FACULTY

Dara Soljaga, PhD

Professor of Curriculum, Language and Literacy

Chair, Department of Literacy and Early Childhood Education Director, Center for Literacy


College of Graduate and Innovative Programs

As a professor of curriculum, language and literacy, Dr. Soljaga has created, maintained and overseen the delivery of three MA Reading courses for more than a decade while developing and co-developing online master’s and doctoral-level courses and instructing students and certified teachers pursuing those degrees. Courses taught include: Diagnosis of Reading Difficulties; Remediation of Reading Problems; Practicums in Elementary and Secondary Reading Instruction; Roles, Relationships and Ethics of Reading Professionals; Literacy Foundations; Policy Analysis and others. She serves as a dissertation committee chairperson and on other committees. Among her research interests are the intersection of literacy, language and the foundations of education.

As chair of the department of Literacy and Early Childhood Education, Dr. Soljaga supervises full- and part-time faculty. She manages the creation, development and delivery of six graduate programs and coordinates departmental accreditation and evaluation processes and reports.

Dr. Soljaga is the director of the Center for Literacy, which delivers childhood to adult reading support and community outreach services. Additionally, she serves as the Center’s principal investigator and budget control officer.

Prior to joining the faculty at Concordia University Chicago in 2006, Dr. Soljaga was a teacher, lead literacy teacher, and literacy coach for the Chicago Public Schools. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago.

Degrees

  • PhD, Educational Policy and Leadership. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
  • MEd, Educational Theory and Practice. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio,
  • BS, Educational Theory and Practice. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Academic and Professional Highlights

Publications

  • “Multicultural education?” with He, M. F, Sapp, J., Eng, B. C., Aguilar, J., Scott-Simmons, W., Nunez, I., & Johnson, L. Part V: Guide to New Resources (a series of book reviews). Multicultural Perspectives: An Official Journal of the National Association for Multicultural Education, (12) 4: 237-244; 2010

  • “What do I know fo’ sho’? First year lessons of an urban teacher.” Lutheran Education Journal; 2010.

  • “Graduate students and publication in scholarly journals,” editorial (with other authors), Comparative Education Review, v42 n3 p247-52; 1998.

Presentations

  • “Monitoring Student Growth: Considering a Multiliteracies Instructional Observation Checklist” with Veronica Richard, Ph.D., Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Costa Mesa, CA, November 5-8, 2015. 

