2013 News

International Student WelcomeFirst annual Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology international student welcome reception

Dec. 4—This semester the department welcomed their international students from a variety of countries with a well-attended International Student Welcome reception. This reception was for the department's graduate students and many nationalities were represented on Sept. 12.

The students had the opportunity to talk with one another and meet and mingle with faculty members. This new event is something the department plans to throw for many years to come. The feedback from both students and faculty was very positive both on the event and the food!

Journal publication

Louann Bierlein-Palmer and Ewa Urban.

Dec. 4—A recent graduate from WMU’s educational leadership Ph.D. program, Dr. Ewa Urban, along with her advisor, an educational leadership, research and technology faculty member, Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer, recently had an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Studies in International Education. This article describes the results from a cross-sectional survey examining the perceptions of undergraduate and graduate international students enrolled at a public university in the Midwest, regarding international students’ perspectives on how their university engages them as cultural resources, and how such engagement might impact students’ perceptions of the value they receive from U.S. higher education. 

This study offers some areas of potential interventions that can help higher education leaders systematically address some contextual factors and ultimately positively impact the learning outcomes of all students. Adopting a more systemic approach to campus internationalization can enhance international students’ perception of the value of their U.S. educational experience. Integrating inter cultural perspectives into classes, purposefully creating multicultural groups and teams for class projects, and encouraging American students to get to know their international peers and learn about their countries and cultures, can do this. 

A very important aspect of engaging international students as cultural resources is creating an environment where domestic and international students have abundant opportunities for interactions and feel comfortable sharing information about their respective backgrounds. Reciprocal cultural learning is undoubtedly beneficial for both international and domestic students, but for such learning to take place, meaningful cross-cultural interactions need to be encouraged and supported by higher education institutions. Although cross-cultural interactions occur mostly at the personal and informal level, the institutional level is the most crucial in creating the structures to facilitate increased interactions between international and domestic students. 

Such changes can positively affect international students’ perceptions of U.S. higher education and increase their professional and personal outcomes. Ultimately, meaningful engagement of international students as equal partners in the internationalization of U.S. campuses can contribute to the recruitment and retention of international talent to positively impact institutional internationalization efforts. 

The study identifies multiple areas of opportunities for higher education to facilitate international students’ active contributions to the university’s strategic goal of global engagement and internationalization while also positively impacting the manner in which international students perceive their higher education experience.

These findings enrich existing literature about international students’ professional and personal expectations and outcomes by providing specific examples of the areas in which students benefit the most and the least, as well as suggesting potential areas of students’ experiences that can be impacted to increase their personal and professional gains.

Book information: Urban, E. L., and Bierlein Palmer, L. (in press). International Students as a Resource for Internationalization of Higher Education. Journal of Studies in International Education.

Alumna named to NASPAA

Dr. Barbara LiggettNov. 20—An educational leadership graduate, Dr. Barbara Liggett, has recently been named to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration’s Executive Council. Liggett is an associate professor and director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration here at Western Michigan University.

After leadership positions at WMU since 1980 that include associate vice president of human resources, executive advisor to the president and associate to the vice president of business and finance, she joined the WMU faculty. Her current research and consultation work focuses on ethical decision-making in public and nonprofit organizations. She has been serving as director of WMU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration since 2010, after a one-year interim director position.

Liggett also has the highest certificate of human resources, a senior professional, signifying demonstrated strategic mastery of human resources.

Educational leadership team receives new grant

Nov. 13—On Sept. 27, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new, nearly $5 million grant to Western Michigan University's educational leadership team to continue to improve the line of work with school principals, with even a sharper focus on student achievement. The new project will be led by Dr. Jianping Shen, Dr. Nancy Mansberger and Dr. Walter Burt, joined by other faculty members and consultants. The project, supported by the U.S. Department of Education School Leadership Grant Program, will be from 2013 to 2018.

Dr. Ramona LewisFaculty coordinator awarded grant for research


Oct. 21—Dr. Ramona Lewis was awarded an internally funded grant for $1,875 for her research on Experiences of African American older adult learners.

Professor selected as peer reviewer for "District Race to the Top" competition

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Oct. 17—Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer has once again been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as a peer reviewer for the second round of the “District Race To The Top” competition. She had also previously served in this role for both rounds of the “State Race To The Top” competition.

Gary MironEvaluation, measurement and research professor among the most influential education scholars in the nation


July 1—A June 2013 national study of education scholars prepared by EdWeek and the American Enterprise Institute rated Professor Gary Miron, evaluation, measurement and research,  among the most influential education scholars in the nation. He was the highest ranked education professor in Michigan and had the second highest ranking in the Midwest. This ranking is based on how often a scholar's body of research is cited by other academics and the national media.

2013 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings

Dr. Manuel J. BrenesEvaluation, measurement and research graduate named principal at Grand Rapids area school


June 18—Dr. Manuel J. Brenes has been named principal of San Juan Diego Academy, a Grand Rapids area K-8 Catholic school that meets the needs of Latino immigrant children. Brenes earned a Ph.D. in evaluation, measurement and research from Western Michigan University in 2012.

