Category Archives: Research

Kincade named finalist in CEHD 3-Minute Thesis competition

Laurie Kincade head shot
Laurie Kincade

Laurie Kincade, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program,  will be competing with seven doctoral students from across the college in this year’s 3-Minute Thesis (3MT). Kincade’s thesis focuses on “The Impact of the Student-Teacher Relationship for English Language Learners.” The event takes place March 28 from 10-11 a.m. in McNamara Alumni Center’s Johnson Room. First prize is a $300 award, and prizes of $250 will go to the runner-up and people’s choice. The finalists were chosen from a preliminary round competition held last week.

3MT is an annual competition held in over 200 universities worldwide. It’s designed to challenge Ph.D. students to present their research in just three minutes in an engaging format that can be understood by an audience with no background in their discipline. The competition is intended to help students develop a presentation on their research and hone their academic communication skills to explain their work effectively to a general audience.

Judges in the CEHD competition are Karen Kaler, University Associate; Mary Tjosovold, local entrepreneur, author, and humanitarian, and CEHD alumna; and Dr. John Wright, professor of African-American and African Studies in the College of Liberal Arts.

Psych Foundations undergraduate researchers to train with AERA

Two undergraduate students conducting research with Department of Educational Psychology faculty members in the psychological foundations of education program have been invited to participate in an Undergraduate Student Education Research Training Workshop put on by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

  • Drake Bauer is an undergraduate student majoring in life sciences and psychology. Bauer works with two psychological foundations of education faculty members, Sashank Varma in the Cognitive Architecture Lab and Keisha Varma in the STEM Thinking, Reasoning, & Learning Lab.
  • Nikita Salovich, an undergraduate majoring in psychology, works with Panayiota Kendeou—also a faculty member in psychological foundations of education—in the Reading & Language Lab.

Bauer and Salovich will attend the AERA workshop, April 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas. This workshop, led by early career and senior scholars, will give the students an overview of how education research is designed across disciplines, how quantitative and qualitative research methods are used in studies, and how research is applied to education policy and practice. Bauer and Salovich were selected for the workshop based on their strong academic performance, research skills and experience, and potential to contribute to the education research field.

The AERA Undergraduate Student Education Research Training Workshop is part of the 2017 AERA Annual Meeting. Leading researchers and scholars provide guidance to undergraduates as they learn about research. Attendees participate in focused lectures and discussions about education research and attend some general Annual Meeting activities.

Students present research at 2017 GSRD

The 17th Annual Educational Psychology Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) was held on March 3, 2017 to celebrate outstanding student accomplishments. The annual event provides a format for graduate students to present their research and to be recognized by peers and faculty.

The presentations took place in the Mississippi Room in Coffman Memorial Union and featured presentations by six students on their research papers and 34 posters on display with students available for Q&A sessions. Faculty and peers were able to walk around and learn more about the variety of research taking place within the department.

GSRD is a well-attended and well-recognized event at the University of Minnesota and the Department of Educational Psychology continues to be pleased with the excellent work students produce on their research accomplishments.

Varma, student present research on the origins of numerical abilities to Royal Society

Sashank Varma, associate professor and coordinator for the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, and doctoral student, Soo-hyun Im, recently traveled to London for the Royal Society Meeting on the Origins of Numerical Abilities, a scientific discussion about how when humans acquire numerical competence, we build upon an inherited cognitive foundation. At the meeting, Varma and Im presented their research projects entitled Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement in college students1 and From number sense to arithmetic sense: A theoretical and empirical synthesis.2

Co-authors of Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement include: Purav Patel, a doctoral student in psychological foundations of education and Rachel Voit, a Macalester College student at the time of data collection and now a masters student in social work.

The Royal Society is a fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

  1.  Varma, S., Voit, R., Im, S.-h., & Patel, P. J. (2017, February). Mathematical insight predicts mathematical achievement in college students. Poster presented at the Royal Society Meeting on The Origins of Numerical Abilities, London, UK.
  1. Im, S.-h., & Varma, S. (2017, February). From number sense to arithmetic sense: A theoretical and empirical synthesis. Poster presented at the Royal Society Meeting on The Origins of Numerical Abilities, London, UK.

Codding, colleagues honored for article on frequency of math interventions

Robin Codding headshot
Robin Codding

Robin Codding, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, and her co-authors on the paper “Manipulating Treatment Dose: Evaluating the Frequency of a Small Group Intervention Targeting Whole Number Operations,” are being honored with a Samuel A. Kirk Award by Learning Disabilities Research & Practice (LDRP).

The Samuel A. Kirk Award is overseen by the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD’s) Publications Committee, is given occasionally, and recognizes excellence in professional journal articles that have been published in LDRP.

The paper examined treatment dose of small-group mathematics interventions, comparing the frequency with which these interventions were delivered weekly (i.e., four times, twice, once) with a control condition while controlling for total duration. Results suggested that for the most proximal computation measure, treatment sessions occurring four times weekly produced clear benefits. On the application measure, students in all treatment groups outperformed students in the control condition. For the most complex computation measure, frequency was not a useful predictor. Grade was a moderating variable.

Codding and her co-authors will receive their award at the Special Education Convention & Expo, April 19-22 in Boston, MA.

Wolff, Elison part of team identifying autism biomarkers in infancy

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in infants with older siblings with autism, researchers from around the country, including the University of Minnesota (UMN), were able to predict which infants would later meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at two years of age, with 80 percent accuracy.

Jed Elison, Ph.D. and Jason Wolff, Ph.D.

“This area of research is incredibly exciting because it provides an opportunity to understand how autism unfolds early in life,” said Jason Wolff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in educational psychology at UMN and a study co-author. “It provides new clues about the timing and specific mechanisms of brain development that precede a diagnosis. It also offers the unprecedented possibility of predicting whether or not a child will develop autism based on neurobiological data.”

“Typically, the earliest an autism diagnosis can be made is between ages two and three. But for babies with older autistic siblings, our imaging approach may help predict during the first year of life which babies are most likely to receive an autism diagnosis at 24 months,” said senior author Joseph Piven, M.D., the Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

This research project included hundreds of children from across the country and was led by researchers at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at the University of North Carolina (UNC). The project’s other clinical sites included the University of Washington, Washington University in St. Louis, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, other key collaborators are McGill University, the University of Alberta, the College of Charleston, and New York University (see ibisnetwork.org for more information.)

For this study, published today in Nature, the team of researchers conducted MRI scans of infants at six, 12 and 24 months of age. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion of brain surface area from six to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of the condition at 24 months of age. Increased growth rate of surface area in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of overall brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.

The researchers then took these data – MRIs of brain volume, surface area, cortical thickness at 6 and 12 months of age, and sex of the infants – and used a computer program to identify a way to classify babies most likely to meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age. The computer program developed the best algorithm to accomplish this, and the researchers applied the algorithm to a separate set of study participants.

The researchers found that brain differences at 6 and 12 months of age in infants with older siblings with autism correctly predicted eight out of 10 infants who would later meet criteria for autism at 24 months of age in comparison to those infants with older ASD siblings who did not meet criteria for autism at 24 months.

According to the researchers, the findings may have implications for early detection and intervention in children who have older siblings with autism before a diagnosis is typically established. Diagnosis of ASD typically occurs after 24 months of age, the earliest time when behavioral characteristics of ASD can be observed. Intervening early could lead to improved outcomes, as the brain is more malleable in the first years of life compared with later in childhood.

“The findings lay the foundation for the field to move toward attempting to implement interventions before the symptoms that define autism consolidate into a diagnosis,” said study co-author Jed Elison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UMN Institute of Child Development.

“Much of what we do as a field to help individuals with autism is reactive,” Wolff said. “We wait for children to fall behind before providing an intervention. We may now be able to find ways to prevent that from ever happening.”

The National Institutes of Health funded this study.

See media coverage of this story in the Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio, KARE TV, WCCO TV, and KMSP TV.

Sullivan helps MAP Equity Assistance Center provide schools with professional development, technical assistance

Amanda Sullivan

Amanda Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, is one of several Equity Fellows assisting the new Midwest and Plans (MAP) Equity Assistance Center in providing professional development and technical assistance to regional school systems.

The MAP Center was recently awarded a five year grant by the U.S. Department of Education to assist with desegregation and other civil rights issues in public schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Sullivan will contribute to the development of MAP products and services to facilitate implementation of culturally appropriate multitier systems of support for students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral development.

“I’m excited to partner with the MAP Center to support schools’ efforts to create equitable systems and support the learning and wellbeing of all learners,” she says. “This is as important now as it’s ever been and with the MAP center, we have a great opportunity to develop tools tailored to our local communities.”

Trevors’ research mentioned in “Learning from Donald Trump’s new rules”

Dr. Gregory Trevors

Dr. Gregory Trevors, post doctoral fellow in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program and the Reading & Language Lab, was recently mentioned the Globe and Mail article, “Learning from Donald Trump’s new rules.” The article argues, “while leaders in the political arena and outside have followed certain time-honored rules for handling controversy and scandals… Trump has not” and shares five “new rules” based on his behavior.

