ASU mathematics educator receives NSF Career Award

May 3, 2010

Impacting how middle school students learn statistical reasoning, and how their teachers teach such reasoning, is the aim of a National Science Foundation-funded research project by Arizona State University mathematics educator Luis Saldanha. The assistant professor in the School">">School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences is one of ASU’s latest recipients of an NSF Career Award, a prestigious grant that recognizes young scientists and engineers showing potential for leadership in significant research areas.

The award comes with a grant of $638,805 to use over a five-year period beginning this fall. Download Full Image

In this NSF project, Saldanha will explore the possible role of variability as a central concept around which to organize the learning and teaching of statistical thinking among middle school students. It builds on his broad area of research – mathematical education, with a focus on cognitive modeling of mathematical thinking and learning as it relates to the principled design of instruction.

Saldanha’s research was inspired by his dissertation work in which he explored the learning of statistical interference among high school students. There, he noticed that it can be difficult for students who have already been in school for 10 years or more to think and talk about mathematical and statistical ideas from a sense-making perspective and with an orientation to understanding those ideas.

“Being statistically literate is increasingly becoming an important set of critical thinking skills for an educated and informed citizenry,” he says. “Almost all of us are confronted with reports and conclusions based on quantitative information derived from samples drawn from populations.

“From an educational perspective, the proposed research is important because we need greater insight into the kind of instruction that can foster the development of such thinking skills, particularly at earlier levels of schooling and development.”

To conduct this research, Saldanha will study groups of seventh graders at a local middle school. The first phase of the research will consist of having students fill out questionnaires about concepts of variability and will be followed up by interviews to fully analyze their thinking. The second phase, beginning in the spring semester, will entail testing of instructional innovations and research of the effects of those innovations.

The proposed project integrates research on learning and teaching in a way that will impact not only the learning of middle school student participants, but more broadly the learning of middle school teachers who participate in the professional development workshop designed to disseminate project findings and insights among the local community.

“Luis Saldanha’s research will result in practices in middle schools that make students more aware of the importance and relevance of statistics in daily life. When they get to a later stage of their education, they will appreciate better the role of statistics in research,” says Wayne Raskind, professor and director of ASU’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences in the College">">College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Saldanha, who has been teaching at ASU since 2008, received a doctoral degree in mathematics education in 2004 from Vanderbilt University. He also has a master’s degree in the teaching of mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Concordia University in Canada.


Written by Danielle Legler (Danielle.Legler">"> for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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Cronkite students bring home national awards

May 4, 2010

Students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University have won a series of national awards for their work in television, radio, online and public relations.

“This has been an especially good year for our students,” said associate dean Kristin Gilger, who spearheads the school’s awards efforts. “Their work has been recognized as among the very best in the country, and that’s due not only to their hard work and talent but to the hard work and talent of their instructors.” Download Full Image

Recent award winners include:

Zenith Awards

Three students won Zenith Awards, a national public relations competition for undergraduate journalism and strategic communications students. The contest, sponsored by two of the world’s largest public relations firms, received more than 100 entries from 20 different schools.

The Cronkite winners were:

• Best Campaign for “The Phoenix Zoo Komodo Dragon Campaign.” Team members were Erika Simington, Kelley Moore, Jennifer Dottavio, Adrianna Bigard and Alyssa Aalmo;

• Best PR Writing for "Students Get More than Caffeine from Starbucks" by Amy Fleishans;

• Best PR Publication for “Give $1, Give Life” by Devin Creer.

Telly Award

A documentary produced by four Cronkite students received a Bronze Telly Award in the TV documentary category.

“Healing Reins” explores how equine therapy helps Vietnam War veterans, students with cognitive disabilities and recovering addicts. The half-hour production was a project of professor John Craft’s documentary production class last fall by students Thomas Miller, Taryn Brady, Will Posthumus and Emily Wilson.

The Telly Award is one of the most prestigious awards given for video and film production, television programs and commercials and work created for the web.

Online Journalism Awards

A Cronkite student reporting project on border issues in South Africa was a finalist for the 2009 Online Journalism Awards. ">">“South Africa: At the Crossroads of Hate and Hope” was one of four finalists in the Student Journalism, Large Team category.

The awards program recognizes excellence in digital journalism around the world. It is administered by the Online News Association, a professional organization with more than 1,600 members who gather or produce news for digital presentation

Center for Innovation in College Media

Several Cronkite student projects won online media awards from the Center for Innovation in College Journalism, a nonprofit think-tank that helps college student media adapt and flourish in the new media environment. The winners were:

• Best Audio Slideshow, first place: Jillian Sloan for ">">“Eyewitnesses to Violence.” The judge said the project “was the clear winner. The chances taken on the visual production paid off. Emotional and visually striking, it takes your breath away.”

• Best Use of Data, second place: Cronkite Zine for "Bordering">">"Bordering Change," a multimedia reporting project on issues along the U.S.-Mexico border. The zine is the Cronkite School’s student-produced online magazine.

• Design, Best Interactive Package, second place: Cronkite Zine for the "Reality">">"Reality of Sex," a multimedia package that includes a video montage, audio interviews and interactive quizzes.

• Best Use of Mapping, second place: Christine Rogel for a graphic">">graphic timeline about the fence being built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Best Use of Mapping, honorable mention: Cronkite">">Cronkite Zine for a map that shows how maquiladoras aren't just operated by border companies but by firms around the U.S.

Mark Twain Award

Cronkite junior Colton Shone was nominated for an Associated Press Television-Radio Association 2010 Mark Twain Award in the Best Use of Sound-Feature category. Winners will be announced in June at the APTRA convention in Anaheim, Calif.

Judging took place in February at The Associated Press bureau in Los Angeles with a panel of leading broadcast journalists who considered hundreds of entries from the 2009 calendar year. Shone’s nomination was for a story he did on a haunted farm for KTAR-FM radio in Phoenix.

Shone’s piece was separately honored with an Edward R. Murrow Award in the Use of Sound category for large market radio stations in Region 3, which covers Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

NPR StoryCorps

The work of nine students in the Cronkite School’s full-time professional master’s program was selected for the "Veterans">">"Veterans Listening Project," a national project of National Public Radio’s StoryCorps. The students told stories about U.S. veterans’ experiences in the military.

The work was done as part of an online media class taught by Cronkite assistant professor Leslie Jean Thornton.

In addition, all of the interviews were published as part of the East Valley Tribune's ">">“Veterans Voices” project.

Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition

Natalie Podgorski is one of nine winners of the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition.

The Cronkite senior will be part of a journalism study trip to Japan this June with eight other students from around the country.

The award program, established in 1984 in cooperation with the Indiana University School of Journalism, recognizes the need for student journalists to better understand international affairs. The winners, whose entries represent print, broadcast and online media, were chosen for the high quality of their work, an essay about their interest in international affairs and letters of recommendations.