Research

Research

Faculty members in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development have attracted external funding from sources that include the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, Texas Instruments Foundation, Istation and other sponsors. These innovative research and professional development projects are designed to have real-world impact on regional and national education.

McNair Scholars Project

Department of Education
PI: Dr. David Deggs
October 2017 – September 2022

McNair Scholars Project provides research and other scholarly support to SMU students annually who meet program eligibility criteria. Participants receive academic support services and participate in research and graduate school workshops. Participants also participate in the McNair Summer Research Institute that includes a research methods course and culminates in the execution of an undergraduate research project. The project serves 26 SMU students annually.

Two projects (STEM & SOAR) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These two grants serve 124 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.

The "Promise" of Free Tuition and Impacts on College Enrollment: Differences Across Race and Socioeconomic status

AERA
PI - Dr. Denisa Gandara
Co-PI - Dr. Amy Li
October 2017 - October 2019

Dr. Gandara has received one of 3 AERA research grants awarded in 2017 to study free college or "Promise" programs with co-PI Dr. Amy Li (University of Northern Colorado). Promise programs, which cover college tuition (and sometimes other costs) for all eligible students in a geographic region, have proliferated across the United States, with recent adoptions in New York, California, and Dallas County. Dr. Gandara and Dr. Li's study is the first to examine -at a national scale- which groups of students benefit most from these programs. Specifically, the study examines how enrolments change at community colleges that are subject to Promise programs, and how effects vary by Promise program design features.


Examining the Validity of Curriculum-based Standardized Learning and Assessment System

Istation
PI - Dr. Paul Yovanoff
September 2017 - August 2022

This is a 3-year project funded by Istation. This project investigates the validity and other psychometric properties of curriculum-based standardized learning and assessment systems in order to assist their effort on psychometric designs and analyses, such as test design, test equating, item calibration and growth model analysis.

Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning National Science Foundation

NSF (Award No. 1721100)
PI: Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
Co-PI: Dr. Lindsey Perry
September 2017 – August 2021

The primary purpose of the Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is to develop the Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system comprised of two universal screening tools: Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning (T-NRR) and Tests of Spatial Reasoning (T-SR). These screeners will measure students' abilities in two foundational and predictive mathematics constructs, numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning, in Grades K-2. These screeners will assist teachers in understanding and monitoring their students' numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning abilities, leading to informed instructional decisions and curricular interventions.


Upward Bound Classic Projects

Department of Education
PI: Dr. David Deggs
Classic I & III: September 2017 – August 2022
Classic II: June 2017 – May 2022

Upward Bound is a pre-collegiate program that works with students through high school to prepare for college by providing academic support services. Upward Bound support services include high school course tutoring, preparation for SAT and STAAR, high school and initial college course advising, financial aid and scholarship application assistance, and career planning.

Three projects (Classic I, II, & III) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These three grants serve 225 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.

Upward Bound Math Science Projects

Department of Education
PI: Dr. David Deggs
STEM: September 2017 – August 2022
SOAR: September 2017 – August 2022

Upward Bound Math Science is also a pre-collegiate program that works with students through high school to prepare for college. Upward Bound Math Science services are similar to Upward Bound and are designed to help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science. Students are provided hands-on learning experiences in classes such as engineering, robotics, biomedical sciences, 3-D printing, and information technology.

Two projects (STEM & SOAR) were awarded for the new grant cycle from 2017 to 2022. These two grants serve 124 students primarily in Dallas ISD high schools.


Improving Response to Intervention in Students With or At Risk of Reading Disabilities

NIH / Vanderbilt University
PI: Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
August 2017 – July 2021

The Mindset study, funded by a National Institutes of Health grant, seeks to examine a reading intervention for fourth grade students with reading disabilities that integrates the psychosocial component of mindset with the academic component of reading. Specifically, we will examine the extent to which integrating mindset improves student response to reading intervention.

Project WalkSTEM

SMU
PI: Dr. Candace Walkington, Dr. Annie Wilhelm
January 2017 – Ongoing

Project WalkSTEM: Dr. Candace Walkington and Dr. Annie Wilhelm received a University Research Council grant to study the walk STEM initiative. WalkSTEM is a program where familes can go on math walks together in the Dallas Arts Districts or at Northpark Mall, and there are trained docents who point out mathematical connections in the art, architecture, and natural landscaping. Drs. Walkington and Wilhelm are studying how being a walkSTEM docent facilitates docent collaboration and social networks, as well as how it changes docents’ views of how to connect mathematics to the world when teaching. In addition, their research examines how children and families react to taking part in the walks, and how they learn to see math in the world differently.

