Ignite Mini Grant Recipients

Applying the TDWI Analytics Maturity Model to the Saint Mary's University Alumni Community

Michael Ratajczyk, assistant professor, Business Department; program director, B.A. and M.S. in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (principal investigator)

John Ebert, associate professor, Geographic Information Science; program director, M.S. in Geographic Information Systems (co-principal investigator)

We seek to send an exploratory TDWI (The Data Warehouse Institute) survey to companies and organizations where our alumni work to learn which level of the TDWI Maturity Model each company (and comparatively by industry, and geography) fits on. Once determining where each company falls in the TDWI model, spatial analytics will be conducted by graduate and undergraduate students to explore potential factors impacting demographics and geographic relationships surrounding companies falling in various places on the TDWI model spectrum. Artificial Intelligence is at a crossroads in society and affects all humans. We will ensure deep and firm attention toward the mission by ensuring that students and teachers have the latest and best information available about trends in the industry, as well as the knowledge that will help students find jobs, much like the purpose that Saint John Baptist de La Salle had when he started his first school in France.

Humble, Silent, and Fortitudinous Hospitality: Toward an Intussusceptive Practice in the Time of the University's Others

Joseph Tadie, Ph.D., associate professor, Philosophy Department (principal investigator)

Karen Hemker, director, Access Services Office (co-principal investigator)

This project aims to augment the excellent work of both the Office of Access Services (OAS) and the presidentially-appointed Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) in preparing the “island” of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for an approaching “tsunami.” In a few short years, the state of youth mental health will dramatically challenge current approaches in higher education. These realities should be of special concern (and already apparent) for any hailing from mission-informed institutions, charged as we are with cura personalis, i.e., care of the whole person. Put succinctly, to demonstrate a true concern for the post-mortem salvation of our learners, we must devote our best attention to their pre-mortem salvation, i.e., their well-being, human flourishing. This proposal is not only Catholic (concerned for student’s eternal destiny in the there and then) but also Lasallian (concerned with healthy bio-psycho-social-spiritual integration in the here and now).

Synergetic and redundant information processing in deep-layered threshold neural networks

Demian Cho, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair, Physics Department (principal investigator)

Inside a brain and an artificial neural network, a collection of simple neurons (or units) can process highly non-trivial information. This is despite the fact that all individual neurons can do is relay signals received to/from neighboring neurons. Having a very large number of neurons organized in multiple layers seems to be the key to this phenomenon. While the importance of a large number is relatively easy to understand, the role of multi-layers remains a mystery. In this computational project, we investigate the hypothesis that only the most important part of the information is retained when it passes through layers by measuring the behavior of synergetic and redundant parts of mutual information in an artificial neural network.

Exploring the Qualities of Highly Engaged and Productive Dissertation Writing Groups: A Grounded Theory Study

Sonia Feder-Lewis, Ph.D., professor, Ed.D. in Leadership (principal investigator)

Stacy Dean, Ph.D., director, Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs Writing Center (co-principal investigator)

Studies indicate that approximately 50% of doctoral students complete their degrees. In order to address this low completion rate and improve retention, recent research has examined the value of faculty initiated and facilitated writing groups (Boud & Lee, 2005; Lee & Boud, 2003; Maher et al., 2013). However, self-selected, self-directed groups are more common and possible for adult learners in evening and online programs. This study will examine, through a grounded theory approach, the characteristics of effective (the majority complete their degrees) student-led dissertation writing groups to understand the ways in which these groups support student progress and promote degree completion. This knowledge will enable faculty to better accompany doctoral students, with patience and wisdom, to foster their success.

Lasallian Sport Commission

Zakary Mayo, assistant professor, Business Department (principal investigator)

Matthew Klosky, assistant professor, Business Department (co-principal investigator)

The goal of this project is to develop a Lasallian Sport Commission (LSC). The largest opportunity for impact that currently exists in Lasallian sport for development is centered on religiously affiliated character development in sports. Published scholarly research is nearly nonexistent concerning how religiously affiliated character development affects the student-athlete. The goal is to provide a solution to the two opportunities through the programming and research initiatives of the LSC. The research conducted could affect the way that student-athletes interact with one another, the way that coaches and other influencers interact with and develop student-athletes, and the way religious formation is viewed in the context of sport.

Curiosity: A Philosophical and Religious Inquiry

Christopher Bobier, Ph.D., assistant professor, Philosophy Department (principal investigator)

Fostering a better understanding of curiosity will better enable teachers to foster curiosity among students, which is essential to Saint Mary’s mission of awakening students to ethical lives of leadership and service. Curiosity is a high-profile attitude. Religious leaders sometimes promote and sometimes disapprove of it, teachers seek to inspire it in students, psychologists encourage it, business leaders often look for it in new employees, and artists explore and express it. With a few important exceptions, contemporary philosophers have neglected curiosity, though there has been some important research on related states such as humility, prudence, inquisitiveness, knowledge, and anxiety. But curiosity is a theoretically, practically, and existentially significant topic with a rich philosophical history and important connections to other philosophically significant debates.

An Ethical Credo for Virtual Teams

Lori Charron, Ph.D., professor, Communication Department (principal investigator)

This research seeks to provide insight to ethical behaviors and attitudes within virtual small groups to prepare students as well as guide employees for virtual teamwork. This research seeks to go beyond a team’s best practices for efficacy and outcome. Rather, it will focus on factors inherent to creating a long-term small group team that treats each other in an ethical manner while fulfilling its goals. Relating to the Lasallian virtues of prudence and wisdom, this research will provide a framework, an ethical credo, with which to work in virtual teams.

The Twelve Virtues - A Cantata

Patrick O’Shea, D.M.A., professor, Music Department (principal investigator)

The project is envisioned as a 12-movement musical work for choir, soloists, and chamber orchestra with one movement addressing each of the Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher, as enumerated by Saint John Baptist de La Salle. The work will be performed the Saint Mary's Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. The Twelve Virtues will invite the audience to engage in contemplation, one virtue at a time, over the course of approximately 20-25 minutes. The Twelve Virtues will serve not only as a guide to those virtues essential to Lasallian education, but the work is also an exhortation to put into practice virtues that are relevant to all Catholics, all Christians, and, indeed, to all people who wish to serve society in positions of ethical leadership.

Exploring community-based partnerships in teacher education: A collaborative autoethnographic study

Shannon Tanghe, Ph.D., program director, M.A. in ESL (principal investigator)

This study intends to explore the value of community-based partnerships in teacher education. The study will utilize a collaborative autoethnographic approach to explore the experiences of eight teacher candidates participating in a community-based ESL teacher preparation program. Specifically, the study seeks to explore the following research questions: What are the experiences of cohort members of this community-engaged graduate-level ESL teacher preparation program? How do these teacher licensure candidates perceive their educational and professional histories as impacting their teaching and learning experiences? Learners will reflectively explore the impact of participating in a community-engaged cohort and how they are transferring these learning experiences during their year-long student teaching experiences. This new cohort-based community-engaged model of teacher education is a new model in the field and is one of very few programs nationwide that utilize this community-engaged model.

Is silence a virtue for wildlife? The effect of a ‘phantom railway’ on mammalian populations

Benjamin Pauli, Ph.D., assistant professor, Biology Department (principal investigator)

To assess the impacts of rail noise on wildlife, a ‘phantom railway’ will be constructed that replicates the sound produced by a train in an otherwise intact forest. This experimental site will be paired with an otherwise comparable site without the addition of railway noise. At both sites, the mammal community will be assessed. Measures of the mammalian populations will be statistically compared between sites to identify potential effects of the phantom railway on the mammal populations. This project simultaneously relates to the Twelve Virtues of a Good Teacher (silence), corresponds with an identified theme of Lasallian areas of research need and fulfills our mission for student-centered education of students.