This page includes some of the topics within education that have piqued my interest during graduate school, action research, or on my own time.
Virtual Reality (VR) Applications in Elementary and Secondary Education
The VR field is expanding quickly into adult educational contexts, e.g. medical training, aircraft maintenance, and professional football practice, but it hasn’t been widely adopted into elementary and secondary schools. It’s likely that more educational uses for VR will be presented to teachers in the near future, especially considering falling costs for headsets and increased performance with each model.
- What opportunities does VR present for classroom teachers that isn’t possible with other forms of digital media?
- What developmental considerations should teachers make when developing lessons or choosing content for students to view or interact with in a VR space?
This curiosity comes from my own interest in VR playing games, watching videos, and interacting in social spaces, as well as fun to read research from Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford. This is a great book about the topic that cites research in their lab and beyond.
Developing Racial Literacy and Healthy Racial Identities in Children
Racial identity development has been studied by many great scholars and has been developed into books for the general public. Books for educators have also been written for creating anti-bias or anti-racist classroom communities. Race, a socially constructed concept with real world implications, is also a shifting concept. Here are a few questions that remain for me about racial identity formation after conducting action research and a literature review in graduate school and continued professional development.
- How widely are anti-bias or anti-racists practices used in classrooms? Are there factors that help predict their usage, e.g. a teacher’s self-identified or beliefs racial concepts? Administration support?
- Teachers must know themselves well in order to create space for a welcoming classroom community, i.e. recognizing bias, understanding stereotypes, and creating positive emotional climates. Given the majority of elementary educators in the US are self-identified as white, what percentage of them have healthy racial identities (defined in reference to Helms’ racial identity model)? What role to teacher pre-service programs play in their racial identity development? What role should they play in a
- Various K-8 racial literacy curriculums have been developed to help students build healthy racial identities. How effective are they? What factors influence their success?
Self-Contained Classroom STEM Education Quality
Many schools teach STEM or science during regular classroom instructional time, i.e. not a specialist or separate teacher. Yet, many teachers report not feeling comfortable teaching STEM for various self-reported reasons.
- Do these feelings influence the quality of their instruction? If so, what interventions are available for administrators? What role do pre-service programs play?
- Does this belief hold true for increasingly popular computer science instruction vs. classical science programs, i.e. coding apps vs. plant growing conditions experiments?
- How do community institutions and events influence the quality of classroom STEM instruction, e.g. local science museums, colleges with pre-service teacher programs, or science fairs?
Ecologies of Activism and Methods of Political Participation in Elementary Education
Political education in elementary education focuses on the structure of US government, the creation of legislation, and US history. This typically includes the Civil Rights Movement, showcasing heroes such as MLK, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges.
- How does the presentation of the Civil Rights Movement shapes student concepts about activism, such as when and how it should be used, different tactics (marches, sit-ins, etc.), who it’s meant to participate, and expectations for results?
- What are students’ impressions of and experiences with activism in elementary (or secondary) education? How are these different when focused on historical movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement, versus present-day movements, like Black Lives Matter? How do various factors, like teachers’ and administrators’ experiences, impressions, and support, as well as school culture affect these outcomes?
- Voting is often seen as the most critical form of political participation in the US. What are student impressions of political participation outside of voting? In what ways do schools teach community organizing skills (or activism more broadly) as a means of political participation? What opportunities exist to practice these skills in a safe and challenging manner that are developmentally appropriate and effective for instructional needs? How can they feel authentically connected to current curricular standards?