See a video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO5g6S9s3DY&feature=youtu.be


Safe Haven PALS

Safe Haven PALS
Co-PIs: Annie Wright, Hiba Rahim, Karen Bembry
October 2016 – September 2018

Safe Haven of Tarrant County provides a range of violence prevention activities including an in-school bullying prevention campaign, Peer Abuse Learning SafeHaven (PALS). CORE is currently working with PALS to review curriculum materials, assess best practices, revise a logic model and develop a data collection plan for treatment and comparison schools in third grade at Birdville ISD. Fidelity of implementation, student surveys and focus group will be used to understand both process and outcomes of this intervention.

Education Talent Search Projects

Department of Education
PI: Dr. David Deggs, Project LAUNCH, Project LIFT
September 2016 – August 2021

Education Talent Search (ETS) identifies and assists high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. ETS program staff provide academic advising, career planning and guidance, and mentoring services to students. The program is designed to support students as they graduate from high school and transition to college. ETS staff also assist students complete financial aid applications and manage the college application process. The program serves a total of 1,000 students annually between two projects (Project LAUNCH & Project LIFT).


Project CONNECT: Creating the Ongoing Network Needed to Engage Communities and Teachers

 

OELA
PI - Dr. Paige Ware
Co-PIs - Dr. Karla del Rosal, Dr. Diego Román
September 2016 - August 2021

This $2 million project, funded by the Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), seeks to increase the number of ESL-certified teachers in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). Over the next five years, Project CONNECT will prepare 180 pre-service and in-service teachers by offering on-site graduate courses focused on English Learner instruction and family outreach into an area of Dallas called The School Zone (TSZ), an established coalition formed among the School of Education at SMU, the Dallas Independent School District, and 29 non-profit community providers. We will work with families at the community centers, and teachers will create a publicly available website featuring ideas for how to engage with multilingual resources about teaching and family collaboration.

Project Personalized Learning

SMU
PI: Dr. Candace Walkington
Co-PIs: Dr. Dara Rossi, Dr. Aki Kamata
September 2016 – Ongoing

Dr. Candace Walkington, Dr. Dara Rossi, and Dr. Aki Kamata are engaging in a large-scale research study that examines the impact of the Personalized Learning (PL) initiative in Dallas ISD. As part of this research, they are examining student and teacher-level outcomes at 5 Dallas ISD schools that have recently transformed into “personalized learning” schools. They are comparing the teachers and students at these schools to others in the same feeder pattern. In addition, complementary research is engaging teachers at the PL schools in surveys and interviews where they define and discuss their implementation of PL in their classroom and at their school.


Project FOCUS: Exploring Response to Intervention with a Focus on Students Receiving Tier 3 and Special Education for Reading Disabilities

SMU / IES
PI - Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba
Co-PIs - Dr. Jill Allor, Dr. Paul Yovanoff, Dr. Aki Kamata
July 2016 - June 2019

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 1), aims to identify and examine a key set of malleable variables (those that can be changed by the school) that are associated with outcomes for students in Tier 3 or in special education with reading disabilities. The study is being conducted in more than 7 states in collaboration with faculty and doctoral scholars from the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention. The team of SMU-based researchers includes PI Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, Co-PIs Dr. Jill Allor, Dr. Paul Yovanoff, and Dr. Aki Kamata, as well as Dr. Brenna Rivas, Dr. Francesca Jones, Dr. Pooja Shivraj, Margaret Pyffer, Dominique Lyons, Damaris Florez, and Miriam Ortiz. Click here for a video describing the project.

Project Motion Capture

University of Wisconsin Madison / The Guildhall at SMU / IES
PI - Dr. Mitchel Nathan
Co-PIs - Dr. Candace Walkington, Dr. Peter Steiner
July 2016 - June 2020

This project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (Goal 1: Exploration), seeks to create a theory of embodied mathematical cognition for geometry learning. Specifically, this project examines how a Kinect-based video game can direct players to make arm motions that capture key geometric ideas and relations. The game includes a storyline where players encounter a mysterious tribe, and must form specific arm motions, detected by the Kinect camera, and then solve related geometry problems. The theory is that these directed actions will lead students to make their own co-speech dynamic gestures that show geometric transformations and relations. The team of researchers include Dr. Mitchell Nathan from the University of Wisconsin Madison, who is the Principal Investigator (PI) and his Co-PIs, Dr. Candace Walkington at Southern Methodist University and Dr. Peter Steiner at UW.


