Listening to Their Voices: What do regular and special education students tell
us about their experiences in learning science?
Time and Place: September 12, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
This Shop Talk reports on a phenomenological study of nine
regular and special education students as they studied insect biology and
ecology in their inclusive seventh grade life science class. Three fundamental
data collection methods of qualitative research (student observations,
interviews and artifact analysis) framed the data collection of this study.
Hermeneutic phenomenological analysis (Van Manen, 1990) and the seven-step
framework from Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2000) were used to systematically
analyze the data. The results of the data analysis reveal three main findings.
The first speaks to some of the contextual features (for example working with
others or using external cues) of the science classroom that serve to support
the learning of the seventh grade students, both regular and special education,
as they navigate in life science. The second major finding exposes some of the
anxiety and the challenges that are part of the lived experiences of the
students as they studied monarch biology and ecology in their seventh grade
inclusive science classroom. The third major finding, the practice of inquiry
learning in science is fragile, represents the complexity of teaching all
students science. Listening to their voices serves to “prime” us to consider and
value their perspectives as we make decisions as teachers (both special
education and regular education), teacher educators and administrators.
Time and Place: October 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
Title: Beyond Wikipedia: Exploring a Research
Agenda in Information Literacy
Time and Place: October 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
Sometimes the encounter feels like déjà vu: “I need three articles for my
paper,” the student says. “Okay, why don’t you tell me more about what you’re
looking for?” the librarian asks. The subsequent discussion at the Reference
Desk reveals that the student really does just want three articles about a
certain topic, regardless of whether or not they are the most appropriate
sources for the student’s thesis. In this exchange, information has become a
discreet commodity and the research process divorced from a sense of stepping
into the unknown to see what’s there.
Although the term “information literacy” is not itself particularly
descriptive and could easily be an empty buzzword, the concept is essential:
teaching students to apply critical thinking skills to all of their encounters
with information, whether in writing a research paper or reading the latest
news headlines. Being information literate is not an inherent talent but a set
of skills that needs to be developed. Ideally, well-developed information
literacy skills challenge students to move beyond Wikipedia to wrestle with
the broader world of information.
In this Shop Talk I will present the results of two studies that investigate
Gustavus students’ attitudes and beliefs about their own research skills, as
well as outline the results of a larger survey of the information literacy
skills first year students bring to campus. Additionally, I will highlight
ongoing Library initiatives to better teach and assess student research skills
and behaviors, all the while exploring what it means to pursue a research
agenda in information literacy.
Tom Huber (Physics)
Title: Vibration of Small Objects using
Ultrasound Radiation Force
Time and Place: November 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
There are many applications in science and engineering that require measuring
the resonance frequencies of small mechanical structures. However, one
problem with most conventional excitation techniques is that they require
physical contact between the object and some sort of a mechanical shaker. Our
group at Gustavus has been collaborating with groups from the Mayo Clinic and
Purdue University to develop a non-contact method that uses interference of
ultrasound frequencies in air to produce excitation of structures. This
has been used to excite resonances of devices ranging from the reed in a pipe
organ to an atomic force microscope microcantilever that is 1/3 mm long and
about the a quarter of the width of a human hair.
Title: Food in the Classroom: The Roles of Food
in the Academic Program of a Liberal Arts College
Time and Place: November 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm in
the Interpretive Center
Why should a liberal arts college make food a subject of serious
examination? Would a greater focus on food “fill out” the liberal arts
curriculum in identifiable or important ways (trivium, quadrivium…quintivium??)?
What sorts of roles does it—or might it—play in academic coursework: Central
organizing principle? Main topic of discussion? Example or illustration? Social
Questions such as these may once have prompted dismissive sniffs from pure
“liberal artists,” fearful that direct contact with anything so quotidian and
embodied as food or agriculture would track manure into the ivory tower. Today,
however, such questions prompt liberal arts faculty members to engage in
spontaneous flights of course design, or—surprisingly often—to respond with
detailed descriptions of their existing coursework, in which food already
features prominently. These contemporary “liberal artisans” show, unequivocally,
that food already does play a role in the liberal arts curriculum.
