Research

Funded Research Activities

Faculty and staff in the College of Education engage in research projects that are funded by both internal and external sources. Learn more about ongoing funded research activities in the College of Education.

College of Education researchers are listed in bold.



External Grants – Federal

Principal Investigators

USF Science Majors Group Photo
Robert Noyce USF Scholarship Program for Science Majors
  • Principal Investigator: Allan Feldman, PhD
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Ruthmae Sears (USF College of Education), Gerry Meisels and Luanna Prevost (USF College of Arts and Sciences), Larry Plank (Hillsborough County Public Schools)
  • Funder: National Science Foundation
  • Project Dates: August 1, 2014 – July 31, 2021
  • Award Amount: $1,200,000

Project Summary

The University of South Florida, with support from the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, is implementing a model for encouraging science majors to enter an attractive, viable and rewarding career pathway to teaching at the secondary level through collaboration among the USF Colleges of Education, the USF College of Arts and Sciences, and Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Thirty-six biology, chemistry, geosciences and physics majors will receive scholarships to complete a five-year accelerated study program leading to a bachelor's degree in the Sciences and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree with certification in secondary science.

The project will also support 20 summer interns (freshman and sophomore science majors). Under the guidance of science education faculty, these interns will conduct research on how to develop professional learning communities, and to engage teachers and have them adopt the practices described in the Next Generation Science Standards.


Teaching Literary Texts While Grieving a Death

Principal Investigator: Mandie Dunn
Sponsor/Funder: English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE)
Award Start and End Dates: September 2019 – May 2022
Amount Awarded: $2,500

Project Website

Project Summary

This project investigates how grieving influences teachers’ engagement with the teaching of literary texts in English classrooms. Through survey sampling and in-depth interviews, I aim to better understand how the relational work of teaching intersects with the sharing of personal loss. Findings from this project will provide insight into the complexities inherent in sharing about death and loss as a teacher, one who is both a professional and a human being.


Preschoolers in a classroom
Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS)
  • Principal Investigator: Jolyn Blank
  • Sponsor/Funder: U.S. Department of Education
  • Project Dates: Oct. 1, 2020 - Oct. 1, 2024
  • Award Amount: $1.3 million

Project Website

Project Summary

This project supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services. The goal of the project is for postsecondary students to have access to high quality child care, with credentialed preschool teachers, at an affordable cost to families.


Co-Principal Investigators

Project EBAS: Enhancing Behavior Analytic Services for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • Principal Investigator: Kwang-Sun Cho Blair, PhD, BCBA-D
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Kimberly Crosland, PhD, BCBA-D; Catia Cividini-Motta, PhD, BCBA-D; Jose M. Castillo, PhD, NCSP
  • Funder: United States Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs
  • Project Dates: 2017 – 2022
  • Award Amount: $1.1 million

Project Summary

Project EBAS aims to prepare high-quality scholars to serve as either Board-Certified Behavior Analysts or School Psychologists who can contribute to the provision of focused instruction and individualized positive behavioral interventions and supports in an interdisciplinary team-based approach for school-aged children with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. The project focuses on improving the quality of related services for children with EBD who have high-intensity needs by enhancing behavior analytic services, which should result in improved learning, developmental outcomes, and successful transition to postsecondary education, and integration into the workplace.

This effort represents the collaboration between two programs at USF: the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Master’s Program within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and the School Psychology Program within the College of Education, as well as partnerships with three Florida school districts: Hillsborough County Public Schools, Pasco County Schools, and Sarasota County Schools.


RIEL Program Logo
RIEL Biology: Responsive Instruction for Emergent Bilingual Learners in Biology Classrooms
  • Principal Investigator: Julie C. Brown (University of Florida)
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Christine Davis, UF; Karl G. Jung, USF; Mark Pacheco, UF
  • Funder: National Science Foundation
  • Project Dates: July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2023
  • Award Amount: $1,120,163

Project Website

Project Summary

RIEL Biology is a collaboration between the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS), and Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) that seeks to support the biology learning of emergent bilingual students.

High school teachers from ACPS and HCPS will learn and implement an instructional framework that blends linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogies to recognize, recruit, and reinforce the many strengths emergent bilingual students bring to the classroom. The goal of the project is to hone this approach—which consists of promoting collaboration, using multiple modalities and languages, attending to students’ identities and experiences, and connecting classrooms to pressing issues in students’ lives.

Through a rigorous examination of this approach over the next three years, RIEL Biology hopes to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for emergent bilingual students in Florida, with the aim of refining this approach to serve as a model for supporting students in similar classrooms across the country.


