Two Professors Earn Spencer Grants

April 11, 2018

Two College of Education researchers are recipients of Spencer Foundation grants designed to advance education-related research. A Midcareer Grant award to Danny Martin will expand his investigation of math learning among African-American students, and a Small Research Grants program award to Federico Waitoller will advance his research on how parents of students with disabilities perceive school choice in urban settings.

Martin, UIC professor of curriculum and instruction and mathematics, will receive $130,000 to support his project, “Theoretical and Methodological Considerations in Studying the Mathematical Lives of Preschool-Aged Black Children in Everyday Settings.”

The award will allow him to extend his work into the early childhood education context, focusing on research and policy issues, particularly as they relate to mathematics education that is responsive to the needs of black children. As a part of his project, Martin will engage in a nine-month apprenticeship within Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative, as well as other professional development opportunities and conferences nationally.

Martin’s previous research has focused on understanding the role of race and identity in black students’ mathematical experiences, taking into consideration sociohistorical and structural forces, community and school issues, and individual agency. His work, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, has covered education levels from middle school through college and has examined black parents and families.

At UIC since 2004, Martin holds a joint appointment in the College of Education and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He teaches mathematics courses for preservice teachers, elementary math methods, and graduate courses in mathematics education. He previously taught mathematics for 14 years at Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, California, where he served as department chair.

Martin, who was a National Academy of Education postdoctoral fellow, earned his Ph.D. in mathematics education and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from Carroll College.

Waitoller, UIC associate professor of special education, earned $50,000 through the Small Research Grants program at the Spencer Foundation for his project, “Leveling the Landscape through School Choice? Urban Parents of Students with Disabilities Charting the Education Marketplace.”

Waitoller, who joined UIC’s College of Education in 2011, said his study will use an innovative mixed-methods approach that merges geographical analysis and in-depth ethnographic interviews. The aim is to understand how perceptions of urban social landscapes shape the ability of parents of students with disabilities to engage with school choice.

His research focuses on urban inclusive education. In particular, Waitoller’s work focuses on policies and practices that generate or reproduce inequities for students of color with disabilities. He is also interested in examining how these inequities are affected by the production of space in urban economies and the role of teacher learning and school/university partnerships in developing capacity for inclusive education.

Waitoller earned his Ph.D. in special education from Arizona State University, his master’s degree in special education from the University of Washington and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia College.