UF’s record $1.25 billion in research spending is accelerating the groundbreaking research at the College of Education. This year, our faculty made significant strides in improving the quality of students’ education and lives nationwide. 

“The College of Education’s success in external funding is grounded by the college leadership’s intentional investment in faculty,” said Thomasenia Adams, associate dean for research and faculty development. “The result of this investment is that the College’s principal investigators explore unique opportunities to advance their fields, engage in high-impact research across a myriad of disciplines, and seek external funding from a variety of sources, including the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Education, state entities and private foundations.”

Now working in 19 states, the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center, led by Erica McCray, Ph.D., is helping governments and institutes of higher education reform, revise, refine and realign their policies to support students with disabilities in achieving college- and career-ready standards. Having recently received an additional $17.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, CEEDAR will support technical assistance efforts through 2027.

Our faculty also engaged in grassroots efforts to use immersive VR technology to create new possibilities for students with autism spectrum disorder. Nigel Newbutt, Ph.D., has been working with students at the Reach Academy in Jacksonville. Together, they’ve worked to co-develop interactive experiences that simulate social situations to help autistic people practice navigating social situations. Still in the early stages of development, this work is well received by those who have tested it: “It challenges us and makes us feel powerful,” said Reach Academy graduate Ethan Anderson. 

Research is also supporting student resiliency. Gator Connect, a $4.8 million grant across the UF School Psychology, School Counseling and Mental Health Counseling programs, will expand school-based mental health (SBMH) services and provider retention in Alachua County Public Schools. Led by PI Joni Splett, Ph.D., Gator Connect will provide enhanced training and assistantship funding to 15 graduate student trainees — five from each program — before placing them throughout five high-need ACPS locations.

Led by Phil Poekert, Ph.D., UF’s #1 PI for two years in a row, the Lastinger Center for Learning is setting all learners on trajectories for lifelong success. The center serves over one million students and 50,000 educators annually while bringing in millions in funding to support early learning, mathematics, literacy and leadership programs. Via the New Worlds Reading Initiative, 200,000+ families have been connected to books and resources to foster a love of reading. Since the start of the program in December 2021, over 3.7 million books have been shipped to Florida children.

When asked about their research impact, Poekert explained, “sharing our research, practice and policy efforts across the country and the world broadens our impact. As an avenue for the University of Florida to fulfill its land-grant mission to the state, we continuously affirm our commitment to improving Floridians’ lives through education.”

The college’s faculty, staff and students will continue exploring to transform education and creating innovations in teaching and learning. “With the university’s mission of excellence in research in the forefront, the College aims to continue a trajectory of research and external funding that leads to meaningful and informative outcomes,” Adams said.