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JamilFaiza Jamil

Dr. Jamil (Ph.D., University of Virginia) is an associate professor of child development at Clemson University and the founder of the CLAD Lab. Her research follows two complementary strands: 1) understanding the underlying psychological processes – cognitive, social, and emotional – that influence teachers’ classroom behaviors and career decisions, and 2) understanding the ways in which teacher-child interactions influence children’s learning and development. More specifically, Dr. Jamil conducts research that leverages her expertise in measurement, assessment, and professional development to better understand and improve the educational experiences of teachers and students within these two broad strands. Dr. Jamil is program coordinator of the Learning Sciences Doctoral Program and an affiliate faculty member in Clemson’s undergraduate teacher education programs, to which she brings her own experiences as a K-12 teacher in three countries.

Luke RapaLuke Rapa

Dr. Rapa (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an assistant professor of adolescent development at Clemson University. Rapa's research rests at the intersection of developmental and educational psychologies. Broadly, Rapa studies how contextual, sociocultural, and sociopolitical factors—including socioeconomic disadvantage, structural constraints, and societal inequality—shape key developmental and psychological processes and promote or constrain adolescents’ development and academic success. More specifically, Rapa's program of research examines (1) how adolescents critically analyze societal inequities and develop the motivation and agency to redress such inequities, or develop “critical consciousness”; (2) how youth navigate structural constraints or marginalizing systems (e.g., institutional racism, discrimination, stereotypes in school) to achieve academic success and well-being; and (3) how social identity threats shape development and how and social-psychological interventions can bolster academic performance and promote well-being.

Graduate Students

Amanda Bennettbennett

Amanda is a doctoral candidate in the Learning Sciences program with a focus on early childhood learning and development and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts/humanities, mathematics) education. Amanda's research interests include social-emotional learning in early childhood and the impact of STEAM education on the development of these skills. Additionally, she examines the role of teachers and parents in supporting young children's development of social-emotional skills. Amanda's higher education teaching experience includes Child Growth and Development for Clemson's pre-service teachers. Prior to graduate school, Amanda taught early childhood education for five years in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Candice BoldingCandice Bolding

CJ is a doctoral student in learning sciences, interested in exploring systemic/institutional factors impacting psychosocial and academic outcomes of marginalized students in higher education pursuing STEM degrees. She currently works serving undergraduate students and as Student Services Manager in the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences. As a new learning sciences student, CJ’s research focuses on how varying levels of Critical Consciousness affect the experiences and outcomes of marginalized students in higher education STEM programs.

Cari Allyn BrooksCari Allyn Brooks

Cari is a doctoral student in learning sciences, interested in literacy, access to higher education, and the role of games and technology in learning. Cari has over twenty years of experience teaching general education English courses, with a focus on first-year composition curriculum design. She also has served students as a writing center director, academic coach, and academic advisor. She currently works supporting student learning and career development in Clemson University’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. As a new student in the learning sciences program, Cari looks to develop research focused on increasing both access to and the quality of college education for student populations historically marginalized by higher education.

DeOnte Brownbrown

DeOnte is a doctoral student in the learning sciences with an emphasis on human development through schooling. DeOnte’s research interests are the academic skill development and learning experiences of adolescents and emerging adults that identify as a person of color. Primarily this research is in the context of social learning environments at the collegiate level. DeOnte’s current work focuses on understanding the use of peer groups as academic support spaces for the development of self-regulated learning skills in black college students. Additionally, he works with peer mentoring programs that aide in the college transition for students of color which also supports his research agenda. DeOnte has prior experience working with adolescents through a high school college access program.

Sharetta BuffordSharetta Bufford

Sharetta is interested in the adolescent development of African American students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and their ability to tap into resources that could enhance their mathematics learning outcomes. Specifically, she would like to study the effects of this population’s access to resources to see whether their learning outcomes will improve. If learning outcomes improve, Sharetta would like to know if these students would be affected by stereotype threat in higher level mathematics courses where they succumb to the stereotype that students of color are not intelligent. Sharetta’s interest in this population is tied to that of her own identity and upbringing as a young student who loved mathematics. She knows that if students are not prepared for college level calculus, they will not be able to take required classes until later in their college career and will spend more money overtime; money that a student from a low-socioeconomic background does not have readily available to spend. Other interests are social justice in mathematics, teacher voting patterns, ethnomathematics, and culturally relevant mathematics pedagogy. Sharetta currently recruits undergraduate and graduate students, as well as, manages a first-year peer support program where upperclassmen from similar backgrounds assist underrepresented (African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native)

Katherine FreemanKatherine Freeman

Katherine is a doctoral student in the learning sciences. Her research interests include STEM education, science identity formation, and students’ perceived self-efficacy within STEM. Particularly, she would like to focus on underrepresented populations within the sciences. Katherine has a background in genetics and is currently an instructor at the CU Life Sciences Outreach Center where she teaches STEM labs to K-12 students in an informal setting.

Georgia McKownGeorgia McGown

Georgia is a doctoral student in the learning sciences program with an emphasis on the development of military-connected students. Primarily, her research is concentrated on military-connected K-12 students and their literacy development. Georgia currently works as a research assistant for the Special Education department helping with research in supporting K-12 and pre-service teachers in inclusive classrooms. Prior to graduate school, Georgia was an elementary school teacher in Virginia Beach and a reading teacher with the Institute of Reading Development.

Robert O'Hara Robert O'Hara

Robert is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program, with research interests in understanding how pedagogy, learning design, and curriculum impact development and students' ability to make meaning of the world around them. Robert currently works as a graduate assistant for the department of Education and Human Development. Robert holds a Masters degree in Higher Education Administration. Prior to starting the program, Robert worked as a Housing and Residence Life professional focusing on residential curriculum, social justice advocacy and awareness, and Intergroup Dialogue.

Abby StephanAbby Stephan

Abby is a doctoral student in the learning sciences program. Broadly, her research interests include intergenerational learning in informal settings, self-directed learning, and cultural influences on the learning process. Abby currently works as a graduate assistant for the General Engineering Learning Community (GELC), a program that supports first-year engineering students in their development of self-regulation and time management skills, effective learning strategies, and positive habits of mind. Prior to graduate school, Abby worked at Clemson's Academic Success Center as a student employee in course support programs while obtaining a B.A. in language and international trade with a minor in cultural anthropology.   

Samuel WilkesSamuel Wilkes

Samuel is a doctoral student in the learning sciences program with a focus on critical pedagogy. His research interests include educational linguistics, particularly as it relates to developing critical language awareness in marginalized language students, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and conceptualizations of democracy in education. Samuel's current work looks at the ways writing centers can orient themselves to promote critical language awareness in students and tutors through student-led, tutor-scaffolded participation. Prior to graduate school, Samuel served as a writing fellow for four semesters at his undergraduate university's writing center.

Kathryn WilhiteKathryn Wilhite

Kathryn is a doctoral student in the learning sciences program with an emphasis in exploring the role of communication in learning environments. Primarily, her research interest is in understanding how communication supports successful transitions into the college environment. Kathryn is currently a graduate assistant for the department of Education and Human Development. She holds a Master’s degree in First-Year Studies. Prior to the program, Kathryn worked in higher education administration coordinating transition and first-year programs including student leader development and first-year seminar instruction and design.