Reese Butterfuss, a Ph.D. student in the psychological foundations of education program in the Department of Educational Psychology and a member of the Reading + Language Lab, has been awarded the 2018 Graduate Student Research Excellence Award by the American Educational Research Association (AERA; Division C; Learning and Instruction). This award represents Division C’s continuing efforts to recognize excellence in graduate student research. Butterfuss will receive his award at the division’s annual business meeting at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in New York City, April 13-17.
Butterfuss—under the mentorship of faculty member Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou—conducts research on the role of higher-order cognition on knowledge revision during reading comprehension. He has published several papers in this area. Read more about his most recent work on executive functions (EFs) and reading comprehension here. In addition to this award, Butterfuss received the Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) from the Society for Text and Discourse and the Research Excellence Award from the psych foundations program in 2017.
Butterfuss is currently a Graduate Research Assistant on the TeLCI project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. In his role on the project, Butterfuss, along with Britta Bresina, are leading the investigation on the role of EF in young children’s inference making.
Sidney Peters, Gopher Women’s Hockey goaltender and senior in the School of Kinesiology, was drawn to volunteer work from the very beginning of her college career. As a freshman, she became involved in M.A.G.I.C (Maroon And Gold Impacting the Community), a program designed to encourage student-athletes to get involved in community service, and she has continued volunteering her time and talents with organizations ever since. On Friday, April 6, her commitment to helping others was recognized when she received the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award from the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation. The organization presented Peters with a check for $2,500 during a ceremony held at the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four tournament in St. Paul. The funds will be donated to her designated charity, Project Medishare.
The Hockey Humanitarian Award is given each year to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team, but also to the community-at-large through leadership in volunteerism.
Peters was deeply affected by her experience in 2016 when she traveled to Haiti to work as a volunteer in a hospital there. She continued her service when she returned, volunteering as an EMT and getting involved with other community organizations.
This could lead to earlier intervention and potentially better treatment outcomes.
For the first time, researchers have used MRIs to show that babies with the neurodevelopmental condition fragile X syndrome had less-developed white matter compared to infants that did not develop the condition. Imaging white matter can help researchers focus on the underlying brain circuitry important for proper communication between brain regions. These findings could lead to new and earlier interventions, and potentially better treatment outcomes.
The study— co-led by University of Minnesota researcher Jason Wolff, Ph.D., and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researcher Meghan Swanson, Ph.D., and published in JAMA Psychiatry —shows that there are brain differences related to the neurodevelopmental disorder established well before a diagnosis is typically made at age three or later.
“Our work highlights that white matter circuitry is a potentially promising and measurable target for early intervention,” said co-first author Wolff, an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development. “These results substantiate what other researchers have shown in rodents—the essential role of fragile X gene expression on the early development of white matter.”
Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder and the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability in males. Symptoms include intellectual disabilities, problems with social interaction, delayed speech, hyperactivity, and repetitive behaviors. About 10 percent of people with fragile X experience seizures. About one-third of people with fragile X meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.
“One of the exciting things about our findings is that the white matter differences we observe could be used as an objective marker for treatment effectiveness,” said co-senior author Heather C. Hazlett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine.
For this study, Wolff, Hazlett, and colleagues imaged the brains of 27 infants who went on to be diagnosed with fragile X and 73 who did not develop the condition. The researchers focused on 19 white matter fiber tracts in the brain. Fiber tracts are bundles of myelinated axons—the long parts of neurons that extend across the brain or throughout the nervous system. Think of bundles of cables laid across the brain. These bundles of axons connect various parts of the brain so that neurons can rapidly communicate with each other. This communication is essential, especially for proper neurodevelopment during childhood.
Imaging and analytical analysis showed significant differences in the development of 12 of 19 fiber tracts in babies with fragile X from as early as six months of age. The babies who wound up being diagnosed with fragile X had significantly less-developed fiber tracts in various parts of the brain.
“It’s our hope that earlier diagnosis and intervention will help children with fragile X and their families,” said Swanson, co-first author and postdoctoral research fellow at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC. “We also hope that this knowledge might inform drug development research.”
So far, drug clinical trials have failed to demonstrate change in treatment targets in individuals with fragile X. One of the challenges has been identifying good treatment outcome measures or biomarkers that show response to intervention.
Other authors are Mark Shen, Ph.D., Martin Styner, Ph.D., and Joseph Piven, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Annette Estes, Ph.D., of the University of Washington; Guido Gerig, Ph.D., of New York University; and Robert McKinstry, M.D., Ph.D., and Kelly Botteron, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis.
Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Simons Foundation.
This study, which used data collected from 2008 to 2016, would have been impossible without the dedication to research from families who had another older child already diagnosed with fragile X syndrome.
FSoS Professor Bill Doherty welcomed a BBC documentary crew into his home last Thursday. His work helping communities bridge the political divide attracted the attention of Anisa Subedar, a senior producer for BBC Trending. She asked Bill if he could do a one on one version of the community group sessions he facilitates for the national non-profit, Better Angels. Doherty connected with Minnesotans Deborah Mosby and Tom Chamberlain who agreed to work with him on camera. Subedar and Natalia Zuo, a video journalist, also taped a lecture Doherty delivered the previous evening. While in Minnesota they also enjoyed Matt’s Juicy Lucys and visited Paisley Park.
Prepare2Nspire is a tiered tutoring program that prepares underserved middle school and high-school math students to succeed. The program connects math students in urban classrooms with undergraduate mentors at the University. The tutoring sessions take place in North Minneapolis and provides free bus fares and food to the students and mentors. The students served are primarily African-American, historically the group that has the lowest scores on national and state assessments. Through the program, she has seen ACT and standardized test scores rise.
Curriculum and Instruction department chair Cynthia Lewis says that “Lesa has developed and implemented a program that not only provides students with support in mathematics but also creates a culture of excellence and high academic standards…Lesa strives to provide underrepresented populations with the power of math as a tool for social justice.” Clarkson’s commitment to educational equity and social justice is an outstanding exemplar of the department’s mission.
As a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Roisman will receive a $100,000 grant for research and scholarly activities, and carry the title throughout his University career. Roisman is one of six University professors receiving the award in 2018. Four CEHD professors have earned the award previously, including Frank Symons of educational psychology, and Megan Gunnar, Ann Masten, and Stephanie Carlson, all of the Institute of Child Development.
At the Institute of Child Development, Roisman leads the Relationship Research Lab, which examines the legacy of early relationship experiences as an organizing force in social, cognitive, and biological development across the lifespan. Roisman also oversees the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which began in 1975 and primarily focuses on how people think about their social experiences, risk and protective factors, and issues of continuity and change.
Through his research, Roisman has used innovative statistical methods and the unique datasets provided by longitudinal studies to determine how early relationship experiences impact different individuals and how those experiences support or undermine their physical and psychological health as adults.
Roisman and the other winners of this year’s Distinguished McKnight University Professorships will be recognized at a Board of Regents meeting in Spring 2018 and honored at a celebratory dinner.
Jenna Cushing-Leubner, a Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Education program, recently received the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESJ) Special Interest Group (SIG) within the American Educational Research Association (AERA). This award is given out to one standout emerging student each year who deserves to be recognized for their work on their dissertation. This year, given the number of standout applicants, the committee chose to honor two students. This included C&I’s own Cushing-Leubner, who was advised by Martha Bigelow throughout the dissertation process. There will be a business meeting at AERA on April 15 to formally honor her.
The University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) continues to climb in the latest U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, breaking the top 20 this year with a ranking of 19, a move up from a ranking of 21st last year.
For the U.S. News & World Report rankings, 385 schools that grant doctoral degrees were surveyed. Schools were rated on 10 measures including peer assessment, educational professionals’ assessment, student selectivity, faculty resources, and research activity.
“We are pleased to continue to rise in the rankings, said CEHD Dean Jean K. Quam. “It’s validation for our work moving forward in educational equity, teaching and learning innovations, and children’s mental health and development.
CEHD is a world leader in developing programs with a positive impact on child development, teaching, and learning. CEHD laboratory preschool, for example, bases its instruction on the idea that children are the agents of their own learning, encouraging hands-on, child-directed experiences. CEHD researchers bring real-world data collection to the classroom to help teachers in Minnesota and beyond. We are also developing new programs and technology, such as Check & Connect, to help educators improve student outcomes and keep at-risk kids on track to graduation.
The mission of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development is to contribute to a just and sustainable future through engagement with the local and global communities to enhance human learning and development at all stages of the life span.
Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization screened to an audience of over 300 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on March 1. The film, directed by Jerry Smith of the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), explores a concept developed in the 1960s that provided a framework for moving people from large institutions into their home communities. This had a dramatic influence on services and supports for people with intellectual disabilities and fundamentally changed the way many professionals understood their roles in supporting people. Dr. Colleen Wieck set the stage historically with a presentation on the impact of Normalization in Minnesota. A panel discussion following the film examined the need to revisit Wolfensberger’s ideas, at a time when many communities are building new, segregated facilities for people with disabilities. The evening at the Walker concluded with a tribute to ICI’s Angelo Amado, who is retiring in March. Valuing Lives is available for purchase at rtcmedia.vhx.tv.
Susan Walker, associate professor, and Seonghee Hong, a Ph.D. student in Family Social Science, will receive the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal Best Paper Award in Family and Consumer Sciences Education for 2017.
The award will be presented at the 109th Annual Conference of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) in Atlanta in June. Dr. Sharon DeVaney, editor of FCSRJ, will present the award.
