College of Social Sciences Fosters Woodrow Wilson Faculty Fellows

The College of Social Sciences is proud to be developing a tradition of its faculty as receiving the Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Assistant Professor of Sociology Faustina DuCros has received a year-long fellowship for the 2017-2018 year while Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies and Acting Chair of the African American Studies Department Magdalena Barrera received the award in 2011-12.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Career Enhancement Fellowship Program seeks to increase the presence of underrepresented junior faculty who are committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields across the arts, humanities and social sciences. The program allows exceptional junior faculty to pursue scholarly research and writing during their fellowship period in an effort to facilitate the acquisition of tenure.

DuCros’ fellowship project is entitled “Louisiana Migrants in California Oral History Project.” Louisianans were among millions of Black southerners who left their home region during the second phase of the Great Migration. The study documents the migration stream of Louisianans to California, and investigates migrants’ experiences creating community and identity in their destination. Like Southern California (the site of the study’s first phase), the San Francisco Bay Area was a significant destination for Black Louisiana migrants. Though Los Angeles’ Black population was numerically larger, the Bay Area’s Black population ballooned at much higher rates than Los Angeles’ during the World War II period, and cities like Oakland had higher proportions of Black residents. Different neighborhood contexts create variation in how members of racial and ethnic groups construct identities. Thus, the second phase of DuCros’ research — oral history interviews with first- and second-generation Louisianans who helped grow the Bay Area’s Black population at the height of the Great Migration — comparatively elucidates the role of local places in identity construction and documents the community-making experiences of Louisianans in this distinct destination.

DuCros participated in the University Grants Academy, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Research Foundation, the Office of Research and University Advancement, as a resource to support faculty members in applying for external funding for research, scholarship and creative activity. The Academy provides workshops and support in preparing a grant application. DuCros was also assisted by colleague Barrera, who worked on three projects during her fellowship year that fell across her two research areas of interdisciplinary textual recovery of Mexican American experiences in the early twentieth century (1910 to 1940) and the mentoring and retention of first-generation students in higher education.  Barrera also moved to Austin, Texas, for ten months to gain access to an archival collection housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

The first project, “School Smarts: A Reflection of Personal and Pedagogical Insights,” is now an article published in the Journal of Latinos and Education (2014). In this essay Barrera engaged recent studies that show many college instructors still believe that Latino students lack the “school smarts” for academic success. Challenging the notion of “school smarts,” she argues that Latino students contribute to a transformative educational process in which faculty are also learners. In addition, she shares her model for the SJSU mentorship program that she created and continues to coordinate, which facilitates better student-faculty communication and deepens a student-centered learning environment in a large general education course.

The second project, “’Doing the Impossible’: Tracing Mexican Women’s Experiences in Americanization Curricula, 1915-1920,” was recently published in California History (2016). In this article, Barrera analyzes the manuals of the California Commission of Immigration and Housing’s Home Teacher Program in order to gain a better understanding of Mexican immigrant women’s experiences with the California’s Americanization curricula. Scholars have long explored different ways of mining institutional records and other forms of writing by Americanization advocates for insights into the experiences of those who participated in the programs. She argues that we can “do the impossible” of recovering immigrant women’s responses by undertaking close readings of the manual’s lesson plans, sample dialogues, teacher testimonies, and images.

Barrera also made considerable progress on a third project, “Subjection and Subjectivity: Viewing Vulnerability in the Study of the Spanish Speaking People of Texas (1949),” which is currently nearing completion. This essay focuses on a collection of images taken for the Study of the Spanish Speaking People of Texas (SSSPOT, the archival collection housed at UT) which sought to generate much-needed socioeconomic data about the living conditions of Mexican Americans. Barrera contends that in every photograph of people made vulnerable by their race and class status, subjection and subjectivity share an uneasy coexistence. Through close readings of the images and captions, as well as by interrogating the methods of documentary photography, she examines how Mexican subjects engage with the photographer and viewer in ways that may reflect and restore their individuality.

