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Washington State University
College of Education


Equity in math research places top three at research expo

By: Hannah Schneider – College of Education 

College of Education’s Melissa Graham won third place in the Arts and Education category at the 2020 GSPA Research Expo via Zoom. Her research focused on mathematics preservice teachers (PST’s) and their understanding of equity in the classroom.   

Her research explains the connection between how a student’s personal life experiences has an impact on their ability to learn mathematics. She brought to light how teaching math can be a form of social justice for teachers. 

Graham began this research initially because of her own experience as a preservice teacher.  

“I left my teacher ED program feeling like I didn’t have enough practice in the classroom prior to my student teaching, and the strategies I used that I would consider equitable are ones that I happened upon,” Graham said. 

This research works to bridge this gap. Helping PST’s see the ways they can connect with their students on a deeper and more understanding level can be vital for every student to succeed. 

Our student population is diverse, and in math we’re not reaching enough learners, especially those from historically marginalized populations,” she said.  

Graham’s research will provide future teachers the ability to better see more opportunities to make a positive difference in their students.

WSU Ph.D. student’s research leads to global recognition

By: Hannah Schneider – College of Education

Her research is starting to be known in places like Africa, where she was invited as a special guest speaker to the Global Lead International Conference on Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Education and Migrations (GLF-CI 2020). This was to be held at the end of April at the University Felix Houphouet Boigny of Cocody-Abidjan, Ivory Coast. However, due to the novel coronavirus, this conference was put on hold.

Along with her global recognition, Medina’s work has won her the 2018 Dissertation Award in the Experimental category awarded by the International Institution for Qualitative Inquiry.

In her dissertation, she embraces Chicana/Latina Feminism and Indigenous knowledge to decolonize critical ethnographic practices. Her study is centered on the testimonies of thirteen people who had experienced houselessness in a rural town in the Western part of the U.S.

Houseless people use their testimonios as a political tool to unframe and challenge the discursive construction of their identities, Medina said.


“I argue there is not one way of being homeless,” Medina said.

Her research also deconstructs the meaning of the American Dream and re-envisioning it by redefining success, parenthood, and the meaning of home, Medina said.

The tools she had developed during her three-year study is enhancing her vision as a critical scholar in Colombia.

“I have used that vision to educate EFL pre-service teachers at Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia, in Tunja- Boyacá,” Medina said.

Medina has designed two courses with the social justice and decolonizing perspective. She has directed two undergrad and three graduate thesis with this perspective. Additionally, she is concluding her own study on how these critical decolonizing stances inform pre-service teachers’ identities and teaching practices.

“No label can speak to the nature of my being without excluding pieces of the stories who make me who I am and how I see the world. As a human being under construction I empathize, I listen non-judgmentally, I develop different layers of understanding, I fall and I have been able to stand up so far,” Nancy wrote in her critical reflection.