College of Education Showcases Research at AERA Annual Meeting

June 16, 2017

Assistant Professor Sepehr Vakil
Photos by Christina S. Murrey

College of Education faculty and graduate students were well represented at the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting held in San Antonio, Texas, in April. The meeting, which draws more than 15,000 attendees each year, is the largest education research conference and brought faculty and graduate students from around the world to share their research in roundtables, poster sessions, and discussion panels.

Professor Angela Valenzuela speaks during a session.
Professor Angela Valenzuela

Faculty and graduate students from the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Psychology, Educational Administration and Kinesiology and Health Education presented and participated in sessions in keeping with this year’s theme, “Knowledge to Action: Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity.”

Sampling of Presentations

Sepehr Vakil, assistant professor in curriculum and instruction and associate director of diversity in the department’s Center for STEM Education, presented in a symposium, Race, Rights, and Rigor: Identity, Learning, and Motivation Among African American Youth. Vakil’s presentation drew upon research presented in a published paper he co-wrote with Nailah Suad Nasir of the University of California-Berkeley.

The presentation focused on a case study of a Bay Area STEM-centered preparatory academy. Though the school is located in a diverse urban district, racialized messages, internalized by students, teachers, and peers, persisted and affected the participation of black and brown students in certain STEM tracks. The research added to understanding about how school organization and structure can perpetuate racial and gender inequities in STEM, even within large urban districts, and what might be done to address the problem.

Assistant Professor Fikile Nxumalo speaking on Action in the Era of Global Warming: Changing Climate Change Education
Assistant Professor Fikile Nxumalo

Fikile Nxumalo was a presenter in the session, Action in the Era of Global Warming: Changing Climate Change Education. Nxumalo is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. The session also featured faculty from the University of Washington, the University of Hawaii-Manoa and the University of Delaware, who addressed the lack of global warming and science-change education in K-12 curricula.

Nxumalo and her peers urged best practices, which include featuring environmental knowledge from indigenous communities, rethinking how science education is presented, and examining how children learn about and interact with more-than-human others.

College of Education educational administration professors and alumni participated in the panel, Texan, Born and Raised: Higher Education Tejano Scholars and Equity-Minded Research Agendas. Each participant presented their personal scholarly narrative, which highlighted how growing up in the Lone Star State introduced them to inequitable experiences within the K-12 and higher education systems, and how their experiences led them to research questions that address those challenges.

Victor Saenz, Angela Valenzuela, and Rich Reddick, faculty members in the Department of Educational Administration
Educational Administration faculty members
Victor Saenz, Angela Valenzuela,
and Richard Reddick

Each participant discussed a commitment to community and policy involvement based on their research. The discussion was co-chaired by Professor Victor Saenz, chair of the Department of Educational Administration. Additional College of Education faculty members in this presentation included Richard Reddick and Angela Valenzuela. Alumni included Ryan Miller, Ph.D. ‘15, and Cristobal Rodriguez, Ph.D. ‘05.

AERA Awards

College of Education faculty also took home awards at this year’s conference:

  • Keffrelyn D. Brown:  Division K Teaching and Teacher EducationMid-Career Award 
  • Terrance Green: Division A Administration, Organization, and Leadership Emerging Scholar Award 
  • Fikile Nxumalo: Critical Perspectives on Early Childhood Education Dissertation Award

Next year’s AERA conference will be held in New York City and will feature the theme: The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education.