Dowell is the creator of an innovative software known as Group Communication Analysis (GCA). GCA analyzes conversation transcripts on six metrics: general participation; consistency or novelty; responsivity to peers’ contributions; ability to evoke replies; originality in statements; and level of conciseness. The software then identifies individuals as performing one of six roles: Chatterer, Driver, Follower, Lurker, Socially Detached, or Influential Actor.
“Roles are one of the most important concepts in understanding human socio-cognitive behavior,” Dowell said. “The software allows us to understand the underlying human socio-cognitive process.”
Potential applications for GCA range from improving conversations to addressing larger societal issues in group dynamics such as equity and inclusion. (GCA is described in more detail in the fall 2020 issue of the School of Education magazine, Advancing.)
Dowell has already filed a patent and established a corporation for GCA. As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Dowell’s next steps include making a minimum viable product available and pursuing Small Business Innovation Research funding to help scale the technology and business.
Dowell will also focus on the next stage of translating her scholarship to maximize the social benefit of the software. This will include collaborating with other educational researchers to make the software available at low or no cost for researchers and consulting with EdTech startups and other interested companies to make sure the tools and techniques are well disseminated and can be applied for improving educational, business, and broader societal outcomes.
Dowell’s research foci include cognitive psychology, discourse processing, group interaction, and learning analytics. She is particularly interested in the use of language and discourse to uncover the dynamics of socially significant, cognitive, and affective processes. Her studies highlight the practical applications of computational discourse science in the clinical, political, and social sciences areas.
UCI Beall Applied Innovation will host a virtual recognition ceremony for the 18 new Fellows on January 26 at 1:00 p.m.
Learn more about Applied Innovation here.
Read the Applied Innovation Press Release announcing its Faculty Innovation Fellows here.
Students from UCI Writing Project Summer Youth Program win top honors in three categories at 2020 My Hero Project International Film Festival
Two films created by two sixth grade students as part of the UCI Writing Project’s Summer Youth Program won prizes in three categories at the 2020 My Hero Project 16th International Film Festival.
Wear a Mask Hamilton Parody #STOPTHESPREAD, created by Angelina Pendleton-Mendez and Leila Woodward, won first place in two categories: “Student Sheltering Stories” and “Young Audience Poll Award.”
Additionally, Pendleton-Mendez received the first place Middle School Award for her entry, My Family Journey: Empowering Hispanic Women.
The films were created in the Summer Youth Program's Digital Storytelling workshop, which teaches students how to use digital media technology and video production knowledge and skills to create projects that raise awareness around a community issue.
“We wrote, recorded, filmed and edited the video separately in the comfort of our own homes in less than 48 hours,” Woodward said. “We are extremely grateful to the UCI Writing Project for providing a platform for us to be able to bring out and share an important message.”
“We are truly thankful to the UCI Writing Project for teaching us how to tell compelling stories through digital media,” said Pendleton-Mendez. “Instructors Frank Guttler and Dr. Viet Vu are wonderful mentors who helped and guided us in our journey.”
“Knowing how to create videos in the YouTube era is an essential skill for all students, but more importantly, students need to be able to use digital tools to effectively communicate their ideas, beliefs, and experiences to make a difference in the world,” said Vu, UCI School of Education lecturer and teacher of the Digital Storytelling workshops.
The UCI Writing Project Summer Youth Program, now in its 42nd year, transitioned to a virtual space in 2020 to continue offering literacy support to students during the pandemic. More than 600 students participated in the summer 2020 online program.
Based on outstanding reviews of the Summer Youth Program, and at the request of many parents, the UCI Writing Project extended its literacy support by establishing its Virtual Program for Youth (VPY), which features yearlong literacy courses for K-12 students.
Registration is now open for Winter/Spring courses, which include “Multi-Media Storytelling,” “Digital Storytelling About My Heritage and History,” “STEM: Coding Yourself Into a Digital World,” and more. For a full list of classes, please click here.
“These courses are taught by credentialed teachers who engage students in fun, academic literacy activities to promote interest, engagement, and academic motivation,” said Tracy Gov, UCI Writing Project Director of Operations.
The My Hero Project is a globally connected learning community promoting cross-cultural communication, human rights, environmental awareness, tolerance, media literacy and the arts. My Hero hosts an annual competition to recognize filmmakers, artists and activists working towards positive change and inspire audiences to become involved.
Watch the #STOPTHESPREAD film here.
Watch My Family Journey film here.
UCI School of Education doctoral students Sharin Jacob and Jennifer Renick are two of 14 UCI graduate students selected for 2021 Public Impact Fellowships.
Jacob will receive $12,000 to support her research.
Renick will receive $1,000 to support her study.
