Areas of Concentration & Course Planning Sheets

The program offers the following five areas of concentration, all of which emphasize the context of urban education issues and perspectives related to curriculum and instruction.

Curriculum and Educator Development

Research and theory applied to problems and applications of curriculum, instruction, learning, teaching, teacher education, professional development, and teacher leadership in K-12 and higher education. Emphases within the concentration include Elementary Education, Middle Grades and/or Secondary Education, K-12 Curriculum Specialization and Professional Development.

Elementary Education with research and theory applied to problems of learning and teaching in elementary education. [NOTE: This concentration became an emphasis within the Curriculum and Educator Development (CED) Concentration in 2021-2022.]

Program of Study Sheet (2023)

Meet the Concentration Coordinators:

Dr. Tina Heafner (

Dr. Tina Heafner is Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her administrative responsibilities include Directing the M.Ed. in Secondary Education and the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. Tina is the 2020-2021 Past-President of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and was the 2015-2016 Chair of the NCSS College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA). Tina’s teaching and research focus on effective practices in social studies education with particular emphasis in online learning, technological integration, and disciplinary literacy. Her research also examines curriculum and policy issues in social studies education.

Research and Publications

Dr. Drew Polly (

Program Coordinator, Graduate Certificate/License in Elem. School Mathematics

Strand coordinator, Elementary Education strand of PhD program in Curriculum and Instruction

Research Interests:
My research and teaching focus on supporting pre-service and in-service teachers design and implementation of learner-centered tasks. My work explores how teacher education and professional development programs can most effectively support teachers’ efforts to integrate technology and learner-centered tasks into their classroom.

Research and Publications

Learning, Design, and TEchnology (LDT)

Research and theory applied in the design of effective learning experiences and environments that incorporate technology to address educational needs and problems in elementary, middle/secondary, or post-secondary settings with an emphasis on urban contexts.

Program of Study Sheet

Meet the Concentration Coordinator:

Dr. Ayesha Sadaf (

Ayesha Sadaf is an Associate Professor of Learning, Design and Technology in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is the Director of the Post-Master’s Certificate in University and College Teaching and coordinator for the LDT concentration in Ed.D. Educational Leadership. She received her PhD in Learning Design and Technology and MS in Computer Graphics Technology from Purdue University. Dr. Sadaf’s research focuses on promoting a learner-centered approach to instruction using emerging technologies and innovative pedagogies in digital learning environments to support student learning. The driving question behind her research is–how to design digital learning environments using emerging technologies and instructional strategies that promote high-level learning, critical thinking, cognitive presence, collaborative learning, and student engagement. She has published her research in several leading journals in the field of instructional technology, including the American Journal of Distance Education, Educational Technology Research and Development, Computers & Education, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, and Journal of Computing in Higher Education.

Research Interests and Publications

Literacy Education

Research and theory applied to problems of literacy and language learning and instruction, oriented toward Reading, English Education, and Teaching English as a Second Language.

Program of Study Sheet

Meet the Concentration Coordinators:

Dr. Spencer Salas (

Dr. Spencer Salas is Professor of Education in the Department of Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he leads the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction Urban Literacies/TESL sub-concentration. An award-winning District of Columbia Public School ESL teacher (1994-2001), he has been a Fulbright Fellow to Romania (1998), Guatemala (2007), and South Africa (2013); a Senior English Language Fellow for the U.S. Department of State to Peru (2001-2003); and, since 2003, a frequent English Language Specialist for The US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. His empirical and theoretical scholarship focuses on the New Latino South and the intersections of Latino immigration with national and regional educational policy and praxis. His work has been featured in venues such as TESOL Journal, Bilingual Research Journal, The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, The Peabody Journal of Education, The Journal of Basic Writing, and Community College Review. In 2001, he was named a Presidential Graduate Fellow by the University of Georgia; in 2004, a Scholar for the Dream by the Conference for College Composition and Communication; in 2008, a National Council of Teachers of English New Voice among Scholars of Color; in 2009, an Early Career Fellow with the University of Georgia’s Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education; and in 2016, a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador. He is co-editor of Vygotsky in 21st century society (Peter Lang, 2011); U.S. Latinos and education policy (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2014); and Latinization, U.S. Schools, and Communities (SUNY Press, 2017).

