College of Education Assistant Professor Recognized for Research Skills

MillerDr. Rachelle Miller, assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, was recently awarded an $80,000 grant from the Windgate Foundation to complete program evaluation for the next three years for Arkansas A+ Schools.  Arkansas A+ Schools combines arts integration and multiple learning pathways to nurture creativity and critical thinking skills in all students.  She will be completing this evaluation with College of Education Associate Dean Dr. Donna Wake, and Dr. Jeff Whittingham, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning.

In addition to program evaluation, Dr. Miller will be working with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to write items for the Gifted Education Praxis Exam.  She was recently certified as an Item Writer for ETS and looks forward to contributing to this assessment. Dr. Miller currently teaches courses for the Department of Teaching and Learning and for the Leadership PhD program.

COE Tea-time Talks

This year, representatives from the departments of Early Childhood, Leadership Studies, and Teaching and Learning are pleased to host a series of afternoon talks. Faculty and students will lead discussions of their recent scholarly activities. Presentations will be made by faculty and students throughout the college and will allow time for discussion. Of course, tea and crumpets (well, Coke and cookies) will be served. All are welcome.

Fall 2014

Thursday,September 25th                     Donna Wake and Michael Mills
Mashburn 103, 

Donna Wake will discuss the Web 2.0 tools she uses in her online course to increase candidate engagement and collaboration. Tools she will showcase include google documents, Voicethread, microsoft Photostory 3, Aurasma, Voki, Toon Doo, Storybird, Zooburst, Reale Writer, Story, Wordle, Educreations, Smore, Haikudeck, Powtoon, Blendspace, Today’s Meet, and Poll Everywhere.

Michael Mills will discuss the advantages and challenges of authoring and disseminating digital course resources, with a particular focus on practical implementation strategies.

Thursday, October 23rd                         Rene Crow & Mary Pearson
Mashburn 103, 

Rene’ Crow will discuss the social and emotional learning curriculum currently being co-written with Dr. Mark Cooper and the evidence throughout the literature highlighting the strong correlates of academic success and social and emotional learning. The curriculum serves as a strong evidence-based resource for teacher candidates, elementary school teachers, and school counselors who need a dependable, practical, and developmental guide as they plan and implement curricula in this area.

Mary Pearson will discuss her mixed method study looking at Customized Employment Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities in Arkansas, including her findings the study, findings thus far, and opportunities that have occurred for those involved with this study, as well as future directions.

Thursday, November 20th               Candice Barnes, Mark Cooper, & Patty Kohler
Mashburn 103, 1:40-2:40                  with Elizabeth Hudspeth & Lindsay Bean

Candice Barnes, Mark Cooper, Patty Kohler, along with Elizabeth Hudspeth and Lindsey Bean, seniors, will share their work with teachers and students in Kitale, Kenya in May, 2014. Working side by side, UCA instructors, teacher candidates, recent graduates of UCA, and teachers from the Seeds Academy in Kitale developed and implemented social emotional focused lessons with the theme, “Making Minutes Matter.”

Spring 2014

If you have a recommendation or want to volunteer for the spring 2014 lineup, please contact Patty Kohler-Evans, Alicia Cotabish, or Rhonda McClellan.

Make A Difference Day

mdday_logoOn October 25, 2014, from 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM, UCA will host the first annual Kids Helping Kids Make a Difference Day at the UCA Soccer Field. This event will provide a unique opportunity to increase awareness and understanding among children in our community about the needs of others and how they can help. The event will include both fun activities and tangible opportunities for children to make a difference in the lives of others.

Craig O’Neill of “Today’s THV” will emcee the event. The Make a Difference Day event will be followed by the UCA Homecoming Parade at 12:00 PM and the UCA Pre-game Homecoming Ceremony, beginning at 5:30 PM. There will be a Make a Difference float in the parade and a pre-game public recognition honoring Conway students who have contributed to Making a Difference in the lives of children locally and globally.

For more information about Make a Difference Day, please visit

Edcamp Arkansas, Second Annual Event

edcampArkansas Logo (Official)The second annual Edcamp Arkansas is scheduled to be held on Saturday, September 27, 2014 on the University of Central Arkansas campus. Last year, over sixty participants attended the all day event and included teachers and administrators from across the state as well as college and university personnel and pre-service and in-service teachers. The event will begin at 8:30am with registration and session creation.

The Edcamp model provides one recent and increasingly popular approach to providing relevant and responsive professional development. An Edcamp is often referred to as an “unconference” in that no pre-set agenda exists. Instead the content and sessions of the Edcamp day relies solely on the participants with common foci being technology, pedagogy, and current issues and trends.

Participants of an Edcamp engage in an ad-hoc community structure as they are called upon to lead or take part in conversations they define. If a participant feels their needs are not being met, they are welcome to join another session on their own initiative. The underpinning philosophy of Edcamp is that the agenda that emerges the day of the camp is the only agenda that could have happened and is therefore the right agenda for those who attended (Boule, 2011).

The first Edcamp was held in May 2010 in Philadelphia, and over 200 Edcamps have been held since that inception. The vision of the Edcamp Foundation is to “promote organic, participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators worldwide” (Edcamp Foundation, 2012).

Edcamps possess certain shared attributes. They are free to all participants. There is no vendor or commercial presence, although Edcamps can seek sponsorship. Edcamps can be hosted by anyone interested in the Edcamp vision and mission. The sessions are determined the day of the event and do not have to take the form of formal presentations. Edcamps are reliant on the “law of two feet” where participants are able to change sessions as they wish. Social media (i.e., blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook) can be used to continue the work started the day of the camp (Edcamp Foundation, 2012). Additionally, technology is a presence at the camp in the form of interactive connectivity and presentations (i.e., backchannels, twitter, polling sites, video rooms).

For more information, please visit

First Annual Edcamp Arkansas - October 2013

First Annual Edcamp Arkansas – October 2013

College of Education Faculty Named to National Leadership Positions

aliciacotabishDr. Alicia Cotabish, assistant professor of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, has been appointed to a 3-year term on the highly selective Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Standards Committee.  The Nominating Committee reviewed over 300 applications, granting only 25 applicants this unprecedented opportunity to truly shape CAEP as the new accrediting body for education preparation.

CAEP’s mission is to advance excellence in educator preparation through evidence-based accreditation that assures quality and supports continuous improvement to strengthen P-12 student learning.  More than 900 educator preparation providers participate in the CAEP accreditation system.  Educator preparation providers include traditional institutions of higher education, as well as alternative pathways such as residency programs.

Dr. Cotabish also serves as 2013-2015 President of the Arkansas Association of Gifted Education Administrators (AAGEA) and as the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Specialized Professional Association (SPA) representative for CAEP.  Beginning in the fall of 2015, CAEP will have a new process in place along with revised national standards for the elementary level. Dr. Cotabish along with Susan Johnsen (Baylor University), Jennifer Jolly (Louisiana State University), and Ann Robinson (University of Arkansas at Little Rock) will be authoring a companion NAGC CAEP SPA book to guide universities through NAGC/CEC SPA accreditation. Sample assessments, accreditation criteria, and best practices will be included.  The College of Education is honored to have our distinguished faculty shape the national landscape in CAEP Spa Accreditation and in the field of gifted education.


College of Education Hosts ‘Book Hack’ Workshop

IMG_4496The Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Arkansas, along with the Arkansas iTunes U initiative, hosted a three-day training in multi-touch digital textbook authorship on July 7-9.  Described as a “book hacking” opportunity, this training gave participants an opportunity to create dynamic, engaging multi-touch digital books that incorporate a variety of rich, interactive resources using the free iBooks Author software available on Mac computers.

Book Hack participants learned how to cultivate open educational resources and were trained in proper applications of the TEACH Act, Fair Use, and Creative Commons licensing. Attendees also learned how to apply digital book layout principles and, through on-site instruction as well as video conferencing with two developers, one in Wales, England, and the other in Brussels, Belgium, design interactive widgets to facilitate a multimodal book reading experience.

IMG_4511At the culmination of the training, participants shared their interactive multi-touch books with others and were invited to join a worldwide community of multi-touch book authors in the iBA Collaborative Google+ community forum.  Participants commented that Dr. Michael Mills and other UCA teacher education faculty are clearly leaders in effectively promoting and utilizing technology to enhance teaching and learning.

Featured trainers included Dr. Michael S. Mills, assistant professor, University of Central Arkansas; Anthony DiLaura, math teacher, Zeeland Public Schools in Zeeland, Michigan; and Shelley Dirst, Director of the Arkansas iTunes U initiative. The training also was facilitated by Jennifer Kimbrell, educational consultant; and David Nance, Spanish instructor at Virtual Arkansas.


Leadership Studies Holds Orientation for New Students

LS Orientation

Dr. Terry James, Professor and Chair of Leadership Studies, speaks to new students during orientation held on May 31, 2014.

Over 50 students attended the Department of Leadership Studies Orientation for New Students held Saturday, May 31, 2014.  These students are pursuing degrees in one of the following areas: Instructional Technology, Library Media and Information Technology, School Counseling, School Leadership, Management, and Administration, or the Educational Specialist Program in Leadership.

Instructional Technology (ITEC) is a degree program designed for individuals who desire a technology leadership position within their professional arenas (e.g., education, business, nonprofit organizations).

Library Media and Information Technology (LIBM) is a degree and licensure program designed for individuals who desire a school library media position in P-12 schools.  Candidates are required to hold a valid teaching license.  LIBM licensure is contingent upon successful completion of the program and meeting the minimum score on the state mandated examination (PRAXIS II).  The LIBM program is nationally accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

School Counseling, School Leadership, Management and Administration (SLMA), and Education Specialist in Leadership (EDLP) are degree and licensure programs designed for individuals who desire leadership positions in P-12 schools.  Candidates are required to hold a valid teacher’s license.  Licensure is contingent upon successful completion of the program and meeting the minimum scores on state mandated examinations.  The school counseling program is a P-12 licensure program.  The SLMA and EDLP programs are nationally accredited by the Educational Leadership Constituent Council.  In addition to the MS degree for the SLMA program, individuals with an appropriate master’s degree may pursue Arkansas licensure for building administrator, curriculum administrator, and program administrator through a program of study.

Please contact the Leadership Studies department (501-450-3282) for details on these programs.

College Student Personnel Administration Students Visit China

Sixteen UCA College Student Personnel Services and Administration (CSPA) graduate students and their faculty leaders, Assistant Professor Dr. Lawrence Mrozek and Associate Professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan of the College of Education Leadership Studies department, took a 15-day study tour to China, May 12–27, 2014, to focus on gaining an understanding of higher education and student affairs in China.


CSPA Students and Mentor Faculty Ready for Flight to China

The graduate students spent eight days at Qingdao University, in the city of Qingdao, on the coast of China, immersed in a class that addresses literature and issues on multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice in higher education settings in the U.S. and other countries.  The mornings involved lectures, tours and discussions about student affairs services and higher education in China, focusing on topics such as Higher Education in China, Student Affairs Services at QU, Residence Life, Freshman Services, Psychological Services, etc.  On the last day, students from the UCA CSPA program gave presentations about student services at UCA, with a focus on Residential Colleges, Student Conduct, Student Life, and Greek Life.  After the Q&A, there were focus group discussions with QU administrators and students and UCA students.


Q&A with QU Dean of College of Education

Afternoons included visits to Qingdao landmarks, a primary school (Qingdao Yan Er Dao Rd Primary School), and an all-day climb of Mt. Laoshan, which is the tallest mountain on the coast of China at 1,132 meters.  Mt. Laoshan is also considered one of the birthplaces of Taoism; many of the students also visited the Temple of Great Purity on the mountain.


Visiting with Qingdao Yan Er Dao Rd Primary Students During Recess

After the visit to Qingdao University, the students spent four days in Beijing to see many of the cultural and historical landmarks of Beijing, including the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and the Beijing Panda Zoo.


CSPA Graduate Students at the Great Wall

Visit our Facebook page to view more photos from the trip!

PhD in Leadership Studies program boasts three UCA Service-Learning Award winners

At UCA’s inaugural service-learning awards ceremony in April, three of six awards were given to students in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program in the College of Education to recognize their exemplary commitment to and excellence in service-learning and civic engagement. The “Service-Learning Champion” award was given for development of the program.

BallaMariama Laouali Balla, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program, was awarded the “Spirit of Humanity” award for her work with the field-based service-learning Women’s Foundation of Arkansas project, her work in cultural diversity on college and elementary school levels, and the research report of the economics of educating Arkansas women. The project is investigating the benefits of an education and how educational attainment can positively influence the economic landscape of Arkansas. Mariama’s long-term goal is to help address existing and emerging inequalities and concerns among family and community around the world through research and scholarship. Leadership associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan said of Balla, “Mariama epitomizes the spirit of humanity.”

BullingtonTimothy Bullington, a second-year student in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program, received the    “Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning” award for his work with the with the Stuttgart and Conway Chambers of Commerce on projects to address quality of life and leadership issues in communities. He helped produce Conway’s new master plan and assisted with an investigation of how community development decisions affect the draw and retention of college graduates by providing community leaders a social network analysis – a statistical mapping of how people interact and how these interactions relate to the strength of democratic participation. Tim along with faculty and students presented this study at the International Leadership Association research conference in Montreal, Canada, where it received praise from international scholars. Associate Professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan states, “Tim is a public servant.  His scholarly passions and skills serve the common good and are dedicated to making Arkansas a better place for all Arkansans.”

GoodmanDr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, first graduate of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Leadership Studies program at UCA, received the “Champion of Service-Learning” award for her work with faculty, staff, and administration to build the comprehensive service-learning program and faculty fellows’ development model. Through her doctoral research Hunter explores the role of university leadership in civic engagement within private liberal arts institutions. Nationally, she serves as chairperson of the IMPACT National Student Conference on Service, Action, and Advocacy board of directors.  “The PhD Leadership program at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) has helped me explore and connect my practical experience as a leader in the nonprofit and higher education arenas with theory and research,” said Goodman.  “It has deepened my theoretical understanding and in turn practical application of leadership.


“I am proud of the service work that these PhD students have done under the leadership of Dr. Rhonda McClellan, PhD Leadership Program Director.  Given the mission of the program, these awards verify that the PhD program is effective in attracting and developing ‘servant-leaders’ for public sector and not-for-profit organizations.”  Dean Pounder

Award winners pose with their professor. (L-R) Dr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, Timothy Bullington, associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan, and Mariama Laouali Balla.

Award winners pose with their professor. (L-R) Dr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, Timothy Bullington, associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan, and Mariama Laouali Balla.


Education Professors Awarded ADHE Grant for STEM Professional Development


Dr. Umadevi Garimella

Dr. Umadevi Garimella, director of the UCA STEM Institute, and Dr. Haihong (Helen) Hu, assistant professor of instructional technology in the College of Education Department of Leadership Studies, co-authored a $68,772 grant awarded to the UCA STEM Institute by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE).  The grant entitled “Beginner Robotics for STEM teaching: Grades 6-8” will support professional development training in basic robotic engineering for grade 6-8 STEM teachers.


Dr. Haihong (Helen) Hu

UCA STEM Institute is collaborating with University of Pine Bluff STEM Center to offer training to grades 6-8 STEM teachers in North Little Rock and Conway School Districts. The goals of the professional development program is to use basic robotics to strengthen teachers’ content knowledge in STEM areas, improve teachers’ ability to develop and implement STEM integrated 5E lessons with robotic engineering activities, model “best practices” pedagogy, and provide participants with classroom materials and training for hands-on math/science/engineering activities. Each teacher participating will receive more than 60 hours of training, a maximum stipend of $1,500, $200 worth of teaching materials and long term support from UCA faculty.  The project will begin this summer.