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Research Spotlight: Ana Puig

Q & A with Ana Puig, Ph. D., Research Director in the Office of Educational Research and Clinical Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What research are you currently working on?

I am actively involved in a national study with three institutions of higher education in the southeastern United States (led by Oklahoma State University) that explores adverse childhood experiences and academic performance of undergraduate college students. Our aim is to determine factors that hinder or support ACE survivors in their educational journeys.

Additionally, I am engaged in a study that builds on research I have conducted with the Streetlight palliative care program (https://streetlight.ufhealth.org/) that provides psychosocial support to chronically or terminally ill adolescents and young adults. Our research team has explored the experiences of Streetlight volunteer members, treatment providers, and, more recently, its patients. We are in the process of completing a research proposal for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support conducting a feasibility study of the program with the goal of manualizing its services and comparing outcomes with other palliative care programs across the United States.

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Research Spotlight: Hakeem Hasan

Q & A with Hakeem Hasan, J. D., Senior Researcher at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

What research are you currently working on?

I am currently looking into COVID-19’s impact on public education grades 9-12. Many have hypothesized that the three-year pandemic is going to have long-term effects on student learning. I am attempting to unpack the extent of this so that educators nationwide can have more to think through when delivering instruction at the high school grade levels.

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Research Spotlight: Yiqin Pan

Q & A with Yiqin Pan, Ph. D., Assistant Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What research are you currently working on?

I leverage quantitative methodologies, including artificial intelligence, statistical modeling, and psychometrics, to address applied issues in educational measurement and to optimize the learning process. Most of my recent research has centered on aspects of test security and personalized learning. My current projects include (i) developing anomaly detection algorithms for identifying potential fraud in tests, (ii) implementing item selection designs by recommendation systems for preventing potential fraud in adaptive testing, (iii) using anomaly detection methods to identify disengagement in learning, and (iv) building recommendation systems to select appropriate learning materials for students. My research has been supported by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

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Research Spotlight: David Miller

Q & A with David Miller, Ph. D., Director of and Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What research are you currently working on?

I am currently developing assessments of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in higher education, including assessment standards for fair and equitable evaluation.

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Research Spotlight: Larisa Olesova

Q & A with Larisa Olesova, Ph. D., Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What research are you currently working on?

I am working on the effectiveness of a case-based discussions strategy to increase interaction among students. I am also collecting data from various online discussions where different general, role-based, inquiry-based, and debate instructional strategies are used to examine their effectiveness to increase interaction among students. I am studying the levels of students’ interactions by applying social network analysis to understand how to better design online students’ cognitive engagement. In addition, I am currently conducting research on examining engineering students’ cognitive skills in active learning courses using the Community of Inquiry (COI) theoretical framework.

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Research Spotlight: Kathrin Maki

Q & A with Kathrin Maki, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

My work focuses on the identification of learning needs and development of academic skills for children with learning difficulties and disabilities. Specifically, my work centers on two interconnected lines of research through examination of: (a) methodologies used to identify children with learning difficulties and disabilities, and (b) academic interventions and data-driven decision making to ensure all children receive appropriate academic support in schools.

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Research Spotlight: Mary Bratsch-Hines

Q & A with Mary Bratsch-Hines, Ph.D., Senior Manager for Research and Evaluation in the Lastinger Center for Learning

What research are you currently working on?

I am currently working on several research projects, which generally fall in three overarching buckets. These projects include numerous colleagues with whom I collaborate at UF and at other institutions across the US.

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Research Spotlight: Blake Beckett

Q & A with Blake Beckett, Ed. D., Assistant Professor at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

What research are you currently working on?

I recently completed my dissertation research focused on how teachers and students experience the intersection of Universal Design for Learning and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy in my own sixth-grade classroom at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School here at the University of Florida. I am interested in empowering students and teachers to understand their own assets and variabilities, as well as those of others. This year I am extending this research with a focus on how students understand and engage in critical thinking in different contexts.

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Research Spotlight: Elizabeth Washington

Q & A with Elizabeth Washington, Ph. D., Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What research are you currently working on?

The overarching theme of my research lies at the intersection of democratic citizenship education, controversial issues teaching, the teaching of difficult/traumatic history, and social justice teaching in a democratic society, mainly for grades 6-12 social studies curriculum and teaching. This is also where my research, curriculum development, and teaching coalesce.

Drawing from a rich body of research that includes the work of Diana Hess, Paula McAvoy, Wayne Journell, Li-ching Ho, Steven Camicia, Judy Pace, and others, I am driven by such questions as What do “traumatic” and “difficult” history mean? How can preservice teachers best be prepared to teach difficult history and controversial issues? How do we make sense of what issues/topics should be treated as controversial in the classroom? What can we learn from content analysis of specific curriculum materials for teaching controversy–especially in terms of the range of perspectives they provide? What controversial topics might help students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to tackle even tougher topics? What is the nature of the arguments about these topics/issues in the larger society? How might we facilitate more inclusive discussions of controversial issues? What factors complicate teachers’ efforts to conduct inclusive discussions? What identity risks and attacks are likely to come up as students consider certain topics, and how do we help students deal with possible risks? What are some issues related to teacher political disclosure that help us sort through the larger issues of how disclosure can be done responsibly, professionally, and ethically? What can we learn from international and cross-cultural settings about teachers’ decision-making regarding their rationales, chosen topics, instructional practices, and perceived obstacles and pathways to teaching about issues that carry implications for democracy and social justice?

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Research Spotlight: Julie C. Brown

Q & A with Julie C. Brown, Ph. D., Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What research are you currently working on?

I lead two National Science Foundation-funded grants, RIEL Biology and CRAFT, both of which include classroom-based research and the professional development of Florida’s science and math teachers. On both projects, we have some really interesting research in the works. Please visit our social media pages, @RIELBiology and @CRAFTSciMath, for more information.

In February 2022, RIEL Biology was spotlighted by the National Science Foundation as an exemplary project that advances culturally responsive STEM education. More recently (October 2022), CRAFT was spotlighted by the National Science Foundation as an exemplary project that advances students’ social emotional learning (SEL). While SEL is not taught explicitly in CRAFT, we draw upon the tenets of a race-visible, culturally responsive pedagogy that supports academic goals alongside affective domains, funds of knowledge, and asset-based, humanizing pedagogies, all of which are critical components of CRAFT.

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Research Spotlight: Carla-Ann Brown

Q & A with Carla-Ann Brown, Ed. D., University School Assistant Professor at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

What research are you currently working on?

My primary research areas are equitable teaching and learning and Culturally Sustaining (CS) practices. Currently, my research focuses on promoting an anti-racist and CS school culture through advancing systems and structures that increase opportunities for faculty of color (FoC). More specifically, as repercussions of the pandemic and racially targeted state laws continue to negatively impact Black educators, research on the simultaneous impact of both external stressors (COVID-19 and racially targeted state laws) is lacking Black educator insights critical to improving educational systems. My goal is to develop robust representation in this research field by creating opportunities for Black K-12 educators to share their authentic experiences and personal truths, including acknowledging the consequences of these challenges on Black educator well-being, efficacy, and tenure. With this goal in mind, if awarded the 23-24 Spencer Postdoctoral fellowship, I intend to continue a cross-cultural and international analysis of how Black educators experience racialized school climates amidst a global COVID-19 pandemic that will begin during my Fulbright experience in the U.K. during the 2023 Spring semester.

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Research Spotlight: F. Chris Curran

Q & A with F. Chris Curran, Ph. D., Director of the Education Policy Research Center & Associate Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizations Studies

What research are you currently working on?

My research applies frameworks and methodologies from the field of public policy to improve outcomes and equity in educational systems. In particular, I seek to examine how the laws, policies, and practices of educational institutions shape experiences and outcomes for students of color, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and other marginalized groups. My primary areas of research are school safety and discipline as well as early childhood education, though I have written widely about other education policy topics ranging from teacher labor markets to federal policy adoption.

Currently, I am leading several federally funded research projects including a Department of Justice-funded grant to develop a school safety data dashboard and training materials for the state of Florida as well as a National Science Foundation-funded project examining the elementary school science learning trajectories of multi-lingual students. For the school safety dashboard project, we are working with state and non-profit partners to understand how stakeholders use school safety data and to incorporate that feedback into data visualizations that school personnel can use to facilitate data dialogues and target policy and practice changes. The multi-lingual learners and elementary science project is currently supporting the development of multiple graduate students’ skills in the quantitative analysis of large-scale secondary data and has led to multiple presentations to researchers and practitioners.

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Research Spotlight: Zandra de Araujo

Q & A with Zandra de Araujo, Ph.D., Chief Equity Officer and Mathematics Principal in the Lastinger Center for Learning

What research are you currently working on?

My current research focuses on teacher professional development and equitable mathematics instruction. I currently have two large research grants I am working on. I am the principal investigator of the Practice-Driven Professional Development (PDPD) Project (NSF #2206774, $2,533,289). The PDPD Project researches and develops professional development aimed to help teachers enact incremental changes to their existing instruction in algebra.

On the second project, led by Dr. Hyunyi Jung, I am a co-principal investigator. The project, Empowering Students with Choice through Equitable and Interactive Mathematical Modeling (EIM2, NSF #2200928, $1,978,280), helps students engage in equitable mathematical modeling. Equitable mathematical modeling is the process of using mathematics to analyze and quantify scenarios through a lens of equity and studying the outcomes of that process.

In addition to these two funded projects, I continue to study teachers’ instruction in mathematics with students classified as English learners.

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Research Spotlight: Melinda Leko

Q & A with Melinda Leko, Ph. D., Professor in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies

What research are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Development project in professional development to support students with disabilities. My colleagues and I are developing a professional development (PD) innovation for emergency-certified special educators working in rural settings. The PD is being delivered remotely and includes individualized coaching and a community of practice. The PD content centers on social/emotional/behavioral high-leverage practices (HLPs) to support the needs of students who exhibit challenging behaviors. Read more

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Research Spotlight: Ashley Pennypacker Hill

Q & A with Ashley Pennypacker Hill, Ed. D., Director of Elementary Programs and Associate Professor at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

What research are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on building student leadership opportunities, increasing positive family engagement, building systems of support for students, co-facilitating teacher learning communities, developing strategies to support school climate, and implementing restorative practices with students, teachers, and families.

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