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[CASE STUDY] There and back again: Implementing and assessing a digital reading, research and writing application

By: Arin Haverland, Kayle Skorupski, Catrina Mitchum, Rochelle Rodrigo and Anna Leach
Posted On
February 14, 2024
Featured In
February 13, 2024
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PowerNotes' Scholar-in-Residence Catrina Mitchum (along with others) recently published a case study in Advances in Online Education: A Peer-Reviewed Journal.


The processes of reading, research and writing are complex and intertwined. Currently, the larger educational technology landscape requires using multiple tools to do these processes. Being able to pull them into a single tool can allow learners to focus on learning and streamlining processes instead of using their cognitive bandwidth to learn multiple new technologies. The weary travellers who conducted this study set off on a journey to discover such a tool and determine its efficacy in their various online courses across the disciplines of environmental science, nutritional science, writing studies, literature and information science. The study was conducted through a series of pre- and post-surveys asking students about the strength of their reading, research and writing skills, the ease with which they performed them, and how much they enjoyed completing the tasks associated with those skills. The travellers found that many students felt more confident in their abilities, found processes to be easier and enjoyed the processes more than they did before the tool was introduced. This case study suggests that when we remove the complexity of balancing various technology tools in our online classes, students can focus on the process and not the tool; however, there was a small subset of students who did not find the tool improved their processes because they already had processes in place that they liked. This suggests that tools that ‘rule them all’ should be introduced early in an academic career and be made available by the institution throughout a student’s time at their academic institution.

Author's Biograpies

Arin Haverland PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Environmental Science in the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona. Arin has been involved with designing and delivering online STEM courses for over a decade and has experience using various technologies and tech driven assessment tools in both the in-person collaborative learning setting and the online hybrid and fully asynchronous setting. Her teaching philosophy emphasises inclusive and flipped learning practices. Her research area focuses on the intersection of climate, environmental issues and the food-water-energy-nexus with specialisation in climate risk assessment, environmental challenges related to arid regions, water quality and availability, environmental justice and science informed data driven decision making. Her recent publications include Global Water Initiatives Redux: A Fresh Look at the World of Water and A New Mission: Climate Adaptation Challenges and Opportunities in the Department of Defense.

Kayle Skorupski PhD, MS, RDN-AP, CNSC, FAND, is the Director of Professional Programs and Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Nutritional Sciences & Wellness in the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona. She completed her PhD in Health Sciences with a clinical emphasis in Health Promotion & Wellness at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, studying the impact of yoga on first year student resilience and retention. She co-authored two chapters in Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide. As Director of Professional Programs, she oversees multiple programmes, including a Graduate Certificate in Applied Nutrition as well as the Professional Science Masters in Applied Nutrition programs, which includes an ACEND accredited Graduate Programme. She is interested in best practices regarding utilising technology tools in higher education to help her busy professional students maximise their learning with the aid of technology.

Catrina Mitchum PhD, is adjuncting as it was intended as Associate Professor at University of Maryland Global Campus and co-author of Teaching Literacy Online: Engaging, Analyzing, and Producing in Multiple Media. She has been designing and teaching and online learning experiences since 2009. She has been awarded various teaching awards including one in Professional and Technical Writing and one for Collaborative Teaching. Catrina has taught first-year writing courses, upper level undergraduate courses in Professional and Technical Writing and introduction to research courses, entirely online. Her research interests are in retention, design and delivery of online courses and teaching with technology. She has scholarly work published in Currents in Teaching and Learning, Composition Forum, and The Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, among other journals and edited collections. She was awarded, with other scholars, the CCCC Research Initiative Grant in 2018 and a Digital Learning Tech Seed Grant in 2021, and in 2021-22, Catrina was an Inclusive Leadership Fellow.

Rochelle Rodrigo Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo PhD, is the Senior Director of the Writing Program; Professor in the Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English (RCTE) programme in the Department of English at the University of Arizona. She researches how ‘newer’ technologies better facilitate communicative interactions, specifically teaching and learning. As well as co-authoring three editions of The Cengage Guide to Research, Shelley also co-authored Teaching Literacy Online and co-edited Rhetorically Rethinking Usability. In 2022 she became a Research Associate with The Readability Consortium and a Distinguished Fellow in the Center for University Education Scholarship (CUES) at the University of Arizona. In 2021 she was elected Vice President (four-year term including President) of the National Council of Teachers of English and won the Arizona Technology in Education Association’s Ruth Catalano Friend of Technology Innovation Award. In 2018 she became an Adobe Education Leader and in 2010 she became a Google Certified Teacher/Innovator.

Anna Leach is a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Associate at the School of Information at the University of Arizona. She has taught undergraduate courses on collaborating online and qualitative research methods. Her dissertation focuses on how students interact in an asynchronous, online coding course and the use of network analysis to describe these interactions. She intends to defend the work in the spring of 2024. Anna has presented at iSchool conferences on the impact of students’ funds of knowledge through the iVoices Media Lab (2023) and privacy considerations on student data collection (2021). She was accepted and participated in the 2022 ASIS&T doctoral consortium where she presented her dissertation work. Anna is interested in the use of social network analysis to describe and study communities.