Research Highlights

Overviews of Sample Writings by Faculty

Karen Bromley (retired):

C. Beth Burch:

Adam Laats:

Thomas O'Brien:

Beverly Rainforth:

Lawrence C. Stedman:


The Next Step in Vocabulary Instruction

The Book

Written for grade 1-8 classroom teachers, reading specialists, ESL teachers, speech-language therapists and special education teachers, this book focuses on best practices for building the rich vocabularies students need to achieve in reading, writing and the content areas. It examines the theory and research related to word learning and vocabulary instruction and translates it into strategies and ideas to build students' vocabularies and promote success in content area reading and writing. It contains clear, easy-to-understand explanations of many teacher-tested strategies drawn from language arts, science, social studies and math. The ideas are introduced from the perspective of teachers who use them in their classrooms. Examples, illustrations and photographs show the strategies in action.

Section and chapter titles give a glimpse into the book's content and organization:


Chapter 1: Vocabulary Basics

Chapter 2: The Role of Vocabulary in Comprehension and Fluency

Chapter 3: Teaching Words Well

Chapter 4: Looking Closely at Word Structure

Chapter 5: Creating Independent Word Learners

Chapter 6: Playing With Words

References & Reproducibles

What It Means for You

This 144-page, 8x11, soft-cover book includes many Internet connections for building vocabulary with a large section of reproducible graphic organizers and ideas for using them. "Teaching in Action" boxes throughout the book and "Extend Your Thinking" boxes provide personalized ideas and questions to consider. The book is one of Scholastic's popular Teaching Strategies Series published by its Professional Books Division.

For More Information

Bromley, K. (2012). The Next Step in Vocabulary Instruction. New York: Scholastic.

To order: or 1-800-724-6527, Option #3 or FAX 1-800-560-6815

Writing for Educators: Personal Essays and Practical Advice

The Book

Written for grade new faculty, graduate students, teachers and administrators, and other academics who want to write more clearly and have their work published. The authors are educators who share their own fist-hand experiences that provide novice writers with important knowledge and support in the quest for success in professional scholarly writing. Essays discuss the craft of writing, including issues of voice, audience, planning, drafting, revision, conventions, style, submitting to journals, editorial review and editing.

Section titles give a glimpse into the book's content and organization:


Section 1: Finding Your Voice

Section 2: Writing an Article or Dissertation

Section 3: Reviews, Revising and Editing

Section 4: Grant Writing

Section 5: Writing in Other Educational Settings


What It Means for You

This 245-page, 6x9, hard-cover and/or soft-cover book includes essays from a variety of authors focused on writing journal articles, dissertations grants, edited books, and other writing in educational settings. Appendices contain examples of leads, a writing rubric, cover letter, manuscript tracking form, annotated bibliographies of books for academics and administrators and advice on forming a writing group.

For More Information

Bromley, K. (Ed.) (2009). Writing for Educators: Personal Essays and Practical Advice. Charlotte: Information Age.

To order:


Graphic Organizers: Visual Strategies for Active Learning

by Karen Bromley, Linda Irwin-DeVitis and Marcia Modlo


50 Graphic Organizers for Reading, Writing and More

by Linda Irwin-DeVitis, Karen Bromley and Marcia Modlo

The Books

Graphic Organizers: Visual Strategies for Active Learning (1995) and 50 Graphic Organizers for Reading, Writing and More (1999) are both easy-to-use, informative guides for teaching. Graphic organizers give teachers the opportunity to enhance their students' ability to learn and share knowledge in new, exciting and beneficial ways. Although they may be used separately, the combination of these two books is a valuable asset to any classroom. The books present effective strategies for the visual representation of knowledge in a variety of subject areas.

The first book, Graphic Organizers: Visual Strategies for Active Learning, focuses on grades K-8 and provides both useful background information on graphic organizers and specific examples of how to use them across the curriculum. It provides theory and research to support the use of four basic types of graphic organizers (hierarchical, conceptual, sequential and cyclical) and variations. The book includes examples of student work that demonstrate various ways to include multiple learning styles and encourage collaborative learning.

The follow-up book, 50 Graphic Organizers for Reading, Writing and More , lays out clear descriptions and step-by-step procedures for using a wide variety of graphic organizers. The book includes full-sized reproducible templates that make it an easy tool for K-12 classrooms. Student examples provide jumping-off points for teachers and students to explore thinking and learning through visual representations in all subject areas.

For More Information (Order from Scholastic Professional Books 1-800-724-6527)

Bromley, K., Irwin-De Vitis, L., & Modlo, M. (1995). Graphic Organizers: Visual Strategies for Active Learning . New York: Scholastic.

Irwin De Vitis, L., Bromley, K., & Modlo, M. (1999). 50 Graphic Organizers for Reading, Writing, and More . New York: Scholastic.

Inside the Portfolio Experience--The Student's Perspective

by C. Beth Burch

The Study

In this article in English Education , C. Beth Burch, associate professor of education, examines students’ attitudes toward writing portfolios. She addresses questions such as What do students actually think of portfolios? How do they perceive their experiences in creating them? What are students’ attitudes toward writing and the assessment of their writing? And how do these notions entwine? Burch uses questionnaires and interviews to examine the attitudes of 338 university students in first-year writing classes, including classes where portfolios were used to assess students’ writing and classes where only individual pieces of writing were assessed and portfolios were not used. She examines students’ expressed feelings about the writing task itself, their perceptions of their learning, their estimates of the possibilities of earning "good grades," their attitudes toward assessment in general, their feelings about the efficacy of their instructors and their ideas about advantages and disadvantages of portfolios.

The Findings

Students in portfolio classes (portfolio students) viewed the writing task more positively than did non-portfolio students, females expressing more positive attitudes than males. Portfolio students also appeared more confident about performing future writing tasks. Ironically, however, portfolios may not be linked to students’ notions of writing progress; students in both groups had similar opinions about whether and how much their writing improved during the course. Non-portfolio students were more tolerant of their writing being assessed than portfolio students were, but portfolio students considered their instructors more positive toward assessment than did non-portfolio students. For portfolio students, the biggest advantage of portfolios was the opportunity to revise their writing; the biggest disadvantage, their ongoing concern about grades being withheld until the portfolio was assessed.

What It Means for You

Writing instructors should expect that regardless of how exciting portfolios appear to them, students might not share this enthusiasm. Instructors should expect male and female students to differ in their reactions to portfolios and should anticipate that delaying grades until portfolios are assessed is likely to disturb many students. Writing instructors might help students feel more comfortable with portfolio grading by being entirely open about criteria for portfolio evaluation; constructing rubrics jointly; offering "dry-run" portfolios mid-term and a non-binding oral grade estimate on any given paper once or twice during the term. Instructors might employ certain specific strategies designed to minimize the discomfort of waiting for a grade such as making specific suggestions for revising and refraining from over-praising students’ efforts. In short, even experienced instructors may find that portfolios produce negligible benefits as far as students’ attitudes are concerned (this finding does not mean that there are not other, excellent pedagogical benefits of writing portfolios for students).

For More Information

See Burch, C. B. (1999). Inside the portfolio experience: The student’s perspective. English Education 32 (1), 34-49. Contact the author at   or 607-777-4697.

Faculty Biography

See Faculty to learn more about Dean Burch.

Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America's Culture Wars

by Adam Laats

The Book:

This book takes a new look at one of the most contentious periods in American history. The battles over schools that surrounded the famous Scopes "monkey" trial in 1925 were about much more than evolution. Fundamentalists fought to maintain cultural control of education. The successes and the failures of these fundamentalist campaigns transformed both the fundamentalist movement and the nature of education in America. In turn, those transformations determined many of the positions of the "culture wars" that raged throughout the twentieth century.

For More Information:

See Laats, A. (2010). Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America's Culture Wars. Contact the author at or 607-777-3329.

Faculty Biography

See Faculty to learn more about Professor Laats.

Many Educational Pasts: Conservative Visions and Revisions of the History of American Education

by Adam Laats

The Article:

Where did it all go wrong? In the twentieth century, conservative educational activists asked themselves this question time and again. Of course, the question assumed that American education had gone wrong. That was one assumption all conservatives agreed upon. However, their answers to the question were not as monolithic as they might first appear.

Conservative activists have generally agreed that American traditions of private schooling and religious education made the United States into the superpower it became by the end of the twentieth century. They also agreed that those traditions had broken down in the post-World War II era, with the growing dominance of secular, centralized public education.

This article examines the ways conservative educational activists created that consensus about America's educational past in the second half of the twentieth century. The article also looks at four activists in detail to note the ways conservative historical revisions could differ in significant ways. These four activists—free-market economist Milton Friedman, California Superintendent of Schools Max Rafferty, libertarian pundit Sam Blumenfeld, and creationist Henry Morris—each crafted arguments about education reform built upon a revision of American educational history. The argument of each activist was grounded, like all historical arguments, not in an external, value-neutral objective past but in the time and place of the historical writing.

These revisions of American educational history illustrate the ways conservative activists hoped to shape America's educational future based on its educational past. An examination of their historical arguments is vital to understand the broad outline of conservative educational arguments and the significant differences among them.

For More Information:

See Laats, A. (2012). Many Educational Pasts: Conservative Visions and Revisions of the History of American Education. Teachers College Record 114:3 (2012). Contact the author at or 607-777-3329.

Faculty Biography

See Faculty to learn more about Professor Laats.


Science, Technology, & Society Teaching Guide

by Thomas O'Brien

The Publication

NYSTEP Teacher Guide (1996) (New York Science, Technology & Society Education Project) Authors: Dennis W. Cheek and Thomas O'Brien.

This 99-page document provides the conceptual and theoretical background for the eight science-technology-society (STS), middle level modules (e.g., solid waste, water, etc.,) developed through a partnership between NYSED; the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center of the University at Albany, SUNY; and the New York Power Pool, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The modules were designed as teacher resource material (not student texts) to engage middle school students in global thinking and local action on STS issues. In essence, all the modules are "teacher guides" and most of the seventeen chapters in the sole module that is actually titled "Teacher Guide" can serve as stand-alone supports for any STS curriculum.

The Findings

The NYSTEP Teacher Guide provides the reader with a Model for the Infusion of STS Topics into the Science Curriculum (pp. i-iii), plus research-based overviews of such topics as: constructivist learning theory, concept mapping, cooperative learning, authentic assessment, educational technology, increasing participation of women and minorities and additional readings.

What It Means for You

Both the National Academy of Sciences' National Science Education Standards  ( and the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy  ( publications recommend that school science curricula include a significant attention to STS issues. The NYSTEP Teacher Guide provides a readily accessible synopsis of the argument for this inclusion and a conceptual tool kit on how to implement such modifications into the middle and high school science curriculum.

For More Information

See O'Brien, T. & Cheek, D. W. (1996). NYSTEP Teacher Guide . Albany: New York State Education Department. Contact Dr. O'Brien at or 607-777-4877.

Faculty Biography

See  Faculty to learn more about Professor O'Brien.


Collaborative Teams for Students with Severe Disabilities

by Beverly Rainforth

The Book

In this book, Emerita Professor of Education Beverly Rainforth and co-authors review the foundations for teamwork in special education, and propose team approaches to student assessment, IEP development, curriculum development and instruction. This information is provided in the context of emerging models of inclusive education. Although the book focuses on special education and the related services of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language pathology, the material applies to other education services as well. Principles presented in each chapter are illustrated through examples of two students with severe/multiple disabilities, but most principles also apply to students with less obvious disabilities. The book concludes with discussion of the administrative supports teams need to implement this approach.

The Theme

The theme of this book is that the regular education curriculum, class routines and everyday school activities provide numerous opportunities to identify and address student needs. Rarely is it necessary, and often it is counterproductive, to remove students from these situations to conduct "specialized" assessments and to fabricate activities for remediation. What is necessary is for specialists to redefine their roles. When they become members of general education classroom teams, they can observe the demands and opportunities for student participation and design interventions that meet student needs in the context of those demands and opportunities. In the process, regular education teachers receive more classroom-based support, expand their understanding of instructional strategies and adaptations and may enrich their curriculum. Ultimately, students and their families achieve the greatest benefits because their education is more coordinated and comprehensive.

What It Means for You

Schools are moving toward inclusive education, with special education services provided in general education settings as a support to students, rather than as a separate service. While the model of special education services is changing, the model for related services remains detached. The need for related services is increasing at a much greater rate than for special education services, raising important questions about costs and benefits. General education teachers and administrators, as well as those in special education, can influence the models by which related services are provided.

For More Information

See Rainforth, B., & York-Barr, J. (1997). Collaborative teams for students with severe disabilities: Integrating therapy and educational services . Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. Contact Rainforth at or 607-777-2277.

Faculty Biography

See  Faculty to learn more about Professor Emerita Rainforth.


The International Assessments of Education

by Lawrence C. Stedman

The Article

In this article in Educational Researcher , Lawrence C. Stedman, associate professor of education, reviews evidence from the major international assessments of the past two decades, including the recent Third International Math and Science Study. He analyzes competing explanations of the achievement differences, including arguments that the assessments unfairly penalize U.S. students. Stedman looks at issues such as sampling bias, curriculum differences, teaching quality, length of school year, social inequalities and differing visions of childhood. In the final section, he discusses the evidence on domestic achievement indicators and its implications for school reform.

The Findings

U.S. performance has been mixed — our youngest students often have done well, even in science, and our reading achievement has been among the world’s best. These strong performances have received insufficient public attention. In contrast, however, our math and high school science performances have typically been poor. What causes these deficiencies?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the assessments have not unfairly compared the mass of U.S. students to small academic elites in other countries. Furthermore, although the international rankings have sometimes masked small differences, the achievement gaps for the U.S. remain large and educationally important. Stedman finds that our poor math performance reflects real deficiencies in teaching and curriculum rather than differences in school years, national testing, course sequencing or demographics. Unlike many countries, the U.S. has been wedded to a counter-productive, assembly-line conception of knowledge and schooling. Although our national trends have been generally stable, Stedman reports that student achievement has been weak for decades. He concludes that fundamental school restructuring is needed.

What It Means for You

The country is in the midst of a vigorous debate over state and national standards in education. Part of that deals with whether U.S. students are meeting world-class standards, or should even be trying to. Educators and policymakers will find it useful to become familiar with the international findings and draw lessons from them that are well supported by the research. Stedman provides a guide through the thicket of claims and counter claims, pointing out where the evidence has been misrepresented, questioning the Goals 2000 focus on being #1 in the world in math and science, and yet still suggesting steps that educators can take to improve schooling.

For More Information

See Stedman, L. C. (1997). International achievement differences: An assessment of a new perspective. Educational Researcher , 26 (3), 4-15. Contact the author at or 607-777-4208.

Faculty Biography
See Faculty to learn more about Professor Stedman.


Assessing the Standards and Accountability Movement

by Lawrence C. Stedman

The Articles

In two recent articles in Critical Education, Lawrence C. Stedman, associate professor of education, assesses the standards movement. In the first article, he reviews data from NAEP, the SAT, the international assessments, transcript studies, and NCLB assessments, as well as surveys and case studies of changes in curriculum and pedagogy. He documents the movement's failure in diverse areas--academic achievement, equality of opportunity, quality of learning, and graduation rates--and describes its harmful effects on students and school culture.  In the second article, Stedman diagnoses the educational and political reasons for the movement's failure, linking it to faulty premises, a misconstruction of teaching and learning, historical myopia, an embrace of test-driven accountability, and the neoliberal reform agenda.

The Findings

The educational picture is a bleak one. In spite of a generation of sustained standards efforts over the past quarter century, achievement has stagnated, dropouts and aliteracy have grown, and large minority achievement gaps have persisted. The quality of student learning remains poor. School changes, stratified by class and race, have constricted instruction and harmed students and teachers. NCLB has made things worse, not better. Even in the two areas where the movement has achieved some success--math achievement at the lower grades and high school academic enrollments--the gains were largely superficial, other forces such as teaching-to-the-test and social promotion contributed, and serious deficiencies remain.

The advocates of accountability blamed educational problems on a retreat from standards, for which there was little evidence, while ignoring the long-standing, deep structure of schooling that had caused persistent achievement problems throughout the 20th century. As part of the audit culture and the conservative restoration, the standards movement has pushed a data-driven, authoritarian form of schooling and perpetuated the inequalities and injustices of capitalism. Drawing on reproduction theories and critiques of the anti-democratic neoliberal reform project, Stedman makes the case for repealing No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top and outlines an alternative progressive framework for reconstructing schools.

What It Means for You

The country is in the midst of an unprecedented technocratic and bureaucratic assault on schools and teachers. School reform in the name of excellence is harming both students and teachers. Educators and policymakers will find it useful to learn what happened to schools and learning over the past generation and to understand the political economic forces shaping present reform. Stedman provides a guide through the thicket of evidence, pointing out where reform is failing and describing why, while at the same time suggesting steps that educators can take to improve schooling.

For More Information

Stedman, L. (2010). How well does the standards movement measure up? An analysis of achievement trends and student learning, changes in curriculum and school culture, and the impact of No Child Left Behind. Critical Education, 1(10). Available at

Stedman, L. (2011). Why the standards movement failed. An educational and political diagnosis of its failure and the implications for school reform. Critical Education, 2(1). Available at

Contact the author at or 607-777-4208.

Academic building

Last Updated: 10/28/14