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Projects & Partnerships


Supporting and Researching Teacher Professional Development in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

2014-2015 GIF Recipient Dr. Mary Mendenhall, Department of International and Transcultural Studies ‌

Students supporting this initiative are Danni Falk, Shezleen Vellani, Jihae Cha, Sophia Collas, Emily Richardson, & Laura Bowden

Children in refugee contexts urgently need quality and protective education that will help them heal, grow, protect them from further harm, and equip them with the skills to contribute to theircommunities both now and in the future. However, efforts around the world have fallen far short of this goal: in refugee settings, teachers typically receive minimal or no teacher training and many only have secondaryschool certificates and their own educational experiences to draw on. If they do receive training, it is often in the form of one-off workshops.

Building on work started with support of the OIA grant, Dr. Mary Mendenhall and her student team launched a new initiative called Teachers for Teachers in Kakuma refugee camp (Kenya).This initiative aims to develop the expertise, knowledge, and motivation of refugee teachers through training, peer coaching and mobile mentoring. It is a multi-layered and staged approach that unfolds over time, giving untrained and inexperienced refugee teachers the opportunity to absorb what they have learned in the classroom and to test and adopt new strategies.


Adressing Inequities in Primary Schooling with an Ecologically-grounded Comprehensive Education (EGCE) Framework: A Curricular, Capacity-building and Research Effort in South Asia

2014-2015 GIF Recipient, Dr. Madhabi Chatterji, Department of Organization & Leadership 

Need: Persistent inequities in societal conditions in South Asia, and challenges in improving the global relevance and quality of primary education for the masses, underscore a continuing and high need for innovative collaborations that can help build necessary curricular interventions and capacities in teacher training institutions and other entities that serve primary schools directly.

Premise: The project's basic premise is that to reach and teach every child in highly disadvantaged, poverty-stricken, and still developing regions in South Asia, primary schooling must be re-conceptualized to educate children and their families more comprehensively, embracing the child-family-community unit as a whole and with attention to both cognitive and non-cognitive domains of development.

Goals and Aim: To this end, the project aims to apply principles of "Evidence-based Curriculum Design" to facilitate curricular reforms in primary schooling and primary teacher education, in partnership with a selected group of government and non-government institutions and universities from South Asian regions, informed by an interdisciplinary, Ecologically-grounded, Comprehensive Education (EGCE) framework.

Status: A proposal was developed in 2014-15 with the TC Global Investment Fund seed funds. A new collaboration, with funding-procurement and implementation plans, are in discussion with Columbia Global Center in South Asia and selected institutions/NGOs in India and Bangladesh.

Significance and Impact: A major intellectual contribution will lie in the development of an interdisciplinary ECPE framework and a teacher training curriculum tied to it that will address specific South Asian regions' social needs, and likely generalize to other developing regions with similar demographic and socio-economic need profiles. The evidence-based research strand and methodology will add scientific rigor and credence to the project's products and outputs, and extend the literature in the education and evaluation sciences. Once refined, we expect the products to reach primary teacher education settings beyond the field-test sites and, in the long run, positively impact both primary school students and their communities with a long-lasting imprint.

Program in Academic Discourse and Advanced Academic Literacy: Shanghai, China

Professor Sheridan Blau is a Professor of Practice and outgoing Director of the English Education Program in the Department of Arts & Humanities at Teachers College.

Clearer ImageDuring the summer of 2015, Professor Blau supervised a team of doctoral students (all of them experienced secondary English teachers) from the TC English Education Program, who taught a constellation of college preparatory courses in English to the 10th-12th graders of the prestigious Jian Ping High School in Shanghai, China. The courses were offered as part of a program in Academic Discourse and Advanced Academic Literacy for Chinese students who planned to apply to prestigious American universities. “The instructors of these courses don’t use direct instruction as much as they employ a kind of apprenticeship model, in which students work collaboratively and with the assistance of their instructors on intellectual problems and academic projects through which academic skills, ways of thinking, and academic English vocabulary develop and become more sophisticated. The model and goal of the instructional program is to build in the classroom the kind of learning community that will prepare students for the intellectual, social, and linguistic demands of an ideal seminar in a highly selective American university.”

