Promoting Academic Excellence at UNL

ITLE Year 1 Year 1 Update

Improving leadership

Jay Barbuto sought to test his notion that his undergraduate students in ALEC 302, the Dynamics of Effective Leadership in Organizations, might better understand the leadership styles they were studying if he modeled each of those styles as he taught them. In fall 2005, Barbuto tried this methodology while collecting data on its impact on student learning. Several students described this course and the dramaturgical teaching method as the best learning experience of their educational careers. In spring 2006 data gathered will be analyzed and a manuscript will be developed.

Laboratory Upgrade

The goal of this classroom development project was to redevelop a biology laboratory classroom in Manter Hall into a fully inclusive and accessible environment for all students including students with disabilities. Funds from this award have been used to purchase new and still rare technology, including a thermoform machine from England that will create durable three-dimensional models illustrating the concepts being taught in the laboratory, especially useful for visually impaired students. Students with disabilities are participating in the testing phase for new equipment. An open house will be held in spring 2006.

Enhancing TA Training

The project involved producing six dramatized video vignettes that depict a range of difficult situations between undergraduate students and teaching assistants for the purpose of developing graduate students' abilities in dealing with classroom situations.

Graduate Studies developed the content for each scenario in July 2005. Scripts were written by Theatre Arts in August. Actors were recruited from Theatre Arts. The six scenarios were videotaped and edited by a production crew from NET Television in September.

Graduate Studies will use the DVD vignettes in the summer 2006 Institute for International Teaching Assistants. The DVD will also be used as part of a regular workshop session offered during the annual campus-wide workshops for teaching assistants in August 2006. Copies will also be made available to departments for use with teaching assistants and faculty.

Expanding Women's Studies

This project included the creation of a new minor in LGBTQ/Sexuality Studies to be started in fall 2006; a Women's Studies curriculum retreat in spring 2005; a special topics course, Introduction to LGBT Studies, taught in fall 2005; and three new approved courses on activism and feminist communities, and feminist theories and perspectives, to be offered fall 2006.

A graduate assistant worked during the summer of 2005 to contact community agencies about appropriate internships for Women's Studies students and to develop materials about service learning for faculty and students. The grant recipients plan to develop at least three more new Women's Studies courses, implement new service-learning materials and internship opportunities, and conduct assessment.

Opening Global Frontiers

Deb Mullen, academic learning community coordinator, leads this project which established the first E.N. Thompson International Scholars Community. This first-year class has 21 students who, during the first semester, took a political science class taught by Patrice McMahon, assistant professor of political science, and a seminar taught by Patrice Berger, professor of history. These courses facilitated cross-section discussions and prepared students for the Thompson Forum speakers.

With T.R. Reid, author of "The United States of Europe," the students discussed whether the euro might become the international currency of choice. With Elaine Pagels, who wrote "The Gnostic Gospels," they talked about whether certain gospels might have intentionally been left out of the Bible. And online with college students in Spain they discussed how Spanish counterparts view life in the United States. In addition this group did community service at the Vietnamese Community Center, supported the Off to War video and discussion prepared by Discovery Times, and gathered at the home of one of the professors to enjoy an international meal prepared by a fellow student.

This inaugural group has confirmed the possibilities of providing first-year students with an intensive interdisciplinary community whose focus is global citizenry.

Real-life Experience

This initiative involves students in the upgrade of a former church into a space for The Meeting Place, a non-profit organization that helps people with alcohol and drug addictions. Student interns produced a set of AutoCAD drawings for the class. The client also appreciated having a set of scalable prints for the first time. Meeting Place board members have started to develop a strategic plan based upon the students' recommendations. Student evaluations show students enjoyed the service-learning approach and felt that it enhanced learning, giving real-life experience.

Digital Initiative

Art and Art History and University Libraries began the initiative by digitizing slides used in Art and Art History courses. This digital information is being used to create a database of digital images for use in the classroom, with Blackboard, and by students. More than 3,000 slides have been converted and cataloged and another 1,800 images from the major textbooks in art history have been cataloged and made available. The images can be accessed 24/7 via the Internet and descriptive information for each image is searchable, making it easier for students to study these important works.

Language Transcription

Omaha III students, with the aid of native speakers, in the fall 2005 began extracting and performing linguistic analysis on materials from 19th Century Omaha texts. Audio recording, digitalization and Web construction experts from Instructional Technology and the Electronic Text Center have worked on software and markup issues needed to convert the dictionary database into a Web-ready and printable format. A prototype digital recording of a student-produced Omaha recipe book was completed.

Course Development

The course, Families, Schools, and Communities, was offered for the first time in fall 2005 for 38 students. Grant recipients aim to reach capacity of 200 students in fall 2006. A customized version of the textbook will be sought from the publisher. Assessment of students' first-semester experience is being used to determine which activities need revision. The course is available to freshmen through juniors, rather than having it only for underclassmen as first planned.

ITLE Sections

  • Two proposals win funding - see our March newsletter.
  • Call for Proposals - due to deans Oct. 17, 2008.
  • Deadline for Deans to submit Year 5 ITLE proposals from their colleges was Oct. 28, 2008.