The Center for Education Innovation’s (CEI), Thank a Teacher program allows students to provide unsolicited feedback by sending thank you notes to teachers who make a positive difference on their achievement and development. Dr. Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies and associate professsor in the special education program continues to impact students’ lives. Recently, she received an official letter from CEI with a “thank you” note from a former student.
The note reads:
“Hello, Dr. Vukovic!
I’m writing to thank you for all of your support and encouragement when I was taking your class, EPSY 2601, in Spring 2015. You encouraged me to do the Blind Inclusion in group work presentation to help my classmates know how to interact with me. That was a small presentation, and I just finished studying English.
I’m happy to inform you that now I have developed 3 big trainings on how to interact with people with visual impairments, starting with access assistants, then one for professors, and now I’m working on one for students in college-level settings to help everyone take an action to make people with disability feel included in this university. I may not have done all of these projects if you had not given me the chance to present in class.
You saw my strengths even though I just finished studying English and my grammar writing wasn’t too strong. I would like to thank you so much for everything you have done for me. I will never forget how you inspired me. A huge thank you for you and wishing you all the best!
Have you had a teacher that has made a difference in your education? Thank them here.
From May 29 to June 6, Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Educational Psychology and associate professor in the special education program at the University of Minnesota and Kristie Patten Koenig, associate professor and chair of Occupational Therapy at New York University (NYU)–Steinhardt—along with Sakina Aquah and Priscilla Yaaba Ackah from University of Education, Winneba—hosted a leadership institute for a group of female teachers from Ghana. The work is part of the Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education (GIFTED) which is supported by the larger Ghana Wins! project, a professional development program that aims to build capacity in women leaders in education.
This year’s GIFTED cohort attended a week-long workshop in New York City to analyze the results of their leadership action projects to support educational outcomes in Ghanaian schools. They visited local schools and participated in “coffee talks” with NYU faculty on women and leadership. The educators also had the opportunity experience American culture by doing things like eating pizza, taking the subway, and visiting the Statue of Liberty. The culmination of their training happened on June 2 when they sharing the resulted of their leadership action projects in an educational symposium at NYU –Steinhardt. Here are just a few examples of the work they are doing in Ghanaian schools.
Slimba, head teacher, Supporting Education for Muslim Girls: Slimba is engaging the community chief, the Imam, the Parent Teacher Association, parents and several local mosques to increase the enrollment of Muslim girls in her school.
Patience, primary school teacher, Market Day Attendance: Upper primary school students often miss school on market days to work at the market. To improve attendance, Patience is engaging these students through cultural dance and drama performances.
Serwaa, primary school teacher, Single Mothers Support Groups: Serwaa has created a social support network for single mothers in her school community. By organizing sessions that aim to build a supportive community for single mothers, she hopes to increase the school attendance of their children.
Following the educational symposium, the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development hosted a reception honoring the achievements of the group.
This summer, Kristen McMaster, coordinator and professor in the special education program at the University of Minnesota, will travel to Ghana with the group to help the GIFTED fellows work on peer assisted leadership strategies (PALS). According to the Institute for Learning Sciences, PALS is a peer-tutoring instructional program that supplements the primary reading curriculum by pairing students who work together on reading activities intended to improve reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.
Focused on strengthening the leadership capacity and visibility of female educators as leaders within the Ghanaian public education system, GIFTED provides professional development, on-going support, and leadership training to 12 women educators per year. These GIFTED fellows participate in a year-long transformational leadership curriculum, where they develop and implement action projects that support educational outcomes in their schools. GIFTED was started in June 2013 and is a collaboration between NYU, the University of Minnesota , the University of Education Winneba, and Mujeres por Africa and is sponsored by Banco Santander.
Vukovic is co-principal investigator on the project which led by Kristie Patten Koenig, principal investigator from NYU. Local partners are Sakina Aquah and Priscilla Yaaba Ackahat from the University of Education, Winneba.
The WPLC award is for women graduate students to recognize their achievements and successes in their field of interest. The criteria for the award includes academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for the academic and professional career of choice.
Since starting the Ph.D. program, Ms. Boh has taught multiple educational psychology courses, including EPsy 5361, 5362, and 5633. Additionally, she worked with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) as a Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) fellow. This experience allowed her to design and develop a project that focused on determining the extent to which Minnesota Licensed Childcares are conducting standardized developmental screening. As a research assistant on Dr. Veronica Fleury’s team, she investigated caregiver and child engagement in book reading for both children with typical development and those with an autism spectrum disorder.
Working with Dr. LeAnne Johnson as a research assistant in the coming year, Ms. Boh will coach and support early childhood special educators implementing an intervention aimed at remediating core deficits in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder.
On May 23, 2017, students, staff, faculty, and alumni gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the school psychology program at an annual recognition ceremony. Dr. Sandy Christenson, alumna and emeritus professor, was honored as the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Other school psychology students, faculty, and instructors awarded throughout the year:
Codding, R. S., VanDerHeyden, A. M., Martin, R. J., Desai, S., Allard, N., & Perrault, L. (2016). Manipulating treatment dose: Evaluating the frequency of a small group intervention targeting whole number operations.
Steven O. Roberts, Ph.D. received his undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology from New York University (NYU) in 2012. It was there he first worked with Rose Vukovic, current director of undergraduate studies and associate professor in the special education program in the Department of Educational Psychology. Robert’s experience with Vukovic inspired him to pursue more research opportunities and earn a Ph.D. in developmental psychology at University of Michigan. In July, Roberts will begin work at Stanford University as an assistant professor of psychology.
In an interview by NYU, Roberts highlights his undergraduate experience working with Vukovic.
“My experience at NYU was fabulous. I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Rose K. Vukovic. We did work on low-income minority children and their mathematics achievements. I was very involved in the process, by working closely with the schools in New York City. Eventually, Rose gave me the opportunity to work on an honors thesis on the topic, which introduced me to the research process,” says Roberts.
Through research, Roberts learned valuable skills to be successful in this field.
“The research process helped me learn how to engage with children while collecting data and conducting interviews. It taught me about data entry, management, and analysis. More importantly, the research process taught me how to write up scientific work. I presented my thesis at a few conferences, which helped teach me how to share my research with the scientific community.”
Recently, Elsevier Connect highlighted research conducted by students in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. The article, “The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning,” was one of three featured in the piece, “Thriving or surviving? Taking a wide angle on mental health.”1 According to the Elsevier Connect, this free article collection explored what’s behind good mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week.
The students examined 2010 Minnesota Student Survey data and found 12th graders who participated in sports had higher GPAs, more favorable perceptions of school safety, and increased perceptions of family and teacher/community support. Psychological foundations of education student (now alumni), Martin Van Boekel, led the project. Quantitative methods in education students, Luke Stanke, Jose R. Palma Zamora, Yoojeong Jang, Youngsoon Kang, and Kyle Nickodem collaborated with Van Boekel on the study. Okan Bulut, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME) at the University of Alberta, helped guide the students’ work.
The Minnesota Youth Development Research Group
The researchers met and began work on the project through the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) which is led by Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. MYDRG explores methodological and substantive challenges in youth development through positive psychology, ecological perspectives of youth development, and the translation of research to practice.
Van Boekel, Martin, Bulut, Okan, Stanke, Luke, Palma Zamora, Jose R., Jang, Yoojeong, Kang, Youngsoon, Nickodem, Kyle. (2017). The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 46, September–October 2016, 31–40. doi: /10.1016/j.appdev.2016.05.002
Asha Jitendra, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program recently authored an article in CEHD Vision 20:20 about her work with schema-based instruction, which teaches students to focus on the underlying structure of math word problems.
“I became interested in looking for better ways to teach math problems because of my daughter, who suffered brain damage in early childhood which inhibited her development of language skills. Despite this delay in developing language, she showed great understanding of mathematical concepts at an early age…However, she continued to have a difficult time solving math word problems,” says Jitendra.
On May 9th, CSPP held a networking event for students, alumni, and supervisors at Shamrocks in St. Paul. Over 70 people joined to meet one another and build relationships with fellow members of the CSPP program. Alumni from across the metro area, with careers in the counseling field as mental health therapists, school counselors, and higher education counselors, were in attendance. It presented students with the opportunity to make meaningful connections with supervisors and alumni. Dr. Marguerite Ohrtman hosted the event.
On May 10th, CSPP held their annual end of the year picnic for students, graduates, families, and friends. Over 125 people were in attendance this year at Minneahaha Falls Park in Minneapolis. Families from Florida, Washington, and across the country gathered to show their support.
“I can’t really think of something that we’ve delved into more than this to settle it,” Wolff told Ehrdahl. “There are well over 100 studies that have shown there is no link between vaccines and autism, and they’ve looked at every possible side of that issue, and they’ve found nothing time and time again.”
“We found that the brain is changing in autism, probably before six months of age, and certainly by six months of age,” Wolff explained. “This is well before children are receiving a lot of their vaccines…. autism develops slowly over time, probably starts in utero.”
