Cope, Kalantzis collaborating on NSF-funded study

by the College of Education at Illinois  /   Oct 10, 2016

Bill Cope and Mary KalantzisProfessor Bill Cope of the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (EPOL) will be the principal investigator of a two-year study funded by the National Science Foundation in the amount of $550,000.

EPOL professor and former Education at Illinois dean Mary Kalantzis is one of five scholars who will also participate in the interdisciplinary study—“Assessing Complex Epistemic Performance in Online Learning Environments”—which will develop online software tools to assess and offer feedback to learners in the medical field, individuals who must communicate complex scientific and technical information.

Cope said the medical and veterinary medicine students in the study will write analyses of specific cases of sick people and animals, organizing evidence and making diagnoses. Peers will then offer their views and revisions, giving the learners a combination of human and machine feedback. The upshot is that students will be asked to put together their own case studies instead of having information given to them.

“The goal of this program is to produce better future doctors by increasing their exposure to real-life situations in the medical field and peer reviews, rather than being evaluated based on their ability to memorize information and take exams,” Cope said.

Cope added that the nuanced ideas brought forth through complex epistemic performance go beyond simple factual answers and delve into critical thinking, constructive discussion, and ultimately professional judgment.

Cope and Kalantzis will collaborate on the project with Willem Els (College of Medicine), Duncan Ferguson (College of Veterinary Medicine), and ChengXiang Zhai (School of Information Sciences). After analyzing the results, Cope and his team will likely apply for funding that will allow for further testing in the complex epistemic performance realm.