Recently, Oregon State University held the 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

At this event, President Alexander announced the creation of the President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff Affairs to be co-chaired by Terrance Harris, the director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, and our very own, Dr. Tenisha Tevis, an Assistant Professor in Adult and Higher Education at the College of Education.

Dr. Tevis is also the 2021 recipient of the Frances Dancy Hooks Award which recognizes Oregon State students, staff or faculty who exemplify Frances Dancy Hooks’ work: building bridges across cultures, showing courage in promoting diversity, and proudly “Walking the Talk.”

Zoom meeting

Can middle schoolers learn computer science concepts using tabletop games? How about during a pandemic, when classroom interaction takes place remotely?

Oregon State University researchers are working closely with teachers to develop an innovative curriculum designed to broaden participation in computer science classes.

Associate Professor and Education Ph.D. Program Chair, Soria Colomer, speaks in the podcast below.

“Soria Colomer was the one giving advice there. She is an associate professor of education and the English-language learner consultant on the grant. “

-Robertson

🎧 Listen now to Engineering Out Loud » beav.es/JGm

This message has been approved by all governance committees within the College of Education. It aligns with the vision, mission and values of the college.

In the College of Education, our efforts toward equity are a work in progress. We acknowledge that in our history and present we have made mistakes, but we commit to engage in anti-racism work to better serve the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community. This commitment includes ongoing action, initially split into four foci, that has been integrated into our governance structure. To serve the needs of the BIPOC community, we will employ equitable student recruitment and retention practices;  examine pedagogy and update syllabi for non-bias and inclusive practices; engage in faculty/staff forums and trainings, and create a welcoming environment in Furman Hall and beyond.

We as a College of Education commit to these actions by

  • Holding re-occuring “Call to Action” open sessions for faculty and staff to explore and discuss concerns and actions needed to further our efforts addressing racism.
  • Participating in DEI-focused leadership training (Leading Change for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) by all leadership team members.
  • Requiring search advocates for every competitive hire and creating a College policy to support equitable search practices for all college hiring.
  • Examining and improving equity in student recruitment and retention practices. 
  • Reviewing course syllabi and pedagogy across programs to identify equity-focused changes.
  • Holding anti-oppressive conversations and training for faculty and staff that focus on specific identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Trans, Disability, national origin, etc.).
  • Charging an ad hoc governance committee to explore changes to create a community and space that are welcoming for BIPOC students, faculty, and staff.

For more ideas, keep an eye out for information on our upcoming forums. Send questions, comments, concerns to coed-action@oregonstate.edu

A podcast created by KOIN news 6

Justin Roach, program lead of the MAT in Clinically Based Elementary and Chelsey Williams, continuing education manager were featured in a KOIN Podcast: “Coronavirus Podcast: What can we learn from distance learning?
 
Listen to learn more about how far distance learning has come since last spring, what needs improvement and a glimpse into how education is changing.  Both Roach and Williams delve into remote learning during COVID times. This is a hard time to be a teacher, which is why the college is working to provide K-12 teachers with a variety of synchronous and asynchronous resources.

Photo of Gloria Crisp

Congratulations to faculty member Gloria Crisp for receiving the 2020 ASHE Mentoring Award. Crisp is a Professor and Program Chair of the Adult and Higher Education programs at Oregon State University.

ASHE (Association for the study of Higher Education) awards recognize exemplary achievements and contributions to the study of higher education through research, leadership, or service to ASHE and the field of higher education. Crisp has a long record of sustained, wide-reaching, and transformative mentoring of emerging scholars. Above and beyond mentorship as a condition of academic service, Crisp has studied mentorship as a mechanism for addressing inequities facing marginalized groups and, most notably, has extended this line of inquiry into her everyday practice. In ASHE, she has consistently mentored new faculty members as chair of the Early Career Faculty Workshop. 

Additionally, Crisp has recently published their research on Empirical and Practical Implications for Documenting Early Racial Transfer Gaps with co-authors and AHE doctoral students, Charlie Potter and Rebecca Robertson. The chapter reveals racial and ethnic inequities in transfer.

We congratulate you for your hard work, Gloria!

Kristen Nielsen
(Above) Dr. Kristen Nielsen

Dr. Kristen Nielsen brings nearly twenty years of teaching, research, and leadership experience in education to her new position with the College of Education at Oregon State University. Dr. Nielsen has extensive experience in program development, assessment, and leadership in higher education and has held several leadership roles in teacher education at the University of Calgary, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She has directed the planning and redesign of undergraduate curriculum, developed school and community partnership programs, and served as an advocate for social justice, diversity, and inclusion in education.
 
