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College of Education professor receives NSF grant

Friday, May 5, 2017


The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to fund a project directed by the College of Education’s Dr. Yi Leaf Zhang. The grant for the project, titled “CAREER: Understanding Community College Transfer Students' STEM Choice, Performance, Persistence, and STEM Baccalaureate Degree Attainment: A Typological Analysis”, is expected to total $452,257 over five years.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Program is committed to promoting the role of teacher-scholars. The National Science Foundation funds research and education in science and engineering through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

“The faculty members of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies are extremely proud of the accomplishment of Dr. Zhang, our esteemed colleague,” said Dr. Casey Brown, professor and interim chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “Dr. Zhang works tirelessly to fulfill her research agenda and we are thrilled that NSF has honored her work.”

“I feel humbled and blessed to win this prestigious award,” says Dr. Zhang. “Through this project, I hope to develop a community college transfer student typology (i.e., a mixture of distinct subgroups) and to discover the relationships between reference group membership and transfer students’ STEM choice, performance, persistence, and STEM baccalaureate degree attainment.

“I also plan to provide a better understanding of how transfer students in each reference group navigate their way to college and STEM success,” she continues, “including the unique challenges that they encounter, strategies that they have applied, and policies and practices that can best satisfy their needs for achievement.”

Before coming to UTA, Dr. Yi Zhang served as a postdoctoral fellow at Iowa State University. Her research focuses on college access, student mobility and student success, particularly in a community college context. She has published articles in a number of journals including Community College Review, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, and Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. Dr. Zhang has taught at UTA since 2012.

CAREER grant

(l to r) Dr. Yi (Leaf) Zhang and Dr. Ann Cavallo

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