Following the success of the first summer, the program expanded in summer 2016 to include nine one-week courses in Shanghai and one seven-day class at the celebrated Beijing National Day School in Beijing, China. Professor Blau developed this program for his students to teach in China at the request of Garrick Yau, an alumnus of the Columbia Business School and the Founder/CEO of the Chinese-American educational organization, Elite Direction, Inc., a private public service corporation that provides educational services for internationally oriented high schools in Asia. When asked about the collaborative nature of the program, Professor Blau emphasized his role as a mentor: “All of the Ph.D. students involved have been my students, so the mentorship comes naturally in the sense that I am able to oversee the program and offer support and criticism.” While Professor Blau developed the theory, his entire team collaborated on the curriculum and lesson plans. In this way, the work of the TC doctoral students in China has built on and enriched their own range of teaching practices and contributed to their development as teachers, curriculum specialists, and teacher-educators.

Looking ahead to summer 2017, Blau and his team will return to Jian Ping High School and Beijing National Day, expanding their courses from one week to two and including opportunities for local Chinese English teachers to complete a professional development program designed to extend their theoretical orientation and enable them to enhance their repertoire of teaching practices.

Professor Blau works with Ph.D. candidates, Nathan Blom., Noah Gordon, Nicole Callahan, Lora Hawkins, Brad Fraver, Andrew Rejan, and  MA graduate, Shannon Potts.

Joint Master of Arts in Leadership and Educational Change in Singapore

The Master of Arts in Leadership and Educational Change is an innovative program with a dual focus on organizational and curriculum leadership. The program aims to prepare educational leaders to go beyond organizational leadership towards embracing leadership capacities in curriculum, teaching and learning. Jointly taught by two internationally-renowned teacher education institutions, the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Teachers College Columbia University in New York, the program prepares a new generation of educational leaders for Singapore, the Asia-Pacific region, and the larger international community.

‌The Joint Master of Arts in Leadership and Educational Change is lead by Lin Goodwin, TC’s Professor of Education, Vice Dean, and  Project Director of the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC). Goodwin was recently named NIE’s inaugural Ruth Wong Professorship, named for the late NIE founder and champion of teacher education. The joint master’s degree  is comprised of 32 Academic Units, which is inclusive of six (6) core courses, four (4) prescribed electives and one (1) open elective. Courses are taught by faculty from NIE and TC, allowing participants to engage in learning from two leading educational institutions. Classes are conducted at NIE in Singapore, and the program may be completed in one (1) year on a full-time basis. (Pictured: Professor and Vice Dean Lin Goodwin)‌

For more information, please visit or e-mail

Japan-US Training and Exchange Program for Young Teachers

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is funding programs that promote global understanding and experiences for young Japanese school teachers.  As part of this intiative in the summer of 2015, a group of 30 Japanese schoolteachers were hosted by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE-TC) at Teachers College in New York to learn about the U.S. education system and the current issues and challenges facing schools.  In addition, workshops offered the teachers opportunities for learning the basic pedagogy for teaching English and for improving their own communication in English. CPRE-TC facilitated visits to New York institutions and sites that support literacy, cultural exchange, and teaching including the New York Hall of Science and the United Nations.

Science Education in Thailand

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) is partnering with Kenan Institute Asia to assist with the design and implementation of a major STEM initiative in Thailand. The initiative is sponsored by the Chevron Corporation and will run for five consecutive years, beginning in March 2015. The initiative includes three distinct, but interrelated parts: a) capacity building of STEM education; b) strengthening career-technical programs for STEM occupations; and c) developing increased public awareness of the importance of STEM in Thailand.


