College of Arts and Science Highlights
Communications Professor Rebecca Hains Addresses "The Princess Problem"
Communications professor Rebecca Hains is a media studies scholar whose work focuses on girls' media culture. Her newest book, The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Source Books), is a media literacy primer for parents of girls. It guides parents through the process of coaching their daughters to become critical viewers of media--to raise girls who are empowered to resist the media's problematic messages regarding gender roles, race stereotypes, consumerism, and the beauty ideal.
Hains began conducting research for The Princess Problem in 2011 while her previous book, Growing Up With Girl Power--an expansion of her dissertation research--was in press. Hains researched princess culture by going "undercover" as a birthday party princess and by conducting qualitative research with parents of preschool-aged girls. In the process, she realized that parents were clamoring for solutions to the problems with princess culture that had become part of our national discourse, thanks to Peggy Orenstein's 2011 bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
After Hains received a contract for The Princess Problem from Source Books, Hains spent her Fall 2013 sabbatical completing the manuscript. She also continued building her platform as a nonfiction author by blogging at rebeccahains.com and for the Christian Science Monitor.
Since The Princess Problem's release in September 2014, reviews have been strong: Peggy Orenstein called it "an indispensable tool kit, full of concrete, practical advice"; Publisher's Weekly praised the book for its " practical parenting tips"; and the LA Times called it "a beacon of light for parents trying to navigate through the fog of their daughter’s princess obsessions." Most recently, Hains' double-segment with the Meredith Vieira Show about her book aired on November 25.
Chemistry and Physics Professor Todd Wimpfheimer
My sabbatical involved researching, developing, and assessing two hybrid chemistry courses for non-science majors. After studying best practices in use across the country and participating in online webinars, I felt that although chemistry is an experiential science, much of the basic lecture content could be delivered via electronic media to an appropriate audience. The hybrid nature of the course would allow for online content delivery, homework, and tutorials while maintaining face to face meetings to work on higher order learning objectives as well as for the laboratory experiments. My project involved recording online lectures using the Tegrity lecture capture software package. I now also record my face to face lectures and make them available through Tegrity. I also used the suite of Learnsmart online adaptive learning modules.
Students completed online surveys using the SALG (Student Assessment of their Learning Gains) website at www.salgsite.org. The assessment results show that students like the flexibility the hybrid schedule affords them. They can work on the Learnsmart modules at their own pace and can review them again if desired. The students also appreciate that the Tegrity lectures allow them to review the lecture more than once.
Computer Science Professor, Gregg C. Whyte
Since the earliest days of my professional career I have been drawn to international experiences. Starting with many years of university sponsored study tours to half a dozen countries, then to academic membership for the last 25 years in a pre-eminent international educators association, SIEC-ISBE (Societe pour l’Enseignment Commercial/The International Society for Business Education). It is through that connection that I was afforded an irresistible opportunity for my sabbatical in the spring of this year.
Annually the Faculty of Management of the Akademia Gorniczo-Hutnicza (University of Science and Technology) in Krakow, Poland extends an invitation for a Visiting Professor to complement their course offerings taught in English. Last spring I was honored to be able to teach an international version of a module, “Problem Solving with Excel.” My students were comprised of individuals not only from Poland but also The Ukraine and Turkey. Many were students in the Erasmus programme, a European Union student exchange program established in 1987.
Needless to say I learned much from my students in terms of their personal and cultural perspectives on their studies and the international situation. It was a fascinating mix of the commonality of humanity and the appreciation of diversity. Their work ethic was inspiring. Oh, that I could inspire such a laser-like focus in all of my students!
Of course the setting was equally inspiring. Being one of the oldest university cities in the world, it was mercifully spared much of the war ravages of the 20th century to this part of the world.
Thus I am grateful for the opportunity given to me this past semester. It renews my commitment to making all of my students, wherever they may be from, of their connectedness to our global community.