SJSU’s 2nd Annual Student Success Symposium Draws Hundreds

 

Students and faculty share their experience with service learning projects through CommUniverCity at the Student Success Symposium April 15.

Students and faculty share their experience with service learning projects through CommUniverCity at the Student Success Symposium April 15.

San Jose State University hosted its 2nd Annual Student Success Symposium April 15, with more than 260 faculty, staff and students from SJSU, other California State University campuses and community colleges.

The event featured two keynote speakers who discussed serving first-generation and diverse student populations as well as 20 breakout sessions around topics ranging from developing flipped classrooms, service learning programs, peer education and more. The symposium was sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs, the Division of Student Affairs, a Department of Education First in the World Grant and a Department of Education Project Succeed grant.

Professor Patricia Backer, who served on the executive committee for the symposium, started the day-long event with a brief call to order before introducing SJSU President Mary A. Papazian.

Student success means “developing students who will become innovators and creative forces in our economy,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian, during her welcome remarks. “It means our students have the confidence and the tangible skills they need not only for their first professional job, but their next job after that.”

Innovating New Classroom Models

Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green leads a discussion about flipped classroom models. She and a team of faculty at three CSUs are researching the teaching method's ability to improve learning outcomes in gateway STEM courses.

Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green leads a discussion about flipped classroom models. She and a team of faculty at three CSUs are researching the teaching method’s ability to improve learning outcomes in gateway STEM courses.

Laura Sullivan-Green, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and Ravisha Mathur, chair of child and adolescent development, hosted a break out session about their research on flipped classroom models. As recipients of a First in the World Grant, SJSU faculty are collaborating with colleagues across three CSUs to create active learning models for gateway science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses with historically low success rates. In a flipped course, students are exposed to content before they come to the classroom and during in-person class sessions faculty members act as facilitators and provide clarification of the content students studied on their own. These two steps are followed up with post-class work that includes reflection, complex practice and advanced work.

“Students can be nervous about learning before they come to class,” said Sullivan-Green. “But once they get the structured, they are engaged with it.”

To launch their session, they asked participants to write down ideas about how to connect with industry professionals. After a few moments, they called everyone back to their seats and looked over the lists.

“All these things are active,” Sullivan-Green said. “Not one said sit and listen to a professor. So this is a wonderful way to segue into our presentation.”

Since receiving the grant in 2015, the principal investigators on the grant have created faculty learning communities, held regular discussions and offered summer training sessions to support faculty in moving to a flipped class room model that promotes active learning. They have been focused on a calculus course that was identified as a bottleneck for STEM majors, that had success rates as low as 40 percent. Now that the course has been piloted, the final phase of the grant will include comparing it to traditional courses.

“We have an external evaluator who will be looking at every factor for student success to determine if students are more engaged,” Mathur said.

During their presentation, Mathur and Sullivan-Green asked faculty members who attended to brainstorm what types of pre and post activities they might use in their own courses as well as what in-class activities would work.

One professor noted that it was important to think about learning outcomes for each module, and not just providing activities to keep students busy.

They closed the session with tips on finding source material for pre-class sessions including simulations, podcasts, text books, trade magazines, academic blogs, simple experiments or assignments to engage with people who work in a specific field.

Engaging in the Community

More than 260 higher education professionals and students attended SJSU's Second Inaugural Student Success Symposium April 15.

More than 260 higher education professionals and students attended SJSU’s Second Inaugural Student Success Symposium April 15.

In another breakout session, students and faculty from CommUniverCity presented their experiences engaging in the community.

Alex Dahl, a master’s student in environmental studies, is engaged with the project “Growing Sustainably: Garden Education and Garden Club.

“I am the link between the elementary school students, SJSU students and the community partners,” she said.

Always passionate about elementary education, she said the project has helped open her eyes to the importance of offering environmental and outdoor activities for K-12 students.

“I realized how many people are living with no way to access true outdoor experiences,” she said. “I am studying this as part of my thesis.”

