Undergraduate Research in the 2016 Capstone Seminar

Each spring, students in the Honors Capstone Seminar conduct group research projects and share their findings with the appropriate audience. They choose the topic/s, conduct the research, and determine the best means of presenting their findings.

In the past, topics have ranged from the Take Back the Tap movement to gender inequality in higher education to rainwater harvesting to housing stability for the chronically homeless.

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

This year, the students explored Oregon’s success at reducing recidivism. They examined the economic impact of recidivism, recidivism for adults and juveniles, and the success of specific programs in Oregon. They ultimately argued that the most successful means of preventing recidivism is through programs that focus on altering the behavior of ex-inmates and on providing support for ex-inmates, as well as using a cooperative approach to offering these services.

They shared their findings through a PowerPoint presentation and a research poster that will be displayed in the Learning Commons in the fall. Their presentation was also filmed by Dean Middleton and Randal Painter.

Completing this project supported not only the course learning outcomes but also all five of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Think Critically
  • Engage Diverse Values with Civic and Ethical Awareness
  • Create Ideas and Solutions
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Apply Learning

I look forward to seeing, and learning from, the research findings of next year’s seminar students!

OSU Honors Thesis Fair

Each spring, we take honors students enrolled in the Capstone Seminar up to Oregon State University to visit the University Honors College and attend the Honors Thesis Fair. Last Friday, we made the trip, and I once again witnessed the positive impact this event has on the students and on me.

At the annual NCHC conference, I’ve heard from other honors program coordinators in the two-year college group about the importance of having organized field trips. Not only do they provide learning opportunities for the students, but they create chances for the students to bond and for students and faculty to get to know each other better. Most of our field trips are in town (museum tours, academic conferences, pizza dinners, etc.); however, the OSU trip requires a 45-minute drive each way and several hours of time together on the campus. It is our one out-of-town field trip, and the benefits are immediately visible.

Highlights from this year included a tour of the University Honors College’s new space. We saw the new classrooms. We also saw the student lounge and work space with the free printing and office supplies.

Honors Workspace

We saw the computer stations.

Honors Computers

We saw places for students to relax and talk or read, possibly from The New York Times, daily copies of which were available in the lounge for free. They gave us a copy at the end of the tour.

Honors Reading Area

The Honors Thesis Fair is always impressive. It’s inspiring to see what undergraduate honors students are doing with their research.

Thesis Fair Welcome Sign

It’s equally inspiring to think about the research our students conduct and to know they will be in familiar territory when pursuing their upper division research at a university. Our students took pictures and notes and prepared to apply what they had learned from the honors posters to the poster and PowerPoint presentation they are currently working on in the seminar.

After the thesis fair, we walked around the campus. In the Memorial Union, we encountered a free, lunchtime, classical music concert.

Lunchtime Concert Sign

Music a la Carte Musicians

Spending the day together allowed us time outside of class to talk about a variety of things. As we walked through downtown Corvallis and then had lunch, we discussed shared interests, our opinions about what we had seen at OSU, and how the day’s events might impact their work this term, next year, and farther into the future.

As I drove us back to Lane’s campus, the car became quiet while the students read The Times.

Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin Poetry Event

On Tuesday, April 19 the Honors Program and the Cultural Competency Professional Development Committee co-sponsored an amazing poetry event. Internationally-renowned Brazilian poet, Salgado Maranão, and Alexis Levitin, the translator of two of Salgado’s books into English, spent the afternoon and evening on Lane’s campus. Honors faculty member, Sarah Lushia, knew Alexis. She initiated the event and coordinated Alexis’s and Salgado’s visit to our campus.

Prior to the event, we gave copies of their collections, Blood of the Sun and Tiger Fur, to the honors students. Salgado and Alexis spent an hour in the afternoon reading and sharing stories with the students.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Salgado read “Mater,” a poem he wrote for his mother. He, with Alexis translating, explained how strong and determined his mother was in the face of great difficulties. He described her love of language and poetry, attending mass in Latin the one time a year a priest came to their area even though she did not understand Latin. He noted that if she had been in the upper class, a plaza or boulevard would have been named for her.

Honors Dean, Susan Carkin, noted the shared elements between his poem and “The Arrival of My Mother New Mexico Territory, 1906,” a poem by Keith Wilson. She sent me the link and also mentioned this poem to Alexis and Salgado. I hadn’t known of Wilson’s poem, and learning of it was one of many memorable poetry moments I experienced that day.

Salgado is also a lyricist and has worked with some of Brazil’s jazz and pop artists. Poet Frank Rossini (and also husband of the event organizer, Lynn Nakamura) suggested that Salgado and Alexis speak with music students. After the session with the honors students, they spent part of the afternoon with several music majors.

Salgado, Alexis, several honors students, a few faculty members, and the honors dean had dinner together in the Renaissance Room on Lane’s campus. Great food . . . great conversations up and down the table . . . and book signings . . . a perfect transition from the afternoon gatherings to the evening event open to the public.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane's Renaissance Room.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane’s Renaissance Room.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

On our walk over to the Center for Meeting and Learning, Alexis and I discussed Cid Corman and his connection to Japanese poetry.

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Alexis mentioned that Salgado had written a poem about a snake whose movements were so smooth and so reassuring that it lured a frog into its embrace. Salgado has an interest in Japanese poetry and performs the poem with Tai Chi movements.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem later that evening.

We also found we had a shared acquaintance in Dennis Maloney, publisher of White Pine Press. Dennis and I have both published Cid’s poetry and Dennis published the bilingual edition of Tiger Fur.

The evening event was spectacular! Lynn Nakamura organized everything beautifully. Brazilian music, including one of Salgado’s songs that he sang along to, played as people arrived. Linda Reling had a book table set up at the back of the room where I caught President Mary Spilde buying copies of the books.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Anyone who has ever heard Mary give a talk knows there will be poetry interspersed among her comments!

Chief Diversity Officer Greg Evans gave a wonderful introduction to begin the evening.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

For two hours, Alexis and Salgado read, commented, shared more stories, and answered questions.

Creating opportunities like this for the students and the community is something Lane Community College does well. It is also a perfect way for the Honors Program to do something that is central to honors education: provide exceptional educational opportunities to the honors students and contribute to the larger campus community. We have many more events planned for next year!

Delivering on Our Promise

My colleague, Stacey Kiser, recently shared an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Honors Colleges Promise Prestige, but They Don’t All Deliver.” While the Lane Honors Program is not focused on prestige, aspects of the article do relate to our program. The article accurately claims that some honors colleges may promise a lot to students but not fulfill their promises.

opportunity image

Honors colleges are not always fully supported by their institutions, and without that support, they simply can’t provide all the services and opportunities to the students who attend them.

The same can be said of honors programs. Without adequate support, and as my colleague Elaine Thompson has pointed out, a clear sense of where the program fits within the institution’s organizational framework, it is challenging to offer the necessary academic and co-curricular opportunities to students.

The Lane Honors Program has had support from the college, but the amount and form of this support has changed several times over the past five years. The result is that our enrollments have decreased and many honors students transfer before they colhp_logo_color_version_2_0mplete the program. The students who complete the program and transfer report back that the program had a significant impact on their success at their university, which makes those of us working on honors at Lane even more determined to see this program thrive.

In fall of 2015, the college demonstrated its increased support of the program by creating the full time faculty coordinator position that I now hold. This spring, the Honors Leadership Team and a special work group are overseeing the restructuring of the program to help students more successfully navigate the program and to ensure that they are able to complete the program before transferring. We are exploring several possibilities: instituting a version of the guided pathway model, offering honors classes during fall and spring, and running the honors seminars in the winter.

I’m excited about the growing energy around honors education at Lane. I appreciate that colleagues are stepping up to offer new honors classes and to participate on the leadership team and work group. With the college’s commitment to increased marketing, we will be able to raise student awareness of the program. With the changes to the program’s structure, more students will be able to complete the program and take advantage of its transfer agreements with four-year schools.

Potential Transfer Agreements with UO & OSU

This fall I have been working to increase the number of articulation and transfer agreements the Honors Program has with four-year schools. We currently have excellent agreements with Portland State University’s Honors College, Southern Oregon University’s Honors College, and Washington State Vancouver’s University Scholars Honors Program. I recently met with representatives at  the University of Oregon (UO) and Oregon State University (OSU), and I appreciate the direction our conversations have taken.

A few weeks ago, I met with Karen Sprague, the Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at UO. She was very interested in finding ways to support Lane’s honors students when they transfer to UO and to explore opportunities for them that might encourage them to transfer there. We are looking into automatic acceptance at the UO for our honors graduates, the chance to work in a science lab in the summer before they begin taking classes at UO, and supports specifically designed for transfer students. Dean Livelybrooks has already shared information about the science lab opportunity, and I’m meeting with three of our honors science faculty next week to discuss it. I’m also meeting with Justine Carpenter, the Director of Nontraditional and Veterans Engagement and Success.

