'RaCAS was a goal since I was a freshman'

Education students represent well – including second-place finish – at annual symposium

May 2, 2018

SEHD students at RaCAS
Pictured at RaCAS are, from left, faculty mentor Robin Brandehoff, SEHD students Leah Link, Lea Ziegler and Kimberly Rodriguez and faculty mentor Amy Boelé.

Lea Ziegler, a standout undergraduate special education major, captured second place in the Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences poster division at CU Denver’s Research and Creative Activities Symposium (RaCAS) on April 27. Ziegler’s project, titled, “Inclusionary Practices in the Classroom,” explored the instructional methods that create an inclusive classroom environment, especially for culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities.

Using qualitative research methods while at her internship site, she found that cultural competence and wide representation of identities in a classroom help students build self-confidence. Additionally, differentiated instruction and relationships work to increase students’ engagement in the instructional environment. Lea demonstrated an animated and compelling posture in her verbal explanations of her project with attendees at the symposium.

“Presenting at RaCAS was a goal of mine since I was a freshman at CU Denver,” said Ziegler, a student in the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD). “Through the guidance of my professors, along with support from my faculty mentor Amy Boelé that goal was accomplished. As a special education major, inclusionary practices are integral to the work that I do. Being able to present my research to such a wide audience, including people outside of the education realm was an incredible experience.”

Over the past several years, the undergraduate teacher education program has leveraged inquiry as an important theme across students’ curricular experience. Ziegler first conceptualized her inquiry project in fall 2017 in the course EDHD 3930, Diverse Learners Field Experience and Seminar. Along with a team of collaborators within the Curious Teacher Learning Community, Ziegler further developed her inquiry project over the course of the spring semester.

Undergraduates Leah Link and Kimberly Rodriguez also participated in furthering their inquiry projects from EDHD 1930 and EDHD 2930, respectively. Ziegler, Link and Rodriguez represented the SEHD very well at RaCAS this year. See the full honoree list here.

After this group of students and mentors gathered for a photo, one RaCAS judge approached the teacher candidates and told them that she is so glad they are our future educators. Faculty mentors include Boelé, Kobi Nelson, Robin Brandehoff, Lisa Silverstein, Lori Ryan and Cindy Gutierrez, with support and guidance from Associate Dean Barbara Seidl.