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Nucleus

A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 4 - Double Issue

NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

Spring/Summer 2013

VOLUME 4 - DOUBLE ISSUE | SPRING/SUMMER 2013

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N ew Yor k Cit y College of T ech nolog y of the City University of New York

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Julia Jordan, Acting Director Avril Miller, College Assistant

Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance

Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, Director Raymond Moncada, Assistant Director Rachel Tsang, Assessment Analyst Yi Chen, Assessment Analyst Olga Batyr, Research Aide Albert Li, Research Aide

Faculty Commons

Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Affairs Designee Compliance and Diversity Officer

Office of Sponsored Programs Barbara Burke, Director Patty Barba Gorkhover, Associate Director Eleanor Bergonzo, Assistant Director

Stephen M. Soiffer Special Assistant to the President/ Institutional Advancement

Grants Outreach Coordinator 2012-2013 Professor Pa Her

Pamela Brown Associate Provost Karl Botchway Interim Dean, School of Arts and Sciences Barbara Grumet Dean, School of Professional Studies Kevin Hom Dean, School of Technology and Design Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

US Department of Education Title V A Living Laboratory Charlie Edwards, Project Manager National Science Foundation I3 Cinda Scott, Project Manager Coordinator of Integrated STEM Projects Design Team Professor Anita Giraldo, Artistic Director Kevin Rajaram, Web Master Jonathan Campoverde, Angelica Corrao Matthew Joseph, Patricia Persaud, Designers Alina Melnikova, Photographer

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) Norbert Aneke * Isaac Barjis Ian Beilin Nadia Benakli Karen Bonsignore Candido Cabo Sanjoy Chakraborty Gwen Cohen-Brown

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Susan Davide Lynda Dias Mary Sue Donsky Aida Egues Boris Gelman Maria Giuliani Karen Goodlad Joel Greenstein

George Guida Pa Her Louise Hoffman Neil Katz Paul King Darya Krym Janet Liou-Mark Karen Lundstrem

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Zory Marantz John McCullough Djafar Mynbaev Susan Phillip Estela Rojas Walied Samarrai Ryoya Terao Shauna Vey

Debbie Waksbaum Denise Whethers Gail Williams Adrianne Wortzel Farrukh Zia Pamela Brown, Chair *Deceased

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CONTENTS Drawing Connections

4

Academic Redecorating

5

Cross-Fertilization of Ideas and Actions Selwyn Williams

6

Collaborations for Student Success

8

Bonne August

Pamela Brown

Ian Beilin, Maura Smale, Bronwen Densmore, and Anne Leonard

Creating a Competitive Edge for City Tech Grads 10 Ann Delilkan

Mathematics for Daily Use

12

Black New York

14

My Time at City Tech

16

How Faculty Use Data to Improve Learning

17

Solving the Problem of Homework

22

Reading Effectively Across Disciplines

23

How Birding Became a Serious Passion

24

Ezra Halleck and Sheila Miller Marta Effinger-Crichlow Barbara Grumet

Tammie Cumming Andrew Parker Juanita But

Monica Berger

“Working both

traditionally and digitally, I believe drawing combined with technology provides a unique forum for transferring and articulating ideas.� Genevieve Hitchings

Advertising Design and Graphics Arts

Cover Illustrations

by Genevieve Hitchings

E d itors, Barbara Burke and Julia Jordan | Desig ner, Matthew Joseph | Pr i nt i ng, Digital Imaging Cente r at Cit y Tech

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Common Core

Drawing Connections by Bonne August

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ecently, there has been concerned and sometimes alarmed discussion of a perceived decline in the study of the liberal arts, especially the humanities. The liberal arts have been the foundation of Western higher education since modern universities began in the Middle Ages. Today, as college students and their parents face the high cost of a college education paired with a persistently uncertain job market, they tend to seek degrees that appear to guarantee employment. From this perspective, a degree in history, English, or philosophy may appear to be a frivolous luxury. Nate Silver, writing for the New York Times on June 251, offers some reassurance that the numbers do not demonstrate an absolute decline in liberal arts majors, pointing out that the college-going population is much larger than it once was, with first generation college students often seeking the practical benefits that a college education confers. The question remains, however, of the place and perceived value of the liberal arts and sciences in the higher education spectrum and curriculum. Silver says, “Perhaps the more important moral and policy question is what academic requirements should be in place, whether in English composition or probability and statistics, among students across all majors—including those who go to college with a specific career in mind.”

address deeper, more long-term needs by providing, as the mission statement declares, “the educational foundation for lifelong learning through a liberal arts and science core curriculum.” And in fact, much of the career-specific curriculum consists of applications of knowledge, concepts, and theory learned in the liberal arts and sciences curriculum. In September, the framework of that curriculum will change, as the College’s new General Education Common Core is implemented. The new Common Core will offer students the benefit of alignment with CUNY’s Pathways general education requirements and will serve to clarify and

strengthen students’ understanding of the essential relationships between the liberal arts and sciences studied in the Common Core and the specific applications studied in the major. Continued on page 26

1 http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/ as-more-attend-college-majors-become-morecareer-focused/?utm_source=twitter&utm_ medium=social&utm_content=584740&_r=1

City Tech’s mission of providing students with a command of skills necessary in their respective career areas directly addresses the immediate practical concerns of students and their parents. At the same time, however, all of our degree programs 4

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Curriculum Design

Academic Redecorating by Pamela Brown

D

uring Superstorm Sandy the first floor of my home flooded, and had to be gutted. Since then I have logged hundreds of hours watching HGTV, looking for renovation and redecorating ideas. Some of the shows feature prospective home buyers touring properties. Outdated and neglected homes, with shag carpeting and structural damage, get sideways looks and negative comments. Many of our degree programs undergo periodic review as part of the professional accreditation process. For programs without external accreditation, CUNY requires a Program Review at least once every ten years.

Like homes, academic programs benefit from thoughtful evaluation and systematic improvements. The Program Review report includes a discussion of faculty activities and evaluation of the effectiveness of the curriculum, student success initiatives, and the current level of resources. The report also includes proposed goals for the future and recommendations for the additional resources needed to achieve those goals. It is informed by institutional data. Once the Program Review report is completed, an external evaluator reviews the report, visits the campus, and prepares a report. This

report describes what the reviewer judges to be strengths and challenges and offers recommendations. The department then reviews the external evaluator’s report and comes up with a strategic plan, setting goals and targets for both the short and long term. When Program Reviews are a team effort, with thoughtful input from faculty, students, alumni, workforce partners, external advisory boards, administrators, and other key constituents, it can be a transformative process—rewarding and productive. This academic year the following departments are conducting program reviews: Advertising Design and Graphic Arts, Architectural Technology, Business, Entertainment Technology, Environmental Control Technology, Humanities (Foreign Languages), Mechanical Engineering Technology and Social Science. Similarly, assessment cycles of continuous improvement in General Education are ongoing. Based on an assessment conducted last spring, the Writing Across the Curriculum program, under the leadership of Jody Rosen (English) and Laureen Park (Social Science), is supporting faculty who teach writingintensive courses. A new Reading Effectively Across the Disciplines initiative, focused on strategies to improve reading comprehension and develop professional vocabulary, was also launched. This initiative is being led by Juanita But, (English). Maura Smale (Library), is overseeing efforts to enhance Information Literacy.

