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Students First Grants Winners: 2011 - 2012

Click on the name below to access an abstract of the funded project

The "Students First Grants" program encourages and supports faculty in the development of active student-centered pedagogies across the curriculum, the use of newer technologies that engage students both in and outside of the classroom, co-curricular activities that include field trips, and creative strategies to assess student learning gains.  This robust initiative is intentionally aimed at incoming first year students so as to launch them effectively in their college experience by engaging them in their learning and building community among students. 16 faculty and staff were awarded 13 grants in 2011.

Fernandez

George Fernandez
Assistant Professor of Visual Communication: Art and Graphic Design
Email: George.fernandez@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420- 2426

Rozakis

Laurie Rozakis
Professor of English
Email: Rozakile@aol.com Tel: 631-420-2645

Project Title
Writing and Designing Your Future: A Learning Community that combines English Composition with Art and Graphic Design

Project Statement
Purpose: The graphic designers' ability to create and develop visual and written responses to communications problems goes hand-in-hand and begins with understanding and applying the principles and elements of design. This is the foundation of VIS 112: Two-Dimensional Design. The pairing of VIS 112 and English 101:Composition, a campus wide writing intensive requirement for all incoming freshman, invents a learning community that effectively broadens the cognitive landscape for our Visual Communications majors and engages students in writing that is relevant to their selected vocation. Approximately 25 students will be enrolled in our class.

Benefits: We anticipate that our Learning Community can build improvement in clarity, logic, and persuasiveness by nurturing the "writing habit" through two related courses, back-to-back, in an area where students obviously have a vested interest. By giving students greater "buy-in," we hope they will write with greater interest, attention, and determination. This should lead to not only increased learning and recall, but also greater retention and graduation rates.

Lopiccolo

Orla Lopiccolo
Assistant Professor of Architecture & Construction Management
Email: lopicco@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-794-6123

Project Title
Teaching First Year Architecture Students Passive House Technology through Active Problem-Based Learning and a Field Trip to Sustainable Buildings

Project Statement
The goal of this Title III funded Students First - Teaching inside the Classroom grant award is to help Farmingdale State College become a learning-centered institution by increasing freshmen student engagement in the design and construction of energy saving buildings. Approximately 35 Freshmen architecture and construction management students in the Materials and Methods of Construction I course (CON 161) will be actively introduced to Passive House construction through collaborative problem based learning, physical model building, new classroom technologies and a field trip to a sustainable building – the Queens Botanical Garden's Visitor and Administration Building – a LEED platinum structure and site.

Students will benefit by being:
a.     Introduced to an innovative construction technique that may shape their future careers.
b.     Offered an opportunity to go to a sustainable building within driving distance and study its site placement, finish materials, green roof and renewable energy systems.
c.     Provided with an improved platform for interaction and collaboration through a team project and a class field trip in their first semester at Farmingdale State College.

It is envisioned that these benefits will enrich the students' learning, interaction, retention to graduation, and later career goals.

Menna

Larry Menna
Professor of History
Email: larry.menna@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2237

Project Title
Reacting to the Past: Teaching American History as Living History

Project Statement
This grant project aims to improve the teaching of history as part of the General Education offerings by adopting the Reacting to the Past pedagogy. Reacting is an innovative approach to the teaching of history that was developed at Barnard College and honed there and at many other institutions of higher learning to wide acclaim. Reacting introduces students to role-playing games based on actual historical contexts and circumstances. The games are based on actual historical dilemmas such as the decision by colonists to revolt against England in what became the American Revolution. The objective of these historical games is to wed an understanding of individual agency to its broader social context and to make the study of the past come alive to students. In their historical roles, students recreate the dynamics and forces of historical decision-making, and through their interactions, students experience the excitement of reliving the process of historical agency. In making up their own minds, students as historical actors may decide on an "outcome" that diverges from the actual historical results as we know them.

