New faculty hires bring new perspective and dedication to research and teaching

by The College of Education   /   Oct 17, 2013

At the College of Education at Illinois, we engage in groundbreaking research to 
address critical educational and societal issues. With an interrogative research culture and 
interdisciplinary collaboration, our faculty and students create knowledge and programs 
that impact society and communities around the world in order to advance the common good. Our 2013-14 new faculty hires bring new perspectives partnered with that same dedication to research and empowerment of the learner. Reflecting our intentional focus on the impact of technology on education, our four new educational technology faculty are pursuing a deeper understanding of how technological applications can enhance the effectiveness and outcomes of teaching, learning, and assessment processes. 

Daniel Lew Hoffman

Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction

Prior to starting his doctoral studies, Dr. Hoffman was a classroom teacher in Antigua, Guatemala, and in public schools in Brooklyn, New York. Hoffman focuses his research on the intersections of learning and computing, and the impact of technology on schooling. With his extensive instructional design and pre-college and college-level teaching experiences, he brings a wealth of expertise in multimedia learning and interactive learning environments. Dr. Hoffman’s empirical studies contribute to understanding how students’ cognition and learning are impacted by the use of innovative input devices to interact with content in digital learning environments. He aims to expand what it means to engage with to-be-learned content, both behaviorally and cognitively, by moving beyond traditional input devices—such as mouse and keyboard—to richer perceptual interactions, such as dance-based mathematics games for K-12 students or gesture-based input devices.

Robb Lindgren
Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction

Since 2009, Dr. Lindgren has directed the Media and Learning Lab at the University of Central Florida. In addition to a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford, he holds an M.A. in psychology from Stanford and a B.S. in computer science from Northwestern with a double major in cognitive science. Lindgren’s research is devoted to understanding both the cognitive and pedagogical processes that support learning, and the design of innovative technologies that effectively engender these processes. He focuses on learning and instruction through the use of emerging immersive and interactive digital media platforms, including simulations, virtual environments, mobile devices, video games, and mixed and augmented reality. With large-scale funding from the National Science Foundation, Lindgren seeks to understand how contemporary media technologies can be used to construct new identities and generate new perspectives that lead to stronger comprehension of complex ideas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content areas. In 2011 he was one of two U.S. scholars invited to attend a meeting to strategize around learning and technology research, sponsored by the STELLAR network of the European Union.

Emma Mercier
Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction

Dr. Mercier has been a research associate for SynergyNet: Multi-touch in Education at Durham University since 2009. She is interested in the relationship between social interaction, technology, and learning. Mercier’s research is focused on the social processes in learning; especially learning that is facilitated through collaboration and with technology. From a developmental perspective, she explores how social interactions and collaborative practices develop, and from a design perspective, her work focuses on how to create environments and activities that support social interactions and collaborative learning. Mercier works with designing and building tools to create better learning environments, such as multi-touch surface tables. The latter technology offers the possibility of increased facilitation of joint attention, distributed control of information, and more opportunities for participation, all of which are behaviors that can support collaboration. Interactive surfaces provide new and welcomed ways to optimize the role of technology in modern-day classroooms.

Eunjung Grace Oh
Assistant Professor, Education Policy, Organization 
and Leadership

As an educational technologist, Dr. Oh has had diverse professional experiences including human resources development specialist, trainer, instructional designer, and consultant at a variety of institutions in South Korea and the United States. Her research focuses on the intersections between designing collaborative learning environments, designing authentic learning tasks, and enhancing learners’ cognitive engagement with use of emerging technology in online and blended learning environments. She also investigates the Millennial generation and their use of technology, particularly how this generation is perceived, how they use technology for learning and performance, and what efforts are needed to prepare them to be citizens of the digital age.

Menah Pratt-Clarke
Associate Professor, Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership

Dr. Pratt-Clarke received her bachelor's and master's in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa. She received a M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology, as well as her law degree, from Vanderbilt University. She has a joint appointment in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and she is affiliated with the College of Law, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Department of African-American Studies, and the Center for African Studies. She teaches in the areas of critical race studies, black feminism, and critical race feminism. In addition to publishing several articles and book chapters, Critical Race, Feminism, and Education: A Social Justice Model was published in 2010 by Palgrave MacMillan as part of the Postcolonial Studies in Education Series. As an Associate Chancellor, her administrative portfolio intersects with her scholarly interest in diversity and higher education.

Rema Reynolds
Assistant Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership

Dr. Reynolds is a former teacher, counselor, and administrator, and she currently organizes Black parents for the improvement of student achievement in various schools. Her research is centered in urban schools serving culturally diverse students and families. Specifically, Dr. Reynolds examines issues of parent engagement as they relate to Black families and student achievement, instructional strategies educators employ to honor literacies students bring to the classroom, cultural competencies counselors and school counselors acquire through their respective preparatory programs, and the roles of school administrators in community and civic development. She has worked as a consultant for a number of school districts across the country assisting teachers and administrators in taking deliberate action in facilitating community engagement and inviting parents to participate in ways meaningful for them and beneficial for students. Developing servant leaders, she has taught and presented at professional conferences throughout the United States and in more than 17 countries.

Patriann Smith
Clinical Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction

Dr. Smith is an award-winning elementary classroom teacher who has taught internationally in the Caribbean and in the United States. Her expertise in literacy and language at the undergraduate and graduate levels and experience obtained from over a decade of teaching across multiple K-20 contexts form a basis for her primary research focus on the language and literate experiences of linguistically and culturally diverse teachers and learners. In her scholarly publications, Dr. Smith also explores the personal and professional challenges faced by multilingual teachers/educators and the methodologies employed in empirical studies of the language and literacy practices of language learners. As a Mentee of the International Reading Association’s (IRA's) Reading Hall of Fame and member of the IRA's Literacy and Language Learners’ Committee, Dr. Smith receives scholarly support as she continues to examine the linkages between multilingualism and literacy development across international contexts.