EALR professors, students present at CREATE Conference

Dr. Tom Stewart presenting at CREATE 2016
Dr. Tom Stewart presenting at CREATE 2016

Several professors and students from WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research participated in the Consortium for Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness annual conference held September 29-October 1 in Louisville, Kentucky. The CREATE Conference was marking its 25th anniversary and featured researchers and graduate students from around the nation sharing their work and ideas about school improvement.

Presenters from EALR included the following:

  • Dr. Kimberlee Everson shared her research on value-added measures of teaching effectiveness.
  • EALR Department Chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander co-presented with a colleague from George Washington University on their preliminary work on teaching effectiveness and leadership development in Puerto Rico.
  • Dr. Gary Houchens and Dr. Steve Miller shared their research on developing a new teacher perception survey called the School Improvement Scholastic Review (SISR). Dr. Everson and WKU EdD program director Dr. Tony Norman are also participating in this research.
  • Dr. Houchens moderated a panel discussion featuring superintendents and other district leaders from GRREC/OVEC Race to the Top district grant schools that have made strides with personalized learning.
  • Dr. Tom Stewart and Dr. Houchens presented their research on using executive coaching to help school principals develop as instructional leaders.
  • Dr. Stacy Leggett presented her research on North Carolina’s teacher evaluation system.
  • WKU doctoral student Josh Howard shared research on personalized learning self-evaluations and site visits conducted as a part of the Race to the Top grant. His collaborators included doctoral students Komako Suzuki and Trudy-Ann Crossbourne and was supervised by Dr. Norman and former EALR professor Dr. Jie Zhang.
  • Dr. Houchens presented additional results from Race to the Top schools’ personalized learning self-assessment on behalf of Dr. Norman and the Rock Solid Race to the Top evaluation team.
  • Dr. DeSander and Dr. Janet Hurt shared research on how principals and teachers co-construct theories of practice.
  • On behalf of doctoral student Trudy-Ann Crossbourne, Dr. Houchens shared additional research on how schools in the Race to Top grant developed their personalized learning plans.
  • Dr. Stewart co-presented with EALR aspiring principal student Linda Caudle and her principal Vicki Gough from the Ballard County Schools, sharing their work on professional learning communities.

Additionally, several WKU doctoral students delivered poster presentations, including the following:

  • EALR alumna and EdD student Savannah Denning shared her proposed dissertation research, a case study of leadership in one of Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation.
  • Robert King presented his proposed dissertation research on behavior modification programs for at-risk students.
  • Candida Murphy presented her proposed program evaluation dissertation assessing implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports on her school.
  • Christy Spurlock and Jia Pei shared their research on doctoral student persistence at WKU.
  • Derick Strode presented his dissertation research on study abroad at WKU’s Gatton Academy. Derick received the CREATE Emerging Researcher Award for his presentation.

Next year’s CREATE Conference will be held in Virginia Beach, Virginia where EALR professors and students expect to again share their on-going research interests and accomplishments.

Dr. Wilson earns Fulbright to study in South Africa

University of Limpopo
University of Limpopo

Dr. Kristin Wilson, associate professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in South Africa during the next three years. Dr. Wilson uses qualitative methods to study post-secondary education. Through her Fulbright she will explore college persistence patterns among South African students, primarily at the University of Limpopo.

During the Summer of 2015, Dr. Wilson participated in the Sophia Zuheir Endowed International Fellowship program, which sponsored a group of WKU faculty members to visit South Africa over a three-week period. She made contacts with various universities there and leveraged the experience into a successful Fulbright application.

Traditionally Fulbright fellowships are for a six-month stay in a host country, but Dr. Wilson received one of the first “flexible” Fulbrights, which will allow her to visit for two months each year over a three year period. The extended engagement will allow her to follow students she is studying over the majority of their university experience.

Dr. Wilson joined the faculty of WKU in 2013. She teaches post-secondary leadership and qualitative research methods courses in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program.

Dr. Everson helps launch International Year of South Korea

Dr. Kimberlee Everson, assistant professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research and researcher methodologist for the WKU Doctor of Educational Leadership program, was selected to participate in the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar (ZSEIFS) program during the summer of 2016 and visited South Korea as the first step in WKU’s celebration of the International Year of (IYO) South Korea, which lasts throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.

Dr. Everson, second from left, during her visit to South Korea
Dr. Everson, second from left, during her visit to South Korea

Dr. Everson joined a select group of other WKU faculty for a visit of almost three weeks to numerous locations throughout South Korea.  The purpose of the trip was to engage in cultural learning and sharing, but also to make contacts with academic, business, and government leaders for future collaboration.  “The experience in South Korea gave me confidence in my ability to international research in the future,” she said.

ZSEIFS participants like Dr. Everson will help facilitate numerous campus events during IYO South Korea to promote cultural exchange and engagement of entire WKU community in learning about South Korea, including a film festival, workshops, and numerous presentations and seminars.

 

EALR bids fond farewell to Dr. Zhang

Dr. Jie Zhang
Dr. Jie Zhang

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research recently said goodbye to beloved associate professor Dr. Jie Zhang.

Dr. Zhang has accepted a position at the University of Houston in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.  She said the move was motivated by better job opportunities for her entire family.

“It has been a truly blessed experience working with the most supportive and caring leaders, most collaborative and respectful colleagues, the most thoughtful and motivated EdD students over the past six years,” she said. “It is my first and best academic job as I have grown from PhD to professor at WKU. As I move forward in my career at the University of Houston, I will sorely miss my wonderful colleagues and students at WKU. Very excitingly, EALR is thriving and making strides toward a brighter future. I wish EALR, CEBS, and WKU all my best.”

Dr. Zhang joined the WKU faculty in 2010. She taught research methods classes in WKU’s Doctorate of Educational Leadership program.  She was author and collaborator on numerous grants, including serving on the external evaluation team for the $42 million federal Race to the Top grant administered by the Green River Regional and Ohio Valley Educational Cooperatives.  She was the recipient of a 2013 National Academy of Education’s Spencer Fellowship and received the 2016 CEBS Faculty Excellence Award for Research.

Dr. Zhang touched many lives in her tenure at WKU and EALR wishes her and her family much happiness and great blessings in Houston!

Doctoral students share research during brown bag lunch series

Doctoral student Trudy Crossbourne presents her research
Doctoral student Trudy Crossbourne presents her research

Students in WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD) program have been showcasing their research this semester, and in April visiting scholar Nuray Kisa, a doctoral student from Turkey, will present on the results of her dissertation study.

These monthly events feature brief presentations from doctoral students describing their completed research, or projects that are currently in progress, and give an opportunity for faculty and other students to discuss.  Hosted by the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, in collaboration with the EdD program, the brown bags are facilitated and organized by EALR assistant professor Dr. Jie Zhang and take place in Gary Ransdell Hall 3073.  A light lunch is provided to attendees.

In February, Trudy Crossbourne shared research she has conducted under the supervision of Dr. Kimberlee Everson exploring the reasons why African American families choose homeschooling.  Trudy shared the challenges of conducting research on homeschoolers and the limitations in current literature, plus pointed toward opportunities for future study in this area.

Faculty and students listen and discuss
Faculty and students listen and discuss

In March, Louis Zabaneh provided background on the educational landscape in his home country of Belize, especially teacher training. He discussed a Sustainable Development Human Capabilities model, based in part on the work of Indiana economist and philosopher Amartya Sen, that he plans to use in carrying out his dissertation research.  Louis is working closely with EALR associate professor Dr. Tom Stewart to facilitate a potential partnership between WKU and the University of Belize to support teacher training in that country.

This semester EALR is hosting a visiting scholar from Ankara, Turkey.  Nuray Kisa is a doctoral student at Hacettepe University in educational sciences, visiting WKU under the sponsorship of EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens.  Nuray has been conducting survey research exploring the perceptions of Turkish school principals, university professors, and district-level education officials on the gap between theory and practice in educational research.  She will share results of her study at the April 5 brown bag.

Finally, Dr. Zhang and doctoral students will present May 3 on the topic of conducting program evaluations.  To attend the April 5 brown bag with Nuray or the May 3 session with Dr. Zhang, please RSVP to EALR Office Associate Missy Pardue at Melissa.pardue@wku.edu.  All brown bag lunches are at noon in GRH Room 3073.

EALR Welcomes New Faculty Members

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research is pleased to welcome two new associate professors to the faculty, Dr. Janet Hurt and Dr. Stacy Leggett.

Dr. Janet Hurt is a veteran Kentucky educator who has served as an EALR adjunct instructor in the past.  Over her career as a school leader Dr. Hurt has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, and associate superintendent in two districts as well as the director of the GRREC/OVEC Race to the Top grant.  She regularly provides consulting services to schools and districts. Dr. Hurt will teach in the principal preparation program and also courses for other certifications including supervisor of instruction and director of pupil personnel. She is currently spearheading a revision and update to the department’s superintendent program.  Dr. Hurt earned a Ph.D. in 2008 from the University of Louisville and conducts qualitative research on a variety of educational topics.

“I am honored to be joining the Educational,  Administration, Leadership and Research department at WKU as an associate professor,” Dr. Hurt said.  “It is an outstanding department with top-notch faculty, administrators and staff who consistently model excellence.  I am delighted to be part of a group of professionals who work hard every day to provide an exceptional education for aspiring school and district leaders.”

Dr. Stacy Leggett joins the EALR team from her most recent role as Director of Secondary and Career-Technical Education for the Martin County school district in North Carolina.  Dr. Leggett is a 2015 graduate from The George Washington University with an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.  She was the recipient of the Achilles-Harper-Swenson Emerging Research Award at the 2013 CREATE Conference.  She taught high school math and social studies for 13 years before becoming a school and then district level administrator.  She practices quantitative research methods and is interested in principal and teacher evaluation.  Stacy will primarily teach in EALR’s principal certification program.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join the WKU EALR faculty,” said Dr. Leggett.  “I hope that the experiences I bring will help me contribute to this great team and ultimately make a positive impact on leading, teaching, and learning in Kentucky.”

Both Dr. Hurt and Dr. Leggett will advise students in the WKU Doctorate in Educational Leadership program.  We welcome them to the team!

Leadership expert Peter Northouse to speak at WKU

northouseDr. Peter G. Northouse, professor emeritus in the School of Communication at Western Michigan University, will deliver the 2015 Boyd-Lubker Visiting Scholar Lecture on Tuesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. Central time in Gary Ransdell Auditorium on WKU’s Bowling Green campus.

Northouse is author of the book, Leadership: Theory and Practice, now it its sixth edition and considered a foundational textbook in the field.  The book is a centerpiece of WKU’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program and provides a historic overview of leadership theory and research.

Dr. Northouse will speak on “Leadership in the 21st Century: Theories and Trends.”  The lecture is free and open to the public.  Doctoral students and practicing and aspiring leaders in schools, post-secondary institutions, and other organizations are encouraged to attend.

Dr. Jie Zhang presents Spencer Fellowship project to National Academy of Education

WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research is pleased to congratulate and celebrate Dr. Jie Zhang, Assistant Professor, Research Methods, for presenting her postdoctoral fellowship research at the National Academy of Education (NAEd) Annual Meeting and Fellows Retreat, November 14, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Dr. Zhang was one of only twenty postdoctoral fellows selected nationally by NAEd for the 2013-2015 award cycle, receiving grant funding in the amount of $55,000 to support her research focused on English Language Learners (ELL) titled, “Morphological Awareness and Word Learning in First and Second Language.”

“I am extremely honored to be part of the NAEd/Spencer postdoc fellow 2013 cohort,” said Dr. Zhang.  “The research project and professional development activities throughout the fellow retreats have significantly enhanced my capacity and passion in being an educational researcher.”

Dr. Zhang’s research examined how children use morphology (word parts) to infer the meanings of new words while reading or in isolation, and whether morphological awareness facilitates word learning ability, which in turn, contributes to reading comprehension in both their first and second languages.

“Struggling ELLs seem to read texts as fluently and accurately as their native English speaking peers, but they don’t know what the text is all about,” explained Dr. Zhang.  “A big obstacle of reading comprehension difficulties for ELLs is their limited English vocabulary and background knowledge. Given the increasing text complexity in the common core reading era, helping struggling readers to achieve the goal of reading for understanding is important yet challenging.”

About 400 fourth- and fifth- \graders from two school districts in Bowling Green, KY participated in the study.  Major findings from the study include:   1) native English (NE) speaking students and fluent English proficient (FEP) ELLs are better able to use morphological analysis to derive new word meaning than the limited English proficient students; and, 2) word reading fluency mediates the relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehension for the LEP group, but word meaning inference ability mediates the relationship for the NE and FEP groups.

The findings deepen understanding of how morphological awareness supports reading comprehension in first and second languages and call for attention to the role of English proficiency in investigating the underlying mechanism between morphological awareness and reading comprehension. An educational implication is that instructional programs that link instruction in decoding to word meaning inference strategies while reading are critical for LEP students.

Dr. Zhang’s presentation on her research was well-received by the Fellows during the retreat.  Her research presentation was facilitated by noted scholar Dr. Kenji Hakuta, Lee J. Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University and expert in the implementation of the common core standards with ELL.  Over the past year while working on her research, Dr. Zhang has been mentored by two of the most prestigious scholars in language and literacy education, Dr. Catherine Snow from Harvard, and Dr. Annemarie Palincsar from the University of Michigan.

“Dr. Zhang is a bright star and emerging scholar in educational research,” said EALR department head Dr. Marguerita DeSander. “The Educational Administration, Leadership and Research department is proud of her accomplishments.”

EALR professors, doctoral students, make presentations at MSERA

Next week’s annual conference of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, held in Knoxville, Tennessee, will feature research presentations co-authored by several professors associated with the WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research, and every paper represents a collaborative project with doctoral students from the WKU doctorate in educational leadership program or graduate research assistants affiliated with the WKU Rock Solid evaluation project.

Paper presentations include the following:

  • “Catholic School Faculty Meetings: A Case Study Linking Catholic Identity, School Improvement, and Teacher Engagement” by WKU EDD alumnus Dr. Daryl C. Hagan (superintendent of schools for the Evansville, IN, Catholic diocese)  and EALR professor Dr. Gary Houchens (advisor).
  • “Enhancing Instructional Leadership Through Collaborative Coaching: A Multi-Case Study,” by Gary Houchens, WKU EDD alumnus Dr. Tom Stewart (Kentucky Department of Education), and current WKU doctoral candidate Sara Jennings (teacher, Bowling Green Independent Schools).
  • “Risk Factors for High School Drop-outs in Kentucky,” presented by WKU EDD program director Dr. Tony Norman.  Co-authors include WKU EDD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu, graduate research assistants Candace Elliot and J.P. Clark, and EALR professors Drs. Jie Zhang, Steve Miller, and Gary Houchens.
  • “Personalized Learning: A Theoretical Review and Implications for Assessing kid-FRIENDLy Student Outcomes,” presented by Dr. Gary Houchens and WKU EDD doctoral student Trudy-Ann Crossbourne.  Co-authors include professors Jie Zhang and Tony Norman and graduate research assistants Laura Fisher and Morgan Schraeder.
  • “A Synthesis of Competency-Based Instruction: Implications for Developing Classroom Observation Protocols for Race to the Top-District kid-FRIENDLy Schools,” presented by WKU EDD doctoral student J.P. Clark.  Co authors include professors Tony Norman, Jie Zhang, Gary Houchens, and Steve Miller, as well as EDD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu.

Conferences such as MSERA allow professors and graduate students to share and discuss their latest research, generate new ideas for future studies, and further prepare their work for publication.  Congratulations to all of this year’s MSERA participants.

WKU profs provide “Rock Solid” program evaluation services

Rock Solid logoA team of professors representing several different departments at Western Kentucky University are serving as external evaluators on the $42 million Race to the Top grant being administered by the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC).

Calling themselves the Rock Solid Evaluation Team, this collaborative of WKU scholars and their supporting team of graduate assistants conducts on-going research assessing implementation of the Race to the Top grant and its impact on students in 122 participating schools.  The team includes Drs. Jie ZhangGary Houchens, and transitional retiree Steve Miller from the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research; Dr. Jenni Redifer from the Department of Psychology; and Dr. Amber Schroeder from the Department of Psychological Sciences.  Dr. Tony Norman, director of WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program is the project director and principal investigator.  Office associate Courtney Kepple provides administrative support and helps oversee the work of graduate assistants from the EdD and educational psychology programs.

The GRREC/OVEC grant, administered as the kid-FRIENDLy (kid-Focused, Responsible, Imaginative, Engaged, and Determined to Learn) project, includes five major components: 1) promoting students as leaders (primarily through implementation of Franklin-Covey program Leader in Me); 2) encouraging the growth and development of teacher and school leaders; 3) implementing competency-based instruction, and 4) promoting personalized learning.  The Rock Solid team works closely with kid-FRIENDLy to monitor program implementation and assess results.  The team will present several papers summarizing the first full year of the grant’s implementation at the upcoming Mid-South Educational Research Association annual conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, November 5-7.

The Rock Solid team is also carrying out research on a new teacher perception survey based on Kentucky’s Standards and Indicators for School Improvement and the Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning (TELL Kentucky) teacher survey of working conditions.  To learn more about Rock Solid and the full scope of its evaluation services, visit their website here.