Bing and Cuevas Provide Virtual Reality Classes for Surgeons in Zambia

More women die of cervical cancer in Zambia than from any other disease. Why? Because not enough numbers of trained surgeons are available to help. But two SMU Simmons professors, Dr. Eric Bing and Dr. Tony Cuevas, believe virtual reality can train much needed surgeons.

Dr. Tony Cuevas (at right)

Bing, professor of global health, and Cuevas, clinical professor and director of instructional design, have been piloting surgery techniques with novice surgeons using virtual reality.

The technology they use is for in-home computer gaming and costs less than $1,000 per training station.

They have paired up with two other researchers, Dr. Groesbeck Parham, a professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and head of the CIDRZ Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Lusaka, Zambia. And Dr. Richard Sullivan, professor and director of the Institute of Cancer Policy and Co-Director of Conflict and Health Research Group at the Kings College in London, England. Read more in D Healthcare.  Also see Dallas Innovates.


Dr. Eric Bing

Dominique Baker Examines Student Debt-to-Income Ratio at Texas Public Universities

Dominique Baker, assistant professor of Education Policy and Leadership, has done the first study looking at debt-to-income ratio for Texas public university graduates. Her research, published in AERA Open, covered students who started college between 2004 and 2008.

College students with a bachelor’s degree had, on average, student loan debts that equaled 74 percent of what they earned in their first-year wages. This is higher than the 60 percent threshold the state calls for in its 60x30TX strategic plan.

The plan challenges public colleges and universities to increase completion of undergraduate programs in shorter periods of time, as well as efforts to keep undergraduate student debt at or below 60 percent of first-year wages by 2030. Read more.

See coverage in Forbes and   The Dallas Morning News.

Presidential Turnovers Don’t Deal with Underlying Issues Says Harris in The Chronicle

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article on the trend of shorter terms for presidents at colleges and universities, Associate Professor Michael Harris reflects on his research looking at college presidents turnover between 1988 and 2016.

He believes there is less reluctance to make quick changes at the top because there is an increase of corporate power brokers on boards, system offices, and in legislatures.  A resulting consequence of short terms is that underlying causes don’t get examined. Read more.

In addition to to serving on the Simmons faculty in higher education, he also directs the Center of Teaching Excellence at SMU.


Inside Higher Ed Features Opinion Piece by Ferguson on Bias Response Teams

Kiersten Ferguson, clinical associate professor in higher education, collaborates with a team of scholars to examine misconceptions of bias response teams at 19 universities around the country. In their opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, they argue that the truth about these teams is more complex than what headlines claim. See excerpt here.


Washington Post Cites Baker’s Research on African-American Student Loan Debt

In looking at current discussions to relieve African-American student loan debt, The Washington Post reported on debt relief at Morehouse College issued by donor Robert F. Smith.

Dominique Baker, assistant professor of education policy and leadership in Simmons, comments on the need for stronger fixes. She notes problems with the complicated repayment system and labor market discrimination impacting African-Americans. Read more.

Baker’s research focuses on the way that education policy affects the access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate.

White House Recognizes Walkington with Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Candace Walkington, associate professor in Teaching and Learning, is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Announced by the White House, the award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.

Walkington is among 11 selected from Texas to receive the award. She was nominated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Her research focuses on how abstract mathematical ideas can become connected to students’ concrete, everyday experiences so concepts are more understandable. By examining students’ out-of-school areas of interest and their intended careers, her research looks at “personalizing” mathematics instruction.

For more on her research, see the following:

Walkington, C., Clinton, V., & Shivraj, P. (2018). How Readability Factors Are Differentially Associated with Performance for Students of Different Backgrounds When Solving Math Word Problems. American Educational Research Journal, 55(2), 362-414. DOI: 10.3102/0002831217737028

Walkington, C. & Bernacki, M. (2018). Personalization of Instruction: Design Dimensions and Implications for Cognition. Journal of Experimental Education, 86(1), 50-68.

Walkington, C. (2013). Using learning technologies to personalize instruction to student interests: The impact of relevant contexts on performance and learning outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 932-945.