CEHD News Research

CEHD News Research

Boss: “No such thing as ‘closure’ in relationships”

Pauline BossIn an interview with NPR, Department of Family Social Science professor emeritus Pauline Boss said there is no such thing as “closure” when relationships end.

This  month NPR featured Boss in a segment of On Being with Krista Tippett titled “The Myth of Closure.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel,  Boss placed emphasis on the importance of remembering loved ones, and that actively trying to “get over” a death or failed relationship often prevents people from being able to do just that.

Boss also praised CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for putting “closure” in its proper place in the media when interviewing survivors and family members after tragedy.

“I know from his own biography that he knows what loss is, and he understands that there is no closure. He’s the only reporter I’ve ever heard explain that in the line of his work, and I think the rest of us have to do a better job of it, too.”

Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” for her pioneering research on what people feel when a loved one disappears. However, she says, “We have to live with loss, whether clear or ambiguous, and it’s okay.”

Listen to “The Myth of Closure” on NPR here.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here.

Learn more about Pauline Boss and her research interests here. 

J.B. Mayo, Jr. Receives Research Award for “Uncovering Queer Spaces in the Harlem Renaissance”

Jazz singer, Ethel Waters
Jazz singer, Ethel Waters

Each year, the  Institute on Diversity, Equity and Advocacy grants Multicultural Research Awards that “transform the University by enhancing the visibility and advancing the productivity of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and community scholars whose expertise in equity, diversity, and underrepresented populations will lead to innovative scholarship and teaching that addresses urgent social issues.”  Associate Professor in Curriculum & Instruction, J.B. Mayo, Jr., received one of the prestigious grants for his proposal to integrate LGBTQ history into the social studies curriculum that covers the Harlem Renaissance.

The research project entitled “Uncovering Queer Spaces During the Harlem Renaissance” is aimed at breaking the silence within social studies education about LGBT people, themes, and histories. Mayo plans to engage intersectional realities that include race, gender, and sexual orientation while helping teachers to be more inclusive of LGBT people, themes, and histories within their social studies classes.

Another goal of Mayo’s research is to allow LGBT students, and particularly queer students of color, to see themselves positively represented. He plans to conduct intensive archival research this summer in Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Black Culture to find the stories of gay artists of color working during the Harlem Renaissance. He will then co-create an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum with local social studies teachers that center on the chosen artists’ work and identities. The finished curriculum will be field tested in area social studies classes. Mayo plans to observe the lessons as they are taught and follow-up with interviews with the participating teachers and selected students to discuss their impressions and to gather their perceptions of the impact of these lessons, which are aimed at not only changing young people’s views of history, but diminishing homophobia within communities of color and in society more generally.

Find out more about the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s commitment to diversity and social justice and the research degree in social studies education.





The Open Textbook Experience: A national presentation on open educational resources

DuranczykI-2012Irene Duranczyk, associate professor in PsTL, made an “ignite” presentation at the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC) annual conference in New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 20 on the research and need for open educational resources and creative commons text. This is an equity issue. At the conference,  Duranczyk was also the State Delegate to the Annual Delegate Assembly of AMATYC held on Saturday. As the central region coordinator for the Research in Mathematics Education for Two Year Colleges (RMETYC), she attended the executive committee meeting and was present for the committee sponsored research presentations.

Serving as a peer study group facilitator: Catalyst for vocation exploration of a teaching career.

David Arendale, associate professor in PsTL, and Amanada Hane, his former graduate assistant, had another manuscript published from their qualitative study of UMN peer study group facilitators. It will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Developmental Education published by the National Center for Developmental Education. While there have been previous reports that some former study group leaders considered careers in education as a result of their experience, this is the first article that linked the behavior with vocational choice theory to help explain this outcome. Ms. Hane has an MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She currently works at Wilder Research in Saint Paul, Minnesota and conducts community-based research and evaluation in the human services field.

Jehangir, Stebleton and Deenanath publish monograph on the Impact of First-Generation, Socioeconomic, and Immigrant Status on Transition to College 

RR5_Cover896x1346Rashné Jehangir and Michael Stebleton, both associate professors in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and Veronica Deenanath, doctoral student in Family Social Science have published a monograph on  research conducted with first-generation, low-income students at the University of Minnesota. The monograph is part of a research report series published with the  National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.


Excerpt: In January 2014, the White House urged that college be made more accessible for low-income Americans. Yet, moving beyond access to success requires knowing more about the experiences of these students. A new research report captures the challenges low-income, first-generation students—many of whom were also immigrants and students of color—faced in their collegiate journey and examines the strategies they employed to persist.

Organized thematically and using student narrative, the report explores the diversity of first-generation students, the intersections of their multiple identities, and their interactions with the institutional agents that affect college success. An Exploration of Intersecting Identities of First-Generation, Low-Income Students also offers practical suggestions for higher education professionals working with this diverse and growing population.

Teaching award winner Rashné Jehangir is an interdisciplinary scholar and passionate student advocate


“Where are you from?” “Where did you grow up?”

When Rashné Jehangir recalls questions she’s been asked throughout her adult life, her voice shifts. Her signature energetic cadence slows, and her passionate timbre softens to a reflective curiosity as she envisions the inquirer’s mindset.

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Jehangir first encountered similar questions as a freshman in Wisconsin. Her early experiences in Lawrence University’s freshmen studies program shaped an interest in interdisciplinary learning, where student and faculty could be co-learners in the classroom.

Now an associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (PsTL), Jehangir’s lived experience nurtures a deep appreciation for the students she teaches and also fuels her research focus.

“I have an understanding of what it means to be an outsider in different ways,” she says. “The idea of not quite fitting in, and having to figure that out—this is where I feel really connected with students.”

Jehangir is committed to cultivating classroom communities where students can grapple with and interrogate big questions and learn from the lived experiences of others. Students feel connected to her, as well.

“I credit Rashné for being my academic fairy godmother,” says former student Kafia Ahmed, “seeing something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself—a capable and dynamic young woman.”

“The class I took with Rashné was one of the most memorable because she focused on creating a community in the classroom, and fostered open discussions about difficult topics like race, colonialism, and structural oppression,” says former student Abigail Schanfield.

Creating moments of advocacy and agency is central to Jehangir’s teaching philosophy. Helping students—especially students who are first in their families to attend college—recognize the strengths they bring to the academy while reinforcing their aptitude for walking in multiple worlds is a driving force for her. This year, she became a recipient of the University’s highest teaching honor, the Morse-Alumni Teaching Award.

“Our job is to help them translate strengths—that’s where the deep, ‘heart work’ is involved,” says Jehangir.  “There is head work, and there’s heart work—both intellectual and relational.”

From career counselor to the classroom

Teaching came to Jehangir through a chance opportunity. She began her career as a counselor advocate in the University’s TRIO program at a time when Bruce and Sharyn Schelske were creating learning communities for students in the program. Bruce invited her to teach a one-credit class, and the experience shifted the entire trajectory of her career and her life.

“Once I was in the classroom I thought, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do’,” Jehangir remembers.

Her class was linked to another taught by LeRoy Gardner, Jr., that explored multicultural relations and relationships, specifically race, class, and gender issues in the United States.

“The types of conversations, the types of reflections on identity of self and others we were able to have [in the classroom] was unbelievable,” she says. Realizing these were the conversations and questions she wanted to explore as a teacher and researcher, Jehangir began pursuing her Ph.D. while working full time in TRIO. Her dissertation work was built around creating learning communities with seasoned faculty members Patrick Bruch and Patricia James.

“We had different languages from a disciplinary perspective,” says Jehangir. But the three established powerful points of connection: Identity, community, and social agency were the three themes that bound their work. Through experimentation, their curriculum included capstones of theater performances and class-driven murals, some still on the walls of Burton Hall.

Those early learning communities served as a springboard to her leadership role in developing CEHD’s successful interdisciplinary First Year Experience Program.

“It was a really joyous, challenging, messy time,” she says, reflecting on the work in which she and her PsTL colleagues engaged to design the program. “I think that’s as it should be when there is space to be creative and innovative about pedagogy.”

The power of story

As a qualitative researcher, Jehangir’s well-known and highly regarded work examines the stories and experiences of first-generation students, many of whom are also immigrants and people of color. Their narratives unlock the potential for understanding and advocacy, and she is reverent in maintaining the authenticity of their voices.

“They are in essence giving you the power to tell their story in a way that can influence agency, whether it’s changing how people see first-generation students, or changing how counselors work with first-generation students, or changing policies that might exist.”

This commitment to untold stories forms the basis of Jehangir’s own first-year curriculum, where students read diverse narratives examined from historical, sociological, and literary frames. In one early assignment, she invites students to explore personal narratives through a biographical object, asking students to reflect on and publically share an object that represents their experiences and identities. She participates in the assignment, too—“If they’re going to do it, I’m going to do it,” she says, referring to a practice embedded in her teaching since her work with James and Bruch.

Jehangir’s biographical object is handwritten letters from her father, scripted in fountain pen on white paper. Received during her undergraduate  years in Wisconsin, the letters forged a connection and bridged the geographical divide.

“My father was a great storyteller and he was really unconventional and funny and irreverent,” she says. “I had the kind of dialogue with him in letters that I probably would never have had if I had gone to college at home.

“He wrote letters like stories, so I could picture things at home that I missed,” she continues. “They carried my history with me, and they were tactile in that I could smell a little bit of home in them.”

Jehangir keeps the treasured letters within reach of her office chair, knowing they contain the grace, humor, and strength of her father, who passed away shortly before she graduated from Lawrence.

“The capacity to laugh at yourself, but also honor who you are and where you came from, all of that is in those letters,” she says.

As a teacher and researcher, Jehangir helps students honor who they are and where they came from, while avidly paving support for where they hope to go.

PsTL’s 2015 Graduate Student Showcase

PsTL's Shane Lueck, Amy Barton, Wuyi Zhang, Anne Loyle-Langholz, Saida Hassan
PsTL’s Shane Lueck, Amy Barton, Wuyi Zhang, Anne Loyle-Langholz, Saida Hassan

The Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning hosted a Graduate Student Showcase featuring the scholarship of soon-to-be graduates and alumni of the Multicultural College Teaching and Learning program. Following are highlights from the presentations.

Multicultural Career Development: Identifying Values to Foster Major/Career Planning of Exploratory Students

Amy Barton’s research area is the career development of underrepresented students in higher education. Her research project examined a values-based approach for supporting students in their exploration of majors and careers, along with the utilization of a constructivist framework. Her research identified the strengths and limitations of a narrative approach while recognizing its applicability with other student populations. Barton’s experiences throughout her graduate career have informed her research. She has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for three faculty members and completed a practicum with the Medical School Office of Admissions. This year, Barton is a Career Counselor Graduate Intern for CEHD Career Services and a Graduate Teaching Assistant for CLA President’s Emerging Scholars. Barton enjoys engaging with college students during the unique transition period of academic and career development and is energized by the complexity and challenge of this exciting work.

Somali National University: Reviving Public Higher Education in a Post-Conflict Society

Saida Hassan is passionate about the landscape of higher education and how to better serve students, specifically in relation to International Education from a learning and teaching perspective. In the summer of 2014, she did her three-credit internship with the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu, Somalia, collecting the stories of former students of Somali National University (SNU), the only university in Somalia prior to the civil war. Her research focused on the students’ undergraduate experiences using interviews and oral histories to identify the value placed on education by Somalis as well as the organized, authoritarian system of study during that time. After two decades of civil war, Somali National University has reopened. Hassan traveled back to Somalia to assist SNU’s College of Education with preparation of the college, providing recommendations based on her research and education to help the university establish collaborative learning environments. “In the landscape of higher education, it is critical to implement inclusive learning environments that integrate engaging pedagogy,” says Hassan.

Revised Course Design of Online Chinese Language Class for Better Peer Cross-cultural Communication

Wuyi Zhang is from Hunan Province, China. His undergraduate study was in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Beijing Normal University Zhuhai Campus, China. After graduation, he was a Chinese teacher in a language training school and mostly taught small classes or individual students. “I taught students from all over the world, and they also taught me a lot about their own cultures and traditions,” say Zhang. Two years later, he came to America to better prepare himself as a teacher and experience different cultures in America. The purpose of his project was to build awareness and consciousness of the importance of cross-cultural communication, and create the possibilities of cross-cultural conversations by supporting them in his course redesign. Zhang added culturally emphasized activities and content to aid students in connecting more deeply with the course and one another. He promoted the students’ sense of participation and value through culturally distinguishable assignments. In one assignment he asked students to record the phrase, “When Greenwich meantime is 12:00, the time in my hometown is ________.” Then he digitally altered the audio and asked students to identify which student was speaking based on the recorded information. Zhang also included images with more cultural diversity in the courseware and encouraged students to use culturally recognized pictures to create their own flash cards. He sees his work benefiting other online course instructors who face similar challenges as well as designers and programmers of online education platforms.

Does Space Matter?

