Beautiful Idea: Co-Developers: Project Description: Art ↔ Science

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Beautiful Idea: Co-Developers: Project Description: Art ↔ Science
Beautiful Idea:
Art ↔ Science
Mr. George Rosa and Prof. John Gillen
Project Description:
I propose the development of a cross-disciplinary program called Art ↔ Science, in which students use a
project-based and cooperative learning approach to visually portray topics and concepts in Biology and
Anatomy/Physiology. Working individually or in groups, they would study these concepts, brainstorm and
explore the most effective ways to create a work of art that both effectively teaches the viewer and is as creative
and aesthetically pleasing as possible. The students would be free to use any medium, whether traditional or
digital; deciding on the medium would be important part of the learning process. The importance of research,
consultation with and criticism from experts and students would be emphasized. In the end they should produce
work that can be both displayed as art and used by instructors to cover topics in Biology. They can be used as
models, illustrations, charts or simulations. They will also learn and use Instructional Technology skills to help
create a podcast lesson using their work. The Office of Instructional Technology can create a channel for these
podcasts and images, available for classes and HALC, and also uploaded into iTunesU and YouTube. A show
can be organized each semester and awards given in different categories. Many skills would be developed and
enhanced in the exercises of this program, and students would become aware of the interdisciplinary nature of
knowledge, learning and success.
1. After many years of teaching Biology as well as working as a designer, artist and illustrator, I’ve finally
come to the conclusion that the process of creating works of art is very much akin to scientific problemsolving and can be used to teach concepts in biology and anatomy /physiology. Conversely, the processes
of scientific inquiry require observational skills that I think can be used to develop artistic talent.
There are many things that have led me to this conclusion:
The general recognition that hands-on activity helps students visualize and understand difficult or
abstract scientific concepts. The example of using pipe cleaners to teach mitosis is well known. Creating
works of art is the ultimate hands-on activity. I was especially impressed when a group of puppeteers
visited the Natural Sciences Department and worked with students on various projects. I found that my
most unmotivated students were energized and their achievement level in the course improved.
Over my years of teaching I have seen the content of Biology and anatomy/physiology textbooks
become more visual as a way of explaining complex structure and concepts, with more detailed,
beautifully rendered illustrations as well as accompanying video and animations. This shows increased
recognition of the importance of visual processes in the understanding of scientific concepts.
In my teaching I often draw out structures and processes to deconstruct them and make them more
understandable to the students.
I think there is a biological connection to virtually every work of art, whether it is the keen observations
of nature displayed in the Lascaux cave paintings, the strong anatomical references in figurative
paintings and sculpture, or the explorations of the visual processes of the brain by cubist painters,
pointillists and other abstract artists.
2. So I propose the development of a program called Art ↔ Science. In this program students approach
various topics and concepts in Biology and Anatomy/Physiology and work out a way to portray them
visually. This would involve studying them, brainstorming and exploring on the most effective strategies
to create a work of art that both effectively teaches the viewer and is as creative and aesthetically
pleasing as possible. The students would be free to use any medium, whether traditional or digital, 2dimensional, 3-dimensional, film, animation or live video. Deciding on the medium would be important
part of the learning process, involving both research into the subject, the way it’s been previously
portrayed, and the different media characteristics. They could work individually or in groups. The
importance of research as well consultation with and criticism from experts in different fields and fellow
students would be emphasized. In the end they should produce work that can be both displayed as art
and used by instructors to cover topics in Biology. They can be used as models, illustrations, charts or
simulations. And they will also develop skills in incorporating their artwork into educational technology,
such as animating a two-dimensional drawing for a simulation and presenting it in a podcast lesson. The
Office of Instructional Technology can create a channel for these podcasts and images, available for
classes and HALC, and also uploaded into iTunesU and YouTube. A show can be organized each
semester and awards given in different categories.
This program would cross disciplines, involving Natural Sciences, Humanities, English, Education,
Allied Health and possibly other departments. It would use a project-based and cooperative learning
3. Outcomes of this program would be familiarity with biology and anatomy and physiology concepts,
scientific inquiry, art history, traditional art techniques, digital design and technology. Skills developed
would be in problem-solving, critical thinking and analytical skills, written and oral communication and
presentation, science literacy, artistic, aesthetic, literary and philosophical skills, technological
competency, information literacy, analyzing and synthesizing information from various sources,
leadership and interpersonal skills.
Ultimately I believe that this program would be a confidence builder and motivator for students who are
discouraged by the complexity of scientific concepts that they are required to learn as well as those that
feel that they have little artistic talent, and raise in them the awareness that learning in all subjects is an
interdisciplinary, lifelong process using many skills and talents that we all possess.
4. I was first introduced to the idea of art as a way of learning science from the book Nature Drawing, A
Tool for Learning, by Claire Walker Leslie (1980: Prentice Hall, Inc., ISBN 0-13-610360-Y) which
describes lessons designed to simultaneously teach aspects of natural history and drawing skills. In a
1984 booklet entitled Using Art to Teach Science
) Ralph Winrich of NASA Lewis Research Center describes projects such as dioramas and murals to
help students visualize the universe, planets and events on earth such as the ice age. In Chemistry,
Poetry, and Artistic Illustration: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching and Promoting Chemistry
(Journal of Chemical Education, v84 n10 p1625-1630 Oct 2007), the authors describe a successful
interdisciplinary collaboration among Chemistry, Humanities and English faculty members to help
students learn chemistry through creating illustrations and posters and composing poems.
5. I think a syllabus can be developed in one semester, which a range of different topics and exercises
developed, and the program begun in the Fall 2010. I hope to have a partner on this project.
Beautiful Idea:
Conversations from the Green Room
Professors Rees Shad & Catherine Lewis
Project Description:
Conversations from the Green Room is a project to develop a multimedia hybrid course examining film
production and cinema history in order to introduce these subjects to students at Hostos Community College.
The course will examine how films are made, and the various professional roles performed in the making of
films, as well as explore how those jobs have developed over the last century. We will focus on eight roles in
particular: screenwriter, cinematographer, director, actor, costume designer, sound designer, special effects
designer, and producer. Eight corresponding films will be shown to illustrate the importance of these roles, and
two additional films will be shown to give an overview of film history.
The films will either be viewed in class or assigned as homework, and corresponding lectures will be given.
These film viewings and lectures will be enhanced by an additional online element of topic specific videos
created for the class. They will involve the development, implementation and documentation of a series of
round-table discussions considering the various roles and the part that they each have played in film making
over the last century. We will orchestrate these discussions with faculty members and Industry professionals,
film them with the help of students from the Digital Design Program, and edit the material together with film
clips and other media for online integration into the course.
Students will engage in discussion of the materials in class as well as online by means of a class blog. In
addition they will respond more formally in more traditional written assignments and a research paper.
1. Introducing Hostos students to the history and production process of one of the most important elements
of media in the 20th Century.
2. Exposing Hostos students to professionals in the field and their diverse approaches and viewpoints
3. Giving Hostos students in the Digital programs important professional experience developing online
media for educational purposes.
4. Introducing Hostos students to a variety of professions in the field of media production that they might
be interested in pursuing.
The creation of a state-of-the art hybrid educational experience involving a variety of media seen from the
viewpoints of academics as well as professionals in the field and allowing students the opportunity to look on as
these professionals discuss and debate aspects of their craft.
Time Line:
Spring 2010 Develop syllabi, select films, organize the round table participants, and outline potential
Summer 2010 implement round-table discussions, document them on video
Fall 2011 Edit documentation footage of round-table, design and implement the web interface and
Spring 2011 Introduce course
Beautiful Idea:
Integrating Peer Led Team Learning in STEM Courses at Hostos Community College
Professors Mohammad Sohel & Debasish Roy
Project Description:
The National Academy of Sciences sounded an alarm in the report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” in
response to a statistical data that showed a “troubling decline” in the number of U.S. citizen who are training to
become scientists and engineers. Furthermore, the number of jobs requiring Science, Technology, Engineering
and Mathematics (STEM) skills continue to outpace U.S. labor force. This is more pronounced in the case of
minorities. Many reviews and research studies have been devoted to understanding the key factors for
retention, persistence and success of undergraduate students in science, mathematics, and engineering majors.
It is important that student feel the sense of belonging to a scholarly community. As reported, major causes of
student attrition in the first year include academic difficulty, adjustment difficulties, incongruence and a great
sense of isolation (Tinto, Muller). Students are more likely to persist when they find themselves in settings that
hold high expectations for their learning; provide needed academic and social support; and actively involve
them with other students and faculty in learning (Tinto). The use of co-operative or collaborative learning
(Triesman); peer-assisted learning (Wasburn, Gosser) that require students to work together groups has been
developed and well recognized. Learning in the community colleges in many cases occurs in the isolation such
as in the library cubicles or tutoring center where broader long-term interactions among faculty-student and
student-student rarely occurs. Supervised team learning is valued highly by students because of the personal
contact, support and attention. (Wasburn, Gosser).