At Farmingdale State College, the Reacting to the Past pedagogy will be used in an introductory American history course whose initial enrollment will be limited to approximately 32 students. It will enhance and deepen student learning of American history and expose them to a methodology that will develop their academic skills. Because Reacting requires that students obtain a solid understanding of the historical contexts and ideas of the issues posed by the games, students read deeply and gain an active understanding of the historical issues placed before them. Because sound analysis begins with learning how to read, Reacting establishes the foundation for understanding multiple points of view and for synthesizing ideas and information into a coherent perspective. In addition, because Reacting to the Past organizes student role-playing and learning around classroom debates, students will deepen their speaking skills, leadership abilities, independent learning capabilities, and confidence. Reacting also helps students learn decorum, team-building skills, and respect during oral discourse and understand the effectiveness of different forms of rhetoric. Moreover, Reacting requires students to submit analytical writing assignments that will develop their understanding and analysis of human agency and historical contingency and will enhance their persuasion, thinking, and problem-solving skills. Last, on a professional level, Reacting will energize my own teaching and learning and help me to creatively rethink the methodologies that I use in other history courses. Institutionally, the Reacting pedagogy can be scaled up, that is, it can be utilized within my department but also be applied broadly across social science departments.

Pullan

Marie Pullan
Associate Professor of Computer Systems
Email: pullanm@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2304

BCS101

Open House 2013
Students in BCS 101 class display LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robot on 2013 Open House

Robots Enhance Freshman Programming Course

Project Title
Building and Programming LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Robotics in the Introductory Computer and Information Systems Course

Project Statements
The course content will be based on LEGO® MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robotics technology product. This equipment allows students to learn the concepts of robotics technology and computer programming in a fun and engaging environment. Students will build robots and design programs for the robots based on class assignments. The target population for this project will be students enrolled in BCS101 – Program Concepts and Problem Solving class in the fall 2011. The BCS101 course was designed for students with little or no programming experience. The number of students likely to participate will be around 20.

The goal is to improve student comprehension of course content by providing students with hands-on activities designed to improve student satisfaction and engagement. Building and programming robots can provide students with project that will be embraced as both relevant and interesting. The pedagogy for this project will be based on Active Learning and Cooperative Learning. Active Learning involves activities where students are directly and actively participating in the learning process itself. This means that instead of simply receiving information verbally and visually, students are receiving and participating and doing. The process allows students to experiment with ideas, to develop concepts, and to integrate concepts into systems. Active Learning develops social experiences between students and between teachers and students. Active Learning can foster a sense of community within the classroom and promote the formation of positive relationships between students and faculty, increasing the probability of retention. The objective is to provide a positive learning experience that will improve students' self-efficacy, promote engagement with course material and provide a positive and fulfilling experience that will serve students throughout their college careers.

Shapiro

Ann Shapiro
Distinguished Teaching Professor of English
Email: ann.shapiro@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2322

Singh

Sarbjit "Sab" Singh
Assistant Professor of Business Management
Email: sarbjit.singh@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2786

Project Title
Foundations for Growth: A Learning Community that Combines English Composition with Introduction to Business Management

Project Statement
Dr. Shapiro, from the English Department, and Prof. Singh, from the Business Management Department, will be teaching back-to-back linked courses in their respective disciplines. This "learning community," Foundations for Growth, is designed for 30 first-year students taking the core class in each discipline, Management Theories and Practices (BUS 109) and freshman Composition: Rhetoric (EGL 101). The composition course will focus on analysis and argumentation, with students reading college level essays, analyzing them, and responding thoughtfully in writing after discussion. This course will be different from other composition courses, however, in that the essays will be related to the changing world of work. The learning community will entail several joint projects, including at least two written case studies and a research paper concerning each student's contemplation of career opportunities. The fundamental concepts and lessons of each course will not only be enhanced by the aforementioned collaboration, but also by the likelihood of a class trip and/or inclusion of a guest speaker, possibilities facilitated by the combined time block and additional monies provided by the grant.

Both courses involve enhancing the first-year student's appreciation for and ability to undertake research, critical thinking, and writing, all essential skills needed to grow into effective communicators and leaders during their time at Farmingdale State College and after graduation. The learning community, captured by the theme, Foundations for Growth, further encourages and enhances the student's learning by providing a contextual framework – the world of work and business – for the practice of these core skills. Research specifically related to composition confirms our own thinking that students write better when they are engaged in a subject and have a context for their writing. Furthermore, research on learning communities emphasizes that they foster camaraderie and community amongst students and faculty, which typically aids retention of the material and we anticipate, a better feeling about their respective academic departments and school overall. Dr. Shapiro sees the learning community as a logical extension of the WID Program that she has directed since 2002 in the belief that students learn best when they write in their disciplines. Finally, both Dr. Shapiro and Prof. Singh believe students who are part of this "community" will be more involved in the overall college experience as well, improving the likelihood they graduate from the College with knowledge, skills, and experiences that will benefit them in any future endeavors.

Thomas

Brian Thoms
Assistant Professor of Computer Systems
Email: Brian.Thoms@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2405

Project Title
Online Social Networking to Support Teaching and Learning at Farmingdale State College

Project Statement
Assistant Professor of Computer Systems, Dr. Brian Thoms was awarded a Students First Grant to implement innovative social software inside the classroom. The project, titled, Online Social Networking to Support Teaching and Learning at Farmingdale State College, will assess the impact of an integrated social learning platform, combining Twitter and online discussion boards.

Farmingdale students taking introductory systems courses will use this blended learning environment to share information and interact with their peers. The online social network, found at FSC.SocialXYZ.com and hosted by ClearDev, allows individuals to use Twitter to discover and bring new and interesting content from across the Internet into the course learning environment on SocialXYZ. Within SocialXYZ, individuals can continue the conversation in a safe, student-centric environment. Dr. Thoms has performed extensive research in the area of social learning software to discover positive correlations between its implementation in the classroom and student learning outcomes. The online learning community implemented through SocialXYZ has even greater potential when introduced within introductory courses. In addition to its potential for enhancing learning and critical thinking on course material, the environment can facilitate stronger social ties with classmates. In this respect, SocialXYZ provides students with the ability to create personalized profiles, which includes personal interests as well as academic interests. Ultimately, stronger social ties that form in the classroom can lead to stronger ties outside the classroom as well, resulting in a more interconnected Farmingdale campus.

Filios

Adam Filios
Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology
Email: filiosaa@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2120

Ryu

Yeong Ryu
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology
Email: ryuy@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2351

Project Title
Enhancing Student-centered Learning through Undergraduate Research in Photovoltaics

Project Statements
The proposed project aims at utilizing undergraduate research as a vehicle to enrich the learning experiences of students, increase their involvement with the campus community, and enhance the student-centered learning culture at Farmingdale State College. This is a co-curricular activity grant. Two students, one from Electrical Engineering Technology and one from Mechanical Engineering Technology will conduct research related to emerging technologies in photovoltaic solar cells. With the guidance of the PIs, students will investigate novel solar cell designs based on thin films and nanomaterials. In the experimental part of the project, students will perform material characterization and performance testing of solar cells. In the theoretical part, students will be involved with calculations and use modeling tools to derive design parameters and predict performance for various technologies. By the end of the project, students are expected to write a technical report and present their findings in an appropriate conference.

Students rarely have the opportunity to explore issues beyond the course material, which would help them cultivate their creativity and understand the so important inter-relations among various disciplines. Emerging technologies such as those involving alternate forms of energy are expected to play a major role in modern engineering technology curricula. This project involves expertise from multidisciplinary teams in our school of engineering technology; in particular, technology of solar cells, electronics, instrumentation, control systems, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and software applications. The students will be involved in setting up the solar cell system, developing code for control algorithm and data acquisition, and running the experiments at Farmingdale State College supported by the Department Faculty in the Program. It is expected that this setup will be used in future undergraduate senior projects for students in the departments of mechanical engineering technology and electrical engineering technology. In addition, interdisciplinary courses in alternate forms of energy, solar energy systems, and control mechanisms could be developed in the future as outgrowth of these experimental setups and activities. Parts of the algorithms that will be developed in this project will also be used as teaching tools in existing courses.

Two undergraduate students, one from Electrical Engineering Technology and one from Mechanical Engineering Technology conducted research related to emerging technologies in photovoltaic solar cells. With the guidance of the PIs, Drs. Filios and Ryu, students investigated emerging technologies in photovoltaics and performed experiments involving material characterization, current-voltage characteristics, and performance measurements of solar cells. As part of the project, Farmingdale undergraduate students accompanied by the faculty PIs visited the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the University at Albany, where students had the opportunity to tour the state of the art facilities at Albany Nanotech used in advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The students also met with the Graduate Admissions advisor at CNSE and were given information about graduate studies and internships at CNSE. This research project was supported by the Title III "Strengthening Institutions" Grant from the US Department of Education: Students First Grant managed by Dr. Beverly Kahn.

