September 2018


September 14, 2018


Congratulations to the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) for being selected to co-lead a five-year, $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant to help more underrepresented college students find success in STEM-related study and employment.

Led by WCER director Bob Mathieu for the past 15 years, CIRTL works to increase and broaden professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields by improving faculty training across the country. With the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, co-recipient of the grant, the awardees will scale successful methods for diversifying STEM college faculty and grounding them in inclusive teaching practices. The goal is to attract and retain more women, people of color, people with disabilities and individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds to study STEM subjects.

Don Gillian-Daniel, associate director of the Delta Program for Research, Teaching and Learning, UW-Madison’s CIRTL learning community, will head the alliance’s activities to create partnerships with professional development providers, organizations serving underrepresented groups and groups of various STEM disciplines across the country.

This very large initiative involves many people across WCER, including Bipana Bantawa, Kitch Barnicle, Donald Dantzler, Emily Dickmann, Nafsaniath Fathema, Robin Greenler, Lucas Hill, Jessica Maher, Robert Mathieu, Shannon Patton, Christine Pfund, Christine Pribbenow, Julia Savoy and Hollie Thompson.

The entire project includes 87 universities and colleges (to begin) and 32 national cross-sector partners. Kudos to the WCER pre-proposal team, and especially Rosie Bell!


Teacher Speakout!Katie McCabe, a full-time doctoral student in special education and a part-time project manager at WCER, describes herself as “one of those people who always knew [she] wanted to be a teacher.”

But after completing her schooling as a special education teacher in New York and accepting her first teaching position in a rural school, McCabe saw that her urban training didn’t fit with her rural reality.

“Rural teachers really want the best for their students, but they might not always have those resources at their fingertips,” Katie says. She decided something more could be done.

Fast-forward several years and Katie is doing something for rural teachers in Wisconsin through WCER’s Teacher Speakout! project. Created by Shirley Wright and Kurt Brown in the Director’s Office, the project focuses on bringing the voices of rural teachers into the conversation in teacher education programs.

This summer, Katie has been busy laying the groundwork for a big year for the project. Early in the summer, she developed and distributed a survey to learn from rural teachers how they could be better supported.

Katie also has begun assembling a cohort of preservice teachers with an interest in rural schools who will connect this fall with the rural River Valley School District in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Having a group of young teachers who actually are interested in rural schools is one of the most exciting impacts of Teacher Speakout! thus far, Katie says.

The idea to implement a preservice teacher cohort within the project came from last year’s Teacher Speakout! survey results, which revealed rural schools are eager to attract and retain new teachers. According to Katie, this feedback process is vital to the mission of the project, and one of the most rewarding parts for those involved. “I love when they can give me a good idea,” she says. “It’s all about having teachers’ voices heard.”

Teacher Speakout! soon will become part of WCER’s new Rural Education Research and Implementation Center, led by principal investigators Craig Albers and Andy Garbacz, and staffed by Jack Jorgensen, formerly with The Network, and returning doctoral alum and Teacher Speakout! assistant, Jennifer Selig. The center is ramping up now, so watch for more about it in an upcoming issue of Inside WCER.

— By WCER Communications Assistant Caroline Daniels


All-Staff ConferenceSurvey feedback shows WCER’s debut All-Staff Conference on Aug. 28, developed and hosted by our Academic Staff Advisory Council, was valued and enjoyed by the nearly 200 in our community who attended. The survey administered by the event’s hardworking planning committee found strong conference buy-in, with 88 percent calling it a good use of their time and 89 percent saying it met its goal of celebrating the WCER community, from ASAC’s warm opening welcome to the rousing jamboree performance of our own country rock band at day’s end.

In between, conference offerings included remarks celebrating center contributions by School of Education Dean Diana Hess, new WCER addition Hazel Symonette’s stirring keynote address and a series of issue-oriented panel discussions that contributed to 89 percent of respondents saying the conference should be an annual event.

In addition, comments made by survey respondents include:

  • “Having Diana (Hess) lead with vision and purpose within the broader scope of the School of Education was motivating.”
  • “It was great meeting new people and seeing others that I don’t get to work with often. Very helpful for future collaboration!”
  • “Having the band play added a huge component of fun.”
  • “I liked the panel discussion idea as it gave multiple perspectives to a single topic.”
  • “Very much appreciated that leadership is trying to bring about a more culturally savvy and inclusive environment.”

Attendees also offered ideas for future conferences, such as a workshop in which leaders address anonymous comments and questions collected beforehand and panel discussions offering WCER members’ takes on working here and the challenges to the center’s goal of creating an “all-inclusive” community.

Video recordings of conference sessions are available here.



Bob MathieuThree researchers from WCER-based faculty or academic staff are needed to help plan WCER’s direction and priorities by serving as new members of the Director’s Advisory Council. Interest must be expressed via email to WCER director Bob Mathieu by Friday, Sept. 14.

The council has six members, all researchers, who serve staggered, two-year terms. It typically meets once or twice each semester, with possible requests by email for advice as needed.

“The council has worked well as a place for me to float and get advice on major initiatives for WCER, including strategies for financial decisions, new directions, organization, space policy, and strategic planning,” Bob says. “It also is another route for people to put issues and ideas on the table for consideration.”

The council also helps to uphold two principles of center operations — the value of gathering diverse perspectives before making significant decisions and the belief that transparency of leadership fosters trust, collegiality and alignment in an organization.

Interested researchers should email Bob ( with a half-page description of their background and relevant experience, as well as why they want to serve.

“My intention here is not to evaluate you, but rather to build as diverse and representative a council as I can,” Bob says. “To be clear, members of the council must be committed to the overall success of WCER; they are not on the council to be advocates of their projects.”


Matt HoraMatt Hora, a WCER research scientist, is about halfway through a guest-professor residency in the School of Education at Tianjin University in China, where he will teach and study for 2.5 weeks.

Supported by a $10,528 grant from Tianjin University, Hora will deliver guest lectures and oversee a team of faculty members and graduate students working to implement the WCER-based College Internship Study at Tianjin and at a nearby School of Applied Sciences.

The overall study, which Hora began in April and already is underway at five U.S. institutions, uses a mixed-methods approach based on student focus groups, an online student survey and interviews with faculty members, career services professionals and local employers.

Read the full story here.


Check out the Third Annual UW-Madison Postdoctoral Research Symposium on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 12 to 5:30 pm at the Genetics-Biotech Center. The symposium offers a venue for postdocs to share their work with others and foster new collaborations.

This year the symposium includes a data scientist career panel featuring academic and industry representatives; keynote speaker Ron Seely from the Department of Life Science Communication, who will share how to simplify research findings without sacrificing accuracy; and the return of the Five-Minute Blitz Talk competition.

This event is sponsored by the Office of Postdoctoral Studies and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Lunch and a reception will be provided with registration here:


Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work, New Books Network, Aug. 20, 2018

STEM Faculty Receive $10 Million Grant to Advocate Inclusivity and Opportunity for Undergraduates, The Daily Cardinal, Sept. 10, 2018

UW Gets $10 Million Grant to Diversify STEM Faculty, Madison 365, Sept. 7, 2018

Can Video Games Change Your Brain? UW Research Suggests Games Can Build Empathy, WISC-TV Channel 3 News, Sept. 10, 2018


Are you interested in conducting collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects that are high-risk, high-impact and transformative, and require acquisition of shared instruments or equipment that will open new avenues of research?

If so, competitive abstracts for $100,000 to $500,000 of funding for research and infrastructure proposals are due Oct. 15 for the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative.


Craig AlbersCraig Albers, an associate professor of educational psychology and co-principal investigator of WCER’s new Rural Education Research and Implementation Center, has been named as the 11th editor of the Journal of School Psychology by the Society for the Study of School Psychology. Albers, who is UW-Madison’s School Psychology Program director, will begin a term as editor-elect in January and will serve as editor of the journal from January 2020 through December 2024.

Craig has been associate editor of the journal for over eight years, making decisions on more than 210 manuscripts. He also has led many committees for the society. His term as editor will follow that of current editor Michelle Demaray, a graduate of UW-Madison’s School Psychology Program.

First published in 1963, the Journal of School Psychology publishes original empirical articles and critical reviews of the literature on research and practices relevant to psychological and behavioral processes in school settings. It presents research on intervention mechanisms and approaches; schooling effects on the development of social, cognitive, mental-health and achievement-related outcomes; assessment; and consultation.


Sept. 14 5:30-7:30 pm Network Fellows Meet & Greet, Virginia F. Harrison Parlor, Lathrop Hall, 1050 University Ave.

Sept. 19 1:00-2:30 pm Network Fellows Orientation, Room 198, Education Building.

Sept. 26 10:00-11:30 am Network Fellows Orientation, Room 159, Education Building.

Sept. 26 12:45-2:45 pm WIES Lecture Featuring Anna Riley, Room 159, Education Building.

Sept. 28 9 am-6 pm CCWT National Symposium on College Internship Research, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St.

Oct. 17 Noon-2:00 pm WIES Lecture Featuring Kara Viesca, Room 159, Education Building.

Dec. 5 Noon-2:00 pm WIES Lecture Featuring Benedikt Harrer, Room 159, Education Building.


Percival Matthews received a grant of $600,000 from the James S. McDonnell Foundation for “Theoretical and Pedagogical Implications of the Nonsymbolic Ratio Processing System” through Aug. 31, 2024.

Haley Vlach received a $600,000 grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation for “The Development of Higher-Order Cognition: Words, Categories, and Concepts” through Aug. 31, 2024.


Tricia Dusick, Associate Administrative Program Specialist, WCER Fellows and Interdisciplinary Training Program

Noah Green, Administrative Program Specialist, CIRTL

Daniel Woodbridge, University Service Associate, business office


“The Science and Art of Mentoring,” Christine Pfund, The American Society for Cell Biology, August 2018. Pfund writes in a blog post:

“We often do not seize the numerous opportunities we are afforded to shape the learning experiences of our mentees, let alone influence the environments in which those experiences transpire. We do not frequently enough embrace the art of mentoring.

Contemplate the scenario of working with a new undergraduate or graduate student. Experienced mentors, using evidence-based practices, understand the importance of helping new mentees develop a research project, establishing and aligning clear expectations for the relationship, and communicating regularly and effectively.

Some best practices toward achieving these aims include 1) thoughtful, intentional project design that takes into account the mentee’s background and interests; 2) use of written mentoring compacts, and 3) regular conversations using active listening strategies.”


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