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These initiatives are systematic campuswide efforts to improve student learning. The contributions of all faculty involved, especially those on the College General Education and Assessment Committees and the Living Lab Gen Ed Fellows, are gratefully acknowledged—in the language of home improvements, they are building valuable additions to our academic structure.

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Undergraduate Research and Interdisciplinarity

Cross-Fertilization of Ideas and Actions by Selwyn Williams

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ndergraduate research (UGR) is a growing phenomenon at City Tech. During the 2011–2012 academic year nearly 300 students participated in the various research programs across the College. The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) succinctly defines undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” This burgeoning interest is due in no small part to City Tech’s active affirmation of the importance of undergraduate research as highly effective pedagogy with many educational benefits to students, faculty, the institution, and the wider research community. Such benefits to students include: •

gains in knowledge and skills;

increased academic achievement and educational attainment; and

promotion of professional and personal growth.

Furthermore, the positive impact of these educational gains from student engagement in research significantly increases when those students come from traditionally underrepresented groups. Given the diversity of our students, this impact is especially salient. If General Education forms a fundamental part of the “living laboratory” City Tech aspires to be, then UGR is a viable symbiont in this dynamic Gen Ed ecosystem. There is a virtually seamless alignment of Gen Ed and UGR goals in fostering: •

depth and breadth of knowledge;

lifelong learning;

communication, inquiry, and analytical skills;

integrative learning; and

ethics, and civic engagement.


The bi-level structure of the College presents exciting opportunities and challenges for interdisciplinary interactions. Add to the mix one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies, in one of the world’s greatest cities, and one has a rich academic milieu that is indeed highly distinctive. So where do we begin? Recommended actions: •

increase meaningful interactions among diverse faculty;

develop research projects based on these relationships;

promote student engagement in such projects; and

utilize established institutional platforms such as Emerging Scholars, Honors Scholars, Learning Communities and LSAMP.

Although UGR is conventionally seen as a practice that deepens study within a specific discipline, it is not unusual to find students engaging in research experiences with faculty “outside” of their chosen programs. As Director of UGR, I have noticed that this is especially evident within the School of Arts and Sciences where in concert with its own degree

Karen Goodlad ponders interdisciplinary themes with colleagues.

programs, it services both the Schools of Technology and Design and Professional Studies by providing the requisite General Education curriculum for the college community. The result is often a synergistic juxtaposition of disciplines, with biology faculty mentoring radiology technology students, and English professors engaging aspiring dental hygienists in literature research projects. This relationship between Arts and Sciences and Technology and Design often challenges the faculty to develop approaches that foster student

development in knowledge, skills and ethics that can translate well into the student’s chosen major and subsequent career path. This formulation can be a natural breeding ground for growing meaningful interdisciplinary interactions and synergies among programs, departments and schools. Taken together, the uniqueness of City Tech’s mission, its structural organization and vibrant community of talented students and faculty, can serve as a fertile institutional incubator for the development of novel approaches to meaningful interdisciplinary research experiences.

Anna Matthews and colleagues discuss Gen Ed goals that they share.

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Information Literacy Initiatives

Collaborations for Student Success by Ian Beilin, Maura Smale, Bronwen Densmore, and Anne Leonard

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he Ursula C. Schwerin Library supports the educational mission of the College and seeks to help all members of the college community succeed in their academic pursuits. Our instructional focus is Information Literacy, defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries as the ability to: •

determine the nature and extent of the information needed;

access relevant information effectively and efficiently;

evaluate information and its sources critically;

use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose; and

understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and access and use information ethically and legally.

Strong Information Literacy skills will benefit our students as they complete their assignments, papers, and projects. Proficiency in finding, evaluating, and using information ethically is also important to students beyond college as they search for jobs, keep up with their careers, and become lifelong learners. City Tech library faculty collaborate across the college to strengthen 8

our students’ Information Literacy. Customized library and research instruction is designed to help students master the research process as they learn to find information sources, develop research paper topics, think critically, avoid plagiarism, and cite sources correctly. Library faculty are also available to discuss integrating Information Literacy into assignments and coursework, and to create course- and assignment-specific research guides.

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Online Tutorials In addition to in-person library instruction, reference support, and research consultations, the Library is meeting the needs of 21st century students and researchers by growing its collection of web-based tutorials and instructional media. Beginning with two video tutorials in 2009, the Library now has a collection of twenty tutorials designed to orient users to our physical and virtual

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collections, introduce topics in research and Information Literacy, and guide students through strategies that will help them to find and use reliable information at City Tech and beyond. In addition to our collection of screencast tutorials, we also have a growing set of subject and course-specific research guides, designed to help users get acquainted with tools and resources in their fields. From architecture, to health services, to the history of New York City neighborhoods, to fair use and copyright in teaching and scholarship, the Library’s website provides information to help researchers get started in a range of disciplines. Able to work as stand–alone support or as embeddable, modular instruction offerings, the Library’s tutorials are designed to support both in-person and remote library users. As the range of media represented in library collections (and beyond), and platforms for access continue to evolve, we will be using our online instructional resources to reach out to researchers at different levels of experience to make sure that they can connect to the information that they need in as efficient and informed a way as possible.

LIB 1201 - Research and Documentation for the Information Age The Library began to offer its threecredit course LIB 1201: Research and Documentation for the Information Age in the spring 2010 semester. At the start we offered just one section, which had an enrollment of four students. Three years later, we now offer three sections with twenty students each. The course provides students with a critical understanding of contemporary information issues such as access, copyright, privacy, plagiarism, censorship, and corporate and alternative media. We also teach students how to prepare and write research papers on topics relevant to the course using library

resources as well as the internet. Finally, we provide them the opportunity to think creatively and work collaboratively to construct unique online information resources, putting to use all of the knowledge and critical skills they have acquired from the semester’s work. The course belongs to the college flexible core, part of the General Education 30-credit Common Core.

Meeting Our Assessment Goals

Library Subject Specialists Each discipline and department at the college has a subject specialist, a library faculty member who can work with you to strengthen your students’ Information Literacy.

Ian Beilin: Architectural Technology, Business, Psychology

Monica Berger: African-American Studies, Hospitality Management, Radiologic Technology

Bronwen Densmore: Advertising Design/

Library faculty are also collaborating with departments that have participated in the college–wide Assessment Committee’s work to meet assessment goals. CMCE 1155, Computer Applications in Civil Engineering Technology, now requires a library and research lesson. Students research a current construction project and are required to prepare a research paper or presentation that incorporates several sources of information, including articles, books, and internet sources. Through the Library workshop, students learn how to evaluate and cite all information they use, including images. CMCE professor Nicole Anderson commented, “the presentation was informative and helpful. I am glad the City Tech Library offers this resource.”

Graphic Arts

To discuss information literacy strategies or schedule information literacy instruction for your courses, contact your Library Subject Specialist. Questions? Contact Prof. Maura Smale, Information Literacy Librarian, at msmale@citytech.cuny.edu or 718-260-5748.

