Undergraduate Researchers Share Work at Symposium

Four School of Education undergraduates presented their research at this year’s virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 16.

School of Education students Tressa Gosz (L) and Leti Cortes (R).

Tressa Gosz (L) and Leti Cortes (R)

Tressa Gosz and Leti Cortes, freshman and junior students of the Department of Teaching and Learning, have been collaborating with Early Childhood Education faculty to include underrepresented voices in teacher education. Their three-year research study looks at the barriers and challenges Students of Color and first-generation students navigate in teacher education programs, as well as ways that higher ed programs can center the experiences of traditionally underrepresented students. Their research includes their own lived experiences and a literature review, along with surveys, interviews, and conversations with early-program students in the Early Childhood Education program.

The goal of their work is to examine the ways pre-service teachers navigate the Early Childhood Education program, and how the program can develop a model centered on the experiences of early-program students.

“Our conclusions will allow us to better support underrepresented students within the ECE program,” the researchers wrote in their summary.

Their research mentors were Leanne Evans, associate professor, and Elizabeth Rollins, visiting assistant professor, of Teaching & Learning.

School of Education student Haley Elmendorf.

Haley Elmendorf

Senior Haley Elmendorf researched the ACCESS Collection at UWM. ACCESS, the Asset-based Cultural Competence Ensuring Student Success, is funded through a U.S. Department of Education SEED grant. UWM partnered with 12 Milwaukee public schools to focus on culturally-based practices in teaching and learning.

Elmendorf’s project was designed to ensure that the high quality, culturally responsive materials developed over the course of the grant are accessible to educators in the community.

The goal was to gain insight into how and where educators in MPS and UWM currently access curriculum materials as well as the materials’ perceived cultural relevancy, quality and validity for the urban education experience. She surveyed educators anonymously, and conducted in-depth interviews with teachers and education students.

The goal of the research was to look at ways to best market and provide access to the collection to the materials.

“The ACCESS Collection will make space for the benefits of work done through the grant to live on and improve educators’ access to high quality, culturally responsive curriculum materials that are relevant to the urban educational setting and will promote positive student outcomes,” Elmendorf wrote.

Elmendorf’s research mentor was Tania Mertzman Habeck, Department of Teaching & Learning.

School of Education student Noah Wolfe.

Noah Wolfe

Noah Wolfe, a senior in Teaching and Learning, Exceptional Education, studied using inductive generalization principles in the mathematics classroom. He is doing research through the Department of Educational Psychology with mentor Chris Lawson.

Wolfe’s presentation was selected as one of the top 15 presentations at the 2021 Symposium. In 2020, he was chosen as a SERA (Senior Excellence in Research Award) winner for 2020-2021.

Wolfe’s work looked at the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, which emphasize inductive generalizations — using specific evidence to come to new, broader conclusions. That ability is considered one of the most important goals of mathematics education.

His research studied how teaching and educational practices support this need in the mathematics classroom. Psychological research, for example, shows children prefer to generalize from more rather than fewer examples and from examples that represent a more diverse, varied set.

Wolfe is studying the extent to which these psychological principles can be translated to the classroom and used strategically by educators to help support students master curriculum through making inductive generalizations.

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