Author discusses his book, 'The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching' - Inside Higher Ed

Terry McGlynn is constantly promoting better teaching of science in American colleges and universities. A professor of biology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of the blog Small Pond Science , he believes that good teaching is essential at every kind of college. But to achieve that, he thinks some of the incentives of American higher education (think of what generates raises at research universities) need to change. He's put his ideas together in a book, The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching (University of Chicago Press). McGlynn answered questions about his book via email. Q: What are the major flaws of science teaching at colleges in the U.S.? A: A lot of us have never been trained how to teach. Doesn’t it seem fundamentally absurd that graduate students and faculty all over the country are teaching science without even having taken a single course in science teaching? We jump through an absurd number of hoops to become college faculty, ye

Coronavirus Florida: Technical college students left behind - The Florida Times-Union

Coronavirus Florida: Technical college students left behind - The Florida Times-Union

Coronavirus Florida: Technical college students left behind - The Florida Times-Union

Posted: 10 Apr 2020 06:15 AM PDT

With schools and businesses shuttered statewide, studies have ground to a halt for thousands of students studying a trade.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the school where Rob Saul teaches. This version has been corrected.

The head of a mannequin has taken the place of a person as Dorian Haywood, 30, practices the dental assistant skills he was learning at Manatee Technical College.

With school closed and dental offices open only for emergency procedures as the state grapples with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, students like Haywood are left on the sidelines.

"This changed the whole tempo of everything. You can get the book knowledge through the online course, but this is something that is very hands-on," Haywood said. "To master the craft, you have to do the hands-on."

Like Haywood, the thousands of aspiring mechanics, paramedics, cosmetologists, machinists, welders and electricians studying at Florida's technical colleges are in limbo. They are unable to get the real-world practice they need to be certified, and there are no clear answers at this point.

The Department of Education has emphasized "grace and compassion" as K-12 schools shift their learning online. In Sarasota, teachers are not supposed to give students a score of less than 70%, as long as they make an effort, and students who don't complete their online courses will be given extended time to make up the work.

But the governing boards, councils and accrediting bodies that set standards for various industries know that the marketplace is not very forgiving. Customers who pay for a haircut, a brake job or an electrical repair probably won't make exceptions for knowledge gaps caused by COVID-19.

"We are not seeing any state certifications being relaxed, which is fine for us because we are only in week three of this process," said Manatee School District Deputy Superintendent for Operations Doug Wagner. "We are not for it. It should be the same requirements that went through it before. Our students can rise to the occasion."

Suncoast Technical College Automotive Service Technology instructor Mark Mullen has been holding three video-conference classes per week on Zoom, as he tries to help his students stay sharp heading into the ASE Industry Certification test.

"The place to make the mistake isn't at the dealership; it is at our school. The dealership cannot have you making mistakes," Mullen said. "… But I am not going to have any student go out and dissemble their parents' car in order to accomplish the task."

Like Mullen, many area technical college instructors have hastened to get as much of their courses online as possible. For some classes, like Gil Burlew's advanced manufacturing and production class at MTC, there is plenty the students can do from home, as they use SOLIDWORKS to design various products, including faceshields, as practice.

The only thing students aren't doing is "putting the stock on the machine, loading it and hitting the button that says now run it," Burlew said.

But remote, individual and online courses are the opposite of the environment where many technical college students thrive.

"They choose MTC because they like the interaction and the hands-on," said Kim Bland, the program director for dental assisting at MTC. "They don't want to be the typical college student who does most of the work online … they want someone to explain it to them and to see it and touch it and feel it, and that is how they learn."

Lack of practice

As the state faces an unprecedented public health emergency, the number of new paramedics and nurses entering the field may drop off, as students struggle to get access to the required clinical hours.

Students finishing their paramedic coursework typically must complete 10 24-hour shifts of ride-along time, but departments are not allowing these students on the trucks, out of concern over spreading COVID-19.

The Sarasota County Fire Department currently has 15 students in the paramedic class at STC, and their training has been put on hold, Sarasota County Fire Assistant Chief Carson Sanders said. Manatee has similarly discontinued student ride-alongs. Both counties are following limitations put in place through an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis in order to limit exposure and preserve personal protective equipment.

Jay Bush, the director of Emergency Medical Services Programs at MTC, is hoping that area departments will let students back on the ambulances this summer so that the class of paramedics scheduled to graduate in June can earn their diplomas in August. In the meantime, he said training programs should not scale back requirements.

