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Research Highlights

 Research Highlights

Discovering and Developing Human Potential in Diverse Learning Environments

Core faculty research initiatives in our department center on one or more of three intersecting themes:  Educating Diverse Learners, STEM Learning, and Effective Teaching.

Faculty in the area of Gifted, Talented, and Creative Education lead a multifaceted effort to expand the reach and scope of effective educational programs for gifted students. These efforts include the search for more effective ways of identifying talent in underrepresented populations such as students from low income families (Project HOPE) Native American students (Project Hope+), expanding gifted and talented programing for under-represented and underserved groups, and helping teachers to incorporate differentiated instruction in order to provide appropriate levels of challenge to all their students (Total School Cluster Grouping). Professor Marcia Gentry is the director of the internationally recognized Gifted Education Resource Institute (GERI) through these discovery and engagement initiatives are realized.


The Special Education faculty conduct innovative research on ways to enhance educational access and outcomes for students with special needs through the use of technology. Professor Xin is lead investigator on the NSF funded, Nurturing Multiplicative Reasoning in Students with Learning Disabilities  (NMSRD) project which has been studying the use of a computerized conceptual-modeling environment to promote the learning of mathematical ideas in students with learning disabilities. Professors Buck has also received funding from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation through its Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Children with Disabilities program for a project to refine and evaluate the use of digital text readers, specifically MathSpeak-based technology, to support secondary students with visual impairments in using mathematics in the algebra classroom.


The Educational Psychology and Research Methodology faculty are engaged in a variety of projects that examine the features of effective STEM learning environments. Working with partners in schools that serve diverse and high poverty student populations, Professors Mantzicopoulos, Patrick, and Samarapungavan conduct research on science learning, motivation, and literacy outcomes for kindergarten students who learn from a researcher-designed program of guided inquiry instruction that integrates science and literacy. This line of research has been supported by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to the Scientific Literacy Project (SLP).  Professor Samarapungavan in collaboration with colleagues in physics and physics education (Professors Bryan and Hirsch) leads an NSF funded exploratory project, Modeling in the Primary Grades (MPG) to help young elementary school students develop and use particulate models of matter to explain every day material phenomena such as the phases and phase transitions of matter. Professor Maeda contributes her expertise in educational measurement and assessment to a variety of STEM related research efforts including the MPG project, the G-RATE project, which uses a Global Real-time Assessment Tool for Teaching Enhancement to provide pedagogical feedback to their course instructors in undergraduate engineering classrooms,  and the Preparing to Teach Algebra (PTA) . Educational Psychology faculty members also conduct research about identifying effective teaching. Professors Patrick and Mantzicopoulos have received funding for the Measures of Effective Teaching project, to investigate issues related to how teaching effectiveness is measured. Professor Yadav examines ways to develop teachers’ knowledge and skills to teach computer science at the K-12 level, which is supported by funding from National Science Foundation to the CS4EDU  (Computer Science for Educators) and PD4CS (Professional Development for Computer Science) project on which he serves as the PI>. He also part of a NSF funded AGEP (Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) project to create a mentoring initiative for Under Represented Minority (URM) postdocs in STEM disciplines, with the mission of training a new generation of exceptionally well-prepared faculty. The AGEP project will utilize and examine the effectiveness of case studies to change the culture of hiring practices for new URM faculty in STEM disciplines.


Counseling and Development Faculty are engaged in multidisciplinary projects that address diversity issues and their relation to optimal growth and human development. Professor Deemer’s research program focuses on the motivational and social psychological processes implicated in STEM career development. He is currently conducting NSF-funded research which examines women’s perceptions of their science laboratory classes and whether the presence of threatening gender stereotypes in these environments undermines their motivation for science careers.  Professor Ciftci collaborates with faculty from College of Engineering to explore male engineering faculty’s perceptions on gender as part of an effort to address the underrepresentation of women in engineering. She is also a Co-PI on an NSF-funded project to develop global engineering competencies and serves as a core faculty member of Purdue’s interdisciplinary Institute for Social Entrepreneurship and Empowerment through Knowledge, which  focuses on ways to empower impoverished people from around the globe. In addition, Professor Slaten’s programs, MAGNIFY (to empower and encourage marginalized youth to reach their potential through self-awareness, self-acceptance, social skill building, and planning for the future) and  FULFILL THE DREAM (to engage youth from a critically conscious perspective regarding social and emotional learning in K-12 schools) and Professor Servaty-Seib’s BRIDGe program (supported by the John W. Anderson Foundation and the Indiana Campus Compact to support grieving children and their families) address the social emotional development needs of at-risk adolescents.