Research and Publications

Dr. Erin Miller (

Erin T. Miller, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in The Reading and Elementary Education Department in the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte. She is the coordinator of the Urban Literacy/Reading Strand for the Curriculum and Instruction PhD. Program. She teaches courses such as: Language Arts for Elementary School, Theories and Practice for Equity in Urban Education, and Racial Identity Development (Quality Matters certified). She recently developed a course, Anti-Racist Activism in Urban Education that is also Quality Matters Certified and will be offered in 2020. Her scholarly work has won a Taylor and Francis Distinguished Article award, an Outstanding Dissertation Award and has been included in Taylor and Francis’ Key Research Collection on Critical Race Theory. Her work has been published in journals such as: The Urban Review, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Ethnography and Education, Action in Teacher Education, and Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. Dr. Miller is the ex-officio chair of the Early Childhood Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) serves on NCTE’s Elementary Steering Committee. She is 2018 recipient of a Spencer Foundation Small Research Grant to conduct studies of anti-racist pedagogical implementations in elementary school settings; Dr. Miller is also the incoming 2020-2022 co-editor of the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Research and Publications

Dr. Meghan Barnes (

Dr. Meghan Barnes is an associate professor of English in the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte.

In my research, I draw primarily on sociocultural theory to inquire into the following:

  • community-engaged approaches to teacher preparation;
  • intersectionality and social justice pedagogies;
  • pre-service teachers’ conceptions of politics and race in teaching;
  • becoming a teacher in an era of standardization; and
  • community-based literacy programs.

Research and Publications

Mathematics Education

Research and theory applied to problems of learning and teaching mathematics. Students focus on elementary, middle/secondary, or post-secondary.

Program of Study Sheet

Meet the Concentration Coordinators

Dr. Victor Cifarelli (

Professor of Mathematics Education

Mathematics & Statistics Department

Dr. Allison McCullouch (

Dr. Allison McCulloch is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, where she teaches mathematics education and mathematics courses for prospective and practicing teachers. Her current research focuses on understanding students’ mathematical understandings in technology-mediated learning environments and preparing prospective and practicing teachers to incorporate technology in instruction in mathematically meaningful and equitable ways.

Research and Publications

Urban Education

Research and theory applied to critical social issues affecting schools and society from a historical, contemporary, and theoretical perspective in a global context. In order to address the complexities of urban schooling, this program is interdisciplinary and draws on education, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and ethnic studies.

Program of Study Sheet

Meet the Concentration Coordinator:

Dr. Chance Lewis (

Dr. Chance W. Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and serves as Director of The Urban Education Collaborative at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He completed his Ph.D. at Colorado State University in 2001 and joined the faculty in 2011. He leads the urban concentration of the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Lewis’ special areas of interests are academic achievement of students of color in K-12 settings, recruitment and retention of Black male teachers and urban education. Dr. Lewis has over 100 refereed publications and over $6 million in external research funding. Dr. Lewis has been awarded the Texas A&M University, Legacy of Excellence and Equity, Outstanding Research Award (2021), Spencer Foundation Outstanding Mentor Award Winner, (2020), Profound Gentlemen Impact on Education Award Winner (2019) and the Harshini de Silva Graduate Mentor Award (2015) at UNC Charlotte for outstanding graduate student mentoring.

Research and Publications

Concentration Planning Sheets Prior to 2021

Concentration Planning Sheets (prior to 2021-2022)
Elementary Education Concentration Plan of StudyPDF
Literacy Education Concentration Plan of StudyPDF
Math Education Concentration Plan of StudyPDF
Urban Education Concentration Plan of StudyPDF