SED Welcomes Dr. Elena Forzani

Dr. Elena Forzani will join the School of Education faculty as an assistant professor in the literacy program. Dr. Forzani’s research focuses on the use of digital technologies for literacy learning in elementary and middle school classrooms, with a particular focus on the comprehension of disciplinary texts in digital literacies contexts. Her current work investigates the unique differences students bring to critically evaluating the credibility of online information in science. The aim of this work is to leverage students’ differences to develop instruction that targets the needs of different kinds of learners in order to provide equitable opportunities to all students.

For nearly two decades, Dr. Forzani has worked to support striving readers of many ages and backgrounds and within a variety of contexts. She began her career mentoring and tutoring students in English, reading, and cognitive behavioral skills in Los Angeles before teaching first graders in rural Louisiana. She later worked as a high school English teacher and literacy specialist in New Haven, CT and is committed to research that expands educational opportunities for different kinds of students through literacy and technology.

Dr. Forzani earned her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology with a focus on Cognition, Instruction, and Learning Technology from the University of Connecticut, where she was a fellow in the New Literacies Research Lab directed by Dr. Donald J. Leu. Here, she worked on the Online Research and Comprehension Assessment (ORCA), an innovative, performance-based assessment of online research and comprehension ability for middle schoolers that allows teachers to determine the online reading skills students have and need. During this time, Dr. Forzani won the Outstanding Student Researcher Award from the University of Connecticut and was named the Neag School of Education’s Outstanding Graduate Student Researcher in recognition of her work on this project. Dr. Forzani also won the Wirth-Santoro Award from the Connecticut Association for Reading Research for a study she co-conducted with a colleague that evaluated Connecticut students’ ability to critically evaluate online information. Prior to earning her doctoral degree, Dr. Forzani earned her master’s degree in Literacy, Language, and Culture from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Forzani has discussed her work in over 20 presentations at national and international conferences and has over 15 publications in professional journals and books. Her work has appeared in Reading Research Quarterly, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, the Reading Teacher, the Handbook of Individual Differences in Reading: Reader, Text, and Context, the 5th Edition of Best Practices in Literacy Instruction, and The Administration and Supervision of Reading Programs, among others.

Prior to joining the faculty at Boston University, Dr. Forzani was the Assistant Research Director for PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) at Boston College’s TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, where she collaborated with partners in over fifty countries on the PIRLS, PIRLS Literacy, and ePIRLS assessments.

Dr. Forzani has taught face-to-face and online courses in elementary literacy methods, secondary disciplinary literacy, and new literacies to both undergraduate and master’s students. At SED, Dr. Forzani will teach courses on literacy assessment, teaching reading with and through technology, and teaching writing.