Two scholars who will join the University of Washington College of Education faculty during the coming academic year and a current doctoral student have received fellowships from the National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Foundation to support projects that aim to improve academic and life outcomes for young people from historically marginalized communities.

Incoming UW faculty members Emma Elliott-Groves and Maribel Santiago were selected as 2019 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellows while doctoral student Hannah Nieman received an NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship.

Elliott-Groves and Santiago are among 30 outstanding early career scholars in the nation to receive the prestigious postdoctoral fellowship, which includes an award of $70,000 to assist with their research. Nieman is one of 35 doctoral students to receive the dissertation fellowship in recognition of her doctoral work. All three fellowship awards recognize projects for their significant potential contributions to the knowledge, understanding and improvement of education nationwide.

Emma Elliott-Groves — Indigenous community health and wellbeing

Emma Elliott-GrovesElliott-Groves, whose research grows from ethical frameworks generated by Indigenous and place-based knowledges and practices to address complex social and mental health issues, is joining the UW as an assistant professor of learning sciences and human development.

The fellowship will support Elliott-Groves’ project to strengthen the research capacity within the Cowichan Tribes, a First Nations’ community on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Using land as pedagogy, her project will engage Cowichan elders, cultural knowledge keepers and community members of all ages in walking their traditional homelands to identify local systems of relationality that ensure individual and collective livelihoods. In doing so, they will collaboratively conduct a place-based, community power analysis to illuminate their specific needs, and thus propose collective directions forward.

“Indigenous communities are tired of talking about their health and mental health disparities,” Elliott Groves said. “They are already thinking about how to build thriving nations and this project will capitalize on the knowledge inherent within the community.” Emerging from local knowledge and land-based pedagogies, this work is intended to provide a model for assessing community needs and resources by considering all relevant factors: social, historical, cultural and political.

Elliott-Groves earned her PhD in educational psychology and master’s degree in social work from the UW and is an enrolled member of the Cowichan Tribes.

Maribel Santiago — Latinidad in the social studies classroom

Maribel SantiagoSantiago, who will join the UW College of Education faculty in January 2020,  specializes in the teaching and learning of race and ethnicity in K-12 history classrooms, specifically how people in the U.S. collectively remember the experiences of communities of color and the consequences of such depictions. 

Santiago’s fellowship project is a national comparative study on the teaching of the differing experiences of Latinx peoples in K-12 social studies classrooms. The study will analyze and compare how 12 teachers across the country are integrating Latinx social studies into their classrooms to address regional and Latinx intra-group differences.

“This study is the first large-scale comparative study on Latinx social studies with an aim to inform practice at a national level,” said Santiago. “This work will establish a foundation for understanding the content and strategies social studies educators’ should employ in teaching the complex racial/ethnic realities of Latinxs.”

Santiago leads the History TALLER (Teaching And Learning of Language, Ethnicity, and Race) research group — pronounced tah-yĕr, Spanish for “workshop” — and received the National Council of the Social Studies’ 2016 Larry Metcalf Exemplary Dissertation Award.

Hannah Nieman — Disrupting narratives about mathematical capability

Hannah NiemanNieman is a doctoral candidate in teacher quality and teacher education at the UW with a focus on mathematics education. Her research explores how systems of professional learning can be designed and facilitated to support meaningful teacher learning and, in particular, how to design and leverage professional learning to disrupt systemic, harmful discourses about the mathematical capabilities of students.

The fellowship will support Nieman’s writing of her dissertation, involving a qualitative case study of a system of job-embedded professional learning in a middle school, which is part of a broader partnership between universities and school districts. Nieman has observed professional learning events and facilitators’ planning of these events, and has interviewed teachers and facilitators.

“Pervasive discourses about who is and is not capable of engaging in mathematics shape teachers’ instruction and therefore the opportunities students — especially students from historically marginalized communities — have to engage in mathematics,” said Nieman. “The findings of my research will generate theory regarding the design and facilitation of professional learning in which teachers are supported to see and treat students as mathematically capable.”

Nieman previously taught high school mathematics at an engineering-focused high school and has worked as an elementary and secondary mathematics teacher educator.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications