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ImageThe consistent focus throughout my career as a HS Science teacher, principal, and professor has been a passion for helping develop environments for improved learning. As a teacher, I strove to attract the struggling science student and develop  experiences and classroom systems to give under-represented children a better chance at success. As a principal, I tried to transform culture to create effective building environments. As a professor, I’ve continued that passion to help reform districts and governance systems.

District Reform

I’ve pursued the passion of helping students with my current National Science Foundation funded grant project entitled STEM Teams: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career interest, skills, and knowledge through Strategic Teaming. This initiative allows me to partner in districts with 97% African American and impoverished communities to improve the district. This is accomplished by creating teams of teachers, and school and district leaders and working to improve the implementation and sustainability of innovative curriculum and programs in the district. The current program is based in the middle school and purposes to increase the number of students of color and poverty to pursue STEM careers. This work has been presented recently at the 2012 UCEA conference and to be at the 2013 AERA meeting.  The process of district wide teaming was published in the following book chapter:

Alsbury, T. L. (2008). Promoting sustainable leadership within the reform system. In B. Hand (Ed.), Science inquiry, argument and language: A case for the science writing heuristic [177-194]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

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School Board Governance

Another passion has been my interest in the efficacy of local control of schools through school boards. The increased centralization of schooling is evident in national movement to standardize assessment and content, and now the policy agenda seems to be focused on removing the control of schools from local community boards to a state or national level. I am currently engaged in studies of school governance in Taiwan, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and India, to name a few. I also speak around the country debating the question, “Are school boards still relevant today?” Most recently I debated this issue the ex-secretary for the office of Civil Rights before 700 school board members, members of Congress, and USDE Secretary of Education. Reactions to the debate can be found at this link: http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org/2013/01/panel-discusses-research-and-relevancy-of-school-boards/

Some of my most recent and significant writings on the school board governance include the following:

Alsbury, T. L. (In Press, 2013). Hitting a moving target: How politics determines the changing roles of superintendents and school boards . In  B.  S. Cooper, J.  G. Cibulka, & L. D. Fusarelli (Eds.)  Handbook of education politics and policy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mountford, M.  E., & Alsbury, T.  L. (2012). School boards: Nobody does it better. UCEA Review, 52(3), 11-13.

Alsbury, T.  L. (2011). Should the K-12 organizational structure of schools in the U.S. be changed dramatically? In Russo, C. [Ed.] Debating issues in American education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Alsbury, T. L.(Ed.). (2008). The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Dr. Alsbury has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 2011. He teaches educational leadership courses and mentors many doctoral students. He is a recognized national expert in school board research and received the 2008 UCEA Culbertson award for influential researcher in educational leadership.

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The core doctoral faculty in the School of Education at SPU are active researchers. We believe that pursuit of an active research and publishing agenda is critical for mentoring doctoral students. Below is a sample of some of our most recent publications. Detailed information about our research interests and copies of our curriculum vita can be found on the School of Education’s website.

Recent work by Dr. Lumpe

Lumpe, A. T., Czerniak, C. M., Haney, J. J., & Beltyukova, S. (2011). Beliefs about Teaching Science: The Relationship between Elementary Teachers’ Professional Development and Student Achievement. International Journal of Science Education. (PDF)

Abstract

Because of increasing calls for school accountability, an increased emphasis placed on the role of the teacher, and theoretical connections between teacher beliefs and classroom action, a critical need exists to examine teacher professional development programs to determine their impact on teacher belief systems, teaching practices, and student learning. The primary goal of this study was to assess elementary teachers’ science teaching efficacy as they participated in a large scale professional development program and to determine the relationship of these beliefs with student learning. It was found that elementary teachers who participated in a long-term, intense (over 100 contact hours annually) science professional development program displayed significant gains in their science teaching self-efficacy. Several background variables were found to be predictive of teacher beliefs including how often teachers spend teaching science. Males tended to display more positive beliefs than their female counterparts. Although a small portion of the variance was explained, teacher beliefs and the number of hours participating in the research-based professional development program were significantly predictive of students’ science achievement. Other factors may be involved in teachers’ beliefs and their connection with student learning including classroom practices, curriculum materials, support systems, and student background variables. These factors should be the target of future investigations.

Butler, K., & Lumpe, A. T. (2009). Student Use of Scaffolding Software: Relationships with Motivation and Conceptual Understanding. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(5), 427-436.

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Recent work by Dr. Sink

Sink, C. A. (Ed.). (2011). Mental health interventions for school counselors. Belmont, CA: Brooks-Cole.

Webb, M. Sink, C. A., et al. (2010). The Suffering with God Scale: Theoretical development, psychometric analyses, and relationships with indices of religiosity. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 21, 71-94.

Abstract

Religion provides resources to cope with negative life events, yet people may still struggle with God. The Suffering with God Scale (SWG) was developed to assess schematic representations of, and affective responses to, God in light of negative life events. Exploratory factor analysis resulted in a two-factor solution reflecting two underlying dimensions: Struggling with God and Enduring with God.  Struggling with God was negatively associated, and Enduring was positively associated, with theism, religious participation, personal devotions, and intrinsic religiosity.  Persons who were unsure of their faith in God reported greater struggle over issues of suffering than those who reported high or low faith. Results are interpreted in light of psychology of religion research and philosophical and theological reflection regarding the problem of suffering for sustenance of faith.

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Recent work by Dr. Ellis

Ellis, A. (2010). Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Together: Reflective Assessments for Elementary Classrooms. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Zirkle, D., and Ellis, A. (2010). Effects of Spaced Repetition on Long-Term Map Knowledge Recall. Journal of Geography. (5) 109.

Abstract

Sixth-grade students studying Latin America were placed in experimental and comparison groups to test the effects of map-study repetition on long-term memory. Mean scores on a place-name test of the region indicated that the experimental (repetition) group outperformed the comparison group at a statistically significant level with respect to both posttest and retention-test outcomes. The tentative conclusion of long-term potentiation principles in the classroom modestly suggests that a salient step in creating more persistent declarative memories is protein-synthesis dependent repetition.

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Recent work by Dr. Nagy

 

Berninger, V., Abbott, R., Nagy, W., & Carlisle, J.  (2010). Growth in phonological, orthographic, and morphological awareness in grades 1 to 6. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 39, 141-163.

 

Nagy, W., & Hiebert, E. (2011).  Toward a theory of word selection.  In M. L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson,  E. B. Moje, & P. P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Volume IV (pp.388-404).   New York:  Routledge.

 

Beers, S. F., & Nagy, W. E. (2011). Writing development in four genres from grades three to seven:  syntactic complexity and genre differentiation.   Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 24, 183-202.

 

Berninger, V. W., Nagy, W., & Beers, S. (2011).  Child writers’ construction and reconstruction of single sentences and construction of multi-sentence texts: contributions of syntax and transcription to translation.  Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 24, 151-182.

 

 Abstract for Nagy & Hiebert, 2011:

 

One of the tasks facing educators is deciding which of the many potentially difficult or unfamiliar words in a text students are about to read need to be taught.  The purpose of this chapter is to provide a principled basis for making these choices.  The use and limitations of eight features that can play a role in word selection are discussed:  The frequency of the word in the language, dispersion (distribution of the word across different subject areas), morphological and semantic relatedness to other words, familiarity of the word to students, conceptual difficulty, the role of the word in the particular text, and its role in the larger curriculum.

Nagy, W. (2010). The word games. In M. G. McKeown & L. Kucan (Eds.). Bringing reading research to life (pp.72-91). New York: Guilford.

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