quinebaug valley community college

Center for Teaching

Welcome to the QVCC Center For Teaching page!

cftThe Center for Teaching (CFT) is a program within the Connecticut Community College System that is meant to promote teaching excellence through the sharing of ideas, the interaction of faculty members on each campus, and the creation of coordinated professional development opportunities within and between colleges.

The system-wide Center For Teaching supports and develops all-college activities such as the annual Barnes Seminar, the Spirit of Teaching Workshop, the New Faculty Workshop, and the Schwab Institute for Academic Leadership. Annually, each college receives a budget to support and stimulate Center For Teaching activities on its campus.

At Quinebaug Valley Community College the current Center For Teaching contacts are Jakob Spjut (CFT Chair and Teaching and Learning Consultant (TLC)) and Brian Donohue-Lynch (Statewide CFT Steering Committee Representative), who work together with the members of the CFT Committee to develop and provide a range of resources and activities for professional development for both full and part-time faculty.

Jakob Spjut
Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Technology Studies
QVCC Center for Teaching Committee Chair
Teaching and Learning Consultant



Brian Donohue-Lynch
Professor of Anthropology and Sociology
Statewide CFT Steering Committee






2016-17 QVCC Center for Teaching (CFT) Committee

Jakob Spjut (Chair), Cindi Brassington, Jodi Clark, Brian Donohue-Lynch, Annie Joly, John Lewis, Cindy Shirshac, Eric Spencer, and Mark Szantyr (shown below from left to right).

 CindyBrassingtonjodi-clark brian-lynch annie-joly JohnLewis CindyShirshac  MarkSzantyr

We’re on FaceBook – Click here to access the Connecticut Community Colleges Center for Teaching FaceBook page.


NEW DATE – Thursday, April 27, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Social Media Literacy in the Classroom” 12-1 pm Room: W202.  With Brian Donohue-Lynch.  In this session, Brian will talk with participants about his approach and intentions in having students fire-up their technology during class.  He will include in the discussion examples of the serious academic use of things like Twitter, Facebook, social bookmarking, and other social media as learning tools both within and beyond the classroom.


Monday, May 22 through Wednesday May 24, 2017 (Monday through Wednesday): Barnes Seminar 2017.  Applications will be available in February.  For more information, please contact Ruth Urbina-Lilback at rurbina-lilback@nv.edu.


Monday, April 24, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “The Effect of Expressing Gratitude on Community College Students’ Mood and Test Performance” 12-1 pm Room: W105.  With Heath Hightower.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Lawnmower Joe – Manufacturing Faculty/Student Work Session” 12-1 pm Room: Mechatronics Lab.  Come join Jodi Clark for a hands-on experience with the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC). You’ll get a demonstration of active learning techniques as they’re applied in our AMTC programs, as well as get a feel for the type of skills students learn in the program itself.

Thursday, April 6, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Manufacturing Informational Session” 12-1 pm Room: Mechatronics Lab.  With Jodi Clark.

Thursday, March 23, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Serving on a NEASC Visiting Team” 12-1 pm Room: W202.  Interested in moving your professional development to the next level? Consider serving on a NEASC visiting team.  Join Erin Pagano, Brian Donohue-Lynch, Donna Sohan, and Pauline Clifford for an informational session discussing their experiences with this invigorating and personally and professionally rewarding endeavor.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Teacher as Writer: Part Two” 12-1 pm Room W201.  In this workshop, participants will begin to explore the professional and personal benefits of creative writing in a set of focused exercises. If you claim that you are not creative, you might be the perfect attendee! This workshop will put the theoretical framework of ‘teacher as writer’ into practice; however, it is important to note that attendance at the previous week’s workshop is not required, and that participants will not be unduly pressured to share what they write (thereby, freeing us all to write without self-censorship). Jon Andersen facilitates.

Monday, March 6, 2017: Dinners with TED:  5:00-6:30 pm Room W207.  Come eat some food, watch a TED talk related to pedagogy, and then discuss the contents with like-minded educators. Cindy Shirshac has selected a talk (one by Ken Robinson) and will be moderating the discussion.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Teacher as Writer: A Sabbatical Report” 12-1 pm Room W201.  Jon Andersen will present excerpts of a novel and a new book of poems completed during his fall sabbatical leave, and will discuss some of the powerful benefits of creative writing for educators across the disciplines.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017: Lunch and Learn: “Advising 101 – What’s the Next Step?” 12-1 pm in W207.  We all have at least 10 students assigned to our list of advisees; now is the time to figure out how we can best serve them! Join Bob Kozlowski and Amy Kacerik for a conversation about ideas, concerns, and solutions to improve how we advise students.

libguides-1DOUBLE SESSION – Tuesday, November 29 and Wednesday, November 30, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Learn to LibGuide: Personalize Your QV Web Pages” 12-1 pm in the Library Classroom.  Are you looking for a straight-forward, attractive way to add resources for your students to our website?  Anyone who is interested in adding web content in a flexible environment is welcome to come create their first LibGuide.  LibGuides CMS is a software platform that sits within the branding of our own website, allowing you to create your own content pages with seamless integration for students.  Join Pauline Clifford, Jenn Cournoyer, and Jarrod Borek who will walk you through the first steps of designing pages that will work for you.  See slide presentation here.

open-resourcesMonday, November 14, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “An Open Conversation on Open Resources” 12-1 pm Room W102.  Join a conversation on Open Education Resources (OER).  Share ideas, successes and resources, ask questions, identify obstacles and frustrations, and get support.  If you’ve been wondering whether OED can really meet your needs and those of your students then this session is for you.  If you’ve already made the plunge and are building resources for your classes, then this session is for you too – and we need your insights!  Jenn Cournoyer and M’lyn Hines will facilitate the conversation, share new information, and catalog the common concerns and queries that need research and answers.  Alfred Williams will join to hear about faculty needs and explore ways administration can support the OER effort.

naspaWednesday, November 9, 2016 at the Willimantic Center, Multi-purpose Room AND Thursday, November 10, 2016 at the Danielson Campus, Room E239.  Lunch and Learn: “What is NASPA?”  Come learn about NASPA.  Whether you are a new or seasoned educator, this presentation will help provide knowledge about NASPA membership benefits, volunteer opportunities, and more.  This presentation navigates you through several areas of the NASPA website and MyNASPA page. You will learn where to access the member resources which are available to members. Program sessions and resources that can be used as professional development or training for your staff, team, and campus community. After this presentation, I hope you will be ready to connect with a vibrant community of Student Affairs professionals and advocates.  During this hour, Randy Sanders will cover: a brief history of NASPA, general NASPA member information, NASPA Region I, accessing resources like the member directory, journals, and publications, Volunteer Central 101, The Placement Exchange, Community College Division, and Q&A.

blackboard-logoThursday, November 3, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Mastering the BlackBoard Grade Center & SafeAssign” 12-1 pm Room E239.  You’re entering grades in the Blackboard Grade Center but have you taken advantage of the assorted functionality available to you?  What about SafeAssign?  Have you used it to check for similar content?  Join Melissa Philion and Pauline Clifford for this session which will include tips on: Setting up a running weighted total, dropping the lowest grade, exempting a grade, adding extra credit, creating smart views, grading discussions, and using SafeAssign to check for similar content. See slide presentation here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Advising into the New Medical Lab Technician AS degree: A Bloody Good Lunch & Learn!!” 12-1 pm in the new Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Lab, back behind the copy room near maintenance.  Join Cheri Goretti and Cindi Brassington in the new medical lab to hear about QVCC’s newest associates degree program.  See the equipment MLT’s use, hear about the courses in the program and find out what MLT’s do.  See if this career is right for your advisee students. Lunch provided, blood draws not included.  See slide presentation here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “There and Back Again: A Report on QVCC’s 2016 China Trip” 12-1 pm, Room E239.  John Lewis and Ling-chuan Chu will discuss the highlights of their recent study-abroad trip to China including our experiences in Beijing and Shanghai with some especially important information on how to avoid losing students when hiking along the Great Wall.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Top 10 Best Practices in Online Teaching” 12-1 pm, Room W102.   If you are interested in moving your on-ground course online,  or perhaps, updating your existing online course activities, join Melissa Philion and Pauline Clifford for a discussion of the top 10 best practices in online teaching.  Topic areas include: getting started, establishing expectations, feedback strategies, course & lesson organization, interaction, social presence, and classroom management strategies.  Veteran online instructors—share your best practices with us!  See slide presentation here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours” 12-1 pm, Room W105.  Cindi Shirshac and Sue Spencer used the book Choosing Hope by Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, one of the teachers who saved 15 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in their student teaching practicum for the message it sends to readers about who you want to be, and what kind of teacher you want to be.  They will be sharing the author’s response to her visit to QVCC during the Week of the Young Child, and how they used the book in class.

Thursday, May 5, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Screencasting with Jing” 12-1 pm, Room E238.  Jing is a free browser add-on which allows you to create screencasts (videos) of up to five minutes long.  You can download the file to your computer or upload to a hosting site for sharing (with 2 GB of storage and 2 GB of bandwidth for free).  Pauline Clifford will cover just a few ways to incorporate Jing in teaching students processes, providing feedback on student work, and explaining difficult topics.

Monday, May 2, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Learning Exceptionalities and Appropriate Accommodations for College Students” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Chris Scarborough and John Lepore will provide an overview of common learning exceptionalities and appropriate accommodations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Advising Discussion: Overview and Strategies – Part 2” 12-1 pm, Room E236.  Bob Kozlowski and Amy Kacerik will host discussion which will include addressing questions involving Banner. All faculty members, not only Program Coordinators, will soon be assigned a list of advisees. This is open to all, regardless of comfort level or experience with advising.

Monday, April 18, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “The Support Section in English” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Brian Kaufman, Jane Carey, Scott DeShong, and Jon Anderson will share data, reflections, techniques and approaches to support section English offerings that were designed and implemented in response to Public Act 1240.

Thursday, April 7, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Advising Discussion: Overview and Strategies – Part 1” 12-1 pm, Room W102.  Bob Kozlowski will host discussion and entertain questions about best advising practices for students here at QVCC. All faculty members, not only Program Coordinators, will soon be assigned a list of advisees. This is open to all, regardless of comfort level or experience with advising.

Monday, April 6, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Political Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology Influences on In-Group Preferences” 12-1 pm, Room W210.  For decades the communication and political science discipline rested on the assumption that political attitudes were formed from environmental forces. Recently there has been a challenge to this assumption and a new top-down, bottom-up approach that considers brain structure and function, as well as evolutionary adaptations as factors in the formation of political associations. Alyce Viens will present research which has led to these new approaches from both a political standpoint, as well as for studying in-group preferences.

Tuesday, March 22, 29, April 5, 12, 19, and 26 as well as Monday, April 11, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Introduction to Windows 10” 12-1 pm, Room E242.  Join Chris Parden for an introduction to the new Windows 10 operating system, and a chance to try out various activities with individual support.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “MORE Annotated PowerPoint Wizardry” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  After being inspired by Mark Lowe’s presentation on the topic last semester, Jen Oliver has been creating her own PowerPoints to facilitate her hybrid Managerial Accounting class. In these self-prepared slides she uses custom shapes and animations to replicate a traditional format approach to understanding complex accounting topics and solving homework problems. Come discuss ways you can integrate this amazing/easy to use technology into your class.

Monday, March 7, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Trends in Mathematics Education – Multiple Math Pathways” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Deb Myers will present on completion being the new hot-button issue in higher education.  Funding in some states is now tied to completion rates. As a result, a lot of attention is being paid to identify the barriers to completion for our students. Which courses have been found to have the highest failure rate?  You may have already guessed it – math courses – especially developmental and gateway courses.  In response many institutions offer multiple math pathways that are aligned specifically to each student’s program of study in an effort to increase relevance, and thus to increase student success, while maintaining rigor.

Thursday, March 3, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “What Works! A Teaching Swap Shop” 12-1 pm, Room W202.  Cindi Brassington and Jon Andersen will lead a roundtable sharing of great ideas for teaching.  Bring your innovative, lesson, unit plan, or instructional approach, whether it is only partially formed or tried and true, or just come to listed.  This is a great way to grab a bag of fresh teaching techniques for the semester.

