Announcing the recipients of our 2018 internal research grants


Erik Ketcherside

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Office of Scholarship and Innovation has announced the recipients of its 2018 internal research grants. Each year, this highly competitive program supports the diverse interests and innovative approaches of MLFTC faculty researchers, both tenure-track and clinical, with winners selected through peer review by previous recipients. This year’s seven supported projects will explore new teaching models, bilingual education, the experiences of racial and religious minorities in higher education, and motivation and skill integration of science and engineering students.  

“Faculty members come to our college for a variety of reasons,” says Punya Mishra, professor and associate dean of scholarship and innovation. “Its national ranking, the strong connections between research and practice, and the value we place on applying what we do to maximally impact teachers and students in our schools. They come here to be with some of the best minds in the field of education. They bring to the task deep intellectual and technical skills, an innate sense of curiosity and a willingness to make an impact.

“And all of this needs support,” Mishra says. “Research support usually comes from external funding agencies, but our internal grants program is a way to support faculty research — especially research by early-career faculty, and cross-disciplinary projects with researchers from other colleges. We’re able to provide funds for projects that expand our faculty’s research output, often leading to or developing into larger-scale projects that can receive external funding.”

2018 Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College internal grant recipients

“Teacher Beliefs about Multilingual Learners: Understanding Language Ideologies to Inform How We Teach about Language Learning” 

Assistant Professor Katie Bernstein

PI: Katie Bernstein, assistant professor

Co-PI: Kate Anderson, assistant professor 

PI’s descriptive statement: Teachers’ language ideologies — beliefs about how language works and should be used — directly shape classroom-level language policies, which in turn shape students’ opportunities for learning. This mixed-methods, survey-based project seeks to understand how preservice and inservice teachers’ attitudes toward linguistic diversity vary when they are asked to think about multilingualism for different learners; in particular, Spanish-speakers learning English and English-speakers learning Spanish. This pilot study will lead to publications and a Lyle Spencer grant application, and immediately impact how we teach about language education and policy with pre- and inservice teachers in our programs at MLFTC.

“Discourse as Destiny in Dual Language Education? A Multi-scalar Ethnography of Language Policy”

PI: Katie Bernstein, assistant professor

PI’s descriptive statement: In recent years, TWI programs — two-way, dual-language immersion — have grown exponentially across the U.S.; some with a mission of equity for language minority students, others with the goal of giving all students an edge in a multilingual, global economy. This project explores whether TWI programs created under these different school-level programmatic rationales — as a path to equity or as a path to global citizenship and economic advantage — produce different practices, understandings, and learning at the classroom level and among students and parents. At a moment when TWI programs are rapidly expanding, it is critical to understand the potential consequences of growth through these different rationales.

“Productive Management of Uncertainty: Supporting Science Teachers to Raise, Maintain, and Reduce Uncertainty toward Student Conceptual Development in Argumentation”

Assistant Professor Ying-Chih Chen

PI: Ying-Chih Chen, assistant professor

PI’s descriptive statement: Scientific knowledge can be advanced because scientists maintain uncertainty and doubt about phenomena. This project attempts to explore how science teachers manage and adapt uncertainty as a resource to scaffold students to develop disciplinary core concepts in science within argumentative environments.

“Supporting Undergraduate Students’ Construction of an Integrated Understanding of Anatomy and Physiology”

Assistant Professor Carla Firetto

PI: Carla Firetto, assistant professor

Co-PIs: JP Hyatt – associate professor, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts; Jeffrey Kingsbury – senior lecturer, CISA; Tonya Penkrot – lecturer, CISA and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

PI’s descriptive statement: This study proposes the refinement of a previously developed task targeted to promote undergraduate biology students’ integration across different, related physiological systems. Through two phases the project will: 1) identify profiles of participants with similar patterns of individual differences (e.g., prior knowledge, need for cognition, relational reasoning, and integration and separation strategy use), examining whether these profiles predict performance on integration scores; and 2) iteratively refine a task targeting students’ construction of an integrated understanding of anatomy and physiology systems and analyze pretest to posttest changes in integration scores with respect to students’ profiles.

“Is ‘Taste for Science’ Enough? Exploring Factors that Influence Career Aspirations of Engineering Students”

Assistant Professor Jeongeun Kim

PI: Jeongeun Kim, assistant professor

Co-PI: Yeukai Mlambo, postdoctoral scholar

PI’s descriptive statement: The study aims to explore factors that influence career aspirations of engineering students. Building a unique dataset, we examine how educational and training experiences and noncognitive traits are related to the career development of students with different demographic backgrounds (underrepresented minorities, female, and international students). Moreover, we explore how educational and training factors shape individuals’ value toward particular career options, which is often referred as “taste for science” in science and technology careers. 

“The Lived Experiences of Black Muslim Students Attending a Predominantly White Institution”

Assistant Professor Keon McGuire

PI: Keon McGuire, assistant professor

Co-PI: Saskias Casanova, assistant professor, School of Transborder Studies

PI’s descriptive statement: Despite the privileging of Judeo-Christian perspectives in the research literature on college student spiritualities, a growing body of scholarship investigates the educational and psychosocial experiences of spiritually and religiously minoritized populations. Yet there is much to be learned about what religion, race, and gender mean for Black Muslim college men and immigrant-origin Muslim students and how these inform their educational experiences in this sociopolitical moment of perpetual assaults on the humanity of Blacks, Muslims, and immigrants alike. Findings from this study will better assist educators in developing programs, policies and inclusive learning environments that best support students’ educational and developmental needs and advance the ways we understand and theorize Black, religious, gender, and immigrant social identities, in student development research and practice.

“Teacher Candidate Affordances and Perceptions of Efficacy in Collectively-taught Elementary and Typical Student Teaching Settings”

Assistant Professor Andrea Weinberg

PI: Andrea Weinberg, assistant professor

Co-PI: Brent Maddin, executive director, MLFTC Educator Workforce Initiatives

PI’s descriptive statement: The purpose of this study is to accelerate a research agenda focused at the nexus of the teaching workforce, teacher education, and the structure and cultures of PK–12 schools. The goals of this pilot project are: 1) to understand the affordances of teacher candidates within two student teaching models, 2) to explore relationships between these affordances and perceptions of efficacy, and 3) to solidify relationships within a developing research-practitioner partnership.