Faculty research and scholarship showcases the quality of excellence in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Our faculty currently have active research and scholarship.

2016 Panel Discussions

Panel 1: Should Testing be Abolished?


Panel 2: What Will Learning Environments of the Future Look Like?


Panel 3: Do Schools Really Treat Black, Latin@, and Immigrant Lives as if They Matter?


Panel 4: How Did Teachers and Teacher Education Lose the Profession, and How Do We Get it back?



Assessing Complex Performance: A Postdoctoral Training Program Researching Students Writing and Assessment in Digital Workspaces

William Cope, PI, EPOL
Hua-Hua Chang, Co-PI, EPSY
Sarah McCarthey, Co-PI, CI
Katherine Ryan, Co-PI, EPSY
Institute of Education Sciences

Mar 2011 - Sep 2015 

The Postdoctoral Fellows Program provides a breadth and depth of research-related experiences to prepare fellows for full engagement in academic professional life. Senior faculty/project members will provide mentoring. Researchers will train four Postdoctoral Fellows for 2 years in this program. The research opportunities offered include: (1) innovations in formative and summative assessment; (2) development of methods for assessment of complex performance; (3) disciplinary practices of discipline areas captured in written reports and essays; and (4) exploration of the affordances of social media for peer-to-peer learning. Fellows will select a research project for concentrated involvement.

Stord Professorship

Liora Bresler, PI, CI
Hogskoken Stord/Haugesund

Sep 2007 - Aug 2015

Dr. Bresler counsels and teaches on research and development issues for Hogskoken/Stord/Haugesund (HSH) staff and students, in particular the different research projects and programmes connected to different profiles in the Master Programme ICT in learning. The field of work engaged is related to the different profiles of the Master degree program on ICT in Learning at HSH; national, international and local seminars and conferences; and research and development guidance and advice. The work is performed as physical visits to Stord/Haugesund, online seminars, and on-demand consultations via internet.

ECR: Strategic Integration of MOOCs into Graduate and Professional STEM Programs in 21st Century Research Universities

William Buttlar, PI
Wen-Hao Huang, Co-PI, EPOL
Sarah Lubienski, Co-PI, CI
National Science Foundation

Sep 2013 - Aug 2015

This funding supports the development of a capacity building designed to advance the strategic integration of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) into graduate and professional STEM programs in 21st century research universities by setting the stage for robust research studies. A workshop will be conducted to examine pedagogical issues such as the effectiveness of flipped classrooms merged with MOOCs through a rigorous experimental design, data collection, and analysis process. The workshop will provide a platform for thought leaders and key stakeholders, including employers, to discuss paths for incorporating these emerging educational portals and platforms into the existing fabric of universities. The broader significance of this workshop will help identify research questions about technology, pedagogy, widespread implementation, and specific implications for graduate education.

Enhancing Student Financial Education at Illinois

Debasish Dutta, PI
Sarah Lubienski, Co-PI, CI
Council of Graduate Schools

Jul 2013 - Jun 2015

This grant was awarded as part of the council’s Enhancing Student Financial Education project, co-sponsored by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), a leading financial services organization. The aim of this project is to identify best practices for preparing undergraduate and graduate students to make informed financial decisions.

CAREER: Noticing and Using Students' Prior Knowledge in Problem-Based Instruction

Gloriana González, PI, CI
National Science Foundation

May 2013 - Apr 2018

The project’s goal is to advance knowledge of professional development experiences that help teachers notice and take into account students' prior knowledge. The project involves the creation of a study group that incorporates elements from Lesson Study and combines opportunities for geometry teachers to examine videos from their own classroom and animated vignettes of classroom instruction with the purpose of increasing teachers' attention on student thinking. Results of this study, as well as the protocols and instruments developed during the research project, will improve professional development initiatives by connecting instructional decision-making more explicitly to research on student learning.

InfoWriter: A Student Feedback and Formative Assessment Environment for Writing Information and Explanatory Texts

Stafford Hood, PI, CI
Institute of Education Sciences
Common Ground Publishing LLC (contractor) 

Jul 2013 - Dec 2015

This award supports the participation of a research team from the College of Education and the Beckman Institute to develop a prototype of InfoWriter to support students in writing informational and explanatory texts. InfoWriter combines two educational functions, not previously brought together in the one learning software environment: a) an online concept or information mapping tool that highlights the thinking underlying student writing or exemplar reading texts, and b) use of these info maps for the purposes of learner feedback and formative assessment of writing and subject knowledge represented in writing.

Advancing Arctic Paleoecology: An Integrative Approach to Understanding Species Refugia and Population Dynamics in Response to Late-Quaternary Climate Change

Feng Sheng Hu, PI, Plant Biology
Barbara Hug, Co-PI, CI
National Science Foundation

Aug 2014 - Jul 2018

This project provides intellectual focus, financial resources, and mentorship for the career development of three young investigators as they develop their science research programs. The project promises to provide spatially explicit, population-level details of species range shifts in relation to climate change that cannot be reliably acquired using conventional paleoecological analyses. The centerpiece of the broader impact outreach activities is a workshop to educate high school teachers on Arctic climate and ecological changes. Through these teachers, a large group of Midwestern students will be exposed to the excitement of Arctic research. Materials from the workshop will be disseminated online to a broad audience.

Project NEURON (Novel Education for Understanding Research On Neuroscience)

Barbara Hug, PI, CI
National Institutes of Health

Aug 2009 - Jun 2016

Project NEURON brings together the University of Illinois’s Neuroscience Program, the College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Office for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education and local teachers to develop and disseminate curriculum materials linking cutting-edge science with national and state science standards. This project creates professional development opportunities for teachers and graduate students, includes a formative and summative evaluation and a dissemination mechanism. Project goals include: (1) developing and disseminating curriculum modules for use in secondary science classrooms; (2) improving instructional practices of secondary science teachers; and, (3) improving student engagement in and learning of science.

Cook County Extension Collaboration Project

Barbara Hug, PI, CI
Cook County Extension

Jan 2014 - Dec 2015

Metaphor-Based Learning of Physics Concepts Through Whole-Body Interaction in a Mixed Reality Science Center Exhibit

Robb Lindgren, PI, CI
Guy Garnett, Co-PI
National Science Foundation

Sep 2013 - Aug 2015

This project aims to investigate the effects of whole-body interactions with immersive science simulations in informal learning environments. The principal platform for this project is a room-sized floor simulation of planetary astronomy where students are able to embed themselves within the system and make predictions with real-time feedback. The simulation, called MEteor, has been installed at two science centers in Florida, and multiple studies with several hundred middle school students have been conducted to date. Findings from the project are helping both the understanding of embodied learning as well as effective interactive exhibit design in museums and other informal spaces.

Embodied Explanatory Expressions for Facilitating Science Reasoning and Enhancing Interactive Simulations

Robb Lindgren, PI, CI
David Brown, Co-PI, CI
Dan Hoffman, Co-PI, CI
National Science Foundation

Aug 2014 - Jul 2018

The objective of this project is to characterize how embodied activity supports students’ explanations of unobservable mechanisms (e.g., molecular interactions) that underlie observable phenomena in science. The project seeks to identify types of body motion that support causal explanations for observable phenomena, what are referred to as Embodied Explanatory Expressions (EEEs). Project partners at Concord Consortium will adapt their existing science simulations to incorporate EEEs and allow middle school students to interact with them utilizing newly available motion sensing input devices (e.g., Leap Motion). Findings from this project will help us understand the embodied foundations of science reasoning and push the frontiers of interactive web-based learning simulations.

DIP: Developing Crosscutting Concepts in STEM with Simulation Theaters for Embodied Learning

Robb Lindgren, PI, CI
José Mestre, Co-PI, EPSY
National Science Foundation

Sep 2014 - Aug 2018

This project aims to cultivate a new genre of technology-enhanced interactions for education with the development of “simulation theaters for embodied learning” that target critical, crosscutting themes in STEM. With our partners at the Illinois Informatics Institute and NSCA we will be creating a new system for gesture recognition that can detect body movements for communicating abstract concepts such as magnitude/scale and rates of change. These movements and associated concepts will be applied to a suite of relevant science learning simulations (e.g., an Earthquake simulation and a acidity/basicity simulation that both operate on a logarithmic scale).


UIUC Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Mathematics Education
Sarah Lubienski, PI, CI
Arthur Baroody, Co-PI, CI
Joseph Robinson-Cimpian, Co-PI, EPSY
Institute of Education Sciences

Mar 2010 - Aug 2016

This program prepares researchers to conduct rigorous research that is relevant to mathematics education. The program provides fellows with a rich set of experiences and skills needed to conduct mixed-method and quantitative research that will improve U.S. mathematics teaching and learning with diverse populations. Fellows work with a range of faculty who conduct classroom-based research and analyze large-scale mathematics data (including ECLS-K and NAEP). The postdoctoral program at UIUC helps fill the national need for scholars who have a blend of expertise in mathematics education, research design and data analysis.


University of Illinois Writing Project: 2014-2016 NWP SEED Teacher Leadership Development Grant

Sarah McCarthey, PI, CI
National Writing Project

May 2014 - Aug 2016

This project supports teacher leaders as they develop and disseminate knowledge related to the teaching of writing to a diverse population. The aim of this project is to cultivate teacher leaders who bring expertise and enthusiasm for writing into their own classroom and provide excellent professional development for their colleagues. Participating teachers have opportunities to demonstrate their own best practice and classroom successes, study writing theory and research, experience the writing process by writing and sharing their writing in small groups, learn about digital literacy and video as a rhetorical medium through hands-on training, and publish their work online.

EXP: Fostering Collaborative Drawing and Problem Solving through Digital Sketch and Touch

Emma Mercier, PI, CI
National Science Foundation

Oct 2014 - Sep 2017

This project seeks to design and study tools to support communication and collaboration around sketching and technical drawing on interactive surfaces (tablets and multi-touch tables). The focus is on tools for introductory engineering courses, where current collaborative problem solving activities are limited by a lack of shared representations. The genre of tools developed will be transferable to other courses in higher education, as well as K-12 classrooms where technical drawing and collaboration is increasing in importance with the changing emphasis in science, math and literacy standards.