The oval at Ohio State

The Ohio State University’s Affordable Learning Exchange (ALX) recently awarded 21 grants to university faculty or graduate students for 2022. Four of those recipients are in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

ALX is driven by a mission to increase access by reducing barriers related to racial justice, as well as to ease the costs of higher education for Ohio State students and families.

The hard work of the 21 instructors, together over the next year, will result in over $80,000 in direct savings to students.

“We salute our four awardees for their dedication to supporting Ohio State students,” said Don Pope-Davis, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology. “By creating these grant projects, they are exploring affordable alternatives to expensive resources that can make a college degree challenging to afford.”

“These efforts also are aimed at the college’s core values, which encompass diversity, excellence, innovation, justice and international awareness and engagement,” Pope-Davis said.

The four faculty and their projects are as follows:

  • Scott Graves is an associate professor of school psychology in the Department of Educational Studies.

Graves will use his grant funds to curate a Carmen Course for students in the School Psychology program for student internship preparation. The course redesign will eliminate the need for a textbook. The project also adds research articles and videos as well as openly licensed text excerpts for student use.

To address what ALX refers to as racial justice, Graves will develop role plays and case studies that allow his graduate students, who will become school psychologists, to practice skills involving emotional interventions for Black children as well as cognitive assessment practices with diverse populations.

  • Karen Macbeth is an education resource program specialist who teaches in the college’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Her co-lead for the project is Josh Burlile, a lecturer in the ESL program.  
Karen MacBeth headshot
Karen MacBeth

“According to research in our program, many English language learners are struggling with critical reading and writing in academic contexts,” Macbeth said. “While we’ve presented occasional workshops to new international students, sponsored by the Office of International Affairs, my team and I felt that more was needed.”

Macbeth and her colleagues will use the ALX grant to author a free eWorkbook in Pressbooks for college-level writers in the ESL program courses. “We’ve used Pressbooks in the past and are excited about using them again,” she said. “The platform is easy to use and accommodates creativity. The final product always looks so professional, too.”

The eWorkbook that the team is creating will rely for their content on the University Libraries’ advice on free and affordable resources for their content and ALX tech expertise to make the workbook as interactive as possible.

Zhenjie Weng headshot
Zhenjie Weng

Weng will put grant funds to work by providing a list of pedagogical texts for graduate teaching associates (GTAs) in the college’s Graduate Teaching Associate Group Studies course.

The GTAs, mostly from Asian countries, are often not professionally trained to talk explicitly about racial and sexual issues in the United States, Weng said. Additional readings implemented in the course will cover these areas and give the GTAs more direction about how to discuss those issues as they teach second language writing classes at Ohio State.

“I will collect pedagogical texts on how teachers can engage students in critical thinking and reflection on different sensitive topics,” Zhenjie Weng said.  “From there, we will build ideas on how they can implicitly and explicitly talk about racial justice issues in class.”

“Personally, this grant will motivate me to further develop my language teacher and teacher trainer identities through the process of searching, reading and organizing pedagogical texts.”

Juyeon Yoo headshot
Juyeon Yoo

Yoo will use her grant to empower and lend support to racial minority students taking ESL writing courses. Many of the students in these courses are international undergraduates from Asian countries who may undergo racially marginalizing experiences in the United States.

Activities in the unit may include reading passages, discussion points and writing prompts related to three similar themes: xenophobia, Asian hate and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yoo writes that the need for this project came from her own experiences as an instructor of ESL writing courses – specifically EDUTL 1902/EDUTL 5902 – because she, too, was initially an international student at Ohio State, coming from an Asian background.

“These students typically take writing courses in their first years when socialization into a new language, culture and academic environment could be difficult,” Yoo said. “It is important to address potential challenges that they may face.”

“Some may encounter marginalizing experiences based on their skin color, different cultural norms and linguistic differences,” she said. “Often, international students may not be aware that they can ask for help when they experience discrimination. I will explicitly discuss how to deal with such experiences and let them know that they do not need to merely accept them. Rather, they may need to learn more about how to respond to such incidents appropriately.”
Although the central focus of the course is on teaching writing skills, Yoo said the project will create a lesson plan aimed at empowering students by empathizing with their experiences and cultivating a hopeful, future direction.

“Activities will include reading articles about the Stop Asian Hate movement and the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings,” she said. “Students will have a chance to share their feelings and discuss a more hopeful scenario based on greater acceptance of Asian pop culture into the United States context.

Past recipients of ALX grants in the college include David Stein, associate professor of Workforce Development and Education, in 2020; Leah Herner-Patnode, associate professor of special education, in 2019 and Lauren Hensley, senior associate director of the college’s Dennis Learning Center, in 2018.

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