Specifically in Rule 3 of the article, “Persuading people with facts may not work,” Globe and Mail argues that “facts failed to stop” Trump from winning the presidency. The publication supports this argument with Trevors’ research on how new information can threaten its recipients’ sense of identity. Originally covered by the British Psychological Research Society’s Digest, Trevors’ research shows that new information can trigger negative emotions, which impair the understanding and digestion of written information.

Learn more about research being done in the Reading & Language Lab.

Kendeou presents at symposium on reducing impact of misinformation, fake news

Dr. Panayiota Kendeou

Panayiota Kendeou, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Psychological Foundations of Education program, recently traveled to Sydney, Australia, to present her work on the 12th biennial meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC). Kendeou was part of a featured symposium–organized by two world-renowned experts on misinformation,  Ullrich Ecker (The University of Western Australia) and Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol)–on research advances that reduce the impact of misinformation and fake news. At the event, Kendeou presented her work on the conditions that promote successful change of pre-existing beliefs in the context of her Knowledge Revision Components framework (KReC; Kendeou & O’Brien, 2014).

Dedicated to encouraging and promoting quality scientific research in applied domains, the SARMAC’s purpose is to enhance collaboration and co-operation between basic and applied researchers in memory and cognition.

Learn more about this and other work conducted in Kendeou’s Reading & Language lab.

Christ’s CBM of oral reading article named one of five most cited in Journal of School Psychology

Dr. Theodore J. Christ

Theodore J. Christ, director of CAREI and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, was recently recognized by the editors of the Journal of School Psychology for a paper he and his students published in 2013. The article, “Curriculum-Based Measurement of Oral Reading: Multi-study evaluation of schedule, duration, and dataset quality on progress monitoring outcomes,” was named one of the top five most cited works in the Journal of School Psychology in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

View the award by the Journal of School Psychology

Psych foundations students to present at annual AERA meeting

Psychological foundations of education students, Kelsey Will, Reese Butterfuss, Bader Moshen, and Nic VanMeerten—as well as post-doctoral researcher Gregory Trevors—will present at the 2017 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting April 27-May 1. The theme of this year’s event is Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity. Presentation topics will include:

  • “Reducing Interference from Misconceptions: The Role of Inhibition in Knowledge Revision,” Reese Butterfuss
  • “Exploring Student Engagement in an Augmented Reality Game,” Nic VanMeerten
  • “The Role of Quality Explanations in Knowledge Revision,” Kelsey Will
  • “Refuting vaccine misconceptions,” Gregory Trevors

Learn more about AERA’s Annual Meeting.

 

Jitendra keynotes Specific Learning Disabilities conference in India

Asha Jitendra headshot
Asha Jitendra

Asha Jitendra, Rodney Wallace Professor for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning in in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, delivered a keynote speech at this year’s Specific Learning Disabilities Conference on December 2 at the Maliya Aditi International School in Bangalore, India.

Jitendra’s keynote, “Effective practices that accommodate diverse learners: Research to practice,” presented effective instructional strategies for enhancing the academic performance.

Prior to the conference, Jitendra led a workshop on “Helping teachers teach elementary students word problem solving using schema-based instruction.” The goal of the workshop was to equip elementary school teachers with effective instructional strategies for teaching mathematics to children with learning problems.

In addition to delivering the keynote and leading the pre-conference workshop, Jitendra also hosted two breakout sessions at the event. The first was “Big Ideas in Mathematics” and focused on developing big ideas in fractions and proportional reasoning to promote mathematical understanding. The second was called “Improving mathematical problem solving using strategy instruction.” In this session, Jitendra demonstrated how visual representations can help students focus on the relationship between quantities central to many mathematical problems.

This first-ever Specific Learning Disabilities Conference was a national event organized to address the need for greater awareness and understanding of Specific Learning Disabilities in India. The purpose of the conference was to: increase awareness of the nature of specific Learning Disabilities among middle and high school students; share subject specific classroom and home based strategies; discuss existing accommodations and accommodation pathways; examine existing policies and laws; and empower stakeholders to advocate for the rights of students with specific learning disabilities.

Learn more about Asha Jitendra’s research. 

Autism expertise leads to earlier diagnosis

Jason Wolff
Jason Wolff

Jason Wolff, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, and colleagues like Jed Elison, assistant professor in the Institute for Child Development, are trying to better understand the causes of autism spectrum disorder — to diagnose it at earlier stages when treatment is more effective and to anticipate needs for therapy and support in the larger community. Read more.

Debbie Golos: Improving Deaf Education Through Visual Learning

golosd_2016
Debbie Golos

When I taught reading and writing to sixth grade students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA, I began to notice a pattern that supported research I had previously read. My students who had parents who were deaf or hearing parents who signed fluently in American Sign Language (ASL) typically read on or above grade level, while those whose families had not signed with them from birth typically lagged behind. This observation made me want to investigate how we might better improve literacy development in young deaf children. Both my research and classroom experience supports an increasing body of research that indicates we can improve outcomes in deaf education through a visual-learning based approach. Read the full article.

Amanda Sullivan: Getting to the Bottom of Special Education Disparities

sullivana-2011
Amanda Sullivan

Continued efforts to improve educational equity in our school systems has led to taking a careful and measured look at special education disparities. When I did fieldwork at a school in Phoenix – a place with fairly substantial achievement gaps and stereotypical educational disparities – I noticed that the special education classroom had a higher proportion of minority students. I began to wonder why this was the case, and attempting to answer that question has spurred me to research this issue further here at the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD). Read the full article.

Jitendra, colleagues publish article in Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today

Asha Jitendra headshot
Asha Jitendra

Asha Jitendra, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program, and four of her Ph.D. students, Gena Nelson, Alison Kiss, Sandra Pulles, and James Houseworth, recently were published in the Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today publication. Their article, “Is mathematical representation of problems an evidence-based strategy for students with mathematics difficulties?” evaluates the quality of the research and evidence base for representation of problems (characters, images, or objects that symbolize an abstract idea) as a strategy to enhance the mathematical performance of students with learning disabilities and those at risk for math disabilities. Read the full article.

McConnell, Finestack awarded Grand Challenges Research grant

Scott McConnell, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s special education program and program coordinator for counseling and student personnel psychology is partnering with Liza Finestack, professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Language Sciences on a research project called “Reducing Early Language Disparities: A Key to Lifelong Academic, Socioeconomic, and Health Success.”

One of a select number of Grand Challenges Research projects funded by the University of Minnesota’s Provost’s Office, the grant will be used to expand existing research around the “word gap”—specifically the disparity that exists in the vocabulary of children born into low-income families and their more affluent peers by the age of three.

The intent is to develop at least three promising interdisciplinary research projects— each addressing unmet needs in early language development research— and to support new research teams exploring these frontiers.

This work will include the ongoing implementation and evaluation of LENA StartTM, a parent education program being offered by area Early Childhood Family Education programs and colleagues at Think Small. The Grand Challenge effort will build on and extend this work to other aspects of early language development and intervention.

Dr. Sashank Varma quoted in PBS’ NOVA NEXT on neuroeducation programs

Sashank Varma head shot
Dr. Sashank Varma

Dr. Sashank Varma, cognitive neuroscientist and associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s psychological foundations of education program, was recently interviewed by the PBS for its online publication NOVA NEXT.

According to the article, “Lack of Evidence Plagues Neuroeducation Programs,” neuroeducation programs are used in classrooms across the country to help ready children’s brains for learning. However, experts like Dr. Varma say there’s little evidence to prove that commercial programs work.

“Wrap an existing curriculum in neuroscience language and it gains instant credibility, despite a constant stream of warnings from scientists,” Varma told NOVA NEXT. “We’ve only just scratched the surface. We’re only just at the beginning of understanding the potentials and limits of how neuroscience informs education.”

Read the full article.

Kendeou on team awarded NSF grant to improve student learning in STEM

Dr. Panayiota Kendeou headshot
Dr. Panayiota Kendeou

Panayiota Kendeou, associate professor of educational psychology in the psychological foundations of education program, is part of a team of researchers who were recently awarded a three-year, $498,485 grant, funded through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program. The project, “Optimizing Testing Feedback for Improved Student Learning,” examines the role of testing feedback to promote and support learning in general chemistry and is led by Dr. Jamie Schneider, professor of chemistry and biotechnology at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Based on existing research in cognitive science, this National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will collect evidence on the effects of current practices of testing feedback on student learning. Various forms of feedback with a diverse set of student populations in the context of general chemistry will be examined. Findings from this work are expected to apply to general chemistry programs across the nation as well as more broadly to other STEM areas (physics, engineering, etc.) that also use complex content items in multiple-choice testing. Developing and using evidence-based strategies to enhance and support student learning is a critical step in producing a well-prepared and diverse STEM workforce.

Game Changer: Doctoral student Nic VanMeerten explores video games for the greater good

Nic_VanMeerten-blog-photoLike many 14-year-olds, Nic VanMeerten liked to play video games. Unlike most kids his age, he took things a step further. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and is currently investigating how people learn in video games and how this information can be used for the greater good—to make learning fun. Read More.