Category Archives: Department news

This is for department news that’s not alumni news for the alumni page.

Kendeou briefs congress on educational technology for teaching reasoning, reading skills

Panayiota Kendeou

On November 7, Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, presented her research on “Educational Technology for Teaching Reasoning and Reading Skills in Education” to the United States Congress.

Kendeou was one of only five  Early Career Impact Award scientists nationwide invited by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Science (FABBS) to brief congress on their research—why it’s important, and how federal support has been instrumental in their careers so far.

Learn more about Dr. Kendeou’s research. 

Bart to keynote London Chess Conference 2017

William Bart

William Bart, professor in the psychological foundations of education program in the Department of Educational Psychology, will keynote the London Chess Conference 2017 December 2-3. It is the premier international conference for educators, researchers, and school policy makers interested in scholastic chess.

Bart’s keynote titled, “Making School Chess Research Relevant,”  will make the constructive proposal that there should be international centre for scholastic chess research to improve its quality, push its relevance and pool resources. Chess instruction is used in schools throughout the world because of its positive effects on student mathematical achievement and student thinking skills.

Learn more about Dr. Bart’s work.

Sashank Varma: How we learn: Understanding math patterns

Sashank Varma head shot
Sashank Varma

Math is interesting in that we routinely task young children with learning very sophisticated concepts. We now teach kids in third grade things that took mathematicians centuries to figure out. My research revolves around gaining better insight into how people understand abstract math patterns and concepts, and why some people are better at these skills than others. Hopefully, by better understanding math cognition, teachers will be able to develop better instruction and curricula. Read more. 

New graduate program trains students to analyze behavior, improve lives of people with disabilities

The new master’s degree will help meet the state and national need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Approximately one in every ten people or 11.2% of people in Minnesota and 13.1% of people in the United States are living with some kind of disability according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

It’s with that in mind that Jennifer McComas, associate chair and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, developed the new master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (A.B.A).

Jennifer McComas

“The new program is designed to teach students about the principles of behavior,” explains McComas, “how to recognize the influence of social interactions and other environmental variables and recommend changes to improve the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities.”

Now approved by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the A.B.A. program is designed prepare students to sit for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam and to work with people with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.

“The M.A. is a good fit for psychology and education majors and those interested in applied research who want to make a difference in the world around them,” McComas says.

A full-time, on campus program, the M.A. in special education with an emphasis in A.B.A. is currently accepting applications for fall 2018. Students who enroll in the program will be required to complete 36 total credits (nine credits in four semesters), including three semesters of practical experience working alongside a BCBA. They’ll also complete a final research project, guided by University of Minnesota faculty and staff, like McComas, who are experts in the area of applied behavior analysis.

“We’ll approach applied behavior analysis from a scientific perspective,” McComas says. “Students will be challenged to become consumers of research and prepared for the real world through supportive supervisory experience, which is essential when working with people with disabilities.”

Amy Hewitt

Amy Hewitt is a senior research associate with the Institute for Community Integration at the University of Minnesota and has worked for over 30 years to improve community inclusion and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

“This new program is timely and responds to a critical need in Minnesota. With newly implemented policies that fund early intensive behavioral intervention for people with autism and the focus on positive behavioral support in the MN Olmstead Plan there is a high need for qualified professionals,” Hewitt says. “This program will help to ease the high demand to grow this workforce.”

Graduates of the program will help meet the state and national need for BCBAs who work with people with disabilities to identify opportunities to make positive behavior changes leading to more fulfilling lives.

McMaster delivers keynote at Korean Educational Psychology Association

McMaster delivers keynote at KEPA.

Kristen McMaster, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, keynoted the 50th anniversary conference of the Korean Educational Psychology Association (KEPA) on October 20. McMaster presented her research on “Using Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies to Promote Reading Achievement for Students at Risk.”

Congratulations to Dr. McMaster on this great honor!

