Advocate, Collaborator, Partner, and Outstanding Innovations Awards Presented at 2010 Learning Communities Institute

For the tenth consecutive year, the Learning Communities Awards Committee honored individuals for their extraordinary contributions to learning communities at Iowa State University. The Advocate, Collaborator, Partner, and Outstanding Innovation honors were presented at the 12th Annual Learning Communities Institute on Monday, May 10, 2010.

Corly Brooke Learning Community Advocate Award
This award recognizes an Iowa State faculty or staff member who has made significant contributions to the success of our students and learning communities.

This year’s recipient of the Corly Brooke Advocate Award was Dr. Jim Colbert, from the Biology Education Success Team (BEST). Jim is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology. He has been working with BEST since it began in 1995.  Jim is passionate about teaching, learning, and working with students. He brings enthusiasm, caring, and humor to his work with students and colleagues. Jim has contributed greatly to the advancement of LCs on campus. He has served on the LC Advisory Committee and has co-chaired the Curriculum and Faculty Development subcommittee, but is probably most famous for being the “founding admiral” of the Skunk River Navy. Since 1998, the SRN has removed over 50 tons of trash from local rivers. Additionally, Jim received the Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award in 2005.

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

This first of four recipients of the Outstanding Innovations Award was Autumn Cartagena, coordinator of the Aspiring Anthropologists in Action learning community. Autumn designed her third-year learning community with great energy and creativity, and implemented it successfully through careful planning and a commitment to student engagement. During her first year as a LC coordinator, Autumn implemented curricular connections by linking her LC to a “Reports and Proposal Writing” 300-level English course, collaborated with staff from the College of LAS Career Services, Parks Library, the Graduate College and CELT as well as faculty and graduate students from the Anthropology department. She highlighted anthropologically-related opportunities in Iowa by inviting representatives from several agencies including the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa Environmental Council, and the State Historical Society of Iowa. These connections represent the breadth of the interests of her learning community students and the practical ways that these interests can be developed into creative career outlets.

Our second outstanding innovation award was presented to the Construction Engineering Cornerstone Learning Community for its’ introduction of a focused peer mentor training experience, the addition of new assignments and small group exercises and use of the Kiersey Temperament Sorter – II personality type instrument.  Those actively involved in making these new initiatives a success were Kristin Mauro, Beth Hartmann, and Jan Wiersema.  Through the implementation of the personality type instrument, the learning community was able to emphasize how personality type is connected to leadership. Peer mentor training was enhanced through the implementation of the common reading book “The Difference Maker” –which highlights the importance of attitude. Additional emphasis on mentor training was achieved through the reading and discussion of the book “Mentoring 101”. The team also added community building assignments and implemented small group exercises to facilitate greater learning and a sense of community for the students.

Our third outstanding innovations award winner was the WiSE First-Year Learning Community. The staff of this learning community has introduced numerous initiatives this academic year that have promoted collaboration, leadership, sustainability, and social justice. These innovations include the 2010 WiSE Leadership Conference which allows students to explore and develop their contribution as student leaders at ISU; greater WebCT utilization in order to enhance sustainability by drastically reducing the amount of paper used by the program; partnering with various units around campus with programming for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Team Challenge to encourage academic and social involvement among the women in the learning community. The Team Challenge allowed individuals and teams to be recognized for activities they were involved with on campus such as attending Supplemental Instruction, obtaining a tutor, visiting a professor, volunteerism, club membership, or obtaining a leadership position in a student organization.

Our final Outstanding Innovations award winner was Rebecca Miller in recognition of her outstanding work with the Design Learning Communities English links. One of Rebecca’s nominators states, “Ms. Miller clearly goes far beyond effective, competent delivery of her course assignment, and through her involvement, we were able to create a much richer and coherent educational experience for the students in her courses. Students in her English 250 section accomplish the learning outcomes for that course while working with content related to design disciplines and their educational goals. The subject for some of their presentations is work they complete for our Design Studies 102 studio; in other cases, Ms. Miller builds upon their interests and facility for visual communication through the use of texts like Molly Bang’s “Picture This: How pictures Work”. Rebecca demonstrates extraordinary commitment to her students and their learning and to the development of her teaching.      

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 was Doug Walker.  Dr. Walker has served as a faculty mentor for the Business Learning Teams for the past two years. He has taken the initiative to engage the students of this learning community at every event he comes to. He is always willing to meet with students and makes an effort to not only attend class meetings of the students but also to attend various social events put forward by the learning community.
One of his student mentees states:
“Doug Walker has shown a genuine, deep passion toward young adults in their effort to learn. With his involvement in the Business Learning Teams, Doug has made every attempt to make himself available to hear student concerns, talk about students’ futures, and make new students feel welcome. Even with his busy schedule, he finds a way to become involved”

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 was the Academic Success Center.
Through the history of Learning Communities at Iowa State University, the Academic Success Center has had both formal and informal connections to the LC program. Examples of these connections include ASC staff participation in various LC subcommittees, targeted Supplemental Instruction support for sections of courses enrolling LC students, offering peer mentor leadership development workshops, and invited presentations to various learning community programs, such as the Institutes in January and May, as well as peer mentor training and workshops offered throughout the years. We would like to recognize the ASC staff, peer mentors, Supplemental Instruction leaders, and tutors without whom neither the LC program nor the Academic Success Center could be as successful as they are today.

Jen Leptien, 294-1948