STAIR Project Report


                                              Lisa Mulka




   I found the STAIR project to be the...
With this new mission in mind, I set off to create a basic argumentative writing overview

STAIR designed to be completed ...
must connect their understanding of the material to an essay. The slides as well as the questions

could be categorized as...
have done to further engage my target audience. I would have to research this area further and

our workshops at JCC are c...
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Stair Project Report

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Stair Project Report

  1. 1. STAIR Project Report Lisa Mulka I found the STAIR project to be the most challenging project of CEP 811 because I struggled with defining how I could approach this technology differently from how it is already being used in my teaching environment. At Jackson Community College we currently use STAIRS as part of the requirement for all composition classes (although they are referred to as workshops) and the students strongly disfavor them. Students often view the workshops as busy work or to quote the most common phrase “a waste of time.” The problem with the JCC workshops is that the slides are very dense in content and all activities are to be turned into the instructor—there is no immediate feedback built within the workshop. This causes students to rush through, skip slides, and not read the important content and quickly complete the activities for credit. The workshops have met much frustration between students and teachers alike and even though my final STAIR is targeted toward an argumentative writing class at Lansing Community College, I held my experiences at JCC close by as I designed it. I wanted to address the current problems I faced with using STAIRS and try to overcome those to create a meaningful learning experience for my students.
  2. 2. With this new mission in mind, I set off to create a basic argumentative writing overview STAIR designed to be completed in the beginning of the semester in WRIT 122 classes. There were certain elements that I found necessary to include in this STAIR, particularly the final practices, because of the accountability issue. Without something to be turned into the teacher, I think a large portion of students simply would not bother to complete the whole workshop. By placing the practices at the end that asks them to apply on paper what they have learned and submit it to the teacher, accountability becomes present. While this is the basic principle of the workshops used at JCC (to turn in activities), I knew that wouldn’t be enough to fully engage my audience. To enhance the engagement level, I built questions within each of the two main categories of the STAIR: Argumentative Elements and Argumentative Structures. The quiz questions ask students to think about the concepts presented and click on the correct answer in order to move forward in the workshop. By integrating immediate feedback and interaction, students are able to test their knowledge of the content but also remain an active participant. Part of the problems I experienced with JCC’s workshops was the lack of active participation on the students’ part and I hoped to solve that dilemma at LCC by inserting active questions that challenged students to think. In addition to the questions, students are provided feedback in my STAIR that either explains the answer more thoroughly when answered correctly, or the question clarified when answered incorrectly. This allows students to further engage with the subject material and fully let the information sink in. There are many strategies employed in this STAIR to engage student learning. Perhaps the most significant strategy is simulation and problem solving through the final practices. Students are encouraged to engage in the material first hand, to interact with the content they learned and apply it in their writing. Within the practices, there is also the strategy of metaphor as students
  3. 3. must connect their understanding of the material to an essay. The slides as well as the questions could be categorized as a deductive approach because the definition of each word is provided followed by quiz questions that serve as examples. I think the combination of strategies is what keeps activities like this engaging for students and interesting for them to complete. In assessing my final product, I think I have created a more effective workshop for students to engage in, but there are still weaknesses that I want to address before I use this in my classroom. The strengths of the workshop include challenging questions that asks students input in addition to practices at the end of the workshop that ask students to apply their knowledge and submit to the instructor. I believe these two components will encourage students to actively think through the material rather than skim through. Additionally, I think the design is fairly strong to include images where necessary and various other graphic features to enhance the presentation. A screen shot of my STAIR While I consider the questions and practices part of the strengths of my STAIR, I also think they are part of the weaknesses as well. I am still not convinced that college students (unless highly self-motivated or it’s completed in class) will find this something other than busy work. I have wrestled with this issue for a long time now since STAIRs are mandatory requirements at JCC and I witness first hand each semester how much students dread completing them. The effectiveness of STAIRs in a college composition classroom is an area I want to do more research in and understand how they can be created to reach through to students. Adding input from students and questions within the workshop will help, but I still think there is more I could
  4. 4. have done to further engage my target audience. I would have to research this area further and our workshops at JCC are currently being reviewed for the same issues, but I wonder how else STAIRs are used in higher education and if there are models of successful ones.

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