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Mentor-Mentee program at William Woods pairs faculty with students

July 21, 2016

Laura Liebhart (left) pets a golden retriever during a “Hanging with the Hounds” program at William Woods. The program was part of Mentor-Mentee project looking into reducing student stress.Laura Liebhart (left) pets a golden retriever during a “Hanging with the Hounds” program at William Woods. The program was part of Mentor-Mentee project looking into reducing student stress.

FULTON, MO – William Woods University established a Mentor-Mentee Honors Program several years ago to encourage faculty and students to engage in joint research or creative projects. The program provides an opportunity for students to participate in enrichment experiences outside of regular coursework. This year six students were selected for the program.

William Woods is one of a relatively small number of universities that provide undergraduate students with opportunities to become involved in research and creative work in partnership with faculty members. The program is considered beneficial because it sets undergraduate students apart from the majority when applying for graduate school or entering the work force.

In the past, mentee-students have published project results in academic or professional journals, given formal presentations at academic and scientific meetings, conducted presentations for groups or organizations external to the university, written analytical computer programs or produced original pieces of art or held artistic exhibitions and workshops.

The projects this year were:

Ryan Stocker.

Ryan Stocker

Project: Reducing Student Stress: Research and Implementation of Healthy Stress Relief Activities to Increase Mental and Physical Well-Being
Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, Associate Professor, Social Work
Mentee: Ryan Stocker of Fenton, Missouri
Description: The project studied stress among college students at William Woods University. They developed and implemented healthy ways to manage stress by using campus resources and then retested the stress level of students to assess differences. They set up “play days” where students played with puppies, flew kites, played kickball, used a hula-hoops, drew with chalk–all in an effort to increase mental and physical well-being. Each activity was evaluated to determine effectiveness.

Melissa-Diane Williams.

Melissa-Diane Williams

Project: Curriculum Development to Accompany Children’s Theatre Productions
Mentor: Melissa Alpers-Springer, Assistant Professor, Communication
Mentee: Melissa D. Williams of St. Louis, Missouri
Description: The project researched the body of children’s plays to identify 10 plays the theatre department can produce in the next 10 years, concentrating on plays set in different cultures. They then developed curricula for each play that are appropriate for elementary students. Having a grade-appropriate curriculum accompanying each play will serve two purposes: Students’ experience of seeing the play will be enhanced, before and after the performance, and the value of the students’ experience will increase for school administrators and teachers.

Shelby Hammel.

Shelby Hammel

Project: What Are We Teaching our Children? Preschool Disciplinary Techniques
Mentor: Dr. Caroline Boyer Ferhat, Assistant Professor, Psychology
Mentee: Shelby Hammel of Green Valley, Illinois
Description: The project identified disciplinary techniques for preschool children, with the goal of researching into the outcomes of these parenting techniques in future years.

Jennifer Iffrig.

Jennifer Iffrig

Project: Travel to Fantastic Lands: A Morphology of Inter-Dimensional Travel as Represented in Contemporary Manga, English, and Visual Arts
Mentor: Dr. Matt Dube, Associate Professor, English
Mentee: Jenifer Iffrig of Moscow Mills, Missouri
Description: The project explored the ways in which contemporary manga (a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels) present travel between dimensions. They studied the ways in which such narrative moves are made so they could identify the most successful ways to do this. They evaluated the results to determine which characteristics were most significant and how to deploy them successfully. The primary goal was creative, to inspire and inform their own writing. Manga includes works in a broad range of genres: action-adventure, business/commerce, comedy, detective, historical drama, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and fantasy, sexuality, sports and games, and suspense, among others. Although this form of entertainment originated in Japan, many manga are translated into other languages, mainly English.

Kristen Bauer.

Kristen Bauer

Project: Rape as Romance: Depictions of Sexual Infringement in Young Adult Literature
Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Wells, Professor, English
Mentees: Kristen Bauer of St. Charles, Missouri, and Isabella Long of Fulton, Missouri

Isabella Long.

Isabella Long

Description: The project examined the sexual ideologies present in young adult fictional literature. It was the goal of this study to identify and examine the messages contained within young adult literature that potentially influence young adult perceptions regarding sexual rights. The goals of the project included identifying sexual messages encamped in persuasion, coercion, and force and relating them to reader perception of romance. This project was unique as young adult literature has been gaining interest in the past decade, yet little has been done to examine the content in conjunction with reader perception.

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