2009-10 Mission Micro Grant Award Projects
Summaries of the 2009-10 MMG
Proposals that Received Funding
- Julia Belian (Law School)
- Tracey Chan (College of Health Professions / McAuley Health Center)
- Colleen Connolly, Brigid Johnson, RSM (College of Health Professions and University Academic Services)
- Amy Dereczyk (Honor Council, College of Health Professions)
- Yolanda Fleischer (CLAE, Women’s & Gender Studies)
- Carla J. Groh (College of Health Professions, McAuley School of Nursing):
- Mary Ann Hazen, Mary Higby (College of Business Administration)
- Gary Hillebrand (College of Engineering & Science):
- Suzanne Keep (College of Health Professions, McAuley School of Nursing)
- Yvonne King (Alpha Sigma Nu)
- Dan Maggio, Pamela Rhoades Todd (College of Engineering & Science)
- Cheryl C. Munday (College of Liberal Arts & Education)
- Melissa Nantais (College of Liberal Arts & Education)
- Drew Peters, David Nantais (University Ministry and Leadership Development Institute)
- Christopher Sassak, Nassif Rayess, Darrell Kleinke (College of Engineering and Science)
- Susan Trudeau (University Academic Services)
- E. Prasad Venugopal (College of Engineering & Science)
- Kathleen Walker and Camara Ablaya (University Academic Services, Successful Transition and Retention Program):
- Lara Wasner (Language & Cultural Training)
Julia Belian (Law School) Material support for refreshments for weekly coffee hours for JD/LLB joint degree law students. UDM offers a joint degree program with U. Windsor in which students can get a JD and an LLB, both in three years. Most of the students in the program are Canadian. The first year of the program the students are almost entirely based at Windsor, taking classes on Canadian law with a US module added per subject. The second year they are mostly at UDM, taking U.S.-based courses. When they begin their second year, they are in a new environment, among new faces and learning under new professors–but they’re not new, they’re 2Ls, and so there really isn’t any program in place to welcome them to the Detroit side and help them feel oriented and at home. As one possible consequence, they report feeling not at home in either school, remaining always betwixt and between. As one of their U.S. module teachers their first year, Belian is opening up her office to last year’s Canadian 1Ls (now 2Ls) for a weekly coffee hour office.
Tracey Chan (College of Health Professions / McAuley Health Center) Material support to provide patients at McAuley Health Center with basic winter apparel such as hats, gloves, and socks this winter. On average the MHC serves 250 patients per month. Items would be given to only those in need as determined by the patients’ providers.
Colleen Connolly, Brigid Johnson, RSM (College of Health Professions and University Academic Services) Material support for distributing cookies to students in celebration of the founding of the Sisters of Mercy. In the spirit of Catherine McAuley's last words "Please see that the Sisters have a comfortable cup of tea when I am gone . . ." and the charism of hospitality the Sisters of Mercy continue to value, Connolly and Johnson would like to celebrate Mercy Foundation Day by distributing cookies to students with notes indicating the cookies are to celebrate the founding of the Sisters of Mercy which is a co-sponsor of the University of Detroit Mercy. Distribution "stations" are planned for Briggs-1st floor, the Library, and the Student Center from 11 am – 2 pm.
Foundation Day, December 12, 1831, is the day that Catherine and two companions pronounced vows as Sisters of Mercy and thus founded the congregation of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. To promote the event, Connolly and Johnson will send email announcements to students and staff and post flyers on campus informing them of Foundation Day and the cookie distribution to celebrate it. Since December 12 is a Saturday this year, the primary day selected to distribute the cookies will be Thursday December 10. Connolly and Johnson will also provide cookies to any Sisters of Mercy on campus who wish to distribute them to their classes any day that week. This will provide the opportunity to identify the Sisters of Mercy as a co-sponsor of the University of Detroit Mercy. Foundation Day was selected this year to celebrate since Mercy Day, September 24th, was already selected by the University for Celebrate Spirit.
Amy Dereczyk (Honor Council, College of Health Professions) Material support for a mounted poster displaying portions of the College of Health Profession’s honor and integrity statement. Two reasons the Honor Council was formed were to develop a keener understanding of such concepts as personal and professional honor and integrity within the student body of the College of Health Professions (CHP) and to ensure that all CHP programs disseminate the Honor Code to all incoming students and obtain their students’ support of the Code’s provisions.The poster would display portions of CHP’s honor and integrity statement. This placard would stand on an easel in the CHP foyer. This placard could also be displayed at meetings and functions to promote professional honor and integrity. Student organizations, which have members that are also on the Honor Council, expressed interest is bringing this placard to their meetings to discuss the role of honor and integrity.
Yolanda Fleischer (CLAE, Women’s & Gender Studies) Material support to purchase tape recorders for students & alumni to use in personal interviews of the homeless for the fundraising production, "Unheard Voices." "Unheard Voices" began in a conversation with John Daniels in 2004 and was inspired by the work of Anna Deveare Smith whose performances Fleischer has shown in acting classes and which bring attention to community problems. Smith was a part of "Arts and Civic Dialogue" project with Cornell West at Harvard University. Another inspiration was the V-Day productions done for 10 years at UDM which have raised awareness and money for abused women. Fleischer put those two ideas together and decided to produce a project to break the stereotypes of the homeless and to raise money for the Detroit area agencies which serve them. Daniels connected Fleischer with H.A.N.D. (Homeless Action Network of Detroit) as our community partner who is overseeing the agencies and legalities. Students, alumni and guest artists will interview the homeless in selected shelters and record those interviews. They will transcribe the tapes; several writers have volunteered to turn the transcripts into monologues. Some are writing their own via a monologue workshop Fleischer is conducted. The opening will be a fundraising gala (organized by Greg Grobis). Other performances will be open to the community and pay-what-you-can. The interviewees will be invited and honored. Students involved are from all areas of the University including Theatre, Architecture, Community Development, Psychology, Communication Studies and others.
Unheard Voices, a look into the heart of Detroit’s homeless community, was the beneficiary of UDM’s Micro Mission Grant. The money was used to purchase small tape recorders for students, alumni and Detroit professional actors to use to interview the homeless in Detroit and to take their words and make them into performance pieces. This work was supported by UDM’s Theatre Company and H.A.N.D., Homeless Action Network of Detroit. H.A.N.D. was the beneficiary of the funds raised and clothing donations made. They are a pipeline for many shelters in Detroit and distributed the funds and clothing.
Here’s how it worked. The interviewers arranged visits to shelters through H.A.N.D. and were introduced to a client from the shelter. The actor/interviewers were armed with their recorders and a set of interview questions to be used as a basis, as a beginning. The interviewers spoke with clients on the average of about an hour, taping the entire visit. The interviewer/actor then transcribed the interview verbatim. From those words a monologue was written. I worked on editing the monologues with each actor. We rehearsed each monologue individually at first. I then ordered them into a “program” for maximum impact. That program was presented in three performances in the Fountain Lounge in the Student Center. Greg Grobis, theatre manager, was instrumental , along with Tasha Gray and Amanda Sternberg from H.A.N.D., in arranging the opening Gala which included a strolling dinner and silent auction of items donated by individuals and organizations. Two Men and A Truck donated a truck and their time to collect clothing donations that were made. One admission option was to bring in clothing on a hanger. An entire truck was filled with wardrobe boxes of clothing.
Over $10,000 was raised by the three performances and auction. That money and the clothing went directly to H.A.N.D. who distributed it, as needed, to shelters. This is on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaQCBAJG-rY) . Several bonuses occurred : Many of the clients interviewed became personal friends with the interviewers. Several clients from various shelters attended the performance, honored and amazed by their representations. The student/alum interviewers were “educated” in a way that surprised even them.
Words used to describe the whole process were: humbling, eye-opening, amazing, energizing, broke any stereotypes held. Audiences, too, shared many of those comments. The actors presented flesh-and-blood people who had lives, loves, dreams and pain. The power of theatre to make that “present” to an audience was evidenced by audience comments. So many wanted the presentation to be video-taped to take to churches, schools and other organizations. “More people have to see this” was a comment that I heard over and over.
The tape recorders purchased for the grant are in the Theatre Department office. Hopefully, they can be used again by students to capture life.
