Drs. Theresa Estrem and Chaturi Edrisinha
Over the last three years, Drs. Estrem and Edrisinha have engaged in conversations with professionals at CentraCare Health system, and have identified an unmet need for timely autism assessments in the St. Cloud area. With the support of the Miller Scholars Award, Drs. Estrem and Edrisinha hope to develop an Autism Clinic at SCSU. Their goal is to build the capacity of primary care and other service providers, to improve the outcomes of individuals with autism through early identification and intervention. Additionally, they hope the project will provide students in the School of Health and Human Services (SHHS) with the opportunity to gain an on-campus clinical experience from qualified faculty who will help them link and integrate academic learning to their clinical experience. They note that several programs in SHHS and the School of Education have not yet been able to offer their students an on-campus clinical opportunity. Currently, students gain their experiences at various public and private agencies, both non- and for-profit. Additionally, they hope to build on the interdisciplinary collaborations in which they currently engage—with their own departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Community Psychology, as well as with the departments of Social Work, Special Education, and Child and Family Studies. Drs. Estrem and Edrisinha also hope to promote awareness of the early signs of autism, and increase access to early intervention services for children with autism and their families, including immigrant and refugee families. The Miller Scholars Award will provide them with resources to allow them to engage with faculty and community members to develop strategies to address their goals, and enhance their own training to successfully complete this project.
Dr. Sarnath Ramnath
The overall vision for this project is to get a better balance between rigor and relevance by applying the Whole-Part-Whole (WPW) approach to individual courses and entire programs. Rigor refers to the manner in which the methodology of the discipline is adhered to, and relevance refers to how well the learner is able to connect the material with prior knowledge and with the broader context in which the new knowledge is to be applied. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a broad term used to describe pedagogical approaches where the application of the knowledge is given precedence over the honing of skills. Such approaches have been employed to introduce relevance in K-12 education. Dr. Sarnath has been experimenting with such a framework since 1999, in his course on Object-Oriented Software Design. In particular he has evolved a PBL approach where the Whole components are used to establish relevance and Part components are introduced, as needed, to enhance the rigor. As a result of these efforts, he has co-authored a textbook on Object-Oriented Software Design with his colleague at Metropolitan state University in the Twin Cities. With the support of the Miller Scholars Award, he intends to continue his work with his Metropolitan State colleague on a Computer Science I course, developing materials that will enable it to fulfill the needs of multiple constituents. Additionally he plans to work with input from faculty in other STEM departments and from industry representatives to develop a new course that will build on the previous Computer Science I course to fill the computing skills gap of STEM graduates .Further, he intends to work with faculty in Math and Statistics to develop a problem-based curriculum for a course on Discrete Math, and finally, explore other research that can connect student perceptions of relevance with his teaching methods.