Valley News Recent Headlines
Faculty Focus: The Fundamentals of Student-Faculty Collaboration
07.12.13 |
Sometimes a research collaboration takes on surprising mid-course dimensions. Last year, Dr. Jeff Ritchie, chair and associate professor of digital communications, and Dr. Michael Lehr, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy, gathered a team of student researchers to look into developing a digital textbook for physical therapy students. They had in mind a tablet-based compilation of videos and 3-D illustrations that would help physical therapy students select and perform therapeutic techniques and interventions in the clinic.

But as the team began their preliminary research, they found that physical therapy students don’t typically use textbooks, relying on notes and handouts from their professors instead, and so were unlikely to adopt the e-text. So the team instead developed a product the therapy students said they could use: a web app that enables them to practice and develop their clinical decision-making skills. The app is currently in testing.

One aspect of the research project that was especially interesting to the group, Ritchie noted, was the actual process of collaboration. “We learned some valuable lessons about working in interdisciplinary teams,” he said. “How do two groups, who speak vastly different languages and approach problems from vastly different perspectives, work together? How do you set up these groups so they can collaborate and accomplish these goals?”

What the team learned is useful to all cross-disciplinary work: that collaborators must place a priority on defining roles, basic mechanics, and outcomes. “You need to set aside time in which all parties can interact,” Ritchie stated. “A lot of it is having a much clearer concept of what is going to be built. Initially we’d proposed this compendium of videos that showed how to perform these interventions, but the students don’t actually use textbooks like we think of them. So clearly establishing what the scope is up front, and not straying from that, is key.” So is clearly defining terms.

“Any professional will talk in their own terminology and it can be a barrier to collaboration,” Ritchie noted. “You have to schedule in time in which each member of the team learns the other’s language.” Ritchie and Lehr have recently written and submitted a poster on the subject and are preparing a manuscript that explores the pedagogical and curricular issues surrounding interdisciplinary faculty-student projects.

Ritchie’s insight into the practice of collaboration also informs his work as a member of LVC’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, an interdisciplinary group that advises the College community on issues related to environmental sustainability. “It’s been remarkably rewarding, because even though we come from different disciplines and speak different languages, our focus is on sustainability—this one central idea,” he said. “We have people from biology, economics, facilities—a combination of academic disciplines and administrative functions—and a number of students who participate.”


12.19.14
Dr. Daniel Pitonyak ’08 wins 2015 American Physical Society Group on Hadron Physics Dissertation Award
View Full Story

12.19.14
Lebanon Valley College Names O'Donnell Scholars in English
View Full Story

12.17.14
ValleyFest Presents DNK and We Are The In Crowd in Concert April 24 & 25
View Full Story

12.16.14
Christmas at The Valley Raises $2,900 for Operation Santa Claus
View Full Story

12.15.14
LVC Physical Therapy Professor Shares His Expertise with the Rockettes and Members of the NBA and WNBA at Radio City Music Hall
View Full Story

12.12.14
Dr. Jean-Marc Braem to Retire in December
View Full Story

12.10.14
EY Foundation to Provide Matching Gift for Alumnus Ryan Tweedie’s Recurring Gift
View Full Story

12.09.14
Lebanon Valley College to Host Dr. Michael Kimmel for Symposium on Inclusive Excellence
View Full Story

12.05.14
Watch Christmas at the Valley Live on LVCtv!
View Full Story

12.05.14
Vidya Lala '16 Reflects on Student Summit on Inclusive Excellence
View Full Story

12.03.14
Students Represent United Kingdom at European Union Simulation in Washington, D.C.
View Full Story

12.02.14
Alison Hartman ’07 Awarded Fulbright Scholarship to Israel
View Full Story

12.01.14
Professor Gail Sanderson to Retire in December
View Full Story

12.01.14
Lebanon Valley To Host Fifth Annual Military Appreciation Night
View Full Story

12.01.14
Dr. Owen Moe to Retire in December
View Full Story

12.01.14
Professor Victoria Rose to Retire in December
View Full Story