Due to the lack of initial preparation very often student find STEM courses very difficult and
challenging. Dropping rates in these courses is very high across campuses. In order to overcome the barriers of
this courses students need a network of peers and professionals who can offer on-going academic support,
information, and resources which, in turn motivate, stimulate interest and successfully retain students. We
would like to propose and apply peer-led team learning (PLTL) workshop model to address some of the key
issues mentioned above in our science and math courses that lead to retention and academic success in STEM
courses at Hostos Community College.
Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL): The PLTL Workshop model engages teams of six to eight students in
learning sciences, mathematics and other undergraduate disciplines guided by a trained peer leader where
student debates and synthesize a problem based on their scientific knowledge that have learned through lecture.
The PLTL Workshop model: (i) provides an active learning experience for students (ii) creates a leadership role
for undergraduates (iii) engages faculty in a creative new dimension of instruction. Peer leaders actively engage
students with the course materials and each other by providing help to the group. Using various techniques the
leader motivates and encourages the group to contribute equally and participate fully in the discussion process
in solving problems but never provide an answer. When the group is in need of assistance, the peer leader
suggests or explains steps that the group has overlooked or is confused; or a concept that is misunderstood by
the group. Students who obtain an “A” or “B” in one of the introductory Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or
Biology courses along with interpersonal and communication skills will be recruited as a peer leader in PLTL in
the following semester in that respective subject. Selected peer-leaders are trained one hour per week to
facilitate the weekly collaborative problem-solving workshops that meet for two hours per week. Through the
PLTL model student take control of their own learning and challenges their own ability to comprehend and
understand many of the key thresh hold concepts that are barrier in their learning process. Pioneered at City
College of CUNY, this model has been very successful in teaching STEM courses nationwide.
We believe that our proposed PLTL model to create a network based scholarly community in STEM
courses in the early years of college would address some of the relevant issues to retention, persistence, and
success in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As a pilot, PLTL has been tried in General Physics-I course (a “gate keeper course”) in the spring of 2009 at
Hostos, and has shown a significant improvement in student retention, passing rate, over all letter grade and
attitude towards the course.
Time line: This project can be implemented in fall of 2009 using available resources both in the class room and
in the HALC. Also, Co-Director, Prof. Sohel has significant knowledge and experiences in the implementation
of this model due to his involvement at City College.
Gosser, D., & Roth, V., (2001). Peer-Led Team Learning: A Guidebook. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
National Academy of Sciences (2008). Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America
for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press.
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (Second Edition).
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Tinto, V. (1996) “Reconstructing the First Year of College,” Planning for Higher Education, N0.25, p. 1-6
Wasburn, M., Miller, S., (2005). Retaining Undergraduate Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology: A
Survey of a Student Organization, Journal of College Student Retention Research, No. 6, pp. 155-168
Beautiful Idea:
In Situ Service Learning
Professors Olga Steinberg & Flor Henderson
Project Description:
The goal of this project is to enhance student academic success through cooperative learning and to increase student
retention and graduation rate through the development of positive attitudes towards their studies. We expect that student
involvement with a study group under the leadership of their fellow student will enhance their learning experience and
serve as an important reinforcement of their academic persistence. An outcome of the project will be assessed through
testing students on particular topics and further comparison of the testing results among students involved in study groups
and those who study on their own.
An important part of the project is to facilitate and support the formation and functioning of the study groups within the
structure of a class, with special attention given to selecting and supporting group leaders. Our plan is to provide support
and tools to these advanced students who are willing to donate their time and serve as leaders of study groups. We named
our project In-situ Service Learning to emphasize the fact that such learning occurs in a most natural way, and that
students who become group leaders provide an important service to their institution as well as the members of their
In situ: in the natural or original position or place
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Service-Learning is a form of experiential learning where students apply academic knowledge and critical thinking skills
to address genuine community needs.
Pamela and James Toole, 1994, Service and learning at CMU
Academic success is the ultimate challenge for every student at Hostos Community College. In addition to their school
responsibilities, many of them have full or part time jobs and dependent family members. Current economic situation
exacerbates their difficulties. Often the sole providers for their families, our students are compelled to concentrate on their
employment concerns at the expense of their studies. As an added challenge, many of our students do not have sufficient
background in sciences to effectively study on their own (5). To compensate for the situation where there is less time for
study, efficiency in study methods gain significance as the primary means to insure maximum possible benefits in return
for time invested.
Educational research has shown that students learn better and retain material longer when they work in small groups (2, 3,
4). In addition, productivity of a small group of students is significantly increased by the presence of a group leader with
sufficient scientific background. His/her contribution to the group study sessions should compensate for the likely
insufficient scientific background of other members of the study group (5). A student best suited for the position of a
group leader would be a classmate who demonstrates better understanding of the subject and shows willingness to share
his/her knowledge with fellow students. Group members usually trust these students and are willing to accept their
leadership in a study process. Formation of study groups is sometimes a naturally occurring phenomenon that has been
observed by many faculty: after the conclusion of a class students would gravitate towards an academically distinguished
student or two, and ask whether they could study with them. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the formation of these
informal study groups is beneficial to all students involved, independent of their academic standing. An additional benefit
of this cooperative learning modality is the development of a positive attitude towards individual achievement. As
students experience their contributions to the group are being translated into better grades and deeper understanding of the
subject for themselves, their assessment of their own potential and self-worth increases, thus increasing their motivation to
continue with their studies.
An important part of the project is to facilitate and support the formation and functioning of the study groups within the
structure of a class, with special attention given to selecting and supporting group leaders. Our plan is to provide support
and tools to these advanced students who are willing to donate their time and serve as leaders of study groups. We named
our project In-situ Service Learning to emphasize the fact that such learning occurs in a most natural way, and that
students who become group leaders provide an important service to their institution as well as the members of their
Team leaders will be selected upon observation of the class dynamic, and after first partial exam results are available.
These students will be offered to become team leaders of study groups on a voluntary basis. Team leaders will be given
support of the instructor whom they will meet on a regular basis to discuss any issues that may arise within a study group.
Participation in study groups will be open to all students on a voluntarily basis.
Goals and anticipated outcome.
The goal of this project is to enhance student academic success through cooperative learning and to increase student
retention and graduation rate through the development of positive attitudes towards their studies. We expect that student
involvement with a study group under the leadership of their fellow student will enhance their learning experience and
serve as an important reinforcement of their academic persistence. An outcome of the project will be assessed through
testing students on particular topics and further comparison of the testing results among students involved in study groups
and those who study on their own.
The first semester after acceptance of the project will be devoted to the development of criteria for the selection of team
leaders and the development of support system for them.
Implementation of the project will be carried out during the following semester. Materials for the study groups will be
developed and made available to all students of the class independent of whether they join a study group or not.
Project results will be analyzed upon the conclusion of two semesters of implementation of the project, and
recommendations on the feasibility of the college-wide adoption of the study group modality will be made available to all
members of the Hostos teaching staff.
1. Pamela and James Toole, 1994, Service and learning at CMU. http://www.facit.cmich.edu/instructionalsupport/service-learning, retrieved 11/29/09
2. Poellhuber B., Chomienne M., and T. Karsenti. 2008. The Effect of Peer Collaboration and Collaborative Learning on
Self-Efficacy and Persistence in a Learner-Paced Continuous Intake Model. Journal of Distance Education, 22:41-62
3. Barr J. 2007. Freshmen dropouts Journal of Applied Research in the Community College 14:105-113
4. Wood B. S. 2009Learning Science while Constructing Learning Teams Journal of College Science Teaching. 38:28-32
5. Mbamalu G. 2001. Teaching Science to Academically Underprepared Students. Journal of Science Education and
Technology, 10:267-272
Beautiful Idea:
La Mariposa: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum
Mr. Troy Wolfe & Prof. Alisa Roost
Project Description:
Borrowing from research and the Kingsborough Learning Communities Model, ASAP seeks collaborative
partners to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum entitled La Mariposa. The curriculum begins in the fall
(2010) and is administered to the fourth cohort of ASAP students enrolled in block courses; it is theme-based
and focuses on the transformation of the pupa, into a butterfly, as a metaphor for the freshman experience of
transitioning students into motivated and high performing undergraduates.
This proposal focuses on the agreement between ASAP and VPA192. In addition, as a means to create a
comprehensive learning community, the expanded vision for La Mariposa includes collaborations with English,
Biology, Math and other courses amenable to the theme.
This collaboration aligns in and out of class support for students, integrating advisement, counseling, SSD 100
and the ASAP seminar. It is also aligned with the student learning outcomes developed by the Humanities
Department for VPA 192. It is sustainable at the conclusion of the grant, because once created, it won’t add
substantial work.
Additionally, as the fourth cohort of ASAP students most likely will not have access to ASAP distributed laptop
computers, we intend to explore the use of smaller mobile, handheld devices as tools for learning, engagement
and empowerment.
Public speaking is the most common fear in America; students who are already questioning college may feel
overwhelmed when faced with speeches. In fact, most students who do not pass VPA 192 do so because they
do not show up to give speeches. To support students in their persistence, encourage accountability and
increase retention, we propose a collaboration incorporating resources across the college: VPA192, SSD100 and
the mandatory ASAP seminar – a weekly workshop facilitated by ASAP staff consisting of a career and
employment specialist and student academic advisors, who work together to increase student preparedness and
address motivational issues.
This COBI grant facilitates an opportunity to create an interdisciplinary curriculum entitled La Mariposa. The
curriculum is theme-based and focuses on the transformation of the pupa, into a butterfly, as a metaphor for the
freshman experience of transitioning into high-performing college students. In VPA192, students are exposed to
people who transformed society and are challenged to share their own narrative through a series of speeches.
This collaboration aligns out of class support for students, integrating advisement, counseling, SSD 100 and the
ASAP seminar. It is also aligned with the student learning outcomes set by the department and developed for
VPA 192. It is sustainable at the conclusion of the grant, because once created, it won’t add substantial work.
Goals and Anticipated Outcomes
Goal 1.
Delivered through the ASAP Seminar
To expand on the learning community model established in ASAP by creating an interdisciplinary
curriculum called La Mariposa focused on transforming freshman into college students who are able to
articulate their ideas, applying various strategies to solve academic, social, personal and other real world
Goal 2.
Delivered through SSD100*
To provide students with additional opportunities to focus on public speaking as a means to develop
confidence and build self esteem; to reflect on communication as a critical resource to insight, inform,
motivate, challenge, pursued and to inquire; to provide students with a supportive environment to
practice low-stakes public speaking.
*In collaboration with the counseling center, ASAP has specified a specific curriculum for use in
developing academic, social and emotional learning for ASAP cohort IV. SSD100 is not a public speaking
class; however, as effective communication is a primary
part of college life, significant time in SSD100 is
dedicated to the facilitation of effective
speech and communication.
Goal 3.
Delivered through VPA192
To address all the departmental student learning objectives
To expose students to the role of public speakers in transforming society.
To articulate transformative personal experiences
To combine personal experiences with research and present personal narratives of
Anticipated Outcome: ASAP has a high percentage of students either not doing high-stakes speeches or doing
them very late. By incorporating several low-stakes assignments, creating a group rehearsal space in ASAP
Seminar, and aligning the VPA 192 course with SSD 100, we hope to increase the retention rate of Cohort IV.
Evaluative Measures
The project will be evaluated through a comparative analysis of aggregate data from cohort IV VPA 192
participants and another group of VPA 192 students. We seek to understand the impact of learning communities
on student performance, retention and understanding.
Support in the Literature
Learning communities, as defined by Smith, MacGregor, Matthews, and Gabelnick (2004) refer to a variety of
curricular approaches that intentionally link or cluster two or more courses, often around an interdisciplinary
theme or problem, and enroll a common cohort of students. They represent an intentional restructuring of
students' time, credit, and learning experiences to build community, enhance learning, and foster connections
among students and their teachers, and among disciplines. At their best, learning communities practice
pedagogies of active engagement and reflection. (p.20)
Kingsborough Community College, Learning Communities at Kingsborough, Retrieved December 2, 2009,
from Web site http://www.kingsborough.edu/faculty/learning_communities/index.htm
Timeline for Implementation
The project is implemented at the beginning of the Fall 2010 semester for
the fourth cohort of ASAP students.
Beautiful Idea:
Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana: A Literal and Metaphorical Exploration of the Environment as a ThemeBased Unit for English Classes
Professors Elyse Zucker & Julie Trachman
Project Description:
Arrows fly straight and with an objective, just as persistence aims to do. Language, however, refracts and words are chosen, if
inadvertently, in associative chains. They serve multiple objectives, yield myriads of meanings and address manifold and
overlapping concerns. Yet it is just this prismatic nature of language that brings together English and Environmental Science to
help ensure that students will persist like arrows and, ultimately, perform at higher academic and humanistic levels.
Environmental science will be used to demonstrate concepts that will also be examined from literary and aesthetic perspectives
in English 110 units, or in modified forms, English 91 or 92 units. In the context of developing reading, writing and critical
thinking skills, students will learn not only about the subject matter in and of itself but for its connections to the self, of which it
can also act as a metaphor. Each and every one of us, in varying ways, is interested in self-identity. By having students focus on
the symbiotic relationship between the self in its physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions and the organic environment
in the context of the web of life –a phenomenon that exists and has long been recognized as existing on physical as well as
metaphysical levels (such as the medieval cultural conception referred to as the Great Chain of Being)—they will gain a selfknowledge that is inspiring and empowering. For example, to explore the topic of trees in relation to environmental concerns,
students would read an article such as that from the New York Times by Mireya Navarro titled “Environment Blamed in
Western Tree Deaths”, excerpts from either Walt Whitman’s poem “Leaves of Grass” or the 13th century classic poem, Dante’s
Inferno, in which people that committed suicide re-emerged, when dead, as trees forever plucked. Students would then write in
response to a visual prompt such as the surrealistic, superimposed photograph called Treehouse by Jerry Uelsmann, and be
given, by their instructor, linguistic frameworks for the connections they themselves would be making between the deterioration
of the earth and the erosion of the self (2). Approaching English 110 contextually as such will sharpen students’ learning skills,
deepen their understanding of the subject matter and, inversely, discover that art (in all forms) imbues studies with a humanistic
dimension. Furthermore, by students engaging a “big question” such as why we should preserve the environment, they will
become more responsible and respectful toward it, and empowered by virtue of tending to that out of which we have emerged.
Approaches such as these mentioned above will be particularly enticing to students not highly disciplined and academically
sophisticated and coincide with ideas presented in the AACU publications. According to one of their recent publications,
“High-Impact Educational Practices,” (3) there are certain pedagogical strategies that seem to have a particularly effective
impact on populations most at risk, such as those at Hostos Community College.
Some of what is mentioned in this publication is in accordance with strategies advocated by Crosling et al. (4) and to a certain
extent with Roberts and Styron (5). It really comes down to student engagement and making sure that students feel like they
“belong” and connect. Assignments should be relevant to student lives and / or career aspirations and somehow lead to
increased understanding of discipline-specific threshold concepts. The teaching should include student-centered active learning
as much as possible(6), such as the employing of multi-media materials, educational technology, approaches that net generation
learners are receptive to, and an adaptation of some of the therapeutic strategies implemented by the psychoanalyst, D.W.
Winnicott (7), who advocates that one is most creative in play. Likewise, students best flourish when they engage in learning
communities rather than study in isolation. Ideally, we would have the course in which this unit is imbedded “mimic” a
learning community as much as possible to increase the students’ sense of belonging. Students would work in collaborative
projects where appropriate. The including of a service learning component to help deepen student ties to the Hostos community
will empower them by making them feel like they can make a difference.
i)Increase student persistence (retention rates) in the developmental sequence of English courses and / or increase student
success in the sequence of required English classes as well as subsequent English and Writing Intensive courses across the
disciplines. Increase Hostos graduation rates and increase student transition rates.
ii)Provide students with opportunities to improve oral and written communication skills and critical thinking skills. Students
will attempt to perform quantitative analysis and graph interpretation, which will help them with the CPE and subsequent
classes in other disciplines.
iii)Motivate them to deepen their scientific understanding and have their interest endure by perceiving the relevance of scientific
knowledge, which they will likely share.
iv)Help students understand their role as citizens – so eventually they will display more civic responsibility towards the
environment (aware that this would coincide with one of the goals of the Hostos Sustainability Task Force [education pillar]
with respect to their aim for interdisciplinary courses dealing with incorporation of environmental concerns)
Anticipated Outcomes:
i)Students’ visual, oral and written communication skills should improve, which are skills essential for all career goals.
Students will become better critical thinkers as they understand more about the interplay of these two disciplines. Improve
passage rates of ACT and COMPASS exams and the CPE.
ii)This unit should increase student success in subsequent required Eng 110 and Eng 111 classes as well as Writing Intensive
iii)This unit should increase graduation rates at Hostos Community College and increase transition rates of our students into our
senior colleges.
iv)This unit should increase success in science classes – students should be less fearful of the sciences. They will become lifelong learners in the sciences, seeing its relevance to their lives.
Proposed Implementation Timeline:
Probably one semester would be necessary to develop the course in terms of course guidelines, to determine the appropriate
literature and scientific resources to explore the environmental themes in a variety of ways. Some of these resources could
include various types of media. This process would continue into future semesters, as we continue fine-tuning our various
1)Quote attributed to Groucho Marx.
2) Prof. Co-developer taught, on National Teach In Day sponsored by the organization Focus the Nation, a similar lesson
however, for this project it would be expanded upon
3)Kuh, George D. 2008. High Impact Educational Practices. Association of American Collegeand Universities. Washington,
D.C., U.S.
4) Crosling, G., Thomas, L., Heagney, M. 2009. “Improving Student Retention in Higher Education. The Role of Teaching and
Learning”. Australian Universities Review vol. 51 no. 2:9-18
5)Roberts J., Styron, Jr R.. 2009. “Student Satisfaction and Persistence: Factors Vital to StudentRetention”. Research in Higher
Education Journal vol 6: 1-18
6) Oblinger, D., Oblinger, J. 2005. Educating the Net Generation. Educause, Washington, DC.
7) Winnicott, DH. 1982. Playing and Reality. Routledge Publishing Co., NY, NY.
Beautiful Idea:
Facing Each Other: Facebook as a Tool for Academic Learning and Professional Networking
Ms. Sarah Brennan & Prof. Jennifer Tang
Project Description:
Facebook, an online social networking tool which boasts 350 million active users
(http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics, 2009), seems to function without boundaries, standards, etiquette, or ethics;
yet, individuals have been held accountable for information posted on personal Facebook accounts (Foulger, Ewbank, Kay,
Popp, and Carter, 2009; Thompson, 2009; Steinbach and Deavers, 2007; Finder, 2006; Bugeja, 2006). So why then would we
submit a beautiful idea that focuses on the potential usefulness of Facebook, social networking, or other technologies, especially
when Facebook has a bit of bad press? Currently, the tool has less to do with an academic education than it has to do with
social networking and peer-to-peer engagement and interaction, obviously. However, the project developers believe that the
skills involved in navigating and using Facebook can and should be aligned with learning. In particular, the skills involved are
closely related to the Hostos General Education core competencies of oral and written communication as well as reading.
Additionally, some principles of excellence addressed include: teaching the arts of inquiry and innovation, engaging the big
questions, connecting knowledge with choices and action, and fostering civic, intercultural and ethical learning. Because there
are so many users of Facebook and other online networking tools, the likelihood of Hostos students begin engaged in someway
with social networking technology is high, and since successful retention programs are centered on ways in which students
become engaged with the campus either academic ally or socially (Braxton, Hirschy, McClendon, 2004), Facebook is a strong
candidate through which faculty can professionally and academically connect with students, given the right parameters.
Purpose Facing Each Other is an exploration of the attitudes of faculty and students toward using Facebook as an educational
and professional development tool. Normally, Facebook offers opportunities for users to edit and revise their postings but its
format can be subject to misinterpretation. More importantly, Facebook demands that users read frequently and employ writing
techniques to communicate message and purpose. As such, this tool has the potential to assist faculty in making new academic
connections with students; connections that reach students in ways that are beyond the existing imagination. What better way to
motivate and connect with students than to approach them in their own territory where they think, edit, respond, and publically
display their writing to others? Big questions include: will this medium of interpersonal interaction improve communication
and clarity in writing and will positive experiences communicating online transfer to strengthening verbal forms of
communication? Or, will the negative habits of writing: forming incomplete sentences, thinking superficially, or conversing in
abbreviated forms morph the acceptable standards of communication? This project intends to: (1) research faculty, staff, and
student use and attitudes toward using social forms of technology for educational and professional development purposes; (2)
synthesize and share of that research with the college, CUNY-wide, and external audiences.
Additional Support from Literature
Much of the literature reviewed so far tends to be about Facebook and unanticipated outcomes for users when used for social
purposes. It primarily focuses on student development issues. For example,
Pennsylvania State University students created a Facebook group entitled “I rushed the field,” to which students joined
and posted photographs and names of people on the field after the school’s win over Ohio State in football. After
accessing the Facebook group’s Web page, university police used that information to identify more than 50 students
who violated the school’s policy by rushing the field after the game (Steinbach and Deavers, 2007).
In a separate article, journalist Alan Finder (2006) reports several examples of employers rejecting applicants based on
information discovered on Facebook. A small amount of scholarly literature has been found to explore ways to prepare future
professionals to use social networking and other technological tools responsibly and ethically; otherwise, face possible
ramifications for using this technology as a personal means of social communication (Foulger et al, 2009). In Bugeja’s (2006)
article, Facing the Facebook, Christine Rosen warns academic practitioners against “… failing to realize that the younger
generation views technology largely as a means of delivering entertainment…and secondarily as a means of communication.”
Still the project co-developers maintain that inherent in the functionality of Facebook, communication and learning is taking
place even though the learning may be in a different form from the traditional classroom and traditional face-to-face
interpersonal engagements with which we “old-timers” are familiar and more comfortable.
Goals of Facing Each Other
-Identify the number of students using Facebook for social, professional, academic purposes
-Explore student attitudes towards using Facebook as an productive academic learning/professional networking tool
-Identify the number of faculty using Facebook for social, professional, academic purposes
-Explore faculty attitudes towards using Facebook as an academic learning/professional networking tool
-Review the literature
Outcomes of Facing Each Other
-Produce a paper exploring the benefits and drawbacks of using Facebook as an academic learning/professional networking tool
-Offer a college-wide set of recommendations and code of ethics for professional and academic use of Facebook based on
student and faculty focus groups, survey results, and literature review
-Share the project outcomes with a college-wide audience through Center for Teaching and Learning Signature Programming
- Share project outcomes on the CTL or other appropriate website
-Explore the possibility of a library workshop for faculty and students about the responsible and ethical use of Facebook for
professional development and academic purposes
a) Fall 2010
-Review the literature
-Conduct separate focus groups with faculty and students
-Develop, distribute and collect electronic surveys for faculty, staff, and students
-Research some initiatives that exist/are being developed at other institutions of higher education (i.e. Monroe Community
College, SUNY, has a new Social Media Committee that addresses college community use of technology)
b) Spring 2011
-Compile and analyze survey and focus group results
-Create a code of ethics for responsible use of Facebook, professionally and academically, by Hostos community members
-If possible, design new library workshop about using Facebook academically and professionally
-Share project and outcomes, in person, with a college-wide audience
-Post project and outcomes online through the Center for Teaching and Learning
Braxton, J.M., Hirschy, A.S., McClendon, S.A. (2004). Exemplary Student Retention Programs. Understanding and Reducing
College Student Departure: ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 30, 3, 53-66.
Bugeja, M. J. Facing the Facebook. The Chronicle of Higher Education 52, 21, C1. Available:
Finder, A. (2006, June 11). For Some, Online Persona Undermines a Résumé. The New York Times. Available:
Foulger, T.S., Ewbank, A.D., Kay, A., Popp, S.O., Carter, H.L. (2009) Moral Spaces in MySpace: Preservice Teachers’
Perspectives about Ethical Issues in Social Networking. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42, 1, 1-28.
Steinbach, S. and Deavers, L. (2007, April 3). The Brave New World of MySpace and Facebook. Inside Higher Ed. Available:
Thompson, G. (2009, December 3). Subpoenas Possible in White House Gate-Crashing. The New York Times, Available:
Facebook is Student Engagement: Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, recounts a class
discussion during which he asked how many people had seen the previous night's NewsHour on PBS or read that day's New
York Times. “A couple of hands went up out of about 140 students who were present," he recalls. "One student chirped: 'Ask
them how many use Facebook.' I did. Every hand in the room went up. She then said: 'Ask them how many used it today.' I did.
Every hand in the room went up. I was amazed." (Bugeja, 2006)
Beautiful Idea:
Retention Has a Local Address
Professors Gina Cicco & Sarah Church
Project Description:
The purpose of this request for funding is to support a qualitative study that will investigate the factors related to the academic success
of graduates of Hostos Community College of The City University of New York. Students in community colleges face particular
challenges such as language barriers, poverty or low socioeconomic background, and insufficient access to understanding the
academic vehicles of higher education. Hostos Community College is an ideal location to witness these challenges, as it is located in
the poorest congressional district in the United States, in the South Bronx. Additional risk factors include delayed enrollment, enrolled
as part-time, financially independent status, having dependents, working full time, being single parents, not holding a high-school
diploma, and the mere fact of attending a two-year college. These risk factors often contribute to student decisions to prematurely
depart from college, prior to attainment of a degree. Student persistence and motivation have been targeted as factors related to
improving retention rates (Gampert, 2008; Horn & Premo, 1995). Our study plans to address the issue of low retention rates in
community college from a different perspective. The investigators, two experts in pedagogy, will interview students who have
overcome the challenges discussed above to achieve a college degree. The investigators hope to analyze the data collected to learn
why and how students succeed and which factors contribute to persistence and motivation. This examination of those students who
indeed persisted by obtaining their degrees will help to identify the processes that led to their graduation. Using a grounded theory
research design, the investigators seek to uncover factors that may not be evident in existing student-retention models.
Goals and Anticipated Outcomes The goals of the proposed pilot study of successful graduates of Hostos Community College include
delineating factors that contribute to student persistence and motivation. The interviews with Hostos alumni will be analyzed to
uncover specific themes, processes, events, and student characteristics that may improve persistence, motivation, and ultimately
retention rates. As the study is in an exploratory stage, specific outcomes are not listed here. The overall goal would be to share the
information gained with the scientific community, Hostos faculty, and the overall Hostos community of students, staff, and other
stakeholders in the effort to encourage student persistence and motivation. Through the qualitative nature of this design, the
investigators believe in the importance of telling the story of success, which will allow for current students, particularly those at-risk
academically, to identify with role models or mentors that are similar to them demographically and academically. The population for
the study will include graduates from the graduating classes from 2006 to 2010. A purposeful sample of at least four to eight graduates
of Hostos will be recruited and the criteria for subjects in the study will be Liberal Arts Associate’s degree graduates. The two
investigators proposing this study are faculty in Applied Associate’s degree programs and will recruit students they do not know from
teaching or other college activities. The three opening questions of this study will be:
What support systems did graduates use to persist?
What were the barriers to achievement of academic goals that graduates experienced?
What strategies did graduates develop to persist in spite of such barriers/obstacles?
