James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.

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CSD Students 'Ride' for Credit

By Amanda Rivera
Posted: October 30, 2007

PHOTO: State fair rideWhat if class time was made up of cotton-candy and roller-coasters?  As unbelievable as it may seem, students in CSD 631 are proof that some wishes do come true.  As part of a project to better understand the anatomy and physiology of the inner ear, Communications Sciences and Disorders (CSD) graduate students traveled to the State Fair of Virginia in Richmond early October.  Although they were not required to ride all the rides, CSD professor Dr. Jonathan Spindel, asked that the students be “open-minded and adventurous.”

Completing their class’ discussion on the human vestibular system, students were given this opportunity to experience first-hand the effects of an altered balance and motion sense.  Julie Stehm, a student in CSD 631, says, “We rode the rides and we were trying to figure out what the physics were in terms of gravity and acceleration and how it affected our inner ear system and our oculomotor [system].” 

PHOTO: State Fair rideHowever, certain side effects of the rides proved unpleasant for some.  “I have really bad problems with motion.  I did feel really off-balance when I got off them,” says Julie.  The “physics” of one particular ride, the Hi-Roller, was enough to dissuade even the professor.  The students learned to take the good with the bad though, correlating their experiences on the trip with their studies.  “We had been studying all these things in class, so this was a practical application of it,” comments Julie.  After the trip Dr. Spindel asked the students to submit a lab report highlighting each “ride’s functional operation, physical impact on the vestibular and balance system and a description of the physiologic mechanisms involved during each aspect of the ride.” 

For most of the students the trip provided them with a chance to connect with fellow classmates outside the classroom.  “It was really a class bonding trip,” admits Julie.  From a clinical perspective though, the trip had a much broader objective.  Julie says, “What he [Dr. Spindel] wanted us to get out of it was a sense of empathy for patients who have balance disorders and that was definitely established for me.”