Sharon Swacker: Anthropology,

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Nancy Gonzalez: Art History,

Human Services, Women’s Studies

Joan Grassano: Dental Hygiene,

Health Services Administration, Nursing, Restorative Dentistry, Vision Care Technology

Morris Hounion: Philosophy, Religion, Speech

Anne Leonard: English, Construction Management/Civil Engineering, Environmental Control/Facilities Management Songqian Lu: Biology, Chemistry,

Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics

Keith Muchowski: African-American Studies, Economics, Government & Political Science, Higher Education, Law and Paralegal Studies, Sociology History, Hospitality Management, Latin American & Puerto Rican Studies

Maura Smale: Entertainment Technology Junior Tidal: Computer Engineering

Technology, Computer Systems Technology, Electrical and Telecommunications Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology

Tess Tobin: Career and Technology Teacher Education, Developmental Reading and Writing, ESL and Applied Linguistics Darrow Wood: Fiction, Film Studies

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Bilingualism and The New York City Labor Market

Creating a Competitive Edge for City Tech Grads by Ann Delilkan

T

he impetus for the Humanities department’s Bilingual Literacy Initiative includes a desire to boost enrollments in foreign language courses, the need to acknowledge the extraordinarily rich untapped linguistic capacity that City Tech students bring with them, and the imperative to fulfill the college’s mission of producing economically competitive and workplace-ready graduates by developing students’ marketable language skills. Discussion began Spring 2012, in consultation with linguistics and language instruction experts, including Mary Louise Pratt, former president of Modern Language Association (MLA). The Office of the Provost launched a Bilingual Literacy for the Professions panel series in January 2013. Andrew Beveridge (NYC demographer/Distinguished Professor of Sociology, QC) presented data on the Language Communities of NYC, mapping the location of the language communities from which our students come. Lesley Hirsch (NYC Labor Market Information Service Director, GC) traced hiring patterns over recent years as they relate to applicants’ language skills. Professor Roxana Delbene (Foreign Language, Humanities) spoke to the need to develop interdisciplinary courses that combine language and professional studies. Students’ linguistic data was provided by AIR. Panel sessions focused on four Professional Studies programs— Law and Paralegal Studies, Nursing 10

and Health Professions, Hospitality Management, and Human Services. At each, faculty from the relevant professions and a range of (frequently celebrated) invited guests provided professional/ personal testimonies to the largely student audience about bi-/multi-lingualism in the workplace. At the Nursing and Health Professions session, a related certificate option (Certified Medical Translator) was mentioned and will be explored by the Division Continuing Education.

of potential CUNY partners at BMCC and LaGuardia CC.

The wrap-up session featured Alicia Ramos (Chair, Spanish and Portuguese, Hunter; President, CUNY Council of World Languages) and Lesley Hirsch. Department chairs/ representatives heard about the pedagogical issues involved in creating professionally-focused language courses and how they might fit into the various School of Professional Studies (SoPS) programs. Professor Ramos also brought welcome news for our future undertakings: the interest

New York [is] the most linguistically diverse city in the world…A remarkable trove of endangered tongues has taken root in New York—languages born in every corner of the globe and now more commonly heard in various corners of New York than anywhere else.

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The Humanities department’s Foreign Language program thanks Faculty Commons for assistance with publicity, the active and committed participation of various SoPS faculty, especially the panel moderators and Dean Barbara Grumet, for her generous endorsement and involvement at every single session.

“The Lost Languages, Found in New York” New York Times, April 28, 2010

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Language Communities of NYC January 31, 2013

Law and Paralegal Professions February 28, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Beveridge, PhD Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology Queens College, CUNY CUNY Graduate Center Faculty Leading NYC Demographer

Introduction: Dean Barbara Grumet, JD

Special Guest: Lesley Hirsch, Director NYC Labor Market Information Center Center for Urban Research CUNY Graduate Center

Andrew Beveridge

Panel Moderator: Prof. Connie Mennella, JD Panelists: Wanda Lucibello JD, Chief Special Victims Division Brooklyn D.A.’s Office Sara Darehshori JD, Senior Counsel US Program Human Rights Watch Prof. Jeannette Espinoza, JD Prof. Lise Hunter, JD

Nursing and Health Professions March 21, 2013

Hospitality Professions April 25, 2013

Introduction: Prof. Candy Dato, PhD, RN, CNE Chair of the Nursing Department

Introduction and Moderators: Prof. Lynda Dias Department of Hospitality Management

Panel Moderator: Prof. Aida Egues, PhD Department of Nursing

Prof. Susan Phillip Department of Hospitality Management

Panelists: Lesley Hirsch, Director NYC Labor Market Information Center Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center Stacy Ellen, DO Pediatrician, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children Philadelphia, PA Faculty, Drexel University College of Medicine AVA Scholar, Academy of Violence and Abuse Prof. Lisette Santisteban, RNC-OB, MSN-ED Department of Nursing Prof. Anna Matthews, RDH, MS Department of Dental Hygiene Prof. Noemi Rodriguez, MPA Health Services Administration

Human Services Professions May 2, 2013 Introduction and Moderator: Prof. Justine Pawlukewicz Department of Human Services Panelists: Margarita Khanina, MA Russian Speaking Counselor Victim Services Unit Kings County District Attorney’s Office

Panelists: Rosa Abreu, Assistant Director Food and Beverage Crowne Plaza Times Square Bora Park, Sales Manager Travel Industry Langham Hospitality Group Emmanuel Sakellarios Organizational Development & Training Manager The Peninsula New York Denise Valdez, Director Human Resources, USA Hakkasan USA

Prof. Angel Roman, MS Ed Department of Human Services Director, Out-of-School Youth Program NYC Dept. of Youth & Community Development Prof. Lenore Hildebrand, DSW, LCSW Department of Human Services Marjorie Monplaisir-Ellis, MPH CAMBA, Inc., Senior Program Director Flatbush Promise Neighborhood Initiative

Rosa Rosario, Assistant Director Labor Relations Waldorf Astoria New York

Shermira R Busby, MSW, Assistant Director Workforce Development Center Prof. Soyeon Cho, PhD Department of Human Services

Wrap-up Advisory Session May 23, 2013 Introduction: Dean Barbara Grumet, JD Keynote Speakers: Alicia Ramos, PhD, President CUNY Council on World Language Study Language Program Coordinator Department of Romance Languages Hunter College, CUNY Lesley Hirsch, Director NYC Labor Market Information Center Center for Urban Research CUNY Graduate Center Alicia Ramos and Lesley Hirsch

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Quantitative Literacy

Mathematics for Daily Use by Ezra Halleck and Sheila Miller

Ezra Halleck provides an overview of the intellectual rationale for MAT 1190: Quantitative Reasoning, the Mathematics department’s new course designed to fulfill the core requirement for non-STEM majors. Sheila Miller advocates for using real data in any such course and argues that by its very nature Quantitative Literacy is an applied form of mathematics.

Ezra Halleck: As with verbal and nonverbal communication skills, students should have opportunities throughout their education to develop their ability to use numbers, think logically, use basic math functions to model real-world phenomena and to analyze variable data sets of various dimensions. Allied Health and STEM majors have an abundance of opportunities as part of their coursework. Students not in such 12

majors have traditionally taken a math course or two whose focus is not to gear students to grapple with the world in a quantitative way. Instead, the focus is to develop the students’ ability to take and function in laboratory science courses and more advanced math courses, where they eventually may see how the math can be applied. However, these students don’t often take the sequel courses. To provide such students a more meaningful

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and useful educational experience, the Mathematics department has created a course designed to expose non–STEM majors to mathematical tools in a contextual way. Students will learn not only the math concepts but how they can be used to understand the world and make decisions, on both a personal and a societal level. As our society grapples with pressing environmental and other societal issues, we need to give all students, regardless of

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major, a set of basic quantitative analysis tools to enable them to make important societial decisions.1 All of us contribute to environmental and societal problems and all of us need to be able to debate and find solutions for issues that have crucial quantitative components.

Sheila Miller: Persuading students that they might have interest and aptitude in the world mathematical is no small task. There is no need to expound on the algebraic limitations of many students entering college. It is, however, a dangerous mistake to conflate them with mathematical limitations. It is the difficult work of professors, both within and outside mathematics, to reveal to students that they do have mathematical curiosity, experience, and understanding that can serve as a foundation for their investigation of the world and their interpretation of quantitative information. A quantitatively literate person can identify those problems in the real world that can be studied quantitatively, and such a person, furthermore, has the skills necessary to conduct said investigations herself and to understand

and analyze the claims, processes, and conclusions of others.

Quantitative Literacy is by its very nature an applied form of mathematics. One of the commonly asked questions in mathematics classrooms is: “What is this used for?” Rather than shy away from this question, or feel disappointment that students do not yet see the spectacular beauty of mathematical thought, we can uncover the path to mathematical literacy through this question. Quantitative Literacy courses should provide a thoughtful, compelling answer to that very question. This involves using real (and therefore messy) examples that teach students how to approach the difficulties that inevitably arise when studying the real world.2 Students don’t need to know about playing cards or ordering imaginary students into fictional committees of imaginary purpose. They need to know

how to translate situations in the real world into mathematical questions; how to investigate those questions using quantitative methods; and how to translate the results of those methods to meaning for the real–world question with which they started. This is not merely a question of translating knowledge from dice and playing cards to microloans and the World Bank. It is a fundamentally different process, and the one we aspire to teach in our applied mathematics courses that bear the heavy and important charge of developing Quantitative Literacy in a professional way.

Ezra Halleck: In a General Education

course, we cannot hope to attain the level of Quantitative Literacy which our applied math majors attain, but we can provide all students with a base of content and methods from which they can develop and practice useful quantitative analysis now and in the future, as students and as engaged citizens.

http://mpe2013.org/blog/

1 2

http://goo.gl/SymZp

Alison Iavarone, Ezra Halleck, and Robert Polchinski develop a college-wide rubric for Quantitative Literacy.

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BLACK NEW YORK by Marta Effinger-Crichlow

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na Chaudhuri writes in Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama, “Who one is and who one can be are…a function of where one is and how one experiences that place.”1

I often find myself returning to Chaudhuri’s argument when I teach, undertake research, and serve as a dramaturg. For instance, Intimate Apparel by Brooklyn-based playwright Lynn Nottage is set in New York City in 1905. The main character, Esther Mills, is a 35 year-old African American woman who creates extraordinary undergarments for a diverse clientele in New York. Esther cannot read or write, but she manages to navigate her way around New York City to buy fabric on the Lower East Side and to sell her intimate apparel in the Tenderloin district and on the Upper East Side. I have asked myself, students, and production teams to imagine how this Black female seamstress carves out a “home” – an identity for herself in New York City in 1905. In part, questions about the ways in which the character Esther experiences place led me to design the African American Studies course AFR 3000: Black New York.

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Photos taken from: digitalgallery.nypl.org/

Using history, literature, the arts, politics, and sociology, this interdisciplinary course seeks to trace the Africana presence in New York from the 1600s to the present. This localized course will enable students to examine the varied ways in which people of African descent in the Diaspora have helped to shape the complex identity of New York City over time. When New York City takes center stage in the novels, plays, short stories and essays I select for my classes, our students often bring a high level of insightfulness and thoughtfulness to the discussions. I imagine it is because our students breathe the boroughs of New York on a daily basis. I want a course like Black New York to help students to further understand the Black experience in New York City throughout the centuries. I imagine the readings, films, music, and Information Literacy sources for Black New York will inspire students in the course to raise critical questions about their environment. The guest lecturers will help students dissect topics such as slavery, resistance, migration, immigration, labor, Civil Rights, popular culture, gender politics, and gentrification. However, this interdisciplinary course, which encourages students to acquire knowledge and skills from diverse

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sources, should not be confined to a physical classroom setting. It is designed to take students out of the classroom and into New York’s neighborhoods. I am excited that the students in Black New York will be expected to collect narratives from Black New Yorkers and to participate in walking tours. In addition, students will gain access to resources at premier cultural and research sites like the African Burial Ground National Monument, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Weeksville Heritage Center, and the Sandy Ground Historical Museum. I have always been drawn to placed-based learning and how it captures the attention of both teachers and students. Much of my career has been built around the ways in which people shape settings and are shaped by settings. As chair of the African American Studies department, I hope that Black New York will enrich students’ experiences at City Tech and in New York.

1 Chaudhuri, Una. Staging Place: The Geography of Modern Drama. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995.

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Health Care Education Visionary

My Time at City Tech by Barbara Grumet Dean Barbara Grumet has led the School of Professional Studies with vision, compassion, an unwavering commitment to the faculty, students, and staff, as well as a sense of humor. She was always someone that I could turn to for common sense advice when faced with difficult situations. Dean Grumet’s reflections on the last six years are highlights of all she has accomplished. Barbara is a true professional and friend to many—she will be greatly missed! --Pamela Brown

I

arrived at CityTech in the summer of 2007, new to CUNY and public higher education, but with many years of experience as a faculty member, Dean, and executive. So my learning curve was perhaps not as steep as it might otherwise have been. Based on my experience, it takes about a year to learn the CUNY way of doing things, and to sort out “who does what”. But help is always available! I have had wonderful support from staff, faculty, and colleagues. In the six years I have been here, we have hired over 40 faculty, created one new bachelor’s degree program and implemented two others, and added new courses to the curriculum in every program. This work is not done in a vacuum, of course—it can be done only with the creativity, energy, and commitment of the terrific faculty in the School of Professional Studies. One of the areas I have worked hard in is to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly activity. To that end we formed two interest groups, one for health professions, and one for business areas. The faculty in these groups meet once a semester or so, to get to know each other, discuss areas of common interest, and brainstorm on research ideas. Our faculty are very talented. They are presenting at the leading organizations in their disciplines. They are publishing in major practice and scholarly journals in 16

their fields. They are reaching out to engage with colleagues in other disciplines. And thanks to colleagues in Arts and Sciences, SPS faculty now present in growing numbers at the Faculty Poster Session and Faculty Research Day.We put together two grants—both of which of course were due at the end of the spring semester last year, and both of which were funded!

The work faculty are doing in the areas of interprofessional education for patient safety, and using the humanities as a vehicle to communicate more effectively with patients, is producing cutting edge ideas that are leading to courses, presentations, and publications. Equally important, grants allow faculty to think a bit out of their professional disciplines, and explore common issues with other professionals. The work they are doing is groundbreaking and will lead to better prepared health care providers. Preparing students for practice in the 21st century is a real challenge. I am delighted that faculty are increasingly teaching

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honors-level courses and/or working on honors projects with their students. Our students are amazing, and the work they do is very high quality. Another highlight of my time here at the College has been the tremendous enhancement of technology. Every department has state of the art equipment, from patient simulators, to electronic medical records, to advanced professional software, to digital imaging, to high tech manufacturing equipment. The faculty are using this technology in their teaching and are beginning to use these resources in their own scholarship. I have spent a lot of time encouraging departments to put together their “wish lists” which become reality when put forward via tech fee or equipment requests. Serving as the Dean of the School of Professional Studies has been a joyous experience for me. I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. I think the School is in a “good place”, so that as I retire, the work we have done together over the past six years will continue, grow, and change to meet new challenges and opportunities.

