Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Good educators stick with their students until the concepts they’re teaching gel. Considering his research area, Andy Smith, a biology professor at Ithaca College, might have a slight advantage.
Andy and his student researchers—all of them undergraduates at IC—study the unique properties of the gel that snails use to stick themselves to surfaces, even slippery rocks battered by ocean waves. It might not sound like the most exciting topic, but Andy points out the incredible potential.
“Gel like this would make an ideal medical adhesive because it would stick to wet surfaces, and no matter how much the tissue flexed and bent, the gel would flex and bend with it,” he says.
Andy’s student researchers are there because the work is as exciting to them as it is to their professor. Sure, Ithaca requires science students to immerse themselves in lab research for one semester, but placement is based on student preference. Many continue beyond that one semester and eventually earn the autonomy to run their own projects and experiments, assist in data analysis, and author papers submitted for publication.
“I really like working with students in the lab because every day is different, and you never know what you’re going to find,” Andy says. “It’s a terrific process of seeing students grow in independence, maturity, and intellectual sophistication.”
That sort of hands-on learning is central to the Ithaca College experience.
“You can learn so much more in a research lab than in a classroom because research is a big, complex project,” Andy says. “You don’t know the answers, but you become responsible for finding them.”
>> More on this story: Andy Smith's faculty profile
Allyce Barron had a problem when it came to deciding how to approach her future. “Since high school I had been torn between music and neuroscience. I actually applied to schools for both, so I could determine what I wanted to do.” Lucky for Allyce, she found she could do both at Ithaca College.
As a music education major, Allyce created a course in music cognition that allowed her to research how children learn in the classroom. “My independent study research was specifically about chunking and immersion learning. Do students learn a song better in pieces or when they are immersed into it all at once?”
With the help of a professor in the music theory department, Allyce experimented with teaching her 10-and 11-year old students songs using the chunking and immersion teaching strategies. She found that the students learned the song better if they were immersed in the entire piece repeatedly. “It was a surprising finding. All of the students felt initial frustration with the immersion, but figured out how to adapt to learn the piece.”
Allyce is now in grad school at Harvard, where she is studying the relationship the brain has with learning, especially in classroom settings. Looking back, she relishes the opportunity she had at Ithaca. “The rigor of the music education program is profound. It’s amazing that undergraduate students can take so much ownership in their learning. Thanks to Ithaca College, I feel ready to change the way students learn.”
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