Program: 3/30/12

Conversation Matters!

Friday, 3/30/12, 8:30-3:30

What if conversation is how things got done? Conversations are the way people discover what they know, share it with their colleagues, and in the process create new knowledge for the organization.

The activities of this day together will feature two very different venues and conversation with colleagues and students.

Registration Information:

  • Full-Time Faculty Do NOT need to register.
  • If you are not a full-time faculty member and would like to attend the conference, please register.
  • Be sure to review your afternoon workshop session options in advance of attending the conference. If you plan to attend the ‘Integrating Strengths in the Classroom’ session and have not yet taken the StrengthsQuest survey, please contact Dalisa Diaz, Human Resources Assistant, at to request a code.


Morning Session: 9:00 to 12:00 PM. TC103AB

Morning Session: Part 1

We will have the opportunity to hear three (3) five minute reports relating to data at NECC. These reports will include:

The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE): Parts of the elephant, the garden path, and Deming’s funnel, or, what do we know, does it mean anything, and what should we do?

Steve Mathis

As part of the college’s emphasis on being informed by data, we’ve participated in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) since 2007. From these efforts, we have a bunch of “stuff” – interesting, contradictory, and revealing – but what does any of this really mean? Today, we’ll get the chance to revisit three survey questions and answers about student effort, academic challenge, and student-faculty interaction, to see if these questions and answers have something to say about us and what we do.


Core Academic Skills
Suzanne Van Wert

In 2009-10, Northern Essex conducted our first institution-level assessment and found that our students are actually decent writers. Surprise! It sounds like good news, but what are implications if the students in your classes write horribly? In 2010-11, a dual assessment was conducted in Quantitative Reasoning and Global Awareness. For five of the nine criteria, only one-quarter or fewer students were rated as competent or better. If these skills reflect our values as an academic community, then clearly we must do something – but where do we start?


Learning Communities (LCs) compared with the data in the CCSSE
Patricia Schade

All learning community students participated in the Washington Center’s Online LC Student Survey, a national measurement tool which asks students for their perceptions on their learning and engagement, much the same way that the Community College Survey of Student Engagement does. We’ll share our results, plus how learning communities are an effective vehicle to teaching and assessing core academic skills.

Morning Session: Part 2

Following these presentations, five NECC students will introduce themselves to the audience and respond to questions about the data from the student perspective.

Student Speakers: Iat Azur, Bobby Fisher, Isidro Estrada, Cathie Southwick and Kayla Shields

Morning Session: Part 3

In small group discussions at our tables, we will consider questions about what we have heard. These are not questions for which we already have the answers –rather they are open invitations to call forth ideas and insights that generate new thinking, different questions, and imaginative ways of moving forward as we consider the data we have learned about and what it means for us as faculty and staff.

Lunch: 12:00-1:00 PM: NECC Jazz Ensemble

Afternoon Sessions:
Session I: 1:15 to 2:15 PM
Session II: 2:20 to 3:20 PM

After lunch you will have the opportunity to attend two workshops.

Each workshop listed below is offered twice.

What We are Working For: A Staff and Faculty Inquiry Group (SFIG) Exploring Student and Faculty Academic Goals at NECC
Kirsten Kortz

As educators we have specific academic goals for our students, and specific ideas about how those goals can best be met. However, what goals do our students bring to the NECC classroom? Do their goals compliment or combat the goals we have for them? How can we help students and faculty to align their goals so that everyone succeeds and feels successful? This presentation will introduce the theoretical and practical work being conducted by the Academic Motivation SFIG. Discussion topics will include an examination of the types of goals that students, faculty, and staff may work towards in an academic setting, as well as practical information about helping students to set positive, attainable goals in college.

Integrating Strengths in the Classroom
Patricia Schade

NOTE: If you plan to attend this workshop and have taken the Strengths Finder survey, please bring the description of your top five strengths with you. If you have not taken the survey, please contact Dalisa Diaz, Human Resources Assistant, to request a code. Please request the code at least ten days in advance of the workshop and bring the results of the survey with you.

You know your strengths, but do you know your students’ strengths? How can knowing student strengths enrich your teaching? How can strengths be woven into the fabric of the content of your classes? We’ll discuss some ideas about working with strengths in the classroom, how it can enhance cooperative learning, how it can improve appreciation for diversity, how it can give you the tools to create dynamic group projects, and how it can enable students to take more responsibility for their own learning. This workshop will provide participants with a chance to experience several Strengths-based activities in small groups.