Carla J. Groh (College of Health Professions, McAuley School of Nursing): Material support for a holiday book project for incarcerated mothers and their children. Groh is proposing this project in collaboration with Mary Madonis, Chaplain, at Sinai Grace Hospital. This project will be conducted at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV) in Ypsilanti, MI. The project has two foci. The first is to have 30 children individually read a story of their choice and to tape record their narration of the story. This tape would then be given as a Christmas present to their mothers who are incarcerated. The second focus is to provide a variety of children’s books to the incarcerated mothers from which they can select age appropriate books for their children. Groh and Madonis will provide the books, wrapping paper, and bows. These books will then be given their children as Christmas presents. They will be working closely with the chaplain at the WHV to identify interested children/families. They will post flyers and distribute to interested family members during visiting hours. The tape recordings will occur at either WHV or the homes where the children live. They anticipate being able to record 30 children reading stories. There is no age limit for the children. If the child is unable to read, a family member will be encouraged to help them read the book. In addition, they will work with the chaplain to arrange at least one time to meet with mothers so that they can select a book for their child(ren). The books will be wrapped during that time.
The proposed project had two foci. The first was to have 30 children individually read a story of their choice and to tape record their narration of the story. This tape would then be given as a Christmas present to their mothers who are incarcerated. The second focus was to provide a variety of children’s books to the incarcerated mothers from which they could select age appropriate books for their children. We intended to provide the books, wrapping paper and bows. These books were to be given to their children as Christmas presents.
Barriers and Challenges to Implementing the Project
Several unforeseen and unanticipated events presented barriers and challenges to completing the project as originally proposed. First, Mary Madonis, the chaplain from Sinai Grace and co-collaborator, was involved in a serious motor accident and was in inpatient rehabilitation for several months during the time we proposed to complete the project (November/December 2009). Second, the chaplain at Huron Valley Correctional Facility that Ms. Madonis was acquainted with left that position, and we were unsuccessful in contacting the new chaplain. Third, we did attempt to gain entry to Huron Valley Correctional Facility through normal operating procedures but this was problematic as well. Ms. Madonis and I were required to go through security clearance, fingerprinting, background check which we were willing to do but then we were told that access to the women for sharing children’s books would not be possible for security reasons. Fourth, we contacted other prison and jail facilities, as well as community-based agencies that worked with families of incarcerated mothers with no success. Just as we were beginning to think the project would not be implemented, another door opened.
Carla Groh was asked to participate in a research group from the University of Michigan that was working with homeless women in Detroit. During the first and only meeting she attended, Carla met two women who knew of a group that worked with children of incarcerated parents, primarily fathers. The group is called, Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents (SKIP). Carla contacted Belinda Small, social worker involved with the group, and arranged for her and Mary to attend a board meeting to discuss the project. The board members were wonderful: they supported and approved the project. SKIP meets monthly at Bosco Center on the west side of Detroit. Approximately 10-15 children participate in the program.
Implementation of the Project
Ms. Madonis and I met with seven children at a Detroit Public School on the west side of Detroit where Ms. Small works and where the majority of children involved in SKIP attend school. We went Monday, May 24, 2010. We took about 30 books and encouraged the children to select a book of their choice to read. Most selected one of the Dr. Seuss books. We taped recorded the children reading their stories and then converted the tape to a CD. Three girls and four boys participated, and ranged from 2nd to 6th grade. The father was the person most commonly incarcerated but two of the children were reading for their uncles.
Outcome of the Project
The children really enjoyed reading the stories. When we played the story back for them to hear, some cried. The reading ability of several children was quite limited and they struggled with many of the words but their excitement and energy was quite touching: they did not give up. Several other children not involved in the project wanted to be involved and asked lots of questions about what we were doing. Ms. Small was pleased with the outcome of the project, and is supportive of future involvement with us.
The most important lesson learned was the importance of perseverance in accomplishing our stated goal. Although the project did not turn out the way we originally proposed, the outcome was wonderful nevertheless. The children touched our hearts and they taught us about “sticking with it” as they struggled to read the stories.
The money awarded for this project was spent on recording equipment and 21 Dr. Seuss books! Ms. Small has agreed that we can return in the fall. We would like to tape record the children 2-3 times during the academic year so that both the children and their parent can hear their progress in reading. As a parent, I would expect that fathers and uncles would be heartened to hear their children’s voices reading stories.
