Three esteemed faculty members from the Attallah College of Educational Studies have recently garnered recognition as principal and co-principal investigators for community-focused research projects totaling over $19,000. Funding for these projects was awarded from the second annual Attallah College Solutions Grants competition. 

In keeping with Attallah College’s five-year strategic plan, the Solutions Grants initiative encourages faculty-led, student-involved research projects that directly contribute toward addressing a need in our local community, with an eye on sustainability of the project’s efforts after the end of the grant period.

Implemented by Dean Roxanne Greitz Miller last year, the grant program not only promotes innovation but also fosters graduate and undergraduate student research, and maintains sustained collaborations with local school districts and community-focused organizations. 

“I am thrilled to offer the Solutions Grants program, which has the potential for long-term systemic impact, garnering support for the development of groundbreaking research that addresses critical issues local K-12 schools, higher education institutions, or community organizations,” says Dean Miller.

Dr. Stephany Cuevas

Dr. Stephany Cuevas, Assistant Professor, has been awarded $9,854 for her proposal, “Understanding How Educators Work with Central American Unaccompanied Youth in Orange County Public Schools: An Exploratory Investigation.”

The rising number of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving in the United States, particularly in Orange County, CA, underscores the need for an in-depth understanding of these children’s distinct academic and socioemotional requirements. Instead of being acknowledged as refugees, these children are classified as “unaccompanied minors” and join the American education system following their release from Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters.

Dr. Cuevas’s research, in cooperation with the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), will delve into educators’ perspectives on these students’ aspirations and the challenges they face. This study will explore the educators’ support networks, filling a gap in the intersecting fields of Latinx and Central American education studies and immigration policies.

Given the lack of empirical research on the topic, this study is crucial for understanding how schools and educators can support these students and their needs. The findings will help inform a professional development workshop for the OCDE, providing recommendations for future collaborations and studies.

Dr. Jennifer Kong and Dr. Trisha Sugita

Dr. Jennifer Kong, Assistant Professor of Special Education, and Dr. Trisha Sugita, Instructional Associate Professor of Special Education and Director of Teacher Education, have been awarded $10,000 for their research project titled, “Integrating Assistive Technology in Culturally Responsive Math Interventions for Emergent Bilingual Students.”

Drs. Kong and Sugita initiated a pilot study at Harbour View Elementary and Oak View Elementary in Huntington Beach, CA, in 2022. The study was designed to identify students at risk for math disabilities (MD) by utilizing a multi-tiered support system. The project sought to implement a culturally and linguistically responsive intervention to improve problem-solving accuracy in English learner students. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted an urgent need for access to culturally responsive interventions for diverse student populations.

With the support of their 2023-2024 Solutions Grants award, Drs. Kong and Sugita will expand their study and introduce a new intervention focusing specifically on technology mediums and usages in math instruction. Their study provides critical identification and early intervention for diverse children who may have experienced academic loss due to the pandemic. The data gathered from this project can have the potential to contribute significantly to the existing literature by validating an effective word problem solving intervention that utilizes technology for diverse students. 

Opportunities to participate in these projects will be made available to undergraduate and graduate students. We look forward to seeing the outcome of these research studies, which aligns with Attallah College’s five-year strategic plan.