Saturday, October 26, 2013
Students tackling research for the first time may appreciate the effort East Carolina University librarian Katy Kavanagh puts toward engaging them in the task.
Kavanagh has updated Joyner Library online resources by integrating cartoons into undergraduate student research aids and tutorials. Research guides are Web pages that help students with research assignments. The guides include tutorials on research methods and the resources available through Joyner Library — both online or in books. Other, more specific guides help students conduct research in their intended career field or in topics related to their majors.
The idea to use cartoons began when Kavanagh attended a workshop about teaching with technology. The presenter suggested using avatars, or cartoon characters, to present an online persona to students. She took advantage of that notion and saw an opportunity with the research guides.
Kavanagh decided to develop a cast of cartoon characters to “breathe some life into [the research guides] and make it a little more interesting.” The cast is made up of distinct-looking cartoons with oversized heads who ask questions and offer help to each other while referencing the sources available at Joyner Library.
The colorful characters range from Jack Calico, “an ECU student who has not slept for several days,” to sassy ECU librarian Anne Bonny who sports a purple and gold outfit as she helps students in the Library 101 research guide.
ECU freshman Alexcia Hodge said Kavanagh achieved her goals. The research guides were able to hold her attention, she said, and the introductory session was beneficial.
“I feel like if we didn’t have that session, it probably would have hurt me because I would have found out about (a resource) later and now I can plan better,” Hodge said.
A majority of ECU students are introduced to the research guides and other free resources during English 1100 and 1200. English faculty bring their students to Joyner for an instruction course to show what is available and make them feel comfortable conducting research on their own.
Tracy Morse, director of composition in the Department of English, said the guides serve as a resource for students to generate ideas and provide guidance towards proper documentation.
“By asking students to engage in research early,” Morse said, “we are able to provide students a slower pace to complete the project … to help them understand good research methods.”
The guides tailor library resources to each student’s needs. Kavanagh said the online guide format allows distance education students to have equal exposure to library resources.
“We have so many online students. We like to give the people the same access to services, whether they live in Alaska or somebody who’s right here and can come in,” Kavanagh said.
Faculty members are invited to submit their courses to Kavanagh so that she and fellow librarians may create a research guide for specific courses. Kavanagh said librarians across the research services department work on the research guides in different disciplines.
ECU opens doors to STEM majors, careers for girls
Nearly 100 eighth grade girls from 12 Pitt County middle schools attended the fourth annual STEM Girls conference this month at ECU to learn more about majors and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It is our hope that this one-day conference can build excitement, enthusiasm and confidence in the young ladies who attend,” Evelyn Brown, engineering professor and member of the STEM Girls Advisory Board, said. “We hope they choose to pursue STEM degrees and careers, but more importantly, we want them to know that they have options and they have role models willing to help them.”
The STEM Girls conference aimed to engage girls in hands-on learning experiences. Attendees rotated through four activities where they studied material properties through can crushing, the supply chain management of Goldfish crackers and how the structure of flowers has adapted to attract and reward different pollinators. They also learned how to code and decode an encrypted message using mathematics.
ECU faculty and students volunteered their time to make the five-hour experience possible.
Junior Curren Blake, a mechanical engineering student, displayed the use of a rapid prototype printer, also known as a 3-D printer. The printer begins by reading a computer-aided design drawing and then uses successive layers of material to build up a physical model from a series of cross sections. The layers are then joined together automatically to create the final three-dimensional product.
Blake made a bracelet in front of the girls using the printer, while explaining how she came to choose engineering as her college major.
Casey Sokolovic, a junior at D.H. Conley High School, spoke to the girls about her involvement and work with the nonprofit, conservation-oriented Love a Sea Turtle Foundation.
Middle school teachers and counselors selected the STEM girls who attended. As one counselor noted, the girls have shown an interest in math or science, are self-motivated or have the potential to be inspired by the event.
The annual event was a collaborative effort between ECU’s College of Technology and Computer Science, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, including the Center for STEM Education.
Partnership encourages wireless tech development
The ECU Office of Technology Transfer has announced a partnership with the Wireless Research Center of North Carolina, an agreement that will encourage ECU researchers to develop and commercialize wireless technology.
The agreement offers the university access to WRCNC’s wireless test laboratories, along with the expertise of WRCNC staff.
“This collaboration will heighten the quality of technologies emerging from our university,” interim director of technology transfer Mark Foley said, “improving the opportunity for products in the computing, medical, defense, materials or energy fields to reach the market.”
Two ECU research projects are receiving immediate benefit. Gregg Givens, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Jason Yao, associate professor in the Department of Engineering, are incorporating wireless communication into a system designed to perform remote hearing tests. Carmen Russoniello, professor and director of ECU’s Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Lab, uses wireless technology in the collection of biofeedback related to stress, resiliency and the rehabilitation of veterans returning from combat.
“This partnership is about collaboration, incubation and economic development in North Carolina,” Dr. Gerard Hayes, CEO and president of the WRCNC, said. “We are excited to help where the creation of unique, patentable intellectual property will allow ECU projects to become commercially viable.”
- Wednesday: ECU alumnus BB&T chairman and CEO Kelly King, 3:30 p.m., Wright Auditorium. Hosted by the College of Business’ Leadership and Professional Development Program. Free and open to the public. Contact Anne Fisher at email@example.com or 328-6377.
via The Daily Reflector.