxanna's interests include the connections between literature and students' lives, formative assessment, executive function, understanding learning differences in adult populations, and the relationship between the affective domain and the writing process in the community college classroom. She integrates a multitude of student-centered, active learning strategies and multimodal instruction to optimize student retention and persistence. Outside of the classroom, Roxanna enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, practicing yoga, mastering cooking, and anything to do with music. 

The purpose of her project is to begin to understand how students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are best supported in higher education. The goal of Roxanna's fellowship project is to determine perceptions community college ENG faculty hold of students with ASDs and to gain an understanding of students with ASDs’ experience as community college students and what accommodations are preferred in composition classes. In addition to researching existing best instructional practices and strategies to successfully support students with an ASD in the community college composition classroom, ENG faculty will be surveyed to understand current faculty understanding and perceptions of ASDs and students with ASDs, and students with ASDs will be surveyed to better understand their experience as community college students and preferred accommodations in composition classes.  An implication of this study is to better inform challenges and solutions within the faculty experience and provide a foundation to build from for more effective, proactive professional development as faculty continue to work with increasing neurodiverse student populations.

Christine Raack is a residential faculty at South Mountain Community College (SMCC) where she teaches English and English as a Second Language (ESL). In addition, she currently serves as the SMCC Honors Program Coordinator and Curriculum Development Facilitator. Born and raised in Germany, Christine moved to Phoenix, Arizona in pursuit of higher education at Arizona State University (ASU) where she received a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology), a Master of Arts (Linguistics), and is currently in the process of finishing a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. Her research interests include multilingual learners, intercultural competence, as well as linguistic justice for language minorities in higher education. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, camping, bike rides, and hiking.

This study will focus on constructed out-of-class learning-spaces and their impact on English Language Learners (ELLs) within the community college setting. Research supports that constructed learning-spaces such as through service-learning can provide effective environments for students to build stronger connections with their peers and faculty, can significantly enhance learning and student engagement, and therefore potentially increase student success, retention, and completion rates. This project will examine possible and measurable outcomes regarding the educational impact on ELL students who are participating in a service-learning experience. Research questions include: How does this experience impact the second language (L2) learning process? How does it support educational principles of language learning and teaching? How does it impact affective factors of L2 acquisition, retention, and transition into degree programs? 

2021-2022 Cohort

Bob Gibney grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Arizona, his Master’s Degree at Northern Arizona University, and his Doctorate Degree at The University of Nebraska--Lincoln.  He serves Phoenix College as a residential English Faculty, as ENG101 Lead, and as co-chair of the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee during the 2020-2021 school year.  He continually strives to put Equity and Inclusion at the center of every decision he makes in his research and teaching.

This project will explore the ways that students experience a Threshold Concepts approach to an online, asynchronous ENG101 course at Phoenix College.  It will seek to answer these 3 questions: How does students' writing improve? What shifts do students experience in mindsets toward writing and themselves as writers within the context of a Threshold Concepts curriculum? To what do the students attribute these shifts?

A Threshold Concepts approach centers on student experiences, student voices, self-reflection, personalized processes, social connectedness, and disciplinary knowledge.  At the same time, it decenters a single, dominant standard for judging writing success.

Lynn F Clark, CPA is in her 4th year as a Residential Faculty at Paradise Valley Community College where she teaches a variety of Accounting courses and is the Online Learning Coordinator.  Lynn has a BBA in Accounting from Adelphi University and an MS in Accounting from Grand Canyon University.  She began her career at the New York office of Ernst & Young, and currently is a member of the Arizona Society of CPAs where she has held many leadership positions and is a member of the American Accounting Association.  Currently, Lynn is the Business and Technology/DECA advisor, serves on the Business Instructional Council, and is the Accounting Program lead.  Lynn enjoys spending her free time with her 2 daughters (both PVCC graduates), gardening, practicing yoga, and hiking.  

The goal of her fellowship project is to update ACC111 - Accounting Principles I ("ACC111") to intentionally incorporate Universal Design for Learning principles.  ACC111 is the gateway course into the Associate in Business Degree, and for many students, this is the first truly challenging course that they experience.  Universal Design for Learning ("UDL") is a method of teaching and learning that is based on neuroscience; it is shown to increase student learning.  UDL is a proactive approach that designs instruction to remove barriers for all students and give them an equal opportunity to succeed.  The goal of the project is to see higher success rates in ACC111 which results in higher retention of our students and completion of an Associate in Business Degree. 

Anthony Griffith is in his  8th year as a residential faculty member at Mesa Community College (MCC) and currently teaches Developmental Reading (RDG100) and Critical Reading and Critical Thinking (CRE101) courses. Dr. Griffith earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Planning from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He worked as a Correction Officer with the New York City Department of Corrections at Rikers Island where he served on the Hostage Negotiation Unit and Gang Intelligence Unit before attaining his Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from Hofstra University. He commenced his teaching career in the Elmont Elementary School District briefly before relocating to Phoenix, Arizona, where he taught in the Phoenix Elementary and Alhambra School Districts. In his leisure time, Anthony enjoys a variety of fitness activities, in addition to reading, writing, spending time with his family, and traveling. Anthony has traveled frequently throughout the United States, Asia, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The purpose of his fellowship project is to facilitate student learning through a contextualized online Developmental Reading course to improve student success rates and outcomes. The goals include enhancing the reading skills of students, increasing student engagement, and fostering peer collaboration. Research supports contextualization as an effective approach associated with the completion of developmental courses, improved academic performance, successful completion of college-level courses, and students' commitment to their schoolwork. Consequently, the goal of this fellowship project is to help students learn in a way that makes sense to them, enhances their understanding of concepts, and makes them more relatable by using purposeful contexts, learning activities, and literature to help them analyze, conceptualize, and synthesize information grounded in real-world situations.

Mickey is in her fourth year as a residential faculty member of Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s (CGCC) Composition, Creative Writing and Literature Department and holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of New Mexico. Before CGCC, Mickey was an Associate Professor of English and Division Chair of English and Humanities at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. During that time, her projects included developing the First-Year Experience Program, participating on the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s General Education Steering Committee, and hosting Educators and students from Russia through the Los Alamos-Sarov Sister City Initiative. Currently, Mickey serves as a Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee member at CGCC. She was also awarded a Council for Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and spent January 2020 in Jordan for the faculty development seminar, “Jordan: On the Margins of Sustainability.” From that experience, she has brought in virtual exchange programs between her first-year students and students in MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) countries through the Soliya Connect Program and the IREX Global Solutions Business Sustainability Challenge. Outside of the classroom, Mickey loves to spend time with her family, traveling, and volunteering at Paz de Cristo. She is currently learning Arabic to enhance her virtual exchange communications with colleagues from Jordan and will participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on the visual culture of the Civil War.

The goal of Mickey’s project is to support the development of virtual exchange programs by providing data to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual exchange on attaining ENG 101: First-Year Composition student learning outcomes. For the project, Mickey will participate in a COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) exchange with an English composition class from the Universidad de la Sabana in Chia, Columbia. She will obtain the data through multiple measures using current general education student learning outcomes on Rhetorical Knowledge and Critical Thinking using past ENG 101 assessment data of critical thinking and synthesis indicators as possible benchmarks as well as VALUE rubrics from AACU (Association of American Colleges and Universities) rubric in global learning, intercultural awareness, written communication, and inquiry and communication.

Shannon McGrath is in her eighth year as residential faculty at GateWay Community College where she teaches English and English as a Second Language (ESL).  She currently serves as the Language, Literacy, and Literature Division Chair, International Education Committee Chair, and as a member of the ESL Instructional Council.  Before becoming a residential faculty at GateWay, Shannon taught international graduate students at Cornell University.  In her free time, she enjoys hiking, doing DIY projects, and taking classes.

This project will examine the relationship between the use of ePortfolios and a student's sense of belonging in college.  The Association of American Colleges and Universities designates ePortfolios as a high-impact educational practice because they enable students to create a portable and shareable collection of work that connects their educational experiences with their academic, personal, and professional pursuits.  By implementing ePortfolios in Developmental English and ESL courses, I hope to encourage students to showcase their unique voices and perspectives as well as foster their sense of belonging in college, which has been identified as a key factor in success and persistence.

