UGS Monthly

Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies


News on UMR's efforts to enhance its learning environment & the learning outcomes of students


October 2004 Issue:

Center for Educational Research & Teaching Innovation (CERTI)

UMR recognizes six new Dean's Teaching Scholars

UMR academic advising program

On Course workshop for UMR faculty

Technology-enhanced learning: use of personal response systems in the UMR classroom

STEM educational research speaker/workshop series


UGS launches UMR's new Center for Educational Research and Teaching Innovation (CERTI)

UMR is proud to announce the opening of its newest center, The Center for Educational Research & Teaching Innovation (CERTI). CERTI’s mission is to promote the strategic improvement of teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes. CERTI's focus will be to foster faculty contribution to the continual improvement of UMR's learning environment through the identification and delivery of collaborative, experiential and technology-enhanced teaching strategies designed to improve student learning outcomes.

The campus has already felt the positive impact of CERTI initiatives as faculty eagerly participate in workshops and discussions focused on improving student learning. In August 2004, faculty participated in a panel discussion of the peer review process. Additionally, many faculty attended the highly acclaimed On Course Workshop where they were engaged in hands-on, innovative, learner-centered strategies designed to enhance learning and teaching with proven strategies for student engagement.

In September 2004, faculty gathered for an On Course User's Group discussion designed to further incorporate these ideas into UMR teaching practices. CERTI is offering more beneficial opportunities for faculty this fall, including a series of invited speakers and visiting academicians to discuss educational issues as they relate to the continual improvement of teaching and student learning at UMR.

For more information about CERTI, please call 341-6923, or visit our web site at:

Deans announce new Dean's Teaching Scholars

The deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of Materials, Energy and Earth Resources at the University of Missouri-Rolla wish to announce the appointment of six new “Dean’s Teaching Scholars¿?.

UMR Dean's Teaching Scholars include:

  • Diana Ahmad, College of Arts & Sciences
  • DJ Belarbi, School of Engineering
  • Ralph Flori Jr., School of Engineering
  • Kurt Kosbar, School of Engineering
  • Yinfa Ma, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Kent Peaslee, School of Materials, Energy & Earth Resources

Shown right are Kent Peaslee, Yinfa Ma, Kurt Kosbar and DJ Belarbi at the awards dinner on September 23, 2004.

The Dean's Teaching Scholar recognition seeks to emphasize priority contributions for sustained quality classroom instruction by faculty on the UMR campus. Recipients of the Dean’s Teaching Scholar Award are appointed for a 3-year term. A monetary award of $2,000 per year is provided to each of the awardees.


The UMR advising program expands to recognize the contributions of faculty advisors

UMR recognizes that good academic advising is key to student retention. In response, UMR has organized an academic advising program to reinforce the importance of good advising on the UMR campus. The mission of UMR's academic advising program is to:

The Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies has established an advising program that includes an advisor network to foster the exchange of best advising practices, and awards to recognize the contributions of academic advisors.

All UMR faculty or staff members who serve as academic advisors are invited to take advantage of the advising resources being made available to the campus. Please join us on October 25th from 1:00-2:30 PM in Centennial Hall East for an "Introduction to UMR's Academic Advising Program".

For more information, please contact the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies at 341-7600, or visit our web site at:

On Course...of course

“Engaging¿? and “insightful¿? are a few of the words faculty used to describe the information presented by Dr. Jonathan Brennan at the On Course Workshop sponsored by CERTI in August 2004. Designed for today’s educator, On Course focuses on techniques to promote learner-centered education that empowers students to be active, responsible learners, thereby improving student academic success and retention.

During the workshop, Dr. Brennan proposed several collaborative learning exercises as possible venues for learning enhancement. These activities sparked further discussion and idea sharing as faculty members shared their own successful strategies with fellow peers.

CERTI is committed to assisting faculty in their facilitation of collaborative, experiential and technology-assisted learning. We invite your suggestions for future workshop topics. For more information about On Course Workshops, please contact the CERTI office at 341-6923 or visit the On Course web site at:

On Course facilitator, Jonathan Brennan, leads a teamwork demonstration with Matt Insall, Associate Professor of Mathematics at UMR.


PRS experiment proves connecting with UMR students

The UMR Chemistry Department is utilizing a new interactive teaching tool in its freshman chemistry course.With the use of this technology, faculty have the opportunity to focus on the students' individual and collective understanding of the course material. The technology enables faculty to interactively monitor student progress and reinforce learning objectives throughout the semester.

Dr. Harvest Collier (right) using Turning Point technology in the freshman Chemistry lecture.

How does it work? This interactive tool consists of Personal Response System (PRS) cards and Turning Point® technology software. This hardware/software combination allows students to interact with Power Point presentations. The program allows data to be collected and recorded from infrared transmitters (response cards) that are issued to the students. The collected data can then be instantly transformed into graphical feedback, such as a pie chart. This instant feedback allows the instructor to know which learning concepts need additional reinforcement.

This increased engagement has many advantages over traditional "chalk-talk" presentation techniques. Using the Turning Point® software keeps the students focused on the content of the lecture. When a question is posed, the students are required to respond. This increases the participation from one or two students to include the entire class. Furthermore, the students learn instantly whether their responses were correct or not while the topic is still fresh in their minds. The transmitters are all uniquely associated with a particular student. This allows an instructor to identify the at-risk students much earlier than is done with scheduled quizzes and exams.

Overall, it is hoped that the use of this technology will increase the mastery of the course material and improve student learning outcomes.

Speaker/workshop series promises outside-the-box engagement on STEM educational research

In response to faculty’s growing interest in the identification and implementation of best practices as it relates to student learning in math, science and engineering, CERTI is developing a series of distinguished workshops and visiting academicians to offer faculty first-hand engagement in the successful implementation of best practices into daily teaching processes.

This semester the series includes seasoned and well-respected academicians such as Neil Fleming, Mel George and Eric Mazur. Check the CERTI web site for information regarding speakers, topics and schedules.