Ohio University-Chillicothe Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dywayne Nicely
Photo courtesy of: Jack Jeffery
Jan 28, 2013
By Jack Jeffery and Heather Anerino
During the 2012 fall funding cycle, OHIO President Roderick J. McDavis approved $56,919 in support of six ongoing faculty projects ranging from research on second language acquisition to the production of a film titled “Japanese War Brides in America: An Oral History.”
Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty member Dywayne Nicely will be using his $5,640 award to spearhead a project aimed at helping local high school students develop the analytical skills, particularly in mathematics, that they need to succeed in college.
Nicely, assistant professor of mathematics, is collaborating with colleagues at Chillicothe High School in an endeavor that is designed to link reading comprehension skills to performance on mathematical word problems. The impetus for the project, titled “A word on word problems: How improving reading comprehension can improve performance on mathematical word problems,” is to make mathematical reasoning less stressful and, consequently, more reasonable, for students.
“I have heard countless college students declare that they cannot do mathematical word problems,” Nicely wrote in his Baker Fund Award application. “Not only do they believe they cannot solve mathematical word problems, but they also exhibit anxiety and an aversion anytime these problems are mentioned or encountered. The project contributors and I believe that these comments and emotions stem from a lack of reading comprehension skills and not understanding the vocabulary of mathematics.”
The project involves tracking the progress of 63 Chillicothe High School junior students in two math courses. The research is being conducted from September, 2012, to April, 2013, to coincide with the SHARP (Student Homework Attendance Responsibility Program) tutoring program at the local high school.
By addressing the reading comprehension challenges, students will have improved skills for academic success in their academic careers. This research project builds on an article that Nicely recently published in the Ohio Association of Two-Year Colleges (OATYC) Journal. The article, titled The Q2S Math Questions: How Will the Change to Semesters Impact Developmental Math and College Algebra at Ohio University-Chillicothe?, is part of the Journal’s 2012 Fall collection.
According to Nicely, the ultimate goal is to “improve reading comprehension and see how this improvement will consequently improve student performance on word problems in mathematical classes. We trust these additional skills, along with equipping the students with problem-solving strategies and preparing them for the ACT, will improve their confidence and college readiness,” he said.
Endowed in 1961 by a gift of more than $612,000 from 1926 College of Arts and Sciences graduate Edwin L. Kennedy and his wife, Ruth, a 1930 graduate of the College of Education, The John C. Baker Fund was established to support faculty improvement and research efforts. Over the past 12 years, the Baker Fund has provided almost $800,000 in funding to 84 proposals.
Made available by The Ohio University Foundation, the awards support the ongoing research, scholarship and creative activity of regular tenured and tenure-track faculty members as well as administrative staff. The committee seeks proposals for “projects which are near completion and can hopefully be brought to full completion with the assistance of an award.”
According to Eleni Zulia, grant development coordinator for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity (VPRCA), the VPRCA oversees the program and committee recommendations are then sent to the University’s President for approval. Zulia noted that while the program expanded this year to include two funding cycles, one in the fall and one in the spring, “it is not certain whether or not this will continue into future years,” she said.
Currently, the spring proposal submission deadline is 4:00 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 14, 2013.
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Project: “Systematic revision of the freshwater red algal genera, Lemanea and Paralemanea”
Recipient: Morgan Vis, Environmental and Plant Biology
Working in collaboration with researchers from North America and Europe, this project will advance the molecular and morphological understanding of two freshwater red algal types, Lemanea and Paralemanea.
Project: “Phase II: A longitudinal study of the effects of language proficiency, working memory capacity, and crosslinguistic congruity on the acquisition of English by Arabic and Chinese speakers”
Recipient: Scott Jarvis, Linguistics
This project will focus on Second Language Acquisition, looking at the learners' ability to comprehend and recall sentences containing structures that are either similar or dissimilar between their native languages and English.
Project: “Development of Active Colonoscopy Training Model”
Recipient: JungHun Choi, Mechanical Engineering
Baker funding will support the evaluation and enhancement of the Active Colonoscopy Training Model (ACTM), a technology developed by Dr. Choi and currently under patent consideration.
Project: “Giving Voice to Japanese War Brides”
Recipients: Miki Crawford, OU-S Communication Studies; Don Moore, OU-S Electronic Media; and Brad Bear, OU-S Special Projects Producer
It is estimated that 50,000 Japanese women married American military men post-WWII and entered the United States from 1947-1965. Baker funding will be used to complete the only film to date on this topic.
Project: “Examining the role of STAT5 in diabetic kidney damage”
Recipient: Karen Coschigano, Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Coschigano’s research is focused on learning more about how diabetes damages the kidney with the hope of discovering ways of halting or even preventing the damage. Using mice to model the human disease, Baker funding will support a series of experiments that will examine the role of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5, or STAT5 in diabetes.
Project: “A word on word problems: How improving reading comprehension can improve performance on mathematical word problems”
Recipient: Dwayne Nicely, Mathematics OU-C
This project aims to improve reading comprehension and assess how this improvement improves performance on word problems in mathematics class. He and his contributors believe this stems from a lack of reading comprehension skills and not understanding the vocabulary of mathematics.