COE in the News

By FSUCOE Assistant Professor Marty Swanbrow Becker via Brookings on June 8, 2017 

Why schools need to step up suicide prevention efforts

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on a novel written by Jay Asher, has ignited concern about suicide, bullying, and sexual assault in our schools. Although much of the attention seems to focus on whether the show presents a risk to young people in distress, we also have the opportunity to leverage the show’s impact to engage in much needed discussion with students about suicide.

Many worry that the graphic depiction of Hannah Baker’s suicide in the current Netflix show desensitizes young viewers, decreasing their natural defenses against actions that could threaten their personal survival. In this view, grounded in an influential theory, observing traumatic events—even fictional ones—could reduce the resistance to suicide, making attempts more likely.

Balancing the value our culture places on artistic expression with a desire to protect the vulnerable has never been a simple matter. From “Romeo and Juliet” and “Madame Butterfly” to “Anna Karenina” and “Thelma & Louise,” suicide pervades theater, opera, novels, and film. The current popularity of “13 Reasons Why”—it is the most tweeted show of 2017—as well as the vividness of its portrayal of suicide, bullying, and sexual assault, makes it perhaps uniquely influential. The theme of suicide in drama, however, is certainly not a new one.

In order to frame a discussion of the show’s impact, we need to be aware of the extent of the problem of youth suicide. In 2015, 23,600 people aged 10-24 died by suicide, making it the second-leading cause of death among U.S. youth. While my research mainly focuses on college students, I’ve learned that 68 percent of those who have seriously considered suicide first thought about it in high school, or even earlier. Over half of college students have thought about suicide in their lifetime, and approximately 18 percent have seriously considered it. Students are also exposed to other’s suicidal experiences at high rates. In a sample of college resident assistants, I found that 60 percent knew someone who had attempted suicide (about half were close friends or relatives), and 47 percent knew someone who had died by suicide (34 percent were close friends or relatives).

Nearly half of those who have thought seriously about suicide chose not to tell anyone about their suicidal thoughts. Those who did turned to their peers and family over professional helpers. My colleagues and I found that the top reasons students conceal their suicidal thoughts include feeling that they are at low risk despite their suicidal thoughts, not wanting to burden others with their problems, feeling that their thoughts are private, believing that no one will help them if they do acknowledge how they’re feeling, and being concerned about stigma.

In short, “13 Reasons Why” reflects a massive social problem: Many students think about suicide, many become exposed to it when others they know attempt and complete suicide, and almost half of those students who seriously consider suicide do not tell anyone about their thoughts, suffering in silence.

Schools can act in two main ways to bring this issue to light and reduce the risk of suicide. The best option lies in creating a school ecology conducive to supporting and promoting well-being among students. In “13 Reasons Why,” Clay says, “It has to get better … the way we treat each other and look out for each other!” Clay’s dismay regarding the social climate at fictional Liberty High offers a great example for schools of what not to do in terms of building a resilient and safe social environment for students. The school neglects students’ well-being by allowing behaviors such as bullying and sexual assault to go unchecked, and through a lack of initiative and guidance, fosters a climate of fear and secrets among students.

Our schools and universities can do much better in protecting students from traumatic experiences by instituting and enforcing strict policies against interpersonal violence, discrimination, and bullying while also promoting a culture where members of the community turn to each other for support. In this way, schools can show that they value the holistic needs of their students. By prioritizing and supporting social connections among students, schools acknowledge that young people are likely to turn to their peers first during times of distress.

The second manner of reducing suicide risk in schools involves training peers and staff to identify and engage someone who needs help. In “13 Reasons Why,” several students noticed that Hannah was suffering, but didn’t know what to do or where to turn to help her.

Schools may want to consider developing “gatekeeper training” programs for students and staff. These gatekeepers learn to identify students in distress, intervene with them, and refer them to professional help. They can also attempt to counter some of the reasons students give for not telling others about their suicidal thoughts by helping them understand that counseling resources can assist them in a confidential manner, and that their friends want to support them. We are still conducting research on how to improve the efficacy of suicide prevention gatekeeper training, but preliminary indications suggest it has promise.

Combining both these approaches to suicide prevention may be the best we can do at the moment. We must make suicide prevention training easier for schools to implement and make the topic less scary for everyone to address, in part by building health, well-being, community, and resiliency among students as early in the educational system as possible.

Schools should openly discuss suicide in a way that makes clear the pain and suffering associated with it, but also in a way that reduces the risk of triggering those most vulnerable. Producers of media should help buffer the potential impact on those most vulnerable by following the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide media guidelines developed through a collaboration of suicidologists and media representatives. The producers of “13 Reasons Why” moved in this direction when they added information about accessing helping resources at the start of each episode to support those in crisis.

“13 Reasons Why” presents a unique opportunity to start a conversation with young people about suicide. Our schools should harness this moment to bring the problem of youth suicide out in the open and help students in distress ask for help.

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By staff via New Westphalian on May 16, 2017 

Symposium on improving performance in sports

Sports Science: International experts will speak at the CITEC of the University of Bielefeld. In addition to the lectures, the participants use numerous workshops on further education

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Prof. Gershon Tenenbaum speaks at the Neurocognition and Action in Sport – Individualized Diagnostics and Coaching Symposium hosted by the University of Bielefeld (CITEC) on May 4 – 6, 2017 in Bielefeld, Germany

The subjects of mental control and mental training are of great importance for the understanding of performance improvement in sport. Ever more attention is given to the individual athletes’ adapted forms of diagnostics and training. Thus, it is possible to identify precisely the essential and individual factors and deficits, for example in the area of ​​attention, memory and motor control, and to develop performance individually.

In addition, new technologies are being increasingly used for diagnostics and performance development (measurement training, virtual reality, glasses for attention support, virtual coaches, etc.). The University of Bielefeld (CITEC) is an international leader in this field. Professor Dr. Thomas Schack (Neurocognition and Movement) is Vice President of the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) and is responsible for the “New Technologies in Sport” field at the ISSP.

In this context, the working group “Neurocognition and Movement – Biomechanics” of the University of Bielefeld (CITEC) has organized an international symposium on different topics of individually adapted diagnostics and support for athletes in the performance sport. The speakers were, among others, Prof. Gershon Tenenbaum (Florida State University, USA), Prof. Jürgen Nitsch (Sporthochshcule Cologne), Prof. Dieter Hackfort (Munich) and Prof. Matthias Weigelt (Paderborn, Germany). The workshops deal with the topics of conceptual training, movement learning, memory, neurotraining and sports psychology in order to develop new perspectives and technologies.

About 50 participants attended this symposium. In addition to lectures and discussions, there were laboratory discussions and panel discussions with a focus on diagnostics in sport. In addition, the participants were able to exchange ideas with the experts.

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By staff via WTXL TV on April 22, 2017 

FSU Libraries Publishes First Ever Digital Publication (VIDEO)

The efforts of FSU scholars were highlighted Saturday night. The first ever book has been published by Florida State University’s libraries.

The digital publication is called “Integrating Theory, Research and Practice in Vocational Psychology” and contains 20 peer reviewed papers focusing on psychology from the perspective of theorists, researchers, and practitioners.

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The book is released under a creative commons license, allowing any reader to access, copy and distribute the book’s content at no cost and without permission of the authors.

“To be able to create a book like this one, electronically that is available worldwide, really makes the information much more obtainable,” said James Sampson, associate dean for faculty development in the FSU College of Education.

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By Scott Jaschik via Inside Higher Ed on April 7, 2017 

Pre-College Factors in Racial Gaps on Graduation

A new study in The Journal of Higher Education finds that 61 percent of the variance on college graduation rates by race can be explained by factors in students’ pre-college experiences. The factors include poverty, as experienced on a personal level and at the high schools students attend. The study was based on an analysis of a cohort of college graduates in Texas, where race  65.5 percent of white students graduated, compared to  51.4 percent of Hispanic students and 43.6 percent of black students. The study was conducted by Stella M. Flores oft New York University; Toby J. Park of Florida State University and Dominique J. Baker of Southern Methodist University.

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By Rick Nauert via Psych Central on April 6, 2017 

Confidence Boost Can Help Girls Move into Science Professions

New research suggests it is a matter of perception and not ability when it comes to girls advancing in sciences such as mathematics.

In the study, Florida State University investigators found that girls rate their abilities markedly lower than boys, even when there is no observable difference between the two.

“The argument continues to be made that gender differences in the ‘hard’ sciences is all about ability,” said Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology in the College of Education.

“But when we hold mathematics ability test scores constant, effectively taking it out of the equation, we see boys still rate their ability higher, and girls rate their ability lower.”

The research team, composed of Perez-Felkner as the lead author and doctoral students Samantha Nix and Kirby Thomas as co-authors, found perception gaps are even wider at the upper levels of mathematics ability. Interesting, the gap was highest among those students with the most talent and potential in these fields.

Boys are significantly more confident in challenging mathematics contexts than otherwise identically talented girls. Specifically, boys rated their ability 27 percent higher than girls did.

The study appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Perceived ability under challenge was measured using a nationally representative longitudinal study that followed 10th grade students over a six-year period until two years after high school.

A series of questions in the 10th and 12th grade surveys asked students to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as “I’m certain I can understand the most difficult material presented in math texts.”

“That’s important because those confidence levels influence the math and science courses students choose later in high school,” Perez-Felkner said.

“It influences whether they choose colleges that are strong in certain science majors. It also influences the majors they intend to pursue and the majors they actually declare and continue on with in degrees and potential careers.”

These conclusions address perceived ability beliefs in a critical time where more talented young women tend to depart from male-dominated science career pathways during high school and college.

Over recent decades and across the globe women have surpassed men in college enrollment and degree attainment yet women remain underrepresented in physical, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences (PEMC).

In fact, women are projected to comprise nearly 60 percent of university students by 2025 but earn a clear minority of PEMC undergraduate degrees.

Perez-Felkner and colleagues argue gender differences in confidence in their mathematics ability in challenging contexts has considerable longer term consequences.

Gender disparities in college major choice are associated with the gender pay gap as well as an insufficiently large and diverse labor pool of scientific talent in our increasingly scientific global economy.

The authors note boys are encouraged from a young age to pursue challenge — including the risk of failure — while girls tend to pursue perfection, judging themselves and being judged by more restrictive standards reinforced by media and society at large.

Creative methods to recruit girls in middle and high school include increased opportunities such as science camps like SciGirls, and steering girls to participate in upper level science courses or extracurricular activities.

Informal science learning experiences and increasing visibility and access to women scientists — both fictional and real — are other methods to sustain girls interest and engagement in so called “hard science” fields.

Furthermore, increasing access to advanced science coursework in high school and the early years of post-secondary school can improve chances of students — most notably girls — entering these fields.

Other results included:

  • Women have a 4.7 percent chance of declaring PEMC majors compared to 14.9 percent of men.
  • Girls in the 12th grade with most negative perceptions had a 1.8 percent chance of choosing a PEMC major, while girls with the most positive perceptions about their ability under challenge had a 5.6 percent chance of choosing a PEMC major.
  • Boys had a 19.1 percent chance if their perceptions were positive and boys with negative perceptions had 6.7 chance of choosing a PEMC major.
  • Boys are more likely than girls to hold a growth mindset, that is, the perception that mathematical ability can be developed through learning rather than being a fixed talent you are born with.
  • Tenth grade mathematics ability under challenge was most influential in determining whether students stayed in the natural sciences when pursuing postsecondary education.
  • Mathematics ability beliefs in the 12th grade were positively associated with switching into natural science majors, among students not initially intending to pursue them.

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via Lab Manager on April 6, 2017 

Researchers Work to Narrow the Gender Gap in Engineering, Computer Science

Two Florida State University researchers are determined to chip away at a stubborn problem that has vexed concerned social scientists for decades: why is there such a vast and enduring gender disparity in STEM fields?

Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology, and Roxanne Hughes, director of the Center for Integrating Research and Learning at FSU’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, are helping to lay a research-based foundation that might finally yield headway on this troubling issue.

Most recently—through a collaboration with the American Association of University Women—they have examined why the fields of computer science and engineering have had a more difficult time attracting female students and, ultimately, employees. Hughes said these disciplines demand especially close attention because of the persistence of their problems.

“These fields were selected because despite efforts to improve the representation of women over the last two decades across all STEM fields, these two in particular have remained low in terms of their representation of women, whereas fields like biology and chemistry have seen improvements,” Hughes said. “Computing and engineering are two fields that have high paying careers and are essential for the future workplace. If we continue to miss opportunities to attract girls and retain women, we are not only losing a diversity among our workers that could improve innovations, but we are also adding to the gender pay gap.”

Hughes and Perez-Felkner presented a webinar through AAUW on their work on Mar. 31.

Roxanne HughesRoxanne Hughes, director of the Center for Integrating Research and Learning at FSU’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITYThe culmination of a multiyear collaborative process in coordination with the American Association of University Women, the webinar highlighted a carefully crafted research agenda whose origins date back to an AAUW meeting in 2015.

“That year, nearly 50 of us met for three consecutive days to identify and hone a research agenda for the coming years specific to the challenges women face in engineering and computing fields, from K-12 schooling years through college and career,” Perez-Felkner said.

Both Hughes and Perez-Felkner have published extensively on the topic of the different and unequal experiences of men and women in STEM. Their interest in the subject goes beyond a purely academic curiosity: Hughes is an administrator of the Tallahassee division of PBS’ Scigirls summer camp, which promotes careers in science among middle school-aged girls, and Perez-Felkner is the interim co-president of Tallahassee’s branch of the AAUW.

Both researchers plan to use the presentation as a platform to address critical, systemic issues and to advance new paradigms for thinking about research.

Essential to formulating workable remedies to the severe underrepresentation of women in these fields is a strong understanding of the biases and stereotypes that influence women and men’s disparate senses of belonging. Perez-Felkner said that while we’re better equipped to confront these problems than ever before, there is still important work to be done.

“We need to know more about how these beliefs and signals emerge in classrooms, peer environments, student-instructor interactions, and workplace environments, especially given how much variation there is among these institutions and individuals’ experiences,” she said. “There is a growing team of multidisciplinary and diverse scholars leading a multi-pronged effort to shine light on these issues, including the need for more precise data, and collaborations among researchers, institutions, and industry.”

One preconception that often frustrates proponents of diversity in STEM is the idea that more diversity means making concessions in the quality of research and discourse. Among some, there is an underlying belief that addressing issues of diversity will stunt or limit progress.

Hughes said that these are wrongheaded and harmful notions that need to be challenged.

“Often the conversation around diversity is misunderstood as ‘diversity means less,’ but really diversity increases our viewpoints and ideas, improving the entire discipline,” she said. “But changing attitudes about best practices and stereotypes takes time, and it takes people stepping forward to confront biases in policies and conversations that are maintaining the status quo. So there is a lot of work to do.”

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via Denise Smith Amos & Amanda Williamson, Florida Times-Union on March 26, 2017 

Detroit schools offer Vitti chance to shine in hometown

In about a week, Duval Superintendent Nikolai Vitti will make a pitch to become Detroit’s new superintendent.

He is one of two remaining finalists; a third withdrew from consideration Thursday.

Vitti said he wants the job because the Detroit area is his childhood home and because he is attracted by the school district’s unique challenges.

Detroit’s challenges seem to be bigger than Duval’s.

The school system lost half its enrollment — and consequently its funding — to charter schools, which operate independently of the district. Detroit students score far below most major districts, including Duval’s, on national reading and math tests.

Nearly half its students live in poverty, while in Duval its closer to one in five.

“Detroit has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the country,” said Theodore Kowalski, a retired professor at University of Dayton’s school of education and health sciences, and an expert on superintendents.

“That whole city … has been in decline for years because of the auto industry. Demographically, the city has lost a tremendous amount of its tax base. The district has declined in enrollment dramatically. They have a very high crime rate. It’s a very challenging job.”

But there may be subtler, more personal reasons making Detroit a good career move for Vitti, other experts say.

To a certain type of leader, Detroit may be an irresistible challenge.

“If he can go to Detroit and make a positive impact, then that’s something of national interest. Detroit is a high-visibility district,” said Stacey Rutledge, a professor in Florida State University’s educational leadership and policy studies department.

Added Linda Eldridge, coordinator of the University of Florida’s educational leadership program, “Some superintendents of large urban school districts make their careers by moving in and working on improving academic achievement. … They can write their own tickets when they are able to achieve that.”

A certain type of superintendent is drawn to big, nearly impossible challenges, said Art Stellar, a 25-year superintendent who ran districts in Oklahoma City and Boston, and now consults with superintendents.

“The biggest challenge in education right now is in the large-city superintendency,” he said. “Football players want to play in the Super Bowl. A track star wants be in the Olympics. Superintendents want to be where the biggest challenges are or where you can make the biggest impact.”

The chance for impact in Detroit is huge, some experts say.

Since the 1970s, Detroit has lost population, jobs and school enrollment as much of the U.S. auto manufacturing business went elsewhere. School enrollment fell faster once charter schools gained footholds in the 1990s and grew rapidly.

Now more than half Detroit’s students attend charter schools, compared to less than 10 percent in Duval.

On national assessments called NAEP, or the Nation’s Report Card, 4 to 7 percent of Detroit’s fourth and eighth graders passed reading and math. Duval’s ranged 22 percent to 41 percent.

“We are looking for a candidate who can help us improve achievement. That’s our No. 1 priority,” said Deborah Hunter-Harvill, a Detroit Board member. “We are looking for someone who will be community-oriented and help galvanize our staff. … When you’re on the bottom, you’ve got to move to the top.”

Duval has nearly three times Detroit’s enrollment — 116,000 students compared to 46,000. Both districts have a 78 percent high school graduation rate.

But financially, Detroit has a paper advantage — no debt. The state’s bailout last year left the district with a clean financial slate and a newly elected school board.

“We are a new district. We want to see what we can do to make things different,” Hunter-Harvill said. “Our children have been suffering for the last nine years because of financial mismanagement. … Time is up. It’s urgent. We need to do this for our children. They didn’t ask for this.”

Vitti, 40, said he sees opportunity working with this new board.

“Detroit is a city of grit, struggle, toughness and resilience,” he wrote in an email. “I believe I can be a leader within a city on the rebound and rise. This could be the last chance for traditional public education to work in Detroit, considering all the takeovers and challenges.”

Having been born and reared in metropolitan Detroit, Vitti said he wants to make things better for his hometown.

That’s not uncommon, Stellar said.

“A lot of superintendents like to go back to where they came from and kind of show off how good they are,” Stellar said. “It’s, ‘Hey! Look at me. I can do that stuff.’ Part of it is giving back. If you grew up in some place and it was a tough environment … you may want to go back to help, to give back to the community.”

In Vitti’s written application, he refers to his mother, who dropped out of high school as a pregnant teen and today works as a hairdresser, to family “challenges of immigration, … unemployment, alcoholism and foreclosures,” and notes his family ran a pizzeria.

“Detroit is in my blood,” he wrote. “I’m eager to return home and serve the city.”

He said he has an “expansive track record of success” including work in the Bronx, N.Y., Miami and most recently Jacksonville. He notes Duval’s graduation rates rose 11 percentage points under his administration, and achievement gaps between black and white students are narrower than most big-city districts.

“I admit that our work in Jacksonville is incomplete,” he wrote, “but at the same time I can confidently state that I will leave this district in a better place than I assumed it four years ago.”

Duval Board members say they’re happy for Vitti and wish him luck.

Board member Rebecca Couch said she thinks the move could be good for Vitti. “I thought he’d do a good job there,” she said. “I think it’s in a national spotlight and he can really bring reforms to the school district there.”

John Delaney, president of University of North Florida, said people outside Michigan perceive Detroit as bigger than Duval.

If Vitti gets the superintendent’s job, “I think that it is indeed a promotion,” Delaney said.

Vitti interviews with the Detroit School Board and community members April 3. The Detroit board is expected to decide on or after April 5.

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via Sascha Cordner WFSU on October 21, 2016

FSU Program Inducted Into Florida Division Of Blind Services Awards Program

During a recent ceremony celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Florida Division of Blind fsuvisualdisabilities1021Services, Director Robert Doyle inducted the FSU College of Education’s Visual Disabilities program into its “Successful 75.”

“As the only Visual Disabilities program in the Southeast, FSU offers one of the most respected and longest standing programs with an elite nationally recognized faculty, who have blindness experience in all majors,” he said. “The overall mission and curriculum instruction of the Visual Disabilities program is to prepare highly qualified individuals, again who have a personal and professional commitment to advancing the lives of individuals who are blind and impaired.”   

Nan McMillan is the President of the Student chapter of the Florida Association of Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She’s also a student of FSU’s Visual Disabilities program.

“In our program, our professor prepare students to work with all types of people who have visual impairments as teachers and as orientation mobility specialist,” she said. “There is a critical shortage for these professionals not just in Florida, but all across our nation.”

Meanwhile, Lighthouse of the Big Bend and Tallahassee Community College were also inducted into the Division of Blind Services’ “Successful 75” awards program—recognizing individuals, organizations, and businesses for their continued contributions to the blind and visually impaired community.

Listen to the story here.

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via Mark Vaughn FSU Headlines on September 22, 2016

College of Education Week 2016

The 2016 College of Education Week will be September 26 – October 1, 2016. This event, held in conjunction with FSU Parents’ Weekend, includes a week of symposia, presentations and events celebrating COE students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Check out more information about COE Week here.

Listen to the story here.

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via Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Notes on September 15, 2016

Developmental Education Impact

A recent report from the Center for Postsecondary Success found that Florida’s developmental education reform is having both positive and negative effects on student outcomes. The report assesses the effects of Florida’s 2013 law, which allows some high school graduates to avoid college placement exams and opt out of remedial education courses.

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via Byron Dobson Tallahassee Democrat on June 27, 2016

Tallahassee woman’s Lincoln Memorial performance goes viral

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Star Swain

It’s not exactly Marian Anderson singing in front of the Lincoln Memorial. But Star Swain‘s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at the national landmark was the sort of life-changing performance few who’ve heard it will soon forget.

Swain, a former Florida A&M Marching 100 trombonist and vocalist, has been thrust into the digital national spotlight after an impromptu a cappella rendition of the National Anthem has gone viral, being viewed by millions on Facebook and other social media.

Swain, 34, said she and her family were in Washington, D.C., on vacation two weeks ago with Marcus Henderson, minister of music at her church, and his family, along with Godby High assistant principal Benny Bolden and his family.

They were inside the Lincoln Memorial, when Henderson started talking about the superior acoustics inside the landmark.

“I said, ‘I could break out and start singing the Star Spangled Banner,’“ Swain recalled Monday. That was enough to get Henderson and Bolden to start urging her on.

At first, Swain said she was too nervous. When she started singing in front of other tourists, she didn’t realize Henderson had started videotaping. Unlike Anderson’s historic 1939 concert performance, Swain’s was apolitical and impromptu.

“I was in that moment. I just closed my eyes and started singing,” she said, her voice still giddy with excitement. “Marcus was videotaping the whole time.”

She couldn’t believe the response of the tourists who heard her sing.

“People just started saying ‘that was awesome, thank you,’“ she said. “One lady had tears in her eyes. I was kind of glad it was over. It was like a sigh of relief.”

That was only the beginning. Later that day, the video was posted on YouTube. A few people saw it, but nothing spectacular. It wasn’t until the following Monday that the world began to take notice.

“Someone put it up on their Facebook page and the rest is history,” said Swain.

The first person to post was Kermit Virgil, a friend from her days in the Marching 100, when she played trombone from 1999-2002, while she was completing her undergraduate degree in African American studies.

“He shared it with our band alumni association and it just went off the chart,” she said.

Virgil’s page attracted more than 2 million views. A second person, Nay Nichelle, also posted the video. It also attracted millions of views, Swain said.

“It has really blown my mind,” said Swain, who many will recall singing gospel tunes, “Order My Steps” and “Praise is What I Do”, with FAMU’s Marching 100.

“I am totally humbled,” Swain, who is pursuing a doctorate in educational policy and evaluation at Florida State University, said of the viral explosion.

Those who are used to hearing Swain sing on Sundays are delighted by the response to the video. They aren’t surprised.

“Finally,” is the response Pastor Quincy Griffin had to the incredible response to his church’s praise and worship leader at Family Worship and Praise Center in Tallahassee.

“I’ve known Star a long time, since college at Florida A&M University,” said Griffin, pastor of the church in Tallahassee. “I’ve seen her sing with the Marching 100 before 50,000 to 60,000 people at the Florida Classic.

“I’ve seen her captivate audiences. I’ve been waiting to see her captivate the world,” Griffin said. “Her voice, it’s not just ordinary, it’s extraordinary. Her voice is bigger than singing. People get freed of sadness, depression. It’s a healing that’s even beyond the words that she sings.”

The Jefferson County Middle/High School assistant principal spent much of Monday doing media interviews. She said the response from around the country has been “overwhelming.”

“I’m in complete shock right now,” she said. “We pray that great opportunities touch more lives in this way through music. I’m hoping that it will open up floodgates so we can do great things, for myself and others. If I can do this with the gift that God gave me to touch more lives, then that is what I want to do.”

Yanela G.McLeod, a long-time friend of Swain’s and fellow church member, said members are treated to Swain’s vocal talents weekly and are spoiled by her talents. That’s why she is so pleased to see her friend taking her musical calling to a higher level.

“The fact that she sang the national anthem at the Lincoln Memorial has played a major role in having people connect to that experience. She is connecting to people who are proud to be Americans,” McLeod said. “It is beautiful to watch God use this social media platform to present her purpose and anointing to the world. She is so deserving.”

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via Nora Bertolaet FSU Headlines on June 6, 2016

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FSU College of Education’s North Florida Freedom Schools Summer Camp

Florida State University’s College of Education is partnering up with Florida A&M University for Leon county’s inaugural North Florida Freedom Schools Summer Camp program. The six week summer program helps keep kids engaged in reading and education during the summer break. Check out more information on the North Florida Freedom Schools project here.

Listen to the interview with Dr. Alysia Roehrig.

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via Bill Kauffman Team USA on May 25, 2016

Cecile Reynaud Wins USAV’s Frier Award

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Cecile Reynaud

USA Volleyball honored Cecile Reynaud with its Harold T. Friermood “Frier” Award, the highest honor bestowed by the national governing body, during the Dorothy C. Boyce Awards Recognition Banquet Wednesday evening in Orlando, Florida.

Reynaud, who posted a 635-326 record in 26 seasons leading the Florida State University women’s volleyball program, has an extensive USA Volleyball history in developing coaches and broadening programming. She has been a member of the USAV Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP) teaching cadre since 1988. Reynaud has served on USA Volleyball’s Board of Directors in two different segments, the first being from 1985 to 1997. During that time, she was on the USAV executive committee from 1992 to 1996.

“Well obviously I have loved everything I have done for USA Volleyball and with the people in USA Volleyball,” Reynaud said. “This was quite shocking as you could tell by my expression. It is the highest honor you can receive by USA Volleyball. I am just so humble and grateful, and appreciate my opportunity to be involved in this sport. I have been fortunate to be asked to be involved in lot of roles in volleyball, and I have enjoyed all of them.”

Reynaud returned to the USA Volleyball Board of Directors in 2013 and is entering her 15th overall year on the board. She is currently chair of the USA Volleyball Personnel Committee. She has been chair of the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award committee since 2001. Reynaud was team leader for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Women’s Team, followed by serving in the same role and as an assistant coach on the U.S. Women’s National Team World Grand Prix trip.

Cecile Reynaud

Reynaud retired as head coach at Florida State University following the 2001 NCAA season, but she did not retire from the sport of volleyball after a career that was already full of memories.

Reynaud, who accepted the head coach position at Florida State at age 22, posted a 635-326 record in 26 seasons with the Seminoles, which ranked ninth all-time in NCAA Division I victories at the time of her retirement. Her teams claimed six Metro Conference Championships, one ACC title and competed in 10 NCAA Tournaments. In her final season, the Seminoles reached the ACC Championship match. Reynaud earned conference Coach of the Year honors four times during her career.

Reynaud was elected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association to serve as its president from 1989-1990. She has been part of the AVCA board in two different stints, the first being from 1986 to 1991 and her second tenure starting in 2006 where she remains as its education and publications representative.

Reynaud’s involvement with USA Volleyball has been extensive, both in coaching and leadership roles. She has been a member of the USA Volleyball’s Coaching Accreditation Program teaching cadre since 1988 and is a highly sought after clinician and speaker. Reynaud has served on USA Volleyball’s Board of Directors in two different segments, the first being from 1985 to 1997. During that time, she was on the USAV executive committee from 1992 to 1996. Reynaud returned to the USA Volleyball Board of Directors in 2013 and is entering her 15th overall year on the board. She is currently chair of the USA Volleyball Personnel Committee.

Reynaud, who was honored with USA Volleyball’s George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award in 1996, has served on various USAV Committees including chair of the All-Time Great Coaches Selection Committee (2001-present), Foundation’s Education Grant Review Committee (2006-present), Special Commission on the Participant Safety (2010-present) and Paralympic High Performance Commission (2013-present). She has also been a leader in USA Volleyball’s SafeSport program since its creation.

Although retired from collegiate coaching, Reynaud never put down her whistle. She served as coach for the U.S. Girls’ Youth Continental Team that competed in the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships in 2009 and 2010. It was not her first involvement with the HP pipeline as one of her first groups she coached was the 1983 U.S. Women’s Junior National Team. That same year Reynaud was an assistant coach for the U.S. World University Games Team that completed in Canada. She also served as a coordinator at the U.S. Olympic Festival for several years and participated in the Goodwill Games.

Reynaud served as the team leader for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Women’s Volleyball Team as the squad won the silver medal at the Paralympic Games in London. She was both an assistant coach and team leader for the U.S. Women’s National Team during the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix.

Reynaud’s coaching expertise has not been limited to working in the United States. She was an FIVB instructor from 1999 to 2006 after serving as the deputy competition manager for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Along with being a highly regarded speaker, Reynaud has written numerous publications. She is co-editor of “The Volleyball Coaching Bible” that came out in 2002. She has been a technical consultant for two Power Volleyball films and has co-authored numerous articles pertaining to women’s athletics.

Since finishing her collegiate coaching career, Cecile has brought her volleyball knowledge to the small screen in the form of television color analyst for several conference broadcasts over the last decade. Reynaud’s knowledge of the game, personality, wit and charm helped put the sport of volleyball in a new light for the digital audiences. And USA Volleyball is honored to have Reynaud bring that same personality combination to our Boyce Banquets as a long-time emcee for the event.

Reynaud, who earned her Ph.D. in athletic administration from Florida State, served as a faculty member in Florida State’s sport management department from 2002-2015, helping to teach the next generation of sports executives.

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via The Energy and Commerce Committee on May 11, 2016

Daily Fantasy Sports: Issues and Perspectives

Witnesses

Mr. Steve Brubaker
Executive Director, Small Business of Fantasy Sports Trade Association

Mr. Kurt Eggert
Professor of Law, Chapman University Fowler School of Law

Mr. Jordan Gnat
SVP, Strategic Business Development, Scientific Games

Mr. Mark Locke
Chief Executive Officer, Genius Sports Group

Mr. John M. McManus
Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, MGM Resorts International

Dr. Ryan Rodenberg
Assistant Professor, Florida State University, Department of Sport Management

Mr. Peter Schoenke
President, RotoWire, on behalf of Fantasy Sports Trade Association

Ms. Lindsay Slader
Operations Manager, GeoComply

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via WFSU on May 6, 2016

FAMU/FSU Help Host Local Freedom Schools This Summer

Clemons Norris

Kristal Clemons and Keely Norris

One-hundred young students in Tallahassee and neighboring Gadsden County will have a unique learning experience this summer. They will be part of an educational tradition that dates back to the height of the nation’s struggle for civil rights.

The genesis of that “Freedom Schools” program came at a time when the fight for equality was scaling new heights in America.

“(It was during the) 1964, Mississippi Freedom Summer,” said Dr. Kristal Clemons. She used to supervise the social studies teachers trained at Florida A&M University. She’s now on the education faculty of Florida State University and a co-executive director of this summer’s North Florida Freedom Schools.

“You had mostly white interns from the north caravanning down, first to Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, Ohio for civil rights and resistance training. And then to various counties in Mississippi,” she explained.

“Traditional Freedom Schools did not look like what we see today. They were in run-down taverns, the back of churches, backyards of various community members’ homes. And what they did was they supplemented what students did not receive in their traditional academic curriculum.”

Those days of segregated education and institutionalized discrimination may be receding. But Clemons said the need for Freedom Schools’ educational programs goes on, particularly for children in low-income, marginalized environments. She teamed up with a Leon County special education middle school teacher Keely Norris who was already running the Hope Freedom School in nearby Gadsden County. Smith in turn was working with Florida State Education Researcher Alysia Roehrig. Clemons says the three educators decided to expand the program under the auspices of the Capital City’s two universities and open a second Freedom School at Florida A&M’s Developmental Research School…commonly called “DRS”.

“Given FAMU’s location and the population it serves, we thought what better place than to do this at FAMU DRS,” she said.

The summer program will instruct 50 kindergarten through 8th grade students each at the Gadsden County and Tallahassee locations. Clemons said each of the participating universities will bring unique learning to the experience.

“They have some great programs at FAMU. They have the Institute for Research and Music Industry Studies, which we’re partnering with, and they’re going to teach our kids music production, and hip hop pedagogy, hip hop arts, and then on the FSU faculty side, we’ve got sports management faculty who are teaching health and wellness (and) healthy living.”

FSU Education Researcher Alysia Roehrig said there will be some more regular kinds of academic skills being taught as well.

“Where students work with pre-service teachers to talk through math problems. We’re going to have a project looking at writing and revision. You can write something short, might be what’s hot now is ‘flash fiction’ they write real short stories and then they’ll have a chance to sort of manipulate that and create art of their story and then go back and revise their story,” she said.

As good as all this might sound, the ultimate question is, does it help the kids? Roehrig insisted the empirical results look good.

“A lot of research has been done on different Freedom Schools, some actually experimental. Last summer, we just had the pre-post data for the evaluations and the majority of the children did retain their reading level or exceed their initial reading level.”

Roehrig thinks this whole idea has real possibilities for statewide application. Particularly if other public universities take the lead in their communities.

“I think this model working with the universities is really helpful because then we can bring in the knowledge of what’s evidence-based, but also do research to see how we can improve what’s going on and also help working to train teachers to work with diverse students.”

North Florida’s two Freedom Schools will be in session from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. June 13th through July 22nd.

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via Dustin Gouker Legal Sports Report on May 6, 2016

Witness List Set For Fantasy Sports Congressional Hearing; No FanDuel Or DraftKings

Most of the witness list for a Congressional hearing looking into the daily fantasy sports industry is now set.

DraftKings and FanDuel representatives were invited to attend but declined, according to a source close to the House Energy and Commerce committee.

Here are the witnesses scheduled to appear in front of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade:

  • Steve Brubaker, Executive Director, Small Business Fantasy Sports Trade Association;
  • Kurt Eggert, Professor of Law, Chapman University Fowler School of Law;
  • Jordan Gnat, Senior Vice President, Strategic Business Development, Scientific Games;
  • John M. McManus, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, MGM Resorts International;
  • Ryan Rodenberg, Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management, Florida State University;
  • Peter Schoenke, President, Rotowire.com, Chairman, Fantasy Sports Trade Association;
  • Lindsay Slader, Operations Manager, GeoComply;
  • Mark Locke, CEO, Genius Sports

A closer look at the witnesses

Who are the witnesses, and why are they appearing in front of Congress on this topic? From Purdum via Twitter and from the composition of the witness list, sports betting will also be a topic of discussion.

Brubaker is a lobbyist based in Illinois who heads a trade association representing several dozen “smaller” fantasy sports companies — i.e. not DraftKings or FanDuel. The SBFSTA launched in March. He will speak on behalf of the small DFS operators, paid-entry seasonlong contest operators and content sites under the SBFSTA unbrella.

Schoenke is the other industry representative on the witness list. He has spoken in front of a variety of state legislatures on behalf of the companies that the FSTA represents. The FSTA counts nearly all DFS operators among its membership — that includes DraftKings and FanDuel.

Ryan Rodenberg

Dr. Ryan Rodenberg

Rodenberg is one of the foremost experts on federal law as it pertains to sports wagering; he has written an amicus brief in the ongoing New Jersey sports betting case. He will likely be consulted for his expertise on the applicable federal laws, namely UIGEA and PASPA.

Eggert is a an expert in gambling regulation. His publication — Truth in Gaming: Toward Consumer Protection in the Gambling Industry — is likely why he got the call for this hearing.

Gnat represents Scientific Games, a leader in technology for lotteries and land-based and interactive gaming; SG is also involved sports betting. Gnat appears to be called for his expertise in the realm of internet gaming.

McManus will be representing the land-based casino industry in the hearing. Casinos have generally supported the idea of regulation of the DFS industry (via the American Gaming Association). Casinos have lamented that DFS falls in a legal gray area in many states; they have been loathe to enter the DFS space, because of the possibility of putting their gaming licenses at risk. Casinos and the AGA are also supportive of legal and regulated sports betting throughout the U.S.

Slader represents GeoComply, which provides geolocation services in the online gaming space. DraftKings partnered with GeoComply in November of last year. GeoComply is capable of stopping users from entering DFS contests if they are in a location where contests are illegal.

Locke represents Genius Sports, a sports data and technology company that works with leagues around the world on game integrity issues as it relates to sports betting.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis FSU News on May 6, 2016

Education doctoral student wins national fellowship

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Samantha Nix

A Florida State University graduate student has received a prestigious fellowship from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation to complete her dissertation.

Samantha Nix, a doctoral student in the College of Education, was one of 35 winners selected from a pool of more than 400 applicants to the NAEd/Spencer Foundation’s Dissertation Fellowship Program. Nix, who is the first Florida State student to receive the highly competitive award, will receive $27,500 to support her dissertation during the 2016-2017 academic year.

“It is exciting, surprising and such an honor,” Nix said. “I have received so much mentorship from my department, especially my adviser Lara Perez-Felkner, and my dissertation committee members. I really don’t think my application would have been as competitive without their feedback and wonderful recommendation letters.”

The Dissertation Fellowship Program seeks to encourage a new generation of scholars whose dissertations show potential for bringing fresh and constructive perspectives to the history, theory, analysis or practice of formal or informal education anywhere in the world.

Nix is studying how students’ perceptions of STEM fields as particularly challenging can play a role in whether they pursue higher education degrees and careers in these areas.

“As a master’s student, I became really intrigued by this idea that perhaps students are not majoring in STEM fields because of the overall aura of difficulty and challenge surrounding those fields, especially in mathematics-intensive majors,” Nix said.

In a study last year, Nix and Perez-Felkner found there was a significant relationship between perceived ability under challenge in math and a student’s decision to enter math-intensive STEM fields like the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics or computer sciences. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that men had significantly higher perceived ability under challenge in math compared to women. Women, nationally, participate at lower rates than men in mathematics-intensive fields.

Those findings prompted Nix to investigate what is fueling these perceptions and how those perceptions may differ based on students’ racial identities.

“Is it that students are actually perceiving that these fields are really challenging and that’s what is turning them away?” Nix said. “How do perceptions of challenge shift throughout the college experience? Or is there more involved?”

Nix was inspired to research the topic while working with more than 100 women majoring in STEM fields in the Women in Math, Science and Engineering living-learning community on FSU’s campus. For three years, she acted as WIMSE’s Program Coordinator under the direction of Susan Blessing, a professor of physics who is now a member of Nix’s dissertation committee.

“The insight from students about how they experienced and felt about STEM fields was really helpful in narrowing down what I wanted to study,” Nix said. “Their comments really got me curious about researching this issue.”

Perez-Felkner, an assistant professor of higher education and sociology, said her mentee is well deserving of the fellowship.

“Sam has consistently impressed me, sometimes quietly with her persistent excellence and attention to detail,” Perez-Felkner said. “Along with my colleagues — because Sam’s talent has elicited support and guidance from quite a few of us — I feel incredibly privileged to be mentoring such an outstanding doctoral student. I could not be happier to see her efforts and ideas recognized in this way. I’m looking forward to next year as Sam completes her dissertation and moves on to the next steps in her career.”

Nix also recently received a P.E.O. Scholar Award from the International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards program, established in 1991, provides educational awards for women who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an accredited college or university. Nix’s award is $15,000 and will fund data collection costs for her dissertation this summer.

About the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation
The National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation advances high quality education research and its use in policy formation and practice. Founded in 1965, the Academy consists of U.S. members and foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education. Since its establishment, the Academy has undertaken research studies that address pressing issues in education, which are typically conducted by members and other scholars with relevant expertise. In addition, the Academy sponsors professional development fellowship programs that contribute to the preparation of the next generation of scholars.

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via Melissa Hardison FSU News on May 6, 2016

Florida State celebrates graduate student achievements

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Dr. Adrienne Stephenson and Dean Nancy Marcus recognize graduate students who received competitive external funding during the 2015-16 academic year.

Florida State University recognized talented and high-achieving graduate students at its annual Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence held April 13 at the FSU Alumni Center.

The event, sponsored by the Congress of Graduate Students and the Office of Research, celebrated graduate students’ accomplishments in service, teaching, research, creativity and leadership, and acknowledged graduate faculty for excellence in mentoring.

This year, the Graduate School presented two new awards: the John F. Liseno PIE Graduate Award to support research and teaching, and the Excellence in Visual Arts Award to support accomplishments in visual arts.

President John Thrasher opened the celebration by inspiring students to build upon their accomplishments. Dean Nancy Marcus of the Graduate School served as the master of ceremonies and introduced the plenary speaker, Arthur Raney, the James E. Kirk Professor of Communication in the College of Communication and Information. His speech, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Graduate School,” provided a humorous and engaging talk on graduate life.

In addition to the 2016 award winners, more than 70 graduate students who received competitive external funding during the 2015-16 academic year were recognized. The full program and recipient list may be downloaded here.

2016 Celebration of Graduate Student Excellence Award Winners:

Recognition of PFF/PFP Fellows
Abdullah Ahmed Alghamdi (Educational Psychology & Learning Systems); Anas Hamed Almuhammadi (School of Teacher Education); Meshari Alshammari (School of Teacher Education); Mehnaz Gul (School of Communication); Jessica Martinez (Biological Science); Nicole Reid (Educational Psychology & Learning Systems); Wasan Tawfeeq (School of Teacher Education); Sara Tours (School of Teacher Education); Amanda Yeargin (Asian Studies)

Read the full article.

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via Erica Frederick FSU News on April 25, 2016

Researchers inducted as fellows of American Educational Research Association

Herrington

Dr. Carolyn Herrington

Two Florida State University faculty members — Donald Compton and Carolyn Herrington — have been named fellows of the American Education Research Association (AERA).

Compton, a professor of developmental psychology who is affiliated with the Florida Center for Reading Research, and Herrington, a professor of educational policy and director of Florida State’s Educational Policy Center, were selected for the honor to recognize their substantial research accomplishments and sustained commitment to excellence in research about education and learning.

They were among 22 fellows inducted by the association April 9 in Washington, D.C.

“FSU is fortunate to have faculty members of the caliber of Herrington and Compton,” said Janet Kistner, vice president for Faculty Development and Advancement. “Their selection as fellows of the American Education Research Association reflects the high quality and impact of their research on the field of education.”

Compton is one of the world’s leading researchers in his field. His research examines individual differences in children’s reading development and the treatment of children with reading disabilities.

“It’s a wonderful honor to be recognized as an AERA Fellow,” Compton said. “The list of fellows is absolutely inspiring and to now be included in the group is truly amazing.”

Herrington’s research focuses on the politics and policies of educational reform with an emphasis on the role of the state.

“I am thrilled to have been recognized by my peers and to join such impressive company,” Herrington said. “Most of my work has been on educational policy at the state level. As a faculty member at FSU in Tallahassee, the state capitol, I have benefited from immeasurable opportunities to focus on educational policy issues that matter.

“FSU has a very strong research-focused college of education,” she said. “The dean of the college and the chair of my department have supported me at every turn. Most of all, I am thankful for the support of the colleagues in my department.”

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via Shouping Hu Center for Postsecondary Success on April 22, 2016

CPS GRADUATE ASSISTANT RECEIVES SPENCER FOUNDATION DISSERTATION FELLOW AWARD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Shouping Hu, FSU College of Education
(850) 644-6720: shu@fsu.edu

April 2016

CPS Graduate Assistant Receives Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow Award

TALLAHASEE, FLA. — FSU Higher Education Doctoral Candidate Samantha Nix has been recognized as a 2016-2017 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Selected by a committee of NAEd members and other eminent senior scholars in a highly competitive national application process, Nix was one of 35 promising candidates selected to receive $27,500 in dissertation funding and professional development retreats with national mentors. Fellows are selected on the basis of the importance of the research question and quality of its approach, as well as the scholarly potential of the applicant. Scholars represent a range of academic and professional disciplines and tend to hail from the nation’s top doctoral programs in education and social science fields. According to the Foundation, Nix is the first student from Florida State University ever to be honored with this prestigious Dissertation Fellowship.

Nix’s dissertation aims to develop a framework for how societal beliefs about difficulty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) translates into individual perceptions of ability under challenge in mathematics-intensive fields and influences students’ subsequent decisions to major, complete degrees, and pursue careers in those domains.

Through secondary analyses of nationally representative Education Longitudinal Study data as well as a qualitative analysis of original interview data, Nix’s dissertation will (1) illuminate the manner in which students perceive social signals of STEM domains as particularly difficult throughout their educational experiences, (2) describe interactions between college students’ perceived ability under challenge in mathematics-intensive fields and their race/ethnicity and gender identities, and (3) illustrate the relationships of those perceptions to physics, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences major persistence, degree completion, and career intent. Findings will help inform researchers, practitioners, and policymakers of the existence, impact, and development process of these perceptions of difficulty, which contribute to cultures of exclusivity through social signals of challenge in STEM.

The mission of the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) is to provide support for, and foster collaboration among, those who are interested in conducting research on student success in postsecondary education, and to identify and evaluate institutional, state, and federal policies and programs that may serve to improve student success.

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via Living with RP on April 20, 2016

Simulated Blindness Experiences: There’s Bad News and Good News

Retinitis pigmentosa is taking my vision. So I’m adjusting. I walk rather than drive, and scan my surroundings to compensate for what I can’t see. I’m contemplating a cane. (Not yet.) What I’m discovering is that my impairment has two facets: the physical and the societal. And in all my thinking about what a significant visual impairment might be like, I underappreciated how remarkably negative the societal implications would be. Here’s why: society is getting a lot wrong about blindness and blind people.
As ancient as fear of the dark, blindness has always been among the most dreaded of conditions, and its associations are as strongly negative as the emotions that fuel them. Added to our ancient fears, we now have a modern source of anxiety and damaging stereotypes: blindness experiences. From dining in darkness, blindfolded plays and blindfolded concerts, people are being offered ways to experience the challenges of blindness. Sounds good, right? There are good aspects of it, certainly. It gets people thinking. In some cases, it raises money for research to cure the conditions that lead to blindness. This is exciting. I want them to cure blindness. But here’s an uncomfortable truth: events like these may be raising money while undermining dignity.
Simulations are quite different from blind life in presentation and execution. Most visually impaired are losing their vision gradually. It’s not a sudden moment. And most people who are considered blind still retain some vision, if just the ability to see motion, or perceive light. We adjust incrementally, physically and emotionally, and get training along the way. None of this is true for simulated blindness. Participants are submerged into complete darkness instantly with a blackout mask, and try a task-one they have probably only ever tried sighted.

What conclusions will participants draw from this? The risk is that they will find blindness overly negative, resulting in an overly negative view of blind persons. Since the advertised notion is that participants are experiencing blindness, they may reasonably conclude that their experience is a realistic recreation of blind life: that the blind are as anxious and incapable as they are. New research agrees. Simulations, “intended to be bridge-builders resulting in greater compassion and understanding-can sometimes harm rather than help. [They] highlight the initial challenges of becoming disabled [and] decrease the perceived adaptability of being disabled and reduce the judged capabilities of disabled people.” Of course it does. The fallout? The blind may have fewer opportunities for integration, both socially and professionally. Unhelpful.

But there’s more, and here’s where we go from unhelpful to distressing. Dining in the dark participants are encouraged to dispense using utensils to feed themselves. They are instructed to eat with their hands. Bridge building? This is the infantilism of an already under respected community. If these experiences are having success in getting a message out about blind persons, it is almost certainly the wrong one. Sighted are exposed to the most shocking version of blindness, and encouraged to respond to the challenge in a manner that is at best infantile, and is at worst, animalistic. This is marketed and sold as blindness awareness, to help the blind.

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Mickey Damelio instructs students in his Orientation & Mobility class with hands-on activities

But then I read about a blindness experience that gets it right. I was so impressed that I contacted the instructor. Mickey Damelio, faculty member at Florida State University teaches a class called The Blindness Experience. It’s an elective, one as wildly popular as the beer and wine tasting class. Imagine. The difference between FSU’s Blindness Experience class and the experiences mentioned above, like blindfolded dining, is the difference between exploiting pity and shock of blindness and promoting meaningful understanding. The students who are lucky enough to get into this class experience a semester long challenge of blind stereotypes. They interact with fifteen guest speakers during the course, all blind: parents, Ph.Ds, a prosecuting attorney, a former phone sex operator. That’s right. The class participates in blind simulations too, but never for shock value. “When you first put on a blindfold, you almost can’t help but put yourself in that first beginning stage of grief. But imagine how well you would do with this after ten years of being blindfolded” they are reminded. The perspective offered here is not shallow or cursory. Damelio is himself an orientation and mobility specialist, and teacher of the visually impaired, and has headed up the orientation and mobility program at FSU since 2010. So why offer this class? “It’s a public service, really,” says Damelio. “The whole reason for the class is to give students so many experiences with blindness that they are unable to stereotype it. About mid-way through the semester students conclude that the idea of generalizing two people with a visual impairment is as ridiculous as assuming two people with blue eyes must be the same kind of person.” And if that isn’t a big enough sigh of relief for the visually impaired, Damelio has another goal. “Many of the students who take this class will be leaders and in a position to make hiring decisions. Changing the perception of blind people with these students may give blind people essential opportunities.”

Blindness awareness is a worthy goal, but depending on the perspective offered, it can help blind persons or make their lives difficult. Awareness activities that underscore shock do little to promote inclusion of the visually impaired community. In reality, it diminishes our opportunities to integrate socially and professionally. Hearing about courses like The Blindness Experience restores some equilibrium to the process of vision loss for me. If I can’t see well, being understood well may be the next best thing. When the perception of visual impairment has been limited to a physical challenge, only then we will be experiencing accurate blindness awareness. Interested in a blind perspective? Use the FSU model. Talk to lots of blind people. Talk about everything. Maybe even blindness.

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via Jessica Bakeman Capital New York on April 13, 2016

FSU, FAMU faculty plan summer program for low-income children

TALLAHASSEE — Faculty at the state capital’s two public universities are collaborating in a rare effort to launch an academic enrichment program for local, low-income children this summer.

Florida State University and Florida A&M University faculty will operate the program, a local iteration of a model that has been replicated nationally under the supervision of the Children’s Defense Fund. While North Florida Freedom Schools will be one of more than 200 similar programs nationally, it’s unusual in that few are sponsored by higher education institutions or run by faculty members.

FSU and FAMU professors who are spearheading the project will design some of the curricula and conduct research to determine the program’s effectiveness, while students from the colleges, many of whom are studying education, will take on teaching roles.

FAMU is also donating classroom space at its Developmental Research School, a K-12 institution on the historically black university’s campus. The program will serve 100 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, 50 each in south Tallahassee and Quincy, which is in rural Gadsden County.

The program will be one of seven nationally that’s sponsored by universities or operated on their campuses.

NFFS logo

North Florida Freedom Schools

Keely Smith, a Leon County middle school special education teacher, FSU alumna and co-executive director of the non-profit North Florida Freedom Schools, said she believed the only way for the program to be successful was if local higher education institutions got involved. So she connected with local faculty members and sought their help.

“The way this is going to work in our community is if we get our universities on board,” Smith said. “They have the opportunity to provide a well-run and well-funded and well-resourced program. FSU and FAMU are joining a small team of other universities that have already done this throughout the country.”

Students will attend from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays from June 13 through July 22. In the mornings, they’ll get intensive reading instruction, using books written by black and Hispanic authors. In the afternoon, they’ll participate in a unique curricula designed by the university faculty, including math problem solving, health and wellness and hip hop. The students will also complete community service projects.

Funding is the biggest challenge. The six-week program, which is intended to be free for students, costs more than $100,000 to run, Smith estimated.

Costs include food (the children are provided breakfast, lunch and snacks) and a $285 per-student fee paid to the Children’s Defense Fund for teacher training, curricula and books. Organizers hope to raise enough money to provide a stipend to the college students who will serve as teachers for the program, and they’re planning field trips that will require transportation.

Organizers are hoping to raise the money through a combination of private donations and federal grants. For example, if the federal government will provide food for the kids, that would cut about $20,000 off the total they need to raise. Smith said she has already secured about $15,000 to $20,000 in pledged support.

FSU will collect donations for the program during its fifth-annual “great give,” a fundraising drive scheduled for Thursday and Friday. The organizers are also hosting a brunch fundraiser at Madison Social, a restaurant in Tallahassee, on May 7.

“Trying to fundraise what it takes to operate a program of this caliber is a challenge,” Smith said.

There will also be a research component to the program. The organizers hope to curb students’ summer learning loss.

Alysia Roehrig, an FSU faculty member who is serving as research director, said she will be collecting data on the children’s reading abilities before and after the program as well as information about the students’ feelings regarding their ability to make a difference. She’ll be working with a FAMU faculty member who will help with applying for grants to support the program in future years.

Kristal Clemons, the other co-executive director who is an FSU professor and formerly worked at FAMU, said she expects there will be enough interest in the program that there will be a waiting list.

And the organizers are hoping to grow the program in future years.

“We want to open up another location,” Roehrig said. “There are so many rural areas of poverty where kids don’t have opportunities to do enrichment activities.”

Jalaya Lyles Dunn, the national director of operations for the Children’s Defense Fund’s freedom schools, said she hopes to see more universities and higher education faculty launch programs like the one in Tallahassee. Other colleges that are sponsoring freedom schools include Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

“A goal is to make sure we have freedom school sites at every college and university in the U.S.,” Dunn said. “We are really trying to bridge the gap between our communities, our local schools and our colleges and universities, so that children can see college in their future.”

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via Doug Lederman Inside Higher Ed on April 13, 2016

Ed Research Roundup

WASHINGTON — Thousands of education scholars converged on the District of Columbia this week for the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, the largest convening of the women and men who study K-12 and postsecondary learning. The conference’s agenda featured papers, posters and presentations on a wide array of topics.

Following is a selection of some of the studies that caught the eye of Inside Higher Ed’s reporters and editors, because of some combination of the timeliness of their topics and the compelling nature of their findings.

Labor Returns for Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Roughly 60 percent of Hispanic college students attend Hispanic-serving institutions, or HSIs, a federal categorization meaning at least 25 percent of a college’s full-time students are Hispanic. A study released at AERA examined the long-term labor market returns of graduates of Hispanic-serving institutions in Texas, finding comparable earnings for those students in relation to graduates of other colleges.

The report from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development found that the selectivity of colleges drove differences in labor-market returns for Hispanic graduates, not HSI status.

Toby-Park

Dr. Toby Park

“We found no difference in wages when comparing graduates of HSIs and non-HSIs that are similarly selective,” the study said, “after controlling for our measures of human and social capital and the region of Texas where the graduates were employed 10 years after finishing high school.”

The study’s authors are Toby Park, an assistant professor of education at Florida State University; Stella M. Flores, an assistant professor of higher education at the Steinhardt School; and Christopher J. Ryan Jr., a graduate student at Vanderbilt University. The Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania will release a policy report version in coming weeks.

Read the full article here.

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via Jeanne Sager She Knows on April 12, 2016

The ‘M-word’ we need to be careful using in front of our girls

I’ve become accustomed to my daughter walking straight past her father and right to me when she needs help. He might be aimlessly perusing Netflix, and I may be 500 words into an essay that needs editing right now, but I’m her go-to. But not this time. She’d walked into the room with a piece of paper in hand and a declaration that she needed homework help, but she was walking toward her dad.

“Bring it over,” I said. “I’ll take a look.”

“No,” she said with a sigh. “It’s math. You can’t do it. Daddy has to.”

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. My 10-year-old is already aware that her parents have limitations in life, and I’m not afraid to talk to her about that. I’ve long felt it builds character in kids to have parents who are open about their flaws than it is to hide them away under a guise of perfection.

More: Just one sentence changed everything I did as a mom

But this was different. This was a sign that I’m failing my tween daughter at a critical time in her development.

Countless studies have shown that our girls’ self-esteem begins to nose dive in adolescence, including their belief that they are as good as — if not better than — their male peers. They’ve also shown that the barriers for girls in STEM begin now, in middle school.

Couple that with the fact that a mother is typically a girl’s strongest role model for education, and my worry sounds less like that of an anxious mom and more of a real problem. If my daughter thinks I “can’t do math” while her father can, what message am I sending her about women in STEM?

The thing is, I can do math, although up until a year or two ago, I was the one saying — in front of her no less — that I couldn’t. That’s because I’m sadly a typical woman in America, raised to believe that boys are better at the STEM subjects, that girls are better suited to the arts.

More: I was absolutely terrified that I’d give birth to a little girl

A study just last year by researchers at Florida State University found that teen boys tend to overestimate their math ability, while teen girls tend to underestimate theirs. And it’s not just the girls themselves. A 2012 study from the University of Texas at Austin found high school teachers tend to rate girls’ math abilities lower than their male peers, even when the girls’ grades are higher, while a 2008 study published in the academic journal, Science, posits cultural biases against females in STEM are to blame for girls performing poorly on math tests.

In other words, girls are told at every turn that they suck at math, so often in fact that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Growing up with two parents whose jobs are in STEM, I was the black sheep of the family who would rather photograph or write about a list of numbers than tally them up. My mother often reminded me how different I was, remarking that I wasn’t “mechanical” like my brother and father.

I believed her. Despite skipping a grade in elementary school and being selected for a special advanced high school program in the seventh grade, by the time I hit geometry and chemistry, I hit a wall. I was an English (or what they now call English language arts) kid. I wasn’t a math and science kid. I couldn’t DO this.

Of course, now I look back and realize that my 85 to 90 average in chemistry was one many of my peers would have been touting from the rooftops, while I never slipped out of the 90s in math class. I was smart at math and science. I just had to work harder at it than I did the arts. Isn’t that true of most of us? We have some things we’re better at than others, but it doesn’t mean we’re “bad” at said others?

I admit that it’s only as my daughter, who at 3 reveled in engineering complicated towers of paper cups and at 10 boasts of her 100 average in math, has entered adolescence that I’ve forced myself to examine my own complicated relationship with STEM. I want her to feel like she can do anything, like she can be the next Silicon Valley genius, if that’s what she wants.

Sitting with her a few months back, watching the Netflix tween girl-focused STEM-heavy show Project Mc2 (which is part of the streaming service’s partnership with the White House to break down gender stereotypes, by the way), I tried to talk up the girls on screen and how awesome they were, to engage her in a conversation about how they used math and science and were still the kinds of girls she’d want to hang out with. I love the show for the role models it’s providing to our girls, but what about the most important role model of all? Us?

More: 10 famous movie lines that get a lot funnier when you have kids

How can they have faith in their abilities, if we don’t have faith in our own? It might be too late for many women to regain the confidence they had in themselves before they hit adolescence, but it’s not too late for our daughters.

For my part, I’ve vowed to stop making self-deprecating jokes about myself as a “writer who can’t do math,” to stop asking my husband to figure out the tip on a restaurant check when I could do it just as easily myself, and instead shoo him away from her homework and answer the questions.

How about you?

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via North Carolina Department of Public Instruction on April 7, 2016

GASTON COUNTY TEACHER IS HEAD OF THE CLASS;BOBBIE CAVNAR NAMED 2016 NC TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Bobbie Cavnar

Bobbie Cavnar

South Point High School English and Journalism teacher Bobbie Cavnar today was named the 2016 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. The Gaston County Public Schools’ teacher succeeds Keana Triplett, an English teacher at Ashe County High School (Ashe County Schools).

In announcing this year’s recipient, State Superintendent June Atkinson said Cavnar is a champion of public education and the opportunities it provides students. “Bobbie sees public education as the one thing that is equal and fair in a child’s life, and he sees teachers as the equalizers, the keeper’s of America’s promise of equal opportunity.”

Atkinson also thanked the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for its continued sponsorship of the North Carolina Teacher of the Year program. “We know that great teachers make the difference, and Bobbie is a prime example of what can be accomplished when teachers are committed to their students’ success. Without the Burroughs Wellcome Fund we would not be able to highlight his accomplishments nor the other regional teachers of the year who represent North Carolina’s quality teachers.”

Burroughs Wellcome Fund President Dr. John Burris said that Burroughs Wellcome Fund is proud to sponsor the North Carolina Teacher of the Year Award. “We recognize that central to the successful and fulfilling education of our youth are great teachers and that without such teachers both our state and nation will falter.”

Cavnar has taught for 16 years, the last 12 at South Point High School. Prior to this, he taught high school English and Journalism at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. He currently participates in the Gaston County Teacher Induction Program for Success where he trains incoming teachers in model classroom best practices. He has presented at a number of workshops including the UNC-Charlotte Writing Project Spring and Fall Conferences in 2013 and the North Carolina English Teachers Association Fall Conference in 2010.

He has received a number of awards including the 2016 Southwest Region Teacher of the Year, 2015 Wells Fargo Educator of the Year for Gaston County Schools, 2014 South Point High School Teacher of the Year, and South Point High School Most Influential Educator (voted on by students) for 2013, 2011, 2009, 2006 and 2004.

Cavnar earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education in 1999 from Florida State University and a master’s degree in English in 2012 from UNC-Charlotte.

Read the full article here.

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via Bill Edmonds Learning Systems Institute on March 28, 2016

With contract extension, LSI will continue work in Ethiopia on training teachers in reading instruction

Ramos-Mattoussi Paredes-Drouet

Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Ed.D., at left, is principal investigator on the project and senior research associate with LSI’s Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development. Carla Paredes-Drouet, at right, is an early childhood education and development specialist with more than eight years of international experience who is assisting on the project. Paredes-Drouet, a native of Quito, Ecuador, is also a Ph.D. student in FSU’s College of Education.

A team of experts from FSU’s Learning Systems Institute has received extended funding to continue work with officials and educators in Ethiopia to reform reading instruction in the African nation.

“This is a challenging project, because Ethiopia has one of the most inclusive policies on language of instruction, with more than 20 mother tongue languages being used in classrooms,” said Dr. Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, the principal investigator and a senior research associate with the Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development, part of the Learning Systems Institute.

The FSU team in Ethiopia, including Drs. Marion Fesmire and Adrienne Barnes, is working alongside local educators to develop up to seven modules (textbooks) in seven national languages and English.

FSU is a partner to RTI International on the project, “Reading for Ethiopia Achievement Developed Technical Assistance,” which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. With the new contract extension, the funding for FSU’s portion of the project now exceeds $2.2 million.

“This project is designed to ensure that reading and writing skills are sufficiently developed in the primary school in the seven most widely spoken languages.” said Ramos-Mattoussi. “Our FSU team focuses on development of teacher education, curriculum and materials and on training of teacher educators.”

The project’s goals are ambitious — it expects to reach 15 million children in all schools and all regions of Ethiopia.

Read more about this project at http://fla.st/1Pvd4TX.

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via Chelsea Clarke The Odyssey on March 27, 2016

9 Powerful Black Women You Didn’t Know About

Women’s History Month is often centered around learning about the same women over and over. The same women that our textbooks consider “important” in history. It’s time to break that habit and learn more about the women that are impacting our society today. These women aren’t celebrities with millions of dollars or social media and reality stars. These are real women who put themselves on the front line, women that trail blaze, women that march forward without forgetting to help those behind them, these are women who are truly powerful. So do yourself a favor and learn more about the local female heroes that are actually making a difference. Here are nine awesome ladies that you can check out first.

1. Dr. Kristal Moore-Clemons (@KrisclemonsPHD)

Clemons

Dr. Kristal Moore-Clemons

Dr. Kristal Moore-Clemons is a Feminist Historian, Educator, and Social Activist. She earned her B.A. in women’s studies and political science from DePaul University, her M.A. in American studies from Washington State University, her Ph.D. in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate certificate in women’s studies from Duke University. Dr. Clemons is a feminist historian whose teaching and research agenda seeks to understand the unique narrative of gender, race and class throughout U.S. history. I learned about Dr. Moore-Clemons during a Diaspora Dialogue held on my university’s campus, she served as a panelist that would be discussing the soon to be classic movie Straight Outta Compton. I remember feeling captivated by her words about Hip-Hop and its impact on our culture. Many people underestimate women’s knowledge of topics that are considered “manly”, hip-hop being one of them. Dr. Moore-Clemons has definitely broken that barrier.

“As Black women we can not be afraid of our power. We have to harness and always work for change. We are living in very interesting times right now and the world needs a Black feminist voice now more than ever”. –Dr.Moore-Clemons

Read the full article here.

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via Paige Rentz FSU News on March 24, 2016

FSU recognizes undergraduate students for commitment to service

HOY-2016

President Thrasher recognizes 14 undergraduate students for their tremendous commitment to service.

From providing medical to rural villages in Haiti to caring for Alzheimer’s patients in Tallahassee, Florida State University students have been hard at work serving others.

President John Thrasher recognized students representing 14 colleges and schools for their tremendous commitment to service at a luncheon Wednesday as part of the annual Humanitarian of the Year program.

“I get overwhelmed at the goodness that’s in your hearts,” Thrasher told the students.

Each college or school at Florida State can nominate a student for the President’s Undergraduate Humanitarian of the Year Award. Through the program, the students will receive $200 to be donated to the charity of their choice.

Of the students honored Wednesday, one who best exemplifies commitment to service will receive the President’s Undergraduate Humanitarian of the Year Award at Leadership Awards Night on April 5.

The winner will receive an additional $1,000 for his or her charity. For most, the money will go to nonprofits they’ve worked with or founded.

For some, their experiences in service have been life changing. Shane Morris, a student in in the College of Criminology & Criminal Justice and once aspiring lawyer, has served as a volunteer emergency medical technician and spent two spring breaks providing health care to children in rural Haiti.

“It’s a very rewarding experience,” Morris said. “It really opens your eyes, and it’s a very different perspective. You take a lot of things for granted here in the U.S.”

Now, Morris has committed to pursuing medical school. He would like to become an emergency room physician to continue to provide healthcare in rural areas and internationally.

“I love to just go over there and help people that really need it,” he said.

Mary Coburn, vice president for Student Affairs, told the students she was in awe of the volume of their work and other students with whom they’ve worked in partnership.

“Just think about all the good that has rippled out from this room,” she said.

The honored students often expressed surprise and gratitude that they were chosen to represent their peers.

James Bryant Durham III, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious motorcycle accident in 2011, has worked since then to raise awareness of what he said is an invisible injury and to bring together caregivers and survivors. He founded nonprofit TBI One Love to further work toward “ending the silence.”

“I’m honored to be here, not only with all the other honorees and their guests and the staff, but I’m thankful to be here everyday,” Durham said.

Coburn and Thrasher both emphasized that the work the students have done will echo beyond their time on campus, making them ambassadors for the university and citizens who care about making their communities better.

That’s true of Katelyn Moloney, who hopes to influence the next generations of students to continue to affect change. The aspiring English teacher said her goal is to help shape future students to have a humanistic mindset and want to help people.

“I’ve taken my experiences with Alzheimer’s Project and definitely become more patient and realized how important it is to be kind to people,” she said, “and I just hope to model that in my classroom.”

Thrasher told the honorees that not only is the work they’re doing impressive, but even more that — they’re not waiting until they have a job or are making money or taking care of other parts of their lives before working for others.

“There’s something in your heart that motivated you to want to give back something already in your lives,” he said, “and the fact that you’re doing that so early in your lives is an amazing thing.”

Katelyn Moloney, College of Education
Moloney is a junior from Orlando, Fla., who serves with The Alzheimer’s Project via AmeriCorps. The organization partners with families and provides care and services to people with Alzheimer’s. As an emergent educator, Moloney aims to cultivate humanitarianism among her students.

Click here to see the full list.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis FSU News on March 16, 2016

FSU graduate programs among nation’s best

FSU-graduate-programs-among-nation-s-best_medium

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools

Florida State University has some of the nation’s best graduate programs in public affairs, education and law, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of “Best Graduate Schools.”

“We are proud of our highly ranked graduate programs across so many disciplines,” said Sally McRorie, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “This level of excellence speaks to our preeminence as a top research university.”

The College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s city management and urban policy program broke into the top 10 at No. 8 in the first U.S. News rankings of the discipline since 2012. The college’s Askew School of Public Administration and Public Policy placed No. 19 in public affairs, with its public management administration program ranked No. 17, its public policy analysis program ranked No. 21 and its public finance and budget program ranked No. 23.

“The Askew School of Public Administration and Policy has a tremendous record of training effective, dynamic leaders in public affairs, and these rankings reflect the program’s long-standing tradition of excellence,” said Tim Chapin, associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Florida State’s College of Education was ranked at No. 37 in a tie with Penn State. The college’s educational psychology program was ranked No. 20.

“With our position in the top 10 percent of almost 400 graduate colleges of education nationwide, our efforts to maintain high quality programs and expand our research funding in the College of Education are evident,” said Marcy Driscoll, dean of the College of Education.

Florida State’s College of Law was ranked at No. 50. Its environmental law program ranked No. 18 and tax law program No. 23.

“We are thrilled that U.S. News has again rated us a top tier law school,” said Donald J. Weidner, dean of the College of Law. “The rankings reflect our outstanding student credentials, including the highest LSAT scores in the state, and our outstanding job placement results.”

FSU programs also faired well in the U.S. News health specialty rankings, which are ranked on a rotating basis. Clinical psychology shot up 11 spots to No. 36 and social work jumped up six places to No. 38. The speech-language pathology master’s degree program ranked No. 28.

The 2017 edition of “Best Graduate Schools” also contains previously ranked programs, including a No. 7 ranking for Florida State’s criminology program; No. 13 for the library and information studies program, with its school library media program ranked No. 1 in the nation, its services for children and youth ranked 5th and its digital librarianship ranked 11th; No. 39 in sociology; and No. 40 in political science.

U.S. News & World Report ranks professional school programs in business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing on an annual basis. The rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students.

Beyond the six disciplines ranked annually, U.S. News & World Report also periodically ranks programs in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, the health arena and other areas based solely on the ratings of academic experts.

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via Bill Edmonds Learning Systems Institute March 9, 2016

Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski honored for paper on child soldiers of Sierra Leone’s civil war

Stephanie-Simmons-Zuilkowski-768x684

Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski

The Comparative and International Education Society has honored the Learning Systems Institute’s Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski for outstanding scholarly writing that explores themes related to people of African descent.

The society gave Dr. Zuilkowski its Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research for her paper in the August 2014 edition of Comparative Education Review. Her paper examines the impact of two categories of post-war interventions on dropout among more than 500 boys and girls who fought in Sierra Leone’s civil war. More than 15,000 child soldiers were involved in the war, which divided the West African nation from 1991 to 2002.

“We found that social support and family financial support for education are far more powerful in preventing dropout than internationally funded programs such as the payment of school fees on behalf of former child combatants,” said Dr. Zuilkowski, who joined the Learning Systems Institute in 2013. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in FSU’s College of Education.

Dr. Zuilkowski said the findings are relevant to current conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of children and youth are serving as armed combatants.

“Our data suggest that international organizations should find ways to support local means of reintegration rather than using more invasive interventions, such as processing children through lengthy programs in formal centers for rehabilitation and reintegration,” she said. “Returning to school is one of the most powerful means of normalizing children’s lives after a conflict, and failing to successfully reintegrate young people may have a destabilizing effect on countries in the long term.”

The Comparative and International Education Society’s Joyce Cain Award honors the memory of Joyce Lynn Cain of Michigan State University and her dedication to introducing individuals across ethnic boundaries to African culture.

The Joyce Cain Award is Dr. Zuilkowski’s second honor for publication excellence. Last year, the British Journal of Educational Psychology awarded her its Early Stage Career Research Prize for her paper on malaria prevention and school dropout in the Gambia, published in its September 2014 issue.

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via Devin Galetta FSU News on February 29, 2016

University Libraries launch Diginole: FSU’s digital library and research repository

DigiNole

DigiNole

University Libraries are proud to announce the launch of DigiNole, Florida State University’s unified platform for FSU-created and maintained digital resources. DigiNole will enable users’ seamless access to a range of materials through two portals including the Digital Library and the Research Repository.

The Research Repository provides a platform for scholars to share the products of their research and creative output. Members of the FSU community are encouraged to submit their work to the repository, which can significantly increase citation impact and public engagement via search engines like Google Scholar. Additionally, authors also receive monthly readership reports with detailed statistics that can be used to help demonstrate the impact of their research.

“I have been using the Research Repository for several years. It has made it easier for other researchers and practitioners to access my work,” said Dr. Jim Sampson, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Professor at FSU’s College of Education.

The Florida State University Digital Library provides online access to thousands of unique manuscripts, photographs, rare books, historic maps and other materials from across the FSU campus libraries and beyond. The goal of the digital library is to support active learning and engagement by providing ample opportunities for discovery and scholarship. In order to achieve this goal, librarians are working to constantly add new online resources.

“The digital library team is the most important resource on campus for digital humanities projects. When they accepted to collaborate with me on the digitalization of an Italian newspaper, they brought to the table all the technical and management expertise that I needed,” said FSU professor of Italian Studies, Dr. Silvia Valisa.

Coinciding with the platform launch will be ‘What’s Past is Pixels: Developing the FSU Digital Library’, a physical exhibit in Strozier Library highlighting the materials hosted in the digital library, the processes for digitization and description, and future uses and collaborations the FSU Digital Library staff hopes to enable.

The goal of DigiNole is to serve the FSU community as a single-source hosting and discovery portal. FSU Libraries’ are committed to leveraging the capacity of DigiNole to help FSU scholars achieve their goals. Visit diginole.lib.fsu.edu today to learn more.

Florida State University Libraries’ mission is to drive academic excellence and success by fostering engagement through extensive collections, dynamic information resources, transformative collaborations, innovative services, and supportive environments for FSU and the broader scholarly community.

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via Tony Pals & Victoria Oms AERA on February 29, 2016

AERA Announces 2016 Fellows

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 29, 2016 ─ The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has announced the selection of 22 scholars as 2016 AERA Fellows. AERA Fellows are selected on the basis of their notable and sustained research achievements. The 2016 Fellows, listed below, were nominated by their peers, selected by the AERA Fellows Committee, and approved by the AERA Council, the association’s elected governing body. They will be inducted on Saturday, April 9, during the AERA 2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. They join 602 current AERA Fellows.

“We are delighted to honor these 22 scholars for their contributions to education research and for their dedication to the field,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “AERA Fellows exemplify the highest standards of excellence through accomplishment, professionalism, and commitment.”

2016 AERA Fellows

  • Jomills Henry Braddock II, University of Miami
  • Jinfa Cai, University of Delaware
  • Mitchell James Chang, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Clark A. Chinn, Rutgers University
  • Donald L. Compton, Florida State University
  • Christian J. Faltis, University of California, Davis
  • Eugene E. García, Arizona State University
  • Judith M. Harackiewicz, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Gary T. Henry, Vanderbilt University, Peabody College
  • Carolyn D. Herrington, Florida State University
  • Heather C. Hill, Harvard University
  • Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Indiana University
  • Stafford Hood, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Arizona State University
  • Martha May McCarthy, Loyola Marymount University
  • H. Richard Milner IV, University of Pittsburgh
  • Darcia F. Narvaez, University of Notre Dame
  • Na’ilah Suad Nasir, University of California, Berkeley
  • Gerard A. Postiglione, University of Hong Kong
  • Edward A. Silver, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Maisha T. Winn, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Rebecca Zwick, ETS

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.

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via Spencer Allen WCTV on February 25, 2016

FSU Ice Hockey Team Practices… Without Ice

Nat B

Nataniel Boiangin, FSU Hockey Coach and Sport Psychology doctoral student

Remember the 1993 movie Cool Runnings? It was the story of the Jamaican bobsled team and how they trained for a winter sport without cold or snow.

We found a local group trying to do the same. We met the Florida State University Ice Hockey Team and found out how they practice… without ice.

To the average eye, it looks like a typical parking garage. But to coach Nataniel Boiangin and the FSU Men’s Ice Hockey Team, it’s what they call their “practice rink.”

Florida State’s hockey team trains for icy conditions in a state where the sun shines bright.

Hockey player Brockington Maxwell said, “Being a part of something that a whole lot of people don’t know about at the school and whenever you tell them you’re on the FSU Ice Hockey Team they look at you like, ‘what?’ And you’re like, ‘yeah man, we have a team.'”

Coach Nataniel Boiangin said, “The conditions aren’t the ideal conditions to be playing the game of hockey, it says a lot about these guys they love the game of hockey and they’ll do anything to play.”

At least three nights a week, the team dodges obstacles — including a university shuttle.

They practice on concrete — a problem, meant to be a solution, since there’s no ice rink in Tallahassee.

“I try to replicate as much as possible game type situations in the garage,” says Coach Boiangin.

“It’s very difficult,” one player said.

“It’s nothing like skating on the ice,” another added.

For the Noles, the chance to see ice only comes once or twice a month.

“Every game is a road game,” one player pointed out.

We joined the team traveling nearly 3 hours — and more than 160 miles — to Columbus, Georgia, for the ACC South Championship.

“I’m sure every hockey player out there will tell you there’s a difference between being conditioned off the ice and conditioned on the ice, so that’s one of the hardest challenges we face when we play teams that have access to ice two to three times a week for multiple hours.”

Despite their obstacles, these Seminoles make no excuses. The team is ranked in the top 15 for the first time in the last 7 years.

“It just proves that we really love the game we love the sport and hanging out with each other. This becomes like your fraternity when you play out here, these are the guys I hang out with on the weekends and this is like a family,” says hockey player Eric Campbell.

A family on and off the ice, now dedicated to winning.

The team racked up two first place championship victories — one at the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic, the other, their first-ever ACC South Championship in Columbus.

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FSUS astronaut

FSUS flight simulator

via Ilana Kowarski Florida Today on February 25, 2015

Astronaut challenge teaches real-world science to kids

Florida middle school and high school students, including some Brevard County students, are participating in the Astronaut Challenge at Kennedy Space Center this week.

The Astronaut Challenge is a science, technology, engineering, and math competition where students learn about spaceflight and space science, and then either respond to disaster scenarios in space simulators or present research on actual NASA space science problems.

Tallahassee teacher Peter Carafano created the challenge five years ago, in order to foster a love of science in children, and teach them the real-world problem solving skills necessary to succeed.

“I think the big thing is the whole idea behind this is to allow any school — no matter their size — to actively compete in a STEM-related competition,” he said.

Carafano said that the astronaut challenge is deliberately set up to show children that sometimes, getting the right answers is a high-stakes endeavor.

In the simulator challenges, he said, “You solve the problem, or the simulator crashes. That’s the real world.”

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via Ryan Rodenberg ESPN on February 18, 2016

Daily Fantasy Sports State-By-State Tracker

By Dr. Ryan Rodenberg, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Florida State University

Ryan Rodenberg

Dr. Ryan Rodenberg

States vary wildly in how they define gambling.

“Each state has its unique constitutional structure, statutory structure and case law, thereby rendering different conclusions,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin wrote in a Feb. 4, 2016, letter to Governor Gina Raimondo.

According to two formal opinion letters that were recently made public in the ongoing New York litigation — one sent to DraftKings executive Tim Dent in 2013 and another sent to FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles in 2014 — there are four general categories of states.

“States fall in to four groups: states that ban contests where chance is a predominant or significant factor, states that ban contests where chance is a material factor, states that ban games with ‘any’ degree of chance and states that ban all cash games regardless of skill or chance,” lawyers wrote in the letter to FanDuel.

Court documents in New York indicate that just under half of the states fall into the “predominance” test category, the largest group by far.

“Most states use the predominance test when assessing the existence of the gambling element of chance,” the 2013 letter stated to DraftKings. “In other words, if the element of skill in a particular game predominates over chance, then the game is permitted.” With federal law noting that individual states have the “primary responsibility” to determine which activities constitute gambling within its borders, a diverse mash-up of laws has emerged through the decades. The result is that lobbyists for the fantasy industry probably won’t be able to use a one-size-fits-all approach in the years ahead. The lack of guidance from court cases makes the diverse landscape tough to navigate, too.

“No court has directly addressed whether fantasy sports contests are games of skill,” the 2014 letter stated to FanDuel.

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via Tim Fordyce FSU News on February 10, 2016

Student advocacy, activism highlighted at annual FSU conference

What student affairs professionals do, and how they do it, has never been more important.

That was the message student development expert George Kuh relayed in his keynote address at Florida State University’s 26th annual Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values held February 4-6.

Kuh, an adjunct research professor at the University of Illinois and Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education Emeritus at Indiana University, was one of four speakers at the conference.

dalton beebe

Higher Education doctoral student Craig Beebe (far right)

More than 160 student affairs professionals, campus ministers, faculty and students representing more than 40 public and private institutions from across the nation gathered at the Dalton Institute with the common goal of preparing students to become active individuals of integrity.

This year, the Dalton Institute’s theme “Student Activism and Advocacy: Higher Education’s Role in Fostering Ethical Leadership and Moral Commitment” engaged participants in an examination of the most current issues, research and educational activities pertaining to character education in college.

“This open dialogue, in a welcoming, personalized atmosphere, emphasizes personal development, character, intellectual growth and a return to the core values necessary for college student success,” said Craig Beebe, a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Affairs who organizes the conference.

Click here to continue reading.

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via Karen Oehme FSU News on February 3, 2016

Toolkit now available to encourage successful co-parenting after divorce

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Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce Toolkit

A group of Florida State University researchers has launched a new online toolkit designed to foster healthy co-parenting after divorce.

The Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce Toolkit, an online, interactive, multimedia curriculum, became available to the public Feb. 1. It has obtained certification from the Department of Children and Families as a Florida co-parenting program. The program has the potential for expansion to all states with mandatory parenting education.

Researchers from Florida State’s College of Education, College of Communication and Information, College of Social Work, and the Department of Family and Child Sciences developed the program. It is funded by a gift from the Vandermark Foundation.

“The toolkit has the potential to shape the landscape of families across the United States,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies at FSU’s College of Social Work. “About a quarter of families in America are currently single-parent families with children under the age of 18, and over a million children experience the divorce of their parents each year.”

Research indicates that children are healthier when their parents have the knowledge and skills essential to resolving conflicts, compromising, and prioritizing the wellbeing of their children. Without these parental skills, children can face devastating long-term effects on their development.

The research team conducted a pilot study with more than 180 parents to test the training before its public launch. Preliminary results reveal that 91 percent of those participants believe the training can be effective in encouraging sustained healthy co-parenting relationships, and 88 percent reported that they learned new co-parenting skills.

As one participant of the pilot study wrote, “This is a great learning toolkit. I found some of the things I was already doing OK, some things that I need to improve upon, and a few new issues I had not really thought about yet … (it’s) a very good program.

“We are encouraged by the pilot testing and hope the public finds the resource helpful,” Oehme said.

College of Social Work Dean Jim Clark agreed.

“We are grateful to the Vandermark Foundation and its executive director Peter Scanlon for having the insight to fund this crucial and inspirational project,” Clark said.

Scanlon, who earned a doctorate from FSU, established the Vandermark Foundation along with his wife in 2012 in order to improve the lives of families and encourage self-sufficiency.

In addition to the certification from the Department of Children and Families, the Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce Toolkit also has gained approval for continuing education credits for mental health professionals and Florida lawyers who successfully complete the training.

“The entire FSU community, as well as families nationally, will benefit from this extraordinary gift and new program,” said James Sampson, associate dean in the College of Education.

Along with the toolkit, the FSU researchers will use voluntary participant surveys to assess changes in attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors in divorced parents and professionals who take the training. The ultimate goal will be the dissemination of information about divorce-related processes that can inform future research, practice and policy.

For more information, visit coparenting.fsu.edu.

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via Paige Rentz FSU News on February 1, 2016

Students explore identity, social justice at Multicultural Leadership Summit

Students left the Multicultural Leadership Summit Saturday afternoon with new energy and ideas for social change.

About 200 people attended the two-day summit hosted by Florida State University’s Center for Leadership & Social Change. The goal of the annual event is to educate students about diversity and multiculturalism and empower them to be agents of social change in an increasingly diverse and global community.

This year’s summit, “Lives, Liberties, and the Politics of Happiness” focused on allyship, advocacy and activism and how they relate to particular social justice issues.

Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News and activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, talked in his keynote address about his views on humanity’s struggle for power and safety and how that relates to activism.

“Good and evil will always exist,” he said, “but when we don’t get in the way of evil and let it continue unabated, it grows and grows and grows.”

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FSU Higher Education master’s students Ali Raza, Emily Oswalt, Amanda Mintz, and Matthew Dishman chat with keynote speaker Shaun King

King offered “tried and tested” advice to the group of students in his keynote address.

The first step, he told them, “Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of injustice in the world.”

There can be a tendency, King said, for people to feel so overwhelmed by the work to be done that they do nothing instead.

“As best as you can,” he told the students, “don’t lose your heart for justice because there’s so much injustice … don’t allow the volume or the magnitude of America’s problems to keep you from feeling like you can play some part in the solution.”

King also advised seeing the world, learning about other cultures that may have solutions to our problems.

“Instead of doing 10 things, fighting for 10 causes and doing OK at all of them, I would strongly encourage you to pick one and crush it.”

That cause, he said, could be one charity, one cause or even one child.

Mentors, he said, can decide, “I’m going to pour my heart, my soul, everything I have into changing this one person’s life.”

King advised the room to have a set of clear, thought-out principles from which to operate.

“Because you’re going to find yourself in situations, big and small, public and private, where if you have not thought through those principles,” he said, “you’re going to find yourself … compromising in ways you never would have if you had thought out ‘What do I really stand for, and how do those principles makes sense in the real world?’”

Click here to continue reading.

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via Jennie Kroeger FSU News on February 1, 2016

College of Education faculty, alumni establish new K-12 summer program

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Local children

A hundred local children will have access to learning programs aimed at curbing summer learning loss and closing achievement gaps, thanks to a collaborative effort of faculty and alumni at Florida State University and Florida A&M University this summer.

The group will help provide an opportunity for children in Leon and Gadsden counties to participate in quality summer enrichment programs.

North Florida Freedom Schools (NFFS), a new nonprofit co-sponsored by Florida State University and Florida A&M University, has been selected by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) to operate two CDF Freedom School six-week summer program sites from June 13 to July 22.

The organization was created in 2015 as a result of NFFS Co-Executive Directors Kristal Moore Clemons and Keely Norris’ past experiences working with the CDF Freedom School program. Norris is an FSU alumna and special education teacher, and Clemons is an assistant professor and director of the College of Education’s online Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy.

“The goal is to empower K-12 students in low socioeconomic status communities to make a difference through civic action projects, while also staving off summer reading loss using a culturally responsive reading curriculum,” said Alysia Roehrig, NFFS research director and associate professor of educational psychology at Florida State.

Students who participate in the camps will have the chance to take part in diverse afternoon activities supported by organizations in the community, such as the Institute for Research in Music and Entertainment Industry Studies at FAMU, Florida State University’s Center for Sport, Health and Equitable Development, TITUS Sports Academy and the REAL Life Student Program. The students will receive free summer learning opportunities and free meals.

The summer camp teachers, who will be undergraduate students or recent graduates, will have the opportunity to learn about critical teaching techniques.

They also will have mentoring opportunities to learn about the strengths of diverse students and gain experience in conducting research in education.

Faculty will conduct studies with camp participants and their parents to assess their needs and improve the program.

Florida State Associate Professor Joshua I. Newman and Assistant Professors George L. Boggs and Graig M. Chow, along with FSU alumnae Tricia James and Sheila LaBissiere are part of the project team.

Several Florida A&M faculty members also are involved: Associate Professor Peggy Auman, who is also an FSU alumna; Kawachi Clemons, associate professor; Patricia Green-Powell, professor and associate dean, also an FSU alumna; Serena Roberts, director of the Center for Academic Success; and Phyllis Y. Watson, director of the Division of Continuing Education.

To apply for the paid summer internship as a servant leader, visit https://goo.gl/VJ7F4q. Applications are due Feb. 18.

To sponsor a child or provide financial support to fund stipends for student leaders, click here or contact northflfs@gmail.com. Donations made to the FSU Foundation can also be designated to North Florida Freedom Schools.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis & Jill Elish FSU News on January 20, 2016

Lamont honored, Cobb talks about America’s racial history at MLK celebration

Florida State University concluded its 28th Annual MLK Week with a commemorative celebration featuring a keynote speech by noted writer and historian Jelani Cobb Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

Cobb focused on how racial politics have been intertwined with America’s history since its founding.

Cobb, an associate professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut, is also a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he has penned a series of articles about race, the police and injustice.

He noted how throughout history, when progress has been made toward racial equality, the nation has also regressed in certain ways.

“This is the last year of the first black presidency,” Cobb said. “It’s easy to think that the (racial) problems that you see is a contradiction to that. There’s so much progress on the one hand, and there’s so much difficulty on the other.”

Cobb spoke about the recent shootings in places like Ferguson, Charleston and Chicago, but pointed out these types of incidents are not new when there are advances in civil rights.

“In American history, progress and regression are intimately tied together,” Cobb said. “There is this cycle of progress and backlash.”

Cobb ended his talk on an uplifting note and why he finds inspiration in King’s life and teachings.

“What gives me strength and inspiration is when King says, ‘I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land,’” Cobb said.

“This won’t happen automatically. There will be struggles and things we find difficult, and there will be points when the present seems bleak … but we also have the committed will of people who say this is not the world we will bequeath to people who come in it.”

Before Cobb’s talk, the FSU Gospel Choir performed, and Student Government Association President Jean Tabares and FSU President John Thrasher welcomed and thanked the participants.

Highlighting the event was the presentation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award to Bruce Lamont, the Thomas L. Williams Eminent Scholar of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Jim Moran Institute Director of Research. Lamont was recognized for his efforts in increasing the racial diversity of doctoral students and mentoring young black men at Florida State.

The award was established in 1986 to honor a faculty member, administrator or staff member for his or her outstanding service in keeping with King’s principles and ideals and carries a $1,000 stipend for the recipient.

One of Lamont’s former students wrote, “He is a fine scholar and educator … and he stands as an excellent representative of Florida State University and of the commitment this university has made to the principles and ideals of diversity and inclusion.”

Sophia Rahming

Sophia Rahming

The MLK Book Stipend Awards, scholarships to assist Florida State University students in completing their education, also were announced. The awards, given by Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the FSU National Black Alumni, are available on a competitive basis to both undergraduate and graduate students.

The scholarship recipients were Tiffany Farr, an English and sociology major; Gabriel Gomes, an international graduate student studying chemistry; Aliza Denobrega, graduate student studying neuroscience; Sophia Rahming, an educator both nationally and globally for 24 years; Rikisha Collins, a first-year political science student; and MarCherie Thompkin, a senior majoring in editing, writing and media.

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via University of Jyväskylä on January 20, 2016

University of Jyväskylä to award 13 honorary doctorates

Dr. James Sampson

The University of Jyväskylä will award 13 new honorary doctorates in August. The ninth Conferment of Degrees Ceremony for the whole University and the conferment procession will be held on Saturday, 13 August 2016. In addition, related festivities will be arranged throughout the weekend.

The faculties of the University award honorary doctorates to persons with meritorious work for the benefit of society or science. A great number of masters and doctors are also expected to participate in the conferment ceremony.

“With honorary doctorates, the University honours the recipients for their significant work for the University and society. I am very delighted that the faculties have nominated such a prominent group of persons who are important to our University,” says Rector Matti Manninen.

The University will award honorary doctorates to the following distinguished persons:

Faculty of Education
Mayor Antti Isotalus
Professor James P. Sampson Jr.

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via Mike Porter VSU News on January 11, 2016

VCU names dean of School of Education

Andrew Daire

Andrew Daire, Ph.D.

Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., has been named dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, effective June 1. He currently serves as the associate dean for research in the College of Education at the University of Houston.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Daire join the VCU leadership team,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU. “His extensive background in research and his enthusiastic style of leadership will complement the outstanding record of the faculty in VCU’s School of Education and add to the momentum of the school’s positive trajectory.”

Prior to his current appointment, Daire served more than 14 years in teaching, research and administrative leadership roles in the College of Education and Human Performance at the University of Central Florida where he also earned the rank of professor of counselor education and school psychology. He began his career in clinical counseling at Stetson University.

In addition to more than $16 million in sponsored research funding, Daire has authored more than 50 publications and presented at 80 professional conferences. He has also conducted counselor training and evaluation workshops in Germany, Kenya and Jamaica. His research interests include couple, relationship and family issues, career development and STEM.

“I must say that VCU’s commitment to community engagement struck me the most and I am excited about being part of taking the VCU School of Education to its next level of excellence and impact,” Daire said. “I look forward to bringing my experiences, passion, energy and leadership as dean.”

Daire holds a B.S. in biology and an M.S. in mental health counseling from Stetson University and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and school psychology from Florida State University.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis FSU News on January 12, 2016

FSU online programs continue to rise in national rankings

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The College of Education continues to rank among the best in the nation at No. 3.

Florida State University’s online programs are among the best in the nation — including three graduate programs ranked in the Top 10 — according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 Best Online Programs.

“FSU’s high rankings in a variety of disciplines are a testament to the dedication of our faculty and administration in providing students the resources they need to attain an outstanding online education,” said Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sally McRorie. “This recognition demonstrates the strides Florida State is making toward higher national prominence.”

Florida State’s online graduate programs in business (non-MBA) jumped 22 spots to No. 4 in the latest rankings, while the university’s graduate programs in education (No. 3) and criminal justice (No. 5) held steady in the Top 10.

“The advances Florida State has made in the rankings reflect the continuing commitment of the university in providing programs and curriculum that ensure students receive a quality online education,” said Susann Rudasill, director of the Office of Distance Learning. “Contributing to this online experience are our exceptional faculty and strong student engagement, two key criteria used in the rankings.”

The College of Education’s online graduate program continues to rank among the best in the nation at No. 3. The college offers degrees in curriculum and instruction, educational leadership/administration, instructional systems and learning technologies, learning and cognition, and special education studies.

“The College of Education was one of the earliest colleges to offer graduate programs online,” said Marcy Driscoll, dean of the College of Education. “Evaluation studies have consistently affirmed the excellence of our programs, so it wasn’t a surprise that when U.S. News & World Report started rating online programs we would be ranked in the Top 10 nationally. This ranking reflects the quality of our programs and the dedication of our faculty to provide students with an outstanding educational experience.”

The College of Business’s online graduate program (non-MBA) moved into the Top 10 this year to No. 4, up from No. 26 last year. Students can pursue Master of Science degrees in management information systems and risk management and insurance. The college’s online MBA program also shot up to No. 44 from its previous ranking of No. 62.

Click here to continue reading.

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via Richie Bernardo Wallet Hub on January 5, 2016

2016’s Best and Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle

There’s a reason why bodybuilding experts invented the concept of “cheat day”: Even the fittest of the fit and the strictest of dieters sometimes need to live a little.

But sometimes we live too much. The average person in the U.S. consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone. And as we struggle to forgive ourselves for that last holiday binge of 2015, grocery stores are already tempting us with Valentine’s Day sweets — and it’s only the first week of the new year. Those who’ve ever traveled during the holidays also know how tough it can be to squeeze in an exercise routine, let alone some cardio.

It’s no wonder “lose weight and get fit” consistently ranks both the No. 1 New Year’s resolution in America and the No. 1 most commonly broken. We all have a responsibility to stay healthy and fit. But some of us have a harder time kicking old bad habits because of where we live, which simply fail to promote an active lifestyle.

WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated cities based on 24 key metrics to identify those that help their residents stick to their health goals. Our data set ranges from the average monthly fitness club fee to the number of sports clubs per capita. You can find the results, additional expert commentary and a detailed methodology below.

Ask the Experts

Josh newman 1josh newman 2

View the full article here.

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via Jennie Harrison FSU News on December 21, 2015

Professor featured in 2016 National Education Technology Plan

Valerie Shute, the Mack and Effie Campbell Tyner Endowed Professor of Education in the Educational Psychology and Learning Systems department at Florida State.

A professor in the Florida State University College of Education is featured in the recently released 2016 U.S. Department of Education National Education Technology Plan, the nation’s flagship educational technology policy document.

Valerie Shute, the Mack and Effie Campbell Tyner Endowed Professor of Education in the Educational Psychology and Learning Systems department at Florida State, studies the impact of video games on learning with a focus on building a greater understanding of the future of embedded assessment.

“I’m honored to have my research showcased,” Shute said. “In addition to describing my ideas about using assessment to support learning via real-time feedback and within game environments, a section is devoted to my stealth or ‘embedded’ assessment work.”

The 2016 National Education Technology Plan highlights examples of organizations using technology to transform learning that were drawn from expert interviews, stakeholder focus groups and recommendations from education leaders across the country.

Shute’s work with embedded assessment was recognized for exhibiting some of the actions and attributes key to transforming learning through technology. From her research, Shute developed Physics Playground, which masks physics lessons within a video game while also tracking a student’s learning progress.

The 2016 National Education Technology Plan, “Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education,” articulates a vision of equity, active use and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology.

“Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children’s learning,” said Arne Duncan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. “It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students’ needs and interests — meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher.

“This year’s update to the NETP includes a strong focus on equity because every student deserves an equal chance to engage in educational experiences powered by technology that can support and accelerate learning,” Duncan said.

To read more about Shute in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan, visit http://tech.ed.gov/netp.

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via Kate Payne WFSU on December 17, 2015

Julie Arasi Is Leon County’s Teacher Of The Year

Julie Arasi

Photo: Leon County Schools

Third grade teacher Julie Arasi is overwhelmed by the district’s recognition. Superintendent Jackie Pons and dozens of colleagues surprised her with the news in her classroom Thursday.

Arasi is in her eighth year at Kate Sullivan, where she began as a physical education teacher. With the support of her colleagues, Arasi made the jump into the classroom. She says that move changed her life.

“Kate Sullivan faculty is a family. We support each other and hold each other up. And they did that for me when I was transitioning into the classroom and I’m eternally grateful,” she said.

Arasi wants her students to be excited and engaged in their education. Leon County School Board Chair Dee Dee Rasmussen says that enthusiasm is paying off.

“And I spent a bit of time afterward talking to some of her students and they were so excited and every one of them said she is the best teacher ever, we already knew that,” she said.

A committee of school officials and community members selected Arasi from a pool of 42 applicants. She will go on to compete for the Florida Teacher of the Year designation.

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via University of Florida College of Education on December 16, 2015

FSU honors UF’s inquiry scholar Nancy Dana with distinguished alumni award

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Nancy Dana Fichtman

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Education Professor Nancy Dana has been honored with a 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Education, where she received her doctorate in childhood education in 1991.

The award honors FSU education graduates who have distinguished themselves through scholarly, creative and humanitarian achievement, and service to their profession.

Dana is a leading international authority on teacher inquiry – a powerful form of professional development whereby teachers and school leaders engage in action research on their own practice in the classroom, wrapping their professional learning around the learning of students, and sharing their findings with colleagues.

Dana has worked with numerous schools and districts across Florida, the United States and abroad to help them craft professional development programs of inquiry for their teachers, principals and district administrators.

Dana, a professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education, has studied and written about practitioner inquiry for over 20 years, publishing 10 books on the topic, including three best sellers. Her latest book was just released in November with Corwin Press on Professional Learning Communities titled, simply, “The PLC Book.”

Dana has made numerous keynote presentations and led workshops in several countries for educators hungry for professional learning models that focus on examining evidence from practice. Her recent work has taken her to China, South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium. Last January she led a weeklong course on inquiry in Lisbon, Portugal, for education leaders from nine countries in the European Union. Next October she heads to Estonia.

Dana previously served on the Penn State University education faculty for 11 years. She joined the UF education faculty in 2003 and has conducted extensive research on practitioner inquiry and educator professional development. In 2010, Dana and co-researchers Cynthia Griffin (UF special education) and Stephen Pape (Johns Hopkins mathematics education) secured a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to develop and study an extensive online professional development program for third-through-fifth-grade general and special education teachers focused on the teaching of struggling math learners.

She is deeply involved in the college’s new, professional practice doctoral program in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program is an online, on-the-job degree program designed specifically for practicing K-12 educators who aspire to lead change, school improvement and education reform efforts in their schools and districts.

Dana’s past honors include the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award and the National Staff Development Council Book of the Year Award.

“It is a great honor to receive this alumni award and to have connections to two wonderful universities in our state,” Dana said, adding with a sly smile, “but I’ll always bleed orange and blue. Go Gators!

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via Amanda Claire Curcio Tallahassee Democrat on December 14, 2015

LCS names Teacher of the Year finalists

It can be seen in the leap of a student’s eyes after correctly solving an algebraic equation for the first time, a slow-growing smile when a formula becomes more than a series of foreign symbols or the fist bump following a teacher’s “you did it!”

Julie Arasi

Julie Arasi

For most educators, these “aha!” moments — when students have grasped a concept and begin to take ownership of their learning — are the reason why they teach. The same holds true for the five Leon County Schools Teacher of the Year finalists announced on Monday.

Both their dedication to students and proven leadership in their schools distinguished them from a pool of 42 accomplished teachers, one nominated from each school. Finalists will go through interviews this week before a winner is selected Thursday morning. The winner will then advance to a statewide competition.

Julie Arasi, third-grade teacher, eight years experience, Kate Sullivan Elementary School

“I found my dream job at Kate Sullivan,” said Arasi, who began at the school as a physical education teacher before transitioning to a classroom position. “This is all I want to do — connect with students and watch them learn.”

Arasi fosters student engagement in learning through educational initiatives, inside and outside the classroom, too.

Rachel Webber

Rachel Webber

She develops learning activities and discussion questions for a monthly book club composed of students and parents, with another teacher, and launched “Genius Hour,” a program that facilitates students’ participation in research-based projects and gives students opportunities to interact with local experts in specific fields, such as science or public speaking. Arasi also is behind a new initiative called I-LEAD, which bolsters students’ involvement with their own educations. Students track their academic progress and goals, for instance, and prepare conferences they will lead themselves.

Rachel Webber, a Gifted Enrichment Program teacher at Gilchrist Elementary School with 12 years experience and math teacher Marilynn Griffith at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of the Arts were finalists as well.

View full article here.

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via Ryan Rodenberg ESPN on December 11, 2015

Ryan Rodenberg, Assistant Professor of Sport Management

Biggest issues for daily fantasy after New York ruling

New York Supreme Court Justice Manuel J. Mendez granted Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s request for a preliminary injunction in a dense 12-page ruling released Friday. The ruling prevents daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators from “accepting entry fees, wagers or bets from New York consumers.”

With the ruling, New York joins Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington as states where fantasy sports of the daily variety are widely considered illegal.

While Friday’s decision by Mendez represents a temporary resolution in New York — more legal proceedings are to come — there are a number of other moving parts in the daily fantasy sports legal realm.

Chalk examines seven of the biggest issues in the dynamic DFS world below.

Are other states investigating too?

Like New York, a number of states are investigating the legality of DFS under state law. Most notably, Nevada labeled DFS as a gambling activity requiring a state-issued license. “Offering DFS in Nevada is illegal without the appropriate license,” wrote Nevada’s top gaming regulator, A.G. Burnett, in an October memo.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel, as well as a host of smaller operators, ceased doing business with Nevada residents after the state’s decision. Other investigations are ongoing, including probes in South Dakota, Washington State and Tennessee. There is pending legislation to explicitly legalize DFS through regulation in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida and New York, among others.

View the full article here.

espn video

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via Liang Zhang, Shouping Hu, Liang Sun, Shi Pu Journal of Higher Education, January 2016

The Effect of Florida’s Bright Futures Program on College Choice: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

This study evaluates the effect of Florida’s Bright Future Program on student college choices. We used regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of two award levels, which had different SAT/ACT thresholds, on the probability of students choosing instate public colleges and four-year public colleges. The most consistent and robust finding was the positive, significant increases in the probability of attending Florida’s public colleges and in the probability of choosing four-year public colleges for those students who barely met the program eligibility criteria when compared with those who barely missed those criteria. That is, the evidence presented in this analysis points to the fact that the Bright Future programs significantly altered students’ college choices, both in terms of attending in-state public colleges and four-year public colleges. Although this finding held at different award levels and for students who took the SAT and/or ACT tests, the magnitude of the program effect varied along these factors.

Read the journal article.

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via Mackenzie Raetz Florida State 24/7 on December 2, 2015

Making a difference: 11 faculty members recognized for inspiring students

Eleven Florida State University faculty members have been recognized by the Transformation Through Teaching program for going beyond the call of duty in the lives of their students.

The Transformation Through Teaching program was established by the Spiritual Life Project, which encourages professors to not only develop the students intellectually, but also help them find their purpose in life and encourage their dreams outside the classroom.

The Transformation Through Teaching award honors faculty members who made a truly impactful difference in a student’s life. Honorees are nominated by students.

Award winners were honored at a dinner at the President’s house Nov. 16.

“It’s clear that these professors have made a difference in the academic lives of their students,” President John Thrasher said. “More than that, though, the impact of these professors will last a lifetime.”

At the dinner, students shared their incredible stories about the award winners in order to inspire other educators to do the same for their students.

The 2015 Transformation Through Teaching Award winners are:

Transformation Through Teaching dinner.

Dr. Vanessa Dennen

Vanessa P. Dennen, associate professor of educational psychology, was nominated by both Ron Nakamato and Fabrizio Fornara for teaching passion to her students.

“I can say that in all the years that I spent in academia, Dr. Dennen has been the most influent faculty member for me. She instilled in me a passion for research and helped me broaden my interest in the ID&T field. Thanks to her, I am now a more curious learner and an active and interdisciplinary scholar.” — Fabrizio Formara

“Dr. Dennen went beyond what I have experienced in the distance learning experience and truly made us feel like we were a part of the college and course. Her level of interaction and organization was well beyond the norm that I have experienced and really made learning great.” — Ron Nakamoto

Transformation Through Teaching dinner.

Dr. Kathy Guthrie

Kathy Guthrie, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies, engaged in intellectual conversation with Estee Hernandez even outside the classroom.

“The ways in which she challenges and affirms us as learners are approaches that I have implemented in my own classroom, too. I am thankful for Dr. Guthrie’s modeling of an educational pedagogy that interrupts conventional teaching practice.” — Estee Hernandez

Transformation Through Teaching dinner.

Dr. Debra Osborn

Debra S. Osborn, an associate professor of educational policy, encouraged Jacqueline Belle through her doctoral program.

“Dr. Osborn provides a safe place to self-disclose, engendering a non-judgmental environment where I feel comfortable being vulnerable, a process necessary for reflection and growth. In comparison to previous interactions with other faculty, I knew that my feelings and overall health were genuinely respected and considered to be the most important factors in supporting my decision to switch programs.” — Jacqueline Belle

Click here to view full article.

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via Matthew Bruner FSView/Florida Flambeau on November 9, 2015

Laura Osteen receives Woman in Higher Education Achievement Award

Director of the Florida State University Center for Leadership and Social Change, Laura Osteen Ph. D., received the Woman in Higher Education Achievement Award from the National Panhellenic Conference.

Laura-Osteen

Dr. Laura Osteen

The award promotes values and ethics in women’s sororities.

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) gathered for its Annual Meeting in Texas last week in order to review the achievements of the previous term as well as plan for the future in terms of plans and committees.

NPC is one of the largest advocacy groups for women and serves 26 national and international sororities. NPC sororities are located on more than 672 campuses with 353,345 undergraduate members involved with 3,184 sororities.

Recently, NPC announced the results of a research study on student retention as it relates to the sorority experience.

This research spawned the College Panhellenic Academy, an educational conference that includes several task forces including one on Student Safety and Sexual Assault Awareness.

Osteen was recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty. The award recognizes an outstanding woman who is making a significant difference in higher education through leadership and positive support of the fraternity and sorority experience.

Osteen demonstrates the qualities expected of someone affiliated with Florida State University and is doing the university proud with her achievements.

To learn more about NPC, visit https://www.npcwomen.org/.

To read NPC’s Annual Reports, visit https://www.npcwomen.org/ about/annual-reports.aspx.

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via Peter Schmidt The Chronicle of Higher Education on November 7, 2015

High Pay for Presidents Is Not Shown to Yield Any Fund-Raising Payoff

Public colleges should not assume that a generous salary will buy them a president who is adept at raising money, a new study concludes.

After accounting for factors like institution size, the researchers, all at Florida State University, found no link between how much public colleges pay their presidents and how much money the institutions take in from private donors and state appropriations.

“As presidential salaries have continued to increase, there is little to no discernible relationship between these increased salaries and revenue generation,” says a paper summarizing the study’s findings. It adds that, although many institutional leaders and boards suggest “you get what you pay for” when it comes to presidential compensation, “the argument that high presidential salaries drive private giving and state funding appears dubious.”

The researchers, who were scheduled to present their findings in Denver on Saturday at the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, caution that their analysis had some significant limitations. They were unable, for example, to fully account for inconsistencies in how colleges report the presidential-compensation figures that the study derived from an annual presidential-salary survey conducted by The Chronicle.

Nevertheless, James H. Finkelstein, who studies the compensation of college presidents as a professor of public policy at George Mason University, said the study’s findings were consistent with research on executive pay at public corporations, which paints a decidedly mixed picture of whether higher compensation for chief executive officers leads to higher stock prices.

A 2013 study of private-college presidents actually found some evidence of a donor backlash against high executive compensation. That study found that such a president’s appearance on The Chronicle’s annual list of the 10 highest-paid private-college leaders was associated with a substantial one-year drop in contributions to their institution. The study’s authors said the declines in giving appeared associated with increased donor awareness of a president’s high compensation stemming from his or her appearance on The Chronicle’s top-10 list.

The Right Measures?

The new study on executive pay and fund raising at public colleges was conducted by three Florida State scholars: James M. Hunt, a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies; Toby J. Park, an assistant professor of the economics of education and education policy; and David A. Tandberg, an associate professor of higher education.

The researchers analyzed data from 119 public colleges over a seven-year period, from 2007 through 2013, examining fluctuations in donor contributions and state appropriations over one, two, and three years. They used salary data from The Chronicle’s annual executive-compensation survey, federal data on public colleges and their finances, and data from websites that track state politics.

To focus narrowly on how presidents’ pay was related to private and state financial support, the researchers sought to statistically separate out the influence of various institutional characteristics — such as enrollment, prestige, and tuition revenue — as well as political, economic, and demographic forces in states where the colleges were located.

The researchers sought to exclude any severance pay from their calculations of presidential compensation to avoid misleading one-year spikes in earnings figures. Their paper notes that they did not consider how turnover in public colleges’ presidencies affected their private and state support.

Among people who have examined the paper, Frank A. Casagrande, who advises colleges on executive compensation as president of Casagrande Consulting, questioned whether the researchers had used a long-enough time frame in seeking to study how presidents influence financial support for their institutions. Sometimes, he said, presidents’ efforts to solicit donations can take five to 10 years to bear fruit, creating situations in which the study might be crediting them for the work of a predecessor or failing to account for the long-term payoffs of their fund raising.
Mr. Casagrande said the Florida State researchers were “asking the right question” because, as a result of affordability concerns stemming from tuition growth, the ability of presidents to find revenue from other sources “is more critical at this point of time than it ever has been.” He added, however, that while college presidents “need to be the faces and voices for the institutions,” fund raising “is not just the president’s job, it is the whole community’s job, and to put the credit or blame on a single individual is not a good idea.”

Mr. Finkelstein of George Mason University said that, while colleges seek to hire presidents who will be successful fund raisers, he does not see perceived skill in this area as a major factor in determining pay offers to applicants for such positions. Instead, he said, such compensation typically is tied more to the earnings of a president’s predecessor and peers at similar institutions.

Peter Schmidt writes about affirmative action, academic labor, and issues related to academic freedom. Contact him at peter.schmidt@chronicle.com.

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via Florida State University on October 29, 2015

College of Education Week

The 2015 College of Education Week is held in conjunction with FSU Parents’ Weekend. It includes a week of symposia, presentations and events celebrating COE students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. This year’s theme is Breaking Barriers & Achieving Excellence: Postsecondary Success for People of Color. For more visit http://fla.st/1keDv8L

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via FSU Alumni on October 26, 2015

Joseph Mahshie (B.S. ’08), 2015 Askew Young Alumni Award recipient

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via Michael F. Shaughnessy Education News on October 17, 2015

Steven I. Pfeiffer: Head and Heart

pfeiffer

Dr. Steven Pfeiffer

An Interview with Steven I. Pfeiffer: Head and Heart

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Steven, first of all, tell us about who you are and what you do?

I am a Professor at Florida State University, where I serve as director of a unique doctoral program in combined school psychology and counseling psychology. Prior to my tenure at FSU, I was a Professor at Duke University, where I was director of Duke’s gifted Talent Identification program, TIP. I am a psychologist and counsel gifted kids and their parents in my clinical practice. I also am a fairly active researcher and speaker, and enjoy leading workshops for parents, educators and psychologists on the social and emotional needs of high ability children and youth.

2) How long have you worked with gifted kids?

I have worked with gifted and talented kids and adolescents for over 35 years, since I graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Although my training in graduate school was in pediatric/child clinical and school psychology – my plan was to be a full-time clinician, my dissertation was in the area of creativity. I was mentored in my research by Jim Gallagher, considered by many one of the grandfathers of gifted education in the USA. So, when I graduated from UNC, back in 1977, I was poised to focus on the field of children’s mental health, but had also been enamored with the lives of gifted kids.

3) And what are some of the lessons that you have learned?

My two most recent books, Essentials of Gifted Assessment (NJ: Wiley)–published this year, and Serving the Gifted (NY: Routledge)–published in 2013, include about ten-to-twelve lessons that I’ve learned as a researcher, teacher, and administrator, but especially as a therapist, in my work with high ability kids and their parents. Some of my earlier work, dating back 20 and more years, has also included lessons learned from the “messy, real world” of clinical practice. For example, I am a strong advocate of encouraging parents of gifted kids to be comfortable setting clear limits and disciplining their bright kids. This runs counter to what some authorities in the gifted field have long advocated.

My most recent books talk about the important lesson of parents and educators paying attention to what I call “strengths of the heart.” Others have called this idea Emotional Intelligence or character strengths.

This second lesson that I’ve learned is that, as adults, gifted individuals’ happiness, sense of well-being, and feeling of fulfilment, requires heart strengths as well as head strengths. Over the years, I have kept in touch with a great many former gifted and talented clients; I have followed their career paths and also their personal life trajectories. Not all of these gifted kids grow up and become happy and successful adults.

Some dropped out of college, and others were admitted but did not finish medical school, law school, and other career pursuits. Some, as adults, struggle with feelings of loneliness, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and many acknowledge a lack of meaning in their lives. Some have even acknowledged suicidal thoughts. The lesson that I have taken away from this is that not all gifted kids grow up to be successful, well-adjusted, or happy adults. Gifted kids, by definition, all possess impressive intellectual abilities. And many also possess a good deal of creativity – ‘head strengths.’

But what some gifted kids lack in equal measure are what I call, strengths-of-the-heart. Heart strengths are not emphasized in today’s classrooms, where we are laser-focused on head strengths. We’ve all but forgotten about heart strengths, Mike. In our research lab at Florida State, and in my clinical work, we have found that heart strengths are particularly valuable in the lives of gifted kids as they grow up. Heart strengths include humility, compassion, gratitude, enthusiasm, concern for others, civic duty, and kindness.

Click here to continue reading.

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via Steven Pfeiffer Creativity Post on October 12, 2015

Lessons Learned from Working with Gifted and Creative Kids

Screen shot 2015-10-12 at 3.16.33 PM

Via Creativity Post

Synopsis
The author, a psychologist with over 35 years experience in the lab, classroom, and clinic, shares two lessons that he has learned in his work with gifted and creative kids. The first lesson is that talent development among gifted kids requires more than high intelligence. The second lesson is that success in adult life requires both head strengths and heart strengths.

I love reading success stories about young prodigies who grow up and become highly accomplished, creative, and successful adults. We all are familiar with the stories about the Mark Zuckerberg’s, Bill Gates’s, and Lady Gaga’s of the world. These amazing and heart-warming stories keep those of us in the gifted field enthusiastic and pumped-up about our own work supporting intellectually precocious children and youth.

I have worked with high-ability kids for over 35 years. In a variety of capacities. In my clinical practice as a psychologist, I have counseled many very bright and creative kids and their parents. In my academic world at Florida State University, I teach a gifted course, and direct a research lab that conducts research on the social and emotional needs of gifted and creative kids. And I served as Executive Director of the Duke University gifted program, TIP, which provides fast-paced and highly challenging summer academic programs for the brightest-of-the-bright adolescents.

In my career as a psychologist working with gifted and creative students, two lessons stand out as particularly memorable, even poignant. The first lesson is that development of talent among highly gifted and highly creative kids requires more than intellectual ability, more than what I call, ‘head strengths.’ The second lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that success in adult life requires both head strengths and heart strengths. Let me very briefly explain what I mean.

With young gifted students, even child prodigies, we can at best only predict the likelihood of later outstanding accomplishment, such as this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, or Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to ever win the most prestigious award in mathematics, The Fields Medal, in 2014. The reality is that a great many students identified as gifted when very young grow up and, as adults, demonstrate no special or extraordinary talent. Not everyone with super intelligence turns out to be a Stephen Hawking or a Steven Spielberg, or a William Campbell, 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Equally intriguing, many kids who were not recognized as having any special gifts when young are “late bloomers,” and astound us with extraordinary inventions and accomplishments as adults! For example, Giuseppi Verdi sketched his ideas for composing Othello at age 73! And the famous detective fiction writer, Raymond Chandler, didn’t write his first short story until he lost his job during the Great Depression at age 44. The lessons here are that it is not always easy to predict who will reach their full potential in life – including very gifted child prodigies. And that many non-aptitude factors go into the algorithm in determining who, exactly, will end up traveling the greatest distance along ones imaginable success trajectory!

The full development and actualization of talent at its highest levels requires, in most professions and fields, more than high intellectual ability. Developing gifted and creative children’s talents requires time and hard work, what the Chinese aptly term “chi ku,” meaning “eating bitterness.” The development of our very best and most creative writers, scientists, engineers, surgeons, detectives, teachers, artists, performers, political leaders, and others requires a tremendous amount of practice, considerable patience and stick-with-it-ness, and a healthy dosage of frustration tolerance. To reach the highest levels in any field also requires a passion to excel in that chosen profession, and available adults who serve as mentors and role models. And luck!

The second lesson that I’ve learned is that, as adults, gifted individuals’ happiness, sense of well-being, and feeling of fulfilment, requires both head strengths and heart strengths. Over the years, I have kept in touch with a great many former highly gifted and creative students; I have followed with great interest their career paths and also their personal life trajectories. Not all of these gifted kids grow up and become happy and successful adults! Some dropped out of college, and others were admitted but did not finish medical school, law school, architecture school, and other career pursuits. Some, as adults, struggle with feelings of loneliness, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, and a lack of meaning in their lives. Some have even acknowledged thoughts of suicide. The message that I have taken away from this is that not all gifted and creative kids successfully navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence and find a safe and supportive harbor in adult life. Not all young gifted and creative kids turn out to be successful and well-adjusted adults. Gifted kids, by definition, all possess impressive intellectual abilities. And many also possess a good amount of raw creativity – ‘head strengths.’

What some gifted and creative kids lack in equal measure, however, are what I call, ‘strengths-of-the-heart.’ Heart strengths are not emphasized in today’s classrooms, with our emphasis on academics, learning, and STEM education initiatives. We in the USA and globally are very focused on head strengths. And we’ve all but forgotten about heart strengths. In my clinical work, I have found that heart strengths are particularly valuable in the lives of gifted kids as they grow up. These heart strengths include humility, compassion, gratitude, enthusiasm, concern for others and the larger world that they are part of, kindness. And even playfulness. Research in our lab and my own clinical experience strongly suggest that these heart strengths often can make a real difference in whether a gifted or creative kid grows up to be a happy, well-adjusted, and successful adult.

Steven Pfeiffer is a Professor at Florida State University, where he serves as Director of Clinical Training of FSU’s PhD program in combined counseling psychology and school psychology. Prior to his tenure at Florida State, Steven was a Professor at Duke University, where he served as Executive Director of Duke’s Talent Identification Program for gifted students (TIP)

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via Capital Soup on October 12, 2015

College of Education Week to Explore Success of Black Males in Higher Education

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State University’s fifth annual College of Education Week will feature events from Monday, Oct. 26, through Saturday, Oct. 31, to celebrate the college’s students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends, including the 9th Annual Dean’s Symposium.

The symposium, “Innovation for Black Males’ Postsecondary Success: The Nexus of Policy, Research and Practice,” will take place:

MONDAY, OCT. 26
8:30 A.M. – 4 P.M.
FSU ALUMNI CENTER
1030 W. TENNESSEE ST.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA.

Discussions will center on the topic of black male issues in education. Florida State will be joined by Florida A&M University as a sponsor of the event. Guest speakers include:

  • J. Luke Wood, associate professor, San Diego State University
  • David Jackson, professor of history, Florida A&M University
  • Patrick Mason, professor, director of African American studies, Florida State University
  • Eitayo Onifade, assistant professor of social work, Florida State University
  • Christopher Small, principal, Springwood Elementary School, Tallahassee

Other events that will be held during the week are: Technology Showcase Wednesday, Oct. 28; Ice Cream Social Thursday, Oct. 29; Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony Friday, Oct. 30; and the Student/Donor Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Pregame Tailgate Saturday, Oct. 31.

For more information on these events, visit education.fsu.edu/coeweek.

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via Marianne Hayes Zip Trials on October 8, 2015

Washing dishes shown to reduce stress

dishes

Washing dishes reduces stress

Looking to dial down the stress? Try starting with the kitchen sink.

While household chores are often viewed as a source of stress, researchers from Florida State University say they could be transformed into stress-reducing activities.

In a recent study, 51 participants were asked to wash 18 dishes for about six minutes. But some were asked to wash dishes mindfully. This meant paying special attention to sensory experiences like the feel of the water temperature and the scent of the soap.

Researchers say that the mindful dishwashers reported a 27-percent decrease in nervousness. They also experienced a 25-percent bump in mental inspiration.

“My thinking is that approaching any activity intentionally disrupts the mental chatter that we often get caught up in,” says Adam Hanley, first author and doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology. “So instead of using the time at the sink ruminating over things that have gone wrong or planning for the future—which are both stressful activities—taking that time to be present with your sensory experiences and bringing your attention to the moment is kind of like a little vacation from all that mental chatter.”

Hanley guesses that the break in all that mental noise is where the stress relief benefits emerge.

Another noteworthy finding was that mindful dishwashers overestimated how much time they spent on the task.

“Mindful washers added two minutes to their estimations, suggesting that they washed for about eight minutes,” says Hanley. “I don’t really know what to make of that yet, other than the fact that they’re reporting something they found more enjoyable as occurring for a longer length of time. The relationship between mindfulness and time experience is a curious future direction for studies.”

He adds that approaching chores in a mindful way just might transform them into meditative practices that reduce stress levels.

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via WFSU American Graduate on October 3, 2015

Good Taste Tally: Hands-on Learning Through Farming

FSU Assistant Education Professor George Boggs is learning about being a teacher, a parent, and a business owner. He operates Good Taste Tally out of his own home, where his four young children and three high school students in the 50 Large program learn by getting their hands dirty. They not only learn about raising crops (biology), but they make business decisions to keep the farm sustainable.

Click below to view the video.

Good Taste Tally

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via Kelli Gemmer Florida State 24/7 on September 30, 2015

Chore or stress reliever: Study suggests that washing dishes decreases stress

Chore

FSU Research

Washing those dreadful dishes after a long day seems like the furthest thing from relaxation. Or is it?

Student and faculty researchers at Florida State University have found that mindfully washing dishes calms the mind and decreases stress.

Published in the journal Mindfulness,the study looked at whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice that promotes a positive state of mindfulness — a meditative method of focusing attention on the emotions and thoughts of the present moment.

“I’ve had an interest in mindfulness for many years, both as a contemplative practitioner and a researcher,” said Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program and one of the study’s authors. “I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.”

After conducting a study with 51 students, the researchers found that mindful dishwashers — those who focused on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water, the feel of the dishes — reported a decrease in nervousness by 27 percent and an increase in mental inspiration by 25 percent. The control group, on the other hand, didn’t experience any benefits.

The research team also included Alia Warner and Vincent Delhili, doctoral candidates at Florida State; Angela Canto, assistant professor at Florida State; and Eric Garland, associate professor at University of Utah.

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via Ann Lukits The Wall Street Journal on September 28, 2015

Wash the Dishes and Cleanse the Mind?

Washing the dishes may be a convenient detox for overwrought minds, a study in the journal Mindfulness suggests. The study found that washing dishes mindfully—focusing on the smell of the soap, and the shape and feel of the dishes, for example—significantly reduced nervousness and increased mental stimulation in dishwashers compared with a control group.

Mindful dishwashing also heightened the sense of time pleasurably slowing down. Studies have associated altered time perception with greater psychological well-being, the researchers said.

Mindfulness refers both to a peaceful cognitive state and a popular form of therapeutic meditation that calms the mind and body by focusing attention on an object or activity, such as breathing. Mindful meditation is usually an exercise in itself, but routine daily activities may provide opportunities for informal practice, the study suggests.

Researchers at Florida State University in Tallahassee (Adam Hanley,doctoral candidate; Alia Warner, doctoral candidate, Vincent Delhili, doctoral candidate; Angela Canto, Ph. D., assistant professor at FSU); Eric Garland, Ph. D. associate professor at University of Utah) recruited 51 students in their early 20s. Just over half read a 230-word passage that stressed the sensory experience of dishwashing. The others, who acted as controls, read a similar-length passage about proper dishwashing techniques. The subjects gave their interpretations of the readings verbally and in writing, and then each washed 18 clean dishes.

Positive and negative personality traits, mindful state, and psychological well-being were assessed before and after the dishwashing exercise. Nervousness ratings decreased by 27% in the mindful dishwashers, while mental inspiration increased by 25%. Both changes were statistically significant and reflected a substantial experiential shift, researchers said. There was no change among the controls.

Caveat: It isn’t clear if washing dirty dishes would produce the same results, researchers said.

Click here to read more.

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via Kate Payne WFSU on September 24, 2015

FSU Expands Suicide Prevention Efforts

Florida State University is expanding its suicide prevention program, with a $306,000 dollar grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The program aims to enable the entire campus community to identify and intervene with students in distress.

NolesCARE

Noles CARE

Funds will support the Noles CARE in Academics program, designed to focus mental health resources within academic departments. Assistant Professor Marty Swanbrow Becker says this approach builds on students’ existing support systems: their friends and teachers.

“Well our goal is to make suicide prevention easier on campus and to demystify and destigmatize the process. And so our plan is to train key people within departments, so maybe department chairs, student leaders, some key faculty members, on suicide prevention,” he said.

The program includes training to address the specific needs of high risk groups, including veterans, minorities and LGBTQ students. The university will also hire Suicide Prevention Coordinator. The initiative is expected to launch campus-wide in the fall of 2016.

Click here to listen to Swanbrow Becker’s interview.

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via Daniella Abinum USA Today College on September 21, 2015

Students who are blind face greater social challenges on campus

We live in a visual world.

If someone continually checks their watch, it’s safe to assume they’re probably pressed for time. If they’re staring at you at a party, they may want to strike up a conversation.

According to a renowned 1971 study by Albert Mehrabian, now-professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California-Los Angeles, nonverbal interactions like these comprise about 90% of our communication with others. Eye contact, Mehrabian found, is a universal language of social interactions we can all understand — that is, unless you can’t see.

blindness

Graphic by Daniella Abinum

For college students with visual impairments, this makes it difficult to get the full college experience outside the classroom. Since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, professors across the nation have been legally required to accommodate college students who are blind, which means accessing a syllabus or finding a scribe for an exam is no longer the pressing issue.

The problem is that the unspoken social college curriculum — one that holds some truly valuable life lessons — is not easily accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision

“The resources are great, but they aren’t helping people who are blind navigate the college experience — they’re just helping them navigate the classroom experience, and that’s not what college is about,” Mickey Damelio, a teacher for the visually impaired at Florida State University, says.

Connor Boss, a legally blind student at Florida State University, says she has had her fair share of social mishaps. Since her disability is not physically detectable, Boss says she prefers to keep her blindness under wraps.

“If I go to a bar and I’m not making eye contact with somebody, (other people) are like ‘What’s wrong with her?’” Boss, who has Stargardt’s disease, says. “I don’t like to bring it up in a five-minute conversation because there’s a lot to explain. They’ll ask, ‘Well,why don’t you just wear glasses?’ And it’s hard to explain that glasses don’t exactly help.”

