Exponential growth in research funding, fueled by expansive domain expertise, provides the platform from which we will create the future. At the UF College of Education, faculty and graduate students are pursuing vital, interdisciplinary research that impacts childhood development, student success, education policy and leadership, and technology in all education disciplines.
The college’s Office of Educational Research serves as a champion of faculty scholarship, supporting our mission of advancing educational outcomes for all learners and advocating for research that addresses critical educational and societal needs.
With progressive leadership, the college continues to enhance its educational research infrastructure to pursue new external funding opportunities for faculty research. By partnering with multiple stakeholders, across industries and domains, education faculty engage in novel scholarship and research activities that transform education and strengthen society.
Exploring ways to make schools safer
F. Chris Curran, associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Florida, was been awarded $1,998,585 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs to develop an enhanced school safety data dashboard for Florida schools. Curran is joining forces with the non-profit Safe Schools for Alex and the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools, to build on the existing school safety dashboards, by increasing data updates, enhancing the user experience and identifying actionable insights to help create a safer learning environment.
“The opportunity to collaborate on expanding the work Safe Schools for Alex has begun while leveraging the robust school safety data collected in Florida provides unprecedented opportunities to use data to inform how and where we target supports to ensure safe schools”, said Curran.
Curran hopes that implementing this dashboard will lead to safer conditions in schools across Florida. Work on this project is beginning soon and will continue into 2024.
F. Chris Curran
Addressing unmet mental health needs
Associate Professor Joni Splett, from the School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies, was allocated $5,845,320 from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institution (PCORI) to explore strategies intended to provide access to mental health support for elementary school children and their families. Research shows that children who don’t receive proper mental health support have a higher probability of drug addiction, exclusionary discipline and suicide.
“Our mental health and well-being are critical for many important short and long-term outcomes, yet many times children and families needing help are unable to access mental health services. When they do, it is often several years after symptoms are first noticed.”
Splett’s research will be conducted in 40 schools across Florida and South Carolina, using a universal screening process where all K-5 are screened for mental health needs. School staff will also receive training on mental health literacy and unconscious bias to help better serve their students.
“My research funding examines how we can collaborate across school and community settings to make mental health services more accessible to all children and youth in need when challenges first start to arise.”
Funding for this project has been approved and is expected to be completed in 2026.
Gamifying curriculum to teach computing hardware
In today’s world, many students enter college with a basic understanding of computer programing and sciences, but many lack the basic knowledge of computer hardware fundamentals. To increase interest in hardware-related computing, Pavlo “Pasha” Antonenko, associate professor of educational technology, is designing a new gamified curriculum to increase student interest in computer hardware. The project is funded by a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Antonenko, who is also the director of the NeurAL Lab, believes that encouraging interest in this aspect of computers among undergraduates and high school students will help attract more students to pursue hardware engineering as a career and help solve the computer chip shortage. With this gamified program, Atonenko hopes to focus more on collaboration versus competition in order to better support students participating in the curriculum.