Higher education back-to-school story ideas

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT MIXES WITH RESIDENCE HALL LIFE — The third floor of Luter Residence Hall opens its doors this fall to first-year students who are interested in learning about computers and are willing to help the university test new technology being considered for use on campus. Technology Quarters, the most recent addition to the list of innovative theme housing at Wake Forest, is the brainchild of experts in the university’s Information Systems (IS) department. “Technology Quarters is designed to bring together students who desire to learn more about technology and want to share their knowledge with other students,” said Andrea Ellis, manager of student programs for the IS Department. “No previous computer knowledge is required. We want to give students a chance to network and reside close to others with common interests.” Throughout the upcoming year, the IS department will ask the group living in Technology Quarters for feedback about technology issues on campus. In addition, the students will be given opportunities to test and comment on new technology coming to campus, Ellis said. To arrange interviews, please contact Jacob McConnico at mcconnjn@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

STUDY ABROAD: AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN — This fall, when Wake Forest University senior Joel Cohen heads to France for a semester, it will mark his fourth study abroad experience during his college career. The economics and political science major has already studied in England, Argentina and Brazil. More than 50 percent of Wake Forest students study abroad at least once, but studying abroad more than once is becoming increasingly common. “We see more freshmen who enter school with plans to study abroad,” says Leigh Hatchett, senior study abroad advisor at Wake Forest. Students plan further in advance, says Hatchett. They often study abroad during their sophomore year and then plan to fit in another semester or summer study abroad experience before they graduate. To talk with students who will spend the fall semester studying abroad—again, or to arrange an interview with Wake Forest’s director of international studies regarding this trend, contact Cheryl Walker at walkercv@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

WOMEN’S STUDIES OR GENDER STUDIES? — Colleges and universities around the country are re-examining their program titles to more accurately reflect the scholarship that is being done within the departments. Why are some making the switch to gender studies after years of focus on women only? Programs are trying to balance their focus on women’s history, women’s differences, and women’s contributions to society with an understanding of how gender – not women alone – shapes our experiences and our culture, says Wake Forest University’s Anne Boyle. This year, Wake Forest University’s women’s studies program will change to the women’s and gender studies program, purposefully including both segments in its name. “There is a distinct difference in calling yourself a women’s studies program or a gender studies program,” says Boyle, director of Wake Forest’s program. “But they are inextricably related, and we didn’t want to lose either component.” To arrange an interview with Boyle, contact Sarah Mansell at manselss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

UNIVERSITIES GET IN THE BUSINESS OF EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY — From ubiquitous laptops to paperless quizzes, technology is changing the face and pace of college classrooms. Since it made laptops a requirement in 1996, Wake Forest University has remained on the cutting edge of academic technology trends. The university’s Information Systems research and development staff members have created software programs for handheld computers that have been downloaded by hundreds of institutions across the country, piloted in North Carolina elementary and high schools and used in several Wake Forest classes, including a recent study abroad trip to Europe. One of the university’s most recent programs for the handheld, PocketClassroom, was licensed to an up-and-coming education technology company. “We try to envision the future of technology in the academic world and create software that turns those visions into products that enhance learning for students,” says Jay Dominick, Wake Forest’s chief information officer. For more information on Wake Forest’s technology programs, contact the News Service.

THE ART OF MAKING ROOMMATE ASSIGNMENTS — The Residence Life and Housing staff at Wake Forest University sorts through hundreds of housing agreements by hand each year, looking to make perfect matches for students who have often never shared a room with another person or even been away from home for an extended period of time. “We have most of the software to help with the matching, but doing it by hand helps us get to know the students,” says Connie Carson, director of Residence Life and Housing. “The incoming students fill out a short preference sheet with questions about things like study habits and smoking. We try to match most of their preferences, but we intentionally try to put students together who have some differences. It’s part of the first-year experience.” Housing staff tries to match North Carolina students with students from other states. When all out-of-state students have been matched, housing staff works to match students from rural areas with those from urban parts of the state. Since first-year students at Wake Forest are not allowed to choose a particular roommate or residence hall, the staff has the challenge of making decisions about all incoming students. Carson says the task can be extremely challenging, especially because student’s preferences tend to change significantly during the summer before their freshman year. To arrange an interview, please contact Jacob McConnico at mcconnjn@wfu .edu or 336-758-5237.

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN IN MATH AND COMPUTER SCIENCE? — The national trend of women earning fewer computer science and math degrees than men has not been lost on Wake Forest University, but faculty members here are making great efforts to reverse the numbers. A collaborative “Women in Science” program between the university’s math and science departments, and the women and gender studies program encourages more female students to pursue careers in those fields. Programs highlight opportunities for summer research, discuss strategies for combining career and family, and bring doctoral graduateas from the sciences back to campus to share experiences with undergraduates. Jennifer Burg, one of two female computer science faculty members and chair of the department, says the department is trying to attract more women. She and Ellen Kirkman, professor of mathematics and director of the Women in Science program, both hope to build on the reputation of the many Wake Forest female graduates now in math and computer science careers to encourage interest among current female undergraduates. To arrange interviews with Burg, Kirkman or women majoring in math or computer science, contact Sarah Mansell at mansellss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

HEALTH ISSUES AND COLLEGE STUDENTS, CLASS ENCOURAGES DEBATE — It’s not unusual for college freshmen to talk about dieting, alcohol and breast implants with friends, but this fall several first-year students at Wake Forest University will talk intimately about these topics and more controversial health/lifestyle issues with one of the university’s longtime professors – Paul Ribisl, professor of health and exercise science and chair of the department. The students will be participating in one of the university’s first-year seminars, where students are placed in small groups to discuss innovative, often interdisciplinary academic topics. Ribisl’s class, “Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Health and Society,” forces students to research various health issues and then defend one side of them. Ribisl, who has taught at Wake Forest since 1973 and founded the university’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, says the students’ views are a benchmark for measuring the changing views of college students across the country. To arrange interviews with students or Ribisl, contact Sarah Mansell at mansellss@nullwfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

Categories: Campus Life, Student