Wenner-Gren IDG Project in Haiti Enters Year-Two

In December 2013, the Wenner-Gren foundation awarded an Institutional Development Grant (IDG) to the Université d’Etat d’Haïti (UEH) to partner with scholars at Teachers College (Columbia University), the University of Kansas (KU), and others around the world to develop an anthropological doctoral program in Haiti.  This doctoral program will endeavor to provide students with world-class credentials in anthropology. The two main partners at the UEH are Dr. Jacques Jovin and Dr. Jhon Picard Byron. The primary partner at Teachers College is Dr. Hervé Varenne.

Though the project counts on the participation of many renowned scholars, the architects for this initiative conceived of it while finishing their dissertations at Teachers College. Dr. Kiran Jayaram, now an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Black Studies at York College, City University of New York, worked with his colleague, Dr. Scott Freeman, now a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University, to support the UEH proposal. Both have worked extensively in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

In January 2015, Jayaram spent two weeks in Haiti supporting University of Kansas faculty member, Norberto Baldi, as he taught the first-ever graduate level course in biological anthropology in Haiti.  The course,  “Introduction to Biological Anthropology,” covered the history of evolutionary theory, the development of biological anthropology, forensic anthropology, and primatology.  Several professors have been traveling to Haiti to teach intensive courses in anthropology since 2014, but Baldi’s short course was the first offering by a visiting scholar who did not speak French or Haitian Creole.  Later this year, TC’s Professor Hervé Varenne traveled to Haiti with alumnus Scott Freeman to offer a course on educational anthropology as a part of the IDG project. Freeman taught a course on political ecology. (Pictured: Kiran (front center) and Scott Freeman (back row, third from right) with the faculty at the Faculté d'Ethnologie.


International Cerebral Palsy Speech Treatment Research

2014-2015 GIF Recipient Dr. Erika S. Levy and Dr. Andrew M. Gordon, Department of Biobehavioral Sciences 

Dr. Yannick Bleyenheuft, Institute of NeuroSciences, Universite' catholique de Louvain

Students supporting this initiative are Michelle YoungHwa Chang, Sih-Chiao Hsu, Gemma Moya Gale, Ph.D., and Miriam Baigorri, Ph.D.

We created an innovative, collaborative speech treatment camp in Brussels, Belgium, aimed at helping children with the motor speech disorder of dysarthria due to cerebral palsy (CP) communicate more effectively.

Dysarthria, often characterized by slurred, strained speech, impairs intelligibility and communication in many children with cerebral palsy. Yet there is a paucity of evidence-based speech treatment research for this population and no randomized clinical trial (RCT) has been performed (Pennington, Goldbart, & Marshall, 2004; Pennington, Miller, & Robson, 2009). This project aimed to (1) perform a randomized clinical trial implementing a high intensity speech treatment program for childhood dysarthria due to CP in a camp setting at the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium; (2) further investigate the effects of intensive treatment on speech function and intelligibility outcomes; (3) promote collaboration both within Teachers College, Columbia University (TC) and beyond by enhancing an established international cross-linguistic partnership; and (4) extend TC’s international reputation of excellence and innovation through groundbreaking treatment research that reaches across borders and cultures. This study was a RCT in partnership with the Center for Cerebral Palsy Research (CCPR) at TC and the Université catholique de Louvain.  Speech Systems Intelligibility Treatment (SSIT) was implemented, a speech treatment developed by Prof. Levy specifically for childhood dysarthria due to CP.

We report on the first study yielded by our Belgium speech treatment program. This “speech manipulation” study examined acoustic characteristics of speech in 11 French-speaking children with dysarthria due to cerebral palsy in response to prompts targeting increased articulatory working space and vocal intensity. The French-speaking children with dysarthria due to CP were able to vary their speech styles in response to models/prompts to use a “big mouth” and “strong voice.” Statistically significant increases in duration followed “big mouth” in sentence condition, but not in word condition, suggesting that changes in duration in French may be rendered through pauses rather than through word-level duration increases, possibly due to the syllable timing of French restricting duration at the word level. Higher intensity followed primarily “strong voice,” consistent with Levy et al.’s (2016) English study on children with dysarthria and treatment studies (Fox & Boliek, 2012). Ongoing acoustic analyses include formant measurement and analyses of pauses. Future directions include intelligibility testing in Belgium. Findings will be compared to the parallel study in English and will inform our speech treatment studies on English/French monolinguals and bilinguals as we target long-term retention and generalization of intelligibility-enhancing speech styles to untrained utterances. Ultimately, we aim to examine language-specific versus language-universal speech characteristics and how these relate to dysarthria treatment efficacy across languages.