Dr. Nielsen is a specialist in literacies, languages, and language arts, and she has researched and instructed courses in language and literacies for a number of years. She has recently developed courses on migration and schooling practice, with a focus on inclusive and differentiated literacy practices in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and has served as invited faculty member and presenter at the University of Regensburg, Germany and Tufts University. Her current research explores international and comparative approaches to curriculum development and teaching practice in support of linguistically and culturally diverse learners. She has also studied writing pedagogy for adolescents through higher education and led writing program development and assessment in higher education. Her research in writing focuses on learner-differentiated practice in writing instruction and self-assessment pedagogies. Her work can be viewed in the Journal of Research in ReadingEducational Review, and Adult Learning, among other publications.

April LaGue and Arien Muzacz
April LaGue (left) and Arien Muzacz (right)

By: Lucielle Wones

April LaGue and Arien Muzacz both have long histories in education. April grew up seeing her sister in education and wanted to do something similar. She decided, though, that she preferred the non-teacher aspects of working with students, prompting her to go into counseling. She has been a counselor for 13 schools under grant and student assisting programs. April’s research background focuses on math anxiety and social well-being. Arien’s career in counseling started back in middle school, where she was a peer counselor for her classmates. This sparked a lifelong interest in the field, though her path was less linear. She was the first in her immediate family to complete college and worked in legal and non-profit settings before she returned to her first love of counseling by pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Arien’s research agenda emphasizes diversity and social justice, including health disparities in the areas of substance use and sexual health along with topics in aging, sexuality, addiction, and counselor education and supervision. In addition, Arien and April are both outspoken supporters and members of the LGBTQ community and commit to creating an environment that is safe, healthy, and allows underrepresented voices to have a say. They want the clinical and school sides of counseling to work together and embrace professional unity while increasing equity of opportunity for all their students.

April and Arien are currently focusing on the teaching and learning aspects of pedagogy in online and hybrid counselor education programs. They are co-investigators on a study funded by the Ecampus Research Fellows program to examine the impacts of providing a hybrid orientation to Master’s students in Counseling on students’ self-efficacy and perceptions of wellness. Ecampus’ M.Coun program is part-time and offered in a hybrid (in-person and online) format, which appeals to non-traditional students who may have significant responsibilities within their own communities. Last year, faculty built and piloted orientation models to give students the opportunity to learn about program requirements and Ecampus and OSU resources and to form a bridge between educational backgrounds and classroom expectations. This “virtual mentorship” gives a way to connect with the students more directly before they meet in person in a space that is safe, secure, accessible, and equitable. Their research collects data from students before and after the orientation to evaluate changes in students’ self-efficacy and wellness in response to their active engagement with the online learning modules. 

Once April and Arien publish their findings, they hope that they can use them to help improve the quality of online teaching and advising in counselor education and to consult with other institutions in developing their programs. They believe all grad programs should have an orientation with advisors to connect with. The hybrid model that the Ecampus uses has a lot of potential, and their work aims to prove and popularize the many ways that online orientations can provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Currently, they don’t have access to the big grants that the hard sciences do, though they’re very grateful for the awards they have received for their work. They’re very appreciative of the opportunities given to them by the Ecampus to further their work.

Julie Epton with her dog Raja

It’s never too late to continue education. Julie Epton went back to school to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be in the healthcare field or teach”, she says.

After running her own neuromuscular therapy business for seven years, Julie Epton is now following another dream of hers – teaching science. Currently, Julie Epton is pursuing a Master of Science in Education at Oregon State University’s College of Education.

About a year and a half ago, Epton moved to Oregon from Michigan and decided to pursue teaching. While living in Washington, D.C., Epton taught an array of sciences for two years in a public charter high school. It was this experience that made Epton want to earn her degree in the field where she always felt she belonged. She also felt that the STEM field “not only needs more women, but needs to support a diverse array of children to get more involved” in science and she believes that she “can fulfill this role by establishing equitable, inclusive classrooms that encourage all children in the practice of science.”

As a STEM educator, Epton believes that “a good STEM education teaches us how to think critically and question the world around us, and how to be smarter consumers of information and more responsible citizens.”

The progressive style of teaching in the Master of Science in Education program, centered on inquiring-based learning and discourse-oriented pedagogy, incorporates Epton’s belief of providing an engaging learning environment and developing critical thinking in students.

Epton loves the program’s focus on Ambitious Science Teaching and social justice, as she is “learning to create culturally relevant, equitable curricula that facilitates students actively engaging in scientific practices and collaborating with peers to develop deeper conceptual understandings.” She laments that her own K-12 education lacked this style of teaching, noting how well it melds active learning with critical thinking and cooperation to create a stimulating educational environment.

The ten month MSEd program is “fast and intense”, but Epton finds it very rewarding thanks to caring, supportive instructors, the student teaching experience at multiple schools, and the connections she has made with her cohort. Epton values the relationships made with her classmates and hopes to maintain a strong bond when everyone begins their first year of teaching. Epton has noticed that with this cohort structure, “[her] learning is greatly enhanced, and the work is exponentially more fun, when you have such a wonderful group [of people] around you.”

Emergent bilingual students now make up 10 percent of the state’s K-12 student population. These students are learning English on top of their regular school subjects, yet many Oregon teachers don’t have the specialized training or certification to meet their needs. But that’s changing.

Thanks to a new, 5-year, $2.5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to Oregon State’s College of Education, more Oregon teachers will soon be able to earn their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement without having to pay the $10,000 tuition. The grant will also help these teachers work with community resources to build bridges with families of emergent bilingual students.

The TEAMS approach to multilingual education

Known as TEAMS (Teachers Educating All Multilingual Students), the new program will train 80 teachers in the Beaverton, Bend-La Pine, Springfield, Greater Albany and Corvallis school districts to better understand the languages, families and community cultures of their students.

“We know that if teachers don’t have the proper training to support emergent bilingual students, they are not as academically successful,” says María Leija, an Oregon State instructor and TEAMS grant coordinator. “Teachers don’t need to know their students’ languages, but they do need to understand the components of human language — syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonology and morphology — and the resources that are available to support them.”

For example, a Spanish-speaking student might spell the word coyote with two Ls instead of a Y because a double L in Spanish is pronounced the same as a Y in English. Knowing these linguistic nuances, a teacher can better help students understand errors.

Teachers feel the need

“Teachers have been asking for resources to teach English learners more effectively,” says Karen Thompson, an assistant professor who is leading TEAMS. “This program will ensure that teachers have the best possible preparation for working with this group of students.”

Two cohorts of 40 teachers each will complete six online courses through the College of Education over 18 months, culminating in the ESOL endorsement. The grant also includes funding for a facilitator in each district who will foster connections to local community organizations engaged in cultural understanding. The facilitators and district participants will collaborate with these organizations to co-design education-focused events that deepen a teacher’s ability to engage the parents and wider community of emergent bilingual students.

“Research shows that involvement of parents has a huge impact on student success,” says Leija. “Therefore, we want parents to be an asset, and we want teachers to better understand how they can engage parents.”

If a class is studying a unit on plants, for example, and a teacher knows a student’s parents use plants in traditional healing, the teacher might invite the parents into the classroom to share how plants are used in that culture.

The excitement is palpable among teachers. “We had 27 of our teachers apply for eight slots, so we decided to fund two more teachers through our state transformation grants,” says Heather Huzefka, director of federal programs and student services at the Albany district. “When learning like this occurs, it doesn’t stay just with that teacher in that classroom — knowledge and experiences are shared with other teachers, which has the ripple effect of supporting even more students.”

After earning their ESOL endorsements through Oregon State, these teachers will be poised to make a huge difference for emergent bilingual students. Oregon’s student population may be changing, but Oregon State’s commitment to education for all never will.

A fifth grade boy who hasn’t been engaged in science class suddenly perks up when the after-school lesson involves a visit to a local bakery where he gets to use a mortar and pestle to grind wheat berries into flour for bread making. It turns out the boy helps his Latina grandmother grind corn at his home. Instantly, science is connected to something he can relate to, and a light bulb blinks on.

A third grade girl from the Dominican Republic visits a local tire shop where she gets to use shiny tools like pressure gauges and tire tread measuring devices, and a connection is made in her young mind that math is all around her and much more than the inky symbols printed on worksheets in a classroom.

A group of elementary students learn fractions at a Mexican bakery where they slice up pastries, weigh the portions on a scales, then literally eat what they’ve learned. A weightlifter pumping iron at a local gym fascinates students, and a science lesson about force and weight is driven home. At a Laundromat, students get to disassemble a washing machine and learn about pulleys. A local car dealership serves cookies while students inspect a car that mechanics have put on display in preparation for an after-school lesson

These are all examples from an after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning program/teacher preparation course/research project called FIESTAS that was launched four years ago by OSU College of Education faculty SueAnn Bottoms and Kathryn Ciechanowski and 4-H faculty Ana Lu Fonseca. Since then, the project has grown into a multi-faceted en

terprise that could become a national model for successful STEM learning and teacher education

FIESTAS stands for Families Involved in Educational Sociocultural Teaching and STEM. As the name implies, it is about engaging students from diverse sociocultural backgrounds in STEM learning by involving their families and tapping local businesses to serve as real-world classrooms and hands-on labs.

