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Updated: 10 hours 6 min ago

Office of Student Records Newsletter Available Online

Tue, 05/13/2014 - 10:32

The University of Maine’s Office of Student Records has published its most recent newsletter. The February–April 2014 issue of the quarterly newsletter “For the Record” is available online.

Categories: Combined News, News

Building Community Through Cultural Works

Tue, 05/13/2014 - 08:23

The University of Maine Humanities Initiative will host the second annual Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day at various downtown locations on Saturday, May 17.

From 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., free events for participants of all ages will be offered at venues such as the UMaine Museum of Art, Bangor Public Library, Maine Discovery Museum and the Brick Church.

The Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day was created in 2013 as part of the University of Maine Humanities Initiative (UMHI) to create a better forum for connecting UMaine faculty, staff and students with the general public in our region of the state, according to organizer and UMaine history professor Liam Riordan.

“The goal of the day is to share high-quality cultural work of all sorts that stimulates thought in a fun and informal setting. From student research to music, movies, visual arts and conversation, the day offers a range of engaging events,” Riordan says.

Local partners of the day are Bangor PechaKucha, Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative, KahBang, Northeast Historic Film, River City Cinema and the string ensemble of The Eastern Maine Pops Orchestra (TEMPO) for Young Musicians.

Featured events include:

10:30 a.m. to noon

  • National History Day Open House at the Bangor Public Library where prize-winning research by middle and high school students will be on display

11 a.m.

  • Graphic novel author and illustrator Jimmy Gownley at The Briar Patch

12:30 p.m.

  • University of Maine Museum of Art sculpture lecture by Andy Mauery, UMaine art professor, and a photography exhibit tour led by George Kinghorn, UMMA’s director and curator

1:30 p.m.

  • TEMPO youth string ensemble performances at the Maine Discovery Museum

3 p.m.

  • Student and parent discussion at the Bangor Public Library about National History Day’s national competition in Washington, D.C.

4 p.m.

  • Northeast Historic Film’s world premiere public showing of three short films shot by Bangor resident Charles E. Gilbert in 1929, co-hosted with River City Cinema and KahBang at the Brick Church

6 p.m.

  • Humanities 20×20 PechaKucha presentations by UMaine faculty and local practitioners at the Brick Church, co-hosted with PechaKucha Bangor and the Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative

The Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day is one of several UMHI events planned for 2014. The initiative, housed in UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.

More information about UMHI and a complete Bangor Public Humanities Day schedule are online. Details are also available on the Bangor Public Humanities Day event page on Facebook.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

categories: blue sky news, liberal arts and sciences, outreach, pathway 1

Categories: Combined News, News

Communicating Value, Importance of Humanities

Tue, 05/13/2014 - 08:23

The University of Maine Humanities Initiative (UMHI) and the Maine Humanities Council will host the second annual Maine Humanities Summit at the Governor Hill Mansion in Augusta on Friday, May 16.

This year’s summit, “The Humanities and Public Policy,” will feature speakers from across the nation who will discuss ways humanities administrators, faculty and the general public can effectively communicate the value and importance of the humanities to residents and media.

“The summit offers the opportunity to speak to the public and legislators in concrete terms about how important humanities are to our state’s civic and economic well-being,” says Justin Wolff, UMHI director and an associate professor of art history at UMaine. “We hope to persuade policymakers that funding these areas from kindergarten up through higher education is a strong investment with a high return.”

Wolff says in a time of increasing emphasis on STEM education, it’s important to remember the value of the humanities, as well.

“The humanities form the foundation of all disciplines,” he says. “They teach critical writing and communication skills, as well as awareness and sensitivity to place and identity.”

For example, Wolff says, if an engineer plans to build a bridge, it’s important for them to understand the cultural heritage and the needs and desires of the people who live in the region that would be affected by the bridge.

Humanities advocates are often faced with the challenge of not having the hard data that STEM backers may have, according to Wolff.

