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Here are examples of student performance learning achievements in some Arts & Sciences programs:

(1) NATURAL SCIENCES RESEARCH Natural Science students engage in research—in the research laboratory, in extensive field studies, and through professional internships. Students hare their new knowledge with the science community through poster exhibits, conference presentations, co-authored publications, and community outreach events.


Chemistry Collaborative Research

The word "collaboration" describes the highlights of student work—and faculty work—in chemistry. In particular, both Dr. George Bennett and Dr. Paris Barnes have established professional collaborations at other campuses and with each other. Dr. Bennett's collaboration is with Dr. Kraig Wheeler at Eastern Illinois University, who is adept at analyzing compounds by a technique known as single crystal X‑ray diffraction. Through that collaboration, Dr. Bennett co‑authored a peer‑reviewed publication with students Lauren Bringman ('10) and Elise Wildman ('11) as well as a manuscript with Ms. Bringman that has been accepted for publication. Dr. Barnes' collaborations are with Dr. Keenan Dungey at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Dr. Patrick Woodward at The Ohio State University, and Dr. Karena Chapman and Dr. Gregory Halder at Argonne National Laboratory, who are well‑versed in the analytical technique of powder X‑ray diffraction. Through his collaborations, Dr. Barnes is preparing a manuscript for publication with student co‑authors Heather Althouse ('09), Nick Bley ('08), Clay Parks ('10), and Bradley Day ('11). Dr. Barnes is also poised to begin another manuscript with several current students, including Denise Freeman ('12) and Zach Hays ('11), as co‑authors. Because of their common interest in and need for X‑ray diffraction, Dr. Bennett and Dr. Barnes plan to submit an equipment grant proposal together later in spring 2011.


Performance learning has been an important part of student experience in biology for years. In their first semester biology course, students design, conduct, and present small research projects. Most also conduct original research for their senior capstone presented in senior seminar. There are usually about 15 students per semester working with biology faculty on research projects, including the following. Leighty Scholar Samantha Rhodes spent 9-10 hours a day for most of her summer working with Marianne Robertson on the development and persistenceof handedness in praying mantids. Beginning with approximately 900 hatchlings from 8 egg sacs, they recorded the fore-limb with which each mantid captured prey for six trials per instar for the 1st through the final 8th instars.  Casey Watson in physics worked with them on statistical design and analysis, finding that 55%-80% of mantids develop handedness at a statistically significant level, but that there isn’t a dominant side overall like there is in humans. These data also show that mantids do not, on average, retain handedness between consecutive instar periods, much less throughout their entire life cycles. They also did not find a significant correlation between the development of handedness and improved survival. These results are being prepared for publication. Another student, Jaimie Pantoja, became intrigued with controlling spider mites in the greenhouse during his freshman year, and spent the following summer and fall conducting research with Judy Parrish. He completed the experiments and presented the work,  “Comparison of control of two spotted spidermites, Tetranychus urticae Koch (Arachnida: Acari: Tetranychidae), in greenhouse grown Glycine max (soybeans) using neem oil and predatory mites, Phytoseiulus persimilis”  at the Illinois State Academy of Sciences in April 2010. His poster won second place in competition with graduate students, and was also presented at the Millikin Undergraduate Research Symposium winning a first place. He found that the soybeans treated with neem oil produced significantly fewer seeds than untreated soybeans, and that predatory mites allowed for increased seed set if an infestation occurs. He is now a junior, and after taking a statistics class, he re-analyzed the data and is preparing to submit the manuscript for publication.

On Monday and Tuesday, May 21-22, 2012 two biology students (a rising senior and a May graduate) participated in the Ozark Prairie Chapter Regional meeting of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Des Moines, Iowa. This is the largest chapter within SETAC North America, comprising of both academic, government, and industry researchers throughout Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, North and South Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Both Seth Gabriel and Adam Jesionowski presented their research projects in a judged poster competition at this meeting.  They were the only undergraduates presenting among several graduate students and industry professionals. Adam won the first place award in the poster competition, which will provide $500 towards travel to the national SETAC meeting in November.

During the months of March and April, 2012, seventeen Millikin University biology students presented research at the following professional conferences.  They are listed as follows:

   At the Illinois State Academy of Science on March 30-31, 2012 at Knox College seven biology students, Amanda Guinn, Cody Hubble, Brianna Hogan, Grace Walworth, Sarah Huber, Matt DeCosse, and Michael Vickers, presented the results of their work in either poster or oral format.  


   At the Annual Northcentral District I Conference of Beta Beta Beta (the biology honorary society) at Augustana College on April 14, 2012 two students, Kelly Commons and Grace Walworth, presented talks on their respective research projects. These were judged talks, and Grace received the top award for an oral presentation.


  At Butler University Undergraduate Research Conference, Butler University on April 20, 2012 five students, Brittany Sherron, Ian Callahan, Stephanie Gates, Kirsten Daykin, and Grace Walworth, presented talks on their research; these were not judged.

  At the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiologists, Wabash College on April 20-21, 2012 three students, Ian Callahan, Stephanie Gates, and Grace Walworth, presented research posters during a session that included a judged competition.  For their efforts, Grace received the top award and Stephanie placed second of 14 posters by undergraduates--we swept the undergraduate division.


In addition, several of David Horn's students presented at scientific meetings or were co-authors on papers accepted in peer-reviewed journals. Matt DeCosse presented "The effects of reflectivity on bird-window collisions at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois" at the Illinois State Academy of Science meeting in Galesburg.  This work was performed in collaboration with Dr. Martell of Millikin's Physics Department.  Max Huschen, now a veterinary student at University of Illinois, and David Horn had their paper "Mass Death on Wintering American Robins (Turdus migratorius) in Decatur, Illinois accepted for publication in Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science.  David Horn and Stacey Johansen are revising their paper "Demographic and regional differences in bird feeding practices in the United States and Canada" for publication in Wildlife Society Bulletin, a national journal in wildlife management. 

(2) APPLIED MATH & PHYSICS students in these programs develop advanced mathematical modeling abilities in a variety of applied math fields including actuarial science, physics or math education. The math department hosts an undergraduate math conference each year, and the physics program hosts numerous science and astronomy outreach programs to schools and the community.


Thanks to generous allocations from the Office of Student Programs to the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, Dr. Watson was able to take 9 physics majors: Remmi Baker, Joe Cheeney, Bret Henderson, Chris Pelikan, Eddie Pluhar, Nick Polley, Nikki Tipsword, Jamiahus Walton, and Leon Yu to the American Physics Society Meeting in Atlanta Georgia from March 31 - April 2, 2012.  Of these 9 students, 3 presented research posters at the meeting: “Spectroscopic Analysis of Today’s Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs” (by Eddie Pluhar, Dr. Dan Miller, and Dr. Watson), “Measuring the Force in Beams of Truss Bridges” (by Bret Henderson and Dr. Eric Martell) and “Constraining Sterile Neutrino Warm Dark Matter with Chandra Observations of the Andromeda Galaxy” (by Nick Polley, Dr. Watson, and Dr. Zhiyuan Li)All three students did an admirable job on their presentations, and despite competing against hundreds of other undergraduate presenters, Nick won one of only 10 best poster awards for his work with Dr. Watson and Dr. Li.

Successful physicists are good at more than problem solving and doing experiments – they have to be good communicators (both orally and in writing) and be able to work as part of a team. Throughout our curriculum, our students are expected to develop each of these skills, eventually culminating in a near-professional performance during their Senior Research projects. In 2010, our students demonstrated what they had learned in a variety of ways. Shae Trumpy, a 2010 graduate, completed a project entitled “Modeling Electromagnetic Braking” (advised by Dr. Eric Martell), and presented her results at the 2010 Illinois State Academy of Sciences meeting, as well as the Millikin Undergraduate Poster Symposium,winning a second place prize for her work. Nick Polley, a junior Physics and Applied Math major, worked with Dr. Casey Watson on a Leighty Scholars project(that continued into the Fall semester) which resulted in a paper entitled “Chandra X-ray Constraints on Sterile Neutrino Warm Dark Matter,” currently in preparation for publication. 

Applied Mathematics

Math students presented award-winning research at the following professional conferences:

Bloome, L.  was accepted to the Summer Mathematics Institute at Cornell University, Ithica, NY.  One of twelve participants in a summer program learning analysis and completing a research project (June-July 2012)

Bloome, L. Conference Presentation. Connections between Central Sets and Cut Sets in Zero-Divisor Graphs of Commutative Rings, Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, Terre Haute, IN.  Recognized as one of the five best talks of the conference. (April 2012)

Buhrmann, J. Conference Presentation. The U.S. Life Insurance Industry: Time Series Analysis, Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, Terre Haute, IN. Recognized as one of the five best talks of the conference.  (April 2012)

Perkins, M. Conference Presentation. The Predicted Success Rate in Lower 10 Percent of Accepted Students, Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, Terre Haute, IN. Recognized as one of the five best talks of the conference.  (April 2012)

Woods, M. Conference Presentation. Good or Bad: Lowering Entrance Standards, Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, Terre Haute, IN. Recognized as one of the five best talks of the conference.  (April 2012)

Mathematics majors Lane Bloome and Darrin Weber presented their research at the Undergraduate Poster Session at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, LA in early January.  There were over 260 posters presented at this session, and Bloome's and Weber's poster, titled Compressed Zero-Divisor Graphand Zero-Divisor Lattices of Finite Commutative Rings, won one of twenty $100 prizes.  These prizes were awarded to the best posters at the session, as judged by professional mathematicians at the conference.

