Spartans recognized with International Literacy Association honors

July 8, 2021

Two Spartans with ties to Michigan State University’s Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) program are among those being honored by the International Literacy Association.

Lori Bruner

Current student Lori Bruner is the winner of the 2021 Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship, given to just one doctoral student each year. The Fellowship, in the form of a $5,000 grant, uplifts scholars whose dissertation research focuses on reading.

Bruner’s research explores early language and literacy development in home and community contexts, particularly the role that texts play in supporting young children’s vocabulary development. Her dissertation is examining the types of words children may learn from preschool storybook apps and the mechanisms used to draw attention to learning words on the screen. For her analysis, Bruner is studying 70 top-selling preschool storybook apps and the experiences of 36 families with preschool-aged children reading stories on screen and in print.

“This award is truly a team effort,” said Bruner. “It’s a reflection of the world-class preparation I’ve received as a doctoral student in the College of Education and the incredible teamwork and cheerleading I’ve received from my family as we’ve juggled life and a dissertation in a pandemic. I would especially like to thank my committee: my advisor, Dr. Tanya Wright; my mentor, Dr. Patricia Edwards; and Drs. Kim Kelly and Hope Gerde, who poured considerable time and effort into this project during such a challenging year.”

Blythe Anderson

Blythe Anderson, Ph.D. ’20, was named a finalist for the 2021 Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award. The award recognizes scholars whose work examines reading or literacy.

Photo credit: Kyle Anderson

Anderson specialized in language and literacy instruction while at MSU and is now an assistant professor of literacy education at University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Her dissertation used case studies to understand “how teachers use language to promote oral language and vocabulary development during science instruction in the early-elementary grades, whether/how vocabulary talk relates to the language aspects of science talk, and what features of science curriculum materials are related to enhanced vocabulary talk.” Her work expanded the knowledge on “the ways that science instruction supports literacy learning and literacy instruction supports science learning.”

A former first grade teacher and district literacy coordinator, Anderson was previously recognized by the ILA with the 2019 Steven A. Stahl Research Grant.

Spartans have been previously recognized by the International Literacy Association. In 2019, alumna Lisa Domke, now an assistant professor at Georgia State University, was a finalist for the Shanahan Award. In 2020, it was announced that several College of Education faculty—Tanya Wright, Patricia Edwards, Laura Tortorelli, Lucía Cárdenas Curiel and Shireen Al-Adeimi—would be the editorial team for ILA’s The Reading Journal. Starting in summer 2021, Jungmin Kwon will join the editorial team.