Abstracts of Funded ERSP Projects

Teachers and Parents Advocating for Diversity in Sexual Identity and Gender Expression in Schools: Scholars Supporting Research-Informed Action
Primary Investigators: Mollie V. Blackburn, Caroline T. Clark, Jill M. Smith (Ohio State University)
Educational Entity: Pink TIGers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) and non-gender conforming young people continue to suffer daily hostility and limited access to educational attainment and well-being in schools. Research suggests that access to social, curricular, and adult/teacher support and implementation of comprehensive bullying and harassment policies can significantly change this situation and make things better for LGBTQQ students. In spite of this information, many adults in schools insist that they cannot, or will not, make these changes on behalf of young people. This project seeks to understand how and why some adults feel able to do this work and why others do not. Adults and former students will be interviewed to understand what factors interfere in adults’ willingness to provide support to LGBTQQ youth, why some educators intervene while others do not, and how teachers and parents might learn to advocate more actively for diversity in sexual identity and gender expression in schools. Through systematic inquiry and analysis, this project will address these questions and disseminate the results locally, in Central Ohio communities, through presentations in schools, parent-teacher organizations, and teacher education and professional development sessions; and nationally, through the collaborative writing and publication of a book.

A Qualitative Project Investigating Teaching, Learning and Teacher Development for an eLearning Education Program in Rural Zambia
Primary Investigator: Heather Curl (Bryn Mawr/Haverford College)
Educational Entity: Impact Network

Over 400,000 children in Zambia are not enrolled in school and another 500,000 children are enrolled in community schools with uncertified teachers and inadequate resources, limiting their opportunity to a quality education. Impact Network strives to provide high quality education for vulnerable children without access to government schools. The program’s new e-learning initiative uses a hybridized, interactive curriculum that runs on a laptop and projector powered by a solar energy system, providing low-cost, quality instruction that is sustainable and culturally appropriate. The curriculum provides guidance and support to teachers with interactive activities for them to implement in the classroom, but much work still must be done to effectively train teachers to use the technology and engage in pedagogy that is often outside their own experience. Impact Network has conducted teacher training sessions and has employed teacher supervisors who provide support to teachers each week, but more guidance and support is needed to ensure that Impact Network is achieving the goals of the program. This project will qualitatively examine the teacher training involved in this innovative low-cost e-learning education system in rural Zambia through in-depth interview and classroom observation in order to improve the teacher training and development currently conducted.

Understanding the Decline of the Hiring of Black and Latina/o Teachers in New York City: Recommendations for Reversing the Trend
Primary Investigators: Michael Dumas (New York University), Natalie Havlin (La Guardia Community College), Lois Weiner (New Jersey City University)
Educational Entity: Teachers Unite

While there is research on issues associated with the recruitment and retention of teachers of color nationally, as well as research on the ways students benefit from having teachers of color, local factors in New York City leading to a decline in the hiring of teachers of color have not been seriously studied. Teachers Unite (TU), a teacher-led activist organization in New York City, is undertaking a collaborative research project that includes three TU members as research assistants and three area faculty who have recently formed the New York Metropolitan Academics for Democracy and Justice in Education (MADJE) to support the work of Teachers Unite. The group will conduct collaborative research, produce a report, and design an empirical study of the decline in the hiring of Black and Latino/a Teachers in New York City. Faculty will provide pro bono research expertise in reviewing and coding multi-vocal sources and documents. The resulting scholarship will result in a preliminary report on the teacher pipeline and obstacles to the hiring of Black and Latino teachers, as well as a research design for gathering further empirical data.

RU Connected? A Collaborative Project between University Literacy Researchers and an Urban Afterschool Program (Racquet Up Detroit) to Investigate the Effects of a Summer Technology Camp for Middle School Youth
Primary Investigators: Susan Florio-Ruane, Paul Morsink, Maryl Randel (Michigan State University)
Educational Entity: Racquet Up Detroit

This collaborative project partners Michigan State University literacy researchers with an established afterschool program, Racquet Up Detroit (RUD), to investigate the effects of a summer technology camp (“RU Connected”) for middle school students enrolled in RUD. Its purpose is to inform RUD’s future integration of its technology and new literacies curriculum into its year-round programming, which weaves together sports, literacy, mentoring, and community service. RU Connected, piloted in July 2012, uses free web-based tools and resources to develop online research skills, and encourages students to think creatively and use higher-order thinking. RUD is planning to repeat and expand the summer camp in July 2013, this year documenting and evaluating it with an eye toward infusing new literacies activities into its regular afterschool programming. Through this project, RUD will develop a plan for quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact of the 2013 summer camp on students’ literacy skills and their general motivation to read and write, work with staff to implement this plan, draft a report for RUD stakeholders, and develop RUD’s in-house capacity for ongoing data collection and analysis as it moves new literacies into the school-year literacy component of its afterschool program.

Engaging Urban Youth to Catalyze Cultural Change in Their Communities: Evaluative Inquiry into Creative Possibilities and Pathways to STEM in Boston’s Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn
Primary Investigator: Jae-Eun Joo (University of Connecticut)
Educational Entity: Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn

This project will design and conduct a participatory evaluation inquiry to systemically document and analyze the unique STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education contributions of the Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn (L2TT2L) program to Boston’s urban youth and their communities. L2TT2L program leaders have convincing anecdotal evidence that their model works over the last decade, but have not had the resources to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the unique aspects of L2TT2L’s innovative approach that goes beyond STEM content mastery. An evaluation research team will collect and analyze data on the critical factors that seem essential to support the particular needs of urban youth in developing and sustaining a pathway to STEM studies and careers. More specifically, this research aims to investigate ways in which L2TT2L promotes urban youth’s self-efficacy, productive relationship to frustration and failure in the STEM learning process, and the impact of using STEM to make positive contributions to their communities to catalyze cultural change. Research findings and insights will be shared publicly through an online wiki and e-portfolio.

Strengthening Supplemental Literacy Supports for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse English Language Learners
Primary Investigator: Michelle Knight (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Educational Entity: Sauti Yetu Girls Educational and Leadership Initiative

This research study will address how the Sauti Yetu’s Girl’s Educational and Leadership Initiative (GELI) supports the literacy development of African immigrant girls who are identified as English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York City Schools, and a subpopulation of ELLs identified as having interrupted formal education (SIFE). Through written documentation, individual and group interviews, and program observation, as well as the literature on literacy and culturally relevant pedagogy, members of the research partnership will examine three approaches that GELI has implemented to address academic and social supports for the literacy development of African immigrant girls. The overarching goals are to identify the best supplemental literacy practices for African immigrant girls identified as ELLs and/or SIFE and to strengthen the capacity of small culturally and linguistically specific community-based organizations to support the literacy development of English Language Learners and SIFE in schools. The findings will be disseminated within Sauti Yetu and to existing coalitions of community-based organizations and their school partners. Ensuing reports and workshops may also draw greater attention to the literacy needs of smaller but growing culturally and linguistically diverse language communities which speak languages that do not meet demographic thresholds for bilingual services in schools.


Initiating and Sustaining Educational Change: Implementing the FAIR Education Act and Seth’s Law
Primary Investigator: Elizabeth Meyer (California Polytechnic State University)
Educational Entity: San Luis Obispo County Office of Education

This research project will identify and address the barriers and supports related to the implementation of two new laws requiring reforms to curriculum and school policy in San Luis Obispo County schools. In 2011, the California legislature passed two laws, the FAIR Education Act (SB 48) and Seth’s Law (AB 9), which address important issues related to creating safe and inclusive school environments. The FAIR Education Act amends the state education code to require the inclusion of LGBT people, Pacific Islanders, and people with disabilities in the K‐12 social sciences curriculum. Seth’s Law requires that schools update their bullying policies to include explicit protections from bullying and harassment based on race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression, as well as requiring reporting and swift responses to reported incidents. These related laws touch on emotional and controversial topics in many school communities. Since these are unfunded mandates, teachers and administrators need support to revise their policies and curricula to conform to the new state laws. This research project is designed to work with educators to identify and address the barriers and supports related to these new laws in order to provide better support for their implementation.


The Effect of Research Experience-Based Professional Development on Teacher Efficacy, Motivation, Knowledge Calibration, and Perception of Inquiry Teaching
Primary Investigator: Erin E. Peters-Burton (George Mason University)
Educational Entity: Loudon County Public Schools

Science education reform documents have highlighted the need for more inquiry-based teaching for over 20 years, but little has changed in the majority of classrooms in the United States. This project will measure the effect of research experience-based professional development (PD) in Loudon County Public Schools and examine multiple measures across time of teacher efficacy, motivation, calibration of content knowledge, and perception of inquiry teaching. The multi-year PD program provided teachers research experience with the support of a scientist, aided teachers in an independent research project in their content area, and required teachers to develop curriculum related to their research experience for secondary students. The study will use a longitudinal, parallel mixed methods approach to examine efficacy, motivation, content knowledge calibration, perception of inquiry, and student achievement. Prior research indicated that teachers reported high motivation and task value and changed their cognitive strategies due to the PD. The current project has the potential to better articulate the effect of PD on critical components involved in teacher acquisition of science content and pedagogical content knowledge and to inform research experience-based PD programs in the future.

Evaluation and Assessment of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program
Primary Investigator: Rick Sperling (St. Mary’s University)
Educational Entity: AVANCE

AVANCE provides educational and health services to low-income and predominately racial/ethnic minority families nationwide. This research service project will focus on improving AVANCE’s internal assessment of its Parent-Child Education (PCEP) Program. Researchers will assist AVANCE staff in determining whether the theory guiding their services and the curricula used within the PCEP program are aligned with the instruments they use to assess its effectiveness. The research team will evaluate the instruments for technical limitations, flaws in the response option format, and other issues that obscure interpretations of their data. They will also develop new instruments to measure cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral changes that have not been measured thus far. The final set of instruments will then be translated into Spanish to make them more accessible to a larger population. Program staff will be instructed on how to administer the instruments to improve the internal validity of their data. Once post-intervention data have been collected, a report will be prepared summarizing the changes that occurred within PCEP families as a result of their participation in the program. Researchers will also assess the psychometric properties of the instruments and make recommendations for future implementation so that the assessment plan can continue to evolve.

The Role of Mentoring in Broward County Public Schools Initiative to Foster Black Male Success
Primary Investigator: Gerene K. Starratt (Barry University)
Educational Entity: Broward County Public Schools 

The academic challenges that minority students encounter have been well documented, attributed to various causes, and associated with academic, behavioral, social, and political obstacles to success. In support of the 2012 White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Broward County Public Schools, a highly diverse urban district and the sixth largest in the U.S., implemented a comprehensive academic and support services initiative to facilitate systemic improvements in educational outcomes for Black males. Broward’s Initiative to Foster Black Male Success adopts a collaborative model that leverages the resources of community partners, including local education researchers, in support of student success. In this project, data related to adult and peer mentoring programs that are components of the overall initiative will be gathered and analyzed. The project will examine the scope of the adult and peer mentoring programs related to the Black Male Success Initiative, the fidelity of implementation of the adult and peer mentoring programs in the Black Male Success Initiative, and the relationship between mentoring interventions and Black male success. Deliverables include quantitative and qualitative data capture, analysis, interpretation, and reports to the district, as well as submission of findings for presentation and publication in peer-reviewed venues.

Power of Words: Exploring Storytelling Practices of Refugee Families
Primary Investigators: Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes, X. Christine Wang (State University of New York at Buffalo)
Educational Entity: Journey’s End Refugee Services

New York is one of the five most popular resettling states for incoming refugees in the United States, with the city of Buffalo taking in 1,035 refugees from 30 different countries in 2011 alone. Given the tremendous diversity of refugee students (67 different languages) enrolling in local public schools, refugee service organizations in Buffalo are facing the daunting challenge of bridging the cultural and linguistic gap between refugee families and the schools. To meet the challenge, the research team will partner with Journey’s End Refugee Services, a community-based organization serving 3,000 refugees in Western New York annually. This project will survey stories told at refugee homes, investigate storytelling practices at home, and create teacher guides to help refugee children’s school learning, in order to promote refugee children’s appreciation for their native languages and cultures, empower refugee parents, and improve collaboration between refugee parents and schools. The main product of the project will be an interactive website designed to share compiled refugee stories in English and the language of origin within the local community and beyond. The website will also offer strategies and activities for community organizations and schools to integrate multicultural refugee stories and adapt refugee families’ storytelling practices.

 

My Brother My Sister: College Access and Retention through Peer Mentoring and Leadership Development
Primary Investigator: V. Thandi Sulé (Oakland University)
Educational Entity: My Brother My Sister

My Brother My Sister (MBMS) is a volunteer-based, after-school program founded by a concerned father and son who witnessed Black students at Copley High School (Copley, Ohio) floundering academically and socially. In 2008, Black students comprised 90% of the school suspensions (though only 17% of the student population), trailed behind their peers in college enrollment, and lacked a sense of belonging at school. The focus of MBMS is on facilitating college access and retention through leadership development and peer mentoring. The founders of MBMS have requested assistance with documenting the accomplishments of the program in order to (a) understand how the school climate has changed, (b) document changes in student academic performance, and (c) explore how participants incorporate the teachings of MBMS into their everyday lives. Using a case study approach, data from student journal entries and social media posts will be examined, and interviews will be conducted with 12-15 current and previous program participants. Disciplinary and achievement data from school records will also be collected and tabulated. The organization will use the findings from the research project to identify gaps in service, enhance intervention efforts, and support its capital campaign.