Supporting Faculty & Student Inquiry Across the Field of Education

The Nevada Institute on Teaching & Educator Preparation (NITEP) funds research that engages the meaningful recruitment, preparation, and retention of Nevada educators, the NV|Forward Mini Grant Program is committed to the enhancement of pedagogical practices for diverse learners while inducting and mentoring undergraduate student research fellows, extending their capacities as developing teacher-researchers.

Funded Projects | 2023-24

We are excited to announce the award of five (5) mini grants totaling $207,612 for the 2023-24 academic year. In addition to the inquiry supported by these funds, up to 15 undergraduate and graduate research fellows will receive direct experience with research as well as mentorship by faculty.

Proposals were received from partners across Nevada and UNLV faculty with a strong focus on research that engages the meaningful recruitment, preparation, and retention of Nevada educators, with commitments towards the enhancement of pedagogical practices for diverse learners.

Click on the titles below to learn more about each of this year’s projects.

70 Years Post-Brown v. Board: Examining the Multilevel Intersectionalities and Pedagogical Practices of Black Teachers in Southern Nevada

PI: Dr. Marla R. Goins


This study explores 1) the multilevel intersectional factors that have influenced Black Southern Nevadan pre-service and in-service PK-12 teachers to study education and become (or continue being) teachers; 2) the intersectional experiences of Black Southern Nevadan teachers in their pre-service education or careers; and 3) the pedagogical strategies that Black Southern Nevadan teachers deploy or anticipate utilizing to teach Black and diverse learners. This research aids in the reparation of the ‘leaky teacher pipeline’ in Southern Nevada, where Black and Brown teachers are historically underrepresented and needed. By conducting individual and focus group interviews, it seeks to understand the ways in which social categories and relations, multiple arenas of influence, and historicity can influence the recruiting, training, and sustaining of Black teachers, and the assets they bring to the classroom. The local community-embedded organization Southern Nevada Black Educators Initiative (SNBEI) will facilitate connections with participants, and African American Education & Research Organization (AAERO) will support the development of qualitative multilevel intersectionality interview protocol.

Challenging Racist, Transphobic, and Queerphobic Dominant Discourses of “Parental Rights” and Child “Protection:” Queering Caregiving Justice by Centering Counternarratives of Black and Brown Queer, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming Families

PI: Dr. Danielle Mireles
PI: Drs. Norma A. Marrun & Christine Clark


Recent/rising anti-Trans legislation, family separation through I.C.E. detention, and challenges to the Indian Childhood Welfare Act highlight ways in which the state enacts/perpetuates violence against working class/poor, Black and Brown, and/or Trans/Queer caregivers and communities. Emerging educational research provides counterstories to ‘parent involvement’ that reveal that building authentic partnerships with families is the most effective way to engage students, but how schools’ climates/cultures are anathema to family-centered collectives that authentically value and act upon these families’ cultural wealth. Working in partnership with the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada and Gender Justice, the proposed research will examine–through qualitative individual interviews with members of Black and Brown Queer, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming families with children in PK-12 schools and pre-service teachers–the lived experiences of these families in schools in Southern Nevada and if/how pre-service teachers are prepared to think about/engage with them.

Competing with Colossus: Charter School Leaders’ Role in Teacher Retention and Working Conditions in Clark County, Nevada

PI: Dr. Megan K. Rauch Griffard


This study proposes to investigate how charter schools in Clark County navigate issues of teacher retention and working conditions in the context of Southern Nevada’s teacher vacancy crisis and the power of Clark County Education Association (CCEA), the largest and most powerful teacher union in the state. A major responsibility of unions is to foster positive working conditions for their members. However, charter school teachers are not eligible to participate in CCEA’s collective bargaining since they are treated as individual contractors. In-depth interviews with charter school leaders, charter school teachers, and leadership in the state’s two charter school organizations will be conducted understand how charter school leaders, as the brokers of workplace conditions, are managing the region’s teacher vacancy crisis, how they leverage working conditions to improve teacher retention, and how they compete with the benefits and opportunities that CCEA ensures for traditional public school teachers.

Exploring the Intersection of Science Discussions and the Ideas and Needs of Emergent Multilingual Learners in the Amplify Science Curriculum

PI: Dr. E. Michael Nussbaum
Co-PIs: Drs. Alain Bengochea & Ian Dove
Graduate Research Assistant:
 Scott Van Winkle


This project explores the use of conceptually oriented whole-class discussions in four middle school science classrooms, focusing especially on the specific needs of Emerging Multilingual Learners (EMLs). Tools would be created that support teachers in building on learners’ ideas, prior experiences, and home languages in the context of fostering students’ conceptual understanding of scientific concepts. Four undergraduate research fellows would work with a Graduate Research Assistant (funded by a TTDGRA award) to partially develop case studies of two teachers. The fellows would learn to code and interpret transcripts qualitatively. They would also assist with classroom observations. Mini-grant funds would furthermore be used to have class discussion and interview transcripts professionally transcribed. The overall project would produce evidence of the specific needs of EMLs and related support tools, evidence that would form the basis of a NSF grant proposal, as well as conference presentations and a journal manuscript.

Mentoring the Mentors (M^2) to Provide Effective Coaching to Preservice Special Educators in Undergraduate Accelerated Licensure Programs

PI: Dr. Jabari Taylor
 Dr. Jospeh Morgan


To address the Nevada special education teacher shortage, UNLV has developed accelerated licensure programs. Evaluation data indicate that the mentor teacher (MT) supporting pre-service special education teachers (PSET) is a critical variable to their success. However, there has been a limited focus on identifying key variables to develop this relationship. Therefore, we propose Mentoring the Mentors (M2) to collaborate with undergraduate research fellows to implement a quasi-experimental research project in the fall of 2023 that examines the efficacy of professional development on MT’s (i.e., 16) ability to coach PSETs; we also propose to collect qualitative data on MT development in their role and PSET perceptions of mentorship. Using the findings, we will design a professional development for all mentor teachers in special education during the spring of 2024. The goal of our project is to share information with key stakeholders on the impact of high-quality MT professional development.

Funded Projects | 2022-23

Six (6) mini grants were awarded in 2022-23 totaling $207,612 for the 2022-2023 academic year, supporting 16 undergraduate and graduate student researchers.

Click on the titles below to learn more about each of the year’s projects.

Addressing Teacher Retention Through Trauma-Informed Support

PI: Dr. Kaitlin Clinnin
Dr. Chyllis Scott
Student Research Fellows:
Vannessa Heard, Destiny Robinson, Jeanette Sanjurjo & Joshua Yelle


Teacher retention has become a significant concern in the Clark County School District (CCSD). Although attention has been paid to teacher burnout, traumatic experiences as an underlying cause of burnout have not been fully investigated. This study takes a two-part approach to understand how teachers’ primary, secondary, and collective traumatic experiences are affecting their job satisfaction, performance, and career plans. The first part will examine CCSD teacher exit surveys to determine if symptoms of trauma contribute to teachers’ separation. The second part of the study will involve interviews with current teachers about their experiences with trauma, trauma’s effects on their job performance and career plans, and professional factors that help or hinder their wellbeing. Findings will inform recommendations at the district, school, and individual level to address one potential cause of teacher burnout and separation.

Building Teacher Leadership Capacity in Nevada Schools

PI: Dr. Jacob D. Skousen
Dr. Peter Wiens
Student Research Fellows:
Erin Ayers, Christina Romero & Claudia Chilson


While schools are highly complex organizations and leadership has been found to be an important factor to increase student achievement, the principal alone is unable to successfully lead schools to better outcomes. Instead, a shared leadership approach, in which teacher leaders engage in and collaborate in school leadership, have been found to positively influence pedagogy and student achievement. This proposal seeks funding to explore how a developed graduate certificate in teacher leadership has impacted teachers who participated in the funded certificate program. Specifically, this proposed study seeks to understand how engaging in the teacher leadership training program may shape how teachers and principals understand and practice teacher leadership. Through mixed methods, we propose to collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data that will help broaden the collective understanding of teacher leadership and how a university-based graduate program can influence practitioner understanding of teacher leadership.

Critical Participatory Action Research to Support Community Embedded STEM Education, Phase 2

PI: Dr. Katie Wade-Jaimes
Student Research Fellows:
MaryKate Enciso & Safiyya (Saff) Bintali


This project is phase two of a critical participatory action research (CPAR) project designed with community members. The goals of this project are to address the STEM education needs of the local community and to support teachers in developing an understanding of community-based, culturally relevant STEM teaching, potentially impacting teacher identity and retention. Building on a successful initial phase in which a community research collective was developed, this phase focuses on two community-generated goals: development of a workshop for k-12 science teachers and development of a community garden/workshop for community members. Using CPAR and Discourse analysis, this project will explore the following: 1) how participation in CPAR impacts STEM identity of community members; 2) how workshops developed by the research collective impact teachers’ perceptions of students’ and communities’ funds of knowledge and cultural wealth; 3) how workshops developed by the research collective impact community members’ perceptions of STEM education.

Linking Latino Leaders

PI: Dr. Leanne Salazar Montoya
Student Research Fellows:
 Silvia Natalie Gonzales & Lesly Zecena Constanza


The primary mission of this grant is to create a network of Latinx leaders providing support, resources, and professional development to accelerate the retention, recruitment, and ascension of Latinx leaders in Clark County. This project has potential to impact the restructuring of policies and practices related to recruitment, retention and professional development over time and to provide a stronger foundation for a more diverse workforce. Linking Latinx Leaders herein referred to as the “L3” Professional Development Pilot Project aims to support Latinx educators and administrators by providing them a safe space to network, learn, and prepare for next level leadership. With support of Latino Network of Clark County, UNLV is proposing the L3-Linking Latino Leaders pilot project with the intent of continuing the project’s mission beyond the grant funding to target active educators and support their retention and long term professional goals.

A Racially Literate DisCrit Analysis: Pre-Service Teachers of Colors’ Lived Experiences with Racist Ableism and Preparedness to Serve PK-12 Students of Color and their Families/Communities

PI: Dr. Marla Goins (she/ela)
 Dr. Danielle Mireles (they/elle), Dr. Norma Marrun (she/ella), Dr. Christine Clark (she/they/ellas), Azul Ureño & Eden Wolde (she/ella)


Research has examined the intersections between race and disability and racism and ableism in PK-12 and teacher education. The proposed research draws upon Dis/ability Critical Race Theory or DisCrit and racial literacies-informed data analytical frameworks to unpack deficit assumptions and dominant narratives about racism and ableism. Through qualitative individual and focus group interviews with Pre-Service Teachers of Color and members of Families/Communities of Color, the research team, working in partnership with Make the Road Nevada and No Racism in Schools #1865, both community-embedded organizations in Southern Nevada, will center these participants’ lived experiences and surface their counterstories to problematize master narratives about intelligence and ability. By rethinking how teacher education programs prepare Pre-Service Teachers of Color to recognize and respond when they see racism/ableism in their schools, including by partnering with the families and communities of Students of Color, the proposed research will expand and deepen education research in Nevada.

Transitioning New Teachers

PI: Dr. Brenda Pearson
Student Research Fellows:
 Monica Cordova Medina, Fae Ung, Natalie Garcia & Christina Close


Teacher turnover and attrition matters. Although modest turnover and attrition might positively impact schools if the departing teachers are ineffective, patterns of chronic turnover are instructionally, financially, and organizationally detrimental. This discontinuity destabilizes professional communities and negatively impacts student outcomes. Commonly, schools who experience patterns of chronic turnover and attrition employ a disproportionately large amount of novice teachers and lack the social capital created within collegial relationships. Curbing the turnover and attrition of educators begins by ensuring that systems are in place to support pre-service educators as they enter the profession. Increasing the number of educators who are serving in our economically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities requires an intentional and sustained approach to building high-retention and supportive pathways into teaching and strategies to support induction This project proposes to perform a needs assessment to better understand the experience of first year educators who serve in economically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse schools.

Research initiatives are made possible thanks to generous funding from the Nevada Department of Education to support the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation (NITEP), the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation, Retention, & Research (NIEPRR), and the Nevada Educator Preparation Institute & Collective (NV-EPIC).