Melissa Sherfinski, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction/Literacy Studies

- View Curriculum Vitae -


Office: 602F Allen Hall


Ph.D. – Curriculum Theory and Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011

Master of Science – Special Education
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994

Bachelor of Science – Education, with Distinction
Elementary Education and Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Madison,1991

Research Interests

  • Early Childhood Education & Policy
  • Inclusive, Multicultural, & Place-Based Curricula/Pedagogies
  • Home-School Relationships & Homeschooling
  • Narrative, Ethnographic and Case Study Research


After teaching young students in progressive public school settings in rural and semi-urban districts in Wisconsin for six years, I earned a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Research from UW-Madison as a Wisconsin-Spencer Fellow. I teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses for the development of pre-service and in-service teachers and teacher educators. I also mentor Ph.D. and Ed.D. candidates. My current research project was recognized as a semi-finalist in the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship competition. In this work, I use a technique called video-cued multi-voiced ethnography to gather stakeholder interpretations of universal pre-kindergarten curricula and pedagogies in local settings. The findings from this research will have bearing for teachers, curriculum developers and teacher educators interested in understanding how better to meet the educational needs of Appalachian children, families, and communities.

Courses Taught

  • EDUC 200 – Professional Inquiry – Education
  • EDUC 600 – Teacher as Researcher
  • EDUC 602 – Prof Ident: Teacher As Leader
  • C&I 604 – School Curriculum
  • C&I 688 – Classroom Organization & Management
  • C&I 689 – Cultural Diversity – Classroom
  • C&I 493B – SPTP: Study Pistoia/Reggio Emilia