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Creative Awards 2013


Jackson State University is home to an esteemed group of educators and innovators. The winners of the 2013 Presidential Creative Awards for Faculty and Staff exemplify the excellence that abounds on this campus. Their work positions JSU as a global leader in providing a quality education, delivering superb services and producing competitive graduates. The strategic goal of these awards is to foster collaboration, innovation and creativity with a special emphasis on sociocultural, health, behavioral, environmental, economic, educational, policy and technological issues. The projects also engage students in research methodology to develop their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Carolyn W. Meyers, Ph.D. President Jackson State University

The winning projects were ambitious. They include proposals to increase black male retention rates in higher education, search for the antidote to student underachievement, examine the academic benefits of iPad use on campus and create a cybersystem that integrates passive and smart devices. All 10 winning projects were exceptional. I’d like to thank the members of the selection committee for their hard work and the attention they gave to reviewing all of the applications. Congratulations to the 2013 CAFS winners.


Rodney Washington, Ph.D. Chair and Associate Professor Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education

“JSU G.U.Y.S. (Guiding Undergraduates through Yearly Support) Project: A Research Based Approach to Retaining Minority Male Students in Higher Education”

Universities and colleges across the nation grapple with the problem of low retention rates among black male students. Dr. Rodney Washington has a plan to address it. Washington’s project will examine the patterns that lead male students to abandon their studies. He’ll also evaluate university support provided to the students. “It is important for JSU to understand the challenges of today’s students and the external and internal factors that block their program completion. It is my hope that JSU will support a formalized mentoring program as a result of the project,” Washington said. A 2012 report released by the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education on African-American male success rates in higher education noted that this population has the lowest completion rates among all genders and racial groups. This topic has received significant attention as several scholars and foundations have begun funding innovative ideas that will lead to not only increased enrollment, but higher retention rates. Washington’s study will evaluate services designed to assist students in their acclimation to higher education. It will also analyze cohort data to develop a profile on student risk indicators that would drive changes in the university’s overall operations. The study aims to refine and develop entry level programs that will adequately engage and assess young males of color through a modified First Year Experience Program. Washington hopes the data will help build a support model specific to JSU’s needs, while also serving as a national example.

JSU creative awards 2013 | 5


Rhonda Cooper

Clinical Assistant Professor and Pre-Law Advisor Department of Political Science “Enhanced Law School Readiness Program”

Professor Rhonda Cooper’s project will put Jackson State University on track to being one of the premier providers of law school readiness courses. Her proposed Enhanced Law School Readiness Program will create a pre-law system that will engage students from their first year at JSU through timely graduation and successful law school admission. “This proposal is critical to JSU’s position as a global leader in legal studies, law and society,” Cooper said. The program is for any student – regardless of major or discipline – who expresses an interest in pursuing a law degree. As part of the project, students will engage in legal activities such as mock trials, moot courts and debate teams. They will participate in programs that foster academic skills through online research training, writing workshops and LSAT preparation. The project aims to increase enrollment of JSU graduates in tier-one and tier-two law schools and guarantee JSU representation and participation in diverse law school settings throughout the country. LSAT scores and other relevant data, including a tally of the schools to which students apply; schools in which students are accepted; and the amount of financial assistance awarded by the schools will be used for assessment.

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Nola T. Radford, Ph.D. Professor, Communicative Disorders Program School of Health Sciences

Robert Blaine, DMA Interim Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts

“Changing the Impact of Attitudes and Practices Disruptive to Student Achievement in Communication: Stereotype Threat and the Antidote to Poison Wells for First-Year Students”

