Millikin University - Decatur, IL
University Studies News

Learning Communities

In Fall 2010, Weck Living and Learning Community first-year students created, researched, wrote,and recorded environmental public service announcements and radio programsfor WJMU.  The two half hour shows promoted environmentally friendly Certified Backyard Habitats and campus environmental activism.  One program, written for children as acommunity service, ran as part of the WJMU award winning "Playground" series.  The other program was aimed atthe Millikin campus and community.  Students created original music or lyrics, interviewed science faculty and students, researched important environmental topics, and promoted the campus "Green Club" and new solar compactors.  This was clearly a team effort as students spent many late nights in the recording studio with WJMU staff pulling together these programs. Both programs will be part of the Celebration of Scholarship in April.  They will also run again on Earth Day on April 22nd to remind the campus and community of Millikin's commitment to global citizenship.

Professor Candace Baker


University Seminar (IN140)

For Fall University Seminar IN-140's service learning project, Amanda Podeshi’s students worked with Assistant University Archivist Todd Rudat to create an archives exhibit that would explore women's roles at Millikin and in the Decatur community during World War II. Throughout the semester, groups researched the work of the Millikin Dames, the social activities that MU women participated in during the war, women's direct participation in the war effort (volunteering for the WACs, WAVEs, and Red Cross), and women's civilian effort in Decatur to support the war.  After a great deal of work, learning about the World War II era through the archives, as well as learning about the process of creating an exhibit, the students held their own exhibit, which opened on Veterans' Day, November 11, 2010. 

Amanda Podeschi

University Seminar (IN140)

When Dr. Money asked her to present to the other IN140 professors about her "Best Practice"methods for integrating ethical reasoning into the curriculum, Molly Pawsey instantly decided to share her "Barometer of Ideas" activity, which allows first-year students hands-on experience with the concept of ethical reasoning during their First Week. Students are prompted with prepared statements such as: "The phrase 'In God We Trust' should remain on the one dollar bill," and they are asked to make a decision about whether or not they agree or disagree with the statement. Without speaking, clarifying, or discussing, the students move along a line labeled "Agree", "Neutral," or "Disagree." They choose to stand on the section of the barometer they think best represents their stance. All of the statements used ask students to consider "why" and help them discover multiple perspectives, as they see classmates spread all over the barometer.

Pawsey continues these discussions throughout the course of the semester, integrating the idea of defending a statement and supporting the discussion. She wraps up ethical reasoning in a collaborative project where all students are divided into groups of 4-5. They decide upon an ethical reasoning topic and, as a group, work together to write a 5-6 page paper. This can be a challenge.  Sometimes the students in the group do not agree with the same perspective. However, these differences help make for stronger papers.  This entire process has become quite interesting with the formation of Google Docs and other collaborative learning web material.

Molly Pawsey


Critical Writing, Reading, & Research (IN150)

In Fall 2010, Dr.Braniger’s Critical Writing, Reading, & Research students wrote a variety of essays, ranging from close readings of texts to personal narratives on literacy and learning.  Understanding the value of sharing their work with a larger audience, students decided to create a blog for posting their very best work.  Individuals chose to significantly revise and polish one essay for publication on the blog.  From celebrations of poetry writing, to reflections on the meaning and value of our actions and emotions, first-year Millikin student use writing to explore questions most important to them. Click here to check out their excitement, wonder, and joy of writing.

Dr. Carmella Braniger


United States Structures: Personal Health and Pollution (IN251)

In Dr. Cloney’s Fall 2010 course, the students utilized research articles, instructor input, and student-led peer discussion, in combination with ethical reasoning and critical thinking skills, to apply course concepts to their personal lives, interpersonal environment, and communities. A variety of topics, including the impact of pollutants on genes and disease risk, public health advocacy, pesticides, organics, lead, volatile organic compounds/chemicals, water, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and climate change were discussed. Students integrated present day media pieces into the course discussions, and completed the course with a culminating project. Students volunteered and/or visited various sites in the community associated with community health and pollution.The students utilized a combination of research, site visits, and interviews to educate themselves and their peers on the topic, the significance of the issue, the prevalence of the issue, and the ethical considerations related to the issue. The students then discussed their personal growth related to the topic, and the need to change perspectives and practices to promote overall personal and community health.

Dr. Tina Cloney


Global Issues:  Shifting Codes and Dissolving Identities--Contesting Nationalism and Citizenship through Indian Popular Cinema (IN 350)

In Fall 2010, students in Dr. Banerjee’s IN 350 class studied the world’s largest film industry, Bollywood to raise questions about the interplay and contradictions that exist between reality, images, and representations of the Indian people and their country. Students embraced, celebrated, and critiqued cultural differences through the sustained, but often shifting, theoretical vectors of issues related to social justice and democratic participation. The most rewarding aspect of this course was when students critically identified sparks of commonalities in the midst of difference. After all, it is often people’s humanity that defines them even while and especially when they resist stereotypical definitions.

As a direct example of performance learning, individuals in this class chose to polish essays for publication in the Millikin University student newspaper, The Decaturian (a total of three articles were published during the 2010 Fall semester). In addition a two-page full length feature is scheduled for publication in the 2011 Spring semester. Also, the students in this class collaborated with Millikin University’s International Student Organization to make scholarly and academic presentation on the importance of Bollywood in South Asian lives during the 2010 Diwali celebration. Students who were Fine Arts majors availed themselves of this opportunity and performed original scores composed by them and inspired by Bollywood in front of about two hundred and fifty people. The whole class participated in organizing, choreographing, and executing a series of Bollywood inspired dances symbolizing the global celebration of youth culture. At the end of the semester students documented their experience in individual reflections that were added to a hybridized public dossier (a cross between an anthology and a scrapbook).

Dr. Purna Banerjee


Science in Museums (Natural Science with a lab)

Dr. Ray Boehmer (Education) and Dr. Eric Martell (Physics) are piloting a course investigating how people learn science in museums.  The course is designed to fulfill the Natural Science with Laboratory requirement in the University Studies program.  In this course, students will explore learning in informal environments, such as science museums, children’s museums, and zoos, an area of much research in science education. The students will discuss topics such as: theories of how people learn in informal environments, what makes an exhibit effective (or ineffective), how museums deal with controversial topics, diversity, equity, and accessibility in museums, informal learning environments and the Common Core Standards in education, and how museums self-assess.  This Spring semester, we will visit the Children’s Discovery Center, in Normal, IL, the St. Louis Science Center,the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Lincoln Park Zoo, both in Chicago, IL, and others. The final project for the course asks the students to design their own exhibit and explain how it works, what concepts it addresses, how patrons would interact with it, and why they made the choices they did both in a paper and in a presentation during the Celebration of Scholarship on April 29.


Quantitative Reasoning

We are pleased to report that, for the fourth consecutive year, the Quantitative Deductive Reasoning learning goal had 80% or better of assessed finals rated "good" or "average".  Also, the Theorem Application goal is being met, and the number of “poor” ratings has continued its downward trend from 29% in Spring 2007, to 21.4% for the 2007-08 academic year, to 17.1% for the 2008-09 academic year, to 15.6% for the 2009-10 academic year.  QR instructors will work to continue this trend in the future.  One final note, Dr. Randy Beck, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, has agreed to take over the QR Coordinator duties.

Dr. Joe A. Stickles, Jr.




Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL