UConn ECE News Briefs

 

By Carissa Rutkauskas

 

 

NACEP 2020 Connect 2020: The NACEP Digital Forum

Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director and Carissa Rutkauskas, Program Specialist for Outreach and Evaluation, presented “Pivoting to Online During COVID – Data and Trends” on October 26th for the annual national NACEP Conference: Connect 2020. Seventy attendees from around the country streamed the 40-minute session. The presentation touched on topics like communication strategies that foster a stronger community, solutions to common classroom problems, best and worst practices from the UConn ECE professionals, qualitative and quantitative student data, and UConn’s new practice of recording high school teachers and their lessons.
NACEP 2020 Accreditation Commission

 

On November 4th, Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director, presented at NACEP’s Accreditation Commission, and spoke about UConn ECE’s approach to accreditation standards. Familiar with the process, UConn ECE has been accredited with NACEP since 2007. UConn is one of 116 concurrent enrollment programs throughout the country that holds this distinction and the only program in New England.

 

 

NACEP 2020 Concurrent Enrollment Review
On November 5th, Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director, presented with colleagues Fabiola Juarez-Coca of Boise State University and Melanie Nappa-Carroll of Syracuse University on the much-anticipated peer-reviewed concurrent enrollment journal: The Concurrent Enrollment Review (CER). This peer-reviewed academic journal on concurrent enrollment, which is three years in the making, will be the first to offer educational professionals, researchers, and policymakers insight into this interdisciplinary model of education.

 

 

 

 

UConn ECE 101
What is UConn ECE? What courses are offered at my school? How much do courses cost? How does it differ from Advanced Placement? Answers to these questions and more can be found on our new UConn ECE 101 page. ece.uconn.edu/uconnece101/

 

 

Meet our Community
Who are the people of UConn ECE? Visit our newly updated “Meet our Community” page for insights from UConn ECE Students, Alumni, Instructors, Site Representative, Principals, and Faculty Coordinators. Complete the form to be featured on our website as well! ece.uconn.edu/meet-our-community/

 

 

Community Reviews
You can read reviews about restaurants and hotels before you go… here is your opportunity to read about UConn ECE before taking a course. Take advantage of this new program feature to discover first hand experiences of others, or complete a review to share your own UConn ECE experience: ece.uconn.edu/about/uconnecereviews/

 

 

Middle School Outreach

On November 25th , UConn ECE staff spoke with students at Mansfield Middle School for the third year in a row during their College and Career Readiness Day. Although we were unable to be in person this year, we were still able to interact virtually and play a dynamic game of UConn ECE and College Ready Jeopardy with the students. If you know of a middle school who would like more information on UConn ECE and outreach activities for their students, please contact us at ece@uconn.edu.

Teaching Genocide for Human Rights

By Glenn Mitoma

 

This past November marked the 75th anniversary of the opening of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which sought to bring to justice two dozen high ranking German leaders. Over 11 months, prosecution teams from the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, led by US Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Jackson, conducted a systematic autopsy of the Nazi’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. Alongside Jackson worked a young Connecticut lawyer named Thomas J. Dodd, for whom the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center is named. Jackson, Dodd and the other prosecutors at Nuremberg were attempting not only to convict the individual Nazi leaders like Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, and propagandist Julius Streicher, but also to present before the world the architecture of death and destruction we now know of as the Holocaust. The trial was an exercise in education as much as law, and many of the participants hoped that the lessons learned would help put the world on a path to peace and justice.

 

Seventy-five years later, the lessons of Nuremberg are as important as ever. In Connecticut, the General Assembly recently adopted a statute requiring education about the Holocaust and other genocides to be part of the social studies curriculum in every school district. Today, reflecting on the legacy of Nuremberg, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to teach about the Holocaust and genocide in a way that supports human rights.

 

Teaching and learning about the Holocaust and genocide, while important, can be fraught. By definition, these topics are traumatic and include episodes of extreme dehumanization, violence, and brutality. At best, students can find genocide difficult to comprehend; at worst, students can become traumatized (or retraumatized) in the face such material. Teachers, too, will grapple with the challenges of understanding and presenting age-appropriate learning materials about something so fundamentally inappropriate. Clear guiding principles and learning objectives, such as those provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, are essential.

 

Despite these challenges, the importance of learning about genocide and the Holocaust has never been greater. In recent years, rising authoritarianism, racism, and anti-Semitism have demonstrated that the building blocks of genocide exist in every society. At the same time, the spread of disinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories—often, like those targeting billionaire philanthropist George Soros, reviving anti-Semitic tropes—have found an all-too-eager audience online and in the real world. Effective genocide education can be on one important way of confronting these troubling trends and building a broader culture of human rights and democracy.

 

This semester, I piloted a new course for our Human Rights program, introduction to Genocide Studies. Designed as a critical, interdisciplinary, and practically engaged course, the learning objectives encompass areas of knowledge, values, and skills. These include:

 

• Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how and why particular genocides have occurred, with reference to the key historical, political, and social contexts.

 

• Students will analyze social and psychological factors that enable or constrain genocide.

 

• Students will apply their knowledge to the world outside the classroom to identify contemporary impacts or risks of genocide.

 

• Students will apply their knowledge to the world outside the classroom to commemorate, advocate against, or prevent the perpetration of genocide.

 

• Students will develop empathy for victims or targets of genocide.

 

• Students will foster the respect for diversity, common humanity, and justice.

 

The course materials, such first-person testimonials, primary source documents, documentary films, monuments and memorial, as well as scholarship, are selected to allow students to explore the ways historians, psychologist, lawyers, political scientists, and others have tried to understand genocide, and on what and how we can know about genocide as a human experience. Reflective journals, structured classroom dialogues, and an emphasis on supportive relationships are all used to try to avoid easy moralizing and distancing of genocide and to help students think about power and responsibility in relation to genocide perpetration and prevention. In the end, my hope is that the course is fundamentally anti-genocidal in that it pushes back against the frames of mind that makes genocide possible, and equips students with the ability to take action and contribute to or develop practical efforts commemorate, advocate against, or prevent the perpetration of genocide.

 

The design of this course follows not only recommendations for responsible teaching and learning about genocide, but also the basic tenets of human rights education (HRE). Rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the HRE framework emphasizes not only teaching about human rights as subject, but also teaching through human rights (i.e., pedagogical approaches that honor and uphold students’ dignity and humanity) and teaching for human rights (i.e., learning outcomes that make students better equipped to claim their own rights and respect the rights of others). For genocide education to avoid leaving students feeling depressed and disempowered, it needs to embrace the opposite of genocide: a vision of justice and humanity that teachers and students together can work toward.

 

Like the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the result of a post-World War 2 effort to come to terms with the legacy of violence, dictatorship, and atrocity that had characterized the preceding years. The UN Human Rights Commission, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, drafted the Declaration mindful, as the Preamble states, that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” But while Nuremberg provided the first autopsy of the horrific crimes of Nazi regime, the Universal Declaration provided a vision for how the world might build a more just, free, and equal world by centering “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Toward that end, the Commission not only recognized that the right to education was among those “equal and inalienable rights,” but that teaching and learning were at the core of how we would build that better future.

 

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. (emphasis added)

 

As we emerge from the forced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be much work to be done to address the devasting impacts it has had on our individual and collective lives. Among the things we can take from both the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that the path to a better future often begins with learning the lessons of the past. This includes confronting difficult truths and acknowledging accountability for violations of human rights. But it also includes articulating a vision of the future, rooted in shared values and fundamental principles, toward which we can work together. Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education are an important part of that work.

Registration Reflections: Holly Saad and Maureen Steinhoff Stonington High School

 

Registration for the 2020-2021 academic year created many new challenges for high schools and their students to navigate. At various points in the year, schools made the decision to move to remote learning and could only communicate with students through e-mail and video calls. This means that each school had to adjust how they helped students register for their UConn Early College Experience (ECE) classes. The article below highlights some of the creative ways that Site Representatives found success in helping students register for classes this year.

 

HOLLY SAAD – Site Representative (LEFT)
MAUREEN STEINHOFF – Site Representative (RIGHT)

We are honored to be featured in the Early College Experience Winter Magazine as the site representatives for Stonington High School. We are both school counselors and have been Site Representatives together for three years. Just when we felt we had the ECE registration process down, COVID-19 forced us into distance learning mid-March. This school year, we’ve been operating in a hybrid instructional model, splitting our student body into two cohorts. With little to no in person contact with students, we were forced to create new ways to communicate and follow through with our UConn ECE Students and families.

 

One procedural practice that we’ve always had in place that helped us tremendously during distance learning and the hybrid model is making deadlines for students about a week earlier than UConn’s deadline. This allowed us time to cross check rosters with applications and enrollment status reports then track down students that had yet to complete the process. “Tracking down” students looks different these days. We can’t always pull students from study hall (or class when we are desperate) if they are not in the building so we’ve been proactive with our frequent email reminders. We created email groups for UConn ECE Students and their Parents/guaridans. This was a time-consuming task, but well worth it with all of the deadline reminders, instructions and links to resources we’ve been sending. When email hasn’t been an effective way to communicate, we divide and conquer and call home. We’ve also utilized our daily morning announcements to remind students of deadlines and resources for assistance. The resources on the UConn ECE website have been super helpful! We share them with students often.

 

It’d be remiss of us not to thank Todd Blodgett for his help and accessibility throughout the registration process. In a typical school year, we would hold workshops to assist students with the process and Todd would join us to answer questions and expedite the process. During full remote learning in the Spring, we advertised and held a couple Q&A Google Meets to assist students. The Google Meet link was sent out to all of our UConn ECE Students and families encouraging them to join and Todd was there as well to assist. Communicating with our UConn ECE Instructors has been helpful as well. We’ve asked them to relay information to their students and we have even joined their classes to assist students with the process.

Thank you to all our Site Representatives who are working so hard to make sure our students are successful and have the support they need during these unprecedented times. We are all in this together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office if you need anything, and know that we are here for you year round.

The Heroes of Our Time

 

 

By Brian A. Boecherer

 

For those of you familiar with the EuroVision Song Contest, you may recognize the title of this new section of the UConn ECE Magazine as a refrain from the 2015 song contest winning song, Heroes. The phrase is used in other modern songs too, and naturally, for those who know Russian literature, it is nearly identical to a famous Mikhail Lermontov novel from 1840 — Hero of our Time. We are using this as a title to highlight members of the UConn ECE community who help promote social well-being, social cohesion, and improve the lives of others. They are everyday heroes who engage in current issues of our times — they are members of the UConn ECE community who provide leadership in the form of education, the arts, activism, and more. Their energy and interactions change lives in a personal way and offer us examples of how our engagement helps others, as well as ourselves.

 

Jane Yalof

UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Glastonbury High School
Singer, Mentor, Community Leader

 

"Think about what your own interests and passions are. Do what you want to do, not what others want you to do. Don’t worry about achieving leadership experience, that will come if you do what you love. If you are doing what you are passionate about, you will want to be a leader."

 

Jacob Skrzypiec
UConn ECE Instructor in Human Rights
Educator, Activist, Thought Leader

 

"We need to prepare students to be civically engaged, decent, educated, and paying attention. This is a response to the current political climate...We need students to practice human rights in the classroom and in their lives."

 

Fizza Alam
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Waterbury Career Academy
Proactivist, Thinker, Optimist, Community Educator

 

"Because of the pandemic, we all have the opportunity to stay inside our house and look outwards. This is true about our own person too. There are so many communities that are hurting. I want people to have a little bit of sympathy. Take away your own personal interests for a second and see if you can consider someone else’s and help them. Don’t do it because you want..."

 

 

 

 

Jane Yalof
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Glastonbury High School
Singer, Mentor, Community Leader

 

Young people need to understand that good leaders come with a host of other positive characteristics – humility, an adventurous spirit, and the ability to cultivate communities. Jane Yalof is such a leader, and her story is as impressive for a young adult as it is for a seasoned professional. Jane is active in a diverse array of activities at the University of Connecticut and is a leader in all of them. As she told me, she did not set out to be a leader, “it just sort-of happened”. And lead she does. Over her time at UConn, Jane has been active mentoring students, teaching mentoring to students, and continues to enliven female students as Music Director and singer in the all-female acapella group, Drop the Bass.

 

Jane is a UConn student who will be graduating Spring 2022 with a combined undergraduate and master’s degree in the Neag School of Education. She is light-hearted, bright, and has an optimism in society that has come from her deep engagement with it. Over the last five years she has seen how one person’s engagement can positively affect others. That’s how she started her activity as a mentor, by being mentored. Since then she has been actively involved as a mentor and teaching assistant through First Year Programs and through her involvement in Community Outreach. Jane engages in these community-oriented activities because her actions help others and teach others to help society in their own personal way. At the end of our hour-long conversation it is clear to me that Jane counts her successes in terms of the communities she fosters, the relationships she makes, and the tough conversations she helps other students have as a facilitator. It is impact on a personal level that counts. “[As a mentor and teaching assistant] we really created a safe space and helped students through tough issues. Many times, just by listening, and often by sharing our own personal stories. It is about learning to care for each other and protect each other.” Giving yourself to create a community makes you vulnerable, but it tends to make the community strong. Jane gives her time freely and extensively to help lead and educate others on the power of themselves.

 

In addition to her extensive mentoring and community outreach, which has also led her to a local elementary school as a tutor and to Alabama to engage on issues of racial injustice, Jane spends a great deal of time in the all-girl acapella group, Drop the Bass, where she serves as the Music Director and Vice President. “Do you get the name?” she asks me. “Drop the Bass – we are an all-girls singing group. ‘We don’t need no man’,” she says, with a joking lilt. This engagement, however, has become more than a creative outlet – it has become a community of young women who are interested in supporting young women and understand their layered identities, their power, and their impact on others. It is a community that works together to express important messages. As Music Director, Jane teaches music, runs rehearsals, supports others for voice parts, finds music to arrange (or arranges it herself) so the group of 16 young women can vote on what they will practice and perform for the community. “It is very girl-empowering, with a deep impact. It is about the singing, it is about enjoying what you are doing. It is about service too.” Their genre is female power ballads – “Cosmic Love”, by Florence + the Machine, and “The Village”, by Wrabel, (a gender power ballad) about a person who is transgender and their parents do not accept them yet. “The song is about there being nothing wrong with you. Rather, there is something wrong with them if they cannot come to you and ‘get’ you.” They are currently working on, “Don’t Worry About Me”, by Frances, which is dedicated to families and friends of those who lost their loved ones to COVID. It has not been easy working together during COVID, because they are working together at a distance, using Zoom. But they are recording their parts and working with another UConn student to synchronize it and make a video.

 

 

Jacob Skrzypiec
UConn ECE Instructor in Human Rights
Educator, Activist, Thought Leader

 

Talking with Jake about human rights and about making society kinder, smarter, and less polarized is anything but depressive. During the course of my interview, Jake makes me feel like I am the single most important person for making change happen. He is right, change starts with our everyday interactions with others. But indeed, in a climate where some politics has turned populist and daily human rights can be fragile, his words have a touch that unlock optimism and encourage a “benefit of the doubt” to others. What are we personally doing to make things better? Jake suggests that we should focus on what we can affect, make it better, and then reach a little bit further.

 

Jake (MA, UConn Neag School of Education, 2014) is a UConn ECE Human Rights instructor at Manchester High School (certified 2015) and is one of the founding figures in helping to develop a UConn ECE Human Rights program. Manchester High School (MHS) is unique in its vision of human rights as in June 2015, MHS made human rights a required course for graduation. Every student in Manchester has to take human rights, and with their five certified UConn ECE human rights instructors, most students are leaving the high school learning the “for and through” of human rights, but also walking away with UConn credit.

 

Jake mentions the for and through of human rights throughout our conversation. A brief explanation for us newbies: The Council of Europe succinctly explains that education is a right, but also a way for realizing rights, and we “put our rights and democracy into practice, and defend our rights and those of other people, if they are not respected – LEARN FOR THEM. Experience and feel the principles of human rights and democracy — LEARN THROUGH THEM.”

 

“How do we move kids and adults to think about the for and through? By practicing human rights in the classroom and in their lives.” For the last five years Jake has engaged in tempestuous issues with students to model and teach civility and open dialogue. Among other things, Jake teaches listening to others, even when you disagree, so that you may learn about what motivates others.

 

An important pivot point for Jake happened about three years ago. In his UConn human rights course, he had two students debating about transgender rights — both on opposing sides. The conversation got heated and turned into what he called a “bickering match”. Jake had to separate the students and administration got involved. Jake has reflected on that moment and says, “That anger, deep fear, and the unknown of someone else’s perspective struck me. Students are still developing and trying to learn, often as they speak.” But it struck him as being emblematic of society. “It is important to focus on the skills of communication, academic discourse, basic patience, and humility with our students so that they can be good adults.”

 

In addition to his work in the classroom, which includes teaching human rights at UConn in the summer for University of Connecticut’s College Access and Preparation Program (UCAP), Jake has been at the forefront of bringing human rights to social studies curriculum throughout the State and on the national level. It started when MHS gave him and his colleagues the latitude and encouragement to develop a human rights program for the school. But to do that well, Jake reached out to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the Connecticut Human Right Partnership — bringing organizations and individuals together for human rights advocacy. From there he helped to build the Human Rights Summit, which is a human rights workshop day for teachers, students, and the community. Then Jake, along with fellow UConn ECE human rights instructor, Chris Buckley (Brookfield High School), became the regional representatives for Human Rights Educators USA, to advance human rights education, advocacy, and opportunities on the national level. “It is a diverse organization, a powerful group,” Jake says bluntly and with pride.

 

Jake is also part of the leadership group in The National Council for the Social Studies, Human Rights Education Community, which works to promote human rights as an academic concentration in the high schools, and develop a new C3 social studies standard in human rights. “Four years ago [they] were more hesitant to embrace human rights education in K-12, but today that dynamic has completely changed. There is now a thirst for this curriculum to embed human rights into national social studies standards. There has been a cultural shift here.”

 

Circling back to the beginning, how does Jake stay positive and how does he help his students from turning morose in the face of historical and current atrocities?

 

“It’s hard; it’s not an easy task. We might be looking at a human rights violation — voting rights for example — and look at the history of suppression. We have to acknowledge there are screwed up things going on, but we also have to look at the positive work that is going on. Let’s focus on the accomplishments and the tools to make things better. It is important to give students tools to work at resolving issues.” It is also about self-care. Since COVID hit, Jake has been on over 70 hikes, not to lose himself or his connection with family and friends. “There still is positivity in the world. We need to focus on that too,” he says. He also invests time into writing. His recent article entitled, “A Ripple of Hope,” Media Voices for Children, Vol. III, explores how students are often more hopeful and ready to get involved than adults. “We need to build on youth voice. Support it, cultivate it. The kids get it,” he says with a smile in his voice. “Going to class every day, I love it, I can see hope in students’ eyes. They are engaged and excited about it. This is good stuff. We have to bring out that hope and optimism. That’s our job.”

 

 

Fizza Alam
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Waterbury Career Academy
Proactivist, Thinker, Optimist, Community Educator

 

...to feel better about yourself. ...That’s fine too... But there are people out there — our neighbors — who are cold, hungry, and in need. Be empathic about one thing and try to make local action. See how you can help one person and execute it to the end. I don’t know all the ways, but people are innovative – donate clothes, start a community garden in a food desert, mentor... If everyone did one thing, all the problems wouldn’t go away, but we would know that we live in a caring society. We can be in a better place together. These things are so simple I sometimes don’t feel like I can put it into words.”

 

Fizza says many times during our 90-minute conversation, “I am just like everyone else.” By the end of the interview her insistence that we all share the same characteristics of a generous spirit and care of others leaves me wondering about the different stages of how environment influences conceptual schema — thoughts progress to words and words to actions. In other words, how do we stand up and take action in what we believe. Fizza says that she is a product of good luck — good parents, good mentors, and environmental inequality. The combination has given her insights into how neighbors live side by side — how they help each other and what may happen if they don’t.

 

Fizza was born in Pakistan, from a family that was forced to migrate due to the partition of India in 1947, and migrate again in 2001 because of societal dangers. When she was a year and a half old, her family immigrated to the United States — Waterbury, Connecticut. She enjoyed growing up in Waterbury, where “neighbor helps neighbor,” but it wasn’t until she was in the tenth grade that she realized that her majority-minority city “had serious issues”. She was recommended and was accepted to attend the Global Leadership Institute at Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, just one town over. “I went into this gorgeous building, and the dining hall was filled with nutritious foods, the teachers had advanced degrees, and everything was totally different. I saw the differences.” Fizza saw the inequality and realized that access to opportunity — access itself — was what made the difference in a person’s life. “I don’t think kids should be put at a disadvantage because of where they grow up. Kids have aspirations and need access.”

 

Growing up, Fizza says, her parents were like her friends’ parents — they worked multiple jobs, sometimes 14-hour days — and Fizza, like her peers, would go home after school, take care of siblings and help around the home doing laundry and making food. She enjoys the diversity of Waterbury, although she admits that not everyone is welcoming of Muslims. She says it is because they don’t really know the culture. She recalled a situation that happened to her in kindergarten, when she was five, and had henna on her hands for Eid. “My teacher took me by the hands to wash them, forcibly, with soap and scolded me for “dirtying” them with marker. I couldn’t understand why and felt wrong.” It wasn’t until later that she realized it was a lack of education.

 

Since then she has made education and educational campaigns a central part of her approach to making change happen. In 2019 Fizza earned a summer internship with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, where she worked directly with the congresswoman in Waterbury. As a capstone project, Fizza organized a panel on immigration at Naugatuck Valley Community College. “Congresswoman Hayes really gives women of color an opportunity and a voice.” Fizza told me that Congresswoman Hayes bought a select number of tickets for her interns to join a fundraising dinner so they could see what that “other world” looks like and sit at the table with leaders like Nancy Pelosi.

 

“I have had such great mentors in life. I rolled the dice and got really lucky. If I didn’t meet these people, I would have been very different. So, I am grateful for all that I have. It is luck. Really good luck.” It has also been really good effort.

 

Fizza has continued her education and awareness campaigns with a large voter registration effort in partnership with Be (A)Part, a non-profit that supports youth involvement, engagement, and activism. Fizza has been working on advancing the issue of absentee voting since 2018, when she was also working on the Hayes election campaign. She sees absentee voting as an issue of access. “We need to expand the vote, because the elderly and low income [people] need greater access.” Be (A)Part reached out to her as she had positioned herself as the youth expert in absentee voting. She says she brought the perspective of an urban woman of color and could speak to how people were being left out because of where they lived and how they lived. As part of the campaign, Fizza was part of a voter outreach and suppression panel. “I love how you can take an idea and then do something with it.”As Fizza is slated to graduate this spring with a double major in political science and economics, she is making plans for her next steps. “I want to make an impact on my community. God willing, I will attend law school next fall. I am an American, and an immigrant, and a woman.” I am not sure where I want to go with that, but I am interested in the impact of law on war and on inequality. Many things go back to laws.” Fizza tells me more about the Sharia and how it is counter to most people’s modern perception of it. She explains how the Prophet, who she modifies with “upon him be peace,” explained that war takes things away from people – possessions, symbols, churches, meaning, people, concepts – and that there should be restrictions on how war is conducted. “I want society to better understand these concepts and expand them.”

 

Fizza’s philosophies are instructive and they help give perspective on how we can build a better society in our local community. She sees education as offering people access to see how things work and gives them the tools to help themselves and others. She credits her parents and her faith with these perspectives.

 

“I want to make an impact and help people. For example, the attorney general impacts our lives in so many ways that we never see. You need an education to figure out these things. If I make it through law school, I will be able to understand a new world and bring it back to my community. [Slight pause] I am here, and I don’t know when the next person like me will be in this situation, so I need to do it. When you focus on helping one person or one community, you can stay motivated and stay focused. I hope everyone can feel this way. Learn, and bring it back to your community. I don’t understand how this is a controversial way of thinking.”

The Director’s Thoughts

 

Welcome to the Winter edition of the UConn Early College Experience (UConn ECE) Magazine. I am happy to introduce this edition of the UConn ECE Magazine to you, because it also introduces a new approach to how the editorial board plans that the Magazine will continue for the future. This edition kicks off our vision of looking at our UConn ECE Community as a source of inspiration, positive change, and good work. We want the Magazine to engage with the issues of our time and show how our community is handling these issues. We want the Magazine to be a source of information, wisdom, and positive energy. The Magazine will continue to update our community on program changes, enhancements, and report important data. That part will not change. We are adding to the Magazine so that administrators, instructors, and students find useful examples of leadership and motivation. We want to tap into the richness of our community and reflect the best of what is going on as a guide to others. That said, we are not attempting to show inherent attribution – because they are UConn ECE, they are wonderful. Rather, the approach is, let’s all look at the successes of our UConn ECE community and let’s be inspired by their words and actions.

 

There is a great deal of research that suggests that the news we read influences our cognitive biases and mental health. Bad news reinforces the search for more bad news and confirms that all is going down the chute. We don’t want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there is no negative news; we want to be a positive source of information and discussion on what we can do about it. To that end, this edition of the Magazine will address issues of teaching and learning during COVID-19. Chris Malinoski, Ph.D., writes about moving biology labs to an online platform and Professors Glenn Mitoma and Alexia Smith write separately about teaching in the social sciences during a period when group inequality is evident in society. Four high school principals will lend us their voices and share how they are caring for their communities. We have also reached out to our community and are highlighting three “agents of positive change”. In addition, we have program statistics, the largest programs, the News Brief, and other interviews to keep you interested. Let us know your thoughts – we improve by listening, reading, and considering your words seriously. That is good advice for us all.

 

Thank you for being part of our UConn ECE community, and we hope you enjoy reading.

 

 

Brian A. Boecherer, Ph.D.
Executive Director

The Last Great Frontier in Concurrent Enrollment


By Brian A. Boecherer

 

For the last twelve years UConn Early College Experience (UConn ECE) has been pushing at the border of the last great frontier of concurrent enrollment – research. Not just best practices, but the production of theory and knowledge on concurrent enrollment. How does this innovative and sustainable model of education support student and instructor success? How does concurrent enrollment support student retention in higher education? How do we affect teaching and learning in low-income, urban, and rural areas? The questions are endless.

 

Concurrent enrollment has come of age; it is offered in every state and is even starting to move outside the United States. It is time to move the national agenda forward again. To this end, UConn ECE, Syracuse University, and Boise State University are collaborating to create a peer-reviewed journal on concurrent enrollment entitled the Concurrent Enrollment Review (CER).  This first peer-reviewed academic journal on concurrent enrollment, which is three years in the making, will offer educational professionals, researchers, and policymakers insights into this interdisciplinary model of education.

 

Preceding the CER is a UConn legacy of research in this area.  UConn ECE’s research agenda was first started in 2006 by Brian Boecherer, one year after he was hired as assistant director. At that time the office had mountains of data that it previously never had the capacity to comb through and analyze.  It took two years to construct accurate student enrollment records, credit counts, and read through the archives from 1955, when the program was established. During that period Brian traveled to every partner high school, along with many new schools, every academic year and had learned what the high schools needed to better support the program. By 2008 he became the first Director of Research and Development for the office.

 

Armed with historic data and qualitative assessments from countless site visits and student course evaluations, an ambitious agenda was set. Brian became an active presenter on the national scene with over 25 research presentations at national conferences and a smattering of keynote addresses.  He published in the first university press publication on concurrent enrollment (Syracuse University, 2016), and won a grant with his colleague Magdalena Narozniak to study concurrent enrollment transfer credit.  This publication specifically focused on how credits earned through UConn ECE transfer to other universities. It is still the largest study on the topic to date and resulted in the program’s nationally recognized Credit Transfer Database.

 

In January 2018 Carissa Rutkauskas joined the office to take the program’s data to the next level by translating program research into something more digestible to the public.  Carissa’s contributions to the research team has dramatically increased the high schools’ ability to access data, understand it, and present it to their communities. Carissa brought the Credit Transfer Database into the 21st Century along with important high school materials and data portals for the high schools. Carissa has become an active researcher in this area – in addition to overhauling of the program’s student course evaluations and the alumni one-year and four-year follow-up surveys, she is writing an article with colleague Kathrine Grant on the history and origins of concurrent enrollment. 

 

Over the last four years, UConn crossed the border into this last great frontier to instill more intentional ways. First, UConn ECE sponsored a research grant competition for UConn professors interested in concurrent enrollment that would lead to research, national presentations, and peer-reviewed publications. Associate Professor Scott Campbell (English) and Assistant Professor Michele Back (Education) both won grants to advance their research in this area. Dr. Campbell and many of his UConn ECE instructors were accepted to present their research at the 2019 National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention on the central role of concurrent enrollment in first-year composition.  Dr. Back produced a white paper with her colleague Joseph Dean on how concurrent enrollment effectively increases the recruitment and retention of high school instructors in critical need subject areas.  They are planning on developing their research into a future peer-reviewed publication. 

 

Photograph by: Mathew Henion (Last Great Frontier - Maine)

Since 2017 Brian has been presenting with colleagues from Syracuse University and Boise State University on the need to develop an academic journal that would attract researchers from all disciplines with an interest in concurrent enrollment. After two successful national presentations, we are moving forward with the Concurrent Enrollment Review.  The call for paper will be announced at the NACEP conference in St. Louis. Missouri in Fall 2020.  Brian Boecherer was named the Editor-and-Chief and Syracuse’s Dr. Melanie Nappa-Carroll (Assistant Director, Syracuse University Project Advance) was named the managing editor. Dr. Scott Warren, Associate Dean for Research Excellence at Syracuse University, has heralded the CER as a necessary publication in this emerging academic field. His endorsement comes with the full support of the Syracuse Library.

 

The CER has two distinct parts.  First, the CER will serve as a research bibliography, a clearing house, that collects the articles and abstracts of all previously published peer-reviewed articles and dissertations on concurrent enrollment. The CER has already hired a library scientist to start cataloging articles. After the initial cataloging, the Syracuse Library Artificial Intelligence (AI) system will scan all published peer-reviewed journal articles to further develop the CER bibliography clearing house. This clearinghouse will support researchers like Scott, Michele, Carissa, and so many others to develop their literature reviews and new veins of research. The second part of the CER is the journal itself, which will publish new peer-reviewed articles on concurrent enrollment. As the field is diverse, the journal’s editorial board will also be diverse and support the promotion and tenure of all professionals in this space. The founding board members have also decided to make the journal open-source, so information is available to all, regardless of location and background. 

 

UConn ECE sees this as the next step in its legacy of leadership and innovation.  UConn ECE was not only the first university to start offering concurrent enrollment in the nation; in 2000, UConn ECE was a founding member of the National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).  Following, UConn ECE helped create the New England Association of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. The CER is the next step in the program’s legacy of leadership and innovation and does the program proud to also be a founding member of the first academic journal on concurrent enrollment.

Rutkauskas and Grant Presentation Accepted at NEACEP Conference


By Carissa Rutkauskas and Kathrine Grant


The 2020 New England Association of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NEACEP) was to be held at the University of Rhode Island on May 29, with the theme of Barriers & Breakthroughs in Early College Programming; however the event was postponed due to COVID-19. Carissa Rutkauskas and Kathrine Grant’s presentation, CE in NE: History, Facts, and Stats to Communicate a Stronger, More Unified Future will have to wait until it is safe for people to once again travel, gather in groups, and appreciate the freedoms associated with a pre-pandemic lifestyle. While we will not be presenting at NEACEP this spring, we would like to share a glimpse of what we have been working on here.

The presentation is an overview of the challenges and barriers created by a lack of centralized, key programmatic features across the field and within specific programs—including marketing, data, and theory behind Concurrent Enrollment (CE)—and offers suggestions of for a centralized ideological strategy, organizing, professionalization, and strategic marketing as part of the solution.

Centralized ideological strategy. CE programs vary vastly by region, state, and even within states. A sample of differentiating variables include, but are not limited to: program name and terminology used, who teaches, where courses are taught, cost of program, matriculation status of the students, and programs hosted by two-year technical versus four-year institutions of higher education (IHE). The University of Connecticut’s original concurrent enrollment program, the High School Co-operative Program for Superior Students, was established in 1955 and laid the groundwork for its continuously operating program. In 1997, the National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs (NACEP) became the first, and to date, the only national accreditation body of its type. They, and organizations such as the College in High School Alliance, the Education Commission of the States, and independent researchers, have helped create a strong framework and standards for the idea of high school students taking college courses.
Essential to this agenda is an agreed upon, standard terminology. The U.S. Department of Education defines dual enrollment (DE) as students enroll in postsecondary coursework while also enrolled in high school.* NACEP defines CE as the subset of dual enrollment courses taught by college-approved high schools. Yet, not all programs or states employ the same language to describe the same process of accelerating secondary learning: a concurrent program in one state may be considered a dual enrollment in another. These seemingly straightforward definitions, unfortunately, have not established a precedent on name standardization at the state-level; the issue of naming and terminology is and are further exasperated with the use of dual credit and names and definitions unique to states and individual programs.

Equally essential is determining what CE is not. Standardized tests, such as the College Level Exam Placement (CLEP), Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) can be categorized as Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs), where credit is earned outside the classroom, or based off a single assessment, usually in the form of an exam. These and other PLAs are often mistakenly categorized with CE credit, for political, economic, or reasons of unfamiliarity with the differences. Clearly defining and communicating what CE is, including the parameters of instruction, location, and testing, is paramount to its continued success.

Organizing. NACEP, NEACEP (and other state NACEP chapters) have done amazing work in creating a more centralized and unified approach, but states without a strong statewide CE policy or legislation are often left fragmented. In Connecticut, for example, the brief amount of the State legislation on CE is vague at best and does not assign a name to high school students enrolled in college courses (regardless of where they are taking their course—at their high school or on their a college campus). Even as the home of the first concurrent enrollment program in the country, our State guidance is not well-defined, diminishes the strength of CE programs.

Of the 36 degree-granting undergraduate IHEs in the State, nearly all offer some type of college credit program or opportunity for high school students – whether it be CE, DE, PLAs, or another model. Unfortunately there is currently no accurate database or combination of internet search terms that would produce a complete list of these courses. To find all of the programs in Connecticut, you would have to combine a series of search terms—and you still might miss a program or two. States such as Utah and Vermont have comprehensive statewide policies in place and assign a specific and clear name to their programs. The lack of common language between and among states not only further obscures the prospect of comprehensive research or the likelihood students being able to maximize earning college credit while in high school—it also provides utter confusion. For example, Utah uses the term concurrent enrollment and Vermont’s choice is dual enrollment in state policy for programs in which a secondary school student can take a postsecondary course at the high school or IHE with IHE oversight. At UConn ECE, we would define this as a concurrent enrollment program—even though our program is only for students who take postsecondary courses at their high school.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) also does not completely accurately represent these type of programs. Although UConn ECE is the oldest and one of the largest programs in the country of its type, its CE impact is often overlooked. UConn ECE students are not matriculating college students, but rather non-degree students. This means they have the option of transferring their credits to a degree-seeking instruction (non-matriculated means that just because they are a part of UConn ECE and are taking UConn courses, they are not pursuing a degree at the University). UConn ECE is one of the nation’s largest programs, serving approximately 13,500 students annually, but these figures are often captured only at the institutional level and are missing from NCES databases or at the state level. Without organizing, and the consistency in language that comes with, the impact of programs like UConn ECE—from providing access to higher education to the many financial benefits for students—can be completely overlooked.

Professionalization. The sharing and dissemination of specialized knowledge and information in relation to CE programs through professional organizations not only safeguards and refines best practices but provides an opportunity for mutual enrichment and advancement. Organizations like NACEP and NEACEP do just this: from conferences to reaccreditation, they help to ensure quality in programs and continual improvement within the field. These organizations not only help maintain a sense of norms and offer a centralized ideological strategy through their research, advocacy, engagement, and community and comradery through networking and volunteering—they also often are involved in accreditation based on a shared set of standards.

Also key to communicating and challenging new studies, theories, and practices is a peer reviewed academic journal. The CE discipline is fortunate to have a small, but growing, number of organizations and researchers sharing this common purpose; but, the volume and support of research in CE is much less established from than other areas. Those involved with community colleges, for example, can be a member of the American Association of Community Colleges, as well as dozens of niche councils, alliances, and associations, with focus on topics such a specific demographic or geography. Institutional accreditation, at least in California, is conducted at the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), while institutions in the rest of the county fall under the auspices of regional accreditations who also serve 4-year institutions. Research is collected in publications that are independent and unbiased from the accreditor in peer-reviewed journals such as Community College Review and Community College Journal of Research and Practice.

To consider the impact of just one organization, take the discipline of English: English Language Arts educators across the pre-k-20 continuum can be a part of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), which is an overarching organization that supports the advancement of the field. This organization hosts an annual convention with specific strands for members with diverse interests. It also houses several academic journals (such as English Journal and College Composition and Communication), advocates for the field at local and national levels, and supports these efforts with coordinated research. NCTE also supports state affiliates, which mirror the national organization, and offers assemblies and groups that allow for specification and continued learning within a certain domain. These many, but unified, aspects of NCTE work in conjunction with one another to provide a coordinated, rich, and diverse engagement and learning network that moves the discipline forward.
CE is making strides in the area of a scholarly periodical with the much anticipated Concurrent Enrollment Review, a partnership among Syracuse University’s Project Advance, Boise State University Concurrent Enrollment Program, and UConn ECE (for more information, see The Last Great Frontier). The goal of this journal is to provide a specific coordinating body to solicit, distribute, warehouse, and support continued research into concurrent enrollment; this effort helps to enhance the continual process of legitimizing and professionalizing the field. CE has a national organization and national conferences. There are regional organizations to support the specific needs of areas within the country. Programs and organizing bodies have made coordinated efforts to advocate for the field, both inside and outside of the political arena. But these efforts do not reflect the full capacity of the field to provide professional development and enrichment opportunities for programs, create and distribute research on the impacts of CE, or advocate for programs and the experiences they provide for students.

Strategic marketing. Organizations like the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme (IB) are common household terms, but how many of you were aware of AP tests before you or your student went to high school? And how many were aware of concurrent enrollment opportunities? We would wager that it is a lot less of you in the second group. AP and IB have centralized and strategized their marketing campaigns—across the years and different educational contexts—to move their programs forward. Students know about AP tests (and about SATs and ACTs) and how important they are for secondary and postsecondary opportunities—yet, the impact of concurrent enrollment (which we would argue is greater since it provides an experience more analogous to post-secondary study as compared to a singular test) is so significantly less known.

To return to the many programs in Connecticut that use many names to communicate CE (or DE…or dual credit), the majority of marketing is either done from an IHE program to a high school, or solely the burden of an overworked high school staff. UConn ECE has made efforts to extend this marketing to younger students (such as through our partnership with the Connecticut Parent/ Teachers Association [CT PTA]) to provide students with more, and earlier, information about their secondary academic options. However, these efforts are local to our program and are not aligned with other programs within the state or with regional or national bodies. Two programs through the State of Connecticut’s Community College system, College Career Pathways (CCP), a national program funded through the Carl B. Perkins Career and Technical Improvement Act of 2006, and High School Partnerships Programs (HSPP), are somewhat more organized in presenting these options to students and families. Fortunately, some states with more developed policy do mandate early marketing coordinating these efforts. Centralized marketing, especially on the national level, would provide programs with a structure to continually extend the opportunities they provide to students and help to ensure that more students are aware—and able—to take advantage of CE opportunities.

In closing, coordinating marketing, organizing, and creating and participating in professional organization and activities across state and national levels can help establish a centralized ideological strategy that would help to extend and deepen the mission of concurrent enrollment. A programmatic unity would benefit individuals programs, it makes the experiences provided by concurrent enrollment more accessible and richer for the students and schools we serve. Enhancing, deepening, and extending learning for students is not just CE’s laudable pursuit: it is imperative work to prepare students for a complex, multifaceted, and ever-changing future. Sharing this in a unified and coordinated manner only extends our work.

UConn First Summer: The Transition to UConn


By Melanie Banks

 

How do students prepare for the transition to a university after graduating high school? There are many different ways and approaches a student can take. At UConn, incoming first-year and transfer students are able to receive academic and social engagement support through the UConn First Summer (UCFS) program. We are delighted to share the adoption of UCFS to the Office of Early College Programs as part of our mission where students can explore the transition to collegiate life prior to their first semester at college.

 

Students participating in UCFS take two General Education courses during the 5-week residential program, with the goal of providing participating students a strong start to their academic, residential, and social experience at UConn. Available courses include ANTH 1000, COMM 1000, ECON 1202, HDFS 1060, MUSI 1003, PHIL 1104, PSYC 1100, and SOCI 1501. But college is not all about academics! Students reside on campus with a roommate, have meals at the dining halls, network with campus departments, explore interactive activities, attend social and career development workshops, and make long-lasting friendships.

 

As one chapter closes, another begins. The months prior to becoming a Husky can be overwhelming, but we are here to help! The staff at UCFS partners with campus departments to ensure students feel prepared and have resources available to take on their undergraduate career.

 

Registration 2020-2021


By Todd Blodgett

 

As colleges, universities, and K-12 education moved to distance learning due to school closures, UConn proved to be no different. With the conclusion of the 2019-2020 academic year, UConn Early College Experience (ECE) moves into the new registration year. Our program has made some adjustments to our application in order to better accommodate students who are applying while physically away from their high schools.

 

1. Students do not need to obtain a Site Representative or school counselor signature on their consent form. High schools will confirm student enrollment in the Fall.

 

2. There will be no additional $25 administrative fee for students who cannot apply before June 30th and need to apply in the Fall.

 

While the Spring 2020 semester was not what our students expected, we are excited to get everyone back in classrooms and engaging in our UConn ECE courses soon. Please continue to monitor your e-mail, our website (ece.uconn. edu), and our social media platforms for registration news. Students should continue to engage with their school counselors about taking UConn courses through Early College Experience.

 

Have a great Summer and we look forward to collaborating with you this Fall as we begin a new academic year!

2020 UConn ECE Professional Recognition Awards Moves from Ceremony to Show

 

 

 

 

By Carissa Rutkauskas

 

UConn ECE faculty, staff, and award winners look forward to the annual Professional Recognition Awards Ceremony each year. They enjoy an elegant sit-down dinner, serenaded by a trio of UConn jazz ensemble students, celebrating a successful academic year by recognizing outstanding instruction and administration for the UConn Early College Experience Program. This year it would have been on Tuesday, April 28 in the Gallery of the Jorgenson Center for the Preforming Arts. Things did not quite go that way.

 

As high schools began closing in early March, first for 2 week, then for longer, the University told college students not to return to campus from Spring Break; faculty and staff began working remotely; and the opportunity to honor those nominated by their students and colleagues was not going to happen in person. So, we embraced technology and the good nature of the award recipients and went online. The prerecorded 2020 UConn ECE Professional Recognition Awards Show premiered on Monday, May 4 with a private screening on the UConn ECE YouTube channel. Friends, relatives, students, and colleagues were able to watch and interact with the 25-minute production. Eleven award recipients, 7 staff members, and 1 faculty member had submitted video footage that was then edited together by Austin Gao, Digital Media and design student, to create a memorable evening for all.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the 2020 winners:

Award Name School Discipline
Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership Scott Campbell UConn English
Principal Award for Program Support & Advocacy Thomas Moore Wethersfield High School Principal
Site Representative Award for Excellence in Program Administration Alicia Melillo Cromwell High School School Counselor
Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction Eric Bosley Plainville High School European History
Angela Brower RHAM High School Latin
Libbi Intemann Trumbull High School Philosophy
Geoffrey Kern Edwin O. Smith High School Statistics
James DeCesare The Master’s School Drawing
Sarah Tibbetts Daniel Hand High School Chemistry
“Rookie of the Year” Award for Excellence in First-Year Course Instruction Carla Toney Newington High School Italian and French
Jan Pikul Award for Continued Excellence in Instruction William Schultz Enfield High School Chemistry