Independent Research-Projects

Projects MSLAHMS: Middle School Literacy Achievement in Health ,Math and Science

Project MSLAHM is a project funded by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. It is a collaborative professional development (PD) program between CORE and Paramount Unified School District (PUSD). It is designed to improve middle school teachers’ ability to strengthen their pedagogical approaches and instruction in science, health, and math and to teach content area literacy using inquiry and diagnostic approaches. Eighteen middle school science and health, eighteen math teachers will directly benefit from Project MSHLAMS. The Project utilizes a combined teacher academy and lesson study approach to professional development with a focus on content area literacy instruction. CORE is serving as lead research group.

Funding Source: California Postsecondary Education Commission
Funding Amount: $998,636
Principal Investigator: Gisele Ragusa


The purpose of this engineering education project is to revolutionize security education at universities by developing a set of practical, hands-on exercises to accompany security courses. These exercises will be linked tightly to the publicly-available, free-to-use DETER testbed (created by funds from the NSF and the Department of Homeland Security) at USC Information Sciences Institute, facilitating easy adoption and portability among different institutions. They will be fully automated and accompanied by background reading materials, exercise description for teachers and students (with varying level of details) and links to further reading. CORE is serving an evaluative function on this grant.

Funding Source: NSF CCLI
Funding Amount: $496,000
Principal Investigator: Jelena Mirkovic
CORE Affiliation: Co-PI: Gisele Ragusa

Koreh Los Angeles:A Comprehensive Voluntary Reading Support Program Evaluation

Koreh LA is a volunteer organization created by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Working with a belief that literacy learning should be meaningful, supportive, and community-based, this project serves to connect individual, teen, and corporate partners with Los Angeles Unified School District students in preschool through grade 5 to improve their literacy skills. Koreh LA has trained more than 7,500 reading buddies to work with 16,000 children in 150 Los Angeles area schools. CORE has been contracted by Koreh LA to assess and evaluate the impact of this volunteer program on students’ learning and volunteer support.

Funding Agency: The California Community Foundation
Funding Amount: $248,290
Principal Investigator: Gisele Ragusa

The USC Inner City Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy for Secondary Teachers and Students

This research project aims at leading middle and high school students to engineering by providing them with innovative engineering educational materials, pedagogy and curriculum that have dramatically improved the content knowledge and retention of students in engineering at USC. The focus of the academy is environmentally and technology relevant STEM secondary education and teacher professional development with an emphasis on increasing students’ science literacy.

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Funding Amount: $100,000
Principal Investigators: Gisele Ragusa, Jean Pierre Bardet

Para los Niños School Readiness Initiative

Para los Niños is a local non-profit serving families with children from 0-5 years old in the eastern and central areas of Los Angeles. Its School Readiness Initiative (SRI) takes a comprehensive approach to ensuring the best possible start for needy neighborhood children entering kindergarten. Aligned with the goals of California’s First Five Initiative, the SRI offers multiple services including parenting support programs, child care placement assistance, developmental screenings, preschool teacher professional development in emergent literacy strategies, health promotion programs, and collaborative efforts between SRI and other local service agencies. CORE is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of this multiservice program.

Funding Agency: First 5 of Los Angeles:
Funding Amount: $248,290
Principal Investigator: Gisele Ragusa

HCC-Small: Pedworkflow: Workflows for Assessing Student Learning

This project intends to create a novel workflow environment that supports efficient assessment of student learning through interactive generation and execution of various assessment workflows in USC’s undergraduate and graduate engineering education using USC’s Distance Education Network (DEN). Unlike most existing workflow frameworks, the project supports incremental generation and execution of hybrid combinations of both computational and non-computational components through interaction.

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Funding Amount: $498,000
Principal Investigator: Jihe Kim
CORE Affiliation: Co-PI: Gisele Ragusa

USC’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island Eye Disease Conference

USC has hosted a groundbreaking multidisciplinary workshop devoted to advancing research discoveries in ophthalmology. By bringing in top researchers from a variety of fields including molecular and statistical genetics, gene expression, profiling, genomics, basic neuroscience, vision science, and clinical ophthalmology to discuss how their work relates to the causes and potential cures for common eye diseases, this conference aims to both strengthen and create the social networks and exchanges of information critical to advancing scientific knowledge in medicine. CORE is conducting a formative and summative evaluation of the workshop and associated follow-up research activities.

Funding Agency: National Institute of Health
Funding Amount: $67,000
Principal Investigator: Steve Moldin
CORE Affiliation: Co-PI/Evaluator: Gisele Ragusa

In addition to the independent research projects in which CORE is participating, there are national research centers at USC with which CORE has a research role.

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