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Upcoming Master’s Degree Information Sessions

Information Session

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will hold informational open houses for prospective master’s degree students in January 2014.

Attendees will receive a brief overview of the university, information about specific master’s degree programs, the admissions process, financial aid and other services. There will be complimentary food and beverages in addition to a campus tour. There will also be an opportunity to meet in small groups with the appropriate academic advisors to discuss prerequisites, transcripts and other details pertaining to individual programs of interest, and to meet faculty and graduates.

January 9, 2014                                                         
Master’s in Social Work*                                         
4:00-5:30 p.m.                                                           
Selby Auditorium

January 25, 2014
All Master’s Degrees
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Selby Auditorium

Master’s degree programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Education (Human Resource Education or Online Teaching and Learning)
  • Educational Leadership
  • English Education
  • Exceptional Student Education
  • Hospitality Management
  • Social Work
  • Teaching

Note: The Master of Social Work degree program has a February 15, 2014 application deadline. It is a cohort, taught as a group over eight consecutive semesters and hosted at USF Sarasota-Manatee. A fall 2014 cohort start date is contingent upon a minimum number of qualified acceptances; without the minimum number, the start date would be delayed to January 2015. Website: www.usfsm.edu.

Professor Receives Funding for Research on the Higher Education Experience

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee has been awarded a $289,336 sub-award through Clark University as part of a 1.45 million dollar grant funded by the John Templeton Foundation, to study how universities around the world can help students find a strong sense of purpose.

Jenni Menon Mariano, associate professor in the College of Education, oversees the USFSM sub-award and is co-principal investigator on the larger grant with principal investigator Seana Moran, research assistant professor of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Learn more about Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano

The research will survey hundreds of students in six countries to learn how college can be made meaningful and relevant to them in a way that also helps students make a positive difference in their communities. The work will start an international conversation on optimizing higher education’s contribution to purpose development by engaging scholars in the U.S. and abroad in research and field-building activities over a three-year period.

Part of the USFSM award supports research that will engage both instructors and students in courses across the university system in collaboration with the USF Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. The award will also partially fund students to engage in the research process where they will learn valuable research skills.

Want to know more about the USFSM College of Education?

“I think this type of education –where there aren’t borders between one’s life and one’s formal education –can really inspire social innovation,” said USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Mariano. “These are things the next generation needs and the world needs from the next generation. This research will investigate how college experiences can provide direction to youths’ lives, as well as the knowledge, skills, and momentum to contribute positively to the community. So little research has been done on how education and one’s life purpose connect. The University of South Florida is an ideal place to launch a study of this type because the university provides so many opportunities for students to engage in real-world and community-engaged learning venues. USFSM is increasingly known for its work with community partners, and the USF system in general is distinguished for its community-engaged focus. Also, faculty at USFSM conduct high quality research that is both basic and applied.  We are a diverse group of scholars who I think demonstrate that the academic world and real-world venues are not at odds with each other, but that there is actually a solid, natural, and necessary connection between the two.  There is a real concern at USFSM for having a positive social impact through scholarship, which is what this particular research study is all about.”

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. The foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. They encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

“We hope to promote experiences in higher education that help develop purpose both here in the United States and around the world, said Mariano. “We’re fortunate to be working with several distinguished partners in other countries who think this goal is as important as we do, and we look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with our collaborators.”

Mariano has worked extensively in community development and research including coordinating a peace-building program in post-war Bosnia in response to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. She teaches courses on positive human development and community and school engagement and has published widely on the topics of purpose, how people achieve excellent and ethical work, and positive youth development. She holds a PhD from Stanford University in psychology and education and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. Her research on how people and communities thrive spans several years in which she has interviewed and surveyed hundreds of young people across the United States and Canada. Mariano’s framework rests on the idea that the development of a noble life purpose is a foundation to our well-being, dignity, and equality.

Seana Moran’s work addresses how individuals contribute to their various communities and how they become more aware and intentional of the effects of those contributions on others. She researches and teaches courses on purpose development, creativity, collaboration, and wise decision-making. She holds master and doctorate degrees in human development and psychology from Harvard University, an MBA from the University of New Mexico and a BA from the University of Southern California.

“We are fortunate to be able to assist many highly gifted people and distinguished institutions around the world,” explains Jack Templeton on the Templeton Foundation’s official website. “Whenever possible, we try to get involved early enough in people’s careers that we can make a big difference in their work and allow them to realize their fullest potential.”

Bryan Jacobs Cooks Up a Career

Bryan Jacobs USF Sarasota-Manatee Hospitality

As a child, Bryan Jacobs spent the summers with his grandparents, spending most of his spare time in the kitchen. “While most kids were making mud pies, I was making roast beef,” he recalls.

Jacobs, currently a senior in the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership, began his culinary exploits at the age of 8 alongside his grandfather, a World War II chef. For the past two years, he has held jobs as a personal chef for two high profile clients: both former president George W. Bush and the Anheuser-Busch family (no relation).

 Learn more about the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership

This heady job experience came about after Jacobs began cooking at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Florida, where, after working his way through the tiers of training, he was promoted to sous chef at the Pink Elephant. The Anheuser-Busch clan eats regularly at the popular restaurant and they became acquainted. Through conversations, the Anheuser-Busches learned of Jacobs’ experience as a combat veteran and his difficult re-entry into civilian life.

Jacobs followed his grandfather’s footsteps into the military. After service as a Marine Corps paramedic in both

Bryan Jacobs USF Sarasota-Manatee George Bush Chef Hospitality Jobs

Jacobs (right) serves as the personal chef for former president George W. Bush.

Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to the United States but found the readjustment very stressful.  He became homeless, lived in his car and worked as a personal trainer, all while struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  “As a lot of vets often do, you lose your focus,” said Jacobs. “You’re so used to being told what to do and how to do it that it becomes hard to fold back into society.”

Jacobs cycled through 16 jobs and knew something had to change. The turning point came when he was sitting on a park bench and someone mentioned to him, “You need to get your life together”.  He began staying with a friend and upon seeing a TV commercial for culinary school, realized becoming a chef was his calling.

Cooking turned Jacobs’ life around, and meeting the Anheuser-Busches brought out his best.  “I would always go the extra mile, especially for them, because of how pleasant, nice and grateful they were towards me being a veteran,” said Jacobs. “I put in my notice to Gasparilla Inn to return to school and pursue my degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee.  When the family learned of my resignation, they sent someone to speak to me about becoming the family’s private chef, and the rest is history!”

Through his position with the Anheuser-Busch family, Jacobs met many distinguished guests, including 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush. After speaking at a dinner party hosted in his honor, President Bush offered Jacobs a job to serve as a personal chef for the Bush family in addition to his other catering responsibilities. This turned out to be a wonderful relationship, including opportunities to cook side-by-side with family members such as matriarch Barbara Bush.  “The Anheuser-Busch family allows me to attend school, better myself and they understand that my education comes first, even before working for them,” explained Jacobs. “They’re flexible with my school schedule and fly me wherever they need me to be.”

A typical day for this multi-tasking student/chef begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends around 11:30 p.m., not including homework and school projects. Occasionally, Jacobs must coordinate with professors about homework or exams to guarantee he does not miss materials while he is preparing for a catering event on the same day. He has many clients now and creates custom seasonal menus and shops for ingredients before preparing the meals from scratch in their homes.

In addition to acting as a personal chef for both the Anheuser-Busch and Bush families, Jacobs is very active in a new pilot program just underway at the USFSM Culinary Innovation Lab in Lakewood Ranch. Via a van donated by restaurateur and businessman Burton M. “Skip” Sack, Jacobs transports veterans to a culinary “boot camp” specially designed for them to gain kitchen skills that will get them hired in local restaurants. The purpose of the program is to bridge the gap between what students learn in culinary schools and real world techniques used in restaurants day-to-day. Jacobs is hoping to develop sponsorships with restaurants and others in the community to make veterans job-ready.

Bryan Jacobs wants all vets to taste the success he has found in the hospitality field.

Tuesday Talks: Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano, Secondary Education & Literacies Curriculum

Each Tuesday, USF Sarasota-Manatee sits down with a member of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. Jenni Mennon Mariano.

Dr. Mariano is an associate professor in the College of Education and chairs the secondary education and literacies curriculum area. After developing a peace-building program in post-war Bosnia in response to the United Nations International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, she became a pioneer in the field of purpose development. Dr. Mariano earned her PhD from Stanford University where she was a member of William Damon’s research group and worked on the first youth purpose studies. As a Positive Psychology Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania she examined life purpose in the well-known Study of Adult Development, which is arguably the longest study of adult development in the world. Also, as a scholar on the Good Work Project run by the Stanford Center on Adolescence, Jenni studied how individuals accomplish work that is both excellent and ethical.

Dr. Mariano’s scholarly work appears in a wide range of leading journals and practitioner publications. She serves on the editorial board of Applied Developmental Science, and is a frequent reviewer for several other journals including the Journal of Positive Psychology, the Journal of Research in Adolescence, Developmental Psychology, Child Development Perspectives, the Journal of Youth Development, and the Journal of Research in Character Education. Jenni’s research on positive human development has been funded by grants from the Florida Campus Compact, the Spencer Foundation, and the John Templeton Foundation. She currently collaborates with scholars around the world. Jenni’s framework rests on the idea that the development of a noble life purpose is foundational to our well-being, dignity, and equality. She is dedicated to developing top notch research and programs that help all people develop and realize a sense of purpose in their lives.

Tuesday Talks: Dr. James Curran, Marketing

Each Tuesday, USF Sarasota-Manatee sits down with a member of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. James Curran.

Dr. James (Jim) Curran was selected by the USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty to serve as president of the Faculty senate for the 2014-15 academic year.

Dr. Curran has over 35 years of experience working and researching in the field of marketing. Dr. Curran has taught courses on more than twenty different topics in marketing and management and delivered these courses on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His research interests include the use of technologies in marketing, customer loyalty, and customer relationship management.

The results of his research have been presented nationally and internationally and have been cited more than 650 times by other researchers. Dr Curran’s work has been published in theJournal of Service Research, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Relationship Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice, Journal of Marketing Education, Journal of Business to Business Marketing, and other journals. Prior to joining the marketing faculty, he held sales and marketing positions with  four large international precious metals firms, spent time consulting, and managed his own manufacturer representative business.

Dr. Curran holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration/Marketing and an M.B.A from the University of Rhode Island and a B.A. in Mathematics from Fordham University.

USFSM Launches Collaborative Arts-Integrated Literacy Program


United Way Suncoast is collaborating with the Sarasota Y and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)’s College of Education in launching the Summer Arts-Integration Literacy (SAIL) program. SAIL is part of United Way Suncoast’s Summer Care program, designed to help break the cycle of generational poverty through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed.

SAIL addresses the disparity of elementary schoolchildren from low-income families in Sarasota who need access to the same resources and opportunities as their peers in higher socioeconomic brackets. The program is an extension of the Sarasota Y’s Camp Incredible wherein a select number of camp participants who are reading below grade level have access to a structured reading curriculum and receive one-on-one literacy tutoring (via two 45-minute sessions a week, eight weeks total) from USFSM students. These undergraduate and graduate-level teacher candidates in the College of Education’s Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching have received training at The Ringling’s Education Center on how to pair literacy tutoring with arts education.

 Learn more about the USFSM College of Education

“United Way Suncoast is proud to initiate the SAIL program and work with such high-caliber partners on improving early literacy,” said Katie Knight, Sarasota area president of United Way Suncoast. “Eighty-eight percent of first-grade students reading below grade level will continue to do so in the fourth grade without extra support like SAIL. In bringing together an array of Sarasota community resources driven towards a common goal, we’re able to provide a wonderful program like SAIL as a result.”

SAIL’s purpose is two-fold: One, collaborating with Sarasota Y provides a literacy program focused on preventing summer reading loss by embedding reading lessons and tutoring in the Y’s summer camp. Secondly, the USFSM collaboration develops education students’ skills and expertise in literacy, evaluation of teacher-child interaction, and arts integration.Education students will utilize the arts to teach social studies-themed reading material, encouraging the “reading” of art works to help understand historical and cultural contexts.

 Learn more about Sarasota Y

“Playing a vital role in helping more children in Sarasota read at or above their grade level is important to us,” said Kurt Stringfellow, president and CEO of the Sarasota Y. “We are proud to collaborate with United Way Suncoast and USF Sarasota-Manatee in expanding our summer camp program to help children strengthen their literacy skills.”

