In this section, you will find a brief research statement (below), a list of my published and in-press works, descriptions and artifacts from my conference presentations, and information about grants, honors, and awards that I have received.
My research interests follow two primary strands that have intertwined and complemented one another throughout my doctoral studies. The first of these strands is a focus on how school librarians can support science instruction in K-12 schools. School librarianship has traditionally been associated with books and reading, leading to natural partnerships with English Language Arts teachers. However, since the publication of the American Library Association’s Information Power and Empowering Learners guidelines for school library media programs, school librarians have been transitioning to a model in which they are expected to collaborate with classroom teachers in all content areas to teach information literacy content and skills. Recent research suggests that for a variety of reasons, science-themed teacher-librarian collaboration is still comparatively rare. My dissertation study focused on the impact of a collaborative lesson plan design project completed by preservice school librarians working with preservice K-12 teachers to plan a science-themed lesson or unit.
I am also interested in the library’s science-related print resources and how those collections support or fail to support science instruction, specifically for diverse learners. I recently completed a study of children’s nonfiction science trade books that looked at how the images in those books portrayed scientists; a paper reporting those findings is currently in press in the journal School Science and Mathematics.
Ultimately, I view collaboration between school librarians and science teachers as an issue of equity. A large body of research points to the conclusion that girls, youth of color, and youth living in poverty face significant barriers when it comes to obtaining a high-quality science education (and thus a job in the science sector). I believe that science content teachers and school librarians have much to offer one another, and that these two groups of professionals have significant overlap in their instructional goals and methods. By collaborating, these educators can improve science education for all students and potentially overcome many of the resource and access gaps faced by females and youth of color related to science education.
The second major strand of my research focus is related to diversity and equity in library services and materials for youth. In 2015, for the first time in history, children and youth of color made up the majority of students in the U.S. public school system. As discussed in YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens report (and elsewhere), this new reality is a challenge for many school librarians (the majority of whom are middle-aged and White). I believe that school and public libraries are a vital resource for youth of color and have the potential to improve life outcomes for these youth by embracing asset-based, research-supported programs, services, and materials that empower all youth. My initial interest in these issues was kindled by my time teaching in high-poverty middle schools, and was further encouraged by a group project I completed as a masters student focused on how the school library can help meet the literacy needs of African American male youth. Since then I have worked with Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell on a number of other related initiatives and studies. These include a project funded by an ALA Diversity Research Grant in which we developed a rubric to identify enabling texts and led a reading focus group with African American male teens, and a successful IMLS National Leadership Planning Grant application to fund a three-day summit focused on how the national library community can answer the call to improve the literacy education of African American male youth. All of this work will be presented in an upcoming book published by Libraries Unlimited titled Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth: Research & Practice, co-authored and edited by Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Pauletta Bracy, and me.
In addition, and in collaboration with the Wake County Public School System and NC Central University, Dr. Hughes-Hassell and I have received a grant from IMLS for a three-year Continuing Education project that funds the development of a blended professional development curriculum for school librarians, classroom teachers, and school literacy coaches, focusing on cultural competence, culturally relevant pedagogy and equity literacy. I was the postdoctoral research associate on this grant, and am still working with the project to develop and assess the impact of the curriculum using a mixed methods, Design-Based Research approach. You can read more about this project at our website, Project READY: Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth.