Nancy Fichtman Dana appointed to the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars
Members of the academy are selected across UF colleges and academic disciplines.
Members of the academy are selected across UF colleges and academic disciplines.
The University of Florida College of Education is proud to announce Nancy Fichtman Dana, professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, is one of the three finalists for the 2020 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.
Ross Van Boven received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, a program designed to prepare practitioner scholars.
What is a practitioner scholar? A professional who brings theoretical, pedagogical and research expertise to help identify, frame and study educational problems as a way to continually improve the learning conditions in their schools and districts.
Middle school teacher Ross Van Boven has received a prestigious national award presented by the American Education Research Association for outstanding research by examining what he does every school day.
Van Boven specializes in working with sixth and seventh graders at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School who are on the margins — whether because they are struggling or high-achieving. His study at the public school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education examined his experience in teaching a gifted sixth-grade student during the 2014-2015 school year.
The Teacher as Researcher Award recognizes a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teacher for research conducted in their schools. Van Boven received the award at the association’s annual meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C., April 8-12. AERA says its teacher-as-researcher special interest group is the only one like it: dedicated to recognizing high quality research done in schools by preK-12 instructors on their own practice.
Van Boven is a “learning community leader” at P.K. Yonge, which is UF’s special school district created to develop innovative solutions to educational challenges.
His training and experience is notable for his teaching as well as his scholarship. He has earned three degrees from UF’s College of Education: a bachelor’s (’06) and master’s (‘07) in elementary education and, in December, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
Van Boven’s doctorate was in a program tailor-made by faculty in the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education program area to focus on the unique needs of practitioners who wish to become scholars of practice, leading change and improvement from within their local districts, schools and classrooms, said Nancy Fichtman Dana, a UF education professor and a leading international authority and researcher on teacher professional development and school improvement. Dana served as the chair of Van Boven’s dissertation committee.
Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students at a time P.K. Yonge is transforming its approach to a “push-in” teaching model from a “pull-out.” In the push-in approach, general education and special education teachers work within the regular classrooms to serve all learners; in the pull-out approach, teachers work with these students in separate classrooms.
“It’s a real challenge to provide the time and services to all the students in the program,” Van Boven says. With a caseload of 41 students, he bounces from classroom to classroom to help learners in subjects ranging from math to social studies. Not only does he have to know the content, he must collaborate closely with the content-area teachers, which sometimes is problematic because of contrasting styles and time schedules. He also closely consults with parents to better understand their child’s needs and to personalizes lessons.
Van Boven tracked his experience of teaching one of his students by using a variety of tools, including his cell phone’s voice-to-text feature to capture episodes in near real time and digital recording of interviews so he could transcribe them later for analysis.
He says his research helped to improve his teaching in a variety of ways, such as more closely working with content-area teachers to rework the timing of his push-in to classrooms and planning periods with other teachers. “This allowed for ongoing collaboration and hopefully continues to remove some of the pressures teachers felt for planning to meet student enrichment needs,” he wrote in a report of the study.
He has shared his P.K. Yonge findings with the school’s administration and teachers, including the school’s five other learning community leaders. The study informed their perennial challenge: How best to provide in-classroom lessons to gifted students without disrupting the heterogeneity of classrooms.
Dana says Van Boven’s research “provided a rich accounting of how one middle school child was experiencing the program, and these insights led to specific actions Ross and his colleagues took to improve this new model.”
The school has launched a pilot program to cluster some gifted-and-talented students in the same classes to help learning community leaders and core teachers improve efficiency and coordination.
Despite the challenges, Van Boven says the collaboration required in the push-in model is helping teachers – including him – grow in their own practice. The award highlights the power of practitioner research to improve education for students – and provides Van Boven an opportunity to broaden his impact by sharing his experiences with other teachers.
“I am hopeful that my advocacy for students and collaboration with content-area teachers will result in sustained opportunities to provide content enrichment for students on my caseload,” Van Boven wrote.
Source: Ross Van Boven, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Media Relations: Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge DRS; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Education Professor Nancy Dana has been honored with a 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Education, where she received her doctorate in childhood education in 1991.
The award honors FSU education graduates who have distinguished themselves through scholarly, creative and humanitarian achievement, and service to their profession.
Dana is a leading international authority on teacher inquiry – a powerful form of professional development whereby teachers and school leaders engage in action research on their own practice in the classroom, wrapping their professional learning around the learning of students, and sharing their findings with colleagues.
Dana has worked with numerous schools and districts across Florida, the United States and abroad to help them craft professional development programs of inquiry for their teachers, principals and district administrators.
Dana, a professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education, has studied and written about practitioner inquiry for over 20 years, publishing 10 books on the topic, including three best sellers. Her latest book was just released in November with Corwin Press on Professional Learning Communities titled, simply, “The PLC Book.”
Dana has made numerous keynote presentations and led workshops in several countries for educators hungry for professional learning models that focus on examining evidence from practice. Her recent work has taken her to China, South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium. Last January she led a weeklong course on inquiry in Lisbon, Portugal, for education leaders from nine countries in the European Union. Next October she heads to Estonia.
Dana previously served on the Penn State University education faculty for 11 years. She joined the UF education faculty in 2003 and has conducted extensive research on practitioner inquiry and educator professional development. In 2010, Dana and co-researchers Cynthia Griffin (UF special education) and Stephen Pape (Johns Hopkins mathematics education) secured a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to develop and study an extensive online professional development program for third-through-fifth-grade general and special education teachers focused on the teaching of struggling math learners.
She is deeply involved in the college’s new, professional practice doctoral program in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program is an online, on-the-job degree program designed specifically for practicing K-12 educators who aspire to lead change, school improvement and education reform efforts in their schools and districts.
Dana’s past honors include the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award and the National Staff Development Council Book of the Year Award.
“It is a great honor to receive this alumni award and to have connections to two wonderful universities in our state,” Dana said, adding with a sly smile, “but I’ll always bleed orange and blue. Go Gators!”
SOURCE: Nancy Dana, 352-273-4204; firstname.lastname@example.org
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; email@example.com
(Click here for PDF listing of UFCOE presentations)
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Florida education professor and best-selling author Nancy Fichtman Dana, recognized nationally for her research and books on novel strategies in school reform and professional development for educators, has been named a UF Research Foundation Professor for 2012-2015.
Dana, a professor in the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning, is one of 33 UF faculty scholars selected for the prestigious posts. The University of Florida Research Foundation awards the professorships annually to tenured faculty who have a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in their fields. The three-year award includes a $5,000 annual salary supplement and a one-time $3,000 grant to support their research.
Dana is one of the nation’s top scholars in the field of “practitioner inquiry” or action research, a novel approach to professional development for teachers, principals and other school administrators. The process involves educators assessing their own practices, and then sharing what they learn with their peers to foster “whole school” improvement and enhanced student learning.
“Teachers are in the best position to identify problems in the classroom and find workable solutions. Rather than having outsiders come to schools and tell them how to fix their problems, we’re encouraging schools to take charge of their own professional development,” Dana said. “We coach them on becoming more reflective, analytical and critical of their own teaching, and then taking action to improve their classroom practices.”
“This self-reflecting and sharing process,” she adds, “allows schools to improve from within.”
Dana has coached the action research of thousands of educators from school districts across the state and nation, and has published eight 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 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.”
Her publisher, Corwin Press, has an author’s website for Dana at: http://www.corwin.com/authors/522546.
Dana’s research on practitioner inquiry forms the core of the college’s innovative, on-the-job Teacher Leadership for School Improvement graduate degree program, which the Association of Teacher Educators cited as the 2011 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education.
“Dr. Dana is an exceptionally productive scholar and she continues to probe the possibilities and impact of practitioner inquiry, extending her work to special education teachers and the use of the latest Web technologies,” said Elizabeth Bondy, director of UF’s School of Teaching and Learning.
Dana is working with UF education colleagues Cynthia Griffin (in special education) and Stephen Pape (mathematics education) to develop and evaluate an extensive online professional development program for third through fifth grade teachers focused on the teaching and learning of math. Their work is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences.
Dana has a doctorate in elementary education from Florida State and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from State University of New York at Oswego. In 2009, the New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the New York Association of Teacher Educators dually presented Dana with the New York Teacher Impact Award.
Dana joined UF’s education faculty from Penn State in 2003 and directed UF’s Center for School Improvement through 2010. She received the national ATE organization’s Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award in 2005.
More recently, she has helped the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning redesign professional development programs for several Florida school districts, with practitioner inquiry at the core.
She said her future research activities will focus on gauging the effectiveness of practitioner inquiry on K-12 virtual school educators, and on helping general and special education teachers use action research to meet the mathematical learning needs of all students, including those with disabilities.
SOURCE: Nancy Dana, professor, UF College of Education, email@example.com; 352-273-4204
WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; firstname.lastname@example.org; 352-273-4137
The University of Florida’s College of Education has launched a professional scholars program–teaming UF education faculty with Alachua County middle-school teachers and district administrators–to ignite a grassroots movement to reform the nation’s troubled middle-school education system.
Three UF education professors and four Alachua County middle school teachers were introduced as members of the inaugural class of the Shewey Scholars program recently at a reception at UF’s Norman Hall.
The program is funded under a $600,000 endowment created three years ago by Fred and Christine Shewey of Gainesville, who made the gift as a tribute to their daughter-in-law, Kathy Shewey, a prominent figure in middle-level education in Alachua County and around the nation for more than 30 years. The Shewey Excellence in Middle School Education Fund supports new research and programs aimed at middle school reform and enhancement.
The newly appointed Shewey scholars from the college faculty are Colleen Swain (curriculum and instruction), Darby Delane (university-school partnerships coordinator for the School of Teaching and Learning) and Joy Schackow (STL/Lastinger Center professor-in-residence in Pinellas County schools). Alachua County educators receiving yearlong appointments are Maureen Shankman (Loften middle grades curriculum teacher), Odalis Manduley (Westwood Middle School Spanish teacher), Donna Reid (Lincoln Middle School English education teacher) and Phillip Koslowski (school district coordinator of the Positive Behavior Support program).
Professor Nancy Dana, who heads the advisory group for the Shewey Fund, will steer the scholars program, assisted by Paul George, a UF distinguished professor emeritus in education who has been identified by Middle School Journal as the nation’s “number-one ranking scholar” in middle grades education. Kathy Shewey, supervisor of staff development for Alachua County public schools, also is involved.
The scholars’ first group activity was attending the Florida League of Middle Schools’ annual conference together last month in Sarasota. The Shewey Scholars program covered their travel and registration expenses.
“By immersing themselves at the conference in the discussion of middle school practice and current issues facing middle level educators, the Shewey scholars helped to spark a renewed interest in middle-level education and future partnership work between UF and Alachua County schools in middle-school teaching practice,” Dana said.
She said the scholars will reconvene in the fall to share their experiences and plan future middle school reform activities with other local middle school teachers and administrators.
While UF scholars—including Paul George—were among the first, some 40 years ago, to campaign for the creation of separate transitional schools to meet the needs of children in early adolescence, they also are among the first to publicly call for reform and a reexamination of middle schools in today’s school system. George recently headed a panel of Florida educators that produced an assessment of critical issues for middle school reform in Florida.
Early work funded by the Shewey endowment includes two research studies conducted to capture the current state of middle level education and document how high-stakes standardized testing and accountability is shaping middle school education.
At last month’s FLMS conference, George presented an historical perspective of the middle school movement and said it’s more important than ever for middle-grades educators to “hang tough.”
“Many middle schools are no longer serving their original function,” said George, who retired from teaching in 2007 but remains active in his specialty field. “Many schools are too large and too focused on standardized testing to meet the special developmental needs of adolescents. We are looking at ways to improve instruction that is appropriate for students in their early teens.”
Source: Nancy Dana, professor, School of Teaching & Learning, UF College of Education, 352-273-4204; email@example.com
Source: Paul George, distinguished professor emeritus, UF College of Education, 352-372-4615, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Larry Lansford, UF COE News & Communications, 352-273-4137; email@example.com