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Niagara University professors to present 3 papers at international conference

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Wed, Nov 30th 2016 02:40 pm

Entering its second century in existence, the American Educational Research Association is one of the world's foremost academic research societies. Its annual meeting draws more than 15,000 international scholars to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.

Having one paper accepted for presentation at the annual meeting, therefore, is considered a significant achievement. Having three approved - out of this year's nearly 13,000 submissions - is "humbling and beyond my expectations," says Dr. Vince Rinaldo, who will make a trio of presentations next April 27-May 1 in San Antonio, the site of AERA's 2017 annual meeting.

Rinaldo, professor and an associate dean in Niagara University's College of Education in Ontario, coauthored two of the papers with Dr. Thomas Sheeran, a senior faculty member in NU's College of Education. The third was written with Dr. Maritza Branker, chair of Niagara's mathematics department.

In "Teacher Candidate Dispositions: Assessing the Intangible," Rinaldo and Sheeran examine how the dispositions of pre-service teachers, particularly with increasing diversity in classrooms, meet the needs of all students, but especially those on the social fringe. Teacher preparation programs must ensure graduates possess not only the requisite content and pedagogical knowledge, but also the dispositions to teach. The focus of this study is on the empirical assessment of teacher candidate dispositions through an instrument and process designed and implemented by Niagara University as an integral part of its academic programs in the College of Education.

Their second study, "Measuring and Evaluating Dispositional Affect: Addressing the Elephant in the Room," seeks to improve teacher education programs by developing a better understanding of how dispositions can be conceptualized across teaching and learning contexts, while also exploring how such conceptualizations can be taught, coached and enacted within practice. Accordingly, this paper examines different ways teacher education institutions currently address dispositional understandings, growth and coaching, enactment, and assessment through unique conceptualizations across diverse teacher preparation programs.

"Identity Loss: Achieving the Promise of Equal Education Through an Understanding of Institutional Purpose," the paper coauthored by Rinaldo and Branker, looks at how the paradigm shift from student to consumer has caused colleges and universities across North America to struggle with their identity and purpose as they continue to move further away from the liberal arts base that was once the bedrock of postsecondary education. The paper states universities and colleges need to return to a holistic vision of education that focuses on the individual and not the profession. In doing so, they will need to develop more unique identities that will enable them to function as either a college or a university in a manner that will encourage diversity without the risk of being penalized through a lack of funding.

"These accomplishments are emblematic of the excellence and collaborative nature of Niagara University faculty members," said Dr. Tim Ireland, interim provost. "I extend congratulations to Drs. Rinaldo, Sheeran and Branker on behalf of all us at NU."

Rinaldo joined the NU faculty in January 2002, earning full professor status in 2011. In addition to his teaching duties, he has served the university by writing policies and through a number of college and university committees. Rinaldo holds a bachelor's degree from McMaster University, two master's degrees from Niagara University and another from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and a doctorate from OISE.

Sheeran is the author of over 50 articles, book chapters and monographs, and has presented more than 100 papers and workshops at conferences and colleges across the globe. He earned his bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Ithaca College. He subsequently earned a second master's degree in educational administration from Niagara University, a certificate of advanced studies in educational administration from Niagara and a doctorate in education from the University at Buffalo. In addition to his responsibilities as a faculty member, Sheeran has served as town justice in the Town of Lewiston for over two decades.

Along with chairing NU's math department, Branker is director of the university's actuarial science program. She is the corresponding secretary for New York's ETA chapter of the Kappa Mu Epsilon national mathematics honor society and faculty adviser for the math and actuarial club. Branker earned a master's degree from the University of Western Ontario and a doctorate from the University of Toronto.

AERA, founded in 1916, is concerned with improving the educational process by encouraging scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation and by promoting the dissemination and practical application of research results. Its 20,000 members are educators; administrators; directors of research, testing or evaluation in federal, state and local agencies; counselors; evaluators; graduate students; and behavioral scientists. The broad range of disciplines represented by the membership includes education, psychology, statistics, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, anthropology and political science.

Niagara University's College of Education offers undergraduategraduate and doctoral programs. It holds Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accreditation in the U.S., Ministerial Consent through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario, and accreditation through the Ontario College of Teachers.

Niagara University has had a strong presence in Ontario for the past four decades, educating Canadian students both on its New York campus and at various sites in the greater Toronto region of Canada.

To learn more, visit www.niagara.edu/education.

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