Jennifer Lynn Swartzenberg of Rochester, N.Y., is the 2019-2020 recipient of the Ronald D. Dodge Memorial Faculty Grant at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
A faculty member in NTID’s science and mathematics department, Swartzenberg will receive $1,000 for her project to produce videos of established and new American Sign Language (ASL) signs for organic chemistry.
As described in her application, Swartzenberg’s project will enhance the learning, comprehension and recall of organic chemistry terms, reactions and concepts by deaf students; establish new signs for terms, reactions and complex concepts that have no established ASL signs but are conceptually accurate and foundationally based in ASL; and establish a video database on an already existing RIT/NTID site (http://aslcore.org/) for organic chemistry that will aid students, teachers, tutors and interpreters outside of the classroom.
The grant is offered annually to RIT faculty members for financial assistance in supporting research and development efforts conducted during the academic year. Projects must have as their purpose improving the effectiveness of faculty engaged in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT. Applicants must be faculty who have completed at least three academic years of employment at RIT prior to being considered for a grant. Potential grant recipients are expected to file appropriate documentation to establish the potential impact of the work upon teaching effectiveness for deaf students at RIT.
“My primary role at RIT/NTID is as a tutor for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in their different chemistry classes,” said Swartzenberg. “I meet with students in both individual and group tutoring sessions to help them master the concepts they are learning in both their labs and their lecture courses. In addition to regular tutoring, I also make practice exams and review materials as well as hold review sessions for upcoming exams.”
In addition to the Dodge grant, Swartzenberg was also awarded an RIT Provost’s Learning Innovation Exploration Grant for the project.
“Beyond the students who will be involved in the project, this impacts the deaf students who will ultimately utilize the resource in the future to see one of their peers in the videos,” she added. “It gives the current students utilizing the resource a role model and inspirational example of deaf success in the sciences. This would also be a permanent resource for the RIT/NTID community that is well worth the time and investment to make it happen.”