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DELTA Express Grant Increases Access to Popular Animal Science Course

NC State lecturer Latisha Judd was approached about developing an additional option for a critical animal sciences course that always had a waiting list and happened just twice a year. Thanks to a DELTA Express Grant, she was able to develop an asynchronous, online summer session of ANS 230: Animal Nutrition that will increase access to the course for majors and non-majors alike.

The rapid-design grant allows faculty to quickly assemble material for a course that will be offered imminently. Judd received the grant in December, and the class will start in May. Course registration is open now for students. 

The format uses a variety of learning approaches, interactive components, and software such as Panopto and H5P to create a robust, engaging experience.

Cupped hands hold poultry feed

Judd also hopes it will extend NC State’s reach to students who may not be aware of the many opportunities in animal science because Judd remembers being that student herself. She always knew she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. and teach but says, even as a graduate student, she hadn’t found her niche in the wide field of agriculture.

“We think about some of the missions of the institution, of wanting to engage with a more diverse student population, with a goal of enrichment and advancement of the field, and this is an opportunity for students that may be non-animal science majors and students at schools that aren’t land-grant institutions to have access to a course required for vet school.” 

The online summer option expands opportunities for those who need a flexible schedule or who might need to work, and it gives animal science majors who couldn’t fit it into their schedules another chance to get that class.

The ‘Essential Experts’ 

“I was very excited about receiving the grant,” says Judd. “I’ll be able to put out a good quality product in a short period of time. DELTA’s the best.”

Judd is working with DELTA’s instructional designer Jennifer Tasgold and instructional technologist Arlene Mendoza-Moran to develop the course. The course goes above and beyond the format of many other online courses, providing students a unique, interactive way to learn online in an asynchronous format. The tools available are new to Judd, but the DELTA team is experienced. 

cows in a field

“I’m working with a lot of unfamiliar tech tools, and it could have been a really daunting or overwhelming task, but the team’s been great, and I think those supportive relationships are one of the benefits of DELTA grants,” says Judd. “We should all probably try to interact with the people in DELTA more often because they’re the ones studying the pedagogy, studying the best ways to enhance learning, and the best ways to make sure learning’s accessible for all learners. They’re the essential experts.”

This course is self-paced with some structure: “We want autonomy for students to complete things in their own time but with inclusion that allows for different circumstances,” says Judd. “People learn very differently, so we have the interactive lecture, but we also have other components because some people may thrive with audio or visual information.”

She hopes to continually remodel and improve the course over time to reach more learners. Judd also hopes to get the course QM certified (quality matter certified), which means it has had peer review by academics and meets metrics of excellence. 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Judd didn’t always see herself in animal science. Her experience as an undergrad in biology was limited to bench work: “We didn’t go out to do any of the collection or the husbandry. When I started my master’s, I had the opportunity to do some hands-on work, but I was still in that naïve mindset where I’m thinking agriculture’s all just farming and cropping.” 

She says it was her doctoral program experience that “really opened my eyes to all that agriculture and animal science can be.”

“We want autonomy for students to complete things in their own time but with inclusion that allows for different circumstances.”

ANS 230 is for animal science majors, animal science certificate students, nutrition minors, and non-degree studies, so the course has the possibility to introduce students to a new area of interest.

“It meets that veterinary prerequisite, which is why many of the students will be taking the course,” Judd says. “But the passion I can show and share about all of the various careers within animal science is one of the benefits of having someone like me teaching. I’m not that traditional animal scientist.”

It’s this kind of mentoring and relationships that led Judd to teach. She is also an advisor for MANRRS, NC State’s chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences.

When Judd thinks about the impact she wants to have as an educator and mentor, she hopes students will understand that college is a protected time: “This is the time to pursue every type of interest, so that when you’re in your career, you truly enjoy it, you truly love it.”

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.