Message from the Chair

Wei-Chen Hung
Wei-Chen Hung

Dear Alumni,

Despite the pandemic, the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA) has been as productive as ever, and I’m excited to share some updates with you.

New Computer Science 5-12 Endorsement

Starting in the Summer 2021 semester, teachers can earn subsequent ISBE endorsements in Computer Science for grades 5-12. The coursework prepares teachers with both computer science content knowledge and pedagogy. Teachers holding current Professional Educator Licenses can earn this endorsement in 18 credit hours.

Exciting New Research on the Impact of Teacher Education (RITE) Lab

Todd Reeves
Todd Reeves

ETRA’s own Dr. Todd Reeves is leading an amazing cross-departmental collaborative research program focused on improving K-12 teacher education. The Research on the Impact of Teacher Education Lab delves deeply into research on teacher education at all phases from pre-service through experienced educators. Dr. Reeves and his team consist of NIU professors, students and K-12 educators. The lab’s focus is on rigorous and relevant research across five strands that include describing theoretical mechanisms, processes or phenomena related to teacher education.

Ten Years of Online Education Excellence

As one of the contributors to the College of Education’s (CoE) best online graduate education ranking from U.S. News & World Report, the department is celebrating a decade of consecutive national recognition for ranking in the Top 10 percent of 296 higher education institutions.

Our online faculty members are as engaged, qualified and current in their fields as our traditional face-to-face faculty. Of course,  the pandemic has given all of our faculty the opportunity this past year to bring their credentials to life online, and it has been a great success. CoE faculty members have shown time and again their absolute dedication to both their fields and their students.

Faculty Serving the Community, Locally and Internationally

Dr. Laura Ruth Johnson
Dr. Johnson has a long history of making a difference in research practice and in the Chicago community. Her ongoing efforts include a collaborative and participatory action research project exploring mentorship and advocacy efforts among pregnant and parenting youth attending an alternative high school in Humboldt Park, Chicago.

Laura Ruth Johnson, Tom Smith and Pi-Sui Hsu
Laura Ruth Johnson, Tom Smith and Pi-Sui Hsu

Dr. Tom Smith
Dr. Smith has been engaged in international projects for the last few years, with has included visiting professorships and international conferences. He has extensive collaborative experience with researchers at National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) and Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, and served as a Visiting Research Professor at NSYSU in 2020, teaching advanced statistics.

Dr. Pi-Sui Hsu
Dr. Hsu has been busy helping middle school students in Rockford, Illinois, to engage in science exploration through an after-school STEM program called Scientific Argumentation in Transportable Invention Space (SAITIS), supported by Rockford Public School District grants as well as a CoE Dean’s Partnership Grant. Dr. Hsu’s work is focused on bringing Next Generation Science Standards to young learners. Next Generation Science Standards emphasize learning science by doing science and encourage hands-on inquiry and learning. Dr. Hsu’s students meet in a “makerspace” style classroom with engaging scientific tools such as 3-D printers and solar panels.

Learn-IT Conference
ETRA’s annual technology-focused conference was held virtually in 2020 and was themed “Transforming Learning Space with Low Cost High Impact Instructional Technology.” The free conference was a great success, with more than 100 educators attending and participating. This year’s conference will also be virtual from May to July.

As you can see, we’ve been busy keeping the CoE worthy of its ranking in the U.S. News & World Report. We couldn’t do this without your support, and we hope you know how much we appreciate you.


Wei-Chen Hung
Chair, Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment

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