Reaping rewards

One-time performance funds from the South Dakota Board of Regents provided the resource for a number of departments to make improvements this fall. The university received $1,260,665 in Fiscal Year 2013 with $404,300 of that going to the College of Arts and Sciences. The regents made $3 million available systemwide for a performance funding pilot effort, and funds were distributed based on overall production of graduates over a three-year period.

Graduates were classified according to degree level (associate, bachelor, master or doctorate) and premium fields were identified by workforce priorities for South Dakota. This model served as the basis for funding allocations.

At the university level, departments prioritized requests and forwarded recommendations to the University Budget and Planning Committee chaired by Professor Joe Santos.

The committee made its recommendation to Provost Laurie Nichols, Vice President Wes Tschetter and President David L. Chicoine with the awards announced in April 2012.


Digital imaging microscope
Instructional nuclear magnet resonance console

A new digital bright field microscope with computerized monitor has been installed in the medical laboratory sciences laboratory along with a stereo microscope. The camera and monitor system is interchangeable between the two microscopes and is used in laboratory instruction.

A gram stain of white blood cells and bacteria as seen by the new digital imaging microscope in the medical sciences laboratory in Avera Health and Science Center.

A gram stain of white blood cells and bacteria as seen by the new digital imaging microscope in the medical sciences laboratory in Avera Health and Science Center.

In addition, the two scopes are used to produce images for instruction for both the on-campus and online medical laboratory sciences programs.

The instructional nuclear magnet resonance console should be delivered in early 2013. It will join an existing 600 MHz nuclear magnet resonance unit to create the nuclear magnet resonance with the highest sensitivity and highest resolution in the Dakotas, according to department head Jim Rice.

He adds, “Nuclear magnet resonance is a fundamental tool in chemistry and biochemistry that is used to determine the structure of molecules.

“This nuclear magnet resonance is sensitive enough that it can even be used to determine the structure of proteins. Its data acquisition and processing capabilities will actually allow 3-D experiments.

“It should greatly expand the department’s ability to compete for external grant funds, and it will give undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry majors a unique opportunity to perform experiments usually reserved for graduate students and postdoctoral research associates.”

Communication Studies and Theatre

Speech lab

The department is combining its one-time funds allocation with other university finances to create a suite for its graduate assistants and a lab for Speech 101 students, explains department head Laurie Haleta.

The quarters are on the third floor of Pugsley Center. She says the university’s facilities and services department created a plan to reconfigure existing office space for graduate assistants into a more efficient layout that would also make room for a speech lab.

Work began in late fall and picked up pace during semester break with construction to be complete in mid-March.

The lab’s primary mission is to serve students who have a fear of public speaking. In the general population, that is 20 to 25 percent. Speech 101 is a required class, usually taken in the freshman year. So typically 1,200 students enroll in fall semester and 800 to 900 in spring semester.

Haleta says students will go to the speech lab to be tested on their level of “communication apprehension.”

After testing for this anxiety, students will have a practice speech videotaped in the lab. Graduate students then discuss the speech, offer tips and do a post-test for speech anxiety, Haleta says. The lab may be available to other students who want to practice presentations.

She is consulting with other universities on how to best set up and use the lab.

To prepare the graduate assistants to work in the lab, Haleta is teaching a class during spring semester on effective methods in using the lab. Workshops also will be developed for highly apprehensive students and for other faculty on how they can help their students make better presentations.

The overall project is motivated by the university’s student success model and a desire to give students more feedback.

The lab will be three times the size of a typical office and have two videotaping stations. The total cost for renovation, equipment purchases and lab set up is $75,000 with additional funds coming from the budgets of the dean, the department and the provost.


Basic writing lab update

The computer lab used for remedial writing classes was upgraded just in time for classes this fall.

The funds purchased 13 new Dell computers, new chairs and a printer with a swipe-card capability, according to department head Jason McEntee. It replaces “very old” chairs, dated Gateway computers and a printer to which only the instructor could access.

“Now students can print out their documents using their Hobo Dough card,” he says.

The lab in the basement of Scobey Hall dates to the start of the department’s remedial writing program in the early 2000s and this is the second computer upgrade.

“Our being able to have a lab space for those classes is really big for us. It gets a lot of use 8-4 Monday-Friday. That traffic is only going to get bigger as the demand for remedial classes grow,” McEntee says.


Geography lab remodel

The department is applying its one-time funds for architectural services to reconfigure its labs and classrooms in the basement of Wecota Hall.

