Category Archives: FSoS Student News

McNair Program is launchpad for future scholars

Chen Vue discusses his research with guests at the McNair Program poster session and reception in August.

Family Social Science Senior Chen Vue drew from his own experience as a starting point on research that he hopes will help other students in his community make the leap to higher education.

A 2017 McNair program scholar, Vue, guided by his faculty mentor Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, a professor in the Department of Family Social Science, examined how much a parent’s involvement in their child’s school and at home influenced academic achievement and performance.

His project grew out of the challenges he overcame to attend the University of Minnesota.

“My research was about what predictors would engage parental involvement at home/school that would influence Hmong children’s academic performance,” says Vue. “I chose this topic because it connects to my story growing up as a low income immigrant student struggling in my academics. I want to use this research as a bridge not for myself but for others to follow into graduate school and research. I plan to continue to study parental involvement as I progress into graduate school.”

His research project included a review of current literature that suggested that homes where two parents are present, the degree of English fluency, the size of the family and the age of children all had an influence on academic performance, but results were inconclusive. Vue and his team worked with a Twin Cities elementary school and parents to conduct survey of 332 students. His research indicated parents’ engagement with their children’s school and teachers had a bigger impact than just their influence at home.

Senior Chen Vue and his faculty mentor, Dr. Zha Blong Xiong, professor of Family Social Science. Photo by Julie Michener.

“I believe Chen learned a lot during the summer about the research process, from creating a research question to selecting the appropriate variables for the analysis,” said Xiong. “Chen is such a brilliant, hardworking scholar. I was so glad to have the opportunity to mentor him. I have really enjoyed working with all the brilliant students in the McNair Scholars program.”

About the McNair program

Named for Physicist Ronald McNair, who was a member of NASA’s ill-fated Challenger space shuttle that exploded moments after liftoff in 1986, the McNair Scholars Program is among the educational opportunity TRIO programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education that help first generation college students with financial need, or those who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups.

The McNair prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities with the goal to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

Students receive financial support for a ten-week summer research apprenticeship that include weekly seminars that help them prepare for graduate school as well as year-round seminars and advising.

The program is administered at the University of Minnesota with support from the College of Education and Human Development, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Equity.

Students sharing South Korea experience

Three Family Social Science undergraduate students are among a College of Education and Human Development group exploring and blogging about South Korean culture, language, and education during a  study abroad course. Faculty leaders are CEHD Program Specialist Marina Aleixo and Dr. Catherine Solheim from FSoS (who joins the group August 12).

Nina Thao, Cathy Xiong, and Isabella Xiong will be sharing their experience as they examine the historical background of Korean education and its impact on current social, political and educational policies. They will return to the Twin Cities August 23.

Students pose for a photo during their South Korean study abroad experience.

Family Social Science grad students win national competition

Heather Hessel (left) pictured with Lynne Borden, head of FSoS. was also the recipient of a CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle scholarship. Photo by Julie Michener.

 

Heather Hessel and Kadie Ausherbauer, doctoral students in the Department of Family Social Science, won first place in the Doctoral Category of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2017 Student Ethics Competition.

“Being grounded in ethics and knowledgeable about ethical practices is essential to credible research and professional practice,” said Lynne Borden, head of the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. “These two young professionals are positive role models for our community and leaders of the future.”

Only in its second year, the competition is designed, according to AAMFT, to “foster an interest in ethical issues and enhance their ability to analyze and respond to the various ethics issues that they will undoubtedly encounter throughout their career.”

The ethics competition has two categories: one for Master’s and PDI students and one for Ph.D. students. Open to teams of two to three students at the same program level, the competition is unique because students do not know the exact case study on which they will be asked to respond until after they have registered. The “hypothetical scenario” is posted on the AAMFT’s website and students have six weeks to research, analyze, and write an essay.

“Our essay required that we research and discuss ethical codes, legal statutes, and commentaries on ethical issues,” said Hessel. “As is usually the case with ethics questions, there was quite a bit of “gray” area to debate between ourselves. We also selected and applied an established ethical decision-making model to the scenario, which helped us provide additional structure to our response.”

A fourth-year doctoral student, Hessel is working on a dissertation that explores how both noncollege and college-going emerging adults are using communication technology with extended family members.

Kadie Ausherbauer teamed up with Heather Hessel to win the national ethics competition sponsored by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

“I had a great time working on this project,” said Kadie Ausherbauer. “It was interesting to sift through areas where best practices didn’t correspond with specific ethical codes, so some things that initially seemed very problematic weren’t necessarily violations of the code of ethics. We applied the ethical decision making model to find ways that the hypothetical therapist could have prevented or improved the situation at different junctures in the process.”

Ausherbauer is a third year doctoral student whose research centers on development of self-regulation, early childhood trauma and micro-level behavioral analyses.

In addition to a cash prize, both Hessel and Ausherbauer were awarded complimentary registration, hotel accommodations and airfare to attend the AAMFT’s annual conference in Atlanta in October. Their winning essay will also be published on the AAMFT’s website and will be recognized in the organization’s publications and other communication channels.