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College of Education


STEM research update

We previously hosted Tamara Holmlund on our podcast (Education Eclipse 027 Today’s STEM Education) and she told us about a Next Generation STEM Teacher Preparation project that she and other researchers were working on. This past summer, Holmlund and a colleague from UW Bothell collaborated to put engineering and sustainability into the STEM collaboration she’s been doing for the last five years.

“The outcome was very positive, even beyond the third grade classrooms,” Holmlund said.

The Battle Ground School District featured part of this project in a recent blog post. We republish here:

Sarah Brown student teaches in the Battle Ground Public Schools.

Pleasant Valley Primary 3rd graders help endangered butterflies

Armed with little more than pencils, clipboards, and their own ingenuity, the third graders in teacher Talea Jones’ class at Pleasant Valley Primary School are working to solve quite the complex problem: how can they, acting as ecologists and designers, help create a healthy habitat to attract and protect endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies to their school grounds?

This fun and scientifically engaging project is part of an annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) collaboration between the third grade classes at Pleasant Valley Primary in Battle Ground Public Schools and the student teachers at Washington State University-Vancouver. The partnership benefits both the district and the university through the practical application of STEM learning. WSU-V students earning their K-8 masters in education degrees visit the PVP campus and act as guest teachers for two hours a week over the two-week course of the project. The specific theme changes from year to year, but always involves a STEM project with a focus on sustainability education, design thinking, and engineering concepts.

“It’s a great opportunity for these young learners to experience a field-based research project,” said guest teacher and WSU-Vancouver student Stephanie Pederson. “Project based learning like this provides students with an engaging experience that is highly valuable and completely authentic.”

Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies were once abundant in the inland prairies of the Pacific Northwest, located west of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia south through Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Almost two centuries of agriculture and the growth of urban areas has eliminated about 99 percent of the butterflies’ native habitat. As a result, the once abundant Euphydryas editha taylori are now a Washington state-endangered species and listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

To develop a design solution, the students have learned everything they can about the butterflies, including their habitat needs throughout all four stages of their life cycle. The students then learned to identify the native plants that serve as both food and shelter for the Pacific Northwest pollinators before heading out to the great outdoors to identify plants and make field observations in their project notebooks.

After their field books are full of notes and sketches, the young engineers-in-training head back to the classroom so they can start designing solutions that will help protect the butterflies throughout all stages of their life cycles. After creating their designs, the students swap booklets and peer review each other’s’ work, helping to refine their ideas and collaborate on the best, most practical solutions.

“I like that I got to be creative and make something,” said William Johnstone, a student in Mrs. Jones’ class. “Before this project, the only thing I can remember designing in school was a math word problem, so this was really fun.”

The Oregon Zoo began recovery efforts with the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly in 2003. Zoo staff work to save these delicate pollinators from extinction with partners from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Xerces Society, the Nature Conservancy, as well as several regional universities, zoos, conservation groups, government agencies, and correctional facilities to help protect and supplement wild butterfly populations. More information is available at


Building sport in-roads with Chinese college students

In the 2006 documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, former United States Vice President Al Gore comments on the perils associated with uncritical belief in conventional wisdom (in his case, on global warming) by citing Mark Twain: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

The same could be said about China, a country most Americans probably think of mainly as a political and economic threat to the United States.

The threat is probably overrated. More importantly, as philosopher Slavoj Žižek often says about a range of topics, “it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

Hence, while your blogger traveled to China this summer to teach a course in sport journalism, he probably learned about the Middle Kingdom just as much as the students enrolled in the course did about the fourth estate. Their own version of “fair trade.”

One learning outcome for the visiting lecturer of a course taught to 116 second-year undergraduates pursuing degrees in the English language at Beijing Sport University, or BSU, was that college-aged youth have rather similar interests regardless of the country they live in. During a class discussion, Wu Jingwei, who goes by the “English name” Ekko (pronounced ECK-oh) in courses with non-Chinese instructors, named Taylor Swift as his favorite singer.

However (it’s a bit more complicated… ), for every American pop music fan, there was also a student who consumes quality Western media. Ekko’s classmate Li Zhaoxiang (“James”), a Beijing Guoan F.C. fan, named the Voice of America as his favorite media outlet and regularly updated your blogger on news highlights published by the BBC. Another student, Gao Jianzhu (“Hebe”), had completed an internship with the Beijing Morning Post newspaper and is proud for having seen her pictures published on the outlet’s website.

