Winter 2008 Newsletter

UC Irvine One of Two UC Campuses Awarded $5M in Grant Money to Improve Teacher Education in Math and Science

Sue Marshall
Director, CalTeach Project

UC Irvine and UC Berkeley have been awarded two of 12 grants from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to implement programs modeled after UTeach, a successful math and science teacher preparation program at the University of Texas at Austin. The grants of up to $2.4 million each followed a competition that included submissions from more than 50 universities nationwide. “These grants will allow UC to build upon its existing collaborative efforts to fill an important need – training qualified math and science teachers for California classrooms,” said UC Provost Wyatt R. (Rory) Hume. “Addressing this teaching shortage is critical to helping keep California’s economy and communities strong.”

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Deborah Lowe Vandell Summarizes Research Findings on Promising Afterschool Programs for Congressional Committee and Presents Research Findings at the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks Conference

Deborah Vandell
Department Chair

On October 20, Deborah Lowe Vandell presented research findings to members of US Congress on outcomes linked to high-quality afterschool programs. The two-year study, conducted by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Policy Studies Associates, found that regular participation in high-quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits as well as reductions in behavior problems among disadvantaged students. This study found positive outcomes among youth who regularly attended high-quality afterschool programs, either alone or in combination with varied sets of additional enrichment experiences available in their neighborhoods. In contrast, low supervision coupled with intermittent participation in an unstructured program of extra-curricular activities posed developmental risks to both elementary school and middle school youth. These findings suggest that plans for high-quality afterschool programming should span entire communities.

Deborah Lowe Vandell presented research findings from the Study of Promising After-School Programs during the January 30 National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks Conference in Tucson, Arizona. The Study of Promising Practices was a two-year study of 3,000 low-income, ethnically diverse elementary and middle school students from eight states in six major metropolitan centers and six smaller urban and rural locations. Participants in the conference were encouraged to use the current research to influence policy change among statewide networks.

Writing Project Grant Addresses No Child Left Behind Act

Carol Booth Olson

Carol Booth Olson, Director of the UC Irvine Writing Project, has received a grant from the No Child Left Behind/ California Subject Matter Project for the 2007/2008 Academic School Year. The grant is being used to engage in a variety of activities that address the needs of K-12 schools and teachers of English Learners. Activities include the following: Writing Project II, Peer Partners, Contracted Inservice, December Conference, Administrator's Luncheon, and Grant Project Partnerships.

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UCI Center for Learning Through the Arts and Technology Receives Grant from California Post Secondary Education Commission

Liane Brouillette

Liane Brouillette serves as Director of the UC Irvine Center for Learning through the Arts and Technology. The Center recently won an $828,000 grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission to help improve K-2 teachers' skills in teaching visual arts, drama, and dance education. This program, carried out in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District, will enable 60 K-2 teachers in high-poverty schools to 1) attend workshops that assist them in integrating the arts into their teaching and 2) co-teach 27 lessons with a Teaching Artist in their classroom.

Peg Burchinal's Study Finds Link Between Language Skills and Academic Skills for African American Children Exposed to Adversity During Elementary to Middle School Transition

Peg Burchinal

Families who experience multiple social risks such as poverty, unemployment, or low educational achievement are more likely to have infants with lower cognitive skills at 15 months, because the parents are less likely to provide warm stimulating parenting or rich verbal interactions, according to a paper published in the most recent volume of Parenting: Science and Practice. The study followed about 1200 infants and their families in rural low-income communities in the Appalachian Region of rural poverty who lived in the Pennsylvanian Mountains or in the Black South Region of rural poverty living in Southeastern North Carolina. Infants were recruited at birth and parenting practices were measured at six and 15 months of age. Findings indicated that higher levels of social risk were related to less warm and responsive parenting, harsher parenting, less stimulating parenting, and fewer, less complex verbal interactions.

Beth van Es Publishes Findings on Research Designed to Help Teachers Interpret Students' Mathematical Thinking

Elizabeth van Es

Beth van Es published findings from her work with teachers examining their practice in Teaching and Teacher Education. "My research examined changes in teachers' thinking as they participated in a video club designed to help them learn to notice and interpret students' mathematical thinking. First, we investigated changes in teachers' talk about classroom video segments before and after participation in the video club. Second, we identified three paths along which teachers learned to notice students' mathematical thinking in this context: Direct, Cyclical, and Incremental. Finally, we explored ways the video club context influenced teacher learning. Understanding different forms of teacher learning provides insight for research on teacher cognition and may inform the design of video-based professional development." The article "Mathematics Teachers' 'Learning to Notice' in the Context of a Video Club" can be accessed at:

Learning Center Research Evaluation to Highlight Afterschool Program Benefits

Mark Warschauer

The Digital Learning Lab, directed by Mark Warschauer, is currently undertaking the Technology, Out-of-School Learning, and Human Development study of a community learning center in Southern California. The UC Irvine research team (under Principal Investigators Deborah Vandell and Mark Warschauer) carried out baseline data collection activities during the period of January 2007 to August 2007 and are currently in the second year of the study. Associate Research Specialists Dr. Pilar O'Cadiz and Dr. Valerie Hall with the support of undergraduate research assistants have carried out observations, surveys, and interviews of participants of the after school Career Exploration and Preparation programs for middle school and high school students, with additional observations, surveys, and interviews of the Career Orientation Program for elementary school students grades 4th-6th. This program occurs during the school day with the collaboration of local elementary schools.

Rebecca Black Publishes Article for E-Learning

Rebecca Black

Rebecca Black has published "Writing and the Construction of Space" in the winter edition of E-Learning. In her article, "a spatial lens is used to look at a popular online culture-based writing website as a means of understanding how fan authors' literacy practices and the design features of the site interact to shape a writing space that engenders affiliation with and facilitates access to literacy and language learning (Abstract)." Full text of the article is available at the website:

Look for the Following DOE Presentations at AERA

  • Gilberto Q. Conchas, Associate Professor, Presidential Session
  • Laurie Hansen, Ph.D. Student, "Shaping Teacher Practice Through Diverse Life and Student Teaching Experiences: Perspectives of Latino Preservice Teachers"
  • Pilar O'Cadiz, Reasearch Specialist, "Immigrant Youth in Transitional Spaces: Culture, Identity, and Affiliation in a Community Learning Center"
  • Rossella Santagata, Assistant Professor, "Improving Student Achievement Through Professional Development: Results From an Experimental Study Conducted in a High-Poverty Urban District"
  • Elizabeth van Es, Assistant Professor, "Using a Framework for Noticing Student Thinking to Examine Mathematics Teacher Learning in the Context of a Video Club"

Alumni and Students

Ed.D Graduate Yvonne Valenzuela Named Teacher of the Year at Golden West College

Yvonne Valenzuela

Yvonne initially had no intention of entering the field of education. Her undergraduate background focused on biological sciences, and she took medical college entrance exams with plans to serve her local community with community medicine. That all changed after her involvement with a student-outreach group at UC Berkeley. Yvonne discovered her passion for working with students, and after graduating from UCB, entered a Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Development in Higher Education at CSU Long Beach. She completed her Master's degree in May 2002 and entered the UCI/UCLA Joint Ed.D. Program in June of that year.

Governor Honors CSU/UCI Doctoral Student Kurt Suhr

Newport Heights Principal
Kurt Suhr, Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger, 6th grade
essay winner Jack Maurer

Gov. Schwarzenegger honored UC Irvine Ed.D. doctoral candidate Kurt Suhr as the Governor's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports Principal of the Year on September 18. Suhr, Principal of Newport Heights Elementary School, was recognized for his innovative work in reshaping physical education programs in elementary schools. He provided incentives for students who walked to school, and increased exercise opportunities during lunch and recess. Suhr started the Coordinated Approach to Children's Health Physical Education program at Newport Heights, and more than 850 classrooms throughout the state have since adopted the program. Each year the Governor's Council recognizes educators who go above and beyond their duties to promote physical activity. Suhr was recognized at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles and received $10,000 for physical education programming.