Educators in Context and Community

Educators in Context & Community (ECCO) is a comprehensive career-based professional development learning community for education majors and the ed-curious (e.g., those who work with children and families). ECCO is open to all class standings, First Years thru Seniors and focuses on:

  • Acclimating members to the diverse cultures and communities (urban, rural and suburban) which their students will bring with them into the classroom.
  • Preparing members both socially and emotionally for the rigors of teaching.
  • Cultural competence—being aware of, and able to work in, diverse settings with diverse students.
  • Helping ECCO members get to know themselves, their students, the community and their profession.  
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Important Information

  • First Two Years | $300
  • Last Two Years | $75
  • Home | McDonald Hall

Dr. Patrick Vrooman
Learning Community Director

Community Highlights

  • Field Placements. We organize 50-hour field placements every semester a member is in college. That's one day a week for 4-5 hours a day—No other program does this.
  • Grant Programs. We raise funds (approximately $1,500 per year) to disseminate in small, $500 grants to our field placement sites. Allowing members to learn how to write grants while filling needs in the schools.
  • Leadership Opportunities. We encourage every member to be leaders and engage in service, social and professional development experiences; including teaching courses in Free Skool, leading groups to campus events and joining our student-led Executive Board.
  • Individualized Professional Development Plans (IPDP—pronounced “ippy-dippy”). Professional educators do IPDP’s, and so do we. Rather than have everyone doing the same things in ECCO, every member creates their own set of goals, based on their own interests and needs, to become professional educators.

Engaging Experiences

  • Staff in McDonald Hall. Our offices are right down the hallway from you. Students are in the office all the time talking, sharing, teaching and learning. We’re available to our members … all four years.
  • Trips. We go on trips any chance we can—to New York City, Oklahoma City, Chicago, LA—to visit schools and see the sites. Recently we visited schools in Atlanta and Savannah on our way down to Tampa. We also had a blast visiting Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center!
  • Free Skool. Why wait to teach? Students teach what they know and attend classes on a range of topics offered by members and non-members.
  • ECCO Conference. Every Spring members choose research projects and present them at the ECCO Conference. The conference also includes keynote speakers from across the country and ECCO alumni that come back to share their experiences.
  • Alumni Network. Our alumni give back! They open their schools to our members on trips, bringing their students to visit BGSU, give us field placement sites, announce job postings, etc. We reach out to them, and they reach back for us.

ECCO Residential Community home

McDonald Hall

Residential Requirements

Fee* + Residential Fees

  • First Two Years | $300
  • Last Two Years | $75

Must live in the community? No
Allows roommate pull-ins? Yes
*Fee is per semester

Residential Requirement | Students who are members of the ECCO Learning Community are not required to live within the community but it is an added benefit to the program. If you choose to live in the community, you can choose to room with someone who is in ECCO -or- you can choose a roommate who is not a member.

About the Community | ECCO Learning Community students live in a diverse population in McDonald Hall along with other highly ambitious and motivated students who are members of other Learning Communities. Students work, live and hangout together to ease the transition to college life, while supporting each other throughout the ECCO program.

McDonald Hall | Centrally located and steps away from the Bowen-Thompson Student Union and the Jerome Library, McDonald Hall is a traditional residence hall and houses classrooms and faculty/staff offices. Amenities include an art studio, music room, study area, computer lab, laundry on each floor and a full community kitchen.

How to Apply

Each community has a set of residence hall rooms specifically designated for them. To sign up for one of these rooms, you must apply, and be accepted into the community, prior to April 25, 2018. To ensure your chance to live in the community, please complete the following steps:

Step 1
Complete your housing application
Step 2 Apply here and login with your BGSU username and password
Step 3 Click on Add a New Community Enrollment Request and choose your desired community and academic year/term
Please Note Students can only apply for two communities on there own. If you want to apply to more than two communities, please contact the additional communities you are interested in so they can apply for you. If you have applied for two and change your mind, go into the system and withdraw yourself from the one(s) you are no longer interested in. This will open up a space for you again.

