FAU SURF Project: Summer Reading Endorsement Academy

Teacher reads to children in classroom.

by Teresa Crane | Monday, May 10, 2021

Florida Atlantic University’s Kayla Crawford and Philomena Marinaccio, Ph.D., were awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) through FAU Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry. The award allocated $4000 to support a 10-week summer research project titled "Summer Reading Endorsement Academy (SREA)." The project will address a Florida Department of Education mandate requiring educators who teach literacy in inclusive classrooms to demonstrate that they are highly qualified by earning a reading endorsement or certification.

Reading is fundamental to student success and the key is for teachers to be proficient in the methodologies and pedagogies. FAU’s College of Education aims to support area teachers by providing a series of online modules to facilitate literacy pedagogy through an intensive summer reading endorsement academy. The College’s Department of Teaching and Learning will conduct a pilot study with Crawford focusing on self-efficacy scores of teachers who complete the academy. Her role will include experiencing the breadth of the research process, along with qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.

"I am honored and excited for the opportunity to gain valuable research experience while providing assistance to fellow literacy leaders,” said Kayla Crawford, College of Education SREA student researcher. “I am extremely eager to get to work and cannot wait to review the literature, administer an intervention, analyze, and report findings from the pilot study for this extensive research project. I am especially excited to focus specifically on the effect of this intervention on teachers’ self-efficacy toward teaching literacy and passing state teacher competency exams in reading K-12.”

Crawford is an elementary education undergraduate who was recommended for this project because of her service to the College and exemplary academic achievements. Faculty have described Crawford as technically aware, self-motivated and dependable overachiever. Her overall GPA is 3.9 and she has passed all four parts of the Florida Teacher Certification General Knowledge Exam (FTCE).

Marinaccio will provide oversight of the project and be the primary mentor. She is trained and certified in the areas of reading, early childhood, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and special education. Marinaccio has served as the principal investigator on research of teacher expectations regarding literacy interventions for English Language Learners (ELL) and students with special reading needs. She has previously mentored undergraduate student researchers who successfully disseminated research findings at university and national conferences. Her research experience stems from working on large grants at the University of Miami and competitive sponsored grants at FAU.

Additionally, a SREA committee comprised of eight Teaching and Learning faculty members has been formed to create a foundation for this research. Committee members have met with school districts to determine literacy teacher needs and decide on module presenters.

“I am appreciative of the opportunity to facilitate Kayla’s research journey through mentoring, modeling, coaching, collaboration, encouragement, advice, and above all encouragement for continuing to be successful in research and higher education,” said Marinaccio, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning within the College of Education. “In addition, the College will benefit in perfecting the SREA research protocol for future university-school collaborative research efforts.”

As a community partner, the College of Education shares a vested interest in being leaders in the field, modeling, and providing quality instruction and ongoing professional development to K-12 literacy educators. A treatment will be developed by accredited and credentialed FAU literacy professors based on collaboration with local school districts and research outcomes. The SREA research study is proposed to better prepare teachers for the FTCE Reading K-12 exam, generalize this knowledge to their classrooms and disseminate their learning to peer educators.