Faculty and College Access Partnerships Staff Present at AERA

Multiple Reich College of Education faculty and College Access Partnerships staff presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 11-14, 2024. AERA is the world's largest gathering of education researchers and a showcase for groundbreaking, innovative studies in an array of areas. Below is a list of the presentation titles and abstracts:

“Bunch of Oddballs”: Visualization of Upward-Bound Alumni and Cultural Capital

Dr. Ashley Carpenter, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Family Therapy, and Higher Education


The transition from high school to college is both challenging and stressful for most students—however, this transition is even more daunting for Black, Latine, first-generation, and low-income students. As research shows an increase in these students graduating from high school, there are still lower rates of college enrollment and persistence. These outcomes are further exacerbated due to persistent systemic disparities, policy trends, and inequitable K-12 school conditions. Considering these systemic and institutionalized inequities, researchers have found that pre-college programs as a tactic to improve college readiness for students of diverse backgrounds. Therefore, this qualitative study examined the experiences of first-generation, Black, and Latine, Upward Bound alums using their cultural capital to transition into and through college using photograph/artifact-elicited interviews.

Conceptualizing Trauma-Informed Leadership in Higher Education

Dr. Jason Lynch, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Family Therapy, and Higher Education


The role of trauma-informed practice within higher education has become a growing area of research and practice in recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic. To date, most scholars have focused on the nature and impact of trauma-informed pedagogical and student-support practices. However, this approach fails to acknowledge the need to, and benefit of, incorporating trauma-informed educational leadership that acknowledges and mitigates the impact of trauma on all aspects of the education enterprise. To that end this theoretical paper intersects contemporary scholarship on leadership theory, educational leadership, and trauma-informed practice to introduce a conceptual framework for trauma-informed leadership in education.

A Comparative Analysis of COVID-19 Trauma Exposure Responses

Dr. Jason Lynch, assistant professor in the Department of Counseling, Family Therapy, and Higher Education


Research on the impacts of COVID-19 within K-12 context has primarily focused on the impact of the transition on student learning (Archambault & Borup, 2020; Clausen et al., 2020), the long-term impacts on student learning (Middleton, 2020), and student well-being (Dunn et al., 2020; Salerno, Devadas, & Pease, 2020). However, little consideration has been given to the impact of the pandemic on educator well-being, with the few existing investigations centering issues of teacher burnout (Sokal, Eblie Trudel, & Babb, 2020a; Sokal, Eblie Trudel, & Babb, 2020b). Although burnout is certainly an issue that is to be expected given the amount of work and lack of resources that were afforded to educators as they made the online transition, these professionals were also doing this work while managing their own families and personal responses to a global health threat.

One way to reframe the impact of COVID-19 on educators is through the lens of traumatic stress, or the response to an event or circumstance that overwhelms one’s capacity to cope (Brencio & Novak, 2019). The American Psychiatric Association (2013) also defines a trauma experience as one that poses an actual, or perceived, threat to life or sanity. Through these definitions, the COVID-19 pandemic may certainly be considered a potentially traumatizing event. The experience of traumatic stress has been linked to a number of negative outcomes including, but not limited to, poor physical health (McFarlane, 2010), emotional numbing (Lipsky & Burke, 2009), and diminished capacity for complexity and creativity (Lipsky & Burke, 2009), all of which have a direct impact on educators’ ability to maintain their well-being while also serving their students. Although some studies have begun to address the impact of COVID on educator wellbeing, they primarily center the phenomenon of burnout (Pressley, 2021; Sokal et al. 2020a; Sokal et al. 2020b; Zadok-Gurman et al., 2021), which may limit understanding of the experiences and necessary supports of educators as the U.S. transitions into the endemic era of COVID-19.

In this comparative study, public K-12 educators (i.e. teachers, student/academic support staff, and school administrators) from across the U.S. were surveyed at the beginning of the Fall 2020 term (n=684) to measure their self-reported behaviors and emotions commonly associated with trauma exposure. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions: To what degree did U.S. public K-12 educators report experiencing symptoms associated with traumatic stress at the beginning of the Fall 2020 academic year? To what degree did an educator’s position within school impact their report of trauma symptomology? Descriptive statistics revealed over half of the sample agreed that they experienced 14 of the 18 symptoms measured with anger, exhaustion, fear, sleep disturbance, hypervigilance, guilt, and avoidance being among the most prevalent. Additionally, on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree), a moderate (h=.11) significant difference was found between teachers (M=3.01), student support staff (M=2.70), and administrators (M=2.37). Implications on teacher attrition, school cultures, and student success will be discussed.

Measuring DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Awareness, Empowerment, and Action Orientation: Validation of the Health Professions Educators DEI Scale

Peggy Gesing (Eastern Virginia Medical School), Jason Lynch (App State), Amanda K. Burbage (Eastern Virginia Medical School)


Educating students in health occupations about the need to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their practice can lead to improved health care outcomes. Measuring health professions educators’ (HPE) considerations of DEI in their teaching practice is one step toward understanding how disparity is addressed in their courses. This proposal describes the examination of the psychometric properties of the Health Professions Educators Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scale (HPE DEI). Data was analyzed using exploratory factor analysis resulting in a three-factor structure measuring awareness, empowerment, and action orientation of HPEs as they address issues of DEI in their teaching. The HPE DEI scale provides a nuanced way to explore the competencies necessary for effectively considering DEI in educational settings.

Lifting an Even Heavier Load: Influences on Teacher Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. Jennifer McGee, professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies; Dr. Gwynne Shoaf '18 '22, Teacher Cadet State Coordinator; Dr. Tim Huelsman, professor in the Department of Psychology; and Dr. Terry McClannon, associate dean and professor in Department of Media, Career Studies, and Leadership Development


Burnout is defined as a “syndrome” (Maslach et al., 1996, p. 193) containing three dimensions (Maslach & Leiter, 2016). For classroom teachers, burnout can lead to negative impacts on both the teacher and their students (Hughes, 2010; Madigan & Kim, 2021). The purpose of this study was to examine teacher burnout using qualitative methods, allowing the voices of teachers to speak to the factors that influence their feelings of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. We reference literature that stresses the organizational and structural factors that influence burnout in our examination of this phenomenon. There are four levels of influence described in the findings of this study that can be used as a conceptual model to further examine teacher burnout empirically.

The Children Come Full: Toward Cultural Sustenance in Early Literacy Contexts

Dr. Kindel Turner Nash, Spangler Distinguished Professor of Early Childhood Literacy in the Department of Child Development, Literacy, and Special Education;  Bilal Polson (Northern Parkway School), Roderick Peele (Northern Parkway School), Erik Sumner (Uniondale School District), Alicia Arce-Boardman (Northern Parkway School), Kerry Elson (Central Park East II)


Culturally sustaining pedagogies answer a fundamental question, “what if the goal of teaching and learning with youth of color was not ultimately to see how closely students could perform White middle-class norms, but rather was to explore, honor, extend, and at times, problematize their cultural practices and investments?” (Alim & Paris, 2017, p. 3). Centering on that question, this presentation focuses on a conceptual cultural sustenance model of culturally sustaining early literacy teaching, illuminated through literacy teaching processes and practices of four early literacy teachers and a principal who strive for cultural sustenance by humanizing and affirming the voices and stories--the ways of knowing, being, reading, writing, and talking--of young People of Color.

Critical sociocultural theory, culturally sustaining and humanizing pedagogies theoretically inform this work. These perspectives recognize that “education of any kind is inherently political and embedded within power structures that dictate privilege as well as bias and oppression” (Long et al., 2013, p. 422). The goal of humanizing and culturally sustaining theoretical frameworks is to deeply understand and interrogate the perspectives of communities from within.

Our seven year school-based study includes a multiracial community of a white teacher educator, a Black administrator, one Latinx, two Black, and one white high-performing early literacy teachers in two ethnically, linguistically, and racially diverse urban public school contexts. Methodologically, we draw from humanizing approaches (San Pedro & Kinloch, 2017; Paris & Winn, 2011), which seek answerability in growing to understand phenomena in, and with, and communities. These kinds of methods require “dialogic consciousness‐raising and . . . relationships of dignity and care for both researchers and participants” (Paris & Winn, 2011, p. 137). With stories as the unit of analysis, sources of data that were dialogically analyzed include transcripts and notes from dialogic check-ins and in-the-moment conversations, interviews over time, teacher documentation and analysis of culturally sustaining practices, and photo, video, and audio classroom and school artifacts.

We illuminate vivid classroom and school examples of processes and practices that illustrate curricularization and wrestling with culturally sustaining early literacy teaching in the midst of mandated literacy instruction and assessment grounded in the sciences of reading. We ground these examples in a cultural sustenance model that we developed based on our collaborative study. The model, processes, and practices showcase a primary finding and important implication of this project: early literacy teaching that is culturally sustaining honors and extends children’s and communities' intersecting ways of knowing, ways of being and ways of reading and writing.

Currently, popular waves of discourse about effective literacy teaching have focused on scripted, structured approaches. Depending on the school, teacher preparation program, and other contextual factors (e.g. interpretations of state legislation), teachers may implement literacy practices in the current moment in ways that are divorced from the sociocultural and cultural ways of knowing, being, and doing in communities. Our work stands in contrast to dominant narratives, offering refreshing and cutting-edge counterpractices that move toward honoring the fullness of children and their families and communities while offering early literacy instruction that fosters literacy proficiency.

From Multicultural Dispositions to Epistemic Agency as Justice in Teacher Education

Antoinette S. Linton (Cal State Fullerton), Connor Warner (University of Utah), Kindel Turner Nash (App State), Christina V. Luna (Cal State Fresno), Sonja Lopez Arnak


In the last half-century, multicultural education has been the primary approach to ameliorating injustice(s) and closing academic opportunity gaps for historically underserved and ignored students. Emphasizing schooling as an agent of social change (Hollins, 2008), multicultural approaches to teaching and learning include reframing curriculum, and advocating for culturally responsive teaching practices for ethnically, culturally, linguistically and racially diverse students. However, the success of multicultural approaches depends upon the teacher's will and ability to create a flexible, culturally responsive context. Thus, this approach creates a systemic problem of practice for teacher education because of its heavy reliance on a largely White teaching force to shift their ideologies about historically underserved communities and historically ignored communities within a brief period of time (Gorski, 2016; Weiss, 1995; Zeichner & Grant, 1981).

A promising practice for shifting the emphasis on changing ideologies to facilitating teacher candidate’s epistemic agency. Kawasaki and Sandoval (2020) define epistemic agency as the authority to make decisions about the nature of a problem and the ability to solve it. Addressing the learning experiences embedded in the curriculum of the teacher education program is an example of an approach to teacher education that we have found enables candidates’ ability to identify, address, and reflect on problems of practice faced when teaching in a pluricultural society. We draw on two examples here. The first is a secondary science credential program wherein interconnected learning experiences were designed to influence the skill development of preservice teachers and close opportunity gaps faced by the diverse students they teach. These learning experiences are associated with courses grounded in a theory of learning teaching that focuses on developing candidate epistemic agency.

Our second example focuses on other universities we have been associated with where a holistic, practice-based approach has been used to foster teacher candidates’ epistemic agency within multiple programs including secondary English education, urban teaching and learning, early childhood, and language and literacy (Authors, 2017, 2022). Several principles from the literature on holistic, practice-based teacher preparation were used to ground the redesign of these programs: a) learning teaching is a process that can empower students to develop the habits of mind of the discipline they will teach, b) teacher practice is a holistic, practice-based endeavor, and, c) teacher candidates can become proficient novice teachers when they develop epistemic agency (Hollins, 2011a, 2015; Lee, 2017; Philip, et. al., 2019; Valenzuela, 2016). These principles facilitated the development and implementation of coherent and continuous learning experiences that cultivated epistemic agency for teacher candidates. Thus, a promising practice for shifting the emphasis on changing ideologies through multicultural education to facilitating teacher candidate’s epistemic agency is to address the learning experiences embedded in the curriculum of the teacher education program.

Round Table Session: The Impact of GEAR UP Services on Appalachian Rural Students’ College-Going Aspirations and Math Achievement

Jui-Teng Li, Corinne Smith, James Beeler, Catherine Parks, and Hayden Laws


This study aims to examine the impacts of GEAR UP (GU) program and services on rural students’ college-going aspirations and math achievement. We retrieved data from our Cohort 1 subjects who are currently ninth graders (N = 1,146). They started receiving our GU services when they were in seventh grade. Overall, the results indicate that the GU program may have a positive impact on rural youth. Our findings have several scholarly takeaways. Collectively, our GU services could help rural students explore their college-going pathways which could enhance their college-going aspirations and math achievement. Our findings also revealed that unique services such as tutoring and educational field trips could strengthen students’ college-going aspirations and math achievement.

Published: Apr 30, 2024 2:31pm