"In good conscience, I can't let a student leave the medic program not knowing if they have done a certain number of skills, not having seen a certain number of pediatric patients," Bush said. "… I don't want to shortchange the students because I have a responsibility to the departments."

Dental and police training programs are facing the same challenge.

The students in MTC's dental assistant program were gearing up to begin full-time clinical hours at area dentist offices when the governor's executive order closed all dental offices except for emergency procedures.

That left students roughly 200 hours short of the 300-hour minimum legally required by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Kim Bland, the program director for dental assisting at MTC, said she is hoping CODA drops some of the hourly requirements for students who get hired by a dental practice, but no official word has come out yet.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission approved distance learning for some coursework, but classes like vehicle operations, criminal justice defensive tactics and firearm training will remain on hold until schools reopen.

MTC Spokeswoman Maura Howl said students in the welding and evening automotive technology programs "have reached a point in their curricula where they have to wait until they can get back in the labs to continue their programs."

Schools in Florida will remain closed until at least May 1, but Wagner hopes that MTC will be able to reopen at that point so technical students can get the hands-on practice that they need. He said the school would institute social distancing measures to prevent further spread of the virus.

While technical colleges may have a harder time teaching students remotely during the era of social distancing, they are anticipating a massive uptick in enrollment once the pandemic has passed. With unemployment numbers skyrocketing, schools offering vocational training may be more in demand in coming months.

"Everybody is basically telling us to brace for impact. We are going to be busier than ever," said STC computer instructor Rob Saul. "There is going to be so much shuffling of the workforce because of this that we are going to be buried."

!function(e,i,n,s){var t="InfogramEmbeds",d=e.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if(window[t]&&window[t].initialized)window[t].process&&window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement("script");o.async=1,,o.src="",d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async");

This story originally published to, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.

Veterinary colleges go online only amid COVID-19 concerns - American Veterinary Medical Association

Posted: 15 Apr 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Dr. Margaret V. Root Kustritz didn't expect veterinary colleges to handle going online only as well as they have. 

"If you had asked me a month ago, 'Would you be prepared?' I think I would have said I am not sure, but boy have I been so pleased," said Dr. Root Kustritz, associate dean of education at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. "We are prepared to educate our students, and we are prepared as a profession."

Dr. Root Kustritz is among leaders at veterinary colleges across the world who have been faced with developing alternative teaching methods quickly for veterinary students who are practicing physical distancing to lower the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Veterinary educators also seem optimistic about students being on track to graduate and are hopeful because of how everyone has come together.

"As of right now, we're anticipating that all of our students will be able to graduate on time. Now we begin planning for the incoming fourth-year class, which is scheduled to begin their clinical training in May," Dr. Root Kustritz said.

Dr. Fox-Alvarez's VICE Rounds setup
This is the personal setup for Veterinary Isolated Clinical Education Rounds by Drs. Alexander Fox-Alvarez, an associate professor of small animal surgery at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Stacey Fox-Alvarez, a senior medical oncology resident at UF veterinary college. VICE Rounds is a volunteer, crowd-sourced continuing education resource that offers videos, video conferencing, and worksheets to facilitate student learning. (Courtesy of Dr. Fox-Alvarez)

Campus closures

All U.S. veterinary colleges stopped in-person instruction as of late March, but most veterinary teaching hospitals and clinics remained open for urgent or emergency appointments.

Veterinary teaching hospitals have also made other changes to appointments. For example, at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the veterinary teaching hospital staff are trying to limit the number of people who enter the facility.

"Clients are asked to wait in their car and only enter the hospital for limited periods of time and for specific purposes, access to bathrooms, to make some types of payments, and be present for euthanasia, etc.," said Dr. Debra C. Sellon, the director of the teaching hospital and associate dean for clinical services.

The veterinary hospital, as of late March, is operating without students, but all interns and residents are continuing to work alongside its employees.

"Where possible, we are providing work-at-home options for employees if they have unique circumstances that make them concerned about being present in the workplace," Dr. Sellon said.

Dr. Mark Markel, president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, said the association is working to network and share resources.

"This is dramatically different than a single institution with an issue," said Dr. Markel, who is also dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "There is a collective desire to do what is best for our students."

UW Veterinary Care closed March 13 after discovering that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to a country with widespread transmission of coronavirus.

This was the first case identified at Wisconsin's largest university. UW Veterinary Care opened again on March 19 to treat current patients that require ongoing treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and amino acid infusions, as well as provide medically necessary appointments for current patients and emergency-related services.

