New FSU study to examine preschool education

August 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Florida State University recently received a $1,000,000 Lyle Spencer Research Award to improve the quality of education in preschool classrooms.

Florida State Associate Professors Drs. Beth Phillips and Carla Wood will lead an interdisciplinary team to investigate key characteristics of children’s language development in preschool classrooms. The three-year study, funded by The Spencer Foundation, will identify the predictors, associations, and valid measurement of language environments in preschool classrooms serving children at high risk because of poverty and low parental education. Drs. Phillips and Wood will partner with 100 preschools throughout the southeast to investigate the crucial role of teachers in developing children’s language skills.

Dr. Beth Phillips

“The relevance of this study is tremendous,” stated Dr. Phillips. “Some teachers are likely not influencing children’s language development sufficiently to close the skill gap for high-risk children. The goal of this study is to contribute to evidence-based strategies that can inform instruction and lead to improved learning outcomes.”

The Florida State team combines expertise and resources from the Florida Center for Reading Research, School of Communication Science & Disorders, and the College of Education. “This study will complement the rigorous and relevant interdisciplinary research conducted by the faculty, scientists and doctoral students of the Preschool Research Group at FCRR,” concluded Dr. Phillips.

Introduced in 2014 and administered by the Spencer Foundation, the Lyle Spencer Research Awards are a highly competitive series of grants aimed at advancing education practices internationally. The ten inaugural 2015 recipients were selected from an initial pool of 270 initial applicants. More information regarding the Lyle Spencer Research Awards may be found at

For more information, please contact Nathan Archer at

via Nathan Archer, FCRR

Categories: EPLS, Faculty Tags: ,

Higher Education alumna and student named 2015 employee of the year

August 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Chandra Myrick

Chandra Myrick, associate director for the Office of Residence Life, was named the 2015 Max Carraway Employee of the Year at Florida State University.

Myrick, who graduated with her master’s degree in Higher Education at FSU in 2002, is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education within the FSU College of Education.

“I am completely humbled to be recognized with this award,” said Myrick. “I will continue to strive to do my best to make a lasting impact on the university, the Division of Student Affairs, University Housing and the students we serve.”

Myrick joined the Florida State staff in 2005 as assistant director for Residence Life. From 2006 to 2011, she served as housing’s westside assistant director.

Katherine Kolkmeier, University Housing’s eastside assistant director, commended Myrick not only for the part she has played in leading University Housing in the absence of a director over the past year, but also for leading Residence Life in the development of six core values and the creation of a new organizational structure.

“Chandra’s dedication to allowing staff of all levels to be involved and invested in the process, in addition to the research done to make sure Residence Life is living out our values, has been nothing short of remarkable,” Kolkmeier said.

via Jeffrey Seay, STATE Editor in Chief

FSU researcher to speak about STEM education research with WTXL

August 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner

The FSU College of Education’s Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner will discuss her STEM education research and findings with WTXL ABC 27’s Mariah Avery live on August 20th between 6:15 and 7 a.m.

Dr. Perez-Felkner is an assistant professor of Higher Education and Sociology at Florida State University and senior research associate at the Center for Postsecondary Success. She recently received local, national and international media attention on a study that she co-authored alongside Kirby Thomas, doctoral student in Sociology, and Samantha Nix, lead author and Higher Education doctoral student. The study, “Perceived mathematical ability under challenge: a longitudinal perspective on sex segregation among STEM degree fields,” examines why some students shun math-intensive fields.

In addition, Dr. Perez-Felkner has published two other papers this summer: “Perceptions and Resilience in Underrepresented Students’ Pathways to College” and “Does the gender gap in STEM majors vary by field and institutional selectivity?” The latter analysis was conducted with colleagues from Michigan State University and NORC at the University of Chicago.

“Individual educators, parents and mentors can help girls understand the real nature of working in STEM fields – as opposed to the stereotypes – and expose them to positive, specific information regarding these career paths as early as possible,” said Dr. Perez-Felkner. In her interview, she will address this along with what often stops girls from enrolling in STEM courses and why it is important for us to recognize this gap in our schools/educational system using specifics from her research papers.

View the interview.

Florida State University Schools (FSUS) hires new director

August 6, 2015 Leave a comment

Dr. Stacy Chambers

The board of directors of Florida State University Schools (FSUS) — FSU’s developmental research school — has named Stacy Chambers as the school’s new director after conducting a national search.

Chambers, from Windsor, Conn., succeeds Lynn Wicker, the school’s director from 2008 to 2015. Her appointment began June 15.

“The honor of serving as director for Florida State University Schools is beyond measure for me,” Chambers said. “My dream of working in an organization that combines educational research, K-12 educational systems and amazing students is in place at FSUS. Together we will work to further our mission: sharing our teaching and educational research and being of service to Florida’s education community.”

Chambers started her career in 1989 as an elementary school teacher at Centre School in Hampton, N.H. After several years of teaching, she moved up the administration ladder, most recently holding the positions of principal at Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Conn., and assistant superintendent for Derby Public Schools in Derby, Conn.

Known for setting high academic standards through strong research-based school development, Chambers has a solid record of fiscal responsibility, making visionary academic and financial decisions for students, staff and parents. Chambers is also recognized for her collaboration, accessibility and visibility with community members, the local chamber, city administrators and other key stakeholders.


Florida State University Schools (FSUS)

“The FSU College of Education and FSUS have a longstanding research partnership,” said College of Education Dean Marcy Driscoll. “Dr. Chambers brings particular expertise to strengthen this collaboration and to further propel FSUS as a lab school with a research mission.”

Alan Hanstein, immediate past president of the FSUS board of directors, headed the search committee, which included representatives from Florida State, FSUS and the school community. Input was also garnered from students, teachers, alumni, parents and the general community about important characteristics they would like to see in a new director.

“The search committee was unanimous in their support of Dr. Chambers,” Hanstein said. “We believe she will lead the district forward in meeting the goals of increasing student achievement and maintaining strong fiscal management, as well as continue FSUS’ mission to advance Florida’s K-12 education through exemplary teaching, research and service.”

In 1986, Chambers received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, and went on to earn a Master of Education from Lesley College/University of Cambridge (Mass.). She received a doctorate in education and superintendent certification from the University of Hartford in 2011.

Chambers has relocated to Tallahassee with her husband, David, and her son, Dylan.

Stephanie Zuilkowski awarded British Journal’s Early Stage Career Research Prize

August 4, 2015 Leave a comment

Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski

The British Journal of Educational Psychology has awarded its Early Stage Career Research Prize to Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski, assistant professor of Comparative Education and International Development, for her paper on malaria prevention and school dropout in the Gambia.

The award is given each year for the best paper published in the journal by an author no more than three years from receipt of the doctoral degree. The journal published Zuilkowski’s paper, “Early childhood malaria prevention and children’s patterns of school leaving in the Gambia,” in its September 2014 issue.

“I am honored by this award and pleased that the journal found my study to be significant,” said Zuilkowski, who holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In addition to teaching international and comparative education courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Zuilkowski holds a joint appointment with the Center for International Studies in Education Research and Development (CISERD) in the Learning Systems Institute.

Zuilkowski’s research focuses on improving the quality of basic education in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as on the long-run relationships between health problems and educational outcomes. In her paper for the British Journal of Educational Psychology, she looked at early childhood malaria in the Gambia and sought to determine if efforts to prevent infection influenced whether children stayed in school or dropped out.

In her paper, Zuilkowski drew upon data from a 2001 follow-up of an earlier malaria-prevention randomized controlled trial in the Gambia, Africa’s smallest nation. Malaria is a constant concern among its 2 million population.

“In this study, we looked at the long-term educational effects of preventing childhood malaria,” explained Zuilkowski, who co-authored the paper with Matthew C. H. Jukes of Harvard. “Does it reduce the risk of dropout? We found that it has a strong positive impact. In government schools, the odds of dropout in the treatment group were one third those in the control group, a striking difference.”

Malaria, which is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquitoes, can lead to cognitive impairment in young children before they even enter school. “Children with poorer cognitive skills perform less well in class and become more likely to drop out,” Zuilkowski said.

Zuilkowski’s paper argues for effective use of malaria treatments as a means of improving the educational attainment of children in Gambia and other sub-Saharan nations.

“Our findings suggest that preventing early childhood malaria may reduce dropout at a relatively low cost,” Zuilkowski said. “These results support the conclusion that any type of effective malaria-control program protecting young children, such as consistent and correct use of bed nets, could improve educational attainment in areas where malaria is prevalent.”

via Bill Edmonds, Learning Systems Institute

COE welcomes Sisters of the Academy to FSU for Research BootCamp

August 3, 2015 Leave a comment


The FSU College of Education welcomed participants in the 2015 Sisters of the Academy Research BootCamp to campus on August 2 to engage in a week-long program designed to help doctoral students and junior scholars develop sound research agendas.

Sisters of the Academy (SOTA) is an organization that seeks to facilitate the success of Black women in the Academy by fostering research and scholarship collaboration. The biennial Research BootCamp (RBC) is designed specifically to assist advanced doctoral students in their dissertation research and junior faculty members in the development of a research agenda and preparation of manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals.



Organized by Dr. Tamara Bertrand Jones, assistant professor of Higher Education, the week-long event consists of a series of workshops led by senior scholars, statisticians, and theorists. Participants are also linked with a mentor to cultivate a mentoring relationship.

The bootcamp kicked off in the Stone Building on August 2 with an orientation and opening dinner. Meetings and lectures will be continuing throughout the week, concluding with a networking event on Thursday evening and a closing luncheon on Saturday.

Click here to view photos from #SOTARBC15.

Sport management alumnus embarks on unique job search in Europe

July 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Dylan Hamilton

Dylan Hamilton, an alumnus from the Sport Management undergraduate program in 2011 and the master’s program in 2013, has embarked on a unique job search search across Europe.

Hamilton attended Florida State University on a partial scholarship as a manager for the football team. He was a member of the FSU rugby team from 2006 to 2011. In his graduate career, he also served as an assistant coach for the FSU rugby team and participated in an internship with USA Rugby as regional event coordinator.

Hamilton got his first taste of traveling between his undergraduate and graduate school year when he traveled to Australia to work with the Australian Rugby Union. Embracing what the world of sports had to offer during his time abroad, he took an additional trip to New Zealand to observe the Rugby World Cup Championships.

After graduating with his master’s from the FSU College of Education, Hamilton worked as an account executive with the Orlando City Soccer Club. Despite following his plan, Hamilton still felt something missing. “After a year of grinding in the industry of my dreams and succeeding amongst my peers, I was left with a sense of unfulfillment,” he said.

Perhaps the adventure of traveling and experiencing the international sport scene is what Hamilton is missing. Seeking another sporting adventure, he begun a tour of Europe and a search for new employment. His plan is to end his European journey in London for this year’s Rugby World Cup Championships.

Still in the midst of his adventure, Hamilton has already visited Barcelona, Spain, and Paris, France, where he saw the Tour de France. You can follow Hamilton through his journey via his blog: Wanderlust Walkabout.


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