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Courtesy of Connor Boss

But by Damelio’s standards, Boss is an exception to the rule. She’s an active member of her sorority, a member of the competitive advertising team and the secretary of disability affairs for student government.

Even so, Boss says she encounters a few struggles. Like Boss, many college students who are blind and can’t drive must rely on friends or public transportation to get around. In college, that alone becomes a problem. According to Damelio, it can potentially lead to visually impaired students not getting out much at all.

“Blind kids have to either feel like a burden or figure out a way to get around on their own,” Damelio says.

For Tameka Perez, a legally blind student at Florida State, the hardest part is feeling like a burden.

“My friends will usually offer to pick me up and drive me around,” Perez says. “But I’ll usually turn them down and stay home because I don’t want to bother them.”

While Non-verbal communication is a global norm, Damelio says its especially crucial in college social settings where many darts of visual information are thrown around. According to Damelio, people who are blind end up missing out on a lot of those interactions.

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Graphic by Daniella Abinum

“What happens is that it boils down to the sighted person being like, ‘Well that person is really awkward and weird,’” Damelio says.“And it’s because [the blind person] was deaf to about 60% of what you were saying. Kids who are blind have to be very self-advocating — it’s easy for them to get lost in the social stuff that’s happening.”

According to Damelio, one of the most important things our vision provides us with is incidental learning — those untaught skills that people pick up on their own. Social skills fall under this category, he says.

“Plenty of college students who are blind graduate, but they didn’t get through what sighted kids did,” Damelio says. “Sighted kids learned that it’s not a good idea to stay out until late on a school night, and they learned how to work themselves out of that situation. Visually impaired kids are rarely provided the opportunity to make the decision to stay out late. And all of those things build someone who’s a professional and responsible individual. That’s what creates a real, functioning person, not the degree.”

To solve this, Damelio says more universities need to hire vision teachers. Vision teachers, he says, “fill those holes” and make sure blind college students learn the social skills they’re bound to need in life. What’s more, Damelio says, working with a vision teacher helps impaired students have the same college experiences as their sighted counterparts.

“If vision teachers have done their job right, visually impaired students are going to experience the same things in college as sighted kids,” Damelio says. “They’ll be offered drugs and sex, and have the necessary skills to make the right choices, and not become a victim.”

The challenges faced by college students who are blind exceed just crossing streets on campus or taking notes in class. According to Damelio, few programs nationwide address the real issue.

“They do everything they can on the academic side, but leave all the life stuff aside. It’s just too messy,” Damelio says.

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via Marty Swanbrow Becker Florida State 24/7 on September 23, 2015

FSU receives funding to enhance suicide prevention interventions

Swanbrowbecker

Dr. Marty Swanbrow Becker

A Florida State University project is seeking to enhance existing campus suicide prevention interventions by providing more accessible resources to academic departments across campus.

The Noles CARE in Academics project will provide training to faculty, staff and students within the university’s academic departments to localize sources of support in the learning environment of students and to encourage early detection of student distress and referrals for professional help.

The project emerged as a collaborative effort from the FSU Healthy Campus 2020 Mental Health Team and the need to improve the suicide prevention resources within FSU academic departments. The goal is to increase the percentage of faculty, staff and students who feel competent identifying and intervening with individuals in distress.

“Through this project, we hope to expand our suicide prevention training and make suicide prevention resources more available to our campus community of faculty, staff and more than 40,000 students,” said Marty Swanbrow Becker, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, whose research focuses on campus suicide prevention training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is providing $306,000 over three years to fund the project.

The project will incorporate specific components into the training that address high-risk groups, such as members of the LGBTQ community, those identifying as racial or ethnic minority students, and student veterans. To facilitate the suicide prevention efforts across academic departments, the team will assess training needs across campus, build a sustainable infrastructure of easily accessible mental health resources and help shift the campus culture to encourage members of the FSU community who are considering suicide to seek help.

Swanbrow Becker is the principal investigator and is joined by members of the FSU Healthy Campus 2020 Mental Health Team on the project. They are: Amy Magnuson, health promotion director; Randi Mackintosh, director of outreach, University Counseling Center; Hillary Singer, coordinator of FSU Noles CARE Suicide Prevention Program, University Counseling Center; Thomas Joiner, Department of Psychology, and Philip Osteen, College of Social Work, who are FSU faculty members and national experts on understanding and treating suicidal behaviors; Ludmila De Faria, psychiatrist and FSU faculty member; Melissa Bolen, clinical coordinator of the Employee Assistance Program; and Darren MacFarlane, assistant dean of students and director of case management services.

For information on Florida State’s suicide prevention efforts, visit http://counseling.fsu.edu/for-students/nolescare/.

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via Daniella Abinum USA Today College on September 14, 2015

Class simulates blindness to teach what it’s like to be visually impaired

Walk around Florida State University and you might spot packs of blindfolded students roaming around campus while clutching onto people’s arms. It’s not a new Millennial movement or a fun in between classes pastime: These students are enrolled in The Blindness Experience.

The course educates students about what it’s like to be visually impaired, and aims to shatter stereotypes and preconceived notions. They also get repeated experiences performing tasks using blindfolds, and each student must guide someone wearing one.

Vis Dis

Click photo to view the video

Topics range from the grieving process to the adjustment to blindness process to the debunking of common misconceptions related to loss of vision.

“We’ve already gone on two guided walks where we put on a blindfold and someone guides us around,” Aubrey Brown, a junior enrolled in the class, says. “ At first I was really disoriented, but even by the second time we did it, I already felt so much more comfortable and even confident going through with it. I wasn’t afraid to hurt myself or fall or anything.”

Mickey Damelio, a teacher for the visually impaired and the professor who created the class in 2011, says he wanted to provide a public service to the FSU community.

“The whole reason for this class is to give students so many experiences with blindness that they’re unable to stereotype it,” Damelio says. “I show them blind professional, I show them blind people who are snarky, I show them blind people who are sweet so they realize that the idea of generalizing two people with a visual impairment is as ridiculous as assuming two people with blue eyes must be the same kind of person.”

Damelio keeps things interesting. A Paralympian gold medalist has spoken to the class, and the students get exposure to a service dog in action. Naturally, the class sells out within hours and is as popular at FSU as the beer and wine tasting courses.

“I had never met anyone who is blind so the main reason I took this course is to diversify my knowledge and to see blindness through different perspectives,” Fritz Cuaboy, a sophomore, says. “(Damelio) shows us how blindness is portrayed in movies and TV shows, and then he tells us how he has seen it with the people he’s worked with and how sometimes it’s not an accurate representation.”

“Many of the students who take this class will be leaders and in a position where they are potentially making a hiring decision to give someone who’s visually impaired a chance,” Damelio says. “After taking the class, I hope they’ll come at it with a more realistic point of view of blindness, and give that person a chance they deserve as an individual, and let their individual abilities stand as the reason you make that decision, rather than, ‘They’re blind and I just don’t think we can do anything for them here.’”

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via Lara Perez-Felkner Florida State 24/7 on September 15, 2015

Researcher: Social support in schools is key to student success

Researcher

Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner

A new Florida State University study of underrepresented high school students suggests that schools can increase student success by facilitating social support structures that enhance students’ perceptions of value and esteem for their potential.

Lara Perez-Felkner, an assistant professor of higher education and sociology and a senior research associate at Florida State’s Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS), published the study in the journal Teachers’ College Record. The three-year study analyzed the variation in students’ educational pathways to college by specifically asking “How can the social context of schools keep underrepresented minority students on track to transition to college?”

Perez-Felkner, using a case study of a predominantly Latino and low-income urban charter school, found that students observe and value support from teachers and peers, embedded within the school’s social context. Collectively, highly structured support networks appear to have a positive effect on student’s college transition outcomes.

“These kids work hard to get ready for college, and the stress on them and their families can take a toll,” Perez-Felkner said. “Some students seemed more likely to persist through these challenging years if they perceive support from their teachers and peers.”

The study responds to the myriad school reform efforts that are attempting to address stratification in black and Latino students’ access to higher education through extensive reform initiatives, including these focused on social supports. Crucially, these efforts have not sufficiently focused on how students experience these reforms, which is essential to improving the effectiveness of support mechanisms and understanding why they have been insufficient.

“Even today, the schools most often attended by underrepresented students tend to offer fewer resources and support,” Perez-Felkner said. “While local, state and national reform efforts have targeted academic and structural dimensions of schooling, measures of their success rarely take the student perspective into account.”

The study employed traditional metrics such as college placement and academic preparation, while leveraging detailed analysis of the social fabric of the school as a potential support network to paint a detailed picture of the nuanced and at times fraught pursuit of what is increasingly a universal aspiration: college.

Nearly all students in the study encountered hurdles threatening to derail their college ambitions. Five primary and at times interrelated stressors emerged: academic grades, predicted stereotype threat, family responsibilities, family estrangement and burnout.

Among other things, the researcher measured school regard — the feeling students had that adults at school as well as their peers believed in them during stressful times, and specifically, how they regarded their capacity for educational success.

“School regard was associated with students’ persistence through the transition to college — and to stronger colleges — even in the face of academic, socioeconomic, and personal challenges,” Perez-Felkner said.

As recommendations for school and policy leaders, the study underscores that while enhancing rigor and pedagogy are effective for well-resourced students, the non-academic challenges often encountered by underrepresented students can get in the way of their ability to respond to these reforms. Therefore, interventions to help students achieve a more positive school-life balance and manage non-academic stress may enhance underrepresented students’ successful transitions to college.

“Having school-based allies who think they are intelligent, capable, and worthy of pursuing and realizing their college ambition can be a crucial factor in keeping underrepresented students on-track to successfully transition to college,” Perez-Felkner said. “Schools should be organized in a way that students have the opportunity to develop close relationships at school, which can enhance and reinforce their aspirations to go to and graduate from college.”

Finally, the study notes that attempts to evaluate school effectiveness may problematically underemphasize students’ interpretation of these reform efforts. Rather, students’ perceptions of their school context may be more accurate measure of their success.

The research was funded by the Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education, with additional support from National Science Foundation, the American Educational Research Association and the Pathways to Adulthood Programme.

For more information, read the CPS policy brief with a summary of key findings and implications or the full article.

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via STATE on September 2015

Journal honors researcher for paper

zuilkowski

STATE

The British Journal of Educational Psychology has awarded its Early Stage Career Research Prize to Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski of the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University 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 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 her work in the Learning Systems Institute, Zuilkowski teaches international and comparative education courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the university’s College of Education.

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,” said 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,” she 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.”

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via Jennie Harrison STATE September 2015

New director takes helm of lab school

chambers

STATE

The board of directors of Florida State University Schools (FSUS) — FSU’s developmental research school — has named an administrator known for setting high academic standards through strong research-based school development as the school’s new director after conducting a national search.

Stacy Chambers, who most recently served as principal at Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Conn., and assistant superintendent for Derby Public Schools in Derby, Conn., began at FSUS in June. She succeeds Lynn Wicker, the school’s director from 2008 to 2015.

“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.

Since she began climbing the administrative ladder, Chambers has developed 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.

“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.

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.

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via Liana Heitin Education Week on September 9, 2015

Researchers Test Out Primary Sources for Math Class: Writings of Euclid become class texts

Clark

Dr. Kathy Clark

Over the next five years, as many as 1,000 college students will be asked to grapple with the original writings of mathematicians like Euclid and Archimedes in a project that many experts say has good utility in high school math classrooms as well.

Under a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, seven university math professors are writing lesson plans around primary sources—common practice in history and English classes, but rare in the math world—which they’ll then pilot with students around the country.

The idea, based on earlier grant-funded work, is that understanding the origins of important mathematical concepts will help students fully grasp and remember them later, and that exploring mathematicians’ motivations will be inspiring for students.

With primary sources, “you see why people want to study math, what problems it was designed to solve,” said Jerry Lodder, a mathematical sciences professor at New Mexico State University, who is working on the grant project. “You don’t see that if you just look at the algorithmic model.”

Typically, math textbooks in both high school and college include a short blurb about the mathematician behind a particular concept, but then quickly move into a clean, modernized presentation of the math. “What we miss when that’s all we see is all the thought, work, and understanding that goes into creating that presentation in the first place,” said Dominic Klyve, an associate professor of mathematics at Central Washington University and a principal investigator on the project. “We forget that mathematics is a human endeavor.”

“Can you imagine a literature class where you just read about literature and never study what people were writing 200 years ago?” he added.

‘It Sticks’

Previous NSF-funded work found some evidence that college math students were motivated by the use of primary sources and showed some performance gains in subsequent math classes—but the data were mostly anecdotal.

Lodder, who also worked on a prior NSF grant on which this study is based, said he believes students will gain “more enduring knowledge” through the use of primary sources. “When you read the formula or algorithm in a textbook, sure, you memorize it for the exam, but a few days later you forget it because there was no context,” he said. “When students see the original problem or solution it sticks with them longer.”

The professors will be devising both long primary source projects that could take up to several weeks, and shorter projects that are meant to be completed in a single class. About 50 math professors around the country have already agreed to test the tasks with their own students. Researchers will track students’ learning growth and compare results with those for students in nonparticipating math classes.

For Kathy Clark, an associate professor of math education at Florida State University who is also a principal investigator, the project is about enhancing students’ ability to build their own mathematical arguments. Students who are learning Pascal’s triangle and “have gone through the words of the actual authority from 1654, when they go to work on problems based on that mathematical concept, we hope their articulation will be more nuanced because they’ve had this rich experience,” she said.

The experts involved in the project say it translates well to high school—in fact, some of the primary source projects they’re designing will cover precalculus and trigonometry concepts. “I don’t see any way in which high school students in their junior or senior years will be less mentally prepared to tackle these than first- and second-year [college] math students who are in precalculus,” said Klyve.

Clark, who taught high school for 12 years, periodically used primary sources with her students and found them beneficial. “That’s a missed resource in high school teaching today,” she said. “I hardly see math students in high school open a book for anything other than math exercises. It perpetuates this notion that math is just a bunch of exercises you do—you crunch numbers and solve for x.” Through primary sources, students learn to “tear apart the mathematics and the meaning and put it together at the end.”

Click here to read more.

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via Douglas Robson The New York Times on September 9, 2015

How the Bryan Brothers Saved Doubles

Ryan Rodenberg contributed reporting.

Rodenberg

Dr. Ryan Rodenberg

Ten years ago, Bob and Mike Bryan tried the riskiest poach of their lives.

During their first United States Open title run, in 2005, the twins darted into the middle of a legal fray: They sued the ATP Tour.

The move from a tennis court to a court of law was a bold strategy to save doubles from extinction.

“Our backs are against the wall right now,” Mike Bryan said after he and Bob were named lead plaintiffs in a federal antitrust lawsuit against the ATP, the governing body for professional men’s tennis, which represents both players and tournaments. “If we don’t unite, there may not be a game of doubles.”

A decade later, doubles is an integral part of the men’s game, purses have nearly doubled, and doubles-only players continue to make a decent living on tour.

On Thursday, the U.S. Open will showcase the doubles semifinals during the day session, which will be free to the public.

“When I was coming up, I thought I’d be out of a job,” said Eric Butorac, who broke into the ATP circuit in 2006.

The 2005 dispute centered on rule changes that the ATP said would encourage more high-profile singles players to enter doubles. Only players with singles rankings would have qualified to enter doubles events. The ATP also wanted to cut back on the length of matches with scoring changes like no-ad scoring, tiebreakers at 4-4 and a third-set supertiebreaker.

Click here to continue reading.

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via Seminoles.com on September 8, 2015

FSU 2015 Hall of Fame Induction

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Click photo to view induction

Brandi Stuart
M.S. ’05 Sports Administration
Softball 2000-03

Brandi Stuart’s hall-of-fame career as a softball star at Florida State was equaled by her accomplishments as a student and campus leader.

A native of Cerritos, California, Stuart was a four-year starter for the highly-acclaimed FSU softball program from 2000-2003. She earned All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in 2002 (First Team) and 2003 (Second Team) as well as Easton’s All-America team in 2001 (Second Team) and 2003 (Third Team).

Stuart was an All-ACC selection throughout her FSU career. She earned academic All-America honors in 2002, a place on Florida State’s Dean’s List in 1999 and 2000 and was a career-long member of the ACC Honor Roll.

Stuart posted a .357 career batting average that included 287 hits, 39 doubles, 17 triples, 25 home runs 152 RBI and 162 stolen bases on just 177 attempts. Over her career, FSU won two ACC Championships, advance to the NCAA Regionals all four year and reached the semifinals of the 2002 Women’s College World Series.

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via Seminoles.com on September 6, 2015

Seminole All-American Westrup Wins First Professional Tournament

Westrup

Alumna Caroline Westrup

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Caroline Westrup, the only four-time All-American in the history of the Florida State women’s golf team, claimed the championship of the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at the Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Fall, S.D. for the first win of her professional career on Sunday. The event is part of the Symetra Tour – a tour that is the road to the LPGA Tour. The top-10 money winners on the Symetra Tour each season earn memberships on the LPGA Tour for the following season.

Westrup carded scores of 67-65-71-69 for a four round total of 12-under 272. She was under par in three of the four rounds played and defeated Dani Holmqvist of Sweden by two strokes to gain the win.

“A couple of weeks ago I was ready to stop playing and now four weeks later here I am winning my first tournament,” Westrup told seminoles.com. “This is a life changer for me. I couldn’t believe that I had won; that it had finally happened for me. The first call I made was to my parents and I’ve gotten about 40 congratulatory texts and emails. It’s such a great feeling that there are so many Seminoles following me even after the years it has been since I graduated from Florida State.”

Westrup posted a career low 6-under 65 on Friday to move into a share of the lead during the second round. Westrup was tied for the lead 10-under 132 as play was suspended due to darkness on Friday. She carded scores of 71 in the third round and 69 in the final round (including a birdie on her final hole) to clinch the championship. Westrup defeated Dani Holmqvist of Sweden by two strokes to gain the win. She finished at 12-under par for the four round event.

Westrup now has one victory, two top-10 finishes and four top-20 results this season.

“This win puts me near the top 10 and it’s obviously a goal of mine to earn my full LPGA Tour status,” Westrup said earlier in the week. She has played in 11 LPGA events over the last two years. “I’ve had conditional status for the last two years and it would be great to have full time LPGA status.”

“What a great week for our former Seminole golfers,” said Florida State Head Coach Amy Bond. “Kris (Tamulis) earned her first LPGA win last week and now Caroline gets her first win this week. I am so proud of Kris and Caroline. Caroline has been working extremely hard and finally, this week, everything clicked. It goes to show that with perseverance and belief your dreams can come true. Things are not always easy but keeping your faith and working hard will deliver results. I am thrilled for Caroline getting this win.”

Westrup is considered to be the greatest golfer in school history who helped lead Florida State to the NCAA Tournament in each of her four seasons as a Seminole (2006-09). She is the only four-time All-American and the four-time All-ACC selection in school history. Westrup claimed the individual world title at the Women’s Golf World Amateur Team Championship in South Africa in 2006.

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via USA Today on September 6, 2015

Caroline Westrup wins Symetra Tour event in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Norway’s Caroline Westrup won the Symetra Tour’s Sioux Falls GreatLife Challenge by two strokes Sunday for her first professional title.

The 29-year-old former Florida State player won four weeks after applying for a job as an assistant college coach and coming close to quitting professional golf.

“This is everything I have ever dreamed of and more,” Westrup said. “Finally, finally, I can say that I won my first professional event.”

Westrup closed with a 2-under 69 for a 12-under 272 total at Willow Run.

She earned a tour-record $31,500 to jump from 56th to 14th on the money list with $41,846. The top 10 at the end of the season will receive 2016 LPGA Tour cards.

“This is a life changer for sure,” Westrup said. “I put myself in good position to earn my full LPGA Tour card for next year.”

Westrup missed the cuts in her previous three starts.

“I was almost to the point where I wanted to quit and start a new career,” Westrup said. “When I went home, I was able to practice, workout and spend time with friends and family. It’s funny, a lot of people told me that I was going to go out and win the next event and here I am today. It’s crazy thinking a couple weeks ago I was going to quit golf. Thank god I didn’t.”

She birdied the final hole, hitting her approach to 6 feet.

“I was shaking so much over that putt, I was really nervous,” Westrup said. “I just told myself not to hit it hard. … I just couldn’t have been more happy when it went in.”

Sweden’s Dani Holmqvist was second after a 70. She earned $19,376 to jump from 17th to sixth on the money list with $50,970.

Italy’s Giulia Molinaro shot a 70 to finish third at 9 under. She earned $14,102 to take the money lead with $66,732, more than enough to earn an LPGA Tour card.

“The LPGA is where I want to be and that is where every golfer wants to be,” Molinaro said. “It is an incredible stage with incredible tournaments with the best in the world. A huge part of who I am is what I learned on this tour.”

The $210,000 purse also was the largest in tour history.

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via Teachers College Record in August 2015

Perceptions and Resilience in Underrepresented Students’ Pathways to College

by Lara Perez-Felkner

Background/Context: Schools have attempted to address stratification in black and Latino students’ access to higher education through extensive reform initiatives, including those focused on social supports. A crucial focus has been missing from these efforts, essential to improving the effectiveness of support mechanisms and understanding why they have been insufficient: how students experience these reforms.

Purpose: How can the social context of schools keep underrepresented minority students on track to transition to college? This study investigates how students experience the social contexts of their schools in relation to their college ambitions, and the particular attributes of schools’ social contexts that might positively affect their transition to four-year colleges.

Research Design: Using a mixed-methods case study design, this three-year study examined students’ educational pathways in a Chicago charter high school. Data collection methods included ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and a longitudinal survey. Supplemental secondary data sources were utilized to contextualize the case study.

Analysis: Interview transcripts and field notes were transcribed and coded to examine variation in students’ experience of their social context and their college transition plans. To contextualize these findings, the author utilized descriptive, associative, and logistic regression techniques to analyze quantitative data from the case study survey and corresponding city and national datasets.

Findings: The school’s organization facilitated academic, social, and college preparatory support through structured relationships. Notwithstanding, there was notable within-school variation in students’ transitions to college. Students in this urban charter school often experienced multiple obstacles that interfered with the college ambitions they generally shared with their families and school peers. School regard is a mechanism identified in this study as central to students’ transition success. Students’ perceptions of their teachers’ and their peers’ regard for their capacity for educational success was associated with their persistence through the transition to college in the face of academic, socioeconomic, and other challenges.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This study demonstrates the effort and engagement underrepresented students expend in the effort to become college-ready, and the risk for burnout as a result of both academic and nonacademic hardships during their high school years. School regard may mitigate these effects. Mere expectations for college appear insufficient in the current access-for-all climate. Rather, it is important that students perceive value and esteem for their potential from school faculty and peers, sustaining their ambitions through the obstacles they encounter in high school and expect in college.

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via Tallahassee Democrat on August 28, 2015

FSU professors get $1 million grant to study preschool improvement

Dr. Beth Phillips

Two Florida State University researchers have received a $1-million Lyle Spencer Research Award to improve the quality of education in preschool classrooms.

Associate professors Beth Phillips and Carla Wood will lead a 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.

“The relevance of this study is tremendous,” Phillips said. “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.”

Phillips and Wood will work with 100 preschools throughout the Southeast to investigate the crucial role of teachers in developing children’s language skills.

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.

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.

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via Jim Henry Tallahassee Democrat on August 26, 2015

Henry Blog: FSU’s Reynaud not slowing in retirement

Cecile Reynaud bicycled 15 miles Wednesday morning, followed by lunch and recovery time in her backyard pool.

The former Florida State volleyball coach and associate professor in the university’s sports management program admitted her first month of retirement has been a very different, delightful experience.

IMG_2303

Dr. Cecile Reynaud

“Just not having a lot of clutter going around your head with everything that you have to get done,” Reynaud said.

“You really can stop and smell the roses.”

Yet the unpacking continues during relaxing exhales.

The 15 or so cardboard boxes of various sizes are stacked in her home. The process – purging might be a better description, though that sounds heartless when dealing with fond memories – started months ago as Reynaud’s late July retirement approached.

Office number 1026 – a rather nondescript space, maybe 15X10 in dimension – in Tully Gymnasium held 39 years of achievements, flashbacks, and direction for Reynaud.

Reynaud has been a coach, mentor, educator, leader and friend to many since arriving at FSU in 1976, and her contributions should not be underestimated. Reynaud coached volleyball through the 2001 season before she transitioned into teaching. She was elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 2009 and remains highly respected among her peers and others across generations.

Click here to read more.

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via Kellie Bartoli WTXL ABC27 on August 20, 2015

Tech Smart: Bridging the Gender Gap in STEM Careers

A new study conducted by FSU researchers found that women remain to be under represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields.

According to the report, men are three to four times more likely to major in those fields.

But Dr. Lara Perez-Felkner, who worked on the study along with Samantha Nix and Kirby Thomas, says there are way to get more women involved.

She says schools should aim involve girls in programs like Science Olympiad and Sci Girls. The can also bringing in female role models who are making a difference in the STEM world.

LPF interview

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via Bill Edmonds Florida State 24/7 on August 7, 2015

Researcher receives early stage award from British Journal

Stephanie Zuilkowski, Education

Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski

Florida State University faculty member Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski, a researcher at FSU’s Learning Systems Institute, received an Early Stage Career Research Prize from the British Journal of Educational Psychology 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 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 her work at LSI, Zuilkowski teaches international and comparative education courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in FSU’s College of Education.

Zuilkowski’s research focuses on improving the quality of basic education in sub-Saharan Africa and 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.

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 population of 2 million.

“In this study, we looked at the long-term educational effects of preventing childhood malaria,” said 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 astrongpositive 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.”

The Learning Systems Institute conducts education research and service in Florida, the nation and around the world.

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via Tallahassee Democrat on August 6, 2015

Florida High hires new director

Florida State University Schools, known as Florida High, named Stacy Chambers as its new director Thursday, according to a FSUS press release.

After receiving a Master of Education from University of Cambridge in 1989, Chambers began her career as an elementary school teacher in New Hampshire. She later transitioned into administration, becoming a high school principal in Hartford, Conn. She also served as the assistant superintendent for Derby Public Schools in Connecticut.

The FSUS board of directors, went through a large pool of candidates across the nation, the release stated.

Chambers’ experience with research-based school development — FSUS is a developmental lab school — as well as a “solid record of fiscal responsibility” led to her appointment through a unanimous decision made by the board of directors.

“She will lead the district forward in meeting the goals of increasing student achievement and maintaining strong fiscal management,” said former board president Alan Hanstein in the release, “as well as continue FSUS’ mission to advance Florida’s K-12 education through exemplary teaching, research and service.”

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via Jennie Harrison Florida State 24/7 on August 6, 2015

FSU’s developmental lab school hires new director

FSU-s-developmental-lab-school-hires-new-director_medium

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.

“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.

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via Bill Edmonds Learning Systems Institute on August 3, 2015

British journal honors LSI’s Zuilkowski for paper on malaria treatment’s long-run effects on education in the Gambia

Stephanie-Simmons-Zuilkowski_medium

Dr. Zuilkowski

The British Journal of Educational Psychology has awarded its Early Stage Career Research Prize to Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski of the Learning Systems Institute 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 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 her work in the Learning Systems Institute, Zuilkowski teaches international and comparative education courses in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in Florida State University’s College of Education.

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.”

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via Teachers College Record on July 16, 2015

Does the Gender Gap in STEM Majors Vary by Field and Institutional Selectivity?

By Barbara Schneider, Carolina Milesi, Lara Perez-Felkner, Kevin Brown & Iliya Gutin

This research brief examines the gender gap in specific STEM majors among college sophomores and whether this gap varies across institutions of different selectivity. Using national longitudinal data, results show that women’s underrepresentation on STEM is solely driven by the field of physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer science (PEMC) and that the gender gap in this particular STEM field is ubiquitous across institutions of different selectivity levels. Men are three to four times more likely to major in PEMC even when comparing males and females scoring at the top of the SATs, who have a positive orientation toward math, and are enrolled at highly selective institutions.

View the full article.

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via Iain Grinbergs FSView/Florida Flambeau on July 16, 2015

PAEC offers opportunity for children of migrant parents

PAEC Summer Camp children

Migrant farm workers lead a laborious life. Some work seasonally in fields, from sunup to sundown, under the merciless heat. In the case of migrant workers who come to North Florida, they collect tomatoes, watermelons and blueberries in buckets during the summer, with tomatoes being the main crop in Leon County and Gadsden County.

“The rate per bucket is about 45 to 50 cents and the buckets can weigh between 45 to 50 pounds,” said Maria Pouncey, Ed.D., Administrator of Instructional Services, Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC). Migrant children will often work alongside their parents in order to increase the family’s income.

Faculty of Florida State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education program, such as Dr. Rebecca Galeano, are aware of the hardships faced by migrant families and how those hardships put the children at a disadvantage–this is why they collaborate with the PAEC (the first educational consortium in Florida) to provide a free, five-week summer camp that teaches children of migrant families a second language.

PAEC recruiters use unconventional methods in order to bring children into the camp.

“[Recruiters] will go to the fields to look for out-of-school youths, and to the motels and hotels at night, when the families get back,” Pouncey said. “They even look out for vehicles, the license plates, to see who’s from out of town. They work long hours; they sometimes don’t get home till 11 p.m.”

The main requirement for the program is that the parents of the children have to be migrant workers. Pouncey stressed the importance of understanding the difference between ‘migrant’ and ‘immigrant.’ For the PAEC, a child is classified as a migrant if their parent(s) are migrant workers, meaning individuals who move to different areas—inside or outside of a country—in search of or to work in agriculture. This is different from an immigrant, who moves to a country to reside permanently.

The languages taught include English, Chinese, Arabic and Swahili. The curriculum focuses on improving reading comprehension, language expression and writing.

“We couldn’t do it without [the help of the FSU professors],” Pouncey said. “They’re really giving to the community. It’s worth more than a million bucks to us.”

The camp also has FSU student volunteers and interns, such as foreign language majors and social work majors.

PAEC’s largest summer program is in Gadsden County, with over 150 children partaking this summer. Leon County’s program is smaller, with often about 40 to 45 children. The children range from three-years-old to high-school age.

There is no fee for the summer camp, and which is part of the No Child Left Behind Act, with funding coming from the Florida Department of Education.

“We provide opportunities for our migrant children to succeed, and to have those avenues other children have,” Pouncey said. “It’s that ray of hope.”

(photo via WFSU and Maria Pouncey)

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via Matthew Bruner FSView/Florida Flambeau on July 16, 2015

NSA funds FSU STARTALK initiative

Startalk 1

Foreign & Second Language Education students

Knowing a second language has an array of benefits ranging from professional to personal. FSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Aside from these language classes, another program here at FSU works to expand even further on foreign language education from an early age.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has provided FSU’s Dr. Wenxia Wang, assistant professor of Foreign and Second Language Education, with just under 90,000 dollars to initiate a STARTALK program here at FSU. The STARTALK initiative seeks to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages that are not widely taught in the US.

Students attending summer camps held at Tallahassee’s DeSoto Trail Elementary School and Conley Elementary School are being taught Korean, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic and Portuguese.

“The FSU STARTALK program aims to help improve the instructional skills of new teachers and teacher candidates who are or who will be teaching the languages that the federal government recognizes as critical to college and elementary school students,” Dr. Wang said.

The program, which has been running for most of the summer, consists of workshops, discussions, seminars and supervised co-teaching. The overall goal is to develop an effective lesson plan and create opportunities for language acquisition. Teachers also have to take into the account the similarities and differences between school cultures here in the U.S. and abroad.

20 teacher candidates in FSU’s School of Teacher Education and 8 early career language teachers who have experience teaching a language on a college or elementary school level run FSU STARTALK.

“Our doctoral students and faculty are able to research the teaching and learning of these languages, while FSU students prepare to be at the forefront as the need for proficiency in these languages grows worldwide,” said Dr. Rebecca Galeano, assistant professor of Foreign and Second Language Education.

STARTALK is producing groundbreaking research on foreign language instruction, assessment, and blended learning. The program is making strides in terms of foreign language education and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

“This program has a communitywide impact,” Dr. Galeano said. “It truly embodies the international university.”

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via Lynn Hatter WFSU on July 16, 2015

FSU Hosts English Camp For Migrant Students

fsu_english_camp

Clara Solano and her son Rey, with Florida State University’s Loyda Lopez at the WFSU studios.

Florida State University is host to many summer camps—from music to science. But it’s also reached out to the state’s migrant community in an effort to help kids learn English.

Clara Solano and her family are from Mexico. She works in the state’s agriculture industry harvesting tomatoes. Today, she’s with Loyda Lopez who helps translate for Solano.

“It has been a great experience for them. She has four children that are participating in the summer school and they were learning reading, math and also English, and lately a third language.”

Solano’s children are between four and 15 years old. Most are still learning English. While at FSU’s camp for migrant families, they also learned Chinese and Turkish. Solano says she decided to come to the U.S. to leave a difficult situation in Mexico. But 15 years later, she still struggles to understand the language. Even so, she says the transition has been worth it.

“It was difficult because she didn’t know how to count the currency, the dollars. But at the same time, she works hard to have a good life here,” explained Lopez, translating for Solano.

What Solano and other parents like her want to ensure is a good life for their children. Her son Rey is eight years old and goes to school in Naples, where the family lives most of the year.

He said he enjoyed the camp. “I did math, and reading,” he said.

Rey says he wants to be a police officer when he’s older, “because they catch robbers, who steal from the bank.”

Solano wants to ensure her son’s dream can come true. And FSU’s Loyda Lopez, a teacher in the program, says FSU’s Summer Camp can help Rey reach his goal.

“Having contact with people outside their community…gives them the decided to continue studying and dreaming and feeling like they can be one of those students, like FSU,” said Lopez, a resource specialist who also recruits families to attend.

The five-week program is a partnership between FSU and the Panhandle Area Education Consortium. About 40 students attend the camp and it works with students whose parents have come to the area to work.

Click here for more information on the PAEC Migrant Summer School program in conjunction with the FSU College of Education.

(photo via Lynn Hatter & WFSU News)

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via Florida College Access on July 11, 2015

SERIES OF REPORTS OFFER FIRST GLANCE AT DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION CHANGES IN FLORIDA

Researchers at Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) have released three comprehensive reports assessing the implementation and outcomes of Florida’s recent developmental education reform efforts.

According to a press release from the Center for Postsecondary Success, the research evaluates changes made to developmental education under a state law passed in 2013 (Senate Bill 1720). The policy changes from two years ago mandated that Florida’s 28 state colleges, provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students.

The research, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, offers an important record of how Florida colleges have responded to the changes mandated by Senate Bill 1720.  Because of the sweeping nature of the reforms, including making developmental education courses and placement testing optional for most students, the policy changes have garnered significant attention from policy makers, higher education leaders and media outlets across the nation.

The three reports from the Center for Postsecondary Success feature information gathered during site visits, surveys, and interviews with administrators, faculty, support staff and students:

  • Learning from the Ground Up: Developmental Education Reform at Florida College System Institutions describes findings from site visits to 10 colleges including nearly 90 interviews with administrators, faculty, students, advisers and support staff members.  Among the report’s key findings, many campus personnel and students questioned expressed concern that different student populations have been affected by the legislative changes in a variety of ways, many of which were unforeseen.

For recent media coverage on Florida’s developmental education reform efforts, read reports from the Sun Sentinel, Tallahassee Democrat, Pensacola News Journal and Inside Higher Ed.

Read the reports from the Center for Postsecondary Success in their entirety here.

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via David Miller U.S. News on July 10, 2015

Fostering a Growth Mindset Is Key to Teaching STEM

We’re used to reassuring our kids: “It’s OK – not everyone can do difficult math.”

But believing such messages may deter both boys and girls from choosing to pursue degrees in physical science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a new national, longitudinal study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Instead, the key to piquing their interest in STEM may be telling them it’s OK if they find the subjects hard to master. “Students may need to hear that encountering difficulty during classwork is expected and normal,” argued Lara Perez-Felkner, a coauthor of the study and assistant professor of higher education and sociology at Florida State University.

The study used data from 4,450 students in the United States who later entered college to probe why some students shun math-intensive fields. The researchers’ reasoning: If a student thinks math is too difficult, they become reluctant to try it.

“Most people believe they can do some mathematics, such as splitting a dinner bill with friends,” said Samantha Nix, lead author and doctoral student at Florida State University. “But fewer believe they can do mathematics they perceive as ‘difficult.'”

High school students who believed they could master the toughest math concepts were more likely to major in math-intensive fields at the college level. Similar results were found for students who believed “most people can learn to be good at math” – something psychologists call a “growth mindset.”

Beliefs still mattered even after statistically correcting for some other factors such as demographics and science coursework. However, these controls were somewhat limited. Math grades were omitted, for instance.

Performance on a difficult math test was used as a control. But students had “almost no probability” of correctly answering the test’s problems. This fact limits how well the test can measure individual differences in math performance, since everyone was bound to bomb it.

Nevertheless, the encouraging results echo experiments in actual classrooms that better control for prior mathematics background.

Gender gaps in beliefs were modest. In 12th grade, boys rated their math abilities higher than girls did by 0.2 points on a 4-point scale, for instance.

Click here to read more.

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via Joseph Zeballos FSView/Florida Flambeau on July 8, 2015

Misconception discourages girls from studying STEM fields, FSU study finds

A widespread misconception that one must be born gifted with the ability to master difficult mathematics is discouraging many American girls from pursuing a college degree in STEM fields, a new study by FSU researchers found.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in early June, the new research only adds another problem to what is already widely acknowledged: The existence of a gender gap prevalent in the male-dominated science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, popularly known as STEM.

“Our results indicate the potential for more women to move into [STEM] if they perceive their mathematics ability as strong and open to growth,” Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology at FSU and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

With the help of doctoral students Samantha Nix and Kirby Thomas, the three sought to determine how gender and psychological factors affected a student’s choice for a college major.

Funded by U.S. National Science Foundation, researchers examined a broad group of 4,451 students across the United States and followed their educational records over a ten-year period from 2002 to 2012.

They found that personal perceptions of ability drastically affected students’ choices for a major in college. While high school boys overrate their abilities in math, high school girls underrate their own, according to the study. Additionally, 12th grade girls who were confident of their mathematic abilities were twice as likely to select a STEM major.

The research also found that women were four times less likely to study a STEM major in college when compared to their male peers.

Even after taking into account and setting controls for a variety of factors that could have affected the final result – including ethnicity, high school science classes taken and college entrance exam scores – the findings remained the same.

While most men and women believe they can do simple, everyday math like splitting a check at dinner with friends, few believe they can handle difficult mathematic problem solving that is an integral part of many STEM jobs, according to Perez-Felkner.

For several decades, women have faced many barriers – and persistent sexism – in scientific and mathematic fields that have long been governed by men. Even as women constitute around half of the national workforce and earn more college degrees on average than men, they comprise of only 26 percent of workers in STEM fields, according to 2011 statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

They also face the tarnation of the gender-wage gap, as women earn 14 percent less than their male counterparts in STEM jobs, which often pay much higher wages and where 17 percen of job growth is expected by 2021, according to the National Math & Science Initiative.

But the disparity is not as large as in other non-STEM fields, where women earn 21 percent less on average.

Last March, President Obama announced 240 million dollars in private sector commitments seeking to empower women and minorities – also underrepresented in STEM– to excel in the sciences, in an effort to bolster diversity in the nation’s workforce along with safeguarding America’s competitive edge in the global economy.

As the United States makes greater strides to boost female and minority representation in STEM positions where they have long been underrepresented, efforts should begin within the classrooms of American schools, according to study co-author and Ph.D. student Samantha Nix.

“Students may need to hear that encountering difficulty during classwork is expected and normal and does not diminish their ability to become a successful scientist,” Nix said. “It is important for the U.S. and other nations to continue to invest in interventions to end gender segregation in [STEM] sciences.”

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via Jennie Harrison Tallahassee Democrat on July 7, 2015

FSU works to expand teaching of foreign languages

Faculty and students from Florida State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education program are working to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages not widely taught in the United States today.

Click here or view entry below to see more.

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via Jennie Harrison Florida State 24/7 on July 6, 2015

College of Education works to expand learning of critical need foreign languages

Faculty and students from Florida State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education program are working to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important world languages not widely taught in the United States today.

Wenxia Wang, assistant professor of Foreign and Second Language Education, received $89,994 in funding from the National Security Agency (NSA) to organize a STARTALK program at Florida State. A component of the National Security Language Initiative, STARTALK’s goal is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching critical need foreign languages, which include Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

FSU STARTALK participants work with children at Leon County elementary schools

FSU STARTALK participants work with children at Leon County elementary schools. “The FSU STARTALK program aims to help improve the instructional skills of new teachers and teacher candidates who are or who will be teaching the languages that the federal government recognizes as critical to college and elementary school students,” Wang said.

FSU’s program, which began June 1 and concludes July 24, is free for all teacher candidates in the Foreign and Second Language Education program who plan to speak or teach one or more of the listed languages.

FSU STARTALK is designed to support two distinct sets of teachers of critical languages: approximately 20 teacher candidates in FSU’s School of Teacher Education and eight early-career language teachers who have experience teaching their languages at eitherthecollege or elementary level. For the teacher candidates, the program bridges the theory from the candidates’ coursework and their practice; for the eight mentor teachers, the proposed program deepens their understanding of effective world language teaching practices and nurtures their abilities as teacher-leaders.

“Our doctoral students and faculty are able to research the teaching and learning of these languages, while FSU students prepare to be at the forefront as the need for proficiency in these languages grows worldwide,” said Rebecca Galeano, assistant professor of Foreign and Second Language Education.

FSU STARTALK participants work with children at Leon County elementary schools

The program consists of workshops, discussions, seminars, supervised co-teaching and microteaching. It uses research-endorsed practice to design effective lesson plans and create contextualized language-learning opportunities while understanding the similarities and differences of school cultures between the United States and teachers’ home countries.

Upon completion of the STARTALK program, mentor teachers and teacher candidates receive a scholarship to cover their travel and program costs.

FSU STARTALK is not only training future teachers — the program is also reaching out to Leon County elementary school students by teaching critical need languages at local summer camps.

“This program has a communitywide impact,” Galeano said. “It truly embodies the international initiatives valued by our college and the university.”

Students and faculty from FSU’s Foreign and Second Language Education program are teaching Korean, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic and Portuguese to groups of students through summer camps held at DeSoto Trail Elementary School and Conley Elementary School in Tallahassee.

“I never really believed in total immersion as a way to learn a language but through STARTALK and the major focus on comprehensible input and providing realistic materials for learners while gradually building up, I realized it actually does work,” said Jose Carrasco, doctoral student in Foreign and Second Language Education.

“The children are getting the chance to learn a critical language and are getting cultural exposure as well,” he said. “The program has challenged me to rethink my past methodology and teaching technique and is truly preparing me to succeed as a language teacher.”

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via Kevin B. Blackistone The Washington Post on June 27, 2015

Sports could be leader in societal change; it just rarely chooses to be

For four years, Josh Newman, now a professor of sport management at Florida State, visited NASCAR races all over the country for a book he was writing on consumerism and the multibillion-dollar stockcar circuit. And he was struck by how NASCAR couldn’t help but speak out of both sides of its mouth.

On one hand, it stated — as it reiterated Tuesday in the wake of the arrest of a Confederate flag-waving white man for the massacre of nine black Charleston, S.C., parishioners in their church — that it “disallow[ed] the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.”

On the other hand, Newman said he and his co-author, another Florida State professor, Michael Giardina, “kept seeing these vendors that still were selling some pretty awful things in terms of racial politics. These are people who buy the space to vend from NASCAR . . . selling all these Confederate flags. So it’s interesting that [NASCAR takes] a position like that, but if you look at where a lot of their money comes from, it comes from these merchandisers.”

It was a reminder to me of something I’ve long thought, since supporting movements to ban the Confederate flags at Texas high schools in the ’90s when I lived and worked there: There may not be a corner of our society that has done more to popularize, and somehow normalize, through marketing and commoditization, the public displaying of the Confederate flag and its subsequent imagery than the world of sports. Sports all but granted sanctuary to this affront to sensibility.

“There’s no place where the focus is so centrally located on the body [as sports], so what you see is this ability of certain sports entities to draw these strong connections between these symbols — Confederate flags and bodies — whether the bodies are in the stands or . . . on the middle of the field,” said Newman, whose book “Sport, Spectacle, and NASCAR Nation: Consumption and the Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism” was published in 2011.

And it isn’t just sports most popular in the Bible Belt, such as NASCAR or Southeastern Conference college football, where the Confederacy was killed 150 years ago and the apartheid America it birthed was exterminated by law half a century back.

There’s a high school on the shores of Lake Erie in LeBron James’s northeast Ohio — Willoughby South — whose mascot is a rebel soldier and whose athletes, WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland reported Thursday, sometimes sport the Confederate flag embroidered on their letterman jackets even though they are not allowed to wear the banner in school.

The flag is on the General Lee (as in Confederate General Robert E.) car from the old TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” that golfer Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters winner, drove to the 2012 Phoenix Open shortly after buying it at a car auction that January. He exhibits it around the country, though NASCAR told him don’t bring it to its events. Just the good ol’ boys; never meanin’ no harm . . .

All of this is a reminder that many of us sports journalists have constructed a mythology about the games we love: that they’ve been in the vanguard of social change in this country.

Last year, Michael Sam’s coming out before the NFL draft was hailed by some as a landmark moment. But the rest of society had elected, appointed as corporate executives and government officials or worked and lived with gay and lesbian people for generations.

And there is the biggest myth of all: that Jackie Robinson’s acceptance of Major League Baseball’s invitation to reintegrate its diamonds (Fleetwood Walker was the first black major leaguer between May and September 1884) was a seminal moment in the Civil Rights movement. Truth is, Robinson was part of a continuum in the 1940s. He was preceded by President Roosevelt’s executive order in 1941 that prohibited racial discrimination by federal defense contractors, a Supreme Court decision in 1944 that outlawed all-white primaries and a Supreme Court ruling in 1946 that ruled segregated seating on interstate buses was unconstitutional.

The power of sports could have been a leader against the ugly imagery of the Confederate flag long ago. It could have moved to eradicate it.

But the NCAA, that governing body for institutions of higher learning, didn’t take action against South Carolina’s flying of the Confederate flag until shamed into doing so in 2001 after the NAACP approved a tourism boycott against South Carolina until the state stopped flying the flag on its Capitol.

In 1982, Ole Miss could have supported its first black cheerleader, who refused the tradition of toting the Confederate flag at games, but instead the school gave into pressure from alums, fans and the KKK and continued the tradition for years afterward. John Hawkins, the cheerleader, decided not to try out for the squad after that one season.

The public school district that oversees Hays High School in central Texas didn’t have to wait until 2012, four years after the country elected its first African American as president, to ban the Confederate flag from school property and events.

But sports haven’t been the societal trendsetter some among us have made them out to be. They’ve often been laggards, as with this Confederate flag mistake, and duplicitously so.

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via Dean Takahashi Venture Beat on June 23, 2015

Use your brainz: Nonprofit GlassLab creates an educator’s version of Plants vs. Zombies 2

Valerie Shute for fsu.com.

Dr. Val Shute

The nonprofit learning company GlassLab has launched Use Your Brainz EDU, an educational version of Plants vs. Zombies 2 to teach children problem-solving skills.

The title is part of a larger mission to improve education and make learning less boring through games. GlassLab and Electronic Arts’ PopCap studio released the game today for schools on the North American iTunes App Store and its web site. The title has already been downloaded tens of millions of times since its release in 2013.

The game includes a real-time assessment tool for teachers to gauge the progress that students are making with their problem-solving skills. There’s a student report dashboard on four areas of competency, all aimed at figuring out a student’s level of understanding of the game. The learning goal is for students to improve problem-solving skills and to connect the game to lessons in the classroom. The students’ skills can be assessed without disrupting gameplay.

Beyond that, GlassLab isn’t changing the gameplay, since Plants vs. Zombies 2’s existing gameplay teaches problem solving. The title can also be used with a mathematical problem-solving scenario that specifically teaches math. The title is a “tower defense” game that pits players against an army of cartoonish zombies trying to break into their houses and eat their brains. To ward off the zombies, players must strategically plant their gardens with powerful plant obstacles, each with unique abilities designed to keep zombies at bay before time runs out.

GlassLab, which also made an educational version of SimCity and a Mars educational game, added a learning analytics engine to capture a student’s progress. Teachers will also receive lesson plans to break down the problems and develop problem-solving strategies.

GlassLab Games worked on the Use Your Brainz EDU with Electronic Arts’ PopCap Games division and a research team at Florida State University. [Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies] Professor Val Shute of Florida State University has conducted extensive research into the educational value of other games, including Portal 2.

“Good game design mirrors good learning design,” GlassLab said in a video. “The work was done for us by the PopCap team. All we had to do was make the learning visible.”

“Teachers everywhere have come to understand the amazing power that games have to engage students and adopt them for use in the classroom,” said GlassLab’s Executive Director Jessica Lindl, in a statement. “It’s up to us to provide games that are not just gripping, but that truly unlock the learning inherent in these games and make it easy for teachers to apply to their lesson plans the skills they teach. Use Your Brainz represents the best of both worlds — a game that kids already love that is a best-in-class tool for teaching problem solving.”

Later this week, GlassLab will post lesson plans tied to the game that cover Common Core Math Practices related to problem solving.

GlassLab works with Educational Testing Service, Electronic Arts, the Entertainment Software Association, Institute of Play, Pearson’s Center for Digital Data, Analytics & Adaptive Learning, Zynga.org and others. GlassLab has funding from the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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via Tallahassee Democrat on June 23, 2015

FSU researchers assess remedial education policy reform

Researchers at Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) released three comprehensive reports this month assessing the implementation and outcomes of Florida’s recent developmental education reform of the Florida College System.

The research, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, evaluated the changes to remedial education under a state law passed in 2013. The law mandated that Florida’s 28 state colleges, formerly known as community colleges, provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students.

The legislation restructured developmental education placement and instruction, allowing Florida high school graduates to avoid college placement exams and opt out of remedial education courses — no matter their academic ability or preparation for college.

“The legislation has had wide sweeping impacts on student choices and institutional programs and practices in the area of developmental education and beyond it,” said lead researcher Shouping Hu, professor at the FSU College of Education.

Advising and technology

In the first report, “Diving into the Deep End,” researchers surveyed state college administrators on their reflections and perspectives of the developmental education reform.

College leaders reported they are increasingly using technology in student advising and course instruction. Some survey respondents expressed concern regarding the effectiveness of the technology and whether all students have equal access to it. They also expressed concern about whether students will enroll in the courses most suited to them, particularly in relation to the long-term impact of the legislation on student success.

“Despite the challenges, college leaders reported positive changes occurring across their institutions like more customized advising and a focus on finding new ways to teach and assist students,” Hu said. “Collegewide collaboration and innovation between and across departments has increased.”

Enrollment decisions

The second report, “How Students Make Course Enrollment Decisions in an Era of Increased Choice,” describes findings from a survey on students in two state colleges in the fall of 2014.

The results revealed that a large percentage of students are reluctant to enroll in developmental education courses, despite guidance from their advisers to do so. In terms of enrollment decision-making, the study found the most important factor for students was future career goals.

“Student enrollment in developmental education courses is a complicated decision process,” Hu said. “A targeted discussion with students about occupational options can play an important role as experienced academic advisers already know.”

FSU researchers will continue to study how these enrollment decisions will contribute to students’ overall success.

Financial aid challenges

The third report, “Learning From the Ground Up,” describes the findings from extensive site visits to 10 colleges by researchers, who conducted nearly 90 semistructured focus group interviews with administrators, faculty, students, advisers and support staff members in the past year.

Faculty expressed both optimism and pessimism about students opting out of developmental education and the potential consequences for college-level courses.

Institutions have undertaken extensive redesigns of student intake processes, advising, support services and curriculum offerings. In addition to offering courses in different instructional approaches as required by the legislation, some of the most significant changes are the use of multiple methods to advise students, increased intensity of advising and increased student support services.

“Although there are differing perspectives on the reform, the campus communities seem to find a way to get together to implement the required reforms, consider strategies to help students to make informed choices and support students along the way,” Hu said.

A number of unforeseen challenges related to financial aid, specific student populations and technology were identified. For instance, challenges in financial aid include the timing of disbursement, students’ ability to maintain “satisfactory academic progress” and the denial of financial aid to fund developmental education classes for exempt student-veterans and their families.

“The results show that college leaders are very aware of the importance of getting the implementation right and that they are doing their best to help students make the best decision possible regarding their educational choices,” Hu said.

All three research reports and related materials are available on the CPS website at http://centerforpostsecondarysuccess.org.

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via John W. Schoen CNBC on June 23, 2015

More states grade public colleges on performance

Financial support for college students has long been based on how well they perform in the classroom. Now, for public colleges and universities, it’s their turn to be graded.

From Maine to Hawaii, some 36 states are allocating money for higher education based, in part, on performance measures designed to reward schools that raise graduation rates, award more high-tech degrees and better prepare students for the job market.

Proponents of the idea say that, as state budget cuts have forced lawmakers to make tough choices, it only makes sense to reward public colleges and universities that get the most bang for every taxpayer buck. But critics of these schemes say they don’t work, and can even produce unintended consequences that end up hurting students in the long run.

“It’s appealing; it sounds great from a legislative point of view if you’re selling this to your constituents,” said Ray Franke, a higher-education researcher at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. “But the idea has been implemented in Europe and other countries, and for the most part it’s ineffective.”

That was the conclusion of a 2013 University of Wisconsin study that looked at the impact of performance-based higher education funding on the number of students who completed their degrees at two- and four-year programs between 1990 and 2010.

“There is no meaningful evidence of effectiveness,” wrote Florida State University professor David Tandberg, one of the report’s authors. “But we see a rush toward adoption. It seems as though there is something other than evidence at work here.”

The idea of paying public colleges for performance isn’t new. Tennessee rolled out the nation’s first such program in 1979. But few other states adopted similar programs until the 1990s. By the 2000s, according to Tandberg, several states dropped performance funding.

Click here to continue reading

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via Frontiers in Psychology Florida State 24/7 on June 19, 2015

Study: Misperception discourages girls from studying some STEM fields

The belief that the ability to do difficult mathematics is something that you either have or you don’t prevents many American girls from pursuing a college degree in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, or computer science (PEMC), suggests a new study by Florida State University researchers.

In short, schools, families and policy makers need to do more to change those misperceptions.

“Our results indicate the potential for more women to move into PEMC if they perceive their mathematics ability as strong and open to growth,” said Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology in the College of Education at Florida State and co-author of the study.

It’s been well documented that math-based fields in higher education and at the professional level are male-dominated. Perez-Felkner and doctoral students Samantha Nix and Kirby Thomas set out to determine how much a student’s choice of a college major is influenced by gender and perceptions about ability.

The results were revealing.

Perceived ability in mathematics matters, in particular on difficult and challenging tasks. While high school boys tend to overrate their abilities in mathematics, girls tend to underrate them. They also found 12th grade girls who reported being convinced that they could do the most difficult and challenging mathematics were about two times more likely to select a PEMC major.
Another important conclusion was the perception that mathematical ability can be developed through learning — or a “growth mindset.” Girls in 10th grade who reported that they felt confident about this were more than two times more likely to take a PEMC major.

The findings held true even after correcting for other factors such as the science courses they took at high school, ethnicity, college entrance exam scores and the selectivity of the college.

“By focusing on student’s perceived ability under challenge, we are getting closer to the ‘real’ world context, where mathematics anxiety may operate,” Perez-Felkner said. “Most people believe they can do some mathematics, such as splitting a dinner bill with friends, but fewer believe they can do mathematics they perceive as ‘difficult.’ The research shows that this belief can influence the decision to specialize in mathematics-intensive fields, for both women and men.”

To conduct the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study, researchers examined a group of 4,451 students from 752 high schools across the United States and followed them from 2002 to 2012 using the records of the Education Longitudinal Study of the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics.

These findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, have direct implications for policy.

They suggest that interventions that foster a growth mindset of mathematical ability could be effective in raising the number of women that pursue a career in PEMC fields.

Currently, women are strongly underrepresented in these fields, as shown by recent reports by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

This gender gap is bad news for everyone: Science and society lose talent, while women miss out on potential careers with higher-than-average income and job stability.

“It is important for the U.S. and other nations to continue to invest in interventions to end gender segregation in PEMC sciences,” Nix said. “For instance, students may need to hear that encountering difficulty during classwork is expected and normal and does not diminish their ability to become a successful scientist. In addition, instructors may want to ask themselves if they are giving the same feedback to young women and men who deal successfully with a difficult mathematics problem in class.”

Other results include:

• Women were almost four times less likely to major in PEMC than their male peers.

• Women were almost four times more likely to major in health science than their male peers.

• Girls and boys who had completed both Physics 1 and Chemistry 1 courses in high school were almost twice as likely to major in a PEMC field than their peers, and two-and-a-half times more likely if they had completed both Physics 2 and Chemistry 2.

• As a group, girls in 10th grade scored significantly lower than boys on an index that estimated their growth mindset of mathematics ability.

• As a group, 10th and 12th grade girls believed less in their ability to do difficult math than boys of the same age.

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via Shouping Hu Florida State 24/7 on June 18, 2015

Researchers reassess remedial education policy reform at Florida’s Community Colleges

Researchers at Florida State University’s Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) released three comprehensive reports assessing the implementation and outcomes of Florida’s recent developmental education reform of the Florida College System.

The research, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, evaluated the changes to remedial education under a state law passed in 2013. The law mandated that Florida’s 28 state colleges, formerly known as community colleges, provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students.

The legislation restructured developmental education placement and instruction, allowing Florida high school graduates to avoid college placement exams and opt out of remedial education courses — no matter their academic ability or preparation for college.

“The legislation has had wide sweeping impacts on student choices and institutional programs and practices in the area of developmental education and beyond it,” said lead researcher Shouping Hu, professor at the FSU College of Education.

In the first report, “Diving into the Deep End,” researchers surveyed state college administrators on their reflections and perspectives of the developmental education reform.

College leaders reported they are increasingly using technology in student advising and course instruction. Some survey respondents expressed concern regarding the effectiveness of the technology and whether all students have equal access to it. They also expressed concern about whether students will enroll in the courses most suited to them, particularly in relation to the long-term impact of the legislation on student success.

“Despite the challenges, college leaders reported positive changes occurring across their institutions like more customized advising and a focus on finding new ways to teach and assist students,” Hu said. “Collegewide collaboration and innovation between and across departments has increased.”

The second report, “How Students Make Course Enrollment Decisions in an Era of Increased Choice,” describes findings from a survey on students in two state colleges in the fall of 2014.

The results revealed that a large percentage of students are reluctant to enroll in developmental education courses, despite guidance from their advisers to do so. In terms of enrollment decision-making, the study found the most important factor for students was future career goals.

“Student enrollment in developmental education courses is a complicated decision process,” Hu said. “A targeted discussion with students about occupational options can play an important role as experienced academic advisers already know.”

FSU researchers will continue to study how these enrollment decisions will contribute to students’ overall success.

The third report, “Learning From the Ground Up,” describes the findings from extensive site visits to 10 colleges by researchers, who conducted nearly 90 semistructured focus group interviews with administrators, faculty, students, advisers and support staff members in the past year.

Faculty expressed both optimism and pessimism about students opting out of developmental education and the potential consequences for college-level courses.

Institutions have undertaken extensive redesigns of student intake processes, advising, support services and curriculum offerings. In addition to offering courses in different instructional approaches as required by the legislation, some of the most significant changes are the use of multiple methods to advise students, increased intensity of advising and increased student support services.

“Although there are differing perspectives on the reform, the campus communities seem to find a way to get together to implement the required reforms, consider strategies to help students to make informed choices and support students along the way,” Hu said.

A number of unforeseen challenges related to financial aid, specific student populations and technology were identified. For instance, challenges in financial aid include the timing of disbursement, students’ ability to maintain “satisfactory academic progress” and the denial of financial aid to fund developmental education classes for exempt student-veterans and their families.

“The results show that college leaders are very aware of the importance of getting the implementation right and that they are doing their best to help students make the best decision possible regarding their educational choices,” Hu said.

All three research reports and related materials are available on the CPS website at http://centerforpostsecondarysuccess.org.

The CPS research team will continue to examine the effects of developmental education reform on student success in postsecondary education in Florida. The researchers are analyzing student data to assess the outcomes associated with student decisions and the overall impact of the law on student postsecondary success.

“Because of the drastic change in developmental education and increased student choice, students enrolled in various courses could be dramatically different before and after the reform,” Hu said. “It is critical to find common measures and conduct fair comparisons to accurately evaluate the impact of the reform on student outcomes.”

In addition to Hu, the CPS research team includes Florida State faculty members Tamara Bertrand Jones, Toby Park and David Tandberg; postdoctoral research fellows Rebecca Brower and Chenoa Woods; and graduate research assistants Dava Hankerson, Sandra Martindale, Amanda Nix, Sophia Rahming, Keith Richard and Amy Yang.

The Center for Postsecondary Success is a research center at Florida State University dedicated to identifying and evaluating institutional, state and federal policies and programs that may serve to improve student success.

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via ACER Research Developments on June 17, 2015

shutterstock_172101419-rd

Stealth Assessment

Assessment by stealth in a digital learning environment

Schools have long made use of assessments of and reports about their students’ learning to inform decisions about teaching. However, reports from national assessment programs, or even end of course assessments usually represent a snapshot in time, often at the conclusion of instruction. According to Dr Michael Timms, Director of Assessment and Psychometric Research at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), digital learning environments now provide educators with an opportunity to undertake continuous assessments of learning through embedding them into the instructional materials.

‘Schools can analyse the data from assessment snapshots to infer the learning growth of individual students, particular classes or year levels. They can also analyse the data to evaluate the impact of their teaching and learning programs, and monitor trends over time. Nonetheless, there is always some amount of time lag between a student undertaking an assessment task and the report from that assessment task becoming available,’ Dr Timms said.

Dr Timms will speak at Research Conference 2015 on the opportunities offered by the growing use of digital learning environments to track, analyse, report on and even adapt to the characteristics of students as they respond to a task in real time.

According to Dr Val Shute, the Mack and Effie Campbell Tyner endowed professor of education at Florida State University, the data we can obtain through digital learning environments is similar to the continuous stream of information generated by barcodes that retailers can use to monitor and manage stock inventory and identify patterns in customer behaviour.

A keynote speaker at Research Conference 2015 in August, Dr Shute notes that the traditional approach in schools usually divorces assessment from learning. ‘The typical educational cycle is: teach; stop; administer test; teach, with new content,’ Dr Shute said, speaking ahead of the conference.

‘Digital learning environments enable us to weave assessment seamlessly into the fabric of the learning experience so that it is virtually invisible, blurring the distinction between learning and assessment,’ she said. Dr Shute calls this stealth assessment.

‘Stealth assessment is intended to be invisible and ongoing, to support learning, and remove or seriously reduce test anxiety while not sacrificing validity and consistency,’ Dr Shute said.

‘With stealth assessment, schools no longer have to interrupt the teaching and learning process to administer tests. Instead, assessment is continual and invisible to students, supporting real-time, just-in-time instruction.

‘Stealth assessment also reduces the time spent administering tests, reduces “cramming” so students retain more of what they learn through continuous and ubiquitous assessment, and focuses on actual achievement in terms of competencies.’

According to Dr Timms, digital learning environments generate a variety of data beyond simply achievement data by recording not only a student’s response to a task, but the actions they took during the task and how much help they needed to reach a successful conclusion.

‘Simulations and game-like digital learning environments generate data on the actions students take, including the type of interaction, the frequency of interaction, the sequence of interactions and the timing of those interactions,’ Dr Timms said.

Research that brings together: a) models of learning; b) domain models that characterise the content to be learned; and c) optimal instructional sequences for learning and learning software, is enabling educators to benefit from the ‘big data’ collected from students’ interactions in digital learning environments.

As more digital learning materials are developed that contain stealth assessments of learning, the less we will have to rely on snapshot types of assessment that are not blended with instruction. This will enable teachers to have more continuous information about where students currently are in their learning and be able to act immediately.

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via Victoria Turk MOTHERBOARD on June 9, 2015

How Misperceptions About Math Contribute to the Science Gender Gap

misperceptio 2

Perez-Felkner, Nix, Thomas

Why are women so underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths, the so-called “STEM” subjects? It’s an enduring question that doesn’t have an easy answer, and is likely influenced by a whole slew of social, personal, and practical factors permeating the pipeline from school through to adulthood.

A study published Tuesday in Frontiers in Psychology takes a look at one specific attribute that shows a discrepancy between the sexes that may influence sex segregation in STEM degrees: perceived maths ability. That is, not how good they are at maths, but how good they think they are.

The study offers an interesting finding: high school girls underrate their mathematics abilities, while boys overrate them (a phenomenon that has been observed before). It suggests that this could affect their decision to study (or indeed not study) mathematics-intensive fields such as physics, engineering, maths, and computer science at university.

Lead author Samantha Nix, a PhD student at Florida State University and lead author of the paper, said she had been interested in the way people talk about math and science. “A very common thing that people say and that has been part of the scholarly literature is this whole concept of ‘I’m just not a math person,’” she said. “And that really may be blocking people from making the decision to enter these fields.”

“We’re not losing weak girls, we’re losing some of the best girls.”
To investigate whether people’s perceptions of their ability were keeping them away from STEM subjects, the researchers looked at data from the Education Longitudinal Study, a national dataset of students across the US.

They looked at the boys’ and girls’ “perceived ability under challenge.” More generally, this was equal between the sexes, but when it came to maths specifically, the paper notes that “mean differences between women and men were highly significant.” They also found young men were more likely to report a “growth mindset”—essentially a belief that you can learn and improve at maths (rather than innately being a “math person”).

“Together, these findings suggest that young men are better positioned psychologically to be resilient in the face of mathematics-related setbacks, as compared to their female peers,” the researchers wrote.

And this matters: the study found that when women perceived themselves as having greater maths ability, they were more likely to go for maths-intensive “PEMC” (physics, engineering, maths, and computer science) majors. The study explains that, “In particular, women’s probability of majoring in PEMC increases in association with an increase in their 12th grade perceptions that they could understand and master difficult and complex mathematics material.”

Importantly, the research controlled for objective measures of ability—i.e. the girls were underrating themselves compared to boys, they weren’t actually all worse. “We’re not losing weak girls, we’re losing some of the best girls,” said co-author Lara Perez-Felkner.

Of course, the million-dollar question is, why do girls doubt their maths ability in the first place?

This study alone can’t offer solid answers, but Nix speculated that it could be partly to do with persisting stereotypes around what women are good at. “Women are really socialised to believe that they’re better at certain things,” she said, singling out writing and communication over more technical tasks.

Previous studies have shown that girls can take in this kind of gender stereotype and that can influence how they perform.

There’s also more intersectional research to be done to further understand how other factors such as ethnicity, income, and access to resources might come into play.

When it comes to keeping women in maths and science, Nix additionally suggested that people may be put off by a misperception that students who take maths-heavy subjects don’t find them challenging, when actually that’s not the case. “Math and science faculty members also had to take Calculus 1 for the first time, and they probably also struggled doing it—that’s part of learning,” she said. And if girls and women feel more like they’re struggling (even if they’re not), they might think they don’t fit.

That does at least offer a potential way to start addressing the gender gap raised in the new study: by emphasising that maths ability is something that can be developed and grown. This message isn’t gender-specific, but if girls are doubting their abilities more then it could have particular benefit for them.

“If boys and girls are getting feedback that challenge is OK, that they shouldn’t shut down and they can continue to grow in these areas, and that these fields continue to be relevant for them even if they’re struggling, I think that would be helpful for keeping women in these areas,” said Perez-Felkner.

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via WTXL TV on June 9, 2015

Florida State Professor Using Farming to Prevent Teen Violence

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) – Florida State University professor George Boggs teamed up with the 50 LARGE program, a gang prevention initiative created by Leon County Schools to implement “Down on the Farm”, a project that will provide workforce development for at-risk youth.

Boggs along with Florida State University students have provided ongoing mentoring and academic support efforts for 50 LARGE and decided to add to the program by converting residential land in Tallahassee into an incubator for food and agriculture-related businesses.

The idea for the farm project was to have a malleable space where adolescents could make some decisions and take skills in a direction that will positively impact their futures.

50 large participants will learn how to grow their own food and turn it into a profit. They will sell fresh produce at the Frenchtown Heritage Marketplace in Tallahassee on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

View the video.

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via David Miller The Conversation on June 9, 2015

Beliefs about innate talent may dissuade students from STEM

“It’s OK – not everyone can do difficult math.”

Believing such messages may deter both boys and girls from later majoring in physical science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a new national, longitudinal study in the US published in Frontiers in Psychology.

“Students may need to hear that encountering difficulty during classwork is expected and normal,” argued Lara Perez-Felkner, a coauthor of the study and <strong>assistant professor of higher education and sociology at Florida State University.

The study used data from 4,450 US adolescents who later entered college to probe why some students shun math-intensive fields. Believing that solving tough math problems requires innate abilities might discourage students, the researchers reasoned.

“Most people believe they can do some mathematics, such as splitting a dinner bill with friends,” said Samantha Nix, lead author and doctoral student at Florida State University. “But fewer believe they can do mathematics they perceive as ‘difficult.'”

It’s almost silly if you think about it: you don’t take classes to study topics you’ve already mastered. Yet saying “I can’t do math” is often accepted with head nods from others. Saying “I can’t do reading” might instead be met with looks of disbelief or encouragement to work harder on learning language skills.

Read more.

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via Amanda Claire Curcio Tallahassee Democrat on June 9, 2015

Farm helps young men stay out of gangs

DSC_8941

Boggs Farm

Only a stone’s throw away from the interstate, there is a farm that beckons outsiders in.

A motley crew sits at a picnic table shelling peas. Their fingers unzip pea pods effortlessly; tin pails are filled with more and more peas that will be sold the following day at the Frenchtown Heritage Market.

The farm, a project between Florida State University’s College of Education and a community-based gang prevention organization called 50 Large, was created for teenagers like Mikal Rich and Maleek Cole, both incoming juniors at the Success Academy at Ghazvini Learning Center.

Peals of laughter ring over cyclic snaps of splitting pea pods and the din of chickens and pigs nearby. Mikal and Maleek are telling tall tales again.

“Remember the walking bean? It walked from here to here,” Mikal said, pointing from one end of the picnic table to the other.

“There is no such thing as a walking bean!” Maleek said.

“I have witnesses!”

Assistant professor George Boggs, who leads the project, and his oldest daughter and son contest the validity of the walking bean story before falling back into the rhythm of shelling peas. They pause to partake in the bounty of freshly sliced tomatoes and pickled okra and cucumbers laid out on the table.

A new way of life

Farming practices of the past teach Mikal and Maleek lessons for the future.

On Friday afternoons they take ownership of the land, whether it’s weeding the garden, plucking peppers off their vines, tumbling compost, feeding pigs, mucking waste out of the chicken coop or preserving vegetables.

The next day Boggs, Mikal and Maleek set up a table at the market and talk to shoppers about the quality of their produce. The goal is to sell at least two-thirds of their goods.

Working on the farm involves more than doing chores and salesmanship. Mikal and Maleek are in an environment that requires real-world decisionmaking.

They figure out how to stop caterpillars from ravaging tomatoes, develop unused ground and expand pork production. They weigh the variables – cost, potential future earnings and time spent.

“The project tries to teach many things. We’re learning about the basic principles of making money, for example,” said Boggs, who worked with eight other 50 Large members in the program so far.

Although Mikal and Maleek receive minimum wage and a portion of the profits from market sales, the project is not just a part-time job.

“They learn how to use their knowledge to become necessary, to broker themselves in a community,” Boggs said. “We ask: How do I insert myself in a new area of knowledge, in a new area of economic exchange? How do I communicate what I can do and find people that want what I can do?”

Cultivating change

Sometimes when Maleek is shelling peas he becomes lost in thought.

“I’m still figuring out what I want to do after high school. I’ll be sitting out here thinking: What am I going to do? What am I going to do?” he said. “I know I need to do something different, keep out of trouble.”

While his future is unknown, Maleek made a commitment to stay out of gangs more than a year ago. He joined 50 Large, a group that works with boys and young men who were more likely to become – or already were – affiliated with gangs.

In a city that has 17 documented gangs with at least 288 members, according to Tallahassee Police Department records, Maleek’s decision is most likely life-changing.

Maleek interacts with the community regularly, sharing his life story and having honest conversations about gun violence. He plans to work on the farm with other referred 50 Large members until he graduates high school.

“I’ve watched the farm grow from just being the side of this yard, to the front, back and side, and I’ve watched them (Maleek and Mikal) grow too,” said Stefon Gavin, an AmeriCorps volunteer and 50 Large case manager. “They’re becoming independent; they’re intellectual; they are role models.

“It’s great to see,” he said. “They’re starting to do what I do for them with the younger 50 Large gentlemen. They’re helping others, mentoring and teaching them.”

To support 50 Large and the farm, visit the Frenchtown Heritage Market on Saturdays, 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. More information can be found online at http://www.frenchtownheritage.org.

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via Lara Perez-Felkner Tallahassee Democrat on June 9, 2015

Study: Math fears discourage girls from STEM fields

The belief that the ability to do difficult mathematics is something that you either have or you don’t prevents many American girls from pursuing a college degree in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, or computer science (PEMC), suggests a new study by Florida State University researchers.

In short, schools, families and policy makers need to do more to change those misperceptions.

“Our results indicate the potential for more women to move into PEMC if they perceive their mathematics ability as strong and open to growth,” said Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology in the College of Education at Florida State and co-author of the study.

It’s been well documented that math-based fields in higher education and at the professional level are male-dominated. Perez-Felkner and doctoral students Samantha Nix and Kirby Thomas set out to determine how much a student’s choice of a college major is influenced by gender and perceptions about ability.

The results were revealing.

Perceived ability in mathematics matters, in particular on difficult and challenging tasks. While high school boys tend to overrate their abilities in mathematics, girls tend to underrate them. They also found 12th-grade girls who reported being convinced that they could do the most difficult and challenging mathematics were about two times more likely to select a PEMC major.

Another important conclusion was the perception that mathematical ability can be developed through learning — or a “growth mindset.” Girls in 10th grade who reported that they felt confident about this were more than two times more likely to take a PEMC major.

“By focusing on student’s perceived ability under challenge, we are getting closer to the ‘real’ world context, where mathematics anxiety may operate,” Perez-Felkner said. “Most people believe they can do some mathematics, such as splitting a dinner bill with friends, but fewer believe they can do mathematics they perceive as ‘difficult.’ The research shows that this belief can influence the decision to specialize in mathematics-intensive fields, for both women and men.”

To conduct the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study, researchers examined a group of 4,451 students from 752 high schools across the United States and followed them from 2002 to 2012 using the records of the Education Longitudinal Study of the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics.

These findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, have direct implications for policy.

They suggest that interventions that foster a growth mindset of mathematical ability could be effective in raising the number of women that pursue a career in PEMC fields.

Currently, women are strongly underrepresented in these fields, as shown by recent reports by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

This gender gap is bad news for everyone: Science and society lose talent, while women miss out on potential careers with higher-than-average income and job stability.

“It is important for the U.S. and other nations to continue to invest in interventions to end gender segregation in PEMC sciences,” Nix said. “For instance, students may need to hear that encountering difficulty during classwork is expected and normal and does not diminish their ability to become a successful scientist. In addition, instructors may want to ask themselves if they are giving the same feedback to young women and men who deal successfully with a difficult mathematics problem in class.”

Other results include:

• Women were almost four times less likely to major in PEMC than their male peers.

• Women were almost four times more likely to major in health science than their male peers.

• Girls and boys who had completed both Physics 1 and Chemistry 1 courses in high school were almost twice as likely to major in a PEMC field than their peers, and two-and-a-half times more likely if they had completed both Physics 2 and Chemistry 2.

• As a group, girls in 10th grade scored significantly lower than boys on an index that estimated their growth mindset of mathematics ability.

• As a group, 10th and 12th grade girls believed less in their ability to do difficult math than boys of the same age.

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via Scott Travis Sun Sentinel on May 29, 2015

Fewer take remedial college math; their success rate unclear

South Florida now has fewer remedial college students, or at least fewer who say they are.

Non-credit remedial classes used to be required for community college students who scored low on a placement test. But the state Legislature, concerned too many students were getting stuck in remedial classes and then dropping out, passed a law in 2013 making them optional for most students. It took effect this past fall.

As a result, enrollment in remedial classes is down 37 percent at Palm Beach State College, 49 percent at Broward College and more than 42 percent at Miami-Dade College.

What’s less clear is how successful these students are. In South Florida, fewer students are passing college-level math at Broward College and Miami-Dade College, while fewer students are attempting it at Palm Beach State College. Math is the subject that stumps most students.

The success rate for Palm Beach State students who do take college-level math is about the same as past years, 54 percent passing one entry-level class and 62 percent passing another. But enrollment among first-time college students into college math classes has dropped 13 percent, suggesting students may be putting off what they see as a tough subject.

“What we’re afraid of is two or three years down the line, we’re going to have all these students who have completed everything but math,” said Ginger Pedersen, interim vice president of academic affairs. “These classes only have a 50 or 60 percent passage rate. The chances of passing it by waiting a year or two will be even less.”

At Broward College, enrollment was up 24 percent in one entry level math class and up 4 percent in another, said Steve Roig-Watnik, associate vice president of developmental education.

Broward College outlines a specific course plan for its students’ first 15 to 18 credit hours, based on their desired field of study. Students aren’t required to follow it, but are strongly encouraged by advisers.

“We’re really putting a heavy emphasis on math courses,” Roig-Watnik said. “We’re trying to move away from the cafeteria-style college model to a more guided approach.”

About 48 percent of students at Broward College passed their first college-level math class this year, down from an average of 53 percent in recent years, Roig-Watnik said.

But he said that’s not a huge drop, considering a large number of students who used to take remedial classes are now enrolled in college-level math. The college been offering two-week math boot camps and an online class to help students prepare without having to take a full semester remedial class.

“We’re seeing a lot of advantages from this reform. We’ve taken it as a great challenge to provide service to our community in a different way,” Roig-Watnik said.

At Miami-Dade College, enrollment in college-level math classes has increased 30 percent in two years, although pass rates have fallen from 56 percent to 46 percent during that time period, according to data the college provided.

But enrollment and success rates don’t tell the full story, said Shouping Hu, a Florida State University professor of higher education who has been studying remedial education at colleges in the past year.

“A more accurate measure is to compare the success rates…for students with similar preparation before and after” the change in state law. “This is a question that our team is currently investigating,” he said.

Remedial classes had been required for struggling students in community colleges since 1984.

The non-credit classes are still required for out-of-state or international students, or those who graduated before 2007, if they don’t score well on the placement test.

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via Bill Edmonds Learning Systems Institute on May 19, 2015

LSI shares strengths of U.S. community colleges with Indonesia educators

Jeffrey Milligan

Dr. Jeffrey Ayala Milligan

Florida’s system of community colleges, considered among the best in the nation, is now a model for other nations under a Learning Systems Institute program to help Indonesia train educators for its growing system of educational academies.

With support from the U.S. Department of State, Florida State University’s Learning Systems Institute is bringing 17 educators from the Southeast Asian nation to explore how Florida’s community colleges operate and how educators here manage the system of 68 campuses with almost 900,000 students.

“Indonesia is making a serious commitment to access to higher education through the establishment of community academies similar to our community colleges,” said Jeffrey Ayala Milligan, Ph.D., director of the Learning Systems Institute. “FSU and Santa Fe College are giving educators from Indonesia a good sense of how Florida’s community colleges meet the needs of their communities and serve as gateways to postsecondary education.”

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest nation, offers its 250 million citizens free public education through the ninth grade, but many Indonesians have few opportunities for further education. The nation’s new community academies are designed to address this problem.

“Community colleges, especially if you look at the role they play in the United States, provide opportunities for access, for democratization of education,” said Anthony Koliha, director of the State Department’s Office of Global Education Programs, who came to Tallahassee to participate in the opening session. “So countries where you are seeing a massive shift from rural to urban populations, where you are seeing the growth of new industries and the need for a skilled workforce, those are the kinds of challenges for which community colleges or a similar model might prove a solution.”

Koliha said people-to-people exchanges such as this one are vital. “I cannot stress enough the value of having one individual meet with one other individual from another culture, another part of the world, and get to know one another personally,” he said. “The value that has for the individual relationships, the societal relationships, the professional relationships and, in the end, the relationships at the geopolitical level, that is why the State Department supports these programs.”

Vilma Fuentes, Ph.D., assistant vice president for academic affairs at Santa Fe College, said Florida’s system has many strengths to share with Indonesia, and educators here can gain insights as well.

“This is a six-week training program where we hope to highlight some of the best practices In American community colleges,” Dr. Fuentes said during the opening session. “This is also a wonderful opportunity for us to have a very deep dialogue, a conversation, about our two education systems, our two countries, our two peoples. We are also hoping to learn from you — there is a lot we have in common.”

Dr. Milligan noted that the success of Indonesia’s new academies could have a pronounced effect on the country’s economic development. Indonesia, like many other nations, sees higher education as the foundation of workforce development in the competitive global market.

“We are showing how community colleges in the United States teach people how to create jobs, not just look for jobs,” he said. “Our community college graduates have a strong record of establishing their own businesses, and this is of great interest to the people and their government and business leaders.”

This is the second year of the Learning Systems Institute’s Community College Administrator Program. The program will soon expand to bring in educators from several Latin American nations, from India and from the Ukraine. “The training has proven effective,” Dr. Milligan said, “and we look forward to working with other nations that face challenges in expanding access to higher education and job training.”

During their initial study at FSU, the educators from Indonesia also visited Chipola College in Marianna, to learn how the college, which serves five rural counties, collaborates with state agencies and local industries to meet workforce needs and provide students with meaningful, marketable skills. They then toured Tallahassee Community College’s Wakulla Environmental Institute, which brings together education, conservation and recreation in a manner that stimulates economic development in an environmentally friendly way.

This week, the Indonesian educators go to Gainesville to begin additional study at Santa Fe College and for visits to Indian River State College, Seminole State College and St. Petersburg College.

The group returns to FSU in mid-June for a concluding conference and discussion.

The Learning Systems Institute conducts education research and service in Florida, the United States and around the world. Founded in the 1960s, LSI is one of FSU’s oldest research organizations.

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via Sean Gregory TIME Magazine on May 9, 2015

U.S. Ranks Worst in Sports Homophobia Study

Will gay athletes find acceptance on the field?

Throughout most of high school, Michael Martin—a senior at Musselman High School in Inwood, W. Va.—kept his sexuality hidden from his soccer teammates. “I was afraid I would get harassed, tormented, made fun of a lot,” said Martin, who knew he was gay since middle school. “I wasn’t afraid of physical abuse necessarily. But I thought guys would do stuff like throw the ball at me. On purpose.” Martin says he heard the word faggot all too many times.

According to new research released on Saturday, Martin is far from alone. The study, entitled “Out On The Fields” and billed as “the first international study on homophobia in sport,” is a survey of nearly 9,500 people, mostly from six countries (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand). The researchers found that 80% of all participants and 82% of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) participants “said they have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport.” Of those reporting personal experience with homophobia, 84% of gay men and 82% of lesbians said they had received verbal slurs like faggot and dyke. Also, 81% of gay men and 74% of lesbians who were under 22 at the time of the study reported being completely or partially in the closet to teammates while playing youth sports. Nearly half of gay men and 32% of lesbians hid their sexuality while playing youth sports because they feared rejection by teammates. Only 1% of all participants believed LGB people were “completely accepted” in sports culture; 78% said that an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual person would not be very safe as a spectator at a sporting event.

“Unfortunately,” the authors wrote, “the study found few positive signs in any country that LGB people are welcome and safe playing team sports.”

(Participants in the study were not asked whether they identified as transgender, as experts consider transphobia and homophobia distinct forms of discrimination in sports, and the researchers decided to focus the study on sexuality rather than gender identity.)

The study found the U.S. had the highest percentage of gay men reporting that they had received verbal threats in a sports environment, and the highest percentage of gay men who heard slurs. In fact, of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. ranked worst in sports homophobia and discrimination, as measured by the “inclusion score” developed by the researchers. (Canada had the highest score, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland and the U.S.) “It’s sad that the U.S. fared so poorly,” said Pat Griffin, professor emerita in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a member of the academic team that advised the study authors. “It feels like we’ve made a lot of progress with the acceptance of homosexuality in sports. But going by these results, we have a long way to go.”

The “Out On The Fields” report comes with caveats. Though the project’s academic consultants insist that they reviewed the survey methodology and results, it’s not a peer-reviewed paper published in an established journal. The lead author is a former journalist who’s a member of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club, Australia’s first gay rugby team. Joshua Newman, a sports sociologist from Florida State University who is unaffiliated with this project, reviewed the document for TIME. “The recruitment and sampling technique used likely resulted in a significant over-representation of higher-earning, racial- and ethnic-majority, pro-LGBT respondents to the study,” Newman writes in an email. “Are those representative of the broader populations in the English-speaking world more generally?”

Despite its flaws, Newman wrote, “I am inclined to say that the findings are important and the study holds the potential provide a significant contribution. This is the largest study of its kind yet to be undertaken. The results illustrate the extent to which LGB sport participants across multiple nations share common experiences of harassment, bullying, and even physical violence. It reaffirms what most LGB and straight athletes in these contexts already know, that homophobic language and action remain effective techniques for normalizing heteronormative masculinity in the sports domain. If we are going to take issues of (in)equality and civil rights seriously, this study reminds us that there’s no better place to start than on the sports field.”

Click here to read more.

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via Lorna Collier Learning Solutions Magazine on April 13, 2015

Online Degrees and Certificates for Instructional Designers: What You Need to Know

Monica Surrency graduated with a bachelor’s degree in classic civilizations—not your most marketable of degrees. Unsure what she wanted to do with her life, Surrency worked in various positions, from graphic designer to web instructor to education technology specialist, ultimately landing an instructional design position at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Worldwide Campus helping subject-matter experts design online courses.

“I really enjoyed the work I was doing,” says Surrency. “I thought, ‘I’ve found what I want to do.’”

Surrency had been planning to get a master’s degree in something anyway; once she found a profession that clicked, she checked out instructional design programs, seeking one that was fully online so it wouldn’t interfere with her job. She settled on a master’s in instructional systems from her alma mater, Florida State University. Two years later—shortly before her graduation in December 2014—she accepted a promotion at Embry-Riddle to senior instructional designer.

“Without my master’s, I’m not sure if I would have gotten the promotion,” says Surrency. “Having that degree really helped.”

Educational options online are increasing in number

Master’s degrees like the one Surrency earned are part of a growing array of educational options—often online—now available for those choosing to enter or advance within the instructional design field.

“I’m seeing a greater increase in instructional design programs,” says Phillip Harris, executive director of the 2,400-member Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). “We’re seeing a variety of initiatives at institutions big and small,” Harris says. This includes master’s degrees as well as certificate programs.

One reason for the growth in these programs: new technologies. As mobile devices, apps, and other new learning tools have become available, so has the demand for education to teach learning professionals how to use them. A survey of 1,100 instructional designers by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) in November 2014 found that 40 percent were concerned about lack of skilled staff in their organizations, while 29 percent expressed “difficulty keeping pace with new developments in learning technologies/media.” In response, ATD called for more ongoing education for designers.

At the same time, demand for designers by employers is up, especially as the recession eases, says Timothy W. Spannaus, PhD, coordinator of the instructional design program at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

“We’ve noticed a distinct increase since the worst of the recession five to seven years ago,” he says. “Over the long term, there’s been a steady increase in demand.”

So what should you know if you are interested in an online degree or certificate in instructional design? What are key trends in learning in this field, and what can you do to pick the right program for your needs? If an online degree or certificate in instructional design is not right for you, if you need more focused skill development, are there other options that require less time and lower investment?

What’s new in ID education?

For Phillip Harris, one of the biggest factors affecting instructional design education today is brain science—that is, what researchers are finding out about how people learn. Developments in cognitive neuroscience are affecting learning theory, and this is trickling down to the way designers are being taught.

“We’re seeing more emphasis on learning theory in the training programs and a larger recognition of how the brain works in how instruction is designed,” Harris says. “The learning sciences are expanding and computer science is contracting. The designer needs to understand how learning theory drives their design of instruction.”

This doesn’t mean designers don’t also need to know some technology, though. Depending on the size and type of institution, the instructional designer could be one specialist among a team of highly specialized people—or he or she could be expected to handle several roles, especially for smaller organizations.

Wayne State looked at the kinds of jobs its grads were landing and decided three years ago to shift its specialized set of master’s programs into a single, more generalized degree, Spannaus says.

“We saw what was happening in the marketplace for grads was that they were being called on to be generalists—to be able to deal with performance technology, interactive technologies, and design,” he says. The university then created one master’s degree in performance and design.

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via Gabrielle Russon Orlando Sentinel on April 10, 2015

UCF chooses new education college dean

Faculty Awards Ceremony 2006.

Pamela “Sissi” Carroll

A leader at Oklahoma State University has been tapped as the new dean at the University of Central Florida’s College of Education and Human Performance, officials said Friday.

Pamela Carroll will replace the college’s interim dean, Grant Hayes, who is leaving for a job to oversee the East Carolina University’s College of Education.

“My imagination was captured by the sense of possibility and energy that UCF exudes across the campus,” Carroll said in a news release. “That energy is apparent in the faculty, students, administrators, and community stakeholders. As I learned more about the university’s priorities I found that they align beautifully with the values that have been important to me throughout my career as an educator.”

Carroll is scheduled to start July 27 and will get paid a base salary of $240,000 a year, according to a university spokesperson.

Carroll’s husband, Joe Donoghue, will be hired as a geosciences professor at UCF’s College of Sciences, the news release said.

The couple have dog, Sunny, and cat, Carl Sandburg, named after the late poet, and plan to move in July.

At OSU, Carroll served as dean and director of professional education and the Stella V. Anderson Endowed Professor of Education for the past three years, according to UCF.

Her background also includes working at Florida State University where she was the associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Education and a 21-year faculty member.

“We are excited to have Dr. Carroll join our UCF family. I know she will do an extraordinary job in capitalizing on the great work we already do and advancing research, teaching and engagement in our College of Education and Human Performance,” said Dale Whittaker, UCF provost and vice president for academic affairs.

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via Kaitlin Mulhere Inside Higher Ed on April 10, 2015

Some gain, others fall in Florida’s performance-based funding system

When a Formula Doesn’t Add Up

The best-laid plans often go awry. And in the case of Florida’s performance-based funding model, even the most formula-based system can turn, at times, into something less than an objective process. In the two years since the 10-metric system took effect, there have been scoring ties that affect which universities finish in the top and bottom groups. More importantly, those top and bottom classifications influence how much — if any — of millions of performance-based dollars universities can claim. So far, the institutions that have lost out on award money are small regional universities, the state’s only liberal arts college and the state’s only public historically black institution.

At the State University System Board of Governors meeting in March, officials originally announced that Florida A&M University, New College of Florida and the University of North Florida had the three lowest scores, with N.C.F. and U.N.F. both scoring 35 points. A week later, the board announced that it had made a mistake in calculations and that Florida International University and the University of North Florida each would have one point added to their score.That adjustment boosted F.I.U. into a tie for the third spot from the top with the University of Central Florida — for the second year in a row. Extra money for the top three actually will be split among four.

The scoring adjustment also caused a tie between U.N.F. and Florida State University for the third score from the bottom. The rules of the system say that universities with the lowest three scores will not be eligible for bonus money. But instead of dropping F.S.U. into the bottom tier of universities, the Board of Governors decided the tie would pull U.N.F. out of that group. That means nine universities, instead of eight, will be splitting the bonus money, the amount of which is still subject to approval by the Legislature.

The board didn’t have a tiebreaker policy and didn’t want to create one on the fly. So it decided to consider a tie to the benefit of the universities, not the detriment, said Chancellor Marshall Criser III. The system is “not intended to punish universities,” Criser said. “It’s to incentivize focusing on the critical metrics we’ve identified in the plan.”

Since the passage of a 2013 law, Florida State and the University of Florida have been considered “preeminent state universities” under a program that’s separate from performance-based funding. The designation has allowed the universities to get extra money from the state to improve their national rankings. Criser denied that Florida State’s reputation — or that of any other university — influenced the board’s decision to allow both F.S.U. and U.N.F. to qualify for performance funds. People tend to look at the performance funding scores as a ranking order, Criser said. But that ignores the data behind each number, he said. The system awards points for excellence or improvement because each university is in a different spot and has a unique mission, he said.

Florida’s system gives financial rewards for scoring well on factors such as postgraduation employment, the average cost of a degree and retention rates. Yet the system also can punish institutions that perform poorly. The three universities with the lowest scores aren’t eligible for any of the new allocations, and any university that doesn’t score at least 26 out of 50 points risks losing a portion of its base allocation. Advocate or critic of the system, all agree on one thing: performance-based funding certainly has the attention of the universities, which are adopting strategies to try to be successful according to the standards laid out in the system.

Last year, there was $200 million tied to performance-based funding, including $100 million in new money. This year — which will affect the universities’ budgets for 2015-16 — the Board of Governors has asked for $300 million for the program, $200 million that will be reallocated from base funding and $100 million in new money. That’s just a slice, about 3 percent, of the universities’ total funding. Yet the goal is to continue to grow the size of performance funding.

Left Behind?

New College of Florida was the only institution to score in the bottom three in both years. The small liberal arts college raised concerns about the metrics in the first year under the model. Because of its small size, just a handful of graduates can sway the postcollege outcomes for New College. And last year, the college missed out on points for graduates who left the state for work or graduate school, although because of New College’s small size, the State University System used information from its alumni office to count some graduates who were overseas, spokeswoman Brittany Davis said.

Since then, the system has gotten better at capturing where students are one year after graduation, including those students who leave the country or the state, Davis said. The data are now based on about 85 percent of graduates. Focusing on data collection was one of the improvements officials chose to make after reviewing the system with the universities last summer, Criser said. That same type of review — and opportunity for tweaks — will take place again this year.

Improved data on graduates contributed to a boost in New College’s score, which is up 10 points from last year. With more graduates being counted, the median wage of full-time workers from New College jumped 24 percent, for example. But the college also falls behind due to its cost per degree. With just 834 students, New College has a fraction of the students of the other institutions, but many of the same overhead and administrative costs. The average cost per degree to New College is $76,720, at least $35,000 more than any other institution.

New College certainly faces a handicap under the current system, spokesman Dave Gulliver said. Still, with just three points separating seven of the institutions, the gap between qualifying for performance funds and not qualifying is slim. Florida A&M University, a historically black college in Tallahassee that serves a lot of low-income and first-generation students, also struggles under some of the measurements.
Much of the university’s population comes from communities with underfunded, underserved public schools. That means FAMU has to provide remedial classes and tutoring that count against it in a category that penalizes colleges for the extra courses it takes to earn a degree, President Elmira Mangum said.

Last year, FAMU’s 29 points placed it in a tie for the seventh spot, meaning it was eligible for some of the new money allocated under the model. In all, FAMU received $10.8 million that was earmarked for performance-based funding for 2014-15, including $5.5 million of new money. This year, though, FAMU’s score dropped three points, and it placed dead last — nine points behind New College. The university is just above the cutoff necessary to keep its base dollars out of risk. FAMU didn’t earn a single point in the average cost per degree ($40,080) or six-year graduation rate (39 percent) categories and earned just one point for retention.

As expected, the university scores highly in the access category, which measures the rate of Pell Grant recipients. But so does every other institution, even though FAMU outperforms them in this regard. All but one earned all five points available for the category. At 62 percent, FAMU has about double the percentage of Pell Grant recipients as Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of North Florida. Yet all three pass the 30 percent benchmark for five points. No further points are awarded for exceeding 30 percent.
Mangum, who took the helm at FAMU last summer, said she would have liked to see the university earn more points for its mission of teaching underserved students. She has to live with the system she has, though.

“There are parts of the formula that we believe may be a disadvantage to us, but we’re invested in it now, and want to provide the opportunities for students so they can be successful,” she said. She’s not concerned with FAMU’s score as it relates to other institutions and is focusing instead on earning points for improving FAMU’s outcomes, she said.

When students arrive on campus, the university is encouraging them to pursue fields where the students have strengths, rather than choosing majors based on popularity or the appeal of a high-earning job. The university also is focusing on experiential learning, “intrusive advising,” in which students are assigned mentors on the faculty, and raising money to support financial aid for summer courses. All are designed to speed up the time to graduation.

Mangum doesn’t deny that she’s worried about funding — she always is, she said. “I do think the students we serve are fully capable of meeting the criteria that the board has set,” she said. “It’s a matter of us organizing ourselves with these metrics in mind.”

Early Gains

While such organization is still taking place on some campuses, lawmakers in Florida have praised the system after seeing large one-year jumps in some universities’ performance. “The headline writes itself: Performance funding works,” Board of Governors Vice Chairman Tom Kuntz said in a press release celebrating the University of West Florida’s 16-point jump. The university’s progress was possible because of Florida’s split system of awarding points for either excellence or improvement. Hardly any of U.W.F.’s points were for excellence, but gains such as raising its six-year graduation rate by 9 percent (to 51 percent) earned U.W.F. the highest points in that category.

The university hired three new academic advisers and launched a summer program to target at-risk students, according to the release. Officials also reached out to those students getting close to the six-year cutoff to focus on getting them a degree. As another sign of success, the Board of Governors has pointed out that none of the universities this year fell below the 26-point threshold that puts base funding at risk.

There also have been systemwide improvements in graduation, retention and time to completion. All of those were once considered slow-moving targets that couldn’t show much progress year over year, Criser said. But David Tandberg, a professor of higher education at Florida State University, thinks it will take more than a year to determine the effect Florida’s model has on the state’s universities.

No matter how well the system does as a whole, three institutions will inevitably be at the bottom without access to the bonus money. That places a big incentive on finding ways to do better than the year before and better than the other universities in the system, Tandberg said. He is curious to see the long-term effect on the institutions that are near the bottom.

There’s going to be an incredible amount of pressure on them, and it will be a challenge if the same few institutions are continually threatened with losing out on money, Tandberg said. Those institutions need money in order to innovate, and, he said, that’s the question that is left unanswered: whether this system will provide the resources necessary to improve. Performance-based funding is useful in that it’s language legislators understand, Tandberg said. The model lets lawmakers make the argument that colleges are being held accountable. The universities have held up their end of the bargain — going along with the system and starting to make changes to improve. Now, he said, lawmakers have to do the same.

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via Sean Rossman Tallahassee Democrat on March 24, 2015

Tallahassee 9-year-old lobbies for Blind Services

The Tallahassee Democrat featured a story with 9-year-old Paloma Rambana lobbying the legislature for more funding for blind services in the state. When Paloma was just a toddler, her parents reached out to our students and faculty in the Visual Disabilities program for help in dealing with her visual impairment. As a result of the good work of our students and faculty, Paloma’s parents have given back to the College of Education through a scholarship for those studying to be teachers of the visually impaired.

View the story at http://on.tdo.com/1C93m6F.

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via Karen Oehme Florida State 24/7 on March 23, 2015

Researchers receive grant to develop online toolkit for co-parenting after divorce

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 9.41.36 AM

FSU Researchers

A group of researchers from Florida State University received a $250,000 grant from the Vandermark Foundation to create an online toolkit designed to foster healthy co-parenting in families of divorce.

“We know that good co-parenting helps create healthy, well-adjusted children,” said Karen Oehme, director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies at FSU’s College of Social Work. “We are exceptionally grateful to the Vandermark Foundation for recognizing the need for this crucial and inspirational project. The project could not have proceeded without the foundation’s extraordinarily generous funding.”

The Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce project is a joint effort of Florida State’s College of Education, College of Communication and Information and College of Social Work.

“I was excited to see the FSU community come together for this collaborative project,” said Peter Scanlon, an alumnus of Florida State University and president of the Vandermark Foundation. “After decades of working in community mental health services and seeing the need for this training, I am thrilled that we are supporting FSU’s important work.”

About a quarter of families in America are currently single-parent families with children under the age of 18, and more than a million additional children experience the divorce of their parents each year. Research indicates that children are healthier when their parents have the knowledge and skills essential to resolving conflicts and can prioritize the well being of their children.

The project will teach parents the skills necessary to sustain a positive environment for their children and to foster their healthy growth and development.

The objectives of the initiative are to:

Educate families on the effects of divorce and conflict on the family system and about the protection that co-parenting provides;
Facilitate healthy co-parenting relationships through promotion of communication and conflict-reduction skills and strategies; and
Train mental health professionals, lawyers and other professionals who work with divorcing couples on the dynamics of healthy co-parenting.
Faculty, staff and students from the School of Communication’s Digital Media Production Program and the College of Motion Picture Arts are producing a series of video components for the project. The videos present engaging material that depicts effective modeling and real life testimony to help parents as they navigate the divorce process.

The researchers plan to seek certification for the online course as an approved mandatory parenting program for divorcing parents in Florida and Massachusetts, with the potential for expansion to all states that mandate parenting education.

“The entire FSU community, the state and families nationally will benefit from this extraordinary gift and FSU’s commitment to excellence through intercollege collaboration over the next several years,” said James Sampson, associate dean in the College of Education.

The toolkit will be available at no cost to the multitude of families who experience divorce annually, as well as to family members, mental health professionals and lawyers who support these families through the divorce process.

Parents and professionals will be invited to participate in a study associated with the training to gauge its impact on parents’ attitudes and behaviors. The online site will launch this fall and be available nationwide.

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via Wallace Green Jewish Link of New Jersey on March 19, 2015

To Test or Not to Test

How do we measure student progress? How do we measure effective teaching? How do we calculate a student’s commitment to Jewish values? How do we grade davening or positive attitudes toward Judaism? How accurate are report card grades? Do they measure ability to think and reason or just memorization skills?

There is currently a widespread backlash against standardized tests. Recently, when New Jersey administered new state exams based on the Common Core expectations adopted by most states, thousands of students opted not to take them. Regardless of the issues specific to Common Core, how accurate a barometer it is, how well it was vetted, etc., there is still a need to find valid ways to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable.

For decades, educational policy dictated more and more standardized tests as a way to establish common benchmarks of achievement and to hold teachers and schools responsible for student progress. Recently, however, there has been a seismic shift in attitudes and public opinion resulting in a revolt against standardized testing. Parents and advocates for children have been successfully lobbying to cut back and/or eliminate standardized tests.

Discussion about cutting back on these requirements comes at a time of growing concern about the number of tests kids take and the time they spend taking them. Missing from this debate, however, is a sense of what could replace annual tests. What can schools do to monitor learning and ensure equity and accountability if they didn’t have to test every child every year?

Here are some possible suggestions. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, they could all happen at the same time, as different schools make different decisions.

1) Sampling. A simple approach. The same tests, just fewer of them. Accountability could be achieved by administering traditional standardized tests to a statistically representative sampling of students, rather than to every student every year. That’s how the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, works. It’s one of the longest-running and most trusted tests in the US education arsenal. It’s given to a different sample of students each year, in grades 4, 8, and 12. PISA, the widely respected international test, is given to a sample of students as well.

2) Stealth assessment. Similar math and reading data, but collected differently. The major textbook publishers, plus companies like Dreambox, Scholastic, and the nonprofit Khan Academy, all sell software for students to practice math and English. These programs register every single answer a student gives.

The companies that develop this software argue that it presents the opportunity to eliminate the time, cost, and anxiety of “stop and test” in favor of passively collecting data on students’ knowledge over a semester, year, or entire school career. Valerie Shute, a professor at Florida State University and former principal research scientist at ETS, coined the term “stealth assessment” to describe this approach…click here to continue reading.

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via Ryan Rodenberg ABCNews on February 3, 2015

Wagering on the future

“Leagues will posit that types of data are proprietary and will seek licensing fees from sportsbooks and fantasy operators.”
Ryan Rodenberg – Assistant professor of sports law at Florida State University

Fans will see an increase in gambling-related advertising. Leagues will posit that types of data are proprietary (think sabermetrics meets sports gambling) and will seek licensing fees from sportsbooks and fantasy operators. The leagues will also look to offer wagering options to consumers. Finally, like fantasy’s emphasis on player outcomes, sports betting will continue to shift sporting events from competition between teams and players to a commercialized spectacle. Gambling and fantasy drive consumer interest. My sense is that the inevitable will happen in the next four to five years, about the same time as the 100th anniversary of the fixed 1919 World Series. Such timing would be ironic, as the Black Sox scandal set in motion the sports leagues’ longtime antigambling argument the NBA commissioner is looking to supplant.

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via Shouping Hu Inside Higher Ed on January 29, 2015

Bio: Shouping Hu is the Louis W. and Elizabeth N. Bender Endowed Professor, the founding director of the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) at Florida State University, and Professor of Higher Education at FSU.

Learning from a Bold Experiment

Florida is one of several states where legislatures are exploring dramatic approaches to reforming developmental (remedial) education.

A high percentage of students who enroll at the 28 state colleges (formerly the community colleges) in the Florida College System have remedial needs, and only a small fraction of those students actually earn college credentials.

To try to combat this problem, the state’s Legislature in 2013 passed a new law mandating that the 28 state colleges provide developmental education that is more tailored to the needs of students. As reported earlier by Inside Higher Ed, the policy gives students much more flexibility in terms of whether they participate in developmental education and what options they choose if they do decide to participate.

Some concerns have emerged since the Florida reform was implemented in the fall of 2014. For example, The Chronicle of Higher Education described “headaches” such as a drastic decline in students enrolling in developmental education courses, challenges faculty members face and other issues regarding student decisions and choices.

It’s clear that the state’s developmental policy reform could have a long-lasting influence on student success in Florida and beyond. The Florida reform would be particularly relevant if the proposal of two years of free community college by President Obama ever becomes a reality. To learn more about it, theCenter for Postsecondary Success (CPS) at Florida State University has been conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation and effects of the policy.

The Florida Experiment

The law drastically changes the placement and instructional practices in developmental education. It prohibits requiring placement testing or developmental education for students who entered ninth grade in a Florida public school in the 2003-2004 school year and after, provided the student earned a standard high school diploma. The law also exempts active-duty members of the military from required placement testing and developmental coursework. It does, however, allow exempted students to choose to be tested and/or to take developmental education once advised of their options.

Students now have several new options in terms of developmental education delivery methods that are designed to move them quickly into college credit, using corequisite instruction, modules and tutoring. The new strategies include: (1) modularized instruction that is customized and targeted to address specific skills gaps; (2) compressed course structures that accelerate student progression from developmental instruction to college-level coursework; (3) contextualized developmental instruction that is related to metamajors (a collection of programs of study or academic discipline groupings that share common foundational skills); and (4) corequisite developmental instruction or tutoring that supplements credit instruction while a student is concurrently enrolled in a credit-bearing course.

The legislation does not mandate the specifics around each option and therefore allows the individual campuses in the system some flexibility in regard to the form and delivery of each option.

Challenges and Opportunities

The reform strategies underway are sweeping.

Because a key intent of the reform is to provide greater flexibility in determining who needs to take developmental education courses, it is not surprising to observe a sizable drop-off in students enrolling in them. The drop-off itself may not necessarily become a concern for some students, but we will need to closely monitor those who choose not to opt in to developmental education programs to determine their outcomes compared to those who did.

Research has indicated that developmental education may not be that helpful for borderline students, thus suggesting flexible placement may increase student success by not holding back students just shy of the cut score. However, a large number of students who would have scored far below traditional cutoff scores and instead opt in to college-level courses may present new and difficult challenges to institutions and instructors, and may also jeopardize students’ chances of succeeding in college. Such a scenario could be compounded depending on how students of different backgrounds make decisions.

While some perceive the increased student choice to be positive, others question whether developmental education students have the preparation and wisdom to make informed choices about course options. Students, though, generally appreciate the increased choice provided by the legislation but questioned whether other students would always make the appropriate decisions. Colleges and universities have ramped up advising and student support services, which could be key to student success and the reform as a whole. Advising students to make the “good” choice, and students following the advice properly, will be critical to student success in this new policy environment. Meanwhile, providing the necessary support to students along the way is important to sustain student success.

With greater flexibility in placement, the developmental education reform could alter the composition of classrooms across college campuses, possibly also shaping the structure and culture of teaching and learning on campus due to the wider range of student academic preparation in both developmental and college-level classes. The voices of faculty have indicated this is the case. A promising sign is that faculty members are designing customized instruction tailored to students based on their assessment of student preparation. This is consistent with the substantial literature on effective teaching and learning by meeting the needs of learners. Of course, this customization increases the work of faculty members, but if there is a way to support faculty adaptation to the new classroom reality, student success may be well in reach.

In anticipation of both student and faculty concerns, most campuses planned to increase the student support services they provide. A content analysis of the 28 implementation plans indicated that the colleges planned to ramp up advising as well as extensive training and professional development for front-line personnel. In addition, support services such as tutoring and success courses are widely considered in colleges’ implementation plans.

An earlier survey of college administrators also indicated a whole-campus approach in implementing the new policy. There is a fairly wide agreement that the reform reflects a spirit of innovation and offers an opportunity to solve an old problem in new ways, and colleges mobilized to respond to the new law and increased intra-institutional collaboration in developing strategies. Each campus has an implementation team that includes the key constituents on campus so that perspectives from all can be shared and considered.

Learning From the Experiences

The Florida experiment is a state response to a persistent problem. It marks a drastic departure from the traditional developmental education model that has not been working well. The “headaches” reported in The Chronicle from the early stage of implementation are not unexpected. However, the issues raised should not be ignored. In fact, we should keep close eyes on those issues and student outcomes.

The law allows institutions to be responsive to their individual student populations. But because there are variations in institutional reality based on student characteristics, infrastructure and previous experiences with developmental education, some colleges may be ahead of the game while others may be struggling to catch up, resulting in different reactions to the reform. While some colleges embrace it, others may have some reservations. The state and other interested parties should provide assistance to help struggling colleges to get up to speed.

The success of the reform depends on a multitude of players and factors. It depends on students to make the right decisions for themselves; it depends on practitioners and administrators to successfully rally the troops on the ground to implement the critical components called for by the new law; it depends on faculty members to deliver courses that meet student needs; it depends on advisers to effectively advise students and support services staff members to provide timely and needed support to the students along the way; it also depends on policy makers to create favorable policy environments for those on the ground to do the work at the best of their expertise and capacity.

Moving Forward

The bold reform strategies in developmental education in Florida could blaze a new trail, or offer states valuable lessons. It is easy to point fingers to K-12 education for the lack of preparation of college students. While it is important to continue to improve the quality of K-12 education for all students, it is also important to consider the ways the higher education system can improve student success. Given the nature of the reform and the multiplicity of issues, strong and sustainable leadership at both the state and campus level is required in order for the reform to stand a chance of delivering results. At least six steps appear to be warranted to determine whether such a broad reform is capable of achieving its intended outcome.

First, as for any policy change, it will take time to see results. Is there willingness to wait for a period of time to see the impacts of the current policy changes on student success, given the likely pressures from various sources? If not, we may never know whether such a reform is able to deliver.

Second, to assess the impact of the reform on students and continuously improve the policy, there is a need for credible evidence. The research community needs to contribute to the conversation by conducting valid research to understand the perspectives from all concerned and affected, and assess the impact of the new policy on outcomes related to student success.

Third, practitioners and administrators need to be open-minded and provide feedback on what works and what may be needed on the ground. On the one hand, they need to challenge conventional practices that have been in place for a long time. Fortunately, the early signs indicate they indeed embrace the idea of innovation. On the other hand, they should demand the support they need to ensure the new initiatives will be successfully put in place.

Fourth, policy makers should use the evidence and results to guide the policy-making and -remaking process. Just as practitioners within community colleges need to be open-minded in implementing reform, policy makers need to be open-minded and honestly consider feedback to adjust the policy accordingly.

Fifth, funding agencies should be keenly attentive to what is really going on in educational reform and put their resources behind research on real-world problems. Instead of waiting for perfect research, they should strike a good balance in pursuing the rigor and relevance of the research to promptly respond to the needs on the ground. Otherwise, they may end up being empty-handed in the pursuit of connecting research, policy and practice.

Finally, credible and timely research has the potential to generate valuable evidence to inform policy and practice, and it can be accomplished by collaboration among researchers, practitioners, state agencies and funding organizations. After all, it is our shared responsibility to optimize the educational environment so that our students can succeed, reach their full potential and realize their dreams.

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via Michael F Shaughnessy Gifted Education International in January 2015 issue

A reflective conversation with Steven Pfeiffer: serving the gifted

Abstract

The gifted remain an often misunderstood and underserved population. In this interview, Dr. Pfeiffer discusses these concerns and provides practitioners with timely information on who exactly the gifted are and the various ways in which they are unique. In this reflective conversation, Dr. Pfeiffer, a noted authority on gifted and talented students, explores practical, evidence-based techniques and guidelines for working with the gifted, their teachers, and their families. He responds to questions about how best to assist the gifted population in various realms, including home, school, and interpersonal relationships.

Steven Pfeiffer is a Professor at the College of Education at Florida State University. He is a licensed psychologist, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Over the past 30 years, he has worked with gifted children and their families in his counseling practice. Dr. Pfeiffer is the lead author of the Gifted Rating Scales, published by Pearson Assessment. The scale is one of the most widely used and researched teacher rating scales in the gifted field. He has authored or co-authored over 150 articles and book chapters. His Handbook of Giftedness, published in 2008, is a widely used text in gifted courses. He recently completed a new book, Serving the Gifted, which was published by Routledge (2012).

  • Dr. Pfeiffer, your latest book is entitled Serving the Gifted. How did this book come about and what were you trying to accomplish?

Mike, I have worked with high-ability students, in a variety of capacities, for more than 30 years. In the late 1970s, while still a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, my dissertation research looked at creativity and how important IQ was in creating creative writing. For many years, as a clinician, I have counseled gifted children and their families for a wide variety of problems. This has provided me with a unique perspective—working with very bright children when things go awry in their lives. I had the good fortune to serve as executive director of the Duke Talent Identification Program, and in this capacity I was able to look at high-ability children from a very different perspective—from the standpoint of what they need educationally and socially to thrive, and what unique before-career and career planning issues they face. Most recently, I served as co-director of a unique pilot program, the Florida Governor’s School for Science and Space Technology. Working with extremely bright and academically successful high school students across the state, I learned a tremendous amount about their unique needs. I think that the motivation for writing this book was to try to put down in one scholarly but easy-to-read volume all that I have learned over the years, as a psychologist, in working with gifted students. I wanted to provide other psychologists, educators, and parents with a timely and enjoyable read on what we know about gifted children. In the first chapter I list a number of questions that have engendered debate, confusion, and even heated argument among educators, parents, and others regarding the gifted. I endeavored to answer each of these questions in the following chapters; I hope that I succeeded! Initial reviews indicate that readers—both authorities in the field and the lay public—are finding the book informative, insightful, in many ways provocative in challenging old myths and dogma, and a great read…click here to continue reading.

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via Allie Bidwell U.S. News on January 14, 2015

Report: Performance Funding Might Not Help Students

The idea that colleges and universities should receive funds based on how well they serve students is popular among state policymakers looking to hold schools accountable. But a new report published Wednesday throws cold water on the idea, suggesting not all performance-based policies lead to improved student outcomes.

Published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the study examined the performance funding model in place for community and technical colleges in Washington state, and found student retention and degree completion rates at those state institutions were on par with the performance of public colleges in states without performance funding models. Washington’s Student Achievement Initiative has been in place since 2007 and has been elevated among experts as a prime example of a performance funding model in higher education.

While the state did not see a significant improvement in retention and degree completion rates, it did see significant growth in the number of short-term certificates awarded between 2002 and 2012. Such certificates take no more than one year to complete and generally don’t lead to noticeable returns on investment, according to several studies, including a recent analysis from Columbia University and the California-based Career Ladders Project. They are intended to prepare students for work in areas where it might not be necessary to have a four-year degree, such as certain medical or business professions.

“Short-term certificates are an easier approach than two-year completion or graduation,” said David Tandberg of Florida State University, a co-author of the report, in a statement. “They’re the path of least resistance for schools.”

The analysis comes at a time when 34 states already have or are in the process of implementingperformance funding models, largely spurred by support from several influential organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. The increase in popularity centers around the idea that schools should be funded based on “output” measures, rather than “input” measures like enrollment, which is how schools are typically funded. A growing focus on college affordability and accountability has the federal government also signaling its support for such plans through its college ratings proposal.

President Barack Obama’s recently announced proposal for free community college also includes a stipulation requiring states to “allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone” to be eligible for federal funding to subsidize free tuition. And in his last three State of the Union speeches, Obama has called for more accountability in higher education in one form or another, with a particular focus on dangling the federal government’s purse strings as incentive for colleges to keep costs down and produce more graduates.

“There’s a lot of political popularity to that idea,” says Nicholas Hillman, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a co-author of the report. “I think that’s why these policies are popping up all across the country. State officials are saying, ‘We have to do something about college affordability,’ and it’s politically convenient for them to look to performance funding as a solution.” (Hillman discusses the findings of the study in a video here.)

The new study adds to a growing body of research that question whether performance funding models in higher education actually help increase college access and quality, or whether they provide unintended incentives for colleges to lower academic standards or admit fewer at-risk students to keep completion rates high, for example.

And the idea isn’t unique to higher education, Hillman notes. It’s part of a broader context of the increased use of performance-based finances.

No matter if you’re talking about public schools, public libraries, public health organizations, you see this kind of stuff happening all the time where you have really complex organizations that are very difficult to change,” Hillman says. “Using performance funding and performance incentives is oftentimes a very blunt instrument to use to induce the kind of change policymakers want.”

It’s also important to keep in mind, Hillman says, whether implementing performance funding models will catalyze changes within higher education, or whether policymakers should instead first focus on increasing the capacities of already cash-strapped institutions.

“The argument is, ‘How do you expect college to perform if they don’t have capacity to perform?'” Hillman says. “We’re trying to figure that out.”

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via Paul Fain Inside Higher Ed on January 14, 2015

Funding Formula Fracas

Washington State’s performance-based funding formula has failed to move the needle on community college student completion rates, according to a newly released research paper. But officials at the state’s two-year college system are contesting the study’s findings.

Begun in 2006, Washington’s Student Achievement Initiative is considered to be one of higher education’s best and most extensive performance-funding models. It ties student retention and graduation rates — as well as factors like class completion in mathematics — to state support.

The researchers chose to analyze the formula’s impact because it is a well-respected version of an idea that has caught on among state and federal policy makers.

“Considering the popularity of Washington’s performance funding model, we are surprised the impacts on associate’s degree productivity are so modest,” wrote the study’s co-authors, who are Nicholas Hillman of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, David Tandberg of Florida State University and Alisa Hicklin Fryar of the University Oklahoma.

The researchers used data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS), as well as other sources. They looked at how the state’s 34-campus community and technical college system stacked up against several different comparison groups from 2002 to 2012. Comparisons included similar data for community colleges in neighboring states, across the region and a national sample.

The colleges in Washington showed no “systematic” increase in student retention or in the production of associate degrees, according to the study, which the American Educational Research Association published today.

“We found that the performance of Washington community and technical colleges was, on average, often not distinguishable from the performance of colleges in other states that were never subject to similar accountability policies,” the researchers wrote.

Short-term certificates bucked the trend, however. The study found noticeable growth in the issuing of certificates that are designed for students to earn in a year or less. Those credentials hold little value in the labor market, according to the researchers.

“The findings over all tip toward being moderate at best,” Hillman said in an interview. He added that short-term certificates are the “quickest and easiest way to benefit from the performance model.”

Hillman has written other research papers that identified problems with performance-based formulas. He said the latest study adds to questions about the trendy policies.

“The adoption of performance funding is a politically convenient strategy,” said Hillman, who discussed the research in a web video. “But we need to have a clear, convincing theory of action behind the policy.”

Pushing Back

Officials with the Washington system took issue with the study. They said the three researchers dismissed a substantial gain in associate-degree production in the state, which has continued to pick up since 2012.

“There have been significant gains in the recent period, especially coming out of the recession,” said Jan Yoshiwara, deputy executive director of education for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

One problem with study, said Yoshiwara and David Prince, the board’s director of policy research, is its reliance on IPEDS data, which is notoriously limited in capturing an accurate view of community college graduation rates. For example, the federal database includes only first-time, full-time students, who are hardly the norm at community colleges.

The researchers did not use IPEDS for their measure of graduation rates, however. They included completion numbers for all students. (Note: This paragraph has been added to correct a reference to the study’s methodology.)

Yoshiwara and Prince also said the study failed to capture the recent uptick in degrees earned. The paper noted that performance-based funding appeared to boost degree production in 2011 and 2012. That trend has continued, according to data from the board.

Compared to five years ago, the system is awarding 29 percent more applied associate degrees. While that number has been flat during the last few years, other associate degrees, such as transfer degrees, have been up.

Other completion-oriented indicators, which were not included in the study, are looking good, system officials said. For example, more students are completing college-level math.

“They had a limited picture,” Yoshiwara said of the research.

She also took on the assertion that short-term certificates are not valuable. While this type of credential is controversial, someresearch has shown that they can pay off. And many of the short-term degree programs in Washington are “stackable,” meaning they are designed to be part of a longer arc toward earning a degree.

“All certificates are not created equally,” Yoshiwara said. “We’re focusing on ones that are building blocks to associate degrees.”

Price also said that many of the system-issued short-term certificates that the federal database captured are in nursing. Rather than being a terminal credential, those certificates are requirements for more extensive academic programs.

The Lumina Foundation has been a powerful proponent of performance-based funding and, more broadly, efforts to increase degree production. Sean Tierney, a strategy officer with the foundation, said the new study “strongly vindicates” the effectiveness of performance formulas in helping more students succeed.

In particular, Tierney pointed to the paper’s finding of a recent uptick in associate degrees. “The study is very positive for outcomes-based funding,” he said.

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via Katherine Mangan The Chronicle of Higher Education on January 14, 2014

More States Tie Money to Colleges’ Performance, but That May Not Work

A report being released on Wednesday throws more cold water on a trend that’s been sweeping the nation for the past several years, most recently with the White House proposal that seeks to make two years of community college free for everyone.

It’s called performance-based funding, and it boils down to rewarding or penalizing colleges based in part on the numbers of students they graduate or retain from year to year. Some 30 states now distribute at least a portion of their higher-education money based on those and other achievement measures, with another four plans in the works. President Obama last week called on states to step up those efforts in his free-tuition plan, saying they should allocate a “significant portion” of their higher-education dollars based on such measures.

The problem, according to the report, published by the American Educational Research Association, is that the strategy doesn’t work—at least not in Washington State, where the study was conducted. Similar studies have reached the same conclusion in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and other states, the authors say.

The approach appears to have had little or no effect on graduation or retention rates in Washington, where the only real change has been a significant increase in the number of short-term certificates issued by community colleges, credentials with limited labor-market value, the report concludes.

“This does not mean that colleges cannot improve retention,” the report says. “Rather, we suggest that improving retention requires resources and capacity that colleges simply may not currently have” at a time when their budgets are squeezed and state support has dried up.

Pushed by Foundations

Advocates for performance-based plans disagree and predict they will continue to spread, buoyed by support from major foundations, the president, and lawmakers who want to see colleges held accountable for poor graduation rates and rewarded when they turn things around.

The report, “Evaluating the Impacts of ‘New’ Performance Funding in Higher Education,” is based on a study focused on Washington State’s Student Achievement Initiative, which was adopted in 2007 and is widely recognized as a model for performance-based accounting systems nationwide.

Since the late 1970s, about half of the states have enacted laws to base at least a small portion of their higher-education support on performance measures. But early on, the amount of money at stake was too little to drive change—usually less than 5 percent of a state’s contributions to colleges.

Tennessee, which now bases 100 percent of its higher-education spending on performance measures, adopted the nation’s first performance-based plan in the 1970s, the report says. By the turn of the century, 23 states had them, but when money grew tight, many dropped them.

In recent years, influential organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, nonprofit groups they support, and other institutions have pushed the idea aggressively, prompting many states to either adopt or readopt their plans. Lawmakers in many states have been swayed by arguments that poor college-completion rates threatened the nation’s vitality at a time when it is coming out of a recession and the demand for college-educated workers is booming.

‘Here to Stay’

While the early plans focused on long-term goals like graduation rates, the new versions, which the reformers have dubbed “Performance 2.0,” give colleges credit for intermediate measures such as student retention or transfer rates, or the numbers of students completing remedial mathematics or earning their first 15 college credits, said the report’s lead author, Nicholas W. Hillman, who discusses the findings here. He is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His co-authors are David A. Tandberg, an assistant professor of higher education at Florida State University, and Alisa Hicklin Fryar, an associate professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma.

Among the unintended consequences some have warned of, the new allocation formulas have prompted some four-year colleges to raise their admissions standards, according to a recent study, and spawned fears that open-access community colleges might close their doors ever so slightly to avoid being penalized for the performance of their weakest students.

The authors of the new report gave The Chronicle permission to share an embargoed copy of it with several higher-education experts who closely follow performance funding to allow them to comment.

Complete College America, a nonprofit advocacy group heavily financed by the Gates Foundation, is one of the strategy’s biggest advocates.

“Performance-based funding is here to stay,” the group’s president, Stan Jones, wrote in an email to The Chronicle. Drawing broad conclusions on one state’s experiences is a mistake, he added, especially when the amount of money at issue represents such a small proportion of the state’s higher-education budget—less than 1 percent in some years.

It’s also too early, he wrote, to judge how such programs are working, since as recently as 2009 only Indiana and Ohio had the newer version of performance-based plans that applied to all their public colleges. Tennessee followed with a plan approved in 2010 and rolled out the following year.

College-completion results will take six to eight years to measure, collect, and report, Mr. Jones said. And he said his group had never claimed that performance-based formula alone would lead to higher graduation rates. “It is a necessary condition for change to occur,” he wrote. “Performance funding gets attention and signals a focus on completion.” The reforms that follow “will produce the results that everyone is seeking.”

Carrots and Sticks

Experts also disagree on the value of short-term certificates. Those credentials, the report’s authors say, “yield less value in the labor market than associate’s degrees but are far easier for colleges to produce,” so they’re the fastest and simplest way for colleges to improve their completion rates.

A recent study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College concluded that such certificates, which take less than a year to complete, do not help most recipients get jobs or earn more money, But they’re proliferating quickly; the number of short-term certificates awarded nationally grew by 151 percent from 2000 to 2010, the study found.

Some higher-education experts say they are nonetheless valuable. Short-term certificates can provide important boosts along a path strewn with roadblocks and detours, according to David S. Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges.

“If you give people tangible measures of progress along their educational or career pathways, it incentivizes them to continue,” he said on Tuesday.

The new report, which relies heavily on federal education data, doesn’t capture all of the successes of Washington State’s students, especially in the past two years, said Jan Yoshiwara, executive director for education at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, which administers the state’s performance-based plan.

“It has changed the conversation about where we put the emphasis, from focusing just on enrollments to what students are actually accomplishing,” she said. “We’re focusing on key places where students get stuck on their way to a degree and how we can overcome them.”

But Mr. Hillman, the report’s lead author, said policy makers should not rest their hopes on performance-based plans.

“We need to pursue policies that help students, and I’m not convinced this is the way to do it,” he said. “These are complex organizations, and to think that colleges only respond to carrots and sticks goes against how they truly operate.”

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via Janell Ross The Atlantic on January 12, 2015

Where Obama’s Community-College Plan Falls Short

Late last week, President Obama announced a sweeping community-college tuition plan that drew on the usual superlatives. The plan has already been described as a “moon shot” that could universalize the first two years of college and denounced as yet another part of the president’s latent socialist agenda. Others have labeled it an unfunded pipe dream.

In its current form, the plan amounts to a meaningful attempt to narrow the education disparities contributing to the nation’s growing socioeconomic inequality. Its White House architects claim that it could help as many as 9 million students attend college and graduate with less debt. It carries a 10-year $60 billion price tag but includes federal and state components, features that may render some Republicans less allergic to the idea.

Still, the Obama plan fails to account for the fact that few community college students actually graduate or ultimately earn a degree elsewhere. In other words, the system on which the Obama plan is built already struggles to produce strong student outcomes.

Current federal data indicates that just 20 percent of students who started community college in 2009 had completed their programs three years later in 2012.

School officials often discount that tally because it doesn’t account for students who stop their studiesat one school and then resume them at another. But other damning figures are harder to dispute.

Only about 15 percent of students who start out at a community college earn a bachelor’s degree after six years. And, researchers have found that when students with similar test scores and grades attend community college or a four-year school, the latter are far more likely to earn a degree.The conventional wisdom that casts community college as a pragmatic, budget-friendly option isn’t accurate at all. Few community college students rack up the necessary course credits after enrolling to move on smoothly and get their bachelor’s degrees. Most enroll, take some combination of credit-granting courses and remedial education schooling, then move between full- and part-time status to accommodate other demands, often switching schools. After all of that, only a fraction complete their programs—andan even small groupearn a degree.