Despite no current cases as of late March, St. George University School of Veterinary Medicine, Grenada, West Indies, and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts, West Indies, had encouraged their international students to return home. Both campuses remain open for the students, faculty, and staff who decide to remain on the island.

Just keep learning

Veterinary colleges have been tasked with finding creative solutions for students at all levels. For the first- to third-year students, the transition to online lectures and virtual learning has been easier.

For example, Wisconsin's veterinary school has made suture kits for students to take home to practice suture patterns and knot tying. Students can then submit a video showing the faculty their work.

But for many fourth-year students, going virtual is nearly impossible, particularly because of graduation requirements that mandate hands-on clinical experience.

An associate professor of small animal surgery at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is working to keep these students learning remotely. Dr. Alexander Fox-Alvarez started an online clinical rounds format called Veterinary Isolated Clinical Education Rounds. VICE Rounds is a volunteer, crowd-sourced continuing education resource that offers videos, video conferencing, and worksheets to facilitate student learning.

Dr. Fox-Alvarez; Dr. Stacey Fox-Alvarez, a senior medical oncology resident at UF veterinary college; and faculty members from other veterinary colleges have a dedicated private YouTube channel for the presentations. The catalog has been shared with educators at other veterinary colleges so the faculty can access the videos and provide them to students, he said.

The AVMA Council on Education, the accrediting body for veterinary colleges in the U.S. and Canada, has provided guidance to the veterinary colleges on what would be considered the minimum requirements for one academic year of clinical hands-on training and reiterated that the colleges must demonstrate students have achieved the nine clinical competencies. The AVMA COE has not changed the requirements for accreditation.

"The AVMA COE has … provided us with necessary flexibility to absolutely verify that the majority of the fourth-year students have completed all core requirements and have demonstrated necessary clinical competencies," Dr. Root Kustritz said, regarding fourth-year students at Minnesota's veterinary college.

Student view

For Alexandra Peters, a second-year student at the University of Prince Edward Island Atlantic Veterinary College, the response to COVID-19 escalated quickly.

She found out via email on March 13 that the university planned to close for the semester after March 20, but two days later, the veterinary school announced it would close immediately. Peters planned to head home to Pennsylvania after an examination on March 19, but before she knew it, there was talk of bridge closures and border closures.

"I packed up my entire life in half a day," Peter said. "After the two-day drive, I pulled up to my parents' house and immediately got the notification that the U.S. and Canadian border was closed to nonessential travel. I just barely made it back into the U.S."

But that wouldn't be the end of her stress.

"I had to continue studying for my last midterm," Peters said. "Focusing on schoolwork has been difficult with so much going on in the world. I want to know what's going on, and I want to be present with my fellow humans during these difficult times, but I also can't forget my responsibilities as a veterinary student."

Peters is currently self-isolating because of her travel, but she's still happy to be home and praised the work her professors are doing to keep students on track.

"Our professors have really pulled things together in record time," Peters said. "It was a mad dash home, and I'm exhausted, but it's nice to be home and around my family while we endure this."

Sharing is caring

Stories of veterinary college faculty members helping their human medicine counterparts trickled out as the number of human cases of COVID-19 continued to climb in mid- to late March.

Dr. Kathy Gerken, assistant clinical professor of emergency and critical care at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medcine, helped local emergency response leaders secure transport of three ventilators and necessary disposable supplies from the Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital to the East Alabama Medical Center in response to increased demand for treatment.

According to a March 23 Facebook post by the veterinary college, "Our foundation on #OneHealth is increasingly relevant as our doctors engage with a wide array of healthcare, government and private sector organizations to help combat and prevent the spread of this virus, and protect quality of life."

After moving his biosafety level–3 laboratory into hibernation, Matthew Aliota, PhD, an assistant professor at Minnesota's veterinary college, donated 270 N95 masks to the University of Minnesota human hospital.

Dr. Aliota has also volunteered to help alleviate any backlog of COVID-19 testing samples at a local microbiology laboratory, but had yet to be called upon to do so.

He's concerned about the loss of research productivity in his laboratory and elsewhere, but adds, "It's much bigger than that now. For me, it's trying to keep my people safe and not worry too much."

Dr. Markel says he's grateful for how people have responded.

"Everyone is stepping up," Dr. Markel said.


Popular posts from this blog

Talk of the Towns: Feb. 6, 2020 - The Recorder

Baker Technical Institute launches Certified Medical Assistant program - Blue Mountain Eagle

For inbound college students — and universities — fall semester presents new choices and dilemmas - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette