Grants, Awards and Achievements: June 2023

Curriculum and Instruction

Tia Madkins • Assistant Professor
Allison Skerrett • Professor, Director of Teacher Education

Tia Madkins and Allison Skerrett are the recipients of a Vision Grant from the Spencer Foundation, a $75,000 research planning grant to bring together a team, for 6 to 12 months, to collaboratively develop ambitious, large-scale research projects focused on transforming educational systems toward greater equity. Madkins and Skerrett’s proposed large-scale mixed methods research project will focus on strengthening preservice teachers’ capacity to engage in culturally sustaining and relevant education (CSRE) in elementary STEM classrooms. They also want to expand the field’s conceptualizations of CSRE and teachers’ responsiveness to learners’ unique needs, like transnational children who live and learn across two or more countries and bring cross-cultural knowledge and experiences for learning.

Jason Rosenblum • Assistant Professor of Instruction, Learning Technologies; Learning, Equity, Action & Design (LEAD) Program Coordinator

Jason Rosenblum was the recipient of an Actions that Promote Community Transformation (ACT) grant to support various efforts for the LEAD program. The grant made it possible for his team to begin the critical work of marketing the LEAD stackable graduate certificate program to potential in-service teachers. Rosenblum also partnered with UT’s Center for Teaching and Learning for support of campus e-Portfolios through the UT Creates platform. In addition, the ACT grant made it possible for LEAD to participate in a campus integration of the Edstem discussion platform.

This summer Rosenblum will also teach the class “Learning Design through Technologies for Social Justice” and conduct research at Panamerican University in Mexico. His class will encompass both design justice and game-based learning strategies so that teachers will be able to engage in an authentic project to transform the curriculum for students at a local school. The goal of the course is to empower both educators as designers, and young learners as agents of their own learning through the project, ¡Yo Soy Aguascalientes!

Rosenblum’s research will focus on in-service and pre-service teacher perceptions of the game-based learning and design justice approaches that he is using to structure the curriculum and technology integration for his summer class. The outcomes from the study will help him to continue to evolve the design of the LEAD program for graduate students in the College of Education.

Educational Leadership and Policy

Angela Valenzuela • Professor

Community teachers, particularly those who are Black and Latinx, are assumed to improve retention and outcomes depending on retention in schools that serve low-income Black and Latinx students. A recent study by Angela Valenzuela and fellow researchers “Ties That Bind? The Teaching and Post-Teaching Trajectories of Black and Latino/a Community Insiders and Elite College Graduates,” was recently published in AERA’s Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and details the findings of their study on the career trajectories and retention of hundreds of alternatively certified mathematics teachers based on a critical quantitative analysis of data collected. The study shows that community insiders exhibit significantly higher rates of retention in district schools than community outsiders and, in particular, those from elite colleges. Utilizing quantitative critical theory methodology, the study helps to move the field beyond race-neutral analyses of teachers’ retention and careers. The article was co-authored by Andrew Brantlinger at the University of Maryland and Blake O’Neal Turner at Marquette University.

Kinesiology and Health Education

Darla Castelli • Professor

Extending the work of the Whole Communities – Whole Health (WCWH) Bridging Barriers Research Development Initiative, Darla Castelli and her co-PI, Andreana Haley, recently received an R01 grant from NHLBI to further examine the behavioral and environmental risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and brain vulnerability. As a longitudinal cohort study of children’s health launched in the spring of 2018, WCWH seeks to uncover the factors that affect the overall health of those historically left out of the research process. While studying families living in Austin’s eastern crescent, the researchers discovered patterns of behaviors among Latina mothers that place them at risk for poor metabolic health and cardiovascular disease (CVD). In their proposal, “FEASible: Sensing Factors of Environment, Activity, and Sleep to Validate Metabolic Health Burden Among Latina Women,” the research team will validate dense sensing protocols and identify risk factors associated with MetS as precursors to CVD using the wearable and environmental sensors developed in the WCWH study, as well as neuroimaging techniques.

Pablo Montero-Zamora • Postdoctoral Researcher and Provost’s Early Career Fellow

Pablo Montero-Zamora was the recent recipient of the International Collaborative Prevention Research Award given by the Society for Prevention Research, recognizing his outstanding contributions to prevention science research. One of Montero-Zamora’s significant contributions to international prevention work was in designing and delivering a family-based alcohol prevention intervention in Zacatecas, Mexico, where he played a key role in developing and implementing a community-based prevention program delivery system called Businesses That Care. As part of this effort, he adapted two prevention programs, the family-based Guiding Good Choices program and the Social Development Strategy, to specifically target youth, family and community alcohol abuse prevention, making them culturally and linguistically appropriate for the local population. He is currently working on many different projects with multiple investigators such as the first epidemiological portrait of Costa Rican youth risk-taking behavior along with Puerto Rican Hurricane Maria survivors who have relocated to the U.S. mainland, alcohol use marketing and behavior, and substance use along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Special Education

Peng Peng • Assistant Professor

Reading difficulties among students in grades 3 to 12 pose significant challenges to their overall academic success. In an effort to enhance reading skills, Peng Peng and colleagues conducted a comprehensive analysis, published in AERA’s Review of Educational Research, to determine the effectiveness of various learning strategies for struggling readers. Their paper “The Active Ingredient in Reading Comprehension Strategy Intervention for Struggling Readers: A Bayesian Network Meta-analysis” is an examination of various reading comprehension strategies in improving reading skills for students in grades 3 to 12 who struggle with reading difficulties. Conducted by Peng Peng and fellow researchers Wei Wang, Marissa J. Filderman, Wenxiu Zhang, and Lifeng Linwas, their comprehensive analysis evaluated 52 research different studies conducted throughout English-speaking countries.