Gross

Sarah Gross
Assistant Professor of Biology
Email: grosss@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2102

Project Title
Engaging Bioscience Students in a Biomedical Research Project on the Herpesvirus Lifecycle

Project Statements
Herpesviruses can cause a wide variety of diseases, including oral and genital cold sores, chicken pox, cancer and encephalitis. All herpesviruses are surrounded by a membranous envelope, which is essential to their infectivity. This Co-Curricular grant will introduce two Bioscience students to the exciting world of Biomedical Research in a project focused on the envelopment process of the herpesvirus lifecycle. Through a wide variety of molecular biology techniques, including recombinant DNA technology and protein binding assays, the students will attempt to identify interactions required for herpesvirus envelopment.

This project will provide an invaluable experience to the participating students, both by enhancing their academic learning in the Bioscience program, and by giving them important skills that can aid them in future career prospects and entry into graduate programs. Additionally, if interactions are successfully identified, these experiments could lead to publications in scientific journals, as well as presentations in various conference settings. In the long term, finding ways to disrupt these interactions, which are required for the process of viral envelopment, may lead to the development of a new class of anti-drugs aimed at inhibiting herpesvirus assembly.

Lehrer

Jonathan Lehrer
Assistant Professor of Ornamental Horticulture
Email: lehrerjm@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2711

Project Title
Enrichment of Horticulture Education through Student Involvement in Restoration of the Teaching Gardens Pinetum

Project Statements
Project Summary: This co-curricular project will enhance HOR 211-212: Woody Plants I & II, a required course sequence for all matriculated students in the Department of Ornamental Horticulture, by restoring a living collection of cone-bearing trees within the Teaching Gardens known as the Pinetum. A small number of horticulture students will join the PI and trained department staff for a hands-on summer field experience intended to reverse years of unchecked growth and storm damage which currently threaten this important outdoor learning laboratory. Specific activities will include targeted pruning, plant removal and specimen installation.

Project Benefits: Completion of this project will serve the needs of multiple stakeholders. The Pinetum will be enhanced as an outdoor classroom for horticulture students and local industry professionals. A green area for the quiet enjoyment of everyone at Farmingdale will be concurrently established adjacent to the bustling new Campus Center. Department students who join the project as interns will supplement their classroom education with new skills and experiences through participation in all phases of the endeavor including planning, execution and reporting in a peer-reviewed manuscript. These activities will position graduating interns as strong candidates for leadership roles in the Long Island nursery and landscape industry.

Zoghi

Mohamad Zoghi
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology
Email: mohamad.zoghi@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2315

Maltezos

Dimitrios Maltezos
Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology
Email: maltezdg@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2004

Project Title
Manufacturing Conference: Projects Designed and Manufactured by Freshman Students in Manufacturing Classes.

Project Statements
The Department of Mechanical / Manufacturing Engineering Technology offers a series of courses to accomplish the college-wide objective of educating students with hands-on experience enhanced by instruction in the latest technologies and techniques to acquire real-life experience. The project investigators submitted a proposal under category 2 of Students First Grant Competition; Grants Designed to Improve Student Learning and Retention through Co-curricular Activities Outside of the Classroom. In this project, a student conference will be held in form of poster session on the projects of the freshman students taking manufacturing processes classes. The number of participants is estimated to be around 30 students. The top-three posters will be rewarded in form of cash using Title-III Grant funds.

The authors believe that this project will help the prospect for institutionalizing such activities. It will encourage the authors to continue this event as well as managing similar conferences for other fields in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. It will also promote such activities in different departments throughout the college. Students will benefit remarkably should they take part in college-wide conferences. It will encourage them to participate in more professional conferences nationwide and internationally. Additionally life-long benefits for our students will be the experience gained for preparing themselves for public speaking, technical writing and power point presentation (an ABET requirement for engineering students). Such events will increase students' engagements and class participations, which consequently will improve their learning through their activities outside the classroom.

