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COE awards internal research support

Three projects were awarded College of Education Seed Grants by the College’s Research Committee during the 2017-2018 academic year as well as two research assistantships awarded in spring 2018. The research assistantship awards were new to the College’s internal research awards this year.

Faculty members Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., Amanda Wall, Ph.D., Elizabeth Prosser, Ph.D., and Peggy-Shannon Baker, Ph.D. were recipients of seed grants. Shannon-Baker as well as Jonathan Hilpert, Ph.D. were selected to receive research assistantships for the coming academic year.

Alisa Leckie, Ph.D.

Amanda Wall, Ph.D.

Leckie and Wall, associate professors in the Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, received research support to document their collaborative work with teachers of emergent English learners in Effingham County. Awarded in fall 2017, this grant has allowed the COE faculty members to work closely with four teachers from Ebenezer Elementary School to document the types of support they need to adjust their instruction, assessment and evaluation practices to support the emergent English learners they are working with for the first time.

“Although all four teachers are veteran teachers and considered to be master teachers by their peers, they have never had a non-English speaking student in their classroom,” explained Leckie. “I am working with them in the classroom to adjust instruction to include an emphasis of vocabulary development, inclusion of visuals in instruction and utilizing translation so that their emergent ELs have access to content area concepts and develop their English skills.”

Once completed, Wall will interview teachers and students about their experiences. Results of the research will include the development of newcomer kits that are available for emergent English learners and their teachers in fall 2019 as well as new grading and assessment guidelines and suggested best practices for teachers.

Elizabeth Prosser, Ph.D.

Prosser, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, received funding to purchase a leveled book collection that will provide a variety of books that engage readers at various reading capabilities and interests. The book collection is a part of Prosser’s latest research study titled, “Increasing Home Access to Print: Effects on First-Grade Students’ Reading Achievement, Vocabulary Knowledge, Cognitive Motivation and Reading Volume.”

“For 12 months, 20 first-grade students who are reading below grade level and who come from low-income families are participating, along with a parent/caretaker, in two things–Rotating Leveled Books and Gifted Books and Family Connection,” she explained.

As a part of the project, Prosser will provide students with 12 leveled books that are matched to the individual child’s reading level and interest. Students will keep the books at home for a week and then meet with Prosser to discuss the books and exchange for a new set of 12. The cycle will repeat. Participants will also receive books as gifts through the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy. Prosser will then discuss with parents and/or caretakers ways to engage the child as they read the books.

Peggy Shannon-Baker, Ph.D.

Shannon-Baker, assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, along with M.Ed. Counselor Education candidate Shaqueena Moore received seed grant funding from the College for a collaborative manuscript project they plan to complete in summer 2017. The two have been working to develop a theory of critical race hermeneutics, a theory that would be used to interpret how race, power, privilege and oppression is represented in texts.

“This theory combines critical race theory and hermeneutics,” explained Shannon-Baker. “We completed a literature review on each and will work over the summer on identifying the points of similarity and synergy between the two in a manuscript we will submit for publication.”

Shannon-Baker was also the recipient of a research assistantship for the 2018-2019 academic year. Shannon-Baker explained that the research assistant will serve on two projects that she is currently working on. One is a mixed-methods study using surveys and interviews to investigate the training, background experiences and career pathways for teacher educators who lead courses on multicultural education, diversity and social justice.

“Whereas much of the research related to multicultural education focuses on students’ learning outcomes or how the courses are taught, this study asks: who are the faculty teaching these courses, and how did they come to teach them?,” explained Shannon-Baker.

The second project in progress for Shannon-Baker is a meta-analysis on the use of mixed methods approaches in educational research. The purpose of this project is to identify methodological trends in the use of multiple approaches in a single study (mixed methods), and identify any designs or approaches that are not often used in order to pinpoint potential areas for innovation in educational research.

Hilpert, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, also received a research assistantship from the College. The graduate assistant working with Hilpert will help to conduct a classroom social network research project that will assess the interactive and collaborative relationships that students form during active learning.

“I have spent the last two years refining survey procedures for collecting network data that can be used for classroom research,” Hilpert explained. “This project will utilize a case study approach and social network analysis to examine the how natural variation in active instruction is related to the underlying network structure of post-secondary engineering education classrooms.”

The results of Hilpert’s research will inform the literature on active instruction and classroom assessment in higher education.

Seed grants are funded by the College of Education for the purpose of providing initial, or “seed,” funding for research proposals that support the institutional research agenda of the College. This includes the advancement of the COE’s mission and conceptual framework commitments as well as having a significant impact on the College’s outreach to P-12 and community constituents and enhancement of the College’s capacity to conduct significant education research.

The College also awards research assistantships that are competitively reviewed by the College’s Research Committee and Deans and Chairs Committee. Careful consideration is given to the benefit of both the faculty member as well as the student completing the research, ensuring that both parties will benefit academically from the collaborative research efforts. Research assistantships were awarded this spring for the following academic year.


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