Westmont Magazine Research Teaches Students
Dr. Docter’s name may be repetitious, but her teaching style is not; she’s on the front lines of innovative Spanish instruction. For the past six years, Dr. Mary Docter, associate professor of Spanish, has gathered, compiled and edited video clips of her interviews with Latinos from Spain and South America. Now she has received the $10,000 Graves Award in the humanities to continue her research.
When these videos proved remarkably successful with her students and colleagues, she decided to finish her compilation of Latino oral history, culture, and dialect by taping citizens of Mexico and Central America. Westmont sponsored her trips to Spain and South America in 1993 and 1994 to begin her project. Due to her “unusual skill and enthusiasm,” the Graves Award is funding her travel in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala to collect more footage.
Before her 1993 trip, Dr. Docter feared a camera would inhibit candid responses. On the contrary, “the camera itself became a bridge… people were not only willing to share with me, but anxious and excited to tell their stories,” she notes. The people interviewed knew they had the opportunity to educate, and “they generally spoke freely about whatever was on their mind . . . with great passion and pride for their village, city, and culture.”
In an effort to keep her students from thinking that “all Latinos looked like the local man working in the cafeteria or cutting their lawns,” she chose people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds to exemplify diversity within the Latin world. She uses the clips to introduce students to accents and dialects; cultural events, like the Day of the Dead; historical places, such as Aztec and Mayan ruins; and various landscapes.
She hopes to transfer these video clips onto CD-rom for use in the classroom. “Foreign language and literature instructors have long recognized the pedagogical significance of visual images,” Dr. Docter explains. An image on the screen can make a grammar point, a work of literature, or a history or culture lesson come alive.”
To encourage students to pursue graduate physics programs, organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund programs to involve undergraduates in physics research. Dr. Warren Rogers, associate professor of physics, has an NSF grant that enables him to employ two students while conducting research at major accelerator laboratories.
Last summer, physics majors Andrew Davies and Jonathan Mitchell worked with him on experiments at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Convinced that research experience enhances undergraduate education and shapes career decisions, Professor Rogers is organizing a national research conference for physics students to coincide with the fall meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society. The NSF and four national accelerator labs run by the Department of Energy have funded travel and lodging awards to the top qualifying students.
Open to all undergraduate physics majors with nuclear physics research experience, 59 students from 45 colleges and universities around the world applied for this unique opportunity. They will present their research accomplishments in a poster session.
Both Andrew Davies and Jonathan Mitchell will present their research at the conference. Participants will hear a keynote address by Dr. Eric Norman of the Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory, meet professional physicists during a reception, attend plenary session talks followed by faculty-led discussion groups, and tour the Los Alamos National Laboratory.