The Center for Instructional Innovation (CII), founded at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) in 1993, supports development and systematic study of a wide variety of instructional approaches. Areas of expertise include cognitive and motivational psychology, language and literacy development, accommodation of disabilities, software engineering, web-based instruction, and applied research and evaluation. In addition to its main UNL office at 209 Teachers College Hall, CII maintains a state-of-the art research laboratory at 125 Mabel Lee Hall that includes the Accommodation Resource Center for providing technology-based support for individuals with disabilities.
Among its recent and current projects are studies of math and science education, writing development and motivation, web-based instructional systems, physician education, and outreach programs related to public issues (e.g., climate change). Current/recent funding sources/research partners include multiple private foundations (e.g., Mellon, HHMI), state and federal agencies (e.g., IES, OCERS, NIH, NASA, NOAA, NSF) and publishers (e.g., Pearson Education).
The Center for Instructional Innovation, which was established at the University of Nebraska in 1993 through Regental action, was formed to apply basic research from cognitive psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science to the design and evaluation of educational practices in the nation's schools." The Center maintains a state-of-the-art research laboratory on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, which is used for conducting basic research on cognitive processes and applied research on technology-based educational interventions. Since its creation, the Center has developed a strong program of research and evaluation activities aimed at fulfilling its mission. Among its funded research and development projects are the Classroom Access Through Technology project at UNL,
the Explorers and WhyWrite Projects of the Omaha Public Schools, and the Observational Learning and Literacy Development project. The Center for Instructional Innovation also plays a key role in evaluating several major educational initiatives in Nebraska funded by federal agencies and foundations. It currently serves as the primary evaluator for the NSF-supported Nebraska Math and Science Initiative; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant to UNL for instructional innovation in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Geology; the Star Schools CLASS Project; and the U. S. West/NSEA Teacher Network Project.
Mellon Foundation Project
This three-year grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation is an experimental test comparing the costs and effectiveness of web-based activities in college courses to more traditional, classroom-based versions of these same activities. Web-based case studies and other applications are being developed for two large-enrollment classes, Biological Sciences 101 and Educational Psychology 362. Partner: College of Arts and Sciences, UNL
Lincoln Northeast High School Web-based Data Gathering Studies
Since 1999, CII has been testing the effectiveness of an on-line note-taking tool. In experiments at Lincoln Northeast High School, American History students are gathering information from web pages on New Deal programs and Great Society programs, using a note-taking tool containing an organizing framework (graphic organizer) or a standard note-taking window, with no framework. Results, which are being presented at the 2002 AERA Meeting, indicate that students generally take more notes, better notes, and better understand relationships when they use the note-taking tool. Partner: Lincoln Northeast High School History Department, Lincoln Public Schools
UNL Web-Based Data Gathering Studies
These studies are closely examining design features of the note-taking tool. Early studies in 2002-2001 compared typing with cut and paste functions. Two studies in Spring, 2002, of Educational Psychology students using the tool are comparing note-gathering decisions and learning outcomes of students having access to a tool with restricted cut-and-paste capability (e.g., the tool limits the number of words that can be entered from any given text unit) with students having access to a tool with unlimited cut-and-paste capabilities.
Teachers, Technology, and Students At Risk Project
Teachers are encouraged to incorporate the use of computer technology into their curriculum, but frequently they are provided wiht inadequate time, training, and support. This study explores teacher beliefs about computer-based technology and their experience in using computer aided instruction in a rural state with at-risk students. Partner: Nebraska Education Community
Web-Based Learning Tools for Biology 101
Partner: School of Biological Sciences, UNL ThinkAboutIt! Wonderwise-4-H Project Evaluation Wonderwise kits, each of which focuses on a woman scientist and her work, are aimed at 4th-6th grade level children. They are interactive, multimedia kits that are being developed and disseminated throughout a 10-state area through the 4-H program. This project is directed by Judy Diamond and Gary Heusel. CII Evaluator is Amy Spiegel. Partners: Nebraska State Museum, Nebraska 4-H Program
Humanizing Physics Project Evaluation
This collaborative project involves several institutions of higher education and is designed to revamp the algebra-based physics course to include more real-life, applications-based examples and to make the course more meaningful for students, most of whom are planning to go into the health sciences. Primary Partner: Department of Physics, UNL Math
Matters Project Evaluation
The goal of this special pilot program, which involves both the Teachers'College and the Math Department, is to graduate elementary teachers who excel in teaching mathematics. The Principal Investigators are Ruth Heaton and Jim Lewis. Partners: Center for Curriculum and Instruction and Department of Mathematics, UNL
Course Management System Assessment Project
A study of the technical and educational features of Blackboard, WebCT and other course management systems. The project team includes faculty and staff from Teachers College and from UNL's Computer Sciences and Engineering department. Partner: Computer Science and Engineering, UNL