During the 2016-17 academic year, the School of Education is host to visiting associate professor, Krisztián Józsa. An International Presidential Fellow at Colorado State University, Józsa comes from Hungary, where he is an associate professor and deputy head of the Institute of Education at the University of Szeged. While teaching as an affiliate associate professor is his primary reason for spending the academic year at CSU, Józsa is also collaborating with colleagues in the School of Education and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies on his research into mastery motivation, executive functions, and early childhood education.
Discovering a love of research
Józsa graduated from József Attila University in 1996 with a Master of Science to teach physics and mathematics at the high school level. During his time as a high school teacher, Józsa developed a love for research and education, leading him to earn his Master of Educational Assessment from the University of Szeged in 2000, and his Ph.D. in Education from Eӧtvӧs Loránd University in 2003. In 2013, Józsa received the Habilitation post-doctoral degree—a qualification required at most of the European universities as proof that the recipient is suited for being a full professor—from University of Szeged.
“Although I enjoyed being a high school mathematics and physics teacher, I discovered that I had a really strong interest in research,” says Józsa. “My Hungarian advisor Prof. József Nagy’s research interest was school readiness and cognitive skills development in early childhood. I started to work with him as a Ph.D. student and research assistant 20 years ago, and I enjoyed it so much.”
Working with School of Education Professor Emeritus George Morgan, HDFS Professor Karen Barrett and several other colleagues, Józsa has been to CSU several times since 2011 to conduct research. During 2012 and 2013, he was a Fulbright Scholar at CSU, working on a research project with the School of Education and HDFS.
Research and teaching
Józsa’s visits to CSU started as purely research, but has now blossomed into teaching as well. He teaches graduate-level courses on research methods, early child development, motivation, and cognition.
“Krisztián taught two sections of EDRM 700 Quantitative Research Methods this past fall,” says Gene Gloeckner, School of Education Co-Director and coordinator of the Research Methods Committee. “This is difficult content, and it was the first class that Krisztián taught in English. The students loved his approach to teaching the classes.”
Józsa’s research is centered around mastery motivation in children, focusing on school readiness and skills improvement for disadvantaged children. Gloeckner adds, “[Józsa’s EDRM 700 students] especially loved that he could use his work with mastery motivation as examples for nearly any research design or research methods issue.”
Along with his colleagues at CSU, Józsa is working on developing an assessment to measure the mastery motivation and executive functions of children ages 3 to 8 years old.
“Early childhood is one of the most important fields of education—you can effectively improve skills, and can encourage them to be more motivated,” he says.
“I have followed Krisztian’s research for over 15 years, since he was a Ph.D. student,” says Morgan. “Last year when I went to Hungary, we visited several schools to learn about early childhood education and school readiness in Hungary.”
Putting research into action
In the future, Józsa hopes to continue his work in mastery motivation and early childhood education with the team from CSU, his colleagues from Hungary, and others around the world to integrate their findings into the classroom and benefit both teachers and students.
“In Hungary, I worked for the University of Szeged, which is one of the best universities in East-Central Europe. It has a leading teacher preparation program, and Doctoral School of Education and Psychology,” says Józsa. “The big difference for me is that I am the only researcher in Hungary who has a strong interest in mastery motivation, and now here at CSU, there is a team working in the same area which is very beneficial.”
The School of Education is one of eight units in the College of Health and Human Sciences.