Educational Psychology news roundup -- Spring 2016

EPSY students place in national research competition

Three students won awards in this year's National Association of Gifted Children Conference Research Competition, the biggest research competition in gifted education for graduate students in the United States. READ MORE

COE departments welcome potential graduate students

See photos from the Spring 2016 UNT College of Education doctoral preview weekend, held Feb. 26 in Denton. CLICK HERE

Graduate student earns Pathways to Excellence Award

Rheena Bhargava, a graduate student in Educational Psychology who is pursuing a master's degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Intervention, earned the department's Pathways to Excellence Award. Bhargava, a practicing pediatrician in her native India and the parents of a young child with autism, plans to focus on effective intervention strategies with parents. READ MORE


Counseling and Higher Education news roundup - Spring 2016


Counseling students, faculty receive national awards

The American Counseling Association recently announced its recipients for the annual ACA National Awards. This year, six out of 35 awards were presented to University of North Texas students and professors for their distinguished achievementsREAD MORE


Alumnus named superintendent of Sherman ISD

David Hicks, a former area superintendent for Denton ISD, was named the lone finalist for superintendent of the Sherman Independent School District in November. Hicks earned a master's degree in Educational Administration and a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UNT. READ MORE

Higher Education alumna named Kilgore College's first female president

Brenda Kays, who earned a doctorate in higher education at UNT in 2001, was unanimously selected the ninth president and first female president of Kilgore College, a two-year comprehensive community college about 25 miles east of Tyler. READ MORE

NASPA conference

CHE students, faculty, alumni present at national conference

NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), the major national association for student affairs professionals in higher education, held its annual conference in New Orleans in March. The organization's mission is to promote the advancement and sustainability of student affairs professions. READ MORE

Message from the dean and college news roundup - Spring 2016

Spring is a time for new beginnings, and that is certainly the case this spring semester at the UNT College of Education. We have a brand-new degree program and will soon welcome an internationally renowned scholar as chair of our Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation.

Our faculty continue to impress with their exciting research, honors and accomplishments. For example, Dr. Jane Huffman and Dr. Miriam Ezzani of our Department of Teacher Education and Administration recently secured the college’s full membership in the University Council for Educational Administration, making us one of only 101 full members in the country. Click here to read more.

Our external grant funding has grown since 2013, last year topping more than $7.5 million, and our college is home to two of UNT's largest majors, kinesiology and teacher education, each with more than 1,500 students.

Most importantly, our students continue to flourish in their academic pursuits thanks in large part to support from alumni and friends like you. In fact, more than 175 student started the spring semester with a scholarship awarded by the college!

All of this speaks to the College of Education’s strength and dedication to learning.

Finally, on a personal note, I must announce a new beginning that is bittersweet — this is my last message as dean before I retire this summer. I’ve been with UNT for more than eight years, and what a wonderful experience it has been. I could not be prouder of all that our alumni, faculty and students have accomplished during that time, and I look forward to receiving future newsletters so I can read with pride about all that is yet to come.

I want to thank all of you for your friendship and support over the years. And as always, we appreciate your support of the college. To make a gift, visit or contact Keturi Beatty at or 940-891-6860.

Jerry R. Thomas, Ed.D.

Dean and Professor

Honoring UNT College of Education Dean Jerry R. Thomas on his retirement

Dean Thomas


Please fill out the form below to send a congratulatory message to be included in a memory book for Dean Thomas. Only starred fields are required, you may include any other information or a photo if you wish!

COE faculty partner with U.S., Thai universities to assess math teaching methods

By Mary Murphy

The University of North Texas has partnered with several universities across the U.S. and in Thailand to conduct a long-term collaborative research project about the effectiveness of teaching mathematics in middle grades.

The research team plans to determine the effectiveness of teaching mathematics using three methods: Lesson Study with Open Approach, short-cycle formative assessment, and mathematical knowledge for teaching. Faculty members from UNT, Baylor, Bowling Green State University, Khon Kaen University (Thailand), Chiang Mai University (Thailand), Suratthani Rjabhat University (Thailand), Thaskin University (Thailand) and Srinakharin-wirot University (Thailand) are trying to determine if teacher and student understanding of algebraic reasoning grows when concepts are taught through professional development involving Lesson Study with Open Approach. UNT will act as the home-site of the U.S.-conducted research, and Khon Kaen will be the home-site of Thailand-conducted research.

Jim Laney, chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, and Colleen Eddy, associate professor, stand with COE Dean Jerry Thomas as he signs the official documentation for the UNT-Thai partnerships.

The idea for this collaboration began in 2012 at the U.S.-Thailand Roundtable on Science Education in mathematics education, where members of the Thailand Research Fund revealed that they wanted to be involved in more international research. Shortly thereafter, the director of the Institute for Promotion of Science and Mathematics Teaching (IPST), UNT alumna Pornphan Waitayankoon, initiated a research project with the Thailand Research Fund.

Waitayankoon received her PhD from UNT, and she reached out to the university's vice provost of International Affairs, Richard Nader, to see if the university was interested in this collaborative research opportunity. Nader spoke with Colleen Eddy, an associate professor in the UNT College of Education's Department of Teacher Education and Administration who focuses on teacher preparation and teacher quality in mathematics education, and Eddy gathered a group of math educators (including herself) who were interested in working on the project.

Although Khon Kaen University has previously worked on research projects with IPST, it was Eddy's colleague Tom Corcoran, co-director of the Teacher's College at Columbia University,whointroduced her to Maitree Inprasitha, the dean of the College of Education at Khon Kaen. According to Eddy, Cocoran was a great support in establishing and providing credibility to the partnership between UNT and Khon Kaen University.

Eddy and Sara Pratt, UNT assistant professor in Teacher Education and Administration, visited KKU later in the year to learn how the Lesson Study with Open Approach method was conducted, and in 2013 KKU hosted a workshop for research project team members from KKU, Chiang Mai University, Suratthani Rajabhat University, UNT, IPST, Baylor and BGSU. In the spring of 2014, UNT hosted the research team to continue refining the project.

"During the 2013 KKU visit, everyone gave a short synopsis of the research that they were currently working on, and we determined the overlapping research that would contribute to not just our own national communities but the international community," Eddy said. "We decided to focus on middle-grades mathematics, specifically the teaching of algebraic reasoning, and use the [Lesson Study with Open Approach] method that Thailand has been using as part of the vehicle by which we help teachers develop their teaching of algebraic reasoning in the middle grades."

At KKU, Dean Inprasitha uses a combination of Lesson Study and Open Approach. Lesson Study, developed in Japan, includes a collaboration of teachers determining how to best teach content to students; teachers, faculty and curriculum coordinators listening to the children's responses to a lesson; and a debriefing of the lesson plan that may include tweaks and changes. The addition of the Open Approach focuses the lesson even more on students' ways of thinking.  The Open Approach calls for teachers to anticipate possible student responses, and then to sequence the students' actual responses in a way that exemplifies the progression of understanding in the classroom.

"We conjecture that by having teachers be involved like this, it will help learning be inclusive of all students in the classroom rather than the students who seem to grasp information quickly or speak up in class," Eddy said.

According to Eddy, researchers also speculate that use of the Lesson Study with Open Approach method increases a teacher's ability to incorporate the short-cycle formative assessment. This allows teachers to gauge students' learning and understanding as it happens instead of after a test or national exam.

The short-cycle formative assessment, paired with Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, is how the collaborative research team will determine the effectiveness of Lesson Study with Open Approach.

Each faculty member from the different colleges plans to bring his or her own expertise into the project. Pratt and Bowling Green State Associate Professor Gabriel Matney bring their talent in Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching to the project; Trena Wilkerson, associate professor at Baylor and Eddy's mentor, is focusing on Lesson Study; and Eddy is concentrating on the short-cycle formative assessment portion of the project.

Although they are based around different expertise, all of the projects will be executed in a similar way. For instance, this summer, Eddy will conduct a two-week course in professional development for teaching algebraic reasoning. Then, during the academic year, teachers who studied with Eddy over the summer will use the Lesson Study component to teach algebraic reasoning in the classroom. Research partners will work with different school districts in their communities, but the general execution of the projects will be the same.

"While we can write up our results individually, we'll be able to combine our results as well, both looking at it from a U.S. lens as well as a Thailand lens, and then combining those," Eddy said. "There are a lot of ways that we will be able to collaborate with a lot of research for a long time. It's very exciting; we could definitely see 10 years down the road, at least."

There's also a potential opportunity for graduate students to be involved with this research project, and even the possibility of a master's and doctoral exchange program between Khon Kaen University and UNT graduate students – their students coming to study at UNT, and UNT students going to study abroad in Thailand.

"I don't know that [the students] would be completing a program, but at least maybe doing coursework there toward their degree programs," Eddy said. "Especially those who are really interested in how mathematics is taught in other countries, learning what we do and don't have in common."

In addition to potentially creating a study abroad experience for graduate students, the research project will most likely also increase UNT's notoriety, Eddy said.

"Some of the benefits of this partnership have really extended beyond just UNT and Khon Kaen University," Eddy said. "KKU's graduate students aren't just from Thailand. They're from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, other East Asian countries, and as they go to their universities they want to partner with us as well. I think [this partnership] really extends UNT's visibility, its appeal, and its reputation as well."

DFST Practicum Career Fair

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 11:00pm to Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 1:00am

Willis Library Forum

flyerCome join us to learn more about internships and working with community and social service organizations focused on bettering the lives of children and families. For more information, please contact Dr. Rania Salman at

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Graduate student earns Pathways to Excellence Award

By Mary Murphy

Rheena Bhargava, a graduate student in the UNT College of Education, recently earned the Pathways to Excellence Award from the college's Department of Educational Psychology in recognition of her exceptional academic performance.

Bhargava is pursuing a master's degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Intervention.

Before she moved to North Texas, Bhargava was a practicing pediatrician in India. She moved here with her family when her husband received a work assignment in Richardson. Bhargava said she chose to come to the University of North Texas because it is "one of the most highly reputed universities in the United States."

Bhargava said her best learning experiences at UNT have come from discussions with her colleagues and instructors who have experience working with autistic children in different settings.

"I find these [conversations] extremely interesting and enriching," Bhargava said. "I have been exposed to many interesting views and information on the subject. Through the comprehensive courses I have taken so far, I have also learned about numerous useful websites with excellent information that I did not know of before."

Bhargava is the parent of a young child with autism, which is one of the reasons she chose a concentration in Autism Intervention. Also, as a pediatrician, she is brought into contact with very young children who have developmental delays and receive a late diagnosis of autism.

"I wish to change this since early diagnosis is critical for a good prognosis of autism and several other developmental delays," Bhargava said.  "Even if we diagnose early, we often do not know how to help the family in the best possible way through evidence-based practices. My experience with my child and with this coursework has given me a lot of insight into this area - how to diagnose autism early and help the parents in an effective way."

After Bhargava graduates, she plans to return to practicing pediatrics with a focus on early autism diagnosis and intervention. She said she intends to collaborate with parents, teachers and others involved in working with the child to develop an effective intervention plan for parents. Bhargava is set to graduate in June 2017.

UNT listed among Tier One research universities in new report

The University of North Texas is ranked among the nation's 115 top-tier research universities, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education™ released Feb. 1.

This achievement is commonly considered the most significant step in the evolution of a research university and marks a key milestone in UNT's commitment toward national prominence.

"We moved up in the Carnegie classifications by staying true to our roots as an institution focused on creativity as expressed through our research, scholarship and educational activities," UNT President Neal Smatresk said. "All along, we've paid attention to what matters most, providing our students a great education and helping to build tomorrow's workforce and the next generation of globally relevant scholars."

UNT officials noted that the latest Carnegie rankings give strong consideration to UNT's impact as a broad-based research institution that awards a large number of doctoral degrees each year. UNT consistently leads the region and ranks among the state's top universities for the number of doctoral degrees it awards annually.

Tom McCoy, UNT's vice president for research and economic development, said being ranked in Carnegie's top tier is a result of UNT's comprehensive focus on its level of research activity and helping doctoral students succeed.

"UNT's official Carnegie Classification as a Doctoral University: Highest Research Activity (R1) matters for many reasons," McCoy said. "Tier One universities attract top students and faculty, drive innovation and technology through high-level research and scholarship, and contribute significantly to the region and state through intellectual capital and economic development."

Smatresk stressed that while reaching Tier One status is a big milestone, there is still work ahead to help UNT increase its national reputation.

"This achievement reflects our commitment to excellence in our education and research mission and the quality of our students and graduates," Smatresk said. "Today's recognition is an important step in our journey − but it's not the end."

Students from Chinese university learn new teaching skills at UNT

Students from China are learning new teaching strategies and methods at the University of North Texas' Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation in the College of Education, thanks to a unique student exchange partnership with a leading Chinese university.

Undergraduate students at East China Normal University have traveled to Denton to study sport pedagogy, which is the study of physical education and sports programs, and other subjects in the department.

According to Tao Zhang, associate professor of sport pedagogy, students in the two-year-old exchange program receive a number of benefits.

"They learn a lot about how to teach diverse groups of students," said Zhang. "They also get to improve their English proficiency, and they get to meet, interact with, and make friends with students from many other cultures, too."

Students in the program take physical education teaching methods courses at UNT and observe PE classes in local elementary and middle schools under the guidance of Xiangli Gu, assistant professor of sport pedagogy. Students also will be assisting with the Tai Chi program for Seniors in Motion in Denton.

Allen Jackson, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, said exposure to multiple styles of learning gives the students the opportunity to improve their own ability to teach.

"American teaching and learning in America are generally more inquiry- or discovery-based," said Jackson. "In China, it's more straightforward, structured and linear. Both styles have benefits, and learning about both styles improves their teaching skills tremendously."

Jackson said outreach to China is an important goal of the university, and the exchange program helps spread word of UNT's programs around the globe.