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Joyce VanTassel-Baska - An Overview

Since 1974, Joyce VanTassel-Baska has served as principal investigator of 60 separately funded projects, totaling almost $15 million in grants from federal and state agencies. Some of those grants brought about Project Clarion and Project Athena, which were each funded for $3 million over five years. Project Clarion was an initiative that promoted scientific conceptual understanding in gifted children between ages 4 and 8 through interactive activities and projects. Project Athena examined the effect of William & Mary English/language arts curriculum units designed to increase the reading and critical thinking skills of Title I elementary school students.

Five states-Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, South Carolina and Illinois-have presented VanTassel-Baska awards for her contributions to the field of gifted education. She has also received numerous other awards for her work, including the National Association for Gifted Children's Early Leader Award in 1986, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award in 1993, the Phi Beta Kappa faculty award in 1995 and the National Association of Gifted Children Distinguished Scholar Award in 1997.

She has published 26 books and more than 450 refereed journal articles, book chapters and scholarly reports. Her most recent book is Comprehensive Curriculum for Gifted Education (3rd Edition, 2006).

VanTassel-Baska has served as a consultant on gifted education internationally, in all 50 states and for several national groups, including the U.S. Department of Education. She was a visiting scholar at Cambridge University in 1993 and a Fulbright lecturer in New Zealand in 2000.

Although she has been very successful and productive in her research efforts, VanTassel-Baska said that at heart, she is a teacher.

"I think why William & Mary has been such a good fit for me is that teaching is fundamentally where my values lie," she said. "Yes, I've done research, and I'm not ashamed of my research, but if you were to ask me about the William & Mary dual credo for faculty-teaching and scholarship-I would always put teaching first and scholarship second. Even though I have worked in the latter part of my career here very hard on scholarship, it's been because of the importance of leaving some kind of legacy behind of the work done here. The legacy of that work also lives on in my graduate students as they make their own unique contributions to the scholarship of the field."