Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D.

I see this recognition of my work as a validation of the work that all of us do in EHHS to make the world a better place for all.

Questions & Answers

Why did you decide to pursue your field of research?

I chose to study literacy acquisition and education as we have too many children and adults in the United States who struggle in reading. Moreover, as a country we have not made much progress over the last three decades to improve literacy outcomes for children, especially children who come from less advantaged backgrounds. My research is, in a larger sense, a matter of equity for all children. Literacy, I believe, is a right, and I have chosen to invest my research and scholarly work in helping all children achieve this fundamental and critically important right.   

What would you tell a student at the beginning of their academic career?

Learn all  you can about the topic(s) you wish to study. Choose a particular focus and invest  your energies into discovering more about that focal area. Be sure to find colleagues who are like-minded and willing to work with you. Learn to communicate your findings to a variety of audiences - other scholars, but also the general public who may not be familiar with your work.  Think outside the box - be creative, challenge the status quo and conventional thinking. Be willing to admit when you are wrong.  And, in all you do be humble. All scholars stand on the shoulders of others who have come before them and with whom they work and collaborate.  

Tell us a little about your research:

My area of research is literacy acquisition and literacy education - in particular my interest lies in students who struggle in learning to read. Research has shown that most children in the elementary grades who struggle experience difficulty in what we call the foundational reading skills -  the ability to understand and decode words in print, and the ability to read text fluently and with expression that reflects the meaning of the passage. My work has focused primarily on these areas. We have found remarkable success, through our experiences at the Kent State Reading Clinic (Camp Read-A-Lot) in helping many children achieve success in learning to read and in finding reading a valuable activity.    

What are you hoping to accomplish?

To improve literacy and reading outcomes for all children in the  United States and the world. To achieve a world where all children, all people, are fully literate, and full and critical thinking participants in democratic processes.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be willing to stretch your boundaries - take risks. Be a good colleague. Be kind.  

Who is someone you admire, and why?

I admire my mother -- one of the brightest, most creative, and kindest persons I have ever met.    Although she never finished high school, she was determined that all three of her children would attend and graduate from college. She showed me that having high expectations for yourself and others is critical for success. She believed in me and my brother and sister, and she sacrificed so that her dream, her expectations, became reality.   

Do you have any skills or talents most people don’t know about?

I have become known for my ability to make a word game called Word Ladders. I have been making at least one Word Ladder each week and sending out to teachers via social media since the pandemic began back in March 2020. In fact this has evolved into the publication of 7 Word Ladder books that have become best sellers in the education community.  Here's an example. Start at the top and word down to make a series of new words by changing, adding or subtracting one letter at a time.

  • Kent- Start with Kent & change 1 letter to make a depression  on a flat surface
  • Dent - Take away 1 letter to make a room in the house for study.
  • Den - Change 1 letter to make the plural for man.
  • Men - Change 1 letter to make the past tense of Meet.
  • Met - Change 1 letter to make something on which you clean your shoes.
  • Mat - Add 1 letter to make  another name for a partner.
  • Mate - Change 1 letter to make the opposite of early.
  • Late - Add 1 letter to make a type of roof covering.
  • Slate - Change 1 letter to make a word that goes with "Kent"
  • State - Go Flashes!   :)

Teachers have found these Word Ladders to be a great way to build students' spelling, word decoding, and word knowledge. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like to read, take walks with my wife and visit with friends and family - especially my four children and grandchildren.  

What does it mean to you to be included in the top 2% in your field?
I am very honored and humbled to say the least.  I am still wondering if they picked the wrong person! Scholars in the field of education rarely are recognized in this way, so it is particularly thrilling and satisfying to be recognized. I have many colleagues in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services who do great things. I see this recognition of my work as a validation of the work that all of us do in EHHS to make the world a better place for all.  

View Timothy Rasinski's Profile