CEHD News Department news

CEHD News Department news

Turner awarded grant to encourage more Native Americans to become engineers

Sherri Turner

Sherri Turner, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s counseling and student personnel psychology program, was recently awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant by the National Science Foundation. Her project, “Native Americans: An Exploratory Study Pinpointing the Factors That Influence Their Interests and Aspirations for Engineering Faculty Positions,” is a partnership with Oklahoma State University and Cultural Inquiry Consulting.

Turner’s research will lay the groundwork for future studies and help uncover best practices for providing Native Americans with experiences, support, and encouragement to pursue engineering and consider faculty roles.

Varma receives grant-in-aid to study use of games in middle school STEM education

Keisha Varma

Keisha Varma, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, has been awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship from the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research for her study, “The SciGames Project – Using Games to Support Science and Engineering Practices.”

Varma’s three-step project will investigate how board games can support middle school students’ STEM learning and problem solving behaviors by:

  1. Designing and implementing a professional development program to help teachers in a local district effectively incorporate games into their curriculum.
  2. Involving parents in the process by making them aware that the games they play at home can help their kids develop science and engineering thinking skills.
  3. Working with experts in computer and cognitive sciences specify and gather behavioral data from students’ game play for use in future studies.

The goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of how games support learning in formal and informal learning environments by answering specific research questions.

  1. Do students show improved understanding of science and engineering practices after playing various board games?
  2. Do students show improved understanding of science and engineering practices after playing high vs. low strategy games?
  3. How do teachers incorporate games into their science classroom practices?
  4. How do families view games as supports for science learning and family activities in general?

Varma plans build on this initial research with iterative studies leading to the design of digital games to support teachers in their science instruction.

Bart appointed to Education Commission of European Chess Union

Professor William Bart

William Bart, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, has been appointed to the Education Commission of the European Chess Union. Over five million students receive chess instruction in European schools to facilitate mathematics achievement and promote the development of critical and logical thinking skills.

Congratulations to Professor Bart on this important role!

Fleury receives grant to develop reading intervention for preschoolers with autism

Veronica Fleury

Veronica Fleury, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). The project, Students and Teachers Actively Reading Together (START), will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an adaptive shared reading intervention for preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

START’s first-stage intervention will be traditional dialogic reading—which encourages adults to prompt children with questions and engage them in discussions while reading to them—delivered in small groups of three to four students. Children who respond well to dialogic reading will continue with the group intervention. Those who are slower to respond will be randomized to one of two intensified instruction conditions.

This proposal is related to an application submitted to the Institute of Education Sciences for a larger four year development project that is currently under consideration.

Davison, colleagues blog for Psychology Today on causes of reading comprehension difficulties

Mark Davison

Mark Davison, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, and his colleagues recently wrote a blog post for Psychology Today on their assessment, MOCCA (Multiple-Choice Online Causal Comprehension Assessment). In the post, the researchers describe how MOCCA can be used to get to the root of reading comprehension struggles.

Read the full blog post.

Kohli, colleagues piecewise growth model published in Psychometrika

Nidhi Kohli, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, and her colleagues recently published an article,  “Detecting multiple random changepoints in Bayesian piecewise growth mixture models,” in Psychometrika.  The article highlights a piecewise growth mixture model Kohli and her colleagues developed using a Bayesian inference approach that allows the estimation of multiple random changepoints (knots) within each latent class and develops a procedure to empirically detect the number of random changepoints within each class.

The study makes a significant advancement to Kohli’s existing research program in piecewise growth models.  In all of the previous methods and applied substantive studies, researchers hypothesized and prefixed the number of unknown changepoint locations (i.e., the number of changepoints were specified in advance). There is no existing methodological study that empirically detects the number of changepoints (i.e., considers the number of changepoints as unknown and to be inferred from the data) within a unified framework for inference. This is limiting for many applications.

Piecewise studies of educational data typically assume one changepoint (Sullivan et al. 2017; Kohli et al. 2015b; Kieffer 2012). However, it is plausible that many learning trajectories will have at least two changepoints: one preceding a period of accelerated growth (an “a-ha” moment) and another preceding a period of decelerated growth (a “saturation point”) (Gallistel et al. 2004). Multiple changepoints are also plausible for many physical growth processes. For these and other applications a flexible inferential framework that allows for an arbitrary number of latent changepoints, as well as individual variation and population heterogeneity in the form of latent classes, is needed.  This method fulfills that need.

The article includes a user friendly R package that makes easy for researchers and practitioners to apply this method to their data sets.

Read the full article (including citations).

Learn more about Dr. Kohli’s research. 

 

Jitendra’s article recognized as one of top read in Exceptional Children

Asha Jitendra headshot
Asha Jitendra

Asha Jitendra, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s article, “Is Mathematical Representation of Problems an Evidence-Based Strategy for Students With Mathematics Difficulties?” was recognized by the Council for Exceptional Children’s e-newsletter as a top read article from the journal—one of the most respected in special education. Jitendra’s article evaluates the quality of the research and evidence base for representation of problems as a strategy to enhance the mathematical performance of students with learning disabilities and those at risk for mathematics difficulties. 

Read the full article here.

 

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

 

Kendeou speaks at SCIX.

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).