Poultry Science just became open access

Poultry Science is arguably the most prestigious journal for research involving poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, and sometimes ostriches and emus- that are used for agriculture). It is the official journal of the Poultry Science Association which is a U.S. based scientific society that is committed to the advancement of the poultry industry. As of January 1st, 2020 both journals Poultry Science and the Journal of Applied Poultry Research have become open access through a publishing agreement with Elsevier.

The Journal has been around since 1921 and currently is published monthly and internationally known. It is in the top 10 journals in agriculture and number 1 for poultry research according to impact factor rankings. Poultry Science has sections for specific disciplines such as: nutrition and metabolism, breeding and genetics, production and management, physiology and reproduction, molecular biology, welfare, and processing and products, all tied together by their focus on poultry.

As Poultry Science has just recently transitioned there are no statistics associated with the response from the contributors and readers of the journal. The Poultry Science Association say that they are transitioning because

It provides the highest level of visibility for published works and facilitates increased citation and further dissemination of the information, all of which aligns with the vision of PSA to be the world’s most respected resource for poultry sciences. Also, expectations of the academic community and publishing trends are moving in the direction of free availability (no cost to the reader) of research findings, especially when funded by government entities.

They are also transitioning all previously published articles in Poultry Science to open access. These digital articles go back to the 1930s.

I applaud the Poultry Science Association for transitioning to open access and I hope that it is appreciated by the public.

Research on Research

Metascience- or Meta-research- is the process of conducting research on the process of conducting scientific research focusing on the evaluation of integrity, transparency, and repeatability. In psychology and social science fields Meta-research has become a more visible trend, as well in statistics. The Office of Research Integrity has one of the oldest research grant programs for researchers to do Meta-research- The Research on Research Initiative was started in 2001. In September the ORI awarded 8 research grants to do research on research. Meta-research has been a pet passion of mine for many years now since I stumbled across Dr. John Ioannidis at Stanford University and his research program the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS) launched in 2014. Since then I regularly track Meta-research projects at METRICS and the Research on Research Institute. I have also looked at research projects being conducted that have been posted on the Center for Open Science. I hope to incorporate Meta-research into my own laboratory if I join the academy. Does anyone else have any side pet passions (not related directly to your degree research) like this?

-SE

Diverse experiences with culturally responsive teaching

After thoughtful group discussion of our personal experiences with culturally responsive teaching, we’ve come to the agreement that there is no one way to be culturally responsive. These inclusive practices occur across multiple domains (e.g., within the course content, through instruction, in relationships with students). They also look different across different disciplines. Here are a few of our experiences from our disciplines of psychology, architecture, animal science, and engineering. 

Alexis: Topics of culture and diversity are often naturally interwoven in psychology course content. At the same time, much of the existing literature in psychological science is based on very white, middle-class, westernized groups of people. Thus, it can require some extra effort in order to include ethnic and cultural diversity in my classes. I have increasingly tried to be conscious of whose work I am highlighting during class, and to share the work of psychologists from underrepresented backgrounds. However, it can also be difficult to do this in a way that isn’t tokenism. I often wonder how to appropriately approach these issues in the classroom and how to achieve culturally responsive teaching strategies in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Mahnaz: When it comes to some fields of study such as architecture, differences can become influential and reduce performance. For instance, the different unit system that is used in the United States is completely different from what is used in many other countries. Although it is possible to complete a project with the metric system and change it to English Units at the end, it is not always accepted. Converting the units, which can be a simple issue, can become a huge hindrance even to understanding the scale of your project and know what you are designing. Overall, it can negatively influence a student’s performance.

Mohammed: Saudi Arabia has less diversity in its education system than the United States. However, in Saudi Arabian higher education, most students prefer to work as a group in class discussions and projects to get multiple different experiences and take different viewpoints. Moreover, hands-on experience in engineering colleges in Saudi Arabia has increased in the last ten years. This yields to develop culture education in a class. The integration between hands-on experience and group discussion in a class can be considered as a good teaching strategy in higher education.   

