Earlier this year, Chalkbeat Colorado brought its annual Legislative Preview to the Morgridge College of Education where panelists discussed Colorado education policies and topics expected to arise in the January legislative session.

On Thursday, Oct. 15, Chalkbeat journalists circled back with legislators and educators to revisit these topics in an online event co-hosted by the Morgridge College of Education.

Returning panel members included:

  • Erica Meltzer, moderator and Chalkbeat Colorado bureau chief
  • State Rep. James Coleman, D-Denver
  • State Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument

And new panel members included:

  • Mark Sass, State Director for Teach Plus Colorado and a high school social studies teacher in the Adams 12 Five Star School District
  • Taylor Davis, CEA fellow and music teacher in the North Park School District in Jackson County

Over 140 attendees joined as panelists discussed education challenges around remote learning and education access that have surfaced with the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges discussed included equitable access to education and resources, what school leaders and policymakers should prioritize, school evaluation and accountability systems, standardized testing, and more.

Watch the full livestream of the event below or on our Facebook.

Drs. Mike Hoa Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, and Denis Dumas, Assistant Professor of Research Methods and Statistics, recently saw their work published in Educational Researcher. The pair teamed with Drs. Connie Y. Chang, Victoria Kim, Rose Ann E. Gutierrez, Annie Le, and Robert T. Teranishi at the University of California Los Angeles to test claims in legal complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that Asian American students face negative consequences while in college as a result of not being admitted to and not attending their first-choice institution. These complaints led to the Trump administration launching formal investigations into the race-conscious admissions practices of Harvard and Yale universities.

Their published research contradicts claims that Asian American students are harmed when they cannot attend their first-choice university.

“Overall, our findings countered the claims made by the two groups that served as the impetus of the Justice Department’s investigation,” said Nguyen. “We found that only small differences, if any, exist between the self-reported outcomes of Asian American students who were admitted to and attending their first-choice university and those students who were not.”

On Sept. 1, 2020, the Morgridge College of Education received the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — Morgridge College will be featured, along with 89 other recipients, in the November 2020 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“We are appreciative of this recognition as it affirms our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and are humbled to be honored with the other HEED recipients,” said Dean Karen Riley. “We know however, that we still have a lot of work to do in advancing DEI, and are committed to an active approach to working for social justice.”

This is the second year Morgridge College has been selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The college first received the award in the 2018-19 academic year.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We take a detailed approach to reviewing each application in deciding who will be named a HEED Award recipient. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being done every day across their campus.”

Other recipients of the 2020 HEED Award are:

Adelphi University
Arkansas State University
Augustana College (IL)
Ball State University
Brown University
California State University, Fresno
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Northridge
California State University San Marcos
Case Western Reserve University
Central Washington University
Clemson University
Columbia University in the City of New York
Cuyahoga Community College
Davenport University
East Carolina University
El Paso County Community College District
Florida State University
Framingham State University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia State University
Grand Valley State University
Greenville Technical College
Hillsborough Community College
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Kansas State University
Kent State University
Lawrence University
Lehigh University
Louisiana State University
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Miami University
Millersville University
Ohio University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University
Pikes Peak Community College
Regis College
Rochester Institute of Technology
Santa Rosa Junior College
Seminole State College of Florida
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Stetson University College of Law
SUNY Buffalo State College
SUNY Old Westbury
Swarthmore College
Texas A&M University
Texas Christian University
Texas Tech University
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Missouri-Saint Louis
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Tulsa
Towson University
Union College, NY
University at Albany, State University of New York
University of Central Florida
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Dayton
University of Georgia
University of Houston
University of Houston Law Center
University of Houston-Downtown
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Kentucky
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
University of Louisville
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of North Florida
University of North Texas
University of Oregon
University of Pittsburgh of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education
University of Rochester
University of South Florida
University of West Florida
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Virginia University
Western Michigan University
Whitworth University
William & Mary
William Marsh Rice University
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Xavier University

For more information about the 2020 HEED Award, visit insightintodiversity.com.

Dr. Doug Clements, co-director of Marsico Institute (Marsico), has been named principal investigator on a new Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grant to more extensively study children’s learning using video and data from Marsico’s previous IES grant, Evaluating the Efficacy of Learning Trajectories in Early Mathematics. Co-principal investigators on this project are Drs. Julie Sarama, also co-director of Marsico, and Dr. Traci Kutaka, research associate for Marsico.

The earlier grant was a series of eight studies evaluating the efficacy of using a learning trajectories approach to mathematics instruction. These experiments showed that a learning trajectories approach fostered the development of early mathematics skills that are predictive of later school achievement.

This time around, Kutaka and her colleague Dr. Pavel Chernyavskiy from the University of Wyoming, have developed new questions and research designs. The team will dig deeper into one of these studies to determine precisely how kindergarten children’s problem-solving strategies vary across different types of arithmetic story problems and how they evolve over the course of successful teaching. The team also will use these analyses to construct two novel indicators of instructional efficacy: modal strategy sophistication and strategy breadth. These indicators will account for patterns of strategy use over time, application of strategies to increasingly complex arithmetic problem types, and instructor feedback.

According to Sarama, “New IES funding allows us to leverage hundreds of hours of video collected within a randomized design to better understand both children’s thinking and learning from scientifically-designed instruction and to benefit the field with new tools for future studies.”

The Marsico team will carry out the study in two phases. In the initial phase, the team will watch and code videos of instructional sessions captured during the previously completed efficacy trial of a learning-trajectories approach. During phase two, the researchers will estimate hierarchical ordered logit models to produce patterns of strategy use over time – within and between instructional sessions – for particular story problem structures. These models will then inform the construction of two novel indicators of instructional efficacy.

“At the core of learning trajectories is research on children’s thinking. This study will extend this research, providing both researchers and practitioners with a new lens for noticing, understanding, and supporting this thinking and its development,” said Clements.

The project has been funded, in whole, by the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

This year, we held the Summer 2020 MCE Day of Celebration to celebrate our graduate students on Friday, Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time). While we couldn’t celebrate in person this year, we recorded a very special video to honor our students. Watch the video on our MCE Day of Celebration page.
This year, we held the MCE Day of Celebration to celebrate our graduating students on Thursday, June 11 at 3 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time). While we couldn’t celebrate in person this year, we have recorded a very special video to honor our students. Watch the video on our MCE Day of Celebration page.
This year’s MCE Student Awards Ceremony took place virtually on Friday, June 5 at 4 p.m. While we coudn’t celebrate in person this year, we recorded a very special online ceremony to honor our student awardees. Watch the video on our 2020 Student Awards Ceremony page.

Dr. Mike Hoa Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, was selected as the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans Special Interest Group (REAPA SIG). REAPA promotes inquiry into educational and equity issues affecting Asian and Pacific Americans, facilitates interdisciplinary discussions around these issues, and provides members with colleagueship and support. We recently talked to Mike about his award, what is next in his career, and advice he has for students entering the writing phase of their academic journey.

First, can you tell me your dissertation title? My dissertation is entitled: “Building Capacity at Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI): Cultivating Leaders and Civic Engagement through Federal Policy.” And per the legislation that created AANAPISIs, capacity building is one of their primary charges. Thus, and quite simply, my study uncovers and explains the process in which AANAPISIs build capacity. However, I wanted to get a deeper sense of how these institutions build capacity for Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and what that means to those who are involved with this initiative on campus. In doing so, I found that AANAPISIs, through a very intentional and methodical process, develop and cultivate leaders – these are leaders within the student population, but also among staff, faculty, and administrators. Many provided leadership within their own academic units, but also in their local communities and for national projects – all with the desire to enhance equity and justice for AAPI populations. And so, an argument that I make is that AANAPISIs are a race-conscious federal policy that can fulfill its legislative requirement, of building capacity in order to serve AAPI students, but in doing so, AANAPISIs can simultaneously develop leaders who are driven to serve their communities, both internal and external to the institution.

Why did you pick this topic for your dissertation? Prior to starting graduate school, I worked as a Congressional staffer in United States House of Representatives. During that time, I worked on a number of exciting projects, where my most favorite initiatives revolved around higher education; and specifically, on Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), including AANAPISIs. In that position, I was able to serve as a liaison for several institutions as they strived towards becoming an AANAPISI. From there, I knew that I wanted to study these very special colleges and universities. I observed that they were able to do so much with so little, while building environments that validated the lives of their students, while also enhancing the capacity of their staff and faculty towards these efforts.

How does your life experience play into your work? What draws you to this subject and research area? My background in government and public policy greatly informs my work. I certainly bring my lens as a former Congressional staffer to my research. And without a doubt, that impacts the way I think about educational issues and the types of questions I’d like to answer. Given my approach, I’m fascinated by MSIs and AANAPISIs because of their ability to help us rethink the potential of postsecondary education. Additionally, given that MSIs are a federally designated and funded initiative, that specifically focuses on students of color, it is one of the few areas where our government affirmatively declares a commitment to race and issues of great importance for communities of color (i.e., a federally funded race-conscious policy). With that in mind, can the federal government do more and do better? Certainly, with federal policy there is always greater potential, and my research aims to engage with policy makers in order to provide precise interventions – so that we can collectively enhance this critical work.

How does it feel to win? It is a great honor to be selected by my peers and colleagues for this award. I hope that it helps bring much needed visibility to AANAPISIs, and to their students, staff, faculty, and administrators. If you are ever able to visit an AANAPISI, or any MSI, chances are you will find some really amazing and resilient students, and a committed team of staff, faculty, and administrators who will do anything to support them. As I wrote in my dissertation, I am grateful to all of those who have labored to advance the important work of AANAPISIs, and have great hope for their AAPI students.

What is next in your career? From a professional standpoint, I hope to continue partnering with more AANAPISIs and MSIs, and build upon this work. From a personal one, I hope that my research will benefit those who study and work at AANAPISIs, as well as help policy makers who are charged with oversight and appropriations. Additionally, I will continue to bring this work into the classroom. A bit of an unashamed plug, but I teach the MSI seminar and hope that students who are curious about this important institutional type will join us!

What advice can you give to those entering the dissertation-writing phase of their education? For my runners out there, and at the risk of sounding cliché, the dissertation is a marathon not a sprint. And while you are developing your proposal, collecting and analyzing data, or writing up the findings, or really at any point or stage, it may actually feel more like an ultra-marathon. And so, it is so important to find a topic that you are passionate about and drives you.  That will sustain you. Additionally, as isolating as it may feel, be sure to engage with your classmates, staff, faculty, other scholars in the field. Doing so will bring context, perspective, and energy. Finally, I can promise that if you put in the work, it will be a great dissertation – something that you will be proud of. But on the other hand, as one of my professors told me, “a great dissertation is a completed dissertation!”

With support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver is pleased to announce its partnership with Northwestern University’s Institute for Innovations in Developmental Sciences to develop a “Baby Toolbox,” a multi-dimensional set of brief, royalty-free measures to assess cognitive, sensory, motor and emotional function that can be administered in two hours or less across diverse study designs and settings. Dr. Douglas H. Clements, co-Executive Director of the Marsico Institute, serves as the math content lead for this award and Dr. Julie Sarama, also co-Executive Director of the Marsico Institute, is a contributing member of the research team.

The “NIH  Baby  Toolbox” (NBT) will be a valid, normed battery of tablet-based (or scored) measures of cognition, social functioning, language (receptive and expressive), numeracy, self-regulation, executive function and potentially motor development of infants and toddlers ages 1 – 42 months. This design is modeled after the  NIH  Toolbox  test battery for ages 3-85, which Morgridge College Dean, Dr. Karen Riley, and professor, Dr. Jeanine Coleman, have used in their Cognitive Measures research project for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Prior to the creation of the NIH toolboxes, there were many studies that collected information on aspects of neural function (cognition, sensation, motor, emotion) with little uniformity among the measures used to assess these constructs. Moreover, few studies included capturing information in all four domains because including such breadth of information would be costly in terms of time and subject burden.

With the Toolbox, researchers can now assess function using a common metric and can “crosswalk” among measures, supporting the pooling and sharing of large data sets. The NIH Toolboxes support scientific discovery by bringing a common language to important research questions both with respect to the primary study aims and to those arising from secondary data analyses. The four batteries provide researchers with streamlined measures that have minimal subject burden and cost.

Additional university research teams collaborating on the project are Florida State University, University of Minnesota, Johns Hopkins University, and New York University.

The University of Denver (DU) is launching a new University-wide You Rock! Award. The You Rock! program honors faculty and staff for their accomplishments large and small, and is based on a similar initiative from the Morgridge College of Education. Members of the DU community can nominate a colleague for their good work, and recipients will receive a certificate with the details of the submission and be celebrated in monthly University communications.

With the cooperation of the Morgridge College of Education, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs, Kate Willink borrowed an idea born of the unit’s Inclusive Excellence Committee. You Rock! started as a popular recognition program out of the dean’s office and has grown over the years into an important part of the college’s culture. Morgridge faculty and staff keep a stack of You Rock! slips close at hand. When they see something worthy of appreciation, they write up a You Rock! form, including the person to receive the recognition, a little bit about what they did and which of the college’s values best fit the deed. These forms end up in a jar in the dean’s office. Every other week, a name is drawn to win a prize and all the forms are distributed to the recipients. Dean Karen Riley notes that many people save their You Rock! forms, proudly displaying them pinned to bulletin boards and taped to the walls of their offices.

Expecting change and quickly being able to pivot has become part of life during the pandemic. Among the many challenges facing mental health and education providers is distance learning and assessment. Rising to the challenge is Dr. Jeanine Coleman, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education. Coleman, along with Morgridge College Professor Emerita, Dr. Toni Linder, and Colorado Department of Education Child Find Specialist Dr. Christopher Miller, published updated guidelines for online play-based assessments to allow specialists to continue to serve families and children in need.

The existing Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment (TPBA) measures four critical developmental domains—sensorimotor, emotional and social, communication, and cognitive—through observation of the child’s play with family members, peers, and professionals. As data shows, early intervention is especially important from birth to age three to help infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays to learn many key skills and catch up in their development. Stopping these assessments because of COVID-19 is not an option, because children need all of the help they can get during this crucial time of their life.

Their publication, Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment (TPBA) Online Guidance, outlines a set of guidelines for how to use TPBA2 online. As the publication notes, “The TPBA2 process has always involved an adult playing with a child while professionals observe the engagement and interaction. Parent–child play is part of that process, and a video of the session is recommended for the team to review. Moving to an online system, where the team is not physically present, requires some interesting modifications.”

These modifications include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines, how to support parents so they can use the video platforms, preparing for the online play session, and virtual family involvement.

According to one local Child Find Coordinator, “We have done five TPBAs remotely so far and they have gone well with family coaching.”

Though not perfect, the team published their adapted guidelines and are asking for feedback. As the process evolves, it is important to refine their publication to meet the needs of the community.

Already one school psychologist out of California has asked for a set of guidelines in Spanish, but also noted her appreciation of the project.

“Thank you for supporting educators in the special education realm with your TPBA2 virtual assessment and webinar,” she wrote. “It was very helpful and provided a clear direction on how to implement and go about the process logistically. We are going to be maximizing the opportunity to implement it in our early education program.”

Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama, Associate Professor of Higher Education, has been awarded the 2020 Parent and Family Relations Knowledge Community (PFRKC) Outstanding Contribution to Literature Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) for her work with Dr. Casandra Harper, Associate Professor, University of Missouri.

Kiyama and Harper have created a body of research that helps the field of higher education counteract the widely used characterizations of parents as helicopters, bulldozers, and lawnmowers. Through their publications, they demonstrate how engagement with families of first-generation, low-income, and students of color can lead to inclusive paradigms of student success.

“I am very grateful to receive this recognition from the PFRKC, particularly because members of the PFRKC are involved in daily efforts to engage parents and families in inclusive and supportive ways,” said Kiyama. “I am also grateful to be able to carry out this research alongside Dr. Harper.”

The 2020 Parent and Family Relations Knowledge Community Outstanding Contribution to Literature Award was established in 2017 to recognize a professional in the field of parent and family programs who has had an important impact on the body of knowledge about, and practices of, engaging parents and families in an institution of higher learning and whose achievements have advanced this profession on any of its aspects. Award winners are chosen by the PFRKC , which is comprised of about a dozen members across the United States whose work support the advancement and impact the parent and family population has on the success of college students. Together, the committee discussed and selected the nominee who met and scored high on the following criteria:

  • The nomination contributes to the field of higher education.
  • The nomination contributes to the topic of engaging parents and families through research, scholarly work, or other publication.
  • The nomination recognizes work published within 5 years.

Dr. Kathy Adams Riester, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Executive Associate Dean of Students at Indiana University, who nominated Kiyama and Harper, said in her nomination they demonstrate how engagement with families of first-generation, low-income, and students of color can lead to inclusive paradigms of student success. They offer a new conceptual framework of parental engagement, The Model of Parent Characteristics, Engagement, and Support, that offers institutions an alternative way to view the engagement that families of first-generation, low-income, and students of color provide but that might be missed by the institution (Kiyama & Harper, 2018).”

Riester continued, “The value of their work over the past five years is that they have sought to understand the experiences of this population and have captured the voices of their participants, including both the families of first-generation college students, and the staff and administrators who help serve them in their work on campus. The implications that they offer are then applicable to both families and institutions, with the onus for change laying almost exclusively with institutions.”

“It is an honor knowing that our scholarship offers the possibility of informing practice,” Kiyama said. “The next phases of our work include developing a quantitative measure and further exploring how components of the model influence student success.”

At Morgridge, we are committed to Inclusive Excellence. Hear more from our faculty about how they integrate Inclusive Excellence into their individual classrooms in the video below.

Special thanks goes out to HED student, Nathan Willers, for compiling these faculty videos!

Patricia Garcia, a current Counseling Psychology Master’s student, was recently featured in a DU Newsroom profile story as part of the University’s coverage of graduation and commencement. Patricia is graduating this spring and reflects on her experience in the CP MA program at Morgridge.

“One of the big things that this program does is we immediately get immersed in doing counseling,” she says. Garcia especially enjoyed testing her counseling skills at The Bridge Project, a free after-school and tutoring program run by DU’s Graduate School of Social Work.

“I was able to work with a lot of immigrants and people from different cultures and countries. It was this melting pot of cultures,” she says. “It was pretty much interacting with the kids from the time you got there until you left.”

Looking ahead to June, when she receives her hard-earned master’s degree, she’s poised to help and understand people all the better. Garcia plans to return to New Mexico to work with populations that face the same challenges she once confronted.

I am excited to announce that Dr. Ryan Gildersleeve has accepted the role of Associate Dean at the Morgridge College of Education, effective August 1, 2020. Please join me in congratulating Ryan on his new role and welcoming him to our leadership team.

As you may know, Ryan joined the Morgridge faculty team in 2012. He was promoted to Professor of Higher Education in 2018, and he previously served as the Program Coordinator and Department Chair for the Higher Education Department from 2013-18.

Throughout his roles in the college, Ryan’s commitment to equity, inclusive excellence, and justice has become evident in both his scholarship and instruction. His leadership in these areas has been pivotal to both the Higher Education Department and the college, engaging students in research, policy, and practice to understand and transform education systems.

Ryan’s work has been active in local, national and international contexts. During his recent sabbatical, he spent time as a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Higher Education Futures in Denmark, and a Visiting Scholar-in-Residence for Equity and Inclusion at Colorado Mountain College. At the University of Denver (DU) campus, he has contributed significantly to efforts related to DU Impact 2025, the Morgridge Appointments, Promotion and Tenure Committee, and serves as the Morgridge liaison to the Center for Professional Development.

Ryan is also the Executive Editor of About Campus, the leading practitioner-focused journal in higher education/student affairs. Currently, he is co-editing a book tentatively titled, “Transforming the University: New academic realities, new institutional hope” with international contributors from the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society.

Prior to becoming a faculty member, Ryan’s practical experience focused largely in out-of-classroom learning contexts, including elementary after-school learning programs, K-12 summer bridge and college outreach programs, postsecondary residential education, and student leadership development. His research broadly focuses on educational opportunity and historically marginalized groups, contributing to research in the philosophy of higher education, critical policy studies, and critical qualitative research methodologies. His research has engaged significantly with Latinx (im)migrant communities.

From 2012-14, Ryan was also a National Academy of Education Fellow, and he received the 2011 American Educational Research Association Early Career Award from Division D – Research Methodology. He earned his Artium Baccalaureus in Theater from Occidental College and his Master’s in Higher Education and Organizational Change and his PhD in Education from University of California, Los Angeles.

Given Ryan’s vast leadership experiences in higher education, research and inclusive excellence, we are thrilled to have him. In his new role, Ryan will be a key member of the college’s existing leadership team.

Please join me again in congratulating Ryan.

– Dean Karen Riley


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