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New hires build on CEHD’s strengths in human development and family sciences, education policy, evaluation and measurement and more.

This fall, the University of Delaware College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) welcomes seven new faculty members. This growth bolsters CEHD’s strengths in the areas of human development and family sciences, education and social policy, evaluation and measurement, curriculum and instruction and school psychology, deepening the college’s scholarship and expanding its programs and community services in these crucial areas.

Each of these new colleagues also bring a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, which is embedded into their research programs and teaching practices. Many of these new colleagues investigate and work to address educational and social inequities faced by historically marginalized communities in Delaware and beyond.

These new colleagues—who include tenure-track/tenured (TT) and continuing track (CT) colleagues—are Dominique Baker (TT), Soo Bin Jang (TT), Jin Yao Kwan (TT), Whitney Polk (TT), Kristin Scardamalia (CT), Jessica Slade (CT) and Sanford R. Student (TT)—also contribute to the important areas of scholarship and teaching identified by US News and World Report.

Human Development and Family Sciences

Jin Yao Kwan joins CEHD as an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS), specializing in the development of adolescents, youth and young adults in underserved communities. He also serves as a Research Fellow with the Majurity Trust, a philanthropic organization in Singapore.

Through his research, Kwan explores how families and communities use institutional supports and examines structural factors and contextual processes that perpetuate poverty and inequality. For example, his research asks: how do we advance the positive development and well-being of adolescents, youth and emerging adults, especially those who face disadvantages and marginalization? And through implementation science and evaluation research, how do we improve our interventions?

Prior to joining CEHD, Kwan was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver, and his background in social welfare also informs his research.

Whitney Polk joins CEHD as an assistant professor in HDFS, where she will investigate the educational and social inequities that influence youth development. Her research areas include the impact of school- based marginalization on adolescent academic and psychosocial adjustment, racial disparities in school discipline, school-based mental health, racial stress and trauma and racial literacy development.

Through funding support from the National Science Foundation, Polk initiated and led the Transforming Discipline Project, a racial literacy intervention designed to address discriminatory school discipline policies and practices affecting Black and Brown youth. At CEHD, Polk will continue this work by exploring the relationship between racial stress and disproportionate discipline, as well as novel areas of intervention for youth, educators and mental health professionals.

In collaboration with school and community partnerships, Polk develops school-based interventions to support youth well-being and resilience, and empowers educators to confront and rectify inequitable policies and practices. Her work integrates research and practice through partnerships with schools, educators and youth organizations.

Polk is also a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified School Counselor in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining CEHD, she worked as a mental health counselor with K–12 students and their families in Philadelphia, providing therapy and advocating for improved mental health, educational and social supports.

In addition to Kwan and Polk, CEHD welcomes Assistant Professor Jessica Slade, who specializes in curriculum and instruction. Together, they build on CEHD’s strengths in human development and family sciences, joining colleagues Amin Alizadeh (CT), Ann Aviles (TT), Tia Barnes (TT), Martha Buell (TT), Roderick Carey (TT), Valerie Earnshaw (TT), Steven Eidelman (TT), Heather Farmer (TT), Ruth E. Fleury-Steiner (TT), Jennifer Gallo-Fox (TT), Sara Goldstein (TT), Mellissa Gordon (TT), Rena Hallam (TT), Myae Han (TT), Jason Hustedt (TT), Allison Karpyn (TT), Eric Layland (TT), Lynn Okagaki (TT), Kate Riera (CT) Barbara Settles (TT), Bahira Trask (TT), Laura Wallace (CT), Anamarie Whitaker (TT) and Lynn Worden (CT).

Education and Social Policy

In January 2024, Dominque Baker will join CEHD as an associate professor in the School of Education (SOE) and the Joseph R. Biden Jr., School of Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in education and social policy. Baker will also join UD as a Cochran Scholar.

Baker’s research focuses on the way that education policy affects and shapes the access and success of minoritized students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, admissions policies and other policies that influence the creation of an inclusive, equitable campus climate. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, the Journal of Higher Education and the Journal of College Student Development. Baker has also testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy about race, racism and student loans.

In recognition of the impact and promise of her scholarly career, she is the current American Educational Research Association Early Career Award winner, a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow and past recipient of the Association for Education Finance and Policy’s Early Career Award and the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Excellence in Public Policy Award.

Baker builds upon CEHD’s strengths in education and social policy, joining colleagues Dean Gary T. Henry (TT), Director of Research Laura Desimone (TT) and colleagues Ann Aviles (TT), Lauren Bailes (TT), Sarah Bruch (TT; jointly appointed), Martha Buell (TT), Roderick Carey (TT), Valerie Earnshaw (TT), Elizabeth Farley-Ripple (TT), Rena Hallam (TT), Jason Hustedt (TT), Allison Karpyn (TT), Henry May (TT), Leigh McLean, Florence Ran (TT), Barbara Settles (TT), Kenneth Shores (TT), Bryan VanGronigen (TT), Anamarie Whitaker (TT) and the researchers within CEHD’s Center for Research in Education and Social Policy.

Evaluation and Measurement

Sanford R. Student joins CEHD as an assistant professor specializing in measurement, psychometrics and quantitative methods in the SOE. He is also a resident faculty member of UD’s Data Science Institute.

