Critical Issues in the Science of Reading: Striving for a Wide-Angle View in Research

Friday, December 4th
5:00 - 6:00 p.m. central time


In this plenary session, a panel of distinguished scholars, including Sandra Barrueco, Sonia Cabell, Jim Hoffman, Etta Hollins, and P. David Pearson, will address topics such as racial injustice in literacy research, content-rich instruction beyond initial coding, the disciplinary preparation of literacy teachers, first and second language assessment, and productive ways forward in developing a robust research agenda for literacy studies. By suggesting a “wide angle” view of research, the panel explores the notion that individuals must be viewed in a broader context than just a test score, the findings from a few studies, or static demographic designations.  The overall purpose of the session is less a debate than a search for expanding the way the field needs to adjust in conducting comprehensive, inclusive and equitable literacy research. 

In terms of format for this one-hour session, convenor and moderator, P. David Pearson, will give a brief overview of key issues in the science of reading, followed by a 6 minute “TED” talk or brief statement by each panelist discussing key issues related to the topics mentioned above.  After the panelists’ remarks, the audience will be asked to participate via a monitored CHAT function where audience questions and comments will be compiled (and archived) and addressed by the panel.  Moderator Pearson will close with a “coda” suggesting ways forward for conducting future literacy research.

Convenor/Moderator: P. David Pearson, UC Berkeley

Issues in language research and assessment—Sandra Barrueco, Catholic University of America    

Background knowledge and content-rich ELA instruction —Sonia Cabell, Florida State University

Teacher knowledge and professional development—Jim Hoffman, University of North Texas

Research design and pedagogical impacts on students of color--Etta Hollins, Un. of Missouri 

In an effort to facilitate maximum participation, the presenters ask that you complete the following form with questions/comments to be addressed during this session.  Submissions will be accepted until Friday, November 20th. 

 P. David Pearson

P David Pearson is the Evelyn Lois Corey Emeritus Professor of Instructional Science in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley, where he continues to conduct research on literacy history and policy.

 Sandra Barrueco



Dr. Barrueco is a Professor at The Catholic University of America, where she directs the Clinical Psychology doctoral program as well as the Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies. Dr. Barrueco’s expertise centers on assessment, methodological, and intervention approaches for young ethnically- and linguistically-diverse children and families. She recently co-directed the first nationally-representative survey of its kind with Migrant and Seasonal Head Start children, families, and programs. Dr. Barrueco is particularly committed to improving assessment and measurement approaches with immigrant children (such as via a book entitled Assessing Spanish–English Bilingual Preschoolers: A Guide to Best Approaches and Measures), along with research-practice-policy approaches (such as via a policy brief about parent engagement in linguistically-diverse families). Dr. Barrueco’s national appointments have included the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Forum for Children’s Well-being, federal Hispanic Research Work Group and federal Expert Panel on Research Methods with Young Dual Language Learners. Throughout all her work, Dr. Barrueco utilizes advanced statistics to advance scientific knowledge and practice with young immigrant children and families, along with close collaborations with families and the local and national programs that serve them. For more, see Dr. Barrueco’s webpage at The Catholic University of America.

Sonia Cabell



Sonia Cabell, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education and the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University. She has previously worked as a second-grade teacher and literacy coach. Dr. Cabell’s research focuses on early language and literacy intervention, with a particular interest in preventing reading difficulties among children living in poverty. Dr. Cabell has authored over 50 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, a book, book chapters, and early childhood language and literacy curricula. She currently serves as Associate Editor for the scholarly journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Dr. Cabell has served as Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator on grant projects totaling approximately $6 million dollars. Her Twitter handle is @soniacabell.

 James Hoffman

James V. Hoffman is a Professor of Language and Literacy Studies at the University of North Texas. He currently holds the Meadows Endowed Chair for Excellence in Literacy. Hoffman’s research interests are center on literacy teacher preparation with a focus on activism, imagination and inquiry.

 Etta Hollins



Dr. Hollins spent the early years of her career as a public-school teacher and administrator.  She conducted two 3-year longitudinal studies on improving literacy teaching practices for urban students. Her book Learning to Teach in Urban Schools chronicles the study conducted in one urban school district. She has consulted for schools, school districts, and state departments of education across the nation.

Presently, Dr. Etta Hollins is professor emeritus, Ewing Marion Kauffman/Missouri Endowed chair for Urban Teacher Education. She has spent the past 22 years leading faculty across the nation in designing and redesigning preservice teacher preparation programs. Professor Hollins is the author of numerous articles, books, and other publications. Her book Culture in School Learning has won two national awards and has been translated into Greek. The third edition was published in May 2015.  Her book Rethinking Field Experiences in Preservice Teacher Preparation was published in April 2015 and received the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education 2016 Outstanding Book Award. Her most recent book is titled Teaching to Transform Urban Schools: Powerful Pedagogy in Practice (2019). Her forthcoming book co-authored with Connor Warner, Rethinking Teacher Preparation Program Design, is scheduled for release in April 2021.

Professor Hollins’ expertise in the field is well recognized. In 2015, Dr. Hollins was a spotlight speaker for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, research speaker for the Association of Teacher Educators, and keynote speaker for the Maryland Cultural Proficiency Conference. She has served as a member of the accreditation council for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the research and policy advisory council for the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, and the teacher education advisory council for Salish Kootenai College. She has served as senior advisor for the Journal of Teacher Education and on the advisory board for the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Teacher Education, Review of Educational Research, and as reviewer for Reading Research Quarterly and Teaching Education. She has reviewed book manuscripts for Routledge Publishers and Teachers College Press. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her work including lifetime achievement awards from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and Pittsburg State University, Kansas. In 2015, she received the American Education Research Association Presidential Citation for her work in advancing knowledge of teaching and learning for urban and underserved students. She received the AERA Division K 2016 Legacy Award. In 2018, Professor Hollins received the honor of induction as an AERA fellow for her contributions and national leadership in preservice teacher preparation.