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Three faculty awarded research assistance in competitive selection process

Georgia Southern University College of Education hosted a competition in spring to award three faculty members research assistants for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

The College recently announced the winners of the competition as Gregory Chamblee, Ph.D., professor of middle grades and secondary education; Cynthia Massey, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education; and David Owens, Ph.D., assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education.

Teacher Candidates’ Numeracy Knowledge

Greg Chamblee, Ph.D.

Chamblee is currently leading a team of researchers that includes fellow College of Education (COE) colleagues Shelli Casler-Failing, Ph.D., Sam Rhodes, Ph.D., Janel Smith, Ed.D., and Montana Smithey, Ph.D., as well as College of Science and Mathematics (COSM) faculty members Tuyin An, Ph.D., Heidi Eisenreich, Ph.D., Eryn Maher, Ph.D., and Ha Nguyen, Ph.D. The team is examining numeracy knowledge at the college level by evaluating upperclassmen in the elementary and middle grades education programs at Georgia Southern. The research will determine the student teachers’ understanding of both content knowledge in mathematics and pedagogical knowledge, or how to teach the content.

“The Georgia Department of Education recently developed an initiative titled GA Numeracy Project, based on a New Zealand numeracy initiative,” said Chamblee. “The GA Numeracy Project is currently being voluntarily implemented in many school districts across the state. The intent of this initiative is to identify elementary and middle school students at risk of not mastering grade-level mathematics numeracy standards and provide systematic and explicit response to intervention tasks to increase their ability to demonstrate grade-level standards.”

The help of a research assistant will increase the scope of the ongoing research for the Georgia Southern team to include assessing our teacher candidates’ numeracy knowledge using the two GA Numeracy Project assessment instruments in several mathematics content courses and content methods courses. Data will be used to enhance course design and activities across the COE and COSM and develop joint grant proposals as well as presentations and publications.

Logan Delgado will serve as the RA for this collaborative COE-COSM project. Delgado is in his first semester of the master’s of science in psychology program where he is studying personality/social psychology. The research assistant position is jointly funded with a COSM Faculty Incentive Grant.

Instructor Education at EmployAbility

Cynthia Massey, Ph.D.

Massey is working to educate instructors on the use of evidence-based teaching practices (EBPs) and conducting a single case research design study with the instructional staff at EmployAbility in Savannah, Georgia, an employment center for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She, along with COE special education colleagues Stephanie Devine, Ph.D., and Kathryn Haughney, Ph.D., have been working with EmployAbility since January 2019 to provide professional development sessions on education-related practices.

The scope of this project includes instructing the staff at EmployAbility on effective EBPs, then analyzing the effectiveness of this instruction when implemented with fidelity. To accomplish this, professional development sessions are being held in which EmployAbility staff are taught EBPs, then monitored as they work with clients at the center to ensure the strategies are being implemented with fidelity. The monitored data is being collected, graphed, and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. 

“This research is needed because, outside of the K-12 realm,  there are very few studies related to effective teaching strategies for adults with IDD. Additionally, the staff who continue to support their transition into the community and prepare them for employment often do not have the education background that K-12 teachers possess,” said Massey.

Brianna Cooper will serve as the research assistant for this project. Cooper is studying school psychology and is currently completing her practicum in the program.

Gamification for the Enhancement of Elementary Science Teaching Self-Efficacy

David Owens, Ph.D.

Current research efforts of Owens include seeking to better understand the characteristics of learning contexts that motivate functional science literacy.

“One way I have approached this is through gamification–the inclusion of elements of game design in non-game settings,” he explained.

Owens has employed two elements that are common in game design–a leaderboard, to demonstrate participants’ progress, and repeat-testing, where participants are allowed  unlimited, risk-free attempts at assessments with feedback.

“I found that both leaderboard and repeat-testing, situated within inquiry-based, active learning environments, significantly affected motivation to learn biology generally, and self-efficacy more specifically, among undergraduates in an introductory undergraduate biology course for science majors,” said Owens.

In the coming semesters, Owens plans to build on these findings and shift the gamified learning content to an integrated science course for pre-service elementary education majors. With the assistance of research assistant Kimberly Kirstein, a candidate in the Ed.D. Curriculum Studies program, Owens will be able to collect and analyze data on approximately 60 students to explore the potential for gameful learning to enhance science teaching self-efficacy. Kirstein began the COE’s Ed.D. Curriculum Studies program this summer.


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