Anne Loyle-Langholz started her educational journey at a small community college in New Jersey. She later attended Rutgers University where she completed an MA in Organic Chemistry in 2007. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, she has worked on several curriculum projects in science education including the implementation of culturally relevant lessons for Native students and process-oriented guided inquiry (POGIL) activities for introductory anatomy and physiology courses. During the showcase, Loyle-Langholz presented research that addressed student attitudes towards chemistry and perceptions of the learning environment in a traditional lecture hall (LH) and an active learning classroom (ALC). For her study, she complied extensive video and audio documentation of a chemistry course at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and administered two surveys. The first, an 8-item semantic differential, measured students’ attitudes toward the subject of chemistry and measured the constructs of emotional satisfaction and intellectual accessibility. The results showed students’ attitudes remained unchanged. The second, a 32-item instrument developed at the UMN, was designed to measure student perceptions of the learning environment. Results reflected positive, significant gains in the constructs of engagement, confidence, and enrichment, along with use of the room and course fit in the ALC. In 2012, Loyle-Langholz received a Certificate in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning. She is currently working for a local publishing company as a Database Librarian to catalogue and develop curricula in several science disciplines.

Facilitating Conversations of Equity and Diversity

Shane Lueck’s Capstone project involved writing and designing a booklet on how to facilitate conversations of equity and diversity, specifically for facilitators who have no formal training in diversity and equity topics. Lueck’s goal was to provide support for people wishing to address equity and diversity as it comes up in the workplace or at family gatherings. Instead of a booklet full of activities and sample conversations, the content focused on interventions to be had before these conversations take place. Lueck’s booklet encourages facilitators to reflect on why they want to have these conversations, the identities and biases they are bringing into the room, the identities and biases of the other participants, and how to encourage willingness on the part of the participants in having these conversations. These reflections guide the facilitator through understanding how all of these components impact the conversation and how to have the most productive conversation possible. Lueck’s reflective process is supplemented with resource lists of activities and additional materials to further support facilitators.

Lee and Williams publish edited volume on internationalizing higher education, co-author chapter for Polish colleague’s book.

Lee-Williams Ed. VolumeAmy Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and research associate, Rhiannon D. Williams, are co-editors of the recently published volume, Internationalizing Higher Education: Critical Collaborations Across The Curriculum, available from Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Developed for current and future faculty, student affairs staff, and administrators from diverse disciplinary, institutional, and geographic contexts, this edited volume invites readers to investigate, better understand, and inform intercultural pedagogy that supports the development of mindful global citizenship. The book features reflective practitioners exploring the dynamic and evolving nature of intercultural learning as well as the tensions and complexities. Contributors include institutional researchers, directors and key implementers of EU/Bologna process in Poland (one of the newest members and one that is facing unprecedented change in the diversity of its students), international partners in learning abroad programs, and scholars and instructors across a range of humanities, STEM, and social sciences.

Lee and Williams also co-authored the chapter, “Designing Intercultural Interactions: Students’ Reflections on a Personal Narrative Assignment” in the edited volume titled: Education and Creativity (2014). The volume was edited by a Polish colleague, Elzbieta Osewska, and published by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland.Education and Creativity


Poch presents paper at annual meeting of Organization of American Historians

PochRobert-2014Bob Poch, senior fellow and director of graduate studies in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, presented a paper at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in St. Louis, Missouri. Poch’s paper, “Strangers in the Land — Again: The Historical Connection of Interposition and Race before and during Arizona’s Immigration Battle,” argued that Arizona’s contemporary immigration strategy has strong historical connectivity with U.S. Civil War era tensions between state and federal authority and also nativist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In addition, Poch’s article, “Howard University Students and Civil Rights Activism, 1934-1944,” has been accepted for publication in the American Educational History Journal. The article will appear in Summer 2015.

Arendale quoted in Star Tribune regarding elimination of remedial college courses

ArendaleD-2011David Arendale, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, was quoted in the Star Tribune article Minnesota considers bill to scrap remedial college courses by Maura Lerner.

Regarding the proposed legislation to eliminate remedial courses, Arendale conveyed skepticism and advised caution based on his research.

“If they’re talking about the students at the top … I would agree…they’ll just be fine.” But he adds, “I’ve not seen research that says you can go to the middle and the bottom [tiers] and those students will do fine…Why don’t we do a small pilot at a couple of colleges before we propose doing this statewide?”

Read the full article


Stebleton presents research at NASPA annual conference

StebletonM-2011Mike Stebleton, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, presented the scholarly paper titled: “Facilitating Belonging: Immigrant Students and the Impact of Faculty and Institutional Agents on Sense of Belonging” at the annual conference of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) in New Orleans, LA, March 21-25, 2015. Stebleton discussed the ongoing, qualitative research project of 103 immigrant college students across three campuses. The presentation also explored the role and impact of faculty member and student affairs educator interactions on students’ sense of belonging at 4-year institutions.