Stanley L. Deno—professor emeritus until his passing on October 12, 2016—recently was honored with a tribute in Learning Disability Quarterly entitled “An Uncommon Man’s Uncommon Achievement.”
Former students of Deno’s and alumni from the University of Minnesota wrote the article in recognition of his career, influence, and persona. The piece highlights Denos work developing curriculum-based measurement (CBM)—simple indicators index student strengths in reading, writing, and math that measure performance over time. Today, CBM is a set of federally-recognized procedures that teachers use nationwide to identify and help special education students with mild disabilities who are underperforming in the classroom.
Reese Butterfuss has been awarded the 2016-17 Research Award for the psych foundations program. He is gradually developing a research program on the role of higher-order cognition in knowledge revision, with a current focus on the role of executive functions. Since joining the graduate program in 2015, Reese has co-authored three journal papers, has one more under review, and is preparing another two for submission. He has already presented 17 papers at professional conferences and will be presenting another three later this year.
Nic VanMeerten is 2016-17 Leadership Award recipient. As a third year graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology, Nic continually shows leadership in his efforts to better the department, university, and Twin Cities community. He is the elected student representative for the psych foundations program and is an advocate for graduate students’ perspectives and ideas. Additionally, Nic co-founded GLITCH, a non-profit organization to support game designers and individuals interested in game based learning.
Kelsey Will received the 2016-17 Teaching Award for her work on developing a new undergraduate course, EPSY 1281 – Applied Psychological Science. She taught one lab section in both fall and spring semesters this year. Kelsey introduced many creative ways to engage and motivate students while working with a team of teaching assistants and the course instructor.
Quantitative methods in education awards:
Jonathan Brown has been awarded the 2016-17 Teaching Award. Since beginning the QME program, Jonathan has taught and developed curricular material for both the Introductory and Intermediate Statistical Methods courses for Master’s-level students. Students appreciate Jonathan’s teaching as he earns average course evaluation ratings of 5.6 or higher on a 6-point scale. In the summer of 2016, Jonathan developed and taught a section of the Introductory Statistical Methods course for the OLPD Executive Ph.D. cohort.
For a second time, Kyle Nickodem was awarded the Leadership Award for his leadership in the program and department. Through his work with the Educational Equity Resource Center and the Campbell Leadership Chair, he has made important contributions to schools, school leaders, and education communities regarding data and assessment literacy. In addition, he has contributed to presentations and presented to the University of Minnesota Principals’ Academy, Generation Next, the Minnesota Assessment Group, and a number of school districts across the state.
Yadira Peralta Torres received the 2016-17 Research Award. She has made numerous contributions to the field. Since 2016, she published or has in press four papers, including The American Statistician and Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods. Also, she has three papers under review (two of which she is first author for), is preparing two others for submission to a journal, and has presented or co-presented eight papers (three as first author) at national and regional conferences. Yadira has also developed a research program focusing on improving analyses of student growth, which is the basis of her dissertation.
Sydney Carlson, a senior majoring in child psychology in the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded a Fulbright-related U.S. teaching assistantship by the Austrian government.
Carlson is among 13 students and alumni from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to be awarded a Fulbright grant during the 2017-18 academic year.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to promote international good will through the exchange of students and scholars. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries.
Jason Wolff, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, was recently featured in a Spectrum article about his research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants whose older siblings have autism. Wolff worked with a national team of researchers, including Jed Elison from the Institute for Child Development, on the study. Wolff and colleagues found that the development of specific brain circuits may predict the severity of repetitive and sensory behaviors in infants who later develop autism.
In the article, Spectrum explains, “repetitive behaviors, such as hand flapping, are a cardinal sign of autism”, and “children with these severe repetitive behaviors often also have unusual sensory features, such as sensitivities to sounds or textures or an insensitivity to pain.”
Wolff expands on this. “They both (repetitive behaviors and unusual sensory features) seem to share a similar relationship with underlying neural circuitry,” he says.
On April 20, eight undergraduates conducting research with faculty in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program presented their research at the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium.
The Relationship Between Executive Functions and Science Achievement
Student: Drake Bauer
Mentor: Sashank Varma
Influence of using technology on culturally responsive science teaching
Students: Ju Ae Kim, Juno Park
Mentor: Keisha Varma, Julie Brown (C&I)
Supporting Parental Involvement and Increasing Engagement in Science Learning through SLE Activities among Middle School Students with Diverse Cultural Backgrounds
Students: Jiyeon Lee, Wing Tung Chan
Mentors: Keisha Varma, Julie Brown (C&I)
Exploring the Use of Board Games to Support Cognitive Mechanisms Related to Science AchievementStudent: Lindsay Jerome
Mentor: Keisha Varma
Expanded Study: A Novel Extension of the Spacing Effect on Learning
Student: Kaitlin Mork
Mentor: Sashank Varma
Mork is also a participant in UROP and working toward an APECS minor.
