Collaborator, Champion, Partner, Scholarship and Outstanding Innovations Awards Presented at 2007 Learning Communities Institute

For the seventh consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University. The Collaborator, Champion, Partner, Scholarship and Outstanding Innovation honors were presented at the 9th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 7, 2007.

Outstanding Innovations Award
This award honors members of the Iowa State community who have made new and creative contributions to learning communities.

This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Innovations Award is Doug Beck with the Mechanical Engineering Learning Community. Since 2002, the Mechanical Engineering Learning Teams have incorporated a problem-solving component competition during the spring semesters to encourage innovative and unique solutions that require an “outside of the box” approach. In one challenge, Doug asks learning community members to launch an egg as far as possible without structural failure. Interestingly, most of the devices built to solve this problem were constructed using compressed air. The winning team launched their egg approximately 850 years without the egg breaking. Another problem-solving competition was to construct an outdoor water balloon catapult. This competition had two components: an accuracy challenge where Doug was the target, and head-to-head double elimination catapult battles. These problem-solving competitions teach students the process of solving “outside-the-box” problems and gaining real-world engineering experience in terms of teamwork, design, and economic factors.

Learning Community Scholarship Award
This is a new award that honors an individual or research team who has significantly contributed to the scholarship of learning communities.

The first recipient of the Learning Community Scholarship Award is LeQuetia Ancar. During her master’s program, LeQuetia chose to make the Technology Learning Community the focus of her thesis, “Investigating personal and professional connections through the Technology Learning Community.” In addition to presenting her research on learning communities at numerous Iowa State Learning Community Institutes, LeQuetia has also presented to a national audience at the 37th Annual Convention of the National Association of Industrial Technology. Also, the first article resulting from her research was published last year in the new Journal of Learning Communities Research is titled “Students make personal connections through learning community experiences.” The second article, “Professional connections through the Technology Learning Community” is currently under review by the Journal of Technology Studies.

The next recipients of the Scholarship Award are Steve Mickelson and Tom Brumm with the ABE Learning Community. Steve and Tom have given 15 presentations about learning communities at international conferences. In addition, they have published 11 peer-reviewed articles on learning communities, with four of those published within the past two years. A key peer-reviewed article written by Patricia Harms, Steve and Tom that has been accepted for publication in The International Journal of Engineering Education is titled:“Longitudinal study of learning communities in agricultural and biosystems engineering.”

Learning Community Champion Award
This award honors an individual who has significantly contributed to the advancement of learning communities at Iowa State University.

The first recipient of the Champion Award is Judi Eyles with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community. With little lead time and minimal resources, Judi created a framework for this unique learning community and recruited 30+ members in fall 2004. Judy handles all day-to-day activities of the EILC, and works selflessly with the participants, guiding, mentoring, motivating, and inspiring them to be the entrepreneurs they desire to be. Another EILC component that Judi has been intimately involved with is mentoring students on the development of the Barista Café, a coffee shop in Buchanan Hall that opened earlier this semester. Under Judi’s leadership, students wrote and presented their business plan to a potential donor and had to plan and work through every aspect of setting up a business, including soliciting legal advice, meeting health and safety codes, working with facility contractors, setting up contracts with vendors, and working with the students to form their own legally-binding corporation.

The second recipient of the Champion Award is Ebby Luvaga with Agricultural Business Learning Community. Ebby has been involved in learning community initiatives since 1997, and has served on the Learning Communities Advisory Committee since 2001, and currently serves as co-chair of the Curriculum and Faculty Development subcommittee. Within the College of Agriculture, Ebby serves as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee that planned and implemented programs and activities that brought learning community faculty and coordinators together to discuss critical issues. Last year, Ebby took a leadership role in organizing the first College of Agriculture learning community retreat which was a great success. Within her department, Ebby has been involved in all aspects of the learning community as the coordinator, including student/faculty meals, dinners, and a performing arts series, supervising the peer mentors, working with the Ag Business Club, and collaborating with English on linked courses.

Learning Community Partner Award
This award honors a department or office that has partnered with and supported learning community initiatives at Iowa State University.

This year’s recipient of the Partner Award is the Department of Residence. Staff in the Department of Residence have been involved with learning community initiatives since they began in 1995, and continue to be involved with numerous departments and colleges to develop and support learning community programs. In addition to initiating programs, the department has also had numerous staff members play significant roles in the on-going success of the learning community movement. Associate Director Ginny Arthur was instrumental in 1994 and 1995 in supporting the department-wide effort to create residential learning communities. Former Director Randy Alexander focused staff effort on developing and expanding residential learning communities with assistance from Doug Gruenewald, Kurt Earnest, Mimi Benjamin, Heather Phillips, Lee Furbeck, Don Whalen, Cindy Hadaway, Pat Robinson, and others. Countless hall directors, community advisors, and other staff have also actively supported learning communities.

Learning Community Collaborator Award
This award honors an individual in the Iowa State community who has demonstrated the spirit of learning communities through collaboration.

This year’s recipient of the Collaborator Award is Andrea Dinkelman. Andrea played a pivotal role in the new common reading program that was initiated in 2006. She identified lists of potential common readings and resources for faculty and coordinators to consider, and then assisted those who chose to implement a common reading, and was involved in the assessment of the program. In addition to researching first-year common reading programs across the country, she developed web-based resources to provide coordinators with background on similar programs at other universities. 
Andrea has also contributed significantly to the English 105/Horticulture and Microbiology Learning Communities linkages by developing a series of source evaluation assignments. She lectures to both of the communities’ and personally evaluates all citations submitted by the students. Jenny Aune, lecturer in the linked courses, stated, “Students final research projects are qualitatively better because of Andrea’s contributions to the students’ ability to find better sources”.

Outstanding Service Award
This award is something we only give occasionally to someone who has greatly contributed to learning communities at Iowa State University. This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Service Award is Katherine Lyons. Katherine’s nominators’ stated “Katherine is a paradigm pioneer at coordinating learning communities at the college-level at Iowa State University, where she never grows weary of making our College of Engineering learning communities not only work collaboratively but elegantly…Katherine has been the ‘glue’ that keeps the departmental and programmatic learning communities moving beyond our comfort zones to new places we needed to be for our students. She has challenged us to take on new topics and new endeavors. She gently pushes us when we need further encouragement. We want to thank her for her friendship personally and her leadership professionally.”

Members of the award selection committee included: Ebby Luvaga, Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, Heather Phillips, Coordinator of Residence for Academic Services in the Department of Residence, and Jennifer Leptien, Program Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and Learning Communities.

Contacts: 
Heather Phillips, Awards Committee Co-Chair, 294-7593 
Jen Leptien, LC Institute Subcommittee Chair, 294-1948