CEHD News Psychological Foundations of Education

CEHD News Psychological Foundations of Education

Im to present theory on arithmetic sense at 2018 Doctoral Research Showcase

Soo-hyun Im

Soo-hyun Im, Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, will present his research on “The development of arithmetic sense and its predictive relationship to mathematical achievement” at the Graduate School’s 2018 Doctoral Research Showcase. Im is one of only 59 Ph.D. students University-wide to present at the showcase which takes place April 3 from 12-2 p.m. in Coffman Memorial Union’s Great Hall.

Learn more about Im’s research and graduate school experience in Educational Psychology.

Q&A with Soo-hyun Im, psych foundations student

Soo-hyun taught elementary school for five years before pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, specifically within the psychological foundations of education program. Soo-hyun’s teaching experience made him interested in how students learn and think. He plans to use his degree in Educational Psychology as a way to bridge the gap between laboratory research and authentic classroom practices—ultimately, between education and learning sciences.

We asked Soo-hyun a few questions about his experience as a psych foundations student and what insights he’d like to share with prospective students. Here’s what he said:

Q: What is most exciting about your work?

“Currently, I am working on my dissertation research. It builds on the cognitive science and mathematics education literature on efficient, flexible, and adaptive strategy use in arithmetic problem-solving. Its goal is to evaluate a new proposed theoretical construct—arithmetic sense. I define this as the adaptive use of various strategies when solving complex, novel problems—for predicting individual differences in mathematical achievement among elementary school students and college students. I hope that this research will inform the development of evidence-based instruction.”

Q: How have your professors helped you along the way?

“I owe a lot to my advisor and professors in Educational Psychology. They value and listen to students’ voices. With support and collaboration from them, I have been able to complete and be involved in several research projects: 1) investigating how people reason about the educational relevance of neuroscience findings; 2) improving the proportional reasoning skills of 7th graders; 3) improving the reading comprehension of struggling readers (K-2).”

Q: How has your cohort helped you along the way?

“Before entering graduate school, I had never been to the U.S. In my first year, my colleagues helped smooth my transition in terms of language and culture. Senior colleagues in our program also provided guidance in terms of taking courses and conducting research. Now, as a senior graduate student, I would like to give back and take on this role for other students.”

Q: What would you like prospective students to know?

“Do not be afraid of exploring and learning new topics in your research.You’ll uncover many opportunities, and faculty and colleagues in your program will support and value your research interests. There are ups and downs in graduate school and life. It is important to strike a balance between work and life. Time and stress management are key in graduate school.”

Q: What are you looking forward to with graduation?

“After graduation, I plan to pursue my research at the intersection of psychology and education in a tenure-track position at a research university. Building on my graduate work and propelled by my dissertation project, I will pursue a research program investigating children’s strategic thinking when solving mathematical problems and applying these results to develop evidence-based instruction.”

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy riding a bicycle or inline skating around Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet. I look forward to the spring and summer to do these outdoor activities.”

Students present research at 2018 GSRD

The 18th Annual Educational Psychology Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) was held on March 2, 2018 to celebrate outstanding student accomplishments in research. GSRD provides an opportunity for graduate students to present their research and to be recognized by peers and faculty.

The event took place in the Mississippi Room in Coffman Memorial Union and featured four student research paper presentations and 34 posters on display with students available for Q&A. 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.

View the 2018 GSRD program for more information on presentation and program topics.

Varma receives ‘Thank a Teacher’ note from student

Sashank Varma head shot
Dr. Sashank Varma

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 in their education and personal development. Sashank Varma, program coordinator and associate professor in the psychological foundations of education program, recently received one of these “thank a teacher” notes which highlights the inspiration and passion he continuously gives to his students.

The note reads:

“Thank you for making me so excited about educational psychology. You already know, but you are great at giving engaging lectures, and I was so thankful for the format of this class this past fall. It made me want to continue in educational psychology and I can’t wait for what comes in the next classes because of this class. Thank you for making a difference in my education and helping find passions and places I didn’t know they existed. I hope you keep inspiring students and doing what you’re doing. Thank you!


Have you had a teacher that has made a difference in your education? Visit CEI’s website to thank them.

Kendeou gives talk at University of Quebec on science of debunking misconceptions

Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, recently traveled to Quebec to present her research surrounding the science of debunking misconceptions. The talk took place Jan. 24 at the University of Quebec in Montreal and was part of a series sponsored by the University of Quebec’s Team for Research in Science and Technology Education (EREST) and Concordia University’s Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance.

