Category Archives: Research

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.

Fleury receives grant to develop reading intervention for preschoolers with autism

Veronica Fleury

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

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

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

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

Mark Davison

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

Read the full blog post.

Kohli, colleagues piecewise growth model published in Psychometrika

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

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

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

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

Read the full article (including citations).

Learn more about Dr. Kohli’s research. 

 

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

Asha Jitendra headshot
Asha Jitendra

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

Read the full article here.

 

Kendeou briefs congress on educational technology for teaching reasoning, reading skills

Panayiota Kendeou

On November 7, Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou, Guy Bond Chair in Reading and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, presented her research on “Educational Technology for Teaching Reasoning and Reading Skills in Education” to the United States Congress.

Kendeou was one of only five  Early Career Impact Award scientists nationwide invited by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Science (FABBS) to brief congress on their research—why it’s important, and how federal support has been instrumental in their careers so far.

Learn more about Dr. Kendeou’s research. 

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. 

McMaster delivers keynote at Korean Educational Psychology Association

McMaster delivers keynote at KEPA.

Kristen McMaster, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, keynoted the 50th anniversary conference of the Korean Educational Psychology Association (KEPA) on October 20. McMaster presented her research on “Using Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies to Promote Reading Achievement for Students at Risk.”

Congratulations to Dr. McMaster on this great honor!

McMaster, Shin, and Jung present research on data-based instruction at ICER in South Korea

Kristen McMaster, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, Jaehyun Shin, a postdoctoral fellow working with McMaster, and Pyung-Gang Jung, an alumna of the special education Ph.D. program now working at EWHA Womans University, presented at the International Conference for Learning Research (ICER) in Seoul, South Korea on October 19.

The three scholars shared their research around data-based instruction. McMaster presented her work “Using Data-Based Instruction (DBI) to Support Students’ Early Writing Development.”  Shin shared his meta-analysis on “Relations between CRM (Oral Reading and Maze) and Reading Comprehension on State Achievement Tests.” Finally, Jung discussed the results of her meta-analysis on the “Effects of Data-Based Instruction for Students with Intensive Learning Needs.”

The ICER is an international conference, organized by Education Research Institute at Seoul National University, held annually for the purpose of disseminating and supporting research in education as well as of building academic networks within the Asia-Pacific region. ICER has become a special venue for international academics to share educational research outcomes and to discuss core educational issues in the region. Since the year of 2000, more than 4,000 people from more than twenty countries have attended the event.

Cook, colleagues receive $2.8 million in grants to support teachers

Clayton Cook head shot
Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook, John W. and Nancy E. Peyton Faculty Fellow in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, and his colleagues from the University of Washington have recently been awarded two grants by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

The first, led by Cook, is a three-year, $1.4 million project entitled Development and Evaluation of the Beliefs and Attitudes for Successful Implementation in Schools for Teachers (BASIS-T). The goal of BASIS-T is to revise and refine a feasible and effective implementation enhancement intervention that helps motivate elementary school teachers to adopt and deliver evidence-based classroom practices (EBPs) with fidelity to better meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students.

The second, Cook is a co-project investigator on with a colleague from the University of Washington. The four-year, $1.4 million project, Development of RELATE (Relationships to Enhance Learners’ Adjustment to Transitions and Engagement), focuses on developing and testing an intervention that builds off Cook’s research on the Establish-Maintain-Restore approach to promote teacher-student relationships. Specifically, RELATE will be developed and pilot tested as a dropout prevention strategy for 9th grade students as they transition into high school—a critical transitional period that is associated with the greatest amount of students dropping out of school.

Congratulations to Dr. Cook and his colleagues on the recognition and support of this important work!

Kendeou gives plenary at SciX on science of debunking misconceptions

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.”

 

McComas to present on telehealth for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities at BABAT 2017

Jennifer McComas

Jennifer McComas, associate chair and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Rodney S. Wallace Professor for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, was invited to present at this year’s Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis (BABAT) Conference on October 13.

McComas will present research she conducted with Department of Educational Psychology Ph.D. student Brittany Pennington and alumni Jessica Simacek and Adele Dimian on “Functional Communication Training for Individuals with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Breaking Down Geographic Barriers with Videoconferencing Technology.”

McComas’ research is primarily focused on the influence of behavioral mechanisms and social context on severe problem behavior and academic difficulties and the acquisition and persistence of pro-social behavior. She is head of the special education emotional and behavioral disorders licensure and M.Ed. and is launching a new M.A. in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (A.B.A.) now open for applications for fall 2018.

The Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis (BABAT) Conference has been hosted at UMass (Amherst) every year for 30 years. The conference brings together professionals, teachers, students, and persons interested in the areas of behavior analysis, autism, developmental disabilities, ethics, behavioral medicine, staff development, and more. BABAT is an affiliated chapter of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts serve as a resource for behavior analysts and those interested in behavior analysis in the northeast region.

Rodriguez appointed chair of Department of Defense Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

Michael Rodriguez, Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, was recently appointed chair of the Department of Defense’s Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing. Rodriguez has been a member of the committee since 2012.

The Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing exists within the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. The committee’s duties vary over time, but the primary focus is on the design, development, and validation research of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and related tests, including non-cognitive assessments addressing readiness for military life.

According to Rodriguez, “These assessments serve important roles in the identification, selection, and placement of individuals interested in serving in any of the six branches of the military or seeking military careers.”

In addition to its work developing and evaluating tests for the armed services, the committee reviews the efforts of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program used by many high schools across the nation. The program provides free access to many resources for students, parents, and educators—including the aptitude test, interest assessment, and career exploration tools.

 

 

Vukovic presents research on math skills and attitudes of children with reading difficulties

Rose Vukovic

Rose Vukovic, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, was invited by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present her research on “Math Skills and Attitudes of Children with Reading Difficulties” at the STEM Education, Learning Disabilities, and the Science of Dyslexia conference in Washington, D.C. on September 26.

Following the conference, Vukovic was quoted in two articles by Education Week“Reading and Math: Two Sides of the Same Coin” and “Researchers Probe Connections between Math, Reading Research” on her research.

“When we say ‘learning disabilities’, we are mostly talking about reading,” Vukovic told Education Week. “We have to pay attention to other facets as well. We can’t do reading to the exclusion of everything else.”

This was the first ever STEM Education, Learning Disabilities, and the Science of Dyslexia conference. Hosted by the Instructional Research Group and supported by National Science Foundation researchers, the conference was started to help support the READ Act (Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act) which passed in  February 2016 to facilitate research on dyslexia. The aim of the conference is to encourage collaborations among researchers involved in dyslexia and learning disability research, especially those connected with science, engineering, mathematics, and technology.

 

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).

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.

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.”