American University’s Online School of Education is proud to connect our students with faculty members who are not only exemplary instructors but also thinkers and innovators who are helping to shape the field of education. We hope you’ll keep reading to learn more about their cutting-edge research, influential publications, honors, awards, and extensive experience in their fields.
Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-Mccoy
Dean of the School of Education
Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy joined AU in 2016 as Professor and Dean of the School of Education. Previous to this role, Dr. Holcomb-McCoy served as the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs and Chair in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. She has held appointments as Associate Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Maryland, College Park and Assistant Professor and Director of the School Counseling Program at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
Professional colleagues have recognized her with many awards for outstanding multicultural/diversity research, excellence in teaching, and exemplar service. She served as a Faculty Lilly Fellow at the University of Maryland and in 2016, she was selected as an American Counseling Association (ACA) Fellow for her significant contributions in scientific achievement and teaching/training. Because of her expertise in college advising and counseling, Dr. Holcomb-McCoy was selected to participate as a consultant to the Obama Administration’s Reach Higher Initiative. In July 2014, she was one of the plenary speakers at the White House’s Summit on Higher Education held at Harvard University.
In his teaching and scholarship, Stephen Vassallo works to merge perspectives to critically explore issues related to teaching and learning, especially in the context of academic self-regulation. He draws from sociology, philosophy, and educational psychology to critically examine some of the ethical, conceptual, and pedagogical complexities associated with teaching self-regulated learning. Using these perspectives, Vassallo explores the implicit and explicit roles that choice, control, autonomy, and freedom play in efforts to teach and learn self-regulation.
Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson
Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Education
Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson holds a PhD from Arizona State University in curriculum and instruction with a cognate in special education. Her research explores educational opportunity for children with disabilities and teacher education policy. Her focus on applied interventions for children at risk attends to two major areas of research, namely special education technology and teacher education policy and practice. She is the author of two books and over 50 research papers on practice and policy in special education and education reform. The combination of Dr. Irvine Belson’s experience as a K-12 special educator and her focus on interventions that can increase educational outcomes for children with disabilities is a cornerstone of her research and teaching.
In addition to her work in policy and practice, she also collaborates with colleagues across departments at American University, including Kiho Kim (environmental science), John Nolan (mathematics and statistics), and Anastasia Snelling (health promotion), to inform policy and improve outcomes for children.
Dr. Irvine Belson served as dean of the School of Education, Teaching, and Health from 2002 to 2015, a role in which she was pleased to support faculty and students in the pursuit of excellence in the classroom, in the field, and in research.
Dr. Alida Anderson earned her PhD in special education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and teaching interests focus on contextual factors associated with language development and literacy acquisition in children from diverse backgrounds.
Her research projects have focused on the development of literate oral language by preschool-age children with language impairments and typical language, relationships between cross-linguistic features and reading ability in school-age monolingual and bilingual English and Chinese speakers with reading disabilities, and the development and implementation of a response-to-intervention mathematics practice for teaching place value and number concepts to primary-grade students in underserved urban school settings.
Anderson’s current research projects examine the influence of arts integration on school-age students’ oral and written language in academic content area instructional settings. Her recent publications include Arts Integration and Special Education, an edited volume connecting interdisciplinary frameworks in human development and linguistics, special education, and urban education with primary action research by special educators.
Anderson has presented papers at the American Educational Research Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Senior Professorial Lecturer
Jason Snyder’s teaching and research focus on education law and education policy. Prior to joining American University’s faculty, he served as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. He initially joined the Department of Education through the White House Fellows program, a nonpartisan program for public service and leadership.
Snyder previously served as an education-law attorney and social studies teacher. He practiced education and appellate law at Hogan & Hartson LLP, where he advised school districts and drafted briefs in appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court. Before joining the firm, Snyder served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia. He also taught government, history, and economics for six years in public secondary schools and for one year at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing.
Snyder served as student body co-president at Stanford and editor in chief of the California Law Review at Berkeley.
Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez
Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez is a professor of education at American University. She has worked in the field of education for over 30 years. Her research interests are in critical literacy, early literacy, and information communication technology. Her publications include 10 books and numerous book chapters and articles in refereed journals.
Prior to coming to AU, Dr. Vasquez taught preschool and public school for 14 years. She has held appointive and elective offices in scholarly organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English, the American Educational Research Association, the International Literacy Association, and the Whole Language Umbrella. Dr. Vasquez’s awards include the NCTE Advancement of People of Color Leadership Award (2013), the AERA Division B Outstanding Book Award (2006), and the James N. Britton Award (2005). She was also the first recipient of the AERA Teacher Research SIG Dissertation Award (2004). Most recently, the NCTE Early Childhood Assembly honored Dr. Vasquez with a scholarship in her name: the Vivian Vasquez Teacher Scholarship.
Dr. Vasquez is host of the Critical Literacy in Practice Podcast, located at www.clippodcast.com. You can find more regarding her work at http://vivianvasquez.com or https://american.academia.edu/VivianMariaVasquez.
Associate Dean, Academic Affairs and Associate Professor School of Education
Dr. Campbell is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor in the School of Education. Her research, funded by the Spencer Foundation and the National Academy of Education, examines three interrelated streams: college teaching, assessments of higher education quality, and the organizational environments that support faculty in thriving in their careers. Prior to coming to American, Dr. Campbell was Associate Professor in the Higher and Postsecondary Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Campbell’s research has been published in several top-tier journals, such as the Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and Teachers College Record. Her work has been highlighted in news venues, such as Inside Higher Education, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and the New York Times. Dr. Campbell serves on several editorial boards including Review of Higher Education and Review of Educational Research. In 2015, Dr. Campbell was awarded the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. She also served on a committee of the National Academies to assess interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies in college and a committee of the National Center for Education Statistics, revising the national postsecondary sample surveys. Dr. Campbell received her Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, her M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University, and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia.
Executive Director of EdD Program and Senior Professorial Lecturer
Samantha leads the School of Education’s doctoral studies, and she is responsible for launching the inaugural, practitioner based program in education leadership and policy. Samantha teaches courses in the doctoral program and in the masters in education policy and leadership. She started her career as a first grade teacher in Atlanta, working with students and families to build partnerships and future pathways. Samantha believes education ought to unlock potential, rather than serve as a gatekeeper. In addition to teaching, Samantha has held various leadership positions. She’s worked as an instructional coach, district administrator, charter staff member, foundation leader, and served in adjunct roles in higher education at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University School of Education. The unifying elements across her career are teaching, building generational leadership, learning, and deepening her awareness of equity. Samantha is the proud mom of her son, Julian. The challenge of being the mom of a toddler and being a new mom in general, is teaching Samantha to continually remain in learning mode.
Dr. DeCuir is an Education Leadership scholar whose work, broadly speaking, focuses on the intersections of leadership, gender, and diverse cultural contexts to advance social justice.
Dr. Traci Dennis joined AU in 2016 as a Term Faculty. Traci has a strong record of teaching and leadership experience in K-12 urban schools. Traci’s research focuses on issues of social justice in urban education, including advancing culturally relevant and anti-racist teaching practices, and addressing oppressive structures that reproduce educational injustice and perpetuate the marginalization of minoritized students. Traci presents her work at local, national and international conferences. As a teacher educator, Traci is passionate about preparing future teachers to support and educate all learners. She focuses on engaging her students through active learning, application, and incorporation of experiential learning activities that address their different learning styles. Prior to joining AU, Traci was a Manager of Professional Services with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) educational publishing company. Traci was also a Manager of Curriculum and Professional Development for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). While serving in that role Traci led a team of DCPS educators in creating a comprehensive 6-12 literacy curriculum that is aligned with the more rigorous Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The curriculum is now used by secondary English teachers in the District of Columbia Public Schools. During her time at DCPS, Traci also managed the implementation of secondary reading intervention programs for 43 middle and high schools, supported secondary literacy teachers with effective day-to-day instructional planning and designed and delivered professional learning trainings for secondary literacy teachers.
Dr. Olatokunbo (Toks) Fashola is a Research Professor and the Faculty Coordinator for the Dual Enrollment Program at American University. Her current research interests include STEM among underrepresented students in grades K-16, Resiliency theory, Resiliency theory in specialized settings, bilingual education and language and literacy acquisition, opportunities to learn during the non-school hours, culturally relevant program evaluation, and educating African-American Males. She also researches college attendance and dropout prevention programs that have yielded evidence of effectiveness, early childhood education, and wraparound programs. Dr. Fashola utilizes mixed methods to conduct her research, which includes policy analysis, program evaluation, and culturally relevant evaluation and assessment. She also has expertise in randomized field trials (RFTs) and Quasi Experimental Designs and has served as principal investigator, evaluator, and advisor for several programs and program evaluations across the country.
