Roy selected as Wisconsin Teaching Scholar

Dr. Roy

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The COVID-19 global pandemic is bringing new classroom perspectives to Dr. Bidhan Roy as he discusses the topic of student engagement, learning and equity in the Wisconsin Teaching and Scholars Program. Roy, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, calls it an honor to be selected as a teaching scholar which got extended to the 2021-22 academic calendar due to the pandemic.

“With academics going online, instructors had to improvise and adapt their lectures on the fly. Our lectures were in the living rooms of students and their families’ homes, so student engagement and learning were issues,” said Roy. “In addition, there was a different problem to deal with. Although, the academic difficulties faced by students from disadvantaged socio-economic groups were well known even before the pandemic, the pandemic was followed by social unrests in the summer of 2020. It put the issue of equity in education centerstage. Therefore, it should not be surprising that a major portion of the discussions under the WTFS program in 2020 and 2021 was devoted to equity in classrooms.”

Throughout the program, participants are guided through the process of completing a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project. Roy’s research is borrowed from the field of educational psychology – applying an adapted version of the MUSIC model of academic motivation (Brett Jones, in International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21{2009}, 272-285). The MUSIC model consists of five components: empowerment, usefulness, success, interest and caring. As Roy begins to work on the brass tacks of his project this summer, he’s going to decide which components he will heavily focus on.

“It’s a one- [and/or two] semester project. It will be an adapted version of the MUSIC model in improving student engagement and learning without sacrificing the standard and rigor of the course,” he said. “It’s an equitable approach in pedagogy, since every student is collectively involved in the process.”

As Roy implements the model, he said students will help design the sequence of coursework within the confines of the prescribed curriculum and how to approach the materials.

“The students will have a debate, and I will have the final say. They are going to be involved in the decision-making process,” said Roy. “Research shows that students get more involved as the course proceeds. However, there is a paucity of literature on such pedagogical experiments in engineering education. Therefore, at the end, my endeavors could result in success or may turn out to be a spectacular chaotic dud.” 

Although the majority of the teaching scholars program is online, Roy said it is important to connect with faculty from across the UW System. He calls it a rewarding experience, stating academics is universal.

“As instructors, we need to know what's happening in other campuses and learn from each other so that we can do a better job in the classroom,” he said.

Roy is excited to get his project underway. He’s looking forward to seeing how his research unfolds and sharing his results with colleagues across campus and the teaching scholars.

“This pandemic has helped us to improvise, but in a twisted way it has also given us the opportunity to look in the mirror and do an introspection on what works or doesn’t work. Is it equitable?” said Roy. “The Wisconsin Scholars Program has given me a new perspective on what we do in the classroom.”

Roy will be recognized at the UW-Platteville faculty and staff convocation on Thursday, Aug. 26.