CTI Podcast - Episode 29: Richard Cozzens


Tony Pellegrini: Good morning, friends. Tony Pellegrini and Richard Cozzens here with our Center of Education and Teaching here at Southern Utah University. We have Richard Cozzens with us today for our monthly podcast in great teaching and excellent learning opportunities here. Richard is our distinguished service award winner from the Provost office last year that was awarded at graduation, and we wanted to honor him today by asking him a few questions about his teaching and what led that to- what kind of led him to great service opportunities and activities. So, Richard, would you mind taking just a moment or two giving us a little bit of background on Richard and telling us a little bit about yourself and maybe what brought you to SUU, a little bit about your background?

Richard Cozzens: Sure. I actually started my career as a Boeing engineer in Seattle, worked there for 7 1/2 years, went through the manufacturing engineer the Boeing EIT program engineering and training, spent some time in tool design, Ended up in research and development, which was a great job. But I got tired of the rain and the traffic in Seattle and started looking for, Ended up in research and development, which was a great job. And I got tired of the rain and the traffic in Seattle. And started looking for- I grew up in the mountain state here, and I was looking for a job to come back here, and luckily I found one in Cedar City. They was looking for a Boeing engineer.

Tony Pellegrini: oh my goodness.

Richard Cozzens: Which was really rare.

Tony Pellegrini: it is.

Richard Cozzens: So I actually got that job as an engineering manufacture manager. And I started teaching adjunct at SUU here so I actually got that job as an engineering manufacture manager. And I started teaching adjunct at SUU here and that's kind of how I made The transition to education.

Tony Pellegrini: exciting, exciting Opportunity to work with students and seeing people just appeal to you

Richard Cozzens: yes, yes! You know, initially being a teacher never really crossed my mind, but as I was asked to teach a junk at SUU, it was a great experience, and I loved working with the kids, and I was able to bring real world experiences into the classroom. And they really seemed to appreciate that.

Tony Pellegrini: absolutely, I think that is, those real world experiences is the, some of the benefits of working with our learners. And those interactions, those face-to-face interactions. With those real world opportunities, certainly you have a wide variety of learners that are in your classes that are, a wide variety I think is the best way to say that. How do you encourage your learners to support one another across those Y differences to be able to, to those who may be are very proficient in what you're teaching, some of those may have the heart and the desire but are really struggling to make those concepts understandable to them, how do you have your learners work together to make a, to connect and work together to make their peers support? 

Richard Cozzens: My upper division classes- they are a lot closer together as far as capability, but the beginning classes, there is a common problem where we have students in the beginning level to students who have had some experience in high school industry experience. Trying to keep them engaged at both extremes is a real challenge, through the years, to me, I've kind of developed a process where I basically recruit higher level students to help mentor the beginning students. And that is actually really worked out well because it keeps everyone engaged.

Tony Pellegrini: Wonderful, and I think if a student can teach something, they know it they can demonstrate their knowledge and skills and dispositions.

Richard Cozzens: Yes, it is definitely helping them. Some students sometimes?, But when you have a classroom with 30 students, and you know you have maybe 10 of them who have a serious cash real struggle with the concepts. If you just duplicate yourself several times, you know, you can get through the continent a whole lot quicker and everyone is up to speed. Being able to engage those higher and students who are more experienced students has really brought the class together where they are actually Talking to each other together, and that's kind of the environment that I encourage.

Tony Pellegrini: I love that the focus you have on students talking. From my perspective, my learners talking about the topics rather than me lecturing or providing – and being on stage works a lot better. Can you give me your perspective regarding maybe your learners vocabulary? Yes you have the concepts in your mind and you share those comments, but do those advanced learners in your class, do they have the same language or the same vocabulary as your those who may be who are struggling a little bit?

Richard Cozzens: yes obviously they are going to be different levels and capabilities of demonstrating information, but through that process, they improve and I think, again, they get closer to that, not sure how that was always going to be measured accurately, but I would say by the end of the daily quizzes that I give where I can actually measure where that has been a success or not.

Tony Pellegrini: Fantastic, that's wonderful, that's a formative assessment in our kids getting it. Almost like exit tickets or something like that. Our kids getting it so you can move forward with the next concept that develops, that's great! Again with that disparity of learners that you have in your classroom, how do you meet the needs of students in your class who are really advanced? And I know you've talked about this by having them teach, but are there other things that you do to help, I can't believe anyone anything that I'm going to say point board with this, but how do you, beyond having them teach, are there other ways that you address students when they come to you and say, “this is really not connecting with me?”

Richard Cozzens: I tried to give them different approaches, I mean, so I give them a mild lecture at first in the process, then I also have videos from different peoples points of view, how they approach the problem, and I think also engage in these higher level students, I think they may have sometimes actually be able to explain it to the student that struggling sometimes better that I can because they understand where that student is coming from. And I try to understand that, but I don't always get there.

Tony Pellegrini: and that closeness in age and I think in vocabulary, you know, they have the same vocabulary to work on that and to address that. We talked a little bit about, you know, your background in Boeing both in Seattle and here in Cedar with aircraft and manufacturing. What components of your résumé are you most proud of and why? And how do you infuse those or reuse those to encourage and engage your learners?

Richard Cozzens: well, I mentioned my work history, having real world experience, I think that is a very, very valuable, as far as just being able to talk about processes and application and bringing that to the classroom. So I am proud of that, but since I've actually been teaching, I would say more than anything else it would be the grants that I've been able to bring in Into the school, and not just because it's a grant, because what it has enabled me to do. When I first started teaching, The first grants that I got was the curriculum development, and it gave me the resources to actually develop the curriculum in a way that I thought, not just me, faculty from across the state that I worked with and developing it in a way that would be helpful to the students. And it was complete content where you can go online and it was free and basically it created a book in a PDF format. We did the videos while we did the exercises, the testing and everything, so the grant gave me the resources to actually develop that process, and as I continued to get more and more bigger grants, I was actually able to bring in the Thunder Works Makers Space in the innovation center, where we have an entire lab dedicated for students to be more able to have a hands-on lab. You know, we have 3-D printers, laser engraver, we have a small wood shop where we have the CNC router, CNC plasma cutter, MILL welder, TIG welder. So students can actually come in and design, build, and test their design.

Tony Pellegrini: talk to me for a moment or two about some of your past graduates, these tools, and this maker space. Have they mention to you if that helps them to get jobs, to be able to put into practice some of the abilities and skills that they have developed through these opportunities?

Richard Cozzens: part of the grant is actually working with the industry, reaching out to the industry, bringing them in to help support. So we've tried to create a connection between the students and the industry, and we try to be I guess the connection between those two and bringing them close together, so the students are better prepared for that particular industry. Yeah, we've had quite a few students saying that hands-on experience, and from the students point of you and the industries, saying that hands-on experience really sets us apart from a lot of the other engineering technology programs across the state.

Tony Pellegrini: exciting, I think too what a wonderful, if I were a business, you know working with wonderful recruitment tools, look at my first kind of not necessarily bit, but I can see kids that are working and living in these areas, and have the opportunity to be able to say “ Hey, when you're done with your degree, we have a place for you.” I think that's wonderful, absolutely exciting. No, with the hands on that you've mentioned, I can't imagine that you have a lot of classroom management, behaviors, or kids off task. Do you have A classroom management plan or approach or do those moments even happen in your class?

Richard Cozzens: that's the one thing that I really like about the university level classes is about as you know as far as discipline, that is not an issue. I mean, most of our students are motivated, engaged, you know, and we give them the information, and give them the challenge and most of them take that and run with it. So that's really not an issue, but as far as management, I do have my own unique, I think unique, way of running the class.

Tony Pellegrini: tell us a little bit about that, would you please?

Richard Cozzens: well, the beginning of the class and most of my classes, I have a daily quiz. And that quiz will test or assess what we've gained from previous class, whatever lecture or video or hands-on or whatever it was, trying to assess that. So they come to class knowing that they're going to be tested right off the bat, and it's real quick. If they have to learn it while they're doing the quiz, then they don't have enough time. Then after that, I actually go back and review it, so I like to give a lot of feedback. So we give them feedback on the quiz, I'm giving them feedback on the assignments I've graded, and the method that I usually use for that is that I'll randomly pick an example, and will go through and critique it. And on some of the assignments, I'll actually have the students peer review on critiquing, not that I expect them to be an expert at it, but they can look at what they've done, and what they are peer has done, and make an evaluation Of what they can do to improve or a suggestion of what they can tell their peer to review to improve.

Tony Pellegrini: well, I think it's wonderful that you're providing leadership and instruction to them through that P review process, I think it's wonderful and a great opportunity for them to say, “ oh my goodness, I can learn as much or maybe not as much, but I can learn from my peers as well as my instructor.“ because as they get out into the world of work, there won't be technically an instructor, it's learning from the environment in which they are performing in.

Richard Cozzens: I think that is why I encourage students to work together and help each other, not give answers, but to help, instruct, and provide information because you implement that Like what you do in the real world, you work together, you solve problems.

Tony Pellegrini: and I think what a wonderful opportunity for your students to be able to see here are some of my problem-solving skills and approaches as they get out and go into the world of work. You talked a little bit about it already, and I think that we addressed a little bit about the connection of your lessons to the real world. As you look to your future here at SUU, what are some things you hope to connect with maybe even deeper or to expand into as far as pulling those world of work opportunities into your classroom?

Richard Cozzens: Again, a part of My grants that I have is industry outreach. And one of those things that we've been doing is actually setting up externships, so just short rotations where students can go and experience different portions of the company. One of our best ones was the form Rick metal technology. We had students go through two or three week periods where they would rotate several hours in engineering, several hours in actually out on the factory floor, and they basically go through the entire manufacturing process. And this really worked out well for them because they got to do an in depth interview with kind of the idea of how the student works, what his motivation and capabilities are . And the student got the opportunity to see you, you know, the beginning and the process of the manufacturing company. So it really worked out well for both student and company. And we hope to expand that to other companies as well.

Tony Pellegrini: wonderful, well I see that as really almost a safety net that the university are your classes can provide whether that is through internships or externships or working with companies like as you've identified. The student doesn't have to know a little bit of horses there, but they don't have to risk saying too much hey I'd like to apply to this job for you know, these are the activities, but they have Richard, they have the coursework there to say come back let's talk about it, what did you see, what did you observe, what were your perspectives associated with that, and then you can provide your observations and perspectives as well. I think that's a wonderful approach to be able to address and engage with that. Richard, really those were all the questions that I had today. Can you take us a moment or two and talk about maybe some words of wisdom that if we able to find you in the Thunderbird dining hall or across campus and say tell me more about, what words of wisdom do you have for us as faculty, to really engage and connect with our learners?

Richard Cozzens: I would say just to be involved. Get involved in different aspects, and that is another thing that I like about Southern Utah University is that you have so many different opportunities to be involved in the academic to even into sports or into service or several spring breaks down into Mexico doing alternative in spring break building houses. I've been able to participate in the athletics and doing a faculty basketball team, I've been able to do photography for, I've traveled with the football team a few times doing photography with them, so I think just getting involved and taking opportunities, Volunteering for service whatever committees, Just get involved. There are plenty of opportunities.

Tony Pellegrini: there are. And I think that's wonderful benefit to be here at SUU. We really can get involved with what we're interested in, and we can grow and develop an experiment and some of these areas.

Richard Cozzens: I think sometimes, it's hard to know what those opportunities are unless you are or actually proactive and kind of experience it. You know, you may one activity that you get involved in by saying you don't wanna do that again, but at least you know. But you make these connections when you start talking to other faculty and staff across campus. You get that synergy going.

Tony Pellegrini: well, you know, I think you know I'd like to write this up as absolutely friends out there. You see Richards smiling and engaged in activities, don't hesitate to talk to him and say what fun are you having now. If any faculty would like to see any of these activities in progress, your classroom is open, you let faculty come in and make some observations or reach out and address some questions for you, would you be comfortable with that? So please, friends, don't be hesitant to reach out to Richard and get into his class, walk a mile alongside him and see Other fun things he's doing.

Richard Cozzens: I also just want to put a plug-in for the thunder works makers space, it is open for students across campus, faculty, we have the training online that we've developed, so all you have to do is take the test, training test, and then you have access doing hands-on type things. Come check us out!

Tony Pellegrini: I'm putting you on the spot. Is there a webpage that they can go to or where can I find that?

Richard Cozzens: Yeah, if they go to the engineering and technology program website, we are under Thunderbird maker space.

Tony Pellegrini: Wonderful.

Richard Cozzens: and they can look at the schedule, they can look at the tools that we have, and they can access the training.

Tony Pellegrini: well, friends, get out there and get involved in a wonderful opportunity. Richard, thank you again, we appreciate the opportunity, we appreciate your leader ship and the opportunity to stay connected with you. Thank you for coming today and thank you for all the service that you do.

Richard Cozzens: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity.


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