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Washington State University
College of Education

Research Conversations

We love research. And conversation. Now they’re combined.

We’re not the first folks to engage in dialogue about our research endeavors. We just perfected it!

A handful of times each semester, we give some time to a faculty to share their research with the rest of us. These one-hour (max!) sessions are always very compelling.

Upcoming presentations

When the Spring 2023 Research Conversation presenters, topics, and dates are set, they will be shared here.


Recent presentations

November 09, 2022

Katherine Rodela

Diversifying Leadership Pathways in Schools: Key Lessons from the Counternarratives of Leaders of Color

In this research conversation, Katherine will share findings from her qualitative study with educators and administrators of color in the Pacific Northwest. Her work provides insights for diversifying leader and teacher pathways informed by research participants’ stories of struggle, cultural wealth, and equity-focused leadership. There will be time for discussion.
Katherine Rodela is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion for Faculty and Staff Development. She teaches courses related to equity, social justice leadership, and inclusion of diverse communities, families, and students in K-12 schools. Her research focuses on leadership for equity and justice. As a third-generation Mexican American and first-generation college student, Katherine is committed to being a community-engaged scholar. Her work advances educational equity and culturally responsive education for marginalized communities, particularly low-income communities of color across the PK-20 pipeline.

Katherine’s focus on leadership for equity and diversity inspires three lines of qualitative research: (1) diversifying the educational leadership pathways in PK-12 education, (2) developing equity-focused school and district leaders, and (3) uplifting and centering the leadership of marginalized families and communities. Dr. Rodela is a graduate of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and worked on research project studying the civic engagement and leadership impacts of a childhood nutrition program in Peru. Before earning her Ph.D., she taught Spanish and Service Learning at an urban high school in Oregon.

Watch video      Presentation slides [Coming soon]

October 12, 2022

Drs. Lauren Bruno and Holly Whittenburg

Supporting the Successful Transition of Students with Disabilities from School to Adult Life Through Policy & Practice

Description: Drs. Lauren Bruno and Holly Whittenburg will present their research on two individual projects related to the transition from school to adult life for students with disabilities. They will then discuss how their two lines of research converge and the work they do together. There will be time for discussion.

Bios: Dr. Bruno’s research focuses on improving transition outcomes for youth with disabilities. More specifically, she focuses on (1) improving the preparation of pre-service and in-service educators’ ability to implement evidence-based practices related to transition; (2) using the Universal Design for Learning framework (including assistive technology) to improve post-school outcomes of youth with disabilities; and (3) post-secondary educational opportunities for youth with intellectual and development disabilities. Lauren also focuses on the shortage and high attrition rates of special educators.

Dr. Whittenburg’s research focuses on improving employment outcomes for transition-aged students on the autism spectrum and students with intellectual disability. Her recent research examines interventions to teach employment-related skills, approaches to creating opportunities for inclusive work experiences, and how special education and vocational rehabilitation law and policies affect the transition experiences of students with disabilities.

Watch video      Presentation slides

September 26, 2022

Dr. Amy Roth McDuffie

Research Foci and Funding Across My Career: Key Projects and Turning Points

Description: Amy Roth McDuffie is a Professor in Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning. She will be sharing her research foci across over 20 years in higher education, along with how her interests have developed and shifted.

Bio: Amy has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for multiple projects, as well as from foundations for smaller projects. Her newest project began in August. She is serving as a PI on a multi-university, NSF-funded project entitled, “Quantifying Curricular Reasoning as a Critical Practice in Mathematics Teaching.”

Watch video      Presentation slides

April 15, 2022

Dr. Mike Trevisan

The Importance of Policy Research and Evaluation for International School-based Counseling

Description: Although school counseling has struggled to secure a foothold in schools around the world for various reasons, it is gaining ground as a means to address the decline in students’ mental health due to the pandemic. This Research Conversation will trace the development of school-based counseling policy research, program evaluation, and the work of the International Society for Policy Research and Evaluation in School-Based Counseling (ISPRESC). We will also highlight recent federal developments suggesting that school counseling will soon gain a solid foothold in US schools.

Bio: Since 2013, Dr. Mike Trevisan has served as Dean of the WSU College of Education. His research focuses on the use of program evaluation to better our schools and communities. Much of this work builds the professional capacity of school personnel for evaluation work. Dr. Trevisan has provided workshops and seminars on evaluation topics to graduate students and faculty throughout the world. He is a founding member and chair-elect of ISPRESC, an international coalition of faculty, deans, policy makers and practitioners promoting school-based counseling as a policy mechanism and essential professional role to support K-12 students and teachers.

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March 10, 2022

Dr. Sarah Newcomer and Dr. Kathleen Cowin

Learning to Become Culturally Sustaining, Socially Just Educators: Collaborative Conversations with Teacher and Leader Candidates

In this Research Conversation, we will present our work with teacher and school leader candidates at WSU Tri-Cities in learning more about culturally sustaining, socially just pedagogy (CSSJP) through Collaborative Conversations.

Sarah Newcomer is an Associate Professor in Literacy Education at WSU. Her research and teaching focus on culturally sustaining, socially just language and literacy practices and family-school-community partnerships, particularly for multilingual learners. She has served on multiple grants in support of her research interests, including her current role as Co-PI with a team of COE colleagues led by Dr. Gisela Ernst-Slavit on ELL IMPACT, an Office of English Language Acquisition grant to develop an alternative route to a teaching certification program for paraeducators seeking teaching certificates and endorsements in ELL/BLE education. She recently began investigating how pre-service teachers’ understandings of culturally sustaining, socially just pedagogy may be supported by collaborative conversations with aspiring school leaders. Her work has been published in venues such as the Journal of Language, Identity and Education, Language Arts, and the Journal of School Leadership, among others. She has taught for over 20 years, including in a K-8 Spanish/English dual language program, with business professionals in Japan, and with families in a family literacy program.

Kathleen Cowin is an Associate Professor (Career Track) in Educational Leadership at WSU. Her research focuses on the development of effective relational co-mentoring practices and the creation of co-mentoring circles among educational leadership students. Her current co-mentorship research is focused on culturally sustaining, socially just pedagogy enhanced by collaborative conversations between pre-service teachers and aspiring school leaders. She served as a teacher and elementary and middle school principal for over 25 years and also completed her Superintendent Certification. Kathleen is past Chair for the American Educational Research Association Mentorship & Mentoring Practices Special Interest Group, and in 2020 she was selected as a member of the WSU President’s Teaching Academy.

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December 01, 2021

Yong Chae Rhee (Sport Management)

The Impact of Types of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Efforts on Gen Z Sport Fans

The overriding goal of Dr. Rhee’s research is to improve the understanding of sport consumer behavior and sport organizational behaviors, focused particularly on the topics of Identification, Motivation, and Corporate Social Responsibility. These research topics are very important in predicting various behavioral aspects of sport consumption and organizational behaviors, such as media and merchandise consumption, event attendance, social mobility, social creation, and social competition. Dr. Rhee is also interested in the development and application of various statistical (e.g., structural equation model tests) and methodological approaches (e.g., experimental, and qualitative studies) to his research areas.

Dr. Rhee has taught Sport Marketing, Special Issues in Sport Management, Sport Market Research, Sport Event Planning, Sport Event Management, Sport in Society, Sport Finance and Practicum in Sports. He earned his Ph.D. at Seoul National University in Sport Marketing and Consumer Behavior.

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October 29, 2021

Anne Cox (Kinesiology)

The When, How, and What of Becoming Disembodied: Implications for Health Behaviors and the Journey Back to Ourselves

Anne Cox discusses the concept of embodiment and the social experiences that disrupt positive embodiment in girls at a young age. She explores the impact of negative embodiment on health behaviors and recent research on the effects of mindfulness on physical activity experiences. The talk closes with practical strategies to support positive embodiment at all ages within the context of movement-based programs.

Anne is a professor in Kinesiology with expertise in sport and exercise psychology. Her research focuses on understanding key determinants of physical activity behaviors. She is currently investigating how body image variables impact physical activity motivation and behavior in adolescents and adults. In this line of research, she examines how aspects of body image (e.g., body shame, body appreciation) relate to physical activity behaviors, as well as the effect of educational programs and/or physical activity (e.g., yoga, strength training, aerobic exercise) on body image in children, adolescents and college students. Anne has completed 200 hours of yoga teacher training, and uses this knowledge to examine the effects of yoga on body image and physical activity. She also teaches yoga in the community. Ultimately, her goal is to apply knowledge about motivational processes and body image to create positive physical activity experiences.

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September 30, 2021

Johnny Lupinacci (Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education)

Scholar-Activism: Research as Praxis in Support of Democracy in Dangerous Times

Lupinacci asserted that all research is political. Given the global challenges for social and environmental justice educators and researchers, he discussed the importance of scholar-activism in education research in relationship to diversity, creative democracy, and sustainability. He drew from an ecocritical framework in education influenced by anarchism, ecofeminisms, critical animal studies, and abolitionist teaching. Lupinacci emphasized the need for scholar-activist research and teaching to expose human supremacy’s connection with hierarchized rationalization and justification of racism, sexism, ableism, and classism as cultural rather than given by nature.

John Lupinacci is an Associate Professor at WSU. He conducts research and teaches in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education (CSSTE) program using an approach that advocates for the development of scholar-activist educators.

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April 07, 2021

Jeff Walls (Educational Leadership)

District Leaders’ Support for Caring Schools: A Normative Institutional Approach

Increasingly, school district leaders face a policy environment that measures school quality and success in more multifaceted ways than performance on high stakes tests. Increasing attention to social and emotional growth, equity, and reducing exclusionary discipline place new demands on district leaders’ emphases in support schools. This study engages with how district leaders support caring school from a normative institutional perspective. Specifically, it asks in what respects district leaders adhere to a logic of appropriateness (following social rules and expectations for their positions), and in what ways they adopt a logic of consequence (acting to achieve desired outcomes).

Jeff Walls is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership at Washington State University – Spokane. His research focuses on caring leadership, and the organizational dimensions of care and support in educational settings.

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March 08, 2021

Jessica Masterson (Teacher Education)

“You Can’t Just Throw a Book at Me”: Minoritized Students’ Experiences of School-Based Literacy Instruction

Despite the sociocultural turn of literacy research in recent decades, school-based approaches to literacy instruction remain entrenched in an autonomous model of literacy acquisition. This positions literacy as a series of discrete skills rather than a contextually-embedded social practice. Students representing racially, socioeconomically, and/or linguistically minoritized communities are more likely to encounter this autonomous model in their school-based literacy instruction. This further contributes to the “education debt” owed them. We’ll discuss multiple, creative ways that minoritized youth respond to the literacy ideologies in their remedial reading classes, as well as the surprising ways their responses, or tactics, help pave the way toward educational equality.

Jessica Masterson is an assistant professor in the department of Teaching and Learning at Washington State University Vancouver. Her research focuses on the various intersections of secondary literacy instruction, youth agency, and democratic education.

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December 03, 2020

Scott Jedlicka (Sport Management)

Measuring Return on Investment in Intercollegiate Athletics

Many major universities invest significantly in intercollegiate athletics. The prevailing logic that justifies these expenditures assumes, in part, that the success of athletic programs can be leveraged to augment other revenue streams, such as undergraduate tuition and alumni donations. Working from the premise that the most immediate return on universities’ investment in athletics can be defined in terms of athletic success, this research advances a method for measuring the efficiency with which such success is produced by NCAA Division I university athletic departments. This measure is then used to assess athletic department return on investment from 2003-2019.

Scott R. Jedlicka is an assistant professor in the Sport Management program at Washington State University. His research focuses on issues of governance and policy in sport, including the use of power and authority in sport organizations, and the relationship between sport and other sociopolitical institutions.

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October 28, 2020

Shikha Prashad (Kinesiology)

Learning Motor Skills: Insights from Parkinson’s disease and cannabis use

Motor skill learning is critical for activities of daily living and those that bring our lives meaning and joy (e.g., sports, hobbies). Brain networks that underlie motor learning can be altered across the lifespan as dopamine (a neurotransmitter critical for modulating motor behavior) levels fluctuate due to aging or disorders. We will discuss how changes in dopamine can affect motor learning in two seemingly dissimilar populations: patients with Parkinson’s disease and individuals who use cannabis. From a neural perspective, they have more in common than you may think!

Shikha Prashad is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at WSU Pullman. She studies brain networks that underlie motor behavior in typical and clinical (e.g., movement disorders, substance use) populations across the lifespan. She primarily uses behavioral methods and electroencephalography (EEG) to examine patterns in behavior and brain activity and how they are disrupted with age and in disorders.

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September 29, 2020

Yun-Ju Hsiao (Special Education)

Fostering Successful Inclusion: Teachers and Families Working Together

Establishing positive partnerships between families and professionals optimizes the competence of all children, with and without disabilities These partnerships help students achieve equal opportunity, independent living, full participation, and economic self-sufficiency later in life, and also benefit families and professionals. We’ll discuss a series of projects on teachers’ attitudes and knowledge related to students with disabilities and their families.

Yun-Ju Hsiao is an associate professor of Special Education at WSU Tri-Cities. Her research interests include families of students with disabilities, evidence-based instructional strategies for students with autism spectrum disorders, inclusive practices in general education classrooms, and culturally responsive teaching preparation and practices in special education.

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Photo and Video Archive

Katherine Rodela
November 09, 2022

Lauren Bruno and Holly Whittenburg
October 12, 2022

Amy Roth McDuffie
September 26, 2022

Dean Mike Trevisan
April 15, 2022

Dr. Sarah Newcomer and Dr. Kathleen Cowin
March 10, 2022

Yong Chae Rhee
December 01, 2021

Anne Cox
October 29, 2021

Johnny Lupinacci
September 30, 2021

Jeff Walls
April 07, 2021

Jessica Masterson
March 09, 2021

Scott Jedlicka
December 03, 2020

Shikha Prashad
October 28, 2020

Yun-Ju Hsiao
September 29, 2020

Jonah Firestone
April 07, 2020

Photos: Language Learner Task Engagement — Nov. 20, 2019