TC Collaborating on New Polish Graduate School of Education and Teacher Preparation in Poland

The Fundacja Dobrej Edukacji  (Foundation for  Quality Education, “FDE”) in Poland is designing and establishing a new Polish Graduate School of Education intended to improve the quality of new teachers entering the Polish school system.  Teachers College faculty and staff under the leadership of Tom Corcoran, Director of TC’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education and Lin Goodwin, TC’s Professor of Education and Vice Dean, are collaborating with FDE on the development and delivery of professional development to prospective faculty at PGSE and assisting with curriculum design and implementation.

TC’s Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) is also supporting the Center for Citizenship Education (CEO) in Poland. CEO currently supports the Lab Schools Program--a national school network in Poland.  CPRE is collaborating with CEO to provide professional development for teachers and principals from the program’s laboratory schools.

Latin America

Sustaining Leadership for Change and School Reform in Mexico

2014-2015 GIF Recipient Dr. Ellen Meier, Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology & Dr. Rita Sanchez, Center for Technology & School Change 

The Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) engages in research and evaluation focused technology integration issues, and provides professional development for schools and districts in the metropolitan area and beyond.  The Center has focused on the use of technology in schools in all content areas, with a recent emphasis on STEM teaching and learning. 

The grant from the Global Investment Fund has been instrumental in sustaining leadership for change and school reform in Mexico. The work has built on an extensive investment from a Mexican public research and development institute and a public university in a Northeastern state of Mexico.  Over a period of three years, the Center has collaborated with these institutions to design and implement “The Instructional Leadership for STEM Teaching and Learning” professional development program for 89 principals and teachers from 29 different high schools. 

The support from the Global Investment Fund has been used to sustain and support the overall  effort through a coordinated initiative to organize the research collected by CTSC, a subset of the teachers in  Mexican schools, and the research institute in Mexico.  This culminated in a presentation at the Latin American Studies Association or LASA, an international conference held in New York City.  The LASA panel session included presentations from the Mexico institute funding the initial effort, teachers from two of the Mexican high schools involved and members of the CTSC team.  This conference provided an ideal opportunity to discuss the impact of the findings and reflect on how partnerships between institutions will support ongoing instructional change.  The discussion centered on the development and sustainability of learning communities where teachers are the designers of authentic learning environments and students are empowered to build new knowledge in interactive, inquiry-driven classrooms.  The discussion also laid the groundwork for future work with the schools, the University, and the research institute.

Education Leadership Workshops, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education  provides annual workshops as part of an education leadership program offered by Universidad Diego Portales’s School of Education (UDP). Located in Chile, UDP offers a certificate program for school administrators and a degree program for licensing school administrators.

Middle East

‌Building an United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Teachers College Center of Excellence for Arab Women's Mental Health

2014-2015 GIF recipient Dr. Helen Verdeli, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology 

Current students: Alaa Alhomaizi, MA, Dalal Alhomaizi, MA, Marina Marcus, MA, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology

The original (top-down) aim: The current project was originally an extension of a parent project   to develop an Abu Dhabi-based women’s wellness center that would include a residential mental health care program (PI: Alice Medalia Ph.D, New York State Psychiatric Institute). Towards this aim a virtual 4 Ws resource mapping was developed through the current project, together with cultural adaptation of mental health procedures for the center, and network-building with Abu Dhabi mental health colleagues through internet communication. Since the funding of the parent project did not materialize, the scope of the current one changed:

The updated (bottom-up) aims: In close collaboration with UAE colleagues from Dubai the current team aimed to 1) conduct an introductory 3 hour workshop on the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) model for depression and 2) explore the need, demand, and cultural fit of the IPT model for depressed Arab Women with the workshop attendees and other key stakeholders.

