Outliers: Students in ACTION Newsletter
March 2016

Outliers: Students in ACTION is a monthly publication during the academic year highlighting students and events in the Science and Math Education in ACTION Choose Ohio First grant program at BGSU. 
Reflections from the ACTION Director
by Dr. Daniel Brahier
Dr. Brahier and the nine ACTION students in England joined remotely for the Spring Seminar
Nine ACTION scholars and I have now been in England for about six weeks.  We have finally adjusted to the five-hour time difference and the cultural shifts.  When I met (electronically) with our Student Advisory Board last month, I explained to them that the collegiate system in the UK is very different from the US.  Generally speaking, universities in England place much more of the responsibility of learning on the students than we do in the US.  In a sense, classes function more like "independent studies" where the instructor guides the students and answers questions, rather than setting a rigid schedule of classes and assessments.  Here are a few examples:
  • Three-hour courses in the UK meet for only two hours per week.  Students are expected to do much more work out of class than we require in the US.
  • The reading list for a course in the UK is almost endless.  Students are constantly reading books and journal articles to pursue the academic goals of a course.
  • Instructors in the UK are referred to as "tutors" rather than "professors" because our job is to assist students with the learning process, as opposed to being seen as a font of all knowledge!
  • Most courses only have one assessment at the end of the class.  Instead of writing papers, taking tests, giving presentations, and so forth along the way - as we do in the US - most classes here come down to one final paper or one final exam on which the entire grade in the course is based.  Students essentially work for the whole semester to prepare to do one paper or to take one test.
As I reflected on this British system, it occurred to me that success in education relies heavily on self-motivation and the ability to conduct research, plan ahead, and create schedules. These are the very qualities that we seek to develop in our ACTION scholars back on BGSU's campus.  Beginning with Summer Bridge, we teach scholars how to organize their time and to create detailed "to do" lists.  Through their annual projects - First-Year Research, Second-Year Practicum, and Third/Fourth-Year Capstone Projects - ACTION students are taught to work independently and to collaborate with faculty members who assist them in their pursuits.  In the end, ACTION develops teachers who are not only the best prepared in the State of Ohio but also leave BGSU with the research and organizational skills that will help them throughout their lives, both in and outside of the classroom.
Education is not just about learning math and science - it's about teaching ACTION scholars to be critical thinkers and to recognize that they can achieve their goals through hard work.  From the other side of the ocean, I am particularly grateful that our scholars have been well prepared for various academic pursuits.


Cohort 4 - Senior
AYA Integrated Mathematics

How did you hear about ACTION?  We got a phone call from Wendy and my mom was so excited about the opportunity that she made me stay home on a Friday night to fill out the application! I wasn't sure what college I was going to at that point and wasn't sure I wanted to give up my summer so initially I wasn't that excited. However, after I got accepted into ACTION, I realized what an amazing opportunity it was and I am grateful that I have been part of the program.
What has been your favorite part of ACTION? The close relationships! The friendships made with other AYA math majors during the Summer Bridge were very beneficial.  And, to top it off, my current roommate is an ACTION student.  I also appreciate the relationships I have developed with faculty members through the various research projects and other opportunities ACTION has provided.
On top of the ACTION, what else have you been involved with at BGSU?  Student teaching doesn't allow much time right now, but I still tutor at the Learning Commons and also tutor several students from home when I can.  I'm also a volunteer track coach at a local junior high. In the past, I have been a BGSU campus tour guide, Supplemental Instructor for a pre-calculus course and participated in Bikes for Tykes to ride from BG to Cincinnati to raise money for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
How has your methods/student teaching experience been for you?  I am learning that I have a lot to learn!  My expectations often go unmet and lessons often take much longer than anticipated.  As with all teachers, I have to continually adapt to what is going on in the classroom.  Being at a high school career center, students are often in and out of my classroom for different labs, I have to go with the flow. I'm trying to find ways to motivate the students to care more about mathematics.  I know that all the hard work this year will pay off when I am a first-year teacher.
Tell us about your Capstone research project for ACTION.
My research is focused on examining different types of formative assessment and investigating their effects in the classroom. I am exploring how formative assessment can demonstrate a student's conceptual misunderstanding by using methods such as the problem of the day, bell work, exit tickets, the jigsaw method and test tracking sheets. My goal is to see what I can learn as a teacher based on student feedback.
One thing that people might be surprised to know about me is...I was very involved in 4-H over the years. I showed rabbits and turkeys at fairs and even received a scholarship as third runner up in the Tomato Pageant!

Cohort 6 - Sophomore
Middle Childhood Education
(science and mathematics)

You are studying abroad in Keele, England this semester with eight other ACTION students and Dr. Brahier. Tell us about the experience so far. I had always wanted to study abroad and finding out that Dr. B was going motivated me to do it now. The classes here are very different with less in-class time and many readings on our own outside of class. At the end of the semester, we will write a 3,000-word essay that is the majority of our grade (with some classes also requiring a presentation that is worth 20% of our grade). Keele University is a very small campus which I wasn't expecting, and I'm still getting used to being an "international student."  Traveling on the weekends has been fun. So far we've been to Manchester and Liverpool. During spring break we'll travel a lot including a visit to a concentration camp in Poland.

What do you miss the most about the U.S.?  I obviously miss people from home. Having other ACTION students here is helpful, and my mom is coming during spring break.  I also miss the drier weather - it's been very wet with lots of rain. Some of my favorite foods, such as pretzels, I haven't been able to find in England.

Even though you are not at BGSU this semester, what are the things you are involved with when you are here?  I have two jobs that keep me busy. I work at the Jerome Library at the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor. I also work with a latchkey program through the Otsego School District. Both jobs have provided excellent experience for me as a future teacher. I plan to return to both jobs when I am back in the States. I joined Chi Omega sorority this year and am a member of Collegiate Middle Level Association (CMLA), which is a professional development organization for future middle school educators.

What led you to pursue a career as a teacher for grades 4-9 in math and science? I've always wanted to be a teacher. After getting home from elementary school, I would put my stuffed animals on chairs and act as their teacher to share with them everything I had learned at school that day! Originally I was thinking of early childhood but realized that jobs can be harder to find at the lower grades, so I switched to MCE since grades 4 and 5 are generally still part of elementary school.  Last summer when I worked at the BGSU Tech Trek program for 8th grade girls, I realized I also like working with older students. So, now I am open to teaching either upper elementary or middle school. 

What has helped you be successful in your BGSU classes?
I have used the ACTION tutors often! During Calculus, Courtney was there to get me through. And, Molly helped me with several science courses over the past three semester. We developed a system where we'd write all the answers on the board and then she'd quiz me. If I got the answer correct, she would erase the answer until eventually I knew all the answers. I'm grateful ACTION offers tutors!

Do you have any advice for the incoming freshmen?
I would recommend living on the ACTION floor in Offenhauer. I did not live there because I thought it would be better to live elsewhere to meet other people my first year. Instead, my roommate ended up leaving so I was in a room alone and did not connect with the people on my floor. It would have been much more fun to be with my ACTION friends! 

Once a semester, all ACTION students are together in one room.  Dr. Brahier and the students studying abroad in England joined us via webcam so our family was "complete" for the Spring Seminar held on February 23.

After updates and remarks were given from Keele, Matt Webb, Director of Student and Academic Services in the College of EDHD, shared his perspective of the benefits of ACTION. He encouraged scholars to appreciate and make the most of the opportunities presented to them through this program and BGSU in general. The roomful of future educators was challenged to make a difference as Matt shared a quote from one of the Inspirational Educators of the Year as well as personal examples of how teachers had impacted him.  Several jokes most appreciated by those who love science and mathematics concluded his presentation.
The second portion of the seminar enabled each cohort to break off to interact and connect.  Juniors and seniors met together so the older scholars could provide those a year behind them with insight in what to expect next year and to answer questions.  The younger cohorts enjoyed activities to bond as a group since they are rarely all in one room. 

Cohort 7 has fun together

Cohort 6 discusses how they feel about teaching

Cohort 4 MCE scholars shares what to expect next year with Cohort 5

The ACTION student Social Committee was busy in February! Multiple events and service opportunities were planned throughout the month by (and for) our scholars.

Craft Night held in the ACTION student lounge was enjoyed by those desiring a creative outlet

Cheering on the Falcon hockey team against Miami 

Serving at the BG Senior Center provided an opportunity to interact with a more mature crowd

Shawna tries to balance a nail on some string during the Minute to Win It event hosted by the Social Committee

Courtney Stanton, Chelsea Mayer & Liz Baker worked together to make the Minute to Win It event successful and fun for all

Award notifications have been sent to our first round of candidates for incoming Cohort 8 scholars. Responses are arriving in our mailbox from those students who already know they want to be part of the program and don't want to pass up their chance to be a member of ACTION.
Transfer applications are currently being processed, as candidates hoping to be part of ACTION for three years are excited about possibly joining the program and gaining the benefits. 
Although official deadlines have passed, applications can still be submitted for both incoming freshmen and transfers in the event that additional spots become available.