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Archive for the ‘academics’ Category

Students enrolled in the Spring 2014 Field Biology of Florida course at St. Petersburg College spend time at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

SPC students in the Spring 2014 Field Biology of Florida course spend time at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

For students enrolled in Jennifer Fernandes’ field biology class, their classroom is everywhere and class activities involve everything from snorkeling reefs in Key Largo to collecting scorpions in the woods.

In SPC’s Field Biology of Florida class (BSC 2250C), hands-on learning is the instructional method of choice. Students spend only the first day in an actual classroom – the rest of their semester is spent in idyllic outdoor environments across the state.

SPC students enrolled in Field Biology of Florida study the relative abundance of plant species using different transect methods.

Students study the relative abundance of plant species using different transect methods.

“Field Biology is taught in a different format than most courses in that all of our lectures are done in the field all over Florida,” said Fernandes, Assistant Professor of Biology who has been teaching the class at the Tarpon Springs Campus since Fall 2010.

While looking for a way to engage her students in active student learning and success, she recognized that students learn best when they get their hands dirty. So she opted to take her instruction out of the classroom and into the environments they would be studying.

“It’s been helpful to really get a hands-on experience way of learning,” said Andrew Hamblin, 28, a public safety administration student who transferred from Hillsborough Community College in time for the Spring 2014 term. He thinks learning from direct experience is more effective than traditional learning because Fernandes is able to point out specifics in terminology and processes rather than just having students read from a book.

“You can see what is written on paper but you can’t really understand how it works in the same way,” Hamblin said.

Class field trips vary in content and location depending on the time of year and weather. The spring term often includes weekend camping trips while summer offers snorkeling and winter brings manatees to study.

“In this type of setting, every single student is engaged and they’re all interested in learning because of the different modality,” said Fernandes, who wanted to create a course that would make science interesting for majors and non-majors alike.

Since taking learning outside the classroom, students have journeyed to:

  • Crystal River
  • Rainbow Springs
  • Honeymoon Island State Park
  • Caladesi Island State Park
  • Weedon Island Preserve
  • Highlands Hammock State Park
  • Turtle Hospital
  • Little Manatee River State Park
  • Kissimmee River Restoration
  • Wekiwa Springs State Park
  • Hillsborough River
  • John Chesnut Sr. Park
Students in the Summer 2014 course during a snorkel trip to Rainbow Springs, where they learned about aquifer and spring ecology.

Students in the Summer 2014 course during a snorkel trip to Rainbow Springs, where they learned about aquifer and spring ecology.

During local trips, students carpool to local parks and preserves. For more distant trips, SPC transports students in college vans to locations like Key Largo, Everglades National Park and Topsail Hill State Preserve.

“This class definitely put all of us students in areas that we were able to better understand what we were being taught in regards to the ecology, the plants and animals, and the different natures of the areas that we visited,” Hamblin said.

Students also engage in active learning through volunteer work, like collecting scorpions for research and creating oyster domes for Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to habitat restoration and protection.

“This way they have a different idea of what science truly is,” Fernandes said. “It’s not something that’s boring. They understand it’s actually very hands-on every day, and it helps them make better decisions in life.”

Because of the logistics involved with teaching the course, the class size is capped at 20 students. An additional benefit of this smaller setting means students work more closely with fellow students and develop better working relationships with their peers.

“Every semester, the students absolutely love the class,” said Fernandes. “The biggest things they say is that they learn so much more than they would in a regular classroom setting; that they actually retain the information and develop friendships in a class that they would never have done before.”

Hamblin enjoys the camaraderie he experiences in the class.

“When you do other classes, typically you’re just there to do the work and you don’t associate with many of the other students,” he said. “However, this class really kind of brings that all together where you’re talking and discussing all the subjects with all the students.”

“We’re all communicating and helping one another out and having a great time together,” he said.

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In a column for the June/July issue of the Community College Journal, SPC President Bill Law offers best practices on how colleges can improve student performance and retention. Touting the experience and results from implementing the “game-changing” The College Experience: Student Success at SPC, Law credits students, faculty and staff for making it work.

Check out details, reports and videos about The College Experience: Student Success on our new website at www.spcollege.edu/collegeexperience.
Or visit the site created for students at www.collegeexperience.com

“Eighteen months into this effort, I couldn’t be prouder of what our students, faculty and staff have accomplished together by being intensely focused on our goals and working together across the organization to analyze what works while making continuous adjustments for improvement,” said Law, in the journal’s Lessons in Leadership section. “It is clear that the day-to-day, boots-on-the-ground, ‘try it, fix it, live it’ approach is working for our students.”

ccj coverLaw’s efforts to improve student success and retention were prompted by a common malady at community colleges: Far too few students finishing their courses with a C or better and low student success rates in the 10 most highly enrolled courses, considered the gateway to an associate degree. SPC’s dismal success rates among minorities mirrored those at state and national levels, and Law found them unacceptable.

In 2012, he instituted The College Experience: Student Success to keep the college focused on giving students the support they need to earn the degree or certificate that will change their lives. Those efforts are paying off, as SPC students, particularly minority males, have improved their academic performance and are returning from one semester to the next to complete their degree.

The Community College Journal is a publication of the American Association of Community Colleges, the primary advocacy organization for community colleges at the national level. AACC supports and promotes its member colleges through policy initiatives, innovative programs, research and information and strategic outreach to business and industry and the national news media.

Read the article.

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Students in the Advanced Videography class in the Digital Media program have collaborated with local PBS affiliate, WEDU, to produce content for the Emmy award-winning series, WEDU Arts Plus.

SPC’s digital media students produced four stories on local arts and cultural initiatives around Tampa Bay. One segment featured 3 Daughters Brewery in St. Petersburg, a family-owned business that focuses on the art of making craft beer while instilling a family-oriented atmosphere.

“SPC’s partnership with PBS has allowed me to understand how the production industry really works,” said Marina Prospelova, SPC Digital Media student. “To have the opportunity to produce content that airs throughout the entire country was beyond any traditional class experience, beyond my expectations!”

“This most recent project is just another extension of the partnership we’ve formed with SPC,” said Jack Conely, Vice President of Content at WEDU. “Being able to provide the students with real-world experience they can add to their resumes is invaluable and in turn we’re able to showcase our local arts community. We are continually impressed with the quality of work these students produce each semester and look forward to many more projects with SPC.”

The SPC-produced segments will run throughout July. Watch them on WEDU and SPC-TV every Tuesday at 8 p.m. or online at www.WEDU.org/artsplus

Interested in the digital media industry? Check out our Associate in Science Digital Arts, Media and Interactive Web Design degree program.

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To help drive enrollment in the Fall 2014 semester, SPC will host a series of four information sessions this month. At the sessions, potential students can register for classes, which begin Aug. 18, and can:

  • Speak with faculty and advisors
  • Speak with students in the programs
  • Learn about course offerings
  • Explore career options
  • Learn about program expectations

July info sessions

Public Policy and Administration

Tuesday, July 8, 5:30-7 p.m.

This bachelor’s degree program gives students a strong foundation in policy formulation, implementation and analysis.

Learn more about the Public Policy Administration degree program.

Elite Educator

Thursday, July 10, 5:30-7 p.m. and Thursday, July 31, 5:30-7 p.m.

As a partnership between St. Petersburg College and Pinellas County Schools, this program provides graduates with a paid internship and job with PCS when they successfully complete the program.

Learn more about the new Elite Educator program.

Orthotics and Prosthetics

Monday, July 14, 4-6 p.m.

Learn about new certificate and degree programs offered at the College of Orthotics and Prosthetics, including the first and only associate degree for orthotic and prosthetic technicians in Florida.

Learn more about the new Orthotics and Prosthetics Associate in Science degree program.

College of Computer & Information Technology

Thursday, July 31, 5:30-7 p.m.

Learn more about the certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees offered by the College of Computer & Information Technology (CCIT).

Find out more details about CCIT.

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St. Petersburg College has received national recognition for making significant strides in its effort to increase minority student enrollment and success.

SPC made the list as No. 83 in the Top 100 Four-Year Colleges and Universities Enrollment Undergraduate Degrees by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine in May 2014.

The move to increase Hispanic student enrollment at SPC is underway in light of the recent passage of House Bill 851, more commonly known as the immigrant tuition bill. The bill allows Florida colleges and universities to waive out-of-state fees for undocumented immigrants who attended state high schools.

Stan Vittetoe, Provost at the SPC Clearwater Campus, said the Hispanic population is underserved.

“They make up more than 20 percent of the Clearwater population but represent only 10 percent of our enrollment,” he said.

In 2012, SPC launched The College Experience, a major initiative to increase student success and graduations. While the plan is producing positive results, the greatest advances have been among African-American and Hispanic males.

“All of the components in The College Experience have a demonstrated impact on the success rates of students, particularly minority students,” Vittetoe said.

