Cal Poly Pomona


Quality Learning Fund Awards 2007

Awards Granted

“Students In Action”
Dr. Chris George     Project Director
Dr. Jonathan Baskin
Michael A. Brown 

Under this proposal we would like to expand on an enormously successful service learning program by establishing a year-long series of classes.  The first quarter we will offer the established “Interpretation of Science” course we are presently teaching.  The second quarter, a new community service learning class, “Certification as Interpretive Guides in Natural Science” (with the National Association of Interpreters curriculum incorporated into course content) will be offered, where faculty members are able to certify students as “Certified Interpretive Guides.”  The third quarter will make the “Museum Exhibit Development” course the third of the series.  The first class, “Science Interpretation” is already pending approval by the Curriculum Committee as Bio488S.  We would apply to have the second and third courses of the series approved with service-learning designations as permanent courses in the catalog.  We have been asked by the L.A. County Museum of Natural History to make the museum class, which we are currently offering as a pilot program, a yearly offering.  We have also been asked to provide exhibits to the newly developing San Gabriel Mountain Regional Conservation Galster Park Nature Center.

“Use of Modern Technologies to Enhance Learning in the Microbiology Laboratory”

Christos Stathopoulos (Project Director), Biological Sciences Dept.,
Wei-Jen Lin, Biological Sciences Dept..
Jill Adler-Moore, Biological Sciences Dept.

Cal Poly Pomona’s mission is to advance learning and knowledge by linking theory and practice. Therefore, science students at Cal Poly Pomona must have more than theoretical knowledge of their subject. They must also learn how to apply their science knowledge in the laboratory or field. Faculty at Cal Poly Pomona place lab and field instruction at the center of their undergraduate curriculum. The Microbiology program remains committed to a “Learning by Doing” education by providing hands-on opportunities for students in laboratory courses, individual investigator research labs, shared department core facilities and off-campus sites. The Microbiology Teaching Laboratories serve over 900 students per year, with 25 % of these students coming from programs outside the Biological Sciences Department. However, the teaching capabilities of these Microbiology Laboratories are restricted by lack of funds to update instructional equipment. We are still using microscopes purchased when the University was founded! Student learning is compromised by this kind of outdated equipment. One of the main priorities of the College of Science, as highlighted in the Dean’s commentary on prioritization reports last year, is to obtain “New resources to refresh equipment and computers in our teaching labs”. The number one priority of the Microbiology program, as stated in the Prioritization and Recovery Project report, is to obtain “new instrumentation to replace aging equipment, which supports a contemporary curriculum and student research”. We propose to update the basic instructional equipment in the Microbiology Teaching Laboratories by purchasing new microscopes and critical equipment that will enable us to modify our laboratory exercises and curriculum to include more up-to-date assays which require more sensitive instrumentation for detection. This is a multi-faculty, and multi-quarter proposal which will enhance learning for a large number of students from many different science majors and for many years.

"Revising the Organic Lab Curriculum (CHM 317L, 318L, 319L) to be more Learning-Centered"

Dr. Philip S. Beauchamp,
Dr. Francis X. Flores,
Dr. Floyd L. Klavetter,
Dr. James A. Rego,
Dr. Laurie S. Starkey (Project Director),

The year-long Organic Chemistry Laboratory sequence CHM 317L/318L/319L is in need of major revisions.  We are requesting small amounts of release time for several faculty members, on a rotating basis, so we can achieve a focused, sustainable process through which we can revise the curriculum.  We plan to create and implement new experiments, create and implement online supplemental materials, update existing/create new laboratory manuals and develop an assessment plan to evaluate our laboratory program.  The release time will also enable the Organic group to prepare and submit an NSF-CCLI grant proposal to augment and update our instrumentation in the organic labs.

"Chemistry Learning Labs"

Dr. Edward Walton… Project Director, Chemistry
Dr. Joelle Opotowsky

Dr. Barbara

The goal of this project is to make the CHM 121 labs investigative learning centers that truly promote understanding concepts, rather than the  “cook-book”, follow-the-directions labs. We will change the approach, presentation, and focus of the labs while using current experiments (so as not to cause changes in our stockroom team’s preparation of solutions, substances or budget). The CHM 121L labs will be modified into inquiry based, critical thinking, interactive and collaborative problem solving communities of learners.  Lab experiences will be framed and presented as inquiry investigations.

