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.”
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 theschool 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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 students1and 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Samuel A. Kirk Award is overseen by the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD’s) Publications Committee, is given occasionally, and recognizes excellence in professional journal articles that have been published in LDRP.
The paper examined treatment dose of small-group mathematics interventions, comparing the frequency with which these interventions were delivered weekly (i.e., four times, twice, once) with a control condition while controlling for total duration. Results suggested that for the most proximal computation measure, treatment sessions occurring four times weekly produced clear benefits. On the application measure, students in all treatment groups outperformed students in the control condition. For the most complex computation measure, frequency was not a useful predictor. Grade was a moderating variable.
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants with older siblings with autism, researchers from around the country, including the University of Minnesota (UMN), were able to predict which infants would later meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at two years of age, with 80 percent accuracy.
“This area of research is incredibly exciting because it provides an opportunity to understand how autism unfolds early in life,” said Jason Wolff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in educational psychology at UMN and a study co-author. “It provides new clues about the timing and specific mechanisms of brain development that precede a diagnosis. It also offers the unprecedented possibility of predicting whether or not a child will develop autism based on neurobiological data.”
“Typically, the earliest an autism diagnosis can be made is between ages two and three. But for babies with older autistic siblings, our imaging approach may help predict during the first year of life which babies are most likely to receive an autism diagnosis at 24 months,” said senior author Joseph Piven, M.D., the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
This research project included hundreds of children from across the country and was led by researchers at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The project’s other clinical sites included the University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, other key collaborators are McGill University, the University of Alberta, the College of Charleston, and New York University (see ibisnetwork.org for more information.)
For this study, published today in Nature, the team of researchers conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12 and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.
The researchers then took these data – MRIs of brain volume, surface area, cortical thickness at 6 and 12 months of age, and sex of the infants – and used a computer program to identify a way to classify babies most likely to meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age. The computer program developed the best algorithm to accomplish this, and the researchers applied the algorithm to a separate set of study participants.
The researchers found that brain differences at 6 and 12 months of age in infants with older siblings with autism correctly predicted eight out of 10 infants who would later meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age in comparison to those infants with older ASD siblings who did not meet criteria for autism at 24 months.
According to the researchers, the findings may have implications for early detection and intervention in children who have older siblings with autism before a diagnosis is typically established. Diagnosis of ASD typically occurs after 24 months of age, the earliest time when behavioral characteristics of ASD can be observed. Intervening early could lead to improved outcomes, as the brain is more malleable in the first years of life compared with later in childhood.
“The findings lay the foundation for the field to move toward attempting to implement interventions before the symptoms that define autism consolidate into a diagnosis,” said study co-author Jed Elison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UMN Institute of Child Development.
“Much of what we do as a field to help individuals with autism is reactive,” Wolff said. “We wait for children to fall behind before providing an intervention. We may now be able to find ways to prevent that from ever happening.”
The National Institutes of Health funded this study.
We’re two weeks into the new year – have you already abandoned your New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – and it’s not too late to recommit to your resolutions, particularly if they mean living a healthier life, living more consistent with your values, and/or improving your performance in work. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the common reasons that people fail to achieve their goals and look at some strategies you can employ to increase your chances for success in following through on your New Year’s resolutions. Read more.
The MAP Center was recently awarded a five year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with desegregation and other civil rights issues in public schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Sullivan will contribute to the development of MAP products and services to facilitate implementation of culturally appropriate multitier systems of support for students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development.
“I’m excited to partner with the MAP Center to support schools’ efforts to create equitable systems and support the learning and wellbeing of all learners,” she says. “This is as important now as it’s ever been and with the MAP center, we have a great opportunity to develop tools tailored to our local communities.”
Kelli Howard took an interest in psychology at an early age. “I was always fascinated by people and relationships—why we do what we do or how we become what we become. I figured I’d go into psychology of some kind.”
Howard was a tennis player in college, and it was her coach, a professor of physical education, who first inspired her to think about pursuing her doctorate. “Getting a Ph.D. was not a path many women in my life had taken. I loved her enthusiasm and passion for working with the group she had chosen to help. I began to consider how my undergraduate degree in psychology might provide opportunities for me to find my place helping others as well.”
Initially interested in studying forensic psychology, Howard went to work for a jury consulting firm after completing her undergraduate degree. “The more work I did in forensics,” she says, “the more I realized I didn’t want to focus my work on such a tiny percentage of the population. I became more excited about helping people with their every day concerns—grief, trauma, loss and things that are more common.”
Howard began to carve out a path for herself, working in a number of different “helper” jobs, including: career counselor and coach, crisis counselor, and counselor for survivors of human trafficking. At the same time, she completed her M.E.d in postsecondary administration and student affairs and, later, began pursuing her Ph.D. in counseling psychology and conducting research on topics related to schools and mental health.
“At the time it all felt hodgepodge,” she says, “but it was all kind of leading me here—just in a circuitous route.”
Howard recently graduated with her Ph.D. in counseling psychology through the College of Liberal Arts. She did her dissertation on designing and evaluating online counseling programs for college students without access to such tools.
“Anxiety and depression are common ailments for college students. However, they often don’t get the counseling they need for a number of reasons: the perceived time it takes, lack of convenient options, and increasingly long wait times to see someone,” she explains. “We delivered an intervention in the classroom and tested how it impacted students’ emotions and academic performance.”
Last fall, Howard began teaching master’s students in our counseling and student personnel psychology program, starting with the Introductory Skills and Theories and Practicum Supervision courses. This spring, she’s once again teaching the Practicum Supervision course as well as Clients in Crisis and Assessment and Counseling Clients with Psychological Disorders.
When asked what she likes most about her new role. Howard says, “I love it all. I’m helping students pursue something that’s meaningful for them and does a service for the world.” She continues, “Helping students find their place and developing their careers is such a privilege.”
Specifically in Rule 3 of the article, “Persuading people with facts may not work,” Globe and Mail argues that “facts failed to stop” Trump from winning the presidency. The publication supports this argument with Trevors’ research on how new information can threaten its recipients’ sense of identity. Originally covered by the British Psychological Research Society’s Digest, Trevors’ research shows that new information can trigger negative emotions, which impair the understanding and digestion of written information.