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April 2014

Dean Vickie Shields on History Professor Bill Youngs’' "scooter"

Keeping in touch

As the Dean of College of Social & Behavioral Sciences and Social Work at EWU I want to take the opportunity every couple months to keep in touch with you. I hope you enjoy this format for finding out about the exciting things happening for students and faculty in the college.

Dean Vickie Shields

Innovations in the Classroom

Professor Dave May, Department of Government has harnessed the power of technology to make a big class small again. At Eastern, we are proud of the bonds forged between faculty and students through small classes and low faculty-to-student ratios. However, with more than 12,000 students statewide to serve, some of our classes in general education have to be large. The Government Department wanted to find a way to serve 300 students at a time in Government 100 while maintaining the highest quality instruction. The key to achieving this balance seems to be this: make sure one of your very best instructors teaches the class and make sure they have the entrepreneurial spirit to harness our classroom and online technology.

Dr. May taught this "super section" of Government 100 for the first time in fall 2013. To make the large class small he used sound pedagogical factors that he identified early:

  • Feedback early and often
  • Concept-driven rather than memorization-driven general education learning
  • Multiple points of information access for students
  • Chances for students to take chances and to succeed
  • Progressive learning
  • Making online testing as valuable as it could be for assessment but also for student learning
  • Cumulative knowledge gain

Dr. May used our classroom and online technology, Canvas, in the following ways:

  • Learning objectives for each chapter were online from day one
  • He created a syllabus quiz
  • PowerPoint slides were on the site for all lectures from day one
  • Instead of tests he created learning assessments made from a large test bank of questions. Students could try as many times as they liked to improve their scores on theses assessments while learning the concepts from different angles.
  • Filmed "bonus lectures" of Dr. May were posted online
  • Exams were online and did not take up classroom time
  • The technology made communication easy and immediate through Canvas and also on mobile devices
  • He used Canvas to link students to resources easily

Student comments were overwhelmingly positive. Students enjoyed the instructor and the flexibility of learning. Many comments suggested that they felt they had more engaged communication with the instructor and other students in the large than in their smaller classes. Very few students complained that the size of the class impeded their learning.

Student Spotlights

Lee Nilsson, a graduate student in history at EWU, was granted the National Digital Stewardship Residency at the Library of Congress. This nine-month position was hugely competitive, and Lee will be one of 10 digital stewards who will work in leadership positions on projects to preserve digital heritage materials.

Angelica Hill, Sociology '12, recipient of the Carper Foundation Scholarship, is currently enrolled in the Global and Sociocultural Studies PhD program at Florida International University on a McNair Graduate Fellowship.

Brandy Bippes, Anthropology and Technical Writing '12, received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to pursue an internship in Shanghai, China. She was one of the eight students who joined the Cuba study-abroad trip led by history professor Joseph Lenti in December 2012.

On the Bookshelf

Recently published books by our faculty: Imagining Iran: the Tragedy of Subaltern Nationalism by Majid Sharifi, government; Gratitude and the Good Life by Philip Watkins, psychology; The Making of Modern Girlhood by Jessica Willis, women's and gender studies; The Road to Chinese Exclusion by Liping Zhu, history.

Faculty Member Honored

Dr. Igor Klyukanov, Communication Studies:
On Nov. 23, 2013, at the session of the National Communication Association Legislative Assembly at the annual convention in Washington D.C., Dr. Klyukanov was presented with the Presidential Citation for Service Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the discipline as chair of the Task Force to Enhance the Internationalization of Communication.

Upcoming Events

Dr. Robert Sapolsky, science and nature writer, biologist and neuroscientist, and stress expert, will lecture at The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7 p.m., as the spring presentation of the 2014 Carper Foundation Lecture Series.

Dr. Sapolsky is the author of A Primate's Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, and Monkeyluv. Dr. Sapolskly is a MacArthur Fellow, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya.

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© 2014 Eastern Washington University

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences and Social Work
Eastern Washington University
121 Senior Hall
Cheney, WA 99004
Phone: 509.359.6081

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