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UC Riverside

Graduate School of Education

The Insider | Fall 2016

AnnMaria De Mars

GSOE Alumni Spotlight:
Dr. AnnMaria De Mars

President and CEO of 7 Generation Games and The Julia Group; 1984 World Judo Champion; blogger; entrepreneur; mother; student; educator: these are just a handful of the hats that GSOE Alumna, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, has worn during her impressive professional career.

Before coming to University of California, Riverside, AnnMaria earned a BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from University of Minnesota. She continued her pursuit of higher education by earning an MA and a PhD from UCR Graduate School of Education (GSOE) in Educational Psychology in 1990.  Under the mentorship and advisement of the late Dr. Richard Eyman, former professor at UCR’s Graduate School of Education, AnnMaria describes her time at UCR as “a great experience”.

AnnMaria recalls standing out from her peers in the GSOE as it was wildly uncommon to find a Latina woman who was interested in taking statistics courses in various departments on campus, let alone asking important questions about cross-demographic inequity in assessment tools for elementary school students. AnnMaria’s dissertation focused on educational testing in the United States and Mexico and the evaluation of assessment metrics. As AnnMaria recalls, there was only one other Latino in her program at this time, and very few she could name that had preceded her.

De Mars distinctly remembers shuffling across campus with three children under five when she met someone she considers as equally influential in her educational success at UCR as Eyman, Dr. Yolanda Venegas, former director of teacher education of Chicano Bilingual-Bicultural Studies for CHASS. AnnMaria explained that Dr. Venegas was purposefully and meticulously engaged in monitoring her progress, and equally committed to the advancement of Latinas in education. De Mars credits this focused attention from her mentors as an environment that commanded continuous results, but also one that served as an external mechanism that pushed her to be the best version of herself.

De Mars recalls Venegas encouraging her to persevere through her program despite the adversity she faced as a Latina in what was, at the time, an underrepresented demographic in the institution; Venegas told her, “You must finish!”

As a graduate student, AnnMaria brought with her the ideas and early versions of 7 Generation Games: a multi-faceted company that is aimed at teaching math to under-performing children (grades 3-8) through a video game platform. She recalled that the technology did not yet exist to fully implement the concept prior to coming to UCR.

After earning her PhD in Educational Psychology and serving a brief postdoctoral fellowship at UCR, De Mars went on to become a tenure track professor, a president of R & R Consulting, and co-founder and vice-president of Spirit Lake Consulting. “Within two years of its inception, Spirit Lake Consulting had booked $1 million worth of business. By the time AnnMaria sold her share of the company in 2007, Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. was the largest private employer on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation” (, 2016).

In a controlled study on the Spirit Reservation in North Dakota, De Mars beta tested the first video game for 7 Generation Games. The results of the beta revealed that the students who had completed the game scored three times higher on their standardized math assessment than the control group who did not participate in the program. This posed an unpredictable anomaly for the second round of testing when De Mars could not find a willing control group. She recalls reaching out to schools within the area and no one wanted to miss the opportunity to improve their students’ performance. Hence, AnnMaria continued the study where all schools in the study used the game for a standard period; schools in the second year study also reported remarkable successes in their students’ assessment scores.            

AnnMaria recalls being asked by a colleague why she did a second study after the first beta test for 7 Generation Games since the company is “for-profit”; her defense was that “these children cannot get the fifth grade back”; moreover, she wanted to “do well” in her professional endeavors by “doing good” from a moral standpoint as that was equally important in the success of the company. She had to know that the results from the beta were reproducible and valid.

Currently, AnnMaria is still working to implement mechanisms and educational resources for children grades 3-8, but the demographic has shifted to Native American children. 7 Generation Games and her partnering company, The Julia Group, are increasingly successful. AnnMaria is the Principal Investigator on three large grants that from the Department of Agriculture that will allow her to continue to invest in, and expand, the offering of 7 Generation Games.

The newest versions of the video games offer a bilingual equivalent and are compatible with iPads and Google Chromebooks. Set in a 3D virtual world, AnnMaria and her co-developers designed the game to not only prepare students for subject mastery up to Algebra, but also as a cultural window into Native American history.

Dr. De Mars’ success in diverse industries in education and technology are illustrative of the broader horizon of career opportunities for graduates of the GSOE. Her story is indicative of a path she made for herself by following her passion.

Read more about 7 Generation Games »

News From the Graduate School of Education

GSOE Welcomes 9 New Faculty to Campus

GSOE Welcomes 9 New Faculty to Campus

Beginning fall 2016, the Graduate School of Education is pleased to be welcoming nine new faculty to campus. As aforementioned by Dean Thomas in the Winter edition of the Insider, this expansion is part of a university-wide Cluster Hiring Initiative in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); “while the faculty are housed in GSOE, the goal is for the new faculty to collaborate with faculty in BCOE, CHASS, and CNAS to understand and improve teaching in elementary, secondary, and higher education”.

GSOE Welcomes:
Assistant Professor, Soojin Park from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Assistant Professor, Celeste Pilegard from University of California, Santa Barbara
Assistant Professor, Raquel Rall from University of Southern California
Assistant Professor, Michael Solis from University of Virginia
Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Scott Brooks from University of Missouri
Associate Professor, Uma Jayakumar from University of San Francisco
Associate Professor, Louie Rodriguez from California State University, San Bernardino
Professor, William Erchul from Arizona State University
Professor, Joseph Kahne from Mills College

Assistant Professor, Katherine Stavropoulos from University of California, San Diego joined the GSOE in Spring 2016.

Read more about the new faculty joining us this Fall »

Read more about Dr. Katherine Stavropoulos »

UCR GSOE AP Readiness Program

Riverside County Education Collaborative Announces AP Enhancement Program

The emerging UCR GSOE Advanced Placement Readiness Program (APR) provides supplemental instructional support to current and potential AP students in STEM courses such as biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, physics, calculus, statistics, computer science and English language. The APR is part of the "Race to Rigor", an initiative in Riverside County to increase student's access and success in rigorous coursework and to ensure preparation and academic success in college. The first program offering at UCR will be held Saturday, September 24th from 9:00am-1:00pm. For more information on the program, please visit the fully interactive website at:, or contact James Keipp, Director of the UCR AP Readiness Program, at

Read more »

GSOE Teaching Credential Students at NASA MUERP Conference

Dr. Cathy Lussier's Team Participates in NASA MEI at JPL

This past summer, a team of teaching credential students from the Graduate School of Education (GSOE), along with their faculty sponsor, Dr. Cathy Lussier, were chosen to participate in the NASA Minority University Research and Education Project out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. Now, the GSOE is partnering with NASA's JPL to extend further the STEM knowledge, and engineering resources provided during that institute to our community of local educators. On October 27th, district cooperating teachers from five of our partner school districts will be invited to participate in a five-hour professional development workshop. This STEM workshop will be provided free of charge by the GSOE and will include hands-on activities and educational resources designed by NASA and JPL.


New UNEX Certificate Course for Teachers

UCR Extension partners with Computer Science and Engineering department on new Certificate for teachers

With technology advancing and changing every day, it is critical that teachers are able to understand computer science to help inform their practice. It’s estimated that the majority of STEM jobs in the next ten years will be in computer science, so now is the time to frontload students with the skills to give them an edge-up in the workforce.  Due to the demand for teachers needed to teach this curriculum, UCR Extension now offers a brand new Professional Certificate in Computer Science Education.

This cutting-edge, fully online program was designed in partnership with the UCR Computer Science and Engineering department. It is designed to prepare you to teach a comprehensive computer science curriculum, including computational thinking, computing practice and programming, software design, data structure and algorithms

The program can be completed within one year and you may begin at the start of any quarter with classes being offered year round. Enrollment is now open for this program, with the first online course starting October 10.

This program has been developed by UCR Extension to meet the CTC guidelines for the Specific Authorization in Teaching Computer Science.

Read more »

William R. Hearst Foundation Scholarship Awardees

Ten Teacher Education Credential Candidate Receive Hearst Foundation

This May, 10 Candidates for Teacher Credentials in the Graduate School of Education received the William Randolph Hearst Scholarship Award in the amount of $10,000. The Hearst Scholarship was established to recognize outstanding students of color pursuing Single Subject teaching credentials in Science and Mathematics in UCR's Teacher Education Program, who have achieved positive academic records. The following Candidates were awarded for exemplary achievements in their respective fields of study:

Amy Aguirre, General Science
Lady Hannah Audet, Foundational Mathematics
Jennifer Avila Cerros, Mathematics
Velouria Bustos, Physics
Xochitl Islas, Foundational Mathematics
Leonardo Olmedo, Foundational Mathematics
Jorge Paredes, Foundational Mathematics
Ilse Pizarro-Felix, Mathematics
Jessica Soria, General Science
Courun Williams, Biology

 Meet the awardees »

U.S. Department of Educaiton- Institute of Education Sciences Grants

Two GSOE Faculty Receive Large IES Grants in Special Education

Graduate School of Education (GSOE) Professor, Dr. Rollanda O’Connor, and Assistant Professor, Dr. Michael Solis, have both recently been awarded U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grants to continue to develop their respective research programs on campus. Both projects address a different subset of issues within special education and propose mechanisms for measurable improvement.

More on Dr. O'Connor's funded project: We’re Ascending into CHAAOS!

How do students learn academic language?  Many students gain most of their advanced vocabulary through the wide reading they do in and out of school.  Students who have disabilities that affect reading (for example, students with learning disabilities or mild cognitive impairments), students who are learning English as well as learning to read, and other students who read below grade level may not read enough text and text at a sufficiently high level to learn the academic language needed to succeed in their course work in middle and high school.

A new 3-year, $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences awarded to the GSOE will develop procedures for teaching academic words to students who read well below grade level in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  Vocabulary CHAAOS (Creating Habits that Accelerate the Academic language Of Students) begins this year in three local middle schools and includes the team of Professor Rollanda O’Connor, Drs. Kathleen Bocian, Victoria Sanchez, and Kerri Knight-Teague in the GSOE, Dr. Kristen Beach at the University of North Carolina, and graduate student researchers Joyce Kim, Mima Laptes-Frangu, Guadalupe Guzman, Brian Jones, Jennifer Kong, Olivia Chan, and Kerry Kisinger.


More on Dr. Solis' funded project: Project READ

Michael Solis, Assistant Professor of Special Education at UCR along with colleagues Sharon Vaughn and Colleen Reutebuch from The University of Texas at Austin are pursuing a project to create a reading comprehension intervention specifically designed for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The project, Reading Enhancements for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders (Project READ), received a $1.5 million federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences will enable investigators to develop and test the intervention at elementary and middle schools in Southern California and Texas over a 3-year period.

The Project READ intervention instruction will include (a) main idea, (b) question development, and (c) anaphoric cueing. Researchers will enhance the instruction with graphic organizers and positive behavior support techniques, including an interest inventory to determine reading material choice based on a student’s interests and other types positive reinforcement. A token economy and other the techniques of positive behavior support, including shaping, prompting, and prompt fading, will be part of the instructional routines.

 “The reading intervention takes into account many of the unique challenges of providing reading instruction to students with ASD by using interest-based text,” Solis told UCR Today. “Once students are more motivated to read about their interest area they are much more likely to be engaged and open to learning new skills that will help improve their ability to understand what they read.”

Click here to read the UCR Today article about Dr. O'Connor's Award »

Click here to read the UCR Today article about Dr. Solis' Award »

Keith Widaman and Marsha Ing Receieve GAANN Grant

Widaman and Ing Receieve GAANN Award to Prepare Students in Psychometrics

Keith Widaman and Marsha Ing have received a three-year grant for $885,834 from the U.S. Department of Education to fund doctoral fellowships. The fellowships are to support students interested in psychometrics, which is the field of study dealing with science and techniques of measurement in education and psychology. The grant is from the GAANN program, or Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need. Psychometric experts are in short supply in education. Given the need for psychometric experts in achievement testing programs and in educational research in general, the GSOE GAANN grant will help supply highly trained individuals to fill interesting and challenging positions in educational research.

Read the UCR Today article »

GSOE Pioneer in K-12 STEM Education for Young Women Dies

Remembering Dr. Pamela Clute

The GSOE Community was saddened to learn that Dr. Pamela Clute, a graduate of both our credential and PhD programs, passed away on Sunday, August 21st. Her energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to improving mathematics teaching for all students will be sorely missed. Dr. Clute was remembered by those whose lives she touched on Tuesday, September 6th at the UC Riverside Student Recreation Center South Building. Her legacy and contribution to K-12 STEM education for young women will not soon be forgotten.

Read more »

Honors, Presentations and Publications


Levin, J. S., Aliyeva, A., & Walker, L. (2016). From community college to university: Institutionalization and neoliberalism in British Columbia and Alberta. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 46 (2), 165 – 180.

Levin, J. S., Viggiano, T., López Damián, A. I., Wolf, J. P., & Morales Vazquez, E. (Forthcoming). Polymorphic students: New descriptions and conceptions of community college students from the perspectives of administrators and faculty. Community College Review.

Redding, C. & Smith, T. M. 2016. Easy in, Easy out—To What Extend do Alternatively Certified Teachers Turnover at Increased Rates? American Education Research Journal 53(4) 1086-1125.

Ryan, S., & Ream, R. K. (2016). Variation Across Hispanic Immigrant Generations in Parent Social Capital, College-Aligned Actions, and Four-Year College Enrollment. American Educational Research Journal. August, 2016, Vol.53, No. 4, pp. 953-986.

Smith, T. M., Cannata, M., & Taylor Haynes, K. 2016. Reconciling Data from Different Sources: Practical Realities of Using Mixed Methods to Identify Effective High School Practices. Teachers College Record, 118(7) 1-34.

Stern, J. M. B & Smith, T. M. 2016. Private secondary schools in Indonesia: What is driving the demand? International Journal of Educational Development 46,1-11.

Wilhelm, A. G, Chen, I., Smith, T. M., Frank, K. A. 2016. Selecting Expertise in Context: Middle School Mathematics Teachers’ Selection of New Sources of Instructional Advice. American Education Research Journal 53(3) 456-491.


Presented by Marie Martin on behalf of her coauthors:

Martin, M.C., Levin, J.S., & Lopez-Damian, A.I. (2016). University faculty and the new managerial regime. Research paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Dublin, Ireland, August 22-26, 2016.

Presented by Ariadna Lopez-Damian on behalf of her coauthors:

Lopez-Damian, A.I., Levin, J.S., Martin, M.C. (2016). “I can’t give indefinitely to this job,” Although they come close: Sessional academics as academic professionals in the U. S. Research paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Dublin, Ireland, August 22-26, 2016.

Smith, T. M., Borko, H., & Sztajn, P. “In-service education, and professional development of secondary mathematics teachers” presented at the 13th International Congress on Mathematics Education (TG 50), Hamburg, Germany, July 24-31, 2016.

Tipton, L. A., Rodriguez, G. R., Zeedyk, S., Baker, B., & Blacher, J. (2016, August). Bullying of youth with ASD, ID, or TD: A two-year follow-up. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Conference, Denver, CO, USA.


Yasamine Bolourian was awarded the MENCAP Scholarship by the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD), and presented her paper, “Behavior problem profiles of young children with autism: Parent and teacher perspectives”, at the 15th IASSIDD World Congress in Melbourne, Australia. 




Dean's Message

Dean Thomas Smith

This year the GSOE will increase its faculty by nearly 50%, with 10 new faculty hires! With new faculty in all area groups, our research and teaching capacity has made a great leap forward. Take a look at the bios—I am sure you will be impressed. Two GSOE faculty were each recently awarded $1.5 million dollar grants to implement reading interventions in the community and GSOE has been awarded a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare students in psychometrics.

I am also thrilled to welcome 190 new graduate and teacher credential students to the GSOE! This includes our largest and most diverse cohort of teacher education students ever—perfectly timed to address the growing need for teachers in the Inland Empire. Ten of our science and mathematics teacher candidates have received $10,000 scholarships from the Hearst Foundation, while three have received $5,000 scholarships from the Leonard Family Foundation. As there is a great need for mathematics and science teachers, I am pleased that these foundations are able help students seeking to become teachers in these fields achieve their goals. Our teacher candidates will also have the opportunity to engage with scientists from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena—one more way that we are trying to link classrooms to real life.

Last Saturday in collaboration with the Riverside County Office of Education, UCR hosted over 700 AP students and teachers from across the county as part of its AP Readiness Program. Our goal is to create opportunities for high school students to engage in college content, while building a network of AP teachers across the 23 districts in Riverside County. The program will run approximately once a month until AP testing in spring. 

In this newsletter, we also highlight one of our successful graduates—Dr. AnnMaria De Mars. Dr. De Mars earned her PhD in Educational Psychology from the GSOE in 1990. She has gone on to use her knowledge of psychology and statistics in entrepreneurial ways .  We also mourn the loss of alumna Dr. Pamela Clute, who gave so much to improve K-12 STEM education and increase access for girls . 

We encourage all GSOE alumni, within driving distance of Riverside, to join us for friendship and reminiscing at Wicks Brewing Co. on November 17th from 5:30-7:30pm. Hope to see you there.


Thomas M. Smith
Dean and Professor



Upcoming Events

2016 GSOE Homecoming Reception
Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Wicks Brewing Co.
11620 Sterling Avenue
Riverside, 92503
See Location Details

Dean’s Distinguished
Lecture Series

Prof. Alf Ing Wang, Kahoot!
Monday, Oct. 10, 2016
Sproul Hall 1215

UCR GSOE Career Day
Saturday, February 11th, 2016
7:30AM- 3:00PM
UCR Alumni and Visitors' Center


Thank you, Donors!

Alumni and Friends of GSOE
Donor Honor Roll
January 1, 2016 to
September 15, 2016

Dr. Ruth A. Sandlin

Dr. Patsy W. Oppenheim

Dr. Katherine A. Wright

Mrs. Andrea J. Alldrege

Dr. Inge A. E. Pelzer

Professor Douglas E. Mitchell

Ms. Donna M. Henderson

Mrs. Sara K. Peck

Dr. Ronald J. Powell

Dr. Irving G. Hendrick

Dr. Flora Ida Ortiz

Dr. Ronald J. Powell

Hatching Results, LLC.

Mr. David Vuong

Dr. John R. Lubbers

Mrs. Merla C. Gaut

Mr. Alfonso J. Perez

Ms. Patricia Gonzalez

Dr. Terry L. Tomlinson

Dr. Nancy E. Rogers-Zegarra

Dr. Praveen Shanbhag

Mrs. Janet M. Morrill

Ms. Judith Hupfeld

Mr. Brett A. Killeen

Dr. Elizabeth R. Gutierrez

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

Mrs. Cindy Vu

Dr. John E. Leonard

Dr. Sheldon P. Rosenzweig

William Randolph Hearst Foundation

Areas of Support
January 1, 2016 to
September 15, 2016

Athena Waite Teacher Education Fund

Bridge to Success Teacher Education Endowed Student Award Fund

Dean Irving H. Balow Fellowship Fund

Dr. Douglas Mitchell & Dr. Tedi Mitchell Endowed Graduate Student Award Fund

General Support for Teacher Education

General Support for the Graduate School of Education

Graduate School of Education (GSOE) Colloquium Fund

GSOE Graduate Student Fellowship Fund


James L. Reardon Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Teacher Education Professional Development Seminar Fund

SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center

The John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Teacher Education Scholarships

The Starting Line Scholarship Award

William Randolph Hearst Scholarship Fund


College Information Department Information Other Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-1012

Graduate School of Education
1207 Sproul Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5802
Fax: (951) 827-3942

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