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COE names research symposium award recipients

Georgia Southern University College of Education (COE) recently named award recipients for best presentations during the University’s 2019 Research Symposium held during the spring semester.

Awards were given for best graduate and undergraduate presentations on both the Armstrong and Statesboro Campuses.

“Research in the field of education has the potential to make an impact on the lives of everyone in the communities in which we live, work and serve,” said Tracy Linderholm, Ph.D., associate dean of graduate education and research. “We feel it is vital in the College of Education to encourage and grow a culture of research for both our undergraduate and graduate students. This year, we are honored to recognize these students for their dedication to research and their exceptional presentations.”

Armstrong Campus recipients included Allison Gladin for best undergraduate presentation and Robyn Dailey for best graduate presentation.

Allison Gladin

Gladin, a senior majoring in secondary education, presented “Understanding Freshmen Adjustment to High School.” This presentation detailed Gladin’s efforts to research perceptions of a high school biology class on the changes they experience upon entering high school in respects to academic, social and home life expectations. Her research revealed a feeling of inadequate support from teachers in making the transition and meeting expectations of high school while also enjoying the additional independence.

“Much study has gone into optimizing the adjustment to college,” explained Gladin. “This research aimed to aid educators by presenting practical steps to help freshmen [in high school] adjust and give background into the developmental milestones these students will meet.”

Rebecca Wells, Ed.D., assistant professor in the Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, served as the faculty mentor of Gladin’s research.

Robyn Daily (right) is pictured with mentor Anne Katz, Ph.D.

Dailey, an Ed.S. Reading Education candidate, presented, “Integrating Culturally Relevant Texts to Build Relationships, Increase Motivation, and Improve Reading Achievement,” which provided actionable data to intentionally increase the usage of culturally relevant texts within literacy frameworks in classrooms. Using a series of interventions, she collaborated with a third-grade classroom during her studies in the master’s of reading program, with a focus on students who represented the cultural classroom minority. Authentic texts that were culturally relevant for the target audience were utilized as an intervention in conjunction with observations and assessments to monitor changes in relationships, behaviors, interests, interactions and reading progression. All students in the classroom participated and received exposure to the culturally relevant texts presented as read alouds.

“The goal,” Dailey explained, “was to raise awareness and promote the usage of cultural texts to foster positive relationships in a productive learning environment, enhancing students’ experiences with literature while developing their reading skills.”

Anne Katz, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading, served as the faculty mentor of Dailey’s research.

Jennifer Syno

Statesboro Campus award recipients included two graduate students Jennifer Syno and John Banter.

Syno, an Ed.D. Educational Leadership candidate, completed a presentation that focused on her research on collaborations between faculty and staff members in higher education. Based on an article written by Syno, Julann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D. and Daniel Calhoun, Ph.D., both of the Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development, the presentation reviewed data collected on the faculty and staff perceptions of willingness to collaborate on research and improve student success.

“I utilized this symposium as an opportunity to review what I have done and how I will expand this research for my dissertation,” said Syno. “It was an excellent method of receiving feedback and helping to improve my study.”

L-r: Steven Tolman, Ed.D., John Banter and Juliann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D.

Banter, who completed an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in spring, was recognized for his presentation “Leadership Behavior Development of First-Year Students within a Leadership Development Program.” In his research, Banter investigated the relationship between leadership interventions employed in first-year programming of a formalized student leadership development program and the development of student participants’ leadership behaviors.

“The findings produced valuable information for leadership educators and higher education administrators seeking to conduct assessments of their student leadership development programs,” said Banter.

Banter’s research was completed in collaboration with Juliann Sergi McBrayer, Ed.D., and Steven Tolman, Ed.D., both of the Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development, as well as Mark, Whitesel, Ph.D., Interim Dean of Students at Georgia Southern.

The COE created awards for the University’s Research Symposium in 2018 to demonstrate the College’s commitment to ongoing student research for both undergraduate and graduate students. Each award recipient receives a $100 prize.

The Georgia Southern University Research Symposium is held annually as a conference style showcase of student undergraduate and graduate research across all disciplines. For more information about the symposium visit


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