Welcome Fall 2012-Page 3
In his remarks to the Regents last month regarding the University Studies Program, Provost Earns said,
“In what has proven to be an extraordinary difficult economic time, our faculty and staff members have collaborated to create and approve this exciting program. By doing so, they demonstrated an amazing dedication to our students and to the future of our state. Chancellor Wells and I sincerely hope that their efforts will be recognized by all as the fate of a state plan is determined in the coming months.”
You need to be, as I am, extremely proud of this accomplishment, and I believe the University Studies Program will become a reason to do what we do, as our general education requirements will become more than just requirements. This is a program – one that faculty and staff will own, adjust, and collaborate on – that will contribute to every student’s growth as they work towards completing their undergraduate degree. Many of you continuously work to keep your majors relevant and current. The structure of the University Studies Program offers us the chance to do the same with general education.
Our work is not finished. A number of challenges are ahead of us as we approach implementation, and we need your help. There will be a number of events and deadlines during this year in which we will need your participation. And, as we learn from the implementation, offering and assessment of this program, we cannot be afraid to make appropriate changes.
At around the age of 7 a child begins to problem solve in new ways, using reason rather than pure intuition.
I remember when I was 7 and was in second grade. My second grade teacher frequently told us if we were “good” we could skip math class. Even then I liked math, so this upset me a bit. Consequently, my first experiences involving problem solving in school was finding ways to misbehave to be punished with math class. This was not easy to explain to my mother!
In addition to advance problem solving techniques, children approaching the age of reason become empathetic. While younger children and even infants show signs of empathy, this becomes more evident in children around the age of 7.
Gretchen McCallister’s doctoral dissertation (which, in the year 2000, won the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education) was published with the title “The Role of Empathy in Teaching Culturally Diverse Students” in the November/December 2002 issue of the Journal of Teacher Education.
This work “provides a description of teachers’ beliefs…regarding the role of empathy as an attribute in their effectiveness with culturally diverse students. Empathy involves cognitive, affective, and behavioral components that teachers believed were manifested in their practice. … Through a content analysis… three themes in teachers’ practices emerged: more positive interactions with students, more supportive classroom climates, and more student-centered practices. The results of this study underscore the importance of creating contexts… in professional development programs in which teachers use and nurture empathetic dispositions and behaviors.”
COLS has taken an innovative approach while working on the problem of decreasing the rate that students receive D’s, F’s or W’s in our gateway courses. We are learning from each other and our students as we work to find ways that, without decreasing rigor or expectations, more students, not only students of color, will succeed.
It has been an exciting and invigorating experience to work on this initiative with many of you. And I invite more of you to get involved. Based on the significant increase in students’ academic success when instructors work collaboratively, the next phase of the Gateway Success Initiative will focus on teams implementing a specific pedagogical innovation. I invite teams of instructors to work together to address the challenge of the high DFW rates and to apply for mini-grants to support their projects. Altogether, I will award 10-15 mini-grants in the range of $3,000-$5,000 over the next two years. The grants will support the implementation of teaching innovations geared toward decreasing the DFW rate for all students, especially students of color. Members of the group can be from one department or be drawn from a number of departments from across the college. Details will be announced soon.