October is Academic Success Month

The following message has been shared with students to promote preparation for spring 2018 registration:

Spartans like you are taking advantage of many resources during October’s Academic Success Month to help prepare for the future, starting with spring 2018 registration. Your fellow students are using online tools and attending a number of events to get a jumpstart on planning courses for next semester and beyond. You have access to these resources, too, to begin planning a 15-unit course load that will keep you on track for graduation.

Successful students will check their exact registration appointment in MySJSU on Oct. 24 to be ready when registration begins on Oct. 31. They also email advising questions in advance of their registration time to academic.advising@sjsu.edu

Students who use our MyGPS online tools prepare for the upcoming semester and beyond with resources that include: MyRoadmap (four year degree plans for all majors), MyProgess (shows what classes you have left in their degree), MyScheduler (allows you to plan classes around your outside commitments), and MyPlanner (maps out all the classes you need until graduation). http://www.sjsu.edu/mygps/

Other events Spartans will be attending include:

  • Ask an Advisor: 10/16 – 10/19 from 11am – 3pm: Advising at tabling on 7th Street plaza
  • One stop Pre-Registration Advising & Resource Fair: Advising Connections/Spartan Up: Wed, Oct. 25 between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:AS BBQ pits located between the AS house and the West Garage (Fourth Street). Lunch will be available between 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or until the food is gone.)

Your fellow Spartans also take advantage of many resources to support their academic success all year long:

Like many of your fellow Spartans, we hope you find the resources and activities available during October’s Academic Success Month to be helpful in planning your next semester at SJSU.

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #24: Before You Wrap Up for the Semester, Leave a Trail of Breadcrumbs

With exams nearly done and summer beckoning, this is a time when faculty can feel particularly pressed for time and ready to move on from the tasks of the academic year. In the spirit of the “A stitch in time saves nine” adage, we offer this last Faculty Matter Teaching Tip for the semester.

Before you wrap up for the semester, leave a trail of breadcrumbs to help you reconstruct how you’d like to modify your courses before you teach them next.

Many of us tend to shove all of our teaching materials aside as soon as we are done submitting students’ grades. The essence of this final Faculty Matter Tip for the semester is that it might be productive to take some time to review the courses we have just wrapped up, and make some notes before moving on to other commitments and activities. Next time you teach the class, what might you want to add, what might you want to delete, what might you want to tweak a little bit, what might you want to change significantly, and what might you want to leave exactly as is because it went really, really well?

As you review your course materials, consider the following:

  • Were there topics that didn’t grab students’ attention as much as you had hoped or expected?
  • Were there concepts that students struggled with more that you had envisioned they might?
  • Were there activities or techniques that required more of your time than warranted, given the student gains you can attribute to them?
  • Did you come across resources that you didn’t have time to draw upon this semester?Have you gotten ideas about things to try next time you teach the class?
  • Were there topics or activities or teaching techniques that really engaged your students or helped them master the material?

We encourage you to make some notes while these observations are still fresh in your mind.  Without this “trail of breadcrumbs” to jog your memory, as you sit down weeks or months from now to “refresh” the course, you may find it frustrating to try to reconstruct what changes you had thought might be fruitful. We also invite you to participate in any of the upcoming CFD or eCampus sessions or workshops, or to sit down one-on-one with CFD or eCampus staff, to flesh out your ideas about the changes you would like to make to your courses.

You can view the entire Faculty Matter Teaching Tip series on the Center for Faculty Development web-site. Please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

‘Disability at Work’ Panel Teaches Students to Expand Their Horizons

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the "Disablilty At Work" Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

Attendee Rosse Strada poses for a photo with panelists Joseph Fox, Karo Caran and Victor Tsaran at the “Disablilty At Work” Panel hosted by Communications Studies students.

By Riley Wilcox and America Yamaguchi, Communication Studies students

On May 5, San Jose State University students hosted a panel on “Disability at Work. Students enrolled in Communication Studies 132F Dis/Ability Communications with Professor Bettina Brockmann coordinated the three-person panel event that was open to the public in the Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Library. The event was widely publicized, with invitations going out to the entire Communication Studies department as well as all Accessible Education Center (AEC) registered students, and a Facebook event post that made it clear the event was open to the public. The panel’s purpose was to inform the audience about employment and accessibility difficulties for people with disabilities.

The speakers included Victor Tsaran, technical program manager at Google, Karo Caran, who also works in accessibility at Google and is an  accomplished author, and Joseph Fox, senior vice president at SAP Ariba.

Tsaran and Caran presented together, speaking on their experiences growing up as vision-impaired children in Ukraine and Poland respectively, and the differences in their experiences in mainstream and specialized education programs. Tsaran and Caran both work with Google to increase the accessibility of the user interfaces for Google and Google Play. They concentrated on perspectives in ableism for people with disabilities, and the similarities between ableism and other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

Dreams became a theme that emerged throughout the event. Caran pursued a dream of studying Chinese that early instructors had hesitated about due to her vision impairment.

“I work in the business of dreams,” Tsaran said. “I had a few dreams—I wanted to teach history at my school of the blind. But [when I came to the United States], my dreams expanded as my horizons were expanded.”

He noted that his university’s dedication to accessibility created a capacity for dreams he had not had before. Working in the tech industry, the pair also spoke on how computers are “great enablers,” that allow people to speak, get their point across and have a sense of self. Caran explained that because times are changing, and so much of the world is now accessed through an electronic platform, society must more than ever make sure that computer technology is accessible for everyone.

Joseph Fox, who also works in the tech industry, is the parent of four children, three of whom are on the Autism spectrum. Fox spoke on always having a “parent view” before having a “business view.” He said he has found as a father, as an employer and as a student, there were many challenges for people with disabilities. Fox presents frequently on the benefits of hiring a neurodiverse workforce, informs parents of resources for their children, informs young adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder on toolsets and programs to aide them, and highlights for employers the best ways to incorporate accessibility into the workforce. Some of his key advice includes self advocacy and the benefits of finding peers and mentors who can help young adults to obtain the accommodations they need. He also recommends employers to develop hiring processes that do not involve interviews because people who are capable of the job may not always be impressive during interviews. Under Fox’s leadership, SAP Ariba announced in May 2013 a goal of having one percent of its global workforce represented by those on the Autism Spectrum.

After Fox’s presentation, the floor was opened to audience questions. Some of the key messages were that accessibility development requires trial and error, and that the best way to reduce ableism is to maximize exposure by reading and meeting more people with disabilities.

May 2017 Newsletter: Faculty and Staff Redesign Courses to Enhance Learning, Engagement

Photo: Klaus Trilck Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

Photo: Klaus Trilck
Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, presents on her course redesign during a faculty and staff recognition luncheon hosted by eCampus on April 21.

During eCampus’ Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon on April 21, select presenters shared the way they have collaborated to enhance the curriculum in their course work in support of student success. Posters around the classroom where the luncheon was held showed some of the techniques used as part of the CSU Proven Course Redesign Grant and the university’s Quality Assurance Grant.

“We will highlight the work of staff and faculty, and hear and see what they’ve been working on,” said Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus, noting that theirwebsite lists many of the services they provide.

Dr. Marilyn Easter, a professor of marketing and decision sciences, and Prabha Chandrasekar, a mediated learning assistant, shared the ways they worked to redesign a Lucas College and Graduate School of Business introduction to marketing course with a goal of decreasing bottlenecks in the required course for students in their major. Bobbi Makani, a lecturer who also worked on the redesign, shared insights via a prerecorded video.

“To decrease bottlenecks, an online course is the solution,” Easter said. “We wanted to redesign it to make it accessible and easy to navigate.”

Using the campus learning management system Canvas, they created easy-to-digest modules each week for the students that included an overview of the content, a video introduction from Easter, step-by-step instructions, a description of learning outcomes, reading and assignments, and a “check your knowledge” section. Each week, the students also had a chance to engage live with Easter.

A student who provided a testimonial on video said that for her while working full time and taking courses toward an undergraduate degree, she sometimes struggled to get the courses she needed at times that worked for her schedule. Dr. Easter’s online course fulfilled her time needs while also providing engaging material.

Ravisha Mathur, an associate professor of child and adolescent development, and Debbie Weissman (via prerecorded video), a faculty member in the School of Information, discussed their experience as participants and more recently as team leaders with the Quality Assurance program. The program aims to evaluate the effectiveness of online courses and provides individualized mentoring to faculty to improve their online classes. Mathur, who is a peer reviewer this year, said the program helped her to improve student learning and engagement in the online environment.

The feedback she received from students showed her that they preferred some lecture information in PDFs that they could download to read at times when they were offline. She now also requires a “meet up” twice a semester for her online courses, in which students can personally engage and connect with her in person, online or by phone; she has seen an improvement in student achievement and motivation with these meet ups.

“It only has to be five to 10 minutes, but it usually ends up being 20 minutes,” she said. “Engagement goes up after that first meet up.”

Resa Kelly, a professor of chemistry and the science education program, and Yingjie Liu, an instructional designer with eCampus, discussed their work on incorporating augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) equipment into a post-baccalaureate science teaching credential program course.

“We looked at it as an exploration in a sense,” Kelly said, “To get them thinking about how they might try to teach with the technologies.”

The 2017-18 Quality Assurance application is available online, due June 18.

May 2017 Newsletter: Spartans Meet Civil Rights Icon on Spring Break

Photo: Michael Cheers San Jose State Spartans meet with Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis during an alternative spring break trip in March.

Photo: Michael Cheers
San Jose State Spartans meet with Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis during an alternative spring break trip in March.

By David Goll

When they first heard in the fall semester about a trip to the East Coast planned for spring break week in March coordinated by the African American Student Success Task Force, Chelby Gill and Adesuwa Obaizamomwan were intrigued by the academic and professional possibilities.

Now that they have completed their first trip to New York and Washington D.C., both students view it as a life-changing experience. They were among a group of 16 students who took part in an Alternative Education Spring Break trip. The students were accompanied by Dr. Michael Cheers, co-chair of the task force, associate professor of photojournalism, and photojournalism coordinator; Jahmal Williams, the interim assistant director of the Peer Connections Tutorial Program and Student Development; Felicia McKee, administrative assistant to the AVP for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs; and alumna Wanda Hendrix, ’77 Sociology, ’94 MPA, a member of SJSU’s Tower Foundation board of directors. Hendrix and College of Social Sciences Dean Walt Jacobs provided scholarships to cover part of the cost for students within that college to participate in the trip.

Gill and Obaizamomwan said they viewed a visit to The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York City — one of the nation’s foremost showcases of the works of art by people of African descent — as one of the trip’s highlights. Obaizamomwan, a senior majoring in psychology, said she also loved seeing such famed Big Apple sites as Central Park, Times Square and seeing a production of “The Lion King” at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre. Nearing graduation and because of her interest in attending graduate school to pursue politics and public policy, she was also excited to tour the American University campus in Washington.

But spending time in the nation’s capital with John Lewis — the 77-year-old Civil Rights icon who suffered a fractured skull while participating in the famed 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Alabama and has served as a member of the House of Representatives from Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District for the past 30 years — was a once-in-a-lifetime honor, both said.

“It honestly felt surreal to meet Rep. John Lewis,” said Gill, a sophomore majoring in political science. “The feeling was much different than just meeting some celebrity. The moment had so much more meaning because this man is a Civil Rights icon. I loved hearing him talk about his experiences in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Obaizamomwan said Lewis talked a lot about his activist past, connecting it to the students of today.

“He talked to us about activism in the past and today,” she said. “He said how important it was for us to be active as leaders in student government and in social issues. And also how to stay mentally healthy while doing that. He talked about how he is still fighting today. And he said if you don’t think things have gotten better, take a walk in his shoes.”

Along with being a living legend, the Congressman is also very much of the current day. After all, he attended the annual Comic-Con International convention, the pop-culture entertainment and comic gathering in San Diego, two years ago to promote his Civil Rights trilogy and illustrated memoir “March: Book Two” released in 2014.

“He took selfies with us,” Obaizamomwan said of the meeting with Lewis in Washington.

That longer-than-expected meeting between the SJSU students and Rep. Lewis was months in the making, Cheers said, of coordinating the meeting. After getting no response to his initial round of emails to Washington D.C., Cheers took a different tack.

“I called his office in Georgia,” he said. “We were able to arrange for a visit to his Washington office, but were told it would probably only be for a few minutes.”

The meeting ended up lasting far longer, even as Lewis’ staff reminded him of other appointments in his busy schedule.

“He really got into it and became so engaged with the students,” Cheers said. “He personally signed copies of his book for every single student.”

The trip to Washington was a bit of a homecoming for Cheers, who attended graduate school at Howard University. Howard “rolled out the red carpet” for the SJSU students when they visited the historically-Black university campus during an hour-long presentation of its graduate programs. He said he hoped it would spark an interest among students to look into graduate programs at historically-Black colleges and universities, located in the East and South.

The visit also allowed students to connect with successful Spartan alumni. They met with Robert R. Rigsby, a 1983 SJSU graduate who is now an associate judge on the District of Columbia Superior Court, and Bayo Junyor, a 2012 SJSU graduate who went on to earn a master’s degree from New York University, and is now a science teacher at Ascend Middle School, a charter school in Brooklyn.

Cheers said he feels it’s important to get SJSU students out of their “Bay Area bubble” and into the larger world.

“I want to empower them and give them exposure to a wider world,” he said. “I think that in order to close the achievement gap (for African-American students), you have to expand the opportunities.”