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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

LearnHowToBecome.org, a leading resource provider for higher education and career information, has determined its list of Virginia’s best colleges and universities for 2017. Of the four-year schools that were analyzed, 40 made the list, with University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute, Washington and Lee University and Hampton University ranked as the top five. Of the 23 two-year schools that were also included, Tidewater Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Danville Community College and Central Virginia Community College were the top five. A full list of schools is included below. “Virginia’s unemployment rate recently reached its lowest point since before the Great Recession, which is great news for career-minded students,” said Wes Ricketts, senior vice president of LearnHowToBecome.org. “The schools on our list have shown that they offer the educational experience and resources that leave their students career-ready.” To be included on the “Best Colleges in Virginia” list, schools must be regionally accredited, not-for-profit institutions. Each college is also scored on additional data that includes employment and academic resources, annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering college, opportunities for financial aid and such additional statistics as student/teacher ratios and graduation rates. Complete details on each college, their individual scores and the data and methodology used to determine the LearnHowToBecome.org “Best Colleges in Virginia” list, visit: Best Four-Year Colleges in Virginia for 2017 include: Averett University Bluefield College Bridgewater College Christopher Newport University College of William and Mary Eastern Mennonite University Emory & Henry College Ferrum College George Mason University Hampden-Sydney College Hampton University Hollins University James Madison University Jefferson College of Health Sciences Liberty University Longwood University Lynchburg College Mary Baldwin College Marymount University Norfolk State University Old Dominion University Radford University Randolph College Randolph-Macon College Regent University Roanoke College Shenandoah University Southern Virginia University Sweet Briar College The University of Virginia's College at Wise University of Mary Washington University of Richmond University of Virginia-Main Campus Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Military Institute Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia State University Virginia Union University Virginia Wesleyan College Washington and Lee University Best Two-Year Colleges in Virginia for 2017 include: Blue Ridge Community College Central Virginia Community College Dabney S Lancaster Community College Danville Community College Eastern Shore Community College Germanna Community College John Tyler Community College Lord Fairfax Community College Mountain Empire Community College New River Community College Northern Virginia Community College Patrick Henry Community College Paul D Camp Community College Piedmont Virginia Community College Rappahannock Community College Reynolds Community College Southside Virginia Community College Southwest Virginia Community College Thomas Nelson Community College Tidewater Community College Virginia Highlands Community College Virginia Western Community College Wytheville Community College About Us: LearnHowtoBecome.org was founded in 2013 to provide data and expert driven information about employment opportunities and the education needed to land the perfect career. Our materials cover a wide range of professions, industries and degree programs, and are designed for people who want to choose, change or advance their careers. We also provide helpful resources and guides that address social issues, financial aid and other special interest in higher education. Information from LearnHowtoBecome.org has proudly been featured by more than 700 educational institutions.

Schirr G.R.,Radford University
Journal of Product Innovation Management | Year: 2012

Group customer and user research methods, brainstorming, and focus groups continue to be used in innovation efforts to uncover customer needs, generate new product and service ideas, and evaluate decisions, despite extensive empirical evidence that group methods are ineffective for such purposes. This paper summarizes the strong evidence of the ineffectiveness of group research methods for these purposes, much of which has been published outside of the new product development or business literature. The paper shows that the most common rationalization for the continued use of group methods-cost and speed advantages-are questionable, and then proposes an organizational market learning framework for evaluating the use of group methods. This framework provides guidance for the proper use of these research tools and suggests areas for future research on research methods for product innovation. © 2012 Product Development & Management Association.

Gruss L.T.,Radford University | Schmitt D.,Duke University
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

The fossil record of the human pelvis reveals the selective priorities acting on hominin anatomy at different points in our evolutionary history, during which mechanical requirements for locomotion, childbirth and thermoregulation often conflicted. In our earliest upright ancestors, fundamental alterations of the pelvis compared with non-human primates facilitated bipedal walking. Further changes early in hominin evolution produced a platypelloid birth canal in a pelvis that was wide overall, with flaring ilia. This pelvic form was maintained over 3–4 Myr with only moderate changes in response to greater habitat diversity, changes in locomotor behaviour and increases in brain size. It was not until Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and the Middle East 200 000 years ago that the narrow anatomically modern pelvis with a more circular birth canal emerged. This major change appears to reflect selective pressures for further increases in neonatal brain size and for a narrow body shape associated with heat dissipation in warm environments. The advent of the modern birth canal, the shape and alignment of which require fetal rotation during birth, allowed the earliest members of our species to deal obstetrically with increases in encephalization while maintaining a narrow body to meet thermoregulatory demands and enhance locomotor performance. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Yoder C.,Radford University
Journal of Archaeological Science | Year: 2012

The goal of this research is to explore status-based differences in diet of the peasants, monks and elites interred at the medieval Cistercian monastery of Øm Kloster. In order to accomplish this task bone samples were taken from 98 individuals from the monastery for the stable isotopic analysis of carbon and nitrogen found in both bone collagen and apatite. Significant differences were found in the diet of these three groups. Elites demonstrated significantly enriched δ 15N and δ 13C values and had the smallest δ 13C coll-ap spacing in comparison to the peasant and monastic population. Although there were no changes in the diet of the elite or peasant population through time, the monastic diet shifted from resembling the diet of the peasant population early in the period to more closely matching that of the elites at the close of the period, although small sample size precluded the significance testing of this shift. This research suggests that social status played a considerable role in the types and quantity of food resources available to a given individual in society and that there were some socially based differences in the medieval Danish diet. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 199.18K | Year: 2011

All biology students need a comprehensive and functional understanding of mathematics and statistics. This project focuses on students at a lower level of quantitative skill development and incrementally develops their skills to more sophisticated levels. Biology Department faculty are collaborating with Mathematics & Statistics faculty to design curricular strategies and materials for improving quantitative skills of the Biology major. Faculty teams are developing two new courses: a freshman-level Mathematics for Biology (M4B) course and a sophomore-level Statistics for Biology (S4B) course. The M4B course is closely linked with two introductory biology courses: Ecology & Adaptation and Introductory Seminar in Biology. Through an intentional plan of vertical integration, students expand and develop basic skills in remaining biology core courses. During the sophomore year, the two departments explicitly link the new S4B course to Organismal Biology, the final core course in the Biology major. The S4B course engages students in exploring underlying assumptions and principles of statistical tests. Students use this new knowledge to develop conceptually richer and more independent research projects in Organismal Biology labs. The project makes extensive use of peer instruction; math students mentor and advise biology students as they begin to use more sophisticated quantitative tools in their courses.

The project is providing a model for teaching mathematics in biology at demographically similar institutions. All curricular materials are available on the web, presented at national meetings, and published in peer-reviewed science education journals. Finally, Radford University is hosting a national conference for biology educators from similar institutions, providing a forum for disseminating the projects model and integrating it with approaches developed elsewhere.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 42.27K | Year: 2014

In order to provide NSF-supported innovators in undergraduate STEM curriculum development with an opportunities to disseminate their materials and outcomes, principal investigators (PIs) of projects organize and convene symposia at the Annual National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in the Spring of 2015, 2016, and 2017 and at three regional ACS meetings or at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education during those same years. At the symposia attendees are informed about a variety of NSF programs that promote undergraduate education. The NSF has a tradition of supporting this symposium and surveys have shown that in the past they have been well-attended. During these meetings prospective PIs and practitioners are empowered to ask questions and have awardees address their concerns in-person. Evidence suggests that these interactions are responsible for propagating evidence-based curricular changes at other institutions.

At the National Meetings, the symposia are comprised of two half-day sessions. In the first session, the audience will hear from PIs who have been successfully funded from a variety of NSF programs that focus on STEM undergraduate education. The second session focuses on a theme that has emerging national impact and significance and for which an evidence base is growing. Topics include (a) virtual laboratories, (b) online instruction, (c) research-based upper-level chemistry laboratories, (d) integration of advanced instrumentation into the curriculum, (e) non-traditional topics relating to chemistry across the curriculum, and others. Symposia at ACS regional meetings and the BCCE also involve the dissemination of project results as well as information about NSF Programs. These abbreviated half-day sessions serve to provide information to faculty who might find the expense of attending a national meeting to be a challenge. Evaluation of each meeting is expected to reveal that attendees plan to adapt curricular innovations, have a better understanding of current evidence-based educational techniques, and have greater awareness of NSF funding opportunities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 602.10K | Year: 2014

This Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) project at Radford University is providing scholarships and support services to academically-talented students majoring in science, technology, and mathematics who demonstrate financial need. The project recruits students with a broad range of backgrounds from both high schools and community colleges, and effectively educates and supports them to succeed as future STEM researchers, teachers, and leaders.

Radford Universitys Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders in Science, Technology and Mathematics (RU-NextGens) primary aims are to provide students with scholarships, focused activities, and strong support mechanisms to acquire skills that will help them succeed academically; procure science, technology, engineering, or mathematics-related internships or research opportunities during their college years; and ultimately transition into future careers in STEM. RU-NextGens Emerging Leaders in Science, Technology and Mathematics [Elites] program serves as an umbrella of activities with focus areas of research, communication, and career development. Examples of Elites activities include participation in summer research, active engagement in classes undergirded by signing honors or leadership contracts, peer mentoring and participation in career development, and networking events. The Elites program also includes strong support mechanisms such as individual intrusive pro-active mentoring, peer mentoring, and cohort-building social and academic activities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 142.54K | Year: 2014

This Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project is based on the knowledge that students engaged in real biological research, either via experiences outside of the class, or open-inquiry activities in the class, learn more and are better motivated. The project team is generating learning materials that provide authentic research experiences for students in introductory biology classes. One of the challenges in biology curricula is the disinterest and discomfort many students have with mathematics and statistics. The learning materials being created, assessed, and disseminated allow meaningful hypothesis formation, data collection, and most importantly analyses, that capture student interest via image analysis of fascinating biological phenomena.

