Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Showcase on Student Success: Who's Who

Congratulations to our graduate students who were selected for inclusion in Who's Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges for 2012!

Ms. Carol Creech, PhD student in Health Studies
Ms. Cassity Gutierrez, PhD student in Health Studies
Ms. Kimberly Mory, PhD student in Health Studies
Ms. Lona Sandon, PhD student in Health Studies
Ms. Lindsey Peddicord, MS student in Health Studies

Also, check out the blurb on Lona Sandon on the TWU Graduate School website.

Are you a Health Studies student or alum with a success story you would like to share? Please contact our blog editors Heidi Ashbaugh and Morgan O'Donnell. We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest Post: Building DE Courses

Last time in this section, we talked about how to design and plan your course offline, outside of Blackboard, using a Learning Guide that mirrors exactly the components of each module in your course. For more on the process, features, and benefits of using this approach to course planning, visit the Health Studies Milestones and Meditations Blog at: http://twuhealthstudies.blogspot.com/2012/03/guest-post-tips-for-designing-and.html. This time we’re going to talk about actually Building DE Courses.

This part of the TWU ID site is indexed into seven (7) sections covering, among other topics, the Course Menu, Module Creation, Technical Skills, and Third Party Tools for Teaching & Learning. We won’t cover them in detail in this section, but we will briefly address the Course Menu, personalizing the distance education course, and Web 2.0 tools.

There’s really no mystery to building distance education courses if you follow just a few simple guidelines. As with any communication project, you will typically start with an outline of what you want to write about, or talk about. In distance education, this outline is represented by the Course Menu. Get the course menu in order, and the rest of your course will come together much more easily.

When Blackboard shells become available for a new course, they typically come preloaded with some links already in the course menu. A bare-bones new course shell includes links for announcements, instructor information, a syllabus, and discussion board. All of these areas are empty, of course, until you, the instructor, populates them.

Once you have determined the elements you want to include in your course, you are ready to start populating the Course Menu and arranging the elements in the order you want them to appear. If you are using a course from a previous semester that you or someone else has taught, you will see all the links that were used by that instructor. You may want to rename, delete, or even hide these links from your students. Or you may choose to rearrange them so that the flow makes more sense to you. This short video shows you how to add and rearrange course menu items:

However, there’s a lot more to building DE courses than the course menu. There is the personalization of the courses, which is where you, as the Instructor, can assert your personality and presence in the course. This aspect of course construction is the fun part and allows you to play with clipart, banners, photographs, and Word Art text. It’s important to remember that the World Wide Web – where our Blackboard courses live – is a visual medium. Reading line-after-line of text – no matter how relevant the information, is . . . well, boring. Breaking up blocks of text with white space or images, or even indented paragraphs and bullets is critical to successful communication.

All of our instructors have the software and tools to give their courses a jolt of their personality and to brand their courses in such a way that students will instantly identify the course with the textbook, subject matter, content and instructor. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

A typical banner, like the one shown to the left, is 6.5 to 7 inches wide and about 1 inch high. This banner was made in Microsoft Publisher using Word Art for the text and a photograph provided by the faculty member. I typically include the name of the course, the instructor’s name, and the course ID along with an image – sometimes provided by the Instructor but not always. Publisher is a component of the Microsoft Office Suite, but the banner can also be created using Microsoft Word, or even PowerPoint. Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates using PowerPoint to create a banner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhhtbTsILhA&list=PLA6F88267DF7543EA&index=3&feature=plcp. (You may also want to check out some of the other videos on this page, since it contains several informative videos on using many aspects of Blackboard that may be helpful for you and your student.)

The final section in Building DE Courses, Third Party Tools for Teaching and Learning, is an introduction to Web 2.0 tools where even more functionality and fun is available. Many of these you already know about and use in your classes: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to name just a few. However, there are many other Web 2.0 tools that help extend the reach and collaborative aspects of Blackboard to your students.

By now you are probably thinking, “easy for you to say.” Well, yes, that’s true. But, it’s also true that knowledge of rocket science is not required to resize photographs, or convert PowerPoint presentations  to .pdf files. And, the best news of all is that TWU’s Instructional Design team has done all the research for you and posted it to TWU ID and YouTube. Additionally, our department’s course support team is available to help you with any Blackboard elements you would like to include in your courses.

This post contributed by Margaret Cortez.