ABC News article: San Juan Diego Academy names new principal

Gary MironProfessor lead editor of new book


April 22—Gary Miron, professor in educational leadership, research and technology, was lead editor of a new book titled "Exploring the School Choice Universe: Evidence and Recommendations." The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., held a symposium in connection with the launch of this new book which was televised by CSPAN.

Higher education and student affairs leadership master's students win case study

March 19—Four master’s students in the higher education and student affairs leadership program within the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology won first place in the 12th annual Virtual Case Study Competition from The Journal of Technology in Student Affairs. Jaclyn Rivard, Meredith Atchison, Kira Dow and Emily Lott presented on the topic of using social media.

View the team's presentation

Organizational leadership and performance students complete capstone

March 19—Last fall, the WMU board of trustees approved changing the name of the human resources development master’s program in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology to the Master of Arts in leadership for organizational learning and performance. In addition, the program has moved to the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology. The curriculum was refined and the name changed to reflect contemporary practice in the field. December of 2012 was the first graduating class in the new program. The following are capstone projects that OLP students completed this semester. 

  • A Process Improvement Project: Cross Functional Billing Processes in a Nationally Recognized Insurance Company, Doni B. Robertson, December 2012. 

  • Implementing Employee Onboarding and Student Orientation Programs: An Analysis of Change Management, Project Planning, and Program Design, Carrie Rhein, December 2012.

  • New Hire Orientation Transformation: An evaluation of the New Hire Training Program and Recommendations for Improvement, Britany Depore Levin, December 2012.

  • Behavior Based Interviewing: The Key To Selecting Highly Qualified Staff, Gaoqi Hu, December 2012. 

  • Designing and Implementing an Evaluation Plan for a Physician Leadership Program, Thomas B. Morley, December 2012.

Graduate student and faculty member to present

Feb. 26—Carl Westine, interdisciplinary program in evaluation graduate student, and Dr. Jessaca Spybrook, assistant professor of educational leadership, research and technology, will be presenting a paper at the upcoming meeting for the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. The paper, "Improving the Design of Science Intervention Studies: An Empirical Investigation of Design Parameters for Planning Group Randomized Trials," is the funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Jessaca SpybrookSpybrook to conduct half-day workshop

Feb. 19—Dr. Jessaca Spybrook, assistant professor of educational leadership, research and technology, will be conducting a half-day workshop, "Optimal Design Plus Empirical Evidence," at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in March. Spybrook is a co-author of the Optimal Design software and documentation that will be featured in the workshop.

Doctoral student and professor to present at conference

Feb. 19—Dr. Dave Louis, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology, and doctoral student Scott Michel will be presenting at the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education in Atlanta this February. The presentation addresses the experiences of black and white faculty as they mentor students of other ethnicities. The presentation is an extension of their article entitled "Frantz Fanon ambivalence revisited in America’s faculty: Narratives of black and white faculty struggles with cross cultural mentoring" which was published in the winter 2013 issue of the National Journal of Urban Education & Practice.

Three educational leadership students' work in press

Jan. 15—Three doctoral students in educational leadership have one journal article and two book chapters in press and three AERA presentations accepted.

Three doctoral students in educational leadership—Mr. Izumi Musashi, who just graduated in December, and Mr. Jiangang Xia and Mr. Xingyuan Gao, who are current doctoral students—have one journal article and two book chapters in press, and three papers accepted for presentation at 2013 AERA.  

Izumi, M., Shen, J., Xia, J. (in press). Determinants of graduation rate of public alternative schools. Education and Urban Society.

Xia, J., Shen, J. and Cooley, V.E. (in press). Coherent curriculum. In J. Shen & V. E. Cooley (Eds.), A resource book for improving principals' learning-centered leadership. New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang Publishing.

Gao, X., Xia, J., Shen, J., Ma, X. (in press). Participation in and reflection on a quality improvement system: Perspectives from practitioners. In Shen, J., Ma, X. et al., Quality rating and improvement system for early care and education: Development, implementation, evaluation and learning. New York, N.Y.: Peter Lang.

Xia, J. (accepted). Is educational evaluation a profession yet in China? A brief review. Paper to be presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, April 27‒May 1, 2013, San Francisco, Calif.

Xia, J., Izumi, M., and Shen, J. (accepted). What influences teacher job satisfaction in public alternative schools? A multi-level study using SASS 2007-08. Paper to be presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, April 27‒May 1, 2013, San Francisco, Calif.

Gao, X., Shen, J., and Xia, J. (accepted). Is there an association between data-informed school-level improvement efforts and data-informed instruction at the classroom level? A test of the theory "school as a loosely coupled organization." Paper to be presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, April 27‒May 1, 2013, San Francisco, Calif.