 Learn more about the United Way Suncoast

A steering committee oversees the program throughout its duration, with periodic meetings to discuss progress, solve problems, and develop changes to the program based on real-time performance data of the youth campers. 30 percent of Sarasota County children are not fully prepared to enter kindergarten or are not reading at grade level by third grade. Summer, when children are out of school, is a particularly vulnerable time. Research data shows:

  • Children living in poverty lose the equivalent of two months of reading skills during the summer. This learning loss is compounded so that at the end of their elementary school experience, they may be three or more years behind peers.
  • Two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summertime learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.

“The generosity of United Way Suncoast in funding this visionary summer arts education program enables vital community resources to collectively impact the learning of our most vulnerable citizens: Our children,” said Terry A. Osborn, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs (formerly dean of the College of Education) at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. “This one-on-one teaching opportunity will better prepare our teacher candidates for fall internships in area elementary schools. The more experienced they are in the classroom, the better the outcomes for themselves and their students.”

USFSM Announces Interim Regional Chancellor

Dr. Terry Osborn, USFSM Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student AffairsTerry A. Osborn, USF Sarasota-Manatee regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, will serve as interim regional chancellor effective August 1. Arthur M. Guilford will be stepping down from his position as regional chancellor effective July 31 and retiring as of January, 2015. A national search is currently underway for Guilford’s successor, chaired by Sophia Wisniewska, regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg.

Osborn’s interim position will ensure a smooth transition for USF Sarasota-Manatee when the new regional chancellor is named by USF System President Judy Genshaft and takes office at a date yet-to-be-determined. “We are excited about welcoming back our faculty and students to the fall semester beginning August 25 and are committed to providing all of our stakeholders with a seamless changeover to our new administration,” said Osborn. “Until that time, it is my honor to serve as Dr. Guilford steps down at the end of July.”

Tuesday Talks: Dr. Richard Reich, Psychology

Each Tuesday, USF Sarasota-Manatee sits down with a member of the faculty to discuss their expertise, recent research and some of their accomplishments.  This week, USFSM takes a closer look at Dr. Richard Reich.

Dr. Richard Reich is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. During the summer of 2014, Dr. Reich earned tenure as a member of the College of Arts & Sciences faculty. Dr. Reich is also affiliated with USF’s Alcohol and Substance Use Research Institute (ASURI) located on the Tampa campus where he was a graduate student in clinical psychology from 1997-2002 and conducted post-doctoral research from 2002-2005. Dr. Reich received a B.S. in psychology from the College of Charleston in 1994. Dr. Reich’s teaching philosophy is to train students to be synthesizers of information, not simply memorizers—students should be thinkers.

Dr. Reich’s research has been studying the cognitions that contribute to problematic drinking. Specifically, Dr. Reich has studied how what people expect will happen from drinking alcohol contributes to how much they drink, and how they behave under the influence of alcohol. Dr. Reich lives in Temple Terrace Florida with his wife Julie, and sons Zachary, Nathan, Eliot, Julian, and Francis. When not working and not playing with his family, he loves playing just about any sport and reading literature.

E-Learning Blog: Leverage the LMS for Online Student Retention

Online student retention is a constant concern amongst institutions. How can you ensure that your students are satisfied with course quality? Short answer: you can’t. What you can do is alleviate student frustration in the online environment with sound course design strategies. Sound design strategies engender better student satisfaction and commitment in the online learning environment.

Canvas Logo - Vertical/ColorOne suggestion is to leverage the Learning Management System (LMS) and design a course that if effective and efficient for student satisfaction. Course design ensures that students focus their time on course content, not course navigation. When students can easily navigate a course, they are more likely to remain engaged in the content. According to a recent study published in BloombergView, students of generation Z “have an 8 – second attention span” (Bershidsky). If students can’t quickly navigate a course they will become frustrated and disengage, quickly.

Let’s stop the student frustration and focus on 6 easy design tips that will engage and encourage student participation, focus and retention.

First Impressions

First impressions matter, especially in an online course. Use the Homepage to customize easy course access. Use an image; make it visually engaging and pleasing to the eye. Focus on a course “Start Here” or “Begin Here” button so students don’t become loss upon entry.

