Month: August 2015

Stich encouraged to pursue education career as an undergraduate

Amy Stich

Amy Stich

Amy Stich, assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF), was first drawn to the teaching profession when she was an undergraduate studying sociology. As a first-generation college student, Stich started becoming aware of the potential of education to be empowering and transformative. “During this time, I was made conscious of my own position within a system of education that often works to reproduce inequalities rather than ameliorate them,” she said. “As an undergraduate student, I was encouraged to think deeply, to question bravely, and to reflect often.”

Stich, who teaches social foundations of education courses, says that she is grateful for her own privileged educational experiences. “As a result, I aim to facilitate the same culture of inquiry within and outside of the classroom,” she explained. Stich, who earned a doctorate in sociology of education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, has worked as a senior policy analyst, a research associate, and an instructor prior to joining the COE family in 2014.

Stich is very passionate about the teaching and learning process. “At NIU, I am incredibly humbled to work with such bright, talented, resilient groups of students that work toward deepening critical agency through teaching and learning, together,” she said.



Supporter of literacy program receives two prestigious awards

award

As the author or co-author of approximately 300 articles, research studies and professional books, Jerry L. Johns, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the College of Education’s Department of Literacy and Elementary Education (LEED), is known in the field of reading education for more than his significant scholarship. Johns has not only been recognized as an outstanding teacher educator, scholar, professional development speaker and leader, he was recently inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame and awarded the William S. Gray Citation of Merit by the International Literacy Association.

“In the field of reading education, the William S. Gray Citation of Merit is by far the most prestigious award given. For Jerry to receive this award on the same day as he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame demonstrates the scope and magnitude of his contributions to the field as well as the high regard in which he is held,” said Laurie Elish-Piper, acting dean of NIU’s College of Education. “With these two honors, Jerry has truly been elevated to the status of living legend in reading.”

Jerry Johns 8-24-15

Jerry Johns (and one of his favorite books) at the opening of the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic at NIU.



New book examines impact of rubrics on education

Joseph Flynn

Joseph Flynn

The College of Education’s Joseph Flynn, associate professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF), has a new book out which he co-edited with his colleague Michelle Tenam-Zemach, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Abraham Fischler School of Education in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Their book, “Rubric Nation: Critical Inquiries on the Impact of Rubrics in Education,” examines the impact rubrics* have on professionals and students across the educational spectrum as well as on modern society and culture.

The idea for the book came up a few years ago at an American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC) conference when Flynn and Tenam-Zemach were talking about how ubiquitous rubrics have become.

“Reflecting on our own teacher preparation experience, Michelle and I realized that we did not use rubrics in college, so the question became when did rubrics start appearing everywhere in teacher education?” Flynn recalled.

“Rubrics are not good or bad in and of themselves,” he said. “On one hand effectively designed rubrics can be very useful for educators in structuring assignments and conveying expectations; yet on the other hand rubrics can also have unintended consequences. For example, rubrics can ultimately minimize students’ willingness to take risks in their learning because they become so focused on what they need to do to get an A.”



Go Teacher project graduates 37 Ecuadorian “Huskies”

Go TeacherThirty-seven Ecuadorian teachers gathered at the Red Roof Inn Aug. 13 for the *Go Teacher project’s graduation ceremony. Go Teacher is a seven-month international education program where Ecuadorian teachers studied ESL methodology, second language acquisition, and culture on NIU’s campus.

James Cohen, assistant professor of ESL and bilingual education in the department Literacy and Elementary Education, secured a $777,000 grant from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education and Kansas State University that made the Go Teacher program possible.

NIU speakers at the ceremony included Lisa Freeman, executive vice president and provost; Laurie Elish-Piper, acting dean of the College of Education; Anne Gregory, chair of the Department of Literacy and Elementary Education; James Cohen, and two Go Teacher graduates—Eugenia Pico and Segundo Rea. Graduates enthusiastically lined up to receive certificates of completion, which were handed out by Cohen and Gregory. The ceremony was followed by a buffet lunch and dancing.

During their seveGO Teachern-month stay at NIU, each of the 37 participants logged 615 in-class and clinical hours. In Ecuador, English is required to study abroad, and to gain entry into a master’s degree or Ph.D. program.



LEED remains a leader in faculty production

Stack of papersA new study published by researchers in the Department of Teacher Education at Brigham Young University ranks NIU’s literacy faculty within the top-10 most productive literacy faculties in the country for the years 2006 through 2012.

The article, which appears in the journal Reading Psychology, also lists NIU’s literacy faculty as one of only four of the 25 university faculties studied to have ranked in the top-10 in four similar studies dating back to 1972.

Such rankings are important to prospective students, who can use such data in selecting schools to attend, and to those “attempting to navigate the unclear waters of promotion, retention, and tenure.”

According to its authors, the current study is intended to build upon the previous studies and “compare the scholarly productivity of faculty members in universities as represented in nine* literacy journals.” Each of the refereed journals is national or international in scope and uses a blind, peer-reviewed acceptance process; all nine are considered among the best in the literacy field as determined by scholarly rigor, impact and prestige.



Are MOOCs democratizing higher education?

Amy Stich and Todd Reeves

Amy Stich and Todd Reeves

Since the term was coined in 2008, MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, have been talked about as a potentially significant democratizing force in higher education. With open enrollment, virtually no limit to class size, and often free, MOOCs seem to offer a cost-effective, convenient and available path to college-level learning to almost anyone with access to the Internet.

Today, MOOCs are offered on just about every topic imaginable and are taught by expert faculty from some of the world’s top universities. Some MOOCs offer certificates of completion and a few even offer academic credit toward degrees. And many institutions of higher learning are using MOOCs with the expectation of expanding their reach to underserved populations and into new geographic regions.

But are MOOCs living up to their democratic promise? Are people who otherwise would not have access to higher education even taking them? That’s what two professors from NIU’s College of Education — along with a dozen of their students — are trying to find out through a large-scale, mixed-methods research project.