Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA elementary education student presents research on English language learners at conference

January 31, 2017 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University senior elementary education major Stefanie Butnick conducted research that involved working with English Language Learners and presented her study at the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research in San Antonio.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Fear of the unknown often stands as a challenge to overcome for many, and for Stephen F. Austin State University senior elementary education major Stefanie Butnick working with English language learners seemed like a daunting task.

"When I was considering internship sites, I realized I felt very apprehensive about going into a school and working with English language learners," Butnick said. "It was in that moment I realized I had to take measures to enhance my professional development in that area."

Butnick morphed her fear into education and began conducting undergraduate research focused on English language learners in February 2016. After months of research and conducting personal interviews, she developed a self-efficacy study that involved guiding questions, purposes, methodology, a definition of the topic and interview responses.

During the fall semester, Butnick, a Dallas native, presented her study at the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research in San Antonio. The IOSSBR is an international society of scholars, academicians and practitioners who exchange ideas and collaborate in a conference setting.

"Given that this was my first conference, I was provided with a lot of support from SFA professors in the elementary education department who were absolutely amazing teaching me how to communicate data for scholarly purposes," Butnick said.

Dr. Vicki Thomas, SFA assistant professor in the Department of Elementary Education, discussed the professional quality of Butnick's work.

"Stefanie embarked on this research as an honor's project, took it beyond the requirements of the assignment and developed it into her own personal research," Thomas said in a letter to support Butnick's travel. "She commits herself to excellence in teaching, and this quality was highly evident in her research project."

Because she attended the conference, Butnick was able to build her professional résumé, network and learn more about her field. She plans to graduate in May and begin her first year of teaching.

"Because of the amazing education I have received at SFA, I have been inspired to become an educator later in my career," Butnick said. "I aspire to present at and attend professional conferences that can help me grow and learn about innovative and novel practices that I can bring into my elementary classroom and eventually the college courses I go on to teach. Attending the conference was an amazing opportunity to have before even beginning my in-service teaching career."

For more information about SFA's Department of Elementary Education, visit http://www.sfasu.edu/elementaryed/.