Effect of bilingual vs monolingual methods of explicit English vocabulary instruction on 4th grade Spanish-speaking English learners (EL): Exploring accuracy, retention, and transfer of learning
  • Principal Investigator: Maria Carlo (USF College of Behaviorial & Community Sciences)
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Sara Smith; Williams, J.; Anthony, J.
  • Funder: Institute of Education Sciences
  • Project Dates: 2020 – 2024
  • Award Amount: $1,400,000

Project Summary

This four-year exploration project will explore different strategies for academic English (Tier 2) vocabulary instruction and factors that impact academic language development among 4th grade Spanish-speaking English learners in Hillsborough County Public Schools. The study will test whether bilingual instructional methods are more effective than monolingual methods and will examine differences in rate of learning and retention. 


IRES Ghana

IRES Track I: US-Ghana Collaboration: Providing Opportunities for Global Research on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

  • Principal Investigator: Sarina Ergas, PhD (USF College of Engineering)
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Allan Feldman (USF College of Education), Kebreab Ghebremichael (USF Patel College for Global Sustainability)
  • Funder: National Science Foundation
  • Project Dates: Jan. 19 – Dec. 2021
  • Amount Funded: $284,750

Project Website

Project Summary

In much of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, people lack safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Although there have been a number of efforts to develop low-cost, efficient methods to treat water and wastewater, many of them fail in practice due to the lack of understanding of social and economic factors, and the lack of community engagement.

This project engages 15 IRES participants and three graduate assistants from STEM, STEM education, public health and social sciences in carrying out research to develop, test and implement the technologies, such as biosand filters and decentralized sanitation systems, while uncovering and addressing social factors that limit their use in the field.

The project is conducted in collaboration with students and faculty at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the University of Cape Coast, as well as teachers and pupils in a local secondary school in Ghana. U.S. students will experience real on-the-ground water and sanitation situations that will enhance their research skills as they develop the global competence needed to work effectively in developing countries.

Specific objectives are to: 
1.  Increase the number of U.S. students engaging in global water and sanitation research.
2. Enhance student understanding of the complexity of water and sanitation challenges and increase their global competency.
3. Engage secondary school teachers and pupils in Ghana in authentic science and participatory action research.
4. Develop strong collaborations between USF and KNUST for water and sanitation research and education.


Preparing Scholars to Lead Inclusion and Transition (LEAD-IT) 

  • Co-Principal Investigators: Hines, R., Dieker, L. A., Dukes III, L.L., & Myer, A.
  • Funder: U.S. Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs 
  • Project Dates: 2017 - 2022
  • Award Amount: $1,250,000

Project Summary

The USF and UCF collaborative team prepares special education leaders with the experience, scholarship, and leadership skills to support emerging initiatives and opportunities for inclusion of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in P-12 and postsecondary settings (P-20).

The project aligns scholars to work collaboratively in three areas. The scholars will complete traditional coursework and collaborate with faculty across the state of Florida along with the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities (FCSUA). They will also complete projects with a fully inclusive elementary school in a high-need LEA’s of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) and work with community agencies supporting the inclusion and transition of individuals with IDD. At the conclusion of the program of study, scholars will be uniquely qualified to teach and support future generations of students with disabilities (SWD), and to lead new Think College types of programs on college and university campuses, which are developing more inclusive opportunities for persons with IDD.

This project team will build upon the strong doctoral programs at UCF and the new UCF IES program, a fully-immersive college program for students with IDD. The quality of partnerships, resources, and innovations in the Central Florida area and the expanding partnerships with FCSUA programs will allow UCF to meet the needs of SWD and their families. The resources provided by USF and UCF will develop and support leadership personnel in the areas of transition, inclusion, and specific expertise in working with individuals identified as IDD. 


Leadership Preparation through Residencies and Enhanced Partnerships (LEAD PREP) 
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Hines, R., Dieker, L. A., Dukes III, L.L., & Azevedo, R.
  • Funder: U.S. Department of Education: Office of Special Education Programs 
  • Project Dates: 2020 – 2025
  • Award Amount: $1,300,000

Project Summary

The focus of this project is to support, recruit, and prepare scholars at UCF and USF to become next generation leaders in the field of special education through an embedded foundational skills in learning sciences (LS) and enhanced opportunities to address the critical shortages of teachers prepared to work in special education in Title I settings K-transition.

Over the four-year program, scholars will partner with UCF and USF special education faculty and LS faculty members to become scholars who are experts in using a community-embedded approach and outcomes-based conceptual frameworks to impact the field in addressing teacher shortages through high-quality teacher preparation. Their work will be grounded in high-need schools in Florida where scholars will participate in residencies that include supporting paraprofessionals in a para-to-teacher pipeline, supervising pre-service teachers in residencies and internships, teaching site-based courses, and conducting research in using principles of learning science to conduct research and improve outcomes for students with disabilities. 

Upon completion of the program, scholars will be prepared to respond to the needs of the field including:

  1. Conducting research in a site-based model to support marginalized students with disabilities in LS and evidence-based practices
  2. Recruiting and retaining teachers to address shortages in the field of special education
  3. Preparing future teachers and collaborating with families
  4. Building community partnerships
  5. Leading field-based teacher preparation activities and residencies
  6. Conducting program evaluations

teacher working with students on tablets
An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting Computer Science in Rural Schools
  • Principal Investigator: Bryan Wallace
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Debra Bernstein, Rebecca Dovi, and Michael J. Berson
  • Sponsor/Funder: National Science Foundation
  • Award Start and End Dates: July 1, 2020 - July 30, 2024
  • Amount Awarded: $2.99 million

Project Summary

The project, “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Supporting Computer Science in Rural Schools,” will develop a computer science program for teaching history to underserved middle school students in the state of Virginia. The project is supported by a four-year, $2.99 million grant funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program and was developed as part of a national push to increase computer science K-12 literacy and participation in computer science-related fields and industries among underrepresented and minoritized student populations.

Michael J. Berson, a Professor of Social Science Education, will serve as co-principal investigator for the project. He and Ilene R. Berson, a Professor of Early Childhood Education who will also contribute to the project, as both have collaborated on groundbreaking international research in digital citizenship and cybersecurity for students that has informed global policy and practice.



External Grants – State

Principal Investigators

21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $3,946,777

Project Summary

This project provides staff resources and other related resources to provide technical assistance, monitoring, and evaluation services to 21st Century Community Learning Centers subrecipients in Florida.


PS RTI Logo
Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention Project
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: August 2020 – July 2021
  • Award Amount: $1,399,795

Project Website

Project Summary

The project provides training and technical assistance to IDEA discretionary projects, schools and districts, and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).  The Project provides several supports to help schools and districts improve their multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) to promote universal education. The Project provides statewide and regional trainings and technical assistance on critical components of MTSS and on using Response to Intervention (RTI) to make effective and efficient eligibility determinations for special education services. The Project also develops products designed to support stakeholders’ efforts to improve their MTSS and universal education system.


MTSS Logo
Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention Technology Project
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: August 2020 – July 2021
  • Award Amount: $1,510,511

Project Website

Project Summary

The project provides training and technical assistance to IDEA discretionary projects, schools and districts, and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). The Project provides several supports to help schools and districts leverage technology within their multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) to promote universal education.

The Project provides statewide and regional trainings on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, and provides intensive supports based on UDL principles to districts to accelerate the performance of students. Staff also provide resources to districts for the effective integration of Specially-Designed Instruction (SDI), Assistive Technology (AT), and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) throughout an MTSS and implementation of standards aligned IEPs.

Finally, the project also provides Technology Coordinators and Technology Specialists to support the effective implementation of AEM, AT, learning technologies, and UDL principles within all tiers of instruction. This project also manages, coordinates, and supports the statewide assistive technology and universal design for learning (AT & UDL) loan library.


School Improvement Support Plan
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $3,381,714

Project Summary

This project is designed to increase the capacity of the Florida Department of Education to facilitate school improvement. The School Improvement (SI) field staff establishes support strategies and monitors the progress of traditional public schools identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CS&I). CS&I schools are defined as any school that earns a grade of D or F, any school that has a graduation rate of 67% or less in the most recently released school grades, as well as schools implementing a 1003(g) school improvement grant (SIG) in 2020-21 school year. These schools are provided on-the-ground support, intervention, and monitoring from regional teams that consist of school improvement specialists.

This support is provided within the context of a three-tiered system which considers school grade history, as well as turnaround status, and focuses on district/school administrators, instructional coaches and school leadership teams as they work toward sustainable school improvement.


Student Support Services Project Logo
Student Support Services Project
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: Oct. 2020 – Sept. 2021
  • Award Amount: $2,046,632

Project Website

Project Summary

This project provides statewide leadership, technical assistance, training, and policy and legislative analysis related to student services. Project staff possess expertise in the areas of school psychology, school social work, school counseling, school nursing, data-based planning and problem-solving, and the online Individual Educational Plan (IEP) System and Medicaid in schools. Supports provided by project staff are designed to ensure a full array of learning supports to all students. Examples of current foci include school-based mental health, maximizing Medicaid reimbursements, and conducting comprehensive evaluations in the context of COVID-19.


Title I, Part A – Program Improvement and Technical Assistance
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $972,700

Project Summary

This project is designed to increase the capacity of the Florida Department of Education to provide tiered support (e.g., ongoing consultation, monitoring, technical assistance, training) to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) implementing Title I, Part A programs, in order to positively impact the academic achievement of disadvantaged students.


Title I, Part C – Education of Migratory Children – Migrant Education Program Technical Support
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $378,046

Project Summary

This project is designed to increase the capacity of the Florida Department of Education to serve its subgrantees, and to facilitate the implementation of its Service Delivery Plan (SDP) to positively impact the academic achievement of migratory children and youth.


Title IX, Part A – Education for Homeless Children and Youth State Activities Project
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Castillo
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $381,120

Project Summary

This project is designed to increase the capacity of the Florida Department of Education to provide tiered support (e.g., ongoing consultation, monitoring, technical assistance, training) to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) carrying out their McKinney-Vento Act responsibilities to positively impact the academic achievement of homeless children and youth.


UMatter Program
UMatter Program
  • Principal Investigator: Lyman Dukes III
  • Co-Principal Investigator: L. Danie Roberts-Dahm
  • Funder: Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities
  • Project Dates: 2020 – 2023
  • Amount Funded: $899,760

Project Summary

UMatter is an innovative inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) program for students with intellectual disability located at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. Students in the program will increase their skills in the five program components based on their individualized goals and tailored program of study: academic access and enrichment, career development and employment, campus and community engagement, self-determination and independent living.

Students will complete their program of study by earning a certificate of completion and accomplishment and a Career Readiness Badge from USF based upon their individualized career goals and program of study. The Career Readiness Badge addresses eight essential skills employers look for when hiring interns or new employees: career management, communications, critical thinking, global citizenship, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, and technology. Students who successfully complete the program will obtain competitive employment aligned with their selected program of study. 

Students in UMatter express a strong desire to continue their education in an inclusive postsecondary setting, explore careers and engage in work-based learning opportunities, and live independently. Students in UMatter will physically attend the university and audit college courses, join and participate in campus and community clubs, organizations and activities, engage in internships, apply for jobs, obtain competitive employment, and become responsible members of their communities. Students may have the option to live on campus with support from residential coaches, which is a unique opportunity in that less than half of the inclusive postsecondary programs in Florida feature an on-campus residential component.


Graduates in regalia celebrating outside
Check and Connect (State Personnel Development Grant)
  • Principal Investigator: Jordan T. Knab
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education
  • Project Dates: Oct. 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
  • Award Amount: $607,113.00

Project Website

Project Summary

Check and Connect is a nationally recognized mentoring program with proven success through a model of ongoing, systematic intervention and support to promote students’ engagement at school and with learning. Each participating student is assigned a mentor who builds a long‐term, sustained relationship with them to enhance their connection with school and help them make academic progress.

Targeted districts throughout Florida are assisted with implementation of Check and Connect and receive ongoing training and technical assistance through the State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) project housed at the USF College of Education on the St. Petersburg campus.


Man working in a cafe
Project 10: Transition Education Network 
  • Principal Investigator: Jordan T. Knab
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Brenda Walker, PhD, JD
  • Funder: Florida Department of Education/US Department of Education
  • Project Dates: Oct. 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
  • Award Amount: $1,324,765

Project Website

Project Summary

Project 10 is the only program of its kind in Florida. It provides professional development and technical assistance to every school district in Florida to help build capacity to provide secondary transition services to students with disabilities in order to improve their academic success and post-school outcomes.

Project 10 is the primary conduit between the Florida Department of Education, specifically the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and relevant statewide school district personnel in addressing law and policy, effective practices, and research-based interventions in the area of transition services for youth with disabilities.


Woman in classroom with students
SEDNET: Multiagency Service Network for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities 

Principal Investigator: Jordan T. Knab
Funder: Florida Department of Education/US Department of Education
Project Dates: September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2021
Award Amount: $505,183.00

Project Website

Project Summary

This project, sponsored by the Florida Department of Education’s Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, serves as a statewide coordination effort to create a network of local key stakeholders committed to assisting in the provision of a quality system of care for students with or at-risk of emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Learn more about SEDNET Administration.


2020-2021 Youth Mental Health Awareness and Training (YMHAT) Administration

Principal Investigator: Jordan T. Knab
Sponsor/Funder: Florida Department of Education/US Department of Education
Award Start Date and End Date: July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
Amount: $5,170,000.00

Project Summary

The Youth Mental Health Awareness and Training (YMHAT) Administration is a Discretionary Non-competitive award and beginning in the 2020-21 school year, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) shall continue to implement the established evidence-based youth mental health awareness and assistance training program to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of emotional disturbance, mental illness, and substance use disorders and provide such personnel with the skills to help a person who is developing or experiencing an emotional disturbance, mental health, or substance use problem.


Arts4All Florida logo
Arts4All Florida
  • Principal Investigator: William Black
  • Sponsor/Funder: Florida Department of Education/Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Project Dates: July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Amount Awarded: $334,000 (recurring)

Project Website

Project Summary

Arts4All Florida provides direct arts education programs to students with disabilities (SWD), trains arts educators on inclusion and accommodations in the arts, and facilitates parent involvement and engagement activities in order to enable SWD to fully participate in the arts and receive the cognitive, social, and creative thinking benefits provided by arts experiences. Arts4All Florida also provides training for general education, arts, STEM, and Special Education teachers in how to use technology like 3D printing, virtual reality, animation, and music applications to teach the arts to SWD and by providing technology-based art programs directly to SWD.

Through our programs, Arts4All Florida aims to increase parents’ recognition of the benefits of the arts on their child’s development so that parents may then continue these activities outside the school setting. We also aim to promote the arts as a future career path for SWD. All Arts4All Florida programs tie directly to Florida’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, State Performance Plan (SPP), the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS) Strategic Plan, and Florida Standards.



External Grants – Private

Principal Investigators

Advancing Leadership for Intersectional Equity
  • Principal Investigator: Vonzell Agosto
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Zorka Karanxha, Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, and Jenifer Hartman
  • Funders: Hillsborough County Public School District and the Wallace Foundation
  • Project Dates: September 2020 – October 2020
  • Award Amount: $25,000

Project Summary

This study, Advancing Leadership for Intersectional Equity in the Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) district, focuses on district and school administrators’ employment policies and practices, their equity mindedness, and their responsiveness to a performance-based interpretive process (image elicitation). Its purpose is to explore the perspectives and experiences related to equity in the leadership pipeline among those who have been re-assigned to or re/moved from principalship to district-level leadership positions or vice versa.

This research can inform the school district’s Racial Equity policy and plans for leadership: Recruiting, employing, supporting, retaining, and continuously developing a workforce of racially conscious and culturally competent administrative, instructional, and support personnel. The framework guiding the conceptualization and sense-making processes for this study is intersectionality and the multiplicity of inequities that shape the leadership profile and practices in the district.


Wipro Program
Tampa Bay Wipro Science Education Fellowship Program
  • Principal Investigator: Allan Feldman
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Karl Jung and David Rosengrant
  • Funder: Wipro Limited
  • Award Amount: $1,100,000
  • Project Dates: Jan. 2018 – August 2022

Project Website

Project Summary

Through a grant awarded to USF by Wipro Limited, a select group of talented science teachers in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco County school districts will join the Tampa Bay Wipro Science Education Fellowship Program. For three years, the program will welcome a new cohort of 20 science teachers who undergo 250 hours of intense capability development training while continuing to teach in their respective schools.

The program tailors to the needs of its participants by utilizing the goals of the Wipro Science Education Fellowship Program. The program trains educators to build leadership skills and teaching excellence within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines by leveraging research-validated expertise from participating universities and designing transformative instructional experiences for under-funded K-12 schools.


McKnight Junior Faculty Development Fellowship

  • Principal Investigator: Tanetha Fisher, PhD
  • Funder: The Florida Education Fund and The McKnight Foundation
  • Project Dates: Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020
  • Amount Awarded: Sabbatical Fellowship (9 Months)

Project Summary

Emotion is used to influence policy narratives and impacts the psychological well-being of educators. This involves understanding, not just the policies themselves, but rather the psychological and emotional aspects of policy and what it means to holistically experience policy. This project chronicles the narratives of everyday urban educators and uses physiological observations to document the impact of emotional conditions on policy issues they deem important.


Students with books
Read with PAL: Access to Multicultural Children’s Literature During COVID-19
  • Principal Investigator: AnnMarie Alberton Gunn
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Susan V. Bennett
  • Funder: Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
  • Project Dates: Oct. 2020 – Sept. 2021
  • Award Amount: $10, 084.00

Project Summary

This project will focus on strengthening Kindergarten through third grade students’ social emotional learning and reading comprehension through literature circles and multicultural literature. This innovative project incorporates researched based best practices that intertwine literacy and social emotional learning.


Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education 
  • Principal Investigator: Jordan T. Knab
  • Funder: University of Central Florida 
  • Project Dates: Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2020 
  • Award Amount: $529,622 

Project Website

Project Summary

Students with an intellectual disability are attending college courses, on campuses around the country, with peers without disabilities, and engaged in internships and paid employment in their communities. As with their peers without disabilities, students with an intellectual disability are also active in their college’s organizations, clubs, and social activities.

The Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education (FCIHE) is charged with increasing access to and engagement in college coursework and college life (clubs, organizations, and campus activities) culminating in a chosen career path and competitive employment for individuals with an intellectual disability. Florida

Consortium helps to provide information on inclusive Florida college programs to students with an intellectual disability and their families as well as postsecondary and secondary staff.