Using StudyMate as an Active Learning Strategy to Engage Students in the Classroom or Online
Melba Acevedo, Jody Carson, Cherie Hagen, Rick Lizotte and Sue Tashjian

“We Learn . . .10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, 80% of what we experience, 95% of what we teach others.” By William Glasser

Are you interested in adding engaging learning activities to your course? In this workshop, you will learn how to create learning activities, self-assessments, and games to help students “master the basics” of course material using the programs Study Mate Class and StudyMate Author. Through the use of these interactive exercises, students are able to choose activities that appeal to their learning style, engaging them with the course content in a powerful way. You can choose from a dozen activities – such as flash cards, crossword puzzles and self-quizzes – to engage students both individually and collaboratively while reinforcing key concepts in the course. Your students can access the interactive activities using computers, smartphones and tablets.

The hands-on demonstration will show how the activities can be used in class. These activities can integrate seamlessly with NECC’s learning system, Blackboard, for use online as well as in the classroom. StudyMate is a companion program to Respondus, which can export questions to StudyMate to create Flash-based learning activities.

From the Drawing Board to Blackboard: Getting Library Pics, Clips, and Links into Your Course Content Area
Ann Grandmaison, Michael Hearn, Ben Hood and Gail Stuart

Want an image or video clip to put into your course’s Blackboard environment? How about a magazine or journal article?

YouTube and Google are useful options, but Library resources such as ImageQuest, Films on Demand, and our many journal databases are upgrades over most free Internet resources. Library resources offer advantages to our students such as no advertising, better authority, and copyright clearance. Plus, it’s usually easier to create citations for them. The downside for faculty: integrating these resources into course management systems like Blackboard involves a couple of extra steps.

This workshop will provide an introduction to some of the Library’s subscription resources and illustrate tips and tricks for using them in the Blackboard environment. We will demonstrate how to use persistent links (permalinks) for journal articles and how to embed Films on Demand and ImageQuest images into Blackboard.

We will also demonstrate one of the Library’s most popular resources – LibGuides. The NECC Libraries have already published more than fifty LibGuides in a variety of subject areas, for particular classes, and as “how to” guides. The Librarians will show you how to link to these popular guides in Blackboard.

Using Your Intelligence to Play a Game
Deirdre Budzyna and Mike Cross

Are you looking for new ways to engage your students? Do you want practical strategies that students can use to review material and truly learn it? Are you hoping your students will leave class feeling like they’ve learned while having fun? During this workshop we will explore different games to meet the needs of each student’s intelligence. Using interactive game techniques students will gain a deeper understanding of the course material covered in class. These strategies can be used across all curriculum areas. Come prepared to play and have some fun!

The Student Voice: Conversations with Students
Facilitated by Bill Heineman, Academic Vice President
Student Panel: Iat Azur, Bobby Fisher, Isidro Estrada, Cathie Southwick and Kayla Shields

Educators want to know more about their students. This workshop will gave faculty and students an opportunity to consider some of the following questions and to ask other questions as they discuss what works best in the college classroom.


What are the things about students that your professors MOST need to know, but PROBABLY DO NOT? What are the things that your BEST professors have done to help you succeed in class? What are the things that professors have done that has been an obstacle to succeeding in class? What makes it easiest for you to relax and ask questions in class?


What are the student behaviors that you find most confusing and difficult to understand? What student behaviors do you believe are the biggest obstacles to academic success? What lessons did you learn as a college student that might help students at NECC succeed?

What is the Future of “Democracy’s Colleges” in the Commonwealth?
Lane Glenn

Community colleges are in the spotlight like never before—in Massachusetts and across the country. We have always been places where more of the most vulnerable and at-risk members of our community—first generation and low income students, minorities, students with learning and physical disabilities, and others—come for an opportunity at higher education. Increasingly, we have also become places where students with financial means, honors students, and adult learners of every kind arrive to begin, continue, or restart their educational journey. But even as higher education credentials have become a requirement for entry into the middle class, community colleges in Massachusetts are being pressured to narrow our focus, restrict our resources, and, if we are not careful, abandon important parts of our mission, and perhaps some of our students. This session will explore the topic: What is the future of “Democracy’s Colleges” in the Commonwealth?