Drs. Nola T. Radford and Robert Blaine are in search of an antidote to the “poison in the well” that results in student underachievement. Their project examines the impact of stereotype threat as it may be a factor associated with underachievement. Stereotype threat is the risk of being viewed negatively and the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm the stereotype. According to Radford and Blaine, students’ lowered expectation for success based on knowledge of the negative expectations for minority student performance is essentially the “poison in the well.” Students live down to the perceived lower expectation. Their study aims to determine the impact of stereotype on student performance, and if it is a significant factor, take action. One of the researchers’ hypotheses is that the effect of stereotype threat can be reduced through specific actions, including instruction on language and dialect. As part of the project, first-year students’ writing skills will be assessed based on their performance on the mandatory standardized test. All first-year graduate students will have a language assessment at the beginning and end of the fall semester and participate in the Fall Research Forum established by this project. “The study aims to contribute to the deep quality of instruction at JSU and support emergence of the university as a global leader in the nurturance of highly competent, global leaders,” the researchers said. The project also aims to reduce the impact of stereotype threat on critical thinking, oral communication and writing through cooperative learning, student support groups and mentoring. Another goal of the project is to develop a standardized survey for measurement of stereotype threat.

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Tony Latiker, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education “A Pilot Study of Candidate Attitudes Towards Traditional and Web-based Approaches of Praxis I Preparation in a Historically Black Teacher Education Program”

As our country continues to grow increasingly diverse, so do our nation’s public schools. In the early 2000s, minority students made up over 40 percent of public school enrollment, and minority teachers represented only 17 percent of the teaching force. A decade later, the percentage of African-American students continues to grow. Yet, the percentage of African-American teachers is not keeping pace. Dr. Tony Latiker will examine whether the approach taken to prepare for certification exams has an impact on the success rate of teaching candidates. He’ll compare traditional preparation activities to new web-based programs. Historically black colleges and universities produce a significant percentage of the nation’s African-American teachers. However, many African-American candidates are unable to complete their matriculation due to their performance on certification exams. Most states, including Mississippi, have adopted the Praxis Exam Series by Educational Testing Services as their licensure exams. It’s been well documented that African-American students score significantly lower on these exams than other students. One of the biggest challenges for teacher education programs serving African-American students is preparing the students to successfully complete all parts of the licensure examinations. “This project is significant because it will enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of a new web-based Praxis I preparation program developed by Pearson based on our students perceptions,” Latiker said. “It will also serve as a catalyst in strengthening undergraduate elementary education by providing faculty with key insight needed to strengthen candidate preparation and performance on mandatory teacher certification exams.” Latiker’s study involves allowing education students to spend half a semester preparing for the Praxis I exam using traditional methods, such as paper-based practice tests and tutorial lab activities. During the second half of the semester, they’ll have access to web-based tutorial software and will be monitored by an instructor. Data will be collected and compared.

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LaTonya Robinson-Kanonu Coordinator of Assessment Undergraduate Studies

“iPad Digital Think Tank Project”

What are the academic benefits of using an Apple iPad? LaTonya Robinson-Kanonu’s study seeks the answer to that question and more. The study will explore the phenomenon of how collaborative learning activities that use iPad technology affect the academic experience of first-year students. The study’s results will be shared with the Jackson State University curriculum committee and faculty and staff on campus who have a vested interest in technology and application development. “The study has the potential to provide insight to application developers about specific academic support needs of first-time freshmen at JSU,” said Robinson-Kanonu. The goal of the study is to find more ways to integrate the use of the iPad in general education courses and collaborative learning activities. It also aims to enhance the technological fact-finding skills of first-year students by creating a virtual think tank. The study will provide a model for teaching first-year students using the iPad. Forty students will participate in the study, which will include a series of collaborative learning activities, questionnaires and student-led virtual discussions. To expand the scope of the study, funding will be requested from agencies involved in educational research, reading, literacy and technology advancement.

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Johnnie M. Griffin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology

“Dead, Buried and Forgotten: Cemeteries as Repositories of Relevant Social Data Go Abandoned”

Dr. Johnnie M. Griffin believes there are stories the dead can still tell. Griffin’s study seeks to raise awareness about abandoned cemeteries in Mississippi and show that meaningful social data can be retrieved at burial grounds. Jackson State University, the state’s only urban university, is a prime candidate to initiate this kind of research project as the historic Mount Olive Cemetery sits adjacent to the campus. Griffin’s study aims to encourage an increase in the interdisciplinary participation of JSU faculty and students in the growing interest of the sociology of cemeteries. It also will encourage JSU’s consideration for the establishment of relevant departments, such as anthropology. Research data will yield the demographics of the population buried at Mount Olive Cemetery, which was awarded a state “Certificate of Historical Significance” in 1971. A content analysis will be conducted of readable tombstones and markers. Griffin hopes the project will result in JSU taking a more active role in improving the image of the cemetery and conducting tours to discuss the burial ground’s significance. Researchers’ written reports of the findings will be compiled for submission for a larger grant.

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Francis Tuluri, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Technology

“Integrating Smart Devices and Passive Devices into the Informatics Intensive Cybersystem for Education and Research (ISPICER)”

The U.S. isn’t producing a sufficient number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students. Dr. Francis Tuluri’s goal is to help reignite interest in those fields through his project, “Integrating Smart Devices and Passive Devices into the Informatics Intensive Cybersystem for Education and Research (ISPICER).” Researchers will design a simple cybersystem by integrating smart devices, such as cell phones or iPads, and passive devices that are capable of collecting data and controlling a mechanical process remotely. Such applications are required in many research areas, including environmental science, health science and informatics technology. A plant in the woods is the project’s subject. Researchers will monitor the impact that temperature and the environment have on the growth of the plant. A remote temperature data logger and surveillance camera will be built. The cybersystem integration will be carried out in stages: interfacing smartphones or wireless radio adaptors to the computer; interfacing input/output data acquisition sensors to the computer; and using microcontroller platforms or robotics educational modules and communicating the information for remote analysis and visualization. The ISPICER project will create a state-of-the-art research technique and student learning platform to foster quality education in STEM disciplines. “Researchers and students will be inspired by designing and constructing their own systems,” Tuluri said. “They’ll gain a deeper understanding of the underlying scientific pipelines as they experience the important relationships between science and technology.”

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Everett G. Neasman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of British Literature Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages

“William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens: Gift-giving and Reciprocity Among Jackson State University Students-Pilot Study”

One of William Shakespeare’s plays is the basis of a study geared toward bolstering research skills of Liberal Arts majors. Dr. Everett G. Neasman’s study will examine the correlation between gift-giving and reciprocity in the tragedy, “Timon of Athens,” and gift-giving and reciprocity among Jackson State students. Much like Shakespeare’s Timon, university students exchange gifts in the name of “friendship,” according to Neasman. And, they expect dual compensation and/or reciprocity when the need arises, just as Timon did. The study’s results will be based on the students’ responses to a questionnaire about a one-page plot summary of “Timon of Athens.” The project aims to introduce and utilize empirical study in English courses that rely on literacy criticism as the primary form of research. The project will allow students to evaluate “The Timon Study,” and create fresh studies and make them relevant to the conflict and solution aspects of Shakespeare’s plays in their lives. Student research assistants will gain firsthand knowledge of the data collection and publication processes. Neasman said the experience will strengthen the students’ marketability whether they choose to attend graduate school or to enter the workforce upon graduation. “It is essential to interdisciplinary study that literary fiction relates directly to students’ present concepts of themselves, their worlds and the overall human condition. Empirical research through interdisciplinary study will ultimately help JSU students to be deeper critical thinkers and stronger researchers,” Neasman said.

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Courtney W. Brookins Coordinator of Undergraduate Advisement Department of Psychology

“Effects of Type and Length of Music Therapy Program on Anxiety, Depression, Cognition, Blood Pressure and Heart Rate of Physically Disabled Residents in a Specialty Care Center”

