September 2013

iSU iPad Initiative

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Better engaging students and improving testing integrity are two of the main goals being pursued using computer tablets at the Idaho State University College of Arts & Letters.

The College now has seven carts; each outfitted with more than a dozen iPads that are linked together and can be wheeled into classrooms and testing areas for use by students and faculty. The new computer tablets went into use the first day of the fall semester in select classes.

Students in the College of Arts & Letters use the iPads as part of an initiative to transform teaching and learning and give students the technology skills they need for the future. Computer tablets were introduced on the first day of the semester in select classes with plans for future computer tablet roll outs as funds are available.

"Using computer tablets and maximizing their effectiveness as teaching tools will result in greater engagement for students," said Kandi Turley-Ames, Dean of the ISU College of Arts & Letters. "This new technology will allow flexibility and access for students." In order to use computer tablets most effectively to transform teaching and learning, faculty and administrators participated in Professional Development workshops and will continue to monitor and learn about the use of mobile technologies as a tool to enriching the overall learning and teaching experience.

As the use of such technology has grown, testing integrity has become more challenging on the national and global stage.

Traditional, online and online-classroom hybrid classes can all benefit by increased testing integrity. For now, the tablets will be used in traditional classroom settings to increase testing integrity, but in the future they may be used in the hybrid classes, and some online classes could require students to come to campus to take tests. The new computer tablets will allow the College to have secure testing sites in many locations on campus, as well as at branch campuses, if the program expands as planned. There are also more than 70,000 educational applications available for the computer tablets.

Computer tablets are proving popular in the ISU College of Arts & Letters' classes where they have been introduced this fall. Political Science Assistant Professor Jeffrey Callen said he was excited about the potential computer tablets have for contributing to the education of students in the Masters of Public Administration Program. "The vision of the mobile technology is that it will enable us to focus on the experience of learning," Callen said. "Increasingly, our students need more technological skills. The best way to teach them is to just have them use it - not just to teach a class on its use, but engrain in them how to use it." For example, in Callen's MPA class on administrative process he is teaching this fall, students will use new computer tablets and theories of responsible government and active citizenry to shoot and edit video to create a public service announcement instead of just learning the theories abstractly.

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"The computer tablets present a unique opportunity to facilitate classroom instruction, as well as student interaction, assessment and feedback beyond traditional expository lectures, group discussion, and paper-based testing," said Justin Stover, ISU history lecturer who is using computer tablets this fall to teach the class "HIST 2291: The Historian's Craft." Stover said his classroom instruction will be supplemented by computer applications that re-enforce the course's required texts. In addition, his students can use tablets for note taking, and both Stover and Callen mentioned the devices have quality apps for giving and grading interactive quizzes and tests. Stover said there are numerous other applications available that he'll use to engage and excite students in his classroom.

"I have really enjoyed having the iPads in class," said Jessica McBean, a senior taking a Public Policy Analysis class this fall. "I believe they are helping to modernize our classroom and inform students about new technology."

Dean Turley-Ames and other faculty also believe that computer tablets can be used to better develop online curricula and provide better testing integrity. The ISU College of Arts & Letters has increased the number of online courses it offers by 267 percent over the past two years.

The College of Arts & Letters has created a fund to purchase more computer tablets for students. "We anticipate the increase in student participation to continue, and the need for additional computer tablets is essential for this growth to occur," said Heidi Jarvis-Grimes, Director of Development for the College of Arts & Letters and Strategic University Initiatives. "Your support will benefit students immediately." To participate in the program contact Jarvis at 208-282-5362 or More information on the program is also available at

Spotlight on Bobbette Wilhelm

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On October 4th, Bobbi Wilhelm (BS Economics, 2002) receives the prestigious ISU Young Alumni Award, which was established in 2012 to recognize and honor alumni from the past decade for the exceptional achievements in their career, public service, and/or volunteerism. "Bobbi was a no-brainer for the award this year. She's amazing, and we're thrilled she accepted the award," said KC Felt, Executive Director, office of Alumni Relations.

Bobbi has spent the last eight years working for Puget Sound Energy were she is responsible for managing energy efficiency evaluation projects and the associated cost benefit analyses. The results of her work have been presented regionally, nationally, and internationally.

But anyone who has spent some time with Bobbi knows she is a spiritual being, drawing energy and inspiration from her friends and surroundings. She is one of those rare individuals who toil away at fixing the planet one little piece at a time, stopping on occasion to quietly reflect upon the achievements she has sowed thus far. It is noteworthy that she most wants to be defined by her actions, and draws personal satisfaction from her accomplishments.

When asked what she is most proud of, Bobbi acknowledges, "I've gained a lot of regional respect for my work on improving evaluation standards for efficiency, I've gained a lot of respect in the region for my work in energy." But, the achievement she is most proud of was working with eight street kids who couldn not pass their GED because of the math portion. On her own time, Bobbi began tutoring them, and after four months, they were all able to pass their GED. Looking back on the experience, "the students showed up to class every day, and they worked really hard," Bobbi said.

