Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Healthy Eating Writing Contest!

Did you know that writing is good for you? Writing is a great way to relieve stress, come up with great new ideas, and it can be really fun! Additionally, fiction can be an excellent tool to help convey health information or motivate behavior changes in a way that pure facts and statistics can't.

Ready to stretch your writing skills a little bit? We have a fiction writing contest coming down the pike complete with prizes and a chance to have your work showcased on our blog. We don't have all of the details worked out yet, but we wanted to share what we have so far so that you can start working on your story.

Here are the rules of the contest:
1. You must write a fiction story that addresses and promotes the topic of healthy eating
2. Your story must be at least 1,000 words long and no longer than 5,000 words.
3. You must include a leprechaun and a monkey in your story. (You didn't think we could be completely serious, did you?)
4. Make it lighthearted or humorous, if you can, but in good taste.
5. The contest is open to anyone 18 or older.

So, let your mind get creative! Have a little fun talking about something healthy!

Showcase: Dr. Parker and HIV

Photo courtesy of Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services Office of Public Information

On Tuesday, May 31, 2012, La Shonda Worthey and Dr. Kimberly Parker, members of the Texas Black Women’s Health Initiative, along with Zachary Thompson, Director, Dallas County Health and Human Services, were presented with a Resolution during Dallas County Commissioner’s Court for the Community Mobilization and Empowerment Conference.  

An estimated 1.2 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 and although Blacks account for only 13% of the population, Blacks represent almost half (49%) of those living with  this disease. The Texas Black Women’s Initiative (TXBWI) was created in 2010 to address the impact of HIV/AIDS across the state of Texas.  As a new initiative, the Dallas Regional Team will offer a Community Mobilization conference on June 15, 2012. The conference theme is “Community Mobilization: Working Together for Change” and the goal of the conference is to mobilize and empower community members - men and women - by providing them with the resources and skills necessary to address HIV/AIDS and other health disparities faced by Black women.

Attendees will participate in information sessions and will learn the skills needed to mobilize community members to address health disparities faced by Black women. Participants will also develop a community mobilization plan to share as an empowerment tool. The event will include a screening of the documentary “Many Women, One Voice” and each participant will receive items from Greater Than AIDS to help implement their community mobilization plan. The conference will conclude with a “Change Makers” network event for all participants, speakers, invited guest, and policy makers in the North Texas area.

During the Commissioner’s Court session, Dr. Kimberly A. Parker, Assistant Professor of Health Studies at Texas Woman’s University, spoke about the impact of HIV/AIDS among African American women across the nation and in Dallas County. She also stated that if we provide community members with the tools, skills, and resources necessary to mobilize around this disease, Dallas area residents will be empowered to address factors that influence HIV transmission. 

You can read more about Dr. Parker's and other faculty research interests and efforts here.

June 27th is National HIV Testing Day 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Men's Health Week - June 14 through 20

This week is Men's Health Week, a national event that is celebrated each year in the week leading up to and including Father's Day. The goal of this week is to encourage everyone to bring awareness to preventable health problems, as well as encourage early detection and treatment of diseases in men and boys. One of the concerns with men's health is that women continue to live longer on average than men do - up to 5 years longer. Additionally, men are more susceptible to premature death, and in higher numbers, from almost all possible causes of death. Read more of the concerns related to men's health, as well as precautions that can be taken here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mens-health-week-hits-the-international-stage-158405305.html.

There are many ways to participate during the week, and some of the things that you can do are
  • Pick a day and wear blue to raise awareness for men's health
  • Talk to the men and boys in your life about potential health concerns and encourage them to have physicals, be screened for diseases, or work on an increasingly healthy lifestyle
  • Plan for healthy physical activities or meals
More information about Men's Health Week can be found here: http://www.menshealthmonth.org/imhw/imhw.htm. Men's Health Network - http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/ - is also an excellent resource. They are a national non-profit organization that is dedicated men, boys, and families. They provide information on everything from health programs to advice on fatherhood. Additional resources for men's health can be found through these links:
Do you have any additional helpful links to share? Or, do you have a creative way that you are planning to celebrate Men's Health Week this year? If so, please share with us!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post: Assessment in the Distance Course

If you’re like most online instructors, you probably do more summative assessments in your courses than formative assessments. That may be because distance learning is still new to many in higher education and the translation of classroom assessment techniques (CATs) from face-to-face to virtual environments are still being explored.

As a refresher, summative assessments are provided to test what students have learned in your course. Quizzes, exams, final exams, and final papers are all examples of summative assessments. Formative assessments are classroom assessment techniques designed to gather feedback from students throughout the semester in order to gauge learning, prepare them for higher-stakes grading projects later in the semester via practice tests or assignments, and/or to modify teaching strategies to meet student needs.

How can you gauge the extent to which students are picking up on the information you are trying to impart? In a face-to-face environment you could just ask students or read their body language as you conduct a visual survey of your classroom. In the virtual world, it’s not quite that simple; but, it can be done. There are tools available in the online environment to help you ferret out the raised eyebrow, blank stare, and furrowed brow of students who just aren’t “getting it.”

When you provide feedback on test questions, add comments for students in the grade book, and use track changes on student’s written assignments, you are providing students with valuable feedback that they can use on their next assignment. But, in “real-time” terms, what can you do to help students course correct on this, the current, assignment?

Remember how you used to stand up in front of the class and check for understanding by asking, “Did everybody get that?” or “Any questions so far?” Well, here are a few online equivalents that are probably used most frequently: email, a muddiest-point discussion board forum, analytic rubrics, and assignment and grade book comments. Self-assessment surveys, practice tests, and synchronous chat are seen less often, which is surprising since they are not difficult to execute. As an example, the Distance Education office here at Texas Woman’s University offers training on Wimba Classroom, which instructors can use for office hours, synchronous chat, or student presentations. In addition, most publishers offer companion websites for their text books, which contain learning activities that students can access for free just by going to the text book site. The activities include practice quizzes to help students prepare for tests, glossaries, flashcards and crossword puzzles.

The point is that while researchers continue to find ways to bridge the time and space gap in the asynchronous online learning environment, faculty can still find out if students are “getting it”. TWU ID has some excellent resources at their “Assessment in the Distance Course” section which you can access at the following link:  http://twuid.pbworks.com/w/page/25079070/Assessment%20in%20the%20Distance%20Course%20Menu%20Bb9.

This post contributed by Margaret Cortez.

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