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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2011 > More than a Hundred to Represent Penn State at AERA Annual Meeting

More than a Hundred to Represent Penn State at AERA Annual Meeting

Penn State will be well-represented by over 100 graduate students and faculty members attending this year's American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting

by Nancy Stiger (March 2011)

Penn State will be well represented by over one hundred graduate students and faculty members at this year’s American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting.

AERA, founded in 1916, is concerned with improving the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results.

The 2011 AERA Annual Meeting runs from Friday, April 8, through Tuesday, April 12, in New Orleans. The meeting’s theme is, “Inciting the Social Imagination: Education Research for the Public Good.”

Dan Merson, a doctoral student in Penn State’s Center for the Study of Higher Education, will be presenting a paper that he began at the Association for Institutional Research’s 2010 National Summer Data Policy Institute with co-authors Lisa Weltzer of Walden University; Gina Garcia of the University of California in Los Angeles; Joanna Musial of the University at Albany, State University of New York; Christina Turner of Spokane Falls Community College; and Hui-Jeong Woo of Loyola Marymount University.

The paper, titled "Failure to Persist at Career Entry: Leak at the End of the STEM Educational Pipeline," examines individuals trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who enter the workforce, but fail to persist in STEM careers immediately following undergraduate degree completion. The paper investigates not only educational characteristics (e.g., GPA), but also the stated reasons why they choose to not pursue a STEM occupation (such as family related, working conditions, and job availability).

Merson plans to graduate this summer and says he will be using AERA to do some job-related networking. He would like to become a faculty member in a higher education graduate program.

Rebecca BurnsAnother doctoral student presenting at the conference is Rebecca Burns. This is Burns’ third year attending AERA, her second year presenting, and her first time presenting a paper. Last year Burns participated in a round table presentation and was honored with being named the 2010 AERA Professional Development School Special Interest Group Scholar.

“One of the most valuable experiences was being able to spend several hours conversing with leading scholars in my research area of professional development schools about my potential dissertation and future research,” Burns said. “The dialogue was truly invaluable, and I am looking forward and hoping to have many fruitful conversations again this year as well.”

Collins_KathleenAlso presenting for Penn State at AERA is Kathleen Collins, assistant professor of language, culture, and society (LCS). Collins will be presenting three papers, all with Penn State colleagues as co-authors. Collins, noting the strong attendance that Penn State will have at this year’s annual meeting, said, “I'm grateful to be a part of a community of scholars who are active in national research organizations such as AERA.”

Collins’ papers include two co-authored with LCS colleagues Pat Shannon and Kathleen Shannon. The first, titled “Out of My Head: Teachers’ Reflections on Making Sense of Reading Camp,” examines reading specialist certification candidates’ efforts to understand their work in the College of Education's annual Summer Reading Camp for elementary school children who are described as struggling to learn to read and write at school.

David GamsonThe second, “I’m smarter here!” looks at the use of multimodal literacies at a reading camp for “struggling students” and explores how arts-based, or “multimodal,” instruction may provide children who have struggled with reading and writing in traditional school settings with opportunities to be seen as successful.

Robert StevensCollins’ third paper, written with Assistant Professor Joe Valente (Early Childhood) is titled “[Dis]Ableing Education.” In it, Collins and Valente introduce and describe "[dis]ableing" as an analytical tool for examining how ability is defined and constructed, and for making visible the consequences those definitions have for students with and without perceived differences.

Another presenting faculty member is David Gamson, associate professor of education. He will be presenting as a part of a symposium organized with Robert Stevens, professor of education, and David Baker, professor of education and sociology.

David BakerThe symposium will detail a history of research and observations on the effects of the genre of texts introduced in early childhood education on the ability to comprehend informational texts in older students.

For more information on the AERA and its annual meeting, visit