Simmons Researchers Author Book on Cutting Edge Teaching Approach to STEM

A new book that focuses on integrated project-based instruction in STEM should  help teachers make Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum more understandable for their students. That is the hope of the authors, Simmons Associate Dean Anthony Petrosino, Ph.D., Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair Candace Walkington, Ph.D., and their colleague Denise Ekberg.

The new book, Frameworks for Integrated Project-Based Instruction in STEM Disciplines, takes a deep dive into a teaching method that has grown in popularity. According to Petrosino, “Project-based instruction has probably never been as popular as it is today. But with that popularity comes many different interpretations of what is meant by this type of instruction. We hope this book will help interested teachers, administrators, and researchers navigate the challenges and enjoy the benefits of project-based instruction.”

The book features deep coverage of multiple topics in PBI including supportive structures to make PBI easier to implement, student-driven inquiry, driving questions, and development of lessons based on national and state standards. There are also chapters dedicated to the history of PBI, implementation of PBI at scale, and future directions of PBI.

Walkington says project-based instruction is  an important way to make STEM learning relevant to students. “Kids ask the question, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ It was important to write this book to give teachers more tools to bring this relevance into their classrooms. When kids confront real-world problems that  matter in their lives and communities, motivation and deeper learning can be fostered.”

The book brings together more than 25 years of applied research and instruction with preservice and in-service teachers from across the country. The authors also relied on the work they and their colleagues conducted in the STEM disciplines and the learning sciences. They say they are confident readers of the book will know it was written by people who have “walked the walk” when it comes to project-based instruction.

The hope is that the book will help give more STEM teachers, especially math teachers, the tools they need to try PBI in their classrooms. And while teachers might at first find the approach a bit intimidating to implement, the authors know from experience that it can be incredibly rewarding for students and teachers. For more visit https://bit.ly/IPBinSTEMDisciplines

 

Simmons’ reflections on MLK, Jr.

The impact of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the country and the world is truly immeasurable.  On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day , Dr. Toni-Harrison-Kelly, Dr. Magdalena Pando, and Dr. Greta Davis offer personal reflections on Dr. King and his contributions.

Dr. Toni Harrison-Kelly, Executive Director, The Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education

Dr. Toni Harrison KellyGrowing up, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the first Black person that I learned about that held the title “doctor.” His representation of educational excellence was a beacon to me, allowing me to see myself attaining the same status in a country that for centuries denied that right to people who look like me. I stand on the shoulders of Black academics throughout history who, in Dr. King’s case, died because of their thought leadership. I can dream bigger because of his legacy. My prayer is that his achievements and life of sacrificial service are seen as blueprints for many more generations to come.

Dr. Magdalena Pando, Associate Professor Bilingual Education, Dept. of Teaching & Learning

Dr. Magdalena PandoDr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact on education and people of color is most evident in his activism and instrumental role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dr. King believed in breaking down racial barriers by stressing that access to quality education was crucial for African Americans and other people of color. His extensive efforts in advocating for racial justice not only inspired change in educational policies but also serve as a catalyst for educators to create inclusive and equitable learning environments for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). In education, we honor his legacy through an unwavering commitment to social justice, by creating opportunities for a quality education for all students, and by taking equitable approaches that align with his dream of racial justice.

Dr. Greta Davis, Chair, Dept. of Counseling

Dr. Greta DavisDr. Martin Luther King bravely called out injustice and inspired change through peaceful process. He continues to inspire generations after him to advocate and fight for social justice and peace for all peoples. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King is “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy,” which is a call to action to all of us to face times of adversity with bravery and integrity.

 

 

Lipsmeyer named Simmons’ Liaison to Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub

Dean Stephanie Knight has named Dr. Lin Lipsmeyer, Department Chair of SMU Simmons Teaching and Learning Department, as Simmons’ Liaison in the Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub (TSTH) announced by President Joe Biden in October.  SMU was the only site in Texas selected and will serve as the lead agency in the economic development initiative to strengthen, build and drive innovation in the existing semiconductor supply chain in North Texas and Oklahoma.

Dr. Lipsmeyer says she has always been interested in interdisciplinary and collaborative work built on partnerships and is honored and excited about her appointment and the work ahead. “The TSTH provides such partnership opportunities to strengthen future learning and workforce. Serving as the liaison between Simmons and the TSTH consortium, I hope to use my research, interest, and experience to help Simmons, SMU, and the Tech Hub members to build innovative workforce pathways and open up learning and workforce opportunities for all.”

The consortium has started planning its Phase 2 proposals and will have its first workshop for the TSTH members on December 13 to build the model to promote enhanced collaboration, expand the region’s technical workforce and catalyze the commercialization of technological advancements through the development of three main areas.

Simmons School of Education and Human Development hopes to be involved in the overall vision and involved especially in the area of Workforce Development to promote opportunities at multiple skill levels for students and adult learners to enter the workforce, acquire new knowledge and obtain advanced degrees and certifications while minimizing the time it takes to do so. Outreach education will begin at the K-12 level while adult learners can also find a pathway to advance their careers in the semiconductor industry.

Dr. Tony Cuevas- Simmons Assistant Dean for Technology and Innovation, Dr. Richard Duschl -Caruth Institute and T&L affiliate faculty, and Dr. Corey Brady- Director of the Technology Enhanced Immersive Learning (TEIL) Cluster will also represent Simmons at the December 13 Tech Hub meeting.  Dean Knight says, “I am confident these outstanding educators led by Dr. Lin Lipsmeyer will contribute their extensive expertise in research, technology, and teaching to  benefit the important work of the Tech Hub. This is an incredible opportunity for SMU and Simmons as part of the consortium to have a major impact on our country and the world.” For details of the Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub visit https://www.smu.edu/News/Research/SMU-to-lead-Texoma-Tech-Hub-to-unify-semiconductor-supply-chain

Article co-authored by Simmons Researcher honored with Editor’s Choice in The Journal of Educational Psychology

Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba, the Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair in Simmons Teaching and Learning, has co-authored an article published in The Journal of Educational Psychology that was selected as the Editor’s Choice. According to the Journal, the article titled: The relations of kindergarten early literacy skill trajectories on common progress monitoring measures to subsequent word reading skills for students at risk for reading difficulties, was chosen for this honor  for “reflecting science that is incredibly important, impactful, and deserves additional visibility for the whole field.”

The study, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology (Clemens et al., 2023), addressed the need for reliable and efficient assessment data to inform early and preventative literacy interventions for students at risk of developing reading disabilities. Researchers asked two primary questions: Does growth on certain brief curriculum-based measures predict word reading skills at the end of kindergarten and first grade and which measures are better at predicting which students would have weak word reading skill profiles at the end of first grade?

According to Al Otaiba, “We learned that in fall of kindergarten it was important to monitor letter sound fluency (LSF), or the number of sounds that students name correctly in a minute. During this instructional period, LSF growth was best able to predict students who later struggled to read. However, by spring of kindergarten, as instruction starts to focus on reading words and texts, it was important to monitor word reading fluency (WRF), or the number of words read correctly.”  WRF includes short words (2-6 letters); some that are decodable and some that are irregular. Al Otaiba says she and her collaborators hope educators will take away from the study the importance of identifying problems earlier. “Instead of waiting to identify students formally as having dyslexia or a reading disability, typically at grade 3, kindergarten is an important time when schools and teachers can use reliable data from brief curriculum-based measures (LSF and WRF) across the year to adjust instruction and provide more intensive support and resources to prevent word reading difficulties.”  She says schools can also use this growth data to confirm their literacy programs are helping most students develop reading skills. By contrast, data for those few students with limited growth despite good instruction (i.e., those who have not responded as well) could be part of a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether students need special education. In other words, the data can be used to ensure children don’t have to wait to fail before supporting their instructional needs.

The article stems from federally funded research in which Al Otaiba served as Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Nathan Clemens, who was the Principal Investigator. This was a 1.6-million-dollar measurement grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences at U.S. Department of Education titled:(R324A130214) Investigating the Technical Adequacy of Progress Monitoring Measures for Kindergarten Students At-Risk for Reading Disabilities.

The purpose of this grant  was to learn more about early assessments of risk for reading difficulties. The grant period was 2013-2017 during which Al Otaiba says she and her SMU Simmons team collaborated closely with Dr. Clemens and his team, first at Texas A&M and later at the University of Texas at Austin. The teams continue to publish several articles and present findings from the study.

The article on the study findings published in the November 2023 issue of  the Journal of Educational Psychology  was co-authored by Al Otaiba, Clemens, Kejin Lee, Ziao Liu, Alexis Boucher, and Leslie Simmons and can be found at https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2024-12677-001.html?fbclid=IwAR31XYj2bbLRzLdrR5RGtoTiIPdXcMr_FcYuBEpbAUjY1UNxviUZmQiMZvY

 

Mathfinder Camp at the Dallas Zoo

Students from throughout the Dallas area enjoyed exploring the lives of animals through the lens of mathematics. Mathfinder Camp was free to participants thanks to generous funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Thanksgiving week camp was a joint effort between SMU Simmons, talkSTEM, and the Dallas Zoo.

More than 60 children aged 8-12 attended the educational camp where they got the chance to explore an exciting new math app currently in development. The Mathfinder app, a collaborative effort between SMU Simmons and talkSTEM, is designed to make math fun while sparking curiosity and creativity and instilling a lifelong love for learning in children. The mobile app uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology for use on iPads. Students used the app to watch videos that showed them how to see math in the animals and habitats at the zoo. The AR feature allowed them to insert holograms over their camera feed to see new things in the zoo surroundings.

SMU’s Candace Walkington, Ph.D.is grateful for the collaborative effort in working for the common goal of fostering a love for math and science among children. She also appreciates the data gathered to help further the success of the app. ”It was amazing to see the kids at the zoo using their ‘math lens’ to look at the zoo exhibits and generate their own observations and questions. The kids also loved sharing their mathematical discoveries with each other, their instructors, and even their parents at home.”

Koshi Dhingra, founder of talkSTEM, said, “We were thrilled to partner with SMU and the Dallas Zoo that allowed us to bring this unique educational opportunity to young minds in our community. We believe the camp showed children that math is not only essential but also a fascinating lens through which they can view all the places they go, including the zoo!”

Simmons Dean Stephanie Knight is extremely pleased with all aspects of the Mathfinder camp. “There is nothing better than when our Simmons research is taken into the community to directly serve youngsters by heightening their interest and understanding of math, reading and technology. The fact that it is a collaborative effort with talkSTEM, and the Dallas Zoo makes it even more exceptional. I applaud Dr. Walkington and her team for this excellent work and look forward to the impact the app will have when completed.”

The Mathfinder team plans to run additional camps in the Spring and Summer of 2024. The Girl Scouts of North Texas will participate in that camp at the Dallas Arboretum. The team’s current set of studies is looking at the impact that AR tools in the Mathfinder app have on learning. The long-term goal is to create an app that could be used anywhere to ask and answer mathematical questions about the world around you.

Home is a Journey March and Symposium

SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU are partnering with WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Research Cluster of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute to host the Home is a Journey March, and the inaugural Home is a Journey Symposium on the SMU campus. Home is a Journey March and Symposium celebrates the power of collaboration and the pursuit of a more just society. SMU believes in the potential of forging connections with artists, educators, and community advocates to amplify the voices of the less fortunate, bridging the gap between lived experiences, art, education, and community impact.

This one-day free event will take place on Friday, November 3rd. 2023 kicking off with a blessing bag event from 10-11 am. The Home is a Journey March takes place from 11-12 pm starting at Doak Walker Plaza and concludes with the inaugural Home is a Journey symposium hosted in the Gene and Jerry Jones Grand Atrium of SMU’s Owen Arts Center at 1 p.m.

Symposium Highlights
Panel One: Convergence of Compassion: Art, Homelessness, and Social Justice.
(1:00 – 1:50 pm)
Description:
The panel of experts on the intersection of art and social justice is a beacon of hope, casting light on a
path forward where creativity and compassion intertwine to shape a more just and equitable world. Each panelist brings a unique blend of artistic prowess and a profound commitment to advocating societal equity. Each expert draws inspiration from interpreting struggles, triumphs, and the timeless beauty of the human experience. Their art mirrors society’s complexities, encouraging dialogue and introspection and harmonizing the pursuit of justice and dignity for all.
Panelists: Willie Baronet, M.A., M.F.A.; Rosie Frasso, PhD, SM, SM, CPH; Eddie Dunn; and Leah den
Bok

Panel Two: Educating for Equity: Exploring Higher Education’s Role in Fostering Social
Conscience in the Classroom.
(2:00 – 2:50 pm)
Description:
In today’s rapidly changing world, higher education institutions play a pivotal role in shaping not only the academic knowledge of students but also their social conscience. This panel will examine how
universities can effectively instill empathy, ethical responsibility, and civic engagement in their students. Through innovative teaching methods, curricular initiatives, and extracurricular activities, higher education can empower students to become active, socially conscious citizens committed to addressing pressing social challenges.
Panelists: Laura Robinson-Doyle, PhD; Rick Halperin, PhD; Maria Dixon-Hall, PhD; and Sheri
Kunovich, PhD

Panel Three: Trailblazers for Change: Non-Profit Leaders Working to Eradicate Homelessness
and Inspire Social Justice.
(3:00 – 3:50 pm)
Description:
This inspiring and informative panel discussion features visionary non-profit leaders on the frontlines of the battle against homelessness. This engaging panel brings together a diverse group of dedicated experts, each with unique insights and experiences, to explore the multifaceted challenges of homelessness and its broader social justice issues.
Panelists: Bill Holston, JD; Joli Angel Robinson; Daniel Roby; David Woody, PhD & Tamika Perry

Be part of this enlightening and empowering event that seeks to harness the transformative power of creativity, scholarship, and action to create a more compassionate, educated, and just society. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness and work towards a more equitable and compassionate world.

Register for the March + Free T-shirt
Register for the Symposium + FREE T-shirt
Speakers express their own views and not necessarily the views of the DCII or SMU.

Sport Management Alums and Intern living the dream with Texas Rangers

SMU Simmons is proud of our Sport Management alums and intern who are working for the Texas Rangers organization at this momentous time in the franchise’s history! Congratulations to the following who were/are a part of the nationally ranked Sport Management Program https://bit.ly/3FvLwC8 in the Applied Physiology & Sport Management Department in Simmons School of Education & Human Development.

These Mustangs are working in various areas of the Rangers organization from corporate partnerships, new business development, media and integrated marketing, account executives in sales, and our intern who works wherever they need him. Enjoy the ride!


Matt Nichols- MS grad
Laci Taylor- MS grad
Sydney Teske- MS grad
Louie Deckas- current SM in BS
Sam Gunning – BS alum
Kent Yamamoto- BS alum
Abby Casillas- BS alum
Parker Johnson- MS alum

SMU Simmons Sport Management Graduate Program Ranked #1 in Texas and #14 in the Nation

Dallas Area Sports Market along with SMU Program offers students exceptional opportunities

 The SMU Simmons Masters in Sport Management program earned a major seal of approval when it was ranked #1 in Texas, #3 private university in the USA,  14th in the country and #18 in the world. The rankings were conducted by the London-based intelligence service SportBusiness, a provider of data and analytics to the sports industry. The SportBusiness Post Graduate Ranking or SportBusiness PGR, is the equivalent of the U.S. News & World Report for higher education institutions. There are over 200 post graduate sport management programs throughout the world.

The outstanding rankings are the result of a first-time entry by SMU Simmons Masters in Sport Management program. The SportBusiness PGR is the most prestigious ranking of graduate sports management programs around the world. The rankings are based on a formula that assigns values to the quality of the faculty and teaching,  ability to connect with alumni and industry executives, support in finding a job in the industry, value for money provided by the master’s program, and employment in the sports industry sector.

In addition to the global recognition, the graduate surveys ranked SMU as the #5 sport management postgraduate program in North America for average salary three years after graduation with an average salary of $82,500, illustrating its success in producing graduates capable of advancing quickly in the ultracompetitive sports industry.

According to the Sports Business Journal, Dallas is the #1 city for sports business in the USA. The MS in Sport Management students participate extensively in experiential opportunities such as internships with over 175 North Texas-based sports and allied-sport enterprises as well as with SMU’s Athletics department. The opportunities range across the entire sports ecosystem and include teams, leagues, agencies, conferences, research, E-sports, media, facilities, and live events at all levels.

SMU Sport Management Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor Peter Carton says,”SMU draws extensively on the fact that North Texas is home to some of the biggest names in the sports industry, ranging from professional sports teams to marketing and sponsorship agencies.” That, along with faculty members’ longstanding relationships with local and national sports industry leaders, offers students the real-world skills they need to become leaders and executives.  Carton adds,“One of the advantages of our approach is that we are one of the few programs with relationships that provide students with direct access to internships and jobs in their area of interest.”

Founded in 2012, the MS in Sport Management degree in the Department of Applied Physiology and Sport Management is an interdisciplinary degree between the Simmons School of Education & Human Development and the Cox Business School at SMU. The relatively new sports management degree, compared to other well-established programs founded in the 1960’s, prepares students for multiple roles in the sports industry. Students complete a part-time, one-year academic program that is combined with a capstone internship experience.

Simmons Dean Stephanie Knight applauds the program and its Director, Professor Peter Carton. “I know they have worked tirelessly and innovatively to establish this exceptional graduate program at Simmons and with our partners in the Cox School of Business. This is certainly a proud moment for SMU, Simmons, the Applied Physiology and Sport Management department, and Cox.”  

Scott Davis, Ph.D. and Department Chair, ad interim, of the Department of Applied Physiology & Sport Management regarding the ranking states “In just over 10 years, the ascent of our graduate program in Sport Management in the Department of Applied Physiology and Sport Management is nothing short of remarkable. With the outstanding reputation of SMU, our advantageous location in Dallas and our outstanding faculty and students, it is no surprise that our graduate sport management program has been recognized as one of the top 20 in the world. I look forward to our continued ascent in the rankings as we add additional resources to this outstanding program.”

Carton appreciates the recognition of the many factors that have resulted in the premier program. He says the recognition is a testament to the outstanding full-time and adjunct faculty, SMU administration, vast industry partners, and students. “We will use this ranking to further propel our vision, initiatives, and resources as we aspire to be one of the leading programs in the world.”

For more information about the 2023 SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Ranking, visit: https://www.sportbusiness.com/postgraduate-rankings-2023/

Support from the Dean

Dean Stephanie Knight appreciates and supports SMU President Gerald Turner’s letter regarding the terrible violence in Israel and Gaza. Dean Knight joins in expressing concern for all those affected.

October 10, 2023
Dear SMU Community,

Although the war in Israel and Gaza is thousands of miles away from North Texas, for many of our students, faculty and staff, the pain of this conflict is personal. SMU abhors the ongoing violence, which is causing sorrow, anger, and anxiety for many who are worried about their family and the future. We all grieve for the innocent, for those who have experienced terror, for the families of the victims and for those – both Israeli and Palestinian – who can find no safe haven from the violence. On behalf of SMU’s leadership, I want to express our deep concern and support for those affected by this war and our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our campus community.

In these trying times, it is more important than ever to come together and be compassionate and understanding. We recognize that some of our community members have families in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, and we want to assure you that we are here to assist you. Our Student Affairs team has been reaching out directly to those who may have been impacted on campus.

• Counseling resources are available for students by calling 214-768-2277. Faculty and staff can contact the Employee Assistance Programthrough Magellan Health Services at 877-704-5696.

• Pastoral support can be found by contacting the Office of the Chaplain.

• Confidential reports of anyone who may need assistance can be made through SMU’s Caring Community Connections Program.

• Students struggling to keep up with academic responsibilities due to this situation should reach out to their professors and academic advisors. Similarly, for faculty and staff, please engage your supervisors.

Report bias incidents to the Bias Education Response Team.

The atrocities of war can overwhelm some with emotion. Our response should be to seek and offer support in ways that live out the core values of our University. As we mourn the lives lost and share our thoughts in class, with friends, or on social media, I am grateful that SMU is a welcoming and inclusive campus. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have no place in our community or in debate with one another. It is important to accept and embrace our differences, approaching difficult dialogue in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
In times that seek to divide us, let us instead come together and find solace within our community.

R. Gerald Turner
SMU President

 

Simmons Reinforces Commitment to Cutting-Edge Technology Enhanced Immersive Learning

SMU has greatly strengthened its investment in Technology Enhanced Immersive Learning (TEIL) by adding three new professors to the existing group of TEIL researchers at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. While Drs. Corey Brady, Prajakt Pande and Kelsey Schenck are all new faces at Simmons, they are already hard at work in their respective areas of research

Dr. Brady is an Associate Professor who specializes in Mathematics Education and the Learning Sciences. He studies mathematical and computational modeling to better understand and support the collective and embodied learning of classroom groups in innovative, immersive learning environments. He has been PI or co-PI on ten NSF projects totaling over $15 million, and he is a participant in the NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning. He and collaborators received the Outstanding Paper Award at the International Conference of Learning Sciences in both 2020 and 2023.

Dr. Pande is an Assistant Professor who specializes in the convergence of embodied cognition, technology-enhanced learning, and STEM education. His research focuses on developing and evaluating innovative technology interfaces such as immersive virtual reality (iVR), to facilitate embodied learning of scientific concepts and phenomena. He examines cognition and action such as bodily interaction with scientific models and representations using qualitative interviewing, interaction analysis, and eye-tracking techniques.

Dr. Schenck  is an Assistant Professor whose research deals with embodied cognition, spatial reasoning, and STEM education. She is interested in using a grounded and embodied frame to understand the influence of the cognitive and affective aspects of spatial reasoning on students’ STEM learning and in the design of interventions with immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. She also investigates the role of spatial ability and spatial anxiety in embodied mathematics, including geometry and proportional reasoning.