Service learning is a year-long course in which students provide services for non-profit organizations while receiving real-world experience. The skills gained from Mathematics, Computer Science and Computer Information Systems education are applied to fulfill community needs. The class is run as a business. There is a company budget to support two to three projects. Students are assigned corporate tasks as well as project tasks. Students meet collectively for one to two hours a week. This class time is used for technical presentations, team meetings, and giving and listening to progress reports. Students also spend three to five hours a week apart from class time meeting with clients, researching and planning projects, implementing project plans, writing reflections, and completing peer evaluations.


2015-2016 Service Learning Projects


Sensory Signal Recovery Project

Ryan Bieber, Liam Oliver-Mallory and Lindsay Watson

The signal recover problem is one in which a number of measurements at various times can be used to calculate a transformation that can be used to predict future changes given other conditions. This paper details the techniques used to create such a transformation, ways to calculate with limited data, and how to improve performance of the algorithm.


Center for Pastoral Leadership Database

Brandon Colchin and Randy Hiroshige

The purpose of this service learning project is to provide an online database that contains the pastoral contact list for the Center for Pastoral Leadership (CPL). This database was requested by the CPL in the hopes of creating a central database available for use by all of the CPL staff. This tool will help the CPL as they organize communication and maintain relationships with pastoral contacts on both a local and broader scale. The database of contacts is hosted as a MySQL instance through Amazon Web Services. Database access occurs through a website hosted as an EC2 application instance through Amazon Web Services. The website uses the Drupal platform, and the database access functionality was coded in PHP as a Drupal module.


Pre-Health Student Database and Data Importing

Sarah Elwin, Austin Krieghoff and Ethan Soch

This paper reports on the processes relating to the implementation of a Pre-Health Student Database for the head of the Chemistry Department, Dr. Sara Choung. Topics include the design consideration for the aforementioned database, the development of a user-interface to facilitate faculty interactions with the database, and the design and implementation of a computer program in order to aid the importation of pre-existing data.


The Genome Comparison Project

Tim Little, Tristan Oliver-Mallory, Katelyn Ortiz and Hannah Quinn

In our project we compared bacteria genomes and created visual representations of these comparisons. The bacteria genomes were first separated into each individual gene and these genes were compared against one another using an online comparison database called the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool. Bacteria genomes that were being compared were represented using tracks with individual arrows used to represent each individual gene. These bacteria genome representations were drawn parallel to each other. The results from comparing the gene in the two Genomes were represented by drawing red cross-links connecting similar genes represented by their arrow on each track.


Sarcophyton Glaucum

Will DeCino, James Morar and Will Schumacher

The three students worked in collaboration with Dr. Maloney, Dr. Botts, and Dr. Jimenez, in order to assist Dr. Maloney with her research of Sarcophyton Glaucum. The first sections of the paper describe Dr. Maloney's work with the soft corals. This includes the importance of researching the coral and the current process used in the collection and classification of the corals. The middle sections of the paper mention the mathematical methods used to analyze the data collected from Sarcophyton Glaucum. This includes principal component analysis, hierarchical clustering, and linear discriminant analysis. The last sections of the paper present the output of the mathematical analyses. This includes a description of what the data is saying and a conclusion of the final results.

2014 - 2015 Service Learning Projects

Locating Antibiotic Resistant Gene in Bacterial DNA

Lillian Duffey, Tyler Maskiewicz, Claire Mathews and Clara Welcome

A client of Dr. Botts is a company wishing to create a more efficient waste treatment process by making use of the naturally developing biofilm to break down the waste thus saving water in the process.  Before this biofilm process becomes the next sewage technique, more information on the bacterial DNA is needed.  Our project was to begin the process in determining the location (plasmid or chromosome) of antibiotic resistant genes in a sample of biofilm bacteria.  Our direct purpose was to begin the process of creating a database of DNA sequences that seem to be found only in plasmids as well as beginning to streamline that reassembly process.


Building a Student Survey Database Using Microsoft Access

Michael Bench, Craig Hollensbe and Henry Teegarden

Over the last decade, PLNU has followed cohorts of students through their undergraduate studies by administering to them a series of standardized surveys.  The results of these surveys were compiled into several large Excel files.  Our service learning group was responsible for creating a database that effectively organized this information so that it could be used for data mining purposes by PLNU staff.  By effectively organizing survey data, our database makes it significantly easier to answer important questions regarding student behavior.  This makes it an incredibly powerful statistical tool.  For example, by pulling data regarding grades and chapel attendance, one can begin to determine whether or not academic success and spirituality are correlated.  For this project we focused on creating a database that organized data from two of the surveys taken in the last 10 years: NSSI 2005 and NSSE 2010.


2013 - 2014 Service Learning Projects

Electrostatics Android Application

Brian Bufford, Troy Carmichael, Brendan Heldman and Blake Herrington

This interdisciplinary team created an Android App that calculated and illustrated electrostatic point charges. The user is presented with an empty axis in which charges and sensors can be plotted with their corresponding parameters.  A user can access a menu to add a sensor or charge, remove a sensor or charge, or  view the list of all points and their corresponding calculation values currently present in the environment.  After any update, all points are automatically plotted on the axis and the electrostatic fields created by these points are demonstrated.  This tool is anticipated to be used in an education setting by both students and professors.


SeqTrace Enhancement

Brooke Apffel, Joanna Borgona, Tim Dixon, Aaron McKinstry and Ally Takeda

Antibiotic resistance is spreading rapidly and is a global health concern.  It is necessary to understand the genes encoding for these resistances to have hope for the future of effective antibiotics. In order to properly annotate and analyze the genes behind antibiotic resistance, advanced and efficient programs are necessary. The aim of this project was to enhance the open-source, free software SeqTrace to be better equipped to handle genomic data.  The following was accomplished: 1) Create an automated function that trims primers from given sequences.  This function allows the user to input the specific primers they want to trim, allowing for slight variation on the primer sequences.  2) Create a function that  automates the process of data cleaning. Adding these functions to SeqTrace allows the user to work with and manipulate DNA sequences all within a free software.


Church Search

Vicente Chiquete, Jacob Rivera, Ericka Rule and Keith Thompson

When relocating, the new resident must find a variety of services.  For many, a church where the family will feel comfortable is one of the most challenging things to find.  This project aimed to create an online service, based on the R language, that would allow users to select the desired criteria for a church and see the offerings in the neighborhood presented both in text and on a map.  Prior to creating the application and associated database, a survey was constructed and administered to gain the information with which to populate the database.

2012 - 2013 Service Learning Projects


Dustin Ansley, Wileen Chiu, Joshua Lam and Amanda Olson

Computer Science is a potential college major that few High School students are aware of. Yet, it is a major that leads to lucrative and satisfying jobs. The students involved in this Service Learning project contacted counselors, principals, and mathematics and science teachers in 26 local high schools asking which of 6 different resources would be most helpful for introducing High School staff and students to the field of Computer Science. The top requests were for posters, brochures, and a short video. After studying papers on research regarding what influences the choice of a major, what characteristics make a good computer scientist, and the job prospects for Computer Science majors, the students produced and disseminated the posters, brochures, and video.


2011 - 2012 Service Learning Projects

Videos to Support Learning in Elementary Statistics

Aimee Bird, Katherine Graham, Adam Kenyon, Colin Lowry and Kevin Schick

For MICS Tutorial Video Project, we endeavored to create tutorial videos for a statistics class. The ultimate goal of these videos is to convey statistical concepts in a clear and concise manner. To complement this basic understanding of a particular statistical concept, these videos are also intended to provide the student with a degree of intuition regarding each topic. Thus, the student will understand why it would be important to utilize the statistical concept given a particular situation. Along with these videos, a functional, user-friendly website was also constructed during the course of this project. The website provides various sample questions and answers with each statistical concept. Having these resources available will permit the students to practice and develop their ability to solve problems. In the end, it is our aspiration that this project of creating tutorial videos will provide the foundation for constructing statistical competency. 


Nursing Project 2011-2012: Determining the value of TEAS

Alex Buttweiler, Evan Grove and Walter Wagner 

The nursing project is attempting to solve fundamental problems related to the low math and reading scores for nursing students observed over the past few years. The goal of this project is to predict retention and pass/fail for the NCLEX, which is the national exam to become a registered nurse, by analyzing grades from Biology, Chemistry, major Nursing courses, TEAS reading/math scores, and their overall GPA. Binary logistic regression is the primary statistical method used in order to give predictions for the data. The outcome was that the TEAS exam had very little impact on predicting which students will pass or fail the NCLEX. The only significant factor in determining which students will be successful was GPA.


Political Science Assessment Analysis Project 2012

Alex Buttweiler, Evan Grove and Walter Wagner

The main objective of this paper is to present the trends that the service learning team discovered when analyzing the collection of entrance and exit surveys taken by students in the Political Science and International Relations majors. Frequency counts were used to analyze the data; the survey answers were categorized and then analyzed based on the percentages of students responses. This paper will provide the Department of History and Political Science at PLNU with the conclusions drawn from the data given in this survey-format. The outcome was that overall students felt that they were considerably better off than they were when they entered the major. The only negative outcome was that students did not feel like they were as well prepared as students from other schools overall.


Analysis of Factors Relating to Retention within Point Loma Nazarene University’s Biology Department

Cosette Tiguila and Ethan Wade

In an average year the Biology Department at Point Loma Nazarene University added 50 to 60 new students which could be sustained with the Department’s current resources.  Entering the 2011-2012 academic school year there were nearly 100 new students which exceeds the long term sustainability of the Department’s resources; therefore, an analysis of factors that contribute to student retention was performed in order to determine what traits, if any, predict a student’s success in Biology Department.  The results of this study will assist in determining how best to address the rise in the number of students. The data used for the study was from students enrolled in the following majors from 2005-2011: Biology – BA, Biology – Chemistry, Biology – BS, Environmental Science, Biology – Cell & Molecular BA, Biology – Organismal BA, Biology – Cell & Molecular BS, and Biology – Organismal BS.  Due to a lack of time, no definitive analysis was accomplished; however,  there appears to be a correlation between a student’s weighted high school GPA; English and Math ACT percentile; and RAW Math, Writing and Verbal SAT scores and whether the student switched or graduated from the Biology Department. Future studies are needed to determine the accuracy of this finding and also to address other possible predictive factors such as college GPA, advanced placement tests taken prior to being admitted, student career goals and extracurricular involvement.


2010 - 2011 Service Learning Projects

Chapel Data Analysis

Tabitha Henken and Katie Kunz

Advisor: Dr. Greg Crow

For the Chapel Data Analysis project, data has been gathered from the school year 2006-07 of chapel attendance. Analysis of 2007-08 was performed and many correlations were found. This year, we expanded upon the previous work. This particular project will help the chapel planning committee to better serve the students. Due to paired sample t-tests between Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 we were able to accept the Null Hypothesis that there was no difference between the two semesters which is why we only show the Fall 2007data. Fall 2006 is shown as a comparison. 


Bridging the Gap Between Hardware and Software

Mark Cook, Tony Dungca and Isaac Hembree

Advisor: Dr. Jeff McKinstry

This project is in response to the Honors Project created by Erik Ahslwede.  His honors project was an attempt to bridge the gap between computer science and engineering by utilizing embedded software programming. He developed a series of labs using the Lego Mindstorms platform due to its ease of use, functionality, and wide range of applications.  Our purpose was to work through his existing labs to both test and modify their effectiveness.


Analysis of Geographic Data in ArcGIS

Daniel Fitzpatrick, Tristan Holbrook and Robert Jenkins

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Botts

This project is an example of interdisciplinary research between the fields of biology, mathematics, and computer science.  The goal of the project was three-fold.  The first goal was to help Dr. Cummings determine distances between sample sites and the quantity of the qnrA gene present at the sample sites using the ArcGIS software. The second goal was to determine a number of sample sites necessary to generate a relevant density map using biogeographical spatial density sampling.  The third goal was to determine what kind of learning must be done to conduct interdisciplinary research.


Service Learning: Freshmen Retention

John Hebron, Stephen Kay and Anthony Pata

Advisor: Dr. Greg Crow

The attrition rate of freshman students is becoming a higher priority within the universities because there is much invested in each student that the school accepts.  By learning the causes behind a student's departure, the school will be able to more effectively transition the students into college life and more accurately select applicants poised to succeed.  The purpose of this project is to discover a selection of variables that will be able to determine whether a freshman student is at risk of returning for their sophomore year.


General Education Scheduling Visualization

Rachel Hudlow and Willis Somervell

Advisor: Dr. Lori Carter

Creating a schedule for incoming freshmen is a complex task.  There are many factors such as major, athletics, and AP credits that make it challenging for those planning the schedules to effectively fill all the requirements. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that many General Ed courses overlap in the times that they are offered. Creating an easy to understand visual representation of the overlaps should spark conversation and generate awareness of conflicts that arise in scheduling.  It is the goal of this project to create such a visualization.


2009 - 2010 Service Learning Projects

Database for ITS

Matthew Goethel and Camille Kindschi

Designed and implemented a database to keep track of the software in each of the campus labs.  The database had the capability of generating lab-based reports as well as reports for each academic department regarding the programs currently installed on their behalf.


Database for the Nursing Department

Pete Certain and Mark Lemen

Designed and implemented a database to keep track of past and present nursing students, including their entrance and graduation dates and their placement.  This database is to be used as a tool to help the department gain a better understanding of nursing student attrition.


SAT Data Analysis

Cris Fairweather, Drew Fulwider and Leslee Howe

Performed data analysis to determine possible relationships between student SAT math scores and their performance on the math placement test.  The goal of this research was to attempt to decrease the number of students needing to take the math placement test.


Laboratory Assignment Construction

Drew Fulwider, Matthew Goethel, Hannah King and Mark Lemen

Created hands-on labs to be used as a part of the curriculum for CSC 132 (Introduction to Computer Science). These labs include experience with algorithm analysis, computer hardware, networking, databases, and circuit construction.


MICS Department Survey

Pete Certain and Camille Kindschi

Constructed, administered and analyzed a student and faculty survey with the goal of determining interest in department-related service projects both locally and abroad.


Analysis of General Education Course Distribution

Chris Fairweather and Leslee Howe

Worked with Dr. Kim Bogan to analyze and visually represent the distribution of general education classes available to incoming freshmen.  The goal of this project was to create ways to help others understand why freshmen were placed in courses in some departments while fewer students were placed in the classes of other departments.


2008 - 2009 Service Learning Projects

University Fund Project

Stephen Evilsizor, Sarah Lauff, KayDee Sullivan and Karin Wilcox

For the University Fund project, students used the data collected in the past seven years by University Advancement to detect and illustrate trends in giving to the Point Loma University Fund.  In light of the observed trends and other insights, the students tested the correlation between a series of factors and the value or quantity of gifts given by donors.  The information gained from this study will serve to help University Advancement to know how to and whom to advertise the University Fund.


Nursing Data Project

Katie Jundt, Kristen LoPresti, Marilee Ricketts and James Tebelman

This group worked with the Point Loma Nazarene University Nursing Department.  Five years of collected data were analyzed to see if there were any predictors for success in the program.  Variables such as prerequisite grades, ATI examination scores, and success on the NCLEX exam were looked at to determine what, if anything, determines high achievement in the program.


Faith Community School Project

Stephen Evilsizor, Katie Jundt, Sarah Lauff, Kristen LoPresti, Marilee Ricketts, KayDee Sullivan, James Tebelman and Karin Wilcox

Faith Community School contacted the MICS department at PLNU because they were given the equipment for a computer lab, including software, but did not know how to utilize it to benefit their students.  PLNU students met with the teachers to determine how they would like to see their students use the hardware and software, and developed age-appropriate teaching modules for the teachers to use with their students. 



2007 - 2008 Service Learning Projects

Point Loma High School - CS

Nathan Hirst, Garrett Kiesz and Megan Low

In conjunction with the PLHS Computer Science teacher and PLNU Information Technology Services, these students refurbished a server and 15-20 old computers.  They then used this equipment to set up a network for PLHS Computer Science Students.  In addition they helped in the classroom, and with extra tutoring for students preparing to take the AP exam in Computer Science.


Point Loma High School - Math

Katelyn Brown, Beth Dyer, Yvette Givens, Anna Hail and Erin Trine

The PLHS math group served the students and math teachers at PLHS both in and out of the classroom. Inside of the classroom they served as teacher's assistants, assisting students with in class assignments.  Outside of the classroom they participated in tutoring students who were preparing to take the California High School Exit Exam.  The high school students participating in these tutoring sessions were at risk for deferred graduation because they had not passed the exam in several previous tries.


CARS Project

Ashley Hilman, Catherine Marcarelli, Dustin Robison and Jessica Wommack

CARS is the name of the database that contains information that is needed by virtually every academic and administrative department on campus, along with every student.  However, this database had been severely underutilized.  These students conducted interviews with individuals ranging from assistant staff people, to high level executives to help the PLNU Information Technology Services better understand the needs and frustrations of current and prospective users.  This information will be used by ITS to improve the functionality of the database and to educate users on the available services.


Pastoral Education Project

Jonathan Bowman, Jessica Mikovits, Alana Nichol, Shannon Sandison

The PLNU Center for Pastoral Leadership (CPL) provides both graduate programs and continuing education for pastors in the southwestern United States.  This team of students combined some pastoral survey data with congregational demographic information.  They analyzed the data to help the CPL identify the educational needs of this group of pastors.