Eastern Reveals 2017 TIMPANI Winner

•The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI toy of the year.

• The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI toy of the year.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced on Dec. 6 that “Animal Kingdom Mega Pack” by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy.

Now in its eighth year, the annual study investigates how young children learn as they play with a variety of toys in natural settings. Ten toys were selected this year for the study by teachers, faculty and student researchers. The toys were placed in preschool classrooms at the University’s Child and Family Development Resource Center, and student researchers used hidden cameras to videotape children playing with the toys. Researchers then coded the footage according to the study’s evaluation rubric, which includes four subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization. For this year’s study, researchers coded nearly 8,000 five-minute observations.

•Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, discusses the study during the TIMPANI press conference.:

• Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, discusses the study during the TIMPANI press conference.:

“Undergraduate research is a strength of Eastern’s liberal arts education,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, “and the TIMPANI toy study is an outstanding example of students conducting faculty-sponsored research of the highest level on our campus. For the past eight years, our early childhood education students have observed children at play with a variety of toys, and have developed an annual criteria-based evaluation of what toys are best for the cognitive, social, and creative development of young children. Parents, preschool educators and others across the globe are turning to Eastern for guidance on how best to support children’s play. In the process, our early childhood education students are learning to conduct empirical research of the highest quality.”

The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack received the highest overall score in this year’s study. It also scored the highest in three of the four subscales: creativity and imagination, social interaction, and verbalization. It was the highest-scoring toy for both boys and girls. It also scored highly for children from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. “This was a toy that inspired high-quality play by children of all different backgrounds,” said Julia DeLapp, director of the Center for Early Childhood Education and co-investigator of the study.

•Children enrolled at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) play with the tool in the preschool classroom

• Children enrolled at Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) play with the tool in the preschool classroom

DeLapp noted that research studies such as the TIMPANI toy study are not available to undergraduate students at most colleges universities, but are essential elements of an Eastern education. The result, as she explained, was that early childhood education students are well prepared for graduate school and the workforce because of the professional experience that research projects provide.

The 2017 TIMPANI Toy, which includes plastic animals from a variety of habitats, is an example of a “replica play toy.” According to Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, replica play toys provide important opportunities for children to engage in symbolic, make-believe play. “When children are playing with these kinds of toys, they have to do something beyond just becoming a make-believe character themselves. They actually have to project themselves into the role of an animal. This takes what some researchers call a ‘greater symbolic leap’ from reality to the make-believe play theme.”

Trawick-Smith said toys such as the “Animal Kingdom Mega Pack” have been played with for centuries. “Even children in Ancient Rome have been recorded playing with little replicas of animals and people.”

As Dominique McLean, a psychology and early childhood education student involved in the study, noted, “The animals were an open-ended toy that allowed children to bring their prior knowledge into their play narratives. They collaborated with their peers to create habitats and to sort the animals.”

Nicole Green, an English and elementary education student involved in the study, said that the study made clear to her how important play is for children’s learning. “I saw many important life skills that were being taught as children were playing with each other, and I think that those need to be fostered even as they get a little older and move into elementary school.”

Other students involved in this year’s study were researchers Amanda Terenzi, a social work student, and Stefanie Dominguez, a communication and early childhood education student. Ayla Heald was the student editor for this year’s video, with student Emily Parsons providing additional support for the study.

The results of the study were first announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Atlanta, GA, on Nov. 15. Findings will be disseminated to preschool teachers nationally to inform their decisions about the toys to include in their classroom. Findings will also be shared with families.

To see today’s press conference on the TIMPANI Toy of the Year, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRHzF_sUnP4

For more information on the 2017 TIMPANI Toy of the Year, visit http://www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/, or contact the Center for Early Childhood Education at (860) 465-0687 or visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/.

Previous TIMPANI toys include Plus-Plus® by Plus-Plus® (2016), Wooden Cash Register by Hape (2015); Paint and Easel (easel by Community Playthings), and Hot Wheels Cars by Mattel (2014); Magna-Tiles by Valtech!, and My First Railway by Brio (2013); Duplo Blocks by LEGO (2012); Tinker Toys by Hasbro (2011); Wooden Vehicles and Signs by Melissa and Doug (2010).

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Disclaimer: The TIMPANI toy study does not consider, nor does it test, the safety of toys. The study makes no claims about the safety of any toy studied. Neither the Center for Early Childhood Education nor Eastern Connecticut State University is liable for any mishaps related to the use of toys mentioned in study findings. Concerns about any toy listed in the study findings should be directed to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Eastern to Reveal Toy of the Year

Written by Michael Rouleau

TIMPANIlogo-150x150Just in time for the holiday season, Eastern Connecticut State University will reveal its 2017 TIMPANI toy of the year on Dec. 6 during a 10 a.m. press conference in the Joinery of the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE). TIMPANI stands for “Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination,” and is an internationally acclaimed study conducted by Eastern faculty and undergraduate students. Following the press conference, members of the media will be invited to tour the University’s childcare center and observe the toys in action.

Now in its eighth year, the annual study investigates how young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings. Ten toys were selected this year for the study by teachers, faculty and student researchers of the CECE.

The toys were placed in preschool classrooms at the University’s Child and Family Development Resource Center, and student researchers used hidden cameras to videotape children playing with the toys. Researchers then coded the footage according to the study’s evaluation rubric, which includes four subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization. For this year’s study, researchers coded nearly 8,000 five-minute observations.

Previous TIMPANI toys include Plus-Plus® by Plus-Plus® (2016), Wooden Cash Register by Hape (2015); Paint and Easel by Community Playthings and Hot Wheels Cars by Mattel (2014); Magna-Tiles by Valtech and My First Railway by Brio (2013); Duplo Blocks by LEGO (2012); Tinker Toys by Hasbro (2011); Wooden Vehicles and Signs by Melissa and Doug (2010).

TIMPANI results have been widely reported, including by sources such as International Business Times, All-Jazeera America and television news programs across the country. The instrument used in the study has been shared by request with researchers all over the world, including Turkey.

Note to news media: Come to the Dec. 6 press conference to find out the identity of the 2017 TIMPANI toy. For more information, contact the Center for Early Childhood Education at (860) 465-0687 or visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/.

Eastern’s CFDRC Reaccredited!

cfdrc image-2Written by Anne Pappalardo

Willimantic, Conn. – The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) at Eastern Connecticut State University was recently notified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) that the organization has reviewed the center’s Annual Report and that it is maintaining the center’s accreditation, reflecting continued excellence in their programming.

The CFDRC achieved a five-year term of accreditation with the NAEYC in 2014. The accreditation – recognized as “the mark of quality in early childhood education” – is valid until Oct. 1, 2019.

“Accreditation from the NAEYC is the most prestigious stamp of excellence for childhood programs – staff work hard to maintain NAEYC accreditation annually. As a result, children and families gain from a high quality program and in turn, we model best practices for Eastern’s pre-service teacher candidates,” said Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC.

Among the tasks of becoming NAEYC-accredited, programs must score at least 80 percent on each of the association’s 10 program standards. Scores are based on a site visit, which includes an observation of classroom sessions and an overall environmental assessment, as well as a review of the program’s portfolios. The CFDRC scored 100 percent on every standard.

The 10 program standards evaluated include promoting positive relationships and personal health; utilizing relevant curriculum and effective teaching and assessment approaches; employing qualified and committed staff and management; interacting with families, communities and outside agencies; and providing indoor and outdoor environments that foster growth and development.

The NAEYC is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on improving the well-being of young children, with particular emphasis on the quality of educational and developmental services for children from birth through age eight.

Eastern Presents Pedro Noguera

Noguera by TOMWritten by Dwight Bachman

“If we want to create a more equitable society, we must transform the way we teach our children.” That was the message that Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), drove home during his lecture to a packed house on Nov. 14 at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Speaking in the beautiful Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, Noguera was introduced by Jacob Easley, dean of Eastern’s School of Education and Professional Studies. “Dr. Noguera’s advocacy for educational equity is timely. We are delighted that community members and future educators alike are energized by his message. It is clear that sound pedagogy alone will not tip the scale to ensure that educational excellence is afforded to all children and youth. Advocacy, policy and practice have to work together.”

Noting that family income is the best predictor of student success, Noguera reiterated a point found in many of his published writings – if we want to see student academic performance improve, our society must deal with the root causes of poverty at the same time that we attempt to implement classroom reform.

Nogueara_Wide_shot_in_FAICPolicies such as “No Child Left Behind” still leave far too many children behind, said Noguera, especially children with the greatest needs. He offered numerous ways to close the achievement gap, arguing that equity is recognizing that not all students are the same; some need more time and help due to disadvantages. Equity is about fairness, giving all children the same opportunities.