For two years, I have investigated some of the roles food plays in the academic
program of Gustavus. I worked with two student researchers to interview
twenty-one colleagues from all divisions of the college. We found tremendous
variety, creativity, and depth in the ways faculty incorporated food (both
subject and substance) into their coursework. What we found both impressed and
excited us; in some cases, it astonished even the interviewees themselves.
Indeed, I found a kind of invisibility to much of their work. The ways in which
faculty used food in their courses were often imperceptible to the faculty
members themselves. It became clear to all three researchers that food is indeed
“hiding in plain sight” in our academic program. As a result of these
interviews, I am led to speculate that more intentional and self-conscious uses
of food in the academic program could actually deepen, strengthen and
distinguish this college’s liberal arts focus.
Title: Who is the golem and why is he
looming in post-Holocaust fiction?
Time and Place: February 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
The golem legend goes all the way back to the Book of Psalms and
has manifestations in Jewish mysticism, in legends surrounding 16th century
Rabbi Loew of Prague, and in early 20th century German fiction and film.
Surprisingly, the golem has reappeared in many recent novels by Jewish-American
writers about the Shoah. Why writers have turned to this historic Jewish hero
will be the subject of this talk.
Title: The German Christians in Print,
Time and Place: March 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
One of the most troubling chapters in the history of Christianity involves the
so-called German Christians, a movement that welcomed Hitler's ascent to power
and sought to wed Christianity to National Socialism. In pamphlets, radio
addresses, even liturgies, members of this movement articulated their desire
to eradicate all traces of Judaism from Christianity, as well as their
positions on Luther, the Old Testament, the church and the (Nazi) state,
Jesus, war, and Hitler. I have tracked down extant German Christian
publications from the 1930s and am currently translating a representative
selection into English. Together with introductions and explanatory
footnotes, these translated materials will comprise a reader for students and
scholars of 20th-century German history, the Holocaust, Christian theology,
etc. This Shop Talk will provide a brief overview of this movement and
my translation project.
Undergraduate research in aquatic conservation
Time and Place: April 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
More than just planting trees and outlawing hunting, modern
environmental stewardship requires interdisciplinary efforts in an economic and
sociological context. We will explore three local projects where young
professionals can contribute new information useful for managing streams. At the
same time, such projects provide opportunities for career mentoring and
incorporating research into the classroom.
Title: Molecular origami: Stories of protein
Time and Place: April 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive
Proteins are long, linear chains of amino acids that must fold into a specific
and intricate three-dimensional structure in order to perform their biological
functions. The folding process is surprisingly fastit is as if you could
crumple up sheets of paper quickly in your fist and produce a perfect origami
crane every time. I am particularly interested in the folding of
proteins that contain metal atoms. For these proteins, assembly of the metal
site(s) within the protein adds a level of complexity to the folding process.
On the other hand, metal-protein bonds help template the protein folding
process. In this talk, I will discuss results from my explorations of
the complex energy landscape of protein folding.
Title: Haiku and Haiku in Germany
Time and Place: May 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm in the
This report will, after a short introduction to haiku and haiku life in Japan,
show how haiku made its way into the German language area, and will attempt to
analyze and categorize different "movements" that try to establish haiku as
part of the life of present day German literature. It will also offer some
comparison between German haiku life and haiku life in the U.S.
The Shop Talk coordinator (Paul
Saulnier) would like to solicit
abstracts for the Shop Talk series. These 20-30 minute presentations allow Gustavus
scholars to share their original research/art and enthusiasm. A title, brief abstract (electronic
format), and A/V requirements should be sent to Paul (PSAUL@GUSTAVUS.EDU).
If the current Shop Talk schedule does not have any vacancies do not
hesitate to contact Paul to reserve a future date (a waiting list is maintained).