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America Reads helps students make an impact in local communities

literacy mentor america reads“I really like the idea of doing work that is important and impactful and being able to get outside of the college bubble, to see and be a part of the surrounding community,” explains sophomore marketing major Mackenzie Kerry, who found a job that let her do just that as a literacy mentor with CEHD America Reads. The program trains college students of any major in reading and literacy skills to equip them to tutor K-8 students in schools and after-school programs. The CEHD America Reads program, housed in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Minnesota Center for Reading Research, partners with local schools and community organizations to improve literacy. The program employs 100 university students as literacy mentors during the school year.

“It’s an amazing job,” says Logan Haen, a sophomore biology major who has been a literacy mentor since coming to the U last year. Haen appreciates the different perspectives he has gained working with students of diverse backgrounds. “I’ve gained tons of knowledge about other cultures and the program has allowed me to explore different parts of Minneapolis.”

M.Ed. and Initial License in Elementary Education candidate, Jessica Rifley, agrees that working with America Reads was eye-opening. Coming from a small town, Rifley was eager to find a job that “allowed me to leave campus and really immerse myself in various Minneapolis communities and begin networking with nonprofit and community organizations.”  Rifley, like many other literacy mentors, found a calling through the program. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do when I graduated (I believe the total major count was five before settling on elementary education) but I knew that I wanted to work with young people in whatever capacity allowed me to make the most positive impact possible.”

“Elementary education students talk about how this is a double dose of teaching practicum. It builds on teaching experience,” says program coordinator, Megan Pieters. The program offers literacy mentors the chance to work with students in multiple settings for 6-10 hours per week and find out if education or youth work might be their career path.

For any student with a work-study award, this program has the potential to be transformative—not just for the mentees, but the mentors, as well.  “America Reads has definitely impacted my understanding of what the true definition of service is,” Rifley explains. “[I learned that] it is necessary to build connections with a community and understand the resources they have to offer, rather than focus on what needs to be “fixed” or changed.”

Junior youth studies major, Choua Lee, feels the program has helped her understand the complicated factors that can affect a child’s ability to be successful in the classroom. “I have learned that every individual is going through something, and that may impact their learning.” She adds that the program has helped her to be “more patient and understanding” when working with youth.

Partner site coordinator, Sister Sharon White of the East Side Learning Center notes that the “America Reads mentors are passionate and enthusiastic about making a difference. Staff often comment on the poise of the mentors and how seriously they take the responsibility. We appreciate our ten-year partnership with America Reads!”

For students who are interested in becoming a literacy mentor, America Reads is accepting applications. Students must have a work-study award, but do not need their own transportation. Starting rates are $10.50/hour.

Contact Jennifer Kohler with questions, or send a resume to Megan Pieters.

 

 

 

Study on pre-kindergarten program shows strategies for reducing the achievement gap

A new study shows that successful implementation of preschool-to-third-grade programs yields benefits in increasing school readiness, improving attendance, and strengthening parental involvement in school education—strategies that can close the achievement gap for children at risk.

“Scaling and sustaining effective early childhood programs through school–family–university collaboration” was published in the September/October 2017 issue of Child Development by Arthur Reynolds, professor of child development, and colleagues in the Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC).

The Child–Parent Center Preschool to Third Grade program (CPC P–3) is a collaborative school reform model designed to improve school achievement and family engagement from ages three to nine. The program provides small classes, intensive learning experiences, menu-based parent involvement, and professional development in co-located sites. In the study, investigators evaluated evidence from two longitudinal studies, the Chicago Longitudinal Study, begun in the 1980s, and Midwest CPC, which started in Minnesota and Illinois in 2012.

“We found that organizing preschool to third grade services through partnerships with schools and families creates a strong learning environment for ensuring that early childhood gains are sustained, thus reducing the achievement gap,” said Reynolds, HCRC co-director.

Implementation in five Saint Paul Public Schools serving high proportions of dual language learners led to gains in literacy of nearly a half a year at the end of preschool. The gains were sustained in kindergarten with further evidence of increased parent involvement and attendance. Small classes and engaged instruction contributed to these gains.

“Thanks to the support of the CPC P-3 program, family rooms at the five Saint Paul Public School sites are vibrant and welcoming environments,” said Kathleen Wilcox-Harris, chief academic officer of the Saint Paul Public School District. “It is not uncommon to see a hub of activity in these spaces promoting the bridge between the home, community, and school environments. The program with guidance from HCRC has led to a menu of family engagement opportunities known as the Families First Menu of Opportunities that is being implemented at other sites. The small classes and preschool to third grade alignment of instruction has also been of substantial benefit.”

In collaboration with Saint Paul Public Schools and other implementation sites, guiding principles of the effectiveness of program expansion are shared ownership, committed resources, and progress monitoring for improvement. The addition of Pay for Success financing in the Chicago Public School District shows the feasibility of scaling CPC P-3 while continuing to improve effectiveness. Each dollar invested in the CPC P-3 program has demonstrated a return of $10 in reduced need for remedial services and improved well-being.

Findings from the study support increased investment during the early grades. As Reynolds documented in a recent Education Week commentary, spending on early childhood development in the first decade of life is a smart investment.

“Since only about half of young children are enrolled in public preK programs, and less than 10 percent participate in P–3 programs that follow the key principles of CPC, increased access to high-quality education and family support services can make a big difference in reducing the achievement gap,” Reynolds said. “Nationally, only one third of fourth graders read proficiently on national assessments, and preschool or school-age programs alone are not enough to raise these rates to acceptable levels, especially for the most vulnerable children. CPC not only helps children be school ready, but improves reading and math proficiency over the school grades, which led to higher rates of graduation and ultimately greater economic well-being.”