Cook, colleagues receive $2.8 million in grants to support teachers

Clayton Cook head shot
Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, and his colleagues from the University of Washington have recently been awarded two grants by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

The first, led by Cook, is a three-year, $1.4 million project entitled Development and Evaluation of the Beliefs and Attitudes for Successful Implementation in Schools for Teachers (BASIS-T). The goal of BASIS-T is to revise and refine a feasible and effective implementation enhancement intervention that helps motivate elementary school teachers to adopt and deliver evidence-based classroom practices (EBPs) with fidelity to better meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.

The second, Cook is a co-project investigator on with a colleague from the University of Washington. The four-year, $1.4 million project, Development of RELATE (Relationships to Enhance Learners’ Adjustment to Transitions and Engagement), focuses on developing and testing an intervention that builds off Cook’s research on the Establish-Maintain-Restore approach to promote teacher-student relationships. Specifically, RELATE will be developed and pilot tested as a dropout prevention strategy for 9th grade students as they transition into high school—a critical transitional period that is associated with the greatest amount of students dropping out of school.

Congratulations to Dr. Cook and his colleagues on the recognition and support of this important work!

Kendeou gives plenary at SciX on science of debunking misconceptions

Panayiota Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, recently gave a plenary talk at the SciX Conference in Reno, Nevada. Kendeou’s presentation, “The Science of Debunking Misconceptions,” was featured during a session on “The New Vision of Analytical Science by the World.” Kendeou addressed the pervasive problem of misconceptions, misinformation, and fake news in the media and discussed potential approaches to reduce their impact.

SciX is the official conference of the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) founded as a federation of member organizations for the exchange of ideas at the forefront of “to disseminate technical information dealing with the applied, pure, or natural sciences.”

 

Welcome to Ed Psych, Michelle Marchant-Wood!

Michelle Marchant Wood

We’re excited to welcome Michelle Marchant-Wood, Utah native and former associate professor in the special education program at Brigham Young University to Ed Psych! After moving to Minnesota, she began working as a research associate at the University of Minnesota for Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). Michelle managed an evaluation project with the Anoka Hennepin school district which was under the direction of Dr. Kimberly Gibbons.

When the opportunity afforded itself to teach special education again, she couldn’t pass it up.

“I always love interacting with college students. I love their excitement for being teachers. They’re eager to try new things.” Marchant-Wood says.

Currently, she teaches three educational psychology courses that keep her on her toes, (EPSY 5619: Students with Mild/Moderate Disabilities in Math, EPSY 5611: Research-Based Practices in Academic and Behavior Disabilities, and EPSY 5616: Behavior Analysis and Classroom Management).

“I’ve been impressed with the quality of students here. I taught at a private institution that is very difficult to get into (BYU has less than a 50% acceptance rate). I was interested in knowing what it was going to be like teaching at a state institution, but the quality of students here has been most impressive.”

She continues, “I also have really enjoyed getting to know the faculty here. They’re quality people and I have a lot to learn from them.”

Marchant-Wood wants prospective students to realize the great need and ample opportunities available in the field of special education Students are able to get jobs and make a difference.

“The faculty here are known throughout the country for the exceptional research they conduct, which takes a lot of time and effort. Prospective students need to know they’re going to have amazing opportunities here in Minnesota at this program.”

Outside of work, Marchant-Wood explores the cultural opportunities in the Twin Cities. She and her husband frequent orchestra hall and enjoy shows at the Guthrie. She also likes to stay active, by biking, running, and going to the lakes.

Rodriguez appointed chair of Department of Defense Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently appointed chair of the Department of Defense’s Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing. Rodriguez has been a member of the committee since 2012.

The Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing exists within the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. The committee’s duties vary over time, but the primary focus is on the design, development, and validation research of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and related tests, including non-cognitive assessments addressing readiness for military life.

According to Rodriguez, “These assessments serve important roles in the identification, selection, and placement of individuals interested in serving in any of the six branches of the military or seeking military careers.”

In addition to its work developing and evaluating tests for the armed services, the committee reviews the efforts of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program used by many high schools across the nation. The program provides free access to many resources for students, parents, and educators—including the aptitude test, interest assessment, and career exploration tools.

