Published February 9, 2018
For professors and researchers in UB’s Graduate School of Education, the classrooms and labs on campus are not enough.
Following an initiative from the school’s new dean, numerous faculty members have started projects that aim to benefit community education and the people most in need of the university’s expertise.
Grouped together under “engagement,” these Faculty-in-Residence projects range from developing school gardens to addressing the social and emotional state of displaced students. They are designed to serve the students in the community who need it the most.
“The Faculty-in-Residence program is an opportunity for faculty to engage in mutually beneficial site-based research,” says Suzanne Rosenblith, professor and dean of the Graduate School of Education.
“While the parameters are intentionally broad, the hope is that faculty, in partnership with local community-based educational institutions, will identify a problem, concern or area for improvement that would benefit from a faculty member embedding himself or herself in the setting to conduct research and help draw up a plan to address the concern or problem.”
One function of a school of education, Rosenblith says — particularly one in a research intensive institution — is to use its research skills to improve opportunities for individuals and communities.
“The Faculty-in-Residence program formalizes, institutionalizes and affirms this commitment by the Graduate School of Education,” she says.
Other GSE scholars and administrators agree.
“The program allows faculty the opportunity to do what all good scholars do,” says Gregory Fabiano, professor of counseling, school and educational psychology, and associate dean for interdisciplinary research.
“It provides an opportunity to share innovations and discoveries with the people who can really use them, and at the same time allows the faculty to observe how things work in applied settings, which generates the next set of research ideas.”
The nine Faculty-in-Residence projects:
“Historically, response to intervention has been implemented at the elementary level,” says Shanahan. Building on her work with Enterprise Charter, Amherst Middle School became one of 10 middle schools in the state to receive Response to Intervention resources to develop ways to improve student literacy learning.
Recurring teasing and intimidation about being overweight is associated with depression, suicidal attempts, disordered eating and poorer school performance, says Faith, who has developed a family-based treatment for childhood obesity using innovative technology that allows study participants to be treated in their homes.
“To date, there are no empirically guided strategies to help children cope with weight bullying,” he says.
As part of this project, Faith will conduct the first research study of coping skills among adolescents related to weight-bullying; interview teachers and staff regarding perceptions of weight-bullying, as well as the perceived needs for helping bullied students; and develop a “weight-bullying toolbox” for school partners that will provide coping strategies.
This research builds upon Waight’s inquiry in STEM education and culturally relevant pedagogy, as well as her work in schools using simulations and online technology to teach STEM to urban students. The project addresses the importance and role the administration plays in the informal and structural culture of teaching and learning.
“Most pipeline research doesn’t specifically address how to ensure that educators from minority backgrounds rise to leadership positions for the sake of diversifying school leadership and influencing the achievement of students of color,” Stone-Johnson says.
Her research will attempt to shed more light on understanding the importance of minority leadership as it relates to student success, and examine whether there is a difference in family-school relationships in schools led by principals of color and schools led by white principals.
Displacement, or forced movement, can occur across and within national borders due to economic necessity, political upheaval, gender-based violence, natural disaster or trafficking. While growing interdisciplinary research examines the policies concerning displacement and the implications of displacement around the globe, less attention is given to the normative belief systems that shape those policies and, in particular, how such policies affect U.S. school systems.
“Much in current federal policy discourse not only fails to account for evidence concerning the positive contributions immigrants and refugees have made to the fabric of American life, but has fostered a climate of outright hostility toward the world’s most vulnerable children,” Lemke says.
“What began as a handful of schools trying to garden, but with no coordinated effort, has now blossomed into the Buffalo School Gardens Committee,” says Robert. The goal, she explains, is “to support the development of sustainable school gardens that facilitate academic growth, community building and healthy lifestyles.”
“Despite limited resources and a constrained policy environment, as well as the newness of outside, interdisciplinary, experiential learning to city schools, enthusiasm for school gardens continues to spread throughout the district.”
But enthusiasm does not always translate to school community involvement, Robert says, especially in the early stages.
“Addressing this conundrum — of cultivating and growing involvement — is the goal of this proposed project,” she says.
“How Does Your Garden Grow?” aims to increase class time spent learning about the food system, as well as moving lessons into the gardens.
The project will benefit the school’s teachers and students as they transition to a one-to-one tablet/computer learning environment, Rish explains.
“(The project will) investigate the relationship between students’ existing practices using technology and the new digital literacies supported by the instructional units,” he says.
“New Literacies” will then identify and share promising teaching practices and instructional units on digital literacies within the building and district.
The national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults: those that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and other drug use, unhealthy dietary behaviors and inadequate physical activity.
Bower plans to share findings of the 2017 survey with leaders and schools, and help start the 2019 redesign of the survey.
“Following teachers and classrooms throughout the sustained professional development and communities of practice around digital video — particularly in rural contexts — provides for rich and varied data,” says Bruce. “There is benefit for all involved. CA-BOCES has had sustained professional development for their teachers in the areas of film literacy and digital literacies.”