I received a Ph. D. in curriculum, teaching, and educational policy from Michigan State University and a AB in Linguistics from the University of Chicago. I was an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before moving to the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During the spring of 2003, I was Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Graduate School of Education and as part of the Language, Literacy, and Culture faculty group. Currently, I work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a full professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education.
I am interested in exploring language-in-use and academic literacies as sociolinguistic, cultural, and social phenomena. My scholarship focuses on how young people, their teachers, and families engage in discourse about achievement and how education policy decisions are enacted at all levels of schooling, thus influencing agency among key players (students, parents, teachers, schools).
I spent 26 months doing fieldwork in a Yemeni American community in southeastern Michigan, and I returned to the community to conduct more fieldwork. In subsequent years, my research has delved substantively into the literacy and discourse practices of young people across home and school settings of middle and secondary school students as well as into migration/diversity issues of Arab Muslims from Iraq and Syria as well as immigrant populations in the U.S. and Europe. Recently, and with colleagues at the University of Tanjunpura in Pontianak, Indonesia, I visited schools and explored how children, young people, and pre-service teachers there engage with English language-use. I am particularly interested in how all young people negotiate their home and school worlds successfully and how a school and its teachers accommodate them. I also study academic literacies and classrooms in which youth are labeled as “slow” or “struggling readers” and have published several research articles on this topic.
I serve on several journal editorial review boards, including those of the Journal of Literacy Research and Research in the Teaching of English, and the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. I also review for Ethos, Sociology of Education, and NSF’s Cultural Anthropology Program. I am the recipient of the 2012 University of Nebraska Distinguished College of Education and Human Sciences Teaching Award and the 2018 Parents’ Recognition Award for Contributions to Students (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).
I currently serve as Chair of Graduate Programs in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education.