News and Accolades


First Responders DayStudent and staff member assemble gift bags

Thanks to Kiley Sanduka, an elementary/middle level education dual major, first responders in Gilbert, Iowa, got a big dose of appreciation on October 27, 2020.  Inspired by the challenges first responders faced during the pandemic and by the community service emphasis of her social studies curriculum course, Sanduka suggested that students at Gilbert Intermediate School organize a thank you event for first responders.  Sanduka, who was a library media associate at the school, helped the Fifth-grade Leadership Council organize a first responders parade and create gift bags and thank you cards.

Sanduka (right) is a student in UNI’s 2+2 elementary education program which is taught primarily online and holds some face-to-face class sessions on Des Moines Area Community College campuses. “I am forever grateful for the UNI 2+2 program allowing me the opportunity to work full time and be a full-time UNI student,” Sanduka said. “When the pandemic happened . . . UNI already had the perfect distance learning program in place.”   Sanduka is student teaching in spring 2021 and has accepted a 4th-grade teaching position at Gilbert Intermediate School for next school year.  

News archive


The following tabs list awards (including grants), presentations and publications related to Curriculum and Instruction students, alumni, faculty and staff.  To find items involving C&I faculty, look on both tabs: collaborations that involve students and faculty are listed on the first tab, while items that only involve faculty or staff are listed on the second tab.

Sarah Vander Zanden, associate professor of literacy education, and Lois Berger, instructor in literacy education, in conjunction with local teachers published a study about joyful teacher leadership and writing instruction.  Co-authors included Cedar Falls teachers Katie Simpson (B.A. elementary education, M.A.E. literacy education), Katie Taylor Clausen, Kristen Schrock, Erin Becker and Jen Dise (B.A. elementary education).  The chapter is part of a volume dedicated to teacher leadership, Empowering Formal and Informal Leadership While Maintaining Teacher Identity
Citation:  Vander Zanden, S. and Berger, L. with Simpson, K, Schrock, K. Becker, E., Dise, J., and Clausen Taylor, K. (2021). Unwrapping the shrink wrap: teacher led improvement in writing instruction, In Zugelder, Bryan (Ed.). Empowering formal and informal leadership while maintaining teacher identity. (pp. 258-274). IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6500-1.ch010

A presentation by Dessy Stoycheva (Ed.D. curriculum and instruction), instructor in educational psychology, Denise Tallakson, instructor in elementary education, Audrey Rule, emeritus professor, and Mahjabeen Hussain (Ed.D. curriculum and instruction), ESL instructor at Kirkwood Community College, was accepted by the 2020 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference. Their roundtable presentation, "Exploring Creative and Scientific Aspects in Preservice Teachers’ Still-Life Paintings of Animal Skulls,” was based on research conducted when Stoycheva and Hussain were pursuing their doctoral degrees at UNI.   The conference was canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

A presentation by Mason Kuhn, assistant professor of elementary education, Denise Tallakson, instructor in elementary education, Marine Pepanyan, a doctoral student and adjunct instructor, and Marissa Schweinfurth (B.A. elementary education) of Irving Elementary School in Waterloo, was accepted by the 2020 American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference which was canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  Their work is titled "Measuring Executive Function Skills of Students With High Adverse Childhood Experiences After an Art-Integration Program.”     

Marine Pepanyan, a doctoral student and adjunct instructor in curriculum and instruction, along with Sohyun Meacham, associate professor of literacy education, and Stephanie Logan, former assistant professor of elementary education, published an article on "International Students' Alienation in a U.S. Higher Ed Institution" in the Journal of Multicultural Education
Citation: Pepanyan, M., Meacham, S., & Logan, S. (2019). International Students’ Alienation in a U.S. Higher Ed Institution. Journal of Multicultural Education.  June 10, 2019.

Shaylyn Trenkamp, elementary education major, has won second Prize for the 2020 Rod Library Mary Ann Bolton Undergraduate Research Award competition for her honors thesis titled, "Breathe In, Breathe Out: An Exploration of the Impacts of Yoga on Self-Regulation and Classroom Community." She conducted research on teaching yoga and mindfulness in local kindergarten classrooms and Sarah Montgomery, associate professor of elementary education, served as her advisor for the project.  

Grace Brady, elementary and middle level education dual major, and Eleanor Grond, elementary education major, and Curtis Nielsen, assistant professor of teaching, presented at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) conference in Atlanta, Georgia on February 29, 2020.  Their presentation was titled "Instructional Rounds: A Way to Strengthen the Early Field Experience."   

Abby Weiland, a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, had the opportunity to present her research, “Teacher Well-Being: The Quest to Do What’s Best for Kids Without Losing Yourself," at the Texas Association of Literacy Educators Annual Conference in Waco, Texas on March 1, 2019. She was honored with one of two Graduate Student Research Poster Awards. Her research explored the experiences of practicing elementary teachers as they navigated the demands of the teaching profession, and how these experiences contributed to their conceptualization of teacher well-being. 

Doctoral student Brooke Becker's journal article entitled “Addressing Common Misconceptions with Informal Arguments” was published in The Mathematics Teacher in April 2019. This article reflects upon the implementation of a high school mathematics activity that provides the opportunity to address misconceptions about triangle congruence conjectures as they naturally develop through the formation of informal proof schemes.

Marine Pepanyan, a doctoral student in the curriculum and instruction program (B.A. linguistics, English and Spanish, M.A. TESOL/Spanish), presented her research with Sohyun Meacham, assistant professor of literacy education, at the 2019 The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Pepanyan is a graduate assistant at UNI and her presentation was based on her research interests which include play and playfulness in adult second language (L2) teaching, integration of play in cross-cultural teaching with the emphasis of implementation of robotics in L2 Communicative Language Teaching classroom. The research presentation was titled "Play Element and Dynamics of Interaction in an Adult Second Language (L2) CLT Classroom." 

Beth VanMeeteren, associate professor of literacy education and director of the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education, and North Tama County Community School District (NTCCSD) educators Vonna Watson, Brenda Kaufmann, and Lisa Chizek were active at the Annual National Science Teachers Association in St. Louis April 11-14, 2019. All worked together to deliver a short course on the Ramps & Pathways curriculum. VanMeeteren and the teachers from NTCCSD manned tables featuring classroom implementation of collaborative work involving early STEM. Vonna Watson featured Ramps & Pathways: Integrated STEM in the Elementary Classrooms; Brenda Kaufman, Matter Matters: Investigations and Literacy Connections; Lisa Chizek, Light & Shadow; and Beth VanMeeteren, Tinkering with Tops. In addition, Lisa Chizek, also a UNI doctoral student and Beth VanMeeteren presented two conference sessions: "Learning About Light and Shadows with Shadow Stories" and "Engineering a Pancake Recipe: Connecting Chemistry to Everyday Life." 

Assistant professor of literacy education Nandita Gurjar published an article on the use of WhatsApp, an instant messaging system, in Namibian and Indian universities.
Citation: Asino, T. I., Gurjar, N., & Boer, P. (2021). Bridging the Informal and Formal Learning Spaces with WhatsApp. The Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3).

Nandita Gurjar, assistant professor of literacy education, published an article, "Investigating Protagonists in Story Book Apps for Children," along with Todd Cherner of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 
Citation: Cherner, T., & Gurjar, N. (2021). Investigating protagonists in story book apps for children, Reading Horizon: A Journal of Literacy and Language Arts, 60(2), 51-77.

After participating in the Reggio Emilia makerspace in Italy, Nandita Gurjar, assistant professor of literacy education, published an article titled "The Italian Makerspace."
Citation: Gurjar, N. (2021). The Italian makerspace. Childhood Education, 97(3), 48-51. DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2021.1930924

Carolyn A. Weber, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction, presented at the Organization of Educational Historians annual conference in October 2020. Her presentation, "Educating for Citizenship in Pre-World War I Schools in the United States," focused on a citizenship curriculum written by five women in 1914.

Carolyn A. Weber, assistant professor in Curriculum and Instruction, presented with a colleague at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in December 2020. The presentation was titled "Using your own agency: Creating an action plan for change."

The American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Online Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group (SIG) named Nandita Gurjar, assistant professor of literacy education, and her co-author Haiyan Bai as the runner-ups for the Online Teaching and Learning SIG 2021 Best Research Paper Award.  Bai, University of Central Florida, and Gurjar presented their research paper  "Assessing Culturally Inclusive Instructional Design in Online Learning” on April 9 at the virtual AERA 2021 conference.

Professor and head of curriculum and instruction Robin Dada along with Stephanie Schmitz, associate dean of the College of Education,and Colleen Mulholland, dean of the College of Education published a book chapter about their leadership during the pandemic.
Citation: Schmitz, S., Mulholland, C. & Dada, R. (2021). Our leadership: Patience, grace, and flexibility. In Fasching-Varner, K., Bickmore, S., Hays, D., Schrader, P, Carlson, D., Anagostopoulos, D. (Eds.), The corona chronicles: On leadership, processes, commitments, and hope in uncertain times (pp. 55-62).

Assistant professor of literacy education Taraneh Matloob Haghanikar published an article on teaching pre-service teachers about forced journeys in immigration.
Citation: Matloob Haghanikar, T. (2021). Forced journeys: Integrating lessons about immigration in teacher education. The Social Studies. DOI: 10.1080/00377996.2021.1889456

A  recent study on leveraging social networks for authentic learning was published by Nandita Gurjar, assistant professor of literacy education, in the distance learning special issue of TechTrends.
Citation: Gurjar, N. (2020). Leveraging social networks for authentic learning in distance learning teacher education. TechTrends, 64(4), 666-677. DOI:10.1007/s11528-020-00510-7

Nandita Gurjar, assistant professor of literacy education, made several presentations at the virtual  Association of Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) conference Nov. 3-7, 2020. She led a workshop in Humanizing Cultural Identities and Contexts for Empathetic Understanding in Learning Design. She presented in two concurrent paper presentations sharing papers “Designing Online Discussions for Culturally Inclusive Dialogue” with co-author B. Hall and “Makerspace Reimagined: An Italian Exploration in Creativity.” Gurjar also shared at the Learner Engagement and Teacher Presence Meet Mobile Learning roundtable presentation and was part of a panel on Early Career Faculty Symposium Participant Perspectives.

C&I faculty and students: Submit your Accolades

If you have questions about the accolade form (see link above) or need to submit additional information, email or