The methodology of this study will include interviews, memos, and coding, which will follow a recursive model. Initial interviews
will be conducted, transcribed, and coded. Initial memos based on the first codes will be prepared and a second round of interviews
will be performed, transcribed, and followed by focused coding. Advanced memos refining the conceptual categories will be
developed and a theoretical sampling to seek new data will be implemented. Memos will be sorted and a further refining of concepts
will be developed. Integrating memos and diagramming concepts will be followed by writing a research report. If necessary, further
theoretical sampling will be conducted to verify or challenge concepts (Charmaz, 2006).
Support in the Literature During the past 40 years, student retention in higher education has been vigorously studied and while some
institutions have achieved considerable improvements, countless others have not (Tinto, 2006-2007). Many colleges have instituted
programs to retain students. For example, Hostos has institutionalized programs identified by Liberal Education and America’s
Promise (LEAP) as best practices for retaining students (Kuh, 2008). These programs include 1st Year Seminars, Learning
Communities, Writing-Intensive Courses, Collaborative Assignments and Projects, Undergraduate Research, Diversity/Global
Learning, Service- and Community-Based Learning, and Internships. Yet with all of these laudable programs in place, the retention
rate of Hostos students is discouragingly low at 31 percent of students who entered Hostos as freshmen and graduated in the 20072008 academic year (Gampert, 2008). The most robust retention models are the Involvement Model (Austin, 1979), Integration
Model (Tinto, 1993), and Student-Attrition Model (Bean, 1980). Thayer (2000) wrote that there were common themes in these models
that reflected foci on (a) student characteristics, experiences, attitudes, and commitments; (b) academic preparedness; (c) parent
education attainment and hopes for their children; (d) socioeconomic levels; and (e) motivation for degree attainment. Each model
attempts to explain the interactions between students and the institution. Although some institutions use the findings of these models
to select students who are most likely to graduate, Hostos’ mission is to provide access to all students, which requires it to develop
retention programs that fit the diverse needs of its students. As noted earlier, Hostos has developed and institutionalized many
programs recommended by LEAP (Kuh, 2008) to improve student persistence and college retention. The purpose of this study is to
investigate a different perspective and develop a grounded theory of student persistence at Hostos. As researchers we believe there is a
rich storehouse of information to be discovered about this topic from the view of students who have successfully persisted.
Timeline for Implementation
Summer 2010
Fall 2010
Apply for IRB
approval for
research with human
Data collection,
conduct interviews
with four LA
Recruit four to eight
Liberal Arts (LA)
Hostos graduates
Transcribe interviews
Winter 2011
Data collection,
interviews with
four more LA
Spring 2011
Summer 2011
Transcribe interviews
Sorting memos
Focused coding based
on data analysis
memos and
Advanced memos and
refining of conceptual
Initial coding and
Theoretical sampling
interviews to seek
specific data
Develop codes to
tentative categories
Writing and
submit reports to
community and
for publication
Theoretical memo
Adopting certain
categories as
theoretical concepts
Austin, A. W. (1979). Four Critical Years. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bean, J. P. (1980). Dropouts and Turnover: The Synthesis and Test of a Causal Model of Student Attrition. Research in Higher
Education , 155-187.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Gampert, R. (2008, October 28). Hostos Community College Graduation Profile for 2007-2008 Academic Year. Retrieved October 11,
2009, from Hostost Community College: http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/oaa/oiranalyses.htm
Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research . New Brunswick, NJ:
Aldine Transaction.
Horn, L. J., & Premo, M. D. (1995). Profile of Undergraduates in U.S. Postsecondary Education Institutions: 1992-93. Retrieved
September 28, 2009, from National Center for Education Statistics.
Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-Impact Education Practices: What They Are, Who Has Them, and Why They Matter. Washington, DC :
Association of American Colleges and Universities.
Thayer, P. B. (2000). Retention of Students from First Generation and Low Income Backgrounds. The Journal of the Council for
Opportunity in Education: Opportunity Outlook , 2-9.
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Tinto, V. (2006-2007). Research Practice and Practice of Student Retention: What Next? Journal of College Student Retention , 1-19.
Beautiful Idea:
BIO – ALGEBRA. A Math Workbook to Accompany Biology Courses
Professors Vladimir Ovtcharenko & Alexander Vaninsky
Project Description:
An objective of the project is development of a workbook containing mathematical problems typical for
introductory Biology courses (BIO 110, BIO130). The goal is to make Biology students acquainted with
elementary mathematical methods use in Biology for solution of subject – related problems. The problems will
present the subject in a way that clearly demonstrates how mathematical problems appear, how they may be
solved, and how the obtained results may be interpreted.
The workbook will comprise several sections, corresponding to one Biology topic each. The section will
be opened with some statements of Biological problems leading to the formulation of quantitative problems.
Then one problem of each type will be solved to demonstrate the appropriate approach. In the following part of
a section a series of similar problems students will be suggested aimed to be solved either independently or
under the guide of a professor. Answer key will be provided at the end of the workbook.
The following topics will be included (the list is tentative and subject to revision during the project
development): Understanding charts; Graphs of functions; Graphs: classification trees and networks;
Exponential growth and decay; Genetics and probability; Correlation and regression (Excel – based);
Hypotheses testing (Excel – based); Optimization problems (Parabolas with real zeroes); Logarithmic scale.
Each topic will include an opening problem and 5 - 10 problems for work. The format of the workbook
assumes student's work directly inside the workbook on the space provided. The workbook eliminates the need
in scrap paper or answer sheet.
Goals and Anticipated Outcomes
The main goal is to make Biology students (BIO 110, BIO130) acquainted with elementary mathematical
methods use in Biology for solution of subject – related problems.
An objective to achieve this goal is development of a workbook containing mathematics problems typical for
introductory Biology courses.
Outcome of the project is a workbook containing mathematics problems typical for introductory Biology
courses (BIO 110, BIO130).
Support in the Literature
Allen, L. An Introduction to Mathematical Biology 1st Ed. Prentice Hall, 2006.
Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., Byers, B. Biology. Life on Earth. 6th Ed., Pearson, 2005.
Britton, F. Essential Mathematical Biology. 1st Ed. Springer, 2004
Murray, J. Mathematical Biology: I. An Introduction (Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics). 3rd Ed.,
Springer, 2007.
Murray, J. Mathematical Biology II. 3rd Ed., Springer, 2008.
Rubinow, S. Introduction to Mathematical Biology. 1st Ed. Dover Publications, 2003.
Timeline for Implementation
Upon the grant approval:
- Development of a pilot version of the workbook
Fall 2010
- Revision of the pilot version and final version preparation
Spring 2011
-The workbook will be used in one of the Biology courses in Hostos as an experimental supplement in Fall
Beautiful Idea:
Service Learning/Civic Engagement Resources Center: Combing Academic and the Community
Professors Sandy Figueroa & Rebecca Hoda
Project Description:
In The Community’s College Indicators of Engagement at Two-Year Institutions, from Campus Compact, the
authors have cited a number of research studies that have been conducted highlighting the positive impact of service
learning/civic engagement and student retention and motivation.
Having met with colleagues from Queensborough Community College and Kingsborough Community College,
the researchers of this COBI project learned the definition of service learning and civic engagement, ways of
implementing service learning and civic engagement in the college campus, learned of national resources and learned best
practices on the campuses of Queensborough and Kingsborough.
The researchers met several times with a core of faculty and scheduled a Service Learning/Civic Engagement
Café under the sponsorship of the Magda Vasillov Center for Teaching and Learning in which they invited the teaching
faculty and members of Student Development and Enrollment Management. At that Café luncheon, the participants heard
definitions and examples of service learning/civic engagement, heard from one of the agencies involved in the service
learning project of a class in the Natural Sciences Department and heard testimonials from students who worked on the
project. Participants were invited to share their experiences and ask questions.
From the Café luncheon, the researchers decided to create a Service Learning/Civic Engagement Resource Center.
The goals of the Service Learning/Civic Engagement Resource Center are:
to define and develop templates of an ideal framework for service learning/civic engagement at the college
to build faculty awareness and encourage faculty to incorporate service learning/civic engagement in their courses
to share best practices
to provide resources and mentorship with other CUNY campuses and national organizations
to work with the members of the General Education Committee and the College-Wide Curriculum Committee to
include service learning/civic engagement in the General Education capstone experience
The Service Learning/Civic Engagement Resource Center will help the students to achieve the following goals:
to increase academic literacy and inquiry skills through the various assignments of their experiences
to promote learning through active participation in service/community-oriented projects
to enable students to apply the skills and knowledge they learned in the classroom to actual situations and needs in
the community
• to increase their sense of caring for others
The Service Learning/Civic Engagement Resource Center expects to accomplish the following:
the creation of a web page in the Magda Vasillov Center for Teaching and Learning web site
the creation of an online Service Learning/Civic Engagement newsletter posted in the Service Learning/Civic
Engagement Resource Center web page
establishment of community partners for service learning and civic engagement opportunities
the creation of a resource manual of service learning/civic engagement at Hostos Community College
updating the Co-op website to support service learning/civic engagement projects
Implementation Timeline
The researchers expect to begin the planning phase of the creation of the Service Learning/Civic Engagement
Resource Center in the spring 2010 semester and the creation of the Center by the end of the fall 2010 semester.
