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IPoRT Faculty

Training Dircetor: Dr. Bruce D. Homer
Co-Training Director: Dr. Jan Plass
Co-Training Director: Dr. Bert Flugman

Faculty Mentors

Dr. Linnea Ehri
Dr. Ida Jeltova
Dr. Catherine Milne
Dr. David Rindskopf
Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda
Dr. Jay Verkuilen
Dr. Barry J. Zimmerman


Training Director: Dr. Bruce D. Homer
Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center; Director of Research at CREATE; Faculty Affiliate of CASE
E-mail: bhomer@gc.cuny.edu

Dr. Bruce Homer is Training Director of the IPoRT Postdoctoral Fellowship program. His research examines how children learn to use “cultural tools” to communicate (e.g., language, literacy, and information technologies), and how the acquisition of these tools transforms cognitive and developmental processes. Recently, Dr. Homer has also begun to investigate some of the underlying biological structures involved in the representation of knowledge as part of an ongoing effort to identify ways in which biological, cognitive and cultural factors interact to shape development and learning. Dr. Homer’s work falls into three lines of research: Language and Literacy, Social Cognition, and Computer-based Learning.

As Director of Research at the Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education (CREATE) and Co-PI of the Molecules and Minds project, Dr. Homer has been researching the use of computer-based multimedia environments for learning. His work in this area investigates the influence of cognitive abilities and prior knowledge on students’ interactions with and learning from multimedia environments. A large dataset has been collected as part of the Molecules and Minds project, which is one source of possible collaboration with Postdoctoral Fellows. Additionally, Fellows could collaborate with future data collection efforts that are part of the Molecules and Minds project.

In his ongoing work with the Center for Research on Culture, Development & Education (CRCDE), Dr. Homer been investigating early symbolic understanding and emergent literacy in a linguistically and culturally diverse group of immigrant children. One research opportunity for Postdoctoral Fellows would be to assist with analyzing this large body of longitudinal data. Dr. Homer is also undertaking a project on children’s early language experiences and symbolic abilities and how they relate to the development of literacy and numeracy. This project will provide a number of research opportunities for Fellows.

Finally, Dr. Homer conducts research on social cognition and theory of mind (ToM). His research in this area addresses two questions: How do children’s representations of mental states develop and change over time? and What are the underlying neurological structures of the brain that account for the ability to represent mental states? Postdoctoral Fellows would have the opportunity to assist with analyzing existing data from this work and to facilitating with future projects, such as relating ToM development to learning processes.


Co-Training Director: Dr. Jan Plass
Associate Professor of Educational Communication and Technology at New York University; Director, CREATE
E-mail: jan.plass@nyu.edu

Dr. Jan Plass is Training Co-Director for the IPORT Fellowship program. Dr. Plass is the Director of the Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education (CREATE) and PI of the IES funded, Molecules and Minds grant. He is director of the Program in Educational Communication and Technology at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, where he holds a rank of Associate Professor. In his research, Dr. Plass explores the intersection of cognitive science, computer science, and design to further our understanding of the effective use of multimedia and the web for learning and instruction. He has recently published on cognitive load in multimedia learning and has been studying the effects of learner variables in various contexts, including second-language acquisition and science education, and he is currently co-editing a book Cognitive Load: Theory and Application, under contract with Cambridge University Press.  His interests also include the design and development of instructional multimedia and web applications, and particularly issues of information architecture, interaction design, and information design. 


Co-Training Director: Dr. Bert Flugman
Director, CASE; Professor of Educational Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY
E-mail: BFlugman@gc.cuny.edu

Dr. Bert Flugman has been director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Education (CASE) in the Educational Psychology program at the Graduate Center for over 25 years. In that time, he has been involved with basic and applied research aimed at improving and upgrading the quality of education in urban areas. His specific areas of expertise include: Career development, organizational change in schools, and special education. CASE conducts basic and applied research concerned with improving and upgrading the quality of education in urban areas.  CASE serves as a forum for consideration of policy issues, as a center for interdisciplinary approaches to educational problems, and as a clearinghouse in areas of educational research. CASE draws its researchers from among the faculty of the colleges of the City University of New York, as well as from students and faculty of the Graduate School, and maintains a close affiliation with the Graduate School’s Ph.D. Program in Educational Psychology.


Faculty Mentors

Dr. Linnea Ehri, Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center
E-mail: LEhri@gc.cuny.edu

My program of research has centered on the cognitive and linguistic processes involved acquiring reading and spelling skills, what knowledge sources and capabilities prepare beginners for success in becoming literate, what factors cause reading difficulties in some children, and what types of instruction facilitate learning and prevent or remediate difficulties in learning to read and spell. My studies have included preschoolers, elementary students, disabled readers, and adult literacy students.

My research studies have focused on understanding the underlying processes and identifying factors that facilitate learning to read and spell words, including phonemic awareness, word awareness, letter-sound correspondences, retention of sight words in memory, decoding pseudowords, generating spellings of words, remembering the correct spellings of words, and vocabulary learning. My findings have advanced our understanding of these processes in several ways. Some examples are the following:

1. Contrary to prevailing views, knowledge of letter-sound relations is critical for the acquisition of a sight vocabulary.
2. Acquisition of phonemic awareness and transfer to sight word reading is facilitated by teaching students to use letters to segment words into phonemes, and teaching students to monitor their articulatory gestures as they pronounce words.
3. Acquisition of letter-sound knowledge and transfer to word reading and writing is facilitated by integrated picture mnemonics that connect the shapes of letters to their sounds by drawing the letter as an object whose name begins with the sound of the letter (e.g., S drawn as a snake whose first sound is /s/).
4. Students remember the pronunciations and meanings of new vocabulary words better when they are exposed to spellings of the words than when they only rehearse pronunciations to learn the words.
5. Students’ memory for the spellings of words is facilitated by teaching them to create special spelling pronunciations that maximize the correspondence between letters and sounds in the words rather to produce dictionary pronunciations of the words (e.g., pronouncing interesting as “in-ter-es-ting” rather than “in-tres-ting”).


Potential Projects for IES Postdoctoral Training

1. Vocabulary Learning: Studies would be conducted to extend our findings showing that seeing the written forms of new vocabulary words in English facilitates students’ memory for their pronunciations and meanings. The questions of interest are whether and how this phenomenon occurs in non-alphabetic languages such as Chinese. It may be that the benefit is limited to written languages that symbolize pronunciations of words at the graphophonemic level, not at the morphological level. The design would involve a repeated measures experiment. ANOVAs would be used to analyze the data. A postdoctoral student would collaborate on the design, collect the data, analyze the results, and assist in publishing any interpretable findings.

2. Struggling Readers: Predictors of Growth in Reading Skills: Three experiments were conducted to examine the impact of two different forms of tutoring on students’ growth in reading skills. The students were 158 low SES, minority 3rd-4th grade struggling readers. Performance of students on pretests, during training, and on posttests has not been fully analyzed to answer questions regarding which students benefited most from the tutoring programs, and what entry-level capabilities predicted differential success in the tutoring programs. Analyses of this existing data set using multiple regression and growth curve analyses await attention and could be completed by a postdoctoral student. Statistical courses are offered at CUNY to teach students these procedures. Results if interpretable would be written up for publication.


Dr. Ida Jeltova
Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center
E-mail: ijeltova@gc.cuny.edu

Dr. Ida Jeltova has been involved in a five-year project funded through the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented that examined the use of dynamic instruction and assessment methods in the elementary school classroom. She has also published research on the risky health behavior in adolescent girls who are recent immigrants from the Soviet Union.


Dr. Catherine Milne
Assistant Professor of Science Education, NYU; Co-PI Molecules & Minds Project
E-mail: catherine.milne@nyu.edu

Dr. Catherine Milne specializes in chemistry education and has extensive experience with teacher preparation and research in this area. Milne is currently studying the strategies teachers can use to improve the general literacy of their students, and the ways in which school administrations and teachers enact policies, such as those associated with No Child Left Behind and Children First. Dr. Milne (with Drs. Homer and Plass), has recently received a research grant to pilot test the use of an eye-tracking system to examine factors that influence visual attention in multimedia learning environment. As part of the Molecules and Minds project, Dr. Milne is studying how science teachers use representations in science. Her interest is in the assumptions that teachers make about learning and using representations, and whether students’ understanding matches these assumptions. Her research incorporates qualitative interview and observational techniques with quantitative surveys and tests of science knowledge. Dr. Milne serves as the liaison with the schools and science teachers, pedagogical and subject-matter expert, and coordinator of the field studies for the Molecules and Minds project. Possible research opportunities for postdoctoral fellows working with Dr. Milne would include analyzing existing teacher and student process data from the Molecules and Minds project, or developing unique research questions that could be addressed in a study using eye-tracking.


Dr. David Rindskopf
Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center
E-mail: drindskopf@gc.cuny.edu

My area of research is research methodology, including measurement, design, and statistical analysis.  Most of my research is in the area of applied statistics, including structural equation models, multilevel (hierarchical) linear models, categorical data, and meta-analysis.

My primary role will be to assist the post-docs in acquiring advanced knowledge of methodological skills they would need in their research.  Part of this would come through auditing courses in areas such as multilevel models, structural equation models, categorical data, missing data, and Bayesian statistics. Another part of their training will include participation in my statistical consulting seminar.  In this seminar, students learn how to help researchers design studies, develop measurement instruments, and analyze data. The clients are doctoral students and faculty.  In contrast with typical methods and statistics classes, students will see how real-world research involves a great number of difficulties not covered in courses or texts, and sees how a statistician goes about resolving those problems.

A third possible avenue for collaboration is to help with the grant that Will Shadish and I have to develop methods for analysis of what is often called single subject or single case designs, generally used in behavior therapy, school psychology, and special education.

Postdoctoral Fellows interested in meta-analysis can get statistical training from me (through the multilevel models course), and from Hannah Rothstein, a prominent researcher in meta-analysis, who is on the Baruch faculty.
Finally, Postdoctoral Fellows with the right background and interest could be involved in the editing and reviewing process for the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, for which I am the editor.


Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda
Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University
E-mail: catherine.tamis-lemonda@nyu.edu

As director of the NSF funded Center for Research in Culture, Development and Education (the Center), I am pleased that this will be a site where the postdoctoral fellows can receive additional research mentorship. The mandate for the Center is to provide an infrastructure to support research related to the question of how cultural and developmental process affect educational outcomes. Central to this is providing research training and mentorship opportunities for students and Postdoctoral Fellows. The Center faculty come from a number of disciplines, including psychology, education, sociology, and economics. Center research also uses a variety of research methodologies, including naturalistic observation, surveys, interviews and experiments. The center has been in existence for 5 years, and has just received renewed funding from the National Science Foundation for the next 5 years (2007-2012).

The Center faculty (including myself as Director, with Niobe Way, Hiro Yoshikawa and Diane Hughes as Co-Principal Investigators; as well as Diane Ruble, Cybele Raver, and Ronit Kahana Kalman as Co-Investigtors), are engaging in a longitudinal research study following 900 New York City children The goal of the center’s research is to understand how home life, peer interactions, media and technology influence school performance. The center will examine two longitudinal groups from the city’s population – a group of young children who had been followed from birth through 3 years (and will now be followed as they transition to Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st Grade), and a group of adolescents who had been followed from sixth through eighth grades (and will now be followed as they transition to High School and beyond). Dr. Homer has been involved with Center activities both at the initial planning stages and during the current period of data collection. This work has created a large quantity of data that would be available for Postdoctoral Fellows to conduct secondary data analyses with the mentorship of a center faculty member. Also, if interested, postdoctoral fellows would be able to participate in projects that will be in active data collection stages. Center faculty are currently establishing a number of international research projects, including studies in China and Mexico, that parallel our NYC work.


Dr. Jay Verkuilen
Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center
E-mail: jverkuilen@gc.cuny.edu

Dr. Jay Verkuilen’s work combines an interest in important psychological issues with a strong background in theoretical statistics and computer programming. He has applied statistical methodology to important data analysis problems in educational psychology, psychology, and the social sciences. In psychometrics, he has done innovative work in the development of new statistical models for analyzing psychological test data and paired comparison data. He has also studied important generalizations of Item Response Theory, the statistical model that underlies the current use of computer adaptive tests.


Dr. Barry J. Zimmerman
Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, The Graduate Center
E-mail: bzimmerman@gc.cuny.edu

My interests concern the influence of social, cognitive, and behavioral experiences on human development in diverse areas of functioning, including academics, athletics, music, and health. At the outset of my career, I studied children’s and youth's acquisition of adults' concepts, standards, and competencies from social modeling and emulative experiences at home and in school. My colleagues, students, and I discovered that even young children can readily abstract a wide range of skills from a model, such as learning strategies, rules, concepts, moral and social beliefs, linguistic knowledge, and even creative ideas. Of particular interest was how these learners’ conceptions of their growing competence led to their formation of a resolute sense of personal agency -- for controlling their destinies. This research goal prompted our study of a variety of motivational beliefs, especially perceptions of self-efficacy, and proactive processes for gaining personal proficiency, such as goal setting, strategy use, and self-evaluation. These self-initiated learning processes were classified as “self-regulated” and have been found to underlie success in academic studying and homework, athletic and musical practice, and health and quality of life. The identification of these self-regulated learning beliefs and processes enabled us to mount successful interventions with at-risk populations, such as disadvantaged or learning disabled students, athletes and musicians struggling to improve their practice sessions, and patients with disabling diseases, such as asthma and obesity.

The goal of my current (2006-2008) IES research grant is to help at-risk students attending an urban technical college to improve their mathematics performance by improving their self-regulation, with particular attention to self-reflection processes. Specifically, we have implemented this program with two groups of students: those who failed a university wide placement test in mathematics (i.e., remedial), and those who are eligible to take a first year college mathematics course. The former group of students is at greater risk of dropping out of college than the latter group of students. Students in both courses (remedial and college-level) are randomly assigned to either an SRL intervention section or to a control group (i.e., a traditional non-SRL) section. Students in the SRL sections are given opportunities to improve their math quiz scores by engaging in an SRL guided revision process that allows them to correct wrong answers. Students in the SRL mathematics sections are being compared to students in the control group classes on how they perform on the three major examinations. Students in the two groups are also being compared on a variety of examination-related self-regulatory processes including: self-efficacy and self-evaluation. SRL and control students are also being compared on course-related measures of self-regulation: self-efficacy, self-satisfaction standards, and learning strategy use. Research has shown that students’ ability to self-regulate their learning depends especially on the quality of feedback regarding their performance (Zimmerman 1989, 1990, 1995). Unfortunately, most academic feedback is presented to students in the form of summary grades. Traditional grades seldom provide much adaptive help to students and often trigger counterproductive defensive reactions. In order to change student attitudes and behaviors towards the test-taking experience, we will provide SRL mathematics students at a technical college with superior training, feedback, and methods of self-assessment.