LSI’s experts in international education participate in CIES conference


Jeffrey Ayala Milligan, Ph.D., director of the Learning Systems Institute, and other LSI faculty are participating this week in the Comparative and International Education Society’s conference in Atlanta, giving presentations on LSI’s work in a variety of nations.

The Comparative and International Education Society is the premier academic and professional organization for experts in international education.

In addition to Director Milligan, attending are:

  • Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Ed.D., Senior Research Associate and Associate Director of LSI’s Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development. Dr. Milligan is director of the center.
  • Helen N. Boyle, Ph.D., Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education.
  • Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Comparative Education and International Development.
  • Adrienne Barnes, Ph.D., Reading and Literary Specialist.
  • Marion Fesmire, Ed.D., Associate in Research, now retired but still active in LSI’s current projects.
  • Carla Parades, doctoral candidate in Education Policy and Evaluation, who assists with a number of LSI projects.

LSI’s history of work abroad reaches back to the 1960s with pioneering projects in Asia.

Today, LSI works to improve learning and instruction in a number of developing countries through international partners with government, universities, and non-governmental organizations.

LSI’s on-the-ground international experience is extensive. Learn more at

LSI’s Trey Foerster, other volunteers to talk about Peace Corps

This evening, Trey Foerster, FSU’s Peace Corps Recruiter and a member of the Learning Systems Institute’s staff, and some of Tallahassee’s Peace Corps volunteers will talk about their countries of service, their projects and their experiences in the Peace Corps.

Meet the volunteers, talk with Peace Corps regional recruiter Grant Matthews and learn about this distinguished form of public service at 6-9 p.m. at the Grasslands Brewing Co., 603 W. Gaines St.


LSI continues work on teacher education in Northern Nigeria

Adrienne E. Barnes of the Learning Systems Institute at the College of Education, Kangere, in the Bauchi state of Nigeria, where LSI is working to improve teacher education.
Dr. Barnes visits with students at a school in Bauchi state, where she was observing the teaching of the Mu Karanta! Let’s Read! curriculum.

Adrienne E. Barnes, Ph.D., a Reading and Literacy Specialist with FSU’s Learning Systems Institute, recently returned from Nigeria, where she is part of LSI’s work in three states in the north of Nigeria that have struggled with educational quality as well as regional instability.

Dr. Barnes is part of LSI’s work to help with teacher training and curriculum development in Hausa and English reading instruction, employing the latest research and best practices.

Helen N. Boyle, Ph.D., Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education and a member of LSI’s research faculty, is the principal investigator on LSI’s role in the Northern Education Initiative Plus project administered by Creative Associates International.

Learn more about FSU’s work with the Nigeria Northern Education Initiative Plus at

Educators from Pakistan to visit FSU as part of LSI’s Community College Administrator Program

Jeffrey Ayala Milligan, Ph.D., is a professor in FSU’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Director of the Learning Systems Institute.

Learning Systems Institute Director Jeffrey Ayala Milligan is in Pakistan this week, conducting fieldwork in preparation for a visit to Florida by a delegation of education leaders later this year.

The Pakistani officials will be latest to take part in the Community College Administrators Program conducted by Florida State University and Santa Fe College and supported by the U.S. Department of State.

The program provides education leaders from abroad a week of intense study of the development, organization and administration of Florida’s system of community colleges, followed by five weeks of training in key elements of community-college leadership.

So far, educators and administrators from Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru have taken advantage of the State Department’s program.

Also this year, education experts from Egypt will come to FSU and Santa Fe College to take part in the program.

Learn more about the Community College Administrator Program at

LSI’s Ramos-Mattoussi returns to Ethiopia to work on reading and writing initiative

Dr. Dawit Mekonnen of the University of Addis Ababa and FSU National Coordinator in Ethiopia, Dr. Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, center, the principal investigator on FSU’s element of the Read-TA project, and Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU Panama City wear gowns and scarves given them by their colleagues in Ethiopia, where FSU has been working since 2013 on an ambitious reading-and-writing program.

Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi of the Learning Systems Institute returns to Addis Ababa this weekend to continue work with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education on a far-reaching reading-and-writing program that will reach 15 million children in the African nation.

Since 2013, Dr. Ramos-Mattoussi and LSI colleagues Dr. Marion Fesmire and Dr. Adrienne Barnes have worked with the Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Project in Ethiopia. READ TA is a five-year project supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by RTI International and its partners, including Florida State University.

While in Addis Ababa, Dr. Ramos-Mattoussi, a senior research associate at LSI, will guide a team of graphic designers to produce the final version of the module designed for teacher instruction, developed by the FSU/LSI team of Dr. Fesmire, Dr. Barnes, Dr. Shannon Hall-Mills and Dr. Dawit Mekonnen,  a professor of education at the University of Addis Ababa and FSU’s National Coordinator on this project. The course-module has been piloted at 36 Colleges of Teacher Education in Ethiopia.

LSI faculty involved in the READ TA project have presented their work at international conferences.

Dr. Ramos-Mattoussi has been invited by the USAID Education Office in Washington to present LSI’s work in Ethiopia at the USAID’s panel on teacher education at the Comparative and International Education Conference (CIES) in Atlanta, GA on March 5-9.

FCR-STEM & on Discover Channel


FCR–STEM’s work with was featured today on the Discovery Channel’s NewsWatch Television. is a commercial partner that licenses FCR–STEM’s 3D curriculum and offers it commercially to others. develops the 3D models, FCR–STEM creates the curriculum and together they form instructional math and science kits.

Watch the Discovery Channel clip at

LSI nominated for Lloyd’s List award for port-security project

Dr. Aubteen Darabi
Dr. Aubteen Darabi, who developed the port-security system, is a senior research faculty at LSI.

The Learning Systems Institute has been nominated for a Lloyd’s List 2016 North America Award for the PortStar project, America’s only online & instructor-led training system on port security.

The system was developed at LSI out of a $6.2-million grant awarded to Dr. Aubteen Darabi by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Dr. Darabi is a senior research faculty at LSI and a tenured associate professor of Instructional Systems and Learning Technology in the Department of Educational Psychology and learning Systems in FSU’s College of Education.

Lloyd’s List is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals, Lloyd’s today covers all information, analysis, and knowledge relevant to the shipping industry, including marine insurance, offshore energy, logistics, market data, research, global trade and law.

The award goes to a North American company or institution for outstanding commitment in training its employees ashore or at sea or a company or institution that can demonstrate a contribution towards improving training standards across the maritime industry as a whole.

Judges will be looking for examples of investment in new facilities and courses, innovative training solutions and a sustained and effective approach to developing quality staff in the maritime sector.

LSI is one of nine nominees for this year’s award.

With contract extension, LSI will continue work in Ethiopia on training teachers in reading instruction

Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, Ed.D., at left, is principal investigator on the project and senior research associate with LSI’s Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development. Carla Paredes-Drouet, at right, is an early childhood education and development specialist with more than eight years of international experience who is assisting on the project. Paredes-Drouet, a native of Quito, Ecuador, is also a Ph.D. student in FSU’s College of Education.

A team of experts from FSU’s Learning Systems Institute has received extended funding to continue work with officials and educators in Ethiopia to reform reading instruction in the African nation.

“This is a challenging project, because Ethiopia has one of the most inclusive policies on language of instruction, with more than 20 mother tongue languages being used in classrooms,” said Dr. Flavia Ramos-Mattoussi, the principal investigator and a senior research associate with the Center for International Studies in Educational Research & Development, part of the Learning Systems Institute.

The FSU team in Ethiopia, including Drs. Marion Fesmire and Adrienne Barnes, is working alongside local educators to develop up to seven modules (textbooks) in seven national languages and English.

FSU is a partner to RTI International on the project, “Reading for Ethiopia Achievement Developed Technical Assistance,” which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. With the new contract extension, the funding for FSU’s portion of the project now exceeds $2.2 million.

“This project is designed to ensure that reading and writing skills are sufficiently developed in the primary school in the seven most widely spoken languages.” said Ramos-Mattoussi. “Our FSU team focuses on development of teacher education, curriculum and materials and on training of teacher educators.”

The project’s goals are ambitious — it expects to reach 15 million children in all schools and all regions of Ethiopia.

Read more about this project at

CISERD’s project on teacher training highlighted by Indonesian media

The Center for International Studies in Educational Research and Development’s US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership was given feature attention recently by the media in Indonesia.

A workshop at Semarang State University in Central Java, part of CISERD’s US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership; second from right is Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU-Panama City, who is working with CISERD on this project.

The partnership, a 2.5-year project to enhance the quality of effectiveness of pre-service teacher training in early grade reading, is a set of activities under the overall USAID PRIORITAS Project implemented by Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to improve access to quality education for children in Indonesia.

“As a manifestation of the commitment to develop the culture of literacy, Semarang State University (UNNES) and Florida State University (FSU), facilitated by USAID Prioritas, work together [and are] synergistically developing literacy teaching materials or modules in the Hall of the Faculty of Education, located on UNNES’ Sekaran North Campus,” according to the article.

“Literacy-based learning concepts should be explored and used in preference to old teaching models that still exist,” said Dr. Edi Purwanto, M.Si., the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, the Faculty of Education, UNNES. “In (today’s) teaching practices, using literacy-based instructions and basing the teaching on research are still uncommon. It is hoped that through this collaboration, the concepts of literacy-based instructions can expand nationwide.”

Feiny Sentosa, the Deputy Director of USAID Prioritas, said that reading and literacy skills of school students and university students should be developed early. “Students’ reading and comprehension skills need to be improved,” Feiny said. “Students might be able to read fluently; however, when they are asked intrinsic questions, many of them are not able to give proper or right answers. That is what we need to anticipate early.”

The article notes the participation in the workshop of Dr. Marion Fesmire of FSU-Panama City, who is working with CISERD on this project.

Dr. Helen N. Boyle, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education and a member of the CISERD faculty, is principal investigator of the US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership.

The project’s $500,000 funding is from the U.S. Agency for International Development and RTI International.

Read more about the US-Indonesia Teacher Training Partnership here.


Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski honored for paper on child soldiers of Sierra Leone’s civil war

The Comparative and International Education Society has honored the Learning Systems Institute’s Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski for outstanding scholarly writing that explores themes related to people of African descent.

CIES honoree Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski: “Returning to school is one of the most powerful means of normalizing children’s lives after a conflict.”

The society gave Dr. Zuilkowski its Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research for her paper in the August 2014 edition of Comparative Education Review. Her paper examines the impact of two categories of post-war interventions on dropout among more than 500 boys and girls who fought in Sierra Leone’s civil war. More than 15,000 child soldiers were involved in the war, which divided the West African nation from 1991 to 2002.

“We found that social support and family financial support for education are far more powerful in preventing dropout than internationally funded programs such as the payment of school fees on behalf of former child combatants,” said Dr. Zuilkowski, who joined the Learning Systems Institute in 2013. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in FSU’s College of Education.

Dr. Zuilkowski said the findings are relevant to current conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of children and youth are serving as armed combatants.

“Our data suggest that international organizations should find ways to support local means of reintegration rather than using more invasive interventions, such as processing children through lengthy programs in formal centers for rehabilitation and reintegration,” she said. “Returning to school is one of the most powerful means of normalizing children’s lives after a conflict, and failing to successfully reintegrate young people may have a destabilizing effect on countries in the long term.”

The Comparative and International Education Society’s Joyce Cain Award honors the memory of Joyce Lynn Cain of Michigan State University and her dedication to introducing individuals across ethnic boundaries to African culture.

The Joyce Cain Award is Dr. Zuilkowski’s second honor for publication excellence. Last year, the British Journal of Educational Psychology awarded her its Early Stage Career Research Prize for her paper on malaria prevention and school dropout in the Gambia, published in its September 2014 issue.