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“The neighborhoods were an obvious evolution for MSU, in part due to the geographic make up of the institution,” MSU acting provost June Pierce Youatt tells Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis. “Academic and student support services are integrated in ways that provide all the things students need in one place for academic success.

“It’s everything about students in terms of social, cultural and academic transition to MSU. Each one does have a different feel and a slightly different culture so you can shop around and find the one that feels like home to you.”

Youatt believes MSU is redefining living and learning.

“In the early ’60′s we defined it as having residential space and classrooms in the same building. We’re looking at something much more vital now.”

In terms of STEM education, Youatt says MSU is striving for “an undergraduate experience unparalleled in this country in a public institution at this scale open to all. We’re writing the book now.”

MSU research in the STEM area focuses on “how students learn these concepts, and when they don’t learn, why do they not learn? Are there other ways to structure how we teach, in what sequence we teach, and the way we teach?

“That’s at the core of what we’re doing. And then how do you transfer this knowledge into curriculum?”

Youatt’s own research into parents interactions with their young children “is all about read to them, read to them, then read to them, then read to them – because you can’t do it enough.

“Your strongest goal with young children is to stimulate curiosity,” Youatt says. “You want kids to ask ‘why, why, why, why.’”

As children get older it’s about involvement, says Youatt.

“And involvement means whatever that means. When parents, guardians or caregivers are more involved, their children are more engaged in school.

“Whether it’s going to parent/teacher conferences or checking their homework at night or reading the messages that come home in the back pack – all of that makes a difference.”

MSU embraces a holistic admissions process, Youatt says.

“High test scores are important, but that can’t be all we look at. When we look at the students’ records more holistically we see that there are students who have learned all kinds of things that we never measured.

“And they bring other kinds of things to this community and are able to share those experiences with other students so that they can learn. That’s what we try to do when we build a class.”

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