April 2017 Newsletter: Provost Update – Community Connections Foster Engagement

Students and alumni clean up Coyote Creek, which flooded in February. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Students and alumni clean up Coyote Creek, which flooded in February. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

In February, after a season of heavy rainfall, Coyote Creek overflowed.  The resulting flooding displaced nearby residents. As a campus, we quickly offered support to SJSU students, faculty and staff affected by the disaster. Spartans also volunteered to help community members in need, through a fundraiser launched by CommUniverCity that has raised $9,400 to date and by helping with neighborhood clean-up efforts in the weeks following the flood.

As a metropolitan university, we are strengthened by the connections we foster with our community, including the city of San Jose, neighboring residents and the greater Silicon Valley region. SJSU intersects with the city in many visible ways – from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, which serves as a gateway between downtown and our campus, to the Hammer Theatre along the Paseo de San Antonio, where SJSU operates what has become a prestigious arts and entertainment venue. The theater has also become a place for civic engagement and we hosted the launch of our Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change there.

Our students, faculty, staff and alumni engage beyond the borders of our downtown campus in a variety of ways, from courses that incorporate service-learning projects to internships to research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance the quality of life in our community. We are fortunate to have CommUniverCity and the Center for Community Learning and Leadership fostering partnerships with government agencies, nonprofits and other entities. They provide opportunities for students from many disciplines to further their skills while gaining practical work experience that also prepares them to be engaged citizens when they graduate. Some of our service-learning projects include flood relief efforts, cleaning up our local watersheds and a unique program in which students assist low-income clients who want to expunge their misdemeanor criminal records.

As we focus on student success, we continue to emphasize the importance of student engagement, especially through internships and service learning. This spring, Humanities and the Arts students learned the importance of networking in their industry while interning at the Cinequest Film and VR Festival and engineering students worked in teams as part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) course to solve problems for nonprofit clients.

Faculty, staff and students are regularly engaged in research that aims to find practical solutions for important issues. Professor Fritz Yambrach designed a vest that will help transport water in developing countries or in times of disaster around the world, while Tom Reisz is leading work with the Eastside Union High School District on the Math Readiness Challenge Initiative Grant in efforts to improve college readiness.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which our campus is involved in the greater community, and I commend all of you who stay engaged in our surrounding neighborhoods. I am proud of all the ways Spartans are influencing our region.

Science Students Share Research on May 5

Student Research Day Flier

Student Research Day Flier

Undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Science will present findings from research they have conducted with faculty members as part of Student Research Day on May 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the Ground Level of Duncan Hall. Students from all disciplines in the college will display posters about their research and will be available to discuss their work with visitors.

The event is one of several planned as part of a week-long Inauguration Celebration for San Jose State University’s 30th President, Mary A. Papazian, who will be inaugurated on May 4, at 9:30 a.m. on Tower Lawn. The week’s activities also include two film screenings that relate to our president’s strong cultural heritage but also tie into San Jose State University’s legacy of social justice in times of turmoil. “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief” will be shown on April 30, at 3 p.m., in the Diaz-Compean Student Union Theater. “The Promise,” starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, will be shown on May 2, at 7:30 p.m., at Century Oakridge 20, in San Jose.

In addition to the screenings, activities will include a guest lecture, musical concerts, poetry readings and the Innovation to Inspiration Gala. Visit the Inauguration website to see the full list of activities and events planned from April 21 through May 5.

 

Faculty Matter Teaching Tip #20: Helping Students to Develop Effective Test Preparation Strategies

Most instructors use exams of some kind to determine how well students are mastering course content and achieving course objectives. Many lament what they perceive to be underdeveloped test preparation strategies and unrealistic expectations displayed by a large swath of their students. Below, we lay out a number of techniques and activities you might consider implementing before and after your tests, to help students become better self-directed learners.

  1. Before the test…

A great deal of research in the learning sciences indicates that students who engage in regular (weekly) mock-self-testing do better on the “real” tests than their peers who put in as many hours studying in ways that do not include a self-assessment component. The self-testing allows learners to monitor their mastery of the material and also allows them to learn how to call forth the material they have learned. This advantage is equally significant, whether students work alone or in pairs/with peers.

  • Consider encouraging your students to add this sort of regular practice activity into their study routine.
  • Consider creating quizzes or prompts that students can use to monitor their mastery of the material as they encounter it throughout the semester. Be sure that the kind of processing of the materials required to answer the questions or problems you provide matches what you expect students to be able to do on your actual tests.

In our own workshops focused on helping faculty assist their students as they develop an effective approach to studying and test prep, we refer to “the 3 M’s”:

  • Building students’ metacognitive awareness: Encouraging students to  examine closely what they know and what they have yet to master, how they know that they know it (or not) and how accurately they can assess whether their command of the material is going to be sufficient for the way they are going to have to show or use it.
    • Pausing regularly in class —  to make time to solve sample problems, to articulate and defend one’s opinions about course material, and to practice explaining course material in low-stakes contexts such as small-group discussions — can be quite helpful.
    • Allowing a few minutes at the end of class for students to review their notes, or leveraging the discussion feature of the course learning management system can also help students identify insights or points of confusion.
  • Helping student master the mechanics of studying: Encouraging them to develop and use study strategies that work for them, as they strive to understand, manipulate, memorize, organize and use the material.
    • As your expectations of what students should be capable of increase in complexity (from mastering terminology and remembering facts to being able to analyze, integrate and apply information in new and creative ways), it will become increasingly necessary for them to move beyond the rote memorization and simple recall strategies that may have served them well at earlier points in their education.
    • Demonstrating and then having them practice techniques for creating graphic organizers or other ways of actively representing material in ways that are personally meaningful for them can be time well spent.
    • Providing students with an accurate picture of the kinds of questions or problems they will need to be prepared to answer will help them recognize the kinds of study strategies they will need to develop and deploy to be sufficiently prepared.
  • Helping students develop or sustain the motivation to dig in: Creating a context where students will strive and persevere even (especially?) when they have struggled with the material. Here, consider
    • decisions faculty make as they set up their courses (e.g., opportunities for do-overs, absolute grading scales vs. grading on a curve, formats in which students might display their command of the material) as well as
    • dispositions and attitudes students bring “to the table” (e.g., confidence, grit, resilience, and a growth-vs.-fixed mindset.)
  1. After the test…

Research also demonstrates the value of taking time after the test has been returned to reflect honestly and in detail about

  • how one studied prior to the test,
  • where one did well or missed questions on the test,
  • what the answers to these questions suggest about how to adjust one’s approach to studying, and
  • and what kinds of resources and support, if any, might be useful, moving forward (e.g., attending faculty office hours, tutoring, study-buddies, assistance developing study or time-management skills, etc..).

Such “exam wrapper” tools abound. One particularly thorough version is available at the Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence (http://www.duq.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-and-learning/exam-wrappers). Consider requiring that students complete an exam-wrapper assignment.  Once they have completed it, have them refer to it periodically. And have them bring it with them to office hours, if and when you meet with them to discuss their work in your class.

We invite you to peruse the list of student success services and workshops available through SJSU’s Peer Connections (http://peerconnections.sjsu.edu/) programs. And please add your own strategies using the comment link below.

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.

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.