Public Impact Fellowships highlight and support graduate students whose research has the potential to "substantially impact the public sphere" and "significantly improve or enrich the lives of Californians and/or national and global communities."
In granting the award, IARSLC wrote that the group’s work has “had local and national impacts as their scholarship has informed policy and practice in the development, adoption, and defense of ethnic studies requirements in K-12 schools.”
Penner, Dee, and Sanderson will be recognized during the IARSLCE virtual recognition event in January and will present their research to colleagues during the early part of 2021.
Penner studies educational inequality and policy, and considers the ways that policies, districts, schools, teachers, and parents can contribute to or ameliorate educational inequality. She is currently involved in projects examining teacher recruitment and retention in constrained labor and housing markets, how school sorting processes affect student opportunities to learn, and how educator-initiated curricula that center the cultural and historical experiences of traditionally marginalized students impact student outcomes.
The International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE), founded in 2005, is an international non-profit organization devoted to promoting research and discussion about service-learning and community engagement across the educational spectrum (primary, secondary, post-secondary, and further education).
Penner studies educational inequality and policy, and considers the ways that policies, districts, schools, teachers, peers, and parents can contribute to or ameliorate educational inequality. She is currently involved in projects examining teacher recruitment and retention in constrained labor and housing markets, how school sorting processes affect student opportunities to learn, and how educator-initiated curricula that center the cultural and historical experiences of traditionally marginalized students impact student outcomes.
From the 10 finalists, four to six scholars will be selected to receive $350,000 over five years in support of their research. For a full list of finalists, please click here.
Learn more about Penner’s recent research:
Study finds that culturally centered program for Black, male high school students boosts persistence
Culturally Responsive Teaching Is Promising. But There’s a Pressing Need for More Research
Teacher Effects on Student Achievement and Height: A Cautionary Tale
“My research is intended to have broad policy implications regarding the unintended consequences and benefits of pre-k policies, the potential of utilizing market forces to improve school quality, and the ‘active ingredients’ in later schooling environments that serve to sustain early learning gains,” Zhang said. “Methodologically, my dissertation contributes to the advancement of casually driven research in the field of ECE by using multiple large-scale longitudinal datasets and experimental and quasi-experimental designs.”
The AERA-NSF Grants Program supports highly competitive dissertation research that employs rigorous quantitative methods to examine large-scale, education-related data and advance fundamental knowledge of relevance to STEM policy.
Zhang is specializing in Educational Policy and Social Context (EPSC) for her doctoral work. Her research interests include early childhood education, education policy, and program evaluation. She holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor of Social Work from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Prior to her enrollment in the doctoral program, she worked as an early childhood home visitor serving disadvantaged immigrant children and families in Chicago.
Distinguished Professor George Farkas and Assistant Professor Jade Jenkins serve as Zhang’s co-advisors.
“Qing’s dissertation proposal is nothing short of outstanding, examining important, substantively interesting issues in early childhood policy implementation and scale-up,” Jenkins said.
“ISTE 2020 was the absolute best educational technology conference that I have ever attended. I was honored to connect with educators from all over the United States and around the world,” Warren said. “The insights, resources, keynote speakers, games, exhibits, workshops, research, and creation labs were beyond impressive. It is hard to fathom nearly 13,000 people online at the same time – and it worked! I would encourage all educators, tech savvy or not, to attend this amazing conference.”
A former K-12 teacher, coordinator, and administrator, Warren has presented her research on PBL and STEAM at multiple local and national conferences. Warren is the author of two books: Project-Based Learning Across the Disciplines: Plan, Manage, and Assess Through +1 Pedagogy (Corwin) and Cognitive Upgrade: An Educator’s Guide for Shaping Success (Amazon). Warren said she takes pride in resourcing educators with tools that elicit success in schools.
ISTE is an international organization committed to “empowering educators and leaders to harness technology to accelerate innovation in teaching and learning.” Membership includes educators from 50 states and 94 foreign countries. Click here for more information about the various workshops held at the weeklong 2020 virtual conference.
Professor’s new, award-winning book celebrates achievements of first-generation, Mexican-descent college students, calls for better support
In his research, Conchas does not ignore the significant barriers that students face, including limited information, preparation, and advisement that contribute to low four-year college-completion rates. Instead, he places his discussion of systemic barriers within a context of “college-age men and women evincing hope, resistance, and empowerment in the face of marginalization, anti-immigration sentiment, poverty, and an education system that too often reinforces deficit-minded stereotypes.”
“I think it is these most painful experiences that can empower communities to maintain hope, resist inequality and access resources to succeed academically,” said Conchas.
For The Chicana/o/x Dream, Conchas and Acevado collected interview data and life testimonios to explore the policies and practices that have inhibited or supported Chicana/o/x success. By identifying community cultural wealth that supports both U.S.-born and U.S. immigrant students of Mexican descent, Conchas calls for better supports to foster the success of Mexican-descent students.