Participants: Twenty-eight participants attended the workshop. The participants included academics, psychiatrists, doctoral level clinical psychologists, masters’ level mental health counselors, applied behavioral analysts, 2 clinic directors and the Director of Clinical Affairs Department at Dubai Healthcare City Authorities in charge of licensing and accreditation of mental health professionals. In addition, individual meetings with stakeholders were arranged during the current team’s visit to Dubai.

Procedures: The 3 hour workshop was conducted at a hotel in Dubai. The Dubai Healthcare City granted 2.5 CEUs for the attendees. Workshop evaluation forms were distributed at the end of the workshop. Ten participants stayed after the workshop and a long group discussion took place on 1)goodness of fit of the model for the local culture, 2) need for cultural adaptation in the content and delivery methods of IPT when used with Arab women, 3) the group participants’ willingness to participate in the process of IPT training to meet the different competency standards as a therapist, supervisor, and trainer, and 4) their perceptions of need and demand by their colleagues for systematic IPT training.

Results: A post-workshop evaluation was completed by the attendees showing that 91 % of them rated the workshop positively/enthusiastically, especially on the relevance of IPT to the growing mental health needs in the region. The attendees at the end of the workshop and the individual key stakeholders strongly recommended a longer, in-depth IPT training workshop followed by case supervision.

Next steps: It was proposed that the recommended IPT training take place in Dubai within 2017. A three-year Training-the-Trainers plan on IPT and other assessment and interventions tools was suggested by the workshop participants and the stakeholders. They also expressed a strong interest in developing a TC- American University of Dubai MA clinical psychology degree program, which would include training in evidence-based strategies for common and severe mental illness and supervision components.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Comprehensive Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services for Syrian Refugees in Jordan (2014-2016)

The overarching goal of the study is to evaluate the comprehensive mental health service program of the International Medical Corps (IMC) against the standard of care for Syrian refugees in need of mental health services in Jordan. The first stage of this project aims to improve existing mental health evaluation instruments currently in use by IMC and validate new ones to develop an assessment battery for use by IMC and other humanitarian organizations. The second stage involves 1) an evaluation of ongoing IMC mental health services and 2) a feasibility study of a randomized controlled trial involving comparison of the IMC model to treatment as usual for Syrian refugees. Data for both phases were collected at the Za’atari refugee camp and urban settings in Jordan. From Teachers College, this initiative is led by Associate Professor Lena Verdeli, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology. Verdeli is joined by TC’s Madhabi Chatterji, Professor of Measurement, Evaluation and Education, and TC students Bryan Cheng and Jen Kao.‌

Supporting Educational Leadership and Teacher Development in Jordan

Teachers College works in partnership with the Columbia University Middle East Research Center and the Queen Rania Teacher Academy to provide professional development to educational leaders and teachers in Jordan. Key programs focus on building school networks and improving Jordanian teachers' skills in math, science, English, reading and writing.

Started in 2008, this initiative has involved TC faculty members from departments across the College, including TESOL, Curriculum and Teaching. and Math, Science and Technology.  The collaboration is led by Thomas Corcoran, Co-Director for the Consortium for Policy Education and Research (CPRE), a federally-funded center for research on public school policy founded by TC President Susan Fuhrman.  (Pictured: Jordan delegation with TC faculty and President Fuhrman)

For more information please visit:

From Jordan, a Visiting Delegation Teaches as Much as It Learns

Improving Teaching in Jordan

Consortium for Policy Research in Education

TC Visiting Scholars Go Back to School In Harlem 

On March 24th, a group of TC Visiting Scholars had the opportunity to tour the Teachers College Community School (TCCS) in Harlem. Accepting an invitation from the Associate Vice President for the Office of School and Community Partnerships (OSCP), Dr. Nancy Streim, the scholars toured the school, while learning about the vast array of opportunities offered to the students and the ongoing support offered by the TC community. Scholars were also given the opportunity to step inside a third grade classroom and interact with students. “The classroom environment includes some wonderful learning resources for students,” said Dr. Yuandong Qin, a Visiting Scholar from China. “[This was] an exciting and impressive experience for me,” she added.

