UCI Researchers awarded Spencer Foundation grant to improve recruitment of Black teacher education candidates
Sandoval leads a network improvement community as part of the California Teacher Education Research Improvement Network (CTERIN). Together, Warren and Sandoval recognized an opportunity to contribute to research on teacher recruitment and retention of under-represented communities, while simultaneously responding to a problem that plagues teacher preparation nationally.
The research efforts of this initiative will be supported by Assistant Professor Brandy Gatlin-Nash, who will serve as principal investigator on the project, and Elizabeth van Es, Co-PI and professor and faculty director of the School of Education’s MAT + Credential Program, and Professor Rossella Santagata.
“The teaching profession has had long-standing challenges recruiting Black teachers,” Gatlin-Nash said. “Though some research has surfaced promising strategies for recruiting Black candidates, few studies center on unveiling existing practices of recruitment, particularly as experienced from the lenses of both teacher educators and candidates.”
To gather data, the researchers will interview teacher educators, prospective and current Black candidates, and program alumni, and conduct a review of the literature on teacher preparation to identify promising strategies for improving recruitment.
“Our research activities will help us to establish an improvement network by developing a shared problem analysis,” van Es said. “We consider this project the first step in initiating an improvement network focused on improving the recruitment of Black teacher candidates across universities in California.”
The Spencer Foundation invests in education research that cultivates learning and transforms lives. In honor of the Foundation's 50th Anniversary, the Foundation launched The Racial Equity Special Research Grants program to support education research projects that will contribute to understanding and ameliorating racial inequality in education.
The UCI teacher education program (MAT + Credential) awards students with a master’s degree and teaching credential in 14 months. The program is committed to advancing equity and justice and sees the recruitment of future Black teachers as central to disrupting persistent educational inequities for Black and Brown students. The School takes an improvement approach to teacher preparation, centering practitioners’ expertise and research interests to drive change that is relevant and timely for the profession.
“A growing number of school districts and educational leaders are pursuing ways of advancing racial justice in schools, but some of these efforts are short lived, perpetuate harm, or focus only on individuals and not at all on systemic change,” Villavicencio said. “This study will not only deepen the field’s theoretical understanding of the processes that generate justice-oriented change, but also provide educators and policymakers with evidence-based recommendations for addressing systemic racism in schools.”
Villavicencio’s research focuses on K-12 educational policy and school practices that deepen or disrupt inequities for minoritized communities of students and families. In her previous position as deputy director of the Research Alliance in New York City, she led a longitudinal study of the Expanded Success Initiative, a precursor to My Brother’s Keeper and one of the country’s largest initiatives targeting Black and Latino male students.
Her recent book, Am I My Brother’s Keeper: Educational Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and Brown Boys, published by Harvard Education Press, examines how districts and schools can embed racial equity into sustainable policies and practices in contrast to initiatives that come and go. In May, Villavicencio presented her research during a book talk and Q&A, featuring School of Education Dean and Professor Richard Arum and Douglas M. Haynes,, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at UCI. Watch here.
The Hellman Fellows Fund was established at UCI in 2013 through the generosity of Chris and Warren Hellman. Learn more.
Teaching Climate Change for Grades 6–12: Empowering Science Teachers to Take on the Climate Crisis Through NGSS
By anchoring instruction around the climate crisis, Dr. Le offers guidance on how to empower students to be the agents of change needed in their own communities. A range of additional teacher resources are also available at www.empoweredscienceteachers.com.
Shea will gather data from multiple national-level data sets including American Community Service (ACS) data, Digest of Education Statistics (DES), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Head Start Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social Skill Promotion (HS CARES) data.
By providing insight into the implementation of state disability policy and identifying effective skill-specific interventions and classroom processes for disadvantaged children in early educational programs, Shea’s research will address three field-specific needs:
“Ensuring that young children benefit from their early learning experience is critical to forming a strong and productive society,” Shea said. “Effective early learning experiences should allow all children to exhibit positive behavior and achieve their developmental potential in later learning.”
“Zhiling’s dissertation is award-worthy because she uses rigorous methods to answer important questions in ECE policy for children with developmental vulnerabilities,” said Assistant Professor Jade Jenkins. “That is very rare.”
Jenkins and Distinguished Professor Greg Duncan are Shea's co-advisors.
The grant detailed above is 100% funded by the IES.
Professor Santagata receives 2020-21 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentorship
“Dr. Santagata has been an incredibly supportive faculty mentor for the research assistants at our lab,” said doctoral candidate Jiwon Lee, one of Santagata’s advisees. “Her vision of equitable learning is always enacted in the way she creates multi-varied learning opportunities and experiences for research assistants to become researchers who think deeply and critically. All of our undergraduate research assistants have successfully been funded through two UROP projects this year, and two of them have been accepted to Ph.D. programs for this coming fall.”
Santagata’s award was announced during UROP’s 28th annual symposium – Discovering New Paths - on May 21.
School of Education project scientist receives IES grant to study personalizing literacy instruction for English learners
Hwang anticipates finding diverse interactions that occur among English learners and their teachers during literacy instruction and that certain interactions will be associated with English learners’ later language and literacy outcomes.
“I expect that the current A2i algorithms might be enhanced by considering English learners’ first language and literacy skills and other cognitive factors,” Hwang said. “This will help us accurately assess what English learners need to obtain proficient literacy skills and make it easier for teachers to personalize literacy instruction based on their students’ skills.”
Hwang will serve as principal investigator on the grant. UCI School of Education Professor Young-Suk Kim; along with Ashley Adams, assistant professor at San Diego State University; and Kevin Grimm, professor at Arizona State University, are serving as Co-PIs.
Hwang received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Sookmyung Women’s University in Korea, her Ed.M. in Education from Harvard, and her Ph.D from the UCI School of Education.
The grant detailed above is 100% funded by the IES.
“I hypothesize that teachers who engage in this study’s professional development utilizing immersive experiences will develop a depth of awareness and sentiment that will inspire them to engage in more conscious decision-making and thus an increased intentionality regarding the enactment of culturally responsive classroom practices,” Powell said.
Powell recognizes that there is a gap in literature that explains how to effectively translate culturally responsive theory into practice and methods to develop teachers who are prepared to meet this critical need. She intends for her findings to provide valuable insight for teachers, school leaders, and districts about the conditions that support and limit efforts to disrupt racism and inequity in schools.
Powell is specializing in Learning, Teaching, Cognition, and Development for her doctoral work. Distinguished Professor Jacquelynne Eccles and Assistant Professor Adriana Villavicencio serve as her advisors.
She is currently working on research focused on the positive outcomes of youth’s participation in activities as well as the predictors and correlates of high school students’ STEM motivational beliefs. She is PI on grants from the John Templeton Foundation and the National Science Foundation to support positive development from childhood through young adulthood. Simpkins directs the Center for After School and Summer Excellence (CASE) and Project REACH and co-directs the After School Activities Project.
The Frances Degan Horowitz Millennium Scholars Program (MSP), developed in 1999, encourages and supports scholars from under-represented ethnic/racial groups from North America in pursuing graduate work in developmental science. The program changed its name to Towards 2044: Horowitz Early Career Scholar Program in 2021. The updated name identifies the year when the adult population of the United States is estimated to become a diverse majority.
“Society values specialization and pushes students to pursue specific fields early for potential economic benefits,” Wan said. “But if the goal is to help every student pursue what they value and achieve their potential, it might be worth allowing students to delay when to make educational choices and give them more time for exploring to develop and find their passion.”
Wan is specializing in Human Development in Context (HDiC) for his doctoral work. Associate Professor Drew Bailey and Distinguished Professor Jacquelynne Eccles serve as his co-advisors.