Curry IDEA Grants Awarded to Three CASTL Researchers

Kathy Neesen

Three faculty members from the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) received a 2017 Curry IDEA Award. Dr. Khara Turnbull, Dr. Ginny Vitiello, and Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman each received approximately $10,000 to pursue their various research interests. The award, which supports innovative, developmental or exploratory (IDEA) research, was established to support research that has significant potential impact on the field of education.


Dr. Khara Turnbull’s IDEA award will allow her a chance to conduct classroom discourse research in the context of a science curriculum. She plans to transcribe and analyze over 400 videotapes of preschool science instruction. This rich data set will give her an opportunity to see how teacher-student conversations about science topics contribute to student learning of science knowledge and skills. Although Dr. Turnbull’s research will focus specifically on the domain of preschool science, she believes it has the potential to inform the design of discourse-related research in other content areas as well.


Dr. Ginny Vitiello will use her IDEA award to develop and pilot a new math assessment that builds off an existing math measure called “The Birthday Party”. Currently, the Birthday Party assessment is used as part of the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Project (VKRP), a state-wide initiative led by Dr. Amanda Williford to assess children’s math and social-emotional skills as they enter kindergarten. In collaboration with the VKRP team, Dr. Vitiello aims to add more difficult items to the current measure so that Virginia school districts can not only assess children as they enter kindergarten in the fall, but also detect progress made in math skills by the end of the school year. Vitiello says this will give teachers and administrators a sense of how to support different children in their math development beyond their initial entry into kindergarten.


Dr. Sara Rimm-Kaufman’s IDEA award will be used to support a research-practice partnership with two school districts in the Alleghany Highlands who are undertaking an ambitious process of school change. As the districts are working to implement recommendations made by Rimm-Kaufman and her team based on previous research findings, they’re also grappling with the challenges that accompany such school improvement efforts. Rimm-Kaufman says the IDEA funds will allow her team to provide additional support and conduct more research that allows each school district to implement evidence-based practices. She also hopes the IDEA funds can advance a partnership between UVA and the Alleghany Highlands school districts for the short-term until long-term external funding is established.  


The award is granted each year to several faculty members at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.