Beijing Sport University
A student applies appropriate image composition as learned in the lecture on sports photography while taking this picture of visiting professor Simon Ličen during the lecture, “Current Trends in Sport Media,” held at Beijing Sport University on June 4, 2018. The student, Jingyi Hu (“Alex”), is an avid amateur photographer who knew about the subject and had studied some of her lecturer’s typical poses before passing the exam with flying colors.

A second learning outcome was a better understanding of the phrase, “Socialism with Chinese characteristics,” which is the expression used to describe the People’s Republic’s system of political theories and policies. The system involves adopting elements of a market economy to attract foreign investment and increase productivity. As a result, Beijing’s commercial districts are not unlike similar areas in New York, Rome, Cape Town, or other metropolises. An unadventurous traveler could sustain themselves on food from KFC and shop for Nike apparel while sipping Starbucks brews (though they would miss out on a lot).

China is not immune to globalization; rather, it is one of its driving forces. This influenced the decision of some Chinese universities to offer study programs taught entirely in the English language.

One such institution is BSU, the country’s top school for sport studies and one of the top (about) 100 schools included in Project 211. This status provides the school with additional funding to raise its research standards and cultivate strategies for socio-economic development. In 2017, there were 2914 colleges and universities nation-wide, up from 2542 in 2014.

To enhance the quality of its “English major,” BSU invites several international lecturers from the English-speaking world. This year’s faculty included Professor Scott Martyn from the University of Windsor in Canada, Dr. Jo An Zimmermann from Texas State University in the United States, Emeritus Professor Tony Collins from De Montfort University in England and the College of Education’s Simon Ličen.

This was the third time your Sport Management program’s expert in communication and sport was invited to the university. The course in sport journalism provides students with an introduction to journalism and broadcasting about sport as it is conceived in the United States and Western Europe.

Throughout the 15 lectures, students master the basics of covering sports events, discuss “hard news” topics such as match-fixing and corruption, and even record a short play-by-play broadcast of a game. This equips them with the fundamentals to explore the field at a more advanced level: upon graduation, many students pursue advanced degrees in China or other countries. Some, like Hu Hua (“Sunny”), are already pursuing related degrees and enjoy the course as it provides them with additional insight. Quite a few aspire to become broadcasters or pursue other careers in media. They are among the students who keep in touch upon completion of the course via WeChat, a social media service.

Beijing Sport University
Many students play, organize and watch student competitions. Here, men’s (front left) and women’s (back right) teams play games of the Foreign Language Basketball Association, a competition between departments offering degrees in the English language, on May 12, 2018. Beijing Sport University’s outdoor courts and terrains are well-attended outside of competitions, too (photo: Simon Ličen).

This year, your correspondent was also invited to prepare a general lecture for interested students and faculty of the institution whose people have collectively won 73 gold medals in the Olympic Games. In a lecture entitled “Current Trends in Sport Media,” we discussed automation, some features of Olympic broadcasting and some characteristics of social media usage, a topic that included a reference to a study currently in progress by Wei Ching Liao, a graduate student in our Sport Management program.

All in all, the visit was successful and BSU invited your blogger to teach the course next spring as well. The two institutions are developing an initiative that would involve student exchanges and year-round collaboration. Additionally, several ideas for research and professional opportunities have emerged during and after the third stay in Beijing. Follow us in the coming months to learn the details.

Beijing Sport University
Most students who completed the course in Sport Journalism at Beijing Sport University in the spring of 2015 raised their hands in response to the instructor’s question, “Who reads newspapers?”. Popular titles included China Daily, New York Times and other major outlets. Your blogger seized the moment to snap a group photo of the class, prompting students to smile.

The invites are a professional and personal achievement. They mark the third continent on which your correspondent has taught a university course, after Slovenia in Europe and the United States in the Americas. Also, teaching in a communist country while working in the foremost capitalist one is an accomplishment that is rarely bestowed to a scholar born in a non-aligned socialist republic. While the latter country has since crumbled, the values of quality education, collaboration and brotherhood among nations are still passed on by some. Also, the College of Education’s expert on sport communication can keep learning, expanding his horizons and sharing more diverse content and perspectives to students at WSU.

Beijing Sport University
The Sports Meeting, Beijing Sport University’s yearly intramural track and field meet, features some notable athletic achievements and attracts an estimated 2000 spectators to the main school stadium. This picture, taken by Simon Ličen early in the event on May 16, 2018, also indicates the substantial student media coverage dedicated to the event as about two dozen photographers and camera operators capture an interview with a participant.

When your blogger returns to BSU next year, perhaps he will finally cross paths with some of the prominent…co-workers who visit the school just days before or after him. In 2017, basketball superstar Yao Ming was appointed honorary president of the university’s China Basketball Academy just days before the Sport Journalism course started. This year, the WSU prof left the day before IOC President Thomas Bach became BSU Honorary Professor.

Even if he does not shake hands with bigwigs, it will be a pleasure to reconnect with many of the students who completed Sport Journalism this and previous years, and meet their peers who will enroll in the course next summer.

2018 Faculty/Staff Excellence Awards

PULLMAN, Wash. – The College of Education has given its annual faculty and staff excellence awards.

Faculty Excellence in Diversity: Pam Bettis – Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education


Faculty Excellence in Teaching: Kira Carbonneau – Educational Psychology


Faculty Excellence in Research: Brenda Barrio – Special Education


Faculty Excellence in Service: Tom Salsbury – Language, Literacy, and Technology


Staff Excellence: Matthew Vaughn – Director of Information Services

Matthew vaughn

Palouse Mental Health Resources Fair

Each year, students in the College of Education’s Sport Management program split into small groups and do a fundraiser as part of their capstone. To do this, every aspect of a good sport event has to be utilized, from operations, to legal, to marketing and promotion, etc. Each event is supposed to help raise money for a group or organization the students choose.

Palouse Mental Health Resources Fair

This collaborative event will present the Palouse community with resources available for mental health. The event will take place at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center (located on the southeast side of campus: 405 SE Spokane Street, Pullman, WA 99164) on Sat., April 7, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The mission of this event is to create awareness of the various resources available while overcoming the stigma surrounding mental health. All event proceeds will be donated to our beneficiary Lynn Kramer of iBelieve of the Palouse. She aims to reach her goal of one million dollars to build a new youth and wellness facility in Pullman, Wash.

In accomplishing this feat, this event will offer three aspects of physical activity; Yoga, Zumba, and Body Pump. Each class will be led by a fully certified trainer. In addition, the event will grant participants social entertainment through carnival-style games as well as a raffle featuring apparel, autographed articles, and other entertainment prizes. The final aspect of the event will encompass the ‘Pie a Professional’. This portion of the event includes a silent auction fundraiser on a panel of WSU celebs, coaches, and well-known members of Pullman. All participants will receive the opportunity to bid in the silent auction fundraiser which will remain open until the final hour of our event. The individual with the highest donation placed will have the pleasure of throwing a pie in the face of the WSU celebrity, coach or member of which they donated towards. Food, refreshments, and snacks will be offered at no-cost in attendance at our event.

“We wanted to do this event because at some point we all hit down times and perseverance,” said sport management student Eddie Chavez, who is helping facilitate the event. “This event is to show that there is help and resources for when you need it and it’s okay to talk about what you are going through, thus eliminating the stigma that mental health has.”

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Diary from Japan — Day 17

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Kierstin Laisne, and received no editing from the college.

Today was such an exciting day!

We started it off as per usual with going to school and teaching/observing classes. Some of us continued teaching past tense verbs through charades while others were used to help one of the most energetic teachers demonstrate the differences between “this is” and “that is”. The classes that we got to teach were actually split into half the normal size so interacting with the students went smoother than usual.

After our school day ended, we all hustled back to the hostel, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and out we** went! Today’s destination: Nara. We’ve all been fairly excited about this trip because it meant we got to see and pet deer! …Okay there were other reasons to be excited about Nara but c’mon– there was the opportunity to pet cute little deer! Lots of selfies were taken and we even saw certain people teaching the deer to bow and other random citizens combing and taking care of the deer.

Next up, we walked to the Isuien Gardens, which were by far one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Japan. This country never ceases to amaze me and just seems to get more beautiful the longer we stay! The picture taking opportunities went on and on so don’t be so surprised when you look at how many photos are included today!

The next place we went to was Todaiji Temple: home of the Great Buddha of Nara, which was built in the early 8th century! It’s safe to say that everyone was shocked by just how huge the statue is! The Great Buddha is about 50 feet tall while also being on a platform so you can only imagine our faces when our eyes adjusted to the dark temple to find a giant in the center! While in the temple, we also learned that this temple was one of the “Seven Great Temples” of Japan! Shrines, dozens of deer, and interesting cement lanterns also surrounded the temple, which seemed to stretch on for a while.

To top off the night though was the most refreshing summer storm that could’ve possibly happened. It was the whole nine yards with thunder, lightning, and completely soaked hair! Although we typically complain whenever it pours back home, rain was a sight for sore eyes, especially after experiencing the humidity here! We all want to make the most of the rest of our trip, so hopefully the weekend will be just as fun as today!

**The “we” in this case would be our group minus one member. Sadly Jeremiah couldn’t be with us today… He’s completely fine but just stayed behind to finish the grant he’s been working super hard on! Congrats Jeremiah! We felt that he should still get to experience Nara though, which led to some interesting pictures and videos… Enjoy!

Diary from Japan — Day 16

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Maria Garcia, and received no editing from the college.

Today at Imazu Junior High school we got the chance to interact with the students more by participating in class activities as well as leading our own activities that we came up with as a group.We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to th

We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to the class. The students that interviewed our professor, Tom, took some time to draw great pictures of him. It was really cute! After we were done with the interviews Kim and Gracie taught the kids how to play charades, also known as the gesture game. The kids played in their lunch groups with the help of the teachers. It was great to see the kids having a good time and enjoying themselves!

After that class was over we broke up into smaller groups and went to separate English classes. My group had the opportunity to work with the third year English students. We created a Jeopardy activity to help students practice spelling and listening, as well as to learn a bit more about American culture. It was my turn to lead todays activity, so I was pretty excited to practice my teaching skills. The students understood the rules and all the hints that we provided, and they also did a great job guessing all the trivia questions. I think it is safe to say that all the students and teachers included, had a great time teaching and learning English together!

To wrap up our day we hit it hard at the Coco Curry and afterwards hit up the Karaoke bar! It was a great way to unwind from a successful and busy day! Lets see what tomorrow brings, rest well my fellow Cougs!

Diary from Japan — Day 14

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Sandra Larios, and received no editing from the college.

It’s sad to know that our time in Japan is dwindling down. I’m sure many of us are growing to really love and appreciate this beautiful culture.

Today we had the opportunity to travel to Kobe city, if Kobe sounds familiar it may be because of Kobe Beef, which I’ve heard is both delicious and pricey!

We started out our day taking a ferry through the Osaka Bay. The sound of the ferry clashing through the water was soothing and I personally found it to be quite therapeutic. I found myself reflecting on this experience thus far and really thought how blessed and lucky I am to be here at this moment and in this place. It’s not often that first generation students from migrant farmworking homes get the chance to study abroad. The sounds and the views were beautiful and the weather was only complimenting this experience.

After our ferry ride, we headed to the Kobe Port Tower, which stands at a height of 108 meters, 80 meters shy of the Seattle Space Needle. The view was breathtakingly beautiful (please refer to images below and see for yourself).

Once lunch time approached we headed out to China Town where we ate lunch and had the chance to eat street food and explore the various shops. It was both a delicious and unique experience!

Overall today was a fun-filled day, full of over 20,000 steps, delicious food, and beautiful views. I really wish I could extend my time here in Japan, but I promise to visit again!

Diary from Japan — Day 13

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Kim Moon, and received no editing from the college.

It’s Friday! It has been another great week at the junior high school, but today we spent our time at the Nishinomiya Higashi High School. I was super excited to work with the high school students today to see how much English they knew. Most of the students were able to answer basic conversational questions, which was super fun! We first met the principal and received a tour of the school. The students became distracted as we walked by their classrooms. The students at this school were equivalent to 10th-12th graders in the United States. We interacted with each grade for half a period. The 3rd year students (12th grade) were working on listening comprehension. While the teacher played the passage, we would help the students pick out the main points in the story. The 3rd year students were a joy to work with, since their English skills are a little more advanced. However, they were a little shy in the beginning. The 2nd year (11th grade) students were all preparing for their midterms and working on grammar and pronunciation. During our time with them, the teachers asked us to read their passages with them so they could hear a native speaker instead of their CD. We all felt very privileged by this offer and the students enjoyed working with us a lot. We spent the last half period with the first year (10th grade) students, who were working on reading fluency and pronunciation. We participated in an echo read, during which we really focused on pronunciation. It was sad to leave since we only got to spend one day with them. However, it has been a great opportunity to see a wide range of students from elementary school to high school to understand the English language education here in Japan.

After saying our “Good-byes” to the principal, teachers, and students at the high school, we all headed to LaLaPort mall for lunch. Finally, we found a McDonalds and a Mister Donut! Most of us got some food that tasted a little less fishy! During lunch a nice Japanese man came up to us and attempted to speak English. He was so sweet and really tried hard, but was unable to use enough English so that we knew what he was saying. He disappeared for a few minutes and came back with an orange for us, which was one of the best oranges that I have had since we have been here. He was kind enough to take a selfie with us and departed saying something in Japanese. We all enjoyed our free time this afternoon wandering around the mall, exploring the city more, and taking a little nap! A few of us found some great souvenirs for family and ran into another Japanese man with a USA hat, who acknowledged us.

This evening we were fortunate to spend some time with a few of the local teachers here. First we went to have dinner at a ramen restaurant. This was by far some of the best ramen I have ever had! It is definitely better than the top ramen all of us college students know so well. We enjoyed talking and getting to know the teachers here better. I was super excited to learn about the ALT (assistant language teacher) positions as I might come back to teach English for a year. Then we all went to participate in some Japanese karaoke! We all got to sing some classic karaoke songs and enjoy each other’s company. All in all week 2 here has been wonderful and we cannot wait to enjoy more of Japanese culture in our final week!


Diary from Japan — Day 12

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Gracie Lee, and received no editing from the college.

And we are off to another adventure in Japan! Today’s journey would begin a little later as we all decided that some much needed sleep would be necessary.

After waking up, showering, and eating breakfast, we were off to see the Himeji Castle. Boy was it a sight to see. It was so beautiful and well designed. Steep stairs and low doorway entries accompanied the castle. After taking lots of pictures and enjoying the view, it was time for lunch. We decided to eat together for another group meal. It was delicious! I had curry for the third day in a row and it was magnificent! After eating lunch, the group decided to split up. Some of us went to the zoo, while others went on adventures of their own. To wrap up the day at the castle, a couple of us decided to take a walk through the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden. The garden was huge! There were at least 12 different types of gardens at the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden. Lots of fish, flowers, and trees made for a wonderful afternoon. After the garden, it was time to catch the train and head back to the Hostel.

It sure was a great Saturday in Japan! The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. It’s sad to think that our adventure is coming to an end, but we all have made the best of our journey in Japan.


Diary from Japan — Day 11

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by Dr. Salsbury and received no editing from the college.

Today was our second day at Imazu Junior High School

We started the day by observing the boys’ and girls’ PE classes. The girls played volleyball and invited some of us (those with proper gym shoes) to play along. Meanwhile, in another gym, the boys practiced the high jump. I was struck (a) by the lack of competition among the kids, and (b) by the organization of the groups. With just a single word or phrase from the teacher, the kids formed their groups, moved to their places, and participated in the activities. Everybody participated, and the happiness in the gymnasiums was palpable.

Next, we moved to a history class. We were greeted (in English) by the history teacher whose hook for the lesson on leadership was to show on the projector (in English) the question “Who is this?” He showed a picture of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter, turning to us (standing in the back of the room) and asking politely if we could identify them. Next, he showed several funny pictures of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (eating a donut, making a funny face, and smiling). The kids loved it! After this hook, he shifted register (and language) and began his lecture on 19th Century Japanese leaders.

The other classes we observed were Industrial Arts (a class on communications technology – from cups with strings to iPhones), biology (plant roots), and music (the kids practiced a choral piece). We took notes on classroom structure (activities, groupings and student/teacher roles). In our afternoon seminar, we heard presentations from classmates on (a) the changing roles of women in Japanese society and (b) the different levels of formality in Japanese. The discussions were rich, personal, and relevant to what we’re experiencing in our relatively short time here.

We finished the afternoon with class preparation for next week. The school lent us copies of their English course texts for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. They’re hoping we can prepare 2-3 activities at each grade level to supplement the lessons in the texts. It’s great to be collaborating with each other and with the Nishinomiya teachers as we prepare these lessons.

Washington State University