Conchas offers key recommendations for higher education administrators to tackle inequality head-on. It is simply not enough to enroll students in higher education, he explains. Instead, they must foster a sense of belonging among Mexican American students, recognizing that “these populations are not monolithic” and honoring the “lived experiences from which these young adults come.”
“While diversity and inclusion efforts are common goals in higher education, structures need to be in place that enable students from diverse ethnorace backgrounds to persist and graduate,” Conchas said. “There are a variety of mechanisms that have direct implications for higher education administrators to develop a critical consciousness that dismantles inequality, avoids replicating marginalizing structures, and (re)envisions a socially just reality.”
Conchas’s research foci include urban education, sociology of education, and comparative race and ethnicity. He has authored/co-authored nine books addressing the needs and achievements of marginalized youth - The Color of Success: Race and High- Achieving Urban Youth (Teachers College Press): Small Schools and Urban Youth: Using the Power of Culture to Engage Students (Corwin Press), Streetsmart Schoolsmart: Urban Poverty and the Education of Adolescent Boys (Teachers College Press); Cracks in the Schoolyard: Confronting Latino Educational Inequality (Teachers College Press); When School Policies Backfire: How Well-Intended Measures Can Harm Our Most Vulnerable Students (Harvard Education Press); and Inequality, Power, and School Success: Case Studies on Racial Disparity and Opportunity in Education (Routledge).
“The research we will conduct as a result of this grant is the exact type of work we envisioned when establishing OCEAN,” Arum said. “With a strong network of school sites in place, and funding to study this important, under-researched area, we will improve the educational and living experiences of thousands of housing-insecure and foster youth in our community and identify research-based solutions for the larger field of education nationally.”
“We are honored by the support of the Spencer Foundation and anticipate this grant will help OCEAN to understand the diverse experiences of students who face housing insecurity in Orange County,” Ahn said. “By utilizing partnership and continuous improvement methods, our goal is to understand how to adapt local education systems to better serve these diverse experiences.”
The research team will begin collaborating with social services coordinators at Samueli Academy and the Orangewood Foundation to identify a group of best practices that can be shared across schools. In particular, the team will study the diverse experiences of students who are currently experiencing housing insecurity in Orange County, and analyze ways to build from the rich strengths of local educators, neighborhoods, youth, and their families to address systemic obstacles.
“We recognize that this is a sensitive area of research, and that time and resources may be challenges for school personnel,” Ahn said. “It is invaluable to have a direct partner such as Samueli Academy that is dedicated to serving the needs of housing-insecure youth, and we are grateful for both their collaboration and the support of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, Orange County’s leading provider of foster youth services.”
“I’m incredibly appreciative of the Spencer Foundation for this opportunity and am beyond excited at the thought of using research and the accumulation of best practices to better serve the needs of foster youth everywhere,” Saba said.
Today, Samueli Academy serves more than 650 foster and community youth and boasts a 99 percent high school graduation rate, 92 percent college attendance rate, and is set to open foster youth dorms on-campus in January 2021.
There are currently 12 research practice partnerships in the OCEAN network, representing six school districts in Orange County and Southern California. OCEAN donors and grants are supporting 15 graduate student researchers as Community Research Fellows in this upcoming 2020-21 academic year.
Chris Wegemer, a fifth-year doctoral candidate and OCEAN community research fellow, has worked with Samueli Academy for the past four years and helped organize the new project funded by the Spencer Foundation.
“Housing insecurity was already a problem in local communities before the pandemic, and now the issue is even more pressing,” Wegemer said. “Because of our positionality in one of the largest and most diverse counties in the nation, this initiative has the potential to influence broad policy decisions. It’s an exciting opportunity to do academic work that is centered around achieving equitable outcomes and social impact.”
Ahn, who serves as faculty director of OCEAN, studies learning technologies, research-practice partnerships, human-computer interaction, educational technology, and data use and analytics. His core research interest is understanding how technology, information, and co-designing solutions with the community can enhance the way we learn and deliver education.
Gates Foundation grant to support identification of out-of-school experiences that develop youth’s occupational identity
Ahn is director of the School of Education’s Orange County Educational Advancement Network (OCEAN). Established in fall 2018, OCEAN is a network of research-practice partnerships between the School of Education and K-12 schools in Orange County. At each site, a School of Education faculty member and doctoral student work with school leadership to identify the greatest needs and goals of the school, and in turn conduct research that will positively impact the school.
Ahn co-designs technology with community partners for diverse learning contexts. He has engaged in research-practice partnerships around emerging technologies including social media, alternate reality games, and data visualization platforms. His research interests include learning technologies, research-practice partnerships, human-computer interaction, educational technology, and data use and analytics.