Noguera also said schools should stop blaming students and accept responsibility for raising achievement in all students, not just the privileged. He called for an “equity lens” in addressing the challenge. “We are supposed to make sure all kids have a chance. Throughout the country, educating kids is a major challenge. School reform has been insufficient in paying attention to teaching and learning.”

The nationally recognized scholar lamented that, “Teachers today focus on control and passive learning, covering material, memorization, when they should be emphasizing engaged learning.” He encouraged the audience of students, faculty and staff from Eastern as well as those from area schools, to seek ways to recognize and develop excellence in students. “We must raise their confidence, competence and resilience . . . If we feed their curiosity, they become life-long learners and problem solvers.”

In sharing a variety of strategies he has observed in schools across the nation that can empower students to learn, Noguera said, “We have to stop treating the kids like inmates.” Innovations he endorsed included personalized lesson plans, team projects, simulations and other engaging teaching methods.

During a lively question and answer period, Noguera said society should reverse what is Noguera_in_FAIC_verticalcurrently happening – spending more money to keep young students in jail than to educate them. “We need to focus on student strengths rather than their deficits.”

He said it is in society’s own interests to invest in education, and he encouraged students to go into teaching “to make a difference, not to make money. Becoming an educator is to become a role model. To become a teacher is to become a life-long learner. We must be committed. We must have the passion for this work.”

Noguera recalled the 19th-century New England educator Horace Mann, who famously said, “Education is “is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery,” and said that we must continue to invest in teaching our children if we want social equity and a prosperous nation.

“Education is the solution to so many of the problems we face. If we invest in the education of kids, we will secure democracy in this country. The goal is to make sure everyone with different learning skills is getting a quality education. We must meet the needs of all kids. The cost of failure is simply too great.”

Prior to his current position at UCLA, Noguera served as the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and as professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also the director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

He began his career as a classroom teacher in Providence, RI, where he attended Brown University. Among Noguera’s published writings are the books “City Schools and the American Dream”, “Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools” and “The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education.”

Noguera’s presentation celebrated the 10th year anniversary of Eastern’s Center for Early Childhood Education. The event was sponsored by Eastern’s School of Education and Graduate Studies, Office of Equity and Diversity, Windham Public School and Eastern’s Multicultural Leadership Council.

 

Renowned Scholar to Speak at Eastern

Written by Dwight Bachman

Pedro Noguera PHOTOWillimantic, CT—Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as faculty director for UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools, will lecture at Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 14. The event begins at 9 a.m. in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center

Noguera’s scholarship and research focuses on ways that schools and their students are influenced by social and economic conditions and demographic trends. Noguera serves on the boards of many national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio and other national news outlets.

Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, Noguera served as the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and as professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also the director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

Noguera has also served as a trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY). In 2014, he was elected to the National Academy of Education. He recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, the National Association of Secondary Principals, and the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty. Noguera served as a classroom teacher in public schools in Providence, RI, and in Oakland, CA, and continues to work with schools nationally and internationally as a researcher and advisor.

Noguera has published more than 200 research articles, monographs and eports on topics such as urban school reform, conditions that promote student achievement, the role of education in community development, youth violence, and race and ethnic relations in American society. His work has appeared in multiple major research journals.  He is the author of several books, includingCity Schools and the American Dream”;  “Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools”; “The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education”; and “Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap” with A. Wade Boykin. His most recent books are “Excellence Through Equity” with Alan Blankstein and “Race, Equity and Education: The Pursuit of Equality in Education 60 Years After Brown” with Jill Pierce and Roey Ahram.

Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,389 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 10.

For the past 33 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

‘Colleges of Distinction’ Recognizes Eastern’s Business and Education Programs

colleges of distinction badges

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/09/2017) The School of Education and Professional Studies at Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized by Colleges of Distinction for its expert blending of the liberal arts with professional programing in business and education. This honor is in addition to Eastern being named a 2017-18 College of Distinction by the same organization, which is a trusted guide for college-bound students.

In acknowledging the recognition, Jacob Easley, dean of Eastern’s School of Education and Professional Studies, said: “The marriage of liberal arts outcomes with those of professional studies contributes to the unique value and distinction of our programs. Furthermore, our commitment to inquiry, social responsibility, lifelong learning and diversity enriches the lives of students.”

