CEHD News Quantitative Methods in Education

CEHD News Quantitative Methods in Education

Rise in Ed Psych, CEHD rankings shows strength of programs, research, and service

The Department of Educational Psychology once again holds top ten rankings in the 2019 U.S. News Rankings of Graduate Schools, ranking 5th overall in special education (up from 8th last year) and maintaining a 9th overall ranking in educational psychology.

The department is part of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) which U.S. News ranked 11th among public professional schools of education, 19th among all schools. CEHD was also recognized as the top public school of education in the Academic Ranking of World Universities’ 2017 rankings. CEHD’s developmental psychology program in the Institute of Child Development was ranked #1 in the 2017 rankings.

“The college is uniquely positioned to address many of our toughest educational challenges,” said Dean Jean K. Quam, “especially in areas such as educational equity, teaching and learning innovations, and children’s mental health and development.”

Learn more about the Department of Educational psychology’s top-rated master’s and doctoral programs.

Educational Psychology presents 15 times at CRIEI

Faculty, researchers, and students across the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology, special education, and quantitative methods in education programs presented 15 times at this year’s Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI).

The event was held in San Diego, California on March 1-3 2018 and showcased new research on interventions for young children with disabilities or those at risk for developmental delays and their families. Posters from the event are on display throughout the Education Sciences Building.

 Posters presentations

  • Integrating and Sustaining Evidence Based Practices in the Community: A LENA Start™ Example

*Marianne Elmquist, *Erin Lease, and Scott McConnell

  • Measuring and Evaluating Team-Based Problem Solving: A Means for Crossing the “Data Use” Chasm?

LeAnne Johnson, *Andrea Ford, *Maria Hugh, and *Brenna Rudolph

  • Developing a Prosocial Teacher Rating Scale for Universal Screening in Preschool and Kindergarten

Kristen Missall, Scott McConnell, Salloni Nanda, and Ellina Xiong

  • Investigating the Psychometric and Content Characteristics of Common Items Across Languages: Spanish and English Picture Naming Early Literacy Assessments

*Qinjun Wang, *Jose Palma, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, and Michael Rodriquez

  • Investigating the Relationship between Performance Variation in an Early Comprehension Task and Student Demographic Background

*Kelsey Will, *Qinjun Wang, *Erin Lease, and Alisha Wackerle-Hollman

  • Measuring Child Engagement: What’s in a Definition?

Veronica Fleury, *Pang Xiong, *Maria Hugh, and *Andrea Ford

  • What’s in a Name: Exploring Children’s Alternate Responses to Picture Naming

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, Robin Hojnoski, Kristen Missall, Scott McConnell, Elizabeth Boyd, and Sana Hussein

  • Translating Evidence-Based Practices into Routine Practices with Young Children with Autism

*Andrea Ford, LeAnne Johnson, and Veronica Fleury

  • Measuring and Defining Engagement for Young Children with Developmental Disabilities During Free Play: A Systematic Review.

*Maria Hugh, Veronica Fleury, and LeAnne Johnson

  • Online Learning Environments for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A statewide perspective on implications and issues for early identification and service delivery.

*Maci Spica and LeAnne Johnson

  • Progress Monitoring in Early Childhood Special Education: In Search of Current Trends & Future Needs

*Brenna Rudolph & *Maria Hugh

Panel presentations

  • Child Engagement: Defining, Measuring, Analyzing, and Other Issues of the Chicken and Egg Sort

LeAnne Johnson, Robin McWilliam, and Kevin Sutherland

  • Battling Pseudoscientific approaches to “Treating” Autism: The Role of the Research Scientist

Veronica Fleury, Ilene Schwartz, and Elizabeth Pokorski

  • How long Do We Have? Speeding Development and Deployment of Meaningful Solutions

Scott McConnell, Charles Greenwood, Jomella Thompson-Watson

  • Classroom Quality for Dual Language Learners and the Relationship to Growth in English and Spanish

Lillian Duran, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, and Maria Cristina Limlingan


*Denotes current or past student

Bolded names denote Educational Psychology faculty, staff or researchers

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.

ACT prep program, Davenport featured in MN Daily

Ernest Davenport

In 1991, Ernest Davenport, now an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Educational Psychology, started a free ACT prep program to help underrepresented high school students prepare for the ACT. Supported by grants and volunteers, the program is a partnership with the University of Minnesota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men.

27 years after founding the program, Davenport is stepping down from his leadership role, a transition that was highlighted in a recent article by the Minnesota DailyFraternity’s ACT prep program finds its footing. Davenport is confident that the program will continue without him. He told the Daily, “Many participants in the program end up leading it later on which is unique.”

Thank you, Dr. Davenport, for your continued work toward educational equity in our communities!

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.

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. 


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.



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

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. 



Kohli promoted to associate professor

Kohli poses with department chair, Geoffrey Maruyama, at the Board of Regents promotion ceremony.

Nidhi Kohli, Ph.D., in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program has been promoted by the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents to associate professor of educational psychology, effective fall 2017.

Dr. Kohli joined the Department of Educational Psychology in 2012, after doing a postdoctoral research fellowship at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute working with massive Electronic Health Record (EHR) data. Her research focuses on the development and improvement of statistical methods for analyzing educational, psychological, and—more generally—social and behavioral sciences data, particularly longitudinal (measures repeated on the same individuals over time) data.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Kohli on this tremendous accomplishment!

Kohli, colleagues receive grant for first treatment study of gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer

Nidhi Kohli headshot
Dr. Nidhi Kohli

While prostate cancer treatment can make sex more difficult for straight men, almost nothing is known about its effects on gay and bisexual men. Nidhi Kohli, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, is part of an interdisciplinary team that has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the effects of prostate cancer on the sex lives of gay and bisexual men. The goal of the project is to develop a rehabilitation program to help such men overcome these challenges and improve quality of life.

Kohli is co-investigator on the grant and will lead the quantitative methodology for the study, Restore. Specifically, she will be in charge of all data management, including analyses of research hypotheses. The group includes colleagues from the School of Public Health, Medical School, School of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts, and College of Science and Engineering.

“Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among all men including homosexual men. I am very excited to contribute and learn from this large-scale study that will involve developing and evaluating the effects of a rehabilitation program via randomized clinical trial,” Kohli says. “The study has the potential to make a difference in the quality of life of gay and bisexual men who have been treated for prostate cancer, and this gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

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.

Elsevier Connect features students’ article on effects of school sport participation on academic, social functioning

Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) members. Top (L-R): Carlos Chavez, Wei Song, Jose Palma, Kory Vue, and Rik Lamm. Bottom (L-R): Mireya Smith, Michael Rodriguez, Youngsoon Kang and Özge Erşan

Recently, Elsevier Connect highlighted research conducted by students in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. The article, “The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning,” was one of three featured in the piece, “Thriving or surviving? Taking a wide angle on mental health.”1 According to the Elsevier Connect, this free article collection explored what’s behind good mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week.

The study

The students examined 2010 Minnesota Student Survey data and found 12th graders who participated in sports had higher GPAs, more favorable perceptions of school safety, and increased perceptions of family and teacher/community support. Psychological foundations of education student (now alumni), Martin Van Boekel, led the project. Quantitative methods in education students, Luke Stanke, Jose R. Palma Zamora, Yoojeong Jang, Youngsoon Kang, and Kyle Nickodem collaborated with Van Boekel on the study. Okan Bulut, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation (CRAME) at the University of Alberta, helped guide the students’ work. 

The Minnesota Youth Development Research Group

The researchers met and began work on the project through the Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) which is led by Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. MYDRG explores methodological and substantive challenges in youth development through positive psychology, ecological perspectives of youth development, and the translation of research to practice.

More information

Read the Elsevier Connect piece.

Read the full study, “The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning.”

  1. Van Boekel, Martin, Bulut, Okan, Stanke, Luke, Palma Zamora, Jose R., Jang, Yoojeong, Kang, Youngsoon, Nickodem, Kyle. (2017). The effects of participation in school sports on academic and social functioning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 46, September–October 2016, 31–40. doi: /10.1016/j.appdev.2016.05.002

Psych foundations, QME students recognized for their contributions

L-R: Yadira Peralta Torres, Jonathan Brown, Kyle Nickodem, Kelsey Will (not pictured: Nic VanMeerten and Reese Butterfuss)

On May 4, 2017, psychological foundations of education students: Reese Butterfuss, Nic VanMeerten, and Kelsey Will,  along with quantitative methods in education students: Jonathan Brown, Kyle Nickodem, and Yadira Peralta Torres were awarded for their contributions to each program at the annual Psych Foundations and QME Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

Psychological foundations of education awards:

Reese Butterfuss has been awarded the 2016-17 Research Award for the psych foundations program. He is gradually developing a research program on the role of higher-order cognition in knowledge revision, with a current focus on the role of executive functions. Since joining the graduate program in 2015, Reese has co-authored three journal papers, has one more under review, and is preparing another two for submission. He has already presented 17 papers at professional conferences and will be presenting another three later this year.

Nic VanMeerten is 2016-17 Leadership Award recipient. As a third year graduate student in the Department of Educational Psychology, Nic continually shows leadership in his efforts to better the department, university, and Twin Cities community. He is the elected student representative for the psych foundations program and is an advocate for graduate students’ perspectives and ideas. Additionally, Nic co-founded GLITCH, a non-profit organization to support game designers and individuals interested in game based learning.

Kelsey Will received the 2016-17 Teaching Award for her work on developing a new undergraduate course, EPSY 1281 – Applied Psychological Science. She taught one lab section in both fall and spring semesters this year. Kelsey introduced many creative ways to engage and motivate students while working with a team of teaching assistants and the course instructor.

Quantitative methods in education awards:

Jonathan Brown has been awarded the 2016-17 Teaching Award.  Since beginning the QME program, Jonathan has taught and developed curricular material for both the Introductory and Intermediate Statistical Methods courses for Master’s-level students. Students appreciate Jonathan’s teaching as he earns average course evaluation ratings of 5.6 or higher on a 6-point scale.  In the summer of 2016, Jonathan developed and taught a section of the Introductory Statistical Methods course for the OLPD Executive Ph.D. cohort.

For a second time, Kyle Nickodem was awarded the  Leadership Award for his leadership in the program and department.  Through his work with the Educational Equity Resource Center and the Campbell Leadership Chair, he has made important contributions to schools, school leaders, and education communities regarding data and assessment literacy. In addition, he has contributed to presentations and presented to the University of Minnesota Principals’ Academy, Generation Next, the Minnesota Assessment Group, and a number of school districts across the state.

Yadira Peralta Torres received the 2016-17 Research Award.  She has made numerous contributions to the field. Since 2016, she  published or has in press four papers, including The American Statistician and  Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods. Also, she has three papers under review (two of which she is first author for), is preparing two others for submission to a journal, and has presented or co-presented eight papers (three as first author) at national and regional conferences. Yadira has also developed a research program focusing on improving analyses of student growth, which is the basis of her dissertation.



Instructor profile: Elizabeth Fry, QME teaching specialist, Ph.D. student

The best teachers are perpetual students, and Elizabeth Fry is both. A teaching specialist in the quantitative methods in education program, Fry is pursuing her Ph.D. with the goal of improving the way statistics is taught through research. She teaches EPSY 5261–Introductory Statistical Methods and EPSY 5262–Intermediate Statistical Methods, and has co-taught EPSY 5271–Becoming a Teacher of Statistics.

But Fry didn’t always see herself in a teaching role.

“I got my master’s in statistics at Ohio state, originally with the intention of getting a Ph.D. I really enjoyed the first courses and my experience as a teaching assistant.” She continues, “When I got to my higher level courses, I didn’t like the research in statistics as much. I realized that what I’m really interested in is how my students learn better and what I can do to help them.”

Fry says the most exciting part of her work is seeing students understand complex concepts.

“I know it’s cliche, but I really enjoy when students have those ‘aha’ moments when I try to explain something that’s confusing and then they get it,” she explains. “One thing I really enjoy teaching is simulation based methods.”

When talking with prospective students, Fry shares how she’s found a community of like-minded colleagues and friends in the the Department of Educational Psychology.

“The community here is very collaborative. When I came here, I noticed that students wanted to help each other. It’s not competitive at all.” She continues, “Sometimes we have happy hours. My first year, my classmates and I would get together in study groups. It almost feels like a family. I like that part of this program.” Fry says.

Fry also shares the uniqueness of the statistics education track in the quantitative methods of education program.

“The statistics education track here is very unique. When I applied, it was the only one in the country. I really enjoy it and hope we can draw more students.”

When she finds free time, Elizabeth enjoys working on home improvement projects, painting, crocheting, and taking walks around Minneapolis parks when it’s nice out.

McComas named CEHD President’s Community Engaged Scholar

Jennifer McComas with award
Jennifer McComas with the award presented to her on March 30

Jennifer McComas, associate chair and special education professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, is the CEHD nominee for this year’s President’s Community Engaged Scholar award. This award recognizes  faculty involvement in public service and encourages and emphasizes civic engagement as a permanent priority of the College of Education and Human Development.

McComas was recognized on March 30 in a University-wide ceremony hosted by the Office for Public Engagement and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.

“Jennifer is highly deserving of the award,” says Department of Educational Psychology chair, Geoffrey Maruyama. “She has worked over the past decade in Minneapolis Public Schools, first in North Minneapolis, then with Anishinabe Academy, and recently, she added tele-health research to connect with rural communities,” says Maruyama. “These and other projects reflect her deep commitment to engaged research and to doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Please join us in congratulating Professor McComas on this tremendous accomplishment!

CEHD experts quoted in MinnPost on use of student data

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.”

Read the full article.