Mary Ann Hazen, Mary Higby (College of Business Administration) Seed money for BUS 1500 students' projects to raise money for the charity "Stand Up For Kids." Hazen and Higby are teaching BUS 1500: Introduction to Business Fall term in a different format, with the expectation that it will serve as a model for a new course, BUS xxxx: Business as a Profession. All freshmen business majors are enrolled. The primary academic goals of the course are to not only give an overview of the various business disciplines but also to show how business is an honorable profession and contributes to the life and health of the community. Other goals are to introduce freshmen to the College of Business Administration faculty, staff, students, and alumni;create a sense of community among freshmen and with other members of the CBA; and stress the importance of values, ethics, and community service. For one project, students work in teams of 5 or 6 to raise money for a charity, Stand Up For Kids, an all-volunteer national organization that works with homeless and street children and adolescents. One of the alumnae is active in this organization and suggested it as focus. Each team must write a business plan and, if they need seed money, a proposal for funding. They can ask for as much as $50 for each team and the professors and one or two alumni will judge the appropriateness of the plan and the amount of funding. The teams must pay back this seed money before they give their profits to SUFK.This money would be used not only for this semester's class but for other classes in the future.
"We applied for and received a Mission Micro Grant for AY 2009-2010 of $250. This grant was used as seed money for teams of freshman business majors taking BUS 1500, Introduction to Business, in fall, 2009 to begin “mini” businesses to earn money to donate to Stand Up For Kids/Detroit. SUFK is an almost-entirely volunteer national organization that helps children living on the streets of major urban areas in the United States. An alumna donated a $1000 challenge grant to SUFK, agreeing to match what the students earned up to that amount. Together, the five student teams contributed over $1,100 to SUFK, making the total contribution more than $2,100. The students repaid the seed money from the Micro Grant back to the College of Business Administration; our intention is to use this money for future classes to take part in similar projects.
Not only were we successful in donating money to a Detroit organization that serves a population near the ages of our students, our students learned about the agency from a video and guest speaker. They learned about principles of business through action as well as their textbooks. They also learned about the importance of business plans, team work, and bouncing back after initial letdowns.
We believe that we supported the Missions of the University and the College of Business Administration through “excellent, student-centered undergraduate… education in an urban context” and supported the “intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and social development of our students.” We are grateful for the opportunity to do so and thank the Office of Mission and Identity for awarding the grant to us."
Gary Hillebrand (College of Engineering & Science): Material support to purchase good used infant car seats, which will be donated to the Lennon Center, a non-profit crisis pregnancy center in Dearborn Heights. The Lennon Center provides services and material help to women with crisis pregnancies. The center is always in need of good infant car seats for the safe transportation of their clients. Hillebrand will solicit student volunteers to find and purchase the car seats, using money provided through the Mission Micro-grant. The donation will be made in the name of the University of Detroit Mercy.
The purpose of this project was to locate and purchase good used infant car seats, which would then be donated to the Lennon Center, a non-profit crisis pregnancy center in Dearborn Heights. The Lennon Center provides learning, services and material help to women with unplanned pregnancies. The center is always in need of good infant car seats for the safe transportation of their clients.
As a Catholic University in an urban setting, we have the opportunity to promote and encourage life-affirming choices. A large segment of the Lennon Center's clients are from the city of Detroit. Students participating in this project could integrate their intellectual, spiritual, ethical and social development by serving the local community and spreading a pro-life message in a most positive and supportive manner.
We were awarded a UDM Mission Micro Grant of $225 to complete the project.
Lennon Center’s website: lennoncenter.org/
We spent about $205 on eight infant car seats (and added two packages of diapers to use the remaining $20). The Lennon Center was very appreciative of the effort and the donated materials. They expect that these car seats will supply all their clients through the end of 2010. Our visit to the Lennon Center gave us a chance to show UDM in a very good light as we were introduced to a class of Lennon Center clients. The following 6 students volunteered; Shantelle Murff, Enas Karim, Ehimen Aisaborhale, Andres Setaputri, Courtney Freelain and Reta Banno. We hope that the project also raises awareness of crisis pregnancy centers and the benefits they bring to the community.
Suzanne Keep (College of Health Professions, McAuley School of Nursing) Material support for disinfecting supplies for foot care kits to provide pedicures for the homeless. The previous year Keep received a Micro Grant to provide foot care kits to provide pedicures for the homeless. This activity has been successful, providing foot care (by nursing students and Keep) for the homeless every month of the school year. The pedicure tools are currently soaked in alcohol and dried off for continual use. Many of the feet they care for have fungal infections, and open wounds. Keep would like to soak the tools in the barbicide disinfectant first, then place them in a germicidal cabinet to kill the germs. Keep consulted with AQ's Micro department assistant who confirmed this method would be beneficial for killing the germs in between patients. The Micro Department has offered for Keep to bring in the pedicure tools to be placed in the autoclave each month. Keep will continue to work with nursing students, side by side in providing care. The number of students per month averages 3-4.
Yvonne King (Alpha Sigma Nu) Material support for refreshments for student/faculty/staff forums on the meaning and value of a Jesuit education. One of the main objectives of these sessions is to give emphasis to Jesuit identity through the promotion of the values of Alpha Sigma Nu (ASN). As a Jesuit Honor Society, ASN has an obligation to be a significant part of the voice promoting the integration of the Jesuit Mission in all aspects of the UDM community. As part of the vision of ASN over the next three years, members will be working in collaboration with the Office of Mission & Identity to promote meaningful dialogue in forums on the meaning and value of the Jesuit Mission, and integration of these values into all areas of UDM. Others facilitators will come from UDM faculty and administrators, as well as alumni. One of the objectives of these forums is for students and employees to be better able to articulate how the Mission and values are applicable to every-day life. The forums will also help to introduce students to the values of ASN.
Dan Maggio, Pamela Rhoades Todd (College of Engineering & Science) Scholarship support for two economically challenged females to attend the 2010 Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Camp for Girls (STEPS Camp). During these extremely difficult economic times, many young women desire opportunities to better prepare them for their current and future education, as well as careers, but do not have the financial resources to participate in academically rigorous summer programs. The STEPS Camp is an innovative, educationally enriching program serving a maximum of eighty-eight high school aged young women entering the 9th through 11th grades during a one week period during the month of June. It is unique in that it integrates a variety of science, engineering and technology based activities which engage students in hands-on, experiential learning. The primary theme of the STEPS Camp focuses on robotics and incorporates a variety of activities that help campers to grow both academically and socially, while providing the opportunity for personal reflection during “down” times. The 2010 STEPS Camp will provide the opportunity for participants to utilize the LEGO Mindstorm NXT System. Participants will be provided with a set of tools that they’ll need in order to explore the world of robotics, comparing different standard architectures, discussing solutions to common recurring problems, and making suggestions as to how to organize complex projects in terms of subsystems.
Cheryl C. Munday (College of Liberal Arts & Education) Material support for a Psychology Clinic-sponsored community forum on African American Men and Depression. The impetus for the program comes from 1) a recently completed chart review study at the clinic which indicates that men in general are less likely to follow-through on intake evaluations than women and that African American men are underrepresented in the Psychology clinic population relative to the community population as a whole, 2) a positive response to recently conducted focus groups of African American men to discuss depression, 3) follow-up to the twice yearly depression and anxiety screening conducted on campus by the Psychology Clinic, and 4) recognition of existing national ethnic and racial disparities in utilization of mental health services. The forum is being co-sponsored by the African American Studies Program, which is providing $100.00 toward the speaker honorarium. Munday will seek additional co-sponsorship from the Women and Gender Studies Program and from the African American Studies student organization, which is just getting organized under the direction of Anne Eskridge, Program Director. Munday will ask the Women and Gender Studies Program to assist with publicity and the panel discussion. She will ask the student organization to assist with publicity and recruiting student panelists. The forum has several aims: 1) to provide participants with information about depression , about cultural perspectives on men and depression, and information about how men cope with depression, 2) to provide a forum for frank discussion about stigma associated with depression and professional mental health services, 3) to provide a forum for brainstorming “stigma-free” coping mechanisms and service delivery models, 4) to increase the visibility of the Psychology Clinic to UDM and community participants, and 5) to provide UDM students with a “safe” forum for discussing retention related coping concerns.
