Andrea M. Kent is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education, College of Education at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Kent received her B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from University of Mobile, her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Alabama, and her Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Development from the University of South Alabama. She has received the College’s Early Career Award, Teaching Innovation Award, and the University’s Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award. As a former elementary education teacher and reading coach, she spends much of her time working with preservice and inservice teachers, mentoring and developing best practices in teaching. Her research interests include literacy development in all content areas, mentoring and induction of new teachers, and meaningful technology integration.
Examining Dr. Kent’s philosophy of education, it is apparent that she is struck by the notion to both increase her depth of knowledge and understanding, and to retain an intellectual curiosity that urges her to focus her scope of interest and to examine and connect new ideas and models of teaching, research, and service. Her core philosophy or theory of teaching and learning is grounded in the Gradual Release of Responsibility model of Pearson and Gallagher (1983):
- Modeling/demonstrating effective practices, followed by collaboration and feedback
- Guided practice where participants are given more responsibility in an authentic context
- Independent practice where participants begin to apply effective strategies independently, with feedback
- & ultimately, participants apply their learning independently, in various situations and curricular areas.
Throughout the last decade, Dr. Kent has been involved in the development and implementation of several new programs that have centered around teacher leadership, the preparation of new teachers, and the induction of new teachers into the teaching profession.
It is her belief that effective program development is grounded in an understanding of effective teaching. Dr. Kent’s teaching experience, both in K-12 and higher education, gave her insight into the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required of educators. Moreover, her continued time spent engaged in the policy development in the Office of Field Services and supervision of the clinical experiences has served her well in merging theory and practice. She also realizes the power of drawing on the many and varied experiences of colleagues as, together, the end result is the betterment of our educational systems.
As a member of a college faculty, Dr. Kent’s continued personal professional development has evolved through careful implementation of her research agenda. It is her belief that one’s professional development is tied closely to research and the contributions of research both to the discipline and to the individual researcher. Thus, research and intellectual contributions have been a primary impetus for her professional development.
Her research agenda continues to encompass three primary fields of study: the study of the teaching of reading, the mentoring and induction of new teachers into our profession, and the use of new and emerging technologies that facilitate instruction. Artifacts of this research include 27 published articles, one published book, one book proposal that has been recently accepted for publication, one book chapter, two research citations, and over 70 professional presentations at local, regional, national and international venues.
In addition, she has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator for over $1.14M in funded research. This research focused on teaching mentoring skills to AMSTI (Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative) math and science coaches, the use of technology to enhance reading instruction, and the development of an instructional model for enhancing our teacher education program. The process of writing and implementing these grants has allowed her the opportunity to be involved in the invention of innovative programs, while guiding p -12 participants through the integration of theory and practice. Engaging in this process helps her to refine by craft in teaching, research, and service.
Other research activities have continued those topics supported by her funded research. These projects include, for example, continued mentoring work with the Alabama State Department of Education Professional Development for trainers, ongoing work with the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative, and working with the College’s Summer Enrichment Program. Please see Promotion and/or Tenure Report IV. D. Research Activities.
Dr. Kent’s service contributions range from serving on university committees, college program development, and program leadership to serving as a guest reviewer for national and international journals. In addition, her service to professional organizations has focused on serving as an officer in a special interest group, reviewing conference proposals, and collaborating with an international group of scholars that have a common research agenda.
Dr. Kent also spends much of her time engaged in community service by leading professional development programs in reading and mentoring for local school systems and the Alabama State Department of Education. She also works frequently with school district staff development and individual teachers for the purposes of using technology to enhance instruction, mentoring and inducting new teachers into the profession, and working with teachers to meet the literacy needs of their students. Service of this nature helps her to maintain recency in the practice of her areas of expertise.