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School of Education

Steve Amendum is presented the Literacy Research Association’s Early Career Achievement Award.

Steve Amendum, University of Delaware associate professor of education and faculty scholar in literacy at the Delaware Center for Teacher Education, has received the Literacy Research Association’s 2015 Early Career Achievement Award.

The award is given to a scholar who has made significant contributions to literacy research and education early in their career.

Steve Amendum, University of Delaware associate professor of education and faculty scholar in literacy at the Delaware Center for Teacher Education, has received the Literacy Research Association’s 2015 Early Career Achievement Award.

The award is given to a scholar who has made significant contributions to literacy research and education early in their career.

As a researcher, Amendum’s goal is to have a positive impact on children who struggle with literacy acquisition.

“I taught kindergarten, first, and second grade and earned a master’s in reading education, so I understand the difficulties children experience learning to read,” he said. “I became a researcher because I wanted to help students and their teachers overcome these challenges.”

To that end, Amendum has concentrated on developing reading interventions for English language learners and students with learning difficulties, and professional development for classroom and ESL teachers.

“Dr. Amendum’s work demonstrates a rare connection,” said Sharon Walpole, co-researcher and professor in School of Education. “He combines a pragmatic knowledge of the issues facing our schools with a strong understanding of diverse research methodologies. He identifies and addresses questions that matter to teaching and learning, in addition to providing extensive support to our UD education students through his fantastic teaching and advising.”

As a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Amendum helped develop a one-on-one intervention for teachers and their struggling readers, offering in-the-moment live coaching using laptops and webcam technology. Teachers would conduct their lesson with a student, while their coach observed remotely and provided immediate feedback.

Now serving as co-principal investigator for an Institute of Education Sciences-funded development project, Amendum has co-designed a professional development program to improve literacy outcomes for Latino English learners in kindergarten through second grades.

“When reading Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble, an ELL (English language learner) student may know the concept ‘puddle’ in Spanish, but not English,” explained Amendum. “Teachers are encouraged to introduce relevant English vocabulary words before the student reads the book aloud, or has it read to them, and make connections to their native language if possible. The teacher then re-emphasizes the vocabulary words through pictures and context, and follows up with oral prompts to build academic language, develop writing skills, and to gauge comprehension – what did Henry do outside, or how did Mudge help the kittens?

Preliminary results for both students and teachers are promising; teachers who have incorporated these strategies have reported significant progress in their English language learners.

Amendum said he was honored to receive the Literacy Research Association Early Career Achievement Award and hopes to build on his research to reduce the achievement gap for young readers, especially English language learners.

“I owe much of my early success to my former adviser and mentor, Dr. Jill Fitzgerald, who modeled how to be an excellent teacher, and my colleagues at UD and North Carolina State University, for creating productive environments where junior faculty have the opportunity to thrive,” said Amendum. “I look forward to increasing the scope of my current work, translating it from research to practice.”

Article by Alison Burris

Photo courtesy of Steve Amendum