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Union University Center for Faculty Development
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Teaching & Learning Grants > Interviews

Interview with Phillip Ryan, Institute for Intercultural Studies - recipient of the Teaching and Learning Grant-Conference Attendance

Phillip Ryan

1. Briefly describe what you did with your Teaching and Learning Grant.

Three graduate students from the MA in Intercultural Studies (MAIS) and I presented a panel presentation at the 33rd Annual Association for Integrative Studies (AIS) meeting at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

We presented “An Integrative Approach to Qualitative Research: Interdisciplinarity as an Interpretive Framework,” based on these students’ cohort’s research experience in Oman in the summer of 2009. This panel presentation focused on the unique approach to research that is developed in the MAIS: a collective, interdisciplinary approach to qualitative research.

2. How was your teaching and your students’ learning enhanced by this grant?

This experience provided the student participants the opportunity to immerse themselves into the core of progressive interdisciplinary theorizing and research through attending other presentations and dialoging with fellow academics and researchers committed to quality, theoretically informed interdisciplinary research.

For me, as the lead faculty teaching this unique approach to research in the MAIS’s three-course research sequence, it gave me the opportunity to continue my work with students on their research beyond the scope of a class and a grade. It made me understand far more deeply the complexities of what these students are being challenged with (the unique and complex combination of collective qualitative research), allowing me a more familiar and thus more effective framework with which to engage subsequent students’ research. It also greatly enhanced my understanding of the inner workings of interdisciplinarity—a key feature of the MAIS—affording me the opportunity to better frame out this program value and ethos for future students.

Finally, the opportunity to get to work with students on a non-grade-bearing intellectual activity was unexpectedly rewarding in that I began to see my students even more clearly as they navigate this new complex intellectual terrain. In fact, we as a group felt strongly enough about our unique research and what contributions it could make to the emerging domain of interdisciplinarity (as well as to qualitative research) that we are now in the final drafting stages of an article submission to the AIS’s journal, Issues in Integrative Studies.

3. How did (or might) this grant award lead to other opportunities to further develop your teaching and enhance learning?

This teaching and learning grant has enhanced what I do in my research methodology courses by increasing my understanding of interdisciplinarity, providing deeper insights into students’ struggles and success with collective, integrative, qualitative research, and providing me inspiration to innovate my assignments and teaching for the better.

I teach interdisciplinary research methodology at the undergraduate level in the Intercultural Studies major and my understanding of interdisciplinarity and facilitation of my students’ understanding of it as well has been significantly enhanced.

Having an extended opportunity (beyond the scope of the three-course sequence) to work along-side three students who took my research courses and implemented its major assignments was invaluable in understanding the subtler complexities of such a unique and daunting task. I am now far more effective in preparing future students for challenges and rewards of the research.

I am now giving all MAIS students—both cohort and individual—the option and encouragement (when appropriate) to frame their research projects around the idea of submitting them either as conference presentations or journal submissions in lieu of the traditional write-up assignment to me as their professor of record. Last year, as a result of this experience, I had three students working individually write-up their research with a targeted journal in mind with the goal of submitting the paper (for which I also gave them a grade). I am now encouraging this year’s cohort of students located at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary the option of doing the same with their write-up.


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