Dr. Fatma Pakdil (BUS) – Journal Publications

Congratulations to Dr. Pakdil, Associate Professor, Business Administration, for her recently published journal articles:

Great Job Dr. Pakdil for your dedication to the field with your research and contribution to these journals!

Fall 2018 Graduate Student Orientation

Calling ALL Fall ’18 1st Semester Graduate Students!

Graduate Student Orientation: Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 from 5-7pm in the J. Eugene Smith Library Johnson Room. Meet the School of Education and Professional Studies Dean, Faculty and Staff. Presentations by Registrar, Bursar, Financial Aid, Public Safety, Card Services, Bookstore and Library Services. Library Session immediately following orientation. RSVP 860-465-5292 or Graduateadmissions@easternct.edu

ECE Student Research Lends Insight into Dual Language Learning

Eastern student Stefanie Dominguez ’18 of Glastonbury (right) presents her research

Written by Anne Pappalardo

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/05/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University student Stefanie Dominguez ’18, an Early Childhood Education and Communication major, recently had her research thesis published in the Early Childhood Education Journal. The highly-ranked, refereed journal analyzes trends, policies and practices in early childhood education for children ranging from birth to age eight. The publication serves the needs of early childhood practitioners including classroom teachers, child care providers and teacher educators.

A Glastonbury resident, Dominguez is a research assistant at Eastern’s Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) and an Honors Program student. Her thesis, titled “A Qualitative Study of the Play and Dual Language Learners in Preschool,” is one of the first to document social interactions of low English-proficient preschoolers, referred to as Dual Language Learners (DLLs), in classrooms. The paper addresses distinct verbal and nonverbal social behaviors utilized by DLLs with low English proficiency when playing with peers in English-speaking preschool classrooms. Dominguez’s research investigated how DLL social behaviors differ from those of English-speaking children during play interaction. She also observed social interactions among DLLs compared to formal assessments of their involvement with peers and teachers during play.

“As an Eastern Honors Program student I was required to write a thesis,” said Dominguez. “I’d always wanted to write an education-based thesis. I worked with Early Childhood Education Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith on my project. I feel it is a very important field and that my work could be helpful to teachers and students.”

Last year Dominguez was asked to work on research projects with Trawick-Smith and Professor Sudha Swaminathan, as well as CECE Director Julia DeLapp.

“Part of the research required assessing the math knowledge of preschool students. Because I speak Spanish, I was assigned to test the children who spoke Spanish at home so that we could accurately test their math knowledge – not the understanding of the English questions. Through that research, and after talking with the professors, I devised my thesis topic – the social and emotional development of children who speak languages other than English at home,” said Dominguez.

“I found it interesting to see just how different the experiences were for DLLs and their English-speaking peers. I was surprised to see how often DLLs experienced ‘teacher-assisted interactions’ compared to their peers. Seeing how seldom DLLs were able to successfully interact with peers without a teacher’s help was surprising and made me really want to educate teachers. The DLLs were perfectly capable of playing with each other and having sustained play behaviors, but they often needed a teacher to help them get the interaction started. Knowing this can change how teachers interact with our classes and our students on individual levels.”

According to Professor Trawick-Smith, “There are not many undergraduate students who can say they have produced a work that will have an international impact on the thinking in a whole field of study. Yet Stefanie has done just that by addressing a research question which has simply not been asked or answered in previous work. Hers is the only investigation I know of that describes and analyzes the naturalistic interactions of DLLs in preschool. Perhaps Stefanie’s most important finding is that DLLs can interact with peers in positive ways in preschool classrooms if they receive a certain kind of support from their teachers. Her work indicates yet another way in which the preschool teachers play a vital role in promoting the well-being of young children.”

In November Dominguez also presented her thesis research at the National Association for the Educators of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Atlanta. NAEYC is a professional membership organization that promotes high quality early learning for young children through age eight by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research. She also presented her research to the staff at Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center as part of professional development. Professor Trawick-Smith is using her research in his Families and Cultures course.

“I think undergraduate research is beneficial for students because they have the opportunity to explore a field that most undergraduates are not usually able to access while still pursuing a bachelor’s degree,” said Dominguez. “The ability for students to perform undergraduate research tasks at Eastern also helps them to form stronger relationships with professors outside of a typical classroom setting and provides them with opportunities to travel and share their knowledge with others in their field,” added Dominguez.

Dominguez has presented previous research projects at Eastern’s annual Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern conference held each April and plans to present research there again this year. “Stefanie is already receiving national attention from this project – an invitation to present at a national research forum on children’s play in Atlanta and requests and inquiries from around the country for information about her work,” added Trawick-Smith.

Dominguez is interested in pursuing a master’s degree in special education, and possibly a second master’s degree in deaf education. She wants to become a teacher in a hospital for children who are unable to attend traditional school due to medical problems that keep them in a hospital setting.

Her favorite thing about Eastern? “The size – I was walking in the Student Center one day and the assistant dean came up to me and congratulated me on my publication. He knew me, my name and my accomplishments. That doesn’t happen at large schools. I have formed amazing relationships here at Eastern that I will keep with me once I leave this May.”

Dr. Mark Fabrizi Edits “Horror Literature and Dark Fantasy”

Dr. Mark Fabrizi, Assistant Professor of Education, talks about his work editing the Critical Literacy Series book titledHorror Literature and Dark Fantasy: Challenging Genres“. He says, “I enjoyed reading all the high quality submissions for this book from scholars across the country, and even a few from across the Atlantic! ”Horror Literature and Dark Fantasy: Challenging Genres” is a collection of scholarly essays intended to address, (a) the parent whose unreasoning opposition to horror entails its removal from a school curriculum, (b) the school administrator who sees little or no redeeming literary value in horror, and (c) the teacher who wants to use horror to teach critical literacy skills but does not know how to do so effectively.

The essays herein are intended to offer opportunities for teachers in secondary schools and higher education to enrich their classes through a non-canonical approach to literary study. This book is a deliberate attempt to enlarge the conversation surrounding works of horror and argue for their inclusion into school curricula to teach students critical literacy skills. The chapters cover a broad range of texts, including film, cartoons, and video games as well as traditional print novels and short stories.

For more information, click here: brill.com.

Olivia Roman (’18g, MSOM) Serves as Eastern’s First Legislative Fellow

I am honored to serve as Eastern’s first Legislative Fellow during the spring 2018 legislative session. The Office of Legislative Research (“OLR”), where I work, is the Connecticut General Assembly’s nonpartisan research arm located in Hartford’s Legislative Office Building. They staff all nonfiscal Legislative committees; write reports annually for legislators and committees; analyze bills; summarize public acts; prepare reports summarizing acts affecting particular occupations, industries, and segments of the population; and perform other services for the Legislature (for more information visit the OLR website: https://www.cga.ct.gov/olr/).

My duties as a Legislative Fellow include legal and policy research and writing in response to various legislative requests. These projects may be distributed to legislators and/or published to the OLR web site. I also have the opportunity to attend related meetings, such as public hearings and Senate or House of Representative debates. Each day I use knowledge and skills acquired through MSOM program coursework to complete my tasks. These include collaborating with individuals and teams to publish high quality work, thinking critically and creatively, conducting unbiased and thorough research; writing in a concise and well organized way; communicating with tact and professionalism; and, understanding the responsibilities and values of each person’s contributions in multiple organizational contexts.  

I expect to complete my Masters of Science in Organizational Management (MSOM) degree this May. Dr. Elizabeth Scott, MSOM Program Coordinator and Professor, has been an invaluable mentor to me throughout my graduate journey.  I’d like to thank Dr. Scott, the MSOM program faculty, as well my entire supportive “village” of family and friends, who have encouraged me to never give up on my dreams.  Many thanks to the OLR Director, Stephanie D’Ambrose for supporting my selection, and all of the OLR staff who warmly welcomed me, especially my direct supervisors Janet Kaminski-Leduc and Michelle Kirby. This is a very special learning opportunity, which I strongly recommend.   

Dr. Scott says, “We’re proud that Ms. Roman was selected for this opportunity and know that her performance as a Legislative Fellow reflects well on the MSOM program.”

I believe each of us can make a difference.  Find your way to get involved and bring light to an issue, person, or group in need of your attention and talents. “When one of us shines, we all shine.”   

Record Number of Eastern Students accepted to Present at National Conference

A record-breaking 41 Eastern Connecticut State University students from a variety of disciplines have been selected to represent Eastern at the 2018 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), a competitive undergraduate research conference that draws students from across the United States. The conference will be held at the University of Central Oklahoma from April 4-7.

Chosen from more than 4,000 submissions, students whose work was accepted to NCUR are required to demonstrate a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers students the opportunity to present their research findings to peers, faculty, and staff from colleges and universities across the nation, providing a unique networking and learning opportunity.

Eastern’s high rate of acceptance puts it among the top 20 schools nationwide – a group that includes major research universities and land grant institutions. Eastern students will present on a variety of academic disciplines. Among them are 10 students from the School of Education and Professional Studies (SEPS), including: • Tess Candler (‘18/ECO), Poster Presentation: Determining the Distributional Effects of Regional Greenhouse Gas
• Alex Gabriele (’20, COM), Poster Presentation: The Effects of Campus Alcohol Policies and Stress on College Binge Drinking
• Phillip Hoeps (’18, ECO), Oral Presentation: Childhood Poverty and Educational Outcomes: Case Studies of India, Ethiopia, Peru, and Vietnam
• Hayley Mangan (’20, COM), Poster Presentation: Swipe Right! Online Dating and College Students
• Noah Pinho (’18, COM), Poster Presentation: The Effects of Affection Exchange and Relationships
• Kimberly Tallard (’18, COM), Poster Presentation: Communication in Cross-Sex Friendship: Can Men and Women Be “Just Friends?”
• Koren Thomas (’20, BUS), Oral Presentation: Women, Strikes, and the Early Labor Movement: An Exploration Union Strategy 1870-1910
• Mackenzie Walker (’18, SLM), Oral Presentation: Opening Worlds: A Historical Overview of the Special Olympics of Connecticut
• Kyle Wilson (’18, SLM), Oral Presentation: Oculus Rift Virtual Reality-Comparison of Pre-Test vs. Post-Test Psychological Responses.

The SEPS faculty continually encourage student researchers to present their work on a national scale, resulting in this impressive number of presentations accepted by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Jehoon Jeon, Ph.D., advisor and assistant professor of communication explains, “These are diligent, hard-working, highly motivated, and goal-oriented students. They take communication classes, work very hard during the whole semester, and develop their in-class research projects for future opportunities. They distinguish themselves as undergraduate researchers while the selection process of the NCUR is getting more and more competitive every year.” Dr. Jeon continues, “Although it is challenging, many professors in the department of Communication guide students to set up clear goals for research. In response, their research studies clearly show evidence of wonderful academic writing and statistical/analytical skills.” He concludes, “I am very proud of our students.”

Last year, CUR identified Eastern as a campus that was “Leading the Way” with the number of students selected to present, a distinction applicable once again at this year’s conference. In the past four years, Eastern has sent more student researchers to NCUR than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined.

Good luck to our SEPS, and all the Eastern Connecticut State University, student presenters! @EasternSEPS @NCUR #UndergraduateResearch

Eastern Education Students Present at New Mexico Conference

Written by Michael Rouleau

Caroline Perry (bottom left) and Morgan Winship (bottom right) and their research mentors Niloufar Rezai and Jeffrey Trawick-Smith attend the National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers conference in Albuquerque, NM.

Eastern Connecticut State University students Caroline Perry and Morgan Winship presented research at the National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers conference in Albuquerque, NM, this March 15–17. Their presentation was titled “Authentic Experiences with Families: Impact on Pre-service Teachers’ Knowledge and Dispositions.”

“The essence of this research was to find out how positive family-teacher communication can strengthen a classroom’s interpersonal environment,” said Perry, who hails from Wilton and majors in early childhood education and English. “Family communication is such a large and integral part of a classroom teacher’s role, however there is minimal preparation for this component in education certification programs.”

Under the mentorship of Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, professor of early childhood education, and Niloufar Rezai, director of Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), the students were tasked with developing strong relationships with families of children enrolled at Eastern’s CFDRC preschool. They did this by maintaining communication with children’s families, going on a home visit, planning a family event at the CFDRC, and more.

“This pushed us to go outside of our comfort zone and be in constant communication with families from the classroom that we were interning in,” said Winship, who hails from Monroe and majors in early childhood education and psychology. “Until this course, I never realized how important it is for teachers to develop relationships with parents. Home life and school life affect each other; teachers and parents need to know how a child is doing in both environments.”

To assist with day-to-day communication, the students experimented with a mobile app called “Remind,” which enabled them to capture moments throughout the day and share them directly with parents.

“This app became my main resource for communicating with my focus child’s family,” said Perry. “It’s really important to keep families updated and involved with their child’s school day. It also offers families a way to get in touch with you (the teacher) beyond an email address.”
Conducting home visits was another major component of the project. “When you visit families in their home you see so much more,” said Winship. “This helps you better understand the child and better connect your curriculum in order to make learning more meaningful to them.”

Reflecting on their experience, Perry said, “We found that family communication is such a valuable resource for creating meaningful learning experiences for children. If you support your students’ families, they will support you. Together, you become a strong team with a shared interest: their child’s success.”

Having successfully presented at the conference in New Mexico, the students and their mentors now aim to publish their results in the “Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education.”

Posted on March 23, 2018 by rouleaum

Holmes Program Develops Minority Teachers

In partnership with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Eastern is continuing its participation in the Holmes Program.

Left to right: Lucero Garza, Laina Rivers and Alexis Sanchez

This year, three elementary education graduate students–Alexis Sanchez (Uncasville), Lucero Garza (Willimantic) and Laina Rivers (Bloomfield)–are participating in the Holmes Master’s program, which supports students from underrepresented backgrounds who are pursuing careers in education.

While the National Center for Educational Statistics projects that 55 percent of all K-12 students in public schools will be students of color by 2023, more than 80% of all K-12 teachers are white. Unless teacher preparation programs recruit more students from minority populations, this underrepresented trend will continue into the future.

“Having the opportunity to be involved in a program that advocates for minority teacher recruitment is eye opening and rewarding,” said Rivers. “There are so many people of color interested in the education field but do not know where to begin or do not believe that they can be successful in the field. I am humbled and honored to be a part of such a program.”

“The Holmes Master’s Program has given me the opportunity to inspire and encourage underrepresented students to join the teaching force,” said Sanchez. “I have only had a handful of minority teachers in my life and would have liked to have had more teachers of color. There is a dire need for minority teachers nationwide to fill the diversity gap in schools. Being part of that movement has been an honor.”

Morgan Cunningham, (COMM ’18) is a true example of how hard work, perseverance, and the desire to learn are the keys to success!

Morgan was 8-years-old when he fell in love with radio. As he was half-heartedly doing yardwork, his dad, knowing how much he loved music, suggested he call the radio station they were listening to and request a song. “There was just something magical about talking to a DJ off the air and behind the scenes . . .,” remembers Morgan, adding, “Little did I know that this would become such a big part of my life – my hobby and my career!”
Morgan’s dad was a continuing education student here at Eastern and aware of our radio station, WECS. He encouraged 14-year-old Morgan to present a concept for a show – to play 1950’s and 1960’s pop and rock n’ roll. When told the only spot open was midnight, he eagerly committed. In their excitement, Morgan’s mom and dad supported him fully, driving him to and from his late night shifts. While Morgan was delivering his one-man, on-air show, he received supportive mentoring from Associate Professor John Zatowski, who listened to his shows and provided feedback.
As a high school student applying to college, Morgan picked Eastern because he felt a match with the University after being a part of WECS for a few years. He submitted only one application. He was accepted and while initially, he sought only to concentrate on broadcasting and production, he took advantage of classes in public relations, advertising, and television production.
Morgan was recently hired at Lite 100.5 WRCH / WTIC Newstalk 1080 as a part-time on–air talent, practicing both DJ and board operator skills, as well as covering national news and programming. He also syndicates his own national radio show, “The Morgan Cunningham Show,” hosts InterviewUniverse.com for on-line podcasts, and works at Eastern as an assistant to President Nuñez.
Morgan will graduate in May 2018. He credits his communication professors who, “. . . push critical and analytical thinking and are fully devoted to the success of their students.” He adds, “If students are willing to put in the work, our professors will work hard to help them succeed beyond college.” Looking ahead, Morgan is thinking about Eastern’s Graduate program. For now, he will continue working at WECS and maintain his other radio engagements – gaining experience and continuing to grow as a seasoned radio professional.

Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) Reaches 1 Million YouTube Views!

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Dwight Bachman. Written by Casey Collins

Julia DeLapp (standing, left) and Niloufar Rezai (right) show a video to preschool children that recaps the various videos produced by the CECE over the years, many of which contain footage from Eastern’s own preschool classroom located at the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC). DeLapp is the director of the CECE and Rezai is the director of the CFDRC.

The YouTube channel, “EarlyChildhoodVideos,” has been active since Jan. 29, 2013, and has posted more than 125 videos produced by communication students, research assistants and CECE faculty. The CECE first began producing video content independently from the Internet, beginning with, “Guiding Young Children’s Behavior” in 2006. The video, which was developed in part with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, was intended for preschool teachers in U.S. Navy child development centers. Eventually the CECE made the move to the web, creating its own site in 2008 and simultaneously releasing one of it’s most popular videos to date, “Five Predictors of Early Literacy.” The center has since seen its videos aired in more than 200 countries, and have received six Telly Awards for technical excellence in video production. The Telly’s have been giving out awards to the most outstanding producers in film and television for 39 years.

“Knowing that our videos are being used to train teachers around the world is amazing,” said CECE Director Julia Delapp. “We have viewers in Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and Kenya. That is what I’m most proud of.” When asked about the future of EarlyChildhoodVideos, Delapp responded, “We really want to make more videos about the arts, music, social-emotional development… There’s just so many topics I would love to cover.”

The Center for Early Childhood Education is a multidisciplinary research and training institute at Eastern. Opened in 2007, the center is housed in a high-tech facility connected to Eastern’s model early care and education program. The center works to enhance the quality of early care and education by conducting innovative research, disseminating findings, providing professional development opportunities and developing training videos.