Two Elementary Education Students Awarded Office of Undergraduate Research Travel Grant to Present at National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention

Katie Cipully and Alix Howard

Elementary education majors Katie Cipully ’20 and Alix Howard ’20 have been awarded an Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) Travel Grant to present their research project at the 2019 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 21-24.

“I am filled with sincere gratitude and elated to be awarded this grant to present,” Cipully said. “My fellow researchers and I have worked very hard these past few years and it is a great honor to be able to use this grant to share our research with other teachers and organizations.”

Cipully and Howard were awarded a $500 grant to cover travel expenses. They will present their project “Research on Children’s Literature about Diversity and Disability: Fostering Conversations and Teaching Community,” which studied how children respond to picture books that have characters with disabilities.

“I wanted to explore this topic to learn how different disabilities are portrayed in picture books and how we can utilize these picture books in the classroom to start positive conversations about people with disabilities,” Howard added.

Cipully has a great interest in working with students with special needs, which is what attracted her to this research topic. This research has helped her understand ways she can be inclusive in her classroom to students with different abilities and needs.

A group of undergraduate students from the NC State College of Education were selected to work on research with faculty mentors. Howard was paired with Angela Wiseman, Ph.D., associate professor of literacy education; and Cipully was paired with Jill Grifenhagen, Ph.D., assistant professor of literacy education. They formed a research group focused on elementary literacy, met regularly to discuss literacy research and attended research presentations. Cipully and Howard will be presenting their research at the NCTE convention with Wiseman.

The seniors previously presented at the NC State University Undergraduate Research Symposium and the N.C. Reading Association Conference. This will be their first national conference.

“It feels amazing to be given the opportunity to present our research at the NCTE Annual Convention,” Howard said. “We have been able to present our research for the past two years statewide, so being able to reach out and present it nationally is an amazing opportunity.”

After graduation, Cipully, plans to teach while attending graduate school for school counseling. Howard hopes to return to her hometown of Denver, N.C., to teach elementary school and introduce these books into her classroom.