Teachers College professors win top honors for research, mentoring

March 17, 2014

Two ASU professors in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, James Gee and Sasha Barab, have been selected as fellows of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), one of the most prestigious educational research societies in the world. They were chosen based on their notable and sustained research accomplishments.

Gee and Barab will be inducted April 4 during the group’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, along with 20 other scholars. Their selection brings to 16 the total number of AERA fellows who are currently at ASU. portrait of ASU professor James Gee Download Full Image

In addition, three faculty members and a doctoral student in Teachers College will receive a best paper award from the AERA for a piece based on their continuing exploration of the technology-infused courses that are being offered in the college. Co-authors of the paper are professor Keith Wetzel, associate professors Ray Buss and Teresa Foulger, and LeeAnn Lindsey, technology academic professional and doctoral student.

Alfredo Artiles, associate dean of academic affairs and the Ryan C. Harris Memorial Endowed Professor of Special Education, will receive the Mentoring Award from AERA’s Division G, which deals with the social context of education. He was nominated by his former students, all of whom are professors at universities around the country. Artiles has also been elected to the AERA Organization of Institutional Affiliates executive board.

Gee, a Regents' Professor and Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, was one of the first scholars to seriously examine the educational potential of video games. In 2003 he wrote one of the earliest books about how games use good learning principles, “What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.” He argued that good video games are designed to enhance learning through effective learning principles supported by research in the learning sciences.

An earlier book, “Sociolinguistics and Literacies,” published in 1990, was one of the founding documents in the formation of the “New Literacy Studies,” an interdisciplinary field devoted to studying language, learning and literacy in an integrated way in the full range of their cognitive, social and cultural contexts.

Gee’s “Situated Language and Learning” (2004) placed video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy, and showed how they can help us in thinking about the reform of schools.

Barab, the Pinnacle West Presidential Chair of Educational Innovation and director of ASU’s Center for Games and Impact, is an internationally recognized learning scientist who has researched, designed and published extensively on the challenges and opportunities of using games for impact. He is developing rigorous claims about how people learn that have significant practical and pedagogical implications.

Funded by numerous grants and assisted by many public-private partnerships, his work is large in scale, reaching into K-12 classrooms and communities throughout the world. His work includes helping 10-year-olds become environmental scientists in virtual worlds, developing playful learning contexts for youth to learn persuasive argumentation and scientific investigation skills, developing learning games that support pre-service teachers moving from theory to practice and helping women and girls in Kenya develop digital literacy skills.

Barab’s research emphasizes sensitivity to the community, leveraging powerful learning tools and achieving sustainable and scalable outcomes. He has published dozens of articles and multiple chapters in edited books.

In research that is being watched carefully by education colleges around the country, Wetzel, Buss, Foulger and Lindsey have been comparing the effectiveness of currently integrating technology into methods courses with that of a former stand-alone technology course which was taught within the teacher preparation program. Their work found that technology infusion is an effective approach, because teacher candidates scored higher on technological, pedagogical and content knowledge after participating in the courses.

Their studies of technology infusion began after ASU Teachers College initiated new preparation programs that required additional content preparation in science, math and other areas, leading to the redesign of other courses. A stand-alone technology course that prepared candidates to integrate technology into their classroom teaching was eliminated, so the college sought the most powerful and effective techniques to infuse technology into its methods courses.

“We have been examining the effectiveness of this infusion process, to ensure students are well-prepared to use the most up-to-date technology in their instruction of K-12 students,” says Buss. “What’s important is that we found that all candidates improved their scores on technological, pedagogical and content knowledge in the technology-infused courses, despite its greater emphasis on methods and minor emphasis on technology, per se.”

In an earlier paper in their research studies, the group of researchers received the 2012 research paper award from the International Society for Technology in Education for their work on benchmarking a stand-alone technology course to ensure best practices were infused into the methods courses.

Michelene Chi, director and professor at the Learning Sciences Institute, was named an AERA fellow last year and won the Sylvia Scribner Award for her work in advancing the understanding of learning and instruction. In honor of her award, she will deliver an address at the meeting April 6 on differentiating four levels of cognitive engagement for active learning.

The AERA strives to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Its annual meeting is the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research.

The AERA Annual Meeting is a showcase for ground-breaking, innovative studies in a diverse array of areas – from early education through higher education, from digital learning to second language literacy.

ASU partnership to advance research, training in unmanned aerial systems

March 17, 2014

Arizona State University has announced a partnership with CAE, the global leader in modeling, simulation and training, to advance research, education and training related to unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the academic, government and private sectors.

CAE has donated a CAE mission simulator for unmanned aerial systems, as well as licenses to simulation software from Presagis, CAE’s commercial-off-the-shelf software company. The simulator and software will facilitate student and faculty research, and test the application of unmanned systems in areas including border security, food security and water management. ASU will be the lead academic partner in joint domestic and international project pursuits. The collaborative partnership will help establish ASU as a UAS education research hub in Arizona, supporting the state of Arizona’s excellence in aviation, aerospace and defense. Image of simulator Download Full Image

The UAS industry has garnered growing public attention in recent years and is expected to have up to an $82 billion economic impact by 2025. Considering the limited history and national policies in the civilian UAS airspace, the U.S. Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to develop rules and regulations to help integrate non-military UAS's into the nation’s airspace by 2015. It is no surprise that the consumption of national airspace is changing, and the research produced by ASU and CAE will help put the two enterprises at the forefront of the burgeoning industry.

“With the combined resources of CAE, a global force in simulation and training, and ASU’s knowledge capital and subject matter expertise, the partnership will advance our students and faculty capabilities in global research,” said Anshuman Razdan, associate dean and professor of engineering and computing systems in the College of Technology and Innovation in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Razdan is the ASU principal investigator of the collaboration.

“Working with CAE gives our students an authentic experience with working on real-world research with a leader in the UAS industry,” Razdan said.

ASU aviation students will also have an opportunity to work hand-in-hand on real-world UAS research and training with industry experts from CAE and the university.

“We are excited about our new partnership with CAE,” said Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “The faculty strive to prepare our students to work with and develop leading-edge technology, and this partnership with CAE provides a platform for doing that. In addition, decision support system development requires interdisciplinary collaboration, which is a strength of the Fulton Schools. We look forward to partnering with CAE and making significant contributions to the growing UAS industry, as well as to global challenges related to infrastructure and resource management.”

Gene Colabatistto, group president, defense and security at CAE, also praised the partnership.

“We are pleased to establish this relationship with Arizona State University to further advance our initiatives and capabilities related to the growing use of unmanned systems for commercial applications,” Colabatistto said. “CAE also has a number of global pursuits where governments are looking to leverage modeling and simulation for decision support, which can be applied to multiple domains to enhance analysis, training and operational decision-making. ASU can provide valuable subject matter expertise in developing comprehensive solutions for managing critical infrastructure and resources.”