Paper by UWF Educator Draws Attention Online

Pensacola – Dr. Claudia Stanny, director of the Center for University Teaching, Learning and Assessment at the University of West Florida, recently published a paper in a journal that is garnering a lot of attention.

The paper, which appeared in Assessment and Evaluation in Education, is called “Assessing the Culture of Teaching and Learning through a Syllabus Review.”  Since the online version of the education journal was posted in September 2014. Stanny’s paper has been downloaded more than 730 times. Other papers of similar length in the same periodical have been downloaded fewer than 175 times.

“It is gratifying to see that people have downloaded the study,” Stanny said. “The real impact comes in the next year or so when we see if it is being quoted and if similar studies are being done.”

The paper, on which Stanny is the lead author along with co-authors Melissa Gonzalez and Britt McGowan reference librarians at UWF, covers a five-year longitudinal study. By analyzing the content of about 2,000 syllabi during four observation periods, Stanny and her collaborators were able to evaluate changes in the culture of teaching and learning on campus. They also found that sharing syllabus information can improve learning outcomes.

“Instructors describe their best intentions for the course in a syllabus; the topics they intend to cover, the assignments they expect students to complete, and the strategies they plan to use to evaluate student learning and assign grades or marks,” writes Stanny in the paper.

The number of downloads of the “Syllabus Review” paper spiked recently from about 500 to more than 700 when Stanny was featured in Faculty Focus, a teaching blog for professors.

In the blog, author Maryellen Weimer praised Stanny’s study and wrote that regarding syllabi, “much can be learned about the culture of teaching in our courses, within our departments at our institutions, from a thorough descriptive analysis of these important artifacts of teaching.”