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Acclaimed study adds new dimension to college chemistry instruction

To 3D or not to 3D? College instructors in chemistry and other science disciplines are debating whether it’s best to use traditional, two-dimensional renderings of basic structures like organic molecules and crystals, or to adopt new technology that can render images of molecular structures in three dimensions.

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AERA honors UF Special Ed professor for impactful research

Special Education professor Stephen W. Smith, one of the College’s most prolific researchers and federal grant generators, has been chosen to receive the Distinguished Researcher Award from the Special Education Research special interest group of the American Educational Research Association.


Paying It Forward

Shelley Warm, senior lecturer and Site-based Implementation of Teacher Education (SITE) program director, has been honored as Florida’s Outstanding Teacher Educator of the Year by the Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE). The Mary L. Collins award recognizes dedication to the field of teacher education and advocate of high-quality education.

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UF scholar doubles up on national honors for advancing learning disabilities field

Prof. Mary Brownell is feted twice for leading reform efforts in Special Education teacher preparation.


He will be missed: Professor Emeritus John Newell dies at 91

John Michael Newell, Ph.D., 91, a professor emeritus of educational psychology and a 30-year member of the graduate faculty at the UF College of Education, passed away Sunday, June 11, in Gainesville. He was a longtime instructor in the Department of Foundations of Education and served as acting director of the unit for two years in 1981-1983.

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Counselor Ed. professor doubles up on national laurels

Shon D. Smith, clinical assistant professor in Counselor Education, has recently drawn national attention in his field for two major achievements involving separate divisions of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

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World’s largest education research group honors UF grad school dean

Henry “Hank” Frierson, associate vice president and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida with a faculty appointment at the College of Education, has received the Presidential Citation from the American Educational Research Association.

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Learning Gains from our Brains

Faculty scholars are merging neuroscience and education research to personalize multimedia and online learning


UF education technology researcher Pavlo “Pasha” Antonenko adjusts his EEG headwear on a study subject.

UF education technology researcher Pavlo “Pasha” Antonenko has never been afraid to take risks and go against convention. His pioneering spirit emerged in the 1990s in his Ukraine homeland, where personal computers were scarce and there was no internet connection. Fast forward two decades, to today, and you’ll find him leading groundbreaking studies at the College of Education on a radical new approach for advancing and personalizing the still-fledgling field of online learning.


Antonenko’s journey to UF started in the late 1990s when he was a high school teacher. He became fascinated with computers at a time when his hometown of Nizhyn, Ukraine had no internet connections and few computers. He began building and selling computers to supplement his income while he earned a master’s in linguistics in English and German languages.

“I was one of the first people in my hometown to get an internet connection, but it wasn’t very good. I started building websites even before I had internet, but they were just sitting on my computer,” he recalls.

His career path changed dramatically in 2002 when he traveled to Orlando to work as an interpreter at a conference on education technology, a discipline that wasn’t even recognized in Ukraine. But Antonenko had found his passion: exploring ways computer technology can improve education.

“Everything I heard there and the people I met, I said ‘wow, this is what I want to do as my graduate education and job,’” he says.

Within a few months, he and his wife, Yuliya, moved a half-world away to settle in Ames, Iowa, where he spent five years at Iowa State University earning a doctorate in curriculum and instructional technology and human-computer interaction.

Along the way, Antonenko worked with Iowa State neuroscientists on one of his personal research interests—the use of electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor brain activity known as “cognitive load,” which is the amount of mental effort expended by the working memory during a learning task. EEG, which records the brain’s electrical activity, is most commonly used in medicine as a first-line, non-invasive method of diagnosing stroke and other brain disorders.

It would have been intriguing to monitor Antonenko’s own brain activity as he thought to himself, “Hmmm, I wonder if EEG might be a reliable way to study the mental processes underlying learning.” He wrote his dissertation on the topic and became one of the first education researchers to use EEG to measure the cognitive dynamics of learning.

The stars begin to align

After earning his doctorate and serving five years on the education technology faculty at Oklahoma State University, Antonenko joined UF’s ed. tech faculty in 2012. His appointment coincided with the education world’s identification of personalizing online learning as a global challenge and a top research priority of the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.

UF administrators also targeted research of personalized e-learning for investment of state “preeminent university” funds, which enabled the College of Education in 2014 to recruit top ed. tech scholar Carole Beal from Arizona State University, where she was conducting her own pioneering neuro-education studies. Beal became the first director of UF’s new campuswide Online Learning Institute.

The College of Education made a priority of integrating neuroscience with education research to improve online learning at all levels. Pivotal developments during the 2015-16 academic year made that push a certainty.

Kara Dawson

UF Education Technology Professor Kara Dawson

Merging Neuroscience and education research at UF

In 2015, Antonenko, Beal and UF education technology colleague Kara Dawson attracted vital grant funding to lead novel interdisciplinary research projects using wireless EEG brain monitoring and other neuro-technology to study how multimedia learning can be impoved for all students, not just those who test well on academic exams. These studies focus on education in the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math—areas in which the use of multimedia learning tools “has far outstripped the ability of research to keep pace with,” says Antonenko.

Their focus on custom-tailoring instructional design for individual learner differences, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach, is a distinctive feature of their studies.

“Virtually all research on multimedia learning methods has been performed on high-achieving students at elite research-intensive universities, where studies like this usually occur. We are evaluating these methods with more diverse student populations and those with special needs,” Antonenko says.


In 2015, Antonenko became the first UF education faculty researcher to win 5 NSF grants in the same year.

NSF study focuses on community college students

Antonenko heads a team of highly specialized researchers drawn from multiple institutions on a three-year study, supported by a $765,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The researchers are gauging how effective technology-assisted learning practices are for a diverse group of community college students, which now constitute nearly half of all U.S. higher education students.

The team, dubbed the Science of Learning Collaborative Network, includes top scholars in education technology, neuroscience, STEM education, neuropsychology, computer science and educational measurement. They hail from UF, the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Washington State University.

Some 120 students from three colleges—Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and SUNY Buffalo State in Buffalo, N.Y.—are participating in the study. The students are screened for demographics and learning differences, such as working memory and visual attention levels, to ensure a varied test group.

Team specialists in cognitive neuroscience are employing EEG and other high-tech methods, including functional near infrared spectroscopy (to measure neural changes in blood oxygenation) and eye tracking (to understand visual attention) to assess the students’ attention and mental processes while they learn using multimedia materials that include text, images, videos, animations and audio.

The researchers hope to land follow-up NSF grants by demonstrating the effectiveness of their network’s organization, infrastructure and integration of diverse research strategies, along with their unique approach to personalized learning.

“Working with scholars from other disciplines and other institutions is really exciting but it’s also challenging because each discipline and each person has a different way to work,” Antonenko says. “We have to make sure everyone is invested and feels valued and make sure we pull all of the expertise together in a way that makes sense.”

UF co-researchers are ed. tech faculty members Dawson and Beal, and psychology professor Andreas Keil. Co-principal investigators are computer science and STEM education scholars Matthew Schneps from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Marc Pomplun from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Richard Lamb of SUNY Buffalo State, who focuses on science education and measurement.

Adapting digital media for students with dyslexia

Professor Dawson heads an educational neuroscience study focused on multimedia learning for students with dyslexia, the most common language-based disability. People with dyslexia typically have difficulty reading and processing words.

Dawson was awarded $85,000 for the one-year project from UF’s Office of Research, which awards Research Opportunity Seed Fund grants to UF scholars for the merit and potential of their research proposals. Antonenko is a co-principal investigator.

The study involves 72 college students with dyslexia, each participating in one of four multimedia learning settings while wearing wireless EEG headsets to monitor and record brain activity during the multimedia exercise and comprehension assessment. The student volunteers are drawn from four institutions: Santa Fe Community College and the universities of Central Florida, North Florida and South Florida.

While neuroscience-based methods are central to the study, Dawson is quick to make one thing clear: “In no way am I a neuroscientist.”

“To me, this is not about neuroscience,” she says, “I am interested in what neuroscience techniques can tell us about the learning process. That is what it’s all about for me.”

Dawson and her team will use their findings to evaluate the validity of merging EEG and behavioral measures and, ultimately, to develop new instructional strategies and materials that teachers can personalize for individual students with varied learning traits and backgrounds.

Besides Dawon and Antonenko, the research team includes UF ed. tech colleagues Beal and Albert Ritzhaupt, dyslexia diagnostic specialist Linda Lombardino from UF’s special education program, and UF neuropsychologist Keil. Doctoral students participating are Kendra Saunders from school pyschology and Nihan Dogan, Jiahui Wang, Li Cheng, Wenjing Luo and Robert Davis from the School of Teaching and Learning. Matthew Schneps from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysicists also is collaborating.

“We all share this mutual goal of figuring out how technology can help all types of learners,” Dawson says. “We need to make technology work so everyone feels they can learn and be smart and successful.”


The researchers describe both educational neuroscience studies as exploratory, but Antonenko says he expects them to yield solid preliminary findings that may lead to follow-up NSF research proposals.

“EEG appears to be a great tool for educational research that can produce important implications for teaching and learning in education.” he says. “Our focus is on helping people who need additional support as they learn using 21st century online and multimedia tools in education.”

“That is what I find most rewarding.”

WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Counselor Ed. volunteers reflect on Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy


John Super (center) watches the news with other volunteers in the LGBT Center in Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Several months have passed since a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in what was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — a horrific tragedy the likes of which rarely strikes so close to the University of Florida.

While the trauma of the lives lost will long linger in the minds of survivors, family and friends of the victims, the aftermath also has brought the Orlando community together in a cause for hope and unity. Citizens donated blood, stood together on social media and held vigils.

They were supported by sympathizers across Florida and the country, including a contingent of students and faculty members from UF College of Education who personally visited Orlando to assist in the communitywide effort to provide counseling and mental health care to those affected by the deadly shooting.

“This event had a huge impact on me as a counselor, a student and a person,” said Rachel Henesy, a UF doctoral student in counselor education. “On a personal and professional level, I felt a responsibility to help in any way possible.”

About 30 UF volunteers

The UF effort was spearheaded by John Super, a clinical assistant professor of counselor education, who in the days after the tragedy helped recruit and organize about 30 UF counselors and students to travel to Orlando for one-on-one counseling sessions. They helped people coping with intense feelings — such as loss, anger and fear, provided referrals to local licensed therapists and served as an emotional outlet for those experiencing their darkest days.

It has been said that out of deep pain and grief there is hope and opportunity. That is what Super found when he asked his UF students and peers from around the state to contribute to the volunteer counseling efforts.

“In the beginning, there was a moment where I thought I could either volunteer or not,” Super said. “But I knew I had to do something, and at that moment I had no idea the magnitude the tragedy would become.”

Super worked with local volunteer counseling coordinators, including David Baker-Hargrove and Lindsay Kincaide of Two Spirit Health Services in Orlando, to develop a response plan. He also coordinated with Alicia Homrich, a professor of graduate studies in counseling at Rollins College in Winter Park, who provided resources and also recruited Rollins students, Kincaide said.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Central Florida served as the base of operations, with other free counseling locations established throughout the Orlando area, including LGBT-friendly bars. All told, nearly 700 people — ranging from licensed counselors, psychologists, pet therapists, interpreters and social workers — volunteered their time in the days and weeks following the shooting to assist hundreds of people from June 12 to July 4, Kincaide said.

Ties to the LGBT community

Super was well equipped to help with the grassroots counseling efforts. He has master’s in marriage and family therapy and a Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and has ties to Orlando’s LGBT Community Center. He also has Red Cross training in disaster response for mental health care and has conducted research in the identity development of LGBT individuals.

In the days after the tragedy, Super tapped his counseling connections, Orlando ties and experience in crisis intervention counseling to help address the widespread grief and fear of area residents — including a large contingent of the gay and Hispanic communities. He posted information on social media sites and sent emails to UF students and counselors asking for their help. Most not only were willing to volunteer but also shared his message to recruit others.

Though so many felt shock and heartbreak, Super said he witnessed a tremendous amount of goodness, too. He saw graduate students counsel those affected by the tragedy, and he encouraged conversation among the students to share their stories and feelings, and learn from each other’s experiences.

“I experienced such an outpouring from master’s and doctoral students who were willing to give their time and really put themselves out there driving from Gainesville to Orlando every day,” he said. “They put their own feelings and grief aside in order to help those who most needed it.”

Henesy, the UF doctoral student in counselor education, said she was grateful that Super was able to assess what was needed and get UF students and his peers involved.

Another counselor education doctoral student, Philip Daniels, said the College of Education gave him the foundation and confidence to provide the support needed for those processing the event.