Melissa Nantais (College of Liberal Arts & Education) Honorarium support for a Psychology Department guest speaker event. The Psychology Department is working to connect the students enrolled in the various programs with in their department as well as to continue to nurture and grow the connections between students and faculty. One promising opportunity for this is to be able to invite students, faculty, and staff to attend a Guest Speaker presentation on a topic of common interest for both faculty and students (i.e., impact of bullying/cyber bullying; positive psychology; research via the internet). The Psychology Department would like to offer an honorarium to a guest presenter invited to speak to the entire UDM community but specifically targeting graduate and undergraduate Psychology students. The honorarium would be offered to offset the cost of travel and time to prepare for the presentation.
Drew Peters, David Nantais (University Ministry and Leadership Development Institute) Material support for a service-learning tour of Detroit community urban gardens. Peters and Nantais propose a Detroit “rural” plunge as a service-learning activity. Their group will tour 4 community urban gardens in a variety of Detroit neighborhoods and spend some time working at one of them, helping prepare for the spring planting season. The purpose of this activity is to teach students about the Detroit Urban Garden movement, to encourage their creative thinking as to how UDM can be more involved in this movement, and allow them an opportunity to work with their hands and understand how fresh produce is grown and transported locally. As part of our tour they will visit the Eastern Market, where a number of “Grown in Detroit” products are sold. The students will have an opportunity to talk to some of the farmers to get a better understanding of what it takes to grow food in the city. The day will also include lunch and time for reflection and discussion.
Christopher Sassak, Nassif Rayess, Darrell Kleinke (College of Engineering and Science) Material support to upgrade a baby/child seat attachment for a power wheelchair designed/built by UDM students. This project involves a necessary upgrade to a device that was designed and built by UDM students several years ago. That device, known as CareChair, is a baby/child seat attachment to a power wheelchair that a disabled parent could use in child care. As is the case in general, developing a product is an iterative process that involves prototyping and field testing followed by design changes driven by customer feedback. The latest incarnation of the CareChair is shown in Figure 1. That device includes many salient features that make it very helpful. These include a revolute joint that allows the seat to pivot for face to face interaction. The person shown in that figure is an expecting mother who is a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. Her baby is due in November 09.
Figure 1 – CareChair’s latest model (October 09)
One design change that will lead to significant improvement in the user experience is shown in Figure 2. The parenting experience would be enriched if the CareChair could be modified so that the baby seat indexes into the position shown in Figure 2 while maintaining the ability to swing out of the way as shown in Figure 1. This project involves making the necessary design changes and fabrication. The person shown in Figure 1 is the client and will receive, test and use the new CareChair.
Figure 2 – Preferred position of baby seat (date of photo unknown)
Susan Trudeau (University Academic Services) Material and stipend support for a Learning Center tutor training workshop focusing on basic writers referred from multiple colleges and majors at various points in their academic careers. This project is designed to augment the three-day training all UAS tutors complete. The proposed participants will service a targeted audience, basic writers referred from multiple colleges and majors at various points in their academic careers (some are seniors!). This population is not currently served by the Writing Center. The services provided by the Learning Center currently are limited by both the number of tutors available and the type of training those tutors have completed. This group is growing faster than our staff, and their needs could be better met by staff trained specifically to assess and meet their needs. This skill set is not addressed by our current training module. Furthermore, UAS does not have the budget to support this much-needed skill development. UAS intends to absorb the cost of new hires and development of the module, but needs additional resources. The new training module will utilize some free materials, such as the National Institute for Literacy’s Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults, but small purchases are necessary. Additionally, tutors usually receive stipends for attending training, and such sessions are made more attractive and practical by the inclusion of lunch or dinner. During the session, tutors will be trained by UAS staff to interpret faculty referrals, administer and analyze diagnostic instruments, and most importantly, remediate basic skills using a variety of methodologies.
The University Academic Services (UAS) Tutor Training Project was designed to augment the skills of the Learning Center’s peer tutors. The peer tutors provide academic support to at-risk students, including one-on-one and small group tutoring, modeling scholastic behaviors, and peer mentoring. This group is comprised of students with GPAs of 3.2 or higher, and its members represent many groups of students, including student athletes, international students, and Greeks, among others.
