Welcome to Edge: Carolina Education Review, a publication that showcases some of the research conducted by faculty at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
We are a research-intensive organization focused on achieving equity in educational access and outcomes for all learners in a diverse and just society. We pursue innovative, research-based solutions to the most pressing problems of educational theory, practice, programs, and policy.
Edge highlights our faculty members’ leading-edge work and the ways in which their research is helping transform teaching, learning, and educational policy, as well as the preparation and professional growth of educators and leaders in our schools.
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Dorothy Espelage, the William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education at the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill, has led a 25-year research agenda that has illuminated issues around youth violence and has led to interventions, policies, and laws aimed at helping protect students and making schools safer. In this Q&A, Espelage talks about some of the key things she has discovered, and where her new work is leading.
Eileen Carlton Parsons, who studies the influences of socio-cultural factors, specifically race and culture, on learning in STEM subjects, served on a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine expert panel that examined ways to improve teaching and learning in science and engineering. In this Q&A, Parsons talks about the report’s focus on recognizing and bridging inequities that have shut many students out of high-quality science instruction.
Marisa Marraccini has identified that few high schools have formal protocols for reintegrating students into school environments after they’ve been psychiatrically hospitalized. She is leading new research to identify the components of reintegration protocols that would be effective in helping adolescents in their return to school after psychiatric hospitalization.
Research by Matthew Springer and colleagues has identified that paying highly effective teachers salary incentives — when the incentive programs are carefully designed and implemented — can help reduce teacher turnover, leading to higher student achievement. New research is pointing to factors that can make salary incentive programs more effective.
Lora Cohen-Vogel, our Frank A. Daniels Professor of Public Policy and Education, is a leader in a movement to bring the principles of improvement science to educational settings. Lora developed an expertise in continuous quality improvement through her work as co-principal investigator with the five-year, $13.5 million National Center for Research and Development on Scaling Up Effective Schools. The project has generated a considerable amount of research describing effective practices to incorporate and expand improvement efforts in schools.
Gregory Cizek, the Guy B. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Educational Measurement and Evaluation, is a nationally recognized authority in his field. One of his special interests is validity theory. Cizek works at questions involving whether assessments accurately measure student understanding, and whether those test results are used appropriately. Can tests that measure student performance be used to assess teachers? That’s among the questions Cizek’s research explores.
Informed by her research and her work with children with learning disabilities, Jennifer Diliberto, clinical associate professor of special education, has developed a curriculum that has been shown to help teach students with dyslexia and other disabilities to read. Her curriculum, “Taking on Tough Words,” has been adopted by school districts in a dozen states. It relies on “syllabication,” which Jennifer’s work has demonstrated helps struggling readers.
Professor Sherick Hughes, in the work of preparing educators and educational researchers, asks us to look inside ourselves. To be effective in educational settings and in our communities, it’s important to wrestle with questions about our inherent biases and the biases embedded in our culture. Through autoethnography, Hughes shows how that’s done by thinking and writing about his own experiences and how they have shaped his understandings.
Thad Domina, associate professor of educational policy and sociology, is raising some big questions with a recent study. He and colleagues took a look at data from the National School Lunch Program, asking a basic question: Is participation in the lunch program a good proxy for socio-economic status? It turns out they may not be … which has big ramifications for educational researchers and administrators of many educational programs.
Lynne Vernon-Feagans has worked since 2004 developing a powerful program that helps teachers better instruct struggling readers. By using webcams, the “Targeted Reading Intervention” enables on-campus coaches to watch as teachers in high-need rural schools work one-on-one with students — and then provide on-the-spot feedback. In our cover article, Vernon-Feagans and Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick talk about some of the challenges in teaching reading with Susan Gates of the analytics firm SAS. Gates was a leader in the production of a Business Roundtable report “Why Reading Matters and What To Do About It.”
Kihyun “Kelly” Ryoo is conducting leading research on new ways to teach science. Building on her doctoral work at Stanford, she has developed new tools that use visualizations and interactive animations to teach science concepts to middle school students — especially English language learners. It’s promising, impactful work that has attracted support from the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation.
Keith Sawyer is a nationally recognized leading researcher on creativity and the teaching of creativity. Yes, he says, creativity can be taught! He describes some of his findings and describes how classroom instruction needs to change if we want to nurture creative thinkers.
Jeffrey Greene is developing new ways to analyze data that explores the way we learn. He’s applying those findings to “digital literacy,” tools we need to more accurately understand our changing world. For this and other work, Greene received the 2016 Richard E. Snow Award for Early Contributions from Division 15 of the American Psychological Association
Dana Thompson Dorsey, equipped with a legal training background, has written about the landscape of desegregation and the effects of increasing racial isolation among students in our schools. Now she is building on that work to develop new understandings of the compounded effects of geographic isolation among rural minority students.