Research Areas & Projects
The Morgridge College of Education is deeply committed to conducting research that meaningfully engages with society's challenges and empowers communities. We strive to advance scholarly inquiry across a broad and ever-expanding range of topics.
Recent Grants and Awards
Read more about their projects and funding sources at https://www.du.edu/news/faculty-and-staff-grants-august-2023
Preschool-Elementary-Coherence Project (COHERE)
Researchers Awarded by the Heising-Simons Foundation (through Stanford University)
DU’s Marsico and Kennedy Institutes are members of a Heising-Simons Foundation-funded group, the Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education (DREME) Network. The goal of DREME is to advance the field of early mathematics research in the U.S., significantly improving how early math is taught and learned. We wish to improve children’s early math competence and in turn their overall educational success. The DREME Network will focus on mathematics from birth through age eight years, with an emphasis on the preschool level. The Preschool-Elementary Coherence (COHERE) project will investigate the relationship between school districts and school efforts to create policy alignment and curricular coherence on coherence of learning opportunities and student experiences.
Math and Executive Function Project (EF)
Awarded by the Heising-Simons Foundation (through Stanford University) 12/1/14 – 6/30/16 (19 months, $114,136)
Another DREME Network project will develop and evaluate enhanced mathematics activities designed to contribute to the joint development of mathematical and executive functions in early childhood. The knowledge gained from this work will be useful in guiding teachers’ and parents’ interactions with children. Thus, with Heising-Simons Foundation funding, Network members and selected colleagues will collaborate to conduct research and development projects that are innovative and rigorous, basic and applied, and that address high-priority early mathematics topics that will inform and motivate other researchers, educators, policymakers and the public.
Scalable Professional Development in Early Mathematics: The Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories Tool
Awarded by the Heising-Simons Foundation
Recent work has clearly documented the importance of early mathematics, the right of all young children to high-quality mathematics education, and the need for dramatic, wide-ranging actions to support the teachers of young children in providing such education. If high-quality mathematics education does not start in preschool and continue through the early years, children can be trapped in a trajectory of failure. To help meet that need, the Heising-Simons Foundation has funded Kennedy Endowed Chairs Julie Sarama and Douglas Clements to substantially upgrade the technology and impact of research-based teacher preparation and professional development tool for educators who teach young children mathematics. In the course of decades of research and development work funded by the NSF and IES, Sarama and Clements developed a powerful tool for the professional development of teachers of early mathematics. This software tool, Building Blocks Learning Trajectories (BBLT) presents early childhood mathematics learning trajectories, connecting the three critical components of early childhood mathematics: the mathematical content, how children think about and learn that content, and teaching strategies. BBLT provides scalable access to research-based learning trajectories via descriptions, videos, commentaries, and interactive experiences. This BBLT web application has contributed to successful city-wide scale-up efforts. The Heising-Simons Foundation has funded them to upgrade this tool for newer platforms and enhance its capabilities so that it will be available throughout the U.S. on multiple common platforms (tablets, phones, computers) reaching far more diverse audiences.
Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2)
Awarded by the Gates Foundation
Clements and Sarama have been funded by the Gates Foundation to extend the capabilities of the BBLT web application (see above) as well. Along with DU colleagues Mario Lopez and Alvaro Arias, they will build a new version will be called the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) tool. In addition to all that BBLT provides, LT2 will interact more with caregivers and children. For example, it will produce a (formative) assessment as to its effectiveness. The new strategies will include the following.
- New interfaces and tools will encourage teachers and other caregivers, and parents, to use LT2 consistently and to learn alongside their children.
- Embedded instructional videos and especially software activities for children will not only teach, but analyze children’s progress, individualize subsequent assignments of software activities, and communicate with caregivers.
- Individualized, just-in-time messages will be sent to caregivers and parents about children’s progress and how to promote the next level of thinking
Broadening Participation in Engineering among Women and Latino/as: A Longitudinal, Multi-Site Study
Awarded by National Science Foundation, HER Core Research, $677,390 ($69,992 at DU) (2014–2019)
Researcher: Patton Garriott (PI) in partnership with the University of North Dakota and the University of Missouri
White women and Latino/a men and women are sorely underrepresented in engineering, and more research is needed to understand psychological factors that influence academic and career intentions, satisfaction, and retention in the domain of engineering. Both gender and racial/ethnic disparities have been reported across the engineering pipeline (intentions, enrollment, degree attainment, employment), with women and Latino/as underrepresented at each stage. The proposed study extends earlier work by sampling White male, White female, Latino, and Latina engineering students across 10 different institutions, including both Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Findings from this study have direct implications for educational and career interventions aimed at retaining White women and Latino/as in engineering by building on our recent findings on the role of social cognition in engineering persistence intentions and satisfaction among Latino/as and White women. The findings also may lead to theoretical refinements and to new theory development in explaining women’s and Latino/as’ satisfaction, engagement, and persistence in engineering majors and careers. In addition, to better understand why women and Latino/as persist in and leave engineering, this research will identify salient individual and institutional factors related to persistence and dropout decisions.
Progressions of Teacher Proficiency Project
Awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The goal of this research project is to explore, refine, and validate the findings of an empirically-based model to support the alignment of professional development to effective teaching practices. Additionally, integral components to making these Progressions of Teacher Proficiency available and useful for educators and researchers is the availability of a reliable ontological framework supporting the pathways. There is an overabundance of professional development options and learning objects available to educators. However, there is currently no system that facilitates appropriate individualized applications for educators nor is there an effective system for measuring and incentivizing the utilization of these resources. We propose that these three components would be a value-add to different research, technology, and education partners.
Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics
Awarded by the National Science Foundation, $130,344 (2013–2015)
Drs. Julie Sarama and Douglas H. Clements from the Morgridge College of Education at DU have been funded for the Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics project by the National Science Foundation as part of the Investigating Simulations of Teaching Practice: Assessing Readiness to Teach Elementary Mathematics initiative (Dev-TE@M) based in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. The project will create an online professional development module focused on geometric measurement and assessment. Dev-TE@M is designing a distinctive new form of professional development materials that integrate opportunities for teachers to develop usable knowledge of mathematics and student thinking, skill with “high-leverage” teaching practices, and approaches to learn in and from one’s own teaching. The materials provide teachers with rich access to leading researchers and nationally renowned mathematics teacher educators through carefully designed collections of videos, activities, and teaching artifacts. The work of Drs. Clements and Sarama will become part of a collection of modules being used across the country for teacher professional development that addresses critical content for elementary mathematics teaching such as knowledge and skills for helping students learn topics such as fractions and geometric measurement or to engage in mathematical practices. Dr. Sarama is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Professor. Dr. Clements is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning and Professor in the MCE.
Graduate Level Specialty in Addiction Counselor Training with Emphasis on Integration of Native American Specific Content
Awarded by the Galena Foundation
Principal Investigator: Ruth Chao; Co-Principal Investigator: Mike Faragher
The Counseling Psychology (CP) Program will address two critical and overlapping deficits in the provision of addiction counseling services in Colorado. Specifically, efforts will focus on the underserved needs of Native Americans regarding disturbingly high levels of addiction; and, the need for a more highly qualified addiction counseling workforce in Colorado. Grant funding will allow the CP Program to more adequately prepare the graduates for CAC II certification by developing field placement relationships with treatment centers in Colorado. These placements must be established to provide CAC-approved fieldwork accompanied by CAC required supervision. Both the existing coursework in the CP program and 2,000 hours of CAC-approved supervised counseling are prerequisites for admission to the required national examination. In summary, the first-year funding will provide for the infusion of Native American content into the existing seven approved courses. In addition, courses will be revised to accommodate the new addiction paradigm advanced by the DSM-5. Funds will also be used to establish and maintain CAC-approved and supervised field placements.
Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers 2
Awarded by the Colorado Health Foundation to the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, Colorado School of Public Health in partnership with the University of Denver
Principal Investigator: Nicholas Cutforth
The goal of HELM is to increase student access to healthy foods, quality physical education, and physical activity opportunities in underserved, rural, low-income Colorado schools. We do this by partnering with K-12 schools to implement evidence-based, school-level environment and policy changes using two proven approaches: AIM (Assess, Investigate, Make it Happen) and the Physical Education Academy. In HELM2, we propose to bring AIM to middle schools in the San Luis Valley and remaining elementary schools in southeastern Colorado that did not participate in HELM1. We plan to partner with local public health departments in southeastern Colorado to deliver AIM. Finally, we propose to bring a more cost-effective version of the PE Academy to southeastern Colorado and to continue sustainability efforts in the San Luis Valley.
Early Childhood Care and Education Study for the State of North Dakota
Awarded by the State of North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
A Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy (MIELL) team will conduct a study on the development, delivery and administration of Comprehensive Early Childhood Care and Early Childhood Education in the State of North Dakota according to legislation passed during the past session. The completion of this study will be guided by a State Advisory Committee (AC). The responsibilities of MIELL include ongoing consultation with a State Advisory Committee to provide insight on early childhood needs in relation to committee members in their fields; obtain data required in conjunction with this study; and, review, analyze and synthesize data, documents, and reports from materials obtained as a result of the study.
Z Place & Zoom @ Jamaica Partnership
Awarded by the Piton Foundation
Z Place/Zoom @ Jamaica is an exciting project composed of a wide array of organizations and expertise that has the potential to make a significant shift in educational research, policy, and practice within the state as well as across the country. This comprehensive and collaborative venture presents an ambitious and attainable attempt to provide empirically-based services to a targeted community in a transformative way, with an eye toward documentation and replication. The following points summarize the major goals for the Z Place and Zoom @ Jamaica Project: support effective implementation of interventions of Z Place-Clayton and Zoom @ Jamaica; produce formative and summative evidence to justify scaling; create a potential (long term) case for pay for success/social impact bond applications; and, influence school districts (primarily Aurora Public Schools (APS)) in order to demonstrate value and to find/shift resources to engage in early childhood programming serving children ages birth to 5 years.
Math/Science Partnership (CDE)
Awarded to Eagle County Schools in partnership with the University of Denver and RMC Research by the Colorado Department of Education
Eagle County Schools (ECS) aspires to create a multi-district partnership that will develop Teacher Leaders in 15 schools, covering 8 districts, located in vastly different geographical regions of the state. Teacher Leaders will receive intense professional learning equipping them to understand deeply the content and practices in the new standards, be expert at analyzing student data, and in turn becoming learning facilitators for the mathematics teachers in their schools. The major goals of this project are to develop Teacher Leaders; increase the content knowledge and pedagogical skills of Classroom Teachers; increase student achievement; develop and utilize collaborative partnerships with institutions of higher education and other school districts; and, increase principal instructional leadership.
Designing a Teacher Evaluation System to Improve Teacher Effectiveness for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
Awarded by University of Denver, Professional Research Opportunities for Faculty, $29,988 (2014–2016)
The growing focus on evaluation and accountability at a national level has never been more vital, given that equitable and effective teachers are crucial as the nation’s schools face increased segregation, growing dropout rates, persistent achievement gaps, and high teacher attrition. In response to this national imperative, MCE faculty will conduct a research study to field test the reliability of a pre-service teacher evaluation framework known as the “Framework for Equitable and Effective Teaching” (FEET). This study poses the question: Is the FEET a consistent and reliable tool in evaluating pre-service teacher performance? The MCE faculty researchers employ a sequential mixed-methods approach to establish the empirical foundations of the FEET through four phases of research. The findings of this research study will allow the MCE researchers to (a) improve the training of pre-service teachers; (b) provide a pre-service teacher evaluation tool that can reach regional and national prominence due to a dearth of evaluation tools at the pre-service level; and, (c) position the MCE faculty to pursue additional funding to support the research.
Pura Vida: Cloud Forest, Curriculum and Cross-Cultural Study.
DU Internationalization, $8,000 (2014–2015)
The project goal is to impact education of multiple ages, kindergarten through graduate level, raising awareness and ultimately taking action through sustainability practices and continuing the ongoing processes of education to action. Project PURA VIDA is action through education, whether a student is seven, seventeen, or sixty-seven to positively impact the future of our world. A three-credit elective course in cross-cultural curriculum development will be developed during the Winter and Spring Quarters 2014 for online delivery in the Fall Quarter 2014. This course will have a direct experience component that will be offered in the Winter Interterm 2014. The English language version of the curriculum unit will be fully developed and ready for distribution by Fall Quarter 2015, followed by the Spanish language version in Summer Quarter 2016.
Project Title Funded By PI Co-PI(s) Award Grant Period Project Homeless Connect 4 Event Evaluation DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Hall-Ellis Zhang $4,595 2007 Project Homeless Connect 5 Event Evaluation DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Hall-Ellis Zhang $1,000 2007 Project Homeless Connect 6 Event Evaluation DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Hall-Ellis Zhang $9,785 2008 MCE Connect: A 21st Century Framework for Faculty Development DU Center for Teaching and Learning Uhrmacher Assefa, Agans, Michalec, Salazar $22,355 2010-2013 User-centered Evaluation of Music Search Engines DU Faculty Research Fund (FRF) Hu $2,931 2011-2012 Faculty Service Learning Pod DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Salazar Cutforth, Tuitt, Hazel, G. Miller $8,000 2010-2011 Creating Engaging Environments to Teach Pre-Algebra Mathematics to Elementary Students DU Interdisciplinary Grant Salazar Arias, Lopez, Agans $60,000 2011-2012 Choosing Excellence: Let Every Child Bloom DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Assefa Stansbury $7,657 2012 Online Course Development for Curriculum and Instruction EdD DU Office for Teaching and Learning Uhrmacher Hafenstein $18,193 2013-2014
Graduate Level Specialty in Addiction Counselor Training with Emphasis on Integration of Native American Specific Content
The Counseling Psychology Program will address two critical and overlapping deficits in the provision of addiction counseling services in Colorado. Specifically, efforts will focus on (1) the underserved needs of Native Americans regarding disturbingly high levels of addiction; and, (2) the need for a more highly qualified addiction counseling workforce in Colorado. Funded by the Galena Foundation.
Evaluation of the Northeast Denver Babies Ready for College Program
Awarded by Mile High Montessori
The Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy (MIELL) team will work with Mile High Montessori to evaluate the Northeast Denver Babies Ready for College (BRFC) Program. The BRFC Program has the primary goals of improving children’s long-term educational outcomes through parent and caregiver education and developing civic leadership among parents and caregivers. MIELL’s proven track record in research related to kindergarten readiness, program evaluation, and applied quantitative and qualitative analysis uniquely qualifies us to provide the assistance requested by Mile High Montessori.
Project Title Funded By PI Co-PI(s) Award Grant Period Intentional School Culture Denver Public Schools Hazel $38,040 2010-2011 Lincoln Collaborative Denver Public Schools Salazar $275,000 2010-2012