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Spotlight on Student Learning

SL-oral communication spotlightThe Canisius core curriculum is designed to ensure that students take courses in a variety of disciplines, explore content that reflects our Jesuit mission and acquire important communication skills.  Students can choose from a range of courses in the core to meet these objectives. Whatever the attribute or skill, each of the courses has a specific set of goals and objectives, set by the Faculty Senate.

One of the attributes, oral communication, was part of a recent assessment of student learning and the results suggest that our students are learning what they’re expected to learn. Based on data from fall 2015, 80 percent of our students in oral communication courses are meeting expectations and an additional eight percent exceeded expectations overall.

Our students are particularly good at choosing pertinent topics relevant to the audience’s needs and interests.  For this learning objective, 92 percent met our expectations and an additional six percent exceeded expectations. The area that students needed the most work was defining the thesis and/or purpose of the message.  While 66 percent of students met expectations and eight percent exceeded expectations, 26 percent did not meet expectations.  Thus our assessment can be used to by faculty to ensure that this skill is more clearly covered in future classes.

The results of the current assessment show an improvement over the assessments from last year – for fall 2014, only 64 percent of students met expectations. Following that earlier assessment, the core curriculum committee asked instructors teaching oral communication attribute courses to identify points during the course that included instruction on how to structure and deliver an oral presentation. Our improved results this year suggest that the changes in teaching are leading to student’s becoming better at oral communication.

It is particularly noteworthy that we had a high rate of participation in this assessment activity, with 95 percent of the faculty members teaching oral communication attribute courses providing artifacts for assessors to examine.  (For the earlier round of assessment, collection of artifacts was an issue, and only 22 percent of instructors submitted artifacts.)

As assessment continues across the core curriculum, we expect that faculty will continue to find the results useful in enhancing student learning.  Information about the core curriculum or its assessment processes is available from Pat Lynch, SJ, director, core curriculum and professor of religious studies and theology and Mark Meyer, PhD, associate director, core curriculum and associate professor of computer science.

Submitted by: Sara Morris, PhD, associate vice president, academic affairs

Gerhard Weinberg to Speak at Canisius

Gerhard-L.-Weinberg-1Today, Monday, March 14, the world-renown scholar and historian Gerhard L. Weinberg will speak at Canisius on “Pius XII in World War II” at 7:30 p.m. in the Grupp Fireside Lounge. Professor Weinberg’s talk is sponsored by the Canisius College chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society for the study of history, as well as by the Canisius College History Club, the College All-College Honors Program, and the Canisius College Department of History.

Professor Weinberg will speak on the way in which the Vatican and Pope Pius XII responded to the challenge that the war and ensuing atrocities, including the Holocaust and the murder of an estimated 11 million civilian non-combatants during the war, presented to the authority of the Church and all civilized society.

Professor Weinberg is emeritus professor of history at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the history of World War and authored the prize-winning book A World at Arms:  A Global History of World War II with Cambridge University Press in 1994, which won the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association for the best book of 1994.  He has also published two books on Nazi foreign policy from 1933 to 1939 with the University of Chicago Press, and is author of Germany, Hitler, and World War II and Visions of Victory:  The Hopes of Eight World II Leaders, both with Cambridge University Press.

Professor Weinberg is universally acknowledged as the preeminent diplomatic and military historian of the years from 1933 to 1945 and was one of the first to have unrestricted access to the captured war documents from Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II.

Submitted by: Larry Jones, PhD, professor, History

Fitzpatrick Series to Welcome John Sides March 16

John Sides10665John Sides, PhD, associate professor of political science at George Washington University, will speak at Canisius College on Wednesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in the Grupp Fireside Lounge. His lecture, entitled “Who Will Win the White House? How to Understand the Unpredictable 2016 Campaign,” is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is presented by The William H. Fitzpatrick Chair of Political Science Lecture Series.

The 2016 presidential primary has flummoxed political observers and even some of the candidates themselves. How can we make sense of such an unpredictable campaign season?  By drilling into the data, Sides tries to explain Hillary Clinton’s dominance, the Republican Party’s disarray and Donald Trump’s long tenure at the top of the polls. The results will help illuminate how we choose presidential nominees, and who might next occupy the White House.

Sides studies public opinion and American elections.  He is the co-author of a book about the 2012 campaign, The Gamble. Sides helped found and contributes to The Monkey Cage, a political science blog that is now part of The Washington Post. He has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Salon, Boston Review and Bloomberg View.

For more information, contact the Office of Public Relations at Ext. 2790.

Visual Artist to Visit Campus

Jarman-page-001Visual artist Alfonso Muñoz, will visit Canisius on Tuesday, March 15, at 7:00 p.m. for a showing of his work as well as a presentation of his many accomplishments as a Latino artist. This event is sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Sigma Delta Pi; Latin American Studies and the Fitzpatrick Institute. The event will be held in Old Main 314 and is free and open to the public.

A native of Puerto Rico, Muñoz found his love for artistry at a young age. At age 13, he served as an apprentice to a famous Italian artist, learning the skills of calligraphy, model making, painting and woodcut artistry. Since then, he has attended the University of Puerto Rico and the Art Institute of Chicago and worked in Paris, Barcelona, and New York City.

Muñoz was included in the (S) Files Biennial at El Museo del Barrio in New York City and his art has been featured in The New York Times as well as the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. His current body of work explores still-life photography, creating elaborately detailed sets, miniature costumes and furniture for store-bought dolls that he alters with the prowess of a Hollywood maquillage expert. He most recently received the New York Urban Initiative Fellowship and participated in a five-country artist exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

For more information, please contact Richard Reitsma, PhD, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies, at

Submitted by: Maureen Kanczak, administrative associate, modern languages, literature and cultures