Undergraduate Research and Creativity Alumni Profiles 

Devon Holler, B.S. '17

M.S. Student, Walden University
Major(s): Exceptional Education

What research or work have you done since graduating from Buffalo State?

Since graduating in December I started my graduate degree in early childhood studies through Walden University. I accepted a temporary teaching position as the special education ICT in a bilingual third grade classroom at school 76. This position ended after a month and I interviewed and was offered a permanent placement at school 54 as a 12:1:1 (12 students, one teacher, one teacher assistant) 1st grade special education teacher.

Can you translate your work for the general public?

Through my studies I am able to learn more about early childhood education including best practices for teaching, current research in the field, as well as the different sectors of education such as health care, early intervention, and academia and how they all intertwine. Since I also have the pleasure of teaching while learning, I can apply and practice my studies in my classroom as well.

Why did you decide to get involved in undergraduate research?

I decided to get involved in the undergraduate research program at Buffalo State because I am a strong believer that the best way to learn is through experience. I always try to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me and make the most out of each one. Going out into the field and working with other professionals in education better prepared me for what I am doing now. It provided me with an extra opportunity to take risks, ask questions, and delve deeper into my field.

How did your undergraduate research experience influence your career path?

My research strengthened my passion for the field of education. I was able to listen to different perspectives of different teachers in and outside of the United States. Through my studies in Zambia, I was able to gain more culturally responsive teaching practices and I came back very humbled. I use many of the strategies and skills I learned through teaching in Zambian schools in my work today.

Describe the research you did and if you presented it at any professional conference, juried art exhibit, or other off-campus location.

I studied the effects of Common Core on creativity from the perspective of teachers. Right now there is a lot of debate on the effects of Common Core and high stakes testing in our school system, however, it seems that the most important people are not being listed to. As teachers we are experts in the field of education, but we feel very unheard. Because of this I thought it was important to interview teachers who were teaching before the implementation of common core as well as after to see how they felt it affected their classroom. I also was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in Zambia, Africa and decided to extend my research further to see how Zambian schools designed curriculum. Did they have a national curriculum required by law for funding? Did they implement high stakes testing? What did they emphasize, ELA and math like we do? My findings were very interesting and I am continuing to look further into this topic today, especially now that I am in the classroom myself with such an at-risk population. I look forward to continuing my research on this topic.

Undergraduate Research Mentor: Dr. Alex Means