Irving and Rose Fien Endowed Professor works to rebuild Florida as a national leader in bilingual education

Maria Coady, Irving and Rose Fien Endowed Professor of Education and associate professor of ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) and bilingual education, has established the first statewide repository for bilingual education in the country and has revitalized the Florida Association for Bilingual Education (FABE).

Lastinger Center Listening Tour

As a responsive innovation center dedicated to working in the community with others to create equitable education systems, it is imperative to understand the needs and realities of those we seek to serve.

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UF College of Education reclaims ranking as best in nation

The College of Education at the University of Florida reclaimed its place as the nation’s best online graduate education degree program, according to the most recent annual rankings released by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

Top Stories of 2018

Take a look at some of our top stories from 2018 as we reminisce and look forward to an even brighter 2019.

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Christopher Busey fosters national civic dialogue at annual CUFA conference

Christopher Busey, assistant professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education, serves as CUFA program chair engaging scholars from across the Americas in critical conversations that shape the field of social studies education.

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University of Florida Initiative Seeks Solutions to Critical Challenges Affecting Society

The University of Florida is spearheading the search for solutions to society’s most ever-present challenges through its latest initiative.

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Donielle Geoffrion Receives FACES Graduate Student Scholarship Opportunity

Donielle Geoffrion was recently awarded the Florida Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (FACES) Graduate Student Scholarship Opportunity.

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Alisa Houseknecht awarded SACES Research & Best Practice Grant

Alisa Houseknecht, a doctoral candidate Counseling and Counselor Education program, was recently notified that she was awarded a Research & Best Practice Grant from the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES).

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Study Abroad in the Republic of Ireland

As future educators, looking cross-culturally at different educational practices creates an enriching experience unlike any other. This summer, 2018, Fein Endowed Professor Maria Coady lead 22 UF College of Education study abroad students’ exploration of education in the Republic of Ireland.

UF College of Education Earns Top Ranking

The University of Florida College of Education ranked No. 5 among the best colleges of education Best Colleges Offering Degrees in Education in the United States, according to a new national ranking.

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2018 Outstanding Young Alumni – Impacting Others Through Service in Education

The 2018 Outstanding Young Alumni Awards recognized two EduGators who have impacted the lives of many through service in education. Lauren L. May BAE ’08 & MED ‘09 and Christopher M. Mullin BAAED ’99 & Ph.D. ’08 (Higher Ed Amin) have both dedicated their careers to the field of education, creating a significant impact in the lives of students and communities they serve leading us into the future.

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UF College of Education jumps five spots in national rankings; still No. 1 in Florida, and best in Southeast among publics

The UF College of Education jumped five spots in the US News annual rankings of America’s Best Graduate Education Schools–placing 14th among public education colleges and 24th overall. Once again, that makes UF the top-ranked education college in the state and among public institutions in the Southeast.

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COE-STL host conference of education historians; outsiders welcome

Some of the South’s leading scholars and students in the field of education history will gather in Gainesville March 23-24 when the COE hosts the 2018 annual conference of the Southern History of Education Society.

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Novelist’s $3M gift for literacy initiatives kick-starts college’s capital campaign

James Patterson, the world’s bestselling author, has donated $3 million to support the college’s transformative literacy initiatives aimed at doubling the number of students in Florida who can read proficiently.

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

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

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

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

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COE repeats No. 1 ranking in US for online graduate degrees

U.S. News and World Report rated the distance education program at the University of Florida College of Education as America’s best online graduate education degree program for the second consecutive year.

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The making of America’s best online graduate education program

By JASON ARNOLD
Director of E-learning, Technology & Creative Services (ETC)
UF College of Education


The UF College of Education has always strived to offer the most innovative and student-centered online graduate degree programs in the country. If we’re not there yet, we at least appear to be closing in on our goal.

On Jan. 10, 2017, the College’s overall online master’s level education program was ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for the second year in a row. The rankings are based on several factors including course design for student engagement, availability of student services and technology support, quality of faculty credentials and training, and reputation among our peers.

Our goal is simply to offer the best student experience using research-proven best practices in web-based learning and teaching.

Our faculty and e-learning team collaborate to create engaging learning experiences that include student-led discussions, theory-to-practice application, problem-solving approaches to learning, flexibility for students, and engaging video-based teaching strategies. Online pedagogy requires a commitment to explicit instruction with a strong instructor presence, and our program stands out as having great depth of student-instructor interaction.

The trust that our instructional design team has built with faculty is a leading factor in improving course design through student engagement.

We build off the strengths of our faculty. Our instructional designers work intimately with UF faculty to learn their styles of delivery so we can match our instructional design with their individual style of teaching. There’s no one way to present a course online just like there is no one way to present a face-to-face course.”

We experiment to create new best practices and learning experiences in online education . . .

Domenic Durante, an ETC instructional design and learning support coordinator, and Professor Nancy Fichtman Dana, who teaches in both the online master’s program in teacher leadership and the professional education doctorate in curriculum and instruction, have received accolades for a faculty training presentation they give on the innovative “jigsaw” method of teaching.

The jigsaw technique is a cooperative learning strategy used in both online and face-to-face instruction: Teachers arrange students in mixed groups and break assignments or problems into pieces, one for each group member. Each student receives resources to complete only his or her part. Through the shared insights of its members, the group assembles the pieces of information to complete the (jigsaw) “puzzle.” The final outcome may be a final report or presentation on a given topic, or a solution to a problem. It’s a class activity that makes students dependent on each other to succeed.

Learning Video Production

We include professional videos in our online courses with synchronous observation video software. The videos feature teacher observation and preservice mentoring, UF graduates modeling best teaching practices within our online courses, expert and practitioner interviews and case studies woven through online discussions.

What we learn from redesigning courses in one area informs our work in new online initiatives. One such example is a new graduate certificate course for teaching reading to students with dyslexia. The course, led by special education Professor Holly Lane, is rich with hundreds of professionally produced video demonstrations of targeted teaching strategies designed to improve the reading skills of affected students. The videos were captured over two summers during a UF-hosted summer reading program that Lane directs for struggling readers in elementary grades.

The online certificate course, one of the first of its type, assigns students responsibility for their own learning experience, while empowering faculty to integrate new technologies in their course designs.

The development of effective online learning is ever evolving: Our e-learning team, informed by the latest online research, continues to develop and test new teaching and learning techniques that will engage and support our students all over the world. No matter what technology is used, we want to meet the needs of our students and challenge ourselves to continuously improve.

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Learning Gains from our Brains

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

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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.

SETTING THE STAGE

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.

FAST FACT:

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.”

MUCH PROMISE BUT NOT YET READY FOR PRIME TIME

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

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

“That is what I find most rewarding.”


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

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Counselor Ed. volunteers reflect on Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy

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


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

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

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

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

About 30 UF volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

Ties to the LGBT community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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No waiting until 2017 for Room 2323 upgrades— thanks to gift

While top-to-bottom renovations of UF’s Norman Hall aren’t due to begin until spring of 2017, private donations have allowed the College of Education to upgrade three classrooms in its 82-year-old academic home over the past year.

The latest makeover is immediately evident in Room 2323, where education students and instructors are already reaping the benefits of the new 21st century accoutrements. The transformed “active-learning” classroom couples mobile furniture and innovative teaching methods with modern technology that the teachers-in-training will one day use in their own classrooms.

Thanks to a $15,000 gift to the college from the Robert S. and Mildred M. Baynard Trust, matched by discretionary funds from the dean’s office plus a subsidy from the college’s School of Teaching and Learning, Room 2323 has been reinvigorated with cutting-edge technology and multi-functional classroom furniture.

STL instructor Brittney Beck leads a lesson in her Introduction to Education class held in upgraded Room 2323.

STL Director Ester de Jong said the mobile furniture and new technology fully engages students by encouraging collaborative problem solving.

“The modernized classrooms allow us to engage our pre-service teachers in the kind of instruction that we want them to be using with their students in their future classrooms,” de Jong said.

De Jong added that our students are able to better their education and skills because of contributions from our donors.

“Thanks to the generous gifts by the Baynard Trust and the matching funds by Dean Good, we are now able to provide our students with an active learning environment that models and engages them in the teaching and learning experience of the 21st century,” she said.

In a recent lesson in STL doctoral fellow Brittney Beck’s Introduction to Education course, Room 2323’s new multi-media technology allowed students to simulate the obstacles that schoolchildren with disabilities face in the classroom. Then, the education students could explore how a traditional K-12 setting can be altered to meet the learning needs of students who are “differently abled” (a “person-first” term, which Beck encourages students to use, that emphasizes all of the abilities a student has, rather than what a student is unable to do.)

“The new technology enabled our students to experience the frustration, exhaustion and self-doubt that occurs when a classroom environment is not designed to meet the needs of a students,” Beck said. “This offers vivid insights into the social and emotional dimensions of learning.”


SOURCE: Ester de Jong, 352-273-4227; edejong@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: Kelsie Ozanne, College of Education; kozanne@ufl.edu

 

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National survey: UF education students score high marks in voter participation

Register to Vote Oct. 6

The College of Education and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service will co-host a voter registration event at Norman Hall Thursday, Oct. 6, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Students not yet registered are encouraged to participate as we aim to boost student participation higher, not only in the College of Education but across UF’s campus. Can’t make it? Register at https://ufl.turbovote.org.

The University of Florida’s campus report from a national study of college student voting participation follows a national trend: In national elections, a higher percentage of education majors vote than students in any other field of study.

The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), conducted by the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University, involved 783 participating institutions of higher education and 7.4 million college students.

The findings reflected the percentage of each institution’s students who were eligible to vote and who actually voted in the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 midterm elections.

In the 2012 election, 65 percent of UF College of Education students voted – the highest rate among 20 fields of study on campus. That also is 10 points higher than the national average for all education students in the study.

Campuswide, UF’s student body surpassed the national average for college student voter turnout in 2012 with a 61 percent voting rate, well above the national average of 45 percent.

The 2014 national midterm election had a much lower voter turnout across the board, but UF education students maintained their high voter turnout with 38 percent, compared to 24 percent for all UF colleges. The national average was less than 19 percent—not even half the voting rate of UF education students.

UF Student Voter Participation Rates

Source: the NSLVE campus report for the University of Florida, showing voting percentages across all UF students.

 

Adam Gismondi, a program administrator at Tuft’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education and, coincidentally, a graduate of the UF College of Education master’s program in Student Personnel in Higher Education, said it’s difficult to know why education majors vote at such a high rate.

“One possible explanation is the demographic makeup of the field of education, which leans heavily toward female students,” he said. “Women are more likely to vote than the average. Another explanation may be that the work being done in education majors tends to relate to issues intertwined with civics and politics. The students are likely engaging actively with social and political issues that raise civic awareness and foster a spirit of citizenship.”

NSLVE data above analyzes voting patterns of millions of college students across the country.

 

Elizabeth Washington, a UF Social Studies Education professor and a senior fellow for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at UF, had this to say about the strong voting participation of UF education students: “I don’t have data to support my assertions, but my educated guess would be that our students have an immediate concern in public education that gets their attention and that they know it’s always a high-stakes political issue that impacts them personally.”

Nancy Thomas, director of the Tufts Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, remarked on the implications of different voting rates between students in various fields of study: “The fact that education and humanities majors vote at significantly higher rates than their peers in the STEM disciplines has both policy and political implications. We know that young people who engage in civic life early on develop lifelong habits. Regardless of their chosen field, all college and university students should be educated for democracy.”


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