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General Education Assessment

How Faculty Use Data to Improve Learning by Tammie Cumming Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is a research, campus action, and advocacy initiative sponsored by AAC&U whose mission is to redefine liberal education for the 21st Century. It is the premise of LEAP that all students need both higher levels of learning and knowledge as well as strong intellectual and practical skills to be competitive in the global economy. The VALUE project (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) a correlative of LEAP, enables colleges to engage in authentic assessment of student work and shared understanding of student learning outcomes on campuses over reliance on standardized tests administered to samples of students outside of their required courses.1

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ity Tech has adopted LEAP VALUE rubrics as its fundamental framework for assessing General Education (Gen Ed) learning outcomes through the effectiveness of assignments. For the first cycle, the college-wide General Education Committee selected Writing, Reading, and Information Literacy as the three domains for which learning outcomes would be measured. The staff of the office of Assessment and Institutional Research (AIR) methodically led the School Assessment Committees (across three schools and all disciplines) in defining the criteria for these Gen Ed competencies using LEAP VALUE rubrics. Faculty worked together to design or modify existing assignments to align with new assessment activities. To improve writing across the College, the Writing Across the Curriculum program, Writing Fellows and English department faculty were brought together to review the assessment results from the spring 2012 data collection. After a careful evaluation, the faculty developed an improvement plan that would be launched college-wide. Approximately 30 faculty

members across the college were brought together to finalize the improvement plan based on a scaffolding process recently published by two City Tech faculty members. The implementation was launched with an initial data collection occurring during spring 2013 and again during spring 2014. To improve reading across the college, faculty were brought together to review the assessment results and decided to establish a college-wide program similar to Writing Across the Curriculum entitled Reading Effectively Across the Disciplines. To improve Information Literacy across the college, faculty who teach the course along with the library faculty reviewed the assessment results. Library faculty have launched a series of workshops for faculty during spring 2013 that will continue into the next academic year to assist them in implementing the suggested improvement strategies. And, every section of English composition now requires students to take a one-hour session on Information Literacy best practices with library faculty as a part of their regular class curriculum.

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For the assessment of Critical Thinking, Oral Communication, Scientific Reasoning and Quantitative Literacy, faculty were brought together in spring 2012 to develop assessment measures for these Gen Ed areas. The pilot is being conducting this spring. The same model that was utilized for Writing, Reading, and Information Literacy assessment activities is being used for this assessment cycle of activities with an outcomes based approach and sampling not only in the Gen Ed courses, but also in critcal courses within the disciplines throughout the College. School deans and faculty, underscoring the cyclical process of assessment for learning, share their perspectives from a range of course, program, and schoolwide vantage points.

http://www.aacu.org/leap/index.cfm

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SCHOOL of PROFESSIONAL STUDIES—Barbara Grumet, Dean “How do we know that what we are doing is working?”

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aculty across the College have been working for the past three years on helping colleagues demonstrate that their hard work actually produces measurable improvements in student learning. Assessment, or “how do we know that what we are doing is working?” is not new to higher education. Faculty routinely measure student learning via tests, homework, research assignments, oral presentations, or clinical reviews. What is new, however, is looking at student work in a deeper, more insightful manner. How are assignments developed that will show the learner, and the instructor, that content has been mastered in a significant way? How can faculty be sure that program learning goals are addressed? How can we figure out why students who progress from one course to the next don’t always seem to be ready for the next level of instruction? The current assessment project is incorporating general education knowledge, skills, values, and behaviors

into major classes. No more can we look at general education as “their” responsibility in Arts and Sciences, while “we” in Professional Studies concentrate on the major courses. Students must read, write, compute, think logically, express themselves in verbal and written communications, and learn about themselves and the world around them. This learning cannot be in a vacuum, but instead should be infused into all major courses as well. Professional Studies faculty, working together with colleagues from Technology and Design and Arts and Sciences, share their perspectives on the assessment process for learning.

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y designing rubrics to match assignments in Principles of Dental Hygiene Care I, the SLOs are now aligned, and with these guidelines, students have improved their performance.

Anty Lam Dental Hygiene

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y establishing a formal assessment plan in our department, we are working together to identify common problems and working on solutions to improve outcomes in our classes. Through increased skills practice in calculation of ratios, we found this change in instruction improves students’ accuracy in fabrication.

Anthony Sena Restorative Dentistry

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ecause of my experience with assessment activities, I elicit student feedback about what they are learning on a more continuous basis – not just waiting on test results or assessment data – but more informally with in-class exercises and reflection. Based on their responses, I adjust my approach.

Susan Phillip Hospitality Management


SCHOOL of TECHNOLOGY and DESIGN—Kevin Hom, Dean

“Assessment is not an end; it is a means to an end...to challenge ourselves to do better.”

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t helps me to set up realistic and measurable goals and objectives of a course and use special instruments such as hands-on cognitive design projects to achieve some of the desired course learning outcomes.

Andy Zhang Mechanical Engineering Technology

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have gained insight into the importance of evaluating student’s prior knowledge on the first day of classes to determine their skill levels. I have made a communication stream by creating and sharing rubrics with my students to demonstrate how their assignments will be graded. The most effective result of this process has been in the use of instructional scaffolding as a part of presenting an assignment.

Susan Brandt Entertainment Technology

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long with weekly quizzes based on readings and lectures, I now use multiple team assignments, a reading response paper, and a final exam to give me a better picture of our (mine and the students) achievement of the Student Learning Outcomes.

Jason Montgomery

Architectural Technology

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ne of the main responsibilities of any institution of higher learning is the requirement to continue to improve. In order to improve one has to assess how one is doing--to ask the questions that permit an institution to honestly evaluate the work that they’ve done. The criteria that are incorporated in the assessment process deal with issues both internal and external. Have we met our obligations to society and industry in providing an education that provides students with skills for today and anticipates the need for inventive new thinking for tomorrow? At the School of Technology and Design we ask whether students have learned the material offered, whether they have been provided with the right

environment for study, whether the faculty have done a good job in motivating students and teaching the course material, whether the physical environment in terms of space and equipment is appropriate to the task. We look at the competition: what are our colleagues doing in other schools? Are we providing an education and developing programs that are on the cutting edge? Institutions such as City Tech use assessment as part of a feedback process. Assessment is not an end; it is a means to an end that continues to provide the information we need to challenge ourselves to do better.


SCHOOL of ARTS and SCIENCES — Karl Botchway, Interim Dean “Assessment serves as an important barometer of the effectiveness of the learning environment.”

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ssessment should be seen as one of the important core academic activities in the learning process designed to encourage student learning and measure student achievement. It serves as an important barometer of the effectiveness of the learning environment. At its core, any form of assessment must reinforce and encourage leaning. In

2012, selected courses in Arts and Sciences in a pilot survey were assessed for one of the C o l l e g e ’s Gen Ed

competencies: reading. While the results may not be surprising to some faculty members, they pointed to the fact that we need to develop new and better strategies to improve students’ reading skills. Results from the pilot survey indicated fewer than half of students assessed were able to: •

identify the progression of the author’s ideas;

comprehend technical information;

apply information to a broader context; and

make sense of the text.

