Upcoming Events & the Scholar Marking Guide

July 24, 2014

  • Upcoming Guru Sessions
  • Faculty Development during Iowa Private College Week
  • Scholar Tip: Grading Assignments with a Marking Guide


Upcoming Guru Sessions

Sign up for a one-on-one training session to speak with an expert about your technology questions or your questions about writing assignments.

You can sign up to meet with Jule Thorsen or Sal Meyers about Scholar (the course management system), Camtasia (to capture your screen image and your voice to create mini lecture videos), Outlook, Word, or Excel.  Jule is particularly skilled with Scholar quizzes, the Scholar gradebook, and Camtasia. Sal is particularly skilled with using Scholar forums for small group discussions or individual journals, creating scoring guides for assignments, and using the workshop tool for peer review.  To sign up to meet with Jule or Sal, click on the week you want your appointment and then follow the instructions.

You can sign up to meet with Aaron Santos about Mathematica. Mathematica is a computational software program used in many scientific and computing fields, based on symbolic mathematics.   It features packages for statistics, 2D and 3D data visualization, image processing, animation, linguistics, algebra, calculus, and many more.  To sign up to meet with Aaron, click on the week you want your appointment and then follow the instructions.

Sign up to meet with Beth Beggs to visit about anything related to teaching writing. I recommend that you bring a draft of your writing assignment and/or  rubric for feedback. Beth will help you discern where students might get confused, and offer suggestions of how you can increase the chances that students write the paper you really want them to write. Beth is happy to talk about any other writing topic.  To sign up to meet with Beth, click on the week you want your appointment and then follow the instructions.


Faculty Development during Iowa Private College Week

Each day during Iowa Private College Week, faculty development offers a different panel discussion or workshop about a teaching topic. We appreciate it if you RSVP so that we have the right number of copies of any handouts, but it is fine if you don’t. We’d love to have you come whether your have indicated you plan to come or not. All the sessions will be in Wallace 201. To RSVP, just send an e-mail to Shelly.Priebe@simpson.edu.

Great Ideas for Using Scholar and More
Monday, Aug 4, 10am-noon
Panelists will share examples of some of the interesting things they do with Scholar or with other online tools. Come get ideas of new things you can use in your classes and ask questions of the panelists. The panelists are Murphy Waggoner, Tracy Dinesen, Daryl Sasser, Heather Groben, and Liz Glodek.

Scholar Basics
Tuesday, Aug 5, 10am-11:30am
Come learn how to use some of the basic features of Scholar: post files, share links to websites, collect and grade assignments, and add labels to organize your course page. Please bring your laptop so you can practice what you learn. Sal Meyers and Jule Thorsen will facilitate this session.

Using Pre-Class Assignments to Determine What to Teach
Wednesday, Aug 6, 10am-noon
This panel discussion will identify ways different Simpson faculty members use pre-class assignments to determine what to do during class.  Come get new ideas for making your students come to class prepared as well as ideas of ways of changing what you do during class based on what students know and what they are confused about. Panelists: Maeve Callan, Kate Lerseth, and more.

Teaching Diversity and Power
Thursday, Aug 7, 10am-noon
The theme for May Term 2015 is Diversity and Power.   In this session, Tracy Dinesen will offer advice on creating and teaching a DP course, particularly with a May Term focus. She will also talk about how to make a DP course manageable and accessible for lower-level students. Whether you are planning to teach a DP course in May or during the regular semester, this session will help you design and teach a DP course.

Motivating Students to Work Hard and Study Right

Friday, Aug 8, 10am – 11:30am
Students’ mindsets influence how they respond to challenges.  In this session, Sal Meyers will present research about the consequences of mindsets of both intelligence and willpower. We will then explore ways of increasing students’ motivation by fostering a growth mindset in our syllabi, comments we make in class, and feedback we give to students. Because motivating students to put forth more effort is not helpful if students are using poor study strategies, we will end the session by discussing learning strategies that are worth the effort.

Scholar Tip: Grading Assignments with a Marking Guide

Did you know that Scholar assignments can be graded with a marking guide? The marking guide allows you to list and describe set of grading categories. For example, you might have a 50-point paper with four categories: explanation of issues (20 points), evidence (15 points), thesis (5 points), and organization (10 points). When you grade, just enter the number of points earned in each category; Scholar sums the points for you. Scholar will also provide you with space to add comments for each category and to add comments for the assignment overall.  Scholar even lets you create a list of frequently used comments. When you grade, you just click on that comment to add it to the feedback for a specific student.

To learn more, sign up for a Tech Guru session with Sal Meyers (see above) or view this 8-minute video: http://youtu.be/iGA-n0Idi1w


WLCS at Simpson hosts 3rd annual language immersion retreat

Simpson College’s Department of World Language and Culture Studies is pleased to announce its 3rd annual Immersion Retreat for world language teachers!

maryberryThe Retreat will take place this Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26, on Simpson’s campus in Indianola.

Participants will attend workshops in French, German, or Spanish, as well as group social activities in their chosen language.

In addition, there will be a special plenary session on teaching Culture As Core in the foreign language classroom.

A warm Bienvenue! Willkommen! and ¡Bienvenid@s! to this year’s participants!

Language and culture skills both fun and profitable

This article in the Harvard Business Review confirms what we are always saying–world language and culture skills are not only useful and fun, they are profitable too!

A survey of over 2,400 consumers, carried out by market research firm Common Sense Advisory and titled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy,” found some pretty convincing data revealing how important it is for companies to provide information about their products and services in different languages.

Here is what they found:

  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.
  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.
  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

No matter what major you choose at Simpson, including world languages and cultures in your studies will enhance your marketability and make you an asset to any organization!

New book by Simpson World Language and Culture Studies professor

The Department of World Language and Culture Studies congratulates our colleague, Professor Mark Bates, on the publication of his book, With Arms Wide Open: Stories of Nicaragua, which was just released by Tate Publishing.

9781631227981medCurious about the book? You can read a little bit about it here. You can also hear about it directly from Professor Bates himself, who will be holding two readings/book signings in August.

On Saturday, August 23, he will be at Dunn Library on the Simpson College campus from 1:00-3:00 p.m. On Saturday, August 30, he will be at Smokey Row in Des Moines from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

Drop by one of these events to hear excerpts from the book and to get your own copy!

¡Felicitaciones, Profesor Bates!


Finding her way in divinity school

From a Communication & Media Studies degree to divinity school? Why not? asked Erin Guzman. While studying at Simpson, Erin was passionately involved with the Religious Life Community, and religion courses with Professors Jan Everhart, Mark Gammon, and Maeve Callan struck a chord that ended with matriculation to the Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

Thinking back to her time at Simpson, Erin focuses on the big picture things she learned. She worked for the Simpsonian as a sports writer and eventually became the layout editor. That position and her relationship with Communications professor Brian Steffen led to her job as Advertising Art Director in the Vanderbilt Student Media organization and doing public relations work for the Divinity School, but the lessons learned in the classroom pale in comparison to the life lessons learned. Erin explains, “I had a good time figuring out who I was at Simpson. I was really involved on campus but I wanted to explore different majors and career paths, and Simpson allowed me to do that. I’m still not sure where I’ll be when I finish at Vanderbilt, but I’m discovering who I am, what I’m passionate about, and where I see my gifts being most useful and that’s important to me.”

Erin explained that the path after Divinity School is not always a position in a church. Some will pursue pastoral care working with specific groups, college students for example, a position which interests Erin right now. But others go into teaching, non-profit work or to dramatically different fields.

We look forward to seeing where Erin goes after she graduates next May and we know it will be with purpose and she will be making the world a better place.

Erin’s always had a passion for ideas and for making a difference with her faith. She’s a great example of what students can do when they combine their passion — in her case, religion — with the skills of journalism and new media. –Professor Brian Steffen

More information about the other students in Erin’s class who matriculated at seminary or divinity schools.

Botched advertising reveals importance of intercultural skills

This recent article in Advertising Age, titled “Six Cringeworthy Blunders Brands Make in China,” shows us just how essential intercultural skills are in today’s globalized business world.

Welcome to the World Language and Culture Studies blog!

In this space, we will provide updates on the latest happenings in the Department of World Language and Culture Studies, as well as news relating to international and intercultural issues.


Always clean up your mess-interning at a start-up

Mariah has some advice for those who want to land internships at start-ups: put yourself out there and always clean up your mess. In Mariah’s 1st semester at Simpson, she received an email announcing the Des Moines Start-Up Job Crawl and on a whim, decided to take part. Although start-ups are generally tech focused and Mariah’s interests fell toward marketing and public relations, she signed up. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

As Mariah puts it, “Dwolla was the last stop on the job crawl and it was getting late. I almost skipped it.”

It’s a good thing she didn’t-a quick chat with some of the team and an encounter with Dwolla founder Ben Mline (he noticed her initiative to clean up the mess when she accidentally knocked over someone’s drink!) led to an internship at the company her 2nd semester at Simpson.

She’s gone back to Dwolla twice since then for internships at the growing organization. This summer, Mariah is working more than ever as part of the team. “I’m focused on content generation, event planning and developing our internal culture… Culture – that’s not something that just happens. We are intentional about making sure the culture we started with grows with us as we grow here and elsewhere.” Mariah explains that internal events, like the hackathon she coordinated last week, are key to ensuring the culture of innovation and creativity remain. She has also developed video content and offered her hand to the business development team.

When asked about how her Simpson education has informed her work at Dwolla, Mariah says coursework and individual assistance from faculty has been vital. “My writing has grown and developed thanks to (Professor) Brian Steffen. He pushed me to strive to improve upon my writing and be willing learn from other’s work. As far as video editing and production, Lisa Carponelli has been instrumental. I took her video 101 course and it gave me a solid base for the work I’m doing now.”

Mariah has one more year at Simpson where she will finish up her IMC-Creative major and marketing minor and then it’s off to a new adventure. Her semester in London, Fall 2013 and travels around Europe ignited her to take advantage of any unknown situation and make it her own. Maybe she’ll stay in Des Moines, maybe she’ll head to a big urban center or maybe she’ll take some time to explore.


Dwolla is a Des Moines based mobile and online payments system. A number of Simpson alumni have found success at the organization in Des Moines and in San Francisco.

Interested in landing your own internship at a start-up venture? Talk with a faculty member to learn more.

Making a difference in the local community

Senior Tanner Klein graduated earlier this month, but he is staying at Simpson through May Term to finish up one last internship to impact the Indianola community.

Tanner found Funaro’s Deli too late as he puts it.  It wasn’t until the summer of his senior year that he was introduced to this local institution, but he wants to change that for future students.  “It’s better food, better quality than the other places around here.  And you know, they have deal for Simpson students-you get a free drink and a cookie with your sandwich there”

This shop on the square in Indianola serves delicious breakfast pastries and cinnamon rolls as well as a great lunch, but as Tanner found out, very few students know about this haven for mom’s style cooking just ½ mile away.  His mission in his internship is to change that.  He is developing a marketing plan for the deli to advertise the student special and share Funaro’s with the community.

This was Tanner’s first internship and Funaro’s first time hosting an intern as well.  “Getting started was difficult figuring out what I could do and what they wanted me to do, but after some conversations with Greg and B-Bop and Professor Mueller, we really got started.  I have developed a number of marketing ideas for them to use in the future so that when they want, they can pull an idea out of the plan and go for it.  I’m also helping them apply for the Warren County Economic Development grant for small businesses.”

When asked about why an existing business needs grant funding, it’s clear Tanner is excited about Funaro’s and wants to see them succeed.  “The machines and ovens are really old-they were purchased with the bakery.  These days, you can get higher quality, more energy efficient machines that would really let them make more bread, spend less money on cooling the store and be better at the great work they already do”

Tanner has studied marketing and management with an emphasis on entrepreneurship the past four years and hasn’t quite figured out exactly what he wants to do in life.  “My goal is someday to own my own business, but I’ve got to spend some time this summer figuring out what next steps to take.  I’ve got a few good job leads right now.”   He is headed back to Tripoli, a small community in northeast Iowa, to work this summer and consider his options.  Maybe construction project management?  Maybe a management development position at a large corporation?  His focus right now is on making sure Funaro’s is set up for a good future with good plans set for the next intern and then he’ll think about his next step.


Financial Executives International Iowa present awards to two accounting seniors


Simpson College students Zachary Ripka and Hilary Zarr received the outstanding accounting and finance academic recognition award from the Iowa FEI Chapter on April 22, 2014.  The students received recognition at the 2014 college convocation, and also attended the FEI Iowa chapter meeting to receive the organization’s award.

Zarr began work at MidAmerican Energy Company in Des Moines 2 weeks ago as a tax analyst.

I have been studying for the CPA exam this past semester and will continue to study in the summer and fall. I will be taking two or three of the exams this summer in July and August. I won’t be doing anything too exciting except for beginning work and studying.


Background about the organization:

FEI has been the voice of corporate finance for 78 years, and has 15,000 members.

Our local chapter has a distinguished membership of nearly 90 professional financial executives, and has been providing quality programming and colleague fellowship to its members for 68 years, as we were founded in 1944.

Our local chapter meets monthly, providing professional development and continuing education for our membership and for guests at our meetings. Each year, we address topics in our professional field such as ethics, business and career decisions, emerging trends, technology, economics, and other aspects affecting public and private companies. As well, every year our chapter contributes to the national research foundation for FEI.

For many, many years we have enjoyed a close relationship and partnership with strategic business leaders in our community such as Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG, Holmes Murphy, Robert Half Management Resources, and the Davis Brown Law firm.