West Virginia University faculty are being rewarded for developing creative new summer courses. WVU Extended Learning, which manages Summer Sessions, recently awarded six grants totaling nearly $120,000 for classes that take a new approach to math, music, writing, art, and ecology.
Twenty-five grant proposals were submitted for classes that were innovative with a goal of increasing enrollment during the summer term. Special consideration was given to courses that might serve a special population such as at-risk students or veterans.
“We were excited to see the diversity of courses proposed by faculty,” said Dr. Sue Day-Perroots, dean of WVU Extended Learning. “I knew we had exceptional proposals when we had staff members say they wished they could enroll in the classes.”
The award-winning classes are:
Wilderness Immersion: Native American Ecology, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, $16,000 awarded to Dr. Joe McNeel
Students will learn about the natural living environment the same way Native Americans traditionally came to understand it. Through hands-on, non-traditional experiential learning projects, students will build a sustainable consciousness, appreciation, and respect for the natural living world. Students will review several contemporary approaches to environmentalism, and become better stewards of nature. The course will be taught by Joseph Candillo, a tribal member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona.
Creative Writing: Writing Appalachian Ecology: Long Term Reflections on Environmental Biology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, $12,248 awarded to Katie Fallon and Dr. Bill Peterjohn
This course combines writing, critical thinking, and a field experience to get students to think about the long-term future of the planet. Students will spend some time in Morgantown and then travel to the Fernow Experimental Forest near Parsons, W.Va. Researchers at the forest will meet with the students to talk about the long-term projects that were initiated decades ago. These projects provide an excellent opportunity for students to reflect and write about ecological change and their relationship with the natural world. They’ll learn to communicate scientific research for a broader audience.
Robotic Application, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, $19,800 awarded to Dr. Todd Hamrick
Students will use robotic kits to learn how math and computer programming are used in engineering problem solving in a section of ENGR 102. The robotic kits are designed for simplicity of construction, using pre-made parts and non-powered hand tools, and they can be built and programmed to do a variety of tasks, including running obstacle courses, fetching objects, and triggering remote devices. Through the design, construction and validation of robot designs and programs, students will achieve a more concrete understanding of how computer programs, math, science, electronics, and mechanics are used to solve real engineering problems.
Math for Veterans, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, $17,900 awarded to Dr. Todd Hamrick and Dr. Robin Hensel
This course is designed to refresh or develop the math skills of veterans in a single summer session so they will be prepared to take calculus. Students will review the real number system and algebraic expressions, equations, inequalities, graphing, functions, basic matrix operations and properties, systems of equations, polynomials, counting, probability, trigonometric functions, identities, vectors, logarithms, complex numbers, and trigonometric equations, and include basic engineering problem-solving techniques to facilitate their understanding and application of these mathematical concepts to practical problems.
Intersection of Jazz and Classical Music Festival, College of Creative Arts, $20,000 awarded to Dr. Christine Kefferstan
Jazz and classical piano music have a long history of influencing one another. The College of Creative Arts will sponsor a festival that brings together students, prospective students, teachers and alumni to explore the various facets of classical music and jazz. For those with a classical background, the festival will include guidance on understanding the elements of jazz, gaining skills in improvisation and in acquiring a new vocabulary. Participants will have access to internationally recognized artists with experience teaching and performing classical and jazz music. There will also be competitions with the opportunity for the winners to be awarded scholarships to WVU. The competitions and guest teaching will be augmented with panel discussions, concerts, classes, round table discussions and presentations.
Summer Academic Success Institute, Programs for Academic Advancement Student Success Initiatives, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, $20,000 to Jacob Sanwidi
WVU is committed to helping students stay on track, and summer can be a time to help those students who face suspension from the University or financial aid at the end of the spring semester. Because 50 percent of freshmen on probation don’t return to school, the University is developing a number of strategies to help students succeed. This new “bridge” program targets rising sophomores. Students choose up to three of six courses in the first six weeks of the summer term. During that time instructors, staff, advisors, and success coaches will be available to help them. Three workshops will be offered to help students with issues such as time management and study skills. This additional academic support will help students maintain a link to academic life and prepare them for future semesters.
Place: Appalachia, College of Creative Arts, $14,000 to Erika Osborne
This special topics arts course is a two-week field course offered by the School of Art and Design. Students will study and discuss the notion of place as it pertains to the Appalachian region. Students will look at water, coal, agriculture, and recreational adventure as a means to explore the larger cultural and environmental issues that shape the area and how geography influences art. Camping, backpacking, and water travel are an essential part of the course. Students will live and create art out-of-doors as they travel to Smoke Hole Canyon, Kayford Mountain, Old Otter Holler Farm, and Seneca Creek Wilderness Area.
West Virginia University offers a flexible summer term that allows faculty to be creative with their courses. They can offer courses in an intense format of 1, 2, 3 or 6 weeks or stretch the material out over the 12-week summer term.
CONTACT: Dr. Sue Day-Perroots, Dean of WVU Extended Learning, (304) 293-6444, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn Reinke, Director of Communications, WVU Extended Learning, (304) 293-2684, email@example.com
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