The Florida Consortium on Inclusive Higher Education is a partnership between the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), Florida International University (FIU), and the Florida State College of Jacksonville (FSCJ). The Consortium was funded in 2015, $2.5 million dollars over five (5) years through a federal grant authorized by the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008.

The USF College of Education is a key partner in the consortium whose objectives are:

  • Expand the number of inclusive postsecondary education programs on campuses across Florida for young adults with intellectual disabilities and their families.
  • Collaborate with all Florida postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities and other key stakeholders to facilitate alignment of curriculum and credentialing among the institutions.
  • Develop a base of meaningful research in this area and to disseminate the research through peer-reviewed articles, conference presentations, and training.

The Consortium is one of 25 federally funded Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities into Higher Education (TPSID) nationwide. The five-year award is from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.


Co-Principal Investigators

Safe Water
Safe Water Supplies in Vulnerable Communities: Encouraging Use and Enhancing Technical Design of Biosand Filters
  • Principal Investigator: Kebreab Ghebremichael (USF Patel College of Global Sustainability)
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Sarina Ergas (USF College of Engineering), Allan Feldman (USF College of Education)
  • Funder: Joy McCann Foundation
  • Project Dates: Jan. 2018 – Dec. 2020
  • Award Amount: $50,000

Project Website

Project Summary

Across the world, hundreds of millions of people lack access to this most basic of necessities. Biosand filters (BSFs) offer an affordable, consumer-grade solution to this global health threat. More than 650,000 BSFs have been deployed across 59 countries, improving more than four million lives.

An interdisciplinary team from USF’s Patel College of Global Sustainability, the College of Engineering, and the College of Education is working to improve the biosand filter’s function and usability — to benefit communities around the globe who lack options for safe drinking water. The team will modify the design of the conventional BSF, maximizing performance and ability to remove multiple contaminants simultaneously. This will reduce the number of treatment steps, making it more user-friendly. The team will also assess the social and educational contexts of BSF implementation, promoting its sustainable use and broadening its appeal among at-risk communities.

The team’s research will also provide a relevant, hands-on STEM project for Hillsborough County Public Schools high school students, who will conduct complementary research on modified BSFs. The project team will target schools in communities with large percentages of economically disadvantaged residents. Students will also gather community data on citizens’ use and perceptions of bottled water versus tap water, and encourage the use of the latter for health, economic, and ecological reasons. Importantly, student findings may help to inform the USF team’s research.


PLAY: Partners in Literacy Advocacy For Youth
  • Principal Investigator: Heather Robb, Director of Police Athletic League
  • Co-Principal Investigators: AnnMarie Gunn and Susan Bennett
  • Funder: Garth Family Foundation
  • Project Dates: September 2020-September 2021
  • Award Amount: $35,000.00

Project Summary

This multi-tiered project, PLAY: Partners in Literacy Advocacy for Youth, will focus on strengthening the overall reading achievement in children, grades K-8. USF researchers AnnMarie Gunn and Susan Bennett formed a partnership with the executive director of the PAL (Police Athletic League) center and have developed a robust literacy program for afterschool and during summer breaks. PLAY will implement a researched-based literacy program and focus on interventions specifically designed to maximize the potential to foster academic and socioemotional learning, while utilizing culturally relevant children’s literature.


PLAY: Partners in Literacy Advocacy for Youth
  • Principal Investigator: Heather Robb, Director of Police Athletic League
  • Co-Principal Investigators: AnnMarie Gunn and Susan Bennett
  • Funder: Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Koren Family Foundation
  • Project Dates: April 2020
  • Award Amount: $5,000.00

Project Summary

This project funded the selection and distribution of multicultural children’s literature to children who attend the PAL Center in St. Petersburg. Due to Covid-19, we designed and implemented an emergency-funded literacy program because of the challenges as schools quickly shifted to virtual instruction. The project’s goals were to increase access to books and to facilitate comprehension and motivation support for home-based reading.



Internal Grants

The BEST Way to Support Black Men/Youth in Medical and Healthcare Fields
  • Principal Investigator: Vonzell Agosto
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Deirdre Cobb-Roberts and Andrea Williams
  • Funder: University of South Florida
  • Project Dates: Sept. 2020 – August 2021
  • Award Amount: $15,000

Project Summary

The preparation of students who are Black males holds promise for educating medical/healthcare professionals who can and are willing to address disparities in care for Black communities. Despite an overall increase in the number of Black males graduating from college, the representation of Black men in medicine has remained unchanged for nearly 40 years in the United States. Research has suggested that to combat this trend, Black males need a pipeline of opportunities to prepare them to enter medical and healthcare fields.

In partnership with the Brain Expansions Scholastic Training (BEST) Program, this study aims to examine critical factors that support the retention of Black males, who participated in the BEST program, in their pursuit of a medical/health academic major or occupation.


Understanding the recruitment, training, and retention needs of male school counselors through a qualitative research study
  • Principal Investigator: Eric S. Davis, PhD, NCC, SB-RPT
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Michele Pinellas
  • Funder: USF College of Education
  • Project Dates: June 2020 – August 2021
  • Award Amount: $2,280

Project Summary

Traditionally, education has been a female-dominated profession with males included primarily as mentors, coaches, and disciplinarians. Outside of these traditional roles, males in education, especially in early grades, may experience stigma as being viewed as less masculine, sexual deviants, or unqualified. As a result, many males avoid seeking careers in education; however, research has shown that students and the profession benefit from the diverse perspectives and experiences male educators can provide.

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to gain insights and perspectives of a diverse group of male school counselors’ experiences in selecting the profession of school counseling, counselor education training, and serving as professional school counselors. Through this knowledge, we hope to provide guidance to enhance the process of recruitment, training, and retention of diverse male school counselors to continue the growth of males in key educational roles.


Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning of COVID-19 Public Health Issues in eLearning Environments
  • Principal Investigator: Allan Feldman, PhD
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Marissa Levine (USF College of Public Health), David Rosengrant, Sarah Van Ingen, and Eugenia Vomvoridi-Ivanovic
  • Funder: University of South Florida
  • Project Dates: June 2020 – June 2021
  • Award Amount: $25,000

Project Summary

This innovative research and development (R&D) project has two main components. First, the project team will engage middle school math and science teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in participatory action research to develop methods and materials to deliver high quality, reform-based instruction through online platforms, and to increase students’ knowledge of public health issues and their ability to serve their communities as COVID-19 public health ambassadors. Second, we will engage in research on the development and implementation of COVID- and culturally-responsive pedagogical methods and curricular materials, and their effects on the students’ understanding of math and science content and of systems approaches to public health.


The Impact of Mentoring on Persistence, Resilience, and Success Outcomes of Black Women Academics
  • Principal Investigator: Tanetha Fisher, PhD
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Deirdre Cobb-Roberts (USF College of Education) Kyaien O. Conner (USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences)
  • Funder: University of South Florida
  • Community Partners: The Florida Education Fund and The McKnight Foundation
  • Project Dates: Sept. 2, 2020 – Sept. 1, 2021
  • Amount Awarded: $14,970

Project Summary

Underrepresented in all of academia, the need to foster Black women faculty success has been at a critical point for several years. Not only do Black women have lower salaries at the time of hire as compared to their male counterparts, which can affect career trajectories and upward movement, they also experience tenure and promotion at decreased rates. This research proposal supports an interdisciplinary mixed-methods study to explore the experiences of Black women academics who have had successful experiences with programmatic mentoring.


Making a Difference within Teacher Preparation: University Supervisors Coaching for Equity in Clinical Experiences
  • Principal Investigator: Jennifer Jacobs
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Randi Latzke and Vanessa Marasco
  • Funder: USF College of Education
  • Project Dates: July 2020 - August 2021
  • Award Amount: $5,000

Project Summary

Project Summary

Preparing high-quality, equity-centered teacher candidates who can be successful in today’s elementary classrooms is critical to the success of our next generation of elementary students. Many teachers enter the profession ill-prepared to meet these challenges, which results in substandard educational experiences for the students and a negative impact on teacher retention. Coaching practices grounded in equity are crucial to preparing teachers successfully, but little work has been done to thoroughly research the practices university supervisors can utilize to best prepare the most effective and resilient teachers (Han et al., 2014; Jacobs, 2015).

This project involves enacting a yearlong professional development for university supervisors on coaching for equity as they engage in observations cycles (pre-conference, observation, and post- conference) with teacher candidates in clinical experiences. As part of this professional development, university supervisors will engage in video analysis of their coaching cycles as they support teacher candidates in recognizing, responding, and redressing issues of inequity (Gorski, 2017). In addition, this project will include a research component studying how supervisor participants develop and enact coaching for equity as well as their impact on teacher candidates.

Data collection will include audio recordings of all professional development sessions, video recordings of supervisor coaching cycles, field notes, and interviews with supervisors and teacher candidates. This data will be help determine the initial impact of the equity-centered coaching framework on both university supervisor practice and initial teacher candidate learning. Results will lead to refinement of the framework with the intent of expanding this work to more supervisors as well as school-based teacher educators as a cornerstone of high- quality teacher preparation practice.


Multimedia Augmented Reality Vocabulary Learning (MARVL)
  • Principal Investigator: Sara Smith
  • Funder: University of South Florida Foundation, Bull Ring Accelerator Grant 
  • Project Dates: 2020 – 2021
  • Award Amount: $25,000

Project Website

Project Summary

This project will support development of Multimedia Augmented Reality Vocabulary Learning (MARVL), an augmented reality (AR) application (U.S. Patent Application No. 62/822,125) that teaches vocabulary in a new language using research-based best practices. MARVL builds on traditional flashcards with animated bilingual AR “teachers'' who coexist in the learner’s environment.

The study will involve the creation of new materials for Spanish-speaking children learning English and adult English speakers learning Spanish and a proof-of-concept study to explore MARVL’s efficacy for teaching new words.


Racism in School Exclusionary Suspensions (RISES)
  • Principal Investigator: Brenda L. Walker, PhD, JD
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Saundra Johnson-Austin, Ed.D; Dana Thompson Dorsey, JD, PhD; and Gwendolyn Webb, Ed.D (Texas A&M University)
  • Community Consultant: Samuel L. Wright, Ed.D
  • Funder: University of South Florida Taskforce on Understanding and Addressing Blackness and Anti-Black Racism in Local, National, and International Communities
  • Community Partners: Allen Temple AME Church, Hillsborough County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. (CDC)
  • Project Dates: Sept. 2, 2020 – Sept. 1, 2021
  • Amount Awarded: $30,000

Project Summary

The Racism in School Exclusionary Suspensions (RISES) project explores school suspensions and the extent to which perceptions of racism or differential treatment are held by African American adolescents with multiple school suspensions occurring between August 2018 and March 2020, and families and community members.

Given the reality and uncertainties of COVID-19, surveys will be administered virtually to approximately 100 middle and high school African American students. In addition, 50 students, 25 family members, and 25 community members from each of our three community sites will participate in virtual focus groups, for a total of 400 study participants.

The transdisciplinary research team is partnering with Allen Temple AME Church, the Hillsborough County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. (CDC)— organizations that are all situated in high-populated African American communities—to recruit African American participants and provide technology and internet for any participant who cannot access our website and Microsoft TEAMS links in their homes.

Culturally-responsive data collection and analysis approaches will be employed and the findings will be disseminated to academic and lay audiences using a variety of formats. Moreover, research findings will be used to expand and scale up the research foci to secure external, federal and corporation funding.


Classroom Caffeine

Classroom Caffeine Podcast

Project Summary

This project aims to fills a gap in scholarship, as the impact of podcasting on professional development is an understudied area of research. This work will test the hypothesis that podcasts are important tools in the dissemination of research to a broad audience, and when enhanced with an arsenal of online tools, templates and other resources, can optimize the translation and application of research in practice.

On a grander scale, this project also aims to support the USF mission of the by “advanc[ing] and promot[ing] research and discovery to improve society, foster economic growth, and address global challenges." Podcasting has great potential to advance and promote research for society, as it makes the work of researchers free and accessible to a broad public audience.


Tampa Bay Area Writing Project Summer Leadership Institute

Cultivating Anti-racist Writing Teachers through the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project

Project Summary

Prior research on secondary English teaching has focused on critical selection of literature curricula (e.g., literature written by authors/about characters who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Few studies have addressed designing anti-racist writing curricula. Writing is integral to students’ success in secondary school and beyond. Yet NAEP’s (2017) “Writing Report Card” found only 27% of secondary students performed at the “proficient” level. In Florida, students who are BIPOC scored lower by 19 points. Developing effective writers, and writing teachers, is a local and national equity issue.

We will promote anti-racist writing teaching through an initiative within the existing community of the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project (TBAWP), one of 175 National Writing Project sites that prepare over 2,000 new teacher-leaders each year through a rigorous Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). Funding will support a book group based on Gholdy Muhammad’s “Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Developing Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.” Teachers in this group include prior SLI graduates, as well as other promising recruits for the 2021 SLI. Subsequent interviews with each book-group participant will air as episodes of TBAWP’s podcast and lesson series for local writing teachers, increasing impact of anti-racist pedagogies for the Tampa Bay area through the TBAWP website.


A Study of the Incorporation of Authentic STEM Research Experiences in SCE 4863: Science, Technology and Society

  • Principal Investigator: Allan Feldman, PhD
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Gerald Woods
  • Funder: USF Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning Research Grant Proposal
  • Project Dates: September 2021 – September 2022
  • Amount Funded: $5,000

Project Summary

The purpose of the project is to study a course that would teach undergraduates to do STEM research (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Previous research shows that only 20 percent of undergraduate STEM majors have had significant, authentic research experiences before they graduate. This project aims to address this issue by exploring how a current science education course at USF can provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to have authentic research experiences so that they can learn the practices of science and engineering and later teach about those experiences to their future students.


For more information about funded research activities in the USF College of Education, please contact Kathy Bradley-Klug at kbradley@usf.edu.