University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Ed.D. Student chosen for the Clark Seminar in conjunction with AERA

Scott Hurwitz (Ed.D.) was chosen for 38th annual David L. Clark National Graduate Student Research Seminar in K- 12 Educational Administration and Policy, which will be held April 12-13, 2018 in New York, New York. Nearly 90 doctoral students were nominated this year, but Hurwitz was among the top-ranked proposals that were selected. The Clark Seminar brings together emerging K-12 educational leadership and policy scholars with noted researchers for two days of presentations, generative discussion, and professional growth. Congratulations Scott!

EDLR Student Researchers Stand Out at Conferences

The 31st annual UCEA Convention was recently held on November 15-19, 2017Lisa Sepe at UCEA conference 2017 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, CO. This year, six students from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership presented their research. Daron Cyr, Jonathan Carter, Shannon Holder and Alexandra Lamb represented the Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy Program, while Scott Hurwitz and Lisa Sepe represented the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) Program.

The UCEA Convention engages participants in discussions about research, policy, practice and preparation in the field of education with a specific focus on educational leadership. This year’s theme was Echando Pa’lante: School Leaders (Up)rising as Advocates and (Up)lifting Student Voices, and the intended discussion was centered around encouraging opportunities for reflective dialogue regarding the educational contexts that students, teachers, principals, and superintendents will be facing within a changing national climate and its impact on educational policy.

Such an opportunity has a meaningful impact on the development of doctoral students as researchers in addition to their professional advancement. Scott Hurwitz, a third-year doctoral student pursuing his Ed.D. and the current principal of Gideon Welles School in Glastonbury, CT, commented on the experience saying,

“Presenting at conferences like UCEA affords us the opportunity to collaborate with university faculty and leadership scholars around the globe. We are able to share our research and receive feedback that informs our current and future work.”

Hurwitz’s presentation was titled, “Institutionalizing School Security: A Case Study,” for which he utilized two branches of institutional theory, logics and myths, and symbols to analyze the organizational shifts that took place in Connecticut schools following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He worked on this research with the Department of Educational Leadership’s Dr. Sarah Woulfin and Dr. Jennie Weiner, who he said, “...served as guides and mentors,” in helping him produce relevant and robust research. Hurwitz is an accomplished researcher, who recently defended his Capstone proposal in October 2017. His proposal examined the how school leaders frame policy specifically around Connecticut’s anti-bullying policy.

  Female student researcher at UCEA conference 2017Shannon Holder, who is a third year doctoral student in the Leadership and Educational Policy program presented two projects at this years UCEA conference. Her first presentation was titled, “The Sheff v. O’Neill Decision and Interest Convergence,” where she analyzed the ruling using Derrick Bell’s (1980) Interest Convergence principle which suggests the interest of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of Whites. Her findings revealed two themes: interests converge in the court documents, and interests have diverged since the case was decided. Holder’s second presentation was titled, “Teacher Sensemaking in the Detracked High School Classroom.”  This qualitative study of high school teachers examined how they made sense of a detracking reform. Sensemaking theory is utilized to analyze participants’ conceptualization of detracking. Holder found that participants tended to have different definitions of detracking and as participants transitioned to teaching in a detracked environment those definitions became increasingly amorphous. These findings signal that teachers may create definitions of detracking that diverge from its formal intentions with implications for policymakers and practitioners.

Like Hurwitz, Holder had previous exposure to UCEA as they both presented at the 2016 conference in Detroit, MI. Jonathan Carter, a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Leadership and Educational Policy program was a newcomer to the student research scene as the 2017 UCEA Conference was his first time presenting research with the Educational Leadership Department at UConn. His research, titled, “Supplementing the core curriculum in a university principal preparation program,” looked at an improvement initiative undertaken by one university’s  principal preparation program to develop a supplemental workshop model to address identified gaps in the core curriculum. Carter was guided by EDLR’s Dr. Richard Gonzalez. As a researcher, Carter found the entire experience valuable to his development saying, “The feedback from other scholars in the field was very useful and will help guide our revisions as we prepare the paper to submit for publication.”

The UCEA conference was one of three academic conferences that the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership students had the opportunity to present at this past year, including the The Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Research Conference in which six students attended and presented their research and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting where five different students were able to present at.

Chelsea Connery, a second year Ph.D. student in Leadership and Education Policy, who attended the Harvard Conference offered a sentiment that all of the student researchers could identify with as she explained,

“Attending conferences such as these, being around motivated and like-minded individuals, can be reinvigorating, which is important, especially in the current sociopolitical context; it can re-foster your hope and resilience.”

The Department is extremely proud of the research and work that our students continue to produce, and thankful for the brilliant and caring faculty that always support them.

Celebrating Ed.D.’s Capstone Projects and Proposals

This fall, the Ed.D. students have been working towards completing their capstone projects and research proposals as part of the Ed.D. course requirements.  Congratulations to the following students on their dedication to the program as they are one step closer to their degree.

Anthony MangiaficoAnthony Mangiafico, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, successfully defended his capstone proposal on September 27th.  Anthony’s capstone seeks to center the narratives and experiences of Students of Color while currently pursuing their GED.

Dr. Fernández was his major advisor, and Drs. Woulfin, LeChasseur, Femc-Bagwell, and Weiner served on his committee.


Scott Hurwitz headshotScott Hurwitz defended his proposal in October 2017. His capstone research proposal examines the how and to what extent school leaders frame policy with a specific focus on Connecticut's anti-bullying policy. He will also study the factors that shape how leaders frame their policy messages.

Scott was also recently awarded to receive the 2018 AASA Educational Administrative Scholarship Award.

Dr. Cobb is his major advisor, and Drs. Woulfin and LeChasseur are his associate advisors.

Dana ZiterDana Ziter, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, successfully defended her capstone proposal on November 7th.  Dana’s capstone assesses the impact of a new student advising protocol on UConn students currently on academic probation via a regression discontinuity design.

Dr. Cobb was her major advisor, and Drs. Dougherty, Higgins and Weiner served on her committee.

Gail Lanza, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, also successfully defended her capstone proposal on November 30th.  Gail's capstone will focus on public elementary school teachers’ perceptions of their abilities to deal with student misbehaviors, their perceptions of student misbehaviors, and the strategies that teachers use to reduce feelings of burnout.

Dr. Woulfin is her major advisor, and Drs. Weiner and Gabriel are serving on her committee.

Meg Smith’s Capstone

Meg Smith, a 2013 Ed.D cohort, posing for a picture outside of Gentry, the main building for NEAGCONGRATULATIONS to Meg Smith, a member of the ’13 Ed.D. cohort, who successfully defended her capstone on October 24th.  Meg’s capstone used qualitative methods to study teachers’ emotional responses to being coached in the charter context. Dr. Woulfin was her major advisor, and Drs. Donaldson and Villanova served on her committee.