“The 21st-century job market now demands employees who are both stellar communicators and critical-thinkers, and it is with the School of Education and Professional Studies’ well-rounded approach to career development that its students are especially prepared to take on the postgraduate world,” wrote Colleges of Distinction in a recent news release.

“We are ecstatic to celebrate Eastern Connecticut State University for its exceptional commitment to student success,” said Tyson Schritter, chief operating officer for Colleges of Distinction. “Building upon its extensive liberal arts curriculum, as well as its impressive engagement of high-impact practices, Eastern continues to stand out through its stance as a leader in professional education.”

Colleges of Distinction granted these awards in education and business programming after a comprehensive vetting process, selecting schools based on such qualities as accreditation, breadth of program and a track record of success.

Eastern’s Education programs include early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and educational technology. “Eastern’s future educators are bolstered by an enriching liberal arts perspective, allowing them to be empathetic, creative and efficient mentors for their students,” added Colleges of Distinction.

“The fast-paced, modern world of business requires effective communication and innovative strategies,” wrote the organization. “Eastern’s programs in accounting, business administration, business information systems, finance and organizational management keep their future leaders ahead of the curve and ready to grow alongside the industry.”

About Colleges of Distinction: Colleges of Distinction has recognized and honored schools throughout the U.S. for excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education for over 15 years. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. For more information, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.

About Eastern Connecticut State University: Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 23 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 64 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 26th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2017 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

Eastern Named a ‘Great College to Work For’ for Eighth Time

Written by Michael Rouleau

2013GCWF_4CsingularWILLIMANTIC, CT (07/17/2017) Eastern Connecticut State University has again been named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities. Released today by The Chronicle, the results are based on a survey of 232 colleges and universities. This is the eighth time Eastern has received “Great Colleges” distinction since it first began participating in the program in 2009.

Only 79 of the institutions that applied for the program achieved “Great College to Work For” recognition this year. Eastern was also named to the national Great Colleges “Honor Roll,” one of only 42 institutions named to this exclusive club. This is the third year in a row that Eastern has been named to the honor roll. Eastern was also the only public four-year university or college in New England to gain “Great Colleges” distinction.

The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For survey is the largest and most comprehensive workplace study in higher education. Now in its 10th year, it recognizes the colleges that get top ratings from their employees on workforce practices and policies.

The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was employee feedback.

Eastern won honors in six survey categories this year: Collaborative Governance; Compensation and Benefits; Facilities, Workspaces, and Security; Confidence in Senior Leadership; Teaching Environment; and Tenure Clarity and Process.

“It is gratifying to know that our employees continue to value the positive working atmosphere we share on our campus,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “The ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ recognition is not only a symbol of the common purpose found among our faculty and staff, it represents the welcoming and supportive environment that our students experience every day.

“To know that Eastern has consistently received this honor – winning ‘Great Colleges’ recognition in each of the eight years we have participated – is an indication that our commitment to campus unity is an enduring value firmly embedded in our culture.”

“Ten years in, the ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ distinction is well-known by academic jobseekers as a sign that an institution’s employees are valued and given opportunities for growth even when they face financial constraints,” said Liz McMillen, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Any college or university that’s on the list is showing that they emphasize one of their most valuable assets: their faculty and staff.”

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide. “It’s easier to be a great workplace during good times, but it’s when times are tough that the commitment to workplace quality really gets tested,” said Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink LLC. “Those institutions that measure up during times of economic hardship reinforce their already strong cultures and put even more distance between them and their peer institutions for whom they compete for talent.”

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About Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 23 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 64 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 26th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2017 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

About The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education is dedicated to serving the higher-education community with insights, understanding, and intellectual engagement. Academic leaders and professionals from around the world trust The Chronicle’s analysis and in-depth exploration to make informed decisions.

About ModernThink LLC

As a research and consulting leader in workplace issues, ModernThink has supported a wide variety of “Best Place to Work” initiatives. Through these programs, the firm has gained substantial survey and industry expertise, including specific insight into higher education. ModernThink knows what it takes to build a great place to work and shares that know-how with its clients. The ModernThink team of organizational development experts is dedicated to helping colleges follow through and capitalize on feedback from employees and benchmark data from peers to drive meaningful change at their institutions. Learn more at http://www.modernthink.com.

