Kame’enui delivers Presidential Research Lecture

Edward Kame'enui's lecture (photo by Lewis Taylor)

Developing a plan to assure that educators are teaching and students are learning might seem like a no brainer, but at many public schools it’s merely an afterthought.

That was one of the messages offered by UO professor of education Edward Kame'enui on Wednesday night during the Fall 2013 Presidential Research Lecture. Creating a blueprint for instruction based on solid scientific evidence should be a central focus of our public schools, argued Kame’enui, the Dean Knight Professor of Education and founding director of the UO’s Center on Teaching and Learning (CTL).

Titled “Accelerating the Academic Achievement of Struggling Learners: Why the Architecture of Instruction Matters,” the public lecture was sponsored by the UO office for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education. Kame’enui walked the audience through several decades’ worth of educational research, including breakthrough theories related to “the architecture of instruction” by the UO’s Zig Engelmann and Doug Carnine during the 1980s. He detailed the challenges of educational research, a field he described as “a formative science.”

“Education is a multidisciplinary canvas ... it is, some would argue, very messy work,” Kame’enui said, describing some of the complexities he and his colleagues faced in studying how learning takes place.

Kame’enui spoke of the UO legacy of educational research. The UO College of Education ranks first nationally for education research dollars earned per faculty member. As the director of the CTL, Kame’enui oversees 78 staff members working on 16 research projects representing approximately $30 million of federally funded research.

“I’m singularly privileged, but I don’t take this (honor) personally,” Kame’enui said of being chosen as the Presidential Research Lecturer. “It’s not about me, it’s about the legacy of research of the College of Education.”

During opening remarks, UO President Michael Gottfredson introduced Kame’enui as a national leader in his field. Pointing to his many areas of expertise — literacy research, reading improvement, vocabulary development, and the design of instruction — Gottfredson said Keme’enui was well-positioned to speak on the subject of educational research. Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the UO Graduate School, echoed those sentiments.

“The research efforts of Dr. Kame’enui and his colleagues in the College of Education and the Center on Teaching and Learning are yielding critical insights into the processes that inform learning,” Espy said. “They are creating promising intervention strategies that are helping to prevent struggling learners from developing in the first place.”

In his lecture, Kame’enui referenced some of those interventions — including NumberShire, a suite of educational tools developed at the CTL that employs gaming technology to maximize student engagement, interest and motivation in foundational early mathematics. Following the presentation, Kame’enui entertained questions from the audience, including several queries regarding how to apply scholarly research in the classroom. He said arming educators with tools and technologies for learning and providing administrators with reliable research data and various means of assessment were both key to encouraging implementation and further research.

“Having a program (that defines the architecture of instruction),” Kame’enui concluded, “Actually allows for more flexibility than not having a program.”

The Spring 2014 UO Presidential Research Lecture will be held the week of March 3-7. The lecture will be delivered by UO English professor Gordon Sayre.

- by Lewis Taylor, UO office of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education