Jehangir receives Morse Award for undergraduate education, discusses work in NASPA interview

Rashne JehangirRashné Jehangir, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, has been awarded the Horace T. Morse – University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. Jehangir has dedicated her career to improving the academic programs and classroom experiences of undergraduates in the university and across the country through her educational leadership, exemplary teaching, and research. Her emphasis on first generation and bypassed student populations, the most difficult to retain, is exemplary work that has made a measurable difference in retention. She will be honored at the Distinguished Teaching Awards Ceremony on campus April 8.

In a recent interview by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Jehangir’s work is highlighted as part of a series featuring the work on social class scholars. The Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education Knowledge Community within NAPSA is sponsoring this year long series to showcase scholars whose work informs how SES and issues of class impact and alter the college and university landscape. Access Jehangir’s interview here.



Hsu and Heller awarded Center for Educational Innovation grant

HsuL-2012Leon Hsu, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, and Kenneth Heller, professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy have received an Experiments in Learning Innovation Grant from the University’s Center for Educational Innovation. The grant will support the construction and assessment of computer coaches designed to help introductory physics students develop good problem-solving skills by providing them with coaching while they solve problems. A key feature of the coaches is their ability to be customized by individual instructors without any specialized programming knowledge to suit their own preferences.

Poch awarded Center for Educational Innovation grant

PochRobert-2014Robert K. Poch, senior fellow and director of graduate studies in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, has received an Experiments in Learning Innovation Grant from the University’s Center for Educational Innovation. The grant supports his focus on how one disciplinary area within the humanities (history) can, within a large freshman survey course, be redesigned to take an active problem-based approach that produces applied skills and knowledge entirely relevant to today’s grand challenges.



Stebleton invited to speak at Gilman Web Symposium

StebletonM-2011The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program invited Dr. Michael Stebleton, associate professor in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning, to share insights during the third webinar of the 2014 – 2015 Gilman Web Symposium Series on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Moderated by Gilman Program staff member Randi Butler, the webinar “Supporting Non-Traditional Students to Study & Intern Abroad” brought together Stebleton, a researcher on college student development and success, and David Taylor, Director of Global Abroad Programs at Wake Forest University, to discuss this unique and important student demographic. During the webinar, Stebleton and Taylor discussed the benefits studying and interning abroad can bring to non-traditional students and examined ways to include this population in study abroad outreach. Joining the discussion was a Gilman alumnus who is a first-generation college student and studied abroad in Russia while attending a community college.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Kendeou receives Early Career Impact Award

kendeouPanayiota Kendeou, associate professor of Psychological Foundations of Education in the Department of Educational Psychology, has been selected to receive an Early Career Impact Award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). The award will be presented to her at the 2015 Society for Text & Discourse Annual Meeting later this year.

Given to FABBS members during their first 10 years post-Ph.D., this award recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.

According to FABBS’s website, “Dr. Kendeou is widely published in the areas of reading comprehension, reading development and conceptual change. She conducts cross-sectional and longitudinal studies with both children and adults, using methods that exhibit an impressive variety and sophistication, including the use of verbal protocols, reading time, and comprehension and cognitive measures.”

Kendeou joined the Department of Educational Psychology in 2013 from the Neapolis University Pafos, Cyprus. She is associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology and serves on the editorial boards of Scientific Studies of Reading, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Learning and InstructionDiscourse Processes, and Reading Psychology. She is also a member of the European Association of Research in Learning and Instruction (EARLI), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Society for Text and Discourse (ST&D), the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), and the Psychonomic Society.

PsTL’s commitment to College in the Schools: Putting pedagogy into practice

Eagan High School CIS students
Eagan High School CIS students

Using research-based, innovative teaching practices, CIS faculty coordinators from PsTL are making a positive and powerful impact in the lives of high school students and their teachers.

Structured for student and community success
Margaret Kelly, senior teaching specialist in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator for Sociological Perspectives: A Multicultural America (PSTL 1211), sees the benefits of the Entry Point Project (EPP) from collective viewpoint. “The more people who have a positive postsecondary experience early on, the better off we are as a state. This is a no-lose effort.” Kelly explains. Her challenging course encourages high-level thinking and uses scaffolding to help students build on knowledge. The framework is designed to alert teachers to any gaps in comprehension so they can intervene early, if required. The universality of the subject matter also reinforces learning and development for the students. “This course works especially well for EPP as it integrates the students’ assets of lived experiences with race and class in the assignments and discussions,” says Kelly.

A key aspect of Kelly’s faculty coordinator role is supporting the course’s high school teachers with professional development throughout the year and during summer workshops. She also visits each classroom. Although it adds to her regular teaching responsibilities, she highly values both. “Seeing these high school students is an important reminder of where my students were just a year before,” says Kelly. “It’s incredibly rewarding to work with an amazing group of teachers. Learning from one another and problem solving together enhances the course’s impact in ways I couldn’t do alone.”

Modeling to support engagement and equity
Since 2009, Sue Staats, associate professor in PsTL and faculty coordinator for College Algebra through Modeling (PSTL 1006), watched her math course grow from serving 30 high school students in two inner city schools to reaching 600 high school students in 29 schools across the state. This growth reinforces her academic passion. “The desire to support equity in education brought me to Minnesota,” Staats says. “College in the Schools offers the widest expression of my equity work possible. It’s a joy seeing creative, dedicated high school teachers put an accessible structure around solid mathematics education to help students in the academic middle re-envision themselves as college students.”

Staats developed the course to prompt mathematical competency that’s conceptual and creative, as well as procedural. Through the use of modeling, an approach promoted by CEHD’s STEM Education Center, the course engages students with open-ended problems that require inquiry and integration of mathematical concepts. Class projects, such as designing a bike-share program for a suburban city or exploring the growth rate of British soccer star salaries in relation to the rest of Britain’s work force, allow students to apply mathematics to questions and issues that interest them. “For some students, College Algebra can be challenging, holding them back from what they want to achieve,” reflects Staats. “But thanks to our extremely committed CIS teachers, our mathematics program is serving the academic needs of a very diverse group of students and helping them earn college credit at the same time.”

Learning through hands-on inquiry
When Leon Hsu, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, was developing the curriculum forPhysics by Inquiry (PSTL 1163), he asked himself, “If students take only one physics course, what do I want them to get out of it?” This reflection led him to create a lab-based class that foregoes traditional lectures for guided inquiry. “It’s too easy to sit through a traditional lecture without being mentally engaged, which can make learning physics difficult,” says Hsu. Instead, the completely hands-on and minds-on course fosters conceptual reasoning through scripted discovery, helping students understand the process of how science works by performing experiments, making explanatory models and testing those models as part of a small group. Students also keep a journal to help them think about their learning. “The course structure requires students to work with and think about the material in the learning process,” he says.

As one of College in Schools’ Entry Point Project courses, Physics by Inquiry gives high school students a view of physics that complements that of most other physics courses by focusing on the scientific process. It also helps high school teachers present physics in a more appealing manner to a broader range of students. “The course gives teachers a way to challenge students beyond the formulas, problems and tests of traditional physics courses,” says Hsu. “It provides an alternative view of physics while preparing high school students for college.”

Rigor that benefits students and teachers
Human Anatomy and Physiology (PSTL 1135) allows CIS high school teachers to bring the rigor of a college science course to their students. “The pace and depth of the material is challenging and demands that students step up and take initiative for their learning,” says Nancy Cripe of Minnehaha Academy. She sees the impact: “Students develop ‘tools for their college toolbox’ – honing study skills, prioritizing study time, working effectively with lab partners, and learning to deal with occasional failure without quitting.”

The course curriculum, developed by Murray Jensen, associate professor in PsTL and CIS faculty coordinator, emphasizes critical and creative thinking in the classroom by engaging students in a wide range of learning tasks, such as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), cooperative quizzes and group discussions. Students are expected to “fill the bucket at home” meaning the memorization typically associated with anatomy and physiology classes is done on the students’ own time. “Many of my students have not had a class this intense or difficult,” says Ann Marie Froehle of Cretin Derham Hall. “The real satisfaction comes when college students return, and say how ‘easy’ their anatomy class was due to the notes/labs we did while they were in high school.”

Ryan Lester of Hmong College Prep Academy agrees the course prepares students for life at the university level. He also sees the value it brings to his teaching practice. Lester explains, “I continue to teach the class because of the way it has pushed me to be a better teacher. Murray has done a great job challenging us as teachers. He holds us and our students to an extremely high standard, but provides a lot of support and trainings to help us.”

Scholarship recipients prepare to positively influence higher education

Amy Barton, recipient of the Carol Macpherson Memorial Scholarship and Nue Lor recipient of the Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló Scholarship at the 2014 Celebrating University Women Awards Program
Amy Barton, recipient of the Carol Macpherson Memorial Scholarship and Nue Lor recipient of the Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló Scholarship at the 2014 Celebrating University Women Awards Program

Recent scholarship recipients, Amy Barton and Nue Lor share the journeys that led them to pursue master’s degrees in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning within the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning.

Using values to define identity and purpose.
As an undergraduate in Family Social Science, Amy Barton knew she wanted a career that involved helping others. After graduating in 2007, she worked in a couple of direct-service positions. These positions were rewarding but Barton thought something was missing. Therefore, she shifted focus and accepted a position with an advertising agency. “I viewed this as a good opportunity to gain some new skills, especially in regard to strategic thinking,” says Barton. “But, my heart wasn’t in it. I really missed being in a helping role.”

While serving on the CEHD Alumni Society Board, Barton started to see higher education as an environment that matched closely with her values and strengths. She connected with a faculty member in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning: associate professor Dr. Tabitha Grier-Reed. Through interactions with Grier-Reed, Barton realized how much their interests aligned and was introduced to the Multicultural College Teaching and Learning graduate program.

For Barton, values play a significant role in her life choices and the approach she uses to support students as a career counselor graduate intern in CEHD Career Services. Her work and research focus on how values shape identity and how understanding one’s values can assist students in career planning. This values-based approach will be central to Barton’s Capstone final project: a professional development workshop for advisors.

She finds working with students rewarding. “I appreciate getting to know who they are, and helping students discover their identities,” says Barton. “It’s also validating to have them come in multiple times and seeing the changes they’ve made between visits,” she says. “I know how much it takes to show up for the first appointment, and when students come back, it shows they feel supported.” Amy Barton plans to graduate with a Master’s in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning in May 2015.

Reframing frustration for positive change.
Nue Lor describes her academic path as long and difficult, beginning with high ambitions but hindered by roadblocks surrounding a misdiagnosis of her bipolar disorder. Prior to graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota, Lor struggled at three different universities. “I felt like a failure,” she recalls. “One advisor even told me, ‘Maybe education isn’t for you. Maybe you should just go get a job.’ I realize it was the institutions that failed me.”

“Now that I have the right treatment, I view having bipolar as a companion I’ve learned to walk with,” says Lor who believes being open about her diagnosis is the best way to help others in need of resources and support.

Although Lor is a first-generation college student, education is highly valued by her parents, Hmong refugees who came to the U.S. before she was born. In Laos, her father endured extreme conditions, walking nearly thirty miles and living in a makeshift home during the week, to pursue a high school education. Of her six siblings, four have bachelor’s degrees and two are currently enrolled in college.

As a first-year Multicultural College Teaching and Learning master’s candidate, Lor’s early frustrations and her father’s influence drive her desire for a career within higher education administration. “I feel it’s important to have the administration accurately reflect the student population,” says Lor. “Currently only 13% of college presidents are people of color.”

“When I saw the phrase ‘You belong here’ on the PsTL website, it strongly resonated with me,” says Lor. “I could tell it was a program that valued multicultural perspectives, access and equity.” Lor plans to use her experience and education to shape the future of higher education. Her big dream is to be the president of a college or university some day. “I want to contribute my knowledge to society,” she says. “I hope to positively impact families, communities and the larger world.”

Expand Your Perspective: International Programs in South Africa, Thailand and Denmark & Sweden

South  Africa
South Africa

For students seeking an international learning experience, faculty of the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning offer three distinct learning abroad programs in South Africa, Thailand, and Denmark & Sweden.

Each program’s curriculum specifically integrates experiential and innovative teaching and learning practices, allowing students to expand and redefine their perspectives through international education, interdisciplinary thinking and cross-cultural engagement.

Stories of Social Change: A South African Perspective
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
December 27, 2014 – January 17, 2015

Cape Point South Africa
Cape Point South Africa

During this winter break program, Ezra Hyland guides students as they investigate the ways literature illuminates individual struggles and the relationships of these struggles to larger, global social forces. Students can expect to build their capacity for literary analysis and gain a deeper understanding of diverse philosophies and cultures within and across societies.

Hyland, who travels frequently to South Africa and has brought several South African scholars to the University, sees South Africa as a mirror for America: one that gives students a metaphorical window into American society. His desired outcome of the program is to help students see the world with new eyes. “Once they’ve read the literature, interacted with the people, and seen the places, I don’t think they’ll ever be the same again,” says Hyland. Course description and enrollment.


Global Change, Environment, and Families in Thailand
EDHD 3100/5100 – 3 Credits
May 16 – June 6, 2015


During this May term study abroad, led by Linda Buturian (PsTL) and Dr. Catherine Solheim (FSoS), students will gain insight into social justice issues from interactions with community leaders and hill tribe villagers in northern Thailand. Students will examine the complexity of globalization, specifically its impact on environmental sustainability, economic and family well-being, and community development as it relates to changes along the Mekong River. Through brief home stays and service learning projects, students will experience community life and contribute to the social change work. “The program provides students with a deeper vision of community, and demonstrates the power of community-based approaches to effecting positive social change,” says Buturian.

After they return, students will use digital storytelling to reflect on and communicate their learning. A writer and digital storyteller herself, Buturian knows the value of the assignment: “A digital narrative is a respectful, inclusive medium that helps students shape, understand and communicate the layers of their experiences with greater ownership and engagement.” Course description and enrollment.

Examining the Good Life in Denmark and Sweden
EDHD 3100 – 3 Credits

May 20 – June 13, 2015


How do education, urban design, employment and environmentalism contribute to a happy and healthy population? Using positive psychology and happiness research as conceptual frameworks, students will critically examine quality of life issues, current events and policies of Denmark and Sweden, whose residents are reported to be some of the happiest individuals in the world. With Copenhagen as their living laboratory, students will employ a multidisciplinary approach to investigate factors that contribute to urban livability and positive well-being. A visit to Malmo, Sweden allows students to compare findings of the good life between neighboring countries.

“The curriculum encourages students to think and act like social scientists using their own disciplinary lens,” says Mike Stebleton, program leader. “Like the local residents, we will explore the city by bike and foot through car-free streets, but we’ll also analyze issues related to immigration, diversity and social justice.” At the end of the course, students will prepare a digital storytelling narrative based on their analysis of a current event in Danish society. Course description and enrollment.

Talking Pictures: First-Generation College Students Speak from Behind the Lens

Talking Pictures Contributing Artist, Demetria Poe
Talking Pictures Contributing Artist, Demetria Poe

“We often think of photographs as truth, because they provide visual evidence of something or someone, but they can also be stereotypical,” says Rashné Jehangir, associate professor in the department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning. “They can afford a very narrow frame by which we view things.” In an effort to break this frame, Jehangir embarked on a photo narrative research project set within the curricular structure of the TRiO course: Introduction to TRiO: Identity, Culture, and College Success.

Drawing on photo narrative methodology, the project invited students who are first in their family to attend college to share their lived experiences through their own frames and through their own locations. In addition to the photos, students were asked to compose narrative reflections with the intentional purpose of putting students both in the front of and behind the lens. By creating a medium for students to share their stories in their own words, I expect their voices and images can inform and stimulate campus conversations about institutional policy and practice,” says Jehangir.

A culmination of this project resulted in the photography exhibit, Talking Pictures: First-Generation College Students Speak from Behind the Lens, on display now through November in the AHA! Gallery in Appleby Hall.

Aha! Gallery visitors experiencing the exhibit
Aha! Gallery visitors experiencing the exhibit

This exhibit showcases the work of ten of the thirty-one students who participated in the photo narrative research project and demonstrates how the multiple identities of first-generation students are not static, but rather rich and dynamic. Student contributors include: Dominique Anderson; Andrea Castillo; Fatima Garcia; Cheniqua Johnson; Mai Chia Lee; Jacqueline Penaloza; Shanel Perez; Demetria Poe; Neng Vue; and, Sim (Net) Youk. “The multiple identities that make up each student’s wholeness is what this project is trying to communicate,” states Jehangir.

“The things that make the photos so powerful are the stories behind them,” says contributing student, Cheniqua Johnson, who encourages gallery visitors to take the extra minute to read through the artists’ statements as a means to move beyond stereotypes and prejudgments. “The power is behind the words of the students not necessarily just the photos.”

Cheniqua Johnson, Rashné Jehangir, Dominque Anderson
Cheniqua Johnson, Rashné Jehangir, Dominque Anderson

For Jehangir, the project is an extension of a twenty-year collaboration that began when she accepted a position with the TRiO program. “The decade I worked with TRiO has influenced my entire career. It changed the trajectory of my life. It impacted my decision to go to graduate school and to study issues of educational equity.” During that time her work was informed by staff and students. Their resiliency and the strengths and skills they brought on their journeys to college, are what motivates her work today. “My experience at TRiO showed me that access to college should not be a privilege for a few, but we need to work to collectively to make it a right for many.”

With support from an Institutional Change Grant from the Women’s Center, Jehangir, and Veronica Deenanath, a graduate student in Family Social Science, developed this cross-university collaboration between the TRIO Student Support Services Program, their students and the College of Education & Human Development’s iPad initiative.

As Jehangir reflects on the exhibit she shares this thought: “I hope visitors will see the candor and the grace and the vulnerability that the students have put forward. I have certainly been very humbled by that.”