Support in the Literature
Below is a sample of articles and publications that support the importance and inclusion of service learning and
civic engagement projects in the college curriculum.
Axsom, Trish, “Effects of Service Learning on Student Retention and Success, National Society for Experiential
Education,” in NSEE Quarterly, Summer, 1999.
Gray, Mariann, et. al., “Combining Service and Learning in Higher Education: Evaluation of the Learn and Serve
America Higher Education Program,” CA: Rand Publications, 1999.
Hesser, Garry. “Faculty Assessment of Student Learning: Outcomes Attributed to Service-Learning and Evidence of
Changes in FacultyAttitudes About Experiential Education” in Michigan Journal of Community Service and
Learning, Vol. 2, MI: The University of MichiganPress, Fall 1995.
Mabry, J. Beth. “Pedagogical Variations in Service-Learning and Student Outcomes: How Time, Contact and Reflection
Matter” in Michigan Journal of Community Service, Vol. 5, MI: The University of Michigan Press, Fall 1998.
Osborne, Randall E. et.al., “Student Effects of Service-Learning: Tracking Change Across a Semester” in Michigan
Journal of Community Service Learning, Vol. 5, MI: The University of Michigan Press, Fall 1998.
Beautiful Idea:
ESL Learner Persistence in Developmental Classes at Hostos Community College: A Quantitative and
Qualitative Study
Professors Christine E. Hutchins & Patricia Frenz-Belkin
Project Desctiption:
Students in developmental reading and writing classes at Hostos Community College are among the
most at-risk for leaving college without completing a degree. We know these students and their institutions face
enormous challenges. However, the reasons so many of these students do not persist to degree completion are
less well-known than the statistics documenting their inability to persist. We wish to begin a longitudinal study
exploring reasons behind the low persistence rates among low-income, minority, and second-language students
who begin their college careers in developmental classes. We will conduct this study in developmental reading
and writing classes at Hostos Community College during the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters.
Since the late 1970s, college and university student retention and persistence has been a fast-growing
field of study and a matter of great concern to institutions of higher education. The research that has been done
fairly clearly delineates factors that place students at risk for departing before degree completion. The
International Centre for Student Retention sums up the findings in a list of five factors most directly affecting
students' abilities to continue their studies: 1) Academic preparedness, 2) Campus climate, 3) Commitment to
educational goals and the institution, 4) Social and academic integration, and 5) Financial aid. Located in the
South Bronx, Hostos uniquely attracts a majority population of students are among the most at-risk, facing
barriers in all five of these categories.
Goals and anticipated outcomes
Our goal is to further develop current understandings of the ways that Hostos might effectively and
efficiently assist its students as they move toward degree completion. Because many studies of persistence and
retention take place in selective four-year institutions, it has been difficult to separate out factors particularly
pertinent to students who attend open admissions institutions. Only when institutions such as Hostos have a
fuller understanding over time of the student experience among its most at-risk populations will it be able to
develop more effective tools that will increase the numbers of these students who succeed in completing twoyear--and hopefully four-year--degrees.
We will use both quantitative and qualitative tools in order to assess students' experiences. We will
collect quantitative data by asking students in participating developmental classes to complete a brief survey
that uses Tinto's "interaction theory" as developed from Chickering's six "vectors" for student success: 1)
educational experience, 2) development of skills and knowledge, 3) faculty contact, 4) personal and social
growth, 5) sense of community, and 6) commitment to and satisfaction with the institution. Hostos is initiating
the Community College Survey of Student Engagement in Spring 2010, and this will allow us to compare the
results of our survey with the data Hostos collects using the national survey. We will collect qualitative data by
asking students to write a personal narrative in the first two weeks of the semester, and two reflective essays on
their semester academic and social experiences, one each at the mid- and end-points of the semester. We will
assign students codes so that we may allow students anonymity while at the same time tracking students'
experiences and persistence over time. All data will be kept as anonymous as possible while also allowing the
results for individual students to be collected over time. Because existing data suggests that students'
assessments of their overall experiences fluctuate as the semester progresses and their performances align--or
not--with academic and social expectations, We are administering surveys and written narratives three times
over the course of the semesters so as to chart changes in students' experiences, expectations, performances, and
Support in the literature
Crosling, G., Thomas, L., & Heagney, M. (2008). Conclusions and curriculum-based retention approaches:
Some suggestions for future action. In G. Crosling, L. Thomas, & M. Heagney (Eds.), Improving student
retention in higher education: The role of teaching and learning (pp. 166-182). London: Routledge.
Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., Whitt, E. J., & Associates. (2005). Student success in college: Creating
conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Miller, T. E. (2005). Student persistence and degree attainment. In T. Miller, B. Bender, J. Schuh, and
Associates (Eds.), Promoting reasonable expectations: Aligning student and institutional views of the
college experience (pp. 122-139). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pascarella, E.T., & Terenzini, P.T. (2005). How college affects students: Vol. 2 A decade of research. San
Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Seidman, A. (2005). Introduction. In A. Seidman (Ed.), College student retention (pp. xi-xiv). Westport: Praeger
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Timeline for implementation
We are currently in the process of coordinating my plans with the Office of Academic Affairs at Hostos,
with the help of Richard Gampert, Director of Institutional Research and Student Assessment at Hostos. We
have contacted Dennis Gibbons, Chair of the Hostos Institutional Review Board, regarding our intention to
submit paperwork requesting permission to work with students as part of this research project. In Summer
2010, we will prepare and print quantitative and qualitative tools and also arrange scheduling with instructors of
participating classes. During the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters, we will collect and analyze the data.
By the end of Spring 2011, we expect to have enough data to write a report analyzing preliminary results as
well as ramifications for institutions addressing the problem of low persistence rates among similar groups of
Beautiful Idea:
COBI Proposal to Develop ESL Students’ Speaking and Listening Proficiency
Prof. Karin Lundberg & Mr. Iber Poma
Project Description:
It has long been recognized by language instructors that oral language provides the foundation for the development of
literacy (Krashen, 1982). Unfortunately for most Hostos ESL students, the development of oral language proficiency is a
particularly difficult objective to achieve on the road to English literacy. The ESL curriculum is driven by the ACT reading
and writing tests, which are the ultimate measure of the curriculum’s success, as well as the students’ and their teachers’
success. Teachers teach to the test. Thus, oral language skill development tends to receive insufficient attention in the ESL
curriculum. The problem is compounded by the fact that the Hostos ESL students generally have little opportunity to
develop their English speaking and listening skills outside of class, unless they happen to work in an English dominant
environment; and, of course, even when they do, this environment only provides limited opportunity for the development of
the academic oral skills needed for college success. Finally, while oral skill proficiency is not an explicit requirement of
success in the college program, speaking and understanding English is a critical ingredient of success in the English
dominant work world.
The goals of this COBI project would be,
To develop students’ ability to speak critically about literary texts and texts related to academic disciplines. This
would enable students to become familiar with discipline-specific vocabulary and methodology and would, in
general, nurture critical thinking. Literary discussion circles could be organized in ESL classes and offered at predetermined hours each week convenient to the students. Initially the focus of these discussion circles would be the
readings of the Book of the Semester Project and would be guided by the discussion questions that are generated
by Professor Cohen for that project and handed out in ESL classes each semester. Additional discussions of
readings would focus on academic-discipline-related articles selected by the project along with discussion
questions, or by readings selected by individual instructors. Groups might be conducted by upper level work study
students, or writing lab tutors, if feasible. Otherwise, students could rotate responsibility for their group’s
discussion, using prject-provided written discussion questions and instructors’ guidance.
And to provide students practice in hearing, distinguishing and pronouncing troublesome phonemes, consonant
clusters, and grammatical suffixes(citation). Inability to hear and pronounce these sounds accurately prevents
students from accurately writing and speaking them. This deficiency hinders student progress in the ESL sequence
and is particularly detrimental to the students’ performance on the ACT writing test. Less demonstrable, at present,
but certainly no less costly, is the effect that poor English pronunciation has on students’ prospects for success in
the English dominant work world.
Some elementary work in pronunciation has already begun in our ESL classes with students receiving a cd with
an instructor reading academically oriented texts, printed copies of which students have in hand as they listen to the
cd. After hearing the instructor on the cd read the passage, the student then reads the passage trying to model his/her
reading on the cd. The student then plays the cd again, listening and reading, while comparing the cd pronunciation
with his/her own. Then the student reads the text again, trying to model his/her reading with that of the cd reader.
While this is a fairly basic pronunciation-improving technique, intermediate and advanced ESL students have
enthusiastically embraced it on a voluntary, extra-curricular basis, which reflects their recognition of their need to
improve their English pronunciation. Several commercial ESL speech and pronunciation programs currently
exist(citation). Ideally we would like to find one which enables students to record and listen to their own
pronunciation of a passage as they compare it to the model passage provide by the instructor
Our most immediate expected outcome of this project would be that students who received this instruction would
experience a greater improvement in English speaking ability than a comparable group of students who didn’t. This would
be initially measured by pre and post testing of speaking ability administered to both groups at the beginning and end of
each semester. A number of such tests have been developed, and one of our most immediate tasks would be to examine the
literature on these tests and choose one that would be most appropriate for use with our students.
Another, but certainly no less important, expected outcome would be that the test group students would progress
through their ESL writing courses more rapidly, with higher grades, with higher levels of college retention and pass the
ACT writing test with greater frequency than their non-participating counterparts. This would be measured by tracking
performance of test group and control group students along these parameters over a period of perhaps 3 to 4 semesters.
It would also be useful to assess students’ self-evaluation of their English speaking ability before they receive the
project instruction and at the end of their semester and compare it with the pre and post self-evaluation of the control group
students. Such self evaluation measures are readily available.
We would expect that greater proficiency speaking English would result in greater success in the work world, although
this longer term goal would be logistically more difficult to measure.
There is an abundance of literature on second language acquisition that recognizes the importance of developing oral
language skills as a foundation for second language literacy (Dickinson and Tabors, 2001). The role of the school in
promoting oral English skills among ESL learners and developing proficiency in the use of academic language has been
examined extensively (Bartolome, 1998; Delpit; Guitierrez, 1995; Reyes, 1992). The effectiveness of the literature circle in
developing oral skills has also been well-documented (Ruby, 2003; Heyden, 2003).
We would hope to begin work on the COBI project reviewing the literature which critically examines the strategies for
developing oral proficiency and examining the materials that have proven useful in this work. We would then identify the
classes and instructors who wished to participate in the project and matched classes of non-participants who would serve
as study controls. We would organize the tutorial personnel who would participate in the literature groups and produce the
instructional materials and evaluative tools to be used in the project. We would work with the office of instructional
research to assess the impact of the project on student performance and retention in the college. Finally, if the project
appears to be successful, we would seek external funding to examine its effectiveness more thoroughly and to integrate this
instruction into the ESL program of the college on a permanent basis.
[return] Bartolomé, L. I. (1998). The misteaching of academic discourses: The politics of language in the classroom.
Boulder: Westview Press.
[return] Delpit, L. (1995). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press.
[return] Dickinson, D., & Tabors, P. (2001). Beginning literacy with language. Baltimore: Paul E. Brookes.
[return] Gutiérrez, K. (1995). Unpackaging academic discourse. Discourse Processes, 19(1), 21-38.
[return] Gutiérrez, K., Baquedano-Lopez, P., & Tejeda, C. (1999). Rethinking diversity: Hybridity and hybrid
language practices in the third space. Mind, Culture, & Activity: An International Journal, 6(4), 286-303.
[return] Heyden, R. (2003). Literature circles as a differentiated instructional strategy for including ESL students in
mainstream classrooms. Canadian Modern Language Review, 59(3), 463-475.
[return] Krashen, S., & Terrel, T. (1983). The natural approach: Language acquisition in the classroom. Hayward,
CA: The Alemany Press.
[return] Reyes, M. (1992). Challenging venerable assumptions: Literacy instruction for linguistically different
students. Harvard Educational Review, 62(4), 427-446.
[return] Ruby, J. (2003). Fostering multilayered literacy through literature circles. TESOL Journal, 12(3), 47-48.
Beautiful Idea:
Learning Chemistry with YouTube: believe or not believe?
Professors Nelson Nuñez-Rodriguez & Lisa Tappeiner
Project Description:
The development of independent thinking and the ability to evaluate online sources are pedagogical challenges nowadays
(Walker, 2008). Learners turn to Facebook and Youtube to learn about ideas and to respond to it through the written word and
other forms of expression. As students become more adept at rapidly accessing information, they must increase their ability to
evaluate the accuracy and reliability of online resources. Instructors must nourish learning as an endless experience rather than a
specific content-driven process (Gilpin Faust, 2009; Roche, 2009). This project will deepen students’ understanding of science
through the evaluation of online information and provide an online forum to write about their findings.
Chemistry students and faculty will work together to develop a Blackboard-based resource that brings together textual
and multimedia resources. Student-teams will evaluate the accuracy and academic relevance of articles retrieved from scientific
databases available through the Hostos Library. They will apply standard criteria for the evaluation of web resources (UC
Berkeley Library, 2009). These resources will include Youtube and other online multimedia resources. All of these will be used
to create a Learning Chemistry Blackboard site, which will also include scientific peer-reviewed resources available in the
The site will serve as a springboard for free writing and formal writing assignments which will be used in the CHE210
WI-course. Embedding information literacy and this online networking component will “connect” the classroom learning to the
wider world of online scientific information. This project will also explore the feasibility of a hybrid chemistry course.
Goals (150 words as maximum):
To open a negotiation process with the students regarding the writing styles in the 21th century (Blake Yancey, 2009).
To improve information literacy skills, team work and decision-making skills.
To foster How to defend a position and How to evaluate information skills.
To “connect” the classroom environment with the active online lives of our students where they constantly browse
different online resources and, ultimately, make decisions about them.
To develop a “learning continuum” that includes the classroom, the library and student online networking.
To strengthen the connection between Gen Ed core competencies of Critical Thinking and Information Literacy with
the study of Chemistry.
Outcomes (150 words as maximum):
This project will produce an online Chemistry Learning Blackboard site that includes learning resources selected and
evaluated by students. Including students in the pedagogical team will empower them to be active participants in the learning
This project will enhance writing skills and foster students’ ability to distinguish between formal and informal writing.
This project will develop evaluation- and making-decision skills. It will ultimately open a conversation regarding the
effectiveness of textbook in comparison with other online peer-reviewed resources.
This project will make more sustainable our active learning approaches by engaging resources outside the classroom. This will
accommodate learning to the student life styles.
This project will set up a faculty framework to pursue a grant opportunity attuning the learning with the changing world
This project will give the sense of the effectiveness of a hybrid course for the Chemistry subject.
Supporting Literature (150)
Blake Yancey, K. (2009). Writing in the 21st Century. a report from the National
Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved
Dec. 2, 2009 from http://www.ncte.org.
- Gilpin Faust, D. (Sept. 1, 2009). The University’s Crisis of Purpose. The New York Times.
Retrieved Dec. 2, 2009 from
- Roche, M. (2009). Should faculty members teach virtues and values? That is the wrong question. Liberal Education,.95(3), 16.
UC Berkeley Library. (2009). Evaluating web pages: techniques to apply and questions to ask. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2009 from
Timeline (250 words as maximum)
Spring 2010: - Assignment development with writing fellow assistance
- Scientific database selection
- The devising of the online Chemistry Learning site with the assistant of Instructional Technology Staff.
Fall 2010:
- Assignment Piloting.
- Informal writings will be developed based on this site.
Spring 2011:
- Assignment Implementation
- Selected websites by students will be incorporated in the syllabus as study sources.
- A narrative will be submitted for publication in the Journal of College Science Teaching.
Beautiful Idea:
Bridging the Gap in Biology: Improving Knowledge Retention & Academic Persistence
Prof. Zvi Ostrin & Mr. Carlos Guevara
Project Description:
This proposed project will develop an integrated biology self‐study system that will improve student preparation, understanding, and knowledge retention in the two‐course sequence of BIO 230‐BIO 240. Briefly put, this project will provide resources to bridge the gap in student preparation prior to entry into BIO 230 and 240, during each course, and after each course ends. The central mechanism of this system will involve electronic resources, including Blackboard, videos and animations, podcasts, and self‐test quizzes. The impetus for this project derives from my empirical observation, as well as that of my colleagues in the Hostos Natural Sciences Department, that: (a) many students begin their science courses without a basic science skill‐set, and (b) many students have difficulty retaining the knowledge that is learned in each science class. These students are less likely to succeed in each course of the important three‐course sequence of Anatomy/Physiology I (BIO 230), Anatomy/Physiology II (BIO 240), and Microbiology (BIO 310). As a result, these students are less likely to succeed in their career aspirations, and are therefore less likely to remain at Hostos or even to continue at another college. The self‐study system that will ultimately be developed by this project will provide students in these three courses with a basic ‘portfolio’ of concepts and content that they can access prior to, during, and after finishing each course. The study tools will be easily accessible either within Blackboard or from the Department’s webpage. Because there are many facets to the problem, its solution will also be many‐faceted, and the biology self‐study system could be used simultaneously with other methodologies and initiatives, including tutoring, learning communities, and ePortfolios. This proposed project builds upon an earlier COBI project, “Student‐made Science Videos” (an active learning and group‐work exercise which I have successfully implemented in my Anatomy and Physiology classes for the past three semesters). The present proposal involves instructor‐prepared resources—including videos and animations, podcasts, and self‐test quizzes—
that will be available for all students, and will be designed to “Bridge‐the‐Gap” in the 3‐course A&P/Microbiology sequence. Goals & Anticipated Outcomes The goal of this project is to create a set of biology self‐study tools formulated specifically for Hostos students and their coursework. The underlying goal of the project is to enhance student skills in scientific reasoning and academic literacy by emphasizing key scientific concepts and content. It is anticipated that this self‐study system will improve student knowledge and retention. First, it will help students improve their conceptual and factual knowledge‐base prior to starting their biology courses. Second, it will help students retain knowledge of their coursework in the midst of their biology courses. Third, students will be able to retain the information from each course by reviewing the course information after each biology course ends. Fourth, students will be better prepared for the next course in the sequence, as well as for their professional studies. It is also anticipated that implementation of this integrated study system will facilitate academic success and academic persistence. Support in the Literature Arizona Board of Regents: The University of Arizona. “Learner‐Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative: General Chemistry Final Report” June 1, 2009. http://www.thencat.org/States/AZ/Abstracts/UA%20Chemistry_Abstract.htm (accessed November 28, 2009). Gross, Paul R. “Learning Science: Content—With Reason.” American Educator, Vol. 33(3), Fall 2009, pp. 35‐40. Print. O’Day, Danton H. “The Value of Animations in Biology Teaching: A Study of Long‐Term Memory Retention.: CBE—Life Sciences Education, Vol. 6, 217–223, Fall 2007. http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/content/abstract/6/3/217. (accessed November 15, 2009). Sorensen, Kathryn H. “Factors Influencing Retention in Introductory Biology Curriculum” Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28‐31, 1999). http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/16/88/50.pdf. (accessed November 15, 2009). Wischusen, Sheri Maples, and E. William Wischusen. “Biology Intensive Orientation for Students (BIOS): A Biology ‘Boot Camp.’” CBE—Life Sciences Education, Vol. 6, 172–178, Summer 2007. http://www.lifescied.org/cgi/content/full/6/2/172.
