Expert in Active Learning Strategies and Social Studies Education Joins the VT School of Education
September 6, 2022
Amy Allen, Ph.D., has joined the faculty in the Virginia Tech School of Education as an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education. Allen received her doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in social studies education from the University of Oklahoma and a master's degree in education technology from the University of Central Missouri. Most recently, Allen worked as an instructor and field supervisor at the University of Oklahoma, working with preservice elementary education majors. She also served, concurrently, as the Director of Education Development at a private school in Oklahoma City where she worked closely with in-service teachers to provide ongoing faculty development.
“Dr. Allen is a much-needed addition to our elementary program,” said Donna Fortune, Program Leader for Elementary Education. “Her commitment to both research and teaching social studies education through inquiry, class discussions, and project-based learning are just some of the exemplary strategies we look forward to her sharing with the students at Virginia Tech.” “Allen’s deep personal and professional commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and international social justice align well with the School’s core values and priorities,” added Kristin Gehsmann, Director of the VT School of Education. “We’re thrilled she has joined us at VT!”
Allen’s areas of scholarly expertise include elementary social studies, discussion-based teaching strategies, place-based learning, and in-service teacher professional development. For the past several years, Allen’s work has focused on equipping elementary classroom teachers to engage students in thoughtful discussions as part of their social studies instruction. Her dissertation research examined elementary teachers’ beliefs about discussion-based practices, which was then followed by professional development provided to the teachers to explore how teachers learn and sustain novel instructional practices.
Allen is a contributing author to a new online methods textbook to be published by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) in the coming year. The textbook focuses on pairing the C3 Framework with Primary Sources to help teachers develop inquiry mindsets towards the teaching and learning of social studies content. Allen’s chapters in particular draw on her research insights to focus on pairing these resources with discussion-based strategies in the elementary classroom. In addition, she has also drawn on culturally responsive practices while working with St. Monica's school in Uganda to develop a reading curriculum for women, both in English and in their mother tongue.
Allen currently serves on the board of the Social Science Education Consortium (SSEC). This organization is dedicated to strengthening social science content in social studies education. This summer, she is also serving as the program chair for SSEC's conference in Dublin, Ireland. The theme is "Moving beyond a single story" and she will be hosting scholars in the social sciences from around the world, including the US, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Lithuania, and more.
In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Allen enjoys cooking and baking in her free time and has often thought of publishing a cookbook with recipes she has created. She loves to travel and during breaks, and she notes that you will often find her on another continent.
"I'm incredibly excited to join the team at Virginia Tech's School of Education. Not only do I look forward to growing my own scholarship alongside the esteemed faculty within the school, I also look forward to preparing the next generation of teachers while working alongside and supporting in-service teachers in Blacksburg's local schools" Allen said.
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