News Briefs: Grants & Accolades

June 4, 2022


Dr. Mack D. Burke

Dr. Mack D. Burke, professor of Educational Psychology, is the lead principal investigator of two significant federal grant awards focused on English learners and disabilities.

Project ¡LEER! is a five-year interdisciplinary project that includes faculty from Texas A&M University and University of Texas at San Antonio as collaborators. The grant is funded for $3 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition. Project ¡LEER! will provide professional development and technical assistance to general, special, bilingual, and ESL teachers on evidence-based practices focused on improving reading and social-emotional outcomes of English learners with disabilities. The project will partner with high-need school districts serving a large proportion of English learners with or at-risk of disabilities, especially learning- and language-based disabilities.

Project DIVERSE is a five-year interdisciplinary project that also includes faculty collaborators from Texas A&M and The University of Texas at San Antonio. This $3.7 million grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The project will prepare 15 PhD students (five per university) with the expertise to engage in scholarship focused on culturally and linguistically diverse learners with disabilities and their families. Project DIVERSE will produce a unique and diverse cohort of doctoral scholars to assume leadership positions in higher education proficient in carrying out empirical research at the intersection of culture, disability, language acquisition, and social-emotional learning.


Two School of Education doctoral students earned accolades in Baylor Graduate School’s annual student awards.

Noah Padgett

Noah Padgett, doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology, received the Research Award for the social science category. Applicants are judged on their body of research — the quality of their research projects, participation in research events and conferences, research presentations and publications — and faculty recommendations. Padgett has published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and delivered over 10 scholarly presentations at professional conferences. His dissertation is titled “Misclassification Errors Informed by Response Time in Item Factor Analysis.”

Nate Scholten

Nate Scholten, doctoral candidate in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, received the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for the social science category for teaching the course Secondary Social Studies Practicum in the fall 2021 semester to junior level Teaching Associates. He has also taught Social Studies Methods and Middle Grades Social Studies. A former high school social studies teacher, Scholten also earned his MSEd at Baylor. The Graduate School nominates candidates based on teaching evaluations by students, and a panel of judges selects final award winners based on recommendation letters from students and faculty, a statement of teaching philosophy, and participation in programs designed to increase teaching skill.


Book on Gifted Education

Dr. Todd Kettler, associate professor and department chair in Educational Psychology, has published Personalized Learning in Gifted Education: Differentiated Instruction that Maximizes Students’ Potential with co-author Cheryl Taliaferro, who is district liaison for ASPIRE Academy for Highly Gifted Students and teaches graduate courses at Texas A&M University.

The book provides a rationale for a personalized approach to gifted education and offers practical guidance to educators about how to differentiate instruction to develop the specific talents of gifted students. It offers guidance for both elementary and secondary schools and shows how educators can use available data to enhance their teaching. The book covers five features of personalized learning — personalized learning plans, project- or problem-based learning, competency-based progression though curriculum, criterion-referenced assessments, and multi-year mentoring.

Kettler is also program director of Baylor’s Gifted Education program and co-editor of the Journal of Advanced Academics.