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2017 UMAI Day highlights current ASD research

The University of Minnesota Autism Initiative (UMAI) welcomed an audience of 250 people for the third annual UMAI Day: Research to Practice Update. The event, held May 5 at the Masonic Children’s Hospital, featured current University of Minnesota research collaborations relating to autism.

Veronica Fleury, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Tami Childs, MN Autism Project coordinator, spoke on implementing evidence-based practices in school settings. ICI’s Jennifer Hall-Lande and Anab Gulaid led a presentation titled ASD Prevalence Research and Community Engagement with Somali and Immigrant Families. See complete list of speakers.

UMAI represents an interdisciplinary collective of researchers, educators, and providers focused on improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Minnesota. Their mission is to unify stakeholders toward the ultimate goals of collaborative research, excellence in education and training, and community partnerships.

Cramer leads interdisciplinary research initiative to improve student math outcomes

STEM co-executive director Kathleen Cramer is part of an interdisciplinary research initiative aimed at improving student math outcomes. In partnership with Generation Next and representatives from Minneapolis Public Schools, the GopherMath project builds on the expertise of faculty within four distinct areas: fraction learning, whole number assessments and interventions, teacher development, and parent involvement.

The GopherMath collaboration builds on a long term research and curriculum development project at the University known as the Rational Number Project (RNP). Because the work done in this area in grades 3-6 mathematics classrooms determines students’ access to algebra, it is critical that students have appropriate learning experiences that support learning in ways that result in deep conceptual understanding and procedural fluency.

This project also looks at factors within and outside the classroom that may influence students’ learning of this important content, potentially identifying how each component addressed supports students’ success in learning about a key topic in elementary grades.

Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health hosts second annual symposium

The Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) hosted their second annual symposium October 5-7, 2016 at the University of Minnesota.

Moving Toward Precision Healthcare in Children’s Mental Health: New Perspectives, Methodologies, and Technologies in Therapeutics and Prevention featured national experts in the field of personalized, precision-based treatment discussing cutting edge research and practice in the field.

Find speaker bios and presentation slides at the ITR event website.

University of Minnesota Autism Initiative hosts UMAI Day

The University of Minnesota Autism Initiative (UMAI) welcomed an audience of 200 for the second annual UMAI Day on April 8 at the Masonic Children’s Hospital. UMAI Day: Research to Practice, saw initiative members presenting and answering questions on their latest research findings as well as an overview of current University of Minnesota research collaborations relating to autism. Included was CEHD assistant professor of educational psychology Jason Wolff, who presented his latest research on infant brain development and the emergence of autism.

UMAI represents an interdisciplinary collective of researchers, educators, and providers focused on improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Minnesota. Their mission is to unify stakeholders toward the ultimate goals of collaborative research, excellence in education and training, and community partnerships.

STEM faculty featured in U of M Brief for National Science Foundation grant

STEM Education Center faculty member Barbara Billington, along with College of Biological Sciences professor Sehoya Cotner, recently partnered with local startup Andamio Games and received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to design a series of tablet-based lessons on cell respiration and photosynthesis. Read the full article in the latest U of M Brief.

STEM Co-Director participates in national panel on transforming postsecondary education

Karl Smith, STEM Education Center Co-Director, participated in the inaugural meeting of the Transforming Postsecondary Education – Mathematics Advisory Group in Washington, D.C. on March 25. The meeting was organized by the National Academies and the Institute for Advanced Study. He served on Panel 3: Lessons from Postsecondary Reform in other STEM Disciplines and presented two examples of engineering education reform – cooperative learning and engineering education Ph.D. programs.

CAREI at 2016 CEHD Research Day

On Tuesday, March 22, the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) participated in the College of Education and Human Development’s Research Day at the McNamara Alumni Center.  The event gave us a great opportunity to talk to the University community about the new CAREI and the many services that we provide.

CAREI at Research Day

 

Report reveals state’s substantial unmet educational needs in order to improve outcomes for all learners

A new report shows substantial unmet needs at all levels of Minnesota’s educational systems in order to improve learner outcomes through research, evaluation, assessment and data use, particularly in rural and high need communities.

Effective use of quality data in educational decisions can improve educational outcomes for all learners and help the state reduce the gap between the top performing students and those that struggle to meet proficiency levels.

The 2015 Minnesota Needs Assessment: Research, Evaluation, Assessment, and Data Use in Education identifies six categories of unmet needs—infrastructure, capacity, efficiency, time, training, and ease of use—with several key findings and results. The majority of respondents believe quality data can improve educational decisions; a common theme was that all stakeholders would benefit from additional assistance in the use of data.

Despite substantial motivations and efforts to use data, most districts lack the capacity to meet their own needs for data-based decision making, in part due to a lack of qualified personnel. Only 33 percent of districts reported having staff with advanced training in evaluation and assessment. More than 70 percent of survey respondents indicated their school’s or district’s capacity to effectively use data to guide educational decisions was fair or poor. Further, the lack of centralized services to support sound data practices throughout the state limits the potential of Minnesota’s educational system.

The report was issued by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). The findings are based on an extensive year-long process involving 800 individuals and educational leaders along with 13 professional organizations. This is the first time such a study has been conducted in Minnesota.

“We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations that generously shared their time and insights to develop this critical educational needs assessment,” said CAREI director Theodore Christ, associate professor of educational psychology. “It is clear we need to improve data literacy in Minnesota’s educational systems if we are serious about improving outcomes for all learners. But we do not want to simply provide recommendations. We want to provide the tools for educators and educational leaders to select the programs that have evidence associated with them so that as a state we can make meaningful advances in closing the performance gaps.”

Results of the needs assessment show that coordination of public resources is needed to identify common challenges among districts and coordinate efforts to implement solutions.

Minnesota has the opportunity to leverage current resources and establish a national model of collaboration based on the use of data and evidence to improve educational outcomes for all learners. Developing such an infrastructure may also substantially improve the effectiveness of the established state standards and data collection programs.

Education is the largest financial investment in the Minnesota state budget, and those investments place Minnesota students among the top performers in the nation. However, approximately 40 percent of Minnesota students did not meet state standards for proficiency in reading and math in 2015. Substantial gaps in opportunity and performance, commonly referred to as the achievement gap, persist for students of color and across ethnic groups, despite a range of efforts.

About CAREI

The Center for Applied Research And Educational Improvement (CAREI) was established in 1988 as an independent collegewide center in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development to conduct rigorous, unbiased evaluation of innovative practices and policies in education. During the past 25 years, CAREI has completed more than 250 evaluation and research studies funded by federal and state agencies, local educational agencies, and foundations. These studies range from truancy reduction to later start times for high schools. The CAREI staff includes many with Ph.D.s from diverse backgrounds in educational psychology, statistics and measurement, curriculum and instruction, education policy and administration, educational leadership, and evaluation studies. CAREI project leaders coordinate research teams and collaborate with content experts and community members.

For more information, contact Kimberly Gibbons, CAREI’s associate director for innovation and outreach.

 

STEM Education Center receives donation from Lakeland Foundation

On Friday, February 26th, Chad Tverberg from the Lakeland Companies visited the STEM Education Center to present a donation from the Lakeland Foundation. Chad, a University of Minnesota alum, currently serves as Vice President of Engineering. Lakeland is a 60-year old, family-owned business that specializes in providing high-quality electrical component and systems solutions to industrial companies throughout the Midwest.

“At the Lakeland Companies, we share worthwhile work stories to help our employees understand that what we are doing here is more than just a job. Many times the solutions we provide to our customers are also beneficial to our communities,” said Chad. “Your work is a great example of something that is worthwhile. I am seeing some of the results first hand from my own teenagers who are benefiting from the STEM influenced curriculum at their school, to the engineering students that we have hired in recent years. You are making a positive impact on the community.”

(L-R) STEM Co-Director Karl Smith, Chad Tverberg, STEM Co-Director Kathleen Cramer, CEHD Senior Development Officer Jane Townsend

(L-R) STEM Co-Director Karl Smith, Chad Tverberg, STEM Co-Director Kathleen Cramer, CEHD Senior Development Officer Jane Townsend

Chad’s visit included a tour of the center and a conversation with STEM Center Co-Directors Kathleen Cramer and Karl Smith.

“Donations such as Lakeland’s afford the STEM Center opportunities to explore promising areas of research, support graduate students, and host events that broaden our impact and community,” said Karl.

The STEM Education Center thanks the Lakeland Foundation for its continued support.

