From the Dean – Winter 2017

A new year. Perhaps even a new era. During periods of intense change it never hurts to refocus one’s energies on the basics.

In education, it doesn’t get much more basic than math and language. This issue’s cover story takes a wide-angle look at math teaching, including the work of faculty members across several departments.

From the earliest recognition of patterns by toddlers, to the opportunities made possible by technology, to considerations of the ways that gender, culture or race come into play in mathematics learning, Peabody scholars are advancing ideas about how to dispel myths and make teaching more effective.

I am proud that the college has the talents of Paul Cobb, Dale Farran, Lisa Fazio, Melissa Gresalfi, Rogers Hall, Ilana Horn, Nicole Joseph, Luis Leyva, Ebony McGee, Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Tesha Sengupta-Irving, and others who focus on mathematics teaching and learning.

On the verbal side, Professor Georgene Troseth and graduate student Collen Russo Johnson are conducting research and developing innovative technology applications to help the very youngest learners enrich their vocabularies and language skills. Parents, too, will find help in Troseth and Russo Johnson’s ideas about engaging children with questions while reading books together.

“Peabody scholars are advancing ideas about how to dispel myths and make teaching more effective.”

—Camilla P. Benbow

At the other end of the learning progression, Will Doyle studies higher education and the financial aid policies that determine whether families can pay for the post-secondary training so important to long-term success. As the lead analyst of a major recent college affordability study, Doyle points to reduced state-level investments and wide disparities in support across states as serious threats to one of the United States’ crowning achievements, its higher education system.

Affordability is a watchword for Vanderbilt, of course, and we are deeply committed to ensuring that cost will not obstruct qualified students from enrolling. The Opportunity Vanderbilt program has been a help to several of the inspiring undergraduates profiled in this issue. I hope you will enjoy reading their stories as well.

Camilla Persson Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development