This project supports the aspect of both the UDM and UAS mission statements that mention excellent student-centered education. The primary goal of this project is to level access and consequently increase success for students who may be underprepared for college. This, of course, includes any student in need, but the target population among the clients the tutors service is largely comprised of non-traditional students from the surrounding community returning to college and students from the Detroit Public School System, our “urban context.”
Furthermore, as a secondary goal, this project supports the UAS objective of developing our student staff as members of the world community, which supports the UDM mission of integrating the intellectual, spiritual, ethical and social development of our students.
The benefits of the program include increased tutor proficiency, leading to increased student success which supports increased retention. A less tangible benefit is a more confident staff models better academic behavior to students and provides better service overall.
Before the inception of the new module, all UAS tutors completed a three-day training program that covers tutoring skills and university policies. The new module will increase the staff’s readiness to serve a targeted audience, basic writers referred from multiple colleges and majors at various points in their academic careers (some are seniors!). This group is growing faster than our staff, and their needs could be better met by specially trained staff. The new training module, piloted this year, utilized some free materials, such as the US government publication Applying Research in Reading Instruction for Adults, but we also purchased new materials, including a film called Writing Across Borders. Also, tutors were trained by UAS staff to interpret faculty referrals, administer and analyze diagnostic instruments, and most importantly, remediate basic skills using a variety of methodologies. Finally, UAS collaborated with Lara Wasner of Language and Cultural Training and Dr. Laurie Britt-Smith, Director of the Writing Program, to present training to tutors of both the Learning Center and Writing Center and the English faculty.
Training of all groups was completed just before fall semester began. The Micro Grant was written to provide training to 5 tutors, but because of the unanticipated collaboration between departments, many more service providers were trained. Service began on the first day of school and will be evaluated as the term progresses.
E. Prasad Venugopal (College of Engineering & Science) Material support for a screening and speaker-led discussion of the documentary, “Rethink Afghanistan.” In collaboration with local peace and justice groups (and possibly UDM organizations), Venugopal plans to screen the documentary “Rethink Afghanistan” at the McNichols campus, and invite a local speaker (hopefully a U.S. war veteran) to discuss the issues raised by the film. His hope is to initiate a serious discussion on campus about the war in Afghanistan and its possible consequences. Informational articles/pamphlets and suggestions about ways for students and others to get actively involved in this issue will be provided. This activity is timely, given the significant likelihood that the United States will deepen its involvement in that war with the addition of several thousand more troops in the near future. This activity will probably occur after the President’s announcement of U.S. strategy, but before troop deployment and congressional votes on additional funding for the war. The film is directed by Robert Greenwald, the well-known documentarian of earlier films such as “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” and “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers”. This film “features experts from Afghanistan, the U.S., and Russia discussing critical issues like military escalation, how escalation will affect Pakistan and the surrounding region, the cost of war, civilian casualties, and the rights of Afghan women.” While the film is fundamentally an anti-war film, it nevertheless provides serious and thoughtful perspectives by raising key questions about the conduct and consequences of the war. More information about this film can be found at http://rethinkafghanistan.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rethink_Afghanistan,
Kathleen Walker and Camara Ablaya (University Academic Services, Successful Transition and Retention Program): Material support for students in STAR program to visit to the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. In keeping with the Freshmen Experience this academic year, the STAR Program wants to help support, encourage, challenge and embrace the student’s experience of the freshmen reader – “The Other Side of the River.” This book deals with racial tension here in a Michigan town in 1991. A visit to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s “And Still I Rise” exhibit will help them continue to support the understanding, patience and tolerance of one another and those who live, think and believe differently than they do. Their goal is to take a diverse group of students to the museum on a guided interactive tour and stay for lunch as we debrief our experience, both as a group and as individuals. Their discussion session is set up for open and honest communication regarding our experience at the museum and in their daily lives--here they will discuss their reactions to the freshmen reader and the feelings that may have come from it.