“It’s very hard for humanities advocates to find and share the hard data to prove what we know. We know the value of critical thinking, and we know employers want workers with the skills the humanities teach, but it can be hard to prove it with charts and graphs,” he says. 

About 60 humanities constituents from throughout the state attended last year’s summit. Participants came together to talk about areas of broad concern, new initiatives and programs, and ways to coordinate efforts to advocate humanities. Wolff says the inaugural event led to encouraging conversations, including the idea to make future summits more instrumental.

In an effort to make the second summit more focused, the organizers decided to give this year’s event a theme — “Humanities and Public Policy.” The summit will feature speakers from around the nation who will discuss subjects in one of three areas: advocating the humanities through the use of data and media; the humanities and education policy; and the importance of cultural tourism and the humanities to the state’s economy.

Scheduled speakers include Maine residents, including Hugh French, director of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art in Eastport; and Laura Lindenfeld, an associate professor of communication and journalism at UMaine; as well as national leaders of humanities advocacy, such as Stephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance; and Theda Skocpol, director of the Scholars Strategy Network and Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson; Jeff Hecker, UMaine’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost; and Hayden Anderson, executive director of the Maine Humanities Council, are slated to give opening remarks.

“Anyone interested in humanities will gain something from the summit,” Wolff says. “It’s meant to initiate lasting partnerships and collaborations. We want to throw possibilities out and see them take root. It offers a place for people to share ideas for coherent and effective advocacy.”

The summit is one of several UMHI events planned for 2014 and serves as a key program in the initiative’s outreach efforts. The initiative, housed in UMaine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.

The mission of UMHI is twofold: To support and promote the excellent humanities scholarship being created on campus, and to bring that research and scholarship into contact with all Maine residents through an aspect known as public humanities, according to Wolff.

“UMHI is a very strong advocate of the public humanities and efforts to break down walls between the university and the community at large,” Wolff says, adding that UMaine humanities professors and students are working on behalf of all Maine residents.

More information on the Maine Humanities Summit and UMHI is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Categories: Combined News, News

Student Grades Improve, Failure Rate Drops in Active-Learning STEM Classes

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 15:01

A significantly greater number of students fail science, engineering and math courses taught lecture-style than fail in classes incorporating active learning that expects them to participate in discussions and problem-solving beyond what they’ve memorized.

Active learning also improves exam performance — in some cases enough to change grades by half a letter or more so a B-plus, for example, becomes an A-minus.

These findings are from the largest and most comprehensive analysis ever published of studies comparing lecturing to active learning in undergraduate education, says Scott Freeman, a University of Washington principal lecturer in biology and lead author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 12.

Co-authors are Mary Wenderoth, Sarah Eddy, Miles McDonough, Nnadozie Okoroafor and Hannah Jordt, all with the UW biology department, and Michelle Smith, University of Maine assistant professor in the School of Biology and member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education.

The researchers based their findings on 225 studies of undergraduate education across all of the STEM areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They found that 55 percent more students fail lecture-based courses than classes with at least some active learning. Two previous studies looked at subsets of the STEM areas and none before considered failure rates.

On average across all the studies, a little more than one-third of students in traditional lecture classes failed — that is, they either withdrew or got Fs or Ds, which generally means they were ineligible to take more advanced courses.

On average with active learning, a little more than one-fifth of students failed.

“If you have a course with 100 students signed up, about 34 fail if they get lectured to but only 22 fail if they do active learning according to our analysis,” Freeman says.

“There are hundreds of thousands of students taking STEM courses in U.S. colleges every year, so we’re talking about tens of thousands of students who could stay in STEM majors instead of flunking out — every year.”

This could go a long way toward meeting national calls like the one from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology saying the U.S. needs a million more STEM majors in the future, Freeman says.

Attempts by college faculty to use active learning, long popular in K–12 classrooms, started taking off in the mid-1990s, Freeman says, though lecturing still dominates.

“We’ve got to stop killing student performance and interest in science by lecturing and instead help them think like scientists,” he says.

In introduction to biology courses, Freeman’s largest UW class had 700 students. He expects students to read their $200 textbooks and arrive in class knowing the material for the day. Quizzes on the assigned readings keep their feet to the fire.

“These students got into college by being ferocious memorizers so we don’t need to spend class time going over what they’ve already read,” Freeman says. “A reading assignment on how sperm and eggs form might then lead me to ask the class how male contraceptives might work. After giving them time to come up with their own ideas and rationale, I might give them a couple more minutes to discuss it with each other, and then I call on students randomly to start the discussion.”

Knowing they could get called on at any time encourages students to stay focused, he says.

Smith, of UMaine, agrees.

“Students are asked to come to my class with their ‘minds on,’” says Smith, who has incorporated active learning into her classes for eight years.

“My main teaching responsibility includes a general genetics course for undergraduates. My teaching philosophy is that students learn best when they actively engage in the classroom, their conceptions of the material are acknowledged and used as a starting point for instruction and they see the relevance of the material they are learning.”

Wenderoth, a UW principal lecturer and paper co-author, says having students use clickers — hand-held wireless devices — to answer multiple-choice questions in class is another example of how active learning keeps students engaged. “We characterize it as, ‘Ask, don’t tell,’” she says.

For the paper, researchers examined more than 640 studies comparing lecturing with some kind of active learning. The studies, conducted at four-year and community colleges mainly in the U.S., appeared in STEM education journals, databases, dissertations and conference proceedings.

Some 225 of those studies met the standards to be included in the analysis including: assurances the groups of students being compared were equally qualified and able; that instructors or groups of instructors were the same; and that exams given to measure performance were either exactly alike or used questions pulled from the same pool of questions each time.

The data were considered using meta-analysis, an approach long used in fields such as biomedicine to determine the effectiveness of a treatment based on studies with a variety of patient groups, providers and ways of administering the therapy or drugs.

The findings showed grade improvements on exams increased an average of 6 percent. Using grading typical in UW’s introductory biology, physics and chemistry courses, a gain of 6 percent would have raised students half a grade turning a C-plus into a B-minus, for example, or a B-plus into an A-minus.

If the failure rates of 34 percent for lecturing and 22 percent in classes with some active learning were applied to the 7 million U.S. undergraduates who say they want to pursue STEM majors, some 2.38 million students would fail lecture-style courses versus 1.54 million with active learning. That’s 840,000 additional students failing under lecturing, a difference of 55 percent compared to the failure rate of active learning.

“That 840,000 students is a large portion of the million additional STEM majors the president’s council called for,” Freeman says.

Community colleges and universities could help faculty incorporate effective active learning by providing guidance — UMaine, for instance, has the Faculty Incentive Grant Program and University Course Observation Program supported by the RiSE Center.

“My hope is that this article both inspires STEM instructors to use active learning strategies, and institutions to provide sustained professional development for faculty, postdocs and graduate students,” Smith says. 

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Cover UMaine’s 212th Commencement

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:56

The Associated Press, WLBZ (Channel 2), WABI (Channel 5) and the Bangor Daily News reported on the University of Maine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena on May 10. More than 10,200 family members and friends attended to watch most of the 1,660 students — undergraduates, master’s and doctoral — receive their degrees. This year’s honorary degree recipients were Maine singer-songwriter David Mallett of Sebec, who serenaded graduates with his “The Garden Song,” and international best-selling author Tess Gerritsen of Camden. “The University of Maine is now part of your identity just as you are the legacy of the University of Maine,” President Paul Ferguson told the graduates. SFGate carried the AP report. The Sun Journal carried an article about a graduate proposing during the ceremony and the BDN also carried an article on UMaine student Josiah Corbin who slept in his car to save money. Corbin graduated Saturday debt-free with a biology degree.

Categories: Combined News, News

Dill Talks to WLBZ About Grub Season

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:55

James Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WLBZ (Channel 2) about grubs — the immature larvae of beetles that can cause dead, brown patches on lawns. Dill said grubs also attract other animals, such as skunks and crows, that can damage lawns by digging. Dill warns that treatment should have been done in the fall, and any method used now — such as pesticides or microscopic worms that eat the grubs — will only prevent more grubs from emerging later. He adds grub patterns can be unpredictable, and suggests contacting a professional before using chemicals.

Categories: Combined News, News

Media Report on Coach Walsh’s Introduction at Cross Insurance Center

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:54

92.9 FM The Ticket, WABI (Channel 5), WLBZ (Channel 2), Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald covered the formal introduction of Bob Walsh as the University of Maine men’s basketball head coach. UMaine athletic department officials held a press conference at the Cross Insurance Center to introduce Walsh. “I’m thrilled about it,” Walsh said. “Coaching at a place where I’m comfortable and can stay for a long time is really important to me.”

Categories: Combined News, News

Anderson Talks to MPBN About Big Agriculture

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:53

Gary Anderson, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension associate professor, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report titled, “Maine farmers providing ark for critically endangered breeds.” Experts say biodiversity in the world’s farmyards are shrinking, according to the article, and efforts are underway to monitor several farm animals that appear on a list of critically endangered domestic breeds. Anderson said today, big agriculture is all about making more food for less money. He gave an example of chickens; stating that in 1926, the average chicken produced 126 eggs per year, and today, a hybrid hen created by agribusiness Hy-Line International lays 240 eggs per year. He added the hens are also eating less; from more than 7 pounds of feed to make a dozen eggs 60 years ago, to only 2.8 pounds of feed today.

Categories: Combined News, News

Brewer Quoted in Press Herald Article on Eliot Cutler’s Gubernatorial Campaign

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:52

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about independent Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler’s campaign and his dominance in affluent suburban communities such as Yarmouth. Brewer said he’s not surprised Cutler has strong support in Yarmouth again because “He’s doing all the right things — campaigning hard, putting forth substantive policy proposals and calling for debates.” He added Cutler will need to convince voters in Yarmouth and beyond that he can win a three-way race and not just play the role of spoiler. “I know his people disagree, but this race will be decided by what the people who don’t like LePage do,” Brewer said.

Categories: Combined News, News

Maine Sea Grant Seeking Proposals for Scallop Research, AP Reports

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:51

The Associated Press reported Maine Sea Grant is seeking proposals for research projects related to the nearshore scallop fishery in Maine.

The program is making money available for projects that emphasize cooperation between fishermen and scientists, with the goal of improving the management of Maine’s scallop fishery. Maine Sea Grant said it expects proposals will include requests for $2,000 to $10,000 in grant money. Proposals are due by June 16. SeacoastOnline,, SFGate and WGME (Channel 13) carried the AP report.

Categories: Combined News, News

UMaine to Host Search and Rescue Training Conference May 17–18

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 13:49

The Maine Association for Search and Rescue (MASAR) will hold its annual training conference May 17–18 at the University of Maine’s New Balance Student Recreation Center in Orono.

MASAR is a nonprofit organization that helps the Maine Warden Service search for people who are lost or missing.

Any search and rescue personnel, dogs and vehicles spotted in the greater Orono area during this time are likely involved in the conference.

Many of the seminars are hands-on activities and include topics such as weather awareness, evidence preservation and lost person behavior. There also will be outdoor training exercises in litter carry, shelter building, land navigation, clue awareness and radio communications.

The conference is open to anyone 18 or older who is interested in learning about or becoming involved in search and rescue. Registration is $100 per person and will be accepted the day of the event, however meals and lodging can’t be guaranteed for those who register after May 12.

More information, including the registration form and event schedule, can be found online or by calling 207.951.0526.

Categories: Combined News, News