Conceptual plans were developed by the university’s facilities and services department with the allocation reserved for producing architectural designs, according to department head George White. No time frame has been established on the project, although he hopes it can be completed in two years.

Currently, the department has two labs, a third lab that is shared with the GISc Center, a classroom and a seminar room in the historic former dormitory.

Under the new plans, the total number of rooms won’t change, but the space will be designed much more openly and efficiently, White says. The work includes eliminating and moving hallways from the rather labyrinthian current arrangement.

The plan also calls for moving restrooms and utility units so the labs can be enlarged and storage space created.

One of the aims for the introductory physical geography lab (Wecota 007) is to convert it from a computer lab to one with work benches that students could use in demonstrations and experiments while still retaining some of the 28 computer stations now in place, White says.

“We’re trying to reintroduce hands-on physical geography activities more and more. You can’t do everything with computers,” he says.

For now, the computer stations have been placed along the wall with floor space being used for map activities, to build models of volcanoes and shifting sands as well as display rocks. “We want to be able to test soils and demonstrate how wind and water cause erosion,” White says.

That is part of the department’s overall mission to teach students “how the earth works,” he explains.

The other lab is for the growing geographic information science program. It now has space for 16 students. The department would like to create room for 20 to 25 students while better designing the space in Wecota 014 to accommodate plotters and printers.

Combining a seminar room and a classroom will create a larger classroom while the seminar room will be built in reconfigured space.

Journalism and Mass Communication

Student media server

Thanks to the new student media server, journalism and advertising students can access video shot in the Yeager Media Center from many locations.

Before the server was in place this fall, students were limited to working on their assignments on control room computers, says Lowell Haag, coordinator of the media center.

With the new server, which is located in the Office of Information Technology, students in classes in the journalism and mass communication department can access Yeager Media Center video files from Yeager Hall editing bays and computer labs.

Before the new server was in place, students who worked on projects in the editing bays used rendering, a very time-intensive process, to transfer files.

“The server eliminates that tedious step and expands the sites where students can complete assignments and drastically reduces the time required. Instead of a slow trickle of data through a single, narrow pipe, the server is a wide-open pipeline with lots of branches,” Haag explains.

Modern Language and Global Studies

Language laboratory/resource center equipment lab

Sometime this semester, Maria Ramos hopes students in Spanish 101 and every other language class taught at SDSU will be learning their diction in a completely new, state-of-the-art language lab.

A general-use computer lab through fall semester, Wagner Hall 142 is in the process of being converted to a language lab with 30 student stations, new computers, specialized software and laboratory furniture, department head Ramos says.

The department currently has a lab in Wagner 124 that has enough space to “barely fit” 18 students.

While the new quarters will accommodate 67 percent more students, what excites Ramos and other faculty members is the technology that will be in there.

“Instead of just having individual computers, the computers will be networked. The teachers will control what goes on with the computers. Teachers can listen to any of the students. You can do a thousand things, including multimedia presentations,” Ramos says.

Another key difference in the new lab is that “the teacher is in control. You can block Internet so students aren’t listening to music or checking their email.

“You can actually teach a class (in the lab). Our classes are more for practice than just direct teaching. You can design a whole class in which students will be practicing.

“Microphones will be unidirectional so you don’t hear the background noise. The microphones only record the sound coming from the speaker. The software is user-friendly for the students. It says things like ‘click here for recording.’

“The teachers can get everything the way they want their students to see it, and it can record video and audio,” Ramos says.

With language classes running 20 to 25 students per section, the lab accommodates an entire class. When it comes time for graduating language majors to take the required online oral proficiency exam, the new system will be ideal, Ramos says.

As the weeks of spring semester progress, the faculty is keeping an eye on Wagner 142. “We are very excited about it,” she says.


Keyboard and music technology lab

When a technology lab is nearly 13 years old, it is not a lab. It is a museum.

Professor John Walker watches Brian Wynia, a senior music minor from Sioux Falls, perform in the new keyboard lab in Lincoln Music Hall Dec. 13, 2012. The notes he plays off the sheet music in front of him are heard on the headphones he is wearing and seen on the computer screen to his right.

Professor John Walker watches Brian Wynia, a senior music minor from Sioux Falls, perform in the new keyboard lab in Lincoln Music Hall Dec. 13, 2012. The notes he plays off the sheet music in front of him are heard on the headphones he is wearing and seen on the computer screen to his right.

So the music department was more than ready to switch out equipment when one-time funds became available. Computers in the music technology lab weren’t Internet capable, which made it challenging for students and instructors.

However, since this fall the first floor technology lab in Lincoln Music Hall is state of the art.

“This gets us a little bit ahead of the curve. The students are working on the latest available equipment,” says Professor Don Crowe, who is excited about having the upgraded facility for his technology for music educators class, a three-week class taught in May for undergraduates.

“We had older versions of a lot of this software. Now we’re much more flexible in terms of what the computers can handle. The computers were not connected to the Internet at that time. Students could not go onto the Internet to find demos in that lab,” Crowe says.

That meant students had to use another lab on campus, one without a piano, or use their own computers. “Having it available there is a lot easier and more effective,” he says.

But the lab does much more than deliver convenience. It gives any music student a chance to become a better musician.

Using music-writing software, students can sit at the keyboard, compose music and have it show up on the computer screen as they play it on the piano. “They can listen to it, they can edit it, and they can print it off in the same quality as if they purchased it at the music store,” department head David Reynolds says.

With ear-training software, the computer will play intervals and chords, and the students will try to repeat them, receiving immediate feedback.

“Musicians really need training in this area, and this is for any musician or instrument. Developing a good ear for music allows for better sight-reading and faster learning of music, both of which are important skills for a musician to possess,” Reynolds explains.

He adds that the lab also is used to teach group piano lessons.

“The technology allows for the instructors to listen in on individual students through headphones. She can also pair students together. Students can play a duet with someone sitting clear across the classroom, or they can practice individually without interrupting others,” Reynolds explains.

Crowe says the 12 lab stations are used extensively for classes in spring and fall semesters.


Physiological measurement system (hardware and software)

As the department follows university and college directives to increase faculty and undergraduate research, equipment is needed to make that a reality.

The department’s ability to conduct research was enhanced during Christmas break when a system to measure physiological responses — brain waves, heart rate, respiration and more — was installed in Scobey Hall, department head Bradley Woldt says.

“The system includes standard equipment and supplies for electroencephalogram, electromyography, skin conductance and heart rate (EKG) psychophysiological recording. The system is also expandable to accommodate blood pressure and respiration recording.

“This equipment allows several faculty researchers to investigate in greater depth and specific areas such as emotional responding, information processing including attention and memory, some basic forms of learning, facial recognition, biofeedback and polygraphs,” Woldt says.

Seniors who show continued commitment to projects will be included as authors on publications.

Woldt adds, “Experience using neuroimaging and other psychophysiological research is desirable for undergraduate students entering experimental graduate programs,”

Sociology and Rural Studies

Research database

The funds paid for two years membership in the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and a small budget to implement/publicize it.

“We are just beginning to communicate to the university community about this resource,” says Gary Aguiar, a political science professor. “Faculty and students gain access to the complete data for research and teaching purposes. Primary interest will be to social scientists, political scientists and sociologists, who are most familiar with the data.

“These data are used by top researchers to publish in the leading journals. Others at SDSU who have expressed an interest include economists, geographers, psychologists, consumer affairs and historians.”

An international consortium of more than 700 academic institutions and research organizations, the organization maintains a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It hosts 16 specialized data collections, including the fields of education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse and terrorism.

More info:

Visual Arts

Design studio and arts package
Library – mass media index

The full extent of the department’s purchases won’t be realized until it moves into its new quarters in August 2013.

The department’s studios in the Industrial Arts Building will be moved to the current Seedhouse at 13th Street and Medary Avenue, several blocks north of the present studios. The Industrial Arts Building will be knocked down in early August to make room for an architectural and engineering building.

Department head Tim Steele says equipment for working with metal sculpting and ceramics has been ordered with some now in place and some to be installed in the new quarters.

Steele says the sculpting equipment “will allow us to work with metal with a lot more dexterity, and we will be able to do large, outdoor sculptures.”

The ceramics package includes a couple kilns, a slab roller and a specialized cart for moving ceramics.

Art Store, a database of a million images, was in place for fall semester.

“Before, we used to be on slides. The teacher had to collect slides and use a projector. It was so cumbersome that we only used them in teaching art history. Now we can show the images in studio, too. In fact, it is available to any faculty member on campus,” Steele says.

“This is a significant improvement that we absolutely had to have for accreditation,” Steele says.

Dave Graves

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