“One of the first thoughts that went through my head was competency,” Daniels said. “I asked myself, ‘can I really do this?’ Then, it dawned on me. This is what I am trained for. This was a moment when everything I have learned came together so I could serve others in their time of need.”

Super said LGBT counseling has long been a staple of UF’s counseling education curriculum. Diversity and social justice is weaved into all of the counselor education courses, and LGBT issues are addressed through role-playing and discussions in every foundational class and clinical experience.

“Historically, we were one of the first several counselor education programs in the nation,” Super said. “We’ve always had a strong social justice focus that is supported by the college and our profession.”

Source: John Super, UF College of Education; 352-273-4325; jsuper@coe.ufl.edu
Writer: Kelsie Ozanne, news and communications office, UF College of Education; kozanne@ufl.edu
Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4173; llansford@coe.ufl.edu


College Welcomes New Faculty

The UF College of Education appointed a half-dozen professors to the college’s full-time faculty this year. The appointments were in special education (two), the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, ESOL/bilingual education, higher education and administration, and research and evaluation methodology (two).

The mini-profiles below can help you get better acquainted with our new faculty:

Benedict, AmberAmber Benedict, visiting assistant professor in special education

  • Comes from: post doctoral associate research position in special education at UF College of Education.
  • Research interests: Improving instruction for students with learning disabilities, including how general and special education teachers’ professional learning opportunities contribute to students’ literacy . . . “I am interested in exploring how teachers’ knowledge and instructional decision-making is related to the enactment of effective instructional practices, and ultimately student achievement.”
  • Noteworthy: Won an award from the Council of Exceptional Children’s Division of Research for her dissertation on professional development innovation using lesson study to support teams of general and special education teachers. … Previously taught elementary and middle school students with exceptionalities in Iowa, Arizona and Florida.

Gonsalves, VivianVivian Gonsalves, visiting clinical assistant professor in special education

  • Comes from: Served as professor-in-residence for the UF COE’s Advancing the Development of Preservice Teachers (ADePT) program, which focuses on strengthening students’ internship year in the college’s unified elementary education program.
  • Research interests: Elementary teacher education, reading instruction, prevention and remediation of reading difficulties, instruction in high-poverty areas and professional development for teachers.
  • Noteworthy: Former UF College of Education ProTeach student. … “It was during my UFLI (University of Florida Literacy Initiative) training when I truly developed a passion for working with struggling readers. As a clinical faculty member, I now have the privilege of teaching the UFLI model to preservice teachers enrolled in our teacher education program.”

KNOPF, HermanHerman Knopf, research scientist in the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies

  • Comes from: Yvonne & Schuyler Moore Child Development Research Center at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
  • Research interests: Child care accessibility, parent selection of child care, early childhood workforce professional development, and use of administrative data.
  • Noteworthy: Returning to UF after having earned bachelor’s (Special Education), masters (Early Childhood Education) and doctorate (Curriculum and Instruction) degrees here. Title of his Ph.D. Dissertation: “Describing Quality Child Care from the Perspective of African-American Mothers.”

Kozuma, JoJo Kozuma, lecturer in ESOL/bilingual education

  • Comes from: University of Florida, where she earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
  • Research interests: Cross-cultural analysis of how sociolinguistic community structures support the development of bilingual speakers.
  • Noteworthy: Previously taught Japanese language and culture as well as English as a second language. … English-to-Japanese book translator in the sports field.

Peck-Parrott, Kelli

Kelli Peck Parrott, clinical full professor higher education administration

  • Comes from: Texas A&M University, where she was clinical professor and director of the master’s program in student affairs administration and human resource development.
  • Research interests: Focus on generational issues at work, student affairs administration and student development.
  • Noteworthy: Served as a trainer for companies such as Halliburton through the Center for Executive Leadership. … Earned a doctorate in higher education administration at Bowling Green State University with her dissertation “Crime on Campus: Communication Practices, Policies, and Ideal Practices of Campus Law Enforcement Officers and Campus Judicial Officers.”


Anne Seraphine, clinical assistant professor in research and evaluation methodology and coordinator of a new master of arts in education degree in Program Evaluation for Educational Environments.

  • Comes from: full-time adjunct lecturer in the college’s research and evaluation methodology program.
  • Research interests: How to best train evaluators to be culturally responsive, the intersection of exemplary teaching of evaluation and the challenges of online delivery, and statistical and psychometric procedures when applied to evaluation applications.
  • Noteworthy: Helped develop the new REM master’s degree by evaluating professional literature and standards and surveying evaluation programs at institutions comparable to the University of Florida . . . “As a result, with input from the REM faculty, I was able to select and build a sequence of courses for the new curriculum that should provide students with an exemplary, theory-based program in evaluation.” . . . She proposed four new courses; the university approval process is nearly complete for the program major and the courses.

Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

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International group installs COE professor as president-elect


Ester de JongThe world’s largest organization of educators committed to advancing English language teaching for non-English speaking students has installed a UF College of Education professor and school director as its president-elect.

Ester de Jong, professor of ESOL/bilingual education and director of the college’s School of Teaching and Learning, has assumed the penultimate leadership post for TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Association and is on track to become the group’s president at the TESOL convention in Seattle in March 2017.

TESOL is a professional community of more than 12,500 members—educators, researchers, administrators and students—representing 156 countries.

“Teaching English to English learners involves many complex issues, with equity and access, technology use and multilingualism playing important roles,” de Jong said. “TESOL is in a unique position to advocate for professionalism in English teaching around the world that is responsive to these global trends.”

De Jong said she values the personal and professional opportunity her leadership role in TESOL offers as a forum for shaping and sharing the group’s important message.

“One of my goals is to raise awareness of the multilingual realities in which English teaching and learning takes place and how it contributes to developing bilingual multilingual competence for speakers from diverse backgrounds,” she said.

In addition to her UF appointment as STL director, de Jong continues to be involved in teaching and research projects related to language policy, bilingual education and mainstream teacher preparation for bilingual learners. In 2013 she received the Award for Excellence in Research on Bilingual Education from the National Association of Two-Way and Dual Language Education. She is widely published in peer-reviewed academic journals on bilingual and language education and policy and has published a book titled “Foundations of Multilingualism in Education: From Principles to Practice,” which focuses on working with multilingual children in K-12 schools.

De Jong also was the lead investigator on a recently completed, seven-year study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to assess and advance the teaching of English language learners in Florida’s public schools. She is currently a co-principal investigator on a Florida Department of Education grant involving the creation of a Center of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation at UF’s College of Education.

De Jong has an Ed.D. in literacy, language and cultural studies from Boston University and joined the UF education faculty in 2001.

SOURCE: Ester de Jong, 352-273-4227 ; edejong@coe.ufl.edu
: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;



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UF Foundation selects education professor for research award

Mary Brownell

Mary Brownell

The University of Florida Foundation has selected education professor Mary Brownell to receive one of just two grants given annually to university faculty members to advance their critical research projects.

Brownell, a leading scholar and policy expert in special education and teacher preparation, said the $25,000 UF Foundation Term Professorship Award would allow her to develop ways of improving the practices of new teachers and interns, especially for teaching students with disabilities.

UF created the special three-year award in 2013 to support Florida’s overall goal of becoming a preeminent global university by addressing complex societal issues. It is given annually to two research professors.

Brownell said the award would help her work on two related projects.

First, she and her research assistants will develop a digital assessment tool to allow faculty members to better evaluate the learning opportunities education students have when they work as teaching assistants in K-12 schools.

“The problem is that we assume school-based experiences improve teaching. Yet, we really do not know what it is about these that make them effective,” Brownell said. “If we are going to improve teaching, we need to better understand the aspects that work best.

“With this assessment tool you’ll be able to examine the best practices and link those back to teacher and student performance.”

Secondly, she wants to work with education technology colleagues to tap virtual technology in a fresh way to improve teacher practice. This would involve the use of video and simulations of specific practices of effective teachers.

She said such tools are underused in the education field though they are becoming widespread in training students in other professions, such as medicine, nursing and information sciences.

Brownell said she felt honored to receive the highly competitive award, for which she was recommended by the College of Education’s research advisory committee. But perhaps just importantly her selection shines a light on the College of Education.

“Education sometimes doesn’t get the attention and respect that it deserves, not only nationally but locally,” Brownell said. “Putting a spotlight on the college could be the nicest part of the award.”

Brownell joined the University of Florida faculty in 1990 and has a lengthy list of accomplishments, including publishing more than 100 scholarly works and securing $42 million in federal grants to fund education research. She directs the college’s CEEDAR Center to improve the preparation of teachers and leaders working with students with disabilities. It was launched with a record $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CEEDAR is short for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

Source: Mary Brownell, 352-273-4261
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

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School psychology professor wins second Mensa research award

UF school psychology Professor John Kranzler has received the 2016 Award for Excellence in Research from Mensa International Ltd.

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New school director Holly Lane embraces tradition of ‘vigorous research’

Holly Lane

Holly Lane

The University of Florida College of Education has appointed one of its own—associate professor of special education Holly Lane—as the new director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies (SESPECS).

Lane, an accomplished scholar in literacy education, has served as associate director of the school since 2012 and also coordinates its doctoral program in special education. She succeeds Jean Crockett, who is leaving the post after seven years to resume her teaching and research responsibilities as a professor of special education.

Lane and Crockett will share director duties during the summer transition until Lane assumes sole leadership on Aug. 16.

Lane said her most important role as school director will be to ascertain how she can best support faculty in their work —“and then keep everything else out of their way.”

“We have an exceptional group of scholars and teachers, so supporting their outstanding work will be my top priority. With several retirements coming over the next few years, I also expect new faculty recruitment, development, and mentoring to be a large part of the job,” she said.

Currently, Lane also directs the University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI), a joint program of the College of Education and its affiliated P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School—with several outreach and public-school projects designed to help students who struggle to read or write.

Her research interests include literacy intervention and prevention of reading difficulties through effective early literacy instruction and teacher education. She has published a multitude of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and a book.

In her 22 years at UF, Lane has served as the lead or co-principal investigator on contracts and grants totaling more than $8 million. She and faculty colleague Nicholas Gage were recently awarded a $1.25 million grant from the federal Office of Special Education Programs to support a doctoral leadership training program focusing on special education.

She also leads the evaluation of a intensive reading improvement effort called “Winning Reading Boost,” developed by the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning. The program, funded in March with $400,000 from the Florida Legislature, is being used to help five failing elementary schools in south St. Petersburg improve the reading of their most struggling students.

Lane said sustaining the school’s strong research program is an ongoing priority for SESPECS.

“A vigorous program of funded research allows for more flexibility in what we do as a school,” she said.

Lane also is strong on teaching and academics. In 2014, she was instrumental in helping the college’s dual certification program—in elementary and special education—become one of the first teacher preparation programs in the nation to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association.

She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in special education from UF and is previous winner of the college’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award. She is the 2016 vice president of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children and is on track for the group’s presidency in 2018.

Lane taught special education in public schools for eight years in three North Florida counties before joining UF’s education faculty in 1994.

Her predecessor as school director, Jean Crockett, has headed SESPECS for the past seven years.

Jean Crockett

Jean Crockett


During Crockett’s tenure:

  • Two major centers for research and professional development were established: the interdisciplinary Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, and CEEDAR, the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform. The latter center was created with the aid of a $25 million federal grant, the largest award in College of Education history;
  • Federal research and training funds generated by SESPECS faculty more than tripled from $15 million to $52 million;
  • The school added seven faculty members, including two as part of UF’s top-10 Preeminence initiative;
  • Crockett’s program, special education, consistently ranked among the top five in its specialty area in the U.S.. News and World Report rankings.
  • Seven Ph.D. graduates captured prestigious national dissertation research awards.

Students in UF’s special education program will benefit from Crockett’s return to teaching and research. She is an acknowledged leader in the field, previously serving as president of the Division for Research of the international Council for Exceptional Children from 2007-2011.

Crockett, who has a doctorate in special education from the University of Virginia (1997), has served as special education editor of the Journal of Law and Education for 15 years. She has published five books and multiple book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. Since 2008, she has designed and produce the “Doctoral Student Seminars in Special Education Research,” an online seminar series engaging 10 doctoral students scholars selected annually through a national competition sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children.

“I have had the opportunity to support programs and scholars who are nationally and internationally recognized for the strength of their research and influence on public policy,” Crockett said. “I am confident that Dr. Lane will build on these impressive strengths with innovative and creative leadership. I wish her all the very best.”

   SOURCEHolly Lane, PhD. UF College of Education; 352-273-4273
   SOURCEJean Crockett, UF College of Education; 352-273-4292
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Q & A with Kara Dawson on closing the ‘digital divide’

Kara Dawson

Kara Dawson is the College of Education’s newest Irving and Rose Fien Professor.

It was in 1990 when Kara Dawson gained an insight that was to become the central focus of her research career as a professor of educational technology.

Back then she was teaching 5th, 6th and 7th graders in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at a time when personal computers were just catching on and the invention of the first internet browser was three years away. Dawson attended a workshop on authoring software and began experimenting with using technology in her classroom as a way to engage struggling students.

Fien Professorship boosts Dawson’s research and teaching

Kara Dawson received the College of Education’s Irving and Rose Fien Professorship for 2015-2018.

The professorship provides:

  • $15,000 annual research fund
  • A half-time research assistant
  • $15,000 annual salary supplement

The grant is helping to advance Dawson’s research to promote technology use for all students, including:

  • Creating a network of teacher fellows to engage in a study of technology practices in classrooms.
  • Coordinating an annual interactive lecture series on the topic to connect a community of interested individuals.
  • Supporting doctoral students interested in this area through travel funds and other opportunities.

She soon came to see that educational technologies could improve the learning outcomes for virtually all students. She became her school’s technology integration specialist and in 1994 she returned to college to earn a doctorate in the emerging field of instructional technology from the University of Virginia.

In 1999, she came to the University of Florida’s College of Education and has served as coordinator for the educational technology program and co-developed five advanced degree programs, both online and for the classroom. Her many research projects have included:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of multimedia and mobile apps for dyslexic schoolchildren
  • Studying how students with different cognitive profiles learn in multimedia environments
  • Investigating a growing “digital divide” whereby middle-school students’ socioeconomic status, gender and ethnic background affect their computer savvy

Last year, the College of Education’s Research Advisory Committee selected Dawson as its Irving and Rose Fien Professor. The three-year post supports veteran faculty members with a track record of successful research aimed at helping at-risk learners in kindergarten-through-high school, mainly at high-poverty schools.

Recently, Dawson took time to discuss her research and the ways incorporating technology and digital tools into traditional classrooms can help all types of learners to flourish. Below are excerpts.

Q: Can technology help students who struggle in traditional schools?

A: Yes, particularly if they are bored, not engaged or struggling to learn content. In schools, we are very limited in how we think about success and the way that students can access content and show what they know. We are also limited in the ways we think about how we teach. These limitations are very real and exist for many reasons often outside the direct control of individual teachers and administrators. But we should keep thinking about how to make school better for all students. Technology is not going to be the end-all-be-all solution, but it can help a lot more than it is helping.

Q: These multimedia tools may get them more engaged?

A: Yes, but we need to figure out how to match technologies to students. And how to match students to technologies. More importantly, students have to be empowered to think about what works for them and to seek alternatives to support their learning now and in the future.

Q: Can you provide examples of how technology can be useful in a classroom?

A: Well, there are a lot of ways technology can be useful in the classroom. I have done quite a bit of work with whole class projects that help students become digital communicators, creators and collaborators. But these uses are different from thinking about how technology can meet individual needs. Two simple, readily available tools are: text-to-speech and speech-to-text apps.

Q: With speech-to-text, you mean there is a web page or a textbook that is enabled to read the text to a student?

A: Yes. For example, for a student struggling to get through a 40-page chapter on U.S. history, text-to-speech could be the difference between accessing the content or not. For another student listening to the chapter may simply be a preference rather than a necessity. But, the types and quality of the technologies available to these students as well as the mindset of their teachers determine whether they can use this feature. Unfortunately, many digital resources created for K-12 education are poorly designed (especially some digital textbooks) and some educators still view reading as the only way to access content. So, the apps may be simple but the context in which they need to be used is quite complex.

Two other examples are speech-to-text and word prediction. I once taught a student who was very articulate but with horrible handwriting. Why not let him communicate his ideas through speech-to-text apps? Why not teach students who struggle with spelling (or really all students) how to use word prediction? Once again, these are simple apps, but the challenge is how do you bring them to the complex world of K-12 education.

Q: Let me take a devil’s advocate position. How do you respond to those who say kids need to learn how to spell, that we shouldn’t have a tool to do it for them?

A: Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that students to learn to spell. But not everyone is going to be good at it and this shouldn’t deter students from being able to communicate their ideas. It shouldn’t continually hinder them from succeeding in school, especially when the goal of a particular learning task may not be focused on spelling.

“There needs to be some empathy and understanding that being smart is not equivalent to being able to read and write. Imagine if we gauged how smart you were based on whether you could communicate through song. Technology can level the playing field.”

Q: Is this a big debate in education, one with parents and others, that there is work to do to get this message out?

A: There needs to be some empathy and understanding that being smart is not equivalent to being able to read and write. Think about it, students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling are essentially doomed in a school environment if learning every subject is predicated on these three skills.

Imagine if we gauged how smart you were based whether you could communicate through song. And so everyone who had a good voice and was gifted in that way would shine. Or what if we communicated everything through drawing? So it’s just a very limited way we think about things.

If a student cannot read well (or quickly) and all content is provided through a textbook then she will struggle to learn science and history even if she has innate strengths in other areas, such as the visuospatial strengths needed to succeed in science. Technology can level the playing field for these students.

Q: As far as the Fien Professorship, what do you hope to accomplish over these three years?

A: I really hope to make progress on the ways we can use technology to support the needs of all learners.

I am involved with two studies about how nontraditional college students learn in multimedia environments. We hope to find out how multimedia and online environments can be modified to meet the needs of different kinds of learners and extend our work to K-12 students. One of the most exciting things is that these studies require interdisciplinary collaboration. We need the expertise of special educators, psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists. And, I get to work with closely the exceptionally smart colleagues in my own program as well — Albert Ritzhaupt, Pasha Antonenko, Carole Beal and Swapna Kumar.

I also want to make an impact people’s awareness about how technology can meet the needs of all learners. In particular, I plan to work with and learn from teachers who are trying to figure out how to use technology to help their students and with preservice teachers. They have the chance to be leaders in their schools after graduation.

And I’m working with a grassroots group of parents led by Blake Beckett (from P.K. Yonge, the College of Education’s developmental research school) to find ways parents can use technology to support their children.

There are several potential funding sources to further this work and I’m looking forward to see where these ideas and conversations go.

Q: Does it feel daunting with such a big subject? There seems so much to learn.

A: I know I’m not going to solve it; there are so many folks from so many areas trying to make a difference for students. I want to do what I can do and try to make things better and connect with other people who are doing interesting work. I don’t consider it daunting because I’m not naïve enough to think it’s going to ever be completely solved but I want to make progress and be part of the solution.

Source: Kara Dawson, 352-273-4177
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449


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4 P.K. Yonge teachers named among Florida’s best ‘high impact teachers’

Cody Miller, Kate Yurko, Bill Steffens and George Pringle are K-12 "teachers of high impact."

Cody Miller, Kate Yurko, Bill Steffens and George Pringle are among Florida’s  “teachers of high impact.”

About VAM

The Florida Department of Education says “high impact teachers” receive the highest valued-added model (VAM) ratings because their students ranked higher than the “reasonable expected score” of similar students in other teachers’ classrooms.

Teachers’ VAM ratings are based on state assessment test scores and a mix of other variables, such as size of classes and whether students are gifted, disabled or learning the English language. Read more about the Florida’s teacher evaluation system.

Four teachers at the University of Florida’s developmental research school are among Florida instructors rated as having the highest impact on the academic growth of their students during the past three years.

The teachers at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School are Cody Miller, a ninth-grade English teacher; George Pringle, seventh-grade math; Bill Steffens, sixth-grade math; and Kate Yurko, 10th-grade English.

The Florida Department of Education recognized them as “teachers of high impact” based on a statewide ranking of Florida’s middle and high school English and mathematics instructors during the past three academic years. FDOE says less than 10 percent of eligible public school teachers receive the high-impact rating, which is derived from detailed measures and equations, called a valued-added model (VAM), and serves as a key factor schools use to evaluate the performance of teachers.

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked these highly ranked teachers why they are succeeding.

Cody Miller, at age 27 the youngest of the four, says he doesn’t “teach to the test,” a reference to the growing controversy of standardized student testing, which is among the ways the state determines teachers’ VAM rating. With the increased emphasis on tests such as the Florida Standards Assessment exam, teachers are feeling so much pressure to get students ready for the exams that they may neglect to teach skills that go beyond the tests.

“For me, when kids are discussing critically the world around them, that’s a success,” Miller says. “It’s important for students to see how their personal experiences have shaped their views, and to look at someone else and see how their experiences shaped their views.”

Miller has taught for four years, including three years at P.K. Yonge. He considers the high-impact rating as a validation to continue his teaching methods. These include setting a high bar and having students write numerous papers, complete projects, and read and critique eight books each year – ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary memoirs from authors around the world, and graphic novels.

When it comes to taking the standardized tests, Miller says: “My hope is that the test is relatively easy because of all the work I’ve asked them to do. It’s just one item to check off the list. I tell students before they take a test, ‘just knock it out.’”

George Pringle, a seventh-grade math teacher, says he starts each school year with the mindset of improving his teaching practice.

“I’ve gotten better and I’ve learned every year.”

A native of Jamaica, Pringle has taught for 16 years, including eight at P.K. Yonge.

“What I do for one student I do for all students. That is, I treat all students as individuals. My philosophy is for my students to show a willingness to succeed at math.

“Growth is measured differently for all students. State measures are only one way to measure growth. There are many others, such as participating in interactions that take place in the classroom. It’s not just whether they can put numbers on a paper.”

He hopes at the end of each school year “each student can say that was a good experience.”

Bill Steffens, a sixth-grade math teacher, is the most experienced of the four. He has taught for 36 years, including 24 years at P.K. Yonge.

Yet despite his veteran status, he says each school year brings new students and new challenges to solve.

Teachers should try to learn about each student and what methods best motivate them to do their best work, no matter if they are struggling learners or high achievers. It’s one of the puzzles of teaching, but there are many factors that make a teacher a success, he says.

“It’s the way you talk to students, how they respond and work for you. And how to get after them if they don’t. It’s like being a parent. It’s everything.”

He and the other teachers say they had very little understanding of how the complicated VAM scores are determined. But Steffens says he is particularly pleased that the rating shows a consistent high level of teaching impact because it covers a three-year period.

Kate Yurko, a 10th grade English teacher, says she doesn’t rely on standardized tests to gauge her success.

“I’ve thought a lot about how and what I teach. If I focus on the classroom environment I don’t have to worry about the standardized testing. It’s one test on one day.

“I measure students’ success in a different way. Do they enjoying reading? Are they thinking critically? Are they reading books? Helping kids fall in love with words and reading and ideas – that is what’s special.”

After nine years of teaching, including five at P.K. Yonge, she says she has become a better teacher because she is more relaxed and better able to respond to students in real-time instead of always strictly adhering to her curriculum. And it helps having matured and not having a one-dimensional life completely centered on her classroom.

“As you grow in your teaching you get more intuitive. It’s like you get special powers.”

Being at P.K. Yonge, where she says teacher inquiry and research are encouraged, provides a nurturing place to be creative and explore ways to improve her practice.

“We emphasize good teaching, and good teaching brings results.”

Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449
Media Liaison: Julie Henderson, 352-392-1554


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UF honors ed. finance faculty scholar for doctoral mentoring

R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood

College of Education Professor R. Craig Wood has received many accolades during his 40-plus year career.

But his latest honor may be the one he cherishes the most: Wood is the College of Education’s latest winner of the UF Faculty Doctoral Mentoring Award.

The honor, given annually by the University of Florida Graduate School, recognizes professors who provide doctoral students with exceptional mentoring as they complete their final dissertations.

“This award is one that probably has the most lasting impact because you are helping to start careers,” Wood said. “When I’m long gone and retired, these scholars will be making names for themselves and making society better.”

More About R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood started his career in public schools, working as a classroom teacher, school district business manager, and assistant superintendent for finance for school districts in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

He received a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech and served as a professor of education finance at Purdue University before coming to UF, where he has now spent more than a quarter of century.

Among his accomplishments:

  • Authored or co-authored four definitive textbooks with titles such as Money & Schools
  • Published 250 articles in academic journals, including the Journal of Education Finance
  • Presented at numerous academic conferences
  • Served as the lead expert witness in court cases in more than a dozen states in disputes over the manner public funds are distributed to school districts
  • Co-founder and president of the year-old National Education Finance Academy. In November, he also was elected president of the Education Law Association.

Wood, a professor of educational administration and policy, is among the nation’s leading scholars in the all-important field of education finance.

Since he joined the UF College of Education’s faculty in 1989, he has served on 51 doctoral committees and chaired to completion the dissertations of 50 doctoral students. Five of his students have won dissertations of the year awards from different academic organizations.

His mentees have gone on to become university professors, a president of a community college, the head of an overseas school and directors of national educational organizations.

“Craig Wood is still my mentor,” a former student, Carlee Escue Simon, wrote the selection committee in a nomination letter. She is now an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. “I call him for advice on teaching, research, service and navigating the academic world. My association with Craig opened doors that I never anticipated.”

Another mentee, Jeffrey Maiden, now a professor at Oklahoma University, wrote: “Simply having been his student brings automatic respect from scholars in the field.”

Wood guides doctoral students in the specialty of education finance, an area of growing importance as the public, school boards and elected officials try to balance how to best fund quality public education.

“These are not esoteric or philosophical issues. But they are real,” Wood said. “Education is one of the most costly investments a society can make.”

Wood sets high expectations for his students, and he enjoys helping polish the work of talented young scholars.

Wood said his approach is to work one-on-one with his doctoral students to provide them not only research skills but with writing and speaking opportunities to compete in the national job market.

This kind of work is not usually very visible. So the mentoring award is fresh evidence that Wood is making an impact.

“It’s nice to be recognized for doing your job,” Wood said.

A university-wide, eight-member committee of faculty members, a graduate student, department chairs, college deans, and high-level administrators selects winners for the mentorship honor.

The award provides faculty members $3,000 and an additional $1,000 in department accounts for use in supporting doctoral students.

Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4137
Media Liaison/Director of News and Communications: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137



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Anita Zucker Center co-director honored for leadership, impact on behavioral disorders

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy, co-director of the University of Florida Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, has received the 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.

CCBD, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, presents the award to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of behavioral disorders in the areas of research, leadership, teacher education and policy. Conroy was recognized April 14 at the CEC’s annual conference in St. Louis.

Conroy, the Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies, has advanced research and practice in the field of behavioral disorders through her work in early identification, prevention and intervention. For 35 years, she garnered more than $15 million in research and training grants, produced 90 peer-reviewed publications and trained the next generation of leaders. A member of CCBD since 1981, Conroy has served in a number of leadership roles, including co-editor of its flagship journal, Behavioral Disorders.

Brian Boyd, who received a doctoral degree at UF under Conroy’s mentorship, nominated her for the award, citing her years of research, practice and teaching.

“I can attest to the importance she feels in ensuring her students acquire the ability to conduct sound research that contributes to the field, and importantly, educators, families and children,” said Boyd, now an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Boyd, also recognized at the conference, received the CEC’s 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award. The honor recognizes scholars who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education within 10 years after receiving their doctoral degree.

Independent of her award selection, Conroy was invited by the Institute of Education Sciences to present her research at the conference. She and her colleague, Professor Kevin Sutherland of Virginia Commonwealth University, shared findings from their recent investigation of an early childhood classroom-based intervention. Developed to support early childhood teachers’ use of effective practices, the intervention is designed to improve the social, emotional and behavioral competence of young children at risk for behavioral disorders. Their large-scale, four-year study was funded by the institute, which is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The CEC is an international professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, standards and professional development. The mission of the CCBD is to improve the educational practices and outcomes for children and youth with emotional and behavior disorders.

Source: Maureen Conroy, 352-273-4382
Writer: Linda Homewood, 352-273-4284



UF recognizes COE’s Kumar for superior mentoring


Swapna Kumar

Twenty-five. That’s how many times Associate Professor Swapna Kumar returned the proposals and drafts Michael Kung had written for his dissertation.

All of the careful editing and feedback illustrate how Kumar drives her students to achieve academic excellence.

Kung said he nominated Kumar for UF’s Superior Accomplishment Award because of her dedication to mentoring and pushing him and other doctoral candidates to do their very best work. Kung graduated last year with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction and now directs of Global Education at UF’s College of Design.

Kumar, a clinical associate professor in Educational Technology, was recently named among the University of Florida’s 29 division winners for the award.

Kumar’s student mentoring goes “the extra mile and beyond normal assigned duties,”said Jonathan Peine, chair of the award selection committee.

While she is thankful for the recognition from the university, Kumar said she is most gratified because it comes from her students.

“My role at UF is essentially about teaching, advising and mentoring, so I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by students,” Kumar said.

Kumar, a COE faculty member since 2009, will receive the award on Wednesday, March 23 at 9:30 a.m. at Emerson Alumni Hall on West University Avenue. A $200 check, certificate and coffee mug will accompany the accolade.

This award qualifies her to become a finalist for a universitywide Superior Accomplishment Award. The final award winners, chosen in April, will receive a gift of at least $1,000.

    SOURCE: Swapna Kumar, 352-273-4175
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education, 352-373-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education






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Ed. tech’s Ritzhaupt named distinguished alumnus by alma mater

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

Award-winning UF education technology researcher Albert Ritzhaupt received the Valencia College Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to the ed. tech field.

Ritzhaupt, who received his associate’s degree from Valencia in 2001, is an associate professor and coordinator of the College of Education’s ed. tech program.

He said the award motivates him to continually set high goals.

“Both hard work and persistence can payoff,” said Ritzhaupt, a COE faculty member since 2010. “I hope to expand on certain avenues of research and continue to contribute to my field.”

Ritzhaupt has his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in instructional technology, and an MBA degree focusing on computer and information sciences.

He was nominated for the award by his former professor and mentor Colin Archibald, who teaches computer science at Valencia. He said Ritzhaupt’s unusual combination of graduate degrees gives him an advantage in his field.

“I don’t know of anyone else who studied computing only to later study education,” Archibald said. “This makes his work very important and his perspective very rare.”

A large portion of Ritzhaupt’s research encompasses the design and development of technology-enhanced learning environments. His research has reported in more than 80 publications and conference proceedings. He is the editor of the Florida Journal of Educational Research and associate editor of the Journal of Educational Computing Research.

Ritzhaupt has won best research paper awards from several national and international professional organizations.

Funding sources for his studies include the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Florida Department of Education.

Ritzhaupt has also played an important role in advancing the COE’s online master’s degree program in education technology.

Last year, the program went from being unranked to ninth in the nation by TheBestSchools.org, a higher education website for college information seekers.

The excellence of the ed. tech online program played a role in advancing the COE’s overall online master’s degree program to the No. 1 spot in the 2016 rankings of America’s Best Online Programs in Graduate Education by U.S. News and World Report magazine this year.

    SOURCEAlbert Ritzhaupt, UF College of Education; 352-273-4180
    WRITERKatelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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International group recognizes UF professor as year’s outstanding science teacher educator

Rose Pringle2

International spotlight shines on Rose Pringle

University of Florida education scholar Rose Pringle has been recognized as one of the world’s top science teacher educators after receiving an international award as 2015 Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year.

The Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), an international professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in science teacher education worldwide, awarded Pringle its top honor at the group’s recent annual conference in Reno, Nev.

Along with the accolade, Pringle, an associate professor in science education at the UF College of Education, received a $500 stipend, plaque and a tribute in the awards issue of the Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Pringle, who has garnered more than $7 million in federal and state grants during her 15 years at UF to support her research of science teacher education, said the award validates her mantra that all teachers-in-training should also act as researchers.

“Increasing science achievement among all K-12 learners will only occur when science educators truly become engaged with and demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the science of teaching,” Pringle said.

Her research includes the exploration of future teachers as science learners, the development of science-specific teaching methods for prospective and practicing teachers, and translating these practices into engaging science experiences for all learners. Pringle also is determined to increase the participation of minorities, especially girls of African descent, in science and mathematics.

Working with Lynda Hayes, director of UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Pringle is a co-principal investigator on a $5 million grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, designed to transform middle-school science education in Florida. The project, known as U-FUTuRES (University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science), involves creating cadres of highly trained science teacher leaders around the state who will educate and energize other teachers in their school districts with a new kind of science teaching.

The effort, started in 2011, so far has resulted in 35 Florida teachers earning advanced degrees in science education and currently applying their skills as highly trained Science Teacher Leaders in their own schools and districts.

The UF researchers have received a follow-up NSF grant to scale up the science education reform program for schools and districts throughout Florida and in other states.

“My goal is to have every student in Florida be engaged in science learning in ways that are meaningful and equitable for all learners,” Pringle said. “The College of Education is impacting and making a difference in science education throughout Florida and beyond.”

Jennifer Mesa, who was mentored by Pringle throughout her time as a doctoral student at UF, nominated Pringle for the award based on her dedication to helping other teachers improve the quality of science education.

“Dr. Pringle is a gentle soul, but a fierce teacher educator,” said Mesa, who now works as an assistant professor in education at the University of West Florida. “She will not let any teacher leave her presence without learning something new that can benefit student learning.”

Pringle, who has led the development of a new master’s degree and certificate program in science education at UF, is no stranger to professional accolades. Last year, she received three state and regional honors for excellence in teacher education or outstanding student mentoring – from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators, the Florida Education Fund and the Southeastern region of ASTE. She also is a two-time winner of the College of Education’s Teacher of the Year Award.

    SOURCE: Rose Pringle, UF College of Education; 352-273-4190
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Associate Dean Adams honored for outstanding mentoring of minority PhD students

Dr. Thomasenia Adams, Associate Dean

Thomasenia Adams

Thomasenia Adams, science education professor and associate dean for research at UF’s College of Education, has received a statewide honor for outstanding mentoring of minority doctoral students.The award comes from the Florida Education Fund (FEF), a nonprofit organization that develops programs to enhance education for students at all levels across the state.

Adams received the FEF’s 2015 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award, which honors exceptional faculty mentors from Florida colleges and universities who have empowered students to complete Ph.D. degrees and prepare for successful careers in academia. These students participate in FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program.

The award comes with a $500 stipend.

As a previous McKnight fellow who was financially supported by the program, Adams said she mentors McKnight fellows to give back for the support she received.

“I have a commitment that every student that I mentor must be better than me when they graduate,” Adams said. “If I don’t make them better, then I haven’t done a good enough job.”

Adams is a professor of mathematics education and a senior author of the popular “Go Math” national elementary textbook series. She earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees in curriculum and instruction at UF. As associate dean, she oversees the college’s thriving education research enterprise.

She joined the UF education faculty in 1990 as the college’s first African-American woman tenured full professor.

She said the mentor-mentee relationship relies heavily on mutual trust.

“Nothing else works if they don’t trust my insight and experience,” said Adams, who previously was honored by the Florida Association of Teacher Educators with its Mary L. Collins Teacher Educator of the Year Award.

Several of Adams’ mentees nominated Adams for the award, including UF education doctoral candidate Natalie King.

“She encourages me to excel by setting high expectations for me to accomplish,” King said. “I am truly humbled to know her and to have the opportunity to receive her guidance.”

Adams doesn’t limit her mentoring to UF students. University of South Florida doctoral student Lakesia Dupree paired up with Adams through the McKnight fellowship program, which works to increase the pool of minority Ph.D. candidates to teach at the college and university levels.

“Dr. Adams has played a pivotal role in my success as a graduate student and has inspired me to become more than I ever imagined,” said Dupree, who also nominated Adams for the award.

Adams said every student deserves the opportunity to have a mentor no matter their background. She said she hopes her mentees surpass her accomplishments and skills in the years ahead.

“Mentoring can make the difference between success and failure,” she said. “In the end, I want to look up to my mentees.”

    SOURCE: Thomasenia Adams, UF College of Education; 352-273-4116; tla@coe.ufl.edu
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-373-4449; marinerk@ufl.edu 
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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FSU honors UF’s inquiry scholar Nancy Dana with distinguished alumni award

Nancy Dana

Nancy Dana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Education Professor Nancy Dana has been honored with a 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Education, where she received her doctorate in childhood education in 1991.

The award honors FSU education graduates who have distinguished themselves through scholarly, creative and humanitarian achievement, and service to their profession.

Dana is a leading international authority on teacher inquiry – a powerful form of professional development whereby teachers and school leaders engage in action research on their own practice in the classroom, wrapping their professional learning around the learning of students, and sharing their findings with colleagues.

Dana has worked with numerous schools and districts across Florida, the United States and abroad to help them craft professional development programs of inquiry for their teachers, principals and district administrators.

Dana, a professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education, has studied and written about practitioner inquiry for over 20 years, publishing 10 books on the topic, including three best sellers. Her latest book was just released in November with Corwin Press on Professional Learning Communities titled, simply, “The PLC Book.”

Dana has made numerous keynote presentations and led workshops in several countries for educators hungry for professional learning models that focus on examining evidence from practice. Her recent work has taken her to China, South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium. Last January she led a weeklong course on inquiry in Lisbon, Portugal, for education leaders from nine countries in the European Union. Next October she heads to Estonia.

Dana previously served on the Penn State University education faculty for 11 years. She joined the UF education faculty in 2003 and has conducted extensive research on practitioner inquiry and educator professional development. In 2010, Dana and co-researchers Cynthia Griffin (UF special education) and Stephen Pape (Johns Hopkins mathematics education) secured a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to develop and study an extensive online professional development program for third-through-fifth-grade general and special education teachers focused on the teaching of struggling math learners.

She is deeply involved in the college’s new, professional practice doctoral program in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program is an online, on-the-job degree program designed specifically for practicing K-12 educators who aspire to lead change, school improvement and education reform efforts in their schools and districts.

Dana’s past honors include the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award and the National Staff Development Council Book of the Year Award.

“It is a great honor to receive this alumni award and to have connections to two wonderful universities in our state,” Dana said, adding with a sly smile, “but I’ll always bleed orange and blue. Go Gators!”

SOURCE: Nancy Dana, 352-273-4204; ndana@coe.ufl.edu
: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;


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Leite and Collier win best paper award

Walter Leite

Walter Leite

Zachary Collier

Zachary Collier

A research paper by Associate Professor Walter Leite and doctoral candidate Zachary Collier won the most distinguished award in the Florida Educational Research Association’s annual advanced educational research paper competition.

The College of Education scholars won for a methodological paper based on Collier’s master’s thesis, which concluded that “higher levels of Algebra Nation usage corresponds to higher passing rates in the Algebra I end-of-course exam.”

Leite and Collier measured school passing rates on the exam and the number of teacher and student Algebra Nation logins, videos watched and other variables to reach their conclusions.

High school students in Florida are required to pass the Algebra 1 exam to graduate. Algebra Nation is a free online study resource developed by UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning that provides a free, 24-hour Internet-based learning environment. It is now used by thousands of teachers and students in all of the state’s 67 Florida school districts.

“Collier and Leite’s paper was the clear first” among three the three finalists in the “highly competitive” contest, said Donna Buckner, president-elect of FERA and the founder and president of the Lakeland Institute for Learning.

Reviewers from the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Miami ranked the papers with no author information provided. The technical title of the paper was “Testing the Effectiveness of Three-Step Approaches for Auxiliary Variables in Latent Class and Latent Profile Analysis.”

More specifically the paper “demonstrates the use of state of the art statistical methods to estimate the effects of Algebra Nation usage on Algebra end-of-course passing rates,” Leite said.

They focused on methods to group schools according to “the degree their students and teachers used Algebra Nation, and then evaluate whether differences in passing rates across these groups was statistically significant.”

Leite is an associate professor in the college’s UF’s Research and Evaluation Methods program. His specialty is working with massive amounts of information to analyze the effectiveness of teaching tools and educational programs. Collier won a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship in May based on his academic achievements and promising future.

The Lastinger Center, UF’s educational innovation incubator, created Algebra Nation in partnership with the Florida Legislature, Governor’s Office and Department of Education, as well as Study Edge, a Gainesville-based company that helps high school and college students improve their learning through technology.

Florida Educational Research Association named the scholars the winners on Nov. 20 at the group’s annual conference in Altamonte Springs.

Writer: Charles Boisseau, (352) 273-4449
Source: Walter Leite, (352) 273-4302


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College of Education scholars named Global Fellows

Walter Leite Brian Reichow
Walter Leite Brian Reichow

Two College of Education scholars are among 10 University of Florida faculty members selected for a new program designed to enhance the university’s international research excellence.

Associate professors Walter Leite and Brian Reichow were recently named Global Fellows by UF’s International Center.

Each fellow will receive $4,000 for travel and expenses to collaborate with researchers abroad on an international research project. They also will work with a faculty mentor who will receive a $1,000 honoria to provide guidance and feedback, and participate in a series of workshops hosted by the Office for Global Research Engagement about working internationally.

The International Center created the Global Fellows program to increase the number of faculty who participate in global activities, promote faculty investigators’ international research and build a cohort of scholars to serve as campus leaders in international activities.

Leite’s specialty is working with extremely large data sets with lots of variables to find the evidence of whether educational programs are effective.

He is an associate professor in the college’s research and evaluation methodology program. A native of Brazil, Leite intends to use the Global Fellows resources to create a National Science Foundation grant proposal and collaborate with scholars at Brazil’s National Institute of Educational Research to create a method of analyzing student achievement data on samples from Brazil and the United States.

“My medium- to long-term goal is to engage in multiple projects with educational statisticians in Brazil that will involve research grants as well as exchange of scholars and doctoral students between the University of Florida and Brazilian universities,” Leite said.

Reichow, who joined the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies last year through UF’s state-backed preeminence initiative, has extensive experience on international projects. An associate professor of special education and early childhood studies, he serves as a technical advisor for the World Health Organization. He has worked with WHO colleagues around the world to develop guidelines and training materials to assist children with developmental disabilities and their families, with an emphasis on helping children and families in low-resource settings.

Reichow intends to use the support of the Global Fellows Program to expand his work at the WHO.

“The parent skills training program I have been developing with the WHO continues to expand. Recently, we began training across eight provinces in China,” said Reichow, “and, early next year, we are launching pilot trials in other countries across Africa and Asia.”


  • Writers: Charles Boisseau, News & Communications, 352-274-4449; and Linda Homewood, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, 352-273-4284
  • Media Liasion: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137



Pop some popcorn and ease into Sevan Terzian’s new book on American education in popular media

Sevan Terzian with his latest book, featuring several UF education alumni contributors

Sevan Terzian with his latest book, featuring several UF education alumni contributors

What iconic character types spring to mind when you think of your school days: Playground bully or rope-jumping queen? Jocks and cheerleaders? Freaks and geeks? Despotic principal? Inspirational teacher or professor?

Are your most vivid school memories totally of your own experiences, or might they be shaped—at least partly—by the powerful media images depicting school in literature, film, television and music?

Well, “make some popcorn, find your favorite chair, and ease into this delightful collection of essays that charts the historical evolution of popular portrayals of American schooling.”

That is the advice of Benjamin Justice, associate professor of education and history at Rutgers University, in his review of a newly published volume co-edited by Sevan G. Terzian, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in teaching and learning at the University of Florida College of Education. The book also features essays by several other UF-educated scholars.

In the book, “American Education in Popular Media: From the Blackboard to the Silver Screen,” co-editors Terzian and Patrick A. Ryan, a 2008 UF graduate in curriculum and instruction/English education and now an education professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., examine how popular media have represented schooling in the United States over the course of the 20th century.

So, what’s your favorite flick, TV show, or book depicting the schooling life? Dead Poet’s Society? To Sir With Love? Dangerous Minds? Beavis and Butthead? Rock and Roll High School? Glee? How about Catcher in the Rye or the Saturday Evening Post?

You’ll read about these and so many other familiar depictions in American Education in Popular Media. But the 217-page volume is more than a fun media stroll down School Days Memory Lane. The 10 essays collected and edited by Terzian and Ryan explore prevalent portrayals of students and professional educators while addressing contested purposes of schooling in American life.

But keep the popcorn close by. It’s a fun read.

Readers, beware, though. “This book will sneak up on you,” opines reviewer Donald Warren, professor emeritus in education history and policy at Indiana University. “The no-holds-barred historical examination of American education helps us remember and rethink—after all, we all went to school. And it exposes in provocative detail the durable imprint of media on the education of the public.”

“This book project originated from research seminars and collaborations with Ph.D. students in our School of Teaching & Learning whose interest in the educative dimensions of American popular culture continued to grow,” Terzian said. “They envisioned a thematically coherent volume of essays, and we are pleased with the result.”

Co-editors Terzian and Ryan also teamed up on the book’s opening essay on Popular Media Representations of American Schooling from the Past, and Ryan also wrote a chapter on The Sacrificial Image of the Teacher in Popular Media, 1945-59.

Three other essays were penned by UF doctoral graduates in curriculum and instruction, as follows:

  • Andrew L. Grunzke (PhD ’07, specializing in foundations of education), now an associate professor at Mercer University, writes on The Importance of Teaching Ernest: The Fool Goes Back to School in Television and Film Comedies in the Late Twentieth Century;
  • Bob Dahlgren (’08, social studies education in 2008), an associate professor of social studies education and chair of curriculum and instruction at the State University of New York at Fredonia, writes on Prosaic, Perfunctory Pedagogy: Representations of Social Studies Teachers and Teaching in 1970s and 1980s Movies;
  • Amy Martinelli (PhD ‘15, social foundations of education) writes on Fears on Film: Representations of Juvenile Delinquency in Educational Media in Mid-Twentieth Century America; she now is an adjunct lecturer in communication studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other contributors include leading education scholars Kate Rousmaniere (Miami University of Ohio), Dan Perlstein (UC Berkeley) and Dan Clark (Indiana State University), and emerging education history scholars Heather Weaver (University of Sydney, Australia) and Michelle Morgan (Missouri State University).

American Education in Popular Media Is published by Palgrave Macmillan, a global academic publisher and part of Macmillan Science and Education, and can be purchased in hardcover or e-book on the publisher’s website.

   SOURCE: Sevan Terzian, UF College of Education; 352-273-4216; sterzian@coe.ufl.edu;
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications, UF College of Education;352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;



Welcome New Faculty Members

The College of Education welcomes eight new faculty members hired to start the current academic year, bringing with them fresh viewpoints and new expertise in the vital fields of counselor education, elementary education, higher education administration, literacy education, and school psychology. Below are mini-bios of each listing their “vitals” including prior degrees, work experience, research interests and other noteworthy factoids . . .




Shon Smith, assistant professor, counselor education (Ed.D., counselor education, Duquesne University)

  • Comes to UF from: Webster University’s Metropolitan campus in Orlando, and he previously taught at the Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg campuses, where he was the college’s state director of counseling programs and an adjunct associate professor in counselor education since 2011.
  • Research interests: Multicultural counseling, clinical supervision, counseling education programming, leadership and advocacy within the counseling paradigm and working with military personnel and families.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Smith is past president of the Florida Counseling Association and chairs the American Counseling Association Southern Region. A veteran, he has been deployed to three continents as a combat medic.



Aki Murata, associate professor, elementary mathematics education (Ph.D., Northwestern University, learning sciences)

  • Comes to UF from: University of California-Berkeley, where she was assistant professor of elementary education.
  • Research interests: Elementary math education, teacher education, teacher professional development, cultural and social contexts in education, comparative education, qualitative research.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Murata has at least 10 published articles in Japanese and numerous others in English in top-tier education journals, and has given plenary talks in several countries.
Ortagus3 (web)



Justin C. Ortagus, assistant professor of higher education (Ph.D. Pennsylvania State Univ., higher education)

  • Comes to UF from: Pennsylvania State University, where he recently earned his Ph.D. in higher education with a cognate in business management and organization.
  • Research interests: Applying quantitative methods to examine the growing influence of online education and technology in higher education and other crucial issues facing colleges and universities.
  • Noteworthy: Ortagus Received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in educational leadership from UF.


Isaac McFarlin, assistant professor of higher education administration and economics (Ph.D. Northwestern University, economics)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Michigan, where he was an assistant research scientist with the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Research interests: Community colleges; affirmative action; school facilities; school choice; labor market returns to postsecondary education.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. McFarlin is principal investigator on two Institute of Education Sciences research grants focusing on school facilities and community college tuition subsidies. His interests are salsa, adventure travel, and cycling.


Cliff Haynes, clinical assistant professor, student personnel in higher education /higher education administration (Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, University of Florida)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Florida, where he was a staff member in the Department of Housing and Residence Education for eight years.
  • Research interests: include living-learning programs, faculty engagement in out-of-class interactions with students, student activism, and the use of qualitative research in assessing student engagement and learning.
  • Noteworthy: As a UF Ph.D. student Dr. Haynes co-authored a research report in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies illuminating how female doctoral students can find balance and life satisfaction in the multiple roles they play.




Kathryn Ann Jacob Caprino, clinical assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, education (culture, curriculum and change)

  • Comes to UF from: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she recently completed her Ph.D. while serving as a graduate assistant, an iPad integration professional development facilitator and research assistant.
  • Research interests: Teacher education, English education, teaching of writing, children’s and young adult literature, student teaching supervision, rhetoric and composition, new literacies, digital literacy, critical literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Caprino is a reviewer for several publications in the field of English education.


Angela M. Kohnen, assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis, English education)

  • Comes to UF from: Missouri State University, where she was coordinator of English Education for undergraduate and graduate programs in the MSU English department.
  • Research interests: The teaching of writing, teacher professional development, disciplinary literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Kohnen co-authored a book, “Front-Page Science: Engaging teens in science literacy,” in 2012.




Joni D. Williams Splett, assistant professor in school psychology (Ph.D., University of Missouri, school psychology)

  • Comes to UF from: University of South Carolina, where she was a post-doctoral Research Fellow on USC’s School Mental Health Team.
  • Research interests: Universal behavior screening, multi-tiered systems of support, social-emotional interventions, and interdisciplinary training and collaboration in school mental health.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Splett is a licensed psychologist and strong advocate for children’s mental health services, including serving as two-time co-chair of the South Carolina School Behavioral Health Conference.
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National group honors UF education leader for helping low-income students get to college and succeed

Don Pemberton

Don Pemberton

University of Florida education innovator Don Pemberton received the prestigious Bob Craves Champion of College Access Award this week for his leadership in providing the means for low-income students to attend and succeed in college.

The award was presented on Monday in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National College Access Network (NCAN), one of the premier nonprofit organizations created to improve college access to low-income and other underserved populations.

Pemberton, 63, is director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s research-and-development incubator for advancing teacher and student achievement.

The award salutes Pemberton’s life mission to give opportunities to young people who lack the hope, much less the money and support, to attend and succeed in college.

“It’s an honor in terms of affirmation of this work,” Pemberton said. “It’s about collective effort and by honoring me they honor the organizations and individuals that have supported the work.”

UF College of Education Dean Glenn Good said Pemberton is more than worthy of the award.

“Don is an innovative, passionate and tireless advocate for the children and students of Florida,” Good said. Pemberton’s work has influenced school administrators, educators and students not only across the state “but it is having a national and international impact.”

Pemberton is the first and only director of the Lastinger Center, which works with schools and communities to improve student performance, teacher practice, school achievement, principal leadership and parental engagement.

A quarter of a century ago, before he joined UF in 2002, Pemberton was a teacher and guidance counselor in Pinellas County where he was troubled by an alarming number of Tampa Bay area students who dropped out of school.

In 1995, he founded a nonprofit organization, Take Stock in Children, to address the high dropout rate. With the backing of concerned community leaders and businesses, the organization has grown to become Florida’s largest college access and mentoring program to help students escape poverty through education.

It serves all 67 Florida’s counties by providing scholarships, advocates and mentors to middle-school students who need help to graduate from high school and attend college.

“More than 25,000 kids have been through the program,” said Pemberton, who continues to serve as a board member of the organization. “Today there are military officers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and pharmacists who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college without the mentoring and promise of a college scholarship that Take Stock in Children provided.”

Among the biggest backers of Take Stock in Children was Allen Lastinger, who at the time was president of Barnett Bank, since purchased by what is now Bank of America. A $2 million gift to UF’s College of Education from Lastinger and his wife Delores also led to the creation of the Lastinger Center for Learning.

Pemberton received the award named for Bob Craves, co-founder of the College Success Foundation and a founding officer of Costco. Craves died in 2014 after many years advocating for students who have been historically underserved by higher education. Past award winners include the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

    SOURCE: Don Pemberton, UF Lastinger; 352-273-4108; dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu;
    WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;

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UF Research Foundation recognizes education scholar with elite professorship

LEITE, Walter

Scholar Walter Leite is the College of Education’s newest winner of a UF Research Foundation Professorship.

One way Walter Leite explains the complex statistical methods he uses to measure the effectiveness of educational programs is with the old analogy of comparing apples to apples.

The associate professor in UF’s Research and Evaluation Methods program works with massive amounts of information (so-called “big data”) to analyze the effectiveness of teaching tools and educational programs, using measures such as standardized scores, end-of-courses assessments, surveys and observation protocols.

“I try to get around the selection-bias problem, the fact that there are apples and oranges,” when analyzing datasets with upwards of 1 million or more variables, he said while explaining one of the sophisticated tools he uses – “propensity score analysis” – to analyze massive amounts of data.

“My niche is extremely large data sets with lots of variables and I try to find the evidence for program effectiveness based on that data,” the Brazilian-born scholar said.

Leite sat down for an interview recently after being awarded a prestigious University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF) Professorship, which provides three-year awards to tenured faculty for outstanding research and to provide incentives for continued excellence.

The award recognizes the growing importance of Leite’s work at a time of increasing government mandates related to school accountability, such as the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.

Leite’s research has been in collaboration with the UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning, where his work has helped evaluate large projects such as Algebra Nation and the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) program.

Last year, Leite and a research assistant received the Florida Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Paper Award for evaluating the TLSI degree program by using statistical models to follow 78 third- through fifth-grade teachers over a decade. Their study showed that students exposed to these teachers had improved their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) math and reading scores, and reduced their school absences.

More recently, Leite and his team received a $1.6 million grant from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning to evaluate the effectiveness of a statewide pilot project to provide pre-K teachers special training and coaching as a way to improve the learning of children getting ready to enter kindergarten.

David Miller, former coordinator of REM and now director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, said Leite’s UFRF professorship is well deserved — and increasingly important because of government requirements, such as tying school funding to student assessment scores. These mandates are proving controversial public policy, and a lot is riding on whether these accountability standards are really improving schools, teaching and learning.

“We need folks like Walter working on that,” Miller said. “It’s very complex, but the implications are very important to measure the effectiveness of social science and educational programs.”

Leite’s work is supported by a half-dozen grants, enough work to keep him so busy as to not allow time to teach. But Leite is an enthusiastic teacher. His structural equation modeling course this semester has attracted two dozen grad students from across the university, from the fields of criminology, forestry, psychology, immunology and more, who need to learn how to analyze big data.


    Source: Walter Leite, College of Education, walter.leite@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4302
    Writer: Charles Boisseau, College of Education Office of News and Communications; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449

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Paul Sindelar joins select group as UF Distinguished Professor

Special education Professor Paul Sindelar has been named a University of Florida Distinguished Professor, making him just the sixth College of Education faculty member to be awarded the coveted title.

Paul Sindelar8

UF Distinguished Professor Paul Sindelar

Sindelar’s new title “acknowledges an exceptional record of achievement in the areas of teaching, research and publication and professional and public service that is recognized both nationally and internationally,” according to Joseph Glover, UF provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Sindelar said there have been times when he wasn’t sure his credentials would measure up to the lofty standards set by his predecessors.

“I knew that Cecil Mercer and Paul George were both Distinguished Professors,” Sindelar said. “We were contemporaries before they retired, and I had a great deal of respect for their work.

“In fact, I was on a bird watching trip in the Yucatan when a guy we ran into asked where I was from and what I did,” he added. “After I told him I worked at the University of Florida, he asked me if I knew Paul George. I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

“Paul was one of the founding fathers of middle school education, and his work reached a lot of people,” Sindelar said. “I don’t suppose I’ve had that kind of impact, but then, not many people have.”

The same could be said of the late Cecil Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31-year tenure on the COE special education faculty. Three other former faculty members – all deceased — were granted distinguished professorships during their tenures. Joe Wittmer came to UF in 1968 and chaired the Counselor Education department for 18 of his 37 years with the COE; James Wattenbarger was known widely as the “father of Florida’s community college system” after his dissertation was used as a system blueprint in the late 1950s; and Mary Budd Rowe, a science education professor who spent 24 years on the COE faculty, was a former UF Teacher of the Year.

Sindelar said he learned about his new title while attending a conference in Arlington, Va., when COE Dean Glenn Good sent him an email message containing a letter from UF President Kent Fuchs.

“I was a bit surprised, but thrilled to death,” Sindelar said. “It’s an honor, of course, and utterly humbling.”

Sindelar, who is co-director of UF’s federally funded CEEDAR Center, has been conducting research focusing on change in the special education teacher labor market and its implications for policy makers and teacher educators. CEEDAR is an acronym for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

He and his colleagues have established that fewer education teachers are employed in U.S. public schools today than were on the job 10 years ago. The reasons for the decline are unclear, although reductions in the number of students identified with learning disabilities, changes in service delivery, and the economic impact of the Great Recession all appear to play roles, their research indicates.

Mary Brownell, Sindelar’s co-director at the CEEDAR Center, says she knows her colleague will make the most of whatever opportunities his new title may bring.

“Paul has been my mentor and a close friend for 25 years,” Brownell said. “He hired me, and we’ve had a tremendous journey together as teacher education scholars. We’ve directed three centers together, four doctoral leadership grants and one research grant from the U. S. Department of Education. We’ve co-authored countless papers, presentations, and book chapters. I can’t imagine my career being what it has been without my trusted friend and wise colleague.

“He’s one of the finest teacher education researchers in our field, and he’s respected by all of his colleagues at UF and across the nation,” she added. “No one could be more deserving of the title Distinguished Professor.”

Honors and recognition aren’t new for Sindelar, He won the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, TED Publication Award in 1997 and 2009, as well as the University of Illinois College of Education Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and the UF Faculty Achievement Recognition Award in 2007.

Most notably, though, Sindelar and Brownell won the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s prestigious David G. Imig Award in 2015 for making significant, lasting contributions to educator development and teacher education policy and research.

Sindelar received an undergraduate degree in history at Dartmouth before earning a master’s in special education at the University of Illinois in 1974 and his Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Minnesota three years later. He entered the UF College of Education in 1988 as department chair and special education professor. He remained chair until 1996, when he became director of the UF Center for School Improvement and went on to serve as director of the UF Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (2000-2005) and associate dean for research in the Office of Educational Research (2005-2008).

    Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.


Laughter, accolades highlight farewell party for Harry Daniels

More than 70 well-wishers packed the Norman Hall Terrace Room recently to say farewell to Harry Daniels, a popular counselor education professor whose engaging nature is rivaled only by his soft demeanor.

Daniels web1

Harry Daniels (center) enjoys a moment while being roasted during his retirement party held in the Terrace Room.

After devoting 49 years of his life to education – including 19 years as a teaching professor, department head and mentor to many doctoral students at the UF College of Education – Daniels is retiring.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to work with students that look to me for guidance and direction, Daniels said before Thursday’s party, where he was lovingly “roasted” by several colleagues. “Some of them have been brilliant, but I’ve always believed that I’d know when it’s time to retire. Now that I’m 71 years old, that time is here.

“Counselor education is an intense profession, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he added. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great friends, a loving family and wonderful colleagues.”

Among those blessings is Paul Sindelar, who took a few jabs at Daniels’ golf game, recalling the different nicknames his longtime friend had earned during their Sunday outings at local courses.

“He was quite a slicer,” and more often than not, his ball would end up on the other side of a fence along the fairway,” Sindelar said as Daniels sat nearby, hiding his face in his hands. “We started calling him Chain Link.”

Daniels also bore the name “Hotel Harry Daniels” – a reference to the Doubletree Inn — after one of his shots ricocheted off two trees in a wooded area, where he apparently spent a great deal of time.

Aside from the ribbing, virtually everyone who spoke of Daniels described him as a man who has remained as dedicated to his family as he has his profession.

“Above all, he’s a devoted husband, a doting father and a completely enamored grandfather,” said Special Ed. Professor Holly Lane, referring to Diane, Daniels’ wife of 48 years; their two married daughters and a baby grandson.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Iowa, Daniels received his Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Iowa in 1978. He taught history and other subjects in public schools for several years, and came to UF in 1996 to head the Counselor Education department.

After 11 years in that capacity, Daniels returned to the classroom, but went on to serve as the director of the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

During his tenure as chair, UF’s Counselor Ed. program ranked among the top five programs nationally in its specialty every year in the U.S. News and World Report’s ‘s annual survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The program held the top spot in the 1997 rankings, and continues to receive high rankings.

But there’s no way Daniels’ unassuming nature allows him to take credit for the program’s success.

“I came in here with a great group of colleagues,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s about our program.”

Perhaps Counselor Ed. program director Ellen Amatea said it best in a written farewell message about the soft-spoken Daniels.

“Your good humor, patience and willingness to listen to us will be missed,” Amatea wrote. “Not only have you been a very inspiring and encouraging teacher and leader, you have been a staunch advocate for the counseling profession and for our counselor preparation program.

“Thank you for all you have contributed to our Counselor Education program,” she added. “We will miss you.”

Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.


‘Good’ news: UF leader listed among most influential education deans in U.S.

Four years into his job at the College of Education, Dean Glenn Good has been ranked No. 14 on a list of The 30 Most Influential Deans of Education in the United States by Mometrix Test Preparation, a Texas-based company that produces test preparation products worldwide.

College of Education Dean Glenn Good

The Mometrix rankings are based on a number of factors, including state and national awards and honors, education program rankings, individual degree program rankings and the level of pay received by each institution’s teacher alumni.

Good was recognized for his spotlight on research, where he has focused on gender issues in education, counseling interventions and psychosocial well-being. He is a fellow of four divisions of the American Psychological Association, with one of those divisions twice selecting him as Researcher of the Year.

Good also was named mentor and advisor of the year during his tenure at the University of Missouri, where he also received the university’s highest teaching honor.

Since his arrival at UF in 2011, the COE has made unprecedented leaps in the U.S. News and World Report’s national rankings of America’s Best Graduate Education Schools. The college is Florida’s top-ranked education school and ranks first among Southeast region public institutions. COE faculty researchers have generated more external grant funding than ever before, and Good has worked with faculty to gain substantial “UF Preeminence” funding allotted by the Florida Legislature for three priority research initiatives involving the College of Education.

The college last year also received a $5 million donation — the largest in its 109-year history — to name and endow the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies.

During Good’s tenure also has led AC Online to name UF as the No. 1 school in the U.S. for having the best online teaching degree, and StartClass to name the COE as having the sixth best early childhood education teaching degree.

More recently, Good was appointed to the blue-ribbon International Advisory Panel for the Emirates College for Advanced Education in Abu Dhabi. He also serves in elected leadership positions with three national organizations: Learning and Education Academic Research Network (LEARN); the institutional representative group of the American Educational Research Association; and the education college deans group of the elite American Association of Universities.

 Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; 
skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.


College gives research team ‘incentive’ to create better reading assessment tool

Corinne Huggins-Manley says it was a “total team effort” that led to her receiving a College of Education-funded grant to continue promising research aimed at developing an effective reading assessment tool that teachers can use to help students improve their reading ability.

CRIF team9

CRIF research grant team members Corinne Huggins-Manley (front), Amber Benedict (from left), David Miller and Mary Brownell.

She said researchers also could use the tool to advance reading theories and assist in measuring effects of teacher professional development

Huggins-Manley, an assistant professor of research and evaluation methodology, said the $39,900 awarded to her and three colleagues – David Miller (REM), Mary Brownell (special education) and Amber Benedict (special education) – through the COE’s College Research Incentive Fund (CRIF) will be used to pay for additional help from graduate students, participant incentives and honorariums for multiple field experts.

“CRIF is such a great program,” Huggins-Manley said. “The funds allow, in part, for some relief from teaching in order to dedicate the necessary time and effort to this research project.”

The annual award is based on the team’s proposal, “Development of a Diagnostic Assessment of Morphological Awareness,” which itself could morph into a software program that would take current reading proficiency tests that estimate overall reading levels to a diagnostic level by measuring which of five skills – derivation, decomposition and prefix, inflected ending and root comprehension – individual students possess.

“Our goal is to take the reading-level data that is used now and transform that into something more specific, more skills-focused,” Huggins-Manley said. “It’s an assist tool that will provide teachers with additional information about their students’ reading skills and researchers with the ability to study skill-level reading constructs.

“Our research has the potential to make a profound impact in the classroom,” she added. “Teachers will have the skill-level information they need to plan teaching strategies for individuals or groups of students. They’ll be able to implement empirically-driven approaches that can help them both address students’ needs and accentuate students’ strengths.

“It’s a total team effort all the way.”

   Source: Corinne Huggins-Manley, assistant professor of research and evaluation methodology; amanley@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4342
   Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.


Next HDOSE director has priorities in mind for school

David Miller doesn’t plan to make immediate changes when he takes over as director of the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies, but the longtime COE professor of research and evaluation methods has a few priorities he’d like to set.

David Miller2

David Miller

“HDOSE has some great people, so I’d really like to see us increase the quantity and quality of our research productivity and scholarship,” said Miller, who in late May will replace retiring counselor education Professor Harry Daniels, who has served as school director since May of 2012.

Miller also would like to take on the ambitious if not daunting task of adding faculty.

“The number of our tenured tracks has fallen the past few years, partly through attrition but mainly because of budget cuts,” he said. “We’ve been doing more with less, so it wouldn’t hurt to look for ways to add quality people.”

Quality is an operative word for Miller, who embraces the university’s Preeminence initiative and in 2011 began serving as director of UF’s Quality Enhancement Plan, a requirement for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

As a QEP team member, Miller has been directing a campuswide initiative called “Learning Without Borders: Internationalizing the Gator Nation” that seeks to enhance the learning environment for undergraduate students by increasing awareness of the university’s global nature. The project calls for curricular enhancement, faculty training, a speaker program and a new international scholar program.

Miller looks to parlay that experience into his new role as director of HDOSE, which he describes as a “cohesive section of great faculty members” comprising several programs, including Counselor Education, Educational Leadership, Higher Education Administration, Student Personnel in Higher Education, Research and Evaluation Methodology and Educational Psychology.

“I see my position as being more administrative than academic,” Miller said. “I hope we can continue moving forward as a single unit.”

Miller also is director of the COE’s Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services (CAPE), which was established to support grant funding in the social sciences by providing expertise in evaluation, assessment and research design for scholars across the UF campus.

A UF education faculty member since 1998, he served for seven years as chairman of education psychology. His research interests include large-scale assessment and psychometrics (the science of measuring mental capacities and processes).

Miller has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in educational research and evaluation, and a bachelor’s degree in math and psychology, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.

David Miller, dmiller@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4306
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Special Ed’s Gage recognized as rising international scholar in emerging field

Nicholas Gage, a UF assistant professor in special education, has gained international recognition for his early-career research success and commitment to advancing the emerging science of positive behavior support.

N.-GageGage is one of two recipients of the 2015 Ted Carr Initial Research Award, presented by the international Association for Positive Behavior Support. The annual honor goes to emerging researchers whose work reflects conceptual sophistication, applied relevance and promise of substantial contribution to the field.

Gage was honored at the APBS International Conference in March.

Positive behavior support, or PBS, focuses on intervention strategies that are compassionate, productive and educationally oriented to help individuals develop constructive behaviors to meet their life goals in social relationships, employment, academic achievement, health and other areas.

Gage’s research is dedicated to helping all students succeed in school, focusing particularly on students at risk of, or receiving special education services for, emotional-behavioral disorders. He has specific expertise in statistical modeling, research design and methods, and functional behavioral assessment.

“I believe my research and service efforts will have a positive and lasting impact on the college’s relationship with local schools and schools statewide,” he said.

After he earned his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Missouri, Gage was an Institute of Education Sciences post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Behavioral Education and Research at the University of Connecticut, working on statistical and methodological advances in the emotional and behavioral disorders research field.

   SOURCE: Nicholas Gage, UF assistant professor in special education, UF College of Education; gagenicholas@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137


International group recognizes COE professor as outstanding educator in addictions counseling


Kristina DePue

Kristina DePue, a COE assistant professor of counselor education, has been named the 2015 Outstanding Addictions and Offender Educator by the International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors.

COE Counselor Education Professor Harry Daniels told judges in a lengthy nomination letter that DePue has received very high instructor ratings from students who see her as approachable and knowledgeable.

“She incorporates unique, activity-based techniques into her classes,” Daniels wrote. “Counselor Ed faculty members [have] asked her to expand our addictions program and create more classes that could be woven together to form a certificate program in addictions counseling.”

DePue, who received undergraduate and master’s degrees at Vanderbilt University before earning a Ph.D. in counselor education at the University of Central Florida, said she was “truly humbled” to be recognized for doing what she loves.

“My passion for addictions research and teaching is undeniable,” she said. “The reality is that all counselors will work with addictions in their careers, and we all enter this field with a variety of personal and professional experiences. My job is to help students learn about themselves so they can truly be in a position to help others.”

DePue was honored at an IAAOC breakfast during a recently held American Counseling Association convention in Orlando.

Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.


Service for Thomas Oakland set for March 28

Thomas Oakland, Ph.D.

Thomas Oakland, Ph.D.

A Celebration of Life service for retired school psychology Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 28, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. Everyone is welcome to attend and a reception will follow the service. The Oakland family has requested that guests dress comfortably and not wear black.

Dr. Oakland, an internationally renowned school psychologist, test developer, teacher, mentor and beloved humanitarian, died March 4 at his home in Gainesville. He was 75.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. Thomas Oakland International School Psychology Fellowship at the University of Florida (www.uff.ufl.edu/appeals/Oakland). The fellowship was established to support international students in school psychology and U.S. students who have an interest in working internationally.

To view Dr. Oakland’s complete obituary and post online condolences, visithttp://bit.ly/1EN4n5g.

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Kramer named co-director of Institute of Higher Education

The University of Florida College of Education has named assistant professor of higher education Dennis Kramer to the new position of co-director of its UF Institute of Higher Education (IHE)—an appointment college officials say “further strengthens the institute’s commitment to higher-education policy research and scholarship.”

KRAMER, Dennis3***

Dennis Kramer

Kramer, an emerging scholar in state higher-education policy evaluation and economics, had worked as the institute’s associate director since he joined the UF faculty last August. In his expanded role, he will steer the institute’s research agenda and partnerships with Florida postsecondary institutions, and oversee externally funded research collaborations, and legislative and policy research projects.

Longtime IHE director Dale Campbell will remain as the other co-director, heading the institute’s strategic initiatives involving community college leadership development and support of best practices through the annual meeting of the Community College Futures Assembly, a national consortium of community college leaders founded by Campbell. He also will continue to coordinate UF’s higher education administration doctoral programs, which are recognized nationally as a leader in two-year and four-year postsecondary policy development and administration.

“I am extremely pleased that Dr. Kramer will be joining me to further strengthen the Institute of Higher Education’s role as the premier thought leader in the state and nation on critical issues in higher education policy and practice,” Campbell said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge in the area of intersecting public policy development with institutional decision-making.”

Kramer joined the UF faculty after receiving his doctorate in higher education economics and policy evaluation from the University of Georgia. He previously held a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia and also worked for three years as the senior research and policy analyst with the Georgia Department of Education, where he managed Georgia’s education policy development and evaluation research.

His research focuses on the economics of higher education, the evaluation of federal and state policy adoption, and the impact of state decisions on community colleges and four-year institutions. He specializes in advanced quantitative research methods for studying education-related policy questions and program evaluation. He has authored a number of scholarly articles on the economics of higher education, the role of financing of intercollegiate athletics, and the impact if financial aid policies on student decision-making.

Kramer cited the IHE’s longstanding reputation as an innovator and trend-setter in higher education administration as key to his joining the UF faculty. The late James Wattenbarger, UF professor emeritus and founding director of the IHE, is widely recognized as the “father of Florida’s community college system,” while Campbell has served as director for many years and steered the formation of the Futures Assembly consortium of state community college leaders and its national Bellwethers Awards program. UF’s higher education administration academic program is one of the inaugural Kellogg Foundation-funded Community College Leadership Programs.

“It is truly an honor to carry on the legacy of leadership established by Dr. Wattenbarger and furthered by Dr. Campbell, serving both the state and nation,” Kramer said. “Working with Dr. Campbell, we will continue to enhance the institute’s scholarly productivity by connecting our research with national postsecondary policy interests and local institutional needs.

   SOURCE: Dennis Kramer, Ph.D.; 352-273-4315; dkramer@coe.ufl.edu
   SOURCE; Dale Campbell, Ph.D.; 352-273-4300; dfc@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu



Undergraduate Teacher of Year is model for aspiring teachers

Put simply, Kristen Apraiz – recently named the COE’s Undergraduate Teacher of the Year — makes lasting impressions in the classroom.

Kristen Apraiz10 (cropped)“After completing seven semesters at the University of Florida, [Dr. Apraiz] is one of the best professors I’ve ever had,” senior Paulette Santa-Parzons wrote in one of several nomination letters that helped determine the winner. “She practices what she teaches. The activities she presents in class are engaging, thought-provoking and applicable to our future classrooms.”

Apraiz, who taught for two years as a COE graduate student before earning her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction last year, now serves as a clinical assistant professor and teaches mathematics education in the Unified Elementary ProTeach program.

Prior to that, the Cape Coral, Fla., native spent seven years teaching math at charter and public schools in Florida, and her athletic ability came in handy when she coached varsity swimming for four years at New Smyrna Beach High School.

Apraiz is now eligible for this year’s University Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Award, but that’s not something the married mother of a 14-month-old daughter has time to think about.

“I love my job already, so being recognized by my students is icing on the cake,” said Apraiz, who earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Florida State University. “As a teacher, you never know where you stand with your students, but those letters – they were so honest, so sincere. They just overwhelmed me.”

Apparently the feeling is mutual.

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2015 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Kristen Apraiz (lefrt) works with elementary ed. student Taylor Goyette on a lesson in teaching math in an inclusive elementary classroom.

“Dr. Apraiz was constantly offering us specific support and praise when we shared our thoughts or answers,” wrote Briana Shustari, who had Apraiz for two undergraduate ProTeach courses. “This showed us the importance of treating our future students with this same encouragement and kindness, [and] it motivated us to continue to put in our best effort and made us feel that our contributions were of value.”

Apraiz says it’s important that she knows who her students are, not just as education majors, but as young adults who have lives outside the classroom.

“It just seems natural to me,” said Apraiz, whose teaching origins go back to early childhood when she would teach her stuffed animals how to add and subtract. “I mean, we’re all going to be in the same room for a semester. Why wouldn’t I want to know who they are?”

No arguments there, either.

“She takes the time to ask us how we are doing in our other classes and within our practicum,” pre-service student Raina Weismantel wrote in her nomination. “Anyone who has had Dr. Apraiz for a professor knows that you are always welcome to visit her during her office hours for not only math help, but for emotional support as well.”

Put simply, it all adds up for a math education professor whose students make lasting impressions as well.


Special ed. colleagues share national honor for teacher education achievements

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) honored University of Florida special education professors Mary Brownell and Paul Sindelar with its 2015 David G. Imig Award for distinguished achievement in teacher education on March 1 at the group’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

Paul Sindelar

Brownell and Sindelar were cited for making significant, lasting contributions to educator development and teacher education policy and research, both individually and working together. The Imig Award is named for the AACTE president emeritus.

In 2013, following decades of successful collaborations on several national projects studying and supporting special education teachers, Brownell and Sindelar co-founded the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center. Erica McCray in UF special education also is a co-investigator.

The groundbreaking center, based at UF’s College of Education and funded through an unprecedented five-year, $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, is helping multiple states strengthen their standards and methods for preparing, licensing and evaluating their teachers and school leaders who serve students with disabilities.

BROWNELL, Mary (2-2015)

Mary Brownell

AACTE is one of several national organizations and advocacy groups in special education and teacher preparation partnering on the CEEDAR Center project.

“Mary and Paul’s impressive contributions to research and leadership in special education teacher quality have influenced teacher education policies and practices, and doctoral scholarship, nationally and globally,” said Jean Crockett, professor and director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. “What is especially impressive is their deep engagement with the cultivation of the next generation of teacher educators and researchers.”

Past collaborations for the two colleagues include co-directing two other federally funded national centers at UF—the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP) and the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (COPPSE). They also have worked together advising congressional education committees on proposed bills concerning the preparation and assessment of special education teachers.

   SOURCE: Mary Brownell, professor of special education, UF College of Education; 352-273-273-4261; mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu;
   SOURCE: Paul Sindelar, professor of special education, UF College of Education; 352-273-273-4266; mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu;
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, news and communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;



Art Sandeen, student affairs icon, publishes eighth book

Arthur “Art” Sandeen’s 26 years as head of University of Florida student affairs and 14 years as a College of Education professor translate well into writing.

Art SandeenSandeen recently published his eighth book, “Making Change Happen in Student Affairs,” to share valuable advice with university administrators all over the country. The 240-page book focuses on ways student affairs administrators can best cater to today’s generation of college students.

He co-wrote the book with Margaret Barr and George McClellan, the former heads of student affairs at Northwestern and Indiana University, respectively.

According to Sandeen, student affairs leaders must learn to adapt to changing environments and increased expectations from the public and their own institutions. One of the biggest issues lies in how university student affairs will adjust to the increase in residential and face-to-face campuses moving online.

His book advises student affairs leaders to strive for self-sufficiency, achieving initiatives through their own inventiveness rather than depending solely on their institutions for money and other resources.

Sandeen, served as vice president for student affairs at UF from 1973 to 1999, when he became a professor of higher education administration at the College of Education. He has “retired” three times but continues to teach part-time in the higher education administration program. He previously was dean of students at Iowa State University. In 2014, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators honored Sandeen with its Distinguished Pillar Award for his longtime service to students and university communities. He also has published more than 50 journal articles and 21 book chapters.

Although not exclusively about the University of Florida, Sandeen said many of the ideas in his latest book were influenced by his work in UF student affairs and teaching at the College of Education.

“My experiences at this institution have shaped, and continue to shape, my idea of what student affairs should be now and in the future,” he said.

His latest book, published by Jossey Bass, is available online at google, amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online book retailers.

   SOURCE: Arthur Sandeen, Professor, UF College of Education; sandeen@ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu


Professor emerita of counselor ed. named ACA Fellow

The world’s largest nonprofit organization representing professional counselors has awarded College of Education professor emerita Mary Ann Clark with one of its highest honors.

Mary Ann Clark1Clark, a full-time UF faculty member in counselor education from 2000-2014, will be inducted as an American Counseling Association Fellow on March 14 at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando.

The prestigious distinction is given to those who make significant contributions to the counseling field through teaching and training, professional practice, scientific achievement and governance.

Jacqueline Swank, a colleague in counselor education, nominated Clark for the award.

“She has shown an unwavering commitment to the counseling profession for nearly 40 years, demonstrating excellence in all areas possible,” she said.

Clark received her Ph.D. in counselor education from UF in 1998. Just two years later, she returned to the college as a faculty member.

With more than 100 publications and professional presentations, Clark receives national and international recognition for her scholarly endeavors. Her research agenda focuses on gender differences in cross cultural educational achievement and social development.

At UF, Clark was named the Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the B.O. Smith Endowed Professor Research Professor for 2006-2008.

Clark still teaches at the college on a phased retirement schedule, working full-time in the fall, but on leave during the spring semester.

   SOURCE: Mary Ann Clark, Professor Emerita of Counselor ed., UF College of Education; maclark@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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UF scholars program taps 7 ProTeach students, 3 faculty mentors


Gisselle Morrobel (l-r), Lauren Harris and Amy Strong.

Seven COE ProTeach undergraduates have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances, and three faculty members have been recognized for mentoring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholar certificates are given campuswide by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to students who have earned cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.90 (with distinction); 3.95 (with higher distinction); and 4.0 (with highest distinction) during their first two years at UF.

This year’s Anderson Scholars from the COE are Elizabeth Bee, Marissa Elordi, Lauren Harris, Olivia Montero, Gisselle Morrobel, Amy Strong and Mallory Wood.

COE faculty honorees are Mary Ann Nelson, special education lecturer; clinical assistant professor Caitlin Gallingane; and Ashley MacSuga-Gage, visiting assistant professor of special education.

All seven students are majoring in elementary education, and two of them – Montero and Morrobel – received Anderson Scholar certificates With Highest Distinction.


Olivia Montero and Elizabeth Bee.

“Being an Anderson Scholar means never losing sight of the goal of your hard work,” Montero said. “It means having people to support you and your studies to reach your goal. I couldn’t have done any of this without the encouragement and prayers of my family, fiancé, and friends.”

Morrobel couldn’t agree more.

“It’s an honor and a symbol of perseverance and dedication in pursuing my dreams,” she said.

Gallingane said she and other COE professors work as closely as they can with undergraduate students because they identify with students’ concerns as they prepare for careers in a constantly evolving profession.

“I try to see things from their perspective and give them the support they need to be successful,” Gallingane said. “I act as an advocate because I care about their experience at UF.”

The award is named in honor of James N. Anderson, who served as the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910 until 1930. Anderson Hall bears his name.


Faculty mentors honored were Mary Ann Nelson (l-r), Ashley MacSuga-Gage and Caitlin Gallingane.

Students31 copy

Marissa Elordi


Mallory Wood

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Benedict joins growing list of special ed. students to win prestigious CEC research award

Amber Benedict1

Amber Benedict

College of Education alumna Amber Benedict (PhD ‘14,
special education) will head for San Diego this spring to receive the prestigious Student Research Award for Qualitative Design from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research.

The council is the world’s largest organization of special education professionals and educators.

Benedict, who has been serving as a post-doctoral associate in special education for the COE and its Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR Center) since earning her doctorate last August, is the fourth student of COE doctoral faculty adviser Mary Brownell to receive the award in the past six years. Previous recipients and their current institutions were Melinda Leko (University of Kansas), Mary Theresa Kiely (St. Johns University), and Alexandra Lauterbach (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

“It’s no accident that Dr. Brownell’s students repeatedly win this award,” Benedict said. “She works tirelessly to ensure that multiple grants operate concurrently, and she has modeled for us relentlessly while pursuing funding and support for large-scale research and technical assistance.”

“Her positive leadership has altered my life’s trajectory,” Benedict added. “Because of her high expectations, I’ve developed the knowledge and skills to be a strong teacher educator. And now I’m carving out a path for myself as a special education researcher.”

Benedict’s award is based on her dissertation, Learning Together: Teachers’ Evolving Understandings During Ongoing Collaborative Professional Development, and will be presented during the CEC’s national conference in April.

“I want to focus on ensuring that students with learning disabilities and other struggling learners have access to high-quality instruction,” Benedict said. “One way to do that is to demonstrate that teachers’ professional learning opportunities can increase student achievement in the area of literacy.”

Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449


Business school taps science ed. professor as Entrepreneurship Fellow

Griff Jones1

Griff Jones, clinical associate professor of science education

Griff Jones, a clinical associate professor of science education at the University of Florida College of Education, has been selected as an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow by the UF Warrington College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Jones, who serves as director and principal investigator for the Florida STEM Teacher Induction and Professional Support (STEM TIPS) initiative, received the honor based on his proposal to expand the scope of STEM TIPS, which he began developing two years ago after receiving a $2.3 million grant from the Florida Department of Education.

The innovative program addresses the challenges of retaining beginning math and science teachers in grades 6-12 through use of an online, mobile-ready coaching and professional development platform. Implementation and field-testing is under way in several Florida school districts, including Duval, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, as well as 15 districts comprising the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium.

Funding for the initial platform has run out, but as an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow, Jones will be able to continue its development by adding a viable, self-sustaining business plan created through a subscription-based model to ensure sustainability and continuous improvement of the STEM TIPS program.

“I’d like to expand the scale of our model to assist institutions and organizations across the nation in their efforts to prepare highly qualified and passionate STEM teachers for K-12 schools,” Jones said. “And I’d like to provide ongoing support to new teachers that will enhance their professional development and keep them in the classroom.”

Jones received his Ph.D. and M.Ed. degrees in science education from UF after earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida Southern College. He taught science at P.K. Yonge, UF’s K-12 developmental research school in Gainesville, for 20 years before becoming a full-time COE faculty member in 2007.

Jones specializes in designing effective, inquiry-based interdisciplinary science programs, and has authored several highly successful and nationally disseminated science textbooks, curriculum guides, online-course materials and science lab teaching materials.

He has collaborated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to develop several award-winning educational films focusing on STEM applications in analyzing car crashes that are used by thousands of teachers throughout the U.S. He also has received statewide and national recognition for his efforts as a K-adult science educator, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching awarded by the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


In Memoriam: Cecil D. Mercer, Ph.D., special education ‘giant’

MERCER, Cecil--pic from websiteCecil D. Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31 years (1974-2005) on the College of Education’s special education faculty, passed away at home on Nov. 21, 2014, after a long battle with Lyme disease. He was 71.

In 1998, Dr. Mercer became the first College of Education faculty member to be promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor at UF. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level. His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He was a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award and was named Doctoral Adviser/Mentor of the Year in 2001.

Dr. Mercer was the type of versatile, forward-thinking scholar that a university program needs to forge an enduring national reputation. That may explain why UF typically commanded a top 15 spot among special education programs in the yearly U.S. News national rankings during his tenure at UF.

He retired in 2005 after 31 years of teaching and research in a number of areas, including learning disabilities, mathematics, reading and effective teaching principles.

Perhaps the best measure of a scholar is the impact he’s had on both his students and his profession. Dr. Mercer is a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award. He also was one of the most widely recognized names in the field of learning disabilities. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level.

His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He has published seven editions of his best selling text, Teaching Students with Learning Problems, considered one of the leading texts on instructing students with mild disabilities.

Dr. Mercer’s complete obituary can be viewed at http://www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Cecil-Mercer-2/#!/Obituary.

Dr. Mercer’s written philosophy on the importance of mentoring doctoral students remains posted on the UF Graduate School’s website since he received the UF Doctoral Mentoring Award for 2001-2002. You’ll find it at http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/academics/cecil-d-mercer.