This past summer, the Reich College of Education (RCOE) funded ten 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.
For the December and January RCOE Faculty and Staff meetings, recipients of the funds presented their projects. For the March meeting, the following projects will be shared via video:
Bridging the Gap: Multiliteracies in the Real World
Dr. Jennifer Luetkemeyer, assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, presents her project entitled “Bridging the Gap: Multiliteracies in the Real World.”
In a review of their assessments, the library science master’s program faculty identified the topics of information, data, and media literacy as not being explicitly addressed.
“Though these topics are integrated into instruction, we recognized that an authentic real-world hands-on assessment would enrich our students’ learning experience and provide them with something concrete that they can immediately use in practice,” said Luetkemeyer.
Including assessments of these topics addresses primary indicators from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and standards from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Luetkemeyer noted, “The goal of this project was to revise an existing AASL assessment to focus on information/data/media literacy, which involved the following outcomes:
- a complete revision of a major assignment worth 30% of the course grade,
- a careful reconsideration/revision of one of our AASL rubrics,
- the careful curation and compilation of a list of resources for students, and
- revision to the curriculum in LIB 5070: Integrating Literature and Media into Instruction.”
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.
“Information, data, and media literacy instruction is a cornerstone of librarianship,” said Luetkemeyer. “This assessment revision 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 elicit educational outcomes in their students and patrons that prepare them for global citizenship.”
“The revision will also equip students with the skill to recognize biases and prejudices and to educate their students and patrons on how to do the same,” she added.
The new assessment was integrated into the LIB 5070 course this spring. Updates will be made based on student feedback.
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.
Immigrant Mountaineers Movement: Immigrant Allies in Education Seminar
Dr. Shanan Fitts, a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. María C. G. Hernández (she/her/hers), doctoral student and adjunct instructor in the Department of English, present their project entitled “Immigrant Mountaineers Movement: Immigrant Allies in Education Seminar.”
The project connects to and supports Strategic Direction Four: Making the RCOE a more welcoming environment for underrepresented groups.
“Through sharing knowledge and experiences in an inclusive space, the immigrant ally in education seminar provides the RCOE community with the opportunity to amplify marginalized voices and visibilize marginalized experiences,” said Fitts.
“The creative and innovative centering of marginalized experience in the program helps Appalachian fill a need that exists for regional and state educators to advance in their knowledge of immigration and its impacts on education in order to better embrace diverse perspectives,” added Hernández. “The Immigrant Allies in Education Seminar has the potential to promote culturally-responsive, creative methods for exchanging perspectives in a safe, non-discriminatory environment—supporting current as well as aspiring educators in their growth in development toward becoming advocates for their students.”
The project also connects to Strategic Direction Two.
“By creating a clearinghouse of information related to ways to support immigrant affected youth, the training provides timely information essential for sustaining growth and development among RCOE faculty and staff toward meeting the university's growing diversity and relevant strategic plans,” said Fitts.
Fitts and Hernández plan to continue the project with help from the current cohort of participants, utilizing them as “co-constructors” of the digital space and materials.
They also plan to reach out to department chairs in the RCOE and affinity groups around campus to develop interest, awareness, and collaboration, as well as work with the Public School Partnership to provide resources and training to in-service teachers.
Fitts’ teaching focuses on preparing future teachers to work with linguistically and culturally diverse learners and their families. Her scholarly activities include research exploring the lives and experiences of Latinx and other immigrant populations in our region.
Hernández’s research interests include the following:
- anticolonial studies,
- intersectionality development,
- narrative expression as epistemology and resistance,
- intergenerational healing frameworks for social change, and
- access, equity, and marginality in higher education.
Pedagogical Documentation: Observation and Reflection as Curriculum
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Family and Child Studies, Rhonda Russell; along with Lucy Brock Child Development Laboratory Program Director, Dr. Andrea Anderson, and teachers Jenifer Klutz and Cassandra Steffen, present their project entitled “Pedagogical Documentation: Observation and Reflection as Curriculum.”
The purpose of this project is to create a video resource for students majoring in the child development and birth-kindergarten programs. “This resource will define and illuminate the process of completing pedagogical documentation and curriculum provocations,” said Russell.
“Building on Broderick & Hong’s (2020) Cycle of Inquiry(COI), we will take students through the process of observation, reflection, building provocations, and the creation of pedagogical documentation as demonstrated by Lucy Brock teachers,” she added.
The project aligns with the RCOE Strategic Plan in multiple ways:
- Creating the Transformative Educational Experience: This resource will engage students in deep thinking and reflection and scaffold students through the process of documentation and provocations.
- Advancing Knowledge and Addressing the Challenges of Our Region, State, and World through Creativity and Innovation: “This type of inquiry and curriculum is not standard practice in our field,” noted Russell. “It is innovative.”
- Embracing Diversity of Thought, Belief, and Community: “This resource will facilitate curricula that are equitable and socially just,” said Russell. “It is based on each child’s individual needs, interests, and developmental levels.”
“Our next steps are to use the video in the practicum classes as a learning tool to enrich the learning of observation and documentation with their practice in the early childhood classrooms,” said Russell. “We would also like to use this video as a professional development resource for Early Childhood teachers in our community and throughout the state.”
Exploring Pathways Support Provided to Early Childhood Professionals
Both in the Department of Family and Child Studies, Dr. Pam Shue - an associate professor - and Dr. Heather Taylor - a lecturer - present their project entitled “Exploring Pathways Support Provided to Early Childhood Professionals.”
Shue and Taylor partnered with Elevate Watauga (EW) to collect and analyze qualitative data and thus produce reports to demonstrate the effectiveness of early childhood education practices.
“EW is an initiative overseen by community stakeholders with a goal of advancing promising policies and programs to ensure every parent has the support they need to give their children a strong start in life,” noted Shue. “One of the projects involves supporting early educators and implementing practices that address the quality of early childcare.”
“Currently, EW is using various measurements to collect quantitative data on local early childcare programs, which includes 16 centers, and 30 teachers,” she continued. “However, EW does not have the capacity to collect the qualitative data, specifically interviewing early childhood teachers, directors, and parents so the “authentic story” can be documented and the data triangulated.”
The project aligns with the RCOE Strategic Plan in Goal I - Research and Creative Projects of Strategic Direction Two.
“The next steps for this project include follow-up research as well as the development of a manuscript,” said Taylor.
Previous research Taylor has conducted regarding support provided to early childhood professionals resulted in a recently published article in the Early Childhood Education Journal entitled, “I Need You to Show Me: Coaching Early Childhood Professionals.”
Shue’s research interests are early childhood language and literacy development and education, early childhood policy and practice, and professional development for pre- and in-service teachers.
Taylor’s research interests include pre-service and in-service preparation, streamlined professional development, and coaching support for those who strive to work with children and families in inclusive settings.