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COE faculty receive funding for pilot study on fostering social justice education

Sabrina Ross, Ph.D.

Ming Fang He, Ph.D.

College of Education’s (COE) Sabrina Ross, Ph.D. and Ming Fang He, Ph.D. will begin a pilot study this fall to explore the processes and outcomes associated with the development of a university sponsored professional learning community to foster social justice education in P-12 settings.

“A professional learning community (PLC) is a group of educators who meet regularly, share knowledge and work together to improve teacher expertise and student achievement,” said Ross. “A university sponsored PLC receives support–in terms of time commitments from university faculty and staff and/or educational resources or support–from a partnering university.”

Recently funded by an internal seed grant totaling $6,538 from Georgia Southern University’s Faculty Research Committee (FRC), the pilot study will include current COE graduate students working within traditional school settings and will provide learning support using online platforms including the University’s Folio system, as well as additional tools such as blogs and social media outlets.

Study objectives identified by Ross and He include understanding how a university sponsored PLC develops and meets the needs of Georgia teachers, examining the extent to which participation in this learning community fosters the abilities of teachers to implement social justice action research projects in their classroom and the association of teacher participation with student academic gains.

“The research will help us to better understand how university sponsored PLCs evolve and develop over time,” said Ross. “The research on this specific university sponsored PLC can aid in the education and academic success of culturally and linguistically diverse learners through the provision of training and support to their teachers.”

Both faculty members in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, Ross and He, were instrumental in developing the new graduate Certificate in Curriculum and Pedagogy for Social Justice. The six-course certificate provides educators with the tools needed to become reflective practitioners who successfully integrate social justice education into their classrooms.

“Social justice education is vital in today’s classrooms,” said He. “It affirms students’ cultural and linguistic diversity; works against the structures of oppression such as racism, classism, homophobia, and gender oppression that perpetuate educational inequalities in schools and societies; and challenges teachers who work with all the stakeholders to create equitable opportunities and inspirational learning environments where all students can reach their best potential.”

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