published February 23, 2010

SENCER Leadership Fellow Requests Materials on Asthma

Dear SENCER Colleagues:

In Fall 2006, I was one of three professors at Harold Washington College (HWC) who taught a twelve credit hour cohort on Urban Asthma. I taught the combination developmental English/ Writing and Reading courses and my two colleagues William Kelly and Floyd Bednarz taught college-level Social Science and Biology courses, respectively. The urban asthma cohort also included a major service-learning component involving the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago (ALAMC) and the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. The main objectives for combining the cohort approach, civic engagement, and service learning were increased retention and a higher pass rate into college level English. This table summarizes the results for this 16-student cohort.

English 100 Retention: (Asthma Cohort) 94% (All Sections) 89%

Reading 125 Retention: (Asthma Cohort) 94% (All Sections) 89%

Reading 125 Pass Rate: (Asthma Cohort) 94% (All Sections) 71%

English 100 Pass Rate: (Asthma Cohort) 75% (All Sections) 63%

Placement into College-Level English 101: (Asthma Cohort) 90% (All Sections) 70%

While "SENCER-ized" classes can be found in HWC's course schedule in any given semester, we have not repeated the learning community even though we deem it to have been a successful one.

In a recent meeting, David Burns expressed his dismay that the cohort was not repeated. I informed David that unlike the biological and social science components of this cohort, locating and synthesizing materials for a developmental English/Writing and a developmental Reading course that related to asthma was extremely difficult. I created all of the writing assignments and in-class activities; this required an overwhelming amount of prep time for me. As we addressed this issue during the meeting, someone suggested compiling a reference database for various topics.

Thus, the purpose of this correspondence is to solicit sources, reference materials, handouts, powerpoints, etc., anything related to a given topic-in my case, asthma. This facilitates database compilation for any number of topics/issues/concerns that may become the focus of a "SENCER-ized" class. Subsequently, as you scroll through internet pages, sift through journals and newspapers, stumble across exercises and powerpoints that relate to asthma, I beseech you to email them directly to me. In addition, most of us realize that we do not necessarily need, let's say, an HIV/AIDS compilation; however, I would challenge you to create other compilations for topics that do not receive a magnitude of attention. The overall point here is that as we continue to emphasize STEM education, and gain the interest and support of those in non-STEM fields-like English and Humanities professors-we should work together to insure that there is a plethora of easily attainable, readily available materials that facilitate the teaching process as well as the learning process.


Donyel Hobbs Williams