Karen Nordstrom, PhD
Student Services Professional, Environmental Studies, University of Vermont
Dr. Nordstrom’s work is grounded in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), an emerging scholarly movement that utilizes systematic inquiry, reflection and evidence-based methods in order to research student learning and effective teaching practices that can lead to a measurement advancement in student learning. In her most recent research project, Dr. Nordstrom works with a transdisciplinary group of students, faculty members and researchers, and farmers to implement and develop an undergraduate research fellowship program that seeks to shift current pedagogical theory, method and praxis to create an inclusive, collaborative and participatory learning environment that actively engages undergraduate students in the creation of knowledge in order to better prepare students for professional work. The project combines many SoTL approaches including education action research, intentional classroom and program assessment, reflective practice and cooperative learning. She also uses qualitative methods in a number of ways including interviews with campus and class partners, undergraduate student focus groups, participant observation and student-written reflective essays describing their experience in the class.
“[Qualitative Research] really helps to develop deep levels of reflection, collaboration and leadership. The kinds of skills provided by qualitative research certainly let us go deeper.. we collect data, social or otherwise, intensively across the institution but it comes down to intentionality.. to deciding in what ways do we collect that data and for what purposes.”