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.
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).
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:
To provide a transformative student experience for success in a global society.
To intensify efforts to be a diverse, inclusive, and equitable college.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
“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!
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.”
“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.
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!
Walking into Andrew Zieffler’s office, I can’t help but wonder about the signed Dawson’s Creek posters on his wall, “What’s the story behind those?” I ask. “Back when I was teaching high school math, talking about Dawson’s Creek was a way to connect with my students.” Zieffler explains. “And over time, I became a fan of the show.”
Zieffler didn’t always see teaching as his calling. “My dad was a high school math teacher,” he says. “It was the one thing I didn’t want to do.”
Starting out as an undergraduate, Zieffler planned to become an engineer but ended up changing his major seven times. “I was history major for awhile, a German major for awhile. I was going get a degree in math but got talked into also majoring in education,” he recalls.
After graduation, Zieffler taught AP statistics and various math courses in a high school for four years. “I enjoyed teaching high school a lot,” he says. “The teaching, coaching, and getting to know kids was great.”
Four years into teaching, Zieffler began looking for a new challenge. Initially, he wanted to study math history at Brown—that is until he met professor of educational psychology, Joan Garfield. On a whim, Zieffler drove down from St. Cloud to visit the College of Liberal Art’s Math Department. When he mentioned his interest in statistics education, they referred him to Garfield.
Garfield was the mastermind behind the statistics education track in the quantitative methods in education program, and her passion inspired Zieffler to choose another path. “Joan and I talked for what must have been three hours, and my back-up school suddenly became my first choice,” he says.
Zieffler graduated with his Ph.D. in educational psychology. Now a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Quantitative Methods in Education program, he teaches graduate level courses in statistics. Zieffler also oversees a group of graduate students who teach an undergraduate Basic and Applied Statistics course. “I work with graduate students to teach and write curriculum based on what we know about how people learn statistics,” he says.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Zieffler conducts research and outreach in over a dozen area schools where he leads the College in the Schools (CIS) program for statistics. CIS is a nationally accredited program that brings U of M faculty together with high school teachers to offer University courses in high schools.
“Most mathematics teachers have only had one or two college courses in statistics, and they’ve never had classes in pedagogy,” Zieffler says. As part of the program, he and his students study teachers’ understanding of different concepts in statistics and how it affects student learning. From there, they make recommendations for teacher professional development.
Just as Dawson’s Creek grew on him, so did teaching. “The most exciting part about of what I do is working with students,” he says. “It’s fun to see them grow and make connections between different concepts to solve problems.”
Many prospective students feel a twinge of anxiety when they think of taking the Graduate Record Examination, otherwise known as the GRE. That’s why the College or Education and Human Development asked QME professor Michael Rodriguez to provide some insight for people preparing to take the GRE and to answer the frequently asked questions about the test. Read more.
Opportunity gaps among children in our society are growing, and part of the problem is how we assess and educate them. 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’s quantitative methods in education program, is being featured in this year’s Driven to Discover campaign for his work to close these gaps by helping schools understand how to work with diverse students, families, and communities. View the campaign.
Established in 1987, the mission of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards is to advance the quality of teaching and learning by: (1) maintaining high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; (2) providing a national voluntary system certifying teachers who meet these standards; and (3) advocating related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers.
Recently, three faculty members from the Department of Educational Psychology were honored with endowed chairs and professorships. These appointments— awarded over a period of three years— recognize the professors’ professional achievements and the impact of their work.
Dr. Clayton Cook (school psychology) is the first-ever John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing. Dr. Panayiota Kendeou (psychological foundations of education) holds the Guy Bond Chair in Reading, and Dr. Michael Rodriguez (quantitative methods in education) will continue in his role as Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development. Please join us in congratulating them on their excellent contributions!
Faculty members in the Department of Educational Psychology hold a total of seven active endowed chairs and professorships.