David Buck, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychology, was selected as the 2020-22 CEL Scholar to support his exploration of collaborative projects and assignments as a high-impact practice.
David Buck, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychology, has been named the 2020-22 Center for Engaged Learning Scholar. During a two-year appointment, CEL Scholars develop expertise in a specific aspect of engaged learning and create resources on that topic to be shared through CEL’s website and in other scholarly venues. During his term, Buck will focus on collaborative projects and assignments as a high-impact practice.
Buck’s interest in collaborative projects and assignments as a high-impact practice stems from his work as a social psychologist. His research has historically focused on intergroup conflict (e.g., prejudice and discrimination). He has recently become more involved in studying how members of different groups might better support one another. In particular, his new research examines how members of privileged social groups might best serve as allies to marginalized groups, what motivates the transition from bystander to ally, and how and when people engage in collective action.
Buck has frequently used collaborative projects and assignments in his classes for both practical and pedagogical reasons. When he started teaching one of the required research methods courses in the psychology major, he made extensive revisions to the curriculum that restructured the class around a term-long collaborative research project. By working collaboratively, students are able to take on a much larger project than the constraints of the class would otherwise allow for, the project more closely mirrors the research process in the field, and the process encourages scaffolding and rounds of peer feedback that he believes better prepare students for the senior capstone experience in the major.
Buck’s teacher-scholar identity also includes prior scholarship of teaching and learning projects. He previously has examined the impact of collaborative low-stakes writing assignments (supported by a Center for Writing Excellence grant) and developed a project to enhance a traditional student study practice (i.e., using flash cards) through gamification and small group interaction (supported by a Center for Advancement of Teaching and Learning community of practice).
Buck views the role of the CEL Scholar focused on collaborative projects and assignments as an opportunity to share his work, research, and resources with a larger audience. He writes, “I have traditionally focused on publishing in professional journals – as is the practice in my field – but I have been wanting to do more writing that reaches out directly to audiences that could be impacted by the work, and I think the time and resources provided with this position would help me develop the skills needed to do that.”
Buck also sees this project as a way to align with Elon’s new strategic plan, with the goal of increasing “deeply mentored undergraduate research.” It is an opportunity to expand on Psychology’s mentorship in student research that psychology major students may not be involved with initially. He suggests looking into mentoring models and/or course-based mentored research experiences that focus on small groups of students working collaboratively, in order to successfully expand the number of undergraduate research opportunities available to students. To do this, his project will explore better information about how groups collaborate and learn.
The CEL Scholar position is an opportunity for an Elon faculty member to develop and deepen a professional development trajectory that includes scholarly activity on a high-impact practice or other engaged learning topic.
Buck is the fourth Elon faculty member to be named CEL Scholar. He currently joins 2018-20 Scholar, Buffie Longmire-Avital (Psychology), and 2019-2021 Scholar, Phillip Motley (Communications). Ketevan Kupatadze was the inaugural 2017-2019 Scholar. A call for applications for the 2021-23 CEL Scholar will be released in fall 2020.