The School Zone - Supporting After-School and Summer Programming

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
PI: Regina Nippert
July 2016 - June 2019

The School Zone - Supporting After-School and Summer Programming addresses the need for targeted and coordinated services when addressing low-income students’ complex challenges by equipping West Dallas' social sector to work together in a targeted and coordinated manner. In so doing, The School Zone addresses the need for effective collaboration between schools and after school/summer program providers as they prepare at-risk students for success.

All Stars Project

All Stars Project
Co-PIs: Yetunde Zannou, Annie Wright
May 2016 – December 2018

The All Stars Project provides innovative, performance-based programming to youth and focuses on promoting development. CORE is partnering with the All Stars Project to write an original evaluation plan and accompanying tools to measure All Stars Project’s processes and potential developmental outcomes.


National Alliance for Partnership in Equity (NAPE)

National Alliance for Partnership in Equity
PI: Annie Wright, Travis Moore
May 2016 – August 2019

CORE is an evaluation partner to NAPE across several initiatives. NAPE’s Micromessging to Reach and Teach Every Students professional development for teachers across the country. Pre and post survey data is regularly collected, paired with classroom observations and case study-style interviews. Mixed methods data is analyzed and provided to NAPE for ongoing quality improvement and accountability purposes. Specifically in Mesquite ISD, over the course of three years, CORE will monitor how a culture of belonging that ultimately enhances learning may be created through these trainings. Other data collection includes student enrollment, focus groups, and peer observations.

NAPE is also partnering with community college sites to provide Micromessaging training. CORE and The Allison Group are sharing evaluation responsibilities. CORE is focusing on the process evaluation, determining what supports for implementation at each college site may enhance or prohibit NAPE Micromessaging strategies from being fully realized.

Tweeting to Learn: Exploring How Mathematics Teachers Collaborate on Twitter

SMU
PI: Dr. Anne Garrison Wilhelm
June 2015 - Ongoing

With internal funding from the University Research Council, this project aims to describe how mathematics teachers are using Twitter to learn about mathematics teaching. The goal is to understand the scope of the network of mathematics teachers on Twitter and to understand the learning opportunities for teachers who participate in this network. Dr. Wilhelm is collaborating with Dr. Michael Hahsler and Oscar Vallner from the Lyle School of Engineering to collect and mine the data from Twitter in a systematic way.


TI STEM Academy

Texas Instruments Foundation
PI - Dr. Leanne Ketterlin Geller
May 2015 - May 2020

In 2016, a four-year project partnering with TI, DISD, and Simmons launched, aimed at increasing student achievement, engagement, and perseverance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through a STEM Teacher & Leader Academy that develops teacher ability and leadership, as well as fosters teacher skill and professional growth in these critical disciplines. This project will include a three-week intensive academy held on SMU campus each summer as well as coaching support throughout the academic year. In the summer of 2017, Grade 8 middle school teachers from six DISD schools will be the inaugural cohort and this will scale up by 2020 to collectively impact 24 schools, 24 administrators, 216 teachers, and an estimated 43,000 students.

Measuring Oral Reading Fluency Project: Computerized Oral Reading Evaluation (CORE)

Institute of Education Sciences through U.S. Department of Education
PI - Dr. Akihito Kamata
September 2014 - August 2018

This is a 4-year project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences through the U.S. Department of Education, collaborating with the University of Oregon. The purpose of this project is to develop a new computer-based assessment system for measuring oral reading fluency for students in grades 2-4. The new assessment system incorporates a speech recognition engine for automated scoring, as well as a new psychometric model for improved estimation of reading speed. It is anticipated that the new assessment system will substantially improve currently available oral fluency measures, both from efficiency and accuracy perspectives.


Project VES: Vocabulario Explícito y Sistemático

Universidad Católica del Maule, Chile / SMU
PI: Dr. Maribel Granada Azcárraga, Dr. Maria Pilar Pomes, Dr. Doris Luft Baker
January 2014 – Ongoing

This small-scale experimental study explores the effects of a Spanish vocabulary intervention on the literacy outcomes of second grade students at risk for vocabulary difficulties in Chile. Results of a randomized control trial indicated that children who received the VES intervention significantly outperformed children in the comparison group on their word knowledge.