Textbook Heroes: Riratou Lamarre

Welcome to our new series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by emailing georgia.westbrook@touro.edu.

portrait of professor
Professor Riratou Lamarre (provided)

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach.

I am Professor Lamarre. I’ve been teaching the general survey of psychology course, along with several other psychology courses, for more than 10 years.

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like.

Due to the cost of commercial psychology textbooks, the majority of students did not purchase them, and those who could afford them did not want to “schlep” heavy books around. Even when they carried them, they could not read during their subway ride to school because of crowded trains.

Why did you want to switch to an open textbook?

Although we had tried other innovative programs to promote student learning and engagement, they had not worked with our student population — again, because of their cost.

Research indicates that approximately two-thirds of students have not purchased or rented a required textbook at some point in their educational careers due to high costs. This is true even though 94% of these students reported believing that not purchasing the text would impact their grade in these courses.

Our department adopted the OpenStax Psychology textbook, because of the cost savings for students, flexibility, and increased access to course material.

How has your class changed since you switch to an open textbook?

With the adoption of the OpenStax book, students’ course performance has improved.

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook – content and/or cost.

“Free? That’s wonderful! We can read on our phones? That’s even better!”

What do you think of the quality of the new textbook?

I think it needs to be to updated and enhanced. [Editor’s note: Professor Lamarre and her colleague Dr. Bronstein were awarded a Faculty Innovation Grant from CETL to make those updates during the 2019-2020 academic year!]

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?

I strongly suggest that they give it a try. A pilot study by the Touro College Libraries found that students enrolled in OER courses performed better than those enrolled in the same courses using a commercial textbook (Magro & Tabaei, 2020).

Responses may be condensed and edited for clarity.

Textbook Heroes: Angelo DeCandia

Welcome to our new series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by emailing georgia.westbrook@touro.edu.

professor angelo decandia
Professor Angelo DeCandia (provided)

 

During the spring 2020 semester, Professor DeCandia saved 26 students over $7,145 by switching to OER!

Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach.

My name is Angelo DeCandia and I teach all Economics and Finance courses for the Business department.

Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like.

Previously I had used the standard textbooks for each of the courses I taught. It was always difficult to get the students to buy the books and read them.

Why did you want to switch to an open textbook?

Under the new Zoom format, it became critical to have a “visual” to help focus the students’ attention. Yes it can be done with PowerPoint, but there was insufficient time to develop everything that was needed. Open textbooks provided that visual, and, even more, made a strong connection between the textbook and the classroom. This does not mean we “read” the textbook during the class, but by including it directly, students realized the importance of reading in order to deepen their understanding. And once I made the decision to make the textbook an integral part of the lecture, it became obvious that only in digital format could this method work.

How has your class changed since you switch to an open textbook?

It seems that students read more with open textbooks if the book is tied to the lecture. It is much easier to tie the textbook to the lecture with open textbooks because of the digital format.

Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook.

Students seemed satisfied with the content as long as it is a supplement to class lectures. And of course, everyone loves the fact that the books are free.

What do you think of the quality of the new textbook?

The quality of the books I have used is acceptable. There are some typos and the graphics aren’t always correct, but given the advantages, it is acceptable. Hopefully the quality will improve. One other point is that there are many courses for which there is not a suitable open textbook. Hopefully that will change as well.

What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?

I encourage all faculty members to explore open textbooks as an option. It may not work for all, but I think a significant number of faculty will find that open textbooks get the job done.

Responses may be condensed and edited for clarity.

Touro Faculty Poet Series–Part IV

We end our Faculty Poet blog series for this year with Professor Baruch November. Professor November has an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught courses in Shakespeare, poetry, and writing at Touro College in Manhattan for more than a decade. His poems and short fiction have been featured in Paterson Literary Review, Lumina, New Myths, The Forward, Jewish Journal, Poetica, and Jewish Literary Journal, and his collection of poems entitled Dry Nectars of Plenty co-won BigCityLit’s chapbook contest in 2003. His newly released full-length collection of poetry is entitled Bar Mitzvah Dreams on which he gave an interview recently.

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Cover of Bar Mitzvah Dreams by Baruch November

 

What prompted you to write poetry?

My mother says I wrote a poem as early as first grade about a chicken or turkey. I have no idea what prompted that, but I wish I still had the poem because it is not easy to write a poem about a chicken or turkey. However, I didn’t start writing poetry seriously until college where I took creative writing classes with teachers who encouraged me to take my writing seriously. They made me feel like I had a talent for writing that was worth pursuing. This was a different feeling than succeeding in other types of classes because it felt like I was creating something, instead of responding to class materials. It made me feel like what we were doing in those classes was unique and individualistic, rather than conforming to the concepts experts had written in a textbook.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?

My poems are written in free verse. I need the freedom. I never write in form. I am not attracted to form but someday I might be. Now, I really don’t even read poems in form anymore, except Shakespeare’s sonnets. Furthermore, I feel like my poems tell a story or share an idea. When I was younger, I explored language more. Now, I am more interested in telling a story and sharing something meaningful. However, the effective and creative use of language is still integral to my poetry– I just feel like it has to be the delivery system for powerful ideas or narratives.

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? Or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

Well, since I teach both Introduction to Poetry and Shakespeare, poetry has a major impact on my students. I love interpreting poetry with students. It is always interesting to hear their analysis of a poem, even if I don’t agree with it. I think the close analysis of a poem– done word by word– helps students think more carefully about their own word choices and the ideas they are sharing in their writing. I hope it makes them realize the value of each written word.

Because of the nature of the poetry in my courses, it also allows me to delve into major philosophical questions about death, genocide, and how we treat our fellow man, among other things. Death and genocide are pretty grim, but I think in order to really understand the value of life such things need to be faced, and poetry is an arena for bringing up such matters, because, as Wallace Stevens explained, the job of poetry is to intensify life. What can be more intense than those topics? I think some students cringe at talking about death, but in order to truly live a meaningful and explored life, we have to delve into all parts of it. Furthermore, I hope those poems about death affect my students in such a way that they find more value in each day they live, knowing death is there lurking in the shadows somewhere in the distant future.

Contributed by Professor Baruch November, Language & Literature, NYSCAS, Touro College.

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Professor November at the 6th Annual Festival of Touro Faculty & Student Poetry Reading on April 16 at Touro’s Main campus (31st Street)

For more information on Professor November’s poems, please go to Touro Scholar.

 

Contributed by Baruch November, professor of Languages and Literature at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) at Touro College.

 

 

Touro Faculty Poet Series — Part III

by Bob Gwaltney - Brenda Coultas
Brenda Coultas by Bob Gwaltney

As we continue with celebrating National Poetry Month, we briefly interviewed professor Brenda Coultas from Touro’s NYSCAS to tell us a bit about herself as a poet. Professor Coultas is the author of The Tatters, a collection of poetry, recently published by Wesleyan University Press. Other books include The Marvelous Bones of Time (2008) and A Handmade Museum (2003) from Coffee House Press.  Her poetry can be found in The Brooklyn RailWitness and the Denver Quarterly.  she is a mentor in the Emerge-Surface-Be program sponsored by The Poetry Project and The Jerome Foundation. Click here to see more of her literary publications.

What prompted you to write poetry?

I fell in love with reading in the first grade and couldn’t stop. Reading gives me great pleasure: novels, poems, short stories, and plays. I read everything even advertising and graffiti. So falling in love lead to the desire to write what I would want to read.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?

I began as a fiction writer but fell under the influence of poets, so my writing is cross-genre; a hybrid of prose and poetry.

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

I am interested in the possibility of poetry for locating oneself in time and space, as an inquiry into the natural world, and as a critique of human-made systems. The classroom is a laboratory in which to experiment with prose and poetry: To try out shapes and test beliefs, to create writing structures, to discover or refine—in a supportive environment—the shape and sound of visions and voices. The students’ generating processes might involve looking at an object or event and connecting the hidden strings or the patterns within. I guide my students with prompts and approaches to circle the subject of their gaze again and again from diverse perspectives.

Brenda Coultas
Professor Coultas reading her poems at the 6th Annual Festival of Touro Faculty & Student Poetry reading on April 16 at the Main Campus (31st Street)

Contributed by Brenda Coultas, professor of Languages and Literature at the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) at Touro College.

 

 

Touro Faculty Poet Series–Part II

Our second poet faculty for National Poetry Month is Professor Helen Mitsios. She holds an MA in English and American Literature from Arizona State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Professor Mitsios is an award-winning poet and author of the collection If Black Had A Shadow. Click here to see a list of her poems on Touro Scholar, our institutional repository. She teaches literature at NYSCAS, a division of Touro College. Keep reading to learn what has inspired her to write poetry and how she connects poetry to teaching and learning.
What prompted you to write poetry?