 

 

Vukovic presents research on math skills and attitudes of children with reading difficulties

Rose Vukovic

Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, was invited by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present her research on “Math Skills and Attitudes of Children with Reading Difficulties” at the STEM Education, Learning Disabilities, and the Science of Dyslexia conference in Washington, D.C. on September 26.

Following the conference, Vukovic was quoted in two articles by Education Week“Reading and Math: Two Sides of the Same Coin” and “Researchers Probe Connections between Math, Reading Research” on her research.

“When we say ‘learning disabilities’, we are mostly talking about reading,” Vukovic told Education Week. “We have to pay attention to other facets as well. We can’t do reading to the exclusion of everything else.”

This was the first ever STEM Education, Learning Disabilities, and the Science of Dyslexia conference. Hosted by the Instructional Research Group and supported by National Science Foundation researchers, the conference was started to help support the READ Act (Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act) which passed in  February 2016 to facilitate research on dyslexia. The aim of the conference is to encourage collaborations among researchers involved in dyslexia and learning disability research, especially those connected with science, engineering, mathematics, and technology.

 

Special education bachelor’s degree program ranked third in nation

The special education bachelor of science degree and academic and behavioral strategist (A.B.S.) licensure program in the Department of Educational Psychology within the College of Education and Human Development has been recognized as the number three special education undergraduate program in the nation.

The results are produced by Best Education Degrees, whose mission is to provide information on the best schools specializing in educational degrees and to enable, empower, and enhance the careers of education professionals and education students alike.

According to Best Education Programs, special education programs were ranked based on their reputation, tuition, academic support per student, and average early salary ten years after graduation. Scores were determined by examining specific data points from organizations such as the National Center for Education StatisticsU.S. News and World Report, and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Payscale was used to determine average salaries. Best Education Degrees collected the data and assigned a total score for each school based on the criteria.

The special education bachelor of science degree and A.B.S. licensure program was launched in fall 2014. The program is unique in that graduates earn their degree and teaching license in just four years and have the opportunity to study alongside leaders in the field of special education.

Scholarships are available for undergraduates interested in special education.

  • Incoming first-year special education students are automatically considered for the Campbell Scholarship for Education. Visit the Office of Admissions scholarships page for more information on this and additional CEHD scholarships available to incoming first-year students.
  • Each year through 2018-19, the Schulze Future Teacher Scholars Program will award scholarships of up to $10,000 to eligible undergraduate students, including students from the special education program.

See the full list of rankings.

Learn more about the bachelor’s degree in special education.

 

 

 

Kendeou, McMaster co-author Psychology Today post on role of inferences in reading comprehension

Panayiota Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, and Kristen McMaster, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program,  recently wrote a blog post for Psychology Today.

In the blog post, Kendeou and McMaster shared their research on the use of educational technology to help students in grades K-2 make inferences—a skill that helps improve reading comprehension.  The blog post details the two intelligent tutoring system technologies the duo and their team are developing as part of their U.S. Department of Education funded grants.

Read the full blog post in Psychology Today.

Get more information on the Kendeou and McMaster’s intelligent tutoring systems.

Dr. Samuel Odom gives talk, ‘Running with the Wolves of Special Education’

Dr. Samuel L. Odom speaks on special education topics at scholar talk.

On September 1, 2017, educational psychology students, faculty, and staff gathered for a scholar talk featuring Dr. Samuel L. Odom, director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Education. The talk, “Running with the Wolves in Special Education: Colleagues, Science, and Practice” covered today’s issues in special education and best research and teaching practices.

Dr. Odom has authored or co-authored over one hundred publications, and edited or co-edited over eleven books on early childhood intervention and developmental disabilities. His research addressed topics related to early childhood inclusion and preschool readiness. Currently, his research focuses on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From Geoff and Jennifer: A note on these turbulent times

Dear Educational Psychology students, staff, and faculty,

Welcome newcomers and welcome back to those of you who are returning members of our community. As we welcome you back, we feel it is important to recognize the turbulent times in which we live.  These times challenge us all to become better people.

To begin, we affirm University President Kaler’s statement on August 17, 2017: “We support President Teresa Sullivan and the entire University of Virginia community, and we offer our sympathy to the families of those killed and those injured. Let it be perfectly clear that at the University of Minnesota there is no place for hate, we do not tolerate bigotry, and we denounce in the strongest terms the racist and anti-Semitic message of white supremacy.” Further, we denounce any discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual identity, disability, or age.

At our faculty retreat earlier this week, we shared a story that we found in a book we were reading, and share it here, for it encourages us to consider what we need to do to be a safe and inspiring place.

“One evening a Native American elder told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and superiority. The other is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, and compassion.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

It is with a spirit of respect and gratitude that we welcome you and the diverse views, experiences, and backgrounds that we collectively bring to our community. We are happy to have each of you with us this year, and hope that collectively we can feed the right wolf.

The faculty and staff of the Educational Psychology department have spent the past year closely examining our values.  Our top three values are reflected in the College of Education and Human Development’s first three goals:

  1. To provide a transformative student experience for success in a global society.
  2. To intensify efforts to be a diverse, inclusive, and equitable college.
  3. To generate, translate, and disseminate groundbreaking research in areas of high societal need.

Our expectation is that, as members of the Educational Psychology department community, each of us will make every effort to live our values and achieve these goals in our work and in our interactions with others. In particular, we want our culture to be one in which everyone is respectful of others’ views, experiences, and backgrounds, for undoubtedly some will hold views different from our own. Hate speech and related micro-aggressive behaviors have no place amidst respectful exchanges of ideas; they are inconsistent with the Department’s values and contrary to the College’s goals. We expect our community to be a safe harbor from uncivil discourse and behavior.

The recent tragic events in Houston remind us of our common humanity, and provide a model where differing views are irrelevant. If we can remember the common humanity displayed in Houston, perhaps we will be better able to accept and learn from those with whom we disagree.  Our community shares a love for learning. Each of us has something to learn as well as something to share. So let us choose to share our stories, explore varied perspectives, be enriched by our differences, and go forward together to achieve our individual and collective goals.

Warmly,

Geoff Maruyama, Ph.D.                                             Jennifer J. McComas, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair                                                   Professor and Associate Chair

Ed Psych welcomes visiting scholar, Anna Rafferty

Anne Rafferty

Anna Rafferty, assistant professor of Computer Science at Carleton College, will be joining the Department of Educational Psychology as a visiting scholar. She will work with Dr. Keisha Varma  in the Games and Learning Sciences Lab and Dr. Sashank Varma in the Cognitive Architecture Lab.

Her work at Carleton College combines ideas from computer science, education, and cognitive science. She researches applying and developing machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to improve educational technologies and better understand human learning.

One of her current projects focuses on developing algorithms to automatically assess learners’ misunderstandings from their actions and using these assessments to provide personalized feedback. She applies the core technologies in this project to several domains, including game-based assessments for experiments about concept learning and interpreting learners’ algebra solving strategies.

Additionally, she explores how reinforcement learning algorithms can be used for experimentation within online courses and materials in a way that meets the goals of both teachers and researchers, and examines how middle school students use and interpret interactive models about science content.

Other general areas of interest include automated scoring and feedback for students, especially about strategies and non-written work; individualizing instruction in educational technologies; and how to draw on the strengths of both human teachers and machine learning to most effectively help students learn.

Welcome to the Department of Educational Psychology, Anna!

Julie Sweitzer keynotes MCEE annual conference on teaching economics and personal finance

Julie Sweitzer speaks at MCEE annual conference.

On August 1, 2017, Julie Sweitzer, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium in the Department of Educational Psychology was featured as a keynote speaker at Minnesota Council on Economic Education’s (MCEE) annual conference.

As part of the 2017 Claudia Parliament Distinguished Lecture, Sweitzer spoke on what every teacher and student should know about college readiness.

“It is imperative that when we use the word ‘college,’ you understand that it means any sort of post-secondary credential, certificate or degree. It is not just a 4-year liberal arts education, it’s technical schools, community colleges, and 4-year institutions.”

She continues her lecture on the importance on the shift from college for some to college for all.

“We used to hear terms like ‘that kid is college material’ as if it was some how encoded in his/her DNA, and limited to a certain number of students, often preselected by demographics.”

The annual conference provides secondary and elementary teachers the opportunity for two days of sharing, learning, and networking. The goal of MCEE is to equip Minnesotans with the economic and personal financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex economy. View more information on the conference.

 

 

 

Cook quoted in Boston Globe on emotional effects Powerball jackpot might have on winner

Dr. Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology was recently quoted in the Boston Globe article, “So you didn’t win the Powerball. Don’t worry, you can still be happy.

The article discusses the emotional effects the Powerball jackpot might have on the winner, questioning if money can buy happiness.

Cook told Boston Globe, “Happiness is a byproduct of the meaning and purpose one derives from life. If one spends their wealth on doing good deeds for others or the environment or supporting a noble cause, then boosts in happiness appear to be stronger and last longer.”

Read the full article.

McConnell participates in Small Talk on closing the word gap in Minnesota

McConnell participates in panel discussion with members of the Think Small team (photo courtesy of Think Small)

Scott McConnell, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program and program coordinator for the counseling and student personnel psychology program, recently joined a group of early childhood experts from Think Small, an organization which provides service, resources, and advocacy for early childhood education in Minnesota, to discuss the impact that early conversations have on a child’s life.

During the “Small Talk” led by Think Small president and CEO, Barbara Yates, McConnell defined the word gap. He shared that research around the word gap began in the early 90s with a study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley. The two University of Kansas researchers wanted to find out why students from low-income families continued to lag behind students from wealthy families later in school despite best efforts to make preschool more accessible for all children.  Hart and Risley, McConnell explained, found  a significant difference in the total number of words spoken to children of rich and poor families by the age of three. In fact by age four, children in professional families had heard almost 45 million words on average, while children in families who were on welfare had heard an average of only 13 million words.

McConnell went on to discuss how Hart and Risley’s work is continuing through new technologies. He described one technology he is helping implement and evaluate—LENA Start, a parent education program for parents and family child care providers in the Twin Cities. Families using the LENA system, have their children wear vests which, according to McConnell, act as “word pedometers.” These vests automatically monitor the quantity of words and conversations in a young children’s language environment. Parents and childcare providers regularly review the vests’ measurements, encouraging parents to talk to their children more.

Think Small panelists, Dianne Haulcy, senior vice president for family engagement, and Gerri Fisher, parent engagement coordinator, shared Think Small’s focus on helping childcare providers increase parent engagement which led them to work with McConnell and LENA Start. Finally, both women shared their positive experiences using the LENA system to work with parents and students and close the word gap.

For more information on the word gap, visit MNTalks! or the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network. 

Rodriguez quoted by MPR on Minnesota math, reading scores

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center, and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, was recently quoted in the Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) article, “Minnesota math performance slipping; reading up slightly.”

The article discusses reading and math results from the Minnesota Comprehensive Reading Assessment tests. Students in grades three through eight and high schoolers take the reading and math version of these tests each year.

“The schools are limited because at the end of the year — like now — they get their test scores. And the community gets the test scores. But there’s no information in those test scores as to, How did we get there?” Rodriguez told MPR.

Read the full article. 

 

 

CSPP and CRC host college and career readiness workshop

Assistant professor Carolyn Berger led a professional development workshop for Minnesota school counselors on college and career readiness programs. The event was sponsored by the College Readiness Consortium.

On June 8, 2017 counselors working in both rural and urban areas across Minnesota attended a half-day workshop, where they were presented with current data that support the need for greater attention to college and career readiness. Drs. Carolyn Berger and Jennifer Kunze provided examples of programs and resources for doing this valuable work.

Another highlight of the workshop was for attendees to participate in the group dialogue to learn how Minnesota schools are promoting college and career readiness.

Survey data collected from workshop participants indicated that counselors are not finding high quality learning opportunities in their regions related to this topic and thus the department will strive to take the lead for future workshops in this area.

The event was hosted by the Department of Educational Psychology‘s counseling and student personnel psychology program (CSPP) and the College Readiness Consortium (CRC).