CANR names new assistant dean for teaching, learning and academic analytics
Laura Bix, Ph.D., named the assistant dean for teaching, learning and academic analytics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She will begin her post in August 2018.
Laura Bix, Ph.D., was named the assistant dean for teaching, learning and academic analytics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), effective Aug. 16.
Bix is currently a professor and associate director in the School of Packaging at Michigan State University (MSU) and an adjunct associate professor at Clemson University. She has had a broad variety of teaching experience including core and elective courses on topics such as packaging law and regulations, packaging development and science writing. Bix has also participated as a fellow in the CANR Office of Academic and Student Affairs and has been on the faculty at the School of Packaging since 2002.
"It's exciting to be a part of building a culture that incorporates the use of learning analytics and research for the purpose of helping unit leaders and faculty recognize, understand and support the role of teaching as a catalyst for student learning."
“It’s about institutional programing, but it’s also just one-on-one connection to provide support and guidance in a different way based on students’ needs,” she said. “Supporting and encouraging students isn’t just about academic success, but whole person success.”
“It’s exciting to be a part of building a culture that incorporates the use of learning analytics and research for the purpose of helping unit leaders and faculty recognize, understand and support the role of teaching as a catalyst for student learning,” she said.
Bix earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in packaging from MSU. Her ongoing research since 2002 has been with the Packaging HUB (Healthcare Universal Design and Biomechanics) focusing primarily on healthcare products. This multidisciplinary program focused on packaging intends to reduce medication errors, enhance patient compliance, reduce infections and increase the selection of healthy foods.
The CANR assistant dean position will expand Bix’s scope of work into evidence-based decision making and expectation development related to teaching and learning within the college. In the position, she will foster a culture that incorporates the use of learning analytics and interventions to help students succeed.
“I am excited that the position will leverage the capabilities that I have acquired as a learner, teacher and researcher, but also that it will challenge and stretch my expertise and existing capabilities,” said Bix. “This position provides me the opportunity to help construct and support cultural change at MSU more expansively than I was able to in prior roles.”
As part of this position, Bix will assist in defining what “student success” means within the CANR by using existing research, internal resources and external benchmarks to identify factors that can support teaching.
“It is imperative that the culture we create not just measure and monitor,” she said, “but also enable thoughtful, respectful dialogue that recognizes that each data point represents an individual with unique experiences, circumstances and background.”
Additionally, Bix will continue to collaborate with Susan Richter in the Office of Institutional Studies to develop a tool capable of quantifying student recruitment, persistence and graduation rates. She looks forward to implementing proactive evaluations for teaching and learning across the college.
“Although my time in the tenure system has been invigorating and rewarding, in recent years I have found myself wishing to effect changes with the potential for broader impact,” Bix said. “This desire has been particularly compelling in the wake of recent campus events, which implore us to critically examine our systems, policies and procedures in order to consider their alignment with the institutional values that we collectively hold.”