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Student Research Support

Initiatives that support undergraduate and graduate research are paramount for developing the next generation of engaged scholars who work at the nexus of learning and teaching in urban communities and translating the outcomes into concrete classroom practices.


Undergraduate Research


Roeseanna V. Spencer
Childhood Education, 2016

#OurBlack&BrownLivesDoMatter: Using the intergenerational schooling experiences of African Americans and Latinos to enhance teaching and learning

(Abstract Forthcoming)

Delali Adutwum
Psychology, 2016

Using literature to enhance the learning outcomes of African-American males

(Abstract Forthcoming)

Melissa C. Heidenreich
Mathematics Education, 2014

A summer enrichment program’s take on digital literacies for mathematics learning and instruction

Adolescents live in an academic world where digital technologies are becoming more common place, requiring a deeper understanding of digital literacy. This research project explored how various forms of digital literacy were used during a five-week mathematics summer enrichment program at a local urban high school to enhance student learning outcomes and teacher instructional practices. A qualitative methodological approach was used to answer three research questions: (1) What influence does the use of digital literacy in a high school mathematics summer enrichment program have on student learning outcomes?, (2) What impact does the use of digital literacy in a high school mathematics summer enrichment program have on teacher instructional practices?, and (3) How can digital literacy be used in a regular mathematics classroom during the academic year to improve student learning outcomes and teacher instructional practices? Eighteen students and one mathematics teacher participated in this study. Data were collected through surveys, observations, and interviews. Findings indicated that student and teacher comfort levels play a significant role in the kinds of digital literacy practices used. Moreover, digital literacy practices  vary significantly depending upon the technology employed in the classroom. This presentation elaborates on these findings and offers recommendations for classroom practice.

Verna Maximin
Mathematics Education, 2014

Let’s make it real: Connecting mathematics to adolescents’ everyday lives

Adolescents typically express a disconnect between the content that they learn in schools and their worlds outside the classroom.  This research project explored the benefits and limitations associated with how mathematics instruction and learning can be connected to the lives of adolescents through a high school summer enrichment program.  Through the participation of 18 incoming freshman and one classroom teacher in a five-week summer enrichment program, qualitative data was collected to respond to three research goals: 1) To perform a literature review on how mathematics can be connected to the lived realities of adolescents, 2) To develop activities that will engage adolescents and prompt them to locate mathematics within their lived realities, and 3) To document and report on the experiences and opinions of adolescents as they engage in the different activities.  The research findings indicated that students do in fact crave a curriculum where they actively participate in higher order thinking, and they are better engaged when they are enlightened on the applications of mathematics concepts in the world outside the classroom.   This research project also finds that this method of teaching requires dedication and support to ensure that the teacher and students do not revert to comfortable forms of teaching, which may only elicit low order thinking.  This report expands on these findings and presents recommendations for future research.

Catherine Amdur
Mathematics Education, 2013

Using digital social media to engage adolescents in mathematics learning

Digital Social Media (DSM) holds tremendous potential to engage adolescents struggling in mathematics. This research study explored the learning potential of DSM in mathematics by addressing three questions: 1) Why do students struggle with mathematics?, 2) How are students being engaged in mathematics to overcome the struggles?, and 3) How can Digital Social Media be part of the solution? Drawing from critical perspectives in mathematics education (D’Ambrosio, 2001; Frankenstein, 1990) and using qualitative research methods, a series of interviews and observations were conducted to capture the mathematics interests and abilities of a middle school male student. Then, a pilot mathematics lesson was created where the student was asked to produce a multimedia video based on his interest: sushi making. We then engaged in multiple conversations where we discovered the mathematics in making sushi. With this newly acquired knowledge, the student enhanced his video by including a voiceover, explaining the mathematics principles in sushi making. He then uploaded his video to Tumblr, a social media site, to be shared with a wider community of learners. I will argue that when a collection of videos are shared with a community of mathematics learners on Tumblr, a conversation about mathematics understanding begins to take into account the ways mathematics operates in the everyday lives of adolescents and allows them to display an emerging expertise. This presentation includes 1) a review of relevant literature, 2) a model of mathematics instruction using DSM, and 3) the student-created video of mathematics understanding in sushi making.  


Graduate Research


Micaila Herd
Literacy Specialist, 2015

iPads as an instructional tool for English language learning

Technology is widely used by today’s generation of children both in the school and home setting. This action research study examined the effects of iPad technology in the literacy achievement of emergent bilingual students in the fourth grade. A mixed-methods study was conducted, in which quantitative and qualitative data were used to assess students’ literacy-based outcomes using iPads, selective iPad applications, activities designed from selective iPad applications, and the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model. Participants’ reflections on the technology used for their learning were analyzed and found to be positive. Findings revealed that the iPad technology used in line with iPad applications and activities contributed greatly to the literacy-based outcomes of those who participated in this research study. Based on these findings, several implications for future educators were identified to encourage these educators to integrate iPad technology in their classrooms for student literacy success.

Andrea Cwynar
Literacy Specialist, 2012

Reconsidering language variation attitudes: African American English in a standardized school setting

Language variation is increasing both socially and in education. Teachers, like many others, hold specific beliefs and ideas about linguistically diverse people. This study looked at the attitudes four White teachers held about students who spoke African American English. Through various ethnographic measures, such as surveys, observations, and interviews, the author was able to document the changes, or lack thereof, in teacher attitudes after training in language variation took place. The author also provides recommendations to enhance genuine valuation of language variation within the educational setting.

Doctoral Dissertation Committee Member

Toni Mixon
Doctoral, 2015

“Examination of the effects of repeated reading on the fluency and comprehension of African American males with emotional and behavioral disorders.” Department of Learning and Instruction, SUNY at Buffalo, Submitted May 2015.


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Woods Beals Endowed Chair in Urban Education

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