In addition to these institutional initiatives, the college also is reaching out to the international community, including Hispanics, in a variety of other ways. The most recent outreach activity was the FIFA World Cup viewing party at the Clearwater Campus on June 17. More than 100 community members attended the free event, which was open to SPC students, staff and members of the public.

“We think that these kinds of events will help members of the Hispanic community become aware of the campus and the educational opportunities here,” Vittetoe said.

Success among minority students

Success Among Minority Students infographic

Narrowing the Achievement Gap

A comparison of First-Time-in-College male ethnicities shows that the achievement gap between key ethnic groups at SPC is narrowing.

Narrowing the Gap infographic

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SPC will host a celebration recognizing the work of state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, on a tuition equity bill that allows children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. The event is scheduled for June 24 at 10 a.m. at SPC’s Clearwater Campus Ethics & Social Science Building, Room 104.

Latvala and Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, sponsored the hotly debated bill, which had been introduced in various versions in the Legislature since 2003. On June 9, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, which potentially saves students an annual average of $15,278 at state universities and $6,438 at Florida colleges, according to a legislative analysis. The in-state tuition rate is about one-quarter the amount paid by non-Florida residents.

To qualify for the waiver of out-of-state fees, undocumented immigrants and others must have attended a Florida secondary school for at least three straight years before graduating. They then have 24 months to apply to a college.

New and current SPC students with questions about the impact of the new legislation can contact a student advisor. Students can work through the college’s normal intake processes to establish residency for tuition purposes. Required documentation will include a Florida high school transcript reflecting three consecutive years’ attendance and proof of graduation within the past two years.

SPC will honor Latvala for his efforts on the new legislation at the college’s Clearwater Campus, the same location where he announced in February that he would sponsor the bill. Speakers will include SPC President Bill Law and SPC Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe. SPC students and alumni will attend and discuss how the law will impact them and their families.

Student success has been a top priority for administrators and staff at SPC and recent data shows those efforts are paying off. For the past three spring semesters, success rates for students in all courses have increased. Gains among first-time-in-college students are more dramatic, with African-American and Hispanic/Latino males making the greatest academic improvements.

Comparing data from Spring 2012 to this year’s spring semester, success rates were up by 15.8 percent for Hispanic/Latino males. The rate for African-American males climbed 16 percent during the same timeframe. The college has tracked a narrowing or elimination of the gap between success rates for these student ethnic groups compared to white students.

SPC is ranked within the top 100 colleges and universities for the enrollment of Hispanic students in undergraduate programs, according to information from The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine.

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For the third year in a row, students at St. Petersburg College have improved their academic performance, validating the college’s efforts to help students finish what they start and succeed.

For the past three years, SPC has focused on improving student success rates, defined as earning a grade of A, B or C in a course. During that time, success rates for all students in all courses for the spring semester have increased slightly, from 73.4% to 74.9%.

The rates for First-Time-in-College students, however, are much more telling, and reflect the efforts the college has made to help students thrive. Traditionally, FTIC students have struggled and dropped their classes more often than other students.

While overall success rates for FTIC students dipped slightly from last year, they have climbed 5% from spring 2012. Rates for minority males rose even higher over the past three semesters, affirming the college’s approach.

For African-American males, success rates jumped from 42% in spring 2012 to 58% this spring. For Hispanic males, the success rate rose from 53% to 68%.

In developmental education courses, the results are even more dramatic, despite the fact that SPC can no longer require many students to take these college preparatory courses. Last year, the state Legislature barred colleges from requiring a placement test or college prep courses of students who were in ninth grade in a Florida public school in 2003 or later and who subsequently graduated with a standard high school diploma from a Florida public school or who are currently active military.

Since spring 2012, success rates for all SPC students taking developmental courses grew 9%. For African-American males, that number jumped 24% from 38% to 62%. For Hispanic males, success rates grew 23%, from 51% to 74% from spring 2012 to spring 2014.

“These are pretty impressive gains, so we know the initiatives we have in place are working,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants. “Especially in developmental education, the deans and faculty in these areas did a lot of work to make sure we had new strategies.”

Those college readiness strategies include the following tools that SPC students can take advantage of:

FTIC SuccessRates

 

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Bay Pines Learning Center

St. Petersburg College will receive $2.5 million this year from the state to complete its Bay Pines Learning Center, a hands-on science learning complex adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Pinellas County. The funding was included in Florida’s $77 billion budget, which the Florida Legislature passed May 2 and Gov. Rick Scott signed on Monday.

