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AP professor shows how Prezi enriches teaching

Jamie Kleinman

Jamie Kleinman

By JOSHUA WHITNEY

Students and teachers have always had difficulties communicating ideas. Both rely heavily on the PowerPoint format despite its limitations. But Jamie Kleinman a psychology  professor at Avery Poin, has been using a new format to teach her classes called Prezi that  teachers  and students are finding much more effective..

Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software which allows users to zoom in and out of their presentation media. While PowerPoint is more linear in how information is delivered,  Prezi is more like  having a giant whiteboard with all the information except you can also zoom in and highlight parts of the board.

Kleinman herself has been named a member of the Prezi Educator Society. The society is an exclusive program for innovative educators around the world. The goal is to create and implement action plans for advancing engagement in their classroom and academic communities through the use of Prezi.

“Definitely more people should use it”. she said in a recent interview.

Kleinman first discovered Prezi when one of her students showed it to her.

“I was teaching Intro to Clinical Psych in 2012 and one of my students showed it to me thinking I would love it”.

She said she  became hooked on Prezi.

“I was three lectures from the end and I never used PowerPoint again I switched immediately.”

It has many advantatgs, she said.

“It’s in the cloud and so my students can access it outside of the learning management system at any point. Which means that even if they finish the class they can still have access to the information. It’s also really great for them if their doing group projects because its cloud-based. They can work on it together even if they are in different places.”

Another benefit has to do with the  the way you convey the information.

“It’s a canvas-based system instead of a PowerPoint, which is kind of linear. So the way Prezi works you just put all of your components and text and videos and everything on a canvas. And so I think that it is really helpful for students to get very big picture ideas of things so I’m helping them organize their understanding.”

Another advantage of Prezi, she said is the zoom-and-pan function.

“It reinforces this notion of here is a topic we are going to go inside of it, we are going to go in to it. If I want to go in and change something on the Prezi it is much easier than a PowerPoint. For Prezi all I have to do is go to the Prezi in the cloud make the change and the students have access to the change instantly. With PowerPoint I would have to take down the old version, make the change then upload the new PowerPoint”.

She said  Prezi maintains the flow of the class much more smoothly.

“With Prezi I am able to go between ideas with little time wasted as I can go directly to the information as opposed to PowerPoint where I would have to backtrack through all the slides to find the right slide which disrupts the flow of the class.” \

Prezi videos can be accessed within the Prezi without leaving the Prezi, she said.

She acknowledged there also are drawbacks.

“There is a very small segment of people that (get) nauseous to watch the shifting.

It’s not as effective for people who are linear thinkers, she said.

But the biggest problem is learning how to use it.

“There is a learning curve to using it. To become proficient in Prezi probably took two years.” On the other hand, she said, it’s easier if you’ve already used PowerPoint.

“I had existing lectures in PowerPoints that I was just migrating over so Prezi has a way to do that. Then there were new courses I would still make in PowerPoint and then import. And now since 2014 I don’t use PowerPoint at all.”

Kleinman said students seem to like it.

“I have never gotten negative feedback about Prezi.”

She noted  how Prezi engages the students and while she never took attendance she noticed that her classes were full.

“On the student evaluation surveys no one has said anything negative about Prezi. In fact most comments are about how the enjoyed Prezi”.

One student had noted that it was easier to find information from the presentation without scrolling through the whole thing..

Due to the fact that Kleinman is not only a user of Prezi, but as a member of the Prezi Educator Society , an advocate. She leads workshops here and at Storrs. This workshop is also not limited to just teachers as students as well to maximize those who would use Prezi.

 

 

 

 

 

Madeus takes leave of a job with the best view anywhere

joepic

Joseph Madeus in his office overlooking Fishers Island Sound Photo by Greg Stone

By JOSEPH BRACHAS

Joseph Madeus departs this summer  from his position as interim director at Avery Point pleased with what’s taken place under his direction in the year since he took office, and slightly regretting that wherever his career takes him he’s not likely to have the view from his office that he has now.

Madeus discussed his year at Avery Point in his office on the second floor of Branford House. Behind his desk is a panoramic view of Fishers Island Sound.

He will leave he campus in August to assume responsibilities as associate dean of the NEAG School of Education at Storrs.

“(I’m going to miss Avery Point) Tremendously, I mean, you know addition to the view, and the physical location of the campus, and the people, students and programs are outstanding,” he said.

“It’s  a very tight- knit community. There are many people (staff) that are dedicated to this campus and to the students and each other which is making it very tough to leave.” he said.

Madaus, who had been considered for the fulltime position of campus director, will return to his roots in education.

Before  becoming the campus director,he  was professor in the Educational Psychology Department of the NEAG School and director of the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disabiloity.

He acknowleged during an interview  it was a big change taking on the administration of the branch, but thinks it has benefited him in the work he will do.

“Certainly moving from Storrs to a regional is a big shift in itself, but then moving from a primarily faculty role with some administrative duties to all administrative duties was a lot more work in terms of supervision, decision making, but I think the shift went smoothly.”

“A lot of the job (at NEAG) is the supervisor experience in terms of working with staff, setting goals and agendas for what direction you would like to go in  have much more experience now” Madaus had said. The leadership role he has held for the last academic year has prepared him for his future at the main campus.

Madeus said he is proud of his time at  Avery Point, and that  he and his supporting staff were able to make significant strides for the campus.

“I think that it has gone well, I think it we have accomplished a couple of university-wide initiatives that were important for the university and we were able to get them rolling for the campus. We also were able to accomplish a couple of things locally that will help the campus moving forward.” Madaus said.

“I think that I provided strong and firm leadership where people were valued for their work and for being a part of this community.”

Even the students of Avery Point are able to notice all of the changes as well. Over the course of the academic year, the common schedule and Friday course had been implemented into the system.

