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Georgia Southern COE staff member helps African university learn to use new equipment

Pictured (l-r): Zipangani “Zipa” Vokhiwa, Ph.D., Kania Greer, Ed.D., and Kenneth Gentili in Malawi

Georgia Southern University’s Kania Greer, Ed.D., traveled to southeastern Africa in June to assist in hosting a four-day workshop for faculty, administrators and staff of the University of Livingstonia in Livingstonia, Malawi.

Greer, who serves as the coordinator for the College of Education’s (COE) Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe), was invited to collaborate on the project by Zipangani “Zipa” Vokhiwa, Ph.D., professor of science at Mercer University. Vokhiwa serves on the University of Livingstonia Foundation Board and is a native of the country.

“The University reached out to Dr. Zipa for help in learning how to use Vernier science equipment,” Greer said. “The University of Livingstonia’s faculty had the equipment on-hand but were not sure how to use it and really wanted to start a research focus at their university.”

The i2STEMe and science labs within the COE use Vernier equipment, which can be used to collect a wide range of data in the field that can then be taken back to the lab to be graphed, analyzed and interpreted. The workshop focused on activities relevant to temperature, blood pressure and health related measures as well as GPS systems.

“When crafting the professional development for these faculty members, we referenced Vernier recommendations and then tailored our instruction to what we thought the faculty would find most helpful in working with their students,” Greer said.

The Livingstonia professors completed both lab and field experiments and began planning future research projects they could conduct alongside their students. Participants were asked to develop a plan-of-action for how they plan to use the equipment, which Greer and Vokhiwa recently reviewed and provided feedback.

“Their projects are very place-based and problem-based for the University of Livingstonia’s culture and surroundings,” Greer said. “Many of their projects look at water quality and public health concerns.”

University of Livingstonia faculty are pictured working with Vernier equipment during workshop.

Greer and Vokhiwa hope to return in November when Livingstonia’s faculty plan to host a research symposium to showcase the progress in their projects.

“Having this experience of seeing a truly different university culture and learning with their faculty was invaluable,”  Greer said. “The passion of the faculty to improve themselves and engage in research is inspiring. And Livingstonia and Malawi now have a picture of our university as trying to reach across borders and help globally.”

Greer said she believes this opportunity has created an international partnership that is win-win for Georgia Southern and the College of Education in particular.

“There are future opportunities to support and engage in the work Livingstonia is doing and establish Georgia Southern as a partner in all levels of international education.”


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