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July 2011
Volume 4, Issue 12

Our Mission: 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.

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty

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

...and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

~Luke 6:48

Anyone in Allendale last week experienced a freakishly heavy downpour that led to flooding in some campus buildings.  We had considerable damage-just how much, we'll know better in a short while.  But the major lessons we learned are not about drainage or the force of mudslides, before which steel doors are like wrapping paper to be crinkled and torn.  They are reaffirmations of the resilience of Grand Valley people, their commitment to help one another in times of need, and their determination to keep things going forward for the students--even when the mudslide happens on an exam day, a first day of a Fine Arts Camp, a day of summer orientation.  A good deal of damage has been done and needs further repair.  But it seems even a wall of water can't dislodge or replace the community we enact in times of need or challenge--which is why we work hard to preserve that community in more ordinary times. By the way, if anyone finds a right shoe that got sucked into the mud as it was getting cleaned out, it's probably mine.  It's brown, but at this point that description probably won't help.

I'm happy to report that it was raining awards (ouch!) for a Movement Science student and an alumna at the National Athletic Trainers' Association meeting.  Undergrad Alison Reddick took home both the GLATA Living Pinky Newell Undergraduate Scholarship and the 2011 Bobby Gunn Student Leadership Award.  Meanwhile alumna Lindsey Klykken received the Linda Weber Daniel Memorial Scholarship; Lindsey is currently at the University of Michigan in a doctoral program.  A ray of sunshine. The other happy deluge this time of year is orientation.  I wanted to mention to all of you that I keep hearing from participating faculty that 1) the CLAS Academic Advising Center is doing a great job, 2) that faculty volunteers really enjoy their participation, and 3) that they learn a great deal that helps them with their advising during the academic year.  As many of you have experienced directly, we all benefit when our colleagues do a great job of advising, and the suffering is widespread when out-of-date info persists.

Speaking of great volunteer opportunities, the first Grandparents. Grandkids, Grand Valley (G3) camp will be held next summer.  It will be as great as the faculty who volunteer to provide the instruction.  The Faculty Planning Form is due September 16, 2011, making summer a great time to have any of your questions answered by our Regional Math & Science Center. If you are going to be anywhere near the Schuler's Book Store on Alpine at 7pm on July 7, why not stop in to catch a talk/performance and book signing by Diane Rayor (Classics) and Karen Libman (Theatre/School of Communications)?  You may recall a CLAS Acts article on their collaboration in the lead up to the publication by Cambridge University Press of Diane's wonderful translation.

Just in case you missed the announcement, the deans and the whole College Office will be welcoming Shaily Menon, our new AD for professional development and administration, who starts on July 18.  I know she is looking forward to working with all of you. But for now, we have a holiday to celebrate and, with relatively little rain in the forecast, some time to watch the fireworks and think about our national foundations--and how our community's work together can preserve them.  Hey, a metaphor that kind of works! Wow! Cue the fireworks, and  Happy Independence Day.

What the Deans Are Doing in July

In July Dean Antczak will be having almost all of his individual goal-setting meetings with unit heads, and presenting his own goals to Provost Davis. "I'll be making the transition to Outlook, which I expect to be straightforward, meeting with representatives of several companies about internships for our students, participating in the transfer committee meeting, attending the Board of Trustees meeting, and doing the salary letters for 2011-12," Fred said. AD Mary Schutten will participate in the two week Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Institute in Denver, CO in late July and early August. She will continue to coordinate the alignment process of units' existing strategic plan objectives with the CLAS strategic plan and implement Dean's Office review of this year's self-studies, and begin the transition of these tasks to the portfolio of new Associate Dean Shaily Menon. She continues work on collaborative programming related to student teaching with the College of Education. She will also continue to implement and assess degree cognate substitution requests; support the timely reporting of final grades for the first six week courses; continue to develop processes that will support transfer student's progress at GVSU through participation in the Transfer Research Committee; facilitate the curricular fast track process for study abroad course designations, and serve as an academic advisor in the exercise science program. Gary Stark will be conducting a site visit in Germany and Poland for a study abroad program in 2012, but will be in regular e-mail contact.


Removing Impediments to Success with Colleen Lewis

Associate Professor of movement science Colleen Lewis likes to remove obstacles. When she noticed that her MOV 309 students were having trouble using a book-based assessment tool to track the development of children's motor skills, she could see that it wasn't easy to go from the printed page to the assessment of an actual child in motion.

Influenced by a technical innovation developed by her chemistry colleague Nathan Barrows, she realized that a manipulated avatar could show skills in motion on screen. The realistic figures could demonstrate the optimal kicking, jumping, running and other skills that are key assessments in small children. With her movement science colleague Mary Schutten (who is also an associate dean for CLAS) and an undergraduate student summer scholar who assisted with the avatars, she created and implemented the Motor Development Screencasts to assist in the observation of elementary school students' coordination and to better perform the assessments key to the Test of Gross Motor Development II.

It seems to be working in the real world of her pre-service physical education students in their work both with typical kids and students with disabilities. "To date, all students who participated have improved overall observational skills when viewing videos of children performing the skills," Schutten and Lewis report. "If our pre-service physical educators learn this way, by looking at the perfect avatar (we call him Henry), they can then work with students with disabilities to help them move more effectively," explains Lewis. "So that this can be more widely used, we're going through a copyright process with one of our students."

Working with her colleagues, Lewis plans to refine Henry so he can be as perfect an example as is practical. Beta testing over the last academic year has led to the project's initial life in the classroom.

Lewis is also teaching Adapted Physical Education (PED 202) a Michigan required course for all physical education teachers. Once a week her students learn about different disabilities through lecture and reading. This is immediately coupled with once weekly practical experience as each student works with a person with a disability (K-12 to adult). In addition, on Fridays, sixteen adults with disabilities come to campus to play individual and team sports. Not only do the students get an immediate opportunity to apply their learning, their clients get an opportunity to participate in physical activities they might otherwise miss. Students who have already successfully completed the course are also afforded leadership opportunities. A group of six with superior interaction skills are chosen to step up into leadership roles in the program. With student placements in Jenison, Grandville, Grand Rapids, and on the Allendale campus of GVSU, the students have many opportunities for the transformational experience of helping their students to thrive.

"Working with this population changes you," Lewis reflects. "That was my experience when I worked at the Special Olympics, and I wanted to establish similar opportunities for our students. I model the behaviors, as do the student leaders, but many things are learned from trying." Lewis observes her students in action and notes that it is a more effective assessment of their learning than a midterm or final exam. Lewis knows the experience is successful for her pre-service educators, because at the end of the course some elect to continue working with the students they have taught. Research shows that getting to know people with disabilities is the way professionals initially engage the specialty. "It tends to recruit people into this area," Lewis agrees. "I love teaching this class."

Articles on Academe

The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope
This April 2011 report by senator Tom Coburn calls itself "the first comprehensive overview of NSF." It finds that although the agency " contributed significantly to scientific discovery, [...] over $3 billion" in NSF funding has been mismanaged through the funding of "questionable studies, [...] inadequate contracting processes, [...] and a lack of metrics to demonstrate results." The Association of American Universities counters that the report "provides an inaccurate picture of one of our nation's most effective and important agencies." The End of Internationalization - This report published by the Boston College Center for International Higher Education contends that while the internationalization of higher education has over the last two years gained "moral weight, its content seems to have deteriorated." A very thoughtful article on higher ed from the New Yorker