Pilots of Engagement



The Pilots of Engagement program invites faculty, staff and students to develop innovative ideas to enhance student learning, critical thinking skills, and engagement with their academic work. Development of activities, assignments, courses, and projects celebrating our unique location are especially encouraged. Small seed grants are available for ideas that need funding. Pilots of Engagement are designed to provide a testing ground for both ideas and ways to document student pre- and post-learning. Successful ideas will be expanded. Unsuccessful ideas will be modified or eliminated. The goal of the Pilots of Engagement is to build on what is already working, share what works, and expand innovation to include all members of the campus community.

Application form

 The 2008-2009 Pilots of Engagement

Boquillas Canyon Sandbar Restoration Project

The Solitario Project

Descriptive Writing Essay (Kathy Stein/Julie Vega)  English 0300 students toured campus (mostly mall area) and took a photo of a location they most admired or connected to.  Students created a descriptive essay about the subject of the photo.  Classes convened in the mall area and read their essays aloud.  Classes voted on the "best" essay--winner received the first annual ACE ENG 0300 Photo Essay Slam Award which included a $50 gift certificate to the Sul Ross Bookstore.  Each class member received a t-shirt and winning essays were published in a department created supplemental packet to be used in class.  Students' essays  modeled successful writing activities of SRSU developmental writing students and provided motivation and encouragement for future students. 

Marching Band Invitational (Justin Badgerow/Michael Lippard)  Music majors participated in a "live lab" of competing high school marching bands.  Many music majors plan to enter careers as secondary school teachers.  The invitational offered a chance for music majors to experience planning, organization, and implementation of an event.  Students  critiqued each band, served as liasion between head director and SRSU faculty, or made video clips of each band. 


Dodgeball Participation for ACE students (Chris Garcia)  Dodgeball activity helped ACE students learn to work together and increase self-worth.  Playing on the team, called the Aces,  helped bridge personal relationship gap between students and teacher. 

Star Party at McDonald Observatory (Rick Villarreal)  Astronomy students were engaged in an actual astronomical setting.  The trip began on the campus of Sul Ross with a viewing of the video "Oasis in Space" at the Astrotheatre.  The group then journeyed to McDonald Observatory for the star tour at the Visitors' Center.  Jupiter, M15, M57, the Perseus double cluster and the moon were the main objects viewed.  The program concluded with a question and answer marathon and a constellation tour of the night sky. 

The 2009--2010 Pilots of Engagement

Geocaching (Patricia Harveson)  NRM 5306 GIS/GPS/Remote Sensing for Natural Resource Managers set up new geocaching sites where they hid trackable coins.  This required them to learn rules of the game, how to register coins and cache sites, read blogs by site visitors, and track where their coins have gone.  At the end of the semester the person who's coin traveled furthest won.  NRM 2303 Principles of Conservation Biology were taught how to play the game and  located at least one cache during the semester.  Learning opportunities included:  map navigation, GPS technologies, terrain, geology, and ecology. 


Equine Assisted Growth and Learning (Grace Duffy)  Will complete training and certification in the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association's program to be certified to utilize equine assisted technologies for psychotherapy and personal growth and learning for students, staff, and faculty of SRSU.  Upon completion of this course, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning will be offered through the SRSU Counseling Center.  This program will help students develop the following skills:  problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication, personal responsibility, emotional growth, teamwork, work ethic, relationship building.  Horses are large and powerful creatures and relatively intimidating.  Accomplishing a task with a horse provides opportunity to overcome fear and instill confidence which can be applied to other areas of life. 

Economic Decisions at the Grocery Store (Eric Holt)  Students of Introduction to University math went to a local grocery store to do quality and price per unit comparisons.  They  wrote a short paper on which products they would purchase when preparing a meal for three people as well as what factors might lead them to make the decision.  Students compared expense of cooking a meal for three guests to that of taking them to Longhorn Steakhouse.  Students applied arithmetic to daily life. 

Area and Perimeter on the Mall (Robbie Ray)  Using clipboards with calculators and tape measures, students of Math 0300 (Math Fundamentals) searched online to look up area and perimeter formulas and discovered how to use the sidewalk to make a right triangle so they can apply the Pythagorean Theorem.  They  also used outdoor features to locate legs of triangles and parts of a circle.  Learning was measured by students taking pre- and post- tests. 

Fractions and Chocolate (Robbie Ray)  Using chocolate bars, Math 0300 (Beginning Algebra) students  learned about fractional parts, serving size, calories, and caloric needs to make decisions, comparing their own health to its abuse by supersized portions. 

2010--2011 Pilots of Engagement

Trip to National Solar Oservatory in Sunspot, New Mexico (Rayford Ball)  Astronomy class traveled to Gene Roddenberry Planetarium in El Paso; National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico; and the Air and Space Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  Project was designed to increase student knowledge of astronomy and to boost membership in the SRSU Astronomy Club.

From Junior High to College:  What Happened to the Math? (Robbie Ray)  Sul Ross students wrote essays on self-engagement and math anxiety and constructed lesson plans to teach operations on fractions for middle-school students in Alpine.  SRSU students presented those thoughts and skills to selected middle-school students.  Learning or motivation problems experienced by middle-school students were discussed by the SRSU student tutors via online discussion boards.  SRSU students who worked as tutors for middle-school students were offered $10 tutorial stipend.

2011--2012 Pilots of Engagement

Emotional Intelligence:  Assessing Individual and Group E.Q. (Eleazar Cano)  Attended 9th Annual Institute for Emotional Intelligence workshop in San Antonio, Texas, to be certified in adventure-based training to staff, faculty, and students of SRSU.  Activities are geared to provide group cohesion and stimulate personal growth.  Experiential learning is "the utilization of discovery, inquiry, problem-solving, hands-on, high intensity, and active reflection in all experiential learning situations."  Upon completion of this course, Cano presented program to QEP Faculty Seminar and then to assembled faculty and teaching assistants.

Catalytic Geocaching (Melanie Croy) Students earned a free Kevin Carroll book by using clues and GPS to locate micro-cache containers on campus and correctly answer questions contained therein.  Kevin Carroll appeared on campus prior to this activity.  Thirty-five books were given to students who participated.  Students engaged with outdoors and used critical thinking skills to locate caches and answer questions. 

The Cenizo Journal Project (Barney Nelson)  Students in Creative Nonfiction class researched and wrote articles on a Big Bend subject and submitted to The Cenizo for possible publication.  Students visited people and places that were subjects of their articles.  Several of the articles were chosen by the editor of The Cenizo for publication. 

Astronomy Studies at McDonald Observatory (Geoff Schuette, student of Rayford Ball)  Schuette assisted research by Matthew Shetrone, Astronomer at McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas.  He learned to use the software IRAF to reduce spectographic data.  He consequently presented his research at a math workshop in Boston, Massachusetts.

Land Management Plan for Faskin Ranch (Bonnie Warnock)  Students made two field trips (300 miles round trip) to the Faskin Ranch to look at the land, determine management strategies, and apply them into a cohesive document.  The land management plan required use of Google Earth and a GPS.