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Meet the 2016 NSF-TEU Undergraduate Interns

The National Science Foundation – Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates kicked off last Monday, June 6, 2016 at Trinity College. The program brings together 12 undergraduate students (middle) from across the country in order to develop their knowledge and skill in teaching high school science.

A major goal of the program is support undergraduate science majors at small liberal arts college towards a career in teaching science. In order to accomplish this goal, the NSF-TEU interns, who are all majoring in one science discipline, take a science pedagogy course with Dr. Kurt Love and will participate in a summer teaching practicum under the supervision of experienced local teachers from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) in Hartford, Connecticut.

Here are some of the NSF-TEU interns.

 

Jacob Abaraoha

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Jacob is a rising senior at Columbia University majoring in Earth science, with a concentration in urban teaching. Jacob is passionate about issues of equity and access in education, and about science education as a context for examining morality and social responsibility. He hopes to be a middle school science teacher, working on citizen science initiatives with students and using the classroom as a space for boundless scientific exploration. As a prospective educator, Jacob’s goals revolve largely around promoting critical inquiry, developing meaningful and lasting networks of support for students, encouraging students to recognize their efficacy in their communities, and helping students see science as a tool for social change.

Mariel Becker

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I am Mariel Becker and I am a Junior at Wesleyan University. My major is Biology and I am also earning a Certificate in Jewish and Israel Studies. At Wesleyan I am part of the Ski Team, teach a fitness class, and TA for Introductory Biology and Elementary Statistics. This next semester I will be studying abroad at the University of Glasgow in Scotland (I am most looking forward to hiking the Highlands)! Although I am not sure if teaching is what I want to pursue, participating in the TEU program has been a valuable experience.

Carol Bowe

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I am a senior physic major at Bryn Mawr College, a women’s college outside of Philly but I was born and raised in Boston. I have always had a passion for teaching. In fact, when I was little that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up and although that has changed slightly over the years, I am happy to once again be pursuing that career. Outside of teaching I am passionate about sustainability and environmental work. I also write spoken word poetry and recently competed in a national poetry slam as part of a team from my college.

Charlotte Gbomina

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Hello, my name is Charlotte Gbomina (the G is silent). I am a rising senior at Grinnell College with a declared Biology, Spanish and Education major. I’ve been interested in education since the day my family moved to the U.S in 2003 when I noticed how fun learning could be. I was that one student that was always interested in concepts that almost everyone disliked and as I went further in my schooling, I encountered teachers who were passionate about teaching which inspired me to aspire to become a teacher. After graduation from college, I plan on going into the teaching profession to implement the philosophies I’ve learned.

Jess Voight

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Hi! My name is Jess Voight and I am a senior Biomedical Engineering major and Models and Data minor at Trinity College.  On campus at Trinity I am involved with the Outdoors Club, Engineers Without Borders, and the Society of Women Engineers. I enjoy getting outdoors, gardening, and puzzles. Unlike most others in this program, I am not set on becoming a teacher in the future. Rather, I see this program as a way to expand my abilities as a leader and make a meaningful difference in the local community. Additionally, I see the need for students to develop a passion and interest in the sciences and hope I can help with that.

 Stanley Walker
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Hello, my name is Stanley Walker and I’m a senior Astronomy Physics combined major at Whitman College. I am the sixth of seven children and I grew up Olympia Washington. I love getting outdoors, going on runs, and climbing on things. I am also a nerd in every sense of the word, I love comic books, video games, D&D, Harry Potter, etc. I chose an Astronomy Physics combined major because space is awesome and studying the origins and evolution of the universe is incredibly satisfying. I was homeschooled for the majority of my formal eduction. This has instilled in me a love for learning and a unique viewpoint on education that I would like to bring with me into a career as a teacher.

First Day of HMTCA Summer Academies at Trinity College

Theresa starting of high school

Today the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) 9th grade summer writing and 10th grade science academies began at Trinity College. Although the two programs take place on Trinity’s campus, this is technically the first day of high school for the rising 9th grade students in the writing academy. Summer Academy administrator and HMTCA teacher Theresa Kemp (top right) explained this fact and other key info at the Fuller Arch before the start of classes.

These academies are part of the Trinity-HMTCA partnership and a key part of the students’ high school experience. The writing and science academies are taught by a mix of Trinity and HMTCA faculty, as well as undergraduate interns. HMTCA students earn high school credit for both the writing and science programs. Trinity College has hosted the writing and science academies since 2011.

Summer academy continues from June 21 to July 15.

 

Summer 2016 at Trinity

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Trinity College slows down during the summer. But there are a number of programs and events that still happen to make the campus vibrant.

Are you on campus or planning to be on campus this summer? Trying to find out what’s going on at Trinity and around the City of Hartford? Here is a listing of various programs, places to eat around campus, events in Hartford, and more.

 

Programs on the Trinity College Campus

The National Science Foundation-Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates (June 6-July 22)

The HMTCA Summer Writing Academy (June 21 – July 15)

 

Where to Eat Near Trinity During the Summer

“Guide to Eating at Trinity During the Summer” by Jess Voight, T ’17

 

Events in Hartford (and around here too)

Trinity Today

June 2016 Events in Hartford by Real Hartford

 

More…

 

Religious Life

A note from Megan O’Brien, Program Coordinator, Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, Chapel:

We do not have services throughout the summer on campus unfortunately but depending on what the faith background/interest is for the undergraduates on campus, here are some suggestions for places in the area that offer religious services:

Buddhist: Dae Yen Sa Buddhist Temple, New Hartford (https://daeyensa.org/

Episcopal: St. John’s Episcopal Church, West Hartford (http://www.sjparish.net/default.asp) 

Jewish: Congregation Beth Israel, West Hartford (https://www.cbict.org/

Muslim: The Berlin Mosque, Berlin (http://www.berlinmosque.org/

Roman Catholic: St. Joseph Cathedral, Hartford (http://www.cathedralofsaintjoseph.com/

There are, of course, plenty of other places of worship around the area so they are welcome to explore! 

Want more information, you can contact Megan at Megan.OBrien@trincoll.edu

Loving Community Conversation on Housing Integration

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Photo by Defining Studios, Hartford, CT, 2016

On April 21, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center hosted a panel in Hartford’s downtown on housing integration that included Trinity College Professor Jack Dougherty (middle left), author Lisa Belkin (middle right), and Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez (far right). Pinch hitting for Professor Jelani Cobb, Trinity Director of Urban Educational Initiatives, Robert Cotto (far left) moderated the panel. The panel served as a public, community conversation on housing integration before the Center’s annual awards dinner.

Before the panel, Professor Dougherty presented an 15-minute introduction to housing and school segregation in the Hartford, CT area based on his research and book-in-progress, On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs. He offered slides that showed the close connection between housing restrictions that segregated neighborhoods by race and class, which resulted in school segregation.

After the presentation, the panel weaved together Dougherty’s work on housing and schools, Belkin’s account of a housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY, and Bermudez’s community activism and involvement as an early plaintiff in the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case.

As the CT Fair Housing Center 2016 Loving Civil Rights Award recipient, Lisa Belkin drew on her research and writing of “Show Me A Hero”. The book chronicled the contentious housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY in the 1980s. An adaptation of the book also recently appeared as a mini-series on the HBO channel.

Throughout the afternoon, the audience of roughly 75 people had opportunities to ask the panelists questions. This generated a great deal of discussion. In the end, comparing efforts in Hartford, CT (school desegregation) with Yonkers, NY (housing desegregation) helped the audience understand each case better, along with the history and persisting challenges towards racial integration of housing and schools.

 

Additional photographs can be found at the CT Fair Housing Center Facebook page here.

Alternative Predictors of Student Success Testing Project

Source: Trinity College
Source: Trinity College

Explaining the Test Optional Policy & What it Means for Students:

In 2015, Trinity College developed a test-optional policy that allows application readers to get to know the applicant well beyond just their grades and test scores.This change in policy stemmed from growing research in the area of non-cognitive skills, which leads us to believe that there are alternative factors, besides just standardized test scores, class rank, grades, and essays, that are essential to understanding potential student success in college and later in life.

The policy allows the admissions committee to truly look at and understand transcripts, recommendation letters, leadership positions, work history, involvement in school and community activities, and other appropriate predictors of success at Trinity College.

This test optional policy may, at first, seem confusing for students who are trying to understand what exactly the admissions committee is looking for. However, the policy enforces that the admissions committee will look at the student as a whole and not just as a test score. Students are presented the opportunity to present information about themselves that more accurately illustrates their diverse academic talents and potential.

What We Look At To Understand Academic Achievement:

  • High School Grades – based on students’ transcripts
  • Academic Coursework & Rigor
  • Recommendation Letters from Teachers

*Students are encouraged to submit their SAT or ACT score only if the student feels that those scores best represent their academic ability and potential. The admissions committee does not make any assumptions as to why some students choose not to submit scores. Students will not be penalized for not submitting test scores. All students are given equal consideration in the admission process.

What We Look At To Understand The Student Beyond Academics:

  • Students’ Personal Essays
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Involvement in School and Community Activities
  • Leadership Positions
  • Counselor Surveys – Counselors are asked to highlight characteristics they see in their students that could help us make more informed decisions
  • Work History

Trinity College’s admissions is excited to be able to better understand and get to know applicants by placing a stronger emphasis on these factors and pieces of students’ applications. Our admissions committee looks for students that will not only be successful in Trinity’s academic environment, but who also possess attributes such as, but not limited to, curiosity, optimism, persistence, grit, and creativity. Research demonstrates that these attributes along with grades and academic rigor are strong indicators of success in college.  

Research: The following section is a collection of scholarly and secondary sources that has informed the college’s decision to go test-optional and implement a holistic application evaluation process for all students.

Grit and Overcoming Adversity

Lead scholar, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at The University of Pennsylvania and 2013 winner of the MacArthur “genius” grant from Harvard, studies concepts such as self-control and grit and how they predict future success later in life. Her new book Grit: The power of Passion and Perseverance explains her research on grit, which she defines as the ability to develop and sustain passion and commitment to achieve long-term goals, and goes in depth on stories and philosophies of people she calls “paragons of grit” including the Seattle Seahawks, West Point Cadets, and successful business leaders. She uses these stories to prove the importance of developing grit in students at a young age. Her Ted Talk below and subsequent research describe her work in detail. For your convince, we have outlined key points in both her research and new book, as well as common misconceptions that we hope will are clarified. 

The Key to Success? Grit- Angela Lee Duckworth

Main Takeaways from Duckworth’s Research (also described in her above Ted Talk)

  • IQ is not the only difference between the best and worst students
    • In fact, some of the strongest performers have lower IQ scores, meaning that the smartest kids are not the ones necessarily performing the best on standardized tests
  • We must have a better understanding of students and learning form a motivational and psychological perspective
  • Characteristics of grit:
    • Passion and perseverance
    • Sticking with something for the future
    • Working hard to make future happen
  • In a study of students in the Chicago Public School District grittier kids are more likely to graduate even when matched on family income, standardized tests, and feeling safe at school compared to other kids
  • Grit is unrelated to talent
  • Part of having grit is having a growth mindset, a concept developed by Carol Dweck at Stanford, which is the practice that when students learn to persist through challenges and eventually succeed, they will begin to define themselves by that persistence and not by momentary failures or challenges. This mentality is widely used at KIPP charter schools and Dweck says that when studying KIPP graduates, those that can persist and graduate college will not only have a Bachelor’s Degree, but also something more valuable: the knowledge that they climbed a mountain to get it.

 Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance- Angela Duckworth (May 2016)

Angela Duckworth's new Book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance released in May 2016. Source: Ed Week Blog
Angela Duckworth’s new Book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance released in May 2016. Source: Ed Week Blog
  • Grit is not unfamiliar to educators and has recently become a buzzword in the world of education
    • Many have embraced this concept in recent years along with a new wave of research centered on non-cognitive traits and social-emotional skills like growth mindset, self control, empathy, and healthy relationship skills
  • This book asserts that grit can be developed both by individuals themselves and by outside forces who help them feel challenged and supported
    • For schools, this means giving students opportunities for deliberate practice so they can learn what it’s like to face a challenge and persist through it, developing the skill like a muscle, Duckworth says.
  • Schools can also create supportive cultures and climates where students feel inspired to incorporate effort and persistence into their identity.
    • For example, both the Seattle Seahawks and KIPP network of charter schools have promoted common language, behaviors, and norms that encourage effort and persistence in an effort to create a gritty culture
    • Norm setting is important-
      • “If you’re a Seattle Seahawk, you’re a competitor. You have what it takes to succeed. You don’t let setbacks hold you back. Grit is who you are.”

Clearing Up Common Misconceptions About Grit

  • A curriculum has not yet been developed that schools can use to develop these character traits in students
  • Grit is not something that can be tested on a standardized test
    • In fact, Angela Duckworth recently resigned from the board of the group overseeing the California project, which has recently started requiring testing of social-emotional skills of students and including them in judging school performance
  • Teaching social-emotional skills is often seen as a way to move away from a narrow focus on test scores in order to consider the whole child, so it would be contradictory to test students on a standardized test to determine which students possess these skills and which don’t.
  • The education adage of “what’s measured gets treasured” doesn’t work for these skills since there is not a clear way to determine which students have these traits
  • The biggest concern about testing for these skills is that the tests typically rely on surveys asking students to evaluate recent behaviors on mid-sets, like how many days they remembered their homework or if they consider themselves to be hard workers. 
    • This makes these tests highly susceptible to fakery and subjectivity.

      Example questions from a recent New York Times Test to measure your level of Grit. Source: New York Times Grit Quiz
      Example questions from a recent New York Times Test to measure your level of Grit. Source: New York Times Grit Quiz

Introversion

Lead researcher Susan Cain is an American writer, lecturer and author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book and Cain’s research has become well-known for arguing that “modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people.”

The Power of Introverts-Susan Cain

Main Takeaways from Susan Cain’s Research (also described in the Ted Talk above)

Susan Cain's Book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Source:
Susan Cain’s Book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Source: Quiet Rev
  • It is widely perceived that being quiet and introverted is wrong
    • In actuality, ⅓-½ of the population can be classified as introverted
  • Introversion is more about about how you respond to stimulation including social stimulation
    • Extroverts crave a large amount of stimulation
    • Introverts feel most alive in quieter or lower-key environments
  • Problem: schools and workplaces, the most important institutions in our society are designed for extroverts
  • In reality, introverts get better grades and are more knowledgeable, yet are seen as outsiders when they would rather work alone
  • Introverts are much more passed over for leadership positions
    • Even though, many times they are much more careful and cautious they are also less likely to take risks
  • Adam Grant from the Wharton School of Business says that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts because when they are managing proactive employees they are more likely to allow them to run with their own ideas
    • Extroverts more often than not want to put their own stamp on things that they risk losing other people’s good ideas along the way and allowing workers to lapse into passivity
  • Everyone falls somewhere along the introvert/extrovert spectrum and Susan Cain argues that it is important to recognize the strengths of not only extroverts, but introverts as well
  • Creativity and productivity is one of the biggest ways that introverts and extroverts differ
    • People who are good at creating/advancing their ideas need some solitude to cultivate their ideas
      • This is one of the biggest instances of introverts craving solitude
    • What are we missing in this group of people who are often passed over? This is the question that the admissions office wants to explore by placing value on student’s character traits
  • It is becoming more apparent that something might be wrong with a leadership style that values quick and assertive answers over quiet, slow decision making
  • We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types even though GPA, SAT, IQ test scores reveal this to be inaccurate
  • Extroverts get better grades in elementary schools but introverts do better in high school and college
    • In college, introversion predicts academic success better than cognitive ability
    • One study which tested 141 college students knowledge on 20 different subjects ranging from art to astronomy to statistics found that introverts knew more than extroverts in every single subject
    • Introverts receive disproportionate number of graduate degrees, national merit scholarship finalist positions, and phi beta kappa keys
    • They outperform extroverts on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal test which is often used by businesses for hiring and promotion
    • They are shown to excel at “insightful problem solving,” a skill that is valued in the business world
    • Introverts overwhelmingly think before they act, digest information, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately

 

Emotional Intelligence and Non-cognitive factorFullSizeRender 3

William Sedlacek, Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park, is a researcher who has authored numerous articles and books on a wide range of topics including racism, sexism, college admissions, advising, and employee selection. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work. His work is widely used in influencing those who wish to use other factors other than test scores in the college admissions process. 

Main Takeaways of Sedlacek’s Research

  • Sedlacek has studied predicting academic success of student athletes using SAT and non-cognitive variable
    • He uses Robert Sternberg’s three types of intelligence to explain his ideas
      • Componential Intelligence: the ability to interpret information in a hierarchical and taxonomic fashion in a well-defined and unchanging context
        • SAT Type→ people who score high on the SAT are this kind of thinker
      • Experiential Intelligence: the ability to interpret information in a changing context-to be creative
        • Standardized tests don’t measure this
      • Conceptual Intelligence- has to do with the ability to adapt to a changing environment: the ability to handle and negotiate the system
  • Standardized tests were never intended and do not measure experiential and contextual intelligence
  • Sedlacek has studied non-traditional students and how their status impacts their admissions into higher education
    • Traditionality may be useful to consider in making admissions or post matriculation decisions about students
      • Non-traditional students have not had the experience of typical middle or upper middle class white students in the education system
      • Non-cognitive variables have been shown to predict the success of non-traditional students in higher education including freshman grades, upper class grades, retention and graduation
        • Non-traditional students have included US minority and international students at many levels in higher education
      • Athletes and non-traditional students
        • Athletes have a unique culture and set of experiences in life that differentiate them from others
          • Spend a great deal of time together and often have common goals and values generated by their experiences as athletes

James Heckman, an American economist and Nobel Laureate has done extensive research on the limits of standardized testing. The main takeaways of his research and how they relate to the prior research mentioned above are listed below. 

  • Heckman notes that there has been a longtime neglect of important non-cognitive factors in college admissions
  • Character skills rival IQ in predicting educational attainment, labor market success, health, and criminality
  • There is extensive research available that reinforces Heckman’s conclusions:
    • The experience of KIPP charter schools indicates students with a stronger academic profile (including higher SAT scores), but lacking in specific character traits, were more likely to drop out
    • There are several studies that have focused on the differential effects of GPA and SAT scores on educational success
      • Specifically researchers have found that college grades are correlated more strongly with GPA in high school than with standardized test scores
      • Studies by Angela Duckworth (mentioned above) and others have found that GPA and college persistence are correlated strongly with character traits such as self control and perseverance
        • Students with higher composite grit scores get better grades and are more likely to enroll in college and stay in college, proving that these traits are interconnected to each other and extremely valuable for assessing students’ potential to excel academically in college and professionally in their future word endeavors.

Coming Soon: Future interviews with students who went through the test optional process

Works Cited

Blad, Evie. “Angela Duckworth: To Grow Students’ Grit, Balance Challenges With Support.” Education Week. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2016/05/angela_duckworth_to_grow_students_grit_balance_challenges_with_support.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2-RM.

Heckman, J. J. (2008). Schools, skills, and synapses. Economic inquiry, 46(3), 289-324.

Sedlacek, W. E., & Adams-Gaston, J. A.V.A.U.N.E. (1992). Predicting the Academic Success of Student‐Athletes Using SAT and Noncognitive Variables. Journal of Counseling & Development.

Zernike, Katie. “Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills.” New York Times (New York, NY), February 29, 2016. Accessed May 8, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/us/testing-for-joy-and-grit-schools-nationwide-push-to-measure-students-emotional-skills.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0.

Issuing penalties to districts when families opt out of testing?

Recently the CT State Department of Education set penalties for school districts where large percentages of students and families “opt out” of testing. The CT Mirror reported on this strategy by the CT State Department of Education a few weeks ago. Note that there is also a bill in the CT Legislature to prohibit the CT SDE from issuing penalties to district rankings when families and students “opt out”.

Based on your understanding of the issue,  what is your reaction to this proposal? (Respond before class on April 20, 2016!)

Here is the web link to the video, extra readings, and links related to our “Challenging the Test” panel last month.

Rosa Clemente Visits Trinity College

On Monday, November 9, 2015, Rosa Clemente visited Trinity College to present her talk entitled, “Thinking Critically about #blacklivesmatter”. Current and former students, faculty, and staff gathered in Smith House to hear Clemente, who is a nationally-known, Black Puerto Rican organizer, journalist, and entrepreneur.

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Using the “Ferguson Moment” as a reference point, she focused her message of thinking and organizing critically for the current Trinity students. She reflected on past success and challenges in activism, scholarship; and she urged students to become active in whatever space, position, or situation they found themselves. She reminded students that there is always work to be done for racial, economic, and social justice.

In clear, real talk, Clemente was most eloquent in speaking about vulnerability in activism. Quoting the assassinated Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, she reminded students that “you dare to struggle, you dare to win”. In other words, despite the risks, activism – minor and major – opens up possibilities that were not there before.

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She also talked about her own love for activism, working to find balance in her life, and the importance of being open about mental health struggles. Her openness and insight made it feel like we were in the living room of an aunt or titi (as she mentioned a few times) and listening to the sharp wisdom that you can’t hear outside of a familiar space. Like an aunt’s house, the crowd listened for nearly three hours into the night with new insights and unresolved questions.

The evening was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Multicultural Affairs Council of the Student Government Association at Trinity College.