I wrote poetry even in grade school. But it wasn’t until I read Letters to a Stranger by Thomas James that I wanted to become a “real” poet and learn the poetic art of moving the emotions in my writing–the emotions being, after all,  the basis of everything. I thank my professor, the celebrated poet Norman Dubie, for introducing me to James in an undergrad poetry class I took at Arizona State University.

In what form/style do you compose your poems?  Lyric poetry

What is the role of poetry in your teaching? Or how do you think poetry has an impact on students and their learning?

In teaching, I stress quality over quantity. Of course, both are necessary. 

Well, I’m biased of course, but I think studies that promote creativity also lead to innovation in fields like business, science, and medicine. For example, it’s why Harvard University admits artists and poets to their MBA program.

Helen Mitsios portrait by Tony Winters DSC_0145 copy 2
Portrait of Professor Helen Mitsios by Tony Winters

Contributed by Professor Helen Mitsios, Language and Literature, NYSCAS, Touro College.

 

 

April is National Poetry Month (Poet’s Series)

In honor of National Poetry Month, Touro Libraries will introduce a Touro professor who is also a poet, every week for the rest of the month of April. Our first pick is Dr. Mark Teaford, Vice Chair of the Department of Basic Science and Coordinator of Fundamentals of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California.

Keep reading to see what led Dr. Teaford to the path of becoming a poet, what kind of poems he is composing, and if reading and writing poetry can play a role in the education of medical students.  Continue reading

Health Sciences Library teams up with the Speech Pathology Department to create 3D educational models

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Head with Cochlear implant

During the Fall 2018 semester, the Bay Shore SHS Library staff, (Chief Librarian Joan Wagner, Librarians Annette Carr and Heather Hilton, and Library Assistant Kelly Tenny) teamed up with Professor Rachelle Kirshenbaum’s (Associate Academic Director of Speech-Language Pathology) classes to work on a collaborative project. The purpose of the project was to create 3D printed educational models that would be useful to the speech pathology students. To utilize the 3D printers at Bay Shore Library, Professor Kirshenbaum’s classes had to come up with concepts for 3D printed models that would go along with their research projects. The concepts were then described to the Bay Shore Library team, who turned their concepts into reality with the help of the EnableUC Team at the University of Cincinnati. Continue reading

Touro’s Seventh Annual Research Day

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Photo by Sara Tabaei

On Tuesday, May 1, 2018, Touro College held its seventh annual Research Day at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine/Touro College of Pharmacy campus in Harlem.  Not only was this day a great opportunity for faculty and students to showcase their recent research in the form of poster presentations, it was also an opportunity to hear some renowned keynote speakers sharing their most recent research with our students, faculty, deans, and senior administration. 

In his welcoming note, Touro President Dr. Alan Kadish shared a story of a very young patient who had a rare disease called Batten disease. He went on to explain that though there is no cure for the disease yet, the doctors of this patient used translational research to stabilize the patient. Translational research is, according to Wikipedia, a rapidly growing discipline in biomedical research that applies findings from basic science to enhance human health and well-being. It aims to “translate” findings in fundamental research into medical practice and meaningful health outcomes to expedite the discovery of new diagnostic tools and treatments. With this story, Dr. Kadish conveyed how quickly science can progress when motivation and creativity exist. Continue reading

Celebrating Female Leaders During Women’s History Month

Moderator Dean Donne Kampel with panelists Janice Weinman, CEO of Hadassah; Provost Patricia Salkin; and Shelly Berkley, CEO of Touro’s Western Division

On March 8th, the Women’s Leadership Council of Touro College held its second annual celebration of International Women’s Day. Like last year, we scheduled a panel discussion with influential and successful women leaders. This year’s discussion was titled, “Personal and Professional Perspectives on Leadership”. The panel members included Patricia Salkin, Provost of the Graduate and Professional Divisions of Touro College; Shelley Berkley, CEO and Senior Provost of Touro’s Western Division; and Janice Weinman, Executive Director and CEO of Hadassah. Associate Dean of Faculty Donne Kampel, the founder and chair of the Touro Women’s Leadership Council, moderated the program.  Continue reading