News and Announcements

Interpreting and using student ratings data: Guidance for faculty serving as administrators and on evaluation committees

Angela Linse, SITE's executive director and associate dean, has a new peer-reviewed publication "Interpreting and using student ratings data: Guidance for faculty serving as administrators and on evaluation committees," in the international journal Studies in Educational Evaluation. The article is an open access publication available at

The article is about the accurate interpretation of student ratings data and the appropriate use of that data to evaluate faculty. Its aim is to make recommendations for use and interpretation based on more than 80 years of student ratings research. As more colleges and universities use student ratings data to guide personnel decisions, it is critical that administrators and faculty evaluators have access to research-based information about their use and interpretation. The article serves as the source for an informational report to the Penn State University Faculty Senate on March 14, 2017 (Appendix R).

Recommended Readings

by Deena Levy, Research Associate & Instructional Consultant, SITE

Short on time and ideas, at this busy time of the semester? These recommended readings for our consultant, Deena Levy, may help.

Now accepting proposals for EOPC funding: diversity initiatives

The Equal Opportunity Planning Committee (EOPC) supports and advances the University’s strategic plan (see, “fostering and embracing a diverse world”) with investments in your programs and ideas.

You can learn more about EOPC at

Funding from EOPC is intended to provide seed money for innovative pilot programs and existing initiatives that create and support a climate of equity throughout Penn State.

EOPC Deadlines

Educational Equity will review proposal drafts in advance of submission deadlines and provide feedback (with a two week turn-around) as many times as possible or desired in advance of the deadlines:

Summer 2018 programs

  • Application deadline: December 15, 2017
  • Award notification by EOPC: February 15, 2018
  • Evaluation deadline: September 15, 2018

Academic Year 2018–19 programs

  • Application deadline: January 23, 2018
  • Award notification by EOPC: March 13, 2018
  • Evaluation deadline: July 10, 2019

EOPC proposal writing training and resources

Please visit the Box link with resources from the EOPC training session as well as other helpful information.

EOPC contacts in Educational Equity

All questions about EOPC can be directed to Sonia DeLuca Fernández or Holly Sterner in Educational Equity. Please include “EOPC” in the subject line of all email communications.

Making Research Matter: Motivated Inquiry for Actionable Insights

April 6-7, 2018, Virginia International University

Registration is now open and proposals accepted for the 2018 Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture (CLLC)! Particular interest in proposals related to educational development that fit within the theme above.

To register, visit

Submit proposals to by December 4 for early notification (in mid-January) or December 18 for regular notification (in late January).

In focusing on “Making Research Matter,” CLLC 2018 seeks to stimulate conversations on how research and its uses in society might be transformed if more of us were to make a point of asking for what, for whom, and by whom research is being conducted at the outset of every investigation.

Our aim is to involve a diverse group of educators, language learners, researchers, assessment specialists, instructional designers, administrators, policy-makers, community members, and other stakeholders in a multi-directional sharing of values and expertise. CLLC is especially welcoming proposals involving projects in which the investigators considered the users and uses of their research from the very beginning and made decisions accordingly—from action-research projects conducted by individual teachers in their classrooms to larger-scale funded endeavors where collaborative teams had an eye toward wider public engagement and policy impacts, and everything in between.

Planners hope that conference participants’ experiences at CLLC 2018 will yield insights, tools, and connections that improve all groups’ abilities to formulate meaningful research questions; identify collaborators and establish research-practice partnerships; recruit and involve research participants in ways that maximize their benefits; make the results accessible to a variety of audiences; and ensure that findings are not misinterpreted in public conversations and policy debates. By working together to promote Motivated Inquiry for Actionable Insights, we may be even better equipped to improve educational policies and practices related to language, learning, and culture.

Proposal Types

Paper presentation

  • 20-minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes for Q&A
  • Suitable for reports of projects whose results are (nearly) ready for publication


  • 1-hour block, with presenters standing by their posters to engage in small-group conversations
  • Suitable for projects that are in progress or smaller in scale (e.g., pilot studies), or for in-depth descriptions of data (more detailed than might be possible in 20 minutes)

Practice-oriented session

  • 45 minutes for hands-on activities, 15 minutes for follow-up Q&A
  • A carefully structured practice-oriented professional development session involving a demonstration, guided problem-solving or creative activity, and reflections on practice


  • 2 hours: 100 minutes for the workshop activities, 20 minutes for follow-up Q&A
  • A carefully structured, hands-on workshop involving a demonstration, guided problem-solving or creative activity, and reflections on practice


  • Can be held in a 1-hour, 1.5-hour, or 2-hour block (As part of the submission, please specify which is intended and how much time will be devoted to audience Q&A)
  • A set of presentations on related topics
  • The organizer introduces the topic, presenters, and schedule; provides a framework; and mediates the Q&A
  • An optional discussant can synthesize and interpret the presentations before the Q&A and/or draw larger conclusions following the Q&A


  • 45 minutes for the panel discussion, 15 minutes for audience Q&A
  • Panelists share their perspectives on a topic, then respond to one another’s positions
  • The organizer introduces the topic, panelists, and procedures, then mediates a Q&A


For workshops, posters, and paper presentations, abstracts should be no more than 400 words in length. For a colloquium or panel discussion, the organizer should submit a single abstract on behalf of the group, devoting 300 words to the overall theme and intended outcomes and 200 words to each paper or panelist included. All submissions should include a 50-word summary of each presentation for inclusion in the conference program. Titles of presentations should be no more than 15 words.

