Six faculty projects that involve innovative approaches to improving student learning will be honored next month with Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prizes.

In this extraordinary year there were two focus areas: anti-racist and inclusive teaching, and remote and hybrid teaching developed in response to the pandemic.

Inclusive Teaching in Research Methods Courses: Remote Human Data Collection with UMTurk

Julie Boland, professor of psychology and professor of linguistics, LSA; Joshua Rabinowitz, lecturer IV, psychology, LSA; and Colleen Seifert, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of psychology, LSA

UMTurk is designed to engage students in collecting real data from research volunteers. It allows students to collect data online through Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform called Mechanical Turk, or MTurk.

Beginning in 2018, Boland envisioned a teaching innovation for remote data collection in the Psych 303 Research Methods course. With funding from LSA, she led a team to create UMTurk for live data explorations in lectures and student-designed studies. With two additional faculty, a graduate coordinator, 20 GSIs and two LSA IT programmers, Boland created a software interface, accounts for shared use, procedures to organize, launch and retrieve studies, and instructional materials for students. UMTurk allows instructors to walk students through online data collection live during lectures, followed by students’ UMTurk studies in small groups.

UMTurk has had a positive impact on student learning. Many student projects now include more diverse samples, including people who identify as LGBT, Latinx, African American, Asian American and bilingual, along with targeted samples of people aged 18 to 65, siblings, varied educational backgrounds or romantic partners.

“UMTurk is (an) innovative, groundbreaking, scalable and adaptable innovation that fits a wide range of learning environments and topics (e.g., diversity, sustainability, elections) and is a powerful pedagogical tool to foster transformative learning,” William J. Gehring, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of psychology, wrote in a letter supporting Boland’s nomination for the prize.

Read the full article at The University Record.