One of the many benefits available to students at UNF is the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty members to experience stimulating scholarship, research and intellectual engagement. Both undergraduate and graduate students work as colleagues alongside their professors to conduct original research, initiate groundbreaking projects and gain firsthand experience in their fields.
Student-faculty collaborations take place in all five colleges at UNF. This issue features four student-faculty teams from the College of Education and Human Services. Whether making children’s music, researching and presenting teaching and learning methods, finding new ways to improve literacy or developing innovative curricula, these groups illustrate the importance of one-on-one interaction in academia. Such collaborations are mutually beneficial and have a transformative effect on everyone involved.
As an undergraduate, Kelsey Alderfer worked with struggling first-grade readers at Woodland Acres Elementary, one of four Urban Professional Development Partnership schools where UNF education students complete coursework and teach what they learn in real-world classrooms. Professors-in-residence Dr. Sue Syverud from Exceptional Student and Deaf Education and Dr. Katrina Hall from Childhood Education were impressed with the outstanding success Alderfer had improving the reading skills of students she tutored. When she showed interest in their research on the impact tutoring has on children’s reading and learning, an ongoing collaboration blossomed, and the trio began working together assessing children’s skills, gathering and analyzing data and reviewing literature. In the spring, they presented their research at a national professional conference — and they‘re working on submitting a manuscript of this research to a national, peer-reviewed journal. This fall, Alderfer begins working on a master’s degree at UNF, where she’ll continue to work with Syverud and Hall.
The work we’re doing is important for one simple, undeniable reason: we are teaching children to read and creating a research base that will forever help teach children to read. I’ve learned everything I know today about reading from Drs. Syverud and Hall, as well as the basics of reading research. I also learned that when educators work together nothing in education is impossible.
Dr. Sue Syverud:
Kelsey was a student who really stood out because of her professionalism, impressive work with her tutee and outstanding coursework. Collaborating with Dr. Hall and her pre-k and elementary candidates provides me a greater opportunity to prevent reading failures in our schools. Having Kelsey become a part of this collaboration is critical because she will have opportunities to pay this work forward, either preventing failures directly or assisting others with this same goal. Invaluable.
Dr. Katrina Hall:
Research can be very isolating, so being able to work together is a blessing. Our interaction as colleagues keeps me always thinking and wanting to learn more. We’re at an exciting time for the field of education and have the potential to really make the difference. We have so many collective ideas, I imagine we can keep Kelsey busy for as long as she wants to do research with us.