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News from Baylor School of Education

Faculty and Student Literacy Research Recognized by International Literacy Association [11/20/2019]


Dr. Kelly Johnston

Dr. Kelly Johnston (center with certificate) was recognized at the ILA Conference.

Baylor School of Education faculty and doctoral students in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction garnered recognition and presented research at the International Literacy Association’s annual conference in October. The International Literacy Association is a global advocacy and membership organization of more than 300,000 literacy educators, researchers, and experts across 86 countries.

Dr. Kelly Johnston, assistant professor of literacy, and Dr. Phil Nichols, assistant professor, both received recognition as finalists for the ILA’s Outstanding Dissertation Award. Baylor was the only university with two representatives recognized among the finalists.

Johnston was awarded for her dissertation “(Re)Imagining Possibilities for Youth in Schools: A Rhizomatic Exploration of Youth’s Affective Engagements with Literacy,” chaired by Dr. Marjorie Siegel, from Teachers College, Columbia University, where Johnston earned an EdD in 2018. Johnston examined how culturally and linguistically diverse students in a seventh grade English Language Arts classroom aligned to or veered from expected literacy norms. Johnston argued that normed expectations of students’ literacy engagement in schools imposed hegemonic control over their literacy learning, thus devaluing forms of affective engagement that connected to students’ social, cultural, and racial identities. Findings demonstrated students’ unsanctioned engagement with literacies and suggest possibilities for teaching and learning that value students’ multimodal, affective, and critical literacies over a standardized process.

Dr. Phil Nichols

Dr. Phil Nichols

Nichols was awarded for his dissertation “Making Innovation: Literacy and Technoscience in Urban Public School Reform,” chaired by Dr. Amy Stornaiuolo, from the University of Pennsylvania, where Nichols completed a PhD in 2018. Nichols examined the concept of “innovation” and the different ways it has been used as a lever for school reform in postwar Philadelphia. The project included archival research related to the founding of a district “Innovation Office” in 1960s Philadelphia, as well as longitudinal ethnography in one of the city’s newest innovation schools, focused on 1:1 technologies and the use of makerspaces.

Lindsay Knofski

Lindsay Knofski

Doctoral students Tracy Harper and Lindsay Knofski both presented research posters at the conference.

Knofski’s research poster, titled “Preparing Culturally Responsive Preservice Literacy Teachers: Using Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools as a Model for Teacher Education Programs,” presented preliminary research findings from my dissertation research study on preservice teachers’ preparation as culturally responsive literacy teachers. Specifically, I conducted a qualitative case study focused on preservice teachers’ development of their understanding of culturally responsive teaching, as well as their implementation of culturally responsive teaching practices through their role as literacy teachers in a diverse field experience.

Tracy Harper

Tracy Harper

Harper’s research, titled “The Role of Choice: Reframing Teacher Professional Development to Encourage Self-Directed Learning,” examined the role of choice in teacher professional development. The poster synthesized the key components of effective professional development and identified learning pathways that encourage self-directed learning.

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For more than 100 years Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, superintendents, psychologists, health education professionals, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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