Academic Portfolio

When I was a PhD Student, I had to…

Research Interests

My research interests focus on the affordances and constraints associated with online collaborative environments and their impact on student learning and achievement. Of particular importance to me is whether online collaborative tools may be used to meet both teachers’ instructional needs and students’ learning needs, and the contextual factors such as teacher comfort-level with technology that may moderate these effects. At present, I am pursuing the role of community as a factor in driving collaborative encounters.


CEP 900-930 (Summer 2010): Proseminar in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology

The amalgamation of these courses (Proseminar in Learning Technology & Culture and Educational Inquiry) were designed to be as fluid and cohesive as possible. The courses were co-designed by the instructors Cary Roeseth and Mattew Koehler. The two weeks that we spent in East Lansing were highly interactive and emphasized collaboration with much of the focus on introdcing the cohort to the academic paradigm and the essence of educational psychology.

The feedback received from the instructors provided insight into the growth that had been observed over the term. As an academic, the experiences from these courses set the path for myself and my classmates.

The grade earned for the combination of the two courses was 93.5/100, which was reported as a 4.0 defined in the course weighting (see linked Final Grade and Feedback).

CEP 932 (Summer 2010): Quantitative Methods in Educational Research I

This course is an introduction to statistics for the educational researcher with instruction provided by Spyros Konstantopolous. Social science methods are introduced and developed through course topics such as sampling, probability, hypothesis testing, inferences on variance, and regression.

The course offered opportunities for collaboration and learning within the comforts of the community of learners within our cohort. The support and conversations from the experience increased efficacy and deepened learning.

The final grade for the course was computed as a 4.0, with the final exam earning a 56.5/63. Visit the course page for homework assignments and grades/feedback.

CEP 951 (Fall 2010): Technology, Society, and Culture

Pursuing your interests became the focus of CEP 951. The course generated a multitude of topics of interest and conversation. The goal of instructor Yong Zhao was to provide students the opportunity to grow and construct their interpretations of how technology, society, and culture mutually impact each other and to explore the interplay between them.

Among the feedback received from Dr. Zhao was the following in response to a written reflection from class readings and discussion:

“This is precisely the kind of reflection we need in our society, among educators, policy makers, and certainly all scholars. This is exactly what I am hoping the class can do among doctoral students. Thanks.”

The final grade for the course was computed as a 4.0. Visit the course page for assignments, reflections, and the final project.
CEP 933 (Spring 2011): Quantitative Methods in Educational Research II (in progress)
The second installment of Quantitative Methods in Educational Research challenges the growth of the educational researcher in the exploration of statistical application. Dr. Kimberly Maier developed a rigorous online course focused on depth of understanding through exercise, practice, communication, and collaboration. Topics studied include multiple regression, ANOVA, multiple comparisons, and ANCOVA.

Feedback for this course positively illustrates personal growth and understanding. While this course is in progress, a summary of feedback will come at a later time.

Article Critiques

CEP900 (Summer) – Article Critique 1, group critique. Instructor feedback.
CEP900 (Summer) – Article Critique 2, individual critique. Instructor feedback.
CEP900 (Summer) – Article Critique 3, individual critique. Instructor feedback.
Course and Work Feedback
All feedback that was received on all major work can be found on the Feedback page.

Greatest Hits

Throughout the program, certain tasks and responsibilities have been particularly rewarding and have been well received. A selection of such work is below.
Motivation in Learning
On Wednesday, July 14, I interviewed a student of mine. Chris is fifteen years old and projects the promise every parent dreams of their child. I called Chris a few days prior to this interview to ask if it were possible and to inform him of the questions I’d like him to respond to. Allowing an adolescent time to think seemed an appropriate thing to do. The next day he sent a text that read “Mr. Bruce, Is there anyway you can make that interview Wednesday? I won’t be ready tomorrow. Thank you much :)“. Clearly, I had chosen the right student.

His interview lasted well over two hours and his exchange of thoughts, beliefs, and motivations were as much of a learning experience for me as it was for him. I have had few conversations as deep, intellectual, and moving as this one. I hope I have captured the essence, Chris. See complete blog post for more.Download Understanding_Motivation
Mixed in Garageband; background audio “One” by U2 (Fair Use)

Behaviorism in Education

This project was created on campus at MSU (Erickson Hall) during the first Proseminar in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology PhD. We were given the weekend to devise a script for a very vague assignment: sell behaviorism. We came back to class Monday and were given less than two hours to produce this movie. My group conceptualized and drew four pictures. I took a digital image of them, went home and produced what you see.

My Research Interest Story
As stated in my Research Development Project, I aim to develop a blueprint that may be used for the sustainable employment of online collaborative environments in face-to-face, online, or hybrid classrooms. The technology exists and students are already using them, but the educational setting is averse and it may be due a lack of support and development of pedagogy. The concerns facing education are real and the change is upon us.

When I set out to begin a PhD in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, my aim was to explore the educational and academic possibilites of online collaborative environments toward the development of a blueprint of sorts for their proper employment in classrooms. Education has been historically slow in realizing the potential that many tools have for classroom use and as a result, technology must be repurposed in order for it to be used effectively in schools. What I mean by this is technology has been received with skepticism, as being unnecessary, and an inhibitor to learning over the last several decades. In a technology-infused society, tools with the capability to bridge distances and connect people in ways never before possible, it is unwise and negligent to keep them out of the classroom. However, these technologies have already been purposed in society as a means of social networking for entertainment and correspondence. When the potential exists for them to be used for greater functions such as addressing academic and educational concerns, teachers, administrators, and parents, resist their ability to serve those capacities. The result is a generation of individuals who are unable to see how powerful technologies can be used differently.

If online collaborative tools are employed in younger grades and used during the formative years of education, children will develop an understanding of the full function and capabilities of powerful forms of networking, collaboration, cooperation, and collective abilities. Resistance to such simply extends the unfocused purposing of this technology and perpetuates the generational inability to realize the potential of online collaborative environments toward social, economic, and political issues plaguing our society.

Creative Commons License
Online Collaborative Environments by Lawrence Bruce is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
Based on work at

Annotations for Class Readings
Annotation for Derry, Chapter 20 “The Limits of the Possible: Exponential Growth and Decay”

Annotation for Derry, Chapter 13 “Contentious Questions: The Shadowy Borderlands of Science”

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