Educator Measures Upside of Educational Diversity in Classroom

photo by Patrick Verel

When teachers greet new classes this fall, the odds are good that the students they encounter will vary not only by cultural background but also in academic proficiency.

Akane Zusho, PhD, associate professor of school psychology in the Graduate School of Education (GSE), said that such diversity is something to be appreciated, not overcome.

“How do you get teachers to not teach to the middle? To differentiate their instruction so that they’re not boring the kids at the top and leaving all the kids at the bottom behind? It’s not easy,” she said.

To help teachers work with students of varying academic abilities, Zusho has partnered with Rhonda Bondie, PhD, assistant professor of curriculum and teaching at the GSE to create All-Ed (All Learners Learning Every Day), a network of instructional routines pulled from research on learning and motivation.

Motivation has long been a focus of Zusho’s research. In order to determine what motivates a student, said Zusho, a teacher needs to get to know their students’ strengths and interests and to help students understand how they think about a particular topic. But many teachers never delve deep enough.

Teachers, she said, “just assume students know something when they come in because they taught it yesterday … they don’t reconfirm their students’ knowledge.”

“When they start a lesson, for example, do they actually get a sense of what students already know? Because from the psychological perspective, we know that makes a huge impact on how kids learn.”

Read the full post at Fordham News.


Education Reform May Need Reforming Itself, Expert says


Photo by Michael Dames

School leaders have to be willing to question educational reforms that are doing nothing to end racial inequality in America—even if those reforms are central to their own jobs and careers, according to an expert who studies the plight of black boys and young men.

“Reforming Education Reform: Leadership and Transmitting Inequality in Schools” was the title of the Dec. 7 talk at Fordham by James Earl Davis, PhD, holder of the Bernard C. Watson Endowed Chair in Urban Education at Temple University.

He was delivering the third annual Barbara L. Jackson, EdD, Lecture, named for the late professor and division chair in Fordham’s Graduate School of Education. Davis called her a “national treasure” and exemplar of the kind of questioning spirit that school leaders need.

“I have an enduring fondness and appreciation for [Professor] Jackson and her place in the tradition of race and gender studies that shattered long-held assumptions about what mattered academically and intellectually,” he said.

Read the full story at Fordham News.

Q&A with Dean Virginia Roach

Why did you want to lead Fordham’s Graduate School of Education?
In my field we care for the whole child, not just the test score number. I wanted to be at a place that thinks about children in the context of their family, their community, and how we build a citizenry based on those factors. I also wanted to be somewhere with a research orientation alongside a strong value base.

Why, nowadays, is education policy so contentious?
Everybody went through an education, so everybody feels that they’re expert in the field. People have lived experiences that form their strong opinions. But my experience as a white person is not the same experience as someone who is African American. And my experience of coming from a working-class background is not the same as those who went to private school their whole lives. It’s incumbent on educators to look at everyone’s experience, and to make sure that policy makers don’t unwittingly create policy that favors one group over another but seeks to create equity across the system.

Read the full Q&A at Fordham News.

Dr. McCray Among Noodle’s 67 Influential Educators of 2015

Dr. Carlos McCray, Associate Professor in our Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy programs, was recently listed among Noodle’s 67 Influential Educators of 2015.

Demographically, the United States is transitioning to a majority-minority country (in which the number of Latino, African-American, and Asian individuals is becoming greater than that of non-Hispanic whites), and by some accounts, the entering kindergarten class of 2015 already is majority-minority. At the same time, education degrees yearly are overwhelmingly awarded to whites, and to women. McCray’s research delves deeply into race, class, and gender dynamics between educators and students, and explores how embracing cultural diversity and pluralism can improve outcomes. Read more.

The list is comprised of Ed Tech, Education Analysis, Higher Education, and K-12 educators who are innovating the education landscape. Congratulations, Dr. McCray!

PES Newsflash

The PES Newsflash is a weekly news roundup from the Counseling and Counseling Psychology and School Psychology departments.

Dissertation Oral Defenses

School Psychology doctoral candidate Susan Jean Kozelka successfully defended her dissertation, “Executive Function Inhibition as Moderator of the Anxiety-Intelligence Relationship.” Her dissertation committee members include her mentor, Dr. Yi Ding, and readers, Dr. John Houtz and Dr. Amy Margolis.

Dr. Kozelka is currently completing an APA-accredited pre-doctoral internship at The School at Columbia University. She has accepted a pediatric neuropsychology post-doctoral fellowship position with Promise Project at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dissertation Proposal Defenses

School Psychology doctoral candidate Fallon Lattari successfully defended her dissertation proposal, “Performance Goal Structure and Self-Regulated Learning: The Role of Autonomy Support.” Her dissertation committee members include her mentor, Dr. Akane Zusho, and readers, Dr. Karen Brobst and Dr. Anthony Cancelli.

School Psychology doctoral candidate Hugh Love successfully defended his dissertation proposal, “Potential Moderators of Masculinity Ideology and Health Risk in College Black Men.” His dissertation committee members include his mentor, Dr. Abigail Harris, and readers, Dr. Akane Zusho and Dr. Jay Wade.

