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Campus Insider: Collaboration key to success for students, professors at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus

By Rich Shopes

Monday, July 27, 2020


campus insider

Two USF professors, a student and a recent graduate and have collaborated on an article published earlier this month in a prestigious academic journal, “Environmental Politics” (Taylor & Francis Group). 

Beyond stewardship and dominion? Towards a social psychological explanation of the relationship between religious attitudes and environmental concernpublished on July 7, explores the attitudes of religious individuals toward environmental threats such as climate change. Professors and students, including a recent graduate, from USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, wrote the article. 

“This research showcases our campus’ success at interdisciplinary collaborative research that meaningfully engages undergraduate students,” said lead author Jay Michaels, an assistant professor of psychology. 

Also contributing were Feng Hao, an assistant professor of environmental sociology, biology major Ishan Kulkarni and Spring 2018 graduate Julia Smirnov. The article was drawn from data collected two years ago. 

Jay Michaels

Jay Michaels, PhD

The researchers found that religion heightens people’s concern for the environment in a broad sense, but this heightened concern doesn’t extend to worrying about environmental threats. 

The findings counter popular views that religious Americans dismiss climate change and related environmental dangers. Instead, their beliefs seem to offer a source of comfort that makes them less worried about the issues even though they’re still interested in the environment. 

“This collaboration emerged naturally from my previous work with Dr. Hao on a project that examined how people’s social connections influence their attitudes about the environment in China,” Michaels said. “After completing that project, I realized that religion could also impact environmental attitudes considering the common perception that religious Americans are less likely to believe climate change is real. 

“Julia and Ishan joined the project early, in the summer of 2018, and met with Dr. Hao and I on several occasions to review the project idea and then go over the statistical model,” he said. 

Julia Smirnov

Julia Smirnov

The article was initially submitted to “Environmental Politics,” a political science journal, in 2019, then revised and accepted for publication this year. 

Smirnov, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, said she was delighted to contribute to the article. 

“This is the first time seeing my work published. It’s really exciting and a huge accomplishment,” Smirnov said. “Undergraduates don’t get published that often, so it’s kind of breaking barriers in way. 

“I’m glad I got to work with Dr. Michaels and Dr. Hao,” she added. “The learning experience was priceless, plus the fact that I was able to collaborate with Dr. Michaels on other research projects. He really has the unique ability to make complicated subjects, like applied statistics, relatable and easy to understand.” 

For more about psychology degrees or to learn more about the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit https://www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu

USF professors Govoni, Lovell write linguistics textbook for current, future teachers 

linguistics book cover

Two USF professors have created a research-based textbook for current and future K-12 teachers to help them better connect with their non-English speaking students.

ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructors Jane Govoni and Cindy Lovell, both of USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, say their book provides pre-service and current teachers with a practical, reader-friendly guide to help break through ESOL students’ linguistic barriers so they can better understand English, math, science and all other subjects. 

Jane Govoni

Jane Govoni, PhD

“Although the book is research-based it’s not theoretical,” Govoni said. “It’s a practical instruction guide, so you go page by page and go through these different classroom scenarios to understand how language is learned.” 

The book, “Linguistics for K-12 Classroom Application” (Kendall Hunt), came out earlier this month. Its user-friendly, real-world approach – with everyday linguistic-related obstacles and solutions – resulted from the authors’ goal to create a textbook that can be put to immediate use in university and K-12 settings. 

“Teachers can pick this up and say, ‘I get it. This makes sense,’” said Govoni, a longtime ESOL specialist. 

Created with teacher candidates in mind, current teachers nonetheless will find plenty of tips and advice to guide them through their own linguistic challenges. Ranked third in the nation with 265,000 ESOL students, mostly Spanish speakers, Florida mandates that K-12 teachers receive ESOL linguistic training to help non-English speaking students. 

Cindy Lovell

Cindy Lovell, PhD

“Most linguistic textbooks are very technical and dive into theory, which can be off-putting, especially to undergraduates who’re anxious to get into the classroom and put what they’ve learned to use,” said Lovell, an adjunct at USF and the director of education at Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach. 

“This book is very tangible and engaging,” she said. “It draws upon our own years of teaching and our experiences with other teachers.” 

In addition to real-world examples, the book presents research-based, ready-to-go activities for the K-12 classroom. The two professors collaborated for about a year. 

“When we started working on it we said, ‘OK, let’s take these concepts and put them into classroom scenarios and make it more demonstrable so teachers can learn from these examples right away,’” Lovell said. “But this book isn’t just for teachers. It’s really for those kids we’ll never see who are struggling to learn English. This is about helping them.” 

To learn more about the elementary education degree program at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit https://www.usf.edu/education/areas-of-study/elementary-education/

Campus Diversity Officer Corey Posey appointed to NASPA FL executive board 

Corey Posey, the campus diversity officer for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, has been named the service and stewardship chair for NASPA FL, formerly the Florida chapter of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. His two-year appointment began earlier this month. 

Corey Posey

Corey Posey

“NASPA has been an integral part of my professional development for 15-plus years,” said Posey, who joined the Sarasota-Manatee campus in July 2019. “I’m excited to contribute to NASPA FL to help it achieve its diversity and service goals.” 

Washington, D.C.,-based NASPA is a student affairs organization with more than 13,000 members on 1,400 campuses in 25 countries. It was founded in 1919 at the University of Wisconsin. According to the group’s website, it is “the professional home for the field of student affairs.” 

Among Posey’s responsibilities will be to explore opportunities for NASPA FL to connect with multicultural affairs and diversity officers throughout Florida and lay the groundwork for service opportunities during the organization’s annual meeting, or “Drive-in Conference.” This year’s conference will be held virtually and is set for Oct. 15-16. USF hosted last year’s meeting. Visit https://www.naspa.org/events/2020-naspa-florida-virtual-drive-in-conference to learn more. 

“My participation on the Executive Board team will provide additional opportunities for faculty, staff and students to connect with colleagues across the state for the purpose of advancing co-curricular activities,” Posey said. 

For more about the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, visit https://www.sarasotamanatee.usf.edu.


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