STEM Advisory Board Member Receives CEHD Distinguished Alumni Award

STEM Education Center Advisory Board Member Natalie D. Rasmussen is the recipient of a 2015 CEHD Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Rasmussen received her B.S. in Life Science from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and her Ph.D. in education from Curriculum and Instruction in 2006. Her commitment to mentoring young people, passion for public school leadership, and outstanding teaching in science education were highlighted when presented the award.

The College of Education and Human Development Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2010 to honor alumni who have brought distinction to their professions and communities. Recipients are community builders and leaders who span a diverse range of academic disciplines and career paths: business and civic leaders, counselors and social workers, educators and activists, entrepreneurs, and the most dedicated of volunteers. All recipients make a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, families, schools, and organizations, and whose achievements bring honor to the college.

 

Cargill Foundation to fund STEM Education Center and Minneapolis Public School’s program to develop STEM schools

Roehrig
BrownJulie-2014
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The Cargill Foundation Board of Directors has approved a two-year capital grant in the amount of $300,000 to the STEM Education Center through the University of Minnesota Foundation to aid in the effort of developing STEM schools in Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS).

Faculty members Gillian Roehrig and Julie Brown have partnered with MPS STEM Integrationists Betsy Stretch and Charlene Ellingson to direct and implement the newly awarded program.

The funds are in support of the STEM Education Center’s partnership with administrators at MPS secondary schools (Franklin, Olson, Ramsey, and Stanford middle schools) and one grade-nine STEM concept school (North High) to engage in new and innovative concepts to develop inclusive STEM school frameworks within Minneapolis Public Schools.

Four part-time graduate research assistants will be awarded a Cargill STEM Fellowship to carry-out the research necessary for this program, and additional funds will be used to provide professional development in the summers and academic years.

“We are pleased to partner with University of Minnesota Foundation and University of Minnesota’s STEM Education Center,” wrote Director of Cargill Foundation and Corporate Giving Tolá Oyewole. “We look forward to seeing the progress of the Developing STEM Schools in Minneapolis Public Schools Program over the next year.”

STEM Education Center at ASTE Conference in Reno, NV

From January 7th-9th, 2016 numerous faculty and graduate students from the STEM Education Center will be attending the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) International Conference in Reno, NV.

During these three days our faculty and graduate students will attend paper and poster presentations as well as roundtable discussions with colleagues in the science education field.

If you are also attending the ASTE Conference next week please connect with our STEM Education Center attendees and learn more about the great work they do!

STEM Education Center Faculty Feature- Bhaskar Upadhyay

UpadhyayB-2004The end of the year marks a time of reflection and gratitude. We look for inspiration to begin a new year and we are thankful for what the previous year gave us. Recently back from sabbatical, Dr. Upadhyay reflected on his many projects and future plans but nothing was more impactful than his time spent in Nepal after the catastrophic earthquake that truly altered his life.

April 25th 2015 marked a tragic day for the citizens of Nepal. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake ravaged the country, leaving over nine thousand either injured or dead. Like so many Nepal natives, this event had a massive impact on Bhaskar Upadhyay’s life, but it did not break his spirit.

Still considering himself new to America, Bhaskar Upadhyay has been living and working in the education world for the past sixteen years. Influenced by his parents and dear friends who were unable to receive a formal education, Bhaskar pursued education to positively impact and educate future generations back in his Nepalese village. His research interests center around the proper conceptualization of the achievement gap and providing high quality STEM/STEAM education on a global scale.

Dr. Upadhyay’s sabbatical was supposed to be a time to focus on his research. He had begun a book project about STEAM education with reflective stories from fellow principals, teachers, and school administrators. However, after April 25th his plans were severely interrupted.

“The best use of my time while on sabbatical was being able to help a very small number of people in Nepal after the earthquake,” said Bhaskar.

Spending over two months in his hometown, Bhaskar helped schools rebuild their infrastructure and provided relief by talking with parents and children about the earthquake and how it changed their lives.

“It did change my life obviously. I think about my life and what I need to do and figure out more than I did before that. If I had to say what sabbatical really did I think that was the most important thing,” reflects Bhaskar.

Now back from sabbatical and in the United States, Bhaskar is focusing once again on completing his book on STEAM education and addressing proper perceptions of the achievement gap. He is also reflecting more on what STEM/STEAM education means to him and what it means to be a STEM/STEAM educator. This has proven to be a challenge for him, in that, philosophically Dr. Upadhyay believes STEM/STEAM is a good way to educate our youth but worries about losing the importance of the individual disciplines.

