Archive for May, 2011

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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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