Sara: Integrating individual life experiences is essential to the learning process. When teachers embrace this fact they are likely to be more successful. I try to embrace this in my own classroom, where I attempt to teach 150 new students the basics of Animal Science. The biggest challenge I face is that within my population of students exists individuals that grew up around livestock and then I have others that have only ever had a pet cat. This wide range requires me to make sure that all students get the opportunity to ask questions when they are lost in the material and to keep the advanced students engaged while helping out the other students. Trying to treat all of my students like blank slates in this class would alienate half of my students from the material that I am so passionate about; alternatively, taking the approach that all students are ready to dive into a discussion about species management strategies will alienate the other half. There is no right way to teach this class, my only goal for the class is to have every student ready for the next level of Animal Science classes within the department. 

The “cultural” component of culturally responsive teaching is more than just considering the ethnic or racial background of students within our class. Our experiences highlight this fact and we all feel better having had this conversation.

Expanding student access to CHEP at VT

This week I attended the 12th annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CHEP) put on by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at VT. I am very appreciative to have had the opportunity to attend the conference- as my registration was arranged and paid by the graduate teaching scholars program that I am involved in. This conference gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with faculty members of other institutions that shared a common interest- higher education teaching. It was also notable to me that most of the attendees were faculty with primarily teaching roles and many from non-research institutions. I have only ever attended land grant research institutions, so this was a valuable opportunity for me. Additionally, this was the conference I have attended that was outside my discipline.

I am privileged to get the opportunity to attend this conference because 1) I was made aware of this conference and 2) my $50 registration fee was covered. I noticed that the only other students I met (who weren’t presenting at the conference) were those in my program. I worry that this conference is missing out on having students attend and giving them opportunities to attend. I think developing a student-oriented activity or session would enhance the conference. They could invite graduate students involved in higher education programs at VT (such as the GTS program I’m involved in, those enrolled in the future professoriate certificate programs, the Engineering Ed department, and programs in the school of education) and other Virginia universities. To enable more students to attend I would ask that the conference lowers the registration price for students- by targeting more students and creating programing for them specifically I think you would be able to offset the cost of lowering registration. If the conference is still concerned, they could make one of the student activities at a separate lunch time activity and offer a simpler lunch (like pizza or sandwiches)- I’m guessing here that the nice buffet lunch was one of the largest expense to justify the registration cost. I would love to see the conference add a networking & careers program for students because there is so much that a graduate student misses in learning about careers in higher education while siloed at their own institution. Also providing graduate students a place to interact with peers that share a common interest in higher education is an invaluable experience.

Altogether I appreciate the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at VT for putting on the annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy and am hoping to continue attending in the future- even though I have ideas for expansion.

-SE

Embracing Inclusive Pedagogy in MY Classroom

The biggest hurdle for me to overcome in adopting inclusive pedagogy is how to holistically integrate the principles into my class in Animal Science in a meaningful way. I will concede I like the idea of implementing “ground-rules” related to creating a brave space for the classroom community, but I am concerned that starting conversations on tough subjects, not explicitly course content will detract from the sense of community within my classroom. One such example is addressing the history at our own institution.  At VT the Smithfield Plantation used to keep slaves, the university does not openly discuss this painful fact. Yet there are locations on campus – mainly near the farms on plantation road- that have names in homage to the old plantation such as the Smithfield Horse Center (where many of the students in the department of animal and poultry sciences will visit during their degree program). If I were to start a dialogue with my students about why the center is named as such how does that benefit my goal of teaching students about the science of managing equines? I understand and applaud the goal of making students into better citizens of the world by facilitating discussion around the history of VT and embracing the discomfort of acknowledging the horrible legacy that plantations have on individuals of color especially in the realm of agricultural sciences- but I struggle with how can I meaningfully integrate these principles into my class. I know that I could always post a historical information page or document onto my canvas page and have students read it and discuss it but is that enough to truly prepare students to become citizens of the world? Will it mean anything to them?

