Dr. Castillo is an international development scholar with expertise in learning assessment, program evaluation, and educational technologies. He has worked as an internationally posted development practitioner of education, health, and economic development projects throughout Central and South America as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Castillo has led program evaluation efforts in South Africa, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. After completing service in Guatemala with the United States Peace Corps, Dr. Castillo received a Master’s from Harvard University, a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and conducted Postdoctoral research as an education specialist with UNESCO. Dr. Castillo has extensive experience in national and international development issues and has served as an advisor to UNICEF, the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID, UNESCO, and several international, non-government organizations. His recent multi-year study in South Africa applies a language-centered technology approach to support early grade reading in rural classrooms. This project was a 2014 recipient of the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy.

Key Professional Appointments

Faculty Affiliate Illinois Informatics, Illinois Informatics Programs, 2019 - present

Assistant Professor Curriculum & Instruction, College of Education, 2018 - present

Assistant Professor Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, College of Education, 2018 - present

Visiting Assistant Professor Evaluation Studies, Fundação Cesgranrio (Brazil), 2018 - 2018


Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development, University of Pennsylvania, 2017

M.Ed., International Education Policy, Harvard University, 2009

Research & Service

Access to quality learning is widely accepted as a fundamental human right and has been a focal point of world development goals. While recent efforts have greatly expanded access to schooling, crafting effective interventions to support learning presents a constant challenge as learning opportunities and contexts vary so widely across the world. My research investigates learning and instruction in developing countries and how the appropriate use of technology can better support positive learning ecologies and advance social equity. My current research interests include early grade reading models in developing countries, the effects of education policies and organizational structures on student outcomes, and the application of empirical research methods for assessing impact.


Castillo, N., & Wagner, D. (2019). Early grade reading support in rural South Africa: A language-centred technology approach. International Review of Education, 65 (3).

Castillo, N., Fierro-Villa, A., & Tapia Quintana, D. (2018). Advancing human development for youth in Mexico: Constraints and opportunities. Adolescent Psychology in Today's World: Global Perspectives on Risks, Relationships, and Development ABC-CLIO/Praeger Publishers.

Castillo, N. (2018). Two ways artificial intelligence will transform traditional learning models. ICTworks, 1.  link >

Wagner, D., & Castillo, N. (2017). El aprendizaje en la base de la pirámide: Restricciones, comparabilidad y política en países envías de desarrollo RASE:Revista de la Asociación de Sociología de laEducación, 10 (2).  link >

Wagner, D., Buek, K., Adler, A., Castillo, N., Zahra, F., Lee, J., Chittamuru, D., & Lee, S. (2016). Mind, Society, and Behavior. ( 3 ed vol. 60, pp. 601-603). COMPARATIVE EDUCATION REVIEW.

Castillo, N., Lee, J., Zahra, F., & Wagner, D. (2015). MOOCs for Development: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 11 (2), 35-42.

Wagner, D., Castillo, N., Murphy, K., Crofton, M., & Zahra, F. (2014). Mobiles for literacy in developing countries: An effectiveness framework. Prospects, 44 (1), 119-132.  link >

Castillo, N., & Wagner, D. (2014). Gold standard? The use of randomized controlled trials for international educational policy. Comparative Education Review, 58 (1), 166-173.  link >

Murphy, K., Castillo, N., Zahra, F., & Wagner, D. (2014). Mobile learning design solutions: Innovations in learning through the use of mobiles across contexts. Methodological Challenges When Exploring Digital Learning Spaces in Education ( vol. 2, pp. 13-27). Sense Publishers.  link >

Wagner, D., & Castillo, N. (2014). Learning at the bottom of the pyramid: Constraints, comparability and policy in developing countries. Prospects, 44 (4), 627-638.  link >


From the ground up: Building a regional reading network in research and training across Central America (2019). Florida International University: San Francisco.

Launching the Central American early grade reading network: Preliminary outcomes from the RedLEI initiative. (2019). Florida International University: San Francisco.

Supporting home language reading through technology in rural South Africa (2019). AERA: Toronto.

How artificial intelligence will transform the way we teach literacy. (2018). United States Agency for International Development: Washington, DC.

Devloping Local Research Networks: A Profile from Latin America (2018). Global Reading Network and USAID: Webinar.


Reading Research Quarterly, 2018 - 2019


Culture in the Classroom (CI 446) Explores cultural, political, and social factors that affect learning and teaching. Introduces students to the fields of educational anthropology and multicultural education and to the application of cultural information to curriculum development and classroom practice. The 3-hour undergraduate version and 4-hour graduate version meet the Cross-Cultural Studies for Teaching Limited-English-Proficient Students requirement for Bilingual and/or ESL Teaching Approval or Endorsement from the Illinois State Board of Education. 3 undergraduate hours. 2 or 4 graduate hours.

Tech for Education Development (CI 590) Approved for both letter and S/U grading.

Education and Social Justice (EPS 380) This class will introduce students to key definitions, theories, and practices of justice in education. Using a combination of philosophical and political theory-based analyses of the features of justice: fairness, equity, representation, responsibility, and difference, among others, readings invite students to consider how education and schooling can help to nurture democratic ties and equity.This course satisfies the General Education Criteria for: Humanities - Hist & PhilCultural Studies - US Minority.

Proseminar in EPOL (EPS 500) Seminar on topics not treated by regularly scheduled courses; requests for initiation may be made by students or faculty members. May be repeated to a maximum of 8 hours.

Education and Globalization (EPS 530) Analyses of the role and functions of education in social, political, and economic development, with particular reference to the new and the developing countries.

Tech for Education Development (EPS 590) Seminar in educational policy studies; sections offered in the following fields: (a) history of education; (b) philosophy of education; (c) comparative education; (d) social foundations of education; (e) philosophy of educational research; and (f) historical methods in education. May be repeated.

Castillo, Nathan

Assistant Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership



Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Update Your Profile

Refreshing data...please wait