Maricopa Institute for Learning Research Fellowship: 2020-2021 Cohort

Alisa Beyer, Chandler-Gilbert Community College

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Alisa Beyer headshot MILRF program


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 care 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 Bird, Glendale Community College

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Caryn Bird MILRF program


Caryn is in her fourth year as 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 corequisite 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, Paradise Valley Community College

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David Bradley MILRF photo


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, Mesa Community College

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Mijolae Henley MILRF photo


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 Universities 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 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, GateWay Community College

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Tracey Schartz MILRF photo


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 that 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 at looking 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 scenario’s 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 equal increase in understanding of respiratory care with improved test scores, assessment criteria for case presentations, and overall retention in the program.

Paulette Stevenson, Mesa Community College

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Paulette_Stevenson MILRF photo


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.