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Meet the Acting Dean for SOE

News Story

In this Q&A with the new Acting Dean for the School of Education, Xiao-lei Wang, PhD, shares her hopes for the future of the school and her wishes for continued success.

Written and interviewed by Jennifer Argenta, Coordinator of Communications for the School of Education

Newly appointed by President Friedman as the Acting Dean of the School of Education, Xiao-lei Wang, PhD, brings global perspectives and extensive research and educational experience to the position. Having worked with her while I was a graduate student at Pace University School of Education years ago, I am pleased to introduce her to the Pace Community as an accomplished full professor, dedicated mentor, interdisciplinary scholar, and innovative leader.

She received her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Chicago. Her research covers a wide range of topics, such as cultural parenting styles, the effects of nonverbal communication on teaching and learning, multilingual development, and moral development. She has been published on these topics in academic journals, and she is frequently invited to speak on these topics internationally. Her books Growing up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven, Learning to Read and Write in Multilingual Families, Understanding Language and Literacy Development: Diverse Learners in the Classroom, and People without Borders: Becoming Members of Global Communities have explored multiple language learning and global issues from a unique angle. Her forthcoming book Keeping up with Three Languages: Adolescence will advance discussion of these issues further.

Jennifer Argenta: Dean Wang, over the past few years, it seems like the field of education has been in the news a lot lately, regarding the many transitions that are occurring with the public education system and new trends in teaching. What exciting things are happening in the School of Education in response to some of these changes?

Xiao-lei Wang: To respond to the current trends in education, we have developed some new programs such as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Inclusive Adolescent Education. These new programs will provide our graduates with competitive advantages in the job market. We will continue to create more exciting programs that are responsive to the educational needs of our students.

Moreover, Professor Gerald Ardito and Professor Sandy Flank are currently working with mathematics and science teachers in the Peekskill City School District, through professional development and coursework that’s geared toward enhancing science and math content and project-based pedagogy. 

Professor Ardito, along with Dyson Physics Professors Mohsen Shiri-Garakani and Rofeideh Mansourian, is also continuing work on the Saturday Science Academies that are conducted on Pace’s Westchester Campus, and eight sessions of “Product Claim Science” with the participants in the White Plains school district. These programs serve students in grades 4–8.

New interdisciplinary connections are being created, such as the exciting course that Professor Joan Walker will offer in collaboration with Julie Lawrence-Edsell, a professor in the Performing Arts Department. This course, titled "Getting What You Want: The Art and Science of Persuasion," explores active exploration of the self, the self with others, and the self in groups.

Furthermore, 10 visiting professors from China are enrolled in an education class titled “Trends and Issues in American and International Education,” which has provided us with platform for sharing information and creating international discourse on educational practice.

JA: The faculty members at the School of Education have a range of interests and expertise. What kind of scholarly work and grants have they produced recently?

XLW: In 2014, the 14 tenured and tenure-track faculty members were quite productive! In total there were 6 books, 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, 12 book chapters, 133 conference presentations and 7 external grants. Among those grants awarded was the single largest grant in the history of Pace University—a $5 million National Science Foundation grant which was awarded to Professor Lauren Birney and her colleague at Seidenberg, Associate Dean Jonathan Hill.

In addition, professors Leslie Soodak and Roberta Weiner’s million-dollar federal grant has helped the SOE design a cutting-edge curriculum that is unique in both the nation and the world. Some professors at the SOE are also using their grants to actively engaging the surrounding community. For example, Professor Christine Clayton is administering a grant-funded collaborative inquiry project that is now in its fifth year of application; this project researches collaborative, inquiry-based teaching methods through active engagement with in-service teachers, and provides professional development and networking opportunities for the cohort of teachers that commits to the year-long project.

JA: As a graduate of the School of Education myself, I can’t help but wonder: what your thoughts are on future plans for the school?

XLW: The SOE faculty and staff are working very hard to create more education programs that respond to the needs of students. The CAEP accreditation (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) is underway, and the grants are really putting students and faculty on the frontlines in the field and educational practice. Our faculty members continue to advocate for student needs and research-based practices in the field of education.

In the coming months, many of our faculty members will present their research at national and international conferences. As our faculty members continue to push forward into new realms of understanding about the process of education, the School of Education is able to provide our students with the most current and relevant foundation for teaching.

JA: What do you think about the future of the teaching profession itself?

XLW: U.S. News & World Report recently predicted that teaching will be one of the “7 peak fields of the future” and predicted growth of 1.4 million jobs by the year 2020. That is good news for us, and as we continue to prepare our students for the classroom, we are also using reflective practice to develop course content that will serve the teachers of the future. Our ability to use technology, such as TeachLivE, sets us apart from other institutions. We are always excited to prepare tomorrow’s teachers today.

In short, I think that the faculty and staff in the SOE have many talents. They are passionate, dedicated, and resilient. It is my great pleasure to work with them.