Margaret Cortez is the Course Support Specialist for the TWU Department of Health Studies.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alcohol Awareness Month: Interview with Sonia Redwine, Assistant Director of Health Education at TWU

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has designated each April as Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol abuse affects a large number of Americans, with NCADD stating that 8.5% of our population, or more than 18 million individuals, suffer from disorders relating to alcohol, as well as the startling fact that "25% percent of U.S. children have been exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family" (http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/for-the-media/press-releases-a-news-articles/318-ncadd-alcohol-awareness-month).

To help clarify some of the aspects of alcohol abuse, I interviewed Sonia Redwine, the Assistant Director of Health Education here at Texas Woman's University. Here are her responses to some of the more common questions that individuals have.

Question: What is alcohol abuse?

Redwine: The American Psychological Association characterizes someone who has experienced one or more of the following situations in the past year as abusing alcohol:

  1. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in failure to fulfill role obligations at home, school, or work. 
  2. Recurrent alcohol use in dangerous situations, like while operating a motor-vehicle.
  3. Recurrent alcohol related legal problems, like a DWI.
  4. Continued alcohol use despite social and interpersonal problems caused or worsened by alcohol.

31% of college students met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse within a year (Kinght, et al., 2002.).

Question: What are the potential issues that can arise when a person abuses alcohol?

Redwine: Traditional age college students are already at increased risk of unintentional injury, and alcohol is a contributing factor to falls, burns, drowning, and motor-vehicle crashes.  A reported 3,360,000 college students between the ages of 18-24 drive under the influence (Hingson, et al., 2009).  That is a staggering amount!  We also know that alcohol is the #1 date rape drug and the abuse of alcohol can result in sexual assault or date rape.  In addition to sexual assault, 100,000 students between the ages of 18-24 reported being too intoxicated to know if they consented to sex (Hingson, et al., 2009).  If students don’t know if they are consenting, how do they know if they are properly conducting safe sex practices, like using a condom?  Academic problems can also occur, such as, missing classes, falling behind, doing poorly on exams/papers, and receiving lower grades.  The Bacchus Network has a great link that shows the correlation between the number of drinks per week and the average GPA.  The more you drink, the lower your grade (http://www.bacchusnetwork.org/alcohol-academics.html). Health consequences that can arise with chronic use include liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and high blood pressure, along with various types of cancer.

Question: What are some of the warning signs of alcohol abuse?

Redwine: Here are some good questions to ask yourself or someone you think is abusing alcohol:

  1. Do you look for reasons to get drunk?
  2. Do you wake up the morning after not remembering part of the evening before?
  3. Do you drink to get drunk?

Other warning signs would include failure to fulfill obligations, poor attendance, low grades, irritability, and defensiveness.

Question: What are some strategies for cutting back on or quitting drinking?

Redwine: The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests the following guidelines:

  1. Write down your reason for cutting down/abstaining
  2. Set a drink limit and write it down.  
  3. Place both of these in a place you will see often.
  4. Keep a diary of your drinking.
  5. Don’t be around temptation
  6. Learn to say no
  7. Get support
  8. Don’t give up!

Question: What can you do if you are afraid someone you know is abusing alcohol?

Redwine: Talk to a healthcare provider or counselor to get more information and resources.  When talking with the individual, use specific examples, especially recent ones, which illustrate your concerns.  Get help from other friends, family members, and community resources.  For more information on local programs, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Question: Where can individuals get more information on preventing alcohol abuse?

Redwine: Students can always come by Student Health Services to get information from our health education library, or make an appointment to see a provider.  We are located in Hubbard Hall, next to DPS, and across from ACT.  If you are not on the Denton campus, you can email healtheduation@twu.edu for more information.  The TWU Counseling Center is another great resource, and they have some materials available on their website.  I also use the following websites: www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov and www.niaaa.nih.gov.

Do you have other suggestions for help in preventing alcohol abuse? If so, please share your resources with us!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post - Turn Your Interview Into an Offer

Do you believe the offer goes to the most qualified candidate? Probably not.  The offer DOES go to the most  prepared   candidate.  So, how do you get over the stress of giving “wrong” answers and become comfortable with the interviewing process?  Preparation and practice will give you the confidence to present your accomplishments effectively, increase your comfort with “difficult” questions and prepare you for interview success.
  Make a Connection – Clearly define your “why buy” by thinking like an employer.  You are being hired to solve
  problems.  These three ideas can supercharge your interview preparation:
1.     Research the employer – trends, culture, mission and vision – how does this information connect to your values, interests, skills and personality.  Can you answer why you would say yes to an offer?
2.     Complete a position analysis – understand the deliverables vs. your skills and contributions.  Will you be productive and engaged to give superior work if hired?  Explain how your skills will immediately contribute to the employer’s bottom-line.
3.     Understand the “hot buttons” – discuss how you will solve everyday problems in the role, big headaches that might come up; importantly be prepared to discuss how you can spot problems that are yet to happen—AND won’t happen because you would have already addressed these!
Create Visual Alignment – your answers MUST be relevant, remarkable and resonate with the employer.  The best way to do this to share success stories as they relate to deliverables on the job.  Use these ideas to prepare and practice compelling answers.
1.     Prepare your stories – use the challenge-action-result (CAR) process to clearly describe the challenge faced, then add what you did to respond to this challenge and end with a strong result which clearly showcases how you will address the problem in the role being discussed.  People remember stories –use these to engage and invite curiosity.  Quantify, where possible—how much, by when, how many. 
2.     Present your best, authentic self – be positive, upbeat and aware of non-verbal communication.  Practice in front of a mirror or with a coach to become comfortable.  Image matters, so dress professionally.
3.     Show interest and engagement – ask inquiry questions about workplace culture, expectations, management styles and ongoing training.  Connect this information to how you will add value with your skills.
Display Accountability – ask for the job; be bold and ask if anything gives the employer cause for concern so that you can address the issue immediately for them. 
1.     Establish a time-line for decision making – your goal is to help the employer make the right fit decision, so ask what else you could do to take this discussion to the next step and by when.
2.     Write your thank you letter – make this letter “more than” just a thank you.  Create an addendum, if appropriate and send in with your thank you note.  Examples of addendums could be a contributions document, a 30-60-90 day plan or expanding on ideas discussed in the interview.
3.     Give them a reason to pursue you – use behaviors consistently so that the interviewers see you as likeable, talented and approachable.  Leave them with a memorable and concise unique selling proposition.
Research, preparation and practice will get you the offer you want and richly deserve.  What are you waiting for? Go with confidence to your interview and engage, inspire and persuade people to celebrate your talents.  Tell them what they will be missing if your talent is missing from their organization! 
Sunitha Narayanan is a certified career coach with a passion for connecting people and their talents to life and work opportunities. She is a co-active coach, empowering her clients to believe in their dreams, set actionable goals and actively create joy in their work lives. She is with OI Partners Promark Company, a firm that offers executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement services. Follow Sunitha on Twitter @sunithanarayana.  She can be reached at snarayanan@oipartners.net

For additional assistance interviewing, be sure to check out the Career Services workshop:
Nail the Interview with Effective Interviewing Techniques
Date: Tuesday, April 17th
Time: 2:30-4:00 pm
Location: SU 113 

Also read their Sample Questions & Tips page.

You might also enjoy Career Tips: Keep Your Head Out of the Sand.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Guest Post: Health Focus - Sexual Assault Awareness Month


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

According to national statistics, 1 in 5 female college students will experience sexual assault during her college career. If that isn’t a women’s health issue, I don’t know what is!

Did you know that 75% of sexual assault victims knew their assailant prior to the assault?
Did you know that 70% of sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol?
Did you know that no one can give consent for sex if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
Consent must be freely given and communicated clearly!

Many times, victims blame themselves for the assault, based on common myths such as “I shouldn’t have left the party with him,” “I should have fought back more,” or “I shouldn’t have been drinking.” But, it is important to remember that no one ever asks to be sexually assaulted.

Remember, no one is to blame for sexual assault but the assailant!

We know that young women are in a high-risk group for sexual assault as well as domestic violence, and TWU has a unique program designed to keep our students safe and informed about these issues: Project REV!

Project REV offers services and resources about sexual assault, as well as domestic violence, dating abuse, and stalking. Services provided include:
  • Educational presentations and events
  • Academic advocacy
  • Individual counseling
  • Referrals and resources
Just call 940-898-2744 or email rev@twu.edu. All our services are free and confidential!

This month, in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Project REV student organization is hosting a Take Back the Night march. Every day, women and men around the world are victims of sexual violence. Project REV invites you to march with us and say enough is enough! Come join us as we Take Back the Night!
Date:      April 9th
Where:   Hubbard Amphitheater
Time:      6:30 pm
What:     Featuring local music, pizza, and much more!

For more information about Project REV or Take Back the Night, call 940-898-2744 or email rev@twu.edu.

Disclaimer: This project is supported by grant #2006-WA-AX-0011 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, Office of Justice Programs, U. S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U. S. Department of Justice. 

This guest post was written by Stephanie Jordan, Project Coordinator for Project REV at Texas Woman's University. You can visit the Project Rev website at http://www.twu.edu/project-rev/.