Human Capital Research Collaborative, an interdisciplinary research institute in the Institute of Child Development, College of Education and Human Development, offers a multitude of resources for CPC P-3 implementation, including monitoring tools, manuals, and extensive resources on the website CPCP3.org.

Funding for the study is from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U. S. Department of Education, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

New graduate program trains students to analyze behavior, improve lives of people with disabilities

The new master’s degree will help meet the state and national need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Approximately one in every ten people or 11.2% of people in Minnesota and 13.1% of people in the United States are living with some kind of disability according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

It’s with that in mind that Jennifer McComas, associate chair and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, developed the new master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis (A.B.A).

Jennifer McComas

“The new program is designed to teach students about the principles of behavior,” explains McComas, “how to recognize the influence of social interactions and other environmental variables and recommend changes to improve the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities.”

Now approved by the national Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the A.B.A. program is designed prepare students to sit for their Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam and to work with people with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.

“The M.A. is a good fit for psychology and education majors and those interested in applied research who want to make a difference in the world around them,” McComas says.

A full-time, on campus program, the M.A. in special education with an emphasis in A.B.A. is currently accepting applications for fall 2018. Students who enroll in the program will be required to complete 36 total credits (nine credits in four semesters), including three semesters of practical experience working alongside a BCBA. They’ll also complete a final research project, guided by University of Minnesota faculty and staff, like McComas, who are experts in the area of applied behavior analysis.

“We’ll approach applied behavior analysis from a scientific perspective,” McComas says. “Students will be challenged to become consumers of research and prepared for the real world through supportive supervisory experience, which is essential when working with people with disabilities.”

Amy Hewitt

Amy Hewitt is a senior research associate with the Institute for Community Integration at the University of Minnesota and has worked for over 30 years to improve community inclusion and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

“This new program is timely and responds to a critical need in Minnesota. With newly implemented policies that fund early intensive behavioral intervention for people with autism and the focus on positive behavioral support in the MN Olmstead Plan there is a high need for qualified professionals,” Hewitt says. “This program will help to ease the high demand to grow this workforce.”

Graduates of the program will help meet the state and national need for BCBAs who work with people with disabilities to identify opportunities to make positive behavior changes leading to more fulfilling lives.

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

Clayton Cook head shot
Clayton Cook

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Rodriguez head shot
Michael Rodriguez

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

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

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

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

 

 

U of M Twin Cities education program ranks #1 among public universities in the world

The University of Minnesota’s education program in the College of Education and Human Development ranks #3 in the world, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2017 report. Only prestigious private universities Harvard and Stanford are ranked higher, making CEHD the highest rated public education program in the world.

The results are produced by ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, an independent organization dedicated to research on higher education that has published rankings since 2009.

ARWU uses six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Reuters, number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index – Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance of a university.

More than 1,200 universities are ranked by ARWU every year and the best 500 are published. See more ARWU education rankings.

Tucker Center benefactor, Dr. Dorothy McNeill Tucker, passes away

portrait image of Dorothy McNeill TuckerWe have recently learned of the passing of Dr. Dorothy McNeill Tucker, our founder and benefactor. The Tucker Center was established in 1993 due to her incredible and ongoing support and generosity. Dr. Tucker graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1945, majoring in Recreation Leadership. She went on to earn a doctorate in Counseling Pyschology at UCLA. As a pioneer in many aspects of her life, Dr. Tucker became the first woman to be tenured as a faculty member at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

“I am sure I have received more from the gift than has the University. The joy of giving is increased tremendously when you can see how your gift is being used during your lifetime.”
— Dr. Dorothy McNeill Tucker (December, 1996)

Because of her vision and commitment, the Tucker Center has conducted groundbreaking research and mentored the “best and the brightest” students from around the world who have come to the U of M to do their own research at the Tucker Center.

We have shared our research and educational initiatives with scholars, educators, policymakers, parents, administrators and female athletes. Dr. Tucker’s vision became a reality and, as a result, she truly made a difference in the lives of countless young girls and women, their families and communities.

Dr. Tucker’s contributions and commitments to the University of Minnesota extended beyond her support of the Tucker Center. She served with distinction for 12 years on the U of M Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and in 2006, she was named one of the 100 Most Distinguished Alumni of the College of Education and Human Development.

“Dr. Tucker’s commitment to and passion for the Tucker Center were unparalleled. We are able to achieve our goals and fulfill our mission because of her generous financial support and pioneering spirit. On behalf of every member of the Tucker Team, all of our Affiliated Scholars at the U of M and around the globe, as well as our current and former students, we are forever in her debt. Rest in peace, Dr. Tucker.”
— Professor Mary Jo Kane, Director

“I and so many others will be forever grateful to the vision and commitment of Dr. Tucker and for her founding gift to make the Tucker Center a reality. Her gift is an example of how one individual can truly have a remarkable impact, and the Tucker Team is privileged to carry on her legacy in making a difference in the lives of girls and women in sport.”
— Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, Co-Director

“The School of Kinesiology is incredibly grateful for Dr. Tucker’s support of the Tucker Center.  Her tremendous gifts to the Tucker Center have been instrumental for conducting important research and community outreach on girls and women in sport.  I look forward to seeing the Tucker Center continue its great work for decades to come thanks to Dr. Tucker’s support.”
— Professor Beth Lewis, Director of the School of Kinesiology

— See also an obituary in the Star Tribune.

Family Social Science alum to deliver new student convocation address

Family Social Science alum Rose Simon will deliver the address at the new student convocation.

 

Rose Simon just graduated in May but she’s eager to return to campus to help