Feb. 20, 2012
Morningside College professor Andy Thomas (left) and chemistry student Lyra Christianson view a computer simulation of a bacterial membrane for a research project they are working on that could be useful to medical scientists developing certain kinds of antibiotics.
Morningside College offers students active learning experiences that are designed to build the skills they need to be successful in the real world.
“We know that active participation is one of the best ways to master skills or acquire knowledge, and to learn how to work effectively with other people or to develop problem-solving abilities,” said William Deeds, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. “Being actively involved provides practice in the skills employers tell us they want in college graduates – specifically, the ability to communicate effectively, analyze information, think critically and work in teams.”
Students learn by doing in a variety of ways. To mention a few examples, they conduct research, complete internships and practicums, and study abroad.
Chemistry student Lyra Christianson and faculty member Andy Thomas have been working together on a research project that could be useful to medical scientists developing certain kinds of antibiotics. Christianson said the experience has been especially valuable considering her future plans to attend graduate school.
“Research is one of the major factors that determine if students can get into grad school,” she said. “When you’re going for a Ph.D., you spend a lot of time doing research.”
So many students conduct research at Morningside that the college has its own undergraduate research symposium to celebrate their work.
“Some of the projects our students are doing here as undergraduates are comparable to master’s degree theses at a lot of places,” Deeds said. “We talk to them after they graduate, and they say, ‘I haven’t found graduate school to be that difficult because I had this experience at Morningside and was already familiar with doing research.’”
Business student Charlie Murphy is completing an internship this spring at Security National Bank in Sioux City. He is working in the wealth management division, learning how to analyze investments and watch for red flags.
“It’s been a huge learning experience for me, just getting that real-world experience so you kind of have an idea of what your classes actually mean and how they apply,” he said. “I’ve learned a ton about the market and investments. The people I work with all the time are giving me ideas of different strategies.”
Murphy had approached Stacie Hays, director of career services at Morningside, for help in finding an internship that would relate to his degree in finance. She let him know about several opportunities, including the position at Security National Bank.
“Sioux City is a great place for internship opportunities,” Hays said. “Our community has large corporate offices as well as many smaller, family-owned businesses. Above all, the employers in Siouxland have a commitment to our community, which makes them more open to assisting students in meeting their internship needs and goals.”
Spanish student Emily Beckfield said she was amazed at how much her language skills grew this fall during a study abroad experience in Granada, Spain.
“Actually getting to go and live in the language I’d been learning for seven years just made it stick so much more,” she said.
Also this fall, business student Reid Rosen saw various countries around the world as part of a semester-at-sea program. He said it was the best experience he’d ever had – and one that has changed his perspective on things.
In recent years, Morningside College has done more to promote study abroad to the student body. It has almost tripled the funding available to help students with study abroad expenses.
“For students to be well-rounded individuals and to be competitive in the marketplace upon graduation, they need to have more global awareness experiences,” said Susan Burns, associate dean for academic affairs. “We see direct engagement with other cultures as the best way to learn.”