Literature Review: Immigration Research in the Past Decade (Not pictured)
Student: Selena Wang
Mentor: Geoffrey Maruyama
The Undergraduate Research Symposium is an annual poster fair that gives all undergraduate researchers a chance to share their research, scholarly and creative projects with the University community.
Annie Hansen-Burke, senior lecturer and field placement coordinator in school psychology program and LeAnne Johnson, assistant professor in the special education program and coordinator for the early childhood special education (ECSE) licensure and M.Ed. program, were recently honored by Council of Graduate Students with 2016-2017 Outstanding Advising and Mentoring Awards.
During a May 1 awards and recognition ceremony at Coffman Memorial Union, the following student comments were shared.
“Dr. Annie Hansen-Burke is someone all students in our program feel comfortable talking to. She is someone I have scheduled an appointment with just to talk about my professional goals, issues with the program, or my insecurities and deepest concerns. Everything that is communicated to her is said in confidence, and she responds with the utmost care and support.”
“…An outstanding advisor and mentor listens and guides; educates and cares about the mentee professionally and personally; is accessible as both a resource and sounding board; provides specific and positive support that includes constructive criticism; and is a well-respected and successful contributing member to his/her field…Dr. Johnson embodies each of these qualities.”
The Council of Graduate Students (COGS) recognizes faculty members for their exceptional contributions to graduate education. Only COGS awards express the appreciation of the graduate student body. The awards are created, nominations made, and winners selected by graduate students. The Outstanding Advising and Mentoring Award is co-sponsored by the Council of Graduate Students and the Student Conflict Resolution Center.
Congratulations to Dr. Johnson and Dr. Hansen-Burke on their well-deserved awards!
On April 24, CEHD hosted the annual Spring Assembly and Recognition Ceremony to recognize members of the university for their distinguished service and leadership. This year, the Department of Educational Psychology’s Annie Hansen-Burke, Sarah Jergenson, and Nicolaas VanMeerten were award recipients.
Annie Hansen-Burke, senior lecturer and field placement coordinator in the school psychology program was recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by a college faculty member who enhances learning through classroom and/or field-based teaching, student advising, and academic innovations.
The Civil Service/Bargaining Unit Innovative Ideas Award was given to Sarah Jergenson, communications associate and content strategist for the department. The award recognizes civil service/bargaining unit employees who have made an impact in CEHD by creating, suggesting and implementing an innovative change strategy which resulted in a measurable benefit to the college.
Psychological foundations of education Ph.D. student, Nicolaas VanMeerten was awarded the Outstanding Student Leadership Graduate Award. This award recognizes undergraduate and graduate students for exceptional leadership and/or service contributions to the CEHD, the University community, and the surrounding community.
Congratulations to all of our award-winning department members!
The two students participated in a colloquium at the CEC conference on April 21 in Boston and were recognized that afternoon during the DR business meeting.
Designed to foster connections among students at different universities and contribute to raising the standard of research in the field, DRDSS aims to answer, “What makes for excellence in special education research?”
Buuck was selected from graduate students across the state for having the most potential as a school counselor. For three years in a row, students from the CSPP program have been selected for this award.
Marguerite Ohrtman, director of school counseling, presented the award to Buuck at the MSCA Conference this May.
Winners of the Potential School Counselor of the Year Award receive a $500 scholarship. Applicants are required to submit their resume, transcripts, statement of professional goals, and a letter of recommendation, in addition to the application form.
The article summarizes findings from the Global Signature program and how Department of Educational Psychology researchers are working to cut through misconceptions about the causes and treatments of autism spectrum disorder.
In the article, Fleury explains that autism was a prime topic to research because there is so much misinformation about what causes it and about the best treatments for families, schools, and communities.
“Autism tends to be a fad magnet. People use a variety of strategies that don’t have a strong research base—in fact, we have research to refute their effectiveness—yet they still have a strong hold,” says Fleury.
According to Connect in an age of misinformation and fake news, Fleury, Kendeou, and Trevors’ work has gained urgency.
“You cannot really erase and replace misconceptions that people have acquired. That’s the sad story about misinformation,” Kendeou told Connect. “We want to reduce its impact, not change people’s beliefs.” Read the full article.