I fully appreciate the values embodied in the theory of inclusive pedagogy, but I struggle to rationalize how to integrate them within the existing framework of a typical Animal Science curriculum. The more I learn about pedagogy and reflect on my own experiences the more I realize that I want to throw out the handbook when I reach the point that I am able to teach and ideally create my own classes.

-SE

University Mission Statements as Student Recruitment Tools

The state of Michigan has 93 colleges and universities [1]. The two most well-known are the 2 largest,  Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.  These two institutions are 2 of the 3 tier 1 research institutions according to the Carnegie classification of higher education and are typically the top choice of most high schoolers in the state of Michigan. After the big 2 comes the 3 Mid-Atlantic Conference universities all of which are R2 universities, Central, Eastern, and Western Michigan Universities. These 5 schools are the universities that most high schoolers strive to attend, unless they want to be an engineer- then they want Michigan Institute of Technology or Kettering University. Michigan also has many private- religious colleges and community colleges. Growing up gaining a bachelors degree was a given for most of my peers but the question was where you were going to go from what seemed like an overwhelming number of options. For me the question came down to Michigan State University or Central Michigan University- with my decision being swayed by Michigan State’s land grant/ College of Agriculture status. This blog prompt was the perfect excuse to revisit my top 2 university choices.

Central Michigan University (CMU) is a research institution with approximately 21,750 students in roughly 300 undergraduate, graduate, and online programs [2]. CMU has mission and vision statements along with a list of core values [3] 12/2/10 :

At Central Michigan University, we are a community committed to the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, discovery, and creativity. We provide student-centered education and foster personal and intellectual growth to prepare students for productive careers, meaningful lives, and responsible citizenship in a global society.   

In contrast Michigan State University (MSU) is a tier one research institution and a land grant university- well known for its agricultural programs. Approximately 49,000 students are enrolled as of fall 2019 in 200 different programs [4]. MSU has a general university mission statement and each program/office has its own mission statement subsidiary to the general one [5] 4/08/08:

As a public, research-intensive, land-grant university funded in part by the state of Michigan, our mission is to advance knowledge and transform lives by:

  • providing outstanding undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to promising, qualified students in order to prepare them to contribute fully to society as globally engaged citizen leaders

  • conducting research of the highest caliber that seeks to answer questions and create solutions in order to expand human understanding and make a positive difference, both locally and globally

  • advancing outreach, engagement, and economic development activities that are innovative, research-driven, and lead to a better quality of life for individuals and communities, at home and around the world

Comparing the two universities mission statements its seems that MSU is focused on what tangible things it will accomplish the students graduated and research published. In contrast CMU talks more about the development of the community and members it hopes to create. I also think its interesting that CMU has a vision statement and lists core values all of which connect back to how they strive to achieve their mission statement. MSU doesn’t have a vision statement or lists of values; however, the mission statements of specific colleges often have underlying vision and core value statements [6]. I wonder if because CMU is smaller than MSU it adopted more a more community focused statement to try to recruit students who want to have a more personal experience. To investigate this I looked at 2 other universities: Michigan Institute of Technology (MiTech) [7,8] and the University of Michigan (UofM) [9]. MiTech has mission, vision, and core values statements as well as a goals list similar to CMU. UofM has only a mission statement listed and the individual colleges have their own statements [10] again similar to MSU. UofM and MSU tend to rely more on their academic, research, and athletics prestige to recruit students but MiTech and CMU likely have to try other ways to recruit students.

-SE

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_Michigan
  2. https://www.cmich.edu/about/Pages/Quick-Facts.aspx
  3. https://www.cmich.edu/about/Pages/university_goals.aspx
  4. https://msu.edu/about/thisismsu/facts.php
  5. https://trustees.msu.edu/about/mission.html
  6. https://www.canr.msu.edu/about/mission-and-values
  7. https://www.mtu.edu/stratplan/
  8. https://www.mtu.edu/stratplan/values/
  9. https://president.umich.edu/about/mission/
  10. https://rackham.umich.edu/about/strategic-vision/