However, Bhaskar’s spirit and drive to understand and impact the world of STEM/STEAM is unwavering. Taking from his own personal interests in cooking and gardening, Bhaskar seeks to find stimulating and relevant contexts for children to learn STEM/STEAM concepts. He continues to look at how racialized experiences affect achievement gap and ways to create positive learning spaces for all youths.

Ultimately, Bhaskar looks forward to pursing work that touches his core and especially impacts teachers, parents and youth with the least privileges, whether they are in in the Twin Cities, Nepal, or elsewhere.

EngrTEAMS Represented at White House Next Generation STEM Learning Forum

The EngrTEAMS research project was represented by the lead PI, Dr. Tamara Moore, during the Next Generation STEM Learning for All Forum supported by the NSF on November 9th, 2015 at the White House.

The Next Generation STEM Learning for All Forum was a capstone event to a week of administrative events supporting next generation learning. Thought leaders across the nation were invited to the White House to focus on the potential to transform STEM Learning and Education, strategizing how to best achieve collective impact, and coordinate toward national goals for STEM Education.

Of the many activities throughout the event, a highlight of Dr. Moore’s experience was participating in a group discussion around achievement gap with fellow researchers as well as advocate, philanthropist and rapper MC Hammer.

“I believe I was selected to participate in the discussion around achievement gap because of the range of partner districts on the EngrTEAMS project that provide great insights and experience”, says Dr. Tamara Moore.

The EngrTEAMS project was also represented during a poster session designed to showcase NSF-funded research and development, engage a broad community of stakeholders and facilitate networking across stakeholder groups.

To learn more about the Next Generation STEM Learning for All Forum visit their website at http://www.nsfstemforum.edc.org

Dr. Billington and Partners Receive NSF Grant to Develop Biology App

Congratulations to Dr. Barbara Billington, Dr. Sehoya Cotner from the College of Biological Sciences, and their partner Andamio Games for receiving a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to design a series of biology related applications for mobile devices.

These apps will focus on high school and college level biology lessons where groups of students can work together to model complex biological processes. The ability for multiple students to work simultaneously on a single project is a unique feature of this application and allows teachers to provide individualized teaching without separating students by their ability.

Dr. Billington and Dr. Cotner will conduct research on the biology lessons using this application.

A similar app, iNeuron, was another collaboration between Andamio Games and UofMN researchers from both CBS and the STEM Education Center. This app has been downloaded 50,000 times and a version 2 is currently under evaluation.

Read more about the NSF grant and development of this new application here!

Dr. Karl Smith Presents at December CUE Meeting

Dr. Karl Smith, Co-Director of the STEM Education Center, presented at the Council for Undergraduate Education meeting held December 2nd at Walter Library.

Topics of discussion included the STEM Education Grand Challenge Proposal submitted by Dr. Smith and colleagues as well as feedback from the recent AAU STEM Conference held on October 13th-14th in St. Louis, MO. The STEM Education Center Communications Coordinator, Kelly Auxier, attended the AAU conference on behalf of the University and provided notes and feedback for the CUE meeting.

The Council for Undergraduate Education, formerly the Council of Undergraduate Deans, was formed to bring people together across the University to share information and recommendations on University initiatives in undergraduate education.

An agenda and presentation materials of the December CUE meeting are available at the CUE website.

Dr. Karl Smith highlighted as pioneer in engineering education

The Engineering Education Pioneers project recently highlighted Dr. Karl Smith, executive co-director of the STEM Education Center, on his lifetime achievements and visions for the future of engineering education.

The Engineering Education Pioneers project is focused on highlighting past change efforts in engineering education to forge the path for ongoing transformation in the field. A major project activity is to spotlight successful leaders and change agents in engineering education.

Dr. Smith’s profile is an extensive and enlightening look at his career path with many words of wisdom peppered throughout. Besides his own personal journey, Dr. Smith shares his ideas on where the world of engineering education could do better and where it will go in the future. Concluding with the following statement,

“People in my generation have done what we can, and I think now its up to the next generation to advance the community.”

Dr. Karl Smith encapsulates his profile by passing the torch to future educators who can learn from his experience to help advance the field of engineering education.

Read the full profile on the Engineering Education Pioneers website.

STEM Education Center Faculty Feature- Dr. Barbara Billington

BillingtonB-2012Bright sunlight streams into her office. Plants and family photos line the windowsill while books and binders fill the shelves. Dr. Billington is diligently typing at her computer but just above her screen is a beautiful view of the St. Paul Campus. She takes a second to look up and daydream of her next chance to mentor students in their own classrooms.

Dr. Billington is a former science education student of the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Dr. Fred Finley. While teaching biology in a local high school, Dr. Finley contacted Barbara to fill a mentorship position for science education student teachers back at her Alma matter. It didn’t take long for Dr. Billington to enjoy her new position.

“What I have found so inspirational about working at the University is the students I work with”- Dr.  Billington

Along with Dr. Fred Finley, Gillian Roehrig has been a big influence for Dr. Billington. Barbara is also involved in broader higher education circles to learn what is occurring in schools like Hamline, Bethel or St. Catherine’s. Dr. Billington is happy to learn that the STEM Education Center program is a unique and strong partner within the community. She is proud of the space she works in and appreciates the conversations and collaborations that the STEM Education Center supports.

“It is not just the space, but the concept of the center. It is a great place to work and to come to”- Dr. Billington.

Besides her academic work, Dr. Billington is collaborating on a new three-year National Science Foundation grant with Twin Cities Public Television. This project focuses on providing professional development to teachers in career and technical education. Barbara Billington is also working on a second grant that is developing online games focused on STEM education.

Like many of her colleagues, Dr. Billington’s hopes and concerns for the future of STEM Education are grand and challenging. Her personal philosophy about the future of STEM Education involves major systemic and political changes as well as a coherent understanding of what STEM Education means in practice in order to truly teach integrated STEM Education. However, Dr. Billington is enthusiastic. Her partnerships across University departments, conversations with fellow colleagues, and continued fieldwork with student teachers makes her excited to continue advancing the field of STEM Education.

Dr. Billington’s optimism is encouraging and contagious. She is always a positive presence in the STEM Education Center and a delight to get to know. I was a surprise to learn that Dr. Billington is a published poet after studying abroad in Australia through an interdisciplinary English and marine biology program.

The STEM Education Center is lucky to have such a valuable colleague whose passion for mentorship is so inspiring.

The STEM Education Center Welcomes Erin Baldinger- Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education

While crowds of eager St. Fair goers flood the streets of St. Paul campus, Erin Baldinger is hard at work preparing for her first year as the new Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the STEM Education Center.

ErinBaldingerFor her first semester as C&I faculty, Erin Baldinger will teach MTHE 5021- Algebraic Structures in School Mathematics and begin researching the role of college-level math content courses in preparing secondary math teachers. Dr. Baldinger will also work with colleagues around investigating supports for novice teachers to engage in high-leverage instructional practices.

Mathematics became a strong interest of Erin’s while in high school. During her undergraduate experience at Tufts University Erin was required to complete a wide range of courses but always found herself registering for mathematics classes. Erin graduated with a degree in mathematics and her equal interest in teaching led her to purse a position as a middle school mathematics teacher.

During her three years as a middle school mathematics teacher, Erin began to formulate questions around her experience. This led her to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Stanford University where she focused on teacher education and preparation in mathematics at the high school level.

Erin is happy to be a part of the STEM Education Center where she can work with her science colleagues to make science, technology, engineering and math accessible for as many students as possible.

“I was actually really excited about the program here and to be a part of the STEM Center that brings those things together and has collaboration and a prominence in the community”, says Erin, “I am excited about the partnerships we have with the local schools. The teaching I am already doing involves meeting with students in their classroom where I can see what is happening and we can talk about their experiences back in class.”

Her first year goals at the STEM Education Center include connecting with activities in the center, building relationships with colleagues, and getting to know the students. So far her first impressions have been welcoming.

Born and raised in Minnesota, this new chapter in Erin’s career is very much a homecoming. Her summer was spent moving back to St. Paul from Arizona where she held her first faculty position at ASU. Along the way, Erin stopped in Santa Fe, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. She is now settling in and looking to join a klezmer band where she can continue her passion of playing the trombone.

The STEM Education Center is happy to welcome Erin Baldinger to the team and looks forward to her many successes to come!

Dr. Julie Brown shares STEM Vision in CEHD 2020 Vision Blog

Dr. Julie Brown from the STEM Education Center shares her vision of STEM Education and her goals to design and test solutions to the problem of equity and access to STEM Education for all students. Read Dr. Brown’s encouraging story here- http://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/cehd-blog/culturally-responsive-stem-education/