The anticipated outcomes of this project are:
1.     Encouraging students to be active on hands-on classes
2.     Sharing ideas
3.     Discussing on the challenges they are facing throughout a project
4.     Building up a professional relationship among the peers
5.     Training students to participate in professional conferences

Bryer

Jennifer Bryer
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Email: bryerj@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2229

Project Title
Peer Tutoring Program for Academic Success of Returning Nursing Students

Project Statements
Funding from the "Students First Grant" will be used for a peer tutoring program targeting returning students who were unsuccessful in their previous clinical nursing course. The objective of the program is to increase nursing student retention rates and enhance the academic performance of returning nursing students. At the completion of the tutoring program, students should be able to successfully meet the academic requirements for progression in the associate degree nursing program. This assessment grant will fund books and supplies for approximately 33 students, including tutors and returning students. Peer tutors will be responsible for approximately 3-4 returning nursing students. They will be provided with information about campus resources, program objectives, and any needed program documentation. In addition, peer tutors will meet with returning students at least once a week to review coursework, study strategies, time management, and provide anxiety and stress reduction strategies. I will serve as the faculty advisor and assume responsibility for training the tutors, organizing materials, and establishing communication between peer tutors and students. Student assessment will be accomplished by attendance at peer tutoring sessions, scores on unit exams in clinical courses, and course grades at the end of the semester.

Benefits of the peer tutoring program include improved retention and academic outcomes for associate degree students who are at risk for failure in the nursing program. With the additional support provided to returning nursing students by the peer tutoring program, the expected outcome will be successful completion of the clinical nursing course, and achievement of graduation requirements for the associate degree program. In addition, the overall academic proficiency of peer tutors and their returning students may be enhanced by this program. In the future, the program can be expanded to include non-clinical nursing courses where attrition and academic success have been concerns. Also, future inclusion of at risk students enrolled in the baccalaureate and practical nurse certificate programs may improve academic performance and retention, and ultimately increase graduation rates.

Sacco

Christine Sacco-Sanchez
Director of Writing Center
Email: saccosc@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-794-6134

Project Title
FSC Writing Center's Live Chat Online Tutoring

Project Statements
The staff at Farmingdale State College's Writing Center is honored to receive the Title III Student's First Assessment of Pedagogies and Programs Grant to create and implement an online, live-chat tutoring program. Beginning May 2011, three Writing Center staff members and ten FSC students (five for each trial) will partake in two online tutoring trials using the Angel Distance Learning. First, students will set up online appointments and submit their papers 24 hours before the scheduled tutoring sessions. Next, each student and tutor will log on for a live discussion of the paper. Upon completion of the session, the student will make the suggested changes to the paper. Finally, the tutor and student will complete an assessment form addressing issues, providing feedback, and suggesting improvements.

The goal at the Writing Center is to make services available to all students, traditional and non-traditional. Currently, the Writing Center cannot accommodate students seeking help beyond its normal hours of operation. These students may include (1) full-time working students, (2) evening students, (3) distance-learning students and (4) students involved in internships. The online tutoring component will accommodate all students beyond normal hours of operation and will include late night, weekend, and holiday hours. This program will provide students with virtually unlimited access to Writing Center tutors. Through unlimited access, students will experience a decrease in academic anxiety and an increase in the quality of their writing and advanced planning across the curriculum. This service will also allow the Writing Center not only to expand the hours to students but offer tutors the opportunity to obtain more tutoring hours. Long-term results are expected as we plan to fully implement this component as part of our program during the 2011-2012 school year.

Crocker

Robert Crocker
Lecturer of Biology
Email: crockera@farmingdale.edu Tel: 631-420-2426

Project Title
Assessing the effectiveness of virtual anatomy and physiology laboratory exercises in improving student learning.

Project Statements
The traditional approaches to undergraduate human anatomy and physiology (A&P) laboratory instruction are being challenged by the introduction of virtual interactive exercises. This assessment research will identify promising late generation instructional products designed for the A&P laboratory, design strategies for introducing selected technologies to the FSC A&P labs, and assess the pedagogical impact of the new approaches. The project will introduce two FSC student researchers to the educational research environment. Mentored by the PI, the students will evaluate and select specific technologies and develop an assessment strategy that will identify what impact the technologies make in student outcomes. They will author a research paper describing the project and submit it for publication.

In addition to providing an opportunity for students to engage in research activity, this project will provide evidence useful in the improvement of the A&P lab curriculum at FSC, and guide the deployment of college and department resources to maximize the effectiveness of A&P lab pedagogy.

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