(accessed November 15, 2009). Van Der Stuyf, Rachel R. “Scaffolding as a Teaching Strategy.” Paper Presented at a Conference on Adolescent Learning and Development . Section 0500A ‐ Fall 2002. November 17, 2002. http://condor.admin.ccny.cuny.edu/~group4/Van%20Der%20Stuyf/Van%20Der%20Stuyf%20Paper.doc. (accessed November 15, 2009) Timeline
(September 2010): Map out main concepts and knowledge that will need to be covered in the self‐study system. Discuss these points, and fine‐tune, in consultation and conversation with colleagues in the Department. (October 2010): Create and/or assemble self‐study system components for preparatory study prior to taking BIO 230. This will include foundational material helpful for students embarking on a study of Anatomy and Physiology, e.g., including concepts/content on medical terminology, the cell, structure of the atom, organ systems of the body. (November 2010): Create and/or assemble self‐study system components for the within‐course study of BIO 230. This will include material from each major topic in the course, but covering only the main concepts/content, and in an overview fashion. (December 2010): Create and/or assemble self‐study system components for the post‐course review of BIO 230, and preparatory study prior to taking BIO 240. This will include material deemed most helpful for students who will be taking BIO 240. (January 2011): Begin implementing the self‐study system online and/or on Blackboard. (Spring 2011 +beyond): Continue developing the self‐study system to include modules for the within‐course study of BIO 240. Begin the plan modules for the post‐course review of BIO 240, and preparatory study prior to taking BIO 310. Beautiful Idea:
Using Movies to Increase Student Learning
Prof. Sherese A. Mitchell & Ms. Silvia Reyes
Project Description:
Over the past few years, the HALC has gathered an extensive collection of movies and would like to make them
available to faculty to support classroom instruction and enhance students’ learning.
The idea behind this project is to provide students with opportunities to enhance their learning using visual
images to make complex topics come alive. Movies can aid students to better understand, analyze and evaluate
what they watch as well as what they read in class while building their knowledge base about world and U.S
history, literature, language acquisition, art and science, to name a few of the topics our movies can support.
Because movies are intended to complement course content and to give students a different approach to
learning, they can be incorporated as part of the course work students need to complete during the semester.
This will provide students with alternative ways to sharpen their verbal and overall communication skills while
mastering content.
For example, if students are reading texts about learning how to read and write or how students with disabilities
learn, showing them The Miracle Worker can give them a different perspective of how literacy is acquired. In
an assignment or during a class discussion, students can respond to the process of how literacy is achieved
while comparing and contrasting the methods used by each of the characters being studied (texts and movies).
Also, students can respond to the challenges individuals face in their quest for literacy.
Another example could be if students were learning about topics in literature that deal with love, friendship,
betrayal and redemption; The Kite Runner would be a great contemporary movie to watch.
Essentially, the idea is to provide faculty with additional resources to support their class instruction. This
provides enrichment for the students and does not take away from class time. Because it is an alternate form of
learning and our students are diverse with many different needs and styles, all of the endeavors of this project
will promote an increase in student learning, interest and persistence.
Also, as part of the project, to inform faculty of the movies available at the center, all movies will be catalogued
by topic and the listing will be distributed to all the different academic departments. Questions will also be
developed to accompany areas of study and promote critical thinking.
Finally, the HALC not only wants to make all movies available, but also offers the space and the equipment
necessary to facilitate this project.
The implementation of this project will begin fall 2010. Cataloguing of movies will begin during the spring
2010 semester and will continue through the summer so that a listing is prepared and distributed to all academic
departments at the beginning of the fall 2010 semester. A Movie Request Form will also be developed so that
faculty is able to submit their request to the HALC by the end of September 2010. Movies schedule and
confirmation will then be sent to all participants to begin showing in October 2010.
Mayer, R. E. & Anderson, R. B. (1992). The instructive animation: Helping students
build connections between words and pictures in multimedia learning. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 84, 444-452.
Mayer, R. E & Moreno, R. (2000). Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning:
Implications for Design Principles. Handbook of Applied Cognition, 551‐569
Beautiful Idea:
In Galileo’s Footprint Learning Physics by Doing Physics
Yoel Rodriguez and Jaime Lujan
Project Description:
The engineering and science students find Physics a very difficult subject (1). It really is; no doubt about it! A
way to lessen this problem could be to teach Physics by making it more enjoyable by having more practical and
daily-life problem-solving situations as well as keeping interactive teaching techniques where students teach
each other. Eric Mazur, a renowned physicist, has called these methods Peer Instruction (PI) and Just-in-Time
teaching (2). PI methodology is found to decrease student attrition in introductory physics courses at both fouryear and two-year institutions (3). Toward this end, we could make our Physics Lab an exciting place, where
the students would feel they could go to discover and understand-by-doing, to analyze results and to put into
practice knowledge that they have already learned. The students will have the possibility to develop physics
projects during the semester. They will choose among different topics allowing them to find their own passions.
By doing, the students will go back to the textbook and ascertain the meaning of the content from a motivation
perspective. This strategy will empower and make the students more responsible in the learning process.
Questions such as what do you want to do-learn? and how would you do it? will be used to improve both the
teaching of physics and comprehension. Our approach should be able to instill students with scientific curiosity
and give them opportunities to develop needed hands-on lab as well as abstract-analysis skills. You can forget
facts, but you cannot forget understandings: They will stay forever (2).
In order to foster the students’ learning process our goals will be the following:
1. Develop daily-life physics hands-on projects. In addition to the regular laboratory experiments the
students perform during the physics course, they will have the opportunity to put into practice their
physics knowledge and to understand new concepts by doing lecture-topics related physics projects,
which will likely facilitate their learning process.
2. Implement Peer Instruction method and reinforce the use of mathematics. During the lecture period
students will discover and understand concepts through active discussions about specific topics
previously assigned. The students will also employ Vector Analysis, Least-Square and other Statistics as
well as Graphic Analyses in developing their projects (4). The students will be encouraged to apply
computational programs to do these analyses.
3. Involve our College Lab Technician (CLT) in the student-learning process. The students will
benefit from having some additional support other than the lab instructor to help them to develop their
own projects. The CLT participation in the learning process will be potentiated at a great advantage.
Students will learn and understand new physics concepts by doing physics. They will be immersed in analysis,
discovery, problem-solving, and communication skills. They will be able to visualize physics problems, and
develop their hands-on and likely their abstract-analysis skills. The gap between lecture and practice could be
fulfilled. By making the course experience more relevant to real life, the students will become more focused on
their learning and more likely to reach a higher level of accomplishment. Students will gain certain skills to pass
the CUNY Proficiency Exam (CPE) and be more successful in senior college. Finally, by bringing our CLTs to
the learning process itself, they will likely be more motivated and creative in their science college tasks. The
CLT will go from being a passive to an active component in the Physics Lab design. This project will also
potentiate the Instructor – CLT communication, which will directly benefit the performance of the student as
well as the modernization and improvement of lab experiments. In short, the college will optimize the use of its
1. The National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise. College Learning for
the New Global Century. Association of America Colleges and University.
2. Mazur, E. Project: Galileo. http://galileo.harvard.edu/.
3. Lasry, N., Eric Mazur, E. and Watkins, J. (2008) Peer Instruction: From Harvard to Community
Colleges. Am. J. Phys., 76, 1066-1069.
4. Young, H. D. and Freedman, R. A. (2008) University Physics, Part 1, Volume 1, 12th Ed. New York,
Pearson Addison Wesley.
This project is designed to achieve the stated specific aims in 1 year. A group of about 25 students will be
selected from Hostos Community College to carry out this research. Some aspects of the study that are
interrelated will be conducted simultaneously or in parallel. A tentative timetable for achieving the main
objectives of the study is given as follows:
Fall 2010:
1. Select physics hands-on projects.
2. Select problems to help students translate math knowledge into physics problems.
Spring 2011:
1. Develop the Peer Instruction methodology and hands-on projects as well as reinforce the use of
2. Showcase: The students will present their projects at the end of the semester and make videos
explaining their objectives and results.
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