CLaRI conducts research that focuses on issues of cultural diversity and equity, multiliteracies and multimodality, and professional development of teachers.
Numerous projects and initiatives are carried out through the Center for Literacy and Reading Instruction at the University at Buffalo. We also have several off-campus sites in collaboration with local schools where we conduct research and provide professional development to teachers. CLaRI’s focus on research, teaching, and services is related to the Graduate School of Education’s Strategic Strengths.
We are passionately committed to education for all children from diverse socioeconomic, linguistic, cultural, religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. In particular, we are interested in exploring ways that children who are at risk of being marginalized or disregarded by schools can become successful academic learners while maintaining their core identities. Our research focuses on how to better serve children who are considered at risk of school failure and how we can effectively instruct and improve their reading and writing ability. We also focus on how to effectively prepare teachers to improve children’s reading and writing abilities. This focus on effective instruction is linked to increasing teachers’ awareness of children’s cultural worlds and identities so that teachers learn to draw from these backgrounds, not as differences to be compensated for, but strengths to be incorporated into effective instruction.
The availability of new technologies has precipitated new interest in multiliteracies and alternatives to print-based forms of literacy that have dominated schools. Progress in digital technology affords opportunity for learners to draw together multiple modes (sound, image, movement, color, etc). Although new technologies often highlight the combination of modes, new technologies are not essential for teaching multimodal literacy practices. We investigate the ways these changes influence the sociocultural and cognitive worlds of children, youth, and teachers.
While the charge for research universities, such as the University at Buffalo, is primarily to generate high quality scholarship, we are keenly aware that even research serves the higher goal of improving the lives of children and teachers. Ultimately, we seek to provide superior training for all teachers and, in particular, literacy teachers.
CLaRI teachers record their literacy instruction with children through the use of digital technologies. Videos help teachers reflect on their own teaching and the children’s learning to “see” things they might miss during tutoring, such as a child’s body language, a child’s response time, time management, and which activities are the most beneficial for the child. Videos provide time and opportunity for the clinicians to review and revise instruction, and ultimately, to make positive changes in the child’s reading and writing development. We are studying these reflective teaching practices to facilitate more effective education for literacy teachers and coaches and more effective literacy instruction for all children.