SOE research lab students reach AERA Shark Tank finals
Two students win the annual competition for Division C; two win the People's Choice Award.
Three outstanding teams of VCU School of Education graduate students in the Motivation in Context Research Lab were finalists in the 2022 American Educational Research Association (AERA) 4th Annual “Shark Tank” competition for Division C (Learning and Instruction). One of the teams won the competition, while another received the People’s Choice Award.
Margaret Wallace and Sherol Southerland
Wallace is a second-year doctoral student in the educational psychology program. She is serving this year as a research assistant and co- lab manager in the Motivation in Context Research Lab. Additionally she is the Program Coordinator for the Pauley Heart Center’s TeachBP educational program Her research interests include understanding teacher self-efficacy towards trauma-informed care across school context, student and teacher characteristics such as grade-level, socioeconomic status, race, gender, and ethnicity, to improve teaching practices and instruction.
Southerland is the state education agency lead VTSS systems coach for the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support-Research & Implementation Center (VTSS-RIC), a project of the Virginia Department of Education housed within the School of Education’s Partnership for People with Disabilities. A doctoral student in the educational psychology program and a practitioner of 26 years, Southerland’s research interests lie in the area of teacher efficacy and how it influences planning for and delivery of instruction and student achievement. She is a former member of the VCU Holmes Scholars Program.
Destini Braxton and Danielle Berry
Destini Braxton and Danielle Berry were awarded the People’s Choice award for their work titled “Black Special Education Students' Motivational and Feedback Experiences in Middle School Mathematics: Understanding Two Intersecting Social Experiences.”
Braxton is a doctoral student in the educational psychology program. Her research interests include the ways in which teachers utilize relationship-building strategies in a math learning environment to affect student academic performance and promote diversity during the instructional process. She is also interested in the association between self-efficacy, motivation and mathematics academic performance to analyze the cognitive and motivational development of African American adolescence receiving special education services, in an urban school environment. She is a former member of the VCU Holmes Scholars Program.
Danielle Berry is a first-year doctoral student in the educational psychology program. Her research mainly explores how student self-efficacy, feedback experiences and other motivational beliefs influence K-12 student achievement, persistence and inequities in STEM fields. Stemming from previous teaching experience, she is also interested in teachers’ experiences with self-efficacy and how it might impact their job satisfaction and well-being in and outside of the classroom.
Korinthia Nicolai was also a Shark Tank finalist for her project titled “A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Microaggressions, Context, Coping Strategies, and Belonging: Centering Historically Marginalized Students.”
Nicolai’s research interests include bringing to the forefront (a) how systems of race and racism impact sense of school belonging and motivation, (b) the implications of these relations for fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in education, and (c) how the context of classrooms and schools can be improved to better support students from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups. She is a member of the VCU Holmes Scholars Program.
The AERA Division C “Shark Tank” competition, modeled after the popular television show of the same name, is for graduate students who are conducting research that addresses issues of equity and inclusion. The research must examine inquiry into learning and instruction with a focus on the experiences of underrepresented groups or international populations with cultural constructs or theoretical frameworks.