09:26 AM

Focused on Faculty

On Friday, April 1, more than 30 CSUSM faculty members will present their research and original work at the second annual Celebration of Faculty Scholarship and Creative Activities, highlighting the broad scope of work carried out by CSUSM educators. The two-hour open-house event, which begins at 11 a.m., will be held in the Sulpizio Grand Salon at the M. Gordon Clarke Field House/University Student Union."Cal State San Marcos enthusiastically supports faculty research and creative activities," said Dr. Gerardo González, dean of Graduate Studies and associate vice president for Research.  "Active teacher-scholars bring research to life in the classroom and inspire students to excel academically.  Moreover, faculty research and creative activities offer solutions to complex societal problems and engage our university and community in attaining solutions."Hosted by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, the annual event will feature poster presentations, art exhibits, multimedia displays, and informal discussion roundtables offering attendees the opportunity to speak with faculty about their recent projects. Among the presenters at the symposium will be College of Arts and Sciences professor Dr. Maureen Fitzpatrick, who attended the inaugural event last year."I found it so worthwhile to see the diverse research and collaborative projects that my colleagues were involved in that I decided this year I would participate," she said. Fitzpatrick, a developmental psychologist who first began teaching at CSUSM ten years ago, will be showcasing her recent research on the impacts coloring books have on the social behavior of preschool-aged girls.Her research, aided by her graduate student Barbara McPherson, stemmed from her piqued interest to better understand the impact images have on the behavior of young girls. She was interested in determining if a child would model an atypical gender behavior if the behavior was depicted in a coloring book, since social roles are a learned behavior.In the study, Fitzpatrick observed 63 four- and five-year-old girls. Individually, the girls were given one of three images to color - a female scientist using a microscope, a princess using a microscope, and a bunny holding flowers. Each image illustrated a two-step process showing the main character walking toward either the flowers or the microscope, and then using the item. On the coloring book pages featuring the microscope, the subject puts a slide under the microscope lens and then proceeds to look through the eyepiece. Following the coloring exercise, each girl was provided with four toys to choose to play with - a doll, a car, a puzzle, and a microscope with a slide."We were curious to see if the child could learn from a coloring book experience," she explained. "Using a microscope properly is not intuitive. We wondered if the girls who colored the images depicting the microscope would be more inclined to play with the device than those that colored the bunny, and if the girls that had colored the scientist image would mimic that behavior more than those who colored the princess image."At Friday's event, attendees can learn about Fitzpatrick's intriguing research results, which will be on display alongside more than 30 other projects produced by the university's faculty. At CSUSM, faculty are not only part of, but in some cases drive the national research agenda in their fields of study. Last year, faculty received more than $8 million in grants to fund research endeavors.In addition to research projects, scholarly and creative activities will also be showcased."Sharing scholarly work helps educate our community and campus about the activities our faculty is involved in at our university," said School of Nursing lecturer and registered nurse, Dr. Lois Kannan.Kannan will be sharing her recent scholarly assessment of a local elementary school's nutrition education program, which will be the foundation for a pilot study that she hopes to begin conducting this fall. She explained that in the United States the prevalence of overweight and obese children has nearly quadrupled over the last 25 years. Furthermore, the rates for California and San Diego County are alarmingly high. Nationally, the average of childhood obesity in 6 to 11 year-olds is 18 percent, whereas one local elementary school in North County averages 28 percent. Half of that school's students are classified as overweight or obese, she added."Obesity is an epidemic in our community and we need to be part of finding a successful solution," said Kannan, who will use her scholarly assessment to build a research study examining the effectiveness of nutrition education currently being taught within a local school district.In the study, Kannan will work with community partners and engage the help of nursing students to further evaluate the impact of a nutrition education program on nutrition knowledge, self-care practices, and nutrition status of fourth and fifth graders. She will also compare the effectiveness of content delivered by traditional adult classroom teachers versus college and high school-age mentors guided by a nutritionist."The demographics and social environment of every school is different, and therefore each school's nutrition program should be specialized to meet the needs of its unique population," she said. "It's our intent to find an intervention program that will be best for our local schools."Kannan and Fitzpatrick will be among 30 other faculty sharing their research results, scholarly work, and creative activities, as well as discussing their projects, endeavors, and proposals with their colleagues, students, and the community."I am a better teacher for being involved in research," added Fitzpatrick. "As an educator it's important to be up on the latest research studies being conducted and the discoveries being made. Through my research and the research of others, I am able to bring a fresh perspective into the classroom and share cutting edge research with my students."