Courtney W. Brookins’ study will examine the healing power of music therapy. Music is already used to treat a variety of psychological disorders and physical disabilities, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, traumatic brain injury, cystic fibrosis and coronary artery disease. Music also can facilitate the recovery of some dexterity following damage from stroke or seizures resulting in paralysis. However, there are relatively few quantitative research studies investigating the use of music therapy in specialty care centers serving physically disabled patients possibly suffering from anxiety and depression. Brookins’ project will add to the evidence base for the efficacy and safety of music therapy. The purpose is to provide opportunities for psychology and music majors to engage in an interdisciplinary and multi-departmental research project that infuses education with the excitement of scientific discovery and enriches research skills through the diversity and complexity of learning from different academic perspectives. “The goal is to offer an outstanding academic experience, to provide an exciting research opportunity, and to engage in a fulfilling community service endeavor so that our promising students can hone their talents and progress toward their plans to become the next generation of scientists, practitioners, leaders, and volunteers,” Brookins said. Students will conduct a long-term empirical investigation under the close supervision of staff and faculty mentors. Standard and extended duration interventions will be used to examine the effects of receptive and active music therapy programs on anxiety, depression, cognition, blood pressure and heart rate.

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Nicholas J. Hill, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Economics Department of Economics

“Urban High School Economics Teachers’ Influence: A Study Examining Factors Influencing Student Performance on Mississippi Economics End of Course Test”

Dr. Nicholas J. Hill’s research will examine the relationship between teacher input and student outcomes in an economics course at the high school level. “This project provides the opportunity to understand and perhaps challenge certain aspects of the teaching and learning experiences in urban high school economics classrooms toward the goal of ensuring economic literacy,” Hill said. Hill’s study specifically examines how teacher preparation, classroom practices and self-efficacy of high school economics teachers in urban school settings influence student performance on the standardized test of economics knowledge. Most of the students at the selected school site will be minorities. All teachers currently instructing at least one economics course as a part of a stand-alone or infused curriculum will be invited to participate in the study. The selected schools will be within the Jackson Public School District. Researchers will observe the participants for one semester during an academic school year. Interviews will be conducted and relevant documents collected, which will be used for publication in a peerreviewed journal. It will also be a pilot study for a larger grant. The research will be submitted for presentation at the 2014 American Economic Association Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education. Hill also expects the project to lead to the creation of a Center for Economic Education and Research at Jackson State University. The center will be linked to the Mississippi Council of Economic Education. Currently, there are only six member universities in the state, none of which is a historically black college or university.

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Presidential Cabinet David Buford | General Counsel Dr. Marcus Chanay | Vice President for Student Life Dr. Deborah F. Dent | Interim Vice President for Information Management Dr. Vivian L. Fuller | Athletics Director David Hoard | Vice President for Institutional Advancement Dr. William E. McHenry | Executive Director of the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU Dr. Felix Okojie | Vice President for Research and Federal Relations Dr. James C. Renick | Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Thomas | Vice President for Business and Finance


Deans Dr. Richard Al贸 | College of Science, Engineering and Technology Dr. Jean-Claude Assad, Interim | College of Business Dr. Mario Azevedo, Interim | College of Public Service Dr. Melissa L. Druckery | Library and Information Resources Dr. Dorris R. Robinson-Gardner | Graduate Studies Dr. Evelyn J. Leggette | Undergraduate Studies Dr. Lawrence T. Potter, Jr. | College of Liberal Arts Dr. Daniel Watkins | College of Education and Human Development


Jackson State University By The Numbers • Class of 2014 retention 75 percent of 2010 freshmen returned sophomore year • Degrees awarded 2011-12 Bachelors - 1,064 Masters – 412 Specialist – 23 Doctoral – 60 TOTAL – 1,559 •2011-12 Research support (includes most recent year available) $46.7 million • Total instructional faculty Full-time – 378 Part-time – 139 TOTAL - 517 •Faculty with terminal degrees 77 percent •Total employees 1,506 •Total enrollment 8,760 • International and multicultural student enrollment Black - 8,117 (91.17 percent) White - 575 (6.46 percent) Multiracial - 85 (0.96 percent) Hispanic - 50 (0.56 percent) Asian - 60 (0.67 percent) Native American - 16 (0.18 percent) •Number of states represented on campus: 34 •Number of countries represented on campus: 49 •Number of alumni on record: 39,000


About Jackson State University Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city.


Creative Awards 2013

1400 John R. Lynch St. Jackson, MS 3921


JSU Creative Awards 2103 Booklet  
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