 After the tour, Streim and TCCS principal, Michelle Verdiner, facilitated a question and answer session for scholars in the library. Topics discussed included the public school system of NYC, how students are placed at their schools, and the relationship between the Community School and Teachers College. Scholars then shared insights from their own educational experiences. Dr. Jin-Young Chae, a Visiting Scholar from South Korea, said, “I was very impressed by the faculty of TCCS who were passionate and felt proud of what they have done. Compared to other public schools where I used to student teach in the west village, the school facility is wonderful!” At right, Principal Michelle Verdiner hosts Visiting Scholars in the TCS library. Left, OSCP’s Audrey Cox discusses the activities that are supported in the multipurpose room. To learn more about TCCS, please visit

Two Storms Approach: Evaluating the Influence of International Assessments on Public Opinion and Policy

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education, Department of International and Transcultural Studies (ITS) ‌

With the hope of understanding how media outlets report international assessments and how that, in turn, influences public opinion, Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, and over 70 volunteers from around the world have taken on the challenge of analyzing media reports about the results of the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in 30 counties. They are also conducting public opinion surveys in those same countries before and after the results were made available to the general public. To date, students have translated the survey into 13 different languages, reaching close to 3,000 respondents in 20 different countries.

Released concurrently in late 2016—a feat that occurs only once every 12 years—the TIMSS and PISA are currently locked in a “ranking storm” of sorts and, as such, have invigorated a new round of discussion about the state of the education system. Although the two assessments focus on similar material, they are still quite different in their conclusions, which leaves the general public with the task of navigating between the two. According to Dr. Pizmony-Levy, “In many countries, there’s an obsession with the ranking…looking only at the ranking isn’t the best way to understand the data—but the general public isn’t going to read these thick 500-page reports full of charts and tables. Most will read about the results through newspapers and other media outlets.”

Dr. Pizmony-Levy’s team includes ITS doctoral candidate Phoebe Linh Doan and two master students, Erika Kessler and Jonathon Carmona. To prepare for the media analysis, students take Dr. Pizmony-Levy’s “Social Analysis of International Assessments” course and those who cannot take the class attend a hands-on workshop on collecting sources, reviewing protocol and practical experience analyzing media reports using previous TIMSS and PISA tests.

This project is supported by a grant from the Provost’s Investment Fund at Teachers College. Click here to read more about the key findings of the study.

Closing Protection Gaps: Evaluation of ORAM’s Training Program on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for Refugee Professionals

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education, Department of International and Transcultural Studies (ITS) Author of

Through a comprehensive, three-year survey of over 1,000 refugee professionals, Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy evaluated the success of ORAM (Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration) workshops in teaching refugee workers around the world how to work effectively with LGBTI refugees. The surveyed refugee workers covered a vast array of professional fields—including the medical and mental health professions, social work, legal council, and interpretation—and its influenced reached across 11 countries around the world: Australia, India, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Senegal, Trinidad, Turkey, and the United States.

In Dr. Pizmony-Levy’s own words, “The workshop was based on the understanding that sensitized, empathetic, and educated refugee professionals are able to adjudicate claims accurately and to better protect sexual and gender minority refugees.” The survey substantiated this conclusion as well three key findings: professionals’ attitudes toward LGBTI refugees can influence their impartiality on the job; professionals’ contact with LGBTI people can influence their engagement with LGBTI refugees, and education and training can improve the quality of services to LBGTI clients.

To learn more about the results of Dr. Pizmony-Levy’s survey, please visit: