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.
Annie Hansen-Burke realized her interest in supporting students when she was in high school. She pursued degrees in social work and psychology at Briar Cliff University, and wasn’t sure which path she would pursue. During her senior year, she reflected on her interests.
“I wanted to know how I could help make sure kids were not falling through the cracks, give support to those that were at risk for not completing school, and create a welcoming, healthy school climate. When I did an online search for those interests, school psychology kept coming up.,” Hansen-Burke says.
Her search for school psychology programs led her to the University of Minnesota to earn her Ph.D. At the time, Sandra Christenson was working with Check and Connect, an intervention program used with K-12 students who show warning signs of disengagement with school and who are at risk of dropping out.
“I came to the University of Minnesota largely because of Dr. Christenson. One of the elements [of her work] that appealed to me was building relationships with kids and removing barriers for them to be able to complete school.”
Now, Hansen-Burke aims to be a role model for other students. She teaches classes and coordinates fieldwork for the school psychology program.
“Working with graduate students is amazing. They bring so much energy into their work, and the level of commitment and creativity I see from them is inspiring. As a supervisor, it keeps me on top of my game because I have to be a good role model for them.”
She continues, “I’m also excited about the intellectual environment in this field. The amount that there is to know—what currently exists and what hasn’t been discovered—is thrilling to me. My learning curve has never really flattened out.”
One of Hansen-Burke’s current projects is with School Psychology Embedded Teams, working to solve the challenge of bringing school psychologists to fill the need in our school systems, while giving students the experience they need to graduate under APA guidelines.
The embedded teams model allows students to participate multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), a model of practice that relies on multiple tiers of instruction that work together to prevent school failure. MTSS includes assessments, evidence-based instruction, interventions, and data-based decision making.
As an alumna and instructor of the school psychology program, Hansen-Burke wants prospective students to know how they can benefit from the University of Minnesota.
“We pride ourselves on being thought leaders in the field of school psychology, and the faculty is awesome. They’re young, productive, and creative researchers. It’s exciting to be in this environment, both as a co-worker and a student.”
She adds, “Our dual emphasis on research-based practice and MTSS is our calling card. For people who value research and want to change systemic outcomes for kids, this is where you want to be doing it.”
Outside of school psychology, Annie considers herself a podcast aficionado and listens to about 30 different podcasts. She also has 5-year-old twins (boy and girl) who keep her busy.
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 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!
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.
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.
The article discusses the emotional effects the Powerball jackpot might have on the winner, questioning if money can buy happiness.
Cook told Boston Globe, “Happiness is a byproduct of the meaning and purpose one derives from life. If one spends their wealth on doing good deeds for others or the environment or supporting a noble cause, then boosts in happiness appear to be stronger and last longer.”
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.
“Our IGDILab team is pleased to partner with SPPS on such an important venture. We jointly recognize the importance of Hmong language development to the local community and look forward to learning how early language development affects young Hmong-English bilingual students’ language and literacy development,” said McConnell.
Wackerle-Hollman and Erickson will co-lead the project, focusing on the community’s expertise in Hmong language to understand how the language develops. St Paul is home to the largest urban Hmong population in the nation and nearly a quarter of enrolled SPPS students are Hmong. They’ll use these findings to develop a Hmong language version of the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs)—brief, easy to use measures of early language and literacy designed for use with preschool children. The new measures will be used by educators to assess Hmong preschool children’s early language and literacy skills.
“IGDILab continues to pursue the development of meaningful measures for communities that are underserved, including bilingual students,” said Wackerle-Hollman. “This began with early language and literacy measures for Spanish-speaking students and continues through our partnership with St. Paul public schools to develop high quality measures for Hmong students.”
IGDILab is a research lab at the University of Minnesota led by Wackerle-Hollman and McConnell. The lab researches, designs, and tests IGDI measures to support data-based decision making by teachers, early childhood professionals, parents, and others to help improve early childhood outcomes. IGDILab has secured over $5 million in funding in the past decade to pursue complementary research including the assessment of English and Spanish language and early literacy development for children three, four, and five years of age as well as supporting resources to facilitate data-based decisions using scores derived from IGDIs.
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.
On May 23, 2017, students, staff, faculty, and alumni gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the school psychology program at an annual recognition ceremony. Dr. Sandy Christenson, alumna and emeritus professor, was honored as the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
Other school psychology students, faculty, and instructors awarded throughout the year:
Codding, R. S., VanDerHeyden, A. M., Martin, R. J., Desai, S., Allard, N., & Perrault, L. (2016). Manipulating treatment dose: Evaluating the frequency of a small group intervention targeting whole number operations.
Sydney Carlson, a senior majoring in child psychology in the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded a Fulbright-related U.S. teaching assistantship by the Austrian government.
Carlson is among 13 students and alumni from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to be awarded a Fulbright grant during the 2017-18 academic year.
Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946 to promote international good will through the exchange of students and scholars. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries.
Annie Hansen-Burke, senior lecturer and field placement coordinator in school psychology program and LeAnne Johnson, assistant professor in the special education program and coordinator for the early childhood special education (ECSE) licensure and M.Ed. program, were recently honored by Council of Graduate Students with 2016-2017 Outstanding Advising and Mentoring Awards.
During a May 1 awards and recognition ceremony at Coffman Memorial Union, the following student comments were shared.
“Dr. Annie Hansen-Burke is someone all students in our program feel comfortable talking to. She is someone I have scheduled an appointment with just to talk about my professional goals, issues with the program, or my insecurities and deepest concerns. Everything that is communicated to her is said in confidence, and she responds with the utmost care and support.”
“…An outstanding advisor and mentor listens and guides; educates and cares about the mentee professionally and personally; is accessible as both a resource and sounding board; provides specific and positive support that includes constructive criticism; and is a well-respected and successful contributing member to his/her field…Dr. Johnson embodies each of these qualities.”
The Council of Graduate Students (COGS) recognizes faculty members for their exceptional contributions to graduate education. Only COGS awards express the appreciation of the graduate student body. The awards are created, nominations made, and winners selected by graduate students. The Outstanding Advising and Mentoring Award is co-sponsored by the Council of Graduate Students and the Student Conflict Resolution Center.
Congratulations to Dr. Johnson and Dr. Hansen-Burke on their well-deserved awards!
On April 24, CEHD hosted the annual Spring Assembly and Recognition Ceremony to recognize members of the university for their distinguished service and leadership. This year, the Department of Educational Psychology’s Annie Hansen-Burke, Sarah Jergenson, and Nicolaas VanMeerten were award recipients.
Annie Hansen-Burke, senior lecturer and field placement coordinator in the school psychology program was recognized with the Distinguished Teaching Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by a college faculty member who enhances learning through classroom and/or field-based teaching, student advising, and academic innovations.
The Civil Service/Bargaining Unit Innovative Ideas Award was given to Sarah Jergenson, communications associate and content strategist for the department. The award recognizes civil service/bargaining unit employees who have made an impact in CEHD by creating, suggesting and implementing an innovative change strategy which resulted in a measurable benefit to the college.
Psychological foundations of education Ph.D. student, Nicolaas VanMeerten was awarded the Outstanding Student Leadership Graduate Award. This award recognizes undergraduate and graduate students for exceptional leadership and/or service contributions to the CEHD, the University community, and the surrounding community.
Congratulations to all of our award-winning department members!
“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!
A second year Ph.D. student in school psychology, Aria Fiat received her B.S. in Education & Social Policy from Northwestern University, where she co-founded and co-lead Supplies for Dreams, a non-profit that provides educational enrichment to economically disadvantaged students in Chicago. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a research coordinator studying risk and resilience in homeless and highly mobile children, and spent a year teaching English in France through the Fulbright Scholars program. Fiat’s research interests include: school mental health, social-emotional learning, positive psychological interventions, school climate, and promoting teacher resilience.
A third year Ph.D. student in school psychology and co-president of theschool psychology student association (SPSA), Jordan Thayer earned his B.A. from Black Hills State University in South Dakota where he majored in psychology with an emphasis in industrial/organizational and minor in music. Thayer spent two years working, teaching, and studying education policy before deciding to turn his attention to helping youth in schools. His research interests include: improving behavior problems, particularly those resulting from a lack of engagement and motivation; understanding motivation; low-cost intervention development and implementation, particularly for students with comorbid academic and behavior problems; administrators’ roles in implementation; policy advocacy; and international school psychology.
SASP is currently the only student-led organization within the discipline of school psychology, representing hundreds of graduate students nation-wide. The organization is committed to upholding general standards set by APA, including promotion and maintenance of highly effective training programs, implementation of evidence-based academic and mental health health practices in schools, and adhering to ethical guidelines and expectations for culturally-competent practice.
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.
“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.
In the article, Cook discusses some of the research-driven programs he’s helped implement in schools that have reduced rates of mental illness among students.
“It’s a much more costly approach to wait until mental health problems arise and then have to organize individual treatments for the 30 percent of kids in the school with mental health needs,” he told MinnPost. “If you can improve the overall environment to address all of your students’ needs, fewer are going to need individual treatment in the first place.”
Cook also shared his own struggles, growing up without advantages most kids take for granted. “My childhood experiences gave me an interest in the discipline and structure of school and how we harness those benefits to help kids by promoting their mental health while they are at school,” Cook said.
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.