In addition to the usual components of an abstract (e.g., review of previous work, rationale, participants, methods, results, conclusions, implications), each proposal should indicate its relevance to the conference theme and explicitly outline 3-5 intended outcomes for the audience addressing the following question: What will attendees understand and/or be able to do by the completion of the session?

Each proposal will be reviewed (double-blind) by at least 2 raters using this rubric:

For questions, please contact Kevin Martin. To volunteer, please contact Rebecca Sachs.

The New Science of Learning now available in e-book form in Penn State's Library

Photo of book cover for The New Science of Learning

This text uses cognitive science research to communicate to students and faculty what is involved in learning new material. It discusses how humans process information and retain it, and it offers research based suggestions and strategies to optimize the learning/studying process. Faculty can use the information to inform the design of their classroom learning experiences and students can likewise benefit from understanding how learning works and how to best leverage that knowledge in their university and personal learning endeavors.

One of the authors, Todd Zakrajsek, will be coming to speak at SITE on the afternoon of March 22. Details about that event will be forthcoming on our website.

Using Journaling to Critically Think about Theory, Research and Practice

Roxanne Atterholt, MPRYC, CFLE, instructor and internship coordinator, Human Development and Family Studies Program, Penn State Shenango

Development from observation

As an Instructor for the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) 229 course, Infant and Child Development, the basis of a theory and research log assignment was conceived from two notions. First, the necessity to align learning with the HDFS Program goal that students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate and apply research and theory to practice and policy. Second, a realization that students were generally understanding foundational theories in a shallow manner without being challenged to critically think upon origins, research and impact. Certainly, they could recite key terms, but a higher level of thinking was not being required.

Synthesizing ideas

Work then began to explore how other educators addressed what was thought to be a common phenomenon. Most certainly, numerous resources were available that discussed how to promote higher levels of thinking along with assignment examples. A hybrid idea emerged in which students would develop a journal containing theoretical concepts in addition to their own ideas about what they were learning, to foster `thinking like a researcher’ by collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting information. It was envisioned that students, using structured assignment criteria, could demonstrate understanding of theoretical concepts, draw connections, discuss differences, critique research and ultimately develop their own personal perspective on infant and child development.

Encouraging deeper understanding

As theory is taught during the semester, students are prompted to record their initial understandings, questions, and the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each. Near the conclusion of the semester, student groups use class time to discuss their compiled ideas, critiques and perspectives. In addition, assignment rough drafts are presented for peer review to improve or clarify aspects of their work based on feedback. Perhaps most remarkable is that students are challenged to not simply understand the material but also to analyze, evaluate and create their own ideas about how these theories have impacted their thinking and could influence future practice with children and families.

Exploring the Assignment

HDFS 299 Infant & Child Development
Theory & Research Log


Given the many developmental theories that exist, you are likely to find some more interesting and plausible than others.

The assignment is to construct a directory of theoretical concepts while developing your personal perspective on infant & child development.


For six theories, include if they are best known for social, emotional, intellectual, moral or physical development of children, then briefly explain these theories. Describe each with enough detail so that comprehension is evident by listing important concepts, principles and research findings. Include what you find to be most important about the theory and also what you believe to be inadequate or questionable. It is essential that you discuss how thinking and/or future practice has or may be affected by this theory.

The majority of the assignment’s content must be on analysis, critique, comparison, applications, strengths, weaknesses, and potential impact on work with children and families.


When preparing the log, use Times Roman 12 point font with 1 inch margins that align with APA formatting. A reference page that corresponds with in text citations must be included. A cover page is required.

The assignment does not have a page requirement. The task is to address the above criteria in a comprehensive manner. The Theory & Research Log assignment must be submitted to Turnitin.

Pulling it all together

It is suggested that this particular assignment has been effective as a result of several factors. Students are encouraged to include theories and research that are personally meaningful and/or of the most interest to them. Moreover, the assignment offers a high level of challenge and stimulation in that students are encouraged to distinguish the relevance of theory and research into their daily professional and personal lives. Finally, through clear expectations, high support and peer review, students are encouraged to reason in a deeper way.

SRTEs Go Mobile!

This semester students can choose to submit SRTEs using the new mobile friendly web version for phones and tablets. No app download is necessary, upon sign-in students will see this option when they have active SRTEs to complete. Students may find it convenient to respond to open-ended questions using the voice-recognition built into their mobile devices.

Screen shot of mobile icon from SRTE tool. 
Screen shot of Mobile SRTE icon.

When students choose the mobile option, they will see only one question at a time, rather than the entire SRTE form on their screens.

The regular web version SRTE is still available for students with laptops or without mobile devices.

Faculty will also be able to use the mobile version to check response rates for courses with active SRTEs. Those faculty who are concerned about response rates will be interested in taking advantage of this new functionality by asking students with mobile devices to complete their SRTEs during class.

Faculty: please remember that if you set aside class time for students to complete the SRTE, you need to leave the room.