Westminster College Faculty Present Research at Bridges International Faculty Workshop in Akko, Israel

Monday, July 30, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Eight Westminster College faculty presented at the fourth Bridges International Faculty Workshop at Western Galilee College in Akko, Israel June 3-7.  Seven different higher education institutions participated in this workshop focused on forging American-Israeli academic collaborations. 

Dr. Sherri Pataki, associate professor of psychology and coordinator of Westminster's Peace Studies Program, presented "Gender Roles and Empowering Women" at the conference with her research partners Dr. Randa Abbas from Western Galilee College and Dr. Carey Ryan from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Their research focused on recent changes in women's gender roles in traditional Arab societies as well as perceptions of the "other" between American and Israeli students.

Dr. Amy Camardese, associate professor of education and chair of the department, presented "Kindles Aid Students with Learning Disabilities." She and Dr. Eileen Morelli, associate professor of education, researched if reading fluency and comprehension could be improved in elementary and middle school special education settings with the use of the Kindle as an aid in the reading process.

Dr. Carolyn Cuff, professor of mathematics and statistics, presented "Issues in Qualitative and Quantitative Research - Statistics Education for the 21st Century."  She focused the presentation on current issues in statistics education, including how students learn to think about variation, how students learn statistical terms and applications and how they learn to apply statistical methods to their own research.

Dr. Timothy Cuff, associate professor of history, led discussion during the "History and the Social Sciences" roundtable, which focused on the relationship between historical research and study, and social science approaches to research.  Faculty members from Westminster and Western Galilee shared ideas and experiences from both sides of the methodological aisle in order to gain a better understanding of the benefits and challenges of each approach.

Dr. Linda Domanski, associate professor of education, and Dr. Mandy Medvin, professor of psychology, department chair and Director of Westminster's preschool laboratory, focused on two research projects with Israeli research partner Dr. Yehuda Peled. Their first workshop on "Interactive White Boards" provided information on the second year of data collected regarding the use of interactive white boards in four rural school districts. The second presentation, "Cyberbullying," explored current research on student beliefs about internet aggression and the challenges of international collaborations.

Dr. Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, professor of education and faculty development officer, presented "Encouraging Literacy at Home."  The cross-cultural research inquiry focused on offering literacy workshops for Israeli and American kindergarten mothers. Endrizzi is exploring how to help Jewish, Muslim and Druze Israeli mothers, along with African American, Latino, Polish and Greek U.S. mothers, value their essential role as their child's first literacy partners.

Dr. Shannon Smithey, associate professor of political science, presented preliminary results for "Rights and Interaction with the Police." She researched probation practices and what kind of offenders are on probation in Western Pennsylvania, in anticipation of developing a study that compares probation locally with that in Israel. Smithey was also a discussant to a presentation on the need for religious accommodation in the Israeli military.

Dr. Bryan Rennie, Vira I. Heinz professor of religion and chair of the department of religion, history, philosophy, and classics, presented "The Ethology of Art and Religion" during one of four plenary sessions. His research focused on the idea that religions as distinct as the religions of ancient Greece, imperial Rome, artic hunter-gatherers, and even prehistoric hunters, shared similar ritual customs and could be assumed to have an evolutionarily adaptive origin. This approach was also applied to the study of art and literary criticism. Rennie discussed the positive adaptive contribution of religious traditions.

In addition to presenting their research, Westminster faculty had the opportunity to visit sites of interest in the area. This included the Galilee Bilingual School for Arab and Jewish children and Tefan Industrial Park, which houses many museums and art installations on the property. The group also visited Manof Youth Village, local conservation sites, and the Ghetto Fighters House Museum, which was founded by survivors of the Holocaust and was the world's first Holocaust museum.

Faculty travel to the conference was partially underwritten by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, Westminster's Faculty Development Program, and the offices of the Academic Dean and President. Other institutions that participated included Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Texas A & M University, University of Nebraska at Omaha and William Paterson University.

Contact Charlene Klassen Endrizzi at (724) 946-7189 or email for more information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college, ranks third in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster ranked 6th among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 376 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 42 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.


Click image to enlarge.

Westminster College faculty visit Western Galilee College in Israel. Front row (l-r) Camardese, Domanski, Smithey, Medvin. Back row (l-r) Peled, Rennie, Tim Cuff, Carolyn Cuff, Endrizzi, Pataki