The Learning Center will provide undergraduate research opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for students, professional development for faculty and teachers and an engaging outlet for the community to interact with and participate in science.

“This will be a completely new environment for studying environmental and marine science,” said John Chapin, Dean of Natural Science at SPC. “This environment will get people excited about science. It’s designed to raise enthusiasm about the natural world and further studies in science, not just among our students, but all students, including elementary, middle and high schoolers.”

The project received $2.5 million from the legislature last year, which helped cover planning and permitting. The $5 million project will eventually include:

  • A traditional classroom building that can be divided into two rooms. Each classroom space will support both class and laboratory activities.
  • A building to house ongoing, independent student research projects
  • A multi-purpose building with capacity for 100 participants

Facilities also will include a docking area for small boats, a terrace and an area with saltwater tanks for unloading and cleaning specimens.

The center will better prepare teachers in STEM areas by offering certificates, in-service training and summer institutes to teachers, teaching assistants and administrators. It also aims to increase scientific literacy and life-long learning in science among students and community members.

Officials hope that by offering summer camps for middle and high school students, a venue for science fairs, and citizen science projects, students and their families will connect with nature and science.

STEM education is crucial, as those who work in these fields drive innovation, generate technological advances and play a key role in the growth and stability of the U.S. economy. Over the next ten years, these areas are expected to create 1.2 million jobs, but American business owners are increasingly concerned about a shortage of qualified workers for them.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration:

  • 7 of the 10 projected fastest-growing occupations over the next 10 years will be in STEM fields
  • STEM occupations have grown 8 percent in the last 10 years (2000-2010) and are expected to grow twice as fast (17 percent) in the next 10 years, compared to 9.8 percent for non-STEM occupations.
  • 16 of the 25 highest-paying jobs in 2010 required STEM preparation
  • STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM peers.
  • A vast majority (80 percent) of jobs in the next decade will require technology skills.

At the Bay Pines Learning Center, SPC will collaborate with Admiral Farragut Academy, the City of Seminole, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, Pinellas County Schools and the U.S. Geological Society to bolster research activities, which has been shown to increase levels of engagement, success and degree completion.

At SPC, students can earn the following:

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Event

The Seminole Community Library will be the location of the grand opening of the SPC’s new Innovation Lab next week.

YOU’RE INVITED:
SPC employees and the public are invited to the grand opening
Tuesday, June 3
11 a.m. to noon and 6 to 7 p.m.
Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St., Seminole, LI 201.

The lab serves as a creative environment, often called a makerspace, that will provide people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts a location to socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. Visitors to the SPC location will be able to learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

The lab offers:

  • 3-D printer
  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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The public is invited to the grand opening of the Innovation Lab
Date: Tuesday, June 3
Time: 11 a.m.-noon and 6-7 p.m.
Where: Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St, Seminole, LI 201

Beginning in June, budding creators and innovators can share ideas, create robots, learn or sharpen programming skills and build objects using 3-D printers at St. Petersburg College’s new Innovation Lab. The space, located in the Seminole Community Library, provides a modern, technologically advanced version of your dad’s garage, so to speak.

The lab’s grand opening is June 3 in room 201 from 11 a.m. – noon and 6 to 7 p.m. at SPC’s Seminole Campus. The event, at 9200 113th St., Seminole, is open to the public.

These creative learning environments, often called makerspaces, are growing in popularity, said Information Services Librarian Chad Mairn, who received a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation to start the lab.

“For years we’ve been more consumption oriented, but now the trend is moving towards creating while discovering things yourself,” said Mairn. “With these technology tools, you can design and build things, learn, and share ideas instead of passively consuming information.”

The space will provide an area where people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts can socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. In SPC’s lab, which is open to the public, visitors can learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

“That lab is going to be phenomenal,” said Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce, who used the 3-D printer to create a cookie cutter she designed from scratch. “Those printers are still wickedly expensive; too expensive to have at home. The potential to learn valued skills is remarkable.”

Munce saw Mairn’s enthusiastic Facebook post about the lab and took him up on his offer to get involved. She was looking to prepare cookies for a friend who was graduating from the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

She figured out how to use Adobe Illustrator to create an outline for the cookie cutter and then used a 3-D CAD (computer-assisted design) program for the rest.

“I poked around and somehow figured it all out,” said Munce. “Basically this saved me from having to cut three dozen cookies by hand.”

In addition to the printer, the lab will have:

  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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