Thirty-four credits, 13 courses, 50 students, 8 professors, and one amazing educational experience. Led by Provost Faculty Fellow for Academic Affairs, a team of Southern Utah University faculty are driven to reinvent the role of general education and, in the process, are using that creative energy to reinvent themselves.
Eight faculty members, hand-selected from among SUU’s finest professors, have been working together for a year to overhaul their traditional GE courses to create Jumpstart GE, a highly-integrated curriculum.
Professor Matt Nickerson, one of the eight faculty members involved, remarked in one of the planning meeting, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my 25 years of higher education.” Excitement over this program is palpable among the incoming students and SUU faculty. There are plans to expand the program in subsequent years and professors are more than willing to join the team.
“Universities are places where new things are created, explored, and developed,” says John R. Taylor, Southern Utah University’s Provost Faculty Fellow for Academic Affairs. “We are focused on modeling this mindset for our students. Students in Jumpstart GE will create projects and assignments that will connect skills and concepts from all the different course areas in a truly unique way. The next eighteen months will mark the greatest shift the GE program at SUU has seen in over 25 years. These are exciting times to be a T-Bird!”
R470 GENERAL EDUCATION REVISION
As Provost Faculty Fellow for Academic Affairs I lead the general education programs at Southern Utah University. One of my duties is to serve on the General Education Taskforce, a committe established by the Utah System of higher Education to guide general education throughout the state of Utah. This year I was asked by the committee to lead the writing process as we completely update the R470, the document which guides all GE programs within the state of Utah. This revision is significant in nature, shifting the focus more to an outcomes-based model and away from individual course numbers. This radical shift will ultimately give instiutions greater flexibility in designing GE programs to meet the needs of their students.
ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES (AAC&U) FACULTY COLLABORATIVE
I was selected by the Utah System of Higher Education to be one of Utah's five Faculty Fellows in this unique grant, funded by the Lumina Foundation. Our task is to design a system of dissemination for USHE institutions to better incorporate the numerous inititiatives outlined by the AAC&U. This will be a three year process, but has included directing the design of a yearly conference, "What's an Educated Person?"
UTAH STATE OFFICE of EDUCATION SCIENCE LEADERSHIP TEAM
I was selected by the USOE to to be the Co-chair of the 8th Grade team tasked with reviewing and rewriting the Utah Science Core Curriculum in light of the Next Generation Science Standards. My fellow Co-chairs are in the process of gathering our advisory teams, consisting of current educators, from across the state of Utah.
DIRECTOR of the TEACHERS AS SCIENTISTS PROGRAM (TASP)
Secondary educators needing endorsements to teach outside of their field of expertise are required to obtain the necessary training to become “highly qualified” under No Child Left Behind standards. TASP is a yearly set of Utah State Office of Education (USOE) grants written by key collegiate science educators to fund and subsidize the cost of offering these courses during the summers. As the director, I handle the registration of all courses, manage the course participants and generally teach a number of these courses. This grant program generally serves close to 200 science teachers throughout the state of Utah each year, offering courses in physics, geology, various biological topics, and chemistry. Over $300k has been run through this program either as registration funds or Math & Science Partnership Grants
FACILITATOR for THE PARTNERSHIP FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING (PESTL)
This large multi-year grant (9 years) aims to provide science content instruction as well as in-depth training in the nature of science to elementary school teachers from the persepective of the Next Generation Science Standards. The PESTL grant originally covered elementary teachers in Weber, Iron, Washington, and Nebo school Districts, but has expanded in subsequent years. Currently, we provide professional development to over one hundred teachers in these school districts.
THE VOYAGER PROGRAM: Science in Motion!
The Voyager Program was created and implemented in 2008, though its full potential is just now being realized. Originally funded by two federal grants ($150k) the program has blossomed as the central feature to changing the way SUU trains undergraduate pre-service elementary majors. Research resoundingly shows that elementary teachers are not teaching the sciences because they do not know how. The Voyager Program seeks to change this. As Pre-Service teachers move through their college courses they often do not experience them in the proper context. To address this, pre-service teachers taking science courses to fulfill their General Education requirements now take a newly created lab which builds on the concepts they learn in their science classes. They are also paired with practicing master teachers to witness great science teaching in the lower grades. They get to create lessons, assist in delivering science content to kids, and use cutting-edge technology to accomplish this. Most importantly, they are involved in every facet of their future careers at a very early stage of their development (Freshman/Sophomore).
As part of this program, pre-service teachers also travel to elementary schools throughout the state of Utah to provide, what we have labelled, a Kid’s College. During a Kid’s College, SUU professors and pre-service teachers provide science instruction for the entire school for one day. Topics include typical science topics (biology, chemistry, geology, and physics) as well as engineering and technology activities. The Voyager provides 3 or 4 Kid’s College activities per semester, reaching thousands of kids, grades K-6, each year. Last year alone we serviced over 5000 children in schools from Price, Hurricane, Enoch, St. George, and others.
COORDINATOR of the SUU STEM CENTER for TEACHING and LEARNING
Provost Bradley Cook appointed me as the Coordinator of the SUU STEM Center to lay the foundation work and to organize an advisory board that consists of university personnel and key figures from the community. This center represents a major effort from SUU to involve itself even more with the school districts in the southern half of Utah.
An advisory board has been selected. Vision, Mission and Core Value statements have been crafted. We are currently examining our interface with the communities of southern Utah and pursuing funding streams.
PIPE SPRINGS NATIONAL MONUMENT BAT SURVEY
This project is a two-year, $40,000 project using acoustical and net-capture techniques to survey the bats that use Pipe Spring National Monument as a water source. This project includes monthly capturing events and bi-monthly acoustical recordings. Throughout the summer, the public are invited to join us in the Monument for an evening of education. I teach participants about bats, the principle of echolocation and the technology used to record and analyze the sound. In just its first year, SUU undergraduate researchers have detected the presence of bats previously unknown to the area. This project has been completed and we are currently publishing our finding and creating a short movie for the NPS to use on it’s website.
ACOUSTICAL AND MIST-NETTING BAT SURVEYS TO ESTABLISH REGIONAL BASE-LINE DATA: A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT, SOUTHERN UTAH UNIVERSITY, AND ZION NATIONAL PARK
In 2011 a $10,000 grant was submitted to complete acoustical and capture survey work in the mentioned national parks. This grant was awarded and preliminary survey work was completed in the fall of 2013. The field season of 2013 (March-November) will consist of bi-monthly acoustic and mist-netting events in each of the parks in an effort to clarify existing specie inventories as well as to spot migratory patterns of bats between the parks an bats possibly move up and down the colorado plateau. This project will employ four SUU undergraduates.
BAT HABITAT INVENTORY & POPULATION MONITORING PROJECT (Summer 2011)
The Bureau of Land Management (Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit) awarded this grant ($20k) to investigate bat populations that could be using proposed wind energy sites for roosting or foraging. Two SUU undergraduates were employed throughout the summer gathering acoustic data using two Pettersen D240X bat detectors. The sites were located in Beaver, Millard and Iron counties. A technical report has been submitted.
SCIENCE TEACHING ALLIANCE OF SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN UTAH (CO-PI) Submitted 2013
This NSF Noyce Scholar grant application was written by myself and Adam Johnston from Weber State University. Its intent to was develop and recruit more science teachers over the next five years in the secondary education programs of both schools. We asked for $1.2 million, to be split between the two institutions. The grant was not funded, but was generally well received. We intend on taking the feedback received and to resubmit the grant this year.
STEM Content Courses for Elementary Educators Submitted 2013
I wrote this grant and submitted it through John Meisner at the Iron County School District to provide funds for STEM courses and training for elementary teachers in Iron and Washington counties. This Math and Science Partnership grant was not funded due to budget cuts. It was suggested by the reviewers that we resubmit the grant the following year.
DISTRIBUTION AND RELATIVE ABUNDANCE OF CHIROPTERA IN WESTERN IRON COUNTY, UTAH (2005)
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund requested bat surveys in key developed water sources in the west desert areas of Iron County. Four SUU undergraduates were used to complete the netting and video surveys ($40k). Technical Report submitted in 2005.
DISTRIBUTION AND RELATIVE ABUNDANCE OF CHIROPTERA IN BEAVER AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES. UTAH (2005-2006)
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund requested bat surveys in key developed water sources in the west desert areas of Beaver and Washington counties. Four SUU undergraduates were used to complete the netting and video surveys ($40k). Technical Report submitted in 2006.
EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF BAT COMPATIBLE GATES (1997-2006)
This ongoing project was started by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining and Mark Mesch. During the nine years SUU coordinated this yearly grant over $300k was spent in equipment and summer stipends for SUU undergraduate students. Any given year we typically had 4-6 research students who explored abandoned mines searching for bats. This program pioneered the use of infrared data loggers to monitor the bat activity of mines, both before and after they were outfitted with bat compatible gates. Three posters were submitted and accepted for presentation at national bat research meetings (1999,2003, and 2004). Oral presentations and posters were also give n numerous times in regional Wildlife Society meetings, Western Bat Working Group meetings and Abandoned Mine and Land conferences. Technical Reports were submitted every year.