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Washington State University
CAS Connect September 2014

Innovative teaching initiatives

A message from the dean

Dean Daryll DeWald
Dean Daryll DeWald

Faculty in all areas of the arts and sciences are back in classrooms and laboratories this fall, sharing knowledge and skills with the next generation of innovators, scholars, and leaders. Our college is steadily focused on cultivating effective new techniques and technologies in teaching and research. We continue to make advancements on a number of fronts.

Student Success Collaborative

During the spring 2014 semester, three CAS units partnered with the Office of the Provost to serve as beta testers for a predictive academic advising tool. Using a decade of enrollment information and demographics, the Student Success Collaborative software can analyze academic trends and help identify at-risk students earlier in their college education. Faculty and staff in the School of Music, the Department of Psychology, and the School of Biological Sciences were impressed with the program’s customizable and flexible reporting features. The software will be made available to additional academic units this fall.

Smith Teaching and Learning Grants

The 2014 Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning grants were awarded in August and included eight CAS faculty projects in six disciplines. These outstanding teachers are taking the initiative to incorporate new methodologies, design interactive materials, and enhance student learning.

Calculated Success

Studies have shown that the grade new students earn in their first college math course is a strong predictor of future academic success in STEM majors.

This past August, the Department of Mathematics offered a new summer program to help incoming undergraduate students prepare for their first quantitative course. Designated as Math 110, Calculated Success is an innovative two-credit program that brought students to campus two-weeks before the fall semester started for an intensive mathematics refresher. Using focused instruction and personalized tutoring, along with campus orientation activities and a healthy dose of study and time management techniques, students in this year’s pilot program significantly improved their math assessment scores and gained valuable confidence in their math skills. The department is looking at expanding the program to accommodate more students next fall.

High Enrollment Course Innovations

During the 2014 fall semester, the School of Biological Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Mathematics will be introducing innovative modes of learning into various high enrollment courses. With support from both the Office of the Provost and the college, each of these foundational academic units will be adding active and interactive elements to lecture and lab courses where many students have historically struggled. It is gratifying to see faculty taking the initiative to develop new modes of teaching for our students.

These four examples reflect the dedication and passion we all share for quality higher education and meaningful lifelong learning – and they are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. All across the college, our faculty, researchers, instructors, teaching assistants, and staff are engaged with students and making a difference in the future of our global society.