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Webber and Stich

NSF Sponsors Study of Experiential Learning Opportunities in STEM

Karen Webber (Pi) and Amy Stich (co-PI) were awarded $690,027 by the National Science Foundation to study how students’ access to experiential learning opportunities is affected by their proximity to areas with major economic and workforce activity.

The research aims to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the issue by getting the perspectives from college students, career officials, employers, and recently-hired alumni affiliated with five diverse universities across urban, rural, and suburban contexts in Georgia.

“Ensuring a strong pipeline between completion of college and entry into the STEM workforce is important for today’s students, higher education officials, and industry leaders,” said Webber. 

The team will explore ways in which geographic locations in Georgia may contribute to inequality of opportunity, a delay in students’ time between degree and employment, narrower networks with and connections to potential employers, fewer employment choices, and possibly lower wages. 

“We hope our final report will provide recommendations to increase valuable opportunities for all students, guidance on locating and retaining qualified employees, and ultimately contribute to diversifying STEM fields,” Stich said.

Others on the grant team are: David Tanner, PhD students and an associate director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Jerry Shannon, an associate professor in the UGA Center for Geospatial Research; and Marguerite Madden, director of and professor in the Center for Geospatial Research. Tanner’s work focuses on demographic and economic analysis and workforce development assistance in Georgia.


Ness Wins Grant to Study State Authorization

Erik Ness won a grant from Arnold Ventures and SHEEO to investigate authorization processes of higher education institutions across the 50 states. The research project will expand on a SHEEO white paper (July 2019) exploring state practices. The grant team, which includes PhD candidate Sean Baser, will evaluate the licensing and certification landscape across the nation and then examine several distinct state models in greater detail.


Wolniak Awarded Grant to Study Student Outcomes 

Greg Wolniak received a research grant from the Horatio Alger Association to track career and educational outcomes among members of its College Scholarship Program. The project builds on Wolniak’s prior collaboration with the Association by collecting longitudinal data on Scholars' experiences, educational outcomes, attitudes, and career orientations at the end of the third year of college. The results will identify factors that aid student development and persistence in education, and will assist the Association to continue its multifaceted support of Scholars.


The Horatio Alger Association, a national nonprofit educational organization, has awarded more than $21 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada since 1984. The Association also supports and mentoring services to its Scholars who hail from severely adverse backgrounds.


Hee Jung Gong Awarded AERA Dissertation Grant 

IHE doctoral candidate Hee Jung Gong received a dissertation grant from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Grants Program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The AERA fellowship supports highly competitive dissertation research of education policy and practice using rigorous quantitative methods and large-scale data. 

With this grant, she is now able to access a large-data set from the NCES and the College Board for her dissertation titled, The Iron Triangle of College Admission: The Impact of Early Admission Policies on Organizational Outcomes at Four-year Colleges and Universities in the U.S. 

“I am so honored to have this opportunity, and I sincerely appreciate the support from my dissertation committee, especially my advisor Dr. Toutkoushian, and the AERA Grants Program Governing Board,” Gong said. “I hope my dissertation contributes to policy implementation and illuminates college access, choice, and success with a new perspective on college admission in higher education.”


Local Grants Awarded to Explore Immigrant Experiences and Financial Planning 

Two research teams with IHE ties received seed grants from the University of Georgia Division of Student Affairs, Department of Academic Partnerships and Initiatives.

Justin Jeffery (PhD student and director of International Student Life), Dominique Quarles (PhD 2019 and director of diversity and inclusion in the UGA Office of Institutional Diversity), and Sayamon Singto (Division of Academic Enhancement) are investigating the connection between acculturation and educational attainment in first and second generation immigrant students at UGA. According to Jeffery, “Preliminary findings point to clear ways UGA can enhance campus strategies and programs to promote academic success and support these students as they explore their cultural identities.”

Greg Wolniak, Grace Ahn (Department of Advertising and Public Relations), Stan Jackson (PhD student and assistant to the vice president for student affairs for communications and digital engagement), and Anthony Jones (PhD 2019 and director of the UGA Office of Student Financial Aid) are creating an interactive, immersive virtual environment prototype through which students can explore the long-term financial implications of their educational decisions, particularly those related to education loans. 


Marion Fedrick Delivers Address

Marion Fedrick
Marion Ross Fedrick

Marion Ross Fedrick presented the 20th Annual Mary Frances Early Lecture on February 25 in the Hodgson Concert Hall. Fedrick is the 10th president of Albany State University and a student in IHE’s executive Ed.D. program in higher education management. 

The lecture honors Mary Frances Early, who became the first African American to graduate from the University of Georgia in 1962. This year’s event included a ceremony officially naming the Mary Frances Early College of Education, which was approved by the Board of Regents in October. In addition to Fedrick’s keynote, other speakers celebrating the occasion were USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley, UGA President Jere Morehead, Mary Frances Early College of Education Dean Denise Spangler, and Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Michelle Cook. 

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