View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/eastern-named-a–great-college-to-work-for–for-eighth-time/691

Eastern a 2017 College of Distinction

COD_Program Badge Business 2017-2018 COD_Program Badge Education 2017-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized as a 2017-18 College of Distinction by the college-guide/ranking organization Colleges of Distinction. New this year, Colleges of Distinction is further recognizing colleges that have distinctive fields of study—first-rate programs with professional accreditations. This year Eastern received badges for programs of distinction in education and business.

“Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the teaching-centered colleges that makes up the fabric of the American educational system,” said Wes Creel, founder of Colleges of Distinction. “It’s a school that delivers well our four overarching distinctions—Engagement, Teaching, Community and Outcomes—the fundamental elements of an effective undergraduate education. It is the mission of Colleges of Distinction to honor and recognize those institutions that are so essential to educating the next generation of young adults.”

To be designated a “college of distinction” a school’s curriculum must emphasize such core competencies as critical thinking, writing, oral skills, research and global perspectives. They must also offer dynamic out-of-classroom learning and study abroad programs.

“The Colleges of Distinction evaluation process goes beyond traditional ranking models that assess colleges based on things like historic prestige, selectivity, athletic prowess and the size of its endowment,” said Creel. “Such ranking systems tend to focus on the perceived ‘top’ schools, despite the fact that the vast majority of students do not attend the small, exclusive selection of ‘big-name’ schools.”

Once a school is deemed qualified to be among Colleges of Distinction, an in-depth profile of the school is published on their website and in their guidebook, which is then made available to high school students nationwide.

Eastern’s Teacher Preparation Program Achieves Reaccreditation

•Education students supervise preschool children on the climbing wall of the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC)

Education students supervise preschool children on the climbing wall of the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC)

WILLIMANTIC, CT (05/30/2017) Eastern Connecticut State University recently received continued accreditation through fall 2021 from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), based on the standards of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). NCATE’s performance-based accreditation system for teacher preparation ensures that teaching candidates are prepared to make a difference in P-12 student learning.

The accreditation report indicated that Eastern has met all six standards for Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation, including candidate knowledge and skills; unit evaluation and assessment systems; field experiences and clinical practice; diversity; faculty qualifications, performance and development; and unit governance and resources.

Education Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith speaks at the press conference for Eastern's renowned TIMPANI study (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination)

Education Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith speaks at the press conference for Eastern’s renowned TIMPANI study (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination)

All Eastern teacher preparation programs, including bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, physical education, and secondary education, as well as graduate programs in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, educational technology and reading/language arts, are covered by the continuing accreditation decree.

Eastern has been preparing Connecticut’s teaching workforce since its founding in 1889, and its educational programs continue to be recognized in various national rankings. For instance, both the elementary and secondary education undergraduate programs are ranked in the top five in New England by path2teach.org; the secondary program is ranked in the top 10 nationally by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Other noteworthy accomplishments include Eastern’s leadership role in advancing diversity among the teaching profession through its partnership with the Holmes Masters Program, and a new partnership with Norwalk Community College to enable its students to leverage their associate’s degree to earn their bachelor’s degree in the area of early childhood education.

Education faculty are also making news, with Assistant Professor of Education Mark Fabrizi named editor-in-chief of “The Leaflet,” the journal of the New England Association of Teachers of English; and Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, professor and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Education, and Sudha Swaminathan, professor of early childhood education, awarded a Spencer Foundation grant for the project “The Relationship of Teacher-Child Math Talk During Preschool Play to Young Children’s Mathematics Learning.”

Other recent initiatives include two clinical practice partnerships with local school districts that include year-long, residency-based internships for Eastern graduate students seeking master’s degrees in education.

The residency internship is designed to reshape graduate teacher education by ensuring long-term, high quality clinical experiences for professionals seeking to become classroom teachers. Each intern works in an assigned classroom for a full academic year, while completing university coursework.

Both university and school district partners collaborate on supervision and curriculum to ensure that theory and practice are integrated. Graduate students also participate in school wide initiatives and demonstrate positive impact on student learning and the school community as a program outcome.

During fall 2016, an inaugural cohort of 10 was selected for placements in Coventry School District. The program was a success. Of participating school district teachers and administrators, 85 percent indicated that interns were able to positively impact the learning experiences for P-12 students, and 100 percent of district participants supported program continuation.

“The year-long residency internship adheres to national standards for university-school district partnerships for clinical practice,” said Jacob Easley II, dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies and Graduate Division. “We are certain that the profession will be transformed by partnerships such as this; and we are excited about expanding the program in Windham Public Schools during the upcoming academic year.”