The College of Social Sciences is very excited that it is establishing a pipeline of SJSU faculty who have received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. These fellowships provide critical support for faculty research, scholarship and creative activity (RSCA) efforts. Assistant Professor Nikki Yeboah is in her first year on the tenure track in the Department of Communication Studies, and is being mentored by Barrera and DuCros with plans for her to apply for the Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in a few years.

SJSU Hosts Eighth Annual Biomedical Device Conference

On March 29, San Jose State University hosted the Eighth Annual Biomedical Device Conference, with SJSU students, faculty and staff engaging with representatives from leading biomedical device companies. The annual event is coordinated by the Biomedical Engineering Society student group and Dr. Guna Selvaduray.

SJSU’s Biomedical Engineering Program continues to grow, with more than 300 undergraduate and 100 graduate students enrolled this year. The degree program launched four years ago and received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) in 2016.

The annual conference allows students, faculty and staff to engage with representatives from the more than 1,000 medical device firms in the Bay Area. The day’s activities included plenary sessions with industry leaders such as Evidation Health, Medstars and HealthTech Capital and Abott Vascular; a panel on “How to (Boot Strap) Fund your Medical Device Company” and morning and afternoon parallel sessions in which participants selected workshops of particular interest to them.

More than 50 students shared their research and design concepts that will enhance treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, from diabetes to heart disease to spinal injuries. Most of the students were from SJSU, but a few visiting scholars from San Francisco State, the University of California Riverside and the University of Cairo also shared their work.

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #19: Encouraging Active Participation

Encouraging active participation in between the First and Last Five Minutes of Class

A voluminous body of research supports the notion that students’ learning is enhanced when they participate actively in class.  Asking and answering questions, contributing to class discussions, working with classmates to solve problems, and other similar kinds of activities can result in better understanding and mastery of course material as well as enhanced enthusiasm about what they are learning. Building upon earlier tips, today’s Faculty Matter Teaching Tip consists of suggestions of things you might do with the time in between the first and last five minutes of your classes to create a climate where students are willing – even eager – to participate.

Two key constructs – Do you see evidence of them in your classes?

Several decades ago, David Karp and William Yoels coined the term civil attention, to refer to students who were, technically, abiding by classroom behavioral norms – appearing to follow the instructor’s presentation, taking notes, nodding or chuckling at appropriate moments, suggesting that they were “engaged”, when really, their attention was at least partially elsewhere. (Karp and Yoels, 1976).  From a distance, such behavior appears cooperative.  In actuality, while it is not outwardly disruptive, students who engage in it are robbing themselves of the opportunity to get much out of their presence in class, and they are doing little to enrich the experience of their classmates.

These same authors also introduced the notion of consolidation of responsibility, the observation that absent concerted efforts on the part of the instructor, a small handful of students is typically responsible for the vast majority of verbal contribution to the class. The rest of the students sit in silence – some are relieved not to have to talk, others are frustrated by the dominance of a few, and others do not care one way or the other.

Encouraging more wide-spread active participation in discussion

Make sure you’ve created a “safe” and inviting space in your classroom, where students feel comfortable speaking up.

  • Consider how your students likely perceive you. Would they say you are approachable?  Personable? Fair? Interested in them and their well-being? Although it is always wise to use self-disclosure judiciously, share your enthusiasm as well as your personal experience as it relates to the course content. Students who feel welcome are more likely to participate.
  • Consider how you have responded when students have offered answers that were incorrect or irrelevant.Have you invited them to explain or elaborate upon their though process? Have you conveyed that their answer, while non-ideal is some ways, may have moved the conversation (and the learning) forward? Have you responded similarly to students whose contributions were more obviously correct or pertinent?  Have you consistently enforced standards of civility and mutual respect among the students in the class.

Point to ponder:  Most “talkers” sit within a few feet of the instructor, where they can  “connect” more easily. 

  • Encourage more students to contribute by moving around the classroom (space and furniture permitting).
  • Make eye contact with students throughout the room, not just those who sit in the front few rows.

Another point to ponder: Many “quiet” students simply need time to compose their thoughts before they are comfortable speaking up. 

  • Buy time.  As you pose a question to the class, explicitly instruct students to write down a few notes or reflect before answering.
  • Refrain from always calling on students who are the first to raise their hands.
  • Encourage students who have not yet spoken up to join in the discussion (“Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t spoken up…” or Let’s hear from some in this part of the room…” and then remember to wait for someone to contribute.)
  • Be sure to acknowledge first-time or infrequent contributors. You may want to do this discretely, as you circulate about the room or after class.
  • For more ideas along these lines, consider additional resources discussing “wait time” and related constructs.

Ask questions that will likely lead to productive discussion.

  • Yes-no and factual questions do not typically lead to extended conversation.  Be prepared to ask follow-up questions. (“Why do you think that?” “Can you explain your reasoning?”)
  • Be careful that your conversational prompts are clear. The “talkers” in the class may be eager to respond to anything, even if they are not sure what you are talking about, but the “quiet” ones may be all the more reluctant to speak up of they are not sure what you are driving at. It may take a series of “scaffolding” questions to move through a multi-faceted or nuanced topic that you would like students to talk about.

Try a variety of structures for engineering class discussions.

  • Have students consider a topic in pairs or small groups before inviting whole-class discussion. Circulate as students talk in small groups.  Call on individuals or groups strategically (“Would you mind if I call on you when we come together as a whole class? That was a really interesting observation you made…”)
  • Assign students to categories – numbers, colors, types of flora & fauna, etc.. –  and solicit participation by group (“Let’s hear from someone who is a ‘Red’ now”). This can lessen the threshold for shy students.

In future posts, we will consider a variety of ways to engage students actively in class through group activities in class.  In the meantime, for additional suggestions pertaining to today’s topic, see, for example, advice on the Washington University in St. Louis Teaching Center website. Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

 

Occupational Therapy Students Present at Annual Conference

San Jose State University’s Occupational Therapy department will be well represented at the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference March 30 to April 2, in Philadelphia. Department Chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn shared that 40 students will be presenting research projects that they complete as part of collaborative work with faculty. The conference is designed for practicing occupational therapists with several years experience so it is an accomplishment for student presentations to be accepted. This year’s event celebrates 100 years of the profession.

Poster presentations will be given on topics ranging from the relationship between stress factors and occupational engagement among occupational therapy graduate students to the effects of swaddling during bottle feeding in infants born preterm to fostering imaginative play in homeless preschool children, among others. One group of students who worked with Schultz-Krohn were selected to be highlighted as early researchers and will give a podium presentation on the efficacy of the cognitive orientation to daily occupational performance (COOP) intervention for children with developmental coordination problems. The students in the group include Nancy Huang, Monique Afram, Cameren Muller, Ashley Sanches and Tiffany Tzuang.

More than 50 OT students also presented at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference in Pasadena in fall 2016.

University Scholars Series Continues March 22

SJSU’s University Scholars Series continues March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229 with a lecture by Associate Professor Shannon Rose Riley, who will discuss her book “Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, and US Culture, 1898-1940.”

When Riley was a graduate student at the University of California, Davis – with a background in fine arts, performance art and video, among other artistic disciplines – a conversation with a respected colleague more than a decade ago encouraged her to follow her passion for the nations of Cuba and Haiti and their impact on American arts, culture and society.

Riley said the spark that led to her book grew out of a conversation she had with the late Marc Blanchard, a highly regarded UC Davis comparative literature professor, who was impressed with her passion on the subject.

“I was talking about my belief that those countries, which are on opposite sides of the Windward Passage and provide a corridor for travel between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, have had a major impact on culture in the United States,” Riley said.

The proximity has been significant to the nation’s artistic culture as well as perceptions of race and racial relations in the U.S. Riley’s interest in the Caribbean grew out of a trip she made to Haiti through the Art Institute of Chicago as a young art student.

Sharon Rose Riley poses for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Riley will be participating in the Spring University Scholars Series. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Sharon Rose Riley poses for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Riley will be participating in the Spring University Scholars Series. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)