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Barrow and McBrayer awarded research assistants for 2019-2020

Juliann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D.

Betsy Barrow, Ed.D.

Georgia Southern University College of Education hosted a competition in spring to award two faculty members research assistants for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The College recently announced the winners of the competition as Elizabeth “Betsy” Barrow, Ed.D., assistant professor in the Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, and Juliann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D., assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development.

Barrow’s current research project includes analyzing data from Georgia Southern College of Education’s International Study Opportunity (ISO) over the past three years. The ISO provides students with a four-week student teaching experience currently completed with partner schools in England. Barrow also plans to examine the influence this opportunity may or may not have on participants over long term experiences in the classroom.

Within the project’s scope, Barrow intends to examine both international opportunities as well as social studies education. First, the research will examine how the ISO experience influences teacher candidates in helping students to gain intercultural competence as well as filling the gaps in the literature on international teaching and study abroad. Barrow also plans to review individual case studies of students who have declared a specialization in social studies education in order to research the specific influence of the ISO experience on social studies teachers. The research assistant will have several main tasks including conducting interviews, running focus groups and coding data.  

“I think it is important to mentor students on every aspect of a large scale research project and to scaffold their responsibilities depending on the graduate student’s level of comfort and previous experience,” said Barrow. “I see this relationship as collaborative.”

One of the primary projects for McBrayer in the 2019-2020 academic year includes expansion on her current research about a system-wide, collaborative, purposeful and sustainable distributed leadership plan utilizing teacher leaders to facilitate professional learning communities.

In the next phase of her research, McBrayer plans to establish an Educational Leadership Consortium with educational partners from K-12 school districts and Georgia Southern University to provide formalized training opportunities for local school districts. The consortium will provide research-based practices to advance schools’ professional development and school improvement on a wider scope.

“This work is of particular interest to me as it allows me to actively engage in research, service and professional learning work in the field to stay connected and relevant,” said McBrayer. “I plan to include the research assistant as a co-author and co-presenter on international, national and state-level manuscripts and presentations. I am dedicated to publishing and presenting with my students.”

This is the second year the College of Education has provided competitive research assistantships. Faculty are asked to write proposals reviewed by the College’s Research Committee members as well as Department Chairs and Deans. Proposals are reviewed based on their alignment with the faculty member’s established program of research; ability to provide good mentoring and opportunities to the student; and other resources awarded from the COE in the past. A $12,000 stipend is provided for each faculty member to hire a research assistant for the following academic year.


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