From an early age, Jane Lo was fascinated by how people interact in civil society — the way people come together to improve their communities, support fellow citizens in need and assert their rights.
That interest attracted her to teaching and the opportunity to help students understand the complexity of human interactions. After a few years teaching high school social studies in Texas, Lo reached out to Professor Walter Parker at the University of Washington College of Education to dig deeper.
“It became obvious that if I wanted to think deeply about how individuals interact with each other in civil society and how schools may influence those interactions, I needed to continue my studies,” Lo said.
As a PhD student in curriculum and instruction under Parker’s tutelage, Lo prepared for a career helping shape future generations of teachers. She served as a research assistant for the UW's Knowledge in Action Project, which is developing and implementing project-based AP courses with a focus on improving access, equity and college readiness of underserved students.
Lo has presented her research investigating that project-based approach to the AP Government course at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference and she co-authored a 2013 article in the American Educational Research Journal on the subject.
During her term as president of the Associated Students of the College of Education, she also worked with fellow student leaders to improve student experiences within the College. She helped create a students’ bill of rights that led to more concrete faculty advising standards for students.
“Through my coursework and my research work, I had opportunities to watch amazing scholars at work, and in turn, I was able to practice how I would do my own work,” Lo said. “My experience at UW gave me the skills to examine and investigate things that interested me, and it also showed me the importance of sharing the things I learn with the larger community through teaching and writing.”
Lo, who completed her PhD in 2015, is now working as an assistant professor of social science education at Florida State University, where she's preparing future middle and high school social studies teachers. In addition to working with future teachers, Lo’s research focuses on youth civic and political engagement. In particular, she is looking at how schools and teachers can influence and inform student perceptions of how one should live together with others in a democratic society.
“Broadly, I hope that my work will help remind policy makers and educators of the role that schools play in creating enlightened and engaged citizens for a vibrant democracy,” Lo said. “Specifically, I hope that my teaching inspires more social studies teachers to help their students engage with difficult sociopolitical issues. I hope that my research will provide relevant and useful tools for teachers, while furthering researchers' understandings about democratic education.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications