Ph.D. in Education, 2015
School of Education
July 1, 2012
Doctoral Research Interests Include Adult Learners, Assessment, Literacy, and the Arts
Ilona Missakian is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Education, specializing in Language, Literacy, and Technology. With her B.A., M.A., and teaching credential from Cal State Fullerton, Ilona has taught for 17 years at the secondary and college levels at Brea Olinda High School and several community colleges including Mt. San Antonio, Rio Hondo, Fullerton, East Los Angeles, Citrus, Santa Ana, and Whittier Colleges. During this time, she attended UCI’s Writing Project directed by Dr. Carol Booth Olson. Participation in the Writing Project encouraged her to look more closely at writing practices and how writers develop. Ilona’s growing interest in assessment led her to work with Educational Testing Service, scoring GRE and AP Literature examinations. Additional opportunities to work with composition students online via tutoring with Pearson Higher Ed allowed her to see writing instruction from another perspective.
In Ilona’s teaching career, she has helped districts develop common assessments, mentored student teachers, developed courses, edited art and literary magazines, helped author WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) reports, worked with student learning outcomes (SLO) committees, and facilitated norming sessions for writing. She has served the arts community by directing a dance academy and youth performing company, an ongoing activity for her.
Ilona’s research interests have undergone exciting developments since she has been in the Ph.D. in Education program. One of her projects, which she started during the summer in 2011, involves examining how writing centers on community college campuses help adult learners.
With this research I hope to contribute to an understanding of the efficacy of adult learning writing center efforts, especially at a time when budgets threaten the longevity of and curtail the activities of these programs.
Ilona currently is engaged in the second wave of this survey study, under the guidance of Dr. Carol Booth Olson.
Another opportunity for Ilona to research writing practices is currently underway with Dr. Olson’s Pathways Project, where Ilona is working with fellow graduate students Tina Matuchniak and Diana Mullins to research the impact of a reading/writing intervention designed to improve the practices of classroom teachers in ways that positively impact student learning and school achievement.
Ilona’s interest in the arts has led to research work with Associate Professor Liane Brouillette and resulted in an article, “Transcending Language Barriers in the Classroom,” to be published this summer in Boom: A Journal of California.
The article describes how the arts assist with literacy in San Diego schools and looks at how collaborations with teachers, arts teachers, and the university lead to student success.
Under Dr. Brouillette’s guidance, Ilona also is working on a case study of members of an organization, Inside Edge, regarding life satisfaction and successful aging.
The organization’s affordances and the members’ active lifestyles yield an intriguing view of mature attitudes toward meaning and fulfillment and how these both are achieved.
Ilona looks forward to expanding her opportunities to work on issues that involve adult learners by continuing her studies with Dr. Olson and Dr. Brouillette. She continues to enjoy teaching as well, both in the college classroom and in the dance studio.