Photographic images can quickly capture peoples interest, and can transmit a great deal of information. This project is capitalizing on these phenomena to create engaging educational materials to teach quantitative and analytical skills to biology students. Students are presented with inherently interesting sets of still images or videos from which they can observe and measure real biological phenomena, via image analysis. They are presented with a tangible research framework and given background information, asked to develop hypotheses, and then asked to collect data from a set of images/videos, firsthand. Through these images, students are engaged in the process of science, first superficially as they hear interesting research projects and examine absorbing photographic images; but then more deeply during data collection and subsequent analyses. The power of image analysis to aid instruction already has a foundation in the pedagogical literature for mathematics, geo-engineering, and computer science, but has been more rarely used in biology. The research projects being used as the foundation of the learning materials include ecology, behavioral science, neuroscience, evolution, and molecular and cellular processes.

Project evaluation includes pre- and post-instruction assessment to examine student learning gains, as well as direct queries concerning students attitudes to the biological sciences. Learning modules tested at Radford University are then being tested at a broad range of partner institutions, including Virginia Tech, Vassar College, and Roanoke College. The knowledge being generated is a means for these cognitive skills to be integrated into traditional biology curricula nationwide.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: IUSE | Award Amount: 298.85K | Year: 2016

Radford University (RU) has received an Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources Directorate (IUSE: EHR) Exploration and Design award for a project to design, implement and assess interventions to help undergraduate biology majors improve their attitudes and decrease their anxiety towards mathematics. Introductory mathematics courses are a key roadblock for many students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Since student attitudes toward mathematics are strongly correlated with their performance, the goal of the current work is the development and study of strategies that reduce student resistance to mathematics. The Biology undergraduate Math Attitudes and Anxiety Program (BioMAAP) is a cohesive program that can be added to existing courses and curricula, without replacing content instruction. The approaches, which include biofeedback and metacognitive reflection, are readily adoptable and actively engage students in reducing their own mathematics anxiety and improving their attitude toward mathematics.

The core of the program is a set of online activities, with supplemental in-person group activities available when local resources permit. In biofeedback activities, students use simple smartphone devices to collect data on their own physiological responses to mathematics and to measure their responses to anxiety reducing interventions. Metacognitive activities lead students through purposeful reflections on their own methods of solving mathematics problems and learning quantitative content, which will help to demystify mathematics and improve student attitudes. While the current study involves biology majors, the knowledge generated by this project will be applicable to the amelioration of mathematics anxiety in students in all STEM disciplines. This, in turn, will increase the persistence of these majors and increase the number of STEM majors entering the graduate school and the workforce.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: POP & COMMUNITY ECOL PROG | Award Amount: 546.60K | Year: 2015

Understanding what controls herbivore communities is important because of the role that they play in the food web, by eating plants as well as serving as food for higher trophic levels. In addition, many herbivores are pests that eat agricultural plants or compete with livestock for food in rangelands. Past research has focused on three factors that might control herbivore communities: 1) the total amount of plant material available for them to eat, 2) the number of different types of plants available for them to eat, and 3) how much nitrogen and phosphorus (two important nutrients known to be important to herbivore growth) is available in plant material. However, knowing these three things about a particular location has not proved to be enough information to allow scientists to accurately predict how many and what type of herbivores will be present. Recent research has suggested the possibility that other micronutrients such as calcium, potassium, and sodium may help explain how herbivore communities are structured. In the past, scientists thought that these other nutrients were common enough in all plants that they would not affect herbivores. This research will test the hypothesis that some of these micronutrients help to determine the identity and densities of herbivore communities. If this hypothesis is supported, it will suggest novel explanations for what controls herbivore abundance and species composition, which may be helpful for agricultural applications.

Soil micronutrients may benefit or harm herbivores directly (by affecting plant food quality) or indirectly (by altering plant community composition). Preliminary data from a coastal tallgrass prairie in Texas showed that foliar micronutrients were better predictors of herbivore community structure than were plant biomass, diversity or macronutrients, and that soil micronutrient concentration affected feeding of grasshoppers when host plant identity was held constant. This project will support a large, multi-factorial field experiment in a coastal tallgrass prairie located south of Houston that will rigorously test the importance of micronutrients in mediating herbivore abundance and diversity, and determine if the importance of micronutrients 1) depends on macronutrients and 2) varies among herbivore feeding modes and guilds. Complementary mesocosm and laboratory experiments will test potential mechanisms of micronutrient effects; that is, whether micronutrients affect herbivores directly or indirectly. This study will be the first to manipulate macro- and micronutrients in concert for understanding insect community structure, and will do so in the field at an unprecedented scale.

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