July 11, 2017

Early Childhood Education "Residency" Enhances Student Learning

University of the West Indies Faculty Collaborates

UWI Professor Ceceile Minott and SUNY Empire Professor Tracy Galuski at the residency.
UWI Professor Ceceile Minott and SUNY Empire Professor Tracy Galuski at the residency.

SUNY Empire State College early childhood education students took advantage of an opportunity to participate in a hands-on learning residency experience at The Strong National Museum of Play, in Rochester, N.Y. Residencies are among many types of learning opportunities offered by SUNY Empire.

This year's residency theme focused on early childhood education and examined how imaginative play supports young children’s learning and development and the different environments and materials that promote imaginative play for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school-age children.

The museum educators at The Strong conduct sessions based on the theme and participants alternate between classroom sessions and observing children and families playing in the museum. Students also tour the on-site preschool program.

Exploring The Strong's interactive exhibits is one component of the overall residency experience for students.

Faculty members Barbara Pollock, at the college's Rochester location, Jaqui Berger and Tracy Galuski, in Buffalo, and Desalyn De-Souza in Syracuse, determine the theme of the residency.

During regular terms, participating early childhood faculty from across the state offer learning opportunities to their students related to the theme of the residency.

The theme changes every year and is based on exhibits at The Strong. Students enrolled in an individual study also attend the one-day residency.

According to Pollock, many students have said that making the connection between concepts presented in their study and seeing the concepts applied during the residency has enhanced their learning and understanding of the curriculum.

Students have also told Pollock that the interaction with students from other SUNY Empire locations enhances the overall experience at the residency.

Timothy Cosgriff, the college’s Rochester regional operations coordinator, provides technical and logistical support in coordination with the museum.

This year, Ceceile Minott, a program officer at the University of the West Indies Open Campus'Consortium for Social Development and Research, traveled to Rochester to participate in the event with De-Souza and Galuski.

The collaboration with SUNY Empire faculty and Minott includes the development of an early childhood education course for the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (SUNY COIL).

Minott's participation in the college's residency reflects SUNY Empire's leadership role in the newly formed SUNY UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development.

"It has been an incredible learning experience to partner with our UWI colleague, Ceceile Minott,” said De-Souza. "During the course of our collaboration, we discovered that there are many ways in which the student and faculty experience at UWI and SUNY Empire are similar, and many ways in which we are different. It's through these exchanges that we can build a rich opportunity for our students and faculty at both institutions."

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