2020-2021 Cohort

Alisa Beyer is a (4th year) residential faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College where she teaches a variety of psychology courses. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kansas. Alisa recently co-edited For the Love of Teaching Undergraduate Statistics, a free book sharing best practices for statistics instructors. She also worked with Julie Lazzara (PVCC) to remix and revise an OER textbook, Psychology Through the Lifespan (with the 3rd edition coming out July 2020).  Alisa is the Psi Beta advisor at CGCC, and serves on the Psychology Instructional Council and the district OER committee. On a personal note, she is an identical twin and loves to beach camp with her spouse and 4 kids.   

The goal of her fellowship project is to examine the effectiveness of an intervention developed to promote student resilience and well-being. The intervention will be embedded in an Introduction to Psychology course as resilience topics are connected to the PSY101 curriculum (e.g., sleep, emotion regulation, mindset, stress). The course will include research-based interventions and packaged as a resilience toolbox. She will examine the impact of the toolbox on student success and retention, academic self-efficacy, stress, and well-being by comparing the information integrated into the PSY101 curriculum and as a stand-alone module in PSY101 and other courses.

Caryn is in her fourth year as a residential faculty at Glendale Community College (GCC). After receiving her BAE in Secondary Education in 2007 from Arizona State University, she also completed her MA in English in 2015. Prior to her time at GCC, she spent a decade as a high school English teacher with the last year spent as the English Department Chair at Saguaro High School. She is currently the English Developmental Education Assessment Lead as well as the incoming DAC for English, Reading, and Journalism.  She will also start as the Co-Assessment Developer for GCC in the Fall.  Outside of the classroom, Caryn volunteers with a variety of organizations that work with LGBTQ+ youth and young adults at GCC and the surrounding cities of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. 

The goal of Caryn’s project is to support the district transformation of Developmental Education. Her project will provide data to evaluate the effectiveness of a co-requisite lab intervention in a First-Year Composition designed to support students who have traditionally been placed into non-credit-bearing courses in the past. In order to obtain data, a competency-based rubric will be used to measure the efficacy of the lab intervention against a traditional English 101 course by comparing student growth over time.

David Bradley is a ceramic artist and educator, living in Phoenix. Currently, he is a professor of ceramics at Paradise Valley Community College. David started his career as an artist when he was very young, and recognized he found happiness in creating things. Clay became his medium of choice in college, and after 30 years of intense study, he continues to teach how to use this material as a form of expression and of understanding. Mr. Bradley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Louisiana Tech University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from the University of North Texas. From 1976-78 he served as an apprentice at Marshall Pottery Co. in Marshall Texas where he learned the traditional pottery-making methods that serve as the foundation of his teaching methods.

The goal of his fellowship project is to investigate the use of creative thinking exercises and projects to facilitate learning and achievement. Creative thinking is a marketable skill for all fields. In the fine arts, creativity is thought of as a given, but the level of creative thinking can vary. The focus of this study includes determining what creativity looks like, how it can be measured, and if it can be enhanced within the confines of a single semester course in ceramics. 

Mijolae Henley is a residential faculty member at Mesa Community College where she has taught English as a Second Language, developmental reading, and critical reading courses (CRE) to include the only CRE 101 contextualized courses for healthcare majors. Henley graduated from Northern Arizona University Master's program with a focus on Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. Mijolae Henley's educational experience has varied from elementary education, postsecondary and higher education, and serving as adjunct faculty for Maricopa Community Colleges for several years.  Mijolae served as an educational trainer for 10 years overseas for the Department of Defense, in which she also served as the Student Advisory Chair for the military command. During her leisure time, Mijolae is passionate about traveling, watching Marvel movies, and spending time with her family, friends, and fur babies. The goal of her fellowship project is to support the district transformation by providing research data on student perspectives of online contextualized reading courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tracey Schartz is in her fourth year of teaching as faculty for the Respiratory Care Program at GateWay Community College (GWCC).  Ms. Schartz also serves as the Program Director of the Respiratory Care Program.  Tracey graduated with her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University in December 2017.  Prior to teaching, Tracey worked in the field of respiratory care for more than 15 years at one of the leading trauma centers in the state of Arizona as a Central Lines Specialist.  Shortly after teaching a vascular course at Gateway, Tracey decided to take the credentialing exam to become Vascular Access Board Certified.  In learning that a course in preparation for this exam was sought after by community shareholders, she created and teaches the first course to do so of its kind at GWCC. 

The purpose of this fellowship is to bring light and truth to the needs of our culturally diverse student population who want to be a part of our healthcare workforce.  This project began as a proposal presented as a poster presentation at the League for Innovations in Seattle (March 2020) titled: Cultivating Successful Students in a Culturally Diverse Classroom.  Being awarded this fellowship opportunity provides a chance to look further into teaching techniques that assist in the advancement of those students who are entering healthcare programs as ESL (English as a second language) students.  All students will be assigned programmatic, medical vocabulary to journal and utilize patient scenarios anecdotally to strengthen their understanding of terminology.  Grades will continue to be trended to determine if both groups of students, ESL and English speaking, have an equal increase in understanding of respiratory care with improved test scores, assessment criteria for case presentations, and overall retention in the program.

Paulette Stevenson teaches Composition and Humanities Courses at Mesa Community College. She holds a Doctorate in Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacies from Arizona State University. While in her first year as Residential Faculty at Mesa Community College, she serves on the Composition and eLearning Committees. In her leisure time, Paulette enjoys trail running and vegan cooking. She also likes spending time with her husband, three kids, dog, and flocks of ducks and chickens.

The goal of her fellowship is to measure the efficacy of grading contracts in leveling the playing field for non-traditional students at two-year colleges. Grading contracts are assessment models that replace standard academic assessment (points or letter grades on all assignments) with a contract that students negotiate with their professor. Current research shows that grading contracts lessen anxiety in students, but this research focuses on students attending four-year colleges. By focusing research on two-year college students, this project seeks to understand the impact alternative assessment models can have on non-traditional student success.

2019-2020 Cohort

Alex Arreguin is a residential faculty of first-year composition/technical writing at Mesa Community College. As a current PhD. student in Arizona State’s Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacies doctoral program, his current research interests include classical and contemporary notions of ethos and their relevance to how technical communicators negotiate notions of access, credibility, and authority in the workplace.

The goal of his fellowship is to explore how writing instruction is conceptualized and discussed by disciplinary faculty outside of first-year composition courses. Situated within past and current scholarship on writing-knowledge transfer that has taken place over the last decade, the study seeks to extend such scholarship by shifting the research lens to sites outside of first-year composition contexts. Through the use of multiple qualitative methods, the study will place the principal investigator within interdisciplinary conversations about writing instruction to obtain a more nuanced understanding of the role that writing plays across an array of disciplines. Ultimately, one implication of this study is to articulate the need to expand research sites for writing-knowledge transfer to sites outside of FYC classrooms. Additionally, another implication would be for the data gathered to inform current and future curriculum development initiatives within our local MCC English Department and Writing Program.

Ryan graduated with a BS in dental hygiene from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 1997.  He worked as a dental hygienist in rural AZ until 2013. He later moved to Show Low, AZ, and began working for the Navajo County Department of Public Health as the program manager of both the oral health program and the public health emergency preparedness program.  He graduated with a M.E in 2015 and then in April 2016 he became the clinic coordinator at Rio Salado College’s Dental Programs.

The goal of his fellowship is to research the use of virtual reality (VR) technology to help teach the concepts of dental radiography.  Students will practice placing films and taking radiographs virtually, by using a headset and hand controls. The goal of the research is to determine whether any changes in grades, comfort level, or reduction of retakes occur due to implementing VR into the curriculum.  Students’ perception of the value of VR technology in meeting course competencies will also be assessed.

Miguel Fernandez has taught since 2005 for the Composition, Creative Writing, and Literature Division at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and is the Faculty Liaison for Student Veterans. Fernandez graduated from New York University's Comparative Literature Master's program with a focus on Literature and Technology.  He graduated from the Valley Leadership Institute in 2017, Class 38, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the FBIPCAAA, a nonprofit organization separate and apart from the FBI. Fernandez frequently presents at conferences on Technology and Security, the Socio-Technical, and best practices for working with the student veteran population. He completed a Spring 2019 ISPP Fellowship partnered with U of A's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Fernandez is a co-author of the 2019 edition of " Achieving Knowledge Advantage in the Information Age,” a book on OSINT research techniques.