His research spans a variety of areas, united by his interest in connecting technical aspects of educational and psychological measurement such as instrument design and psychometric modeling with their practical implications for students, teachers and downstream researchers. Student’s recent methodological research deals primarily with issues related to the measurement of students’ academic growth, including the psychometric properties of assessments designed to measure growth and the implications for research and practice when those properties differ across assessments. He also conducts both methodological and applied research in large-scale science assessment, and has worked with states, districts and assessment developers on a variety of applied projects.

His work has been published in Educational Researcher, Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, and the Chinese-English Journal of Educational Measurement and Evaluation. He is an active member of the National Council on Measurement in Education.

Student builds on CEHD’s strengths in evaluation and measurement, joining Dean Gary Henry (TT), Director of Research Laura Desimone (TT) and colleagues Lauren Bailes (TT), Christina Barbieri (TT), Zachary K. Collier (TT), Elizabeth Farley-Ripple (TT), Joseph Glutting (TT), Henry May (TT), Allison Karpyn (TT), Florence Xiaotao Ran (TT), Kenneth A. Shores (TT), Joshua Wilson (TT) and the researchers within CEHD’s Center for Research in Education and Social Policy, including Sue Giancola, program director of UD’s M.S. in interdisciplinary evaluation science.

Curriculum and Instruction

Two faculty members bring expertise to CEHD’s curriculum and instruction, particularly the early childhood education and elementary teacher education programs.

Soo Bin Jang is an assistant professor in the SOE, specializing in social studies education with an emphasis on race, equity and culture. She teaches social studies methods within the elementary teacher education program as well as a doctoral seminar focused on equity in education. Her pedagogy concentrates on co-constructing knowledge and fostering students and critical inquiry capabilities.

Jang’s research interests include developing transnational civic identity and competence, promoting democracy through curriculum reforms within Asian contexts and implementing anti-racist pedagogy in teacher education. Her research has been published in renowned journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education among others.

She also serves as the principal investigator on a project examining the role of Korean migrant community leaders in transcending cultural boundaries and exercising transnational citizenship, funded by the Academy of Korean Studies. She is also working on her first monograph, Decolonizing the Mind: A Critical Examination of South Korea’s National Curriculum-Making.

Notably, Jang was awarded the Norton T. Dodge Award for Scholarly and Creative Achievement in 2023 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and was honored as the Pandion Haliaetus Professor of Educational Studies in 2021.

Jessica Slade, who specializes in early childhood education, joins CEHD as an assistant professor in HDFS and the program coordinator for the new associate in arts in early childhood education. Her research focuses on classroom culture and dynamics, social and emotional learning, process-based pedagogies, play-based curriculum and early childhood teacher support. She is specifically interested in non-traditional students (at all levels of education) and issues related to equity and accessibility.

Prior to joining CEHD, Slade worked as assistant professor of instruction at University of Texas at El Paso. In her nine years there, Slade worked on the development of several programs including the Teacher Residency and the M.Ed. in early childhood education program. She also contributed to the bilingual education programs and collaborated in the development and implementation of a B.S. in early childhood care and education. Within this program, she recruited and advised students, especially non-traditional students. Since many early childhood teachers reside below the poverty line, Slade prioritized access and equity while providing a developmentally appropriate, open-ended and engaging curriculum for early childhood teachers already working in early childhood classrooms.

She was also awarded the University of Texas System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award in 2020 and the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children Teacher Education of the Year in 2023.

Jang and Slade build on CEHD’s teaching and research strengths in curriculum and instruction, exhibited by several faculty members including colleagues Steve Amendum (TT), Christina Budde (CT), Martha Buell (TT), Tia Barnes (TT), David Coker (TT), Zoubeida Dagher (TT), Stephanie Del Tufo (TT), Danielle Ford (TT), Jen Gallo-Fox (TT), Lynsey Gibbons (TT), Vicki Goettel (CT), Rena Hallam (TT), Myae Han (TT), Teresa Hickok (CT), Charles Hohensee (TT), Jason Hustedt (TT), Amanda Jansen (TT), Rachel Karchmer-Klein (TT), Stephanie Kotch-Jester (CT), William Lewis (CT), Dede Lilly (CT), Erica Litke (TT), Charles MacArthur (TT), Anne Morris (TT), Kristina Najera (CT), Teo Paoletti (TT), Kristen Ritchey (TT), Eric Sisofo (CT), Elizabeth Soslau (CT), Sharon Walpole (TT), Anamarie Whitaker (TT), Rosalyn Washington (CT), Joshua Wilson (TT) and Lynn Worden (CT).

School Psychology

Kristin Scardamalia joins CEHD as an assistant professor specializing in school psychology in the SOE. Her research investigates interventions to reduce exclusionary discipline practices and factors influencing school psychologists’ eligibility determinations.

Scardamalia teaches courses related to the psychological assessment of children and adolescents and special education eligibility determination. In addition, she teaches and provides supervision for practicum and internship placements. She has developed training curricula which address cultural inclusiveness in classrooms, gang prevention strategies and supporting educator well-being. She continues to provide training and workshops to educators and mental health clinicians.

Prior to joining academia, Scardamalia worked as a school psychologist in both public schools and juvenile services.

Scardamalia builds upon CEHD’s strength in school psychology and joins colleagues Marika Ginsburg-Block (TT) and Brittany Zakszeski (TT).


Article by Jessica Henderson. Graphic by Shelly Silva.