EALR welcomes new faculty member Dr. Lester Archer

Dr. Lester Archer, Assistant Professor

Dr. Lester Archer recently joined WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research as assistant professor. Dr. Archer will work primarily with the Educational Leadership Doctoral program teaching research courses and serving on dissertation committees.

Dr. Archer earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research Methodology from Louisiana State University in 2017, where he was recognized as Educational Researcher of the Year. He is a former mathematics teacher and school technology coordinator, having served at Media Technology and Social Research Academy, a Washington. D. C. charter school, and at Haverford School, an all-boys college preparatory academy in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Archer’s research interests focus on mathematics education. He is skilled in both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

“I am not only thankful for the opportunity to join the department but also for the privilege of joining the WKU family,” Dr. Archer said. “I look forward to building strong working relationships within the EALR department that has a faculty with a dynamic and diverse research agenda.”

Welcome, Dr. Archer!

Houchens, Stewart, Jennings recognized in 2018 Emerald Literati Awards

Two EALR professors and a WKU doctoral student were recently recognized in the 2018 Emerald Literati Awards. The awards, now in their 25th year, celebrate outstanding scholarship appearing in research journals issued by Emerald Publishing.

Professor Gary Houchens, Associate Professor Tom Stewart, and EALR alumna and doctoral student Sara Jennings wrote a 2017 article for the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education entitled, “Enhancing Instructional Leadership Through Collaborative Coaching: A Multi-Case Study.” The editors of the journal selected this article as one of two Highly Commended Papers for 2018. Papers are selected according to several criteria including rigor, relevance, structure, quality of writing, and up-to-date contributions to literature in the topic area.

Earlier collaborations on leadership coaching for school principals featuring EALR and other College of Educational and Behavioral Sciences contributors appeared in Qualitative Research in Education in 2014 and are based on a framework Dr. Houchens first laid out in the Journal of Thought in 2009.

Congratulations to Drs. Houchens and Stewart and to doctoral candidate Sara Jennings!

EALR faculty enjoy multiple publications and presentations

The 2016-2017 academic year featured numerous research publications and presentations by faculty members in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research.

EALR faculty members presented their work at several research and professional conferences, including the following:

  • Dr. Janet Hurt presented at the Oxford (United Kingdom) Educational Research Symposium on work conducted in collaboration with Dr. Stacy Leggett and Dr. Marguerita DeSander, “How principals use the evaluation system to improve the instructional capacity of teachers and an examination of the factors that influence the evaluation.”
  • Dr. Tom Stewart presented a paper at the International Thomas Merton Society annual meeting at St. Bonaventure University (NY), “Compassionate leadership: Models of mercy in Merton and O’Conner.”
  • Dr. Kimberlee Everson presented two papers at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in San Antonio, TX. These included “Validity issues in assessing disposition: The confirmatory factor analysis of a teacher disposition form,” research conducted with WKU EdD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu (now with the University of Kentucky) and Dr. Cassie Zippay and Dr. Sylvia Dietrich (WKU); and “Value-added modeling alternatives that reflect classroom composition,” research conducted with Dr. Erika Feinaur (Brigham Young University).

EALR faculty also celebrated several publications in books and peer-reviewed research journals, including the following:

In addition to the list above, EALR faculty celebrated other publications, invited presentations, and creative activities and look forward to another productive year in 2017-2018.

EALR Welcomes Donna Link as Program Advisor

Donna Link, EALR student program advisor

Veteran Kentucky educator Donna Link has joined WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research as student program advisor.

Ms. Link’s role will include advising prospective students on program options, helping craft programs of study for EALR students in the education administration, adult education, doctoral, and Measurement, Evaluation, and Research programs, and assisting students with other advising issues.

“We are thrilled for Donna to join the team,” said EALR department chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander. “She brings a wealth of experience as a practicing educator and her organizational and communication skills will be a great asset to our students and faculty.”

After serving as a classroom teacher in various Kentucky school districts, Ms. Link has been a consultant with the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative for a number of years, including as director of the GRREC-OVEC Race to the Top grant since 2015. She will continue to serve in that capacity until June, but has already assumed some of her advising duties for EALR.

“It is an honor to join the EALR team who has an undeniable passion for growing, leading, and inspiring students to become active education leaders,” she said. “I’m truly humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”

Ms. Link can be reached at donna.link@wku.edu or at 270-745-4890.

EALR launches new Measurement, Evaluation, and Research certificate

This year WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research has launched a new, 18-credit hour graduate program leading to a certificate in Measurement, Evaluation, and Research (MER). The MER program is geared toward graduate students, including those in education, who may eventually be interested in doctoral studies or who want to become better qualified to conduct applied research and carry out data analysis and evaluation in industry or educational settings.

According to EALR professor Dr. Kimberlee Everson, who coordinates the program, “The MER coursework can focus entirely on quantitative methods or focus jointly on quantitative and qualitative approaches.” Program requirements “intentionally overlap with the Education Doctoral program at WKU so that it can serve either as a beginning point for future EDD students, or a s means of adding qualifications for current of former students.”

While not appropriate for students in the hard sciences, the MER certificate may be of interest to graduate students in the social sciences, business, organizational leadership, or similar fields.

Contact Dr. Everson at kimberlee.everson@wku.edu or visit the MER website for additional information.

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.

EALR professor Dr. Gary Houchens appointed to state board of education

Dr. Gary Houchens
Dr. Gary Houchens

This past May, Governor Matt Bevin appointed EALR associate professor Dr. Gary Houchens to a four-year term on the Kentucky Board of Education.  Dr. Houchens was sworn in to service on the 11-member board on June 8.  The Kentucky Board of Education helps establish policy and provides oversight to the Kentucky Department of Education.

“I’m tremendously honored by this opportunity,” Dr. Houchens said. “I’ve devoted my career to improving leadership and student outcomes for Kentucky’s schools and will do my best to bring those experiences and perspectives to the work of the Board.”  Dr. Houchens said he anticipates the board will be actively engaged in work to overhaul the state’s school accountability system and revisions to the teacher and school principal evaluation programs.

Dr. Houchens is a former teacher, assistant principal, principal, and school district administrator.  He joined the faculty of WKU in 2010. He primarily teaches courses in the principal certification program but also advises doctoral students and is engaged in several on-going research initiatives.  Dr. Houchens received the 2016 College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for Student Advising.

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!