Laurie Grobman

Professor of English and Women’s Studies
Penn State University, Berks Campus
2015 TLT Faculty Fellow
Focus Area: Undergraduate Research

Our focus area of Undergraduate Research is something new this year, and it aligns nicely with the University’s Engaged Scholarship initiative. We feel lucky to find such a great collaborator in Laurie Grobman, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State Berks. Laurie leverages a community-based research approach to her courses, where her students often go out into the surrounding communities to research historically overlooked groups. The students then document various aspects of these groups, with their work often culminating in the form of a published book. For example, A History of the First Three Decades of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Reading, Pennsylvania was written by her students in 2014, in collaboration with students in CAS 222 taught by Dr. Jill Burk.

Grobman’s Fellowship will examine how eBooks might play a role in her course, allowing students a different method to ‘publish’ their work. One of the challenges now is that students only play a part in the authoring of the book chapters. After the semester ends, Laurie then seeks out a printer and has the books published. An eBook can allow the students to both author and construct the book in a single semester, for publication online. An eBook also offers other unique, interactive possibilities that do not exist in print.

One of the possibilities with eBooks is to also use the digital format as a way for students to add special callouts or anecdotes in the form of interactive areas of the book that readers can dig deeper. These callouts might be personal reflections about the research process of putting the book together or anecdotes about writing specific sections of the book, almost like an interactive author’s commentary. These callouts are an innovative way for students to engage in and share the critical ‘reflection and analysis’ piece of community-based research.

We hope that Laurie’s project can provide a roadmap for other instructors and students around Penn State a workflow and outlet to share their research more broadly. “Having a digital platform where students can publish books or manuscripts will not only help me in my courses that involve undergraduate community research, but also students from around Penn State who want an avenue to publish and disseminate their work.”

The Team

Heather Hughes
Bart Pursel
Mary Ann Mengel, Center for Learning & Teaching