The experiences help students – and future teachers – see how STEM subjects are woven throughout local communities. FIESTAS is also demonstrating that successful STEM teaching depends on a wide range of factors that go well beyond the walls of any school classroom.

FIESTAS started when Bottoms and Ciechanowski partnered with two 4-H after-school clubs and later the local Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis. Their goal was two-fold: 1) expose underserved youth to STEM related projects to increase interest in STEM, and 2) engage preservice teachers (PSTs) in culturally and linguistically diverse settings.

Four years later, the program has grown exponentially and is benefitting students, parents, local businesses, and the 50-plus PSTs who work with students in two dual-immersion elementary schools each year.

“When we started FIESTAS, it was just two after-school clubs, but it has grown all these tentacles and taken on a life of its own because it really resonated with people,” says Bottoms. “Our PSTs find it very rewarding, and parents like it because they hear what’s going on with their kids. It’s so exciting it keeps me going and energizes me.”

Part of what excites Ciechanowski and Bottoms is seeing how the kids – and the PSTs – connect with and learn from the local businesses.

“The community response to this has been amazing,” says Ciechanowski. “There is all this expertise in the community, and when we do a better job connecting teachers to this expertise, we are better at teaching STEM.”

The PSTs meet briefly with the community partners ahead of time to frame the lessons and offer pedagogical expertise, like how to set up activities at stations for hands-on learning.

“And then the businesses just run with it,” says Ciechanowski. “Many are surprised by how well the kids behave, but that’s one of the keys: if you engage children in real-world, authentic ways, they are learning, because they’re not just reading about it – they’re doing it in context.”

By working with people in the local community who use math and science every day, the students see STEM integrated in everyday life, and not something separate.

“We might not identify these individuals as scientists or mathematicians, but they are using science and math every day, so we help kids see that connection,” Bottoms says.

FIESTAS also has a diversity component aimed at helping budding teachers experience first-hand how kids from different sociocultural backgrounds learn in different ways. The program is intentionally targeted at schools with diverse student populations.

“Teachers are generally white, female, and monolingual,” says Bottoms. “We help them broaden their understandings by creating equitable experiences so teachers teach better because they understand kids might not have backgrounds like theirs. Diversity is big and complex and involves religion, race, socioeconomic background, and much more, and as a teacher, you have to understand that the community of children you’re teaching reflects this complex diversity.”

This diversity is also connected to families, which is why FIESTAS reaches out to include the families of the students.

The mother of a Fourth Grade girl told the researchers how her daughter, who ‘hated’ math and refused to do her homework, is now telling people she wants to be an engineer when she grows up. The mother credits the change to FIESTAS, which actively works to communicate with families and sometimes sends videos of the children engaged in the local lessons home with students so their parents can learn, too.

“Parents are partners in this,” says Bottoms. “I always tell the PSTs that kids come with families, and every family is not like your family.”

FIESTAS also has a research component. In addition to the undergraduate PSTs, doctoral and master’s students are involved in data collection and analysis, and Bottoms and Ciechanowski have presented their findings at conferences and published in journals.

“This is a community based research project,” says Ciechanowski.

Bottoms uses the term, “praxis,” or the intersection of theory and practice. “This is what a theory looks like when you put it into practice – an innovative way of preparing teachers to do science and math.”

The researchers have learned that exposing students to STEM in their own community sparks interest and ignites passion, and that STEM learning works best when rooted in the sociocultural relevant contexts of children’s lives. The program is also helping develop teachers who have a deeper understanding of STEM teaching, diversity, community learning, and more.

“We see from our own analysis of the PSTs who are part of FIESTAS that the experience is shifting their perspectives and making a difference in how they approach teaching,” Bottoms says.

The program has been so successful and grown so fast that Bottoms and Ciechanowski are searching to find funding to hire a program coordinator and to support new doctoral students. They believe FIESTAS is so unique and successful that it could be replicated in other communities across the country.

“We’re underfunded because FIESTAS is so unique that it doesn’t fit into a box,” Bottoms says.

Although programs in other parts of the country include some of the “tentacles” of FIESTAS – activities like family math and science nights, no other program incorporates so many different threads or maintains such long-term connections with community partners, Ciechanowski says.

“The difference between our program and others is the level of complexity and the long-term aspect of FIESTAS,” says Ciechanowski. “Universities are often criticized for going out into a community to do research and then returning without necessarily giving anything back to the community. What we’re trying to do differently with FIESTAS is build long-term relationships that benefit all partners.”