Professional News

Groundbreaking Israeli Scholar Visits UK to Learn About New Teaching Practices


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 12, 2016) Fadia Nasser-Abu Alhija, the first Israeli Arab woman to be appointed an associate professor at an Israeli research university, spent the day recently with Brian Bottge and his Institute of Education Sciences grant team in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Kentucky College of Education.

Nasser-Abu Alhija is a professor in the Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education at Tel Aviv University, where she heads the Center for Advancement of Teaching. Accompanying Nasser-Abu Alhija was her husband, Adnan Abu Alhija, and Allan Cohen and Hye-Jeong Choi from the University of Georgia.

Cohen and Choi are co-principal investigators on Bottge’s four-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) to develop more sophisticated measurement tools for assessing the conceptual understanding and procedural skills of students with disabilities in math. NCSER is one of four centers within the Institute of Education Sciences, which serves as the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The Israeli visitors had read about Enhanced Anchored Instruction (EAI), and they came to UK to learn more about it.

“The work being done here is remarkable, and the results so far are very promising, not only in terms of the mathematics achievement but also in terms of the students’ attitudes towards learning mathematics, their self-efficacy regarding doing mathematics, and their motivation to be engaged in mathematics learning,” Nasser-Abu Alhija said seeing several of the EAI units. “Definitely the EAI units could be used in Israel after making some changes so they align with the Israeli contexts.”

Bottge’s UK grant team also displayed the new math assessments developed for the Institute of Education Sciences grant and discussed the research designs for evaluating them.

Cohen, professor of educational psychology in the quantitative methods program and director of the Georgia Center for Assessment, praised the work on the new assessments as being “truly impressive.” Cohen also noted that “the use of the iPad makes these assessments more accessible to students who have difficulty in math. They have been developed to get at underlying cognitive processes of students so they can show us what they really understand about math concepts. Aligning what and how students learn in class to what and how assessments measure is very important. This information is sure to help teachers get a more accurate picture of their students’ math skills.”

Nasser-Abu Alhija was a high school math teacher in Tira, Israel, prior to completing her doctoral degree in educational psychology at the University of Georgia (UGA). During her studies at UGA, she was the research coordinator for the GRE testing program at Educational Testing Service. She became the first Israeli Arab woman appointed to an Israeli research university in 2010, about 30 years after she began her teaching career.

The UK grant team consists of Brian Bottge (PI), Xin Ma (Co-PI), Linda Gassaway (project manager), Enrique Rueda (multimedia artist), and Meg Gravil and Megan Jones (research assistants).

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