The UC Irvine School of Education achieves its mission of teaching, research and service through delivery of undergraduate, graduate and credential programs, an array of research activities, and collaborative work with K-12 schools in professional development and school improvement.
From its inception, UC Irvine has contributed to the vitality of public schools in Orange County by offering access to educational resources and enhancing the achievement of diverse students. Because of this commitment to public schools, UCI established the Office of Teacher Education in 1971. For 20 years, this unit focused on professional preparation and high-quality training for teachers and administrators. In 1991, the office became the Department of Education, a first step for UCI in developing an emphasis on research and graduate studies in education. The teacher credential program has since become the largest in the University of California system, producing approximately 225 single- and multiple-subject preliminary credential recipients each year, as well as interns who are paid by local districts while they complete the credential program. The credential programs are highly selective and dedicated to preparing teachers as leaders in their profession. The department became the School of Education in July 2012.
The School of Education has supplemented its teacher-education programs and has advanced its graduate study, research and service missions through additional programs. In 1994, the unit initiated its first graduate degree program, a Doctorate in Education in Educational Administration, offered in cooperation with the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Sciences. In 1998, the undergraduate minor in educational studies was added for students with an interest in teaching. SOE, in collaboration with UCI Extension, also offers preliminary and professional Administrative Services Credential programs for prospective and practicing administrators. The unit has developed a Master of Arts in Teaching that complements the credential programs for motivated and well-qualified credential candidates. In 2007, the first cohort for the new Ph.D. in Education was admitted. This doctoral program gives students core knowledge of requisite educational theory and research while allowing them to focus on one of three areas of specialization: Learning, Cognition & Development (LCD); Educational Policy & Social Context (EPSC); and Language, Literacy & Technology (LLT).
Launched in 2006, UCI Cal Teach is a unique academic program that recruits talented undergraduate science and math majors to prepare for a teaching career. Jointly sponsored by the schools of Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Education, the Cal Teach Science and Mathematics Program offers UCI undergraduates a chance to explore inquiry-based science and mathematics teaching via hands-on fieldwork-based courses. Cal Teach students have the option of earning their bachelor’s degree and a secondary teaching credential through SOE’s four-year academic programs.
At the heart of the school's research mission is a commitment to understanding the educational transformations needed in today’s world. This theme is pursued in five main areas of research: language, literacy and culture; learning, instruction and assessment; teacher education and development; information and communication technologies in education; and educational policy and leadership and their social contexts. Research projects address a variety of more focused topics, including information and communications technologies; cognition in science; race and urban education; educational policy and school reform; program evaluation; reading, language and literacy; arts education; and intelligence theory. A variety of qualitative, survey and experimental design methodologies are represented in the work of the faculty, as are diverse theoretical perspectives.
The school's service mission is carried out through community-based programs both inside and outside the classroom. As a natural outgrowth of its credential and degree programs, SOE is committed to the professional development of local educators and K-12 school improvement. A prime example is the UCI Writing Project, a research-based program that provides in-service opportunities for more than 3,000 teachers in Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area each year. Since 1978, the project has helped teachers improve their techniques for teaching writing to their students as well as enhance their own writing abilities. In addition to training teachers through intensive summer institutes, the writing project presents conferences and workshops on leading topics of interest and develops lessons designed to foster students’ critical thinking and writing skills. Recent projects include a $875,000 California Postsecondary Education grant to work with Lynwood and Paramount Unified School Districts and a $2.9 million U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences grant to work with Santa Ana Unified School District. Another example is the ArtsCore program, funded by the California Postsecondary Education Commission and offered in collaboration with the Orange County Department of Education. The program has assisted more than 100 teachers in improving student academic achievement through standards-based arts education, particularly for students in low-performing schools.
Deborah Lowe Vandell, Dean
Deborah Lowe Vandell is the founding dean of the School of Education at UCI, where she holds a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior. She served as chair of the Department of Education since 2006. Prior to these appointments, Vandell was the Sears Bascom Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she held appointments in educational psychology, human development and family studies, and psychology.
The author of more than 130 articles, Vandell's research has focused on the effects of developmental contexts (early child care, schools, after-school programs, families, neighborhoods) on children’s social, behavioral and academic functioning. As one of the principal investigators with the NICHD Study of Early Child Care & Youth Development, she has conducted an intensive study of the development of 1,300 children from birth through age 15. This work is viewed by many social scientists as one of the most comprehensive studies of the short-term and long-term effects of early child care and the family to date.
Vandell has served on advisory boards and panels for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation and the National Institute for Early Education Research.