 

“Avery Point was the first of all the regional campus to implement this new system,”  he said. Though Friday classes were not universally popular on campus, , it is one of the decisions Madaus said he  needed to make to help develop this campus.

“We instituted this parking policy, again not a popular policy but something we had to do.” This is something that many students are aware of, especially those who neglected to purchase a parking pass and find orange envelopes on their windshields every day.

“Another unpopular thing we have had to do is deal with the closing of the art gallery so we have collaboration going with the School of Fine Arts to deal with that. Not only deal work with the transition of closing the gallery down but what it will look like in the future.” The gallery  will be closed this summer, and the search to figure out what will occupy the space has begun.

One of the last and biggest  of the unused  Coast Guard buildings on campus came down during his time here and work has begun to turn the site into a campus green.

This followed years of lobbying and was set into motion under his direction.

Though the final phases of the landscaping haven’t begun, he said, “At any time now they should be getting back on campus and completing the green space.”

 

In an earlier interview, Madaus had  predicted that the new green e along with the new student union would help recruit  students to Avery Point.

Madaus has also begun the process toward celebrating the campus’s 50th anniversary next year.

“We’re setting the stage for the 50th anniversary of the campus, which will be exciting for the community that supports us.”

The search for a Joseph Madaus’ successor is underway. Applications for the position were due April 29.

“The goal is to actually get a full-time director in by the summer, not an Interim and that’s the plan, sometime in July or early August.”

But, that won’t cut his ties with the campus completely. When asked about his role on either prepping the next director or if they will just dive right in, Madaus commented, “A little bit of both, depends on how quickly the process will take and I will do what I can to help transition that person.”

Madaus’ said he has no regrets from his year here..

” This has been wonderful. It’s been a fantastic year and a very difficult decision in leaving. I very much thought that I would be here for four years and this opportunity presented itself at Storrs and it was a very difficult decision to leave this beautiful campus and amazing community because I have enjoyed my time here so well.”

 

 

Get used to it: Friday classes are here to stay

steve

Steven Park blocking out schedule for Spring of 2017 Photo by Greg Stone

C.J. LEINDECKER

While UConn’s new common schedule and attendant Friday classes stirred up a controversy and caused some inconveniences and griping, faculty and students at Avery Point are learning  to live with it and it’s here to stay.

That is the conclusion of a survey taken here as the new system concludes its first semester, according to Steven H. Park, the director of academic services. Students and faculty were asked to complete a qualtrics survey, to see how the campus body was reacting to the change. Aside from more commuting and the fact that Friday has become a school day once again, the change has been relatively positive and beneficial, Park said.

The real issue and cause for the addition of Friday classes didn’t originate at Avery Point at all. After receiving complaints from the students at the main campus at Storrs, a common schedule task force began looking at the issue.

It found that excluding Friday as a school overcrowded the school schedule.

There was not a lot of time for getting from one class to another, Park explained. The task force found that in order to spread out the classes and create more time, they would need to schedule classes on Friday.

“Three more meeting times [on Fridays] opens the schedules,” Park says. With scheduling classes to meet for 50 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, three more blocks are opened.

Still, not everyone at Avery  Point is overjoyed having Friday classes.

For example, the Friday classes disrupted the baseball teams routine, according to Athletic Director Roger Bidwell.

“We used Fridays all the time for games, classes won’t make it as easy to schedule on Fridays,” he said.  The baseball team used Fridays as another weekend day and traveled. Now that players have classes they are unable to miss on Fridays, it is difficult for the team to travel.

Christopher J. Caprio, a player, said he  struggles juggling baseball and school on Fridays..

“I come late to Friday practices, but I’m not missing a game he said. That means missing class. Another issue is the fact that the Avery Point campus is a commuter school.There are no dormitories. Many students live in the vicinity and have jobs. They work after classes and previously on Fridays, but with classes on Fridays they are losing that day of work.

Student Kali M. Money pays for her own tuition and works on Friday.

“Luckily I was able to create a schedule without Friday classes. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to work and pay for tuition.”

Teachers, particularly adjuncts who teach at other campuses, also say they have run into problems.

Rebecca Troeger of Avery Point, an English professor,  said although the class on Friday doesn’t interfere with another  teaching job, “it definitely creates more traveling for me and my students.”

Students  who commute over an hour are questioning if  it’s really worth the drive. Given most of them pay for their own gas, and previously worked on Fridays, the common schedule can be a drawback.

There is a way to avoid this issue and some teachers have opted for this alternative to Friday classes. They have the option of having a hybrid class which is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class but one of the meeting times can be online. Susan McGuire , who teaches drama, has chosen this course.

“It’s not more difficult for me. If I couldn’t do hybrid classes, I wouldn’t be able to teach at another university. The hybrid classes save me…”

Even with a hybrid class, the other two meeting times are a shorter. This is taking teachers who are used to the traditional longer 75 minutes, some time to get used to. McGuire said she’s struggling to fit in her usual acting exercises and lessons into a shorter period.

On the other hand she believes that having the Friday class online has helped her students integrate the class material and text book to real stage performances.

“It creates more work for me and my students, but it benefits the learning process,” McGuire stated.

Another benefit of the common schedule throughout the university is the increased use of distant learning synchronous classes. A synchronous class is a live feed from a professor who is not in the classroom, either at home or on another campus

During a synchronous lecture students can interact with the professor and be called on, just as if the teacher was there in person. The common schedule is necessary for synchronous classes because it allows for all UConn campuses to be on the same schedule.

Synchronous  classes are new to Avery Point and there is only one classroom equipped with the technology. Classroom 309 can be used as a normal classroom or can be used as a synchronous class at any time. With the growing popularity of the synchronous lectures, more classrooms may  be equipped with the technology, Park said.

Ironically, Avery Point hasn’t faced the crowded schedule problem that led to the new policies, Park said..

“Our estimate is we could fit around 1,000 students in this building, so we’re not there yet.” Park stated. With 595 undergraduate students attending Avery Point, the scheduling of classes hasn’t been a problem

Friday classes are here to stay, and they are growing in numbers, he said. He’s  already scheduling for the spring semester of 2017, and they are expecting the number of Friday classes to increase from the current 21 offered this semester.

“My goal is to balance out the schedule. We, we want to get the Tuesday-Thursday lunch period back, which means moving more classes to Monday, Wednesday, Friday.” Currently Tuesday and Thursday’s are back-to-back classes throughout the day and Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are relatively quiet.

Plans are even the week out in upcoming semesters which means adding more classes to Fridays.

“Nobody is talking about undoing it, or going back to the old schedule, Park said.

 

 

The proud dad behind one of MLB’s most watched players

newharvey

Coach Ed Harvey adjusts Avery Santos’ batting stance Photo by Mike Milius

By MIKE MILIUS

“He’s probably the most focused guy I’ve ever met,” observed Avery Point assistant baseball coach Ed Harvey  as he gazed across the field at Groton’s Washington Park, the Pointers’ home field. However.

Harvey was not referring to a Pointer. He was talking about his son Matt, the all-star pitching ace for the New York Mets.

If you are a student at Avery Point, you have most likely walked past Matt Harvey’s dad without even knowing. He rarely talks about his son, despite the fact that the son is one of the best -known athletes in America. It’s an indication of Matt’s celebrity that he’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice in in the last couple years.

Matt has pitched in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and in this past fall’s World Series, but his father is modest about how Matt’s success has made his life and story one of the most distinctive  in all of sports.

The Harvey family is from Mystic, and Matt began his standout career at Fitch High School in Groton, under the instruction of his father. By the time he reached his senior season, he featured a mid-90’s fastball and ultra-smooth mechanics, both of which can still be seen today. This caused scouts to flock to Fitch, to see Matt work his craft.

“The pros were the hardest part,” says Ed, “It got to a point where I had to set up an email system to inform all 30 MLB teams that Matt would be pitching. There were 60 scouts at every game.”

With the attention came pressure, but Matt’s iron-horse mentality helped him become a projected first-round pick in the 2007 MLB draft.

The Harveys grew up as Yankee fans, and on draft day, the Yankees held the last pick of the first round. Ed received a call earlier that day from a Yankees scout saying, “If he’s still on the board, we are going to take him.”

He was still on the board when the Yankees instead selected Andrew Brackman with their pick.

“We were all very disappointed,” commented Ed on his family’s reaction that night.

“After the first round was over, Matt had left the house and I went into the backyard. I was pretty ticked off.”

The Los Angeles Angels selected Matt in the third round, 118th overall. They offered him a signing bonus of $1 million. Matt told the Angels that he felt he was worth two million. Neither side budged.

“Two days later, we were on our way to (the University of) North Carolina…he was going to college.” The whole Harvey family respected Matt’s decision, knowing the giant risk that came with it.

By NCAA rules, collegiate baseball players must wait until after their junior season to be drafted again. This meant Matt, and all of his talents, had to make it through three more years healthy to have another chance at the MLB.

“You can’t call the MLB, they call you,” commented Ed.“You always want your kid to have that opportunity. He gave that opportunity up, and a lot of money, but Matt felt that he could continue his success through college.”

Matt’s confidence did him well, as he won 22 games for the Tar Heels in his three years at Chapel Hill. With the 2010 draft approaching, Matt was once again projected to be a first rounder.

With the seventh overall pick, the New York Mets drafted Matt Harvey.

“They were all after him, but the Mets needed pitching, and they had a new, bigger park as well, so everything was set for them to take him,” recalled the father.

Matt entered the Mets’ minor league system and rose up the ranks exactly as they expected him to, allowing him to make his big league debut on July 26, 2012 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Both Matt and Ed were honored at the opportunity, despite the inevitable butterflies. Matt would get the win, striking out eleven batters over 5.1 innings pitched.

“I never question him on pitch selection or sequence, but I watch his mechanics all the time.”

Ed has received text messages from Matt before the Mets game has even ended, asking what he did wrong. This shows the complete dedication by Matt to be the best pitcher in the world.

He has been called the best pitcher in the world before, but New York City has not taken it easy on Matt. He missed the entire 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, a reconstructive procedure involving the UCL in a pitcher’s throwing elbow. It took Matt 17 months to reach the mound again.

There was also a large debate about how many innings Matt could throw in the 2015 season, and Ed recalls, “That’s all they cared about. They didn’t care about him or his career, just how many innings he was going to throw.”

Matt is most notably known for his performance in Game Five of the 2015 World Series, in which he pitched eight spectacular innings, but would give up the lead in the top of the ninth in a game where the Kansas City Royals were crowned World Champions.

This was extremely nerve-racking for Matt’s family, but it was most obvious in his father. The mechanics that Ed had built, all the work he and Matt put in, came down to that moment in Citi Field in front of 45,000 fans chanting “HAR-VEY HAR-VEY.” Ed didn’t join in on the chant. He knew Matt shouldn’t have been out there for the ninth inning.

Mets manager Terry Collins told Matt he was done after the eighth inning. Matt said, “No way.”

He sprinted out to the mound for the top of the ninth, to a massive uproar.

“Would I have taken him out?” Ed asked. “Absolutely! He was over 100 pitches, and his track record at that number of pitches isn’t that great.”

Matt was not happy after that game, despite pitching some of his best baseball to date. The focus he has doesn’t allow him to be complacent with just playing in the World Series.

“He’s the type of guy where if he doesn’t pitch well, he doesn’t want to talk to anybody,” said Ed, speaking from experience.

Without a doubt, Matt’s biggest fan is his father. There is an unbreakable sense of admiration between the two.

Pride is Ed’s go-to word when talking about Matt.

“The ability to go out there all the time and compete at a high level and never fall below the level of competition is truly amazing.”

None of this is hard for Ed. He and his family, including Matt, love every second of the experience, and it is safe to say that they will have plenty of time to soak it all in.

 

 

 

AP faculty finds its voice in revived assembly

helen

Helen Rozwadowski UConn file photo

By MACKENZIE RAFFERTY

What happens in the absence of a mechanism [for faculty governance], is that anybody who wants to know what the faculty thinks just asks the closest faculty member they can find, and that opinion gets taken as representative in some way… its better to have a mechanism so that if anybody who is making a decision that might have an impact on curriculum and teaching should have a way of finding out what the faculty thinks and how they would decide without  relying on random opinion.”

                                                                                                                 — Helen Rozwadowski

 

The UConn Avery Point faculty, in an attempt to gain a stronger voice in university decision-making, has voted to resurrect a faculty assembly.

Members voted nearly unanimously to approve the bylaws for an assembly in an online ballot.

A faculty organization has been absent on campus since the faculty senate, and an alternative online platform, fell into disuse in 2005. The decision followed several meetings earlier in the year to consider such an organization in response to complaints about decisions from Storrs.

The first meeting occurred in January. Matthew McKenzie, assistant professor of history and American Studies coordinator at Avery Point summoned the initial meeting said  faculty had complained about having been left out  in decisions that affected the campus.

One had to do with the fact that directors of satellite campuses no longer had the authority to call off classes due to inclement weather. Other members interviewed expressed frustration with what they described as centralization in decision making at the main campus and wanted to see more autonomy here.

McKenzie noted that the interim campus director, Joseph Madeus was open to the idea of faculty governance in organizing and deciding on the campus’ academic mission.

“I saw this as an opportunity, it seemed like a constructive way to channel faculty frustration and also provide a tool for the director to defer to.”

About 30 members of the acting faculty attended the meeting in January. They agreed to the need for more faculty governance..

The product of the early winter meeting was the decision to create a drafting committee to create and outline bylaws for the new representative body. Associate professor of history, Dr. Helen Rozwadowski, and political science professor Richard Cole were two members of the drafting committee.

“There was a very strong sense at the meeting that everybody there felt very strongly that we should have some sort of body for faculty governance,” Rozwadowski said. “. Everybody acknowledged that the faculty assembly existed but we couldn’t find any bylaws.”

Rozwadowski, who had a role in the dormant faculty senate, volunteered for the drafting committee, despite being on sabbatical. Rozwadoski said she saw the importance of the issues and wanted to make sure that the organization was robust and well organized.

While Cole stressed he does not want a role in the governing body, he noted that one of his primary objectives is “more autonomy for us—we have more of a chance if we’re united.” Ultimately, Cole would like to see the faculty assembly as “a way to have a voice with the current administration.”

McKenzie agrees with r Cole. While he was unsure of the impact the assembly would have on Storrs, McKenzie said, “if we don’t organize, there is no chance we have any influence on policy.” With organization, McKenzie believes the faculty has a greater chance of being heard.

Similarly, Rozwadowski stressed the importance of a faculty voice.

“What happens in the absence of a mechanism [for faculty governance], is that anybody who wants to know what the faculty thinks just asks the closest faculty member they can find, and that opinion gets taken as representative in some way… its better to have a mechanism so that if anybody who is making a decision that might have an impact on curriculum and teaching should have a way of finding out what the faculty thinks and how they would decide without  relying on random opinion.”

It appears members agree to the need for a faculty voice with the administration and campus, it isn’t that this platform should be used.

McKenzie hopes that the assembly will focus on academic issues and serve as a platform for faculty members to discuss how marine science, maritime and other programs on campus relate to each other.

When asked if the assembly would serve to solely handle academic issues or address some of Storss’ decisions, McKenzie said he hoped both would be the case.

. “There’s no way they [Storrs] could see some issues in our perspective,” McKenzie noted. McKenzie believes that even if an assembly does not have a direct impact on policy decisions, it could still serve as a constructive way to communicate issues felt on a larger scale.

Overall, McKenzie wants the assembly to be a small group that can act as a filter for more mundane issues and bring about communication, agendas, and votes on major issues. He believes the assembly should focus on “managing a consultative process not about wielding power.”

Rozwawdoski would like to see this assembly enhancing the maritime and marine programs. As a professor of maritime history, Rozwadowski mentioned that when she first came to Avery Point the administration had a different focus.

When I was hired the upper administration was actively cultivating the regional campuses to each develop their own identities…in a way that was intended to have the university benefit from the distinctive strengths of each campus.” Rozwadowski feels as if this strategy is being “dismantled and the maritime focus is shifting.”

“if UConn wants to increase its national and international reputation, it would cultivate Avery Point as a maritime and marine science center. I don’t think that means we have to get rid of other stuff [academic programs].” While Rozwadoski hopes to revert the academic focus of Avery Point back to marine studies, and McKenzie would like to see other academic programs stressed, they both agree that there must be a forum to discuss such issues and create a voice on them.

While the nature of the assembly would be consultative, faculty members hope for a large online  presence. The bylaws instruct that motions will be identified at meetings and voted upon by the membership electronically. The requirement of physical presence is “out of date and a logistical impossibility with so many faculty members strewn all over the state and world,” McKenzie noted.

The new bylaws, stipulate the name, purpose, membership, office rules, meeting guidelines, voting processes, and rules for adoption and amendments. They also specify the purpose of the assembly, which is “to provide a forum for discussing, formulating, and representing faculty perspectives, views, and responses to issues of concern to the faculty of the Avery Point Campus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UConn fine arts dean wants to restore studio arts to AP

deanBy CHRISTINE FOSTER

UConn Dean of Fine Arts, Anne D’Alleva says she’d like to restore studio arts to the curriculum at Avery Point and add other arts enhancements to the campus.

This comes in the wake of a petition drive to reverse a decision to close the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art,  which operates in the Branford House. The decision to close the gallery was made by the Provost’s Office,  which eliminated the position of the gallery director in order to save the university about $94,000.

University spokesperson Stephanie Reis said the university has been facing economic challenges and tough decisions have had to be made.

“Enrollment has grown by 41 percent. Over the last seven years combined cuts have amounted to a loss of $139 million in funding. In order to meet those kinds of cuts we’ve eliminated positions that are not essential to the academic experience.”

D’Alleva and Vice Provost Sally Reis received about 50 letters from artists and patrons who oppose the decision. Gallery supporters also created a petition on Change.org.

A petition containing  more than 1,000 signature reads, “For 24 years, the Gallery has served as a cultural nexus for the campus and region, attracting thousands annually from on and off campus. The Provost’s plan would eliminate the Gallery and its collection, terminating all related arts programming.”

The petition goes on to ask the provost to reconsider the elimination of the gallery director, and to keep the position at least on a part-time basis.

In an email response to the petition, which as of April 24 had 1,030 signatures, Reis said, “We remain supportive of the arts but cannot reconsider this decision in light of the cutbacks in our state funding.”

The scheduled closure of the gallery this summer has left many wondering about the future of arts at Avery Point. The Provost’s office asked D’Alleva to step in to rethink the artistic programs on campus. The dean recognizes the loss of the gallery is a painful one, but is hopeful about the future.

“I understand this is a time of change and loss and that’s really difficult, but I think together with the faculty and staff and with a more collaborative relationship with the school of fine arts that we can build some very special and very distinctive initiatives.”

She offered  three ideas for engaging Avery Point students with the arts.

One is to reintroduce studio art courses, which were discontinued eight years ago. D’Alleva said this is a way to have the arts on campus and work toward degree completion both of which would benefit a number of students.

“Any students interested in the minor or major in studio art could get it started or students who just want to take an art class with the credits they have available could do that.”

Also, exhibitions of student-generated art would serve to enrich the campus.

D’Alleva would also like to see the performing arts take hold at Avery Point.

“One of the nice things on the Storrs campus is we have a very rich array of ensembles that all students can participate in. Avery Point is little so it is hard to do something instrumental because you never know if you are going to have the right combination of instruments, but we could have an Avery Point Chorus.”

D’Alleva said that chorus could be a credit bearing class, giving students an opportunity for creative expression while also working toward degree progress.

“The other thought I had, and Avery Point has been very receptive to this, is an ensemble in residence program.”

The plan is to have one of the student ensembles from the Storrs campus perform any programing they have prepared at the regional campus as well, and supplement those performances with additional events such as classroom visits, lectures, or conductor talks.

“So that some of that wonderful concert programing we have at Storrs then becomes available at the regional as well.”

D’Alleva said she believes that any resource or student experience that is available at the Storrs campus should also be available to students on regional campuses, and that the ensemble in residence program would help achieve that.

The reaction from students interviewed on campus was mixed.

Sophomore Matt Moreau said, “I love art, but I am not an artist. I don’t think I would take any of those classes.”

Freshman Mary White also emphasized that she is not an artist, but she said that wouldn’t stop her from taking a studio art course.

“I think it could be fun, and I like to balance more difficult classes with something a little less demanding.”

Jewell Jones is a part-time general studies major who balances her time between her courses, her family, and her full-time job. She said she loves to sing, but with the cost of education being what it is, for her, a choir class would be an indulgence.

“I think it’s good to have those classes for the people who want them, but I can’t justify committing the time or money to something that does not add to my professional development.”

D’Alleva had scheduled a visit to the Avery Point campus to discuss these plans with faculty, but that visit was cancelled because of a snow storm. Her office has not responded to inquiries regarding when that visit has been rescheduled for, but she did say that students can reach out to her or the Avery Point campus director if they wish to provide input or feedback about how they envision the presence of arts on the Avery Point campus.

D’Alleva said the 2016-17 academic year will be a transitional time and that she hopes Avery Point students will start seeing some of these changes the following year. She also hopes to eventually roll out similar programs at the other regional campuses, but does not know when that will happen.

“I want the arts to be strong at every regional campus. It’s not going to look the same at every campus because the regional campuses are all different and have different focuses and different missions, but I really want the arts to be present and for every student to have an opportunity to participate in the arts.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running up miles in search of a team

Falicia Cabral UConn photo

Falicia Cabral
UConn photo

By JUSTIN SANTIAGO

It’s a Friday night at Avery Point and classes are out. Students  are hanging out  with their friends and enjoying  the weekend.

Except for Avery Point junior Falecia Cabral, No. 13 on the women’s basketball team.

You’ll find  basketball standout  in the gym,working on her game.

“(I’m) there to  develop my skills, become a better basketball player, and earn Division I or II full scholarship.” she said in a recent interview.

Hers has been a long journey and one that still wasn’t over as the semester wound to a close.

While others were enjoying Spring break, Cabral was crisscrossing the country visiting schools. The journey has taken her over the past month to New York, North Dakota and South Carolina. And that was on top of the cross-country migration she made from Avery Point to California and back in her quest for a basketball scholarship.

“It is pretty cool because when a school that’s far away wants you badly they’ll pay for your flight and even a hotel for you to stay in for a couple nights.”

But it’s stressful as well, she said.

“Schools will show interest in you like you’re the only player they want and then for whatever circumstance, they will just cut off all communication like it never happened.”

And it’s been hard on school work.

 

“It is also stressful when I return from a visit to the work load I missed in school and have to catch up.”

And then there was recently her appointment at North Carolina, when she missed her flight. She arrived at 3 a.m. for a 5 a.m. flight, only to be turned away because the flight was overbooked.

“It hasn’t been a clear path but I am not giving up on my scholarship,” she said.

Her pursuit  to college basketball started at Stonington High School, where she averaged nearly 12 points per game, but she was not happy with what was being offered to her.

Cabral chose Avery Point to develop her skills and earn a scholarship to a Division I or II school.

“I love our program and the people involved with it.  All the coaches and athletic staff are very passionate and helpful. I can say without a doubt that I will miss this school.”

But for the  the 2013-2014 season she encountered another roadblock.

We didn’t have a team,” her coach  George Hardison said.

“We still worked and developed the players we had, with drills to focus on their development as basketball players.”

“I hated it because it was the first year I didn’t have a basketball season as long as I could  remember.” Cabral said.

However, next came the unexpected she said

“I went out to visit my friend who went to a school in California called Cuesta (College), after my freshman year.”

Hanging out in California for the week with her friend she said, they went into town to shop a little bit.

‘“We happened to bump into the basketball coach from my friend’,s school, and he was like you’re tall do you play basketball, would love to have your height.”

From this interaction Cabral said, the coach set up a workout at the school that week.

Things seemed like they really took off from there,

“The coach loved the workout and loved me. He said that I would be a great fit for their offense.” added Cabral.

She was now on her way to play basketball at Cuesta in California for her sophomore year.

“I had no clue that she was planning to go to Cuesta the next year, I found out that night during summer ball,” Hardison recalled.

As a coach you would be upset to lose a player like her, Falecia worried that he wouldn’t be happy about this. She thought.

“I thought he was going to rip me.” She said.

Hardison never did however,

“I didn’t mind that she was going out there to play neveer really understood why she didn’t tell me. It was her decision she made and I supported her.”

“I want to see the players do well and become impact players,” he added.

Cabral  went to Cuesta her sophomore year, played in 31 games and averaged 10.5 points per game  according to California Community College Athletic Association.

Cuesta did not last long,

“I did not like what the coach was doing. Itt was not what he told me before.” She added.

“I did not see eye to eye with the coach of the program and I didn’t want to be there more than a year, which he told me I wouldn’t be. He said we will get you to a school in a year.”

So it was back to Avery Point.

Hardison had just finished his first full year az as a coach here.

“Our team was small, we had seven girls and only five played.” He added.

Was he surprised to see her again?

“Oh I had not a clue, I work in Stonington as a teacher. I heard from some of the students asking me, “Did you hear Falecia is coming back home?”

“It’s good to have her back and I’m always glad she came back” Hardison added.

So Cabral went on to lace lacelaced aced up for the 2015-2016 season with Avery Point.

But then another bump in the road.

She broke her pinky finger and missed the first seven games.”

However, once she got back, through 18 games she averaged 17.6 points per game, 9.1 rebounds and 2.9 assisst.

“Hardison really worked with me on my skill set. I give him and my assistant coach Nick and even coach Childs, the men’s coach, a lot of the credit for where I am now.”

Now the time has come for her to pick a school.

She says, there is no deadline, but I would like to know where I am going before the end of June.

“Words cannot express how much I am looking forward to signing my letter of intent for next year.  I wish it happened  two  months ago.  I cannot wait.” She added.

“I’m still holding out for a division 1 program. I do not want to settle, I will not give up.”

 

 

Avery Point sophomore Markovics winters in Florida

Jonathan Markowics

Jonathan Markowics

By MACKENZIE RAFFERTY

Talk about sweet. While his classmates were slogging through another New England winter, Avery Point sophomore Jonathan Markovics found himself completing his  Spring semester with an internship at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Noemi Maldando Picardi, the coordinator for career services at Avery Point, noted that Markovics is her third student to get involved with the Disney College Program during her three years in this position. Internship programs like the Disney College Program are “extremely powerful, especially if they’re geared towards your major or interest,” Picardi added.

Markovics, an American Studies major, focusing on American politics, economics, and law, happens to be interested in everything.

“I work in the Welcome Center as well as for Campus IT. I’m also a Husky Ambassador and student coordinator for UConn Makes a difference,” he said during a telephone interview from Florida.

During Markovics’ freshman year, he received a $4,000 UConn IDEA grant, traditionally awarded to UConn students who develop creative and original projects. Markovics’ project, Color Out Cancer,  was a community service initiative which combated the negative physical, mental, and emotional effects of cancer among children  by “transforming the room into a place of happiness, good spirits…exploding with color,”

Markovics at the time  told   The Day of New London, speaking of being at Avery Point, that he loved the place.

“When I visited as a prospective student I knew I wanted to spend my college career here. At the same time, I knew I really wanted to take advantage of opportunities outside of this campus, ” he said.

Internships and studying abroad were at the top of his bucket list.

Last fall, Markovics said he knew he wanted to participate with an internship. He decided to do a search for the top college internships and the Disney College Program immediately intrigued him.

“After reading the description for the program I definitely wanted to apply for it. It was a total spur of the moment decision for me to apply.”

And what was not to like.

“the Disney college Program was a really unique option. Who wouldn’t want to work for Walt Disney World in warm, sunny Florida during our cold spring semester?”

While this program wasn’t exactly on his projected college path, it offered a very unique opportunity for Markovics. And it was a paid-internship.

“Participating students work various roles at theme parks and resorts, participate in college-level coursework, and live in company-sponsored housing with other students from around the world. Roles included attractions, food and beverage, entertainment, merchandise, front desk, transportation and more,” he explained

. “I applied to the program on September 25th. First, I had to complete a general application. Once that was submitted, they contacted me and asked that I complete an online interview/questionnaire. After that, I was contacted to schedule a phone interview.”

The phone interview was a few days later. Markovics prepared a lot for this interview byr eviewing questions that past applicants were asked, which he found online.

“Some examples were: Why do you want to do this program? What do you want to get from this program? What will you add to this program?” Markovics’ preparation paid off.

“My interview felt like a comfortable conversation,” he said.

He was also asked about previous work experiences and how he would conduct himself in specific situations. At the end of the interview he was informed that the decision would be made by Nov. 15. To his surprise,  Markovics heard back three days later on Oct. 1. He was told that he was accepted to the program and would be working in food and beverage at Walt Disney World.

“I flew down to Florida on Sunday, January 24, 2016,” Markovics recalled. He arrived in Disney a night before he had to check into the program.  “I was assigned my official role and housing location. On check-in day I moved into my apartment and met my five randomly selected roommates.”

“I work at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the role of outdoor vending.” To be specific, he worked  outside at food stands where he sold  popular Disney treats. Mickey ice cream bars, popcorn, and churros are a few examples.

“A perk of working in outdoor vending here at Hollywood Studios,” he said, “is that I get to work at the show Fantasmic. I’ve probably seen it close to 50 times and it never gets old.”

In recent weeks, however, Markovics said he  has been redeployed to work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Markovics said he is kept very busy, working a 40 hour week.

, “I have to ask myself if I am working hard or hardly working.”

He also enjoyed time with his  cast members.

“On our days off,” he added, “we go to the parks, Disney Springs, nearby beaches, and surrounding attractions in Orlando.”

All good things come to an end.

The internship will end on May 19. “I have met so many amazing people from around the world and have made many new friends. My experience has been amazing so far and it will definitely be hard to say goodbye when the program ends next month,”  he said.

“I would without a doubt recommend the Disney College Program to everyone,” he said.

“Not only is this program extremely fun but it also expands your college career.”

Markovics touched on how the unique and various experiences that are accumulated through the internship are very useful and will offer life-time skills for his possible careers after graduation, possibly volunteering for the Peace Corp or moving back to Orlando and working for Walt Disney World again.

“Disney is a great company to work for and I’d definitely consider coming back later down the road,” he said,

“I would like to work for the corporate side of the company.”

Picardi noted that internships, such as the Disney College program, are so powerful because they “expose you to things you aren’t familiar with.” In Markovics’ case, he is “out of state, out of his usual academic sphere, and watching a huge business run its course and the details that entails.”

Picardi noted that internships should really be geared towards a student’s major or interest to better benefit the student.

“If students were interested and wanted to look into it [the Disney College Program and other internship opportunities], they would talk to me and we’d talk about what UConn has to offer and eventually have them contact Storrs.”

 

 

Building a better final exam

 

poster

Students (from left to right) Joeanna Novak, Helen Belato, Ahmad Majzoub, and Tommy Caravetta stand in front of their poster during Wednesday’s presentations.

By C.J. LEINDECKER

Michael Finiguerra, an assistant professor in ecology and evolutionary biology,  is challenging students by changing the traditional final exam into,  in his words,   a more educational and comprehensive reflection of the courses’ content.

“I’m trying to go against the traditional trend of giving a cumulative final exams that are multiple choice,” Finiguerra said. He  feels that the traditional way of giving final exams doesn’t accurately assess the student’s ability to learn and retain the material of the course. He thinks that giving a final exam with multiple choice questions only tests the student’s ability to memorize a set of facts the week before the exam.

His  new exam style substitutes s a presentation, either an oral or a poster presentation to the class and public of what the student has retained throughout the semester.

“I’m trying to get away from memorizing and more towards comprehension and synthesis, He said” This is Finiguerra’s main goal. This new way of administering final exams teaches not only academic skills but professional skills like

Finiguerra  said he only gives this style exam to his higher level classes, Above 1000-level classes, such ass his human evolution, ecology, evolution and genetics classes.

Finiguerra says he’s teaching professional skills while making sure his students really understand the material,

“The professional skills are, how do I communicate what I’ve learned either on paper or to the general public, and if they can do that then I know they understand the material.”

This takes final exams to the next level and requires much more understanding then marking A,B, or C on an answer sheet.

This is his first year assigning “alternative final exams,” and he is finding Avery Point is showing him support and other professors are joining him. The only thing holding them back is they need to sit down and develop and organize a system for administering the exams.

Another professor making the transition from the traditional final exams to the interactive exam is Jamie Kleinman, a psychology professor at Avery Point. Kleinman agrees that the traditional final exam tests memorization skills rather than the students’ ability to retain the course material.

“My students have two things, the traditional final but also a final project.” Kleinman requires her psychology class to create a poster presentation along with a traditional sit-down exam.

This is Professor Kleinman’s second semester doing this system and she plans to continue with it.

“I plan to scrap the actual final and just do the project,” she said. She plans to do that next year. She firmly believes that the new, alternative final is uch more effective, and is already planning to make the transition completely.

She also teaches a developmental psychology course and she has an alternative for a traditional final as well. She has her students create their own final, where they create their own question’s and answer them. This is her first semester doing this with her developmental psychology class.

Recently  Finiguerra’s genetics class and Kleinman’s psychology class gave their poster presentations in the student center at Avery Point. The event was open to the public and other students at the campus. Along with the presentations, there was refreshments and snacks. It was the place to be.

“It’s less stressful then a traditional final exam. We were able to prepare for it throughout the semester,” said Tommy M. Caravetta, a student in Finiguerra’s genetics class He saidthat the alternative final project took a load off his shoulders in not having to cram to prepare for a sit down final. Not only was it less stressful for Mr. Caravetta but educational for him to learn about the material all semester then be able to use it in real life, to research and make a presentation about a specific disease to his classmates.

Another benefit is  being able to work on the project for an extended period of time. The studens Students don’t have to show up for class on exam day. There final exam is tlassheir poster presentation.

“There’s a lot of different aspects to grading the project. Our poster, presentation, and effort all affect  our final grade,” student Nicholas T. Page of Professor Finiguerra’s genetics class said. He said it beats beingbeing graded right or wrong on a multiple choice question.

Alternative finals are beginning to catch on. Adjunct Gregory N. Stone has his newsxwriting class complete a reporting project  they’ve been working in class against a deadline  at the end of the semester as part a final evaluation. This is accompanied by the traditional final exam, but counts more toward their grade, he said. He  said some journalism teachers actually send their newswriting students out on exam day to report on a story and return to write it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AP students intern in community health care

Whitney Allen and students from New London High School

Whitney Allen, third from left, and students at New London High School

By SYDNEY MAZUR

Tessa Cappiello, a psychology major at Avery Point, wants to become a school psychologist someday. And during the past semester she got a rare glimpse into the field through a service learning project sponsored by an organization called the Collegiate Health Service Corps.

She was one of five students recruited here while in her General Psychology II: Psychology 1101 class to take part in anger and stress management work interns at area high schools. All five, like Cappiello, wanted to go into health-care fields and got hands-on experience through the project, according to Americorps volunteer Whitney Allen.

The assignment for this semester focused on mental health, trying to help students who experience extreme stress, anxiety, and anger be able to recognize what emotions they are feeling and how to deal with them. Cappiello was assigned to New London High School. Students who participate in the program receive extra credit for their classes at UConn.

She said the internship surpassed her expectations.

Cappiello had completed an internship her senior year of high school similar to what the CHSC program is. Thus Cappiello figured the CHSC program would be the same set up with a controlled setting, the same group each time they would meet, and make the lesson plans on a general topic not specifically to what each student needed. To her surprise, that was not what happened.

“Giving students the opportunity to make an impact within the community to promote service learning and teaching students the values of helping others is my goal” said Whitney Allen, a representative coming to Avery Point via the National Health Service Corps, a non-profit organization.

Allen, an AmeriCorps volunteer,  has been assigned to help those select students who are serious about a career in the health field, like Cappiello or any student who has a love for volunteer work.

This program helps students recognize and take the initiative to get a service work background and be able to have more on their resumes when applying to any type of higher education after their undergrad.

“Schools look for service learning as well as a strong academic background. Having a baseline in the healthcare field before applying to a medical school or veterinary school is very important” Allen said.

The Collegiate Health Service Corps is a branch of AmeriCorps that Allen has been assigned for the past few years to familiarize  students what AmeriCorps and CHSC are trying to accomplish. It is designed to provide training for prospective undergraduates in the medical field. It increases awareness of different occupations in health care, and in Cappiello’s case, psychology.

While working with these students, Cappiello administered tests to the students to evaluate their stress levels, and did self-regulating test as well. Cappiello said they were able to get to know the kids on a personal level to be able to understand their feelings.

This mental health assignment from the CHSC was perfect for Cappiello’s dreams of becoming a school psychologist. Cappiello said she saw a difference in many of the students they were involved with by the end of the program.

“Students who used to be violent when they got angry or stressed would throw things, hit walls, you name it. By the end of the semester they were able to take control of what they were feeling and make themselves calm down by either going for a walk, deep breathing or just remaining calm in situations that used to cause them stress or anxiety” Cappiello said.

CHSC works in  underserved communities throughout the state that need health-care providers like nurses and participants are able to see and understand that issue on a deeper level.

“It’s important for everyone, not just students, to know what is going on around them, especially in health care. People don’t always have access to things like this and CHSC tries to make it shown to students what they can do to impact the world’” Allen said.

Allen put a high emphasis on how the Collegiate Health Service Corps at Avery Point is more than volunteer work but, it is service work, meaning service work has more of an impact.

“Volunteer work is helping others, service work is making an impact. CHSC is service work trying to impact not only the students doing the work, but the people they are helping as well” said Allen.

Every other week Cappiello made the drive to New London High School and learned that each time would be different. Each week’s lesson plan was based on the kids needs. They focused mainly on stress and how to recognize, cope, and get rid of it.

Cappiello said that her goal of participating in this project was to give something for each of the students to take away by learning and using it in their everyday life but also she really wanted to participate to get a better understanding of what her job will be like in the future.

“This experience definitely opened my eyes to see how my career goals and plans in healthcare will be like. This is an early start for not only me but anyone who wants to see if what they want to do in their desired field is worth pursuing. It’s almost like a reality check” said Cappiell she said..

Cappiello made it clear that although she was able to do a lot with the students, there are  boundaries she could not overstep.

“We aren’t certified counselors, were not therapist so there is only so much you can do to help the kids. We go into a setting where we can’t be too vague with the kids but we also can’t overstep” Cappiello said.

The end of this semester will mark the program’s first complete year here at Avery Point. This past semester only five students contributed but Allen hopes that the community will soon join in, seeing they don’t turn anyone away.

“Although the program is based for health care essentially, anyone looking to complete service work is welcome to join” said Allen.

The students who participate in CHSC go through training with slideshows and activities about topics like Eliminating Health Disparities, Health Promotion, and Health Literacy. With the knowledge the students acquire they then create lesson plans for their assigned groups of students in different schools on what they have learned from wide range of topics like diabetes, heart disease or stress management.

The five students this past semester were tasked with creating a lesson plan on the topic of mental health and then traveling to their community once a week or every other week to present what they’ve learned.

Allen first got involved with AmeriCorps while attending at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic. She said she had a drive to help others and when she heard about AmeriCorps she was eager to be a part of it.

Now in her second year of working for AmeriCorps, she is hoping to instill the values and hopes others will take advantage of such opportunity. A good way to understand what AmeriCorps is all about is to look at the Peace Corps. The main difference between the two is that the Peace Corps goes international where AmeriCorps stays within the states.

“Not enough people take advantage of opportunities when they come along. If anyone is thinking of being in the medical field, use this as your chance to see if it is really interest you” Allen said.

Those who have the drive and ambitions to help others and gain experience through service work are encouraged to contact Whitney Allen at allen@easternctahec.org or visit their website