The paper, “Workplace Predictors of Parenting Educators’ Technology Acceptance Attitudes,” was published in the June 2017 issue of FCSRJ.
The AAFCS Best Paper award recognizes work for the importance and originality of the topic; strength of the methodology and results; and the potential for a lasting contribution to family and consumer science.
In their article, Walker and Hong investigated the technology adoption of non-formal parenting educators in Minnesota. They found that attitudes toward technology use was directly related to the perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of the technology. They recommended that organizations that employ parenting educators foster a climate that encourages technology use and provide ongoing and effective training.
The Family and Consumer Sciences ResearchJournal publishes original research in all areas of family and consumer sciences. AAFCS, the sponsoring organization of the journal, is the only national not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides leadership and support to family and consumer science professionals in education, research, business, and not-for-profit organizations.
Taylor Williamson, a junior double majoring in Human Resource Development and Business and Marketing Education in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD), scored a goal in the 3-1 win against Wisconsin to claim the 2018 WCHA Final Faceoff championship. A triumphant comeback after she underwent brain surgery and was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis (MG), in the last year.
Her story is highlighted in the following news articles:
Sung Tae Jang has been selected to receive the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group: Research on the Education of Asian and Pacific Americans (REAPA) for his dissertation, Student Experiences and Educational Outcomes of Southeast Asian Female Secondary School Students in the United States: A Critical Quantitative Intersectionality Analysis.
This award recognizes a scholar whose dissertation has had a significant impact on our understanding of Asian American and/or Pacific Islanders in education and will be presented in April at the annual business meeting in New York City.
Family Social Science Professor Steven M. Harris assumed a new role as editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy for a four year term.
Published by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy is dedicated to both reflect and foster the best scholarship in the MFP field that makes a difference, moves our field forward, crosses borders, is sensitive to diversity and social justice, and is relevant to both researchers and clinicians.
Dr. Harris received his master’s and doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University. Prior to Minnesota, he was an MFT faculty member at Texas Tech University for 13 years. He has been practicing as an MFT for over 27 years. His history with JMFT includes serving as the reviews editor from 2000-2005, and he has been on the Editorial Board since 2000. Dr. Harris is the author of over 65 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has written four books, and has contributed a variety of other publications to the field throughout his career. He also serves as the associate director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project. He and his co-author, Dr. William J. Doherty, also a professor in the FSoS Department, released the first textbook on discernment counseling last year.
JMFT, published quarterly, is the flagship scholarly journal of AAMFT and the field of family therapy. The goal of the journal is to ensure the continued development of the science, theory, and practice of marriage and family therapy. JMFT disseminates relevant, current scholarship and research that moves the field forward.
Sehoon Kim, assistant professor (pictured), and Sangok Yoo, a 3rd year doctoral student studying human resource development, both received Cutting Edge awards from the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) for their outstanding papers at the 2018 annual conference held February 14-17 in Richmond, VA.
Workaholics, Addiction, and Motivation: A Critical Review and Implications for HRD by Sehoon Kim
Knowledge Creation Practices of Teachers in South Korea and the United States: A Multigroup Structural Equation Modeling Analysis by Sangok Yoo (University of Minnesota), Shinhee Jeong (Texas A&M University), Ji Hoon Song (Hanyang University), and Sanghoon Bae (Sungkyunkwon University)
Massachusetts based Hologic, Inc. announced it has signed an agreement with the University of Minnesota to be the exclusive provider of Dexalytics:TEAMS™ in North America. Dexalytics is a cloud-based software developed by Educational Technology Innovations (ETI) in the College of Education and Human Development.
Dexalytics leverages best-in-class body composition data and more than 30 years of DXA research to provide critical measurements that extend beyond the traditional metrics of body fat percentage, total lean mass, and total fat mass used in the past. DXA—short for dual x-ray absorptiometry—is the most accurate way to determine body composition.
“A lot of time and resources are spent understanding what an athlete’s body can do, without a good understanding of what an athlete’s body is made of,” said Tyler Bosch, Ph.D., co-founder and head of research and development for Dexalytics.
The software reinvents the way data is reported, using a proprietary system to look at the measurements in new ways. As a result, pages of clinical data are transformed into a manageable athlete score that can be directly connected to sport performance.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Hologic to ensure this brand new software we’ve worked so hard to develop will reach as many athletes as possible,” said Don Dengel, professor and director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology in the School of Kinesiology.
Founded in 2014 by Institute of Child Development professors Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., and Phil Zelazo, Ph.D., Reflection Sciences provides professional development, training, and tools for assessing and improving executive function skills. Executive function is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions help us pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly – skills that are key for school readiness.
Through the new collaboration, researchers will be able to track the development of executive function skills over the course of childhood and beyond using Reflection Sciences’ Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS™) App. The MEFS App is a scientifically valid and reliable game-like tablet measure of executive function for ages 2 and up.
“The research literature clearly points to the critical role that early executive function plays in children’s academic and social success, so we need to make sure the study effectively captures children’s skills in this area,” said co-principal investigator Stephanie Jones, Ph.D., a professor of education at Harvard. “MEFS combines the strength of a trusted measure of executive function with the power of big data, allowing us to view the findings from our study within the context of the thousands of other children who have used the app.”
For the Early Learning Study at Harvard, which is supported by the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and led by Jones and Nonie Lesaux, Ph.D., researchers will follow a sample of 5,000 randomly selected families with children ages 3 and 4 years from more than 100 communities throughout Massachusetts. An estimated 40 percent of the children are in an informal childcare setting, such as family care; the other 60 percent are enrolled in a formal setting, such as an early childhood education center. Across four years, researchers will document each child’s early learning experiences and measure outcomes including language, executive function, and academic and social-emotional skills.
This study aims to address important questions about how formal and informal early learning environments impact learning outcomes and developmental gains. The researchers hope to achieve a better understanding of which early education features have the greatest benefits for children, which models of Pre-K work best, why they work, for whom they work, and under what conditions. The team hopes their findings will inform public policy efforts and decisions regarding opportunities and challenges facing early childhood education.
“The Early Learning Study at Harvard is setting the standard for research on early childhood education practices and we are delighted to be able to help them achieve results using our measure,” Carlson said.
Participating in an intensive early childhood education program from preschool to third grade is linked to higher educational attainment in mid-life, according to a new study by researchers in CEHD’s Institute of Child Development (ICD).
The study, published inJAMA Pediatrics, tracked the progress of more than 1,500 children from low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, from the time they entered preschool in 1983 and 1984 in Child-Parent Centers (CPC) until roughly 30 years later. The children were part of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, one of the longest-running follow-ups of early childhood intervention.
“Children from low-income families are less likely to attend college than their higher-income peers,” said lead author Arthur J. Reynolds, Ph.D., a professor in ICD and director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study. “A strong system of educational and family supports in a child’s first decade is an innovative way to improve educational outcomes leading to greater economic well-being. The CPC program provides this.”
The JAMA Pediatrics study is the first of a large-scale public program to assess impacts on mid-life educational attainment and the contributions of continuing services in elementary school. The study’s co-authors include Suh-Ruu Ou and Judy A. Temple of the University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative.
For the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the researchers followed the progress of 989 graduates of the Chicago Public School District’s CPC program, which provided intensive instruction in reading and math from preschool through third grade as part of a school reform model.
The program provides small classes, intensive learning experiences, menu-based parent involvement, and professional development. The children’s parents received job skills training, parenting skills training, educational classes and social services. They also volunteered in their children’s classrooms, assisted with field trips, and attended parenting support groups.
The authors compared the educational outcomes of those children to the outcomes of 550 children from low-income families who attended other early childhood intervention programs in the Chicago area. The researchers collected information on the children from administrative records, schools and families, from birth through 35 years of age. More than 90 percent of the original sample had available data on educational attainment.
On average, CPC graduates—whether they participated in preschool only, or through second or third grade—completed more years of education than those who participated in other programs.
For children who received an intervention in preschool, those in the CPC group were more likely to achieve an associate’s degree or higher (15.7 percent vs. 10.7 percent), a bachelor’s degree (11.0 percent vs. 7.8 percent), or a master’s degree (4.2 percent vs. 1.5 percent). These differences translate to a 47 percent increase in an earned associate’s degree and a 41 percent increase in an earned bachelor’s degree.
CPC graduates through second or third grade showed even greater gains: a 48 percent increase in associate’s degree or higher and a 74 percent increase for bachelor’s degree or higher.
“Every child deserves a strong foundation for a successful future, and this report provides more concrete, compelling evidence that investments in early childhood education pay dividends for decades,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago is expanding access to early childhood education so every child, regardless of their zip code or parents’ income, can have the building blocks for a lifetime of success.”
According to the study’s authors, successful early childhood programs not only may lead to higher adult educational achievement, but also to improved health. The authors note that adults with less education are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits like smoking and to experience high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health problems than those who complete more schooling.
“This study shows that a well run early childhood intervention program can have benefits well into adult life,” said James Griffin, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of the Child Development Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.
In previous studies, the researchers showed that CPC program participants have attained higher incomes, and experienced lower rates of serious crime, incarceration, and depression than participants of other programs. CPC has also shown a return on investment: cost-benefit analyses have shown economic returns of 7 to 10 dollars per dollar invested.
The CPC program expanded beyond Chicago beginning in 2012. The program is now also in parts of Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Funding for the study is from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. To read the full research paper titled, “A Multicomponent, Preschool to Third Grade Preventive Intervention and Educational Attainment at 35 Years of Age,” visit the JAMA Pediatrics website.