Thursday, February 18, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Teaching with The New York Times” 12-1 pm, Room W202.  Erin Pagano has arranged for a visit by New York Times representative Taryll Connolly, who will show us the many tools available to us that come with our college subscription to the Times.

Thursday, February 4, 2016: Lunch and Learn: “Positive Psychology Implications for A.R.T. (Advising, Retention, and Teaching)” 12-1 pm, Room W202.  Historically, traditional psychology explored this question:  “What’s wrong with people and how can we fix them?”.  For the last 25 years. positive psychology has examined a different question:  “What’s right with people and how can people enhance optimal functioning (well-being)?”.  This program describes how psychology concepts and evidence-based practices can shape admission processes, advising interactions, retention efforts, and teaching experiences.  Presented by Heath Hightower.

Thursday, December 3, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Poll Everywhere: App for Teaching” 11-12 noon, Ed-Tech Training Room C152.  Elkin Espitia-Loaiza will show us how to use the Poll Everywhere app, which allows you to instantly poll students, who can use their smart phones, Twitter, or web browsers to participate.  The results are instantly available via the web or PowerPoint.  Bring your tablet, laptop, or smartphone and test it out! Center for Teaching co-sponsors this educational technology professional development opportunity, organized by Pauline Clifford.

Monday, November 30, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Encouraging Student Engagement in College Life and Opportunities” 12-1 pm, Willimantic Center, Room 5.  We will discuss practical strategies for classroom teachers to effect better student engagement with college life and the opportunities available here, from tutoring services, to attending college events, to participating (or starting) student clubs and organizations.  This is an important piece to retention efforts, and while students are ultimately responsible for this engagement, we must share ideas (and challenges) for helping students connect beyond the classroom.

Monday, November 16, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Stretching Your Students’ Horizons: Lessons from Topology Optimization for Quinebaug Valley” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Jakob Spjut about how he’s incorporating cutting edge research, which is normally far beyond the coursework level of his students in engaging and energizing ways.  Jakob introduces students to Topology Optimization, with the Structural Optimization Laboratory at UConn, for students to have an early hands-on experience with exciting subject matter that could potentially be in their futures.  Jakob will be joined by special guest Aida Ghiaei from the UConn Engineering Department to share information about the Joule Fellows Program and you could get involved in a research experience for a teacher’s program.

Thursday, November 12, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Early Childhood Program: A CFT Mini-Grant Report” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Come see the new ECE classroom set up specifically for use by children and future Early Childhood Education teachers. Videos / photos of children and students engaging in Sue Spencer and Cindy Shirshac’s mini classroom will be shown.  Be inspired to write a mini-grant proposal to CFT for funding of classroom innovation!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Narrated PowerPoint Presentations: Another Cure for Snow Days” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Mark Lowe will teach us how to create a PowerPoint presentation with an embedded narration that you record yourself on your own computer.  Setting the presentation to advance your slides automatically, you create a mini-lecture with visuals which you can easily upload to Blackboard and assign your students to view if class is cancelled due to snow or any other emergency.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Blackfeet Indian Reservation: A Personal Perspective” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Join Wendy Bradley to hear about her experience with the Blackfeet Indians and the week that she spent living on the reservation with her family, as they worked alongside the Blackfeet, helping them and learning about their lives.  It will feature photos, a short video and a brief background of the Blackfeet culture, all from a very personal perspective.

Monday, October 19, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Teacher Bias in the Class: A Discussion with Cindi and Mark” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  Cindi Brassington and Mark Szantyr will lead a roundtable discussion on questions of teacher bias. Is bias always a “bad thing”?  How do we monitor our biases and positions to make sure that we are promoting dialogue, exposing students to a variety of ideas, inculcating a spirit of trust, and, of course, being fair?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015: Lunch and Learn: “Environmental Science and Service Learning: A Report from the Costa Rica 2015 Trip” 12-1 pm, Room W201.  John Lewis will discuss the trip highlights, including a review of the reforestation project in which the students participated — and ways to avoid having your lunch stolen by monkeys.,