COAS Includes Interdisciplinary Course in New Proposal

Written by: Kashay Bowens, Jeran Lantz-Robbins, Charlotte Stefanski, Emily Yager

The College of Arts and Sciences working group recently submitted a proposal in regards to the college’s general education requirement, which included an interdisciplinary education course, something most of the group thought would be a positive experience for students, said Jeff Malanson.

Malanson, the chair of the committee, said the working group spent two semesters on forming the proposal, but one idea they kept coming back to was an interdisciplinary course.

Janet Badia, the director of women’s studies and a member of the working group, said, “In its ideal form it would entail three professors teaching the class together. It would be team teaching importantly in the sense of all three professors being present in the class for all sixteen weeks.”

An example she gave included a class covering the human body. She said each professor would give a perspective from the humanities side, the social sciences side, and the science side.

According to Malanson, the course would be problem based class taken during a student’s freshman year. The course would teach students how experts from each discipline would approach the same topic.

“Instead of an intro to science, it’s a specific issue that they might be passionate about,” Malanson said. “It gives them this opportunity to engage in a more meaningful learning experience from day one that might help them feel more engaged with the university.”

Malanson said the course could also be used as a recruitment tool for the university.

“I’m not saying we’d be the first to ever do it, but it’s not a common thing, and especially not for students who are coming to a regional campus that has far fewer resources than IU or Purdue,” Malanson said.

The group is made up of 16 members, each being from a different department within the College of Arts and Sciences. It was formed in the fall of 2013 when IPFW implemented a new general education program.

“When our general education system changed, it created certain issues in the curriculum that the faculty felt needed addressed,” Nancy Virtue, a French professor and member of the working group, said. “The working group was charged with exploring how we might address certain weaknesses in the current requirements.”

According to Malanson, four of the group members voted against the proposal in its entirety, not just the interdisciplinary course. Those who did not agree with the interdisciplinary course were concerned about the logistics of maintaining the course.

“It probably would be very difficult for smaller departments to lend faculty to teach that course, so it would not have the full flavor of all the College of Arts and Sciences disciplines,” Timothy Grove, an associate professor of physics at the university, said. “I would argue that it’s not really a matter of teaching methods. It’s more a matter of give a dose of this, give a dose of that. It’s more of say filling out a shopping cart list than anything I would consider a teaching method.”

“The next thing up in this process is figuring out how we can actually do this responsibly. We don’t want to adopt a set of requirements that we can’t actually give our students in a meaningful way,” Malanson said.

According to Virtue, the proposal currently sits with the College of Arts and Sciences executive committee, who are currently determining the next steps in how to move forward with the proposal.

Is Sacrificing Sleep Actually Worth the Good Grade?

Finals week is here and IPFW students are cramming to get their last minute study sessions in while finishing up assignments. Some even report forgoing sleep in order work through the night surviving on caffeinated drinks and pure stamina.

Daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation and irregular sleep are highly common among college student. 50 percent report daytime sleepiness and 70 percent attain insufficient sleep.

Hershner and Chervin conducted a study on sleeplessness among college students and found that most people require seven to eight hours of sleep in order to function properly. It has been found that many bodily systems can be harmed by sleepless nights.

According to former nursing student, Caitlyn Mishler, a number of the body’s functions are negatively affected by inadequate sleep such as lack of appetite, slow immune system, erratic mood swings and neurocognitive consequences.

“It [sleep deprivation] can cause about anything under the sun,” said Mishler. “When you sleep, it’s a time for your body to repair itself and heal from stress of the day, you don’t realize it but actually walking around and being awake is quite a huge thing for your body and if you don’t give your body time to repair itself it will turn on you.”

During sleep, the body produces cytokines which are cellular hormones that help fight infections. People suffering from lack of sleep may be more vulnerable to everyday infections like the common cold and flu.