Analysis by AIR showed that “only 23.1% of all students tested comprehended all major points and material; only 30.8% applied information from reading to a broader context; only 27.3% identified ideas and provided at least a partial evaluation of ideas or arguments; and only 30.1% were able to at least paraphrase and articulate the meaning.” Under the direction of Associate Provost Pamela Brown, a course redesign project Reading In the Disciplines has been implemented to improve the reading skills of our students.

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like that assessment helps professors to contextualize our classroom activities not only within our own professional goals or our personal hopes for student success, but also within the greater goals of the College. Seeing connections among specific assignments or exercises and the rubric categories of student performance remind us that we can use many different strategies to help students improve.

Rebecca Devers English

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ach semester I try something new in my courses. Assessment provides insight into whether the change is a step forward or a step backward.

Jay Deiner Chemistry

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eing part of our assessment team has allowed me the privilege to work with other professors from a range of disciplines with a shared devotion to teaching and learning. We developed rubrics to test writing and reading comprehension for a pilot study that revealed the weak areas in our student population, and though at first disheartening, this information provides a positive goal for improvement.

Lisa Pope Fischer Social Science


COLLEGE GENERAL EDUCATION AND ASSESSMENT COMMITTEES ARTS AND SCIENCES

PROFESSIONAL STUDIES

Ralph Alcendor * Biological Sciences

Anne Leonard * Library

Daniel Alter * Restorative Dentistry

Emina Becirovic Biological Sciences

Robert Leston * English

Nadia Benakli Mathematics Reginald Blake Physics Walter Brand Social Science Nina Burbure Physics Marva Butters Biological Sciences Marco Castillo Social Science Majeedul Chowdhury Biological Sciences Jay Deiner Chemistry Juanita Deleon African American Studies Ann Delilkan Humanities Peter Deraney Mathematics Rebecca Devers English Marta Effinger-Crichlow African American Studies Monique Ferrell English Todd Gelbord Physics George Guida English Ezra Halleck * Mathematics Caroline Hellman English Stephen James African American Studies Tina Kao Social Science Reneta Lansiquot English Lufeng Leng Physics

TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN

Ellen McGuinn Alexander Aptekar * Nursing Architectural Technology

Barbara Mishara * Architectural Technology

Jason Montgomery * Nobert Aneke Amit Mehrotra Malek Brahimi Architectural Technology Career and Technology Hospitality Management Mechanical Engineering Teacher Education Technology Douglas Moody * Sean MacDonald Concetta Mennella Computer Systems Social Science Lucas Bernard Law and Paralegal Studies Candido Cabo Technology Business Computer Systems Michael McAuliffe Halton Merrill Technology Eli Neugeboren Humanities Maria-Elena Bilello * Hospitality Management Advertising Design/ Dental Hygiene Doug Davis Graphic Arts Giovanni Ossola Marissa Moran Advertising Design/ Physics Karen Bonsignore Law and Paralegal Studies Graphic Arts Lisa Panazzolo Health Services Administration Advertising Design/ Lisa Pope Fischer Susan Nilsen-Kupsch Libby Clarke * Graphic Arts Social Science Sue Brandt Dental Hygiene Advertising Design/ Entertainment Technology Graphic Arts Giovanni Patene Eric Rodriguez Godfrey Nwoke Architectural Technology Social Science Renata Budny Career and Technology Patrick Flood Restorative Dentistry Teacher Education Computer Systems Ralf Philipp Patricia Rudden Technology Computer Engineering English Brian Cesario Kara Pasner Technology Human Services Vision Care Technology Gilberto Genena Annette Saddik Continuing Education Robert Polchinski English Jierong Cheng Susan Phillip * Environmental Control Business Hospitality Management Iem Heng Technology Diana Samaroo * Computer Engineering Chemistry Soyeon Cho * Timothy Reinig Technology Mohammad Razani Human Services Business Electrical and Denise Scannell Chuck Hoffman Telecommunications Humanities Gwen Cohen-Brown * William Roberts Continuing Education Engineering Technology Dental Hygiene Career and Technology Howard Sisco Teacher Education Misza Kalechman Jose Reyes Alamo Social Science Esther Cuya Electrical and Computer Engineering Restorative Dentistry Noemi Rodriguez Telecommunications Technology Maura Smale * Health Services Administration Engineering Technology Library Terrance Dinan Rose Scarlino Hospitality Management Phil Russo Mohammed Kouar Construction Management/ Olufemi Sodeinde Restorative Dentistry Electrical and Civil Engineering Technology Biological Sciences Michelle Gellar * Telecommunications Nursing Anthony Sena Engineering Technology Gerarda Shields Armando Solis Restorative Dentistry Construction Management/ Biological Sciences Karen Goodlad * Shoma Lahiry Civil Engineering Technology Hospitality Management Benjamin Shepard * Construction Management/ Peter Spellane Human Services Civil Engineering Technology Shelley Smith * Chemistry Horace Hutchinson Architectural Technology Hospitality Management Victor Valdivia Xiaohai Li Sarah Standing Business Computer Engineering David Smith Humanities Alison Iavarone Technology Entertainment Technology Business Celeste Waddy Liana Tsenova Nursing Agustin Maldonado Carol Sonnenblick Biological Sciences Jennett Ingrassia Architectural Technology Continuing Education Radiologic Technology Tom Wilkin Shauna Vey & Medical Imaging Career and Technology Kenneth Markowitz Melanie Villatoro * Humanities Teacher Education Electrical and Construction Management/ Julia Jordan * Telecommunications Civil Engineering Technology Tshombe Walker Hospitality Management Gail Williams Engineering Technology African American Studies Law and Paralegal Studies Xinzhou Wei Emma Kontzamanis Clement McCalman Electrical and Julian Williams Nursing Melissa Zimberg Environmental Control Telecommunications English Business Technology Engineering Technology Anty Lam Selwyn Williams Dental Hygiene John McCullough Andy Zhang Biological Sciences Entertainment Technology Mechanical Engineering Evans Lespinasse Technology Darrow Wood Radiologic Technology Elizabeth Milonas Library & Medical Imaging Computer Systems Technology Andleeb Zameer * Biological Sciences

*Gen Ed Fellows, U.S. Department of Education Title V Grant (2010) A Living Laboratory: Revitalizing General Education for a 21st-Century College of Technology

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Instructional Strategies

Solving the Problem of Homework by Andrew Parker

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s a mathematics educator, I’ve struggled with the implementation of practice problems as homework. Practice is essential, not only for developing technique and mastery, but also for conceptual understanding. I regularly tell students that they don’t get good at basketball by watching the Knicks, so how do they expect to become proficient in math by watching me work examples. The standard practice of assigning homework usually works as follows. Let’s assume the usual twice-weekly class meetings. A new topic is introduced and homework problems are assigned. Now it would be unfair to the students to expect the problems to be completed correctly by the very next class, and it is the usual practice of most educators to leave at least one class meeting between assignment and due dates so that students may ask questions about the problems in class. Of course, it would be impossible for the instructor to grade the homework problems and return them immediately, so we end up with graded homework problems being returned around two weeks after the topic was originally taught. In the meantime, new topics are being developed—often times building off of previous lectures, requiring an understanding of the prior material as well as assuming a well-developed technique. So what happens with a student who misunderstands prior material? They 22

won’t learn that they have bad technique until two weeks later. In the interim, they’re working with bad technique and will likely develop even more misconceptions. Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where homework can now be assigned online, where students have their answers graded immediately. Students no longer have to wonder whether or not their solution is correct, they are told right away. They have the opportunity to continue attempting the problem until the correct solution is found. This freedom to experiment without penalty has been shown to develop the tenacity necessary for solving more complex problems (Denny & Yackel 2005)1. In my own implementation of online homework, using an open-source solution called WeBWorK 2, I had a student tell me, “I’m having trouble because I’m doing my homework, but WeBWorK keeps rejecting it.” His comment illustrates a common misconception students have about homework; that its purpose is to be completed, regardless of accuracy. The immediate feedback provided by online homework systems can help correct this confusion and give students an understanding of its real purpose.

NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

Our students are increasingly connected to information via the internet and it only makes sense for our pedagogical methods to move in a similar direction. Online homework systems such as WeBWorK3 offer the potential, through carefully crafted problems, for our students to wrestle virtually with their understanding the 21st-century way.

Implementing and teaching with WeBWorK at Mercer University, by J.Denny and C. Yackel. Proceedings of the 2005 ASCUE Conference, 85-93. 1

2

http://mathww.citytech.cuny.edu/webwork2

3

http://webwork.maa.org

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Reading Effectively Across Disciplines by Juanita But

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ven though reading effectively is essential to academic success across the curriculum, the importance of disciplinary literacy, or advanced instruction in literacy embedded in the content areas (Shanahan and Shanahan, 2008), is very often overlooked in college-level teaching and learning. Some students fail their courses because they cannot fully understand or effectively master the academic discourses in the disciplines. To address this deficit a team of City Tech faculty has launched a new initiative, Reading Effectively Across the Disciplines (READ), to improve student learning by making disciplinary literacy an integral part of the curriculum. In spring 2013, our college was awarded a grant to pilot the READ program in which a reading faculty team (Juanita But and Charles Hirsch) collaborates with Biology, Marketing, and Computer Engineering Technology faculty (Davida Smyth, Paul Salisbury, and Henry Laboy) to redesign selected gateway courses by incorporating discipline-appropriate reading strategies. The main objective of this program is to make students more effective readers and therefore more competent learners in their disciplines. The redesigned courses will engage students in an active reading environment, one that makes reading in the disciplines not only necessary and relevant, but also interesting and empowering. The course redesign process allows faculty to contextualize reading strategies and use the reading process to help students master the academic language within their disciplines.

This program is being implemented in stages. Two READ workshops were held in spring 2013 to introduce evaluation of text readability, the reading process, scaffolding techniques, and vocabulary development. Participants have already applied the strategies in their classes with positive results. Two workshops will be held in August 2013 and January 2014 to prepare faculty teaching BIO1101, MKT 1110, and EMT1130 to implement reading strategies and redesign course assignments in fall 2013 and spring 2014. There will also be post-workshop mentoring by the READ faculty throughout the coming academic year to ensure successful development and implementation of strategies. An OpenLab READ site will be established to facilitate communication and sharing of resources among faculty from all three disciplines.

NUCLEUS: A FACULTY COMMONS QUARTERLY

READ will also train peer leaders. Lectures, seminars, and preparation sessions with faculty will be a part of the training course led by AE Dreyfuss, peer leader expert. At the end of each semester, reading outcomes will be assessed. The READ initiative emphasizes open and imaginative collaboration between discipline-specific and reading faculty. Brozo, W.G., Moorman G., Meyer, C., & Stewart, T. (2013). Content Area Reading and Disciplinary Literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy.56 (5), 353-357. doi: 10 1002/JAAL.153x Shanahan T. & Shanahan C. (2008). Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content Area Literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40-59. Shanahan T. & Shanahan C. (2012). What Is Disciplinary Literacy and Why Does It Matter? Topics in Language Disorders, 7-18. doi:1097TLD.0b03e318244557a

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Spring Awakening

How Birding Became a Serious Passion by Monica Berger

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ow did it all start? On a late May morning ten years ago, my friend decided it would be fun to go out to Jamaica Bay for a program on horseshoe crabs. Even as a child, I was fascinated by birds but I had scarcely experienced the outdoors for most of my life. I knew Jamaica Bay was a great place to see birds, so I tagged along. There I saw a group from a bird-watching class based at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden looking for birds. They carpooled together to different spots around the city. I was intrigued and, as a total novice, eventually enrolled in the class. For many years, I birded (birding connotes the more serious birdwatcher) chiefly during spring and fall migration and although my interest was substantial, I knew I needed to get far more serious to advance my skills

past beginner. Most people have no idea how challenging it is to become a skilled birder and how much time and energy must be invested in being in the field and directly practicing one’s skills. Now, I try to go birding at least once or twice a week year-round with a focus on finding birds in New York State. I joined the Brooklyn Bird Club and the Manhattan-based Linnaean Society of New York. I especially enjoy being a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club. The group has many serious, highly skilled birders and the fieldtrips are often a lot of fun. However, I still enjoy birding on my own with a focus on improving my skills of observation, deeply experiencing the moment and fully appreciating the beauty and charm of the birds I am observing. Birding is a practice, just like mastering an instrument or a martial art. It provides a unique opportunity to learn about both the environment and oneself. Technology has transformed birding. Tips on rare or “chase-able” birds are disseminated via Twitter, Cornell’s eBird website, blogs, and listservs. When a rare bird shows up, particularly in Manhattan, the crowd of birders converging can feel downright festive! However, the elements of luck (there is an old joke about the sacrificial birder who, when he or she leaves the group, brings on a desired bird), surprise, and serendipity cannot be underestimated.

Birding isn’t all fun and games. We cope with painfully early start times and tough field conditions. Many birders are surprisingly competitive. Those who have not seen The Big Year may not know that many birders compete to see the most species on the state and county level on a yearly basis. The CUNY Academic Commons has a small group for birders. Two Graduate Center ornithology students and I got together in person last Mother’s Day (peak day for spring migration) and it was quite fun. I met another birder via the Academic Commons, a very talented bird photographer, Felipe,


who is a sociology professor at Hostos Community College. Over 200 species of birds a year migrate through or breed in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has many great birding venues beyond Prospect Park. Some are lovely nature spots (the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center comes to mind) but others are in unexpected places, sometimes on industrial edges. At Hendrix Creek, burnt-out, junked cars share the landscape with an excellent variety of

ducks. The Coney Island jetty adjacent to Sea Gate is a fantastic spot to see winter birds including northern gannets and purple sandpipers. There are fascinating birds everywhere, even close to City Tech. Kestrels, a type of falcon, sometimes perch on the Post Office and other tall office buildings in the area, at the ready to pick off a smaller bird. Noisy, shiny and black, common grackles return every spring to breed and nest in Cadman Plaza. I’d

estimate that over the years, I’ve seen at minimum 30 species of birds in the City Tech area including a ruby-throated hummingbird and my all-time best find, a rare Connecticut warbler. Migration is over for this spring but warblers and other colorful birds return in late August. Do consider taking binoculars and a field guide and visiting a park. I hope you can experience seeing a bird through binoculars in all its beauty and splendor.

Brooklyn Bird Club at Hendrix Creek taken by Roberta Manian

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Continued from page 4

To me, one of the most exciting features of City Tech’s newly adopted General Education framework is the requirement that all students in baccalaureate programs must take at least one course designated as “interdisciplinary.” The College’s Interdisciplinary Committee defines interdisciplinary studies as follows: Interdisciplinary studies involve two or more academic disciplines or fields of study organized around synthesizing distinct perspectives, knowledge, and skills. Interdisciplinary study focuses on questions, problems, and topics too complex or too broad for a single discipline or field to encompass adequately; such studies thrive on drawing connections between seemingly exclusive domains. Usually themebased, interdisciplinary courses intentionally address issues that require meaningful engagement of multiple academic disciplines. Pedagogical strategies focus on, but are not limited to inquiry or problem-based learning. This issue of Nucleus illustrates brilliantly why interdisciplinary study is important and the promise it offers. Selwyn Williams (Biological Sciences) considers how City Tech’s growing undergraduate research effort is enriched by interdisciplinary faculty partnerships. Librarians Ian Beilin, Maura Smale, Bronwen Densmore, and Anne Leonard offer perspectives on potential collaborations among City Tech’s accomplished multidisciplinary librarians and their faculty colleagues across the disciplines. (A piece by fellow librarian Monica Berger on how and why she became a birder rounds out the issue.) Ann Delilkan (Humanities) describes a nascent but promising effort to link study of foreign languages (or more advanced study of students’ heritage languages) with opportunities and needs in the areas of professional study—health care, law and paralegal studies, human 26

services, hospitality management— encompassed by the College’s School of Professional Studies. Mathematics professors Ezra Halleck and Sheila Miller address the essential role of quantitative literacy—including a new Quantitative Reasoning course offered to City Tech’s non-STEM majors—in virtually every major. An exciting new interdisciplinary course, Black New York, is introduced by Marta Effinger-Crichlow, chair of the African American Studies department. Math professor Andrew Parker looks at new solutions to an old problem, using technology to make homework meaningful, and Reading Coordinator and English professor Juanita But outlines the work of an interdisciplinary team of faculty to strengthen students’ academic and professional reading in the disciplines. City Tech’s vibrant and deeply interconnected Gen Ed and Assessment committees bring together faculty from every department, as listed on page 21, and are further linked to the Living Lab Title V project and other grant-funded efforts. Finally, this issue probes the challenges and rewards of assessment in each of the three schools, as represented by the voices of the School deans and faculty. It feels only natural that such multifaceted collaborations should result in curricular collaborations in the form of interdisciplinary courses. The possibilities are intriguing: Bringing together faculty who teach applications with those who teach the liberal arts foundations in courses such as Engineering Ethics or Health Care Ethics, or faculty who have expertise in “distinct intellectual disciplines,” as in Literature of Illness and Care, Environmental Economics, or Black New York. And these are just the beginning.

Barbara has worked as a professor and college administrator at all levels, with special interests in medical ethics and the protection of human subjects in research. As dean, Barbara has been acknowledged again and again by department chairs and faculty for her wise and energetic support. Drawing on her vast experience, Barbara could respond clearly and definitively to seemingly any situation. A signal contribution to the School of Professional Studies is Barbara’s thinking about faculty research within and across career departments that traditionally had not focused very much on scholarship. She helped faculty members envision topics, identify research partners who were often in different departments, formulate questions, gather and analyze data, and write publishable accounts of their work. In the past academic year, she led efforts that secured CUNY Workforce Development Initiative and National Endowment for the Humanities awards for collaborative programs across disciplines and between scholars in Arts & Sciences and their colleagues in career programs. They have explored topics such as inter-professional communication in health care and cultural perspectives on health, illness, and healing. She has also provided leadership in the effort to explore bilingual literacy in the professions. Barbara’s contributions to the discussion of general education and assessment over the past six years have been many and critical. I know the faculty and her fellow deans join me in offering thanks and best wishes to Barbara Grumet.

With this issue of Nucleus we say goodbye to Barbara Grumet, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, whose career is a testament to an interdisciplinary mind. Trained as an attorney following an undergraduate degree in communications,

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Faculty Contributors Ian Beilin

is Assistant Professor and Instruction Librarian at City Tech. He is the subject specialist for Architectural Technology, Psychology, and Business. He teaches LIB 1201 – Research and Documentation for the Information Age, the library’s three-credit Information Literacy course.

M. Genevieve Hitchings

is Assistant Professor in the department of Advertising Design and Graphic Arts. She is also principal designer of ARTORIUM, a design firm specializing in illustration and interactive design. Her clients include the City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation, the American Museum of Natural History, Atwood Design Systems, and AOL.

Monica Berger

is Associate Professor and City Tech Library specialist in electronic resources and technical services. Her recent scholarly work focuses on popular music. When she is not birding, she is often enjoying repertory classic cinema or playing the electric bass.

Anne Leonard

is Assistant Professor and Instruction and Reference Librarian at City Tech. She is the subject specialist for English, Construction Management/ Civil Engineering Technology and Facilities Management/ Environmental Control Technology. She also teaches LIB 1201 – Research and Documentation for the Information Age, the library’s three-credit Information Literacy course.

Juanita But

is project leader of the Reading Effectively Across the Disciplines (READ) program at City Tech. She currently serves as developmental reading coordinator in the English department where she also teaches Asian American literature. The third edition of The Place Where We Dwell: Reading and Writing about New York City, a book she co-edited, was published in 2012.

Sheila Miller

is a lifelong lover of the natural world. She was drawn to study mathematics as both the most perfect language for describing the intricacies and complexities of natural and scientific phenomena and for the beauty of its own poetry, reflective of the intersection of the internal and external worlds.

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Bronwen Densmore

Marta EffingerCrichlow

Ezra Halleck

Andrew Parker

Maura Smale

Selwyn Williams

is Assistant Professor and Instructional Design Librarian and is the subject specialist for Advertising Design and Graphic Arts. Before becoming a librarian, she was an artist and carpenter, and is interested in ways that emerging and open technology initiatives will transform the field of research. Other research interests include urban planning and ecology, science fiction, and the intersections between art and science.

is Assistant Professor of Mathematics who is committed to transforming the landscape of mathematics education. He is active in researching projective modules through commutative algebraic methods, taking inspiration from obstruction theory, algebraic geometry, and topology.

is the Chair and Associate Professor of Theater and Literature in the department of African American Studies. She served as the Project Director for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, Retentions and Transfigurations: The Technological Evolution and Social History of Five New York City Neighborhoods in 2006-2007.

is Associate Professor and the Head of Information Literacy and Library Instruction at the Ursula C. Schwerin Library at City Tech. She is the subject specialist for Entertainment Technology, and also coordinates research and library workshops for faculty and students.

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is passionate about social and environmental issues since high school, protesting the proposed Shoreham Long Island Nuclear Plant in the late 70’s. Trained in pure mathematics, he has become interested in applied mathematics, particularly as powerful yet accessible software has developed for both simulations and statistical analysis. If a critical mass of citizens can gain a working knowledge of these tools, he feels that we will be able to make choices that will put us on a sustainable and more just path.

is Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences department and the Director of Undergraduate Research at City Tech. He holds a PhD in biology from the CUNY Graduate School & University Center with a subspecialization in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. As a visiting Research Collaborator at Princeton University, he studies the effects of the extracellular matrix on cell behavior during wound healing and tissue remodeling.

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Nucleus Vol.4 Double Issue Spring/Summer 2013  

Nucleus Vol.4 Double Issue Spring/Summer. A Faculty Commons Quarterly.

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