CLINTON, S.C. (courtesy presby.edu) — Presbyterian College education majors Ivy Johnson and Katie Thompson recently presented research on diversity, equity and inclusion in education at the South Carolina Educators for the Practical Use of Research Conference in Columbia.
“The conference was a great opportunity to share my work and learn from many great researchers about how we can make education better for all students,” Thompson said.
Researching the under-represented in gifted programs
Thompson’s research addressed the problem of under-representation of low-income students, racial minorities and English language learners in gifted programs. Thompson provided recommendations for school districts by looking at best practices from around the country.
Thompson’s research included how to recognize gifted characteristics in students. She spoke about using a universal screening process or local norms for acceptance into gifted programs.
Looking into children’s books
Johnson reviewed award-winning children’s books that feature different racial and ethnic groups. She described how the books could perpetuate stereotypes if not used appropriately.
For example, the children’s book “Emmanuel’s Dream,” set in Ghana, could reinforce students’ ideas about Africa being an entirely underdeveloped continent with no technology or modern amenities. Johnson provided recommendations for activities that teachers could pair with books.
A virtual field trip to Nigeria could help students overcome their preconceived notions about Africa, according to Johnson. The activity would allow students to experience a modern-looking city in Africa with heavy traffic, highways and skyscrapers.
PC education majors’ research receives recognition by conference keynote speaker
Dr. Gloria Boutte, Carolina Distinguished Professor at University of South Carolina, referenced Thompson’s and Johnson’s research during her keynote address. Boutte is the author of 90 publications and the founder of the Center of Excellence for the Education and Equity of African American Students.
Dr. Julia Wilkins, who teaches the education capstone course, presented with PC elementary education major Casey Stevenson during last year’s conference. The South Carolina Association for Middle Level Education Journal published their research about how students met the profile of the South Carolina Graduate through an after-school robotics program.
Stevenson is now a fourth grade math and science teacher at Eastside Elementary School in Clinton, S.C.