Category Archives: Educational Psychology

Instructor profile: Elizabeth Fry, QME teaching specialist, Ph.D. student

The best teachers are perpetual students, and Elizabeth Fry is both. A teaching specialist in the quantitative methods in education program, Fry is pursuing her Ph.D. with the goal of improving the way statistics is taught through research. She teaches EPSY 5261–Introductory Statistical Methods and EPSY 5262–Intermediate Statistical Methods, and has co-taught EPSY 5271–Becoming a Teacher of Statistics.

But Fry didn’t always see herself in a teaching role.

“I got my master’s in statistics at Ohio state, originally with the intention of getting a Ph.D. I really enjoyed the first courses and my experience as a teaching assistant.” She continues, “When I got to my higher level courses, I didn’t like the research in statistics as much. I realized that what I’m really interested in is how my students learn better and what I can do to help them.”

Fry says the most exciting part of her work is seeing students understand complex concepts.

“I know it’s cliche, but I really enjoy when students have those ‘aha’ moments when I try to explain something that’s confusing and then they get it,” she explains. “One thing I really enjoy teaching is simulation based methods.”

When talking with prospective students, Fry shares how she’s found a community of like-minded colleagues and friends in the the Department of Educational Psychology.

“The community here is very collaborative. When I came here, I noticed that students wanted to help each other. It’s not competitive at all.” She continues, “Sometimes we have happy hours. My first year, my classmates and I would get together in study groups. It almost feels like a family. I like that part of this program.” Fry says.

Fry also shares the uniqueness of the statistics education track in the quantitative methods of education program.

“The statistics education track here is very unique. When I applied, it was the only one in the country. I really enjoy it and hope we can draw more students.”

When she finds free time, Elizabeth enjoys working on home improvement projects, painting, crocheting, and taking walks around Minneapolis parks when it’s nice out.

Ed Psych researchers present on misinformation surrounding ASD

Despite the facts, people across the world hold different beliefs about what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). On March 31, faculty and researchers from the Department of Educational Psychology shared findings from a recent “glocal” (locally based with global components) study on the misinformation that surrounds ASD.

Panayiota Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the psychological foundations of education program, kicked off the event with an introduction into the cognitive theory behind “Reducing the Impact of Misinformation around ASD.” She explained the misinformation effect and her Knowledge Revision Components Framework (KrEC) which examines the incremental steps of knowledge revision.Watch Kendeou’s presentation.

Gregory Trevors, post-doctoral fellow in the psychological foundations of education program, provided additional background, presenting local and global data from the study on “The Public’s Prior Knowledge about the Causes of ASD and its Relations to Treatment Recommendation.” Watch Trevor’s presentation.

Veronica Fleury, assistant professor and ASD licensure & M.Ed. coordinator in the special education program, presented findings from the local portion of the study conducted at the Minnesota State fair, specifically examining “The Impact of (source) Credibility on Treatment Recommendations.” Watch Fleury’s presentation.

Finally, Krista Muis, associate professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at McGill University, provided an outside perspective on why the Global Signature Program is important. Muis, who studies how individuals process complex, contradictory content on socio-scientific issues such as vaccinations, noted the strengths of the research project. She also posed a few questions about the local portion of study and provided recommendations for future global research on the topic. Watch Muis’ presentation.

The event ended with a discussion that will help inform the content for future coursework, including a study abroad course focused on understanding ASD with an emphasis on debunking global misinformation.

The signature program is funded by the Office of International Initiatives and Relations at the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

  1. Kendeou, P., & O’Brien, E. J. (2014). The Knowledge Revision Components (KReC) Framework: Processes and Mechanisms. In D. Rapp, & J. Braasch (Eds.), Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences Cambridge: MIT.

Kendeou presents at Northwestern University on debunking misinformation

Panayiota Kendeou

Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Guy Bond Chair in Reading, recently presented to the Multi-disciplinary Program in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University on the “Science of Debunking Misinformation.”

In the talk, Kendeou discussed a series of studies that examine the incremental steps of knowledge revision, detailing its time course and mechanisms during reading comprehension in the context of the Knowledge Revision Components framework (KReC).1 She explained how KReC—which she developed with Professor Edward J O’Brien at the University of New Hampshire—aligns itself nicely with knowledge revision in the context of reading comprehension and has implications for research in text comprehension, conceptual change, persuasion, and the misinformation effect.

Get more information on Kendeou’s research by visiting her Reading & Language Lab.

  1. Kendeou, P., & O’Brien, E. J. (2014). The Knowledge Revision Components (KReC) Framework: Processes and Mechanisms. In D. Rapp, & J. Braasch (Eds.), Processing Inaccurate Information: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives from Cognitive Science and the Educational Sciences Cambridge: MIT.

CSPP alum, Julie Koch, receives CEHD Rising Star award

Julie Koch, Ph.D. ’08

Julie Koch, 2008 alumna of the Department of Educational Psychology’s counseling and student personnel psychology (CSPP) Ph.D. program, is one of this year’s recipients of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) Rising Star Award.

Since graduation, Julie has been a faculty member at Oklahoma State University. Today, she is an associate professor and interim head of the School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology, a newly formed department that includes counseling, counseling psychology, health education, and public health. Her research interests include: microaffirmation, faculty multicultural competence, counselor development and training, issues related to diverse populations, and prevention in school settings.

The Rising Alumni award goes to CEHD alumni who have achieved early distinction in their career (15 years or less since graduation), demonstrated outstanding leadership, or shown exceptional volunteer services in their community.

“Julie is definitely a Rising Star,” says Thomas Skovohlt, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s CSPP program. “She is unusually gifted at management and administration, and it is easy to see her as a university president in the years ahead.”

McComas named CEHD President’s Community Engaged Scholar

Jennifer McComas with award
Jennifer McComas with the award presented to her on March 30

Jennifer McComas, associate chair and special education professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, is the CEHD nominee for this year’s President’s Community Engaged Scholar award. This award recognizes  faculty involvement in public service and encourages and emphasizes civic engagement as a permanent priority of the College of Education and Human Development.

McComas was recognized on March 30 in a University-wide ceremony hosted by the Office for Public Engagement and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

“Jennifer is highly deserving of the award,” says Department of Educational Psychology chair, Geoffrey Maruyama. “She has worked over the past decade in Minneapolis Public Schools, first in North Minneapolis, then with Anishinabe Academy, and recently, she added tele-health research to connect with rural communities,” says Maruyama. “These and other projects reflect her deep commitment to engaged research and to doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Please join us in congratulating Professor McComas on this tremendous accomplishment!

Special ed alum, Lembke, named Honorary Alumni by University of Missouri College of Ed

Erica Lembke

Erica Lembke, chair and professor of the Department of Special Education at the University of Missouri and an alumni of the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, recently was awarded an Honorary Alumni award by the University of Missouri College of Education.

Lembke, whose research focus centers on measurement, intervention, progress monitoring, and data-based individualization within content areas such as mathematics and writing, has been involved in $4.5 million in federal funding for research and training, has more than 40 publications, and has given more than 150 presentations at local, state and national conferences.

In addition, Lembke is active in her local and regional schools, as she provides support and technical assistance for individual teachers and administrators.

On the national level, Lembke serves as a Senior Technical Advisor for the National Center on Intensive Intervention, which advocates for federal special education technical assistance and policy for all U.S. schools. She is also the current editor of the Journal Assessment for Effective Intervention.

According to one of Lembke’s nominators, “I hope to emulate this very talented professor in every way, as she has truly made an impact on my professional development and career. Her unconditional support and tireless efforts to advise and mentor me continue to this day.”

VanMeerten organizes GLITCHCON track on games that make a difference

Nic VanMeerten, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, is serving on the leadership team for GLITCH CONNECT (GLITCHCON).

Taking place May 5-7, GLITCHCON is an arts and cultural festival that serves as a catalyst for digital innovation that focuses on building connections between leaders and emerging creative technologists.

VanMeerten will be organizing the “Impact” track of the conference which focuses on games that make a difference, addressing everything from education and humanitarian issues to saving the world through play. Three faculty members from the University of Minnesota are also serving on the “Impact” track committee, Keisha Varma from the Department of Educational Psychology, Svetlana Yarosh from Computer Science & Engineering and Edward Downs from the College of Liberal Arts at UMD.

For more information or to register for GLITCHCON visit www.glitchcon.mn.

Ed Psych alum, Dick Senese, named president of Capella University

Dick Senese head shot
Dick Senese

Dick Senese, Ph.D., an alumni of the Department of Educational Psychology’s counseling & student personnel psychology program, was recently named Capella University’s new president.

According to the Star Tribune, Senese had been serving as interim president for nearly a year, in addition to his previous duties as vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer — positions he has held since 2014. While president, he will continue to be the school’s chief academic officer. Read the full article.

CSPP students meet with legislators at MSCA’s Day on the Hill

School counseling students participate in MSCA Day on the Hill 2017

On March 16, counseling & student personnel psychology  (CSPP) students participated in the Minnesota School Counselors Association’s Day on the Hill. Each student met with legislators to discuss the importance of funding more student support services personnel including: school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, and chemical dependency counselors.

Faculty and student participants from CSPP included: Carolyn Berger, Megan Anderson, Melissa Derby, Jeanette Vyhanek, Tony Minaglia, Melissa Kellen, Maibao Lor, Emily Kurmis, Brandon Forcier, Noah Dahle, Elisha Yuan, Rikki Hemstad, Melinda Vogel, Jing Xu, Zachary Nauschutz, and Jacob Blum.

CEHD experts quoted in MinnPost on use of student data

Theodore J. Christ, professor (Educational Psychology) and director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement; Michael Rodriguez, professor (Educational Psychology) and Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development; and Mistilina Sato, associate professor (Curriculum & Instruction) and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development were recently featured in the MinnPost article, “Minnesota is really good at collecting student data, but not the best at using it.”

The article discusses a recent report released by the Minnesota State Office of the Legislative Auditor which found “significant time and resources” were used to administer the tests but more than half of the principals and teachers surveyed said they felt “unprepared to interpret key test score data.”

“I mean, they’re just drowning in [data],” Christ told MinnPost. “It’s all over the place. And if they don’t have the capacity to use it, they just turn away from it.”

“Schools that get useful information from those MCAs are the ones that do the deeper dives,” Rodriguez explained in the article. “They look at the variability. They look at the group differences. They look at: How are students with these kinds of experiences doing versus students who don’t have those experiences, and which kinds of experiences are we giving a kid that helps them perform better? And that requires someone who can go in and breakdown those numbers and do some analysis. Not many schools have staff that can do that.”

“Every school seems to have its own assessment culture,” Sato explained to MinnPost. “Once you enter into the school, you have to first learn about how that school is using [data].”

The article mentions a class Rodriguez and Sato are developing for all students in Curriculum & Instruction’s teacher prep program. The course will help teacher candidates interpret the data available to them to better educate their students.

MinnPost ends the piece with an important question from Christ.

“We need to make a decision: Are we going to be a state who simply has decided data is not important? And then let’s stop collecting it, because we’re spending tens of millions of dollars collecting it, but we don’t know how to use it,” Christ told MinnPost. “Or are we going to be a state who values data and research? And [then] we’re both going to collect that data and support the use of it.”

Read the full article.

School psychology students elected to nationwide SASP office

Jordan Thayer and Aria Fiat
L: Jordan Thayer, R: Aria Fiat

Aria Fiat and Jordan Thayer, Ph.D. students in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, were recently elected president and student interest liason, respectively, of the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 16: School Psychology’s Student Affiliates in School Psychology (SASP) Association’s Executive Board.

A second year Ph.D. student in school psychology, Aria Fiat received her B.S. in Education & Social Policy from Northwestern University, where she co-founded and co-lead Supplies for Dreams, a non-profit that provides educational enrichment to economically disadvantaged students in Chicago. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a research coordinator studying risk and resilience in homeless and highly mobile children, and spent a year teaching English in France through the Fulbright Scholars program. Fiat’s research interests include: school mental health, social-emotional learning, positive psychological interventions, school climate, and promoting teacher resilience.

A third year Ph.D. student in school psychology and co-president of the school psychology student association (SPSA), Jordan Thayer earned his B.A. from Black Hills State University in South Dakota where he majored in psychology with an emphasis in industrial/organizational and minor in music. Thayer spent two years working, teaching, and studying education policy before deciding to turn his attention to helping youth in schools. His research interests include: improving behavior problems, particularly those resulting from a lack of engagement and motivation; understanding motivation; low-cost intervention development and implementation, particularly for students with comorbid academic and behavior problems; administrators’ roles in implementation; policy advocacy; and international school psychology.

SASP is currently the only student-led organization within the discipline of school psychology, representing hundreds of graduate students nation-wide. The organization is committed to upholding general standards set by APA, including promotion and maintenance of highly effective training programs, implementation of evidence-based academic and mental health health practices in schools, and adhering to ethical guidelines and expectations for culturally-competent practice.

 

Kincade named finalist in CEHD 3-Minute Thesis competition

Laurie Kincade, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program,  will be competing with seven doctoral students from across the college in this year’s 3-Minute Thesis (3MT). Kincade’s thesis focuses on “The Impact of the Student-Teacher Relationship for English Language Learners.” The event takes place March 28 from 10-11 a.m. in McNamara Alumni Center’s Johnson Room. First prize is a $300 award, and prizes of $250 will go to the runner-up and people’s choice. The finalists were chosen from a preliminary round competition held last week.

3MT is an annual competition held in over 200 universities worldwide. It’s designed to challenge Ph.D. students to present their research in just three minutes in an engaging format that can be understood by an audience with no background in their discipline. The competition is intended to help students develop a presentation on their research and hone their academic communication skills to explain their work effectively to a general audience.

Judges in the CEHD competition are Karen Kaler, University Associate; Mary Tjosovold, local entrepreneur, author, and humanitarian, and CEHD alumna; and Dr. John Wright, professor of African-American and African Studies in the College of Liberal Arts.

CSPP students successfully promote, participate in Polar Plunge

Michael Rask, first year M.A. student in the counseling and student personnel psychology (CSPP) program was stopped on the street in Dinkytown on Valentine’s Day by Steve Patterson, an anchor from Twin Cities Live (TCL) on Channel 5, and challenged to go on a date with a fellow University of Minnesota student (also walking in Dinkytown), Kristina. The two went out for coffee, and Michael sent an email to TCL with a photo of him and Kristina on their date. He challenged TCL back to donate to support him in a Polar Plunge he was participating in with fellow CSPP classmates and faculty. Participants in the Polar Plunge jump into freezing water to raise money for Special Olympics events in Minnesota.

Watch a clip from TCL on Michael’s challenge. (4:18)

Thanks to Michael’s promotion of the event on TCL, he was able to successfully surpass his goal of raising $1,500, bringing in $1,788 in total according to his Polar Plunge page.

Other faculty and student participants from CSPP included Marguerite Ohrtman, Addison Novak, Brandon Forcier, Melissa Derby, Megan Anderson, Drew Wanschneider, Emily Cranberg, and Rikki Hemstad. The team raised the most of any of the University of Minnesota teams. The Polar Plunge event raised $860,441 for Special Olympics Minnesota.

Congratulations and great work to all of our CSPP Polar Plunge participants!

Ed Psych, special education receive top rankings

Education Sciences Building
Education Sciences Building

The Department of Educational Psychology and our special education program were ranked in the top 10 of the 2018 U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate schools. We maintained a #8 ranking in special education and moved up to #9 in educational psychology. The department is part of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) which ranked 12th among public professional schools of education, 21st among all schools, in the rankings.

CEHD is a world leader in developing innovative programs to address opportunity gaps in child development, teaching, and learning. Consider its outstanding partnership programs with school districts in Minnesota that apply evidence-based teaching methodologies to strengthen schools. Note also the impact of recent groundbreaking research on autism—which Jason Wolff, assistant professor in special education was a part of—has uncovered new patterns of brain development in infants. CEHD’s productivity last year included $44.3 million of externally funded research.

CEHD’s developmental psychology program (Institute of Child Development) was also ranked by U.S. News &  World Report and is #1 in the country.

“Our college continues to reach new heights of excellence in graduate teaching, research, and outreach,” said Dean Jean K. Quam. “We are focused on improving the lives of students across Minnesota, the nation, and the world.”

Learn more about Educational Psychology’s top rated masters and doctorate programs.

Rankings methodology: U.S. News surveyed 379 schools granting education doctoral degrees. It calculates rankings based on quality assessments from peer institutions and school superintendents nationwide, student selectivity, and faculty research and resources, which includes student/faculty ratio and faculty awards as well as support for research.

Psych Foundations undergraduate researchers to train with AERA

Two undergraduate students conducting research with Department of Educational Psychology faculty members in the psychological foundations of education program have been invited to participate in an Undergraduate Student Education Research Training Workshop put on by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

  • Drake Bauer is an undergraduate student majoring in life sciences and psychology. Bauer works with two psychological foundations of education faculty members, Sashank Varma in the Cognitive Architecture Lab and Keisha Varma in the STEM Thinking, Reasoning, & Learning Lab.
  • Nikita Salovich, an undergraduate majoring in psychology, works with Panayiota Kendeou—also a faculty member in psychological foundations of education—in the Reading & Language Lab.

Bauer and Salovich will attend the AERA workshop, April 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas. This workshop, led by early career and senior scholars, will give the students an overview of how education research is designed across disciplines, how quantitative and qualitative research methods are used in studies, and how research is applied to education policy and practice. Bauer and Salovich were selected for the workshop based on their strong academic performance, research skills and experience, and potential to contribute to the education research field.

The AERA Undergraduate Student Education Research Training Workshop is part of the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting. Leading researchers and scholars provide guidance to undergraduates as they learn about research. Attendees participate in focused lectures and discussions about education research and attend some general Annual Meeting activities.

Instructor profile: Becca Pierce

Becca Pierce didn’t always see herself in the field of special education. Growing up, learning came easily to her, and she couldn’t understand how the other students weren’t able to find solutions. It wasn’t until Pierce began teaching and working with students with special needs that she fell in love with the field.

“The rewards are too many to count. You get them everyday,” she says. “There’s so much love in the world of education!”

As a special education teacher, Pierce  would carefully watch how her students reacted to her instruction by their body language and expressions. She used this technique, along with progress monitoring data, to adapt her instruction to fit the different needs of students. Pierce attributes much of her success as a teacher to her belief that students need to feel emotionally safe in order to learn.

“I’d look at my instruction and try something different,” she recalls “At first, it was a lot of trial and error to find something from which a particular student would benefit. But as years went by, those trials and errors wove themselves into patterns and it made it easier,” Pierce says.

She continues, “When I came to the U of M to do my doctoral degree and started reading the research, one of my reactions was a bit of anger. The research was telling me (through one article) what it had taken me years to learn from my students.”

Now a lecturer and coordinator for the Academic Behavioral Specialist (A.B.S.) licensure and M.Ed. program, Pierce says the most exciting thing about her career is seeing students become successful in life.

“In the moment, it’s a joy to witness students master a skill…But as I taught long enough, I could see them become adults and tap into the strengths we worked on. To see students using the same strengths in their jobs and becoming successful wage earners, adults, parents, and spouses that became the bigger reward.”

In the future, Pierce hopes to keep learning how she can help students by preparing special education  teachers with the tools they need to better serve students’ needs.

“In the past, I learned from students,” she says. “Now, I need to learn from our teacher candidates to better prepare them with the heart and passion for the job.”

Outside of work, Pierce enjoys traveling. She grew up in Madagascar and spent time teaching in Cameroon, Japan, and Qatar. She and her husband like to travel to places they can scuba dive.

Students present research at 2017 GSRD

The 17th Annual Educational Psychology Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) was held on March 3, 2017 to celebrate outstanding student accomplishments. The annual event provides a format for graduate students to present their research and to be recognized by peers and faculty.

The presentations took place in the Mississippi Room in Coffman Memorial Union and featured presentations by six students on their research papers and 34 posters on display with students available for Q&A sessions. Faculty and peers were able to walk around and learn more about the variety of research taking place within the department.

GSRD is a well-attended and well-recognized event at the University of Minnesota and the Department of Educational Psychology continues to be pleased with the excellent work students produce on their research accomplishments.

Varma, student present research on the origins of numerical abilities to Royal Society

Sashank Varma, associate professor and coordinator for the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, and doctoral student, Soo-hyun Im, recently traveled to London for the Royal Society Meeting on the Origins of Numerical Abilities, a scientific discussion about how when humans acquire numerical competence, we build upon an inherited cognitive foundation. At the meeting, Varma and Im presented their research projects entitled Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement in college students1 and From number sense to arithmetic sense: A theoretical and empirical synthesis.2

Co-authors of Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement include: Purav Patel, a doctoral student in psychological foundations of education and Rachel Voit, a Macalester College student at the time of data collection and now a masters student in social work.

The Royal Society is a fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

  1.  Varma, S., Voit, R., Im, S.-h., & Patel, P. J. (2017, February). Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement in college students. Poster presented at the Royal Society Meeting on The Origins of Numerical Abilities, London, UK.
  1. Im, S.-h., & Varma, S. (2017, February). From number sense to arithmetic sense: A theoretical and empirical synthesis. Poster presented at the Royal Society Meeting on The Origins of Numerical Abilities, London, UK.

Davison recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education

Mark L. Davison

Mark Davison, John P. Yackel Professor in Educational Assessment and Measurement in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently honored with an Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education Award from Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. This award recognizes excellent teachers who engage students in a community of intellectual inquiry, are significant mentors and role models, and develop and promote activities that help students understand the larger context of their intended professions.

One of a select group of University of Minnesota teachers chosen for this honor, Davison will receive a one-time $15,000 award and become a member of the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, which serves the University through various activities that aim to improve teaching and learning.

“We all are very pleased to see Mark’s important contributions to graduate education recognized in such a meaningful way.  His highly accomplished former students made a persuasive case for him receiving the award,” said Geoffrey Maruyama, department chair.

Davision will receive his award in a ceremony at McNamara Alumni Center on April 27, and, along with his fellow recipients, will be introduced to the University’s Board of Regents meeting May 11-12.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Davison on this well-deserved honor!

Cook featured in MinnPost article on improving kids’ mental health

Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program and John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing, was recently featured in the MinnPost article, “Want to improve kid’s mental health? Start at school.”

In the article, Cook discusses some of the research-driven programs he’s helped implement in schools that have reduced rates of mental illness among students.

“It’s a much more costly approach to wait until mental health problems arise and then have to organize individual treatments for the 30 percent of kids in the school with mental health needs,” he told MinnPost. “If you can improve the overall environment to address all of your students’ needs, fewer are going to need individual treatment in the first place.”

Cook also shared his own struggles, growing up without advantages most kids take for granted. “My childhood experiences gave me an interest in the discipline and structure of school and how we harness those benefits to help kids by promoting their mental health while they are at school,” Cook said.

Read the full article.