After you have submitted your request to join a community, you will receive an email from the community director approving your request. When it’s time for you to select your room in the next phase, you will be able to view and select rooms within the designated community space in the community’s residence hall. For example, if you choose to join the Chapman Learning Community, you will select a room in Kohl hall.

Having Trouble Applying?

If you are experiencing any issues when you are trying to apply for this community or any others, please contact Lenee Hammersmith at 419-372-9979 in our Learning Community Office so she can assist you. We are here to help.

Membership Experience

Student participation in the ECCO learning community has an impact on a student’s success at Bowling Green State University.  Participants in this community experience a level of personalized attention, and exposure to high impact educational opportunities that their peers do not.  This leads to higher retention and graduation rates among members.  This means that more of our members stay in school and eventually graduate than typical students at Bowling Green State University.

Student Retention | Students who participate in ECCO stay at BGSU and graduate at a higher rate than their peers.  Over the past 10 years, ECCO members have significantly high proportions of students returning to BGSU from Fall to Spring semester- typically between 95-98%.  In comparison with the College, ECCO members stay through their freshman year at significantly higher rates: typically 3-5% points higher.  Similarly high proportions of students return to BGSU from freshman to sophomore years, between 84-90%.  In comparison with the College, ECCO members return to BGSU for a second year at significantly higher rates, typically 8% higher.

Student Satisfaction | ECCO members must devote one day per week to doing their Field Placement, and they are required to do social, service, and professional development activities on a regular basis.  They have to take more courses, pay more money, do more field placement hours, and give back to the learning community. Despite or because of these challenges, 98% of the members surveyed said that ECCO has provided them with experiences that they believe will help them to be a better teachers.

“Above all else the most beneficial part of ECCO for me thus far has been the access to other people who are genuinely passionate, concerned, and interested in the field of education…There are people here that can push others out of their mental comfort zones and in to a continuous state of conceptual change and questioning. These people are the reason I’ll do all that I can to remain a part of ECCO during my time at BGSU” ~Nico Pinchak

  • “I’m in ECCO for the opportunity to interact with students on a weekly basis through field placements. ECCO has also helped me to gain lifelong connections and friendships” – Ali Brown
  • “I am in ECCO to make sure that being a teacher is what I wanted to do. I also wanted to be able to be in a classroom before my junior year of college. I love the fact that I have made some of my best friends through this program and it has honestly made college easier to transition in to” –Alexis Snyder
  • “Through ECCO I have gained placement hours and have been opened up to different contexts that have shown me that there is a lot more to education than teaching. I have learned through ECCO that being a teacher you need to get to know your students for who they are outside of the classroom in order to effectively teach them” –Stephanie Siegel
  • “I am in ECCO because I love getting to know other education majors who are not just in my own content. It is great to make friends who I can talk to about academics, campus life, and such. I also feel that ECCO has provided me with many opportunities that I would not have gotten to experience if it were not for it” –Bailey Gilligan
  • “When joining ECCO you immediately gain a sense of community, family, and help. It’s given me a sense of relief in college because it’s shown me that I do belong here in the program I’m in” – Emily Whitman
  • “I am in ECCO because it gives me a placement where I can explore myself as a future teacher as well as it gets me out of my comfort zone” – Alexander Graber
  • “I am getting the opportunity to see what types of classrooms I really like and what some of the issues there are in education. These issues are things that I hope to be able to help change in the future” –Adonis Jamison
  • “I am in ECCO because I enjoy the opportunity to get field experience before waiting until methods and student teaching. It has helped reassure myself that I want to go into education and become a teacher” –Kristen Tabesh
  • “ECCO has given me the chance to begin working on my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher right from my first semester. A lot of insights about teaching have come because of my field placement and my interactions with Dr. Vrooman and other ECCO members” – Caleb Harrah
  • “ECCO has provided more opportunities than I had ever anticipated prior to arriving at BGSU. Not only have I grown in my understanding of children and how they learn, but also in my leadership, knowledge, and skills. I feel well prepared to enter methods, student teaching, and the workforce with the preparation ECCO experiences have given me” –Derek Goeglein

ECCO Commitment

Joining ECCO is a commitment to the teachers and schools we partner with, a commitment to the students we work with, and a commitment to the overall ECCO community. It is a commitment above and beyond everything you are required to do as an Education major at BGSU. At the end of each semester, members may choose to no longer be a part of ECCO.  If you are a member in good standing, you may be invited back into ECCO after a break.  However, if you are no longer a member in good standing, you may not be invited back into ECCO the following semester.

From the moment students enroll in ECCO, there are three major commitments and four tasks that individuals are responsible for.

Membership Commitments

Commitment #1: Service Learning. ECCO members agree to acquire the experience they need to become a professional educator.  Members agree to serve teachers and students in schools for approximately 50 hours per semester in order to acquire the practical, hands-on experience requisite for becoming a professional educator.

Commitment #2: Personal Development. ECCO members agree to take responsibility for their own learning, for charting their own course, for setting their own standards, managing their time appropriately, meeting their own goals, and developing as a person and as a teacher.

Commitment #3: Participation in the Community. ECCO members agree to actively engage in the ECCO learning community, including but not limited to attending events organized by other members, organizing events for other members to participate in, and leading the organization as a whole to meet the interests and needs of the membership.

Membership Tasks

Task #1: Residence.  All First Year members of ECCO are heavily encouraged to live in McDonald Hall for at least one semester to better facilitate the transition to college and to ECCO.  Members should choose McDonald Hall for their residence the first year, and then they may live wherever they wish.

Task #2: Fees. All ECCO members pay a learning community fee which pays for field placement transportation, program supplies, events and materials. Members will pay the following fees:

First-year ECCO Member (whether or not you’re a first-year student)
$300 per semester
Second-year ECCO Member $300 per semester
Third- and fourth-year ECCO Member (Methods and Student Teaching Semesters) $75 per semester

Fees are refundable only if members withdraw from the community prior to the first day of classes.

Task #3: Background Checks. Each year, all ECCO members must acquire both an FBI and a BCI background check in order to be eligible for a field placement internship.

Task #4: Seminar. Each semester, all ECCO members must participate in ECCO Seminar (RESC 4700C: Independent Study).  Note: Some ECCO members are not able to enroll in the class for credit, but they commit to doing all that is required for Seminar (including assignments, meetings, etc.).

Task #5: Time Management. While ECCO membership is a serious commitment, we also promote the well-rounded development of our members by encouraging participation in a variety of non-ECCO-related activities.  All ECCO members will make ECCO a priority and organize other commitments accordingly.

ECCO Houses

All ECCO members participate in a "house" which are smaller groups within ECCO that are facilitated by  Heads of Houses.  A Head of House is there for support and to be a leader by ensuring all house members feel included and are becoming involved on campus and within ECCO.  Heads of Houses make sure that members are receiving information and advice to help them become successful both academically and professionally.  Heads of Houses will also plan social, service, and professional development events within and between houses.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is a group of active ECCO members who mobilize the ECCO community to achieve their goals. They meet weekly with the ECCO Director to make decisions about the academic, educational, and community development programs that are implemented.

Educational Experience

Field Placements

Beginning their first semester in ECCO, members will take on a 50 hour field placement in a community different than the one they came from in high school.  During their second semester students will do another 50 hour field placement in another context different from their own.  In their third semester in the program they will be able to go to a school similar to the one they experienced in their own education.

In their fourth semester students will be asked to choose a contextual focus area and will spend the rest of their academic career in ECCO focusing on the context in which they hope to teach.

ECCO is dedicated to creating culturally competent leaders. We help members to make changes in their own lives to become dedicated and engaged members of the community that make a difference in the lives of students and families in these schools.  Therefore we are committed to providing students with experience in urban, rural, and suburban schools.  Each of these communities have their own unique challenges.  By learning how to teach in multiple educational environments, ECCO students become well prepared to move forward as full time teachers after graduation.

Learning Outcomes

As a living-learning community, ECCO has a significant stake in achieving specific learning outcomes specifically related to teaching and learning. If a student stays active in ECCO for four years, they can expect to achieve the following learning outcomes:

Contextual Competence

  • ECCO members will acquire at least 300 hours of in-class experience prior to Methods & Student Teaching.
  • ECCO members will successfully complete 24-30 hours of ECCO focused courses.
  • ECCO members will participate in regular service events to acquire a disposition toward community organizing and activism.
  • ECCO members will visit community resources and be exposed to ways of using those resources in the classroom.

Social and Emotional Competence

  • ECCO members will engage in multiple and regular reflections on their experiences and learning.
  • ECCO members will participate in regular social events to acquire a group of colleagues to sustain them through college and into the workplace.
  • ECCO members will be provided challenging material, experiences, and opportunities to enhance their decision making and coping skills.

Professional Competence

  • ECCO members will maintain a current resume and cover letter sample.
  • ECCO members will participate in regular professional development events to acquire appropriate knowledge, skills, and dispositions not ordinarily developed in academic courses.
  • ECCO members will reflect on professional feedback they receive on their performance.
  • ECCO members will create and fulfill a career path “ticket” to keep them on track for the profession during Methods & Student Teaching.


ECCO learning community programming enhances students’ skills, dispositions, and knowledge about issues related to teaching.  ECCO members have the opportunity to create and facilitate a combination of programs to meet the social, emotional, intellectual, academic, and professional needs and interests of the members.

1. Experiential Programs

The best way to learn is by doing, so we develop a lot of doing experiences for our students:

  • 50 hour Field Placements each semester (1 day per week), working in classrooms alongside teachers and students.
  • We offer fall break experiences to visit schools in different contexts within regional communities, including Cincinnati (2009), Cleveland (2010), Chicago (2011), Detroit (2012), Kentucky (2013), and Michigan (2014).
  • Additionally, we offer spring break experiences to visit schools in national urban areas such as Newark, NJ, New York City, and Oklahoma City
  • Beginning in 2015, ECCO will offer a two-week summer experience to visit schools across the United States.

2. Community-building Programs

ECCO also works to develop a sense of community and an understanding of the contexts from which students enter our classrooms. As such, we require and encourage community participation in the following ways:

  • Live in McDonald Hall at BGSU
  • Each member belongs to a house, which is a smaller group within ECCO to further develop relationships and provide support 
  • Participation in community events that are organized by ECCO members
  • Leadership positions on the ECCO Executive Board

3. Educational Programs

ECCO is a one credit course that builds a bridge between academics and the real world.  Students in ECCO take all the same classes as every other education majors, but they are able to take context- and community-focused versions of typical courses, and they participate in some of the following specialized courses and professional development opportunities:

  • RESC 4700C (Seminar)—a one credit course taken each semester focusing on education issues in one of three specific contexts (urban, rural, or suburban).
  • BGSU 1000C: Learning to Lead in Education
  • EDHD 2010C: Introduction to Education
  • EDTL 2300C: Introduction to Educational Technology
  • GSW 1110C: Introduction to Academic Writing
  • GSW 1120C: Academic Writing
  • PSYC 1010C: General Psychology
  • EDTL 2020C: Contemporary Perspectives on Teaching in the Middle Grades

Specialized classes----traditional and special interest courses for members:

  • GEOG 4260C: Urban Geography
  • POPC 1650C: Popular Culture and Media (focusing on teaching and school films)
  • EDTL 4900C: Issues & Trends (Children, Families, and Class in Urban Communities)


Join one of our Learning or Theme Communities and take advantage of unique opportunities designed to help you succeed in your personal, professional and academic lives. These communities are comprised of students who share a major or common interest.

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