Michael Oye, a lecturer in material and chemical engineering serves as a faculty advisor for CommUniverCity projects.

“Students get a chance to design their own projects, work in groups and go out and do something good,” he said. “It helps them get engaged with their majors and it’s also good for the community.”

The symposium executive committee included Patricia Backer; Sullivan-Green; Gregory Wolcott, interim AVP for transition and retention services; and Stacy Gleixner.

View the full list of breakout sessions and speakers online.

CSU Shares Profile of SJSU’s Fritz Yambrach, Professor and Inventor

San Jose State University’s Professor Fritz Yambrach brings the same innovative and practical approach to his work, whether rebuilding the packaging program in the College of Health and Human Sciences’ Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging, creating internships for students with industry partners or developing a new way for people to carry water in developing countries.

When he was hired in 2006, the packaging program had five students enrolled and four courses. He has since developed 10 courses that include packaging for medical devices, pharmaceuticals and food processing, and built the program to an enrollment of 70 students.

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

“I created course content I believed was useful to a working professional in the field,” Yambrach says. “Packaging is simply problem solving. I’ll give [students] relationships between items and then see how they put it together and make creative extensions.”

Yambrach is the latest San Jose State University faculty member to be featured in the CSU Spotlight with a new profile and video about his teaching philosophy and his research. He is the inventor of a water vest that is being tested in Haiti, Burundi and Ethiopia as an ergonomic, hygienic alternative to carrying water in buckets over long distances.

Fritz, who received the 2017 DuPont Diamond Packaging Innovation Award, said those who have tested the vest since 2006 found an unexpected benefit: “Young girls in Ethiopia were typically tasked with collecting water and it often meant they couldn’t go to school,” he explained. “The vest is allowing more girls to attend school since it makes transporting water much easier.”

Read more about Yambrach’s teaching and research in the CSU Profile, an SJSU Academic Spotlight story and an SJSU Washington Square profile.

“Essence of Blackness” Event Educates, Entertains and Builds Community

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Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel perform at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The pounding of conga drums married with the seductive blare of the trumpet filled the Student Union Ballroom as part of the second  annual Essence of Blackness event.

The African AmericanStudent Success Task Force hosted the event along with its Harambee Committee to explore just one influence of African culture on the world by focusing on jazz music and its rich, diverse history in the United States and beyond.

“Harambee, the arm of the task force that sponsors these kinds of events, brings together not only the African American students, faculty and staff but also reaches out to the larger campus to participate in cultural events,” said Michelle Randle, director of the CASA Student Success Center and chair of Harambee. “And [also it is important] for the African American students to see the support that they actually have on campus beyond themselves.”

The Essence of Blackness theme was born last year following conversations with African American students regarding the type of programming they felt was necessary to share with the campus community, with an educational component being at the forefront.

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet strums on his bass during a traditional jazz performance at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

“I do think young people now are not exposed to jazz and do not always understand that its origins do come from Africa and this country,” Randle said.

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet, one of two types of jazz represented that night, lectured attendees on the history of jazz before delving into a traditional jazz performance.

Channel read Langston Hughes’ poem titled “Drums,” which represents the origin of jazz by chronicling the movement of slaves from Africa while describing the survival and re-emergence of the drums into new lands.

“When you think about slavery and tribes of people who were thrown together, who didn’t know each other, the oppression, the brutality, there was just one thing they had in common — it was the drum,” Channel said. “Ultimately, it resulted in this new form of music that had never been heard before on the planet called ‘jazz.’”

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A server from Sandi’s Cobbler Cups serves American soul food at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The genre’s diversity was introduced to attendees by Brian Andres, the drum set and leader of the Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel. He discussed how the music evolved in the United States with the help of Mario Bauza, a Cuban clarinetist who played a role in launching the Afro-Cuban jazz movement during the Harlem Renaissance.

While some attendees leapt to their feet and danced as Andres and his band’s upbeat conga drumming and lively trumpeting reverberated throughout the ballroom, others merely indulged in Walia Ethiopian, Caribbean and American soul-food cuisine.

As part of the Harambee Awards, a first in the program’s history, commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students.

Six members of administration, four students and two community members were awarded recognition and two students were given special recognition for their “Strength in the Face of Adversity.”

“It means something if it comes from the community out to people to say ‘hey we recognize what you do, and we want to publicly be able to acknowledge your contributions because I don’t think people do it for the recognition,” Randle said. “They do it because they love what they do, they want to see the students succeed, and they want to be a part of a community that supports everybody.”

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Commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Gary Daniels, Harambee awardee, said although he is thankful for the recognition, he is not a student activist to gain accolades.

“Young people should use their talents and energy to make the world a better place regardless of whether they get awarded or recognized,” Daniels said.

Jerusalem Bekele, ’17 Kinesiology and fellow Harambee awardee, said events like Essence of Blackness are essential to not only educating the campus community about various cultures and the origin of traditions, but also to building a sense of community.

“Our perspective is kind of limited to what’s in front of us, and not necessarily outside so events like this kind of reach outside of America,” Bekele said. “I think it introduces a lot of culture and tradition to the SJSU community as well.”

Donntay Moore-Thomas, ’17 Communications, said although it was nice to see familiar faces that comprise the three percent African American population at SJSU, she was thrilled to see people from other cultural backgrounds attend as well.

“If we can share a meal together, I feel that we can come together for a greater cause,” Moore-Thomas said.

Spartans Recognized for Volunteer Work on Downtown Mural

Randy Vazquez, senior journalism major; Danny McLane, junior industrial systems engineer major and Jahmal C. Williams, Spartan Connect Coordinator, Peer Connections, pose with their community service certificates presented by the City of San Jose. McLane and Williams are members of the AfricanAmerican/Black Task Force. Vazquez is a member of the Latino@ Student Success Task  Force. All contributed community service hours for the recently completed SJ Downtown Community Mural project.

Randy Vazquez, Danny McLane and Jahmal Williams pose with their community service certificates presented by the city of San Jose (photo by Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Michael Cheers).

Three Spartans have been recognized by the city for volunteering to help with San Jose’s latest street mural project.

“I’ve learned so much about the people who helped shape our culture and society. I’m in awe at artistry and what it represents,” said Danny McLane, ’16 Industrial and Systems Engineering.

McLane, Randy Vazquez, ’15 Photojournalism, and Spartan Connect Coordinator Jahmal Williams received certificates commemorating their contributions at a dedication ceremony held Dec. 2.

Barbershop mural

photo by Randy Vazquez, ’15 Photojournalism

Design

McLane, Vazquez and Williams are active in SJSU’s African American and Chicano/Latino student success task forces. The related “Fades and Fellowship” support group meets regularly on campus and at the Barbers, Inc. barbershop at East Santa Clara and South Eighth streets, where the mural is located.

The mural began as six separate studies or canvases now hanging inside the shop. Each shows one of the shop’s barbers styling a public figure, ranging from Muhammad Ali to Bruce Lee.

Vazquez recently completed a video, “Interview With An Icon: A Collection of Art and History.” The piece is part of an exhibit on the making of the mural, opening at the King Library Cultural Heritage Center in mid-January.

Inspiration

SJSU alumnus Dave Diggs, who owns the shop, said his support grew from his recent trips to Europe, where he saw street art everywhere.

He wanted to bring the same appreciation for the arts to his corner of downtown San Jose, and found in his very own shop Ian Young, a barber and artist perfect for the project.

The end result is a mural that boosts pride for all kinds of people and brings prominence to an all too often overlooked part of town.

Sponsors

A number of local sponsors contributed to the mural project. They include the San Jose Downtown Foundation, Maranatha Christian Center, Big Rentz, Sherwin-Williams and The Home Depot.