Bobbi grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, her family having moved to the region generations ago. Bobbi admits, "I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of staying in Pocatello to go to school. But, ISU was inexpensive and didn't require me to take out student loans." An internship in Washington, D.C. the summer after her freshman year clinched her decision. While there she enrolled in classes at Georgetown, but they paled in rigor and interest to the challenges offered by the Economics program at ISU. She chose to stay with ISU.

What Bobbi appreciates most about ISU is that it is a place where every student's education receives equal value and commitment from faculty, regardless of the starting point or the end game. Reflecting on the nontraditional students enrolled at ISU, Bobbi noted, "I love that I was in a place where students from all ages, academic backgrounds, and life experiences learned side-by-side. And I love that ISU looks at students for their potential to succeed; not the apples their past has handed them."

In addition to her academics, Bobbi was in a Presidential Internship at ISU with the University Honors Program. When asked how the experiences at ISU helped shape her life and career, Bobbi replied, "I learned how to be a problem solver. I learned where to go to find answers, how to focus and organize, define clear goals, how to collaborate and work collaboratively."

In 2004, Bobbi left Idaho for the state of Washington where she has experienced a bloom in her career in the area of energy efficiency programs to help sustain and give back to the planet. Yet, she's the first to admit deep rooted ties to Idaho, and ISU. She shared, "I love that university. My closest friends, to this day, are the people I met at ISU. They are the people I spend holidays with, the people I share life's joys and hardships with, and ultimately the people I plan to spend my retirement years traveling with and visiting with."

Interviewed by alumnus Rick Schroder

Introducing the James E. Rogers Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion

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The name of the James E. Rogers Department of Mass Communication has been changed to reflect the recent combination of programs from Mass Communication and from Communication and Rhetorical Studies. The new name of the merged department is the James E. Rogers Department of Communication, Media, and Persuasion. Before the merger, the two departments had been working together under a single chair since July 2011.

The faculty members from the two departments have been working for the past two years to develop curricular revisions that will better integrate theoretical knowledge and technical skills, thereby enabling students to benefit from a modern integrated approach to the study of communication. The curricular revisions have been proposed for the 2014-15 catalog.

Many area media leaders were consulted about the anticipated integration of curricula. They expressed the belief that this model would enable the existing programs to be more dynamic and better able to meet the changing workforce needs in the communication field. These needs are especially important in today's global society because of the changing nature of communication in an electronic age. Alumni from programs in both departments were also consulted, and they were enthusiastic about the combination based on their own post-graduation work experiences.

The faculty members involved in the consolidation have been committed to creating an integrated, dynamic undergraduate educational experience that is connected to industry demands, stimulates creative and critical faculties, and is marketable in an age of employment uncertainty. Faculty members also work to advance research agendas that contribute to our understanding of communication in a variety of areas and industries.

New Major Created in Spanish for Health Professions

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The State Board of Education has approved an innovative and interdisciplinary major, Spanish for the Health Professions, and a related graduate certification. The major combines courses from the College of Arts & Letters and the Division of Health Sciences to create a flexible, hybrid degree designed to increase graduate marketability in many areas and to better serve the health care needs of our state, region, and country. This new B.A. major and graduate certificate benefit a large portion of our student population, providing students in liberal arts/language, social sciences, and health professions with additional credentials and expertise as they pursue employment in which a high level of language competency, cultural proficiency and translation, and/or interpretation skills are required or highly desirable, or as they seek admission to post-secondary programs in the health professions.

This new major has three core areas of instruction: the Language Core, Health Professions Core, and Culture Core. The Language Core is designed to increase student proficiency in Spanish and is designed according to American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language standards; courses are taught by faculty who are also qualified medical interpreter/translators. The Culture Core addresses diversity and cultural competency; several departments in the College of Arts & Letters provide courses that meet the requirements for this part of the degree. The health professions core is provided by the Division of Health Sciences. Our assessments in the three cores of instruction are designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in all areas and to have their proficiency be a significant, tangible contribution to their degree. Language course work prepares students for the Medical Interpreter Qualification course and exam, an area of excellence for ISU. Our students have a 100% pass rate for the last three years!

ISU's major in Spanish for the Health Professions is one-of-a-kind in higher education. ISU students have already been taking advantage of the courses available through traditional, distance, hybrid, and online delivery as well as internship opportunities. ISU Physician Assistant students added Spanish for Physician Assistants as an elective to their programming three years ago. The second-year undergraduate sequence, SPAN 2210-2211, Spanish for Health Professions I, II, is available on all ISU campuses. Students from many parts of the state have taken advantage of the SPAN 4495/5595 hybrid Special Topics Courses, delivered by a combination of online course work and on-site. State-wide instruction with hands-on assessments means quite a bit of time on the road for the instructors, but they are happy to do it!

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Spanish for the Health Professions has a new website which, among other things, has information available regarding the curriculum, a list of fall courses, placement information, and, for advanced or native-speaking students, credit by exam options. If you or your students have questions, check out our website at or please contact Dr. Helen Cathleen Tarp at or Dr. Anna Hiller at or call the Languages and Literatures office at 282-3630.


English Develops Team for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

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In December 2012, the International Programs Office expressed concerns about poor student performance by some international students in English composition courses. Consequently, the Department of English and Philosophy worked with the College of Arts & Letters and the Student Success Center to develop a "Proposal for Programming to Meet the English and Cultural Proficiency Needs of At-Risk International Students." The proposal addressed two issues: First, many international students were coming to Idaho State University with English proficiency low enough that their performance in even our remedial course, English 0090, was insufficient for their entry into the credit-bearing English composition course series. Second, this situation was compounded through the differences between their cultures and American culture, especially in educational system expectations such as attendance, regularity of assignments, and academic honesty.

Recruiting international students and successfully incorporating them into both the intellectual and the community life of the university is part of Idaho State University's mission to "provide leadership to enrich the future in a diverse, global society." Recent international recruiting efforts have been very successful, bringing in hundreds of new students each year. To address these students' needs, the department proposed a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) team of two lecturers and one graduate teaching assistant to enable the department to offer multiple sections of its existing English 1100 course, "Introduction to Academic Writing and Speaking for Non-Native Speakers of English." Previously, the course had been offered in only one section per semester.

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In Fall 2013, the department was able to follow through on these plans by hiring two highly-qualified and experienced Assistant Lecturers in English to fill the TESOL positions, Paula Hillis and Janna Graham. Hillis has her M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language from University of Washington and 30 years of experience teaching English as a Second Language in Spain and the USA. Graham has an M.A. in English with a TESOL certificate from Idaho State University. She has 13 years of experience as a teacher and tutor with emphasis on working with adult and non-native English learners. Hillis and Graham will be joined in the TESOL Team by Corinna Barrett, an English M.A./TESOL certificate student who is in her second year of study at Idaho State University, and they will work closely with Sue Akersten of the Student Success Center.

In addition to teaching several sections of English 1100, the TESOL team will have a number of important programmatic responsibilities. Successfully offering English 1100 in multiple sections will require developing learning objectives and guidelines for the course. The team will also assess the course's impact throughout the fall semester. On the basis of that assessment, the department will develop a Curriculum Council proposal for the course's redesign as a co-requisite or pre-requisite in the English composition series. This curricular redesign will have to be responsive not just to international student needs but also to the State Board of Education's on-going review of remedial education. The department also plans to offer a TESOL workshop for university instructors, and, finally, the TESOL team will also direct undergraduate English majors, funded as Career Path Interns, in leading English Cafes at which international students can practice speaking English.

4th Annual Marching Arts Academy Held

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The Idaho State Athletic Bands recently sponsored their 4th annual Marching Arts Academy (MAA) the week of July 15, 2013. The first camp four years ago (then called The ISU Marching Band Leadership Camp), started strong with 125 students and four guest clinicians who specialized in teaching drum majors, marching percussion, color guard and leadership. Two years later, the camp was expanded and rebranded, as Marching Arts Academy, to broaden its appeal to band directors statewide and in neighboring states. As part of the rebranding, a partnership with Yamaha Corporation was formed to include their nationwide Sounds of Summer Percussion program as part of the Marching Arts Academy program. This brought immediate recognition and positive positioning to the Academy.

This past summer, MAA had over 210 high school and university students and 17 clinicians comprised of ISU faculty, Yamaha performing artists, and guest clinicians from across the nation. In addition to the original program offerings, the MAA now includes a wind performance track with specialized instruction on every instrument, a physical fitness component where students learn proper conditioning and nutrition as it relates to the marching activity, and a band director program where directors can earn credit through the ISU continuing education program.

By providing a top rated experience on the ISU campus, MAA is attracting future ISU students across every discipline. So far, the response from students and directors has been phenomenal, and we are now starting to see more familiar faces from the MAA on campus each fall. In a survey at the end of the camp, a few comments from students really captured what the camp is all about.

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"I came expecting drill and music and left with leadership and pride!"

"Thank you SO much! This camp was so much more than I really did expect. The instructors were amazing and it was a very positive learning experience."

"I've never had a better experience! It was fun, but at the same time I learned so much, and I can't wait to go back home and teach the rest of the band what I learned."

"Most people I know didn't really think of me as a leader. This camp helped change that, I think. Not only will I be a better section leader, but this also taught me the value of teamwork."

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