According to Hershner and Chervin there is a link between insufficient sleep and weight- gain. Due to lack of sleep, levels of the hormone leptin which tells the brain enough food has been consumed, are lower while levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, are higher.

Alia Hoyt, who researched how dangerous sleep deprivation could be, stated that other effects of sleep deprivation involve a lower ability to retain memory, lack of better judgment and problem-solving. During sleep, learning and memory pathways become encoded in the brain, and sufficient sleep is necessary for those pathways to work properly.

“I see this [sleep deprivation] in more college aged students,” Mishler said. “They cram and rely on energy drinks and coffee to sustain them.”

With insufficient sleep, the thinking process slows, it is harder to focus and pay attention.

“I am sleep deprived right now,” Sara Williamson, a senior at IPFW said. “I didn’t really see it as a big deal, everyone goes through this at some point in their college career it wasn’t until I started going through memory loss and time jumps that I started to get scared.”

According to Hoyt, those who suffer from sleep deprivation have an easy solution: unstressed rest. Giving the brain and body time to repair itself in the REM stage of sleep is the best possible solution.

“Unstressed rest is the best cure for sleep deprivation, no sleeping aids or amount of caffeine can compare to a natural nights rest.” Mishler said.

IPFW Improves Campus Community Initiatives with Community Student Portal

IPFW now has a completely web-based software hosted by Symplicity called Community that allows students to manage all aspects of their groups, clubs and organizations. The Office of Student Life and Leadership implemented the software system in August as a way to give students the ability to easily manage their co-curricular activities.

The Office of Student Life and Leadership worked with Symplicity to implement Community in an attempt to streamline the paper-based process that was used in the past for managing student groups.

“The filing system we used before we had Community was a pen and paper process,” Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for student life and leadership, said.

According to Price, this pen and paper process was inconvenient for both staff and self-registering students. Before Community was implemented, students interested in starting a campus organization had to print off the application online, fill it out and return that application to the Office of Student Life and Leadership. The office then stored each student organization application in a paper file. If the student wanted to make changes to that application they had to come back into the office and pull their file to make those changes.

“Community now allows us to digitize those records so that the students can easily manage groups, rosters and activities from within the system,” Price said.

Community also gives students within an organization the ability to find out about events on campus, keep track of event attendance and communicate with other members within the organization.

“Community is really beneficial to the members of the Active Minds group because it helps us plan out our events and lets us grow our member base a lot more than recruiting in person,” Manal Saeed, president of active minds, said in an email. “It also lets our current members know what we’re planning in advance, so they can plan to be there.”

Transitioning to Community also makes it easier for students to generate and manage their co-curricular transcripts. A co-curricular transcript is a university document that complements a student’s official academic transcript. Community offers a co-curricular transcript tool that allows students to document all of their student organization participation, membership, study-abroad experiences, honors, awards, scholarships and any other campus-based services students are involved in and have achieved throughout their time at IPFW.

In addition to being able to easily manage a student organization and co-curricular transcript, Community also offers a feature to help the campus move forward in some of the other campus community initiatives by sending out the student newsletter known as “True Blue.” According to Alex Wulpi, communications assistant in the office of the chancellor, the chancellor’s office decided to use Community as a platform to send out the student newsletter because it offers message tracking capabilities.

“The message tracking capability lets us know the percentage of the recipients who opened the newsletter,” Wulpi said. “This comes in handy because this information helps guide our decisions about what content to include and whether to adjust the design or layout to increase reader satisfaction.”

Community also adds more well-crafted content to the True Blue newsletter as opposed to sending it out by email through the student LISTSERV. “We didn’t like sending the newsletter out through the student LISTSERV because it was just a wall of text and links.” Wulpi said. “Community allows us to add basic HTML markup and pictures to make it more interesting and aesthetically pleasing.”

All students can login to Community by visiting and use their current IPFW student username and password to access their personal profiles. Once students are logged on, they can create an event request, co-curricular transcript and find out about other student organizational events happening on campus.