Figure 1: CC Canvas Course Collections

Figure 1: Course Home Page

Week-by-Week Access

A challenge in any online class is pace. How do you ensure that students don’t work too far ahead or fall behind? This is easier to do in a face-to-face course but can be just as easy in an online course if you organize your content by week or section in Canvas. Week-by-week access allows students to focus on the task at hand; they have a sense of what is ahead and a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished this week. It is organized in a list form and students can essentially work down the list in a straight and narrow path. The modules are the best way to ensure that students move forward in one direction at a designated pace.

Canvas Module Example

Figure 2: Canvas Module Example


Everyone likes feedback, including students. Students also like a clear explanation of when they can receive feedback. Make your course expectations, response time and feedback transparent. Address feedback response time in the course syllabus. A majority of students will understand and respect the course expectations. Instructors will benefit from this transparency when they’re not flooded with emails asking why they have not responded to an inquiry that was sent 2 hours ago.

To provide feedback try embracing technology features in Canvas. Canvas allows students and instructors to record short media comments instead of typing. Using the audio/video media comment tool in Canvas allows users to quickly record a response and provide instant feedback. Feedback then becomes personal, effective and efficient.

To learn more about the audio/media tool in Canvas visit the course guides here.

Allow Dialogue for Concern

Do you ever read your end of semester course evaluations and think “why didn’t he/she say something during the class?” If you evaluate your course and student perceptions, concerns and comments during the semester you can better address student needs before the semester is over.

One suggestion is to provide each student with an opportunity to give the instructors feedback at the end of each week, unit, module, etc. If you create an ungraded quiz or a quiz worth very little point value, your students might surprise you.  In the Canvas LMS you can even create anonymous surveys, ensuring to your students you genuinely want feedback: good and bad.

Student Feedback

Figure 3: Student Feedback

Encourage Collaboration

Building peer-to-peer relationships in an online course is not impossible if you have the tools. In face-to-face class settings, students have the opportunity to talk to each other before, after, or even during class. To foster relationship building in an online environment, encourage students to collaborate. If you’re feeling really ambitious, join in on the discussion.

Canvas provides students the opportunity to use Big Blue Button, never having to leave the course. Big Blue Button is a way to hold a virtual meeting, office hours, chat sessions and more.  Remember that students may not understand how to navigate the conference feature right away so provide them with the resources necessary to learn and engage on their own.

If conferences are not appealing to you or your students, encourage use of Google Hangout sessions or even Skype conference calls. The more engaged students are in the course; the more likely they will complete the course.

To learn more about conferences in canvas visit the guides here.

Monitor At-Risk Students

Regardless of how well a course is designed there may be those students who struggle in the online environment. Use the LMS technology to your advantage and monitor your student’s progress throughout the semester. Keep track of your students and see how frequently they interact with course content. Monitor which students turn in assignments on time and which ones don’t. Using the Canvas analytics feature will showcase student progress throughout the entire semester. Take advantage of the data and reach out to your at-risk students before they decide to drop or disengage with the course.

To read more about Canvas analytics you can visit the guides or read this previous blog post.

Keep in mind these are just tips. You do not have to use all of them, start small and pick one tip that you are interested in.  Evaluate your course and your learners; see if adopting one of the tips could make a difference. Good luck!

Until next time,

Kendi Judy

Read the BloombergView article on Generation Z.

E-Learning Blog: Reduce Your Workload and Increase Interaction – Tip #1

— Cascade Discussions —

By Carlos Montoya, M.Ed

Let’s face it, online teaching brings a lot of challenges. One of those challenges is the amount of workload that is involved in having an interactive online course. Research has shown that discussions play a big role in an online learning environment. However, discussions bring yet more challenges. Not only do you have to read the original response, but also you have to read the replies of the rest of the students, thus taking a lot of time out of your busy life. One strategy that instructors are implementing to reduce their workload while increasing students’ interaction is by creating a cascade discussion.

How It Works

The instructor will create a group discussion. Each group will come up with ideas, answers, or a series of questions, depending what the discussion is asking. Groups are subset of a course with a course-like environment including their own discussion board; therefore they will work together on their own discussion board and come up with one post. Once each group has agreed with a post, one member of each group will create a discussion in the course discussion board. They will title the discussion with the group name or number, and post the information that the group agreed on. The instructor may now interact in the discussion to address the facts, comment on ideas or answer questions that were built in the process.

Canvas Implementation

Please watch the screencast video below to see how cascade discussions can be implemented in your Canvas course:

Group Discussion Tutorial

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Until next time,