(3) BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE RESEARCH & SOCIAL ACTION Students in this program choose an emphasis on research or social action. The Psychology major prepares students in experimental research methods and invites students to join ongoing research teams, such as the Social Perception Research Project. The Human Services and Sociology majors emphasize service learning and social action, preparing students to become professionals in organizations dedicated to helping people and communities.

Six students traveled with Mary Garrison, LCSW, Associate Professor of Social Work to Baltimore, Maryland over spring break to engage in experiential learning in the social work arena including work with homeless and aging populations.


(4) PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION students in communication conduct research and practice professional skills in public relations, organizational communication or media production. Communication students practice their professional communication through required internships and campus opportunities such as working for the award-winning Millikin University radio station, WJMU.


Student Michelle Patrickhas completed two internships with DCC Marketing in Decatur, IL. Utilizing skills from both her majors, Political Science and Communication with a public relations track, she participated in a diverse array of projects with the agency. Michelle was able to implement skills from her political science courses, such as Campaigns in Politics, assisting in facilitating Tim Dudley’s campaign for Illinois State Representative. Using concepts and skills from her communication courses, specifically those relating to public relations; she is currently creating and implementing an e-newsletter for the LPGA State Farm Classic. She is also assisting in a project with Petco in targeting media channels for a product announcement for Love Gear, pet apparel that detects dangerous level of UV rays. Michelle also feels that her classes inorganizational communication prepared her well for the intricacies of a business environment. Internships are a key performance component for our students to implement theory and concepts into real life practice. Her experience through these internships makes her more marketable in the job market upon graduation. 

(5) WRITING & PUBLISHING Students in the writing and publishing program can concentrate on creative writing, professional writing, literature, print journalism or English education. In addition to courses on the art of publishing and web publishing, students in this program join student-run publishing companies including the student newspaper, the Decaturian, the book publishing company, Bronze Man Books, the literary magazine, Collage, or the poetry broadside publishing company, Blue Satellite Press.


The English Department continues to maintain its emphasis on performance learning,as exemplified by some of our activities from 2010. On October 22, ten Millikin English Education majors attended the Illinois Association of Teachers of English Fall Conference in Rockford, Illinois with Professor Michelle Jewett. The students were active participants in many of the sessions there. Dr. Robert Wells’ Fall NewsWriting class interviewed colleagues and associates of retiring President Zemke, to get a portrait of his character from multiple perspectives, to provide anecdotes about what it was like to work with him, to gather favorite personal memories, and to discuss his legacy. The collected interviews were presented to President Zemke on the night of his farewell in Kirkland. An example of performance learning from Dr. Banerjee’s EN 331 is the publication of three articles in the Decaturian. In addition a two-page feature is scheduled for publication in the 2011 Spring semester. Also, the students in this class collaborated with International Student Organization, to make scholarly and academic presentations on the importance of Bollywood in South Asian lives during the 2010 Diwali celebration. Fine Arts majors in this course availed themselves of this opportunity and performed original scores composed by them and inspired by Bollywood in front of about two hundred and fifty people. The whole class participated in organizing, choreographing, and executing a series of Bollywood inspired dances celebrating the youth culture of the world. At the end of the semester students documented their experience in individual reflections that were added to a hybridized public dossier (a cross between an anthology and a scrapbook). Letterpress poetry broadsides by Blue Satellite, a Millikin student-run press operating as part of Dr. Stephen Frech’s Broadside Publishing course, enjoyed a featured exhibit for the month of October at Blue Connection in downtown Decatur.

Critical Writing, Reading & Research

Dr. Carmella Braniger’s CWRR students wrote a variety of essays, ranging from close readings of texts to personal narratives on literacy and learning. Understanding the value of sharing their work with a larger audience, students created an online blog for posting their very best work.  See it at: <http://writinglives.tumblr.com/>.

(6) ETHICAL REASONING & POLITICAL ACTION Students in Political Science or Philosophy engage in ethical reasoning and political action. This program includes students interested in careers in politics or law. Beyond classes on research methods or traditions of argumentation, students learn to apply their abilities through simulations and competitions such as Moot Court, Model Illinois Government and Model United Nations.

Political Science

Political Science students had success at the November 2010 American Model United Conference in Chicago.  Specifically group one won an award for its position paper on Canada's positions related to contemporary international issues. Two students—Colin Bechtel and David Fitch—were recognized as one of the best three delegations on the Economic and Social Conference (ECOSOC). 


The philosophy program continues its excellent track record of facilitating student learning and student success. Here, we emphasize two accomplishments. Both of these are paradigmatic examples of the “theory-practice” model endorsed by Millikin University, where students collaborate with faculty and fellow students to “perform their learning.”  First, Klay Baynar, a senior philosophy major, presented his paper, “Nietzsche on the Values of Religion” at two undergraduate philosophy conferences: Truman State’s Philosophy and Religion Conference, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. Klay wrote his paper for Dr. Money’s Contemporary Philosophy course. The paper was honored with first prize at our Humanities Undergraduate Research Forum. Second, a group of students under the leadership of Dr. Money participated in the moot court competition held as part of the Model Illinois Government simulation. Student performance is assessed in five main categories: knowledge of the case, organization and reasoning, courtroom manner, forensic skills, and responding to questions. Many of Millikin’s core educational skills are facilitated in this practical simulation: critical and ethical reasoning, oral communication skills, and collaborative learning, among others.  Fourteen students participated as attorneys and four students participated as justices. Our students did exceptional work. Of the seven attorney teams we entered in the competition, five made the quarterfinal round, three made the semifinal round, and one made the final round. For the fifth consecutive year, students from Millikin University won the competition. The team of Justin Ladendorf and Joshua Rose defeated a team from Eastern Illinois University in the final round. In addition to the success of Millikin student teams, two Millikin students were recognized with individual awards. Cate Harriman was recognized as Most Outstanding Attorney, the second time she has won this award. In addition, Kevin Stocks was recognized as runner-up for Most Outstanding Attorney.

Millikin University Student Attorney Teams:


Justin Ladendorf and Joshua Rose (first place)

Kolton Ray and Rob Spurling (semifinals)

Miles Grimes and Jacqueline Hollis (semifinals)

Cate Harriman and Kevin Stocks (quarterfinals)

Emma Prendergast and Julia Hesse (quarterfinals)

Kyle McAllister and Brittney DeRoo

Nora Kocher and Ashley Longcor


Millikin University Student Justices:


Anna Litwin

Taryn Veasy

James Farris
Jeff Tucker


(7) INTERNATIONAL CULTURES & HISTORY students interested in studying international cultures have many opportunities to study abroad through immersion or semester-long opportunities. Students in History conduct research including field studies or primary texts in their courses and through internships with historical organizations, such as museums.


History major Kelby Dolan has been accepted in the graduate museum studies program at Indiana University.  Kelby and History major Doug Nehring presented papers at the Decatur Civil War Roundtable in February 2012; Kelby's presentation detailed the secession movement in Southern Illinois, while Doug enlightened the audience on the mini civil war that ravaged Missouri from 1861 to 1865. 


Two Millikin students, Kara Allison and Kelby Dolan, and Professor Kovalcik delivered papers at the annual Illinois History Conference sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society, in East Peoria on April 26, 2012.  Professor Monroe acted as moderator and commentator at the same conference. 

The History Department is sponsoring three student presentations at the annual meeting of the Illinois State Historical Society, April 14-16, 2011, at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Kara Allison, Marissa Duffey, and Amy Dreweleach wrote research papers in Millikin History classes that they will present at the conference. ISHS president Mark Sorenson will provide professional response and commentary on the papers at the conference. 


Selected advanced Spanish students worked as “facilitators” at the Language Lab, helping beginning students to communicate orally. Recent graduate student Justin Pinta considers that experience as the main factor for his decision to pursue a doctoral degreein Spanish linguistics. Other students have taken that experience as one of the main motivators to pursue a career in education. Spanish students in Spanish for Radio Production have been conducting live weekly radio shows. During the live radio broadcasts they received many phone calls from the Hispanic community of Decatur.  Besides students’ improvement of their language skills and their knowledge of the cultures of the Spanish speaking world, students reported to be proud of their valuable contribution to the community.

Way to go!

Dr. Randy Brooks
Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL