Dept. of Education Awards Major Funding to Researchers Allor, Al Otaiba, Kamata, and Walkington

SMU Distinguished University Professor Jill Allor, Dept. of Teaching and Learning

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education, is awarding significant funding to four Simmons professors: Jill Allor, Stephanie Al Otaiba, Aki Kamata, and Candace Walkington. The funding total, including two additional sub-grants, is $7,841,791.

Teaching and Learning Professor Jill Allor, Ed.D., will receive $3,299,943 over five years for “Examining the Efficacy of Friends on the Block: An Intensive Early Literacy Intervention for Elementary Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disability (Project Intensity)” The purpose of Project Intensity is to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) to evaluate the efficacy of a literacy intervention designed to enhance reading and language outcomes for elementary students with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD). Read grant here.

 

Professor Stephanie Al Otaiba, Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair, Dept. of Teaching and Learning

Professor Stephanie Al Otaiba, Ph.D., receives $1,399,721 over four years for “Project GROW: Growing Vocabulary Knowledge to Support Comprehension Development through a Kindergarten Dialogic Read-Aloud Intervention”.

The project’s aim is to design an innovative whole-class read aloud intervention that can improve, or “grow” kindergartners’ knowledge of taught academic vocabulary, and their generalized vocabulary knowledge, listening and reading comprehension, and phonological awareness. Read grant here.

 

Professor Aki Kamata, Executive Director, Center on Research and Evaluation

Professor Aki Kamata, Ph.D., executive director of the Center on Research and Evaluation, will receive $899,901 over a three-year period for “Developing Computational Tools for Model-based Oral Reading Fluency Assessments”. He also will be working on two sub-grants with faculty at UT Austin and the University of Oregon.

This project builds upon a previously IES funded project to develop a computer-based oral reading fluency (ORF) assessment system. As part of a Response to Intervention (RTI) framework, ORF measures have been widely used as screening tools to help identify students at risk for poor achievement outcomes, and as progress monitoring tools to help teachers determine effective instruction and monitor students reading growth. Read grant here.

Associate Professor Candace Walkington, Dept. of Teaching and Learning

 

Associate Professor Candace Walkington’s project, “Exploring Collaborative Embodiment for Learning (EXCEL): Understanding Geometry through Multiple Modalities” is receiving  $1,398,245  over four years to build an augmented reality/virtual reality game for learning geometry based on the novella Flatland.

The purpose of this project is to explore how the interaction between collaboration and multisensory experiences affects students’ geometric reasoning through the use of augmented reality (AR) technology. Read grant here.

To develop the game, she is working with Simmons Assistant Dean for Technology and Innovation Tony Cuevas, SMU Guildhall faculty member Elizabeth Stringer, Professor Mitch Nathan from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a software company, GeoGebra.

 

SMU Honors Jill Allor by Naming Her a Distinguished University Professor

Distinguished University Professor Jill Allor, Ed.D, Department of Teaching and Learning

Provost Elizabeth Loboa has named Teaching and Learning Professor Jill Allor a Distinguished University Professor for her excellence in teaching, researching, and community service. Allor is one of two SMU faculty members recognized this year for the highest levels of academic achievement.

The honor is based on recommendations from deans and endorsed by the Office of the Provost. The University Distinguished Professorships were created in 1982 by SMU’s Board of Trustees to celebrate outstanding faculty members, who receive cash awards of $10,000 per year and are appointed for a five-year rolling term.

Since arriving at SMU in 2004, Professor Allor has developed and maintained a highly productive research agenda across a broad range of topics within her field: structured literacy tutoring for elementary readers, alternative assessment models for students with intellectual disabilities and below average IQs, and approaches for promoting literacy among pre-school level readers.  She is a former special education teacher whose research is school-based and focuses on reading acquisition for students with and without disabilities, including students with learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities.

She has published 31 peer-reviewed journal articles and seven book chapters. During her time at SMU she has received $7 million dollars in external research funding and has presented at 65 conferences.

Professor Allor has taught a broad range of courses, including literacy, assessment, quantitative methods, curriculum/instruction, and special education.  She has also supervised Simmons’ doctoral students through dissertation.

Throughout her SMU career, Allor has maintained a strong commitment to service – to Simmons, SMU and the national community. In Simmons, for example, she served as chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning for nine years.

Allor received her Ed.D. in special education with an emphasis on reading and reading disabilities from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Prior to arriving at SMU in 2004, she held faculty appointments at Florida State University and Louisiana State University.

Learn more about her work here: