Penn State Lehigh Valley faculty share expertise at technology symposium

a woman speaking in a classroom

Subhadra Ganguli was one of several PSU-LV faculty presenters during the recent TLT Symposium, held in-person, and TLT Lite, an event featuring pre-recorded sessions and an in-person follow up.

Credit: Eileen Grodziak

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) faculty made a strong showing at the recent Teaching & Learning with Technology (TLT) Symposium. Four PSU-LV faculty members and the campus’ videographer presented sessions focused on innovative ways to utilize technology in the classroom.

The TLT Symposiums were events dedicated to teaching and sharing innovation in higher education amongst fellow PSU faculty and staff across the Commonwealth. To maximize impact and reach as broad an audience as possible, the events were held both in-person at University Park and through pre-recorded sessions followed by live discussions with the presenters called TLT Lite. PSU-LV faculty members spoke on the following topics as part of TLT Lite:

  • “Changing Student Perception Regarding AI Application—SoTL” presented by Subhadra Ganguli, assistant professor of business.

  • “Open Pedagogy in ART197 (Art of Mathematics)—Student Generated New Content Shared via Wikipedia Content”, presented by Larry Musolino, assistant teaching professor of mathematics.

  • “Hear Me Out: Podcasting Pedagogy and the 21st Century Student”, presented by Liz Keptner, lecturer in communications, and Andrew Barr, videographer.

Anita Yuskauskas, associate teaching professor and coordinator of the Health Policy and Administration program at PSU-LV; Elizabeth Huck, instructional designer at Penn State Hazleton; and Justin Nordstrom, professor of history at Penn State Hazleton, presented “Integrating Artificial Intelligence Into Undergraduate Course Assignments” in person at University Park.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was front and center as faculty, staff and students increase their knowledge about machine learning and its various capabilities. For her presentation, Ganguli surveyed 11 students in one of her classes to gauge their initial perceptions of AI. She then assigned them a small task they had to first complete on their own, then do a second time using AI and compare the results. AI’s results did not live up to students’ expectations.

“They found their own way of doing things was better than AI,” Ganguli said. “Either they didn’t give AI the right commands or prompts, or AI does not do things better always. They found out AI gave them some useful tips they hadn’t thought about when they did the task on their own.”

Students found AI is a powerful tool but still has limitations.

“AI is not a know-it-all,” Ganguli said. “Students found there are still some areas they might be able to explore or do better at on their own. They can work with AI, but it’s a tool, rather than giving it the power over them or put their existence at stake.”

Yuskauskas’ presentation focused on AI and critical thinking. Students asked AI to duplicate a completed policy brief and reflect on what it generated.

“First, students had to check the validity of the sources AI produced,” Yuskauskas said, noting that approximately 89% of the students had invalid sources. “Right off the bat, it’s showing students the information we’re getting from AI is not always believable.”

Students discovered they still need to verify the sources AI generates are credible.

“The students learned AI isn’t going to do the work for them. They found they learn better when they do the work on their own. Some said it’s a great way to get started and jump-start research and organize ideas,” she said.

Students in the course ART197: Art of Mathematics, which is co-taught by Musolino and Ann Lalik, gallery director at PSU-LV, are sharing their research with the world through a Wikipedia page. One student documented various mathematical and geometric patterns used in religions around the world and then updated a corresponding Wikipedia page on Sacred Geometry.  

“This project allows students’ research to be shared with a global audience. Rather than having a student write a final paper that is graded but then ends with the graded assignment, this type of research which is then published in Wikipedia has a permanence to it,” Musolino said. “Students enjoy publishing their findings in this way — since Wikipedia has a worldwide audience, students are able to share their knowledge and information with a global audience.”

Keptner and Barr’s presentation focused on sharing information via a podcast. They co-teach a podcasting course at PSU-LV — the only course of its kind at Penn State. Students work on every aspect of putting the project together, including researching and choosing a topic, finding guests, scripting and conducting interviews. All of the podcasts are developed at PSU-LV’s on-campus studio adjacent to the new Music Room, so students also learn about recording technology. The course was first offered in fall 2023 and reached its maximum of 10 students both semesters.

“We have students from all majors in the course,” Keptner said. “This is not the type of class where they come in, sit and listen to a lecture, then take a test. It’s a hands-on, production-based class. They start the class feeling a little nervous but leave feeling so proud of themselves. And with the job market so competitive, if a student can learn a skill that other applicants don’t have, they’re really pushed to the top of the pile.”

The symposium was meant for faculty who are really excited about technology — what’s available, what’s possible, and its boundaries — and implementing it in their teaching so students leave equipped with the tools they need to find jobs.

“In my opinion, we need to prepare students for this,” Yuskauskas said. “Our responsibility is to help them. Things are moving so quickly, we need to teach students how to think about this. The conference was very exciting — to get teachers acquainted with technology and how to apply their creativity. It was really great.”

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