University of South Florida

College of Education

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Two College of Education faculty members awarded research grants from Institute of Education Sciences

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Two faculty members from the University of South Florida (USF) College of Education received funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to support multi-year research projects that will explore learning outcomes for Latino dual-language learners and multi-informant assessment solutions that improve mental health outcomes of middle school students.

The IES is the nation's leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics. The Institute invests in high-quality research that sparks innovative solutions to real-world challenges in education.

Read more below about the two award recipients and their research projects.

Lisa Lopez

Lisa López, PhD

Exploring Heterogeneity Among the U.S. Latino Dual Language Learner Head Start Population: A Secondary Data Analysis
Principal Investigator: Lisa López, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology
Award Period: Two years (August 2021 – July 2023)
Amount Awarded: $546,262

This project will explore the heterogeneity of Latino dual language learner (DLL) populations within Florida's Head Start programs. 

The data collected in this study will provide an in-depth look at various characteristics held by these student populations, such as academic achievements in both English and Spanish before starting kindergarten, their growth trajectories for language, literacy, and math in English and Spanish as they transition into kindergarten. The study will also explore Latino DLL’s initial levels and growth trajectories in positive play interactions, problem behaviors, and approaches to learning.

Lisa López, PhD, is a Professor of Educational Psychology. Her research agenda involves furthering our understanding of, and improving upon, the educational and environmental opportunities of Latino Dual Language Learner children in the United States. Dr. Lopez frequently partners with local Head Start programs and conducts applied research in Head Start classrooms throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Co-principal investigators on this project include Matthew Foster, PhD, assistant professor at the Rightpath Research and Innovation Center, and Karen Nylund-Gibson, PhD, an associate professor at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nathaniel von der Embse

Nathaniel von der Embse, PhD

Project MIDAS: Development of a Multi-Informant Decisional Assessment System
Principal Investigator: Nathaniel von der Embse, PhD, Associate Professor of School Psychology
Award Period: Four years (August 2021 – July 2025)
Award Amount: $2,000,000

The project team will develop and validate a multi-informant decisional assessment system (MIDAS) that will use data to help identify social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) concerns in middle school students. 

Universal screening for SEB concerns can help identify and implement evidence-based interventions early, and this project will help create an integrated system to support schools’ work in this area. The system will integrate data from numerous academic and behavioral data sources such as suspensions, office discipline referrals and academic achievement scores to improve the efficacy and efficiency of school mental health supports.

Nathaniel von der Embse, PhD, is an Associate Professor of School Psychology. His research interests include universal screening for behavioral and mental health, teacher stress and student test anxiety and training educators in population-based mental health services. Dr. von der Embse is also the Co-Director of the School Mental Health Collaborative, a new national center that conducts research to inform policy and practice related to the promotion of social-emotional and behavioral success of all students.

About the USF College of Education:
Home to more than 2,200 students and 130 faculty members, the University of South Florida College of Education values high-quality education and excellence in research, teaching and learning. The College of Education is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and its educator preparation programs are fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.

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About the USF College of Education:

As the home for more than 2,200 students and 130 faculty members across three campuses, the University of South Florida College of Education offers state-of-the-art teacher training and collegial graduate studies designed to empower educational leaders. Our college is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and our educator preparation programs are fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.