Learn more about Kendeou’s research on debunking misconceptions:

For more on Kendeou’s research related to language and memory with a focus on understanding and improving learning during reading, visit her Reading + Language Lab site.

Reading + Language Lab to present five times at AERA

Five proposals from students and researchers in the Reading + Language Lab have been accepted as presentations at American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, April 13-17 in New York City.

The presentations—focused on knowledge revision and reading comprehension—are listed below:

  • *Trevors, G., Bohn-Gettler, C., *Mohsen, B., & Kendeou, P. (April, 2018). The effects of inducing emotions on knowledge revision processes. Paper to be presented at a Symposium on Reducing the Impact of Misconceptions to the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, USA.
  • *Trevors, G. & Kendeou, P. (April, 2018). Revision failure: Integrating cognitive and motivational theories. Poster to be presented to the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, USA.
  • *Mohsen, B., & Kendeou, P. (April, 2018). Argument Evaluation, Reading Strategies, and Opinion Change in the Digital Environment. Paper to be presented at a Symposium on Digital Reading at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
  • *Butterfuss, R., *Bresina, B., *Wagner, K., Kendeou, P., & McMaster, K. (April, 2018). The relation between executive function and inference making. Poster to be presented at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
  • *Butterfuss, R., *Kim, J., *Salovich, N., *Trevors, G., & Kendeou, P. (April, 2018). The effects of emotional content on knowledge revision: An eye-tracking study. Poster to be presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY.

*denotes current or past student

About the Reading + Language Lab

Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou

The Reading + Language Lab is led by Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational psychology. The lab examines the relationship between language and memory, with an emphasis on understanding and improving learning during reading. The lab also develops and applies technology-based interventions and assessments.

Minnesota Youth Development Research Group to present 11 times at AERA/NCME

Members of the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG)

Eleven proposals from students and researchers in the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) have been accepted as presentations at American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) annual meetings, April 13-17 in New York City. The presentations reflect the group’s aim to explore methodological and substantive challenges in youth development, relying on the tenets of positive psychology, ecological perspectives of youth development, and the translation of research to practice.

MYDRG presentations accepted for AERA/NCME 2018

  1. Mental distress: Risk and protective factors among American Indian youth. [AERA SIG – Indigenous Peoples of the Americas] Paper Session: Place, Pathways, Persistence, and Protection in Schooling. (Ozge Ersan, Youngsoon Kang, Michael Rodriguez, Tai Do, Rik Lamm)
  2. School and community sports participation and positive youth developmental: A multilevel analysis. [AERA SIG- Research Focus on Education and Sports.] Paper Session: Youth Development through Sport in a K-12 Context. (Kyle Nickodem, Martin Van Boekel, Youngsoon Kang, Rik Lamm, Michael Rodriguez)
  3. Social capital, self-control, and academic achievement in adolescence: A structural equation modeling approach. [AERA SIG – Social and Emotional Learning] Paper Session: Social and Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement. (Wei Song, Kory Vue, Tai Do, Michael Rodriguez)
  4. The role of out-of-school-time positive experiences on risky behaviors. [AERA Division G – Section 1: Micro-analyses of the social context of teaching and learning] Roundtable: Qualitative Research Perspectives on the Roles of Students and Teachers in the Social Contexts of U.S. Public Schools. (Rik Lamm, Kory Vue, Kyle Nickodem, Tai Do, Michael Rodriguez, Martin Van Boekel)
  5. Do LGB students feel safe and why does it matter? [AERA SIG – Research Focus on Education and Sports] Paper Session: Youth Development through Sport in a K-12 Context. (Rik Lamm, Kory Vue, Tai Do, Kyle Nickodem, Michael Rodriguez)
  6. In what ways do health behaviors impact academic performance, educational aspirations, and commitment to learning? [AERA Division H – Section 1: Applied Research in Schools] Paper Session: Examining Non-Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes. (Julio Cabrera, Michael Rodriguez, Stacy Karl, Carlos Chavez)
  7. A pathway to resilience for students who experience trauma: A structural equation modeling approach. [AERA SIG – Adolescence and Youth Development] Paper Session: Leadership & Social Relationships in Adolescent Development. (Youngsoon Kang, Mireya Smith, Ozge Ersan, Michael Rodriguez)
  8. Investigating socioeconomic status proxies: is one proxy enough? [AERA SIG – Survey Research in Education] Paper Session: Latent Analyses with Surveys in Education Research. (Julio Cabrera, Stacy Karl, Carlos Chavez, Michael Rodriguez)
  9. Response processes in noncognitive measures: Validity evidence from explanatory item response modeling. [NCME]. (Michael Rodriguez, Okan Bulut, Julio Cabrera, Kory Vue)
  10. Measurement invariance in noncognitive measures: Validity approach using explanatory item response modeling. [NCME]. (José Palma, Okan Bulut, Julio Cabrera, Youngsoon Kang)
  11. Comprehensive partitioning of student achievement variance to inform equitable policy design. [NCME]. (Kyle Nickodem, Michael Rodriguez)

About the MYDRG

MYDRG was founded by Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development Michael Rodriguez in 2007 and is made up of researchers and Department of Educational Psychology quantitative methods in education and psychological foundations of education students and alumni.

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!

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. 

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.”


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.


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!

Get to know Mary Jane White, Ed Psych research associate

Mary Jane White

At 5 years old, Mary Jane White filled a caregiver role. Her mother had a neurological disability, and lost functioning in her hands and feet. She passed away when White was 18 years old, influencing her future in ways she wouldn’t learn until later.

“I realized I wanted to find out why [neurological disabilities] happen. At the time, I wanted to be a neuroscientist, which, I suppose, sparked an eventual interest in cognition.”

While going to school to learn about composition, rhetoric, and cognition, White came across research articles and was surprised to find how many unanswered questions there were about the ways people comprehend.

“That sparked my interest in science and research with a focus in reading,” White said. “I like finding answers to open-ended questions.” That interest led her to finish her doctoral degree in Educational Psychology in Psychological Foundations with an emphasis in Reading Comprehension.

At a brief postdoc position in Memphis, TN, White conducted research in text analysis while at the same time, Dr. Ted Christ received his first major grant and was looking for a project coordinator. White’s past experiences qualified her for the position, and over the years, they built a working relationship. She continues to support his research as a research associate.

With Dr. Christ and his colleagues, White applies her knowledge about reading to work with K-12 students and educators.

“One thing I appreciate most about Ted’s work is that he wanted to impact education beyond the traditional academic route. He didn’t want his research sitting in a book or journal, but rather used in schools to improve the educational experience for teachers. It’s difficult to make that happen. But if teachers can work better with students, then it’s more likely that students will succeed, and that success will impact their lives beyond the classroom,” she says. “It’s exciting to support people who are doing the kind of research that can impact learning.”

White finds this research to be incredibly important and aims to help students who struggle with reading and math.

“We need to take whatever steps we can for a child to have a successful life and journey in education. It’s painful to see people struggle. I think we’re seeing the effects of some people who feel left behind in our society, and that can be dangerous. The more we can do to catch students who are falling behind, then I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

As a graduate from the Ph.D. program and research associate at the Department of Educational Psychology, White is passionate about the research and education that our department produces. She wants prospective students to appreciate that they are part of the impact and eventual history that defines the College of Education and Human Development.

“There’s a lot happening in this department. Many people have come and gone over the years who have built a strong foundation to help others continue in their respective fields.”

She continues, “Even though it seems like you’re just a student working in your degree program, know there is a bigger purpose beyond that. That’s why there’re people working in these areas. They don’t do it to make lots of money, but to advance knowledge and help people.”

Outside of work, White enjoys gardening and is in the process of learning beekeeping.

Minnesota gathers to address social emotional learning at Educational Equity in Action II

Attendees visit in between sessions at Educational Equity in Action.

On June 20 and 21, roughly 500 of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations gathered at Educational Equity in Action II. This was the second convening hosted by the University of Minnesota. Its focus: improving educational equity by “Working across schools and communities to enhance social emotional learning.”

Opening keynote

Brokenleg leads a small group discussion following his keynote.

Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model, explained that trauma from oppression, like that experienced by the American Indian community, can span generations.

“Our culture is plagued by intergenerational trauma,” said Brokenleg, whose mother’s family was among those imprisoned at Fort Snelling. He cited the incredibly high suicide rate among Native people, especially in the 18-30 age group, and among people in Ireland and Scotland after generations of oppression by the British, whose methods not coincidentally were adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “We’ve had a normal human reaction to an abnormal history.”

Brokenleg described his Circle of Courage model which supports character building or “teaching the heart” through generosity, belonging, independence, and mastery. Brokenleg finished his talk with practical strategies from Circle of Courage attendees could take back to their schools and communities to help young people—especially those suffering from intergenerational trauma—learn and grow.


Members of Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development (MYDRG)

Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center and the covening, led a plenary discussion on the results of the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).

Rodriguez explained, although  at a high-level the MSS tells a positive story about the developmental skills and supports of Minnesota youth, a closer look at the data demonstrates the reality of the inequities some students experience in Minnesota’s education system. This is particularly apparent for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); students who skip school; students who receive disciplinary action in school; and students who have experienced trauma.

“Ninety-nine percent of our youth say their goal is to graduate from high school—and 65 to 85 percent across demographic groups also want to go to college,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a lot higher than our state’s high school graduation goal for them, which is now about 90 percent by 2020!”

He emphasized that students’ own goals are higher than those we’ve set as a state.

Following the plenary, students in Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) led detailed discussions on the MSS results for some of these groups, including: American Indian students, Hmong students, students in special education, LGB students, and students experiencing trauma.

Download presentations from the convening on the MYDRG website.

Breakout sessions

Dr. Clayton Cook leads a discussion on school climate.

Throughout the convening, participants selected from 28 smaller group breakout sessions on social-emotional learning led by University of Minnesota researchers, youth engagement groups, school districts, the Minneapolis Department of Education, and more. Several sessions included youth as presenters and/or  focused on youth participatory action research projects.

Small group discussions

Attendees share their educational equity challenges in small groups.

Before the final keynote, attendees participated in a process called TRIZ. They met in small groups—dividing themselves up based on the different developmental skills and supports students need to be successful (identified in Rodriguez’s work). Participants started with the unusual task of listing actions communities might take to destroy the skill being discussed in youth. Then, they shared opportunities they had to remove some of these destructive activities and developed action plans for their schools, communities, and organizations.

View TRIZ sampling responses for destructive actions and action steps.

Action commitments

At the final session participants responded to the statement “I am committed to” with their commitments to take action on educational equity.

Closing keynote

Khalifa gives the final keynote at Educational Equity in Action.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, associate professor in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, closed out the convening by challenging the group to practice culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL). He asked that school leaders promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students by focusing on the perspectives of parents, students, and community members.

“Change in schools can be promoted and fostered by ‘leaders,’ but culturally responsive school leadership is practiced by all stakeholders,” said Khalifa. “Community-based based knowledge informs good leadership practice.”

In this statement, Khalifa connected his keynote to Rodriguez’ and Brokenleg’s work. Each of the speakers stressed the importance of listening to all members of our community to improve educational equity.

Khalifa ended his talk by sharing strategies to help attendees to achieve CRSL in their own schools, organizations, and communities.

View an artist’s interpretation of Khalifa’s keynote by Jen Mein.

Thank you to our sponsors

The Educational Equity in Action convening was created by the University of Minnesota’s Educational Equity Resource Center. This year’s event was organized in partnership with the University’s Office for Equity and Diversity and made possible by the Minneapolis Foundation, Youthprise, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education & Human Development, College of Education and Human Development, Department of Educational Psychology, and the College Readiness Consortium.

Now accepting applications: Third Annual Diversity in Psychology Program

The Institute of Child Development (ICD) and the Department of Educational Psychology are pleased to support the 3rd Annual Diversity in Psychology Program at the University of Minnesota (UMN).

The program is sponsored by the UMN Department of Psychology and the College of Liberal Arts with support from ICD and the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Development.

The Diversity in Psychology Program is designed for individuals who are historically under-represented in psychology graduate programs and who are interested in learning about graduate training in psychology, child psychology, and educational/school psychology at the University of Minnesota.

The program will feature a coordinated set of formal and informal experiences designed to familiarize participants with strategies for constructing successful graduate school applications, and to provide them with the opportunity to learn more about the experience of graduate education in UMN psychology departments.

To be eligible to apply, individuals must:

  • be enrolled in a college or university as a junior or senior, or who have graduated within the last two years (i.e., 2015 or thereafter). Individuals currently enrolled in a terminal masters-level graduate program in psychology are also eligible.
  • identify as a member of groups underrepresented in graduate training in psychology, including ethnic and racial minority groups, low-income backgrounds, persons with disability, LGBTQ+, military veterans, and first-generation college students or graduates.

Individuals must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • be committed to pursuing doctoral training in either child psychology or educational/school psychology. OR
  • be committed to pursuing doctoral training in psychology in one of the following programs of research offered by the Department of Psychology: clinical science and psychopathology; counseling psychology; cognitive and brain sciences; industrial/organizational psychology; personality, individual differences, and behavior genetics; quantitative psychology/psychometric methods; or social psychology.

Learn more about how to apply.