University of Oregon

University of Oregon

Yesterday, I traveled to OSU to meet with several people: LeeAnn Baker, the University Honors College’s (UHC) Director of Student Success and Engagement; Gildha Cumming, the UHC’s Director of Admissions and Communications; Kayleen Salchenberg, OSU’s Transfer Students Services Manager; and Tara Williams, the Associate Dean of the UHC. OSU already offers many benefits to transfer students. These include campus housing and childcare at reasonable rates, a new automatic award of $2500 for students transferring with a 3.75 GPA and 36 hours of college credit, and the Degree Partnership Program. We considered ways to expand these benefits and discussed additional funding for our transfer students. We also plan to raise student awareness of the opportunities available at OSU, and Kayleen will visit the Honors Invitation to Inquiry Seminar this winter to talk with the students. Once we know students are applying to the University Honors College, we can then determine if there are elements of the application process that pose particular challenges and address those.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

The conversations with UO and OSU have been very positive, and I’m encouraged that we will be able to offer Lane’s honors students an increased number of articulation and transfer agreements in the next year.

 

Highlights from the 50th Anniversary NCHC Conference

As always, it was a full conference! There are so many good resources shared each year. Here are a few highlights:

I attended the Developing in Honors and Two-Year College Issues sessions, both led by Elaine Torda, who is receiving the Ron Brandolini Award this year for excellence at a two-year institution.

Elaine Torda

Elaine Torda

These sessions addressed important issues impacting two-year college honors programs including fewer students graduating from high school, creating physical honors space within the college, program review and certification, and the relationship between Phi Theta Kappa and honors programs. The PTK/honors discussion was useful as I would like to find more ways to connect Lane’s Honors Program and Sigma Zeta Chapter of PTK. I know that the PTK advisors, Lida Herburger and Kristina Holton feel the same way.

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I’m also a member of the Two-Year College Committee, chaired by Elaine Torda, and I attended the committee meeting. We voted on a proposal to provide peer mentors for new two-year college honors program directors, engaged in more discussion of program review and certification, discussed publishing opportunities, and brainstormed sessions for next year’s NCHC Conference.

The meeting of the Western Regional Honors Council, facilitated by WRHC President Daniel Villanueva and Executive Secretary Anne Scott included updates on 2016 conference in Riverside, CA and 2017 conference in Ashland, OR. I hope to bring several of Lane’s honors students to the Ashland conference. I also had the opportunity to meet new honors administrators from three of our transfer schools: OIT, OSU, and PSU.

The Western Regional Honors Council meeting is about to get started.

The Western Regional Honors Council meeting is about to get started.

Presenting my paper, “Assessment in Two-Year College Honors Programs,” in the Approaches to Assessment at Two-Year Colleges session was a great experience due largely to the audience. They were willing to adjust to one speaker instead of two and to no AV (challenging to discuss ePortfolios without actually showing an ePortfolio). The best part was that after my presentation, the audience engaged in a productive conversation with everyone asking questions and offering answers rather than having a “speaker” and an “audience.”

The Art Institute as a highlight goes without saying.

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Looking forward to Seattle next year!

Sharing Lane’s Work on Honors Assessment

This week I head to Chicago for the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. It’s the NCHC’s 50th anniversary celebration.

conference-header

I’ll be co-presenting at the session, “Approaches to Assessment at Two-Year Colleges,” with Sheila Stepp from Orange County Community College (SUNY).

My presentation focuses on three types of assessment: student learning of course outcomes, student learning of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes, and program review. I’ll draw on honors assessment work I’ve done with my colleagues: Sarah Lushia, Katie Morrison-Graham, and Eileen Thompson.

Some of my presentation will focus on Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes. Watch the student video produced by Sarah Lushia to see the impact the CLOs have on students.

Some of it will address the use of ePortfolios in assessing student learning. Again, watch the video Sarah produced featuring students discussing the value of ePortfolios. Students and faculty together can engage in authentic assessment of student learning.

The final part of my presentation will concern program review. I’ll draw on the NCHC’s recent development of a program review process, the parallel development of Lane’s program review process, and the Honors Program’s adaptations of both of these processes to best determine our strengths, the areas where we need improvement, and the support we’ll need to make those improvements.

More posts to come during and/or after the conference!

 

 

And Then There Were Two: The New Configuration of the Honors Program’s Administration

We are in the fifth year of the honors program, and after several iterations of honors administrative leadership, the college has settled on a tentatively permanent structure: a dean and a faculty coordinator. This may not sound like a significant decision, but we have built this program with an ever-changing team. It is exciting and anxiety-producing to think we have some stability now even with fewer people working on the program.

We began with two faculty coordinators (Nadia Raza and me), each working on the program part time. Then Nadia stepped down and Katie Morrison-Graham came on board, although for a time the three of us were working on honors together.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Then we switched to one coordinator. Even though I was the only coordinator, I was still working on the program part time. We originally had an administrative support person, as well, who also handled advising and marketing. Then we lost that position and replaced it with a new administrative support position minus the advising component and some of the hours. We had no academic dean initially, although we have had one for the past few years. So many starts and stops. So many changes. There were moments when I felt like our program resembled the blackberry bushes I saw while hiking at Mount Pisgah yesterday in this unusually warm November: clusters of dried berries with a few new red and black berries mixed in.

Blackberries

What season are we in again? Are we winding down, starting up, or carrying on?

Fortunately, we’ve had a leadership team comprised of intelligent, motivated, thoughtful people who have helped support what we called “the core team.” I know the leadership team will continue helping honors to thrive. Our “core team” is now comprised of me and my dean, Susan Carkin. Susan has been on the Honors Leadership Team from the program’s inception and attended the National Collegiate Honors Council conference with me.

Susan Carkin

Susan Carkin

The Language, Literature, and Communication Division’s Lead Administrative Coordinator, Linda Schantol, has generously taken on some of the administrative support that had been provided elsewhere.

Linda Schantol

Linda Schantol

Having a permanent faculty coordinator position with 75% of its workload dedicated to directing the program, and having the coordinator work one-on-one with the academic dean, will provide the stability and continuity the program needs. It’s a sign that the college is committed to serving all of our students.

Thinking this morning about the program’s history and this new opportunity to dedicate so much of my focus to coordinating this program, I found myself recalling Jorie Graham digging her hands into the absolute (“The Visible World”). The seeds are planted.

ePortfolios and Accessibility

This week, Lane’s ePortfolio Theory Reading Group met to discuss “E-Portfolios and Inclusive Learning,” a chapter from The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios, a book by Lorainne Sefani, Robin Mason, and Chris Pegler.

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There were also several supplemental sources that addressed accessibility in ePortfolios, websites, blogs, etc.

I appreciate that the group’s creator and leader, Sarah Lushia, was able to switch the planned reading so that we could focus on the topic of accessibility. It is a topic I wanted us to discuss. I want to think more about making accessibility a foundational part of my pedagogy and not just something I consider when addressing individual student needs.

This term, I’ll raise the topic of accessibility with the Capstone Seminar students, exploring some of the issues involving design and some of the tools that are currently available. Since accessibility is also something I want to consider in terms of my own ePortfolio, the students and I can participate in this work together.

From an administrative perspective, I’d like the Lane Honors Program to think about accessibility in light of our requirement that students build and maintain ePortfolios in the Lane Honors Program. As a relatively new program, we have a chance to make accessibility a central part of how we think about ePortfolios.

Sarah provides a detailed summary of the meeting on the ePortfolio Theory Reading Group blog.

Honors Seminars Revisited

Recently, I was a guest speaker in Joe Fracchia’s HC 431H: Bodies and Artifacts seminar at the Clark Honors College. The focus for the afternoon was, “What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer).

Joe Fracchia

Joe Fracchia

I was there with Lauren Deegan to read our poetry and talk about our writing processes as well as answer questions from the students.

It was an interesting experience to be back in a CHC classroom having just the day before taught in Lane’s honors seminar, Invitation to Inquiry. I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the two classes and the general honors experiences at the CHC and at Lane.

I admired the rigor of Joe’s course. Here is the day’s reading from the syllabus:

February 19

“What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer)

Read:    Marshall Sahlins, Excerpt on the Arbitrariness of Linguistic Signs

Geoffrey Pullman, “The Great Eskimo Snow Hoax”, 159-167

Mary LeCron Foster, “Body Process in the Evolution of Language”, pp. 208-229

Lev Vygotsky, “Thought and Word” in Thought and Language, pp. 210-256

Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language” in Contact, pp. 22-38

Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language as Work and Trade” in Language as Work and Trade, pp. 35-        64

HC 431H is an upper division class, so I did not expect Lane’s lower division seminar to do the same type of work. What struck me was simply the thoughtfulness and intelligence that students exhibit when they have an environment in which to push their thinking and their creativity. We see this in Lane’s honors seminars, as well, but I would like to see a wider range of seminar experiences available to Lane’s students.

Mara Fields, the Grants Coordinator at Lane, occasionally sends me information about grants for “great ideas” courses, and I’ve always hoped to be able to build such a course for the Honors Program. I think the students would gain as much from that type of seminar as they do from our two interdisciplinary research seminars.

The challenge is that a “great ideas” course, like our seminars, would count as an elective and the students have limited space for electives given the constraints of financial aid and the need to complete the courses required for their majors. Still, after participating in Joe’s HC 431H history class, I plan to think more about ways to create a similar experience for the honors students at Lane.