This past summer, the Reich College of Education (RCOE) funded eight projects to support faculty and staff on research and creative projects through the Summer Scholarship Support Program. The purpose of the program is to provide support for the development of projects that implement elements of the RCOE Strategic Plan. Projects focused on the refinement of existing research or the creation of new research projects, development and refinement of instructional practices and strategies, engagement in policy development, and/or development of innovative professional development opportunities for faculty, staff or students. The awards were limited to $1000.00 per project. Read more and watch the project presentations:
To Grade or Not to Grade? A Digital Exploration of Ungrading
Dr. Tempestt Adams, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, presents her project entitled, “To Grade or Not to Grade? A Digital Exploration of Ungrading”.
“Research around ungrading is showing direct links to increasing student inclusion, deeper learning, and overall student success; all goals of the RCOE,” noted Adams. “RCOE will indirectly benefit from this project by creating teachers who graduate with knowledge of current trends in grading and assessment.”
“Further, participating faculty may be able to implement this more readily which could lead to a more positive and enriching learning experience for RCOE students,” she added.
This project specifically aligns with the following goals from the RCOE Strategic Plan:
- Direction 1, Goal 1: “Focus on offering service, professional development, and leadership experiences to transform students”
- Direction 4, Goal 1: “Host professional development seminars with all staff, faculty, and administration to increase understanding of inclusion”
- Direction 5, Goal 5: “Identify and promote professional development opportunities for faculty and staff available through university programming.”
With the results from this study, Adams hopes to meet with several different campus personnel to discuss professional development focusing on ungrading.
Adam’s research interests include the following:
- College and career readiness;
- Nontraditional research methods; and
- Black students and faculty education experiences.
Alternative Grading Methods for Graduate Courses
Dr. Kim Becnel, a professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, presents her project titled, “Alternative Grading Methods for Graduate Courses”.
This project specifically reflects Strategic Direction 1, Goal 2: Student Identity and Transformation and Strategic Direction 4, Goal 2: Creating an Inclusive RCOE Educational Experience.
“Alternative grading methods should help the masters in library science program to work toward increasing retention and support of students from diverse populations because these strategies support the learning journey of all students, no matter their background or level of academic experience,” said Becnel.
“Alternative grading practices increase the likelihood for students from traditionally underrepresented groups to succeed in the classroom,” she continued. “When their strengths and experience are valued, we can create a community of practice in our program and in the larger field of librarianship that is stronger, richer, and more reflective of the students and patrons we serve.”
With the results from this study, Becnel would like to discuss with program faculty how a system like this might or might not be viable when teaching a course with key assessments attached.
Becnel’s research interests focus on intellectual freedom, youth literature, graphic novels, and public and school libraries.
Inclusive Excellence in Books for Children and Young Adults
Dr. Robin Groce, an associate professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education, presents her project titled, “Inclusive Excellence in Books for Children and Young Adults”.
This project aligns with Strategic Direction Four: Embracing Diversity of Thought, Belief, and Community and Strategic Direction Two: Advancing Knowledge and Addressing the Challenges of Our Region, State, and World through Creativity and Innovation.
“Exposure to picture books with inclusive excellence themes immerses school-aged children and teacher candidates in the lives and experiences of the global community,” said Groce. “It is through such academic experiences that we fill the curricular gap and maintain our commitment to anti-oppressive education.”
“Through inquiry-based projects such as this, the academic community gains new information with regard to pedagogy, current materials, global issues, and best practice,” she continued.
“Additionally, the creative outcomes impact the teaching and learning communities in two states and further the research agenda of the principal investigator,” she added.
With the results from this study, Groce plans on partnering with Ms. Tracei Willis, an English teacher at The Learning Center - Alternative School in Starkville, Mississippi, to share and implement these books as well as implement these books in her own children’s literature course.
Groce’s research interests include children’s literature and language arts pedagogy.
Postfoundational Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry
Dr. Alecia Jackson, professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, presents her project entitled “Postfoundational Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry”.
The focus of Jackson’s summer scholarship project was to develop a forthcoming book, titled Postfoundational Approaches to Qualitative Inquiry. The book will be published by Routledge Press in the summer of 2023.
“With Lisa Mazzei from the University of Oregon, I co-edited 19 chapters by authors from the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and China,” said Jackson. “Chapters include philosophically-informed inquiry, borrowing theories and concepts from the humanities and sciences to think with problems in education. Postfoundational theories included are feminist new materialism, posthumanism, affect, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism; educational disciplines include early childhood, higher education, curriculum studies, gender & sexuality studies, literacies, & STEM.”
“Much has changed in the field of qualitative inquiry in the last decade,” noted Jackson. “In a reimagining of the limit of traditional qualitative research, methodologists have stretched the perimeters of what constitutes inquiry -- emphasizing a rethinking of humanist ontology as key in what comes after humanist qualitative methodology.”
“This edited collection features essays that surface ontology in philosophically-informed inquiry to expose the normative, founding moves of traditional qualitative research: namely, the primacy of 1) pre-existing methods and methodology and 2) human-centered representationalism,” she continued. “To further this critique, the goal of this book is to present ontological enactments of postfoundational inquiry in which researchers step outside social science methods and representation in order to begin elsewhere and think otherwise.”
This project is aligned with the RCOE’s Strategic Direction Two: Advancing Knowledge, which “highlights an emphasis on advancing knowledge and developing expertise through inquiry.”
“My project is aligned with the efforts of the College to support faculty in producing knowledge for the field of educational research – especially in niche areas,” said Jackson. “The impact of this book will bolster the already upward trend of my scholarship in the field of post qualitative inquiry into the next generation of scholars, and will continue to inform my teaching and scholarship.”
Jackson's research interests bring feminist, poststructural, and posthuman theories of power/knowledge, language, materiality, and subjectivity to bear on a range of overlapping topics: deconstructions of voice and method; conceptual analyses of resistance, freedom, and agency in girls’ and women’s lives; and qualitative analysis in the “posts.” Her work seeks to animate philosophical frameworks in the production of the new, and her current projects are focused on the ontological turn, qualitative inquiry, and thought. She is an affiliated faculty in the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies program.
She has publications in The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Qualitative Inquiry, The International Review of Qualitative Research, Qualitative Research, Gender and Education, and numerous book chapters, and has presented her methodological scholarship at U.S. university campuses as well as internationally. With Lisa Mazzei, she is co-author of Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research (2012; 2022), and co-editor of Voice in Qualitative Inquiry (2009).
In Defense of Intellectual Freedom: Rising to the (Book) Challenge
Dr. Jennifer Luetkemeyer, associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, presents her project entitled “In Defense of Intellectual Freedom: Rising to the (Book) Challenge”.
The project connects to both strategic direction one - Creating the Transformational Educational Experience – and strategic direction four - Embracing Diversity of Thought, Belief, and Community - of the RCOE strategic plan.
“The goal of this project was to create a new group assignment for LIB 5010: Collection Development and Management to focus on how to respond to book challenges. In the past, students have compiled resources in a website to educate on a controversial issue,” said Luetkemeyer. “However, the recent (and continuing) proliferation of book challenges demands a different, more authentic approach.”
“Rather than merely research a potentially controversial topic, students will now go through a book challenge simulation, which will include reading a recently challenged book and compiling a letter to a stakeholder of their choice, among other activities” she continued. “This project will comprise a significant portion of their semester, and their grade, and will provide students with the opportunity to experience the process involved in a book challenge in as close to a ‘real-world’ experience as possible and will prepare them to handle challenges in practice.”
“This new assignment will give our students ‘the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions’ that will allow them to act in a leadership role in their respective libraries and thus respond appropriately to book challenges,” she added. “The revision will also equip students with the skill to recognize biases and prejudices, thus opening neural pathways for ‘diversity of thought, belief, and community’ in ‘the greater life experience’ and advancing ‘socially just principles and practices.’”
Luetkemeyer’s research interests focus on the ways that students access information and knowledge, in what resources and information they have access to, and in how information and knowledge are presented to them.
“The fundamental principle that all students deserve, and should be provided with, equal access to information, knowledge, and resources guides my work,” she added.
Exploring Teacher Retention, Working Conditions, and Principal Characteristics in Rural NC School Districts in Appalachia
Dr. Jennifer McGee, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, presents her project title, “Exploring Teacher Retention, Working Conditions, and Principal Characteristics in Rural NC School Districts in Appalachia”. The results of this project are presented in such a way as to ensure the confidentiality of public school districts in our surrounding area.
The project connects to Strategic Direction Two: Advancing Knowledge and Addressing the Challenges of Our Region, State, and World through Creativity and Innovation.
“Specifically, the anticipated outcomes of this exploratory study will provide much-needed data to support efforts to apply for funding for projects, with potential connections to graduate programs (Goal One: Research and Creative Projects, I. Enhance the number of submitted applications for funded research and creative projects),” noted McGee.
“Furthermore, the grant that is being authored during the time this study will take place is intended to fund a principal professional development program, in concert with faculty and staff in the RCOE, including but not limited to the Masters in School Administration program and the Public School Partnership (Goal One: Research and Creative Projects, III. Utilize and enhance school partnerships for conducting research projects in the RCOE),” she added.
The results of this project will be used to support other projects, including an initiative for principal coaching, as well as the following steps:
- Compile a final summative report addressing the outcomes above;
- Publish the outcomes in an empirical journal article (preferably in a North Carolina-focused publication);
- Create a white paper addressing the policy needs surrounding the schools in the nine districts highlighted in this project; and
- Collaborate with stakeholders surrounding future work to address the needs highlighted in this project.
McGee’s research interests focus on teacher working conditions, STEM education, program evaluation, and applied research methods.
We’re All Orchids Now: A Bibliography of Children’s Picturebooks about Dealing with Anxiety
Dr. Robin Moeller, an associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, presents her project titled, “We’re All Orchids Now: A Bibliography of Children’s Picturebooks about Dealing with Anxiety”.
This project specifically reflects the language in Strategic Direction 2: Advancing Knowledge and Addressing the Challenges of Our Region, State, and World through Creativity and Innovation.
“The goal of this project was to develop a webliography of children’s picture books, published between 2010-2022, that depict characters dealing with anxiety in a healthy way, which may include, but are not limited to, mindfulness exercises, physical exercise, journaling, sleep, healthy eating, and talking out their worries,” said Moeller.
“To date, there exists no such bibliography,” she continued. “Thus, the creation of my webliography will be useful for collection development, facilitating the acquisition of the featured titles in public and school libraries.”
“The webliography will also stimulate the use of these resources by giving parents, teachers, counselors, and daycare providers a tool to find appropriate and helpful books for their students and families,” she added.
The project’s website, which will house up to 400 book reviews, has been made available to the larger public. Upon completion of the project, Moeller will be promoting the use of this resource and will be using the project to develop a book proposal about the use of literature to help support social and emotional literacy for children.
Moeller’s research interests focus on visual depictions of information as they relate to libraries and schools as well as intellectual freedom.
Are Working Conditions of Mentor Teachers Related to Special Education Teacher Candidate Efficacy and Performance?
Dr. David Peyton, an assistant professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education presents his project titled, “Are Working Conditions of Mentor Teachers Related to Special Education Teacher Candidate Efficacy and Performance?”
The project addresses Goal One of the Strategic Plan: Engaging the Local Area and the State Through Outreach, Connection, and Collaboration.
“This project provides an opportunity to closely examine the quality of our placements through the lived experiences of mentor teachers and to consider how those experiences shape the development of our candidates,” said Peyton. “We foresee this knowledge generation as a pathway to building deeper and more authentic relationships with our partner schools by supporting those with more challenging working conditions and working closely to learn more about those who have beneficial conditions.”
“In the end, the purpose of this research is to help our special education program develop the best possible placements for candidates as a means to strengthen their commitment to teaching,” he added.
With the results from this study, Peyton hopes to prioritize the recruitment of mentor teachers with more favorable working conditions that are associated with greater candidate growth, to leverage these settings by placing two candidates with each mentor teacher as a means to reduce the variability in the quality of experiences, and to include fiscal compensation for mentor teachers to take on a greater supervisory role so mentors are exposed to formal observations.
Peyton’s research interests focus on special education teacher preparation, quality, and education policy.