Paola Uccelli has been promoted from associate professor to full professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Uccelli’s background in linguistics has afforded her a unique perspective on studying socio-cultural and individual differences in language and literacy development. Uccelli joined the HGSE faculty in 2008.
“I am delighted to recognize Paola for her superb contributions both to our school and to the field,” said Dean James Ryan. “Her research helps to shed light on the variability in students’ language skills as well as what schools can do to help develop practices that better serve all students. Paola’s work offers a novel and very promising approach to helping students gain expertise and fluency in ‘academic’ language, which in turn is key to academic success across the curriculum. What’s more, Paola is an exceptional teacher and mentor and will be a remarkably valuable addition to HGSE’s senior faculty.”
Through her research, Uccelli has found that without understanding and addressing the immense variability in students' language skills, schools run the risk of maintaining or even exacerbating inequalities that exist in the larger society. Students who at home are socialized into the language and literacy practices valued at school will continue to have a better chance of achieving academic success than those who do not have access to such practices either inside or outside of school.
“My pedagogical vision involves working with teachers and students to better understand how to leverage students’ out-of-school language resources in order to increase their language repertoire in a way that empowers their own voices,” said Uccelli.
Uccelli, a native of Peru, studied linguistics at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and subsequently earned her doctoral degree in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her postdoctoral work focused on reading comprehension research and was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Applied Linguistics, and the Center for Applied Special Technology as part of two projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Her research has been supported also by the Spencer Foundation, the Instituto Cervantes, the David Rockefeller Center, the Milton Grant from Harvard University, and currently by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Lemann Foundation.
“Knowing that HGSE, a place and community I’ve loved for years, is now my permanent intellectual home makes me feel immensely privileged,” said Uccelli of her promotion. “This recognition also brings for me a heightened level of responsibility and renewed energy to continue to work hard towards high quality education for all children alongside a unique group of individuals — students, scholars, staff, and faculty — whom I’m honored to call my colleagues and friends.”