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Program Faculty

P. Zitlali Morales, PhD; Program Coordinator Heading link

Dr. P. Zitlali Morales

Dr. P. Zitlali Morales is Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction in the College of Education, and affiliated faculty of the Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She examines the language practices of Latina/o/x youth and linguistic interactions of students and teachers in bilingual classrooms. Her research interests include the education of emergent bilingual students, the language ideologies of immigrant communities, theories related to language and identity, and language education policy. Dr. Morales is the co-editor of the book, Transforming Schooling for Second Language Learners: Theoretical Insights, Policies, Pedagogies, and Practices by Information Age Publishing. She is also the coordinator of the Bilingual and ESL endorsement at UIC.

Kira Baker-Doyle, PhD Heading link

Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle

Dr. Kira J. Baker-Doyle is the Director of the UIC Center for Literacy and an Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the College of Education. Dr. Baker-Doyle’s work focuses on understanding how to build critically transformative and empowering learning experiences through collaboration, connection, and networking. She is known internationally for her social network research on urban teacher professional development and community engagement, particularly in the areas of literacy, technology, and connected learning. She is the author of several books on these topics as well as a range of scholarly publications. Dr. Baker-Doyle has taught courses on 21st century literacies, literacy foundations, children’s and young adult literature, and teacher research.  She currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies.

Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad, PhD Heading link

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Dr. Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad is an Associate Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture . She studies Black historical excellence within educational communities with goals of reframing curriculum and instruction today. Dr. Muhammad’s scholarship has appeared in leading academic journals and books, including Research in the Teaching of English, Urban Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Language Arts, and Written Communication. Some of her recognitions include the 2014 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English, Promising New Researcher Award, the 2016 NCTE Janet Emig Award, the 2017 GSU Urban Education Research Award, the 2018 UIC College of Education Researcher of the Year, the 2020 American Educational Research Association (AERA), Division K Early Career Award and the 2021 NCTE Outstanding Elementary Educator in the English Language Arts. She has led a federal grant with the United States Department of Education to study culturally and historically responsive literacy in STEM classrooms.

Dr. Muhammad brings expertise, having served as a middle school teacher, literacy specialist, school district administrator, and school board president. She is the author of the best-selling book Cultivating Genius: An Equity Model for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy. She also co-authored the book, Black girls’ literacies: An Edited Volume, published by Routledge. She works with teachers, leaders, parents, and youth across the United States and South Africa in best practices in culturally and historically responsive and equitable instruction. Her Historically Responsive Literacy/Culturally & Historically Responsive Education Model has been adopted across U.S. school districts. In 2022 she was named with the top 1% Edu-Scholar Public Influencers which recognizes the 200 university-based scholars who had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy.

Nathan Phillips, PhD Heading link

Dr. Nathan Phillips

Dr. Nate Phillips is interested in the geographies of literacy and learning, particularly youth learning. He studies young people’s spatial literacies and media literacies in and out of school, across virtual and physical landscapes, and among multiple media. He is particularly interested in these literacies and mobilities as they relate to the possibilities for young people to actively and critically participate in civic processes that have an impact on their lives now and in the future.

He is currently designing instruction and research for classrooms where young people interpret and produce thematic maps and map-body performances for making arguments. He is also currently investigating the multimodal nature and design of young people’s publicly distributed media production processes and products. Other recent research has included investigating practices of spatial analysis and modeling by professional work groups and identifying principles of this practice that can be taught in formal and informal instructional settings with young people.

Kristine Schutz, PhD Heading link

Dr. Kristine Schutz

Dr. Kristine Schutz’s research focuses on improving literacy instruction in elementary classrooms, particularly for children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds.  She conducts research on teacher education that situates pre-service and practicing teachers’ learning inside of practice. She is also interested in designing authentic and purposeful literacy learning opportunities that support children in learning to comprehend and compose complex texts. Prior to coming to UIC, Dr. Schutz spent three years as the lead literacy research and design specialist at TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan. In this role, she developed materials to support literacy teacher educators’ implementation of a practice-based curriculum for teacher education.  She continues to explore these topics in her own research.  Dr. Schutz is a former dual language teacher and brings experience working with emergent bilingual children to her research and work with teachers.

Aria Razfar, PhD Heading link

Aria Razfar

Aria Razfar coordinates the Project ELMSA grant, preparing Chicago-area teachers to deliver culturally relevant instruction, while his personal research interests focus on the sociocultural dimensions of language and its meaning to human development.

Torica Webb, PhD Heading link

Dr. Torica Webb

Dr. Torica Webb’s teaching and research interests include indigenous education and politics, anthropology and education, youth culture and politics, responsible conduct of research, education in the Pacific, and African Americans and tourism.

Rebecca Woodard, PhD Heading link

Dr. Becca Woodard

Dr. Rebecca Woodard’s research on writing and writing pedagogy is grounded in sociocultural and critical theories that recognize teaching and learning as not just cognitive, but also social, cultural, and historically- and politically-situated. Utilizing primarily qualitative methods, she examines writing and teaching in K-16 classrooms and professional development settings, as well as out-of-school contexts.

Her research has focused on three themes: (a) the broad literate lives of teachers and students; (b) the profoundly social nature of school writing; and (c) teachers’ writing pedagogies and professional development experiences, particularly those that support socio-political orientations. Across these works, she argues that in schools we tend to understand and teach writing in restrictive ways that are misaligned with what we know about writing and learners.

Dr. Woodard’s recent research has focused on culturally sustaining writing pedagogies, connected learning pedagogies, and composing and making.