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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


EduGator alumni gatherings coming your way in Tampa, Gainesville, Chicago and St. Augustine


EduGators in Tampa, Gainesville, Chicago and St. Augustine areas take note: We’re heading your way and would love to get together with you! Delicious food, great conversations and reminiscing with your fellow COE alumni await you, and you’ll hear the latest updates on the College’s exciting initiatives and latest trends in educator preparation and research.

Here are the dates to save for the EduGator Gathering in your area . . .

Tuesday, March 31

UF EduGator Alumni Reception
Epicurean Hotel, 1207 South Howard Avenue
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Dean Glenn Good and the UF College of Education invite you to join us at the Tampa EduGator Reception to be held in the Culinary Theatre of the Epicurean Hotel. Valet parking will be validated. Please join fellow COE alumni and friends for food, conversation, and to hear the latest updates on the College’s initiatives. There will be a food demonstration by one of the Epicurean’s chefs!  For more details and to RSVP, email rsvp@coe.ufl.edu.

Wednesday, April 8
Education Alumni Panel / Careers in Education Fair
UF Reitz Union
4 to 7 p.m.
These annual events offer a great opportunity to listen to and network with education professionals from across the state.  All UF alumni and students are invited to attend one or both events.

— The Alumni Panel will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Reitz Union Auditorium. The first 25 attendees will receive a UF Education tote bag or t-shirt. A panel of four dynamic College of Education alumni will offer career advice and talk about the distinctly different career paths they each have followed—quite successfully—after earning their education degrees from UF. Panel members include: Tina Calderone, school board member at Seminole County Public Schools; Jayne Ellspermann, 2015 National Principal of the Year and principal of Ocala’s West Port High School; Steve Freedman, executive director of the Institute for Child Health Policy of the State University System of Florida; and Skip Marshall, vice president and CTO of Tribridge, a technology services firm.

— From 5 to 7 p.m., UF’s award-winning Career Resource Center and the College of Education are hosting the “Careers in Education” Fair in the Reitz Union Ballroom. Representatives from more than 50 Florida school districts will be on hand, and many will hire on the spot. Business attire is encouraged and you must have your resume and a photo ID to enter the fair. For more information, contact jgonzalez@coe.ufl.edu

Friday, April 17
UF EduGator Alumni Reception
Chicago House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn Street
7 to 9 p.m.
You and a guest are invited to join UF Education Dean Glenn Good and Associate Dean Tom Dana, along with other alumni and education faculty, for a Chicago EduGator Reception in The Foundation Room of The House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn Street.  Join your fellow Florida alumni and faculty for great food and conversation. The Gator Nation is Everywhere!  For questions and to RSVP, email rsvp@coe.ufl.edu.

Thursday, May 14
UF EduGator Alumni Reception
Oldest Wooden School House, The Gardens, 14 Saint George Street
6 to 8 p.m.
Join fellow College of Education alumni for great food and conversation with your fellow EduGators, and you’ll receive updates on the College’s exciting initiatives and how we’re addressing the latest trends and issues in today’s complex education world. Hope to see you there!  For more information and to RSVP, email rsvp@coe.ufl.edu 

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Ed. Leadership ranked 5th nationally among online master’s degree programs

Recruiting students for the College of Education’s online master’s degree program in Educational Leadership just got easier for Bruce Mousa, a course instructor and coordinator of the M.Ed. program.  

MOUSA, Bruce1

Bruce Mousa

TheBestSchools.org, a higher education resource website for college information seekers, recently ranked the program – which prepares working teachers and other professionals to become school principals — No. 5 on its list of the “25 Best Online Master in Educational Leadership Degree Programs.”

While the site also has listed the University of Florida’s overall distance learning program at No. 2 in the nation behind the Penn State World Campus, Mousa is quick to share the credit for the Educational Leadership program’s lofty status.

“I’ve got a fantastic team, and it’s very encouraging that such a young program would get this kind of recognition,” he said. “We’re less than two years old, so this can be used as a marketing tool.”  

Marketing is one of several responsibilities assumed by Mousa, who works in conjunction with the COE’s E-learning, Technology and Creative Services (ETC) staff to promote the fledgling program.

“I’m one of four faculty members, and we tell everyone that we’ve got a flexible, online course that maintains high standards set by UF,” Mousa said. “We personalize our course content by embedding videos of successful principals at Florida schools in our online course modules. They provide great examples of current best practices.”

Mousa also said the No. 5 ranking will help to increase future enrollment.

“I tell school administrators everywhere that our long-range vision is to move from a course sequence beginning every two semesters to having a minimum 15 students beginning the program each semester,” he said.

Jason Arnold, who serves as a liaison between ETC and the Educational Leadership program, said ETC’s marketing support has included creation of a website that provides details about the course. The website address — www.education.ufl.edu/edleadership-med — is distributed through email blasts and at state education conferences and other gatherings held throughout the year.

“The students have been awesome about helping the ETC creative team develop the website,” Arnold said. “They’re a diverse group of working professionals, and several of them have submitted their photos and testimonials about the program.

“Our goal is to have the best online courses available for any area of study,” he added “The online master’s degree program in Educational Leadership is paving the way.”

      Source: Bruce Mousa, UF College of Education; bmousa@ufl.edu; 239-593-9196.
      Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, COE Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137.
      Writer: Stephen Kindland, COE Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-3449.


Summer literacy camp benefits UF student tutors and youngsters with reading disabilities

Virtually all 33 UF ProTeach dual certification students who tutored youngsters with reading disabilities during a special four-week summer camp staged by the UF Literacy Initiative say their investment will reap huge benefits in their future teaching practices.

And, lest anyone forget, the same number of mostly elementary school students who spent an hour a day with their tutors at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville will benefit greatly as well.

Summer camp1

Mackenzie Caquatto and her student celebrate a tutoring session victory.

Caquatto, a member of this year’s UF gymnastics team that recently claimed its second straight national title, appeared to be just as excited as her student when the third-grader broke a personal record during a reading fluency exercise.

“Yesterday he read 73 words in one minute, but today he nailed it,” Caquatto said. “He got 102.”  

“Yeah, and with no errors!” the student beamed.  

“It’s the little victories that get you pumped up,” Caquatto said. “This program is awesome. I learn from kids all the time.”

Holly Lane, a UF special education professor who has headed the College of Education’s summer reading programs through the UF Literacy Initiative since 2009, says the “awesomeness” is the result of “incredibly passionate” student teachers who qualify for tutoring by attending a four-week practicum and five weeks of all-day classes.

“It’s a huge time commitment for them,” Lane said. “This particular group has been remarkably agreeable. They’re very dedicated.”

Among them is Karyn Ortiz, a part-time graduate student who appeared to have an excellent rapport with her student, a fourth grader with dyslexia.  

“Good teachers learn to use their personalities as a tool,” said Ortiz, who used a bag of goldfish crackers as a teaching tool in a recent tutoring session. “This has been a paradigm shift for me – from direct teaching to manipulative teaching. I use the goldfish to help my student learn what the letter ‘g’ sounds like.

“I’ve always taken reading in English for granted,” she said. “This has been an eye-opener for me; I had no idea it could be so difficult for some children.”

Such lessons can only help them to become better teachers, according to Lane. 

“Ten to 15 percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia, and more than 80 percent of all learning disabilities are due to problems in reading,” she said. “Early detection is key because those students won’t have the added burden of trying to catch up academically after falling behind because of their reading disability.”

Given those numbers, it doesn’t surprise Lane to see UF Literacy Initiative programs continue to grow.

“Word’s been getting around,” she said. “This year we had students from as far away as Tampa and Dunnellon. The parents are very appreciative of this program and the difference it makes with their children.

“One parent shared that her son made more reading progress in four weeks in this program than he had all year at school.”

   Source: Holly Lane, associate professor, School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies; hlane@ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4273. 

   Media Relations: 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.

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‘Wearing’ a boa constrictor, fist bumping a sloth make UFTeach summer internships memorable

Brett Walker spent a summer morning wearing a boa constrictor as — well, as a boa. Dina Zinni, an aspiring astronomer from Jupiter (no, really, it’s true), spent her afternoons gazing at indoor stars. Not to be outdone, Ashleigh Tucker fist bumped a giant ground sloth as she wandered back in time.

Brett Walker

Brett Walker ‘wears’ a boa constrictor.

The three University of Florida seniors, along with 12 fellow students enrolled in the UFTeach program, discovered the power of informal STEM learning through paid summer internships as Noyce Scholars.

Thanks to a $1.2 million grant awarded last year by the National Science Foundation, the five-year Noyce Scholars program allows UF’s colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences to offer hands-on training opportunities to help recruit and prepare top science and math majors for teaching careers in the critical shortage areas of STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

Walker, who will graduate with a bachelor’s in geological sciences by summer’s end, says she is grateful for her UFTeach education, which has taken her to Iceland to study volcanoes; to the Caribbean to dive along the deep fore reefs of the Bahamas; to New Mexico, where she crawled through 70-mile-an-hour winds on the peak of the state’s highest mountain; and to the Paleontological Research Institution at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., for this summer’s internship.

“My main job was teaching children about the treasures in their terrain and the excitement of Earth’s wild history,” Walker said. “But I also watched hot lava ooze toward me as part of the Syracuse [N.Y.] Lava Project.”

Dina Zinni

Dina Zinni stands next to Kika Silva Pla Planetarium’s Chronos Star Projector that is used for celestial shows and music performances.

She also helped out in other areas, and gladly agreed to give a short-notice presentation on the boa constrictor to a group of visitors.

“Holding a snake longer than I am tall and teaching children about it for 30 minutes was totally unexpected,” Walker said with a laugh. “Every day I woke up and did something new and exciting, so yeah, I’d say my internship was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

Zinni, who plans to graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s in astronomy, spent her internship talking to visitors who came to watch shows about our solar system at the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

“My favorite part was working with kids,” said Zinni, who grew up in Jupiter, Fla. “They’re all so curious and they ask great questions. I’d love to end up running my own planetarium someday.”

Tucker, one of seven interns who worked at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, said she gained a fresh perspective on how to teach math to different age groups after spending time at the museum’s numerous exhibits, including “Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life & Land,” where she high-fived and fist bumped a miniature replica of a giant ground sloth, circa 2 million B.C.

Ashleigh Tucker

Ashleigh Tucker fist bumps a replica of a giant ground sloth at UF’s Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

“I’m writing educator guides for the ‘T. Rex Named Sue’ exhibit that’ll be here in the spring,” Tucker said. “It focuses on math, so essentially it’s teaching K-8 students about dinosaurs by using math instead of the typical paleontology and biology stuff.”

Fellow intern Max Sommer, a senior majoring in geography, had a similar experience at the award-winning museum.

“I didn’t expect first and second graders to think and explore scientifically as much as they did,” he said. “They really ‘buy in’ and do a great job when interesting and fun activities engage them.

“That shows you the power of informal STEM learning,” he said. “I’ve learned the importance of that — not just for the students I’ll be teaching, but for people all around me throughout life.”

   Source: Sharon Holte, vertebrate paleontology Ph.D. student at UF; sharonholte@gmail.com. 
   Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
   Writer-Photographer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Visiting teachers of Chinese enhance their skills through COE-sponsored StarTalk program


Thanks to a summer teacher development program sponsored jointly by the UF College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, more than 70 youngsters filled the Boys and Girls Club of Gainesville recently for a fun-filled summer week of StarTalk, a federally funded teacher development program in which students learn conversational Chinese while studying Far East culture through hands-on activities. BELOW: WATCH THE VIDEO, READ THE STORY. 



More than 70 youngsters filled the Boys and Girls Club of Gainesville recently for a fun-filled summer week of learning to speak conversational Chinese while studying Far East culture through hands-on activities.

The UF College of Education and the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ department of Literacy, Language and Culture have co-sponsored StarTalk – a federally funded teacher development program — each of the past four years. StarTalk was established in 2006 to promote the nationwide teaching of “critical needs” languages such as Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

UF StarTalk program director Patricia Jacobs, who also serves as a writing coach at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, said the program’s objectives are simple.

“One-fifth of the world’s population speaks Chinese, so it stands to reason that more of us should know how to speak it,” Jacobs said. “Skilled teachers are critical to this learning process, and they’re the focus of this program.”

The COE’s StarTalk program is exclusive to teachers of Chinese, nearly all of them China natives who teach at different schools throughout the U.S. Each year they attend afternoon training sessions at UF’s Norman Hall led by COE faculty members before applying what they learn during morning classes with kids ages 5-18 at the Boys and Girls Club.

Fifteen teachers from as far away as Texas and Massachusetts took part in this year’s program, according to Danling Fu, a UF literacy education professor who specializes in graduate and undergraduate level writing and language instruction. 

“Classes are taught much differently in China, so what they gain here helps them become more effective when teaching American children,” said Fu, who serves as lead instructor. “They’re very enthusiastic and the children respond well to that. It’s fun to watch them interact.”

Students were introduced to common Chinese words and phrases while receiving lessons in Chinese culture, such as learning how to make sweet dumplings — called tang yu’an in Chinese – and creating colorful paper lanterns for the Lantern Festival, a celebration dating back to the Han dynasty of 206 BC to 25 AD.

UF student and Taiwan native Eric Fu, who is majoring in criminology with a minor in Chinese, said he attended the StarTalk sessions to broaden his horizons about cultural education.

“It was interesting to see how passionate the teachers were, and how enthusiastically the kids responded,” Fu said. “I’ve been learning a lot from the teachers, but probably just as much by watching the students. All that will be helpful to me in terms of interpersonal dynamics.”

StarTalk is a multi-agency initiative funded primarily by the Department of Defense’s National Security Agency. Cynthia Chennault, a COE associate professor of Chinese language and literature, serves as co-instructional leader.

Other StarTalk sponsors include the National Foreign Language Center in Riverdale Park, Md., and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

Source: Danling Fu, UF College of Education, danlingfu@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-392-9191, ext. 20.
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.


UF pioneering ‘STEAM’ elementary ed. at Coral Gables school

While St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School in Coral Gables, Fla., was designing its STEM laboratory three years ago, the University of Florida’s College of Education was expanding its K-12 STEM teacher preparation programs in several Florida school districts. The two institutions now are teaming up to take STEM education at the elementary school level to new heights.

Linda Jones

Linda Jones

At St. Thomas, STEM has evolved into STEAM–with the addition of art to the four original STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math). The concept of teaching STEM subjects through integrated, hands-on, community-based, service-learning projects rather than as stand-alone disciplines has been at the educational forefront for many middle and high school programs in recent years. Developing a comprehensive STEM/STEAM program for the elementary grades, however, is a pioneering adventure that St. Thomas and UF are ambitiously pursuing–full STEAM ahead.

UF faculty consultants from the College of Education’s mathematics and science education programs are now evaluating St. Thomas’s current STEM/STEAM program as a first step of a two-year plan. After completing a thorough inventory of what St. Thomas already has in place in terms of facilities, faculty training, resources and equipment, the UF team will determine the essential ingredients for implementing a school-wide STEM/STEAM education program.  

The UF researchers will collaborate with St. Thomas faculty and administrators to set goals, create an integrated curriculum map and provide teachers with STEAM-focused professional development, training and resources. After the STEAM program is launched, St. Thomas will sponsor a STEAM Education Institute to train other interested elementary school educators across Florida.

Tim Jacobbe

Tim Jacobbe

“Our collaboration with St. Thomas will provide participating students with opportunities to put their STEAM-related knowledge and skills to practical use by addressing real-world science-related problems and issues in their local community,” said Linda Jones, UF associate professor of science and environmental education, who is coordinating UF’s activities in the project. “Collaborative efforts like this benefit everyone involved including students, teachers, parents and the local community. ”

UF’s Tim Jacobbe, UF associate professor of mathematics and statistics education, is working with Jones on the project.

   Linda L. Cronin Jones, Ph.D., UF College of Education: lcjones@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4223


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UF teacher prep program is first in state accredited by international dyslexia group

The dual certification track of the COE’s Unified Elementary ProTeach program is one of the first teacher preparation programs in the nation to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association, an impressive credential that should enhance the college’s student recruitment efforts.

UF special education professor Holly Lane said the accreditation comes just one year after the dual certification track was redesigned to include a three-course block on assessment and intervention for students with reading disabilities.

Holly Lane, shown teaching a literacy education class, led the accreditation effort with Linda Lombardino. Both are UF special educaiton faculty members.

Holly Lane, shown teaching a literacy education class, led the accreditation effort with Linda Lombardino. Both are UF special education professors.

“The timing was perfect,” Lane said. “Nearly every classroom in America has kids with dyslexia, so this accreditation means a lot in terms of showing how well we prepare our students to become fully qualified teachers.”

She said fellow special education professor Linda Lombardino played an integral part in developing the voluminous accreditation process.

“This was a total team effort,” Lane said. “Dr. Lombardino is widely recognized for her expertise in dyslexia.”

Students who choose the dual certification option of UF’s five-year ProTeach master’s degree program qualify for certification in both elementary and special education for grades K-12.

Dyslexia is a neurological learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Secondary consequences could include problems with reading comprehension and delayed growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. 

UF’s College of Education is the first higher education institution in Florida to receive accreditation from the IDA, a non-profit, scientific and educational organization that operates 43 branches throughout North America and has global partners in 20 other countries.

The IDA has granted accreditation to just 17 universities and dyslexia therapy programs since it began the practice two years ago. 

“A number of schools are eager to be accredited by us,” IDA spokeswoman Elisabeth Liptak, said. “It gives them a competitive advantage when recruiting students in local markets.”

Ten to 15 percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia, yet only five out of every 100 dyslexics are recognized and receive assistance, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute in Tallahassee.

And that, Lane says, is what makes the COE’s accreditation so significant.

“Teaching teachers how to recognize children who have dyslexia is just as important as making sure they get the help they need,” she said.

Colleen Pollett, a former graduate student who received her master’s degree in special education in May, said she was impressed with the nine-credit-hour requirement and its contents, including a “Learnable Linguistics” tutoring method developed by COE adjunct professors Jane Andrews and Susan Vanderline.

“After I studied the course’s ‘Learnable Linguistics’ method, I was hired as a tutor for a fourth-grade student with dyslexia,” Pollett said. “I worked with him twice a week, and I saw incredible growth and progress in his reading comprehension, fluency and his word recognition. That confirmed it for me. The program really works. 

Pollett said she was surprised to learn that dyslexia affects a person’s ability to translate written words into meaningful text.

“People who have dyslexia aren’t slow learners,” she said. “It’s just that their brains process language in a different way, so traditional methods of teaching reading aren’t effective. “

Jean Crockett, director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies, said IDA accreditation came about because of the vision and dedication demonstrated by Lane and Lombardino.

“Thanks to them, our dual certification graduates will be highly qualified to teach elementary and special education,” Crockett said. “They’ll be classroom-ready to help all children read.” 

   Source: Holly Lane, professor of special education, UF College of Education; hlane@ufl.edu
   Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu
   Writer: Stephen Kindland, staff writer, UF College of Education; skindland@coe.ufl.edu


School psychology program earns full accreditation renewal

The UF College of Education’s doctoral degree program in school psychology recently earned the full seven-year accreditation renewal from the commission on accreditation for the American Psychological Association.

The continued accreditation status is the longest term achievable for a Doctor of Philosophy program in school psychology and extends until 2021.

Professor John Kranzler, director of UF’s school psychology program, likens APA national accreditation to the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for training programs in the psychology field, but also says it’s much more than that.

“Accreditation is not simply a status, it’s also a process,” he said. “Accreditation signifies that the program is committed to the practice of self-study to continuously seek ways to improve the quality of education and training.”

The process for UF’s school psychology program began more than a year ago with the submission of a 666-page self-study report, which assessed and documented virtually every aspect of the program, from training goals to financial resources to the quality of students and faculty. An APA review team of academic peers visited the College of Education campus last December and then prepared preliminary and final reports with their findings.

In its report, the accreditation team noted particular strengths in the UF program’s high quality and diversity of its students, the excellence of its practicum placements and field supervision, and the use of data-based decision-making to enhance the students’ doctoral training experience.

The College of Education’s Ed.S. and Ph.D. programs in school psychology also have long been accredited by the Florida Department of Education and approved as “nationally recognized” by the national Council for Accreditation of Education Preparation (formerly known as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education).

“Maintaining concurrent accreditation by multiple state and national organizations is no easy task, because the criteria and standards for each are somewhat different and each requires a great deal of self-study and documentation,” Kranzler said.

   SOURCE: John Kranzler, director, school psychology program, UF College of Education, jkranzler@coe.ufl.edu;  352-273-4119
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137


Research and engaged scholarship: innovations in STEM education reform

UF College of Education faculty and their graduate students are aggressively pursuing vital research, crossing multiple disciplines, that is making a dramatic impact on teacher preparation, teacher practice and student learning in the vital STEM disciplines–science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That focus is evident in the volume and quality of our grant-funding research projects and programs devoted to STEM education, with many projects involving collaborations and partnerships with Florida school districts.

Here are our current active STEM education-related grants (announced as of February 2014), with the most recently awarded grants listed first.

Lynda Hayes (PKY)
Technology Transformation for Rural School Districts
Florida Department of Education
10/01/2013 – 06/30/2014
Kent Crippen (STL)                                               
ChANgE Chem: Transforming Chemistry with Cognitive Apprenticeship for Engineers       
National Science Foundation
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Gates Foundation Algebra Nation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—PEW
University of Florida Foundation              
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—Quantum
University of Florida Foundation              
Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)                    
Palm Beach Count STEM Initiative—Community
University of Florida Foundation              
Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-Pi: Dimple Malik Flesner (UFTeach)
Co-Pi: Thomasenia Lott Adams (Dean’s Area, Mathematics Education)
STEM EduGators: UF Noyce Scholars Program
National Science Foundation
September 2012 – August 2017

T. Griffith Jones (Science Education)
Co-PI: Dimple Malik Flesner (UFTeach)
Co-PI: Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-PI: Thomasenia Adams (Dean’s Area, Mathematics Education)
The Florida STEM- Teacher Induction and Professional Support Center
Florida Department of Education
July 2012 – June 2014

Elliot Douglas (College of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering)
Co-PI: Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (Research and Evaluation Methodology)
Implementing Guided Inquiry in Diverse Institutions
National Science Foundation
January 2012 – December 2014
Lynda Hayes (PK Yonge)
Co-PI: Rose Pringle (Science Education)
Co-PI: Mary Jo Koroly (Center for Precollegiate Education and Training)
Co-PI: Douglas Levey (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Biology)
U-FUTuRES – University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science
National Science Foundation
October 2011 – September 2016
Timothy Jacobbe (Mathematics Education)
LOCUS: Levels of Conceptual Understanding in Statistics
National Science Foundation
September 2011 – August 2015

STEM education: grant-funded projects recently expired

*Earliest project expiration date is July 2012

Linda Behar-Horenstein (Educational Leadership)
Co-Pi: Lian Niu (Doctoral Candidate in Higher Education Administration)
Choosing a STEM Major in College: Family Socioeconomic Status, Individual and Institutional Factors
Association for Institutional Research
June 2012 – May 2013

Elizabeth Bondy (Curriculum, Teaching, & Teacher Education)
OUTBREAK: Opportunities to Use Immersive Technologies to Explore Biotechnology Resources, Career Education, and Knowledge
University of Missouri (Subcontract)
Funded through the National Science Foundation
September 2011 – August 2012
Cynthia Griffin (Special Education)
Co-PI: Stephen Pape (Mathematics Education)
Co-PI: Nancy Dana (Curriculum and Instruction)
Prime Online: Teacher Pedagogical content Knowledge and Research-based Practice in Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms
US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
August 2010 – August 2013
Elliot Douglas (College of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering)
Co-PI: David Therriault (Educational Psychology)
Co-PI: Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (Research and Evaluation Methodology)
Empirical Study on Emerging Research: The Role of Epistemological Beliefs and Cognitive Processing on Engineering Students’ Ability to Solve Ambiguous Problems
National Science Foundation
August 2009 – July 2013

Cynthia Griffin (Special Education)
Co-PI: Joseph Gagnon (Special Education)
Co-PI: Stephen Pape (Mathematics Education)
US Department of Education – OSERS/OSEP
August 2008 – August 2012

Thomas Dana (Dean’s Area, Science Education)
Co-Pi: Alan Dorsey (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Physics)
Florida Teach: Increasing the Quantity & Quality of Mathematics & Science Teachers in Florida
National Math and Science Initiative
November 2007 – July 2012

Get there fast
Stepping Up in STEM Education 
COE Office of Educational Research


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UF education researchers out in force at massive AERA meeting

(Click here for PDF listing of UFCOE presentations)

AERA 2014 banner

For years, the massive annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association has been a hotbed of the latest research and new ideas about teaching-and-learning practices and policies. This year, nearly 70 UF College of Education faculty and advanced-degree students were among the 14,000 international scholars who  converged on Philadelphia April 3-7 for the 2014 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association to examine critical issues of education research and public policy.

More UF education faculty and students, from multiple disciplines, attend AERA’s massive annual meeting than any other professional gathering. The UF contingent included 31 faculty members and 37 graduate and postdoctoral students in education.

This year’s conference theme was “The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy.” UF presentations included pertinent topics such as:

— Ambitious teaching within standards-based settings: Lost in the translation?

— The influence of family-school involvement on children’s social, emotional and academic development

— Preservice teachers’ personality traits and creative behaviors as predictors of their support for children’s creativity

— Social networks’ influence on first-generation Latino students’ college selection and enrollment

— The role of practitioner research in preparing the next generation of teacher educators

— Black doctoral student perspective on their persistence in a research-intensive education college

— Success in teacher learning through an online coaching course

— School improvement for early childhood teachers

The busiest COE faculty attendees were Walter Leite (research and evaluation methodology) with six presentations, and Anne Huggins (REM) and Nancy Dana (teacher education) with four each. Five other faculty members and three graduate students were involved in three presentations each.

Writer: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education | 352-273-4137 | llansford@coe.ufl.edu 


STL professor recalls ‘Cosmos’ host Carl Sagan as star among the stars

It’s a small cosmos.

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian, an associate professor in the College of Education’s school of teaching and learning (STL), grew up knowing Carl Sagan, the vastly popular astronomer of the 1970s and ‘80s who was the host of the original 1980 “Cosmos” TV series on PBS that delved into the origins of our universe.

Sagan died in 1996 but his “Cosmos” series was resurrected this month by producer Seth MacFarlane, a science enthusiast whom many know as the creative force behind the animated TV sitcom “Family Guy.” According to a recent CNN news report, the updated series of “Cosmos” and its “ship of the imagination” — piloted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson — received excellent reviews after the first of 13 episodes aired on Sunday, March 9 on Fox, the National Geographic Channel and their affiliates.

Terzian knew Sagan because Terzian’s father, Yervant, was chairman of the astronomy department for two decades at Cornell University, where Sagan taught after being denied tenure at Harvard University.

“Not many people know that about Sagan and Harvard,” said Terzian, whose father has edited seven books, including Carl Sagan’s Universe. “Sagan was a family friend. I met him when I was about nine years old, before he had become really popular.

Carl Sagan, original "Cosmos" host

Carl Sagan, original “Cosmos” host

“Carl was a man of enduring hope,” added Terzian, who also heads STL’s graduate studies program. “He wanted to share his knowledge in ways that would help resolve social problems by helping humankind to understand its place in the universe. ‘Cosmos’ elevated his visibility greatly, and it’s remarkable how popular he became globally.”

Terzian also remembers – with a smile and a chuckle — when “Cosmos” first aired.

“I’m pretty sure it was a Sunday night because my younger sister and I wanted to watch the Muppets,” he said. “I was 11 years old, and we only had one TV. No one had VCRs back then, and I remember my father insisting that we watch ‘Cosmos’ because he needed to be able to answer questions about it the next day, in case anyone in the astronomy department asked him about it.

“So ‘The Muppet Show’ got preempted,” Terzian added with a laugh. “But I ended up really enjoying ‘Cosmos.’ I didn’t know it at the time, but it helped me to grasp the notion that science and history really matter — enormously.”

Terzian would go on to graduate from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in history, and later receive a master’s degree in history from Indiana University before earning two Ph.Ds — in American studies and the history of education – in 2000, also at IU. He joined the UF education faculty in 2004.

Terzian’s book, “Science Education and Citizenship: Fairs, Clubs and Talent Searches for American Youth,” was published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2013.

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College jumps 9 spots in national rankings; rates highest in state

The University of Florida College of Education improved nine spots to No. 21 among public education colleges in the 2015 U.S. News and World Report rankings of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The UF college was rated 30th overall, 10 spots higher than last year.Ranking_Badges_White_COE_Number

U.S. News also rated two College of Education academic programs—special education and counselor education—among the nation’s top five in their respective specialty areas. Both ranked fifth in their disciplines, with special education moving up one spot from No. 6 last year, and counselor education improving three positions from No. 8.

Two other UF education specialties gained top 20 ratings: in elementary teacher education (up two spots to 16th), and curriculum and instruction (holding steady at 18th).

“Seeing this rise in the rankings is a testament to the intellectual leadership of our faculty, the enthusiasm of our students, and our ambitious research agenda that addresses the most critical needs in education and our global society,” said UF education Dean Glenn Good. “The real payoff is our impact within the broader community as evidenced by the high quality of our graduates, the engagement of our school and district partners, and the accomplishments of our alumni.”

The University of Florida remains Florida’s highest ranked education school. Florida State runs second with a national rank of 39th, followed by the University of Miami at No. 51. UF’s college also is the highest ranked public education school in the Southeastern Conference.

The UF College of Education showed significant improvements in several of the quality measures assessed in the rankings, including the two measures for faculty research activity (averaged over the past two fiscal years)—total research expenditures ($21.9 million, more than $4 million than the previous two-year average) and research expenditures per faculty member ($336,500, a 34 percent increase)

“Our faculty have increased external research funding every year over the past six years, reaching our highest level ever in 2013,” Good said.

According to the U.S. News rankings, the College of Education also improved its scores in doctoral student selectivity with an applicant acceptance rate of 34 percent, and in the ratio of full-time doctoral students to full-time faculty members (4.3 to 1).

Assessment by peers (deans and deans of graduate studies at U.S. education colleges) stood pat with a rating of 3.6 on a scale of 5.  Mean GRE scores of doctoral students entering in fall 2013 varied slightly from 2012, with verbal scores dropping two points to 153 and quantitative scores averaging seven points higher at 154.

The college’s overall score of 61—with the top-ranked college scoring 100—was a two-point improvement over last year.

The complete U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings data are available online at: http://www.usnews.com/education

   SOURCE: Tom Dana, assistant dean of academic affairs, UF College of Education, tdana@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4134
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Broadway pros work behind the scenes for P.K. Yonge’s production of ‘Anything Goes’

Michael Cundari (above) leads rehearsals for the upcoming Anything Goes performance at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Administrators at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School may not have known it, but they got more than one person when they hired Michael Cundari to take over the school’s performing arts program last year.

Cundari, a Nutley, N.J., native whose list of performances as a high school music director could double as an international travel brochure, has tapped into a network of friends and colleagues on and off Broadway to provide enhanced instruction and set design for his first production at the Gainesville school.

Eight performances of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes have been scheduled for the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 14. Complete schedule and ticket information can be found online at http://pkyonge.ufl.edu/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=170295&SID.

Anything Goes is a fast-paced musical that combines the classic show tunes “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” with tap dancing, cheesy jokes, a love triangle and a bit of blackmail.

The action takes place aboard the SS American, an ocean liner en route from New York to England. Onboard is nightclub singer and evangelist Reno Sweeney and her stowaway friend, Billy Crocker, who is in pursuit of Hope Harcourt, the love of his life who happens to be engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Adding to the mix are Moonface Martin, aka Public Enemy No. 13, and Erma, his sidekick-in-crime. Using disguises, tap-dancing sailors and trickery, Reno and Martin scheme to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

Cundari knew he had his work cut out when he chose the two-act play as his debut production.

“It’s definitely a challenge because of the constant movement, the delicate timing and the intricate dance numbers,” he said. “But I’m most concerned with the educational process of discovering a musical and all of the educational and life-serving attributes involved.

“It’s not just to put on a show,” Cundari added. “It’s to teach technique, time management and interpersonal skills – and to embrace culture and just teach students how to be better people.”

So far it’s mission accomplished, based on reports offered by Cundari’s colleagues, all of whom traveled from New York to help prepare the 50-member cast.

“Most of the kids had never worn tap shoes, but they caught on quickly,” said Elliott Bradley, a dance instructor who Cundari met through a mutual friend.

Bradley, who spent four seasons performing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall during the famed dance troupe’s annual Christmas special, says he has been impressed with virtually every cast member’s ability to catch on quickly.

“They learned all the basics in three days when I was down here in September,” Bradley said. “And they retained what they learned when I came back in January.

“I can tell you this,” he added with a wry smile. “There are no shy kids onstage. They’re all doing really, really well.”

Justin Gomlak, who Cundari also met through a mutual friend, has been equally impressed.

“It’s a pleasure working with students who are so open to guidance,” said Gomlak, a Broadway actor and drama teacher at The Dalton School in New York City. “They absorb every bit of the guidance I offer.”

Cundari says he also is grateful to the dozen volunteers who showed up to build an elaborate stage setting under the direction of James Gardner, a professional set designer who also came down from New York. Gardner is the father of two of Cundari’s former students.

Cundari served as director of secondary choral activities, director of the Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and music coordinator for the Nutley public school system before coming to P.K. Yonge. His ensembles participated in three command performances for New Jersey governors, and received numerous invitations, including a Palm Sunday performance at the National Basilica in Washington D.C., and a concert aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hi.

Cundari also conducted high school choral group performances at Carnegie Hall and at prestigious venues throughout England, Italy and Austria. 

“After 15 years of heading so many successful programs in New Jersey, I just needed a change,” he said of his decision to relocate. “I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned and experienced to create some fine performances and wonderful memories here in Gainesville.”

Anything Goes38   Anything Goes74  Anything Goes81                               Anything Goes101


UF institute rethinks its strategic role in transforming higher education

With myriad underlying forces driving rapid change in higher education—more online courses and degrees, community colleges offering four-year baccalaureate degrees, declining funding, the looming shortage of qualified administrators, and student loan outrage, to name a few—the traditionally trend-setting Institute of Higher Education (IHE) at UF’s College of Education is rethinking how it can best meet the needs of higher education and its leaders.

IHE poster (2014)“Higher education is sailing into the perfect storm—a tsunami of changes in so many areas at once that institutions must prepare and plan for,” said IHE director Dale Campbell, a professor and head of UF’s higher education administration program. “For our institute to make effective, lasting change in today’s rapidly changing world, we first must look at ourselves and determine the best approaches and actions we can take in shaping the brightest future possible for higher education.”

Campbell and other college and institute officials have launched a sweeping strategic planning process that, starting last June, has included focus groups and brainstorming sessions involving more than two dozen IHE alumni, graduate students and state and national leaders in higher education administration. The sessions were facilitated by Willis Holcombe, a University of Florida IHE alumnus, former chancellor of Florida’s community college system, president emeritus of Broward College and recently retired as interim president of Florida State College in Jacksonville.

The process culminated last week in Orlando, at a UF alumni gathering at the annual meeting of the national Community College Futures Assembly, where Campbell unveiled the resulting strategic plan outlining the IHE’s “re-energized” mission and vision.

Campbell said the IHE’s strategic planning process yielded four major goals:

GOAL 1: Strengthen higher education worldwide by developing the next generation of well-prepared, forward-thinking higher education leaders, by providing the educational experiences, learning and research environment and grounding in strategic change management to develop effective leaders and policymakers.

GOAL 2: Secure alliances with the Florida state college system, higher education leaders, alumni and state and national organizations to foster research-based policies and practices that enhance student learning and success—strengthening UF’s role as a national leader.;

GOAL 3: Position UF’s Institute of Higher Education as the premier thought leader in the state and nation on public policy in higher education;

GOAL 4: Serve as an independent research arm to the Florida college system, state government and national policy groups, addressing critical issues in higher education policy and practice.


Dale Campbell

“We will build upon our past success with a goal to become the premier graduate program in higher education administration in the nation,” Campbell said.

UF’s Higher Education Administration program has been a national force in graduate education since the mid-1950s, when the Florida Board of Control sought out UF education professor James Wattenbarger to steer the development of a state plan for community colleges.  Wattenbarger guided the state community college system from 1957 to 1967 before returning to UF to become the founding director of the College of Education’s new Institute of Higher Education.

Since then, through the institute, UF higher education scholars have continued to provide mentoring, networking and professional development opportunities for higher education practitioners and leaders, with special emphasis on Florida community and state colleges, and on increasing college access for underrepresented groups.

The IHE has sponsored the annual Community College Futures Assembly in Orlando since 1995, with the group serving as a national independent policy think tank in tackling the most critical issues facing American community colleges. Last week’s meeting in Orlando marked the group’s 20th anniversary of its founding. The Futures Assembly also presents its nationally recognized Bellwether Awards at its annual meeting highlighting the “best trend-setting practices” among CCFA institutions.

The IHE’s new strategic plan lists several key objectives for both the short and long terms.

Short-term objectives, to be implemented over the next two years, include:

— Co-sponsor the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning set for this March;

— Develop a community college master’s degree in student affairs administration;

— Create applied research centers in Florida’s state colleges in the following areas—teaching and learning and advising; workforce development and economic development strategies; and public policy analysis, strategic management, resource development and financial management;

— Appoint IHE liaison to attend meetings of the Florida College System Council of Presidents and engage with appropriate representative on topics of mutual interest;

— And, additional strategies concerning IHE curriculum revision, internships for IHE graduate students, broader public relations initiatives, and strategies for developing revenue streams for institute sustainability.

Long-term strategies, for implementation over the next five years, include:

— Develop additional stackable credentials within the College of Education to create a new market for expansion and provide a career ladder into the IHE’s graduate programs.

— Secure external funding for endowed chairs in leadership development and in teaching and learning;

— Analyze current markets and trends and changing demographics to ensure program responsiveness and leadership;

“This strategic framework represents a first step in the strategic positioning of the Institute of Higher Education,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “The institute leadership team and I will work with our faculty and staff to consider the plan’s potential impact on their school and modify the plan as needed.”

*          *          *

The College of Education and its Institute of Higher Education would like to thank the following faculty, alumni, colleagues and friends for their help in the development and drafting of the institute’s strategic plan:

Willis Holcombe ---Committee Chair

Willis Holcombe
—Committee Chair

IHE Strategic Planning Committee
— Glenn Good, dean, UF College of Education
— Willis Holcombe (committee chair), past interim president of Florida State College at Jacksonville
— Dale Campbell, professor and director of IHE and the FUTURES Bellwether College Consortium– Pedro Villarreal III, clinical assistant professor, HEA, UF College of Education
— Barbara Keener, chair of UF HEA Alumni Network, and core graduate faculty member in Leadership in Higher Education/Enrollment Management at the School of Education, Capella University
— Judith Bilsky, VP and provost, Florida State College at Jacksonville
— Kathryn Birmingham, CEO and principal, The Research Group
— Tina O’Daniels, associate director, IHE
— Maria Gutierrez Martin, senior director of development, UF College of Education

Focus group participants
Polly Binns, executive director, Council for Resource Development
— Michael Brawer, CEO, Association of Florida Colleges
— Noah Brown, president and CEO, Association of Community College Trustees
— Walter Bumphus, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges
— Conferlete Carney, provost, St. Petersburg College
— Dennis Gallon, president, Palm Beach State College
— Carl Hite, president, Cleveland State Community College, Tenn.
— Kathy Johnson, president, Pasco-Hernando Community College
— Ed Massey, president of Indian River State College
— Kristy Presswood, associate vice president, Daytona State College
— Brian Polding, campus college chair of the School of Business, University of Phoenix (Fla.
— Angel Rodriquez, professor, Broward College
— Debra Volzer, executive director, Pearson Learning Solutions
— Kirk White, president, National Council for Continuing Education and Training
— Josh Wyner, executive director of the college excellence program, Aspen Institute

UF higher education administration students
— Uttam Gaulee, PhD fellow
— Xiadan Hu, PhD fellow
— Makaya McKnight, EdD student
— Timothy Wilson, PhD fellow



   SOURCE: Dale Campbell, director, UF Institute of Higher Education, and professor of higher education administration, UF College of Education; dfc@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4300

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

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Diverse practitioners headline Education Career Night Feb. 20

Four College of Education alumni – three of whom earned their doctorates at UF — will offer career advice that extends well beyond teaching during the college’s annual Education Career Night scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20 in Norman Hall.

 The event is set for 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in room 250 at Norman Hall and is open to all.

Clockwise, from top left: Drexler, Hite, Mullin and Kicklighter

Clockwise, from top left: Drexler, Hite, Mullin and Kicklighter

This year’s four-member panel will share wisdom they each have gathered along four distinctly different career paths. Panel members include Wendy Drexler, chief innovation officer for the International Society for Technology in Education; Carl Hite, who recently retired as president of Cleveland State Community College; Melissa Kicklighter, vice president of the Florida PTA; and Christopher Mullin, assistant vice chancellor for policy and research for the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. 

Drexler, who received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2010, is a former director of online development at Brown University who led the design and production of Brown’s first online courses. She has been a champion for effective integration of technology in K-12, higher education and corporate settings. 

Drexler also managed the research portion of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) federal Title II grant across 23 Florida school districts, as well as eLearning design teams at IBM and AT&T. She has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as undergraduate and graduate students at the collegiate level.

Hite received his Ph.D. in educational leadership in 1975, and served as the campus vice president and provost of Hillsborough Community College’s Tampa and Brandon campuses. He served as chairman of the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges, and currently serves as vice chair on the executive council of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. He recently was awarded UF’s Institute of Higher Education Outstanding Graduate award in recognition for his accomplishments in his profession, college and community.
Kicklighter earned an E.D.S. in Student Personnel in Higher Education in 1996, and is the Florida PTA vice president for regions and councils, as well as a wellness manager for Duval County (Fla.) Public Schools. She also is a civic/parent leader and advocate who serves on various committees and task forces related to child welfare, family engagement, and community advocacy. Kicklighter has worked in a variety of K-20, corporate and community education, training and advising roles and has been honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

Mullin joined the Florida SUS Board of Governors staff last August as the program director for policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C. As a UF doctoral student, he helped launch and edit the Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, published by the College of Education’s higher education administration unit. He received his bachelor’s in art education and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from UF, along with a master’s in education from Columbia University.

For more information, click here: https://education.ufl.edu/alumni/career-night/

Join the celebration of global education Nov. 21

Poster SizeMark your calendar for Thursday, Nov. 21, for an EduGator adventure across international borders at the College of Education’s eighth annual Comparative and International Education Day. Former UF educational technology professor Cathy Cavanaugh will be the event’s keynote speaker. Cavanaugh was the associate director of the Abu Dhabi Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates for almost two years. 

The College of Education’s Office of Student Services sponsors the annual celebration as a part of International Education Week, a global project of the U.S. departments of Education and State. 

Expect an afternoon filled with multicultural treats and intellectual conversations about education around the world and how to become involved in global learning opportunities. 


Cathy Cavanaugh

Here is your International Education Day itinerary: 

12:00-1:15 p.m.: Start your exploration at the country showcase featuring information about Korea, Nepal, India, Ecuador and Iran and food from local favorite restaurants. 

1:30-2:30 p.m.: Learn about the educational and professional experiences of a panel of international students. 

2:35-3:35 p.m.: Hear from Cathy Cavanaugh as she discusses education in the United Arab Emirates. 

Sessions will take place in the College of Education’s Terrace Room, located in G400 in Norman Hall. Each presentation is open to the public. 

For more information, contact Hollie Daniels at HollieDaniels@coe.ufl.edu.


P.K. Yonge students headed to world ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ competition

After winning regional and state competitions, a team of seven high schoolers from the college’s P.K. Yonge laboratory school has been selected from 300 state teams to be among 30 groups representing Florida at the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind. This is the first time a team from the Gainesville and Jacksonville area attend the championship. 

Odyssey of the Mind is the largest creative problem-solving competition in the world. The world finals will take place at Michigan State University on May 7.

Read more about the team and the competition in a Gainesville Sun article from April 18.

COE faculty to discuss Trayvon Martin case, racial prejudice Wednesday at law school event

With the controversial Trayvon Martin trial coming up in June in Sanford, two UF College of Education professors will participate in a special spring lecture and panel discussion on Wednesday, March 20, to discuss the racial aspects of the case from several different angles.

It has been just over a year since Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford. The incident is once again making headlines with Zimmerman’s looming trial date.

UF’s Levin College of Law will host “At Close Range: The Curious Case of Travyon Martin” as the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations’ 10th annual spring lecture and panel discussion. The March 20th event will cover the legal, social and cultural questions raised by the case.

Education professors Elizabeth Bondy and Dorene Ross will host a session at 10:45 a.m. titled “Learning and Unlearning Racial Prejudice: The Role of Schools.” They will present education research about school systems’ roles in reinforcing racial prejudice, as well as strategies that counter stereotyped messages.

“I am drawn to this case because it intersects with issues I confront daily in my work with university faculty, students, and school-based educators,” Bondy said. “We in education must examine ourselves and the systems in which we work to understand the role we play in teaching white students to fear black male youth.”

Bondy is the director of the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning. Both she and Ross are professors in curriculum, teaching and teacher education.

“I hope people will walk away with insight into how current directions in national education policy reinforce stereotypical and racist perspectives about black youth and some ideas about other ways we could think about national policy if racial equity were really a national priority,” Ross said.

All panels will take place between 9 a.m. and noon March 20 at the law school’s Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom (HOL 180). For more information, visit http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/csrrr_events/10thspringlecture/.

UF, county to celebrate International Children’s Book Day

On April 2, join the College of Education and Alachua County in celebrating International Children’s Book Day.

The event, which is sponsored by the University of Florida, Alachua County Library District, Santa Fe College and St. Leo University, will offer a variety of activities, including book displays at UF’s Education and Baldwin libraries and a presentation by storyteller Barry Steward Mann. The College of Education’s Ruth Lowery, an associate professor of children’s literacy and a state representative for the United States Board on Books for Young People, is the event coordinator.

Mann will be speaking at UF’s Smathers Library from 2 to 3 p.m. and at Alachua County’s Library Headquarters, 401 East University Ave., at 5 p.m.

Peter Sis, an internationally-renown and award-winning illustrator, will be the headliner of the day with a presentation and book signing at 7 p.m. at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, 1080 SW 11th St.

Sis has written and illustrated more than 60 books for both adults and children, including Madlenka, Starry Messenger, and The Tree of Life.

For more information, visit http://guides.uflib.ufl.edu/internationalchildrensbookday.

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PKY-COE host gathering to map out transformation of middle school science education

Bolstered by a $5 million grant last year from the National Science Foundation, a collaborating faculty research team from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and UF’s College of Education has been studying how to transform middle school science curricula and improve student learning. Team leaders recently hosted 40 teachers and administrators from 10 partnering, rural school districts at P.K. Yonge to discuss strategies for meeting those goals.

The gathering was the first of a quarterly series of meetings scheduled for the five-year project, named U-FUTuRES, or University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science. To facilitate the transformation effort, the researchers have created a Science Teacher Leadership Institute to train teacher-leaders to lead district-wide implementation of a new, research-proven, middle school science curriculum.

UF science education professor Rose Pringle works with students in a P.K. Yonge middle school science class.

The researchers’ aim is to narrow the gap in science learning between American students and their peers in higher performing nations.

At the core of this initiative is the new curriculum called IQWST, or Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology. P.K. Yonge and several other institute-partnering schools are already pioneering the new middle school science curriculum design, which has students conducting daily investigations of science phenomena, learning how to use scientific reasoning to support their claims, drawing on past science learning and experiences, and developing critical thinking skills.

During last month’s institute meeting, the developers and researchers behind IQWST—P.K.  Yonge director Lynda Hayes, UF science educator Rose Pringle, and Joe Krajcik from Michigan State University—explained how to implement the new curriculum, as well as how to support existing science teachers in Palm Beach County.

Hayes is the principal investigator of the NSF grant; Pringle and Krajcik are co-PIs. Krajcik told the visiting educators that the IQWST curriculum will align with the more rigid K-12 science standards now being developed by a collaborative of more than half of the states.

“Visiting faculty left impressed by P.K. Yonge students’ use of scientific terms, their critical thinking skills, and the level of activity in the P.K. Yonge science classes,” Hayes said.

Now in the third year of using the IQWST curriculum, P.K. Yonge science instructors in the middle grades report significant improvements in student learning in their classes. According to Hayes, school faculty consider last year’s 10 percent increase in the number of students scoring at level 3 or above (on a scale of 5) on the 8th grade FCAT science test a positive trend resulting from their efforts to change the way their science curriculum works.

“Partnerships supported by this project show promise in a broad scale transformation of middle school science education to meet the needs of today’s students and to plant seeds for tomorrow’s scientists,” Hayes said.

National ed leaders, diverse practitioners headline Education Career Night Feb. 21

Teaching isn’t the only profession you’ll hear about if you attend UF’s 2013 Education Career Night Feb. 21, 5 to 6 p.m., at the Reitz Union (Rm. 282). A panel of five dynamic College of Education alumni will offer career advice and talk about the distinctly different career paths they each have followed—quite successfully—after earning their education degrees at UF.

Eric Grunden, a 2012 Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence honoree, is one of five notable EduGator alumni on the speakers panel

The event is open to all UF students. This year’s panel will include a U.S. Presidential teacher honoree, a former Florida education commissioner, the CEO of a corporate leadership firm, the head of a domestic abuse network and a university mental health counselor.

The panel members are:

  • Eric Grunden (MEd ’94, science education), the chief school officer of Research Triangle High School and the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
  • Eric Smith (DEd ’84, Curriculum & Instruction), former Florida commissioner of education, now serving as executive director of Chiefs for Change, a visionary education reform group working to enhance student achievement and success in college and careers
  • Theresa Beachy (PhD ’00 in education leadership), executive director of Peaceful Paths, a domestic abuse network in Gainesville
  • Sharon Daniels (BAE ’76 in elementary education), CEO of Achieve Global, a Tampa-based leadership development firm
  • Jaime Jasser (PhD ’08 in mental health counseling), a licensed mental health counselor with the UF Counseling and Wellness Center

For more information: events@coe.ufl.edu.


   SOURCE: Jodi Mount, alumni affairs coordinator, UF College of Education, jmount@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4142

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


UF teacher inquiry ‘ambassadors’ create buzz in Netherlands, Belgium

The buzz created by UF education Professor Nancy Dana’s passionate advocacy and best-selling books on “practitioner inquiry”—or action research, a burgeoning strategy in teacher professional development and school reform—is crossing international borders.

Dana revs up the crowd of school leaders attending her teacher-inquiry presentation in Oostende, Belgium.

Dana and Rachel Wolkenhauer, a UF doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, recently presented three workshops on teacher inquiry for 130 students, education faculty and practicing teachers at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the southern Netherlands.  Their presentations were featured recently in the university’s primary magazine in an article titled “Inquiry Inspiration Day.”

The article mentions discussions they had with Dutch officials about forming an exchange between faculty and students at UF and the Fontys School of Teacher Training for Secondary Education.

“Our time at Fontys included an exchange between Rachel and two doctoral students at Fontys where they shared their dissertation work with one another resulting in powerful conversation about teacher education.  These are the types of interactions that we imagine will enrich and enhance students’ experiences at both institutions” Dana said.

The College of Education duo also conducted workshops in Oostende, Belgium on their trip, where Dana presented three keynote addresses about the inquiry process at a conference for over 200 school leaders.

Dana is one of America’s top scholars in the field of action research, a self-reflecting process in which teachers and principals assess their own practices and then share what they learned with their peers to improve student learning.

Dana has coached the action research of thousands of educators from school districts across the state and nation—and globe—and has published nine books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on teacher and principal professional development and practitioner inquiry.

Two of her books—guides to classroom research and coaching inquiry-based learning communities in schools, respectively—were best sellers. The latter guide was chosen 2008 Book of the Year by the National Staff Development Council.  She recently published an electronic version of her 2010 book, “Powerful Professional Development: Building Expertise Within the Four Walls of Your School.”

Dana has a new book, Digging Deeper Into Action Research: A Teacher Inquirer’s Field Guide, due out in February and is writing another one with Wolkenhauer and COE adjunct lecturer Jamey Burns on using teacher inquiry as a mechanism to translate the common core state standards into practice.

Dana’s publisher, Corwin Press, has an author’s website for her at: http://www.corwin.com/authors/522546.

Dana holds the prestigious designation of UF Research Foundation Professor and works with the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning, helping to redesign professional development programs for several Florida school districts with practitioner inquiry at the core.

Wolkenhauer also works with the Lastinger Center as a trained Master Teacher while pursuing her doctorate.

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


Nov. 14 event celebrates education around the world

Pack your book bags and set your GPS destination for Norman Hall on Nov. 14 to partake in the College of Education’s seventh-annual International Day, part of International Education Week.

The College of Education Office of Student Services sponsors the annual celebration as a part of International Education Week, a global project of the U.S. departments of Education and State.

Prepare for an afternoon filled with multicultural treats and intellectual conversation as you learn about the international education experiences of American students and professors from the college who have studied or taught abroad, as well those from other countries now studying, visiting or teaching at UF.

Here is your International Education Day itinerary:

12:00-12:30: Start your exploration with entertainment by the Greek American Student Association, food from local favorite dining spots like Mi Apa and Gyro Plus, and tabling by UF organizations including Children Beyond Our Borders and the Center for Latin American Studies.

12:30-1 p.m.: Hear stories from Lindsay Vecchio, a doctoral student who has taught in Paris, and Amanda Brown, a ProTeach student who has assisted in international schools in Italy, during a panel discussion.

1:15-2:15 p.m.: Visiting scholars from schools abroad, including Rong Gong, Sang Min Lee, Elton Furlanetto and Jose Garrido, will host their own panel discussing teacher preparation and the progression of learning in their home countries, from Korea to Brazil.

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Finish the celebration of international education by listening to keynote speaker Isa Jahnke, a professor in Sweden, as she discusses Swedish teaching and learning.

Sessions will take place in the College of Education’s Terrace Room, located in G400 in Norman Hall. Each presentation is open to the public.

For more information, contact Brittany Matthews at matthewsbl@coe.ufl.edu.


Easing children’s anxiety before first day of school

IN with a new school year, OUT with back-to-school anxiety

Special Back-to-School column

Professor, College of Education, University of Florida
352-273-4206; dross@coe.ufl.edu

(For children and their parents, the transition from summer to new school year is important–and sometimes a bit stressful. Change can be exciting and the new year offers many opportunities for children. But even positive change often creates anxiety. For children of any age, it is important to stress the opportunities and excitement of the new school year, but also to listen to and help lessen the anxieties. Perhaps these tips will help.)


Anxiety can be a bigger factor in the first school experiences of young children. Truth is, though: parents also often feel anxious. The following tips may help both parents and their school-aged children:

1)      REASSURING TALK BEFORE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect. Stress what will happen at the beginning of the day (drop-off time) and when you will return. Try to talk about time in “kid-friendly” terms. For example, “You will have lunch, naptime, play time and then Mommy/Daddy will pick you up.”

2)      KEEP YOUR OWN ANXIETY IN CHECK. Be careful not to convey your own anxiety. You might feel emotional taking your child to his/her very first day of school but try to be calm and reassuring for your child. If your child cries when you leave (and many children do), reassure yourself that your child will calm down quickly after you leave. Teachers are quite skilled at distracting children with interesting activities.

3)      EARLY CHILD PICK-UP IN FIRST WEEK. Be a little early for pick up on the first few days. You are teaching your child that you always come back.  If you are even a little late, it can make your child anxious.

4)      WATCH FOR ANXIETY RELAPSE. Don’t be surprised if anxiety appears on day two or three. Sometimes young children are very excited to go to school for the first day or two but are surprised that they have to go every day.  Remember young children do not have a good sense of time so saying “we’ll all be home together on the weekend” may not be enough to comfort them. Try some concrete representation of time. For example, put out five blocks on Monday morning and put one block away each evening. Say, “When all the blocks are gone, we’ll all stay home together.”


Even older elementary children may feel nervous or anxious about the new school year and separating from parents. Parents might try the following:

1)      THINKING OF YOU. Give your child some reminder that you are thinking about him/her. A simple note to keep in a pocket or placed in a child’s lunch often helps.

2)      GOALS SHIFT FOCUS. Talk to your child about some key accomplishment he/she will achieve this year in school. This helps the child focus on the role school plays in helping him/her learn and grow.

3)      FRIENDS INDEED. Remind your child of school friends.

4)      DON’T MISS OPEN HOUSE. Take your child to open house before school begins so the teacher and classroom are familiar. Notice something about the room and/or teacher that will appeal to your child and comment on that.

5)      ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. Don’t overreact if your child tells you the first day was “awful.”  Respond in a way that allows your child to share concerns, which may range from anxiety about not having made a friend, to concern about the length of the school day or a feeling that the teacher “doesn’t like me.”  After you listen to the concerns stress that “it is hard adjusting to a new place and new people” and ask the child to tell you one good thing that happened. If the child’s anxiety lasts beyond the first couple of weeks, or is severe enough that it causing you to feel concerned go talk to the teacher. You and the teacher both want your child to have a great year. Together you can help your child adjust.

Homework habits key to good start academically

At the beginning of the year it’s also important to develop homework routines that will help your child succeed. Here are some strategies for success:

1)      HOMEWORK TIME & PLACE. Establish a homework time and place that is consistent.  Find the time that works for your family but enforce this time for ALL in the family. Turn the TV off and have everyone do their “work.” Younger children can do “homework” too. Establishing these habits early is important.

2)      NO HOMEWORK? THEN READ. If the child has “no homework,” use the time to read together. Children need routines. Knowing that homework time is consistent on every school night is an important element of school success.

3)      CHECK FOR NOTES FROM SCHOOL. Check your child’s backpack or notebook for notes from school and homework assignments. Young children need help learning to be organized. Help them look for their assignments, and return their assignments to their notebook or backpack so they will have it the next day.

4)      STAY NEARBY DURING HOMEWORK. Know that being nearby during homework time is more important than your help. Children should be able to do their homework independently. Being nearby communicates that you think the homework is important and your presence is reassuring to your child.

5)      HOMEWORK PROBLEMS? LET TEACHER KNOW. If your child cannot do the homework, talk to the teacher. Homework that is too hard frustrates children and can make them feel inadequate. Teachers want to help your children succeed, so if there are problems be sure to communicate that right away.

Back-to-school tips for parents & teachers
Success tips for new college students–and their parents

Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education,352-273-4137;


Success tips for new college students–and their parents


Director, Student Personnel in Higher Education graduate program, UF’s College of Education
Associate Director of Housing for Student Learning and Engagement, University of Florida


1) CONNECT EARLY. Get connected on campus early in the semester (for example, get involved with at least one club or organization on campus, take advantage of campus programs).
2) HOMEWORK—DO IT! Stay on top of your homework and studying. It is difficult to catch up.
3) STEADY STUDY. Don’t wait until the night before your exam to study.
4) FEED THE NEED TO READ. If you are assigned something to read for class, read it before class.
5) FORM STUDY GROUP. Take advantage of study groups, exam review sessions, and faculty office hours.
6) FIRST IMPRESSIONS, FALSE READINGS. Try to keep an open mind and get to know people before making assumptions based on first impressions.
7) ENGAGE-ENGAGE-ENGAGE. Did I mention you should engage? Engage with other students, with your professors, with your course material and with the campus community.
8) AND PROSPER. Sleep and eat well.

Tips for PARENTS of New College Students

1) SET COMMUNICATION GROUND RULES. Decide with your student the way you want to communicate with each other (e.g., e-mail, text, phone calls, etc.) and how often. Remember that their schedules are very different on campus compared to high school.
2) DON’T HOVER. Let your student solve his/her own problems on campus—such as roommate compatibility issues, course schedules, other conflicts). Take on the role of sounding board, coach or adviser.
3) STAY INVOLVED IN THEIR LIVES. Inquire occasionally about friends, involvement on campus, classes, grades, health, etc. If you detect a red flag, talk directly with your student about it. If needed, encourage your student to discuss issues with his/her Resident Assistant, professor, counselor, adviser, or another campus administrator.
4) EMBRACE NEW LIVING ARRANGEMENT. Try to keep an open mind. Your student will experience many new and different activities, people, and other circumstances on campus.
5) SNAIL MAIL TRUMPS TEXTS. Never underestimate the power of a care package or an actual card in the mail. 

J. Diane Porter-Roberts, PhD, director, Student Personnel in Higher Education graduate program, UF College of Education. 352-392-2171, ext. 10660; DianeP@housing.ufl.edu
EDITOR/MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, APR, director, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137, llansford@coe.ufl.edu



UF ranks 6th in U.S. among public online teacher education programs

The UF College of Education’s online teacher education program has been ranked 16th in the nation—and sixth among public programs—by TheBestSchools.org, an independent online resource for people seeking college degree programs and higher-education institutions that best meet their needs.

The rankings, announced Thursday, June 21, by the Web-based group, are based on academic excellence (measured by faculty education and productivity), program depth (measured by number of courses available) and affordability.

The website’s listing of the top 25 ranked programs includes a five-paragraph summary of UF and the College’s “wide variety” of education degrees and certificate programs.

Dan McCoy, senior director of E-learning, technology and creative services for the College, attributed the high ranking to “the fact that we take the needs of our online students very seriously.”

We work hard to accommodate the busy lives of working educators in the structure of our programs while also providing an excellent education,” McCoy said. “Access to an online degree can better facilitate the immediate application of our best research by teachers and administrators to their workplace.”

The University of Florida’s overall distance education program ranked second nationally behind the Penn State University World Campus.

TheBestSchools.org provides information on a wide variety of career options and strategies and in-depth rankings of colleges and degree programs in many categories. It has no ties to any educational institution and, according to the website, the organization’s editors “all hold Ph.D. degrees and have extensive experience in teaching, research and publishing at the university level.”


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


Incentive grants support promising studies likely to draw additional funding

The College of Education has awarded internal College Research Incentive Fund (CRIF) grants to faculty members Mary Brownell, Sondra Smith and Kelly Whalon to study vital education concerns such as literacy skills and parental involvement in education. The individual grants go mainly to faculty members with research projects that are likely to attract additional funding in the future.The one-year stipends can be worth up to $15,000 each.

Recipients are selected for their proposals by a college faculty review committee. This year’s winning projects are:

Mary Brownell (Special Education)

Brownell’s funding will lead to studies on how elementary school students learn to read, spell and understand words with multiple syllables. She is pursuing a better understanding of the cognitive and language abilities that predict students’ abilities to respond to instruction in this area. More specifically, she is exploring how students become “morphologically aware” so they can learn to decode and understand the smaller units of meaning in our language, such as prefixes, suffixes and root words. Her research is expected to aid the development of better teaching methods for students with reading disabilities and help target struggling students earlier for intensive intervention that will improve their vocabulary, decoding, spelling and reading comprehension.

Sondra Smith (Counselor Education)
Smith, the principal investigator, plans to address the question, “What can parents do to help their children succeed in school?” The research will provide an in-depth look at how parents can influence their children’s success by being more involved at home as well as at school. The study addresses a lack of meaningful research in the literature about how parent’s goals, aspirations and values for their children are transmitted through their interactions at home. Smith will work with co-PIs Ellen Amatea (counselor education) and Walter Leite (research and evaluation methods).

Kelly Whalon (Early Childhood Studies)
Whalon’s CRIF research will examine the effect that a promising intervention strategy, called Project RECALL, has on building literacy skills for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). RECALL is an adaptation of an approach used to teach young children emergent literacy skills. The adapted RECALL strategy was developed by Whalon and two professors at Florida State University and the University of Louisville. Her findings in the CRIF study are expected to provide evidence that children with ASD can improve certain language and emergent literary skills that contribute to growth in vocabulary and comprehension. With her new data, Whalon hopes to launch pilot studies of the program at all three universities.

Jessica Bradley, communications intern, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449; jessica.bradley@ufl.edu
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu


Higher Ed professor in partnering talks with Colombian university

When Pilar Mendoza, UF assistant professor in higher education administration, arrived in Bogota, Colombia in May to speak at the Strategies for Improving the Quality of Higher Education forum at the Universidad de los Andes (UA), her presentation wasn’t the only item on her agenda.

Mendoza and three co-researchers, two from the U.S. and one from another Colombian university, held talks with their University of the Andes counterparts during the forum that could lead to a five-university international partnership–including UF’s College of Education and the UA’s Center for Research and Professional Development in Education (or CIFE).

According to Mendoza, who presented in Bogota with University of Alabama colleague Aaron Kuntz on the topic of student retention, the four visiting co-researchers have pending projects with UA’s interdisciplinary CIFE, which develops programs, training and research on educational topics at the university and throughout Latin America.

The other two members of the visiting U.S.-Colombia foursome were University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor Joseph Berger and Universidad del Atlantico doctoral student Jairo Quintero. The provost of the host University of the Andes and an official with Colombia’s Ministry of Education also participated in the talks.

Mendoza and her three co-researchers have collaborated before. Later this summer, The Journal of Higher Education will publish their co-authored research article detailing the differences between top-tier and lower-ranked programs in materials science in terms of their abilities to partner with other industries without compromising their core values. Berger was also the dissertation adviser of both Kuntz and Mendoza during their doctoral studies, and Mendoza is the international dissertation chair for Quintero, who spent a month last fall at UF working with Mendoza.

Mendoza is a member of the International Advisory Board at UA’s CIFE and a faculty affiliate of UF’s Center for Latin American Studies.


Diversity committee campaign addresses school equity issues

The 11-by-17-inch poster, taped to a women’s bathroom door in Norman Hall, offered a sad-but- true fact about sexual orientation and tolerance–or lack of same–in America’s public schools.

The bright orange-and-white poster’s message read: “Did you know. . .Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth hear anti-gay slurs on average once every 14 minutes at school?”

Members of the COE Faculty Policy Council's Diversity Committee display posters they developed for a collegewide diversity awareness campaign. Pictured, clockwise from left, are: Brianna Kennedy-Lewis, Bridgett Franks (chair), Maria Coady, Theresa Vernetson, Elayne Colon and Erica McCray. Not pictured are Shelley Warm and Michael Bowie. (Photo and story by Nicole La Hoz)

COE assistant professor Brianna Kennedy-Lewis, member of the college’s diversity committee, had hung the poster recently as part of a collegewide campaign, but found it in a hallway trash can the next day.

“I don’t know who took it down or why,” said Kennedy-Lewis, an instructor in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. “It justifies further that we need to be raising these issues.”

The poster is part of a diversity awareness campaign coordinated by the COE’s nine-member diversity committee, including eight faculty (chair Bridget Franks, Kennedy-Lewis, Maria Coady, Ana Puig, Erica McCray, Theresa Vernetson, Elayne Colon and Shelley Warm) and Michael Bowie, director of COE recruitment, retention and multicultural affairs.

The committee, charged by the College’s Faculty Policy Council, makes recommendations concerning diversity at the college and in the community.

Eight sets of six “Did you know…” posters have been placed throughout Norman Hall. Each poster targets an issue of inequity in public schools, such as access for students with disabilities or high-quality schooling for at-risk youth and minorities, and promotes projects of faculty committee members addressing those issues. Featured projects include Coady’s Project DELTA, a grant-funded study that looks at how well graduates of UF’s Elementary ProTeach program do at teaching English-language learners in Florida’s schools, and Franks’ collaboration with the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida on an anti-bullying initiative in Alachua County public schools.

The “Did you know…” project began last year when committee members discussed creating posters that detailed ongoing projects in the college. They then agreed to broaden the focus to include intersections between diversity-related programs at the college and concerns in public education.

The Diversity Committee first met as a task force in 2009, advising the college on creating a safe and accepting environment for all faculty, students and staff. Now, the committee hopes to gather other faculty members’ work—and even projects by graduate students—to include in the next academic year on a new set of posters.

“These issues of equity,” Kennedy-Lewis said, “are what we’re all about as a college of education.”

Brianna Kennedy-Lewis, asst. professor, UF College of Education, 352-273-4041; email bkennedy@coe.ufl.edu

WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER: Nicole La Hoz, communications intern, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449; nicdyelah@coe.ufl.edu

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




Center for Learning offers Master Teacher training to help turn around state’s lowest-ranked high school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning, part of the College of Education, recently joined a multi-organization, multiyear effort that includes Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), the Jaguar Foundation and Teach for America to turn around the state’s lowest-ranked high school, Andrew Jackson H.S. in Jacksonville.

Starting during the 2012-13 school year, this collaboration – which also includes United Way, City Year, Communities in Schools, Educational Directions, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Ready for Tomorrow and Bridge of Northeast Florida – will aim to improve teaching and learning at Jackson, an F school on intervene status. The organizations are meeting May 29 to brainstorm ideas and synthesize their plans.

“The whole purpose of this project is to increase success,” says DCPS Deputy Superintendent Patricia Willis, “and introduce more of what the UF Lastinger Center is doing in non-high schools.”

Through its award-winning Master Teacher Initiative, the Lastinger Center provides on-the-job, onsite/online professional development to educators in Jacksonville’s highest needs elementary and middle schools. The initiative’s programs include a free UF master’s degree to teachers who make a five-year commitment to their schools. It offers this opportunity at Jackson, which, like many vulnerable schools, struggles to hire and keep experienced faculty.

“We’re inviting everyone who wishes to contribute to turning around Andrew Jackson High School to join us on a multi-year journey,” Lastinger Director Don Pemberton says. “It’s not going to be easy. It’s not for the mild and meek. But it’s an opportunity to make a real difference.”

Besides providing comprehensive professional development to Jackson teachers and administrators that includes leadership and team building, Lastinger will also help boost student engagement and morale, mobilize the community to support the school, recruit UF volunteers, chronicle the transformation effort and assemble research and evaluation teams to measure the results.

“We will identify research-based strategies and share them widely with our partners,” Pemberton says.

Brain drain to magnet and private schools often harms vulnerable schools, says UF Duval County Professor-in-Residence Crystal Timmons. Many high-achieving students opt out of attending lower-performing schools such as Jackson.

Out of 1,200 area students who could attend Jackson, only 800 have elected to do so.

“The community is losing a third of its students,” says Jon Heymann, CEO of Communities in Schools and a DCPS School Board candidate. “They’re voting with their feet.”

To attract more high-achieving students, who receive opportunity scholarships to attend schools out of their zones, Jackson will offer the International Baccalaureate and leadership and entrepreneurship programs beginning this fall.

“If everyone’s truly committed,” Timmons says, “then there is no reason why this venture should not be successful and why the students should not be successful.”

As part of the turnaround effort, social workers and other professionals will also be stationed at Jackson to meet the needs of students, teachers and families, Willis notes.

“We think if we can get sustainable work in Jackson,” she says, “we can spread that work and replicate it in other struggling schools.”

An educational innovation incubator, the UF Lastinger Center harnesses the university’s intellectual resources and partners with educational organizations to design, build, field-test and disseminate new models to transform teaching and learning.


    WRITER: Boaz Dvir, UF Lastinger Center, 352-273-0289; bdvir@coe.ufl.edu



Performing Arts students to stage ‘Spelling Bee’ musical comedy at annual spring show





SAVE THE DATES: March 23-31.

That’s when the Performing Arts Center at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School will be presenting the musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Spelling Bee features another super-talented cast of students from PKY’s award-winning Performing Arts program and promises to be another P.K. Yonge landmark production.

Spelling Bee won two Tony awards during its Broadway run and features one of the funniest, most original concepts in Broadway history.  Young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. They are a quirky, yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.

Tickets for reserved seating go on sale soon. For more information, contact the P.K. Yonge Ticket Hotline 352.392.1850, or online at http://springmusical.pkyonge.ufl.edu/.


UF-PKY alumna, 90, still has plenty to teach children—through poetry

In her latest book, COE alumna Margaret Rosenberger, 90, writes poetry to sway elementary students away from criminal tendencies and toward a more positive future.

UF education alumna Margaret Rosenberger (BAE ’49, MEd ’52), a fifth-generation Florida native and a 1939 graduate of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, has been writing poetry since she was 10. Now, at 90, she is looking to publish her latest book of poetry, “A Guide: Ways to Succeed,” to sway troubled elementary students away criminal tendencies and toward a more positive future.

The idea for the book was born in 2005 at a meeting of the Alachua County Children’s Committee, which Rosenberger founded in the 1950s. The committee surveyed adults and students and found there were a startling number of elementary students involved in crimes. Rosenberger took concerns cited in the surveys and wrote poems about them.

“People tend to remember things better in poetry form,” said Rosenberger, a longtime Gainesville teacher and principal and a retired member of the School Board of Alachua County. She said the poems would be a good discussion starter for elementary classrooms.

She said once the collection is published, proceeds from book sales would go to a foundation with programs to keep youth from crime.

Rosenberger, who worked as a teacher and principal for more than 30 years in Gainesville and in over 20 countries during World War II, said the book is designed for teachers to read one poem each day and discuss different opinions with the students. Poetry topics range from character-building and handling temper tantrums to student health and hygiene.

She said her favorite poem is titled, “You’re not a brat.” It was inspired from her teaching experience at an Army base in Germany when students would introduce themselves as “Army brats.”

“I said, ‘I don’t like that word, ‘brat,’ and once we looked it up and read the definition, the kids decided they didn’t either,” Rosenberger said.

She recently has gained some public support from former J.J. Finley Elementary sixth-graders in the form of nominations to be the namesake of a new Alachua county elementary school being built at NW 39th Avenue and 112th Street in Gainesville. Her former Finley students have written multiple letters to the Gainesville Sun expressing their gratitude for Rosenberger’s guidance. A decision on the school name is expected soon.

Rosenberger's 1939 high school picture

Rosenberger has written 13 poetry books and continues to write in her free time along with directing the chorus at her retirement community, playing the piano and composing music. Rosenberger’s best-known composition is the “St. Augustine Song.” She’s been writing one book, about the history of the churches in Micanopy, for 60 years – and it’s still not finished. Her Sunday school teacher gave her the materials to pen the history of the churches in the area, and she said she keeps finding more and more information.

Some of Rosenberger’s older books are available for sale on Amazon.com, and those interested in buying a copy of her new book should contact her directly at 352-375-4816.

Here is one of Rosenberger’s poems from her latest collection . . .


If we think of a mountain as the road to success,
We’ll keep trudging along up hill.
We’ll take time to sigh and a time to rest;
Find peace in our hearts and share goodwill.

We may twist and turn as we continue on.
Cares may press down a bit.
Things may go wrong sometimes,
But to succeed, we rest but never quit.

Success is leading and following.
Success is failure turned upside down.
Success is appreciating those who  help.
Success is working with no thought of a crown.

Millions may stay at the base of the mountain.
Fear and doubt may make them stop.
But success comes to those who continue to climb,
And along the way, all who help reach the top.

© Margaret A. Rosenberger 2011


MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director and editor, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

WRITER: Jessica Bradley, intern, news & communications, UF College of Education

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Memory of brothers killed in car crash lives on with mother’s gift to UF

GAINESVILLE, FL — In August of 2006, UF’s College of Education lost two of its most involved and beloved graduate students, but their memory lives on in a scholarship created by donations from their mother, friends, faculty and fellow students.

The college’s counselor education program has about 150 students, but they all felt the loss of David and Brian Marshall, according to Ana Puig, a doctoral student in counselor education at the time and now an associate scholar and research director in the college’s Office of Educational Research.

The Marshall brothers were killed in a single-car crash on a trip back to Florida from their hometown of Gloucester, Mass. Brian, 31, was a pursuing an M.Ed./Ed.S. degree in mental health counseling  and David, 39, was working toward a doctoral degree in counselor education. Both were awarded posthumously in 2007.

Esther Marshall

Brian was one of Puig’s students, but she knew both brothers well. She remembers their generous spirit, something their mother, Esther Marshall, wanted to recognize with the scholarship. Esther took out a life-insurance policy and has pledged the benefit amount from her estate toward the $30,000 needed to create a permanent endowed scholarship.

“She wants to make sure the annual scholarship goes to counselor education students who are known for being like her sons were–always active, always involved, always helping other people,” Puig said.

College officials say the $30,000 goal hasn’t been reached yet, but Puig said faculty and students in the counselor education program still hope to raise the money needed to contribute toward the permanent endowment. Meanwhile, the college has already awarded a scholarship for each of the past five years to a deserving counselor ed student with funds contributed by others who knew, or have since heard about, the Marshall brothers and what they meant to the program.

The scholarship is open to graduate students of counselor education. Interested students can find more information on how to apply for the $500 scholarship at https://education.ufl.edu/student-services/scholarships/.

The Marshall brothers were always together and known for their love of sports (especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots), their generosity and hosting Gator football game-day parties with New England clam chowder and chili.

David was founder of the Florida Center of Performance Excellence, a sports psychology counseling center. They both worked closely with athletes as part of their internship training and David developed a popular undergraduate course focused on sports performance.  The course was modeled after one developed by the U.S. Military Academy and augmented with material developed by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  Offered as an undergraduate elective by the counselor education program, it proved especially attractive to Gator student athletes, many of whom attended the college’s memorial service for the brothers.

David and Brian Marshall received their degrees posthumously in a spring 2007 memorial ceremony at the Norman Hall. Pictured from left during the presentation are former COE Dean Catherine Emihovich, Esther Marshall, Michael Marshall (Brian's twin brother), and former UF counselor ed assistant scholar Kitty Fallon.

They were both heavily involved in student organizations including UF’s student Beta chapter of Chi Sigma Iota International, the counselor education profession’s honor society, for whom David served as president. David even cut his famous ponytail to raise over $1,000 for Relay for Life, one of the organization’s fundraisers. He also won an international Outstanding Service Award from the group, in part, for this creative fundraising idea.

“If you needed something, you’d call Brian or Dave, and they’d come,” Puig said. “If you’d call one, the other would always show up. They were inseparable.”

As namesakes of the scholarship started by their mother, they shall be remembered that way for many years to come at the College of Education.


Source: Ana Puig, associate scholar and director of research, UF College of Education; anapuig@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4121

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

Writer: Jessica Bradley, intern, news and communications, UF College of Education.


Lastinger Center featured in booklet on UF’s impact in Miami-Dade

UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s statewide teaching- and school-improvement program, is featured in the South Florida edition of “UF in Your Neighborhood,” a new booklet produced by the University of Florida Foundation.

The foundation recently published several different regional versions of the booklet to highlight how UF’s teaching, research and service impact the lives of UF alumni and all residents in major markets throughout Florida and the Southeast.

The South Florida edition, covering Miami-Dade County, leads off with “Promise of a Brighter Future,” a full-page overview describing how “improving teacher practice and student achievement is at the heart  of (the Lastinger Center’s) newly expanded program in Miami-Dade County.”

Following the Lastinger Center piece, under a headline of “Education Champion,” the booklet offers a mini-profile of UF alum David Lawrence Jr., former publisher of The Miami Herald and a leading advocate of early childhood education at UF, in Miami-Dade and across the nation.

Here are brief summaries of how the college’s  Lastinger Center for Learning and UF early-learning advocate Lawrence are impacting the Miami-Dade County communities . . .

— Ready Schools Florida program
The Lastinger Center has partnered with Miami-Dade Schools and The Early Child Initiative Foundation since 2006 on an ambitious effort to give young children the best chance to succeed in school and beyond. It’s called Ready Schools Florida. Supported by a $10 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the program promotes early learning and child well-being from birth through elementary school. It’s an all-out effort to prepare all pre-schoolers for success by the time they enter the classroom.

Master Teacher Initiative
Improving teacher practice and student achievement is at the heart of another innovative Gator program. UF’s Lastinger Center last year was awarded a $6-million federal innovation grant to expand its award-winning Master Teacher Initiative to some of Miami-Dade’s most vulnerable schools. The initiative allows early-learning teachers at 20 schools to pursue a new graduate degree track in early childhood education and teacher leadership while remaining on-the-job and at virtually no cost to them. UF campus-based professors provide the online instruction while professors-in-residence based at the district provide on-site instruction and first-hand observation. More than 1,200 teachers and 30,000 of Miami-Dade’s youngest school children are the beneficiaries of the three-year effort.


EDUCATION CHAMPION: David Lawrence Jr., UF alum and early-learning supporter
UF alumnus David Lawrence Jr. needs little introduction to Miami-Dade citizens and education supporters. The 1963 College of Journalism graduate is the former publisher of The Miami Herald and he left the newspaper in 1999 to become an advocate for early childhood education. Lawrence is president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation in Miami, and the David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center public school in Miami is named in his honor. UF’s College of Education also has a $1.5 million endowed professorship in early childhood studies named in his honor. Lawrence joined the UF faculty in 2001 as the University Scholar for Early Childhood Development and Readiness and he is a Lastinger Center visiting scholar and board member. Lawrence was instrumental in forging the UF-Miami/Dade partnerships in the Ready Schools and Master Teacher initiatives.


SOURCE: Don Pemberton, director, UF Lastinger Center for Learning, dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4103

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



UF education, medical colleges team up on new master’s degree to help doctors become better teachers

The University of Florida colleges of Education and Medicine have joined forces to offer a new master’s degree program geared toward not only helping physicians be better teachers, but also training them to be scholars in the field.

The online joint master’s degree program will begin in the fall and is open to physicians across the state.

“Most faculty arrive at their position without any formal training in teaching techniques and best practices,” said Marian Limacher, M.D., senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development in the College of Medicine. “They have been students so long themselves they have developed their own style, but it may not be founded in best practices.”

Teaching is generally not a skill taught in medical school, as physicians-in-training are more focused on learning about the process of disease and how to treat patients. But as physicians move forward in their careers and become teachers themselves, of medical students, residents and fellows, there is a need for more advanced knowledge in instructional strategies and also research methods used to measure educational outcomes, which differ from the research techniques used in medical science.


“Many health science professionals have been exposed to a monochromatic view of education that is lecture-based and behavioristically driven,” said Erik Black, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicine department of pediatrics and the College of Education School of Teaching and Learning. “That is not necessarily where medical education is going. Today, there is a growing emphasis on small group learning, team-based learning and constructivist principles of instruction and learning.

“There is a need for medical educators to learn about and incorporate more contemporary educational methods. It is something students request and something faculty want but do not necessarily know how to deliver.”

The 36-hour master’s degree program will arm physicians with instructional strategies they can use in the clinical education setting and give them the tools to assess educational efforts, as well. Courses include subjects such as instructional design, research methods in professional and medical education, adult teaching and learning and more.The program stems from a pilot project faculty members in the colleges of Education and Medicine have been working on for the past two years. As part of that project, funded by the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, five UF physicians and a pharmacist are receiving master’s degrees in education, with a focus on using technology in education.

“We see so much potential in the connection between our two colleges. It is a unique arrangement and has helped us to move this work along,” said Elizabeth Bondy, professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. “At the bedside, there is a lot of teaching and learning that goes on in those moments. What we do in the School of Teaching and Learning is focus on teaching and learning in diverse settings.”

UF education technology professors Kara Dawson and Cathy Cavanaugh were instrumental in the degree program’s creation while Bondy and School of Teaching and Learning faculty members Kent Crippen, Dorene Ross and Sevan Terzian have worked on developing the curriculum.

Eventually, the program likely will be opened up to professionals in other health fields as well, Black said.

For clinical educators in the College of Medicine, the issue is particularly important. The college is currently revising its tenure and promotion guidelines so that faculty who have pursued advanced education in teaching and who are conducting research in medical education can use this in their tenure applications, Limacher said.

“We think this program will have appeal to a number of folks within the College of Medicine,” Limacher said.





Professor emeritus pens new book: ‘Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST’

During his 44-year education career, William Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at UF’s College of Education, alternated public school teaching with university teaching in order to “stay in the real world.” A former Fulbright Scholar, he didn’t like what he saw as he observed how America had fallen behind other nations in the education of its young people. In his words, “the widespread ignorance of the American people is alarming.”

Hedges recently published a book, “Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST,” to show just what the American public elementary school of the 21st century must become if the U.S. is to continue as a leader in the free world.

Always outspoken on matters of education and politics, Hedges is critical of the teacher unions, the short teaching day and teaching year in the U.S. compared with other nations, and the treatment of education by American lawmakers as a political football.

He doesn’t merely point out obvious problems, though. With the progressive South Korean education system as a model, he offers a blueprint of 33 specific recommendations for improving our schools. Hedges spent three years working directly with Korean teachers in their schools and has studied their education system continuously for many more years.

Just one startling comparison Hedges points out: Over one-third of American students never finish high school; over 93 percent of Korean students complete high school.

Bill Hedges

Hedges, 87, who spent the final 20 years of his academic career at UF until his retirement in 1991, puts his money where his mouth is. He and his wife, Robbie, have donated nearly $2 million to UF’s College of Education in a charitable remainder trust to support research to help marginal K-12 learners.

“Why Korean Education…” is published by Xlibris Corp., one of the pioneering print-on-demand, self-publishing companies, and is available on Amazon.com.

Earlier this year, Hedges published his autobiography titled “From Life in the Hamptons to a Life of Poverty in Arkansas,” also published by Xlibris.


: William D. Hedges, professor emeritus and supporter, UF College of Education, wmdhedges@yahoo.com

Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

COE celebrates different cultures on International Education Day

English Language Institute teachers Lia Brenneman and Nate Bloemke answered students’ questions at the international fair about the program and teaching opportunities.

About 50 students and faculty members gathered Nov. 17 to celebrate global EduGators on International Education Day. The festivities were part of International Education Week, a worldwide celebration of international education and exchange.

More than 100 international students from 35 different countries are enrolled in UF’s College of Education.

The College’s sixth annual event, which revolved around the theme “Networking Beyond Borders,” began with food and entertainment at 12:30 p.m. in Norman Hall’s Terrace Room. Fulbright Scholar and educational technology professor Catherine Cavanaugh followed with the keynote address, discussing her Fulbright work last summer on technology integration in teacher education in Nepal.

UF’s African Choir, directed by Duncan Wambugu (center), entertained attendees.

Participants then broke out into two sessions: a Faculty and Graduate Student Colloquium and a student international fair. The colloquium panel consisted of four graduate students and one faculty member, each with a different geographical outreach experience, from Bulgaria to Colombia.

UF’s African Choir, Pazeni Sauti (“Raise Your Voice” in Swahili), closed out the day with a rousing performance.

The College of Education Office of Student Affairs sponsors the yearly event. International Education Week, a national and international event, was created by the U.S. Department of Education and took place Nov. 14–18.

ProTeach program students Kara Wiecjorek and Angela Cruex read about the College's international school services and study abroad opportunities.

Last year, there were three panel discussions and international foods for lunch. Past keynote speakers and panels have addressed challenges faced by international teaching, ways to prepare going abroad and the significance of creating global community. (Staff photos by COE communications intern Nicole La Hoz.)

WRITER: Nicole La Hoz, communications intern, news and communications, UF College of Education

International Education Week events planned

Wednesday Nov. 16
2 p.m., Reitz Union Rm. 282

Panel Discussion: “International Engagement & Career Growth”

Four internationally engaged College of Education Faculty–including two Fulbright Scholars–will  share their motivations while adding international components to their work, and will reflect on the benefits and challenges they have faced throughout their careers. The event specifically targets educators and educators-in-training.

Panelists are:
Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor in education technology
Linda Jones, associate professor in science education
Diane Ryndak, professor in special education
Pilar Mendoza, assistant professor in higher education administration

Cavanaugh and Ryndak are Fulbright Scholars. David Sammons, dean of the UF International Center, will moderate. The event is co-sponsored by UF’s College of Educaiton and the UF International Center.

Thursday Nov. 17
12:30 – 4 p.m., Terrace Room, Norman Hall
6th annual Comparative and International Education Event
Theme: “Networking Beyond Borders”

Cathy Cavanaugh

12:30 – 1:00     Food & international entertainment

1:15 – 2:15       Presentation: “Distributed Teacher Education
in Nepal: A Case in Educational Diversity”

                        Keynote Speaker: Cathy Cavanaugh
Associate professor in education technology, UF’s College of Education
and Fulbright Scholar

Cavanaugh will speak on her Fulbright experience in Nepal.

Breakout Sessions (concurrent)

2:30 – 3:30       Student International Fair
Terrace Rm.

2:30 – 3:30       Faculty and Graduate Student Colloquium

Closing Ceremonies

3:30 – 4:00      Entertainment: UF African Choir
Terrace Rm.

Please see the attached flyer for more information.

COE student groups collect goods for local schoolchildren

The UF Alliance partnered with the COE’s Education College Council and UF’s student chapter of the Florida Education Association this week to fill two vans with donated clothing, shoes, school supplies and personal hygiene items for children in need. COE faculty and staff also donated enough cash to give each school a $170 gift certificate to Payless Shoes.

From left, UF Alliance students Alilissa Ford, Apiffany Ricks and Shekinah Nelson display some of the donated goods for local children in need.

The goods, collected in a collegewide drive, were delivered Tuesday to students at Rawlings and Metcalfe Elementary schools. Alliance students sorted and helped to deliver the goods. (The UF Alliance is a partnership between UF and six Florida high schools that aims to improve educational opportunities for students in high-poverty urban schools.)

(Staff photo by COE communications intern Jessica Bradley.)


New online certificate in disaster counseling addresses shortage in field

Imagine 5,000 families, left homeless by the forces of nature, living in tents crammed in an area the size of a football field. Imagine their struggles and feelings of helplessness that come from the lack of basic necessities like food, water, clothing or even a bathroom. Since the catastrophic Haiti earthquake in 2010, thousands of Haitians still live in these post-earthquake “tent cities” and face overwhelming physical and psychological hurdles daily.


Now, imagine having the skills and resources to help improve the lives of such injured and traumatized victims in disaster-affected areas. After visiting Haiti and other disaster sites, Cirecie West-Olatunji, associate professor of counselor education at the University of Florida, is using her experience in disaster counseling to better prepare mental health professionals for work in the fledgling field.

West-Olatunji has designed a new online certificate program in disaster counseling for licensed mental health professionals and state-certified school counselors drawn to the field of disaster counseling. She said the 12-hour graduate program, due to start classes next spring, is one of three such programs in the country, and the only one housed in a college of education.

“Counselor educators have a perspective that lends itself very well to disaster counseling,” West-Olatunji said. “I hope the certificate program revolutionizes a cadre of people in the counseling profession going out in response to major disasters.”

She said the new course will explore how to enhance sensitivity and competence when providing disaster-response counseling in other cultures.

The online program, nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), features courses in disaster mental health counseling, multicultural issues in disaster counseling, post-traumatic stress disorder, counseling vulnerable populations and a capstone-experience course.

West-Olatunji said the demand for disaster counseling is increasing because of the frequency of natural disasters happening lately. She said disaster counseling currently is not covered extensively in counselor education programs.

“What’s new is that catastrophic disasters have been on the rise and we’re finding we’re not adequately training mental health students to respond,” West-Olatunji said.

West-Olatunji said her first outreach trip to New Orleans after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 opened her eyes to the need for disaster counseling. She is developing a training model that can be used in places like New Orleans, Port Au Prince, Haiti, and Japan.

“The overwhelming majority of countries don’t have qualified counseling professionals, so when disasters occur, they need a rapid response,” West-Olatunji said. “The Red Cross can only bring so many people and can only stay so long.”

In Haiti, West-Olatunji and other counselors went to churches and other community groups to counsel people and gauge their needs. The team gave presentations on sexual abuse, which is a large problem in the tent cities due to the lack of security.

She is traveling to Latin America for another outreach trip next year.  She previously led national disaster, mental-health outreach teams on consulting and counselor-training trips to New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and has twice organized national teams of counseling students, faculty and practitioners to travel to South Africa and Botswana for “community-based counseling” of HIV and AIDS-infected individuals.

For more information about the online disaster-counseling certificate program, visit the program website or inquire via email.

Other related quick links: YouTube, Facebook, Blog.


SOURCE: Cerecie West-Olatunji, associate professor in counselor education and mental health counseling track coordinator, UF College of Education; 352-273-4324; Cirecie@coe.ufl.edu

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

WRITER: Jessica Bradley, communications intern, news and communications, UF College of Education

COE’s lab school aims to shape K-12 education for ‘innovation economy’

Contributed by Dr. Lynda Fender Hayes
Director, P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School

 logo for P.K. Yonge SchoolWhile our nation is focused on growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs (STEM) as essential drivers in this innovation economy, the 21st century workplace also demands skills in creativity, communication and collaboration.

P.K. Yonge is moving “full STEAM ahead” in the growth and support of the three A’s—Athletics, visual Arts, and performing Arts programs—while also enriching programs and opportunities for all students in the STEM disciplines. The Blue Wave administration and faculty are embarking on a multi-disciplinary effort to design, develop, implement and test educational models that prepare well-rounded students for success in this era of innovation.

Below is a sampling of the UF laboratory school’s current innovative pursuits . . .

PKY teachers adopt self-directed professional development for 21st century teaching model

Over the summer, P.K. Yonge faculty donned their proposal writing caps and ventured into a new mode of professional development—self-determined, self-directed, and self-improving—as they  took next steps in designing and developing a 21st century teaching model.

Professional development for K-12 teachers is often classroom-based or an online module presenting a new model of instruction, a new way of engaging students, or even a new technology. With support from the UF College of Education’s distance education program, the P.K. Yonge 21st Century Professional Development Project was facilitated through Purlieu. PKY teachers were guided in proposal writing and submission as they were fully immersed in self-directed learning through a virtual course management system.

As faculty members focused on planning their own curriculum development work, they experienced new tools and acquired new strategies. Areas of focus for curriculum development work included beginning music theory, standards-based grading, online science modules, visual arts wikis, course management systems, Promethean software, and assessments for learning.

Completed projects were presented to a receptive review board impressed by the scope and quality of products resulting from the process. To learn more about results of the P.K. Yonge 21st Century Professional Development Project, please visit http://bit.ly/PKY_AroundCampus. And stay tuned for more projects next summer.

Middle school science teachers pursue reform-oriented curriculum

P.K. Yonge middle school science teachers teamed up with Hamilton County schools in August on the implementation of Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology (IQWST). The IQWST curriculum, a National Science Foundation project, supports teacher implementation of an inquiry-based, learning-goals-driven, standards-aligned, spiraling science curriculum.

Daily, hands-on investigations supported by argument-driven, evidence-based reasoning ensure that all students acquire essential understandings of challenging science concepts. IQWST developers from the University of Michigan led the science teachers through three days of hands-on training and consultative conversation as P.K. Yonge prepared for continuing implementation and Hamilton County prepared to begin.

According to Mayra Cordero, P.K. Yonge’s sixth grade science teacher, “there is no turning back, great things are happening in my science classroom.”  UF COE science educator Rose Pringle continues her investigation of the challenges and opportunities inherent in implementing a reform-oriented science curriculum.

Competitive international robotics club formed

P.K. Yonge physics and biology teacher Kerry Thompson has launched a FIRST robotics club for interested Blue Wave students.  FIRST is an international robotics competition founded by Segway creator Dean Kaman. Competing teams build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

More than 30 Blue Wave high school students are participating and recently took their first field trip—a lock-in at the University of Tampa to participate in an off-season event.  Mentored by the FIRST robotics team of Windermere (Fla.) Preparatory School (where Thompson previously taught and mentored), PKY students got to operate the arm and coach the drive team of the Windermere high school team’s robot during the informal competition. Blue Wave participants also served as human players during two of the games, tossing tubes the robots had to pick up).

UF’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering is providing construction space and access to its machine shop when the build season begins in January.

Fundraising efforts are underway to support registration fees, travel costs, and materials purchases.  Anyone interested in supporting the P.K. Yonge FIRST robotics team as a mentor/volunteer or with a donation may contact faculty adviser Kerry Thompson.


New senior development director joins COE from Fine Arts

The UF College of Education has appointed Maria Gutierrez Martin as the senior director of development. She has served for the past four years as director of development and alumni affairs at UF’s College of Fine Arts.

Maria Gutierrez Martin ...sr. dir. of development

Martin has more than 10 years of experience in fundraising, strategic planning, management, marketing and communications. At the fine arts college, she was responsible for identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding major gifts and planned giving of $100,000 or more, and garnered the college’s single largest gift of $3 million. She also oversaw the college’s alumni relations, marketing and communications operations.

A graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences Louisiana State University, Martin previously worked for nearly four years as development director at Children’s Home Society of Florida, Mid-Florida Division, based in Gainesville. She also has professional experience in business and non-profit management, sales and marketing.

Martin succeeds Matt Hodge, who left the college recently to become assistant vice president for development at the UF Foundation.


SOURCE: Maria Gutierrez Martin, Sr. Director, COE Development & Alumni Affairs, mmartin@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4144.


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Couple adds to $2 million gift to make up for losses during recession

 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When former teachers Bill and Robbie Hedges saw their 2005 donation of almost $2 million to the University of Florida’s College of Education drop in value during the global financial crisis in recent years, they feared the education research supported by their gift would suffer from the reduced funding.

College officials announced today that the retired Gainesville couple has added another $63,000 to their endowed research fund to restore its value to previous levels.

Bill and Robbie Hedges

“We had hoped our gift would grow (through the university foundation’s investment program), but the stock market tanked shortly after we made it,” said Bill Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at the College of Education. “We had some stocks that appreciated, so we decided to add another contribution to make up for the loss. We wanted to keep the research fund strong.”

Hedges and his wife committed more than $1.9 million to the college six years ago to support research aiding slow learners. It was the second largest individual donation ever made to the College of Education. Their gift was made in the form of a charitable remainder trust, which provides them with a variable income for life until the trust terminates, when the remaining assets will be transferred to the college.

The resulting William D. and Robbie F. Hedges Research Fund will support sorely needed studies to develop better teaching methods and curriculum materials for marginal students who fall behind, become discouraged and tend to drop out of school before graduation. The Hedges’ latest gift will boost the amount of annual interest earned on the total fund value.

“We hope to generate more attention and research that yields a more pleasant and productive educational experience for this frequently overlooked and neglected segment of our school population,” said Hedges, who spent the final 20 years of his half-century teaching career on UF’s educational leadership faculty before retiring as professor emeritus in 1991. Robbie Hedges gave up teaching to raise their two sons in 1971 after they moved to Gainesville for her husband’s new UF faculty appointment.

“This gift is a testament to the Hedges’ belief that all children need specialized attention to their learning needs if they are to succeed in school and society,” said Tom Dana, associate dean for academic affairs at UF’s College of Education. “Their contribution will fund research that can make a significant difference in kids’ lives.”


WRITER/MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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College fetes engaged scholarship efforts of faculty, local educators

UF’s College of Education recently honored some of this year’s most noteworthy efforts in engaged scholarship by college and university faculty and graduate students, and local educators.

The “scholarship of engagement’ concept involves pursuing innovative scholarly activities specifically to address critical concerns in education or society. Engagement often requires building connections with schools, families, school districts, community groups and government agencies to lead for change in a world where transformation in education and society is essential.

The college recognized its 2011 Scholarship of Engagement Award winners Sept. 8 at its annual fall recognition reception at the Gainesville Women’s Club. The recipients included College of Education faculty in educational administration, early childhood studies and educational technology, a UF professor and a graduate student in health education and behavior, and local school heads from Newberry Elementary School and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

A list of the winners follows:

COE Faculty Award (School of Human Development & Organizational Studies in Education)

Linda Behar-Horenstein, professor in educational administration, UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar
Linda Behar-Horenstein puts her knowledge of school curriculum to work by helping educators improve teaching methods. She holds the prestigious title of UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a role that allows her to help graduate students in many colleges acquire the skills they need to become researchers, while offering faculty members an expanded skills base in teaching their doctoral students. Her recent work documents how helping faculty acquire a basic awareness of their own instructional practices can yield changes to their teaching. Behar-Horenstein, an affiliate professor of the College of Dentistry, has developed a Critical Thinking Skills Toolbox website for the American Dental Educational Association. This site assists faculty in dental schools across the U.S. and Canada in infusing the teaching of critical thinking skills strategies.

COE Faculty Award (School of Special Education, School Psychology & Early Childhood Studies)

Patricia Snyder, professor and David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies

Patricia Snyder portraitPat Snyder often finds herself in watching infants, toddlers and preschoolers interact with their families or early learning practitioners, counting the learning opportunities happening right in front of her. It is her natural instinct to note how one can easily capitalize on these everyday learning experiences. This is the kind of person you want overseeing the university’s new, interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies. Snyder and the College of Education were instrumental in the center’s formation last year and she is its founding director. Snyder and her colleagues are mobilizing all the resources and expertise that the College and university can muster to advance the science, practice and policy of early childhood development and early learning. She advises state and federal early-learning commissions and also supports the local community in early-learning initiatives. Snyder is a local volunteer and adviser for United Way and the Children’s Movement of Florida.

COE Faculty Award (School of Teaching and Learning)

Kara Dawson, associate professor, education technology and Unified Elementary Education
Kara Dawson studies the innovative ways that technology can impact teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms, higher education and virtual schooling. Not only is she preparing UF teaching students for the increased role that online learning is playing in contemporary education, she’s also working to make computers a pervasive part of the learning experience in all public school classrooms. In one study, Dawson and co-researchers partnered with nearly 30 Florida school districts to assess and improve online teaching tools and classroom technology. Dawson, a UF faculty member since 1999, teaches the educational media practicum course that accompanies a student-teaching apprenticeship in the online learning environment through Florida Virtual School. She belongs to a statewide council of education technology leaders from school districts and is the lead researcher studying the influence of the federal grant entitlement program known as Enhancing Education through Technology, part of the No Child Left Behind program.

P.K. Yonge Award (P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School)

Fran Vandiver, school director (recently retired)
While directing UF’s renowned K-12 laboratory school over the past 13 years, Fran Vandiver has provided leadership and support to the 14-county Northeast Florida Educational Consortium. She also has assisted hundreds of school leaders across the state in understanding how to use research and theory to improve schools thoughtfully, rather than reactively. She was a key force in the Florida Reading Initiative, a state-funded project that impacted more than 100 schools. Vandiver also has been a strong proponent of teacher inquiry as an effective method of school-improvement. She supported the development of Research in Action and the Scholars Academy at P.K. Yonge, which continues to host more than 300 teachers and administrators annually. She was always in-synch with P.K. Yonge’s two core missions: First, you find the best way to teach kids, then you pass that knowledge to practicing and future teachers whenever and wherever you can.

Graduate Student Award

Anthony Delisle, doctoral student, UF Department of Health Education and Behavior
Tony Delisle has dedicated much of the past three years participating in a community-academic partnership that promotes health-enhancing physical activity in young adults with intellectual disabilities. He knows that persons with such disabilities are less likely to engage in physical activity and are more susceptible to obesity and other chronic diseases related to inactivity. He has worked with county school administrators, educators, caregivers, three UF academic departments and numerous university students to revive and expand a Community Academic Partnership to address the problem. The group implements sustainable health programming to increase physical activity and improve health outcomes in young adults with intellectual disabilities. Delisle has won numerous honors for his research and graduate-teaching instructional achievements. And, he’s achieved all of this—despite also being legally blind.

University Award

Christine Stopka, professor, UF Department of Health Education and Behavior
Since 1982, Christine Stopka and her students have worked directly with public schools, locally and statewide, using adapted physical education activities and exercise therapy to improve the quality of life for schoolchildren and young adults with physical, medical and intellectual disabilities. She has conducted dozens of in-service workshops, institutes and distance-learning courses to help teachers become highly qualified in promoting health-enhancing physical activity in students aged 2 through 22 with significant disabilities. She and her students work directly with public school teachers and their students in the teaching and learning of adapted physical education, aquatics, fitness and sports programs. Studies show these students improve in fitness skills at the same rate as their UF student peers, and it benefits their eventual transition into vocational settings. More recent research also shows that the UF peer “tutors” improve their own fitness levels, communication skills and comfort in volunteering. Stopka’s program bridges community service with research and has proven to be a win-win-win for everyone involved.

School District Award

Lacy Redd, principal, Newberry Elementary School
Lacy Redd has served as principal at Newberry Elementary School for nine years. She is a UF ProTeach graduate and earned her master’s and specialist degrees from UF.  She is currently a doctoral student writing her dissertation on “What is the principal’s role in socializing new teachers to the profession.” She is actively involved in training the next generation of teachers by hosting some 30 future teachers at her school each semester. Newberry Elementary, an “A” school for four consecutive years, and its highly respected principal are gaining nationwide attention for their ability to make impressive gains with students with disabilities through an inclusive education model. Redd recently co-authored her first published research report in the Journal of Special Education Leadership.

Meet our new faculty for 2011-12

The College of Education welcomes four newly appointed faculty and a visiting faculty member for the 2011-12 academic year . . .

School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

Jacqueline Swank
Assistant Professor, Counselor Education

Ph.D., mental health counseling, University of Central Florida

Jacqueline Swank is licensed in Florida as both a mental health counselor and a clinical social worker, and in Alabama as a professional counselor. She also is a registered play therapist-supervisor. She previously taught in the counselor education program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her scholarly interests include counselor training and development, focused on assessment and creativity in training and supervising counselors and counselors-in-training. She also studies prevention and intervention for at-risk children and adolescents and their families, focusing on assessment, diagnosis and creative interventions such as adventure-based counseling, nature and play therapy.

Pedro “Pete” Villarreal III
Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor, Higher Education Administration

Ph.D., higher education, Penn State

Pedro “Pete” Villarreal III previously was a visiting professor at George Washington University. At Penn State he minored in sociology, focusing on quantitative research methods. His primary academic interests include higher education finance, policy, college student access and attainment, and the use of rigorous statistical techniques. Villarreal recently published an article in the journal, Leadership and Policy in Schools. His collaborative research involved the use of random-effects regression modeling to study the individual, school and district, as well as state characteristics that influence school principals’ departure and mobility intentions.

School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies

Mary Theresa Kiely
Assistant Scholar, Special Education
Ph.D., special education, University of Florida

Mary Theresa Kiely joins UF after earning her Ph.D. this spring from UF. She minored in research methods with concentrations in teacher quality and learning disabilities. She is the project coordinator of a federal DOE/Institute of Education Sciences grant exploring the impact of collaborative professional development on the literacy instruction of upper elementary special education teachers. Dr. Kiely helped to develop teacher instrumentation and data analysis for the study. Her research interests include teacher learning, reading, writing, language arts, and teaching and learning for students with high-incidence disabilities. She has delivered more than 25 conference presentations and authored five peer-reviewed publications. As a doctoral student, she received the college’s Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award for 2011. She previously earned two bachelor’s degrees from Iona College and taught high school in Bronx, N.Y., and South Florida.

Kelly Whalon
Associate Scholar, Early Childhood Studies
Ph.D., special education, Florida State University

Kelly Whalon emphasized developmental disabilities and autism in her doctoral studies. She comes to UF from the William and Mary School of Education faculty in Virginia. Her research focuses on reading and research-based practices that increase academic engagement in children with autism. While much of the functional curriculum on autism intervention targets life skills. Dr. Whalon says she wanted to focus on reading because “there’s nothing more functional than reading. Reading provides a way to target other skills such as social communication and language.” She is piloting one project using video self-modeling, based on studies indicating children with autism are strong visual learners.

School of Teaching and Learning

Kent Crippen
Associate Professor, STEM Education
Ph.D., administration, curriculum and instructional technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

As part of Kent Crippen’s teaching responsibilities, he serves as an instructor with the COE’s novel UF Teach program, created in 2008 to enlist and transform UF’s brightest undergraduate science and math majors into teachers. He serves as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Science Education and Technology. He served a year on faculty at Nebraska-Lincoln and the past 10 years at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he was associate director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. Dr. Crippen’s research interests involve the use of networked computing and communications technologies to support learning. He was the 2010 recipient of the Online Learning Innovator Award for Important Research, presented by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and has received several faculty research awards. He was named a 2003 Apple Distinguished Educator by Apple Computer.

WRITER: Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Special ed researchers winning competition for federal grants

UF principal investigators on active federal IES grants, pictured from left, are Stephen Smith, Mary Brownell, Ann Daunic, Maureen Conroy and Joseph Gagnon. (PIs Cynthia Griffin and Patricia Snyder were unavailable for group photo; they are pictured below.)

Faculty researchers in the University of Florida’s special education program, ranked fourth nationally, have built an impressive track record for winning large, highly competitive grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department.

College of Education researchers in early childhood and special education recently received two IES grants worth a combined $5.5 million, supporting two studies aimed at reducing problem behaviors and improving the classroom learning environment. UF professor Maureen Conroy, working under a $4 million award, is examining the efficacy of an experimental intervention in early learning settings—called BEST in CLASS—that showed high promise in a preliminary study. The second grant, worth $1.5 million, supports professors Stephen Smith and Ann Daunic who are developing a lesson series teaching middle school students with significant behavior problems techniques to control their emotions and behavior in social situations.

“Grants awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences are selected because they are the most innovative, important and well-designed projects in a huge pool of applications,” says Jonathon Shuster, a faculty research professor with UF’s Institute for Child Health Policy. “These studies are large in scope with potentially huge payoffs. If new generalized ways can be found for interventions, the investment will be returned thousands of times over by translating these methods to the nation.”

These two latest awards raise the total number of IES grants held by UF special education faculty in 2011 to eight—worth a combined total of more than $15 million. Smith and Daunic recently completed another $1.6 million intervention study that helps students deal with aggressive behavioral issues in the classroom. Supported by a $2 million award, Mary Brownell and colleagues in Colorado and California have developed research-proven professional development packages to help practicing teachers advance their literacy instruction skills for students with learning challenges. Brownell, Smith and Daunic have documented the positive impacts of their respective studies on student reading achievement and behavior.

Four other IES grants active in 2011, each worth about $1.5 million, support other vital projects in special education:

— Daunic, Smith and Nancy Corbett are developing a reading curriculum that combines storybook reading techniques with social stories to encourage students’ critical thinking about managing their emotions and behavior;

Cynthia Griffin

— Joseph Gagnon and Holly Lane are evaluating new literacy instruction and professional development methods for helping teens in juvenile corrections facilities improve their reading skills while they are incarcerated;

— Cynthia Griffin and co-investigators Stephen Pape (mathematics education) and Nancy Dana (teacher leadership for school improvement) are developing an online professional development program for elementary school math teachers serving students with learning disabilities.

Patricia Snyder portrait

Patricia Snyder

— And, in studies involving seven institutions, UF’s Patricia Snyder and co-researchers are documenting the effectiveness of new professional development packages focused on preschool teachers’ use of embedded-instruction practices and the impact of social and emotional influences on early learning.

: Larry Lansford, News & Communications, UF College of Education, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; (352) 273-4137