  • “Language and Literacy as Essential to the Negotiation of Knowledge: Creating a Responsive Model” with Simeon Stumme, Ph.D., Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Costa Mesa, CA, November 5-8, 2015. 
  • “Photo-Elicitation and Visual Representation in Literacy Teaching and Learning: Accessing Participant and Students’ Metacognitive Actions to Bolster Self-Regulatory Processes” with Veronica Richard, Ph.D. and Meg Noack, World Educational Research Association, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 19 -21, 2014.
  • “Identifying Critical Consumerism and Monitoring Student Growth in a Global Context: Forging a Multiliteracies Formative Assessment Tool” with Veronica Richard, Ph.D., World Educational Research Association, Edinburgh, Scotland, November 19 -21, 2014.
  • “Classroom Talk: Negotiating Language and Literacy Instruction” with Simeon Stumme, Ph.D., Illinois Reading Council (IRC), Springfield, IL, October 2, 2014.
  • “A Comparative Analysis: Australian Teacher’s Perceptions of the Cultural Capital Worth of Instructional Texts” Concordia University Chicago’s First Mondays, November 4, 2013.
  • “Preliminary Lessons: Language and Literacy Negotiation in a Sociocultural Context” with Simeon Stumme at the Concordia University Chicago and West Suburban Reading Council 38th Annual Reading Conference, October 19, 2013.
  • “Lessons from Down Under: Literacy Learning from Australia, Part II” with Carolyn Koegler-Aloisio and Kristen VanLeeuwen at the Concordia University Chicago and West Suburban Reading Council 38th Annual Reading Conference, October 19, 2013.
  • “Bringing the Community to Campus: Creating a Free Adult Literacy Clinic” with Simeon Stumme, Ph.D., International Reading Association (IRA) Annual Convention, San Antonio, TX, April 19-22, 2013.
  • “Life Writing and Memoir as Tools for Understanding Advocacy" with Peter Renn, Ph.D., American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, CA, April 27-May 1, 2013.
  • “Integrating the Research: Co-Teaching to Prepare Reading Specialists to Specialists in Research” with Amanda Maddocks, Ph.D., American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Francisco, CA, April 27-May 1, 2013.
  • “Exploring Co-Teaching: Preparing Reading Specialists for Research” with Amanda Maddocks, Ph.D., Midwest American Educational Research Association, Evanston, IL, November 8, 2012.
  • “Transformational Reflections: Teachers’ Thoughts on Cultural Capital and Core Reading Series” Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Grand Rapids, MI, November 1-4, 2012. 
  • “Lessons from Down Under: Literacy Learning in Australia: with Tiziana DiBenedetto, Concordia/West Suburban Reading Conference. River Forest, IL. October 20, 2012.
  • “Mastering the Research: Exploring the Delivery of Research Methods” with Amanda Maddocks, Ph.D., Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 13–17, 2012.
  • “Standards, Difference and Competence: Boundaries and Borders in Contemporary Curriculum Studies” Session Chairperson for Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 13–17, 2012.
  • “Literacy Lessons: Developing an International Perspective and Dialogue” invited lecture for Lutheran Education Australia, Brisbane, Australia, March 6, 2012.
  • “From Ugh to I Didn’t Realize: Attaining Joy through Re-Presenting Personal Literacy Journeys” with Marlene Meisels, Ph.D., Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Richmond, VA, November 6, 2011. 
  • “Maximizing the Four Hour Block: Making Every Minute Count” with Kari Pawl, Ed.D. and Marlene Meisels, Ph.D. presentation for Concordia University Chicago’s Adjunct Faculty Enrichment (CAFÉ) Chicago, IL, August 27, 2011.
  • “Democracy, Civic Participation, and the Public Good” Session Chairperson for Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  New Orleans, LA, April 10, 2011.
  • “Inciting Curriculum: Ideology, Narrative, and Imagination” Session Chairperson for Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  New Orleans, LA, April 9, 2011.
  • “Promising Literacy Practices: Investigating Teacher Rationales for Comprehension Strategy Instruction.” with Dr. Marlene Meisels, Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Omaha, NE, November 7, 2010. 
  • “Opposing dominant discourse: identity construction as an active process” with Simeon Stumme, Ph.D., Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  Denver, CO, May 4, 2010.
  • “Strategies to Differentiate Literacy Instruction for All Learners” New Urban Teachers Conference, Concordia University Chicago, March 15, 2010.
  • “Leaving a Long-term Legacy of Student Thinking: Exploring Audit Trails” Concordia/West Suburban Reading Conference. River Forest, IL. February 6, 2010.
  • "Untangling the Web: An Analysis of Comprehension Objectives in Masters of Reading Practicum Lesson Plans Revisited." Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER), Charlotte, NC November 7, 2009.
  • “Best Practices in Adult Literacy: Helping Adult Literacy Students Transfer Their Literacy Practices from their classrooms to their homes.” with Laurie Elish-Piper, Ph.D., et al,. International Reading Association (IRA) Annual Convention, Minneapolis, MN, May 4, 2009.
  • “Reading it Right: Analyzing Lesson Plan Objectives Submitted via an Online Teaching Tool” Shuya Pedagogical Institute and University of Moscow, Russia, April 24-May 2, 2009.
  • “Different yet the same: Differentiating Instruction to Meet the Needs of All Learners,” New Urban Teachers Conference, Concordia University Chicago, February 9, 2009.
  • “Getting the big read: Teachers share professional insight about core reading series” Concordia/West Suburban Reading Conference. River Forest, IL. February 7, 2009.
  • "Stop Struggling: Effective Use of Reading Assessments to Inform Individual Student Instruction" Urban Teachers Conference, Concordia University Chicago, February 2, 2009.
  • “Strategies that Translate into Practice: An Analysis of Comprehension Objectives in Masters of Reading Practicum Lesson Plans.”  National Conference of the College Reading Association. Sarasota, FL. November 7, 2008.
  • “What are Johnny, Juan, and John, Jr. Reading? A Document Analysis of the Cultural Capital Worth of Elementary Instructional Texts” with Dr. Pamela Konkol et al., Annual National Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  New York City, NY. March 26, 2008.
  • “Unleashing the Jazzy, Fancy and Scientific: Powerful Vocabulary Instruction for All” Concordia/West Suburban Reading Conference. River Forest, IL. February 2, 2008.
  • “Managing Online Tools to Maximize the Reading Practicum Experience.” College Reading Association.  Salt Lake City, UT.  November 1-4, 2007.
  • “Hear Ye! Featuring Picture Books and the Internet in Content Area Instruction.” Concordia/West Suburban Reading Conference. River Forest, IL. February 2, 2007.
  • “Reflective and collaborative strategies on meeting the challenge to teach in the social foundations,” with Pamela Konkol, Ph.D., et al. Symposium presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Studies Association.  Spokane, WA.  November 2006.
  • “Redefining nationalism: analyzing educational policy revisions in Serbia and Montenegro.” Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society.  Honolulu, HI.  March  2006.
  • “Nationalism and Community in the Schools of the former Yugoslavia.” Paper presented at the Annual Midwest Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Loyola University, Chicago, November 5, 1999.
  • “Discussions of Nationalism—A Focus on the Former Yugoslavia.” Paper presented at the Annual Comparative and International Education Society Conference, University of Toronto, March 1999.
  • “A Policy Analysis of Education and Nationalism in the Former Yugoslavia.” Paper presented at the Annual Comparative and International Education Society Conference, University of Buffalo, March 1998.
  • “An Historical Overview of Education and Nationalism in Eastern Europe.” Paper presented at the Midwest Comparative and International Education Society Conference, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, October 1997.

Selected Grants

  • LLINK (Literacy and Language Integration for the Negotiation of Knowledge) with the Big Shoulders Fund as partners, Planning Grant awarded at $25,000 for 2013-4 and Implementation Grants at $150,000 for 2014-5; at $200,000 for 2015-6; $150,000 for 2016-7; with Dr. Simeon Stumme.

  • EXCEL-erated Literacy for Adolescent Learners at $12,000 for the 2014-5 school year and $12,000 for the 2015-6 school year. Funded by the Oak Park and River Forest Townships Youth Services with Dr. Veronica Richard and Dr. Sandra Doering.

  • JiM (Jumping into Multiliteracies) Class  at $11,680 for the 2013-4 school year, $12,000 for the 2014-5 school year, $12,860 for the 2015-6 school year, $14,467.65. Funded by the Oak Park and River Forest Townships Youth Services.

  • How fast is too fast? Mapping the ideal range of oral reading rates for the maximization of comprehension at $5,400 funded by a Faculty Research Grant Concordia University Chicago, August 2013.

  • A comparative analysis: Australian teacher’s perceptions of the cultural capital worth of instructional texts funded at $1,200 by a Faculty Summer Research Grant Concordia University Chicago, June 2013.

  • Capturing Cultural Capital Perceptions from Elementary Teachers funded at $1,200 by a Faculty Summer Research Grant Concordia University Chicago, June 2008.

  • Transforming Curriculum to Heighten Cultural Capital Awareness funded at $1,500 by Center for Success in High Needs Schools distributed by Associated Colleges of Illinois, June 2008.

Service

  • Appointed Program Reviewer for the International Literacy Association’s (formerly IRA) SPAs in conjunction with CAEP (formerly NCATE) program accreditation; 2012-present. 

  • Youth Commissioner and Commission Treasurer, City of Park Ridge Youth Commission, Mayor’s Council Appointment ; 2007-2013.

  • Invited Participant to the Lloyd Elementary “Day of Learning and Reflection” Chicago Public Schools; April 24, 2012.
     
  • Reviewed Conference Proposals for the Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA); 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008.

  • Reviewed Conference Proposals and served on Conference Planning Committee for the Annual Conference of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers (ALER); 2011, 2009.

Awards and Honors

  • Youth Commissioner, City of Park Ridge, Mayor’s Council, December 2007-2013.