To be fair, community colleges and their students often face immense challenges, obstacles that even the White House has on other occasionsacknowledged.

Community colleges already serve almost half of the nation’s college students. The majority of black, Latino, and first-generation college students begin degree work in community-college classrooms. The persistent relationship between race, income, and school quality means that large shares of community-college students start higher education after attending K-12 institutions that post the nation’s worst test scores, where classrooms are led by the least-experienced teachers and schools operate in the worst facilities.

As a result, half of all students entering two-year colleges are tested after enrollment and directed to remedial education courses, compared to 20 percent of students at four-year schools. The efficacy of such courses, which ideally help students master the basic high school concepts they need to complete college-level coursework, is the subject of ongoing debate. Still, this much is clear: The courses do not grant college credits that count towards a degree.

The longer a student at any type of college takes to earn a degree, the less likely they are to graduate. Making matters worse, students attending community colleges generally get little to no one-on-one time with counselors or academic advisors who can help them select a major, plot courses, and monitor progress towards a degree—standard practices at most four-year schools. A 2013 Georgetown University study found that selective, four-year schools have anywhere from two to five times the resources for students than do the nation’s open-enrollment community colleges. Yet, since 2012, all students have faced the same 12-semester limit on Pell Grants, a key source of financial aid for the nation’s lowest income students that does not have to be repaid.

Leading researchers, like Thomas Bailey, the director of the Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, have long questioned the tendency of legislators to restrain budgets at community colleges serving students who, in many cases, have already been educationally cheated. So Baileygave Obama’s community-college plan a mixed review.

“Generally I think it’s a positive to bring more attention to community colleges and bring more federal resources to them,” Bailey said. “Tuition should not be a barrier to go to college. But this plan, at least as it stands, it does nothing about all the other issues, the childcare and bus fare, the work hours, the real issues people face as they try to go to school and, too often, have to start and stop.”

To bolster his case, Bailey pointed out that many of the nation’s lowest-income students can already attend community college for free. Pell Grants this school year cover up to $5,730 in college expenses for the lowest-income students. The average community college costs about $4,000. If Obama’s plan were to be implemented, Bailey would like to see these students attend community college for free and use their Pell Grants for food, shelter, transportation, books, childcare, and other costs that often get in the way of their education. Those economic challenges factor into another little-known American college phenomenon. Since 2010, black, white, and Latino students have enrolled in college at almost the same rate (Asian college enrollment rates outpace all other groups). But significant graduation disparities remain.

Boosting college graduation rates is where the nation’s critical work sits, according to Stan Jones, the president of the nonprofit Complete College America. Jones, who said he supports Obama’s community-college plan, appreciates its clear references to the country’s completion problem. It would cover tuition costs for part- and full-time students with an at least 2.5 GPA who are making actual progress toward a degree. Those stipulations may push both students and colleges to pay closer attention to course planning and academic advising, while encouraging more students to attend school full-time, he said. But, Jones thinks there is more the plan could do.

Right now, federal financial aid officials consider 12 credit hours per semester a full-time student load. These students are eligible for Pell Grants. But any student enrolling in 12 credit hours per semester, or 24 per school year, isautomatically on the path to spend three years completing a two-year program. If Obama’s plan moved the full-time benchmark to 15 or more credit hours or provided an incentive to students who enroll in 15 credit hours or more, it would help a bigger share of students complete their academic programs on time, Jones said. Jones also called on Congress to restore Pell Grant funding for summer courses, which was eliminated in 2011. During the summer term many students previously used Pell grants to take the classes that kept them on track in their programs or repeat required courses they previously failed.

At Florida State University, Toby Park studies community colleges and their students. And like Jones and Bailey, he is a big advocate of students taking more classes and working less.

Both conditions seem to boost a student’s odds of completing their program and earning a career certificate or degree, Park has found. But something about that 15-credit threshold seems to put students in a different mind frame, he said. They become students who work on the side, rather than people who are workers first and students second. National student data shows that the more hours students devote each week to jobs the slower their school progress and the less likely they are to graduate. “Working your way through college” is another popular notion that’s an exception among students rather than the rule, Park said.

“It may be psychological, but somehow [work] seems to shift the student’s focus,” Park said. “So, I’d really like to see this program address that, even if it means, in the short term, that students have to live on less. Somehow, we need to get more students to take more classes, to focus primarily on school. Really, tuition is only a small part of the problem.”

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via Anya Kamenetz NPR Ed on January 6, 2015

What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests

Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests.

Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they’re drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

Annual tests for every child in reading and math in grades 3 through 8, plus one in high school, have been a centerpiece of federal education law since 2002. No Child Left Behind, the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, requires them.

But this law has been overdue for reauthorization since before President Obama took office. The Senate plans to take the matter up early this year.

Discussions about cutting back on these requirements comes at a time of growing concern about the number of tests kids take and the time they spend taking them. Parents in some communities have formed “opt out” groups and removed their children not only from federally mandated tests but also the legions of state- and district-required tests that have followed.

The Council of Chief State School Officers and the country’s largest school districts have spoken out in favor of reducing the number of standardized tests students take. The national teachers unions and other traditionally Democratic groups are on board with the idea too.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he is concerned about testing too, but he has written he “strongly believes” in annual tests as an educational tool.

Missing from this debate, however, is a sense of what could replace annual tests. What would the nation do to monitor learning and ensure equity and accountability if states didn’t have to test every child every year?

Here are four possible answers. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, they could all happen at the same time, as different states and districts make different decisions.

1) Sampling. A simple approach. The same tests, just fewer of ’em. Accountability could be achieved at the district level by administering traditional standardized tests to a statistically representative sampling of students, rather than to every student every year.

That’s how the “Nation’s Report Card” works. Formally known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, it’s one of the longest-running and most trusted tests in the U.S. education arsenal, even though it’s not attached to high stakes. It’s given to a different sample of students each year, in grades 4, 8 and 12. The widely respected international test PISA is given to a sample of students too.

Valerie Shute for fsu.com.

Dr. Valerie Shute

2) Stealth assessment. Similar math and reading data, but collected differently.

The major textbook publishers, plus companies like Dreambox, Scholastic and the nonprofit Khan Academy, all sell software for students to practice math and English. These programs register every single answer a student gives.

The companies that develop this software argue that it presents the opportunity to eliminate the time, cost and anxiety of “stop and test” in favor of passively collecting data on students’ knowledge over a semester, year or entire school career. Valerie Shute, a professor at Florida State University and former principal research scientist at ETS, coined the term “stealth assessment” to describe this approach.

Stealth assessment doesn’t just show which skills a student has mastered at a given moment. The pattern of answers potentially offers insights into how quickly students learn, how diligent they are and other big-picture factors.

“Invisible, integrated assessment, to me, is the future,” Kimberly O’Malley, the senior vice president of school research at Pearson Education, told me. “We can monitor students’ learning day to day in a digital scenario. Ultimately, if we’re successful, the need for, and the activity of, stopping and testing will go away in many cases.”

Applying this approach on a national scale using scientific methods has never been done, in part because the products are still new. It would probably require a large outlay in terms of software, professional training and computer equipment — and would result in a corresponding windfall for companies like Pearson.

3) Multiple measures. Incorporate more, and different, kinds of data on student progress and school performance into accountability measures.

Statewide longitudinal data systems now track students in most states from pre-K all the way through high school (and in some states, college). That means accountability measures and interventions don’t have to depend on the outcome of just one test. They could take a big-data approach, combining information from a number of different sources — graduation rates, discipline outcomes, demographic information, teacher-created assessments and, eventually, workforce outcomes. This information, in turn, could be used to gauge the performance of students, schools and teachers over time.

As part of a multiple-measures approach, some districts are also collecting different kinds of information about students.

3a) Social and emotional skills surveys. Research shows that at least half of long-term chances of success are determined by nonacademic qualities like grit, perseverance and curiosity. As states expand access to pre-K, they are including social and emotional measures in their definitions of “high quality” preschool. As one component of a multiple-measures system, all schools could be held accountable for cultivating this half of the picture.

The Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland survey both students and teachers on social and emotional factors and use the results to guide internal decision-making. The district uses the Gallup student poll, a 20-question survey that seeks to measure levels of hope, engagement and well-being.

“Engagement” is basically a measure of how excited students are to be in the building. Last year, 875,000 students took the Gallup poll nationwide, in grades 5-12. According to one study, student hope scores on this poll do a better job of predicting college persistence and GPA than do high school GPA, SATs or ACT scores.

3b) Game-based assessments.

Video-game-like assessments, such as those created by GlassLab and the AAA lab at Stanford, are designed to get at higher-order thinking skills. These games are designed to test things like systems thinking or the ability to take feedback — measures that traditional tests don’t get at. Of course, they are still in their infancy.

3c) Performance or portfolio-based assessments.

Schools around the country are incorporating direct demonstrations of student learning into their assessment programs. These include projects, individual and group presentations, reports and papers and portfolios of work collected over time. The New York Performance Standards Consortium consists of 28 schools, grades 6-12, throughout New York State that rely on these teacher-created assessments to the exclusion of standardized tests. These public schools tend to show higher graduation rates and better college-retention rates, while serving a population similar to that of other urban schools.

4) Inspections.

Scotland is a place where you can see many of the approaches above in action. Unlike the rest of the U.K., it has no specifically government-mandated school tests. Schools do administer a sampling survey of math and literacy, and there is a series of high-school-exit/college-entrance exams that are high stakes for students. But national education policy emphasizes a wide range of approaches to assessment, including presentations, performances and reports. These are designed to measure higher-order skills like creativity, students’ well-being and technological literacy as well as traditional academics. Schools and teachers have a lot of control over the methods of evaluation.

At the school level, Scotland maintains accountability through a system of government inspections that has been in place in the U.K. since 1833. Inspectors observe lessons, look at student work and interview both students and staff members.

This piece is adapted in part from The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed With Standardized Testing, But You Don’t Have To Be (PublicAffairs, 2015).

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via Jim Barlow University of Oregon on December 31, 2014

UO-FSU educators are united in effort to improve reading skills

A common interest in schoolchildren’s reading and comprehension skills has University of Oregon and Florida State University educators working together as a team they jokingly refer to as “the flunatics.”

The group grew gradually, meeting at conferences and online webinars, and became a fluency interest group, said Gina Biancarosa of the UO’s Center on Teaching & Learning and an associate professor in the College of Education.

Biancarosa said she founded the group about five years ago at the urging of Yaacov Petscher, director of the Florida Center for Reading Research at FSU. The idea was to foster collaboration on reading fluency.

“I started the group, with his prodding, because, as we liked to put it, we were ‘flunatics’ — fluency lunatics — and statistics geeks,” said Biancarosa, who grew up in Florida. “With such parallel lines of study, we thought, why not use each other as sounding boards. More seriously, we had a common interest in the measurement of oral reading fluency and fluency in reading component skills, like letter naming or word reading, and in advanced statistical methods.”

Among the members are FSU’s Petscher, Young-Suk Kim, Sara Hart and Deborah Reed and the UO’s Biancarosa, Kelli Cummings, Hank Fien, Mike Stoolmiller, Patrick Kennedy, Joseph Nese and Akihito Kamata.

“Who are the flunatics? We are reading researchers who concern ourselves — perhaps too much — with the questions and issues surrounding student reading competence and the measurement of those skills,” said Cummings, who left the UO in the fall for the University of Maryland.

“We’ve been researching the fidelity with which reading assessments are administered and scored and the impact of that on instructional decision-making,” said FSU’s Reed. “Our partnership began on a conference call that Gina arranged for researchers at various universities who were interested in reading fluency.”

The collaboration has led to numerous journal papers. Coming in January is a special issue on “New Metrics, Measures, and Uses for Fluency Data,” edited by Cummings and Biancarosa in the journal Reading and Writing. In March 2013, Petscher, Cummings, Biancarosa and Fien were editors on the journal’s special issue on “Measurement Issues in the Assessment of Reading Fluency.” A book co-edited by Cummings and Petscher is coming soon.

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via Katherine Mangan The Chronicle of Higher Education on December 3, 2014

One state’s shakeup in remedial education brings a slew of headaches

Enrollments in remedial courses dropped by half at many of Florida’s community and state colleges this fall, but not everyone is cheering. Just as many poorly prepared students are showing up, but thanks to a new state law, many are jumping straight into college-credit classes.

The optional-remediation law is forcing professors in college-level composition classes to spend time on basic sentence structure, while mathematics teachers who were ready to plunge into algebra are going over fractions. It’s also raising questions about how the dwindling number of students who do sign up for remedial classes here will perform when those catch-up lessons in math, reading, and writing are compressed, embedded into credit courses, or offered alongside them.

The shakeup in remedial education, also known as developmental education, is badly needed, most educators in Florida concur. But that’s about all they agree on as they begin to assess the impact in its first year.

Alarmed by the high dropout and failure rates for college students who start out in remedial classes, Florida lawmakers voted last year to make such courses, and even the related placement tests, optional for anyone who entered a Florida public school as a ninth-grader in 2003 or later and earned a diploma. Students who are actively serving in the military can also opt out.

The legislation affects the 28 open-access colleges known as the Florida College System.

“The law is based on the assumption that students know better about what they need,” said Shouping Hu, a professor of higher education and director of the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University. Some faculty members and administrators aren’t so sure, said Mr. Hu, who leads a research team that received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the Florida law’s impact.

Enrollment in remedial classes has dropped by 50 percent or more in some colleges this fall, he said. Many of those students are heading instead to so-called gateway courses, causing headaches for some professors.

“Faculty members in these courses mentioned that they had to do substantial restructuring and alter their instruction strategies because they needed to consider a bigger variation in terms of preparation,” Mr. Hu said.

“They understand that developmental education, as it was offered, wasn’t working and that they needed to do something. But the changes happened quickly and they had little time to prepare.” He said he had no idea yet how many underprepared students might have dropped out this fall after finding themselves in over their heads.

Revamped Options

Across the state, cadres of newly hired advisers are scrambling to encourage students to give their hurriedly revamped remedial classes a try. Refresher classes that used to take 16 weeks are now compressed into eight (one requirement of the state law), and on some campuses, students can tackle their weak spots in modules that zero in on just the skills they’re missing. On some campuses, “corequisite” courses allow students to take a remedial class alongside a credit class.

Some colleges started phasing in the changes last year, but for most, this is the first full semester the changes have been in effect.

The good news, according to Patti Levine-Brown, a professor of communications at Florida State College at Jacksonville and a past president of the National Association for Developmental Education, is that students seem to do just as well on her campus when remedial classes are squeezed from 16 weeks into eight.

But the jury is still out on whether all of the credits transfer from the compressed and tweaked remedial classes when students move on to four-year degree programs, said the Jacksonville college’s provost, Judith Bilsky. That, she said, remains “a major challenge” for the system’s 28 campuses. The concern, Ms. Bilsky said, is that “progression for mobile or transient students isn’t hampered by creative new options for preparing students for college-level work.”

One College’s Challenges

At Miami Dade College, the nation’s largest community college with more than 160,000 students, enrollment in remedial classes has dropped about 40 percent this fall. While the changes have shaken all of the state’s community colleges, they’ve been particularly challenging for Miami Dade, where in the past nearly three-quarters of the college’s students typically needed at least one remedial course, based on the placement tests that students are no longer required to take.

The college’s demographics explain why that figure is much higher than state and nationwide averages, which are closer to 50 percent. Seventy-one percent of Miami Dade’s students are Hispanic, 41 percent call Spanish their main language, and two-thirds are from low-income families. More than half are the first in their families to attend college.

The college hired dozens of additional advisers to counsel students about their options and steer them toward academic-support programs. While the advisers can’t require anyone to start in remedial courses, they’re strongly encouraging some students to do so if their high-school transcripts and test scores look weak.

So are the professors teaching the college-credit courses where many underprepared students are landing. Many instructors are starting the semester with diagnostic examinations that give them an idea of their students’ skill levels. Students who reject their advice that they consider a remedial class first might be required to attend tutoring or computer-lab sessions if the classes call for them.

Asked whether higher-education leaders were likely to appeal to lawmakers for a break from the remediation-optional law, a Miami Dade administrator said that depended on what the data show after another semester.

“Are we inadvertently shutting the door on students who, when given the proper support, can succeed, and instead setting them up for failure?” asked Lenore P. Rodicio, provost for academic and student affairs. If that turns out to be true, “we’ll have a responsibility to inform our legislators that it isn’t working.”

But, she said, “maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised and they’ll say, ‘I told you so.’”

‘Give Them Support’

Remediation reform was a hot topic in Miami this week at Complete College America’s annual gathering of its “Alliance of States.”

The Florida law was influenced by the nonprofit group’s call for making college-level classes the default placement for the vast majority of students. It told state lawmakers that fewer than one in 10 students who start in remedial courses graduate within three years.

But even Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, worried that the Florida law had gone too far. The nonprofit is pushing the corequisite model, which offers remediation alongside of, instead of before, college-level classes, especially for the weakest students.

“Our point has never been to put them in college classes and let them fail,” Mr. Jones said in an interview this week. “Our point is to put them in and give them support.”

Thomas R. Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, agreed. His research has been cited by states eager to cut back on remedial instruction.

“Remediation didn’t work and needed a radical overhaul, but I’m not sure I would have made it voluntary,” Mr. Bailey said during a break in the Miami meeting.

Colleges need to focus on helping faculty members who teach college-level classes and who are now dealing with an even wider range of abilities, he said.

“The challenges of teaching heterogeneous classes aren’t just a Florida problem,” he said. “This is an opportunity to think about this, obviously under stressful conditions.”

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via Bill Edmonds Florida State 24/7 on December 1, 2014

Learning Systems Institute faculty member contributes to U.N. State of the World’s Children report

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Dr. Stephanie Zuilkowski

Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski of Florida State University’s Learning Systems Institute, cautioned educators against using tools developed in the United States to gauge the cognitive development of young children in other cultures in the United Nations’ latest State of the World’s Children report.

Zuilkowski and co-author Günther Fink of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote that many measurement tools, while useful appraisals of the abilities of children in Western nations, may not be valid measures of the abilities of children in other regions, producing misleading results.

The article, “Measuring Child Development Across Cultures” by Zuilkowski and Fink, was one of 60 chosen for the annual report of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“It was a honor to have UNICEF include our article,” Zuilkowski said. “Since its’ founding at the end of World War II, the United Nations has worked to protect children and improve their lives, and that concern includes healthy child development around the world. In our article, we try to raise the awareness of researchers and program managers and explain how measurement tools used in some cultures may not work well in others.”

Zuilkowski, who came to FSU and the Learning Systems Institute in 2013, has experience in educational research several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and she drew upon her work in Zambia for the article.

“I am interested in the creation of culturally and developmentally appropriate tools for use in the evaluation of interventions in the areas of early childhood and school-age health and education,” Zuilkowski said.

In the article, Zuilkowski and Fink relate how tests and measures that may seem simple and direct when used in a U.S. school can be confusing and ineffective when presented to young students in another culture. “For example,” they explain, “one assessment asked children to use scissors, a tool not generally owned by households or used by young children in Zambia.”

Even drawings in books can prove problematic, they wrote, “as the majority of children [in the Zambian study] lived in households without children’s books, and as children often do not begin school until age seven, this type of activity was so novel that many children simply did not respond.”

To address this, the team in Zambia developed new assessments that used stones, beads, toothpicks and other items familiar to Zambian children, rather than two-dimensional representations of objects. The results were dramatically different.

“Just 13 per cent of children would be classified as doing well … on the two-dimensional test,” the researchers reported in the UNICEF article, “while the same would be true for three times as many children” when tested with the three-dimensional objects.

To Zuilkowski, this shows the importance of using culturally appropriate tools for measuring the abilities of children. “Cognitive tests based on two-dimensional images should be avoided to the extent possible, and, if used, interpreted with caution,” according to Zuilkowski and Fink.

In their work in Zambia, Zuilkowski and Fink led a research team that collected a rich set of household data including socioeconomic indicators, health status, and parents’ investment in children’s early development through enrichment activities such as reading together. They are now seeking additional funding to continue that work.

“We hope that a longitudinal study will help to demonstrate the importance of these factors to healthy development,” she said.

A member of the Learning Systems Institute’s faculty, Zuilkowski also is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in FSU’s College of Education.

FSU’s Learning Systems Institute conducts research and development in education and performance improvement in Florida and around the world. LSI also created and maintains CPALMS.org, an online toolbox of information, vetted resources, and interactive tools that helps educators effectively implement teaching standards. CPALMS is the State of Florida’s official source for teaching standards and course descriptions.

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via Colin Creasy Florida State 24/7 on November 24, 2014

Faculty members lauded for service to online education

The Florida State University Office of Distance Learning paid tribute to 17 members of the university community for their service to online education during the 2013-2014 Distance Learning Awards Ceremony on Nov. 14.

Vanessa-Dennen-and-Garnett-Stokes_reference (1)

Dr. Vanessa Dennen

The event, which coincided with National Distance Learning Week, celebrated Florida State instructors’ creative use of technology, effective online teaching methods and high-quality course design, as well as student-mentors’ contributions to the online classroom.

“To develop, teach and support online learning takes competency, consistency and courage,” said Susann Rudasill, director of the Office of Distance Learning. “We’re here to recognize our distance learning developers, instructors and mentors who have been selected as the very best.”

An award for Innovative and Effective Use of Technology, which requires instructors to effect positive change on student learning and motivation through recently implemented technology, was presented to Vanessa Dennen, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems. Dennen’s course, MOOCs and Open Learning, used FSU’s online tools to teach students about massive open online classrooms.

“As I thought about designing and teaching a course on the topic, I realized, ‘What better way to teach it than to actually do it,’” Dennen said. “I created a course in which my students worked with me to design and then deliver a MOOC for an open audience.”

College of Education faculty and staff.

Dr. Joshua Newman

Excellence in Online Course Design awards — honoring quality in instructional materials, learning objectives, assessment strategies, learner interaction and engagement, course technologies, learner support and accessibility — were presented to Joshua Newman, associate professor, Sport Management; Michael Ormsbee, assistant professor, Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science; Christie Koontz, research associate, Information; Andrew Frank, associate professor, History; Melinda Gonzales Backen, assistant professor, Family and Child Sciences; and Ken Baldauf, director, Program in Interdisciplinary Computing, whose work was named “Best in Category” for his course, Introduction to Web Design.

“With online courses, communication becomes the biggest challenge and the most important component,” Baldauf said. “There’s no shortcut to education — engagement is key to bringing students into the material and motivating them and inspiring them to go on to learn more.”

Excellence in Online Teaching awards — recognizing instructors’ effective use of online teaching strategies that engage students as learning partners — were presented to Gang Chen, associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; George Williamson, associate professor, History; Melinda Gonzales Backen, assistant professor, Family and Child Sciences; Andrew Frank, associate professor, History; Michael Ormsbee, assistant professor, Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science; and Vanessa Dennen, associate professor, Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, whose work was named “Best in Category” for her course, MOOCs and Open Learning.

“Students were able to see what they designed and developed in action, and that’s a really rare thing for us,” Dennen said. “We have classes where our students get to design and develop instruction and perhaps pilot test it, but they don’t often get to see it go live with authentic learners and that was the really cool thing about this class. “

Excellence in Online Mentoring awards — acknowledging highly online teaching assistants who show effective strategies for student support and engagement in the course materials and learning environment — were presented to Mireille Magee, Communication Disorders; Malaika Samples, Public Administration and Policy; Charles Blume, Classics; Judy Nunez, Public Administration and Policy; and Bryan Hochstein, Marketing. Honorable Mention in Online Mentoring awards were presented to Casey Chaviano, Family and Child Sciences; Catherine Perez, Sociology; and Stephanie Urena Salas, Sociology.

All Florida State instructors of record and mentors who taught or designed an online course at FSU over the previous year were eligible to be nominated. Submissions were evaluated on quality of design, ability to engage students and effectiveness of technology and online teaching strategies.

“For our second year of granting these awards, we established a robust and rigorous criterion-referenced evaluation process,” Rudasill said. “Our faculty conducted multiple Quality Matters reviews of each course, collected and analyzed course evaluations, and worked with our Awards Review Committee to evaluate all submitted narratives using a randomized, blind review process.”

The nominations were reviewed by ODL Instructional Development Faculty and an Awards Review Committee consisting of past University Teaching and Distance Learning Award recipients including Neil Abell, College of Social Work; Kevin Beaver, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Janet Berry, College of Social Work; William Dewar, College of Arts and Sciences; Susan Fiorito, College of Business; Read Gainsford, College of Music; Jennifer Koslow, College of Arts and Sciences; Gloria Lessan, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy; Sandra Lewis, College of Education; Jorge Piekarewicz, College of Arts and Sciences; Rosemary Prince, College of Applied Studies; Arthur Raney, College of Communication and Information; Lisa Spainhour, College of Engineering; Julie Stierwalt, College of Communication and Information; and Phyllis Underwood, College of Education.

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via Jeffrey Seay Florida State 24/7 on November 10, 2014

Laura Osteen receives Florida State’s 2014 Ross Oglesby Award

Laura Osteen, director of Florida State University’s Center for Leadership and Social Change, was named the 2014 recipient of the Ross Oglesby Award during the Alumni Association’s annual Homecoming Awards Breakfast Saturday, Nov. 8.

The award, which originated in 1973, is given each year by Florida State’s Garnet and Gold Key Leadership Honorary to a faculty or staff member who has, for 10 years or more, exemplified the highest order of integrity, service and commitment to the university and its students.

Osteen said she was honored and humbled to receive the award from Florida State’s “fantastic” students.

“I am honored to be a contribution to the thriving community of FSU, and I am humbled to hold reciprocal relationships with students, colleagues and the men and women at the Center for Leadership and Social Change who teach and guide me daily,” she said.

Osteen, who is respected and popular among Florida State’s students, is an educator and administrator known for her humility and passion to help students succeed, according to Garnet and Gold Key President Sarah Green.

“Dr. Osteen is a huge inspiration to the students of Florida State University, and I am truly blessed to have had her in my own life for the past three-and-a-half years,” said Green, 22, a senior from Pace, Fla., who is majoring in finance and interdisciplinary social science. “She is held in high esteem by students and her peers because the impact she makes in people’s lives is unquantifiable.”

In addition to her duties with the Center for Leadership and Social Change, Osteen is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Higher Education. Her research interests focus on undergraduate change-agent development, and she is a member of the Leadership Identity Development (LID) research team. The LID model is a framework for undergraduate leadership development programs across the country.

Osteen teaches a “Leadership and Complexity” course in the university’s Undergraduate Leadership Studies Certificate Program. In addition, she is a past recipient of the university’s Uphold the Garnet and Gold Award. She is active in the International Leadership Association, Journal of College and Character editorial board, and LeaderShape Incorporated.

Osteen earned a doctorate in college student personnel with an emphasis in leadership development from the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Indiana University, Bloomington.

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via Kathleen Haughney Florida State 24/7 on November 6, 2014

Learning Systems Institute names new director

Interim Provost Sally E. McRorie has named Jeffrey Ayala Milligan as director of the Learning Systems Institute, one of Florida State University’s largest research organizations.

“I am deeply honored by the trust Provost McRorie has expressed in my capacity to lead the Learning Systems Institute,” Milligan said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to guide LSI, which has a long and distinguished record of success in research and development in education, in STEM education, and in learning and human performance.”

Since its start in 1969, LSI has managed research grants and service contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars and has worked in more than 25 countries and partnered with dozens of international institutions.

LSI currently manages 28 projects with a value of $57.7 million. In 2013-2014, it showed a 13.9-to-1 return on the state’s investment in the institute.

“LSI’s economic impact in Tallahassee and Florida is significant,” Milligan said. “We pride ourselves on our efficient use of grant support and taxpayers’ dollars.”

LSI affects PreK-12 education throughout Florida, as it created and manages CPALMS.org. This online toolbox of information, vetted resources and interactive tools helps educators effectively implement teaching standards. CPALMS is the State of Florida’s official source for standards information and course descriptions.

A tenured professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Milligan has been a faculty member for 13 years, teaching and advising students in the philosophy of education.

His interest in international settings reaches back to his Peace Corps service in the Philippines in the early 1980s, and Milligan has in recent years helped reinvigorate LSI’s work in international development. As a result, LSI has active projects in Indonesia, the Philippines and Ethiopia, in addition to an extensive catalog of research related to teaching and learning and significant projects in Florida.

Milligan said he was proud to assume leadership of a research team with such a long and storied past.

“The Learning Systems Institute has a history of national and international service and educational research reaching back more than four decades,” he said. “LSI will continue to grow in these areas of strength as we look to new opportunities where we can bring LSI’s unique expertise and experience to bear to enrich education, learning and performance.”

Milligan has been the recipient of research/creativity grants totaling about $7 million, including two Fulbright Senior Fellowships (Philippines, 1999, and Malaysia, 2006) and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, all for research on education in the Muslim societies of Southeast Asia. He holds a doctorate in the philosophy of education from the University of Oklahoma, and is the author of more than 40 articles, book chapters and reports on the intersection between religion and education in the United States and Muslim Southeast Asia.

Milligan is co-editor of Citizenship, Identity and Education in Muslim Communities: Essays on Attachment and Obligation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and the author of two books: Islamic Identity, Postcoloniality and Educational Policy: Schooling and Ethno-Religious Conflict in the Southern Philippines (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Teaching at the Crossroads of Faith and School: The Teacher as Prophetic Pragmatist (Lanham: University Press of America, 2002).

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via David Purdum ESPN on September 12, 2014

Senator: Leagues staring at defeat

The NCAA and professional sports leagues have battled New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting for more than two years. They have only two weeks to respond to the state’s latest challenge.

Whether the leagues will continue to fight is up for debate.

On Monday, New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman issued a directive that instructed law enforcement to refrain from prosecuting sports betting operations at racetracks and casinos. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also filed a request for clarification from a district court judge. Christie is looking for approval from the court that the state is not violating federal law by decriminalizing sports betting and allowing private entities to regulate and operate sportsbooks.

The leagues have two weeks to respond. U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp has set a hearing for Oct. 6. For now, operating a sportsbook at racetracks or casinos essentially does not violate New Jersey state law.

New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak believes the leagues will not challenge the state’s latest effort and, instead, will attempt to make a deal for a share of the profits from legalized sports betting.

Other state officials, however, disagree with Lesniak and expect the sports leagues to continue to fight.

The NFL, NBA and NHL declined to comment when reached by ESPN. The NCAA and MLB said earlier in the week that they were working on responses.

“They’re staring defeat in the face,” Lesniak told ESPN. “There is no way they’re going to win in court. I expect that they are going to recognize that and offer a deal. And we’re OK with that. Ultimately, before the judge rules, I expect we will have a settlement in hand.”

It would be a landmark settlement that would open doors for widespread legalization of sports betting in the U.S. Other states already have contacted New Jersey regarding sports betting, Lesniak said. Currently, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon are allowed to offer forms of state-sponsored sports betting. But not everyone believes the legal battle is finished.

New Jersey State Sen. Jennifer Beck said Thursday that she is certain the leagues will challenge. Dennis Drazin, an attorney and adviser to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, also remains confident the leagues will keep fighting.

“They absolutely will,” Drazin said. “No question.”

Both Beck and Drazin singled out the NBA as a possible exception, noting commissioner Adam Silver’s recent comments that expanded legalized sports betting is “inevitable” and the league was open to participating in it.

Meanwhile, Monmouth Park, the New Jersey horse track Drazin represents, is moving forward with plans to be a fully operational sportsbook by late October. This week, Drazin sent letters to the leagues informing them Monmouth Park would wait 45 days before starting sports betting Oct. 25. The leagues contacted the state attorney general’s office, which then contacted Drazin’s office to request the 45-day window. Drazin said the request was not unusual and didn’t believe that it signaled the leagues were open to discussions.

Monmouth Park will use the next six weeks to hire and train 111 employees, including five management positions and 30 tellers. The sportsbook will be located in the William Hill Race & Sports Bar at the track. U.K. sportsbook giant William Hill, which also operates sportsbooks in Nevada, has agreed to become Monmouth Park’s exclusive sports betting provider but is taking a wait-and-see approach while the legal proceedings play out.

The Monmouth Park sportsbook will have a betting menu similar to what is offered at Nevada sportsbooks, with a few exceptions. Betting will not be allowed on any games involving Rutgers University or any collegiate games played in New Jersey. Bettors will be allowed to wager on professional teams that play in New Jersey, such as the New York Giants and the New Jersey Devils, Drazin said.

The Department of Justice, which intervened in the case on the side of the leagues, could also have a say in a case that most thought was resolved in June. After New Jersey lost in district court and in a majority decision at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal on June 23. But New Jersey didn’t give up.

Within days of the Supreme Court’s decision, Lesniak introduced and quickly passed a bill with overwhelming support that would repeal any state laws prohibiting sports betting at racetracks and casinos. Christie vetoed the bill Aug. 8 in a move that left some officials scratching their heads. But exactly a month later, while facing a potential veto override and a crumbling casino industry in Atlantic City, Christie and Hoffman issued the directive and filed the motion for clarification from the district court.

“New Jersey’s motion is a legal two-step,” said Dr. Ryan Rodenberg, an assistant professor of sports law at Florida State University, who filed an amicus brief in the state’s appeal to the Supreme Court. “Gov. Christie is asking the district court judge to clarify his earlier injunction or, in the alternative, to modify the injunction consistent with the Third Circuit decision and legal filings proffered by the Department of Justice and the five sports league plaintiffs.

“If the sports leagues opt to respond formally to the recent motion, as they have the right to do, it will be interesting to see if they do so with a unified voice,” Rodenberg added. “Given Adam Silver’s comments last week, the NBA appears to be at a different place on this issue than MLB and the NCAA, for example.”

Lesniak has said he’ll be the first to place a bet, but he’s going to have competition. New Jersey bettors are eager to get started. Some are already planning to be at Monmouth Park as soon as the sportsbook is open.

“They wanted to be there to bet on Sunday,” Beck said.

Griffin Finan, a gaming attorney for Ifrah Law who has followed the case closely, said individual bettors should feel safe relying on the directive and opinion issued by the state attorney general.

“To my knowledge, there has never been a federal prosecution of an individual [bettor] in a context such as this,” Finan said. “In fact, without aggravating circumstances, federal enforcement of sports betting rarely, if ever, ensnares the individual casual Sunday bettor.”

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey declined to comment.

Other states are watching. Minnesota Rep. Phyllis Kahn, who is up for re-election, told ESPN that her staff is writing a bill that would use New Jersey’s approach as a model to pursue legalized sports betting. Kahn plans to introduce the bill in January. In the spring, Mississippi Rep. Richard Bennett put together a task force to see whether legalized sports betting is right for his state.

But for now, all gambling eyes are on New Jersey.

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via Scott Travis Sun Sentinel on September 13, 2014.

Broward College remedial enrollment plummets

The number of students taking remedial classes at Broward College has dropped by half in the past year, but that doesn’t mean they’re suddenly better prepared.

A new state law, effective this fall semester, allows students who have graduated from a Florida high school in recent years to skip non-credit math, reading and English classes and go directly into college-level work. In the past, community college students were automatically enrolled in remedial classes if they scored low on a placement test.

As a result, enrollment in these classes at Broward College plummeted from 9,053 last fall to 4,743 this fall. Other colleges in the state are also seeing big drops, with Palm Beach State College losing 41 percent of its remedial students and Miami Dade College losing about 30 percent.

Broward College officials said they’ve beefed up tutoring and advising to assist these students and have taken other steps to help them succeed. For example, the college offers a new statistics math class where students can get elective credit. About 1,200 students are enrolled in 40 sections, most of whom would have been in remedial classes before. The class is designed for students who are not planning on going into the fields of math or science.

And the college has changed its remedial classes as well.

The semester-long classroom lectures have been replaced with accelerated “boot camps” and computer programs that allow students work at their own pace and focus on their deficiencies. The school also developed a “Massive Open Online Course” or MOOC, where students can learn skills on their own time.

Supporters say before the new law, many students got stuck in remedial classes and dropped out before taking college-level classes. Broward College’s graduation rate is about 32 percent.

“I believe this is going to serve students better,” Provost Linda Howdyshell said. “The data shows the longer students are in college, the less likely they are to complete.”

But there are also concerns that many students are going to end up failing because they’re not ready for college-level work.

“Unfortunately, if they don’t know the basics, they probably won’t have a lot of success, and that makes me nervous,” said Juliet Carl, a math professor at Broward College. “It’s like saying you’re going to skip elementary school and go straight to middle school.

Remedial colleges have been mandatory for struggling students at community colleges since 1984. Math is the most common area of weakness.

The non-credit classes are still required for out-of-state or international students, or those who graduated before 2007, if they don’t score well on the placement test.

Although students no longer have to take placement tests, advisers look at their high school transcript and recommend remedial classes if their grade point average or high school test scores are low, Howdyshell said.

Wendy Jean-Francois, 20, could have opted out but decided to take a college-prep math class at Broward College’s campus in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

“I’m not really good at math, and I haven’t done it in a long time,” said Jean-Francois, who graduated high school in 2013. “I think a college-level math class would be tough.”

College officials are anxious to see what kind of results the new policy will have. Shouping Hu, an education professor at Florida State University, has received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study remedial education at the state’s 28 community colleges. He’ll have access to data for students taking remedial classes as well as those opting out.

“This is the most significant state law affecting developmental education that we are aware of anywhere in the country,” Hu said. “Because of its sweeping nature, it is critical that we begin documenting and evaluating its impact from the very beginning so that the state legislatures and educational leaders here in Florida and other states have credible and timely evidence to further improve educational policies and practices.”

Hu said he doesn’t yet know if the huge drop in remedial enrollment is good or bad.

“It really depends on who opts out,” he said. “Research shows that when borderline students are in developmental education, it can hinder their progress” by delaying graduation.

More academically deficient students who opt out may end up struggling and would be better served with remedial classes, he said.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis Florida State 24/7 on September 11, 2014.

Two professors elected fellows of American Psychological Association

Two Florida State University professors from the College of Education have been elected to fellow status in the American Psychological Association.

Steven Pfeiffer, professor and coordinator of the counseling psychology/school psychology combined Ph.D. program, and James Sampson, professor and associate dean for faculty development and administration, were recognized for work that has made a national impact on the field of psychology and shown evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance.

“I was delighted to be elected to fellow status by the Division for Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts of the American Psychological Association,” said Pfeiffer. “This was an especially gratifying honor because of my recent research and writing in the areas of creativity, emotional intelligence and strengths of the heart.”

Pfeiffer’s research with gifted and high-ability children has been highly acclaimed in academia. He became a faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at Florida State in 2003, and is already a fellow of the APA Divisions of Psychotherapy, Child, Youth and Family Services, and School Psychology.

Sampson, the Mode L. Stone Distinguished Professor of Counseling and Career Development in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, joined the Florida State faculty in 1982. His research focuses on the examination and improvement of career development and computer applications in counseling and guidance. He has presented or consulted in 26 countries and has received several awards throughout his career.

With nearly 130,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members, the APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.

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via Amy Farnum-Patronis Florida State 24/7  on September 4, 2014.

Majority of racial gap in college completion rates attributed to pre-college characteristics

A study co-authored by a Florida State University researcher found that more than 60 percent of the racial gap in college completion rates is attributable to pre-college characteristics, such as economic status and academic preparation.

Toby Park, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies in the College of Education and associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State, collaborated on the research paper, “The Racial College Completion Gap: Evidence from Texas,” with Stella Flores, professor at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.

The Civil Rights Project at University of California, Los Angeles (CRP) commissioned the research paper. Flores presented the findings at a higher education research and policy briefing, “Do Higher Ed Accountability Proposals Narrow Opportunity For Minority Students and Minority-Serving Institutions?” for congressional staff, policymakers, advocates, researchers and news media Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C.

“The main message is that college completion is not just a postsecondary story as upwards of 61 percent of the racial college completion gap can be explained by pre-college characteristics,” Park said. “That’s not to say that postsecondary education is off the hook when it comes to accountability, but rather to suggest that the college completion story is more complicated and nuanced than could be captured by simply comparing graduation rates amongst colleges.”

CRP organized the forum in response to recent proposed reforms of accountability in postsecondary education that would compare colleges along such metrics as graduation rates and job placement success, which could “disproportionately harm low-income and minority students and the colleges that serve them.”

Using a combination of state administrative data from Texas along with select national datasets, the researchers examined how racial gaps in college completion rates are associated with both the pre-college characteristics of students and the institutional characteristics of the colleges and universities they attend.

The analysis was based upon a comprehensive dataset from Texas, which indicated a substantial majority of the influence on graduation rates is accounted for by differences in things that happened before college that shape students’ lives — such as family resources, academic preparation and community context — and that the key non-college factors may well differ for communities of color.

CRP’s mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 14 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country.

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via Kathy Guthrie NASPA on August 26, 2014

FOCUS AUTHOR KATHY GUTHRIE TALKS ABOUT HER JCC ARTICLE

Focus Author: Kathy L. Guthrie, Associate Professor, Florida State University
Article in Journal of College and Character: “Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies: An Opportunity for Seamless Learning” 15(1), February 2014 (With Becka Bovio, Trinity University)
More About: K. Guthrie

In my Journal of College and Character article, my co-author and I shared the complexities of creating opportunities for students to engage in seamless learning. We shared how an Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies provides such an opportunity, but not without challenges. I hope you will join me in further exploring seamless learning and leadership education. I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Complexities of Creating True Seamless Learning Environments

In higher education, the collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs is a constant topic of conversation. If we are always talking about it, what is it and why is it such a difficult concept to master? Why is it that people working at the same institution with the same students have such different perspectives on what and how things should be done? How can the culture of working with students both inside and outside of the classroom be so different? The student affairs field has been discussing how to work with academic affairs since the beginning. In the 1937 Student Personnel Point of View coordination of within an institution, for example academic affairs and business affairs, dominates the conversation. However, I propose that we should be past mere coordination, and even collaboration. Instead the conversation should be around integrated learning and how to create a seamless learning environment for students. This environment should embrace a continuous transitions between in-the-classroom and out-of-the-classroom in all forms.

Seamless learning exists when students are able to engage both within and outside of the classroom experiences that contribute to overall engagement, growth, and learning. The Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies at Florida State University is just one example of how a partnership between academic affairs and student affairs may work to create this type of learning environment. As discussed in the article, the cer­tificate incorporates various experiences from which students can glean and retain leadership theory and practice both within and outside of the classroom. The seamless learning exhibited in the certificate contributes to the success of the program in a way that simply academic or cocurricular programs cannot achieve independently.

While I have searched for other examples of seamless learning environments, I have found very few that truly exemplify this concept. Living-learning communities often say they provide this type of environment, but it does not show up in its entirety operationally. Are there seamless learning environments that truly exemplify this concept that you know of? I would love to hear more about them!

Another beneficial aspect of the certificate is the unique funding model of the program. In 2008, after a handful of students had been awarded academic certificates, the university administration determined the necessity of a full-time coordinator for the program. The Center for Leadership and Social Change provided funding to create this faculty position; however, the position was best situated within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Therefore, a full-time, tenure-track faculty position was created in the College of Education, but funded through the Division of Student Affairs. While this funding struc­ture may appear somewhat unconventional, this unique administrative position has contributed, in part, to the seamless model for leadership education at Florida State University. The certificate’s full-time faculty member works in the College of Education within academic affairs, yet also has an office in The Center for Leadership and Social Change within student affairs. Additionally, the Graduate Teaching Assistants are funded by the College of Education, but have offices in the Center.

As mentioned in the article, one of the major barriers for the Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies was funding. Funding is still a challenging and complex issue that plagues this program. In tough budget times, this is bound to continue as a challenge. We have slightly altered our funding model to help self-fund the program by teaching an introduction to leadership theory course online, which charges a minimal fee, which then comes back to the certificate program. Even though the faculty coordinator is fully funded through the Division of Student Affairs, she is situated full-time in the Col­lege of Education, which is her “tenure home.” Current funding is a combination of volunteer instructors, doctoral students teaching for credit, and a small number of instructors who obtain a small stipend for teaching one semester.

Now that we have been developing the certificate for six years and have over 115 graduates, we are about to embark on a research project to better understand sustained learning outcomes. While we measure learning outcomes of current courses right after their completion, we are looking to explore if the Leadership Certificate has sustained influence and if knowledge, skills, and values learned in LDR classes show up in their workplace years after they have graduated. Beyond measuring learning outcomes of graduates, what other things are readers curious about in regards to the Leadership Certificate and leadership education in regards to creating seamless learning environments?

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via Janell Ross National Journal on August 25, 2014.

Why Is Florida Ending Remedial Education for College Students?

Starting this fall, academically underprepared students at Florida’s public universities no longer have to take classes designed to help them catch up.

Back when remedial education was popular in policy circles, it was seen as a way to help those students most at risk of dropping out of college. Instead of immediately finding themselves overwhelmed after arriving at college academically underprepared, students could get up to speed through remedial courses offered side-by-side with traditional college classes. In the last few years, however, critics have begun to question whether remedial classes solved any problems or instead created more of their own, as the share of students required to spend valuable financial-aid funds and time on zero-credit courses that brought them no closer to a degree expanded.

Questions about the usefulness of remedial education have led some states to chip away at the public funding and infrastructure that make it possible for many students to enroll in remedial college courses. And in Florida, remedial education itself may soon disappear.

In Florida this fall, a new law will force all of the state’s public colleges and universities to presume that all students who graduated from a Florida public high school after 2004 are academically prepared for college. Public colleges in Florida will have the option of assessing a student’s academic standing using tests, high school GPAs, and other measures—and they may advise students with limited skills to take remedial classes. In the end, though, students themselves will decide whether they want to enroll in remedial classes or enter directly into introductory courses.

Across the country, states spend an estimated $2.3 billion each year providing remedial, no-credit college courses, according to a 2008 analysis released by Strong American Schools. “Developmental education is absolutely huge,” says Toby Park, an assistant professor at Florida State University who studies education policy and economics…

To continue reading, click here.

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via Inside Higher Ed on August 6, 2014.

Study Questions Critique of Graduation Rates at Minority Institutions

New research from professors at Florida State and Vanderbilt Universities questions the assumption that minority students will be less likely to graduate at minority-serving than at predominantly white institutions. The study acknowledges graduation rates are lower, on average, for black students at historically black colleges and universities and Latino students Hispanic-serving institutions than for the same groups at other colleges and universities. But when the scholars controlled for such factors as student educational background and institutional resources, they found that graduation rates were comparable. The scholars who did the research are Stella Flores, associate professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt, and Toby Park, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Florida State.

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via the Institute of Global Engagement on July 31, 2014.

JULY FAITH & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS CONFERENCE CALL
Religion & Education – The Role of Faith Communities in Global Education

Dr. Helen N. Boyle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University. Her research focuses on education in developing country contexts, with a particular emphasis on Islamic educational institutions in North and West Africa and the Middle East. On this call, callers heard Dr. Boyle discuss the latest research on Islamic schools in Nigeria. Private providers of education, including faith-inspired schools, are vital to the achievement of development goals, including increased enrollment of girls. Such schools are also increasingly relevant to the growing challenges of inter-religious conflict and violence.

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via Bill Kauffman USA Volleyball on June 18, 2014.

USAV Recognized as NGB for Sitting Volleyball

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 18, 2014) – USA Volleyball has been officially designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) for the Paralympic sport of sitting volleyball in the United States. The proposal by USA Volleyball to be recognized as such was approved by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors at its June 6 meeting.

USA Volleyball’s Board of Directors approved submission of the proposal to the USOC at its May 22-23 Board of Directors meeting in Phoenix.

“This is a wonderful move for USA Volleyball,” said Doug Beal, CEO for USA Volleyball. “I applaud the decision by both our Board and the USOC’s to approve this initiative. I very much want to thank the USOC for formalizing this relationship. I also appreciate the unanimous support of our Board and the leadership of Cecile Reynaud who led the committee responsible for evaluating and recommending this action for USAV Board approval.”

Bill Hamiter, director of USA Volleyball Sitting Team Programs and the head coach for the women’s sitting national team, believes the agreement will stimulate the growth of sitting volleyball in the United States to even greater levels.

“For all our athletes, they are really looking at it like we have a place that we really belong,” Hamiter said. “Even though USA volleyball has always brought us in and made us feel like part of the family, now we really are part of the family. For the program that means long-term stability and hopefully helps us to continue to build both programs where we can continue to get those athletes in so we can continue to have successful athletes for years to come.”

Beal said this NGB recognition builds upon USA Volleyball’s commitment to the Sitting Team Programs in the short and long term.

“We have been committed to the Sitting Team programs, their growth and their success, and this recognition will further enhance our objectives,” Beal said.

The formalization of USA Volleyball as the NGB for Sitting Team Programs will also help build awareness for the sport across the country and add to the program support our 40 Regional Volleyball Associations are currently providing for the sitting discipline in the sport of volleyball.

“I think USA Volleyball becoming the NGB for sitting volleyball is a step in the direction that all Paralympic sports need to go in and are going in,” said Katie Holloway, two-time Paralympic silver medalist and current member of the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team. “USA Volleyball is a leader in that, and I expect a lot of great things to come of it – awareness about the sitting game, excitement around the game, talent ID as a resource, or just plain being a part of the USA Volleyball officially. I feel very humbled that USA Volleyball would really take us on and ultimately be the leader in volleyball in the United States.”

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via Monica Vendituoli USA Today on November 21, 2013.

Are you a college ‘stopout?’ New study says you might be
Florida State study of 38,000 community college students — which make up 45% of undergraduates — found 94% “stopout” at least once.

Stories on famous college dropouts like Lady Gaga, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg are commonplace. So is “stopout.”

“Stopouts” drop out of college, then re-enroll.

Toby Park, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at Florida State University, recently studied 38,000 community college students in Texas who first enrolled in 2000.

Park found among community college students — which make up 45% of undergraduates — 94% stopout at least once.

Celeste Brewer, now in her fourth semester at Miami Dade College, stopped out of both the University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College. Working took precedence over studying.

“If I was offered work, then I would skip class because I had to pay my bills,” Brewer says.

Brewer’s is an unusual case because she was able to bounce back after stopping out twice. Park found that 76% of the students who completed a degree stopped out only once.

Carla Powers, a third-year student at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, has witnessed stop out many times in her family.

“Financial aid is probably the biggest thing right now. People don’t get a lot of support on campus,” Powers says.

She is in the first group of students at McLennan to take part in the Learning Environment Adaptability Project (LEAP), a program that hopes to increase retention through classes on college success strategies.

Andrew Cano, a LEAP program instructor, has found that in addition to financial needs, self-management abilities factor into whether students stop out.

“If they can’t create goals for themselves … it’s an indicator that they are not going to do well in college,” Cano says.

Other college retention programs focus on creating relationships between students and schools.

Scott BonDurant, manager of college success programs at 10,000 Degrees, a nonprofit that helps low income students attend college, has found that continuing to mentor high school students in college also reduces stopout.

“Even more important than academic preparation is getting to the students as young as possible,” BonDurant says.

Mentoring and personal relationships were what kept Tim Semonich, now a junior at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., enrolled at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem on his second try.

Semonich dropped out his first semester, thinking that college wasn’t for him. After working for two years, he decided to give college a second chance.

“The second time, I put more effort in and made connections with professors and deans,” Semonich says.

The more he got involved with school activities, such as speech team and student government, the more he enjoyed it. Semonich later went on to earn a full scholarship to Moravian.

Students who stopout and never return are costly. Taxpayers spent nearly $4 billion from 2004 to 2009 on community college students who dropped out after their first year.

In addition, federal and state governments spent more than $9 billion on students who left school before their sophomore year at four-year colleges from 2003 to 2008.

Chelsea Malcolm, a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., stopped out for a year. She says it has been difficult adjusting to going back to school.

“A lot of people will be like ‘You dropped out,’ but I’m like, ‘I came back,’ ” Malcolm says.

Malcolm is very happy though she got a second chance. Brewer is glad she also got a third chance.

College finally clicked for Brewer in the summer of 2012 when she enrolled in the aviation administration program at Miami Dade.

“On paper, I am a failure as a college student. But I don’t feel that way. I learned from the past and learned to embrace it,” she says.

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via Paul Fain Inside Higher Ed on November 15, 2013.

Third Try Isn’t the Charm

Community college students face long odds of eventually earning a bachelor’s degree. And those odds get worse if they leave college more than once along the way.

That is the central finding of a new study that tracked the progress of 38,000 community college students in Texas. Toby J. Park, an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at Florida State University, conducted the research. His working paper was presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education in St. Louis.
The group of students he studied first enrolled in 2000. Among them, fully 94 percent “stopped out” of college at least once, by experiencing a “period of non-enrollment.”

Most of the students returned to their studies, according to the paper, which is titled “Stop-Out and Time for Work: An Analysis of Degree Trajectories for Community College Students.” More than 20,000, or 72 percent, of the cohort came back to some Texas college in the sample, which used data from the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the state’s comptroller.

Even students who eventually earned a bachelor’s degree were likely to spend time away from college. Only 13 percent of the 6,200 four-year degree-holders in the sample did not stop out.

However, the study found that 76 percent of those degree completers took only one break from college. After stopping out after a second time, the percentage of returning students completing a bachelor’s degree decreases substantially.
“If you leave twice,” Park said, “you’re not going to come back.”

Park could only guess at the reasons why. But he said a second stop-out could be indicative of “systematic barriers” to a student ever earning a bachelor’s degree, as opposed to the initial problems of adjustment and “exploration” for a first-time community college student.

The study found some variation among racial and ethnic groups. Interestingly, a second departure appears to be less of a problem for Hispanic students in the study, who nonetheless had relatively low graduation rates.

“The Hispanic population does come back and stay enrolled,” said Park.

The study did not factor in associate-degree completion, Park said. As a result, some students who graduated from community college are listed as dropouts in the below chart. And “graduation” in the study refers only to successfully earned bachelor’s degrees. (The term “censored” in the chart is for students who were still enrolled.)

Two-year degrees can be a final destination for students, experts have found, and one that leads to good-paying jobs. Park said he hopes to include associate degrees in future iterations of his analysis.

‘Work Less, Study More’

There are many reasons why community college students stop or drop out. A common one is that many work while they go to college, often holding down full-time jobs.

Park’s study looked at the impact of wages on whether students earned a bachelor’s degree. He found that a raise can be bad news, at least when it comes to academics. And that negative impact on educational outcomes is disproportionate, Park said, particularly on graduation rates.

“While a percent increase in wages has a roughly 4 percent effect on the odds of stopping out,” according to the study, “we see a whopping 13 percent decrease in the odds of graduation.”

Not working isn’t an option for many community college students, as the study notes. But the “work less and study more” model clearly pays off for students who want to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree.

“While many factors influence overall success, it appears that those students who are working while continuously enrolled experience lower rates of academic success,” the study said. “Put differently, these students are working hard for the degree, yet not succeeding in attaining it.”

In his paper, Park argues that policy makers and education experts should consider using data about financial aid and wages to “provide a more complete picture of the college completion process for community college students.”

That picture is bleak. Nationwide, only one in four community college students earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, the study said. Likewise, 84 percent of the students in the Texas sample failed to earn a bachelor’s in six years, although 21 percent of those students were still enrolled in college.

When community college students in the study successfully transferred to a four-year institution, they were more likely to stay enrolled. They also were able to better weather a stop-out period.

“Perhaps those students successful in transfer are able to ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel’ in terms of degree completion,” the study said. “The successful transition between the two and four-year sectors, it appears, is important not only in graduating students, but also in keeping students in the pipeline toward eventual graduation.”

Park chart

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via Sarah D. Sparks Education Week on January 3, 2013.

How Can School Systems Continue to Improve? IES to Find Out

The Institute of Education Sciences is getting a lot of support for its proposal to go beyond research on “what works” in education to explore the process of how schools in different contexts can continue to improve over time.

Back in October, I reported that the Education Department’s research arm was asking for input about a proposed new education research program covering “continuous improvement research in education.” It’s obvious IES really wants to make this new topic a centerpiece in the coming year. In addition to the standard requests for comment, IES Director John Q. Easton personally reached out to top researchers in the learning sciences field—Chris Dede, a professor of learning technologies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Stephen Raudenbush, the chairman of the University of Chicago’s committee on education, Douglas Fuchs, a special education professor at Vanderbilt University, and Bror Saxberg, the chief learning officer of Kaplan, Inc., among them—all of whom seemed enthusiastic about the new topic.

“If taken to the extreme, school improvement is reduced to regarding schools as purchasers of outside interventions validated by research done by an ‘FDA’ of education,” Raudenbush writes. “While I do believe we can and should learn an enormous amount from interventions … This won’t produce the broad changes we need and could even distract. More systemic change is needed within schools and districts. Good information can play a central role.”

Likewise, writing on behalf of the Knowledge Alliance, which represents research organizations, President Michele McLaughlin says the focus on implementation research is needed because “even the most cutting-edge practices, built on high-quality research and proven through rigorous testing, will have little measurable impact on teaching and learning if not properly implemented.”

However, several researchers ask for more guidance on how to show evidence of improvement in a system when working outside the box of a tightly controlled experimental design. “In this [proposal], interventions, programs, practices, etc., will be developed, in vivo, in the existing system, with less control over fidelity,” says Deanne Crone, a co-principal investigator of the Middle School Intervention Project at the University of Oregon. “It is likely the impact on outcomes of interest will be muted under those circumstances.”

Saxberg, however, argues that IES’s proposed method for study, including frequent cycles of short-term testing and tweaking, will actually give much better insight into the effectiveness of programs and interventions in real classrooms. “One of the problems now is that it is quite hard to learn from either success or failure at scale in systems—even if a study of a major instructional change is well-enough designed to see if it is successful or not, that’s not enough,” he says. “We want to know WHY something well-founded worked—and especially, why something well-founded did NOT work, in order to carry on improving. Doing smaller changes, more quickly, allows a build-up of principles that work—and also a much clearer appreciation of interaction effects between elements….”

While commenters generally approve of the new research area, IES’s proposed funding was another matter. The almost-universal consensus, particularly among researchers already working with interagency partnerships, was that the proposed $1.5 million over four years for each grant was “far too low.” Patrice Iatarola, an associate professor of education policy and evaluation at Florida State University breaks it down: “$1.5 million over four years isn’t going to effectively cover cross-institutional partnerships, especially when overhead costs are taken into account—at a modest estimate of 40 percent, this leaves just $900,000 or $225,000 per year. How many investigators, research assistants, etc., will be covered by this? Perhaps not enough to really fund the ‘plan, do, study, act’ cycle that is the goal of the program.”

William Penuel, an educational psychology and learning sciences professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, goes even farther, calling for IES to support the new grants at $7 million to $15 million each, about the same level the research agency does for evaluations of signature policy initiatives such as Reading First.

But Jon Baron, president of the Washington-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, notes that it is possible to arrange low-cost experiments to evaluate district reforms. For example, he notes that under a separate IES grant, a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was able to evaluate the effectiveness of quarterly benchmark assessments in 59 districts for less than $100,000.

Many in the field ask that IES broaden the topics available for study, with many arguing in favor of including districts’ implementation of the Common Core State Standards. For example, Kenji Hakuta, a co-chair of Sanford University’s Understanding Language Steering Committee, wrote on behalf of the committee that efforts to support English-language learners during implementation of the common core would be a prime opportunity for districts and researchers to work together.

A detailed online analysis by Michael Goldstein, founder of the MATCH Charter School in Boston, praises IES for including a focus on “the single biggest issue facing high-poverty schools: Creating a safe, orderly and supporting learning climate for students….” However, he and other commenters warn that IES will have to pay careful attention to whether researchers and practitioners are really working together closely, rather than the “much more typical … ‘fake’ collaboration where the researchers know what they want to do and just want a ‘practitioner sign-off.'”

Penuel agrees, recommending that IES require, not just letters of commitment from researchers, district leaders and other stakeholders, but evidence of governance processes for the collaboration to ensure all sides continue to work together throughout the project.

Increasing the speed at which studies turn around results could also help draw new researchers, notes Kaplan’s Saxberg; testing and tweaking small details multiple times a year might improve the “papers-per-year productivity” many young researchers must show, he writes.

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via NASPA.org – August 20, 2012

Dr. Robert Schwartz, ELPS, was elected/selected to be a Faculty Fellow for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Since this group was established, the executive director of NASPA has stated that the Faculty Fellows will be the “voice” of faculty within NASPA.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. NASPA serves a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of our colleges and universities. Founded in 1919, NASPA comprises more than 13,000 members in all 50 states, 29 countries, and 8 U.S. Territories. For more information, visit: www.naspa.org.

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Gerry Broome, AP

via Greg Toppo USA Today on July 10, 2012

School is too easy, kids report. 

Millions of kids simply don’t find school very challenging, a new analysis of federal survey data suggests. The report could spark a debate about whether new academic standards being piloted nationwide might make a difference.

The findings, out today from the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that champions “progressive ideas,” analyze three years of questionnaires from the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national test given each year.

Among the findings:
•37% of fourth-graders say their math work is “often” or “always” too easy;
•57% of eighth-graders say their history work is “often” or “always” too easy;
•39% of 12th-graders say they rarely write about what they read in class.

Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the center who co-wrote the report, said the data challenge the “school-as-pressure-cooker” image found in recent movies such as Race to Nowhere. Although those kids certainly exist at one end of the academic spectrum, Boser said, “the broad swath of American students are not as engaged as much in their schoolwork.”

Robert Pondiscio of the Core Knowledge Foundation, a Virginia non-profit that pushes for more rigorous academics, says the pressure-cooker environment applies only to a “small, rarefied set” of high school students. The notion that “every American kid is going home with a backpack loaded with 70 pounds of books — that’s not happening.”

The data suggest that many kids simply aren’t pushed academically: Only one in five eighth-graders read more than 20 pages a day, either in school or for homework. Most report that they read far less.

“It’s fairly safe to say that potentially high-achieving kids are probably not as challenged as they could be or ought to be,” Boser said.

The center supports new Common Core standards that are to be implemented nationwide in the 2014-15 school year. The standards, adopted by 45 states, are meant to be “robust and relevant to the real world,” giving schools “a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn,” according to the initiative.

Gladis Kersaint, a math education professor at the University of South Florida and a board member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said she’s not surprised by the findings. “I think we underestimate students,” she said.

The push for higher standards — and students’ willingness to meet those standards — “suggests that they’re ready to be more challenged in math classes,” she said. “Hopefully this can be a motivator for teachers to say, ‘Yes, we’re moving in the right direction.’ ”

Florida State University English education professor Shelbie Witte, a former classroom teacher, said standardized tests limit material teachers can cover. “The curriculum is just void of critical thinking, creative thinking,” she said. As a result, students are “probably bored, and when they’re bored, they think the classes are easy.”

Witte, who trains teachers, said both their conception and their students’ conception of school have been heavily influenced by testing. “That’s what they think school is, and that’s really a shame,” she said.

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via Learning Systems Institute on March 14, 2012

New grant aims to improve charter schools

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is a hotbed of charter school growth. Just under 12 percent of Florida’s public schools are charter schools – the highest percentage of any state, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Yet despite increasing in number, teachers and principals at these schools continue to face unique challenges, including how to connect with one another when they are scattered across some 450 campuses from the Panhandle to the Keys.

But there’s good news in store for charter school educators: Experts at the Florida State University Schools (FSUS) and the university’s Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM) are building an online community especially for them. Designed to support curriculum, instruction and assessment, the community will be integrated into the popular CPALMS system, the official online source for state K-12 education standards and course information built by FCR-STEM.

The project is made possible by a $500,000, two-year grant from the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to FCR-STEM and FSUS, a K-12 school sponsored by Florida State. Known informally as “Florida High,” FSUS is both a charter and a developmental research school. As such, said FSUS Director Lynn Wicker, it’s in a perfect position to build bridges among charter educators.

FSUS Director Lynn Wicker

“This can bring all of those charter schools together,” said Wicker, principal investigator on the project. “It really won’t matter where you are geographically in the state: You’ll have the same access to the same resources.”

Although charter school educators can tap into the same professional development and technical assistance offered to all state teachers and principals, the “CPALMS Charter” community will provide additional tools and resources specific to their needs, as well as a convenient way to collaborate and communicate across district lines, explained Wicker.

“They can see that other people are having the same challenges and share solutions,” said Wicker, a former associate dean at the College of Education.

CPALMS Charter will provide complete access to the open CPALMS platform, home to a rapidly growing array of tools, products and resources for educators that attracts more than 10,000 visitors a day. Like CPALMS, CPALMS Charter will connect its educators with professional development and peer support, and feature resources such as video demonstrations, apps to plan courses, and discussion boards and blogs for sharing ideas.

The project aims to increase the number of charter schools designated by the state as “high performing,” which currently stands at 104. This would, in turn, benefit charter school students, whose ranks have swelled since 1996, when charter schools were first authorized in Florida.

“The goal of this grant is to increase the teachers’ and leaders’ skills and proficiency and knowledge,” said Wicker. “That is going to ultimately increase student achievement. So it’s always, always tied back to student achievement.”

“This project is a perfect fit for CPALMS,” said Rabieh Razzouk, manager for the larger CPALMS project and associate director of Florida State’s Learning Systems Institute, which oversees FCR-STEM. Thanks to recent multi-million dollar grants from the Florida DOE and the National Science Foundation, both CPALMS and iCPALMS, an online platform integrated with CPALMS, are undergoing ambitious expansion. The FSUS project illustrates how CPALMS can serve as a platform for other projects seeking to leverage CPALMS’ wealth of resources and powerful, cutting-edge functionality.

“This great partnership benefits more than just charter school educators,” said Razzouk, a co-principal investigator on CPALMS Charter. “It will also support educators across the country who are increasingly visiting CPALMS for resources that have been reviewed and are aligned with standards in use in Florida and most other states.”

Vanessa Dennen, associate professor at the College of Education, is also on the project team as a co-principal investigator. In addition, an advisory board of experts from Florida State and other institutions will provide guidance to the project team.

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via Libby Fairhurst FSU News on March 2012

FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH ADHD, SELF-HELP BOOK HAS BOTH STYLE, SUBSTANCE

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. For young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), successfully navigating their college days and early careers can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task.

Fortunately, self-help is on the way from Florida State University in a concise, straightforward guide tailored to fit the individual learning styles of its target audience while helping them manage their lives.

Available on Amazon.com

Already flying off the online shelves at Amazon.com, the book, “Succeeding with Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life,” was written by educational psychology Professor Frances Prevatt of the Florida State University College of Education. Prevatt serves as executive director of the Adult Learning Evaluation Center (ALEC) at Florida State, which specializes in the assessment of college students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

“I’d been working with college students who have ADHD for so long and had collected so many great ideas that I really wanted to write about it,” said Prevatt, who coauthored the book with her former graduate student Abigail Levrini. “The result is that our self-help book incorporates proven research with innovative features to deliver a truly unique resource.”

Most of the information in the book is based on Prevatt and Levrini’s extensive research at the ALEC, which provides affordable psycho-educational evaluations for adults with learning disabilities such as ADHD. Over the past decade there, Prevatt has supervised the evaluations of about 2,000 college students and developed an ADHD coaching program.

It’s not your average self-help book, according to Prevatt. Instead, “Succeeding with Adult ADHD” contains interactive features, such as worksheets and checklists that aim to make the content uniquely practical and interesting for individuals with ADHD.

“Individuals with ADHD have a difficult time reading, focusing and staying attentive,” Prevatt said. “They tend not to like reading books. They can’t remember things. They get bored easily. Unfortunately, many self-help books are hard to read.

“In contrast,” said Prevatt, “my coauthor and I think there are several novel aspects of our book.”

Each chapter begins with a brief list of yes-or-no questions that seek to draw readers in and help them discern immediately whether that particular chapter is relevant to their own needs.

“For example, the chapter on study skills asks, ‘Are the notes you take not very helpful later on? Do you read a chapter several times without it sinking in? Do you study for tests but your mind goes blank when it’s time to recall the information?’” Prevatt said.

The book’s chapters are broken down into short sections readable in 10 minutes or less, and start-and-stop graphics encourage the student to read just one section at a time.

Each chapter also includes a “real-life story” of an individual that illustrates both the difficulties encountered in living with ADHD and how that individual overcame them.

“Real-life research informs this book, but we present it in a very colloquial, interesting way,” Prevatt said. “There are lots of checklists, tips and activities interspersed throughout each chapter, so one doesn’t get bogged down with reading and remembering for very long without a break that involves active interaction.”

For those students for whom graduation looms, the most important chapter may be the one on finding a job compatible with their particular ADHD symptoms.

A one-page chart offers a list of about 20 characteristics or behaviors that describe positive work behaviors –– e.g., “I’m honest” or “I don’t give up easily.” First, the reader circles those that characterize him or her. The next page has a list of attributes that might be problematic –– for example, “I don’t like someone telling me what to do” or “I forget to show up for meetings.” After noting which of those traits apply, the third step takes the reader through a worksheet that solicits past history, skills andpersonality characteristics. Finally, readers are guided through the process of creating a “job match” profile.

“You can manage your life if you have ADHD,” Prevatt said. “There’s no cure, but our extensive research and clinical experience has shown that there are proven, practical paths to better coping skills and success.”

Prevatt said the research on ADHD over the past 10 years has been “explosive.”

“We know so much more now than we knew back in the ‘90s,” she said. “One big development is the focus on ‘executive functioning impairment’ as the basis for ADHD. Our book explains in layman’s terms what this means and how you can use that model to understand your behaviors and make changes. We also know more about how ADHD in adults and college students differs from ADHD in children. Much of the early work focused more on hyperactivity, but ADHD in adults is manifested very differently, so the treatment strategies need to be different.”

Recent research also has focused on the extremely high rate at which mental health issues occur concurrently with ADHD –– most often depression or anxiety. In addition, researchers now better understand the neuropsychology of drugs prescribed to treat ADHD, including why they work, how they work, how to deal with side effects, and how complicated it can be to find both the right drug and the right dosage.

These days, said Prevatt, understanding adult ADHD and intervening effectively is about not only knowing the symptoms (inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity) but also recognizing the specific impairments –– among them poor driving, losing one’s job, difficulty managing relationships, or an inability to manage finances.

For more information on “Succeeding with Adult ADHD: Daily Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Manage Your Life,” visit the American Psychological Association website.

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via City Beat Blog on March 6, 2012 

Mayor: Sacramento ‘on the verge of doing something very special’ with arena vote

With the City Council expected to approve a non-binding financial plan for a new downtown sports arena tonight, Mayor Kevin Johnson told reporters this morning that “we’re on the verge of doing something very special.”

“We’re finally at the point where we have one single vote, one moment in time to totally transform the downtown community and Sacramento for generations,” he said.

The council is expected to approve a “term sheet” for a $391 million arena. The city has proposed contributing 65 percent of the project cost, mostly through either leasing or borrowing against downtown parking.

The Kings and arena operator AEG have agreed to chip in $132 million to the project.

Johnson said he was comfortable with the public contribution, saying “we knew we would have to be partners” and that the private contribution “rivals any other commitment made in recent years” to arenas in other cities.

The city’s contribution is in line with what other cities have put into arenas in recent years. Several arenas have been built with smaller contributions from sports teams than what the Kings have agreed to pay.

Dennis Howard,a University of Oregon sports business professor, told The Bee’s Dale Kasler that arenas built since 2005 have averaged a 65 percent funding contribution from the public.

Michael Mondello

A decade ago, cities were putting up between 75 to 100 percent of arena costs. That’s shrunk somewhat, as cities’ budgets were hammered by the recession and taxpayers became less sympathetic to sports teams’ demands, said Michael Mondello, a sports management professor at Florida State University.

Mondello is among the critics who question why local governments help pay for sports facilities at all. “Public subsidies of sports stadiums is bad policy,” Mondello said. “What is Sacramento sacrificing in terms of other infrastructure improvements and police safety?”

Locally, Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of Sacramento’s arena plan. Earlier today, she sent a report compiled by her office to her colleagues on the City Council – but not the mayor – questioning the arena project.

Most notably, Sheedy’s report stated that downtown stadiums do not spark economic development in urban cores, that money spent at arenas is generally taken away from other places and that it is impossible to measure whether keeping the Kings would have any impact on civic pride in Sacramento. The report cited the work of several economists and previously published reports on arena projects.

The mayor said it was Sheedy’s “prerogative” to release as much information she thinks is helpful prior to the council debate. But, he said, “I think at this point, it is very clear we have a win-win.”

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via The Indian Express on February 19, 2012

‘Loud’ kids become silent readers as they grow

Over the next four years,scientists may be able to reveal when and how children develop accurate oral reading and advance from oral to fluent silent reading.

FCCR Researcher Young-Suk Kim

Researchers at the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) at Florida State University headed by FCRR researcher Young-Suk Kim are set to examine a poorly understood area of literacy: the relationship between oral and silent reading, and how those skills, in turn, relate to reading comprehension.

“One of the reasons why silent reading has not been paid attention to sufficiently is that it is difficult to measure. The other piece is, people may just assume that, if you read well orally, then you’ll also read well silently,” said Kim, also an assistant professor in Florida State’s College of Education.

However, studies show that’s not the case for all students, said Kim. Some may pretend to read, read inefficiently, or struggle over the bridge from oral to silent reading. That crucial transition will be the focus of the new project.

Kim and her team will follow 400 Leon County (Fla.) students from first to third grade, testing them three times a year to measure when and how they develop accurate oral reading and advance from oral to fluent silent reading.

“Initially, kids sound out each letter, then put all the sounds together, and then make a word. As their reading develops further, they will be able to do that in their minds. But initially, it’s not going to be as efficient or fast,” explained Kim, a former classroom teacher.

Beginning silent readers often sound words out in their heads, a cumbersome process called subvocalization.

“What we ultimately want is instantaneous recognition without subvocalization because that’s faster. But we don’t know how that process happens,” Kim noted.

Until recently, measuring silent reading was difficult: After all, you can’t hear the child’s progress. But researchers can now see this progress, with the help of advanced eye-tracking technologies that follow students’ eye movements as they read text on a computer screen.

“It’s very fascinating how precisely we can measure this. We can even determine exactly which letter a student is focusing on,” Kim said.

Kim and her team will also examine instructional strategies for promoting reading fluency.

The ultimate goal is to help students read faster and better, a skill critical to their success throughout their years in school.

“Because children read faster in silent mode, we want to really promote that. But because we don’t know how children transition there, it’s still one big question,” Kim added.

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via Kristen Coyne FSU News on February 14, 2012

How Do Children Learn to Read Silently?

When a beginning reader reads aloud, her progress is apparent: Hunched over a book, little index finger blazing the way, she moves intently from sound to sound, word to word.

I do not like green eggs and ham!
I do not like them, Sam-I-am!

But when that same child reads silently, it’s much harder to measure how much she is reading –– or understanding. Yet as she advances through school, teachers will expect her to learn increasingly through silent rather than oral reading.

Researchers at the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) at Florida State University will tackle that paradox over the next four years. Funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, a team headed by FCRR researcher Young-Suk Kim will examine a poorly understood area of literacy: the relationship between oral and silent reading, and how those skills, in turn, relate to reading comprehension.

“One of the reasons why silent reading has not been paid attention to sufficiently is that it is difficult to measure,” said Kim, also an assistant professor in Florida State’s College of Education. “The other piece is, people may just assume that, if you read well orally, then you’ll also read well silently.”

However, studies show that’s not the case for all students, said Kim. Some may pretend to read, read inefficiently, or struggle over the bridge from oral to silent reading. That crucial transition will be the focus of the new project.

Kim and her team will follow 400 Leon County (Fla.) students from first to third grade, testing them three times a year to measure when and how they develop accurate oral reading and advance from oral to fluent silent reading.

Dr. Young-Suk Kim

“Initially, kids sound out each letter, then put all the sounds together, and then make a word,” explained Kim, a former classroom teacher. “As their reading develops further, they will be able to do that in their minds. But initially, it’s not going to be as efficient or fast.”

Beginning silent readers often sound words out in their heads, a cumbersome process called subvocalization.

“What we ultimately want is instantaneous recognition without subvocalization because that’s faster,” Kim said. “But we don’t know how that process happens.”

Until recently, measuring silent reading was difficult: After all, you can’t hear the child’s progress. But researchers can now see this progress, with the help of advanced eye-tracking technologies that follow students’ eye movements as they read text on a computer screen.

“It’s very fascinating how precisely we can measure this,” Kim said. “We can even determine exactly which letter a student is focusing on.”

Kim and her team will also examine instructional strategies for promoting reading fluency, and hope that this new grant will be followed by a second one in which they will test these approaches. The ultimate goal is to help students read faster and better, a skill critical to their success throughout their years in school.

“Because children read faster in silent mode, we want to really promote that,” Kim said. “But because we don’t know how children transition there, it’s still one big question.”

Several other Florida State faculty members have key roles on the project. Yaacov Petscher, FCRR research associate, is co-principal investigator. Working as co-investigators are Carol Connor, FCRR researcher and associate professor in the Department of Psychology; Christian Vorstius, FCRR research associate; and Richard Wagner, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology and associate director at the FCRR.

“IES grants are extremely competitive,” said FCRR Director Barbara Foorman, “and we at the Florida Center for Reading Research are very proud that one of our new assistant professor stars, Dr. Young-Suk Kim, has won this award.”

Florida Center for Reading Research (FSU)

About the FCRR:
The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is the nation’s premier research organization devoted to literacy. The center’s faculty boasts the broadest and deepest collection of reading experts in the world. Established in 2002 by the Florida Legislature, the FCRR is jointly administered at Florida State by the Learning Systems Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences.

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via Seminoles.com on February 13, 2012

Rybakova Earns Honor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Former standout Florida State women’s tennis player Katie Rybakova was named as a recipient of the Weaver-James-Corrigan Award announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford on Monday.

The award is given to 36 athletes among the ACC, pursing a graduate degree that have been distinctive in both the classroom and the arena. Among that number Rybakova is one of three recipients from Florida State.

“I’m very proud of Katie and her receiving the ACC postgraduate scholarship,” FSU women’s tennis coach Jennifer Hyde said. “She has been one of the brightest and most academically driven student-athletes I’ve ever coached. It’s great to see her being rewarded for an honor that she has certainly earned. She demonstrates exactly what it means to be a female student-athlete in the women’s tennis program, not only achieving at very high levels on the court but in the classroom as well.”

A member of the team from 2007-2011, Rybakova proved to be one of the most successful women’s tennis players in Florida State history. In all of her four years, she garnered All-ACC honors in addition to qualifying for the NCAA Singles Tournament, three out of her four years. Rybakova holds the school record for the most singles wins in a season, which she accomplished her freshman year at 28. She is only one of four players in Seminole women’s tennis history to reach the 100 career singles wins mark. The Coral Springs, Fla. native racked up the second highest total at 103 career wins, just one shy of teammate Federica Suess who posted 104. Rybakova’s 70 doubles wins rank fifth on the all-time win list.

In addition, Rybakova has contributed to an overall team success. During her career, the Seminoles made four-consecutive NCAA appearances, including their first-ever sweet sixteen. Just last season, Rybakova was a crucial part of the Seminoles’ end of the season run, where FSU won eight straight matches en route to the ACC Championship match against North Carolina. During that span, the Noles beat five teams ranked inside the Top 15.

Katie Rybakova

Rybakova’s academic achievements match her athletic feats, as she was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll from 2008-2011 in addition to her Golden Torch winnings in 2008 and 2009, given to the member of the team with the highest GPA.

Also contributing to a team aspect, the Florida State Women’s Tennis Team was awarded the Golden Torch

Award in 2008, 2009 and 2011. In 2008, the ITA recognized the Seminoles as their All-Academic Team.

As an English Education major, Rybakova is attending grad school at Florida State University before she moves on to pursuing a doctorate degree in English Education with hopes of becoming a college professor.

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AACTE

via The American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education on February 6, 2012

Contact: Lisa Johnson, AACTE Ljohnson@aacte.org (202) 478-4502

AACTE Honors University of Central Florida College of Education for Innovative Use of Technology

(Feb. 6, 2012, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) will present its 2012 Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology to the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Education. The award, which honors programs that bridge the theory and practice of educator preparation through the use of technology, recognizes UCF’s TLE TeachLivE™ Lab and will be presented February 19 at AACTE’s 64th Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology, which reviews submissions for the award, selected UCF’s TLE TeachLivE™ Lab for its forward-thinking innovation in teacher education that goes beyond meeting national or state standards for program-wide educational technology integration.

The TLE TeachLivE™ Lab has the ability to provide opportunities to develop the skills and craft of teaching in a virtual teaching environment, allowing pre-service and in-service teachers to correct errors as they master routines, experiment with new teaching ideas, and develop content area and pedagogical skills in a way that will transfer to a real classroom situation without negatively impacting the learning of real students. Created four years ago by an interdisciplinary team from the UCF College of Education and the Synthetic Reality Laboratory at the Institute for Simulation & Training, the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab has now expanded to several other universities that serve as beta sites to assist with further development of the system and the creation of a long-term research agenda. Partner universities include Clemson University, Florida State University, Miami University, Old Dominion University, Pace University, South Carolina State Upstate, the University of Kansas, the University of Western Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Utah State University, and West Virginia University.

“I am pleased to acknowledge this special recognition of the outstanding work of Drs. Dieker and Hynes of the College of Education, Dr. Hughes of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the entire UCF team that helped champion the TLE TeachLivE™ project,” said John C. Hitt, Ph.D., president of UCF. “Their innovative and collaborative application of research and technology to the profession of education will reverberate with students and educators for generations to come.”

Other selection criteria for the award included integration of multiple technologies into subject matter pedagogies, as reflected in the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework. In addition to being aligned with the three elements of TPACK, the TLE TeachLivE™ Lab supports the development of transition skills for students with significant disabilities and the preparation of teachers in the use of instructional technologies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Find more information on AACTE’s 2012 award winners at www.aacte.org.

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via WCTV Tallahassee on January 20, 2012

$100,000 to ‘FSU-Teach’ Will Boost Training of Math, Science Teachers

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida State University FSU-Teach program –– which trains math and science majors to become much-needed math and science classroom teachers –– has received a $100,000 share of a $500,000 donation from AT&T to the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

Florida State is one of five universities among which the AT&T contribution to NMSI will be divided to support programs modeled after UTeach, a highly successful initiative that originated at the University of Texas-Austin in 1997 and enables students majoring in math, science or computer science to receive full teaching certification without adding time or cost to their degrees.

FSU Teach Motto

Since 2008, NMSI has partnered with the UTeach Institute to implement the path-breaking program for recruiting and preparing math and science teachers in universities across the country. Florida State was one of the first universities to implement the program –– and, in the past three years, FSU-Teach has seen enrollment in its math and science teaching coursework triple, according to the program’s co-directors, Ellen Granger and Sherry Southerland.

“Our economy demands workers and citizens who are prepared to develop and use mathematics and science knowledge to solve real-world problems,” said Florida State University President Eric J. Barron. “Meeting this demand requires mathematics and science teachers who can effectively teach students in ways that equip them to apply and use their knowledge. Through their support of FSU-Teach, AT&T is forging a partnership between private industry and public universities –– and such partnerships are essential if we are to both attract the top students into teaching and support the education of this new breed of teacher.”

Mary Ann Rankin, CEO of NMSI, said the support from AT&T would help to create a new generation of math and science teachers in the United States, which needs an additional 280,000 math and science teachers by 2015.

AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser III said his company was acutely aware of the nation’s need for more skilled workers in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“All Americans will need to be more STEM proficient to be competitive in the 21st century,” Criser said. “We are proud to be supporting UTeach, which is providing the solution and inspiration on campuses nationwide to move our country forward.”

Nationwide since 2008, enrollment in science and math majors has increased significantly at UTeach replication sites, which to date have been established at 29 universities.

“Demand for the UTeach program continues to grow,” Rankin said. “This proves that more college students will seek careers as math and science teachers if you provide an approach that makes sense. What we must do now is engage more far-sighted corporations such as AT&T –– as well as foundations, and state governments –– to take this proven program to more college students across the nation.”

Granger said the core elements of the FSU-Teach program include:

Active recruitment and incentives, such as reimbursement (from an endowment fund established for FSU-Teach) for tuition for the first two courses so that students can discover for free if teaching is for them.

A compact degree program that allows students to graduate in four years with a double major –– one in mathematics or a science and one in mathematics or science teaching.

A strong focus on acquiring deep content knowledge in math and science, in addition to research-based teaching strategies focusing on teaching and learning math and science.

Early and intensive field teaching experience, beginning in the FSU-Teach students’ first semester and continuing throughout the program.

Close involvement of mathematicians and scientists to shape students development as teachers

Personal guidance from experienced master teachers, FSU faculty and public school teachers.

Visit the FSU-Teach website and watch an FSU-Teach video to learn more about math and science teacher recruitment and training efforts at Florida State University.

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via FSU News on January 19, 2012

Training More Educators for Special-Needs Children in High-Risk Families is Goal of $1.2 Million Grant to Florida State

For the increasing number of “high-risk” families in Florida facing the complex challenges of infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays, additional help is on the way.

Two Florida State University professors have received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train more educators in specialized early intervention and support.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Education has once again recognized Florida State University’s extraordinary expertise and impact in educational policy and research,” President Eric J. Barron said.

The grant to Mary Frances Hanline, a professor of early childhood special education in the College of Education, and Juliann Woods, a professor in the School of Communication Science and Disorders, will support their Personnel Preparation in Early Intervention and Education Project. The five-year project aims to improve the quality and increase the number of personnel who are fully credentialed to serve children with disabilities from birth to age 5.

The new grant will enable Hanline and Woods to provide online courses to practicing early-intervention professionals throughout the state.

And for Florida State students preparing for careers in special education and early childhood education, the grant will mean enhanced opportunities for training in early intervention.

Dr. Mary Frances Hanline

“Dr. Woods and I will be expanding the content of existing academic coursework and of field-based experiences, which will take place in programs providing services to ‘high-need’ families who need specialized intervention and support,” said Hanline, the Personnel Preparation in Early Intervention and Education Project principal investigator.

Among the project’s goals: Work with a total of 71 students over the next five years to produce 22 speech pathologists, 27 early-childhood special educators and 22 interdisciplinary pre-service professionals.

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