Research Spotlight: Angela Kohnen

Q & A with Angela Kohnen, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning

What basic questions does your research seek to answer?

I am very interested in understanding the teaching of writing and the role of writing in classrooms across the curriculum, K-12. Some of the questions I hope to answer include: how do teachers across the curriculum learn to incorporate writing into their classrooms? What are the most effective ways to prepare teachers to teach writing? How does the teaching of writing impact student and teacher identity?

We are in an interesting place when it comes to writing instruction. The Common Core State Standards have brought more attention to writing instruction than we’ve had for years, but the standardized writing tests have also created a lot of pressure. In some places, we see more formulaic instruction rather than authentic writing, which I find troubling.

What makes your work interesting?

Everything! I love my work. I feel very privileged that I get to ask interesting questions, explore the answers, and write about all of this for a living. Writing and writing instruction can be very powerful. I have worked with teachers in a wide range of classrooms, including elementary, secondary English, science, welding, construction, and culinary arts, and in each context we have been able to find ways that writing enhances the curriculum and helps students develop into the kind of people the teachers were hoping they would become. It isn’t always easy, but that’s also what makes the work interesting. For example, coming to understand how writing can help students become welders—learn to think like welders and enact the processes of welding—that’s fascinating! I’m most engaged when I am working in fields and places where I can learn too.

What are you currently working on?

My colleagues in English Education and I are beginning a long-term study on how teachers think about and enact their role as writing teachers. We hope to work with our secondary English Education students from the time they begin our program into their first years in the field to understand how they make sense of the competing demands they face as teachers of writing. Each day, in each lesson, teachers are influenced by so many different factors: the way they were taught themselves; the curriculum they’ve been given or are creating; their students’ expectations and preparation; standardized testing; and, we hope, what they learn in a teacher preparation program. How that all plays out in their actual instruction is something we want to understand more.

I am also continuing work with colleagues at the University of Missouri-St. Louis on the teaching of nonfiction writing at the elementary level, something emphasized in the Common Core State Standards. We see this attention to nonfiction writing as an opportunity to engage students in authentic questions and information seeking—to really foster student curiosity, something that notoriously diminishes as students move through school.

Reminder: Research Training Utility

The UF Research Training Utility helps faculty identify what mandatory training must be completed in order to conduct research at UF.

To begin, answer the questions on this webpage http://research.ufl.edu/rtu.html based on the kind of research activities you expect to conduct. Once you have answered all of the questions, a list of the courses you need to complete will appear. You can then print the list or receive it by email.

The list will include the course name, how often it needs to be completed, where to take it, and how long it typically takes to complete.

To access your training records, log into myTraining at http://mytraining.hr.ufl.edu/. Your training transcript will list your completion status for individual trainings. Trainings hosted by outside entities may not have their results incorporated into myTraining at this time.

UFIRST Awards Implementation Goes Live

On July 5, the final phase of the UFIRST implementation will be complete when the awards module of the system is launched. This final phase of the UFIRST implementation reflects an increased synergy and partnership between the Division of Sponsored Programs and the Contracts and Grants Office, both of which are now housed together under the Office of Research.

While the requirements for departments to provide essential data about new and modifications to awards are the same, research administrators will now enter this information directly into UFIRST rather than emailing this information to DSP Awards.

RSH282, the UFIRST Awards training course, is available beginning this month. Register now to attend one of the many scheduled sessions beginning June 2.

Please note that users may experience some slowness during the weekend hours of July 2-4 as the Office of Research loads in all active awards, but at no time will UFIRST proposals be unavailable.

Some additional items to note:

  • For all new awards set up after July 5, the current Award Compliance Form will be available via UFIRST. Principal investigators will be required to log into UFIRST to complete this form.
  • In addition, the Conflict of Interest portion of this form is moving into UFIRST.  All key personnel on each award must certify their outside activities related to each award in UFIRST.
  • A new “Viewer” role will be introduced that will provide increased transparency and ease of access to information. The new common workspace will ensure more accurate record-keeping and the elimination of the need to rekey information in the myUFL system, with the expectation of a reduction in discrepancies.

In an effort to significantly improve the way it administers research, the Office of Research introduced the University of Florida Integrated Research Support Tool—or UFIRST—in the spring of 2015.

If you have questions or concerns, please email ufirst@research.ufl.edu.

Reminder: IES Research Funding Webinars

The remaining webinars in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) series will be held in June and July as follows for those who are interested in Fiscal Year 2017 funding opportunities:

  • IES/NCSER Special Education Research Training for Early Career Development and Mentoring, Tuesday, June 7th, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • IES Application Process, Wednesday, June 8th, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluations of Education and Special Education Programs, Thursday, June 9th, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Policy and Practice, June 16th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • IES Grant Writing Workshop, Friday, June 17th, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • IES Application Process (repeated), Thursday, July 14th, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

For more information on the sessions and to register, visit the IES funding webinars web page. (NOTE: All times are Eastern Daylight Time)

Words That Should Be Avoided in Grant Proposals: Part 1

Two words that should usually be avoided by applicants in preparing their grant applications are “If” and “Whether.” The primary problem with their use is that they both provide opportunities for a negative outcome to occur.

While it is certainly possible that either a positive or an alternative outcome might be beneficial, in many cases, the negative outcome leads to a “dead end” in a line of work or progression of activities.

It is critical that applicants summarize the expectations for what will be accomplished (the “deliverables”) at the completion of any series of activities or experiments that are described in the proposal, as well as what the potential importance of those outcomes would be. In efforts to exercise caution in describing projected outcomes, applicants may be tempted to write something along the lines of “If successful, these studies would provide new opportunities to………”

The problem with such a phrase is that it immediately conjures up the thought among the reviewers of “Well, what if not?” which, of course, has the potential to instill doubt in the mind of reviewer as to whether the applicant him/herself has confidence in the outcomes of the projected studies. In addition, if not successful, the conclusion would seem to be that such opportunities would not exist.

A potentially straightforward way to avoid this problem would be to rephrase this in the positive using the subjunctive verb tense. For example, “Our ability to provide strong evidence of the importance of our expected findings would provide new opportunities to …….”

With this strategy, the applicant would not be guaranteeing that proposed activities would be successful but simply that such success would be likely to have a significant positive impact from the perspective of the all-important mission of the funding agency.

Excerpted from Grant Writers’ Seminars & Workshops (GWSW) Blog.

To view specific examples of tips and strategies from various versions of the GWSW The Grant Application Writer’s Workbook, visit the Workbooks page and click the link for the specific workbook of interest to you.

New Lynda.com Login Process Provides Free 24/7 Access

The login page for Lynda.com — the company with which UF partners to provide students and employees with access to online software and technology courses — has changed, resulting in a slightly different process for using the free service at UF. This updated process will impact you if you are new to the Lynda.com service or if you are using a new device to access Lynda.com.

Lynda.com provides access to nearly 5,000 video courses on work-related topics including Excel, SAS, and InDesign. In addition, the site offers courses in digital photography, becoming an iBook author, and more.

To log in and access your free Lynda.com subscription, click the “Log in” button on the Lynda.com homepage and type “www.ufl.edu” into the box that reads “Or, enter your organization’s URL to log in through their portal.” Next, enter your GatorLink username. The new login page also includes “Remember Me” by default for future log-ins.

Please contact the UF Computing Help Desk if you need any assistance accessing Lynda.com.

Awarded Projects for May 2016

College of Education
Awarded Projects
May 2016
Principal Investigator: Mildred Maldonado Molina (Health Outcomes and Policy)
Co-PI: Lisa Langley (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Project Title: Office of Early Learning Web Portal
Project Period: 11/2/2015 – 6/30/2016
Award Amount: $4,433.00
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Duval County Public Schools
Project Title: Duval County Certified Coaching
Project Period: 6/16/2016 – 6/15/2017
Award Amount: $158,176.00

Submitted Projects for May 2016

College of Education
Submitted Projects
May 2016
Principal Investigator: Michael Bowie (Administration, Dean’s Area)
Co-PI: Nancy Waldron (Administration, Dean’s Area)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Proposal Title: College Reach-Out Program (CROP)
Requested Amount: $104,917
Principal Investigator: Mary Brownell (SSESPECS)
Co-PI: Amber Benedict (SSESPECS)
Funding Agency: US Department of Education/i3
Proposal Title: Project Coordinate: Supporting Teams of 3rd and 4th Grade Teachers in Designing and Implementing Effective Literacy Instruction Coordinated through a Multi-Tiered System of Support Framework
Requested Amount:$2,999,998
Principal Investigator: Anne Corinne Huggins-Manley (SHDOSE)
Co-PI: Walter Leite (SHDOSE)
Funding Agency: US Army Research Initiative for the Behavioral & Social Sciences
Proposal Title: Personnel Testing and Performance: Statistical Models for Non-response in Measurement
Requested Amount:  $344,400
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: Susan Butler (STL), Walter Leite (SHDOSE), Donald Pemberton (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Funding Agency: Rapides Foundation
Proposal Title: Rapides Evaluation of Education Initiative
Requested Amount: $449,501
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: United Way of Miami-Dade, Florida
Proposal Title: Early Childhood Technical Assistance Certification: Coaching Program
Requested Amount: $44,000
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: United Way of Miami-Dade, Florida
Proposal Title: Supporting Family Engagement in the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership
Requested Amount: $39,600
Principal Investigator: Albert Ritzhaupt (STL)
Co-PI: Nancy Waldron (Administration, Dean’s Area), Christina Gardner-McCune (Computer & Information Science & Engineering)
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Proposal Title: Collaborative Research: Creating Alternative Pathways to Computing Careers for Diverse Populations
Requested Amount: $2,479,506