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Holmes Scholars present research at annual AACTE conference

  • Holmes Scholars
    Holmes Scholars  From left, Ramya Avadhanam, Elizabeth Auguste, Laura Pignato and Edith Gonzalez presented their research at the annual AACTE conference  
  • Holmes Scholars
    Holmes Scholars  Elizabeth Auguste, a doctoral student in K-12 administration, presents "Writing Self-Perception in Kindergarten."  
  • Holmes Scholars
    Holmes Scholars  70 Holmes Scholars from more than a dozen institutions attended the conference.  
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Four current Holmes Scholars traveled to Tampa, Florida in early March to present their research projects during a poster session at the annual conference of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

The AACTE Holmes Scholars Program was established to support, through mentorship, individuals from traditionally under-represented groups as they pursue graduate degrees in education. Every year, students receive financial support to attend the AACTE conference in order to present their work and network with other scholars. This year, 70 students from more than a dozen institutions participated.

Doctoral students Ramya Avadhanam, Elizabeth Auguste, Edith Gonzalez, and Laura Pignato presented their research projects under the guidance of Jackie Rodriguez, assistant professor of special education and co-director of the W&M Holmes Scholars program.

“Presenting at AACTE allowed me to receive validation of my work, expert feedback from professionals in the field, and an understanding of what other scholars around the country are working on,” said Auguste.

Deans and other senior faculty from across the country attended the poster session and provided feedback to the presenters. “Dr. Rodriguez briefed us before the presentation, which helped us consider what questions we would be asked and how to clearly articulate our responses,” said Pignato. “Dean Niles also gave wonderful feedback. Their support and encouragement affirmed the research topic and the hard work put into it thus far.”

Research projects from every area of education were presented, and many had a special focus on topics of social justice. “Because the conference represented a diversity of programs, I was able to learn more about higher education and general K-12 education issues that are important to be aware of as I provide services to families,” said Gonzalez, a counseling student. “I felt really empowered as a minority doctoral student.”

In addition to the opportunity to present research at the AACTE conference, Holmes Scholars also benefit from membership in a national network of peers, mentoring programs, career networking, and leadership and professional development opportunities.

“Our Scholars are exceptional students in their respective fields,” said Rodriguez. “They are collaborative, supporting each other during projects, comprehensive exams, the dissertation process, and on a daily basis as friends. They’re well respected for their discipline, work ethic, and responsibility to the profession of education.”

Research Projects presented:

Community Collaboration and Counselor Education: Impact of Natural Disasters on Young Single Mothers
Laura Pignato and Edith Gonzalez
The effects of natural disasters disrupt communities and can impact survivors’ mental health. Specifically, young single mothers that may have lower disaster event resiliency due to external factors inhibiting engagement in community support. Implications for family counseling practice and related counseling pedagogy include adequate trauma and natural disaster education in marriage and family counseling coursework, a family therapists’ need to work from a systemic and collaborative framework when working with single mother families, assessment of family resiliency, and interventions fostering community engagement. 

Writing Self-Perception in Kindergarten 
Elizabeth Auguste
Thirty-nine kindergartners explained the process by which they came to see themselves as writers, uncovering an imbalanced focus on the mechanics of writing (spelling, punctuation, neatness) over writing composition (the story). Discussing the results of this inquiry with their teachers allowed teachers to formulate a plan for re-structuring writing instruction in their classrooms, with greater attention to idea development and holistic writing feedback during conferencing.

Measuring Grief Competency Levels in Counselor Education Master’s Programs
Ramya Avadhanam
Though research highlights distinct challenges for beginning master-level students (Kirchberg, 1998), death related training is not generally included in graduate counseling programs (Duggan, 2000; Hunt & Rosenthal, 1997).  The proposed quantitative study will utilize the Grief Counseling Experience and Training Survey (GCETS) to assess grief counseling competencies in a control and treatment group to determine whether additional training in grief and loss for the treatment group may lend to increased counselor competency regarding this subject.