The goal of his fellowship is to research the impact of requiring a formal active interrogative instrument for vetting and deciphering a source’s credibility before allowing students choice of sources used in support of ENG102 argumentative research papers.  Students will be polled on what previous ways (if any) they use to consider, judge, or annotate a source for credibility before deploying them in support of research paper arguments. An active interrogative instrument for scoring credibility is then assigned that requires researching the research, with a cutoff score minimum for bias or low accountability, to increase credibility literacy: awareness of the ecosystem of ‘fake news’ markers and problems with source choice.  This will strengthen freshman student research paper source choice awareness, used in support of arguments and thesis, agnostic of the topic.

Dianne Miller is a residential faculty at Phoenix College where she teaches developmental reading courses and CRE 101 for honors and healthcare majors. She holds a master’s degree in reading education and a doctorate in instructional leadership. For the past ten years, Dianne has served as the Department Chair for Communication, Reading, ASL, and Education. She has also worked for several years as the Faculty Developer on her campus, mentoring new adjunct and first-year faculty.  During her leisure time, Dianne is passionate about traveling and the outdoors. She and her husband frequently camp and kayak in northern Arizona, as well as, spending time hiking in Colorado. 

The goal of her fellowship project is to support the district transformation of Developmental Education by providing research data regarding the impact of learning communities on student success and retention. Students are more motivated and successful when they can learn within the context of their interests and chosen degree pathway. Learning Communities which pair a discipline-specific course with RDG 100, allow students to learn contextualized reading and study strategies.  

Rudy Navarro earned his Master of Arts in Art History from Arizona State University and his Doctor of Philosophy in Art History from Stanford University. He is a residential faculty in art history at Phoenix College where he studies.

The goal of his fellowship is to examine the effects of assignment feedback delivered through screen capture video on instructor presence and student engagement. Research suggests that moving images of instructor and students can improve a variety of classroom variables that, in turn, predict learning success. An analysis will assess the strength of effects between variables and on course completion and success.  

Stacy Wilson is a residential faculty of English at Mesa Community College. She has a Master’s in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English from Northern Arizona University and is completing a Master’s degree in Writing, Rhetorics, and Literacies at Arizona State University. Her research interests include knowledge transfer and threshold concepts specific to composition. 

The goal of her fellowship project is to investigate the ways students perceive writing tasks and affordances in discipline-specific (non-FYC) classes. Such findings could ultimately inform the decision-making on learning context (FYC) activities and framing, interdisciplinary conversations surrounding writing-transfer climate, and department and college-wide discussions on the culture of writing.

2018-2019 Cohort

Julie Holston is a residential faculty in Theatre Arts at South Mountain Community College. In addition to academic settings, she freelances as a director with professional and community theatre companies. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, and an MA in Theatre/Directing from Roosevelt University. Since 2013, she has served as the General Studies Faculty Representative for the district, and at SMCC she has served as a faculty mentor and as the Faculty Development Coordinator. Julie is a recipient of the SMCC Summit Award and the MCCCD Diversity Advisory Council Award of Excellence. She is a native of Arizona and was raised in Sedona.  

Understanding Factors that Influence Student and Faculty Engagement in a Compressed Length vs. a Traditional Length Course

This study extended existing research by providing a mixed-methods exploration of student and faculty experiences and pedagogical practices in compressed-length courses, including both online and in-person formats. It focused on courses taught in the humanities, arts, and social sciences in a community college setting, where many Generation Z learners are completing their lower-division general education courses. Additionally, it explored the relationship between student engagement in compressed-length courses and existing learning theory regarding Generation Z, and how knowledge of this population’s learning characteristics might influence faculty’s pedagogical choices. Data collected from faculty interviews, syllabi, and a student survey revealed three divergent perspectives where faculty perceptions and attitudes toward compressed-length courses conflicted with student expectations and experiences.



