College of Education > News and Publications > News: October - December 2013 > Nine Graduate Students Receive Dean’s Graduate Assistantships

Nine Graduate Students Receive Dean’s Graduate Assistantships

Nine students receive Dean's Graduate Assistantships.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nine graduate students in the Penn State College of Education have been named recipients of the Dean’s Graduate Assistantships for Engaged Scholarship and Research in Education. The recipients include: Joseph Levitan, Jian Liao, Yi “Astrid” Xiao, Liwei Wei, Susan Crandall, Adeline Lebeaux, Jaclyn Dudek, Lochran Fallon, and Joshua Wymore.

Dean’s Graduate Assistantships are funded jointly by the College of Education and Penn State’s Graduate School. The assistantships support some of the most promising students who are applying for admission to the College’s doctoral programs.

Students are considered for the assistantship only after a faculty member nominates them. The College’s Committee for Graduate Studies and Research Policies narrows the applicants to the final recipients. Every recipient is funded for the first two years of graduate school with a good possibility to receive any further funding necessary from research projects funded by external sources.

Below you will find brief biographies of this year’s recipients:

A headshot of Joseph Levitan.Joseph Levitan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Policy. He graduated cum laude and high honors from Brandeis University, earning a B.A. in philosophy. After college, he co-founded and served as director of education and development at the Sacred Valley Project, an international, educational non-governmental organization based in Peru and the United States. He performed needs assessments in rural villages of the Peruvian Andes, helped develop curricula and instruction and worked on institutional evaluation for Sacred Valley. Levitan also taught middle school history and English language arts in Baltimore. During that time he earned an M.A. in international education development and peace education from Columbia University. He wrote his master’s thesis on the Common Core State Standards and the role that a pedagogy-oriented philosophy can have in fulfilling guidelines. He is currently working with David Post, professor of education, on a comparative analysis of policy for indigenous language students in Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru as it relates to identity and learning.

A headshot of Jian Liao.Jian Liao is pursuing a Ph.D. in Learning, Design, and Technology. He graduated with a degree in computer science from Southwest University in China. As an intern there, he led a technological team to design and develop an online learning system for the college, which was one of the earliest virtual learning environments online in China. More than 70,000 undergrads are using it to pursue their bachelor degrees. After spending some time there as a faculty member, Liao earned his master’s degree in education technology from Beijing Normal University. While there, he conducted research in computer-supported collaborative learning. He was instrumental in the development of a virtual intelligent content analysis tool, which uses content analysis, text analysis, social network analysis and data mining methods to analyze collaborative knowledge construction in the process of collaborative learning. Liao also worked as a research assistant at the University of Hong Kong where he explored how to use ontology and knowledge visualization technologies with key performance indicators to support online workplace learning. In his graduate program, he wants to research how to design a more technology-rich online learning environment to support specific learning curriculums and learners according theoretical and pedagogical requirements. He also plans to work with Simon Hooper, professor of education, on his Avenue DHH project.

A headshot of Yi Xiao.Yi “Astrid” Xiao is pursuing her Ph.D. in Counselor Education. She completed her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling at Penn State, which was preceded by her bachelor’s degree in English from Beijing Sport University. Xiao has accumulated field experience both here at Penn State and at home in China. She volunteered at Foxdale Village, a retirement community, and interned at Strawberry Fields Inc. as a case manager. Back home she interned at the Beijing Sport University counseling center. At Penn State, she was a graduate assistant for a substance abuse treatment project in collaboration with the University of Macaw. Xiao’s research interests include substance abuse, career development of people with disabilities and existentialism. She will be working with her adviser, Deirdre O’Sullivan, assistant professor of education, on improving substance abuse treatment programs in China and SMART (self management for addiction recovery).

A headshot of Liwei Wei.Liwei Wei is pursuing her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She received both her master’s degree in applied linguistics and her bachelor’s in English language and literature from Tsinghua University in China. Wei has conducted research in early development of writing in Chinese children and early percursors of reading and writing difficulty. She will be working on her current research interests, which include classroom discussion, argumentation and reasoning, with adviser Karen Murphy, professor of education.

A headshot of Susan Crandall Hart.Susan Crandall Hart is pursuing her Ph.D. in School Psychology. She earned her master of science for teachers in childhood education from Pace University. Previously she had received a bachelor of arts in policy studies from Syracuse University. While at Syracuse, her undergraduate honors thesis involved employee turnover in youth-serving organizations, specifically The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For the past eight years, she has taught and coordinated middle school special education in Brooklyn, New York. Her research interests now include classroom management and school-based intervention for students with behavioral and emotional disabilities, equity in special education and school discipline, effective connections between school, health and family systems in low-income communities, and collaborative problem solving. Crandall Hart will be working with Teresa Clark, assistant professor of education, on looking at teacher attribution for student misbehavior and its effect on classroom interventions.

Adeline LebeauxAdeline Lebeaux is pursuing her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education. She earned DEUG and licence degrees in linguistics from Université Nancy 2, now known as Université de Lorraine. She received licence, maitrise and master degrees in English translation and French sign language interpretation from Université Toulouse Le Mirail. Lebeaux has been both an English substitute teacher and an elementary teacher for deaf children. She was also an educational interpreter for four years, working in preschool to university settings. Her current research interests include comparative international education with a focus on deaf communities, as well as inclusive schools. Lebeaux is working with her Ph.D. adviser, Joseph Valente, assistant professor of early childhood education, on video-ethnographic comparative studies of deaf and inclusive school settings at an international level.

Jaclyn Dudek is pursuing her Ph.D. in Instructional Systems She completed her master’s in classics at Wayne State University in Detroit. Previously she received a B.A. in classics from the University of Michigan. For the past five years, she has been an adjunct professor at both Wayne State University and Macomb Community College in Detroit. She served as one of the scholars in the national project, Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives. Dudek has taught and worked as an instructional technologist designing trainings and workshops for faculty and students. Her research interests include professional development and technology in higher education and digital humanities. She’s working with Ph.D. adviser Heather Zimmerman, assistant professor of education, on digital badging, augmented reality and informal learning environments.

Lochran Fallon is pursing his Ph.D. in Language, Culture, and Society. He received his M.Ed. in English education from Millersville University. He previously earned an M.A. in English from Millersville and a B.A. in English and history from Ursinus College. Fallon spent five years teaching high school English to grades 9-12 in New Jersey. His research interests include interaction in dialogic classrooms, theory and writing. Fallon will be working with his Ph.D adviser, Anne Whitney, on writing groups, dialogic classrooms and instructional coaching.

A headshot of Josh Wymore.Joshua Wymore is pursuing his Ph.D. in Higher Education. He earned an M.A. in higher education and student development from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. Previously he received a B.A. in mathematics from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. After he finished his masters, he worked in student affairs at Gordon College in the greater Boston area. Wymore’s current research interests include producing research to help small liberal arts colleges innovate to lower costs and reduce student debt. He’s working with his adviser, John Cheslock, associate professor of higher education and senior research associate, analyzing Penn State’s operations to try to maximize the university’s productivity and efficiency.

-- by Andy Elder (December 2013)