Dr. Jermain Griffin is a May 2017 PhD graduate from Colorado State University. Dr. Griffin has worked with the American Council on Education’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) as a research consultant on higher education internationalization. In 2017, he co-authored research on U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-U.K. higher education partnerships. Dr. Griffin recently co-authored, “Boundaries, bridges, and barriers: collaboration in the borderland context,” in The Future Agenda for Internationalization in Higher Education, an edited volume from the Routledge Internationalization in Higher Education Series. His research continues to focus on the internationalization of higher education in the U.S. and Mexico, primarily. Additionally, he served as the Associate Director of the International Studies Program at Fairfield University for several years. Dr. Griffin also taught courses at Fairfield including International Studies electives and a capstone seminar for the University’s Peace and Justice Studies Program. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (El Salvador 2005-2007) and a former aid worker with Mercy Corps in Sudan.
Director of Education Policy and Leadership Program & Sr Professorial Lecturer
Dr. Reuben Jacobson has worked at the intersection of education research, policy, and practice for nearly 20 years. He is committed to educational change and equity and has substantial experience designing and implementing strategies that bring stakeholders together to work on common challenges. Reuben served as the Deputy Director for the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) where he helped grow and strengthen community schools by mobilizing national partners and local leaders. He has researched and written about the growing field of school and community partnerships for organizations such as the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress. Reuben worked at the American Institutes for Research as an education research analyst and spent two challenging and wonderful years teaching fifth and sixth grade students in D.C. Public Schools as a D.C. Teaching Fellow. He is an alumnus of the Education Pioneers Fellowship and IEL’s Education Policy Fellowship Program.
Annie Karabell joined the Institute for Innovation in Education at the School of Education in 2019. Her research interests include early childhood literacy, reading disabilities, and inclusive instructional practices. She currently serves as the lead instructor for the Leadership Institute in Secondary Special Education (LISSE) and teaches in the Special Education: Learning Disabilities graduate program. Annie is a board member of DC chapter of the International Dyslexia Association and also enjoys mentoring teachers at the DC Reading Clinic. Prior to coming to AU, Annie served as an AmeriCorps volunteer, taught high school English in both public and private schools, led teacher professional development, and worked with students with learning disabilities as a literacy specialist in private practice.
Director for the Special Education Program
Adelaide Kelly-Massoud is the Director of the MA in Special Education: Learning Disabilities program. Adelaide received her undergraduate from the University of Connecticut. Soon after she received her Master’s in Special Education and Human Development from The George Washington University. Adelaide is currently completing her doctorate in Special Education and Applied Neuroscience from The George Washington University. Over the years Adelaide has worked in special education in a variety of roles, including over seven years as a special education teacher and instructional coach. She has served as a faculty member at George Washington University teaching a wide range of courses. Her areas of expertise include teacher development, autism, as well as emotional and behavior disorders. Adelaide completes scholarly work using qualitative methodology and is passionate about mixed methods approaches to inform the field of special education. Adelaide has presented at national and international conferences.
Dr. Brian L. McGowan is an Associate Professor of Education and Associate Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University. Dr. McGowan earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Indiana University with a minor in Sociology. His research seeks to illuminate how minoritized populations experience higher education. More specifically, his research explores Black men’s achievement, identity development, interpersonal relationships, and inclusive teaching and learning practices in postsecondary educational settings. Dr. McGowan’s scholarship and professional practice have been praised through awards and honors including the Tracy L. Davis Outstanding Emerging Research Award from ACPA’s Coalition on Men and Masculinities, UNCG’s School of Education Distinguished Research Scholar Award, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Melvene D. Hardee Dissertation Award, and the Emerging Professional Award from The Ohio State University Higher Education and Student Affairs Program. He co-edited Men and masculinities: Theoretical foundations and promising practices for supporting college men’s development (Stylus, 2019) and Black men in the academy: Narratives of resiliency, achievement, and success (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). In 2017, Dr. McGowan co-edited a special issue of the Journal of College and University Student Housing dedicated to social justice. Dr. McGowan has delivered over 50 presentations and invited talks at professional conferences and postsecondary institutions across the country on issues related to equity, inclusion, diversity and social justice. Dr. McGowan is active in several professional associations, including the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and the ACPA-College Student Educators International. He most recently served on the editorial board of the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice. Prior to joining American University, he was a tenure track professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Indiana State University. He also served as a project associate for the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research primarily working with the National Survey of Student Engagement. Dr. McGowan has also held several positions within student affairs administration including housing and residence life, new student orientation, and career services. Given his expertise in retention and persistence of college men of color, Dr. McGowan was invited to be part of three conversations with 150 educational researchers, evaluators, and community advocates through Research, Integration, Strategies, and Evaluation (RISE) for Boys and Men of Color, a $10 million-dollar national field advancement initiative in 2016 and 2017.
Professor of Education and Sociology
Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss is Professor of Education and Sociology at the American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Miller-Idriss’ research follows two trajectories: the first focused on the aesthetic and cultural dimensions of far right youth extremism and school-based responses to rising hate, and the second on the internationalization of US higher education and the production and legitimization of knowledge about the world outside of the United States. Miller-Idriss’ most recent books include The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany (Princeton University Press, 2018); Seeing the World: How U.S. Universities Produce Knowledge about the World (with Mitchell Stevens and Seteney Shami, Princeton University Press, 2018); Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany (Duke University Press, 2009). She is author of over two dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and essays on nationalism, extremism, education, higher education and internationalization. In addition to her academic writing, Dr. Miller-Idriss writes frequently for the mainstream press on youth radicalization, extremism, education and parenting, most recently for CNN.style, The Guardian, Le Monde, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, and Fortune. She is currently at work on a new book, Hate in the Homeland: The Places and Spaces of the New U.S. Far Right. Dr. Miller-Idriss’ research has been funded by grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Economic and Social Research Council (U.K.) and the Goethe Institute, among others. From 2009-2012 she was a nominated fellow in the Teagle Foundation’s National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. She has received several research and teaching awards, including the 2019 DC Sociological Society’s Morris Rosenberg Award and a 2013-14 global fellowship from Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies at the Universität zu Köln, Germany. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Analysis on the Radical Right (CARR) and an active member of the American Sociological Association, the Council for European Studies, the Comparative and International Education Society and the German Studies Association. Prior to her arrival at American University in August 2013, Dr. Miller-Idriss served on the faculty at NYU for a decade, and has also taught previously at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. (magna cum laude) in Sociology and German Area Studies from Cornell University. At American University, Miller-Idriss teaches courses on culture, identity, extremism, education, research methods, and globalization.
Director of Intl Training and Education Program and Sr Professorial Lecturer
Dr. Emily (Markovich) Morris is a scholar and educator of comparative education and international development whose research explores questions of social justice and equity through formal and nonformal education. In her professional and academic journeys, Dr. Morris has been collaborating closely with non-government and community-based organizations, government agencies, as well as multilateral institutions working across the global south(s), including sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, on policy development, teacher training and curriculum design, education radio programming, community advocacy, and literacy instruction. Her current research examines gendered experiences and aspirations in schooling and in livelihoods development. Since 2007, Dr. Morris has been leading a longitudinal research study with educators from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training in Zanzibar, Tanzania. This mixed-methods research tracks youth from preschool through secondary school and uses the popular theater approach to critically interrogate the gendered ways in which young people are pushed out of school. With two decades of experience in program management and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) initiatives, Dr. Morris has led evaluations of programs facilitated by Education Development Center, USAID, MasterCard Foundation, Department for International Development, Echidna Giving, The Brookings Institution, among others. She braids together theories, praxis, and arts-based methodologies into her pedagogical practices in the classroom and enjoys mentoring students pursuing careers in the fields of education and international development.
Director of Center for Postsecondary Readiness & Success
Dr. Laura Owen, Director, Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success and Research Associate Professor at American University, focuses on evaluating the impact of interventions and programs designed to address the persistent equity and access issues that so many students across the country face.
Director of Master of Arts in Teaching Program and Sr Professorial Lecturer
Carolyn Parker is the Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program in the School of Education. She began her career as a science educator as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. Upon her return to the United States, she earned an M.A. in science teaching and then taught high school science in New York State and Miami, Florida. Dr. Parker earned her Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland College Park. Dr. Parker’s current research focus is twofold, focusing on teacher education and issues of equity and access in STEM education. Most recently, Dr. Parker was a principal investigator of a National Science Foundation Math-Science Partnership award, STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES). The SABES project served nine high poverty Baltimore City elementary schools by improving STEM curriculum and instruction. The project included research focused on the development and delivery of rigorous curriculum supported by intensive and sustained teacher professional development that included in-school coaching, peer classroom visits and content intensive STEM Academies In addition to the school day component, the project offered a STEM-focused, out-of-school day program where students completed engineering-focused projects relevant to local communities. Dr. Parker’s has authored numerous book chapters, technical reports, and peer-reviewed papers. Her work appears in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, and Cultural Studies in Science Education. Prior to her arrival at American University, Dr. Parker taught the Johns Hopkins School of Education and the George Washington University.
Emily Grossnickle Peterson
Dr. Emily Grossnickle Peterson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Psychology Department and the Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience PhD program. She joined the faculty at AU in 2017 after receiving a PhD in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology with a specialization in Educational Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. In her research, Dr. Peterson applies methods from educational psychology and cognitive neuroscience to investigate cognitive and motivational factors that support (or hinder) student learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Her current research examines questions such as why spatial reasoning skills predict science achievement and how teachers support student curiosity.
Robert D. Shand is Assistant Professor in the School of Education at American University. He received his Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. A former high school economics and government teacher, his interests lie at the intersection of research, policy and practice. His current research focuses on teacher improvement through collaboration and professional development and how schools and teachers use data from economic evaluation and accountability systems to make decisions and improve over time. Recent work with colleagues at the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College has emphasized the unique opportunities and methodological challenges of evaluating complex partnership programs, including the university-school-community partnership Raising Educational Achievement Coalition of Harlem, and the comprehensive student support program, City Connects. He is a co-author of the third edition of Economic Evaluation in Education: Cost-Effectiveness and Benefit-Cost Analysis, and he has contributed to publications in the American Journal of Evaluation, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.
Dr. Jennifer L. Steele is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at American University, and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Her research, which emphasizes quantitative methods that support causal inference, focuses on urban education policy at the K-12 and postsecondary levels. She recently led a five-year federally-funded evaluation of an urban school leader preparation program, and she currently co-leads a study funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to examine achievement effects of a statewide scale-up of dual-language immersion education in Utah. The latter work builds on a randomized study of dual-language immersion benefits and costs that she led in Portland, Oregon, also with IES funding. Her other work, which has been funded by entities such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Council on Education, and the Lumina Foundation, has examined the distribution of teacher effectiveness in urban districts; teachers’ responsiveness to financial incentives for working in low-performing schools; implementation of the Post-9⁄11 GI Bill; and effects of competency-based education in five states. She previously worked as a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, as a teacher at the elementary and secondary levels, and as a manager of teacher recruitment and training for a private education company. She received her doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University.
Elizabeth A. Worden
Dr. Elizabeth Anderson Worden is a comparative and international education scholar who examines how governments foster identities and belonging through education during social and political transition. Her current project focuses on teacher agency, citizenship education, and the legacy of educational reform in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Her work questions the actual power that schooling has in changing deep-rooted values and beliefs. This research has been funded by a Fulbright Scholar Fellowship and a four-year appointment as a visiting professor to the School of Education and UNESCO Centre at Ulster University in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Dr. Worden’s book National Identity and Education Reform: Contested Classrooms (Routledge 2014) examines these issues in the context of Post-Soviet Moldova. Her work has appeared in Comparative Education, Journal of European Education, Globalisation, Societies, and Education, and Comparative Education Review. Dr. Worden’s larger research interests include history teaching, history textbooks, memory, citizenship education, education and transitional justice, nationalism and national identity, and international exchange. Some of courses she teaches at AU include Comparative and International Education, International Education Exchange: Policies and Practices, and Education and Transitional Justice. Dr. Worden is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Moldova 1997-1999) and she enjoys having fellow RPCVs in her classes.