Lara Wasner (Language & Cultural Training) Material support: "Train the Tutor" workshops to develop UAS tutors’ & Writing Center consultants’ to aid Chinese students toward self-corrective, self-sufficient, & proficient English writers. UDM has had a dramatic increase in Chinese student enrollment since 2008 mainly due to joint partnerships and recruiting in mainland China. Although Chinese students now comprise the largest sector of international students on campus, English placement test scores are consistently lowest. As a means to improve academic writing (and grades), Chinese students have sought help in CLAE’s Writing Center and UAS’ tutoring center in increasing numbers the last two years. According to Laurie Britt-Smith (Writing Center Director), up to 60% of students visiting the center each week are Chinese. Many make multiple appointments per day, which often overwhelms tutors. In 2009, LCT received a Microgrant to run two Train the Tutor sessions. 20 students received ESL tutor training, which was broken into two parts. Part I included a needs overview, addressed cultural and educational differences, identified stylistic and grammatical differences in writing, and gave tips for handling ESL intake. Part II was contextualized: students role-played a 30 minute-session using authentic writing samples and applied newly-learned tips. Surveys revealed that trained tutors have a good handle on the intake of ESL students and can apply learned strategies in a practical context. Yet, those who attended would like to go the next step, and acquire the ability to deconstruct grammar and writing in a comparative way. Focusing on relevant differences between the two written languages may help tutors predict and understand why Chinese students repeat critical mistakes, helping tutees become self-corrective, self-sufficient, and more proficient writers of English.
UDM has had a dramatic increase in Chinese student enrollment in the last three years mainly due to joint partnerships and recruiting in mainland China. Chinese students now comprise the largest sector of international students on campus. As a means to improve academic writing and student success, international students are seeking help in CLAE’s Writing Center and UAS’ tutoring center in increasing numbers. According to Laurie Britt-Smith (Writing Center Director), up to 60% of students visiting the center each week are by Chinese students struggling with academic writing. Because of the common written language amongst this diverse student population, writing consultants and tutors often see the same common writing mistakes from student to student. Because academic writing is a common skill area challenge, many students make multiple appointments per day, which often overwhelms tutors.
In 2009, LCT received a Mission Micro Grant to run two Train the Tutor sessions. 20 students from both the Writing Center and Learning Center received ESL training. In Fall of 2010, around 40 students attended training session part one. Surveys revealed that trained tutors have a good handle on the intake of ESL students and can apply learned strategies in a practical context. Yet, those who attended would like to go the next step, and acquire the ability to deconstruct grammar and writing in a comparative way.
Part I: (Attended by both Writing Consultants and Learning Center Peer Tutors)
Understanding Why Mistakes are Made
Part I includes a needs overview, addresses differences in classroom cultural and academic preparation, and identifies common grammatical mistakes, as well as stylistic differences in writing. A tip sheet was distributed, which included intake tips as well as approaches to addressing “high order” elements (e.g. global coherence, sentence cohesion), and “low order” elements (e.g. grammar, punctuation) in the time a 60-min. tutoring or 30-min. writing consultation session provides.
Part II: (Attended by Writing Consultants only)
Helping Students Become Proficient Writers
Part II was contextualized and hands-on: writing consultants reviewed key differences in language structure and grammar, then role-played a 30 minute-session using authentic writing samples and apply newly-learned corrective approaches.
Focusing on common skill area challenges between the two written languages may help tutors predict and understand why Chinese students repeat critical mistakes, helping those tutored become self-corrective, self-sufficient, and more proficient writers of English.
The benefits to ESL Tutor Training are multifold and speak to UDM’s mission in many ways.
Mission essentiality: Provides student-centered learning by intentionally focusing on our international students’ needs by doing things mentioned above. It contributes to the social growth of students by building cultural bridges (tutoring students from other countries nurtures a better understanding of cultures, and prepares students to become better US and global citizens).Benefits:
- Empowers tutors to help instead of “tuning out”: Handling students with ESL needs can be frustrating and time-consuming without the right ESL-centered communication tools. Better communication helps identify specific problems, offers immediate help and produces better long-term results;
- Provides opportunities to remediate severely ESL- challenged students: Tutors in both centers would know how to identify and refer struggling ESL students to their center’s director, who in turn would refer these struggling students to LCT for very specific remediation;
- Tells a “success story”: Chinese students would report back to friends and family the quality support they’re receiving at UDM;
- Positively impacts international enrollment and retention: Good academic support helps foster a good relationship with partner universities and their students (fewer students will flunk out due to ESL problems that can be remediated with the right support); provides potential for increased Chinese student enrollment (and overall international student enrollment).