Student Presentations

Counseling Psychology doctoral student Michael Stoyer will present his research, “Assessing Personal Development Throughout a Domain-Focused Approach to Multicultural Instruction,” at the 29th Annual Conference on the Teaching of Psychology: Ideas and Innovations Research/Data Driven” on March 27th.

His co-researchers are Jose Soto and Nana Dawson-Andoh of Pennsylvania State University.


  • Two studies are presented that assess students’ development throughout a domain-focused approach to multicultural instruction, in order to better understand the effectiveness of this course design. A qualitative research design was employed to uncover that among the most important topics students perceived learning were: Greater knowledge and awareness/appreciation in the domains of societal injustice, other cultures, and their own culture. Study two used the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure and a new measure designed to assess self-awareness focused on themes identified in study one. Both ethnic identity and self-awareness were found to be significantly higher following the completion of the course.

Student and Faculty Presentations

“Beliefs about the Physical, Psychological, and Social Effects of Smoking Cigarettes,” a study by Counseling Psychology doctoral students Molly Brawer and Atara Wertentheil in collaboration with Dr. Mitchell Rabinowitz has been accepted by American Psychological Society for a poster presentation at the 2015 APS Convention.

Counseling Psychology doctoral student Jaclin Gerstel-Friedman, with Dr. Mitchell Rabinowitz:
Rabinowitz, M., & Gerstel-Friedman, J. (2015, March). Not Perceiving the Deep: Lack of Knowledge or Production Deficiency? Poster presentation at The International Convention of Psychological Science, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Student and Faculty Accomplishments

Dr. Abigail Harris and School Psychology doctoral student Alyson Fitzpatrick’s proposal for research in Guatemala, Enhancing Impact of Khan Implementation in Guatemalan Primary School Classrooms, has been funded by Funsepa, a Guatemala based foundation. The Fordham team also includes Dr. Marshall George (Chair, Division of Curriculum and Teaching) and Elizabeth Fuentes (School Psychology doctoral student).

This project is a collaboration between Fordham University and Funsepa, a Guatemala-based foundation dedicated to improving education through the use of technology. Funsepa has delivered over 16,000 computers to over 1050 public schools in Guatemala and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE), is providing technical and teacher training support in the instructional use of technology.

Towuanna Porter Brannon ’15 Earns Dissertation of the Year Award

Towuanna Porter Brannon’s doctoral dissertation has been named the 2015 Dissertation of the Year award-winner by the National Council on Black American Affairs (NCBAA) Northeastern Region. Dr. Porter Brannon successfully graduated from the Division of Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy’s Executive Leadership program in January 2015.

Dr. Porter Brannon’s dissertation is titled: “Perceived Factors Contributing to Associate Degree Completion by African-American Males at a Community College.”

Her dissertation mentor was Dr. Sheldon Marcus and her committee members were Dr. Toby Tetenbaum and Dr. Carlos McCray.

Dr. Porter Brannon currently works as Assistant Dean for Advising and Student Records at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York.

Congratulations, Dr. Porter Brannon!

Faculty and Student Presentations: Counseling Psychology

This year’s Guidance Expo included Fordham GSE presentations from Counseling and Counseling Psychology masters and doctoral students, and faculty members.

The students in the middle: Lost and forgotten?

Presenters and Contributors: Lisa Suzuki, Dr. Jennie Park-Taylor, Dr. Merle Keitel “This workshop is open to all expo participants to increase awareness about the experience of the students who fall academically in the middle and also are not engaged in sports or the arts. Students that are neither academically gifted nor identified as having special needs can fall the cracks. As a consequence of being neglected they may disengage from school. Given the testing movement and state-mandated curricular requirements, these students are under extreme academic pressures but may not have the support they need. The school counselor’s role with students, family members, and school personnel will be highlighted.”

LGB and students of color: Risk and resiliency

Presenters and Contributors: Jane Berkman, Dr. Merle Keitel, Erin Ott “Significant concerns about the psychological health of LGB adolescents continue to surface. Compared to heterosexual teens, LGB adolescents are more likely to be victimized and bullied throughout their youth, engage in more frequent risk-taking behaviors, and are at higher risk for poor mental health outcomes. Suicide rates among LGB adolescents are almost four times those of heterosexual teens. LGB students of color experience more frequent and more intense microaggresssions than Caucasian LGB teens. This workshop will address race and ethnicity as they impact the experiences of LGB youth. The school counselor’s role with students, family members, and school personnel will be highlighted.”


Presenters and Contributors: Dr. Jennie Park-Taylor, Dr. Merle Keitel, Leah Contovasili, Siobhan Houlihan, Tracy Schaffzin, Kristen Lipari “This workshop is open to all expo participants to increase awareness about the prevalence, usage, risk factors, and warning signs related to the heroin epidemic. The physical, social, and psychological consequences of heroin use will be covered as well as strategies for preventing and intervention. The school counselor’s role with students, family, members, and school personnel will be highlighted.”