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December 2012
Vol. 6, issue 5 The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Faculty E-newsletter  

Policy regarding--SNOW CLOSING DURING FINAL EXAMS In the event that a closing or cancellation would involve a specified exam day, those exams affected would be held on the next available day after the exam week has concluded. For example - If a Tuesday exam day were affected, the next available day after the conclusion of the exam week would be Saturday. If two exam days were affected, i.e. Wednesday and Thursday, Wednesday's exam would take place on Saturday and Thursday's exam would be the following Monday.   

CLAS Event for your Calendar: CLAS Faculty and Staff Holiday Open House Wednesday, December 12, 2012 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The Pere Marquette Room (2204 KC) Tuba Quartet on KC balcony 1-1:30pm               


Frederick J. Antczak, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

"Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person."
~Sylvia Plath

Just when your class starts to hit its stride someone goes and reminds you of the snow policy.  All the signs were there-as the song says, "all the leaves are down" and we'll soon run out of stuffing leftovers. But something about impending snow also makes you check the date that grades are due (in Banner before noon on Tuesday, December 18) and try to figure out how to make all your plans dovetail in such a way that you can actually make the various holiday parties.  The CLAS Holiday Open House (Wednesday, December 12) is a particularly cool one because so many of your colleagues will be there, and it's the only one featuring a little orchestra, AND  the low brass (on the KC balcony 1-1:30pm).

It has been a very good term.  We accomplished much.  Thanks to the Faculty Council organizers and all the faculty participants of the Out of the Box events on advising that concluded last month.  We are already finding some ways to take what we learned and improve practices throughout the college.  For instance, Betty Schaner of the CLAS Academic Advising Center has written us a reminder of how you find an accurate list of your current advisees in Banner (see the box below).  We shared some ideas about the big challenges in our teaching at the Teaching Roundtables; all of the presenters should take a bow and all of the participants deserve kudos for making the time to share their teaching experiences in the discussions that followed.  Thanks to Shaily Menon, Bob Smart, and our Research Clusters, we had a productive meeting and launched some new funding opportunities. 

I had the honor of addressing members of the community and some of our finest students at the Hauenstein Center's Wheelhouse Talk.  If you are curious about what your doughty dean had to say about the rhetoric of leadership, you can have a peek.  Speaking of peeks, we had a look at the elevations for the new science classroom, lab and office building.  Seeing these fairly detailed drawings makes us seem closer to the reality and all the goals we have beyond that next construction project.  James Moyer who leads these projects came to our Unit Heads meeting to talk about  the cascade of changes after the new library is completed.  I think we all left that meeting with a new appreciation of the complexity involved. Though many of our usual events take a little time off in December, there is one last Fall Arts Celebration concert on December 3 at Fountain Street Church.  We also have some concerts from our choirs and performances of our Performance Studio Series (fully staged, student directed and acted productions).  So do keep an eye on the Arts Calendar.

The College office closes on Friday, December 21 at 5pm until January 2, 2013.  I know it's time to check tires, add wiper fluid, and put the scraper back into the car, but invigorated by our Fall successes and empowered by our visions of the future, that almost seems a refreshing prospect-but, talk to me about that again in January.  Just in case we miss one another in the coming weeks, I wish you a very successful culminating experience in your classes, safe travels, relaxation and replenishment-because next year, we have more to do, and I'm guessing we'll be even better.  

How to get Banner to give you an accurate list of your advisees Go to the GVSU Home page. Click on the Faculty/Staff Tab (do NOT use the Banner Quick Link at the top of the page) Select Banner Select the third option down "GVSU Faculty Staff Additional Student Information" Login using your Novell client user ID and password Select "Advisee List" Choose Term (best to use the current term) Enter Your G# Choose list option - all students or specific groups Click Display  This list should include only those students who are currently pursuing a degree at GVSU. Students who have graduated or stopped attending are not shown on this list.

What the Deans are Doing in December

Dean Antczak notes, "Well of course December will bring the end of my seminar, which turned out to be a really great class.  My final exam is December 13, and of course everyone remembers their obligation to give some kind of final assignment.  And I've marked on my calendar the due date of grades, December 18.  Don't want to get coal in my stocking!" Another reminder on Fred's calendar is the performance of the opera Amahl and the Night Visitors at Fountain Street Church December 3, at 8 p.m.  "Otherwise, December is a Yuletide whirl of meetings-9 individual meetings with unit heads, the CLAS Student Advisory Committee, the PSM Directors Meeting, a unit heads meeting, the Speech Lab Board of Directors, the Provost Cabinet meeting, the Deans' committee on student advising.  I'll definitely participate in our potluck for our student workers, and I wouldn't miss the CLAS Holiday Party December 12; because of long lines last year we're leaving it open 11:30 to 2:00.  CLAS APs and COTs may find vaguely Santa-looking figures bringing them presents on that day. And it wouldn't be the holidays if tubas, euphoniums and random brass didn't play seasonal favorites in the Kirkhof Lobby, look for them at 1:00.  And our dear colleague Julianne will give bell tower tours. I'll see you there." Associate Dean Mary Schutten continues her efforts related to several student support initiatives on orientation, academic advising, and admissions. In particular, she will support the timely submission of grades for Fall 2012.  She will be collaborating with the College of Education on a series of initiatives involving CLAS/COE related to student teaching, teacher tests, secondary admissions, etc.  She continues to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests, support the work of the CLAS Curriculum Committee as ex officio; and serve as coordinator for the School Health Education minor as well as serve as a faculty mentor for Movement Science. She will participate in the Teaching Roundtables, be involved in the interview process for faculty candidates, convene several meetings related to pre-service teacher preparation, facilitate the CLAS student advisory group, and identify curricular efficiencies. Associate Dean Gary Stark will monitor final schedules for Spring/Summer 2013, Fall 2013, and Winter 2014, prepare materials for salary adjustment process, attend the provost's cabinet meetings, facilitate work of the CLAS Faculty Council and College Personnel Committee, serve on the Internationalization Task Force, recruit for and participate in Awards of Distinction Scholarship Competitions, and attend commencement. In December Associate Dean Shaily Menon will interview candidates for faculty positions; participate in meetings related to new buildings, renovations, and facilities improvements; work on an annual progress report of CLAS strategic goals for 2012; review and approve grant proposals on Cayuse; form a steering group for research clusters; respond to reviewer comments on a peer-reviewed research article; and prepare for teaching her class in the winter semester.


Flipping It with Cory DiCarlo

As the sign ups for the 2012 CLAS Teaching Roundtables streamed in, one thing became immediately clear-there is a great deal of interest in flipped classrooms.  In fact, there was more interest than space at the table that Cory DiCarlo of Chemistry would present "Flipping a Large Classroom".  So we caught up with Cory this week to hear his account of his Fall 2012 pilot experiment flipping CHM 116 (the second term in a general chemistry sequence for science majors). Cory laughs and says this is his "post tenure experiment."  Acknowledging that he was not certain he could successfully apply the flipped classroom model to this large and challenging course, he even devised exit strategies so that he could halt the experiment and go back to the way he has taught this course 12 times in the past.   He needn't have worried. Part of the impetus for trying some of the techniques associated with flipped classrooms came from departmental discussions about the sustainability of discussion sections for this course.  CHM meets four times a week as it is and it is not easy to balance the contact hours, credits and faculty workload.  The department was looking for ways to address the balance that didn't give up quality or overstretch the faculty.  Cory wondered if there was a way to keep students interacting and hands on in this 8:00am class in a model that didn't depend on a discussion section per se. Cory explains that he used only some of the "flipped" techniques that are part of the national discussion in recent years.  He chose not to do much online testing, for instance.  He did make use of online lectures so that he could have the face-to-face time in class for higher engagement activities.  Instead of filming the "sage on stage" (though he tried that briefly and rejected it as an option due to low definition cameras missing too much of his whiteboard work), Cory used PowerPoint slides, screen capture using Camtasia, a high resolution stylus pad (8.5 by 11 inches, costing about $400-500 of his professional development funds) and all of this uploaded as an unlisted YouTube video which was then linked to Blackboard.  Though not strictly speaking secure, it isn't searchable by the general public.  The result is that the students have very clear PowerPoint slides, Cory's voice making the explanations of the material, and handwritten annotations that appear as he discusses each point.  Students can stop, work a problem, resume play, and replay material. What had been in previous years 50 minute lectures with pauses while students worked on problems become succinct 15 minute videos that students stop and start at their own pace.  "Permanent and reviewable," Cory notes.  "Sometimes I get an e-mail asking me a question while a student is viewing a video, so I tend to leave my computer on with my e-mail open while I work on other things so I can reply." Students come to class to work in three-person groups on a daily worksheet, with Cory roaming the room to assist as needed.  "Manitou 122 is very tight," Cory explains, "but I only spilled someone's coffee once and it didn't hurt anyone."  He chose three rather than four-person groups because he found that three could interact and hear better given the noise level and desk configurations.  The worksheets contain group discussion topics that challenge the students to take new knowledge from the readings and video lectures and make those concepts more their own through problems and creative exercises in building their own analogies for concepts in chemistry which are often at the molecular level.  "A concept such as equilibrium is key to the class but hard for the students to imagine until they construct their own metaphors and critique those of their fellow students using criteria.  This wrestling is important. This sort of work gets them past rote memorization and the book definition to real understanding." Each group turns in a worksheet for Cory to review.  While it is 60 pages to look at, this provides Cory with feedback and allows him to give graded assignments back regularly. To monitor the experiment, Cory used multiple anonymous surveys throughout the term.  Initially some students resented being prevented from zoning out in class as they might in a lecture, but soon the responses reported that they were able to learn the new information at a time of their choosing and just do the applying of that knowledge at the more challenging 8 o'clock hour.  Soon the liveliness of the class was seen as an asset. Then came the biggest shock of all when the exams showed a class average of 87%.  In similar tests in his previous "normal" running of the course, 68-70% was customary.  A little disconcerted with the result, Cory tried making the next tests more challenging and still got an 84-85% average result.  So he made the later tests even more conceptually challenging and got an average of 76%. "I really didn't have a plan for it going quite this well," Cory admits. This style of working demanded that Cory align the book and his video lectures in a more structured way than he had been and that he provide a more detailed syllabus.  He found he was able to stay right on track, only getting a day behind when felled by a case of the flu.  "I covered 20-30% more content than usual." When he realized that he could hold virtual office house by using his system to create a slide showing how to work out a problem and upload it so the student could see him work it through, he realized he could make these office hour explanations accessible to all the students in the class.  He even posts solutions to exam questions with a delay on Blackboard so students can see how they fared even before he has a chance to grade all of the exams.  Again and again, the learning comes when the student wants and needs it, the style of group work does not allow for much procrastination, and feedback is quickly available. Even students who had requested through Disability Support Resources additional time on timed evaluations were accommodated by allowing them to be in groups together who were allowed to meet for additional time outside of class to complete their worksheets. As for downsides, he explains that getting rolling took some real time.  Now he can prepare video lectures efficiently, but he had to get used to the new way of working and the sound of his own recorded voice.  He knows he was too perfectionistic at first, wanting to retake for small mistakes that any professor makes in performance of a lecture and corrects on the fly.  Eventually, he allowed himself these little flubs and corrections so the process moved along more expeditiously.  He has encountered only two students who refused to do group work and chose to drop the class.  The technophobia of a few students was initially an impediment until he provided an alternative to watching the videos on computers by allowing those students to view the lectures on DVD on their home televisions.  Once, something he said in a video lecture seems to have puzzled the entire class, but Cory had the luxury of being able to review exactly what he said and spot the source of the difficulty so he could correct it.  The problem was their understanding of a particular definition and he can now give that definition more time and attention when he re-records that lecture. In one anonymous class survey, a student wrote, "What is this magic you've done here?  I opened a chem book and read it and enjoyed it!" Cory hopes the magic continues.  He notes that medical schools are making extensive use of the flipped classroom techniques and that he hopes his experiment will allow our students to feel right at home in that sort of learning environment.  He's also optimistic about what this has done to help the lower end of the class.  The term isn't over, but so far he's liking the higher level of this rigorous class that is accomplishing more for the students.