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Collegiate Scholars Program set to run at West campus

July 08, 2009

What do you get when you bring some of the West Valley’s highest-achieving high school students together for three days in July at Arizona State University’s West campus, offer up sneak previews of a psychology lecture and an English lecture, then ask them to submit a writing assignment?

You get the July 14-16 ASU Collegiate Scholars: Student Enrichment Program (ASU-CS: SEP), a no-cost university-level experience in a friendly learning community setting designed to ease students’ transition from high school to higher education.  The program is open to West Valley high school students in the Glendale, Peoria and Paradise Valley high school districts who have completed their junior year with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and are interested in attending ASU.  The deadline to register is July 10.

“The CS: SEP program is important because it will provide the participating students with an initial university exposure in a non-threatening, cooperative learning setting,” says José E. Nañez Sr., an ASU President’s professor, who also serves as executive director for community outreach in the ASU University Student Initiatives (USI) office.  “The goal is to give the students a taste for what they can expect in their life as a student at ASU, a high-ranking institution of higher education, because exposure to the academic part of this university will help the students feel with anticipation and pride that they have made a wise choice in choosing ASU as their academic home.”

The learning community theme is “Psychology and Music.”  Nañez, who is a professor of psychology and neuroscience in the Division of Social and Behavioral Science in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, will present the first day’s Psychology 101 lecture, while ASU Associate Professor of American Studies Darryl Hattenhauer will deliver the second day’s English 101 coursework.  Nanez will introduce students to the effects of music on the human brain and how different types of music are experienced by fetuses and infants.  In Hattenhauer’s English lecture, the two-time Fulbright Scholar will guide small groups of students (four-five students per group) through writing and creating a PowerPoint project about what they learned relative to the brain-music interaction in the psychology lecture, their own music preferences and why, or a relevant topic.  On the third day of the program, students will present their writing and PowerPoint project to their professors, fellow students, parents and other guests, and learning community staff members.  Each day’s activities are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. – noon

It is not the first time Nañez and Hattenhauer have collaborated on such a learning community program to help students acclimate to the transition into college.  Years ago, the West campus offered a summer learning community consisting of developmental psychology coursework taught by Nañez and writing courses taught by Hattenhauer to community college transfers as their first university upper division educational experience.

Nañez says the learning community approach works.

“It has always been the hope that by working together in a cooperative learning community educational setting, the student learning community members would bond with each other, and that this common bond would assist them to identify with each other and ASU as their academic home, subsequently improving student academic achievement and retention to graduation.

“There is qualitative evidence that the learning community approach works well.  The students make lasting friendships with their community learning members.  Group members maintain strong social ties over time.  Community students in my upper division courses have excelled academically, indicating that they successfully made the transition to university life and to high achievement in academics.”

Representatives from ASU University Student Initiatives will also be on hand each day of CS: SEP to provide information and guidance on university processes and programming.

“This is an excellent opportunity for these students to hear and learn from some of our very best university professors,” says Mark Duplissis, executive director for high school relations, and director of the Collegiate Scholars Program within ASU’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Initiatives.  “The program serves as an accessible bridge into the university and gives the students a look at the programs available to them, including financial aid.  This gives them access to ASU and introduces them to many of the same people they will meet and work with throughout their college career.”

In addition to the lectures and coursework, students attending the program will receive information about available financial aid, be provided a tour of the growing West campus and its apartment-style residence facility Las Casas, and be introduced to ASU representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of the Senior Vice President for University Student Initiatives and other student life/student services programs.

“This will represent a well-rounded initial university experience,” says Nañez, who has won numerous teaching awards.  “And I believe that ASU’s investment in these students through such an event as this is a driving force in their ultimately choosing ASU as their academic home.”

The CS: SEP at the West campus is the first of a series of such educational enrichment programs Nañez and Duplissis will be developing for the university’s four campuses – Tempe, West, Poly and Downtown Phoenix.

For additional event and registration information, contact Mark Duplissis at 480-955-2621 or via email at  For information regarding the Collegiate Scholars Program and a way for on-track-to-graduate high school students to take classes at ASU’s campuses,  visit the program Web site at