Megan Welsh, who teaches in the School’s PhD and MA programs,
conducts research in the use of assessment as an educational
reform lever. She is an expert in evaluation of educational
programs and the science of developing methods for determining
the quality and validity of assessments.
“The context for my work is educational reform, particularly as
it relates to accountability for schools and teachers,” said
Welsh. “I am interested in how teachers respond to assessments
and accountability efforts and how their work changes as a result
Paco Martorell, who is teaching in the School’s doctoral
programs, has broad research interests in both higher education
and K-12 policy, particularly in the transitions between high
school and college and between college and work.
In a current field experiment, Martorell is exploring new methods
for placing students entering community college into remedial, or
developmental, courses and assessing whether those students
can move more quickly through these preliminary courses than
students typically do.
For Professor Marcela
Cuellar, examining the transformative power of education has
been a lifelong passion. “My parents moved to Oxnard, a coastal
California town, in the late 1970s to work in the strawberry
fields,” said Cuellar. “As the youngest of six children, in
addition to Spanish, I learned English from my siblings and had a
different trajectory because of it.
Few would argue that education exists in a vacuum. There are many
elements at work that impact the ability of students to learn.
Poverty, gender, and ethnicity are common factors affecting
However, one vital ingredient that is frequently overlooked is
health. UC Davis School of Education’s Assistant Professor Kevin
Gee’s research sheds much-needed light on this connection between
a student’s health and their learning abilities.
Among the oft-mentioned challenges in education is the challenge
of preparing students for success in the twenty-first century
workforce. Technology is just as often cited as the solution.
The hope is that the use of technology in the classroom (for
example, the use of video or an interactive whiteboard) will
raise student performance, particularly in math and science. But
it turns out that unless the instruction itself is challenging
and engaging, the use of technology won’t make any difference.
“Technology is just a tool,” according to education professor
Cynthia Carter Ching. “Live streaming of a boring lecture is
Coming from a long line of teachers, Heidi Ballard was sure of
one thing when she entered college: she was not going to become a
teacher. Five years later, she found herself teaching high school
For Michal Kurlaender, conducting “research that matters” means
tackling some of the most vexing and controversial problems in
education: school desegregation and integration, access to
college, and race.
In 2007, Cary Trexler, an assistant professor and expert on
agriculture education, was awarded a prestigious Fulbright
fellowship to extend his research and outreach in Vietnam.
“Ultimately, all of this work has the potential to move the
School of Education beyond a focus on secondary schools to
opportunities for education policy and administration,” said
Trexler. “It is potentially an opportunity to understand and
participate in a restructuring of an entire educational system.”
Science is not boring, so why do so many middle and high school
students think it is? According to Cindy Passmore, assistant
professor and an expert on science education, students most often
experience science in school as the memorization of facts and
procedures with little practical utility or intellectual
“This results in an impoverished view of science as an
intellectual enterprise,” said Passmore.
For Rebecca Ambrose, the key to teaching math to children lies in
an understanding of how they solve problems before anyone has
“Kids use informal strategies and can figure things out in very
interesting and sophisticated ways. What we observe about how
they approach mathematical problem solving can inform the basis
for teachers’ instruction,” said Ambrose.