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4 posts from September 2010


What's in a Brand Name?

Our names are important to us. We don’t want someone calling us “Hey, you” or “Ole what’s-her-name.” We’re even happier when someone thinks our personality fits our name.                                        
        Branding The same is true for institutions. A brand name brings to mind not just a product but also all of the attributes that product delivers. It carries with it certain emotions and, if it’s a well-chosen name, encapsulates the brand promise: what the brand will do for the consumer. So it is important that the name fit the personality of the product or, in our case, the university.

Brands can also help us narrow our choices, making sense of the dizzying array of options available. In this age of massive information at their fingertips, students need help navigating overwhelming higher education choices that offer more than 4,400 institutions to choose from and new majors and virtual classrooms being launched every day.

How can our brand here at University of the Sciences provide consumers clarity in the midst of marketplace clutter? How can we ensure our name communicates our brand promise to our potential market?

Over the past two years, the University has taken on an honest self-evaluation. Rather than clinging to our own opinions of our brand, we’ve looked at how our brand is perceived and recognized in the marketplace—with perspective students, with parents, and with guidance counselors. What did we find?

As USciences President Dr. Philip P. Gerbino expresses it in our fall issue of The Bulletin, the University’s alumni magazine: “There is an awareness gap with the acronym USP, and ‘in Philadelphia’ causes confusion or is left out entirely because it is too cumbersome.”

So what does that mean for our institution and how we choose to refer to it in our advertising and communications?

Working with The Star Group of Philadelphia we looked at how our students and alumni and their employers feel about our university. What do they believe we deliver? These are the attributes our brand—and especially our name—must communicate.

What does our organization deliver? Outstanding science education in general, as well as that geared particularly toward healthcare careers. We’ve been doing it successfully for almost two centuries, and our graduates have been and continue to be innovators in their professions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


So while University of the Sciences in Philadelphia will remain our officially registered name, we will simply call ourselves University of the Sciences. And in a city where UPenn and UArts are well-known university monikers, USciences seems an appropriate way to shorten our name while differentiating ourselves and still clearly communicating what our brand promise is: superior science-focused education.

What do we hope that folks —our students and alumni, as well as the guidance counselors who recommend them and the employers who hire them—feel about USciences? That the University community delivers on the promise of an unparalleled education that launches them as leaders in the arena where healthcare and science converge. 


Avoiding Homework Hassle: Turning Off the TV and Hitting the Books without Argument

Back to school can mean long nights of homework hassle for parents and students. Homework, however, does not have to be a time of great stress for families according to Dr. Paula Kramer, chair and professor of occupational therapy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Dr. Kramer suggests that establishing a routine for homework is the best way to strengthen behavior and avoid conflict.

“Homework is a necessary part of childhood, education, and a critical aspect of development for future productive behaviors,” said Dr. Kramer. “By creating a daily schedule, which involves designated time for homework and studying, children will begin to see homework as a responsibility, just like going to work is for parents.”

Dr. Kramer suggests the following tips to help avoid arguments over turning off the television and hitting the books:

  • Come to an understanding with the student that homework is a necessity. Teach them that homework is something that has to be done on a daily basis.
  • Communicate with the teachers and find out how much time the student is expected to devote to homework each night. Discuss this expectation so the child has an understanding of the average time they will need to devote to homework each night. Setting expectations and time limits will make the child more productive.
  • Allow for active playtime before homework. If the child does not have an afterschool activity such as a sport or dance class, provide 45 minutes to an hour for the child to engage in active behavior prior to homework. The physical activity will help the child burn off energy, settle the nervous system, and refocus mentally for homework.  
  • Create a designated area for homework and studying. Depending upon the child, this could mean setting up a desk space in a bedroom away from family members or clearing off the kitchen table within view of the parent. The important thing to remember is to keep the homework locale consistent, quiet, and free from distractions.
  • Create charts to track homework progress. The chart will not only set a schedule that visibly shows that homework needs to be done every night, but will also allow the child to track progress. Rewards can be given for homework completed successfully a few nights in a row.    
  • Utilize positive reinforcement to encourage good homework and study habits. Positive reinforcement should be used to recognize accomplishments. Small rewards should be given for small tasks, such as a gold sticker on the homework chart for completing homework that week. Larger rewards should be given for larger accomplishments, such as choosing what the family has for dinner on Friday night for an “A” on a test.
  • Be a role model for the child. School can not teach everything. Responsibility for successful behavior also lies at home. Parents need to take an active role in their child’s education and should check in on the child during homework to make sure it is completed properly. Parents should also suggest and model behaviors that teach important life skills that make tasks more manageable. For example, initiate the creation of flash cards on Monday for a test that will need to be studied for on Thursday or set daily “goals” for the child so a project will be completed ahead of its due date. 

The field of occupational therapy focuses on helping people with physical, developmental, and behavioral disabilities participate effectively in meaningful and goal-directed activities. USciences recently received provisional approval to offer a doctor in occupational therapy (DrOT) degree that gives students the necessary cutting-edge knowledge and skills to make an impact on a broad range of patient problems. USciences’ DrOT puts students ahead of the game, setting them up to be leaders in the burgeoning occupational therapy field. Fore more information on USciences' DrOT degree, visit: http://www.usp.edu/academics/collegesDepts/ot.


Best Teaching at U of the Sciences

 Faculty at the University of the Sciences are excellent teachers who constantly strive to improve their teaching, share their innovations and even do research to improve their teaching.  For example:

  • Overall 77% of the full time faculty  participated in at least one, voluntary faculty development activity during the year. 
  • 40% different full time or adjunct faculty presented their ideas  about teaching to other faculty on campus.  Some made many presentations. 
  • 18 USciences faculty made 13 presentations at two peer –reviewed and competitive conferences (The Teaching Professor and the Lilly-East Conference) dedicated to teaching and learning in higher education.  At one of these conferences, out of 35 peer-reviewed presentations, three (08%) of them were made by USciences faculty.  Competition was especially keen to present at this conference as there were 240 submissions.      

All of this adds up to dedicated teachers who foster student learning.  That is why I am proud of the faculty at the U of the Sciences.                                



Faculty reflect on student evaluations

Since faculty take student comments very seriously, it is appropriate to consider how to review the comments from students.  Many faculty get upset with a lone, below the belt and inappropriate comment and over-react to it.  It is important to look at patterns and trends and not just isolated comments or numbers.  Further, some comments need to be unpacked to be understood.  For example, if students write that the course was challenging, is that a complement or a negative remark?  Courses can be challenging because they made the student work hard, learn a lot or really stretch them.  Courses can also be challenging because the course appeared disorganized or was over the student’s head.  To find out what students mean you might want to conduct some follow-ups with the students or ask the next class to help you understand comments.

It is always a good idea to gather some of your own formative feedback on your teaching and not just rely on the standard course evaluations.

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