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School of Education

John Strong

Ph.D. in Education – Literacy Development and Learning Problems

After teaching high school English language arts for five years, I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in Education at the University of Delaware to learn how to conduct intervention research focused on improving students’ reading and writing achievement.

As a PhD student specializing in literacy development and learning problems, I have collaborated extensively with my doctoral advisor, Dr. Sharon Walpole, and several other UD faculty members to:

  • design, implement and evaluate an intervention that teaches fourth- and fifth-grade students how to identify and use informational text structures to support reading comprehension and writing;
  • lead the scoring and analysis of K-5 persuasive writing data for a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy program;
  • co-author four papers in peer-reviewed journals, two chapters in edited books, and a professional book; and
  • present research papers at national and international conferences.

As a result of this support, I was recognized by the International Literacy Association in summer 2018, receiving the Steven A. Stahl Research Grant to aid in funding my dissertation research.

Dr. Walpole, who has created an effective, open-access literacy curriculum called Bookworms, has had a significant impact on the way I approach the design, implementation and evaluation of reading and writing interventions. My experiences in conducting research, teaching undergraduates and providing professional learning to teachers with Dr. Walpole have prepared me for the expectations of a faculty position in literacy education.

I never could have imagined achieving all of these goals when I first started this program, but the faculty in the School of Education have always encouraged me and supported me in doing so. 

My career goal when I started my PhD program was to obtain a tenure-track job as a university professor in a teacher preparation program. CEHD faculty prepared me to be competitive on the job market by providing me the skills to publish in academic journals, present at conferences, and teach courses in the School of Education. I’m happy to share that I have achieved this goal. Beginning in fall 2019, I will be an assistant professor of literacy education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

John is also a recipient of the Fontana Family Graduate Tuition Scholarship in EducationThis scholarship supports graduate students in the School of Education whose work aims to improve educational outcomes for students, especially those living in poverty. He also received the University Doctoral Fellowship Award in 2018.