Drs. Cormier, Xu and Gomez awarded COVID-19 rapid research grants

Studies provide resources for PreK-12 students, support systems for international students from China, and address needs of English language learners

From left: Headshots of Dr. Dwayne Ray Cormier, Dr. Yaoying Xu, Dr. Rachel Gomez, Dr. Andrene Castro.
From left: Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D.; Yaoying Xu, Ph.D.; Rachel F. Gomez, Ph.D.; Andrene J. Castro, Ph.D.

Three VCU School of Education faculty members and their teams were recently awarded COVID-19 rapid research grants by the university to help better understand the pandemic and to combat it.

Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Foundations of Education and visiting iCubed scholar, and Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education, received news of their awards in April. Rachel F. Gomez, Ph.D., iCubed visiting faculty scholar in the Department of Teaching and Learning, received news of her award in May. Gomez’s team in the iCubed Urban Education and Family Transdisciplinary Core includes co-principal investigators Andrene J. Castro, Ph.D., visiting iCubed scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, and Cormier.

Cormier’s study will explore pandemic preparedness and response within PreK-12 public school systems located within the Greater Richmond area. Findings from the research will have an immediate impact, providing PreK-12 school systems with a preparedness checklist and resource guides as they prepare for future pandemics and the reopening of schools post-COVID-19.

“The study is exploratory and will use sociological and cultural theoretical frameworks together with a concept mapping methodology to analyze data yielded from focus groups across the PreK-12 school systems,” said Cormier.

Xu’s study will begin with a focus group interview of 6-8 international students from China on their experiences and perceptions during the COVID-19 outbreak. Following that, Xu’s team will develop and implement a series of culturally responsive support systems to help international students from China cope with this world crisis.

“We expect these support systems will sustain across VCU campuses after their initial launch and will become resources for all international students on VCU campuses,” said Xu.

Gomez is principal investigator in her study, which is aimed at meeting the educational needs of Spanish speaking, K-12 English language learners and their families in the midst of the pandemic. Her study will draw from an existing research project with a local iCubed partner, the Richmond Region League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Ms. Vilma Seymour, Richmond Region LULAC president, is a co-principal investigator in the study.

“This study has two primary aims that will help ensure that English language learners do not regress academically during the stay-at-home order. First, we need to identify current needs within this population, and second, we need to determine, in partnership with LULAC, how local responses may best support English language learner students and families during this time,” Gomez said.

The $10,000 rapid research grant from the university is being matched by a grant from iCubed.

The COVID-19 rapid research funding opportunity is offered by the VCU Office of Research and Innovation, with support of VCU’s Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. The primary goal of the grants is to advance projects that are ready for rapid development and deployment, that will enhance real time decision making and implementation within the health system and in the local community.

These research grants were originally featured in two separate articles on this website. Links to those articles are below.

Drs. Xu and Cormier awarded COVID-19 rapid research grants

Dr. Gomez and team awarded COVID-19 rapid research grant