"Introducing Programming Concepts with a 3D Interactive Animation Environment"

Robert Kerbs (Project Director), Computer Science,
Gilbert Young,

Novel and innovative approaches to improve student success are desirable since graduating computer science (CS) student retention levels are less than 50% at Cal Poly. Many students who take the first in a sequence of four programming courses in the CS major at Cal Poly have little or no prior programming experience and/or are poorly prepared in mathematics; consequently, they are at-risk of being unsuccessful in their first CS course. Carnegie Mellon University developed a novel tool, called Alice, to address retention levels of at-risk students. Alice is a 3D interactive animation environment which utilizes a drag-and-drop direct manipulation environment allowing students to focus on problem-solving in their programs without being overwhelmed with programming language syntax and constructs. This one-year project proposes a pilot program to investigate the integration of Alice into the CS department’s introductory course, CS 140 (Introduction to Computer Science). The course would be designed during fall term 2007 to be taught during the two subsequent terms. Each term would assess the degree to which the learning objectives were met. Since Alice is freely available, students could work on projects both inside and outside the classroom. A workbook (tentatively entitled The CS 140 Alice Workbook) would be created to reduce student text costs and provide faculty with preparatory material. Two faculty members would teach the course at least once to ensure adequate evaluation of course materials could be compiled. Based upon cumulative assessment results, analysis would be made to determine whether the project was successful. If successful, we will propose a follow-on project for introduction into the next programming class in the four-course sequence, CS 141 (Introduction to Programming and Problem-Solving).

"Integrate Low-Cost Robots into Classroom to Enhance Learning"

Dr. Fang Tang, CS Department,


Expensive physical robots have been widely used in many proof-of-concept robotics applications in research settings. In recent years, the advances in robot hardware and software have made it possible for bringing low-cost robots into the classroom. This proposal first discusses how these robots can be used to enhance students’ learning experience, and then presents the expected learning outcome and the assessment methods in an artificial intelligence class and a robotics class. In the near future, robots can also be used as the platform to teach introductory programming classes to motivate students’ interest.

"College of Science International Field Studies Program: Costa Rica, Central America"

Dr. Jeffrey S. Marshall, Project Director   Geological Sciences Department
Dr. Jonathan A. Nourse, Participating Faculty

See College of Science International Field Studies Program: Costa Rica, Central America - 2008

· Costa Rica Geology & Tectonics Field Module (GSC 491L/499)

· Costa Rica Field Biology Independent Studies (BIO 691/692)


Field studies are an essential component of quality learning in the Natural Sciences. While classroom and laboratory instruction are important, students achieve greater comprehension and self-confidence while engaged in practical field studies aimed at solving real-world problems. The impact of field learning is further enhanced when students are exposed to new and unique field environments that expand their perspective on the natural world, and broaden their understanding of global connections. The objective of this QLF proposal is to initiate a College of Science International Field Studies Program in Costa Rica, Central America. If funded, this program will begin during Spring Break 2008 with a pilot Geological Sciences Field Module led by Dr. Jeff Marshall (project director) and Dr. Jon Nourse. This initial Field Module will serve as a model for the development of a broader, project-based Interdisciplinary Tropical Field Studies Course that will involve students and faculty from across College of Science disciplines. With continued QLF funding, this new interdisciplinary field course would be scheduled every two-years and designed to interface with the existing curricula of participating departments. The pilot Field Module and proposed Interdisciplinary Tropical Field Studies Course will be based on the project director’s prior experience in leading undergraduate field projects in Costa Rica with the Keck Geology Consortium, Franklin & Marshall College, and Cal Poly Pomona’s Geological and Biological Sciences Departments. Costa Rica provides an ideal setting for a quality International Field Studies Program. This politically stable Central American nation has a well-developed ecotourism infrastructure, and is recognized internationally as a center for natural sciences field research. The proposed interdisciplinary field course will immerse College of Science students in a vibrant landscape of neotropical rainforests, active volcanoes, dynamic rivers, and rugged coastlines. The students also will be exposed to the unique cultural, economic, and environmental issues of a developing Pacific Rim nation. This new field program represents an unprecedented quality learning experience for College of Science students. It will exemplify Cal Poly Pomona’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy, and will further advance the College of Science’s Learning Centered Mission.

"Development of a Web-based Practice Test for the MDPT"

Berit Givens, Project Director, Mathematics and Statistics,
Amber Rosin,


The MDPT (Mathematics Department Placement Test) is a significant hurdle for many students university-wide.  The math department currently makes two brief practice tests available on paper to students who wish to prepare for the exam.  We propose to develop a more extensive online version of the practice test.  The online version will have more questions, be accessible from any web browser, and give the students feedback on which questions they got right and which they got wrong.   We propose to use the online homework and quiz software WeBWork to implement the project.

"Developing a Novel Integrative Lecture/Laboratory Course"

Project director: Nina Abramzon,
Co-Investigator: Kurt Vandervoort,
Co-Investigator: Hector Mireles,

We propose to develop a series of experimental spectroscopy modules for a new junior-level physics course, and for eventual integration into six other existing courses that span our curriculum from freshman to senior level.  Spectroscopy methods are the basis of a wide range of industrial and research applications, spanning all science and engineering disciplines.  The course will be designed so that lectures and laboratories are integrated into the same class period, enhancing student learning and promoting better connections between theory and experiment.  By including various spectroscopy applications in a single course, students will gain practical skills common to a broad range of modern instrumentation, that are necessary and relevant for today’s technical workforce.  The course will serve as a spring board for launching similar pedagogical innovations in our other courses.