Raji Lauffer will begin her sixth year as Residential Faculty in the Business/IT Division at Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) in 2019-20, and her eighth year as a full-time faculty in higher education. At PVCC, she teaches courses in Computer Information Systems and Computer Science. She has an earned Ph.D. in Computer Science from Arizona State University. 

Student Success in Introductory Programming: An Analysis of Academic and Demographic Factors

This report presents an analysis of student success in a CS1 course, relative to various academic and demographic factors, at a community college

in the U.S. Southwest. 

Teryl Sands is residential faculty in the Mesa Community College English Department where she teaches first-year composition and developmental writing courses in traditional, hybrid, and online environments. Teryl also serves as the Mesa CTL eVenture Coordinator for the eVenture Program. Teryl is involved in professional organizations focused on the teaching of writing, rhetoric, and effective use of technology in the classroom including Open Educational Resources. She holds a Ph.D. in Composition, Rhetoric, and Linguistics as well as an MA in TESL both from Arizona State University.  Outside of academia, Teryl enjoys spending time with her family as well as swimming, tennis, reading, movies, and traveling.

Assessing the Impact of Zero Cost Courses on Student Success

This study examined student learning, success, and persistence in courses that implement a zero cost for textbooks or Open Educational Resources. In particular, the goal was to investigate the relationship between how students perform in these zero-cost textbook courses and courses where students are required to purchase a textbook.

Ryan Senters is a residential faculty member in psychology at South Mountain Community College.  He has a master’s degree in psychology and another master’s in leadership. He is completing his Ph.D. in performance psychology with a research focus on developing resilience, grit, and hope in at-risk youth and first-generation college students.  Ryan is the founder and the chairman of the board of a South Phoenix non-profit called the Anchor Mission. Ryan is also a foster care advocate and provides leadership to a local social service agency for foster children and people with disabilities.  Ryan and his wife Sara, live in Laveen with their 5 children. Ryan’s passions include helping students discover their passions and purpose and advocating for children in the foster care system.

The Role of Grit, Hope, and Academic Self-Efficacy on Predicting First-Generation College Students’ Persistence Rates 

The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to examine to what extent grit, hope, and academic self-efficacy predict first-generation college students’ persistence rates at South Mountain Community College.  There are some implications that can be made from the study. The primary one is that first-generation college students are gritter than continuing-generation college students. Future directions for the study include replicating the study with other faculty and across multiple semesters. 

Shannon Smith is a residential faculty member in Food and Nutrition in the Department of Technology and Consumer Sciences. She has taught for over 12 years in the subject areas of nutrition, exercise science, and behavioral health. Prior to teaching, Shannon worked in clinical nutrition. Her degrees include a BS in Nutritional Sciences from Oklahoma State University, an MS in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman's University, and a Ph.D. in Physical Activity, Nutrition and Wellness from Arizona State University.  Shannon is involved in the local nutrition and dietetics organization and served in leadership roles for the past four years. She enjoys exercise, music, reading, and traveling.

Exploring Opinions and Perceptions of Enhanced Resource Guides in a 200-Level Nutrition Course 

This study examined strategies to improve student engagement and participation. This mixed methods study included achievement data, surveys, and focus groups.

2017-2018 Cohort

Dori DiPietro LCSW, ACSW CEAP, E-RYT500 has over thirty years of experience as a social worker with a thriving clinical private practice specializing in stress reduction and well-being. She is a Residential Faculty at Mesa Community College, Director of the Social Work Program, and a Faculty Associate at ASU School of Social Work. Dori created and teaches SWU250, Mindfulness for Stress Management, at MCC where it has been very well received by students as a “life-changing class”.


Dori is a practitioner and teacher of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for over thirty years and has earned high recognition as a yoga teacher, including the E-RYT500.  She presents workshops and training on yoga-mindfulness-related topics as well as health, wellness, and work-life balance to organizations and conferences across the country.  Helping to heal those who serve others is her area of passion and expertise.

Contemplative Pedagogy to Mitigate the Impact of Student Stress and Life Adversity for Success in College

Mindfulness and other forms of contemplative pedagogy are being used in educational classrooms to increase cognitive and academic performance and decrease stress from preschool to graduate school.  This study first looks at the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in a community college setting over a six-year period of time surveying over 750 students enrolled in SWU171, Introduction to Social Welfare.  Although these students are primarily social work majors it is also a required class for the administration of justice, recreation and hotel management, and non-profit leadership; most all students surveyed are going into a helping profession involving human and public service. The study further uses a quantitative study in two classes of SWU171, measuring their ACE and undergraduate stress and then offering the treatment class low lecture and high contemplative pedagogy teaching while the control class received low contemplative pedagogy and high lecture teaching.  Both classes were compared for outcomes related to persistence and grades with no significant difference.  Of significance in the treatment, class were student reports of increased self-awareness, empathy, and compassion as well as bonding and relationship with the instructor, concluding that mindfulness and other forms of contemplative pedagogy are transformative in ways that testing and grading may not capture.  

Dr. Hebert is Communication Faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College. She takes an active learning approach that facilitates student engagement with the course content.  Therefore, what students study can become applicable to their lives, jobs, and educational pursuits. Cheryl is astute to the diverse learning needs of every student and tries to assist students with developing active learning strategies so that they can ultimately take responsibility for their own learning. Keeping this in mind, the classroom (whether F2F, hybrid, or online) is always a safe and productive learning environment that helps all students become successful in their academic pursuits.

Engaging Students Using mLearning: An Experiment Using “Structured Text Messaging” in the College Classroom to Measure Learning Outcomes and Student Retention

This study was an experimental design with the main goal of discovering if structured texting exercises in class after the lecture (lessons), engaged students in their own learning and further impacted student learning outcomes.  Secondary goals included measuring engagement, quiz grades after lectures, final grades, and retention in both the control and the treatment groups. The last goal was to examine the relationship between first-semester data with the exact same experiment second semester so that a larger sample and further credibility could be established. The results of the study indicated smartphones can be a valuable instructional aid. The use of smartphones increased participation in course activities. 

Dr. Cynthia Kiefer is a twenty-year-plus teaching veteran, currently serving on the English Faculty at Scottsdale Community College teaching composition and reading courses.

"Digital Rhetors" Cross Rhetorical Thresholds through In-process Reflection

This study examined how and in what ways consistently written reflection during the process of developing a visual argument supported student rhetorical awareness and competence as measured in pre- and post-assessments and the written argument final assessment rubric.

James Rubin, Ph.D. has worked for over 20 years as Counseling faculty at Paradise Valley Community College. He provides counseling, teaches leadership development courses, and is PVCC's Counseling Division Chair.

Incorporating Kingian Nonviolence Principles into Leadership Courses

The purpose of this study was to examine the leadership skill development of student alumni of multi-level leadership courses at a large community college in Phoenix. Former students were interviewed to explore their leadership beliefs before and after their undergraduate career. Results and findings indicate that program alumni have a greater appreciation for personal and group leadership traits and behaviors because of their involvement in leadership development program(s).

Jeni Ussery is a member of the Reading faculty at Phoenix College.  She holds a Master's Degree in English Literature and Literacy Education and expects to defend her Doctoral Dissertation in Developmental Education Administration in the Fall of 2019.  She is passionate about helping faculty build relationships with their students, helping students embrace literacy as a life-long learning process, and becoming a more effective teacher.

Student Success in a Yearlong Literacy Learning Community

The efficacy of Learning Communities in helping students feel like they belong at an institution is well established.  However, the effect of Learning Communities on student grade point average (GPA) and retention is less clear.  This mixed-methods study examined a yearlong Literacy Learning Community that began with a Summer Bridge program.  The research was guided by two central questions: (1) to what extent do students enrolled in a yearlong literacy Learning Community have better student outcomes (GPA and retention) than students who take the same courses separately? and (2) what are the experiences of students enrolled in a yearlong Literacy Learning Community?  While the students’ retention rate and GPA were slightly lower than comparable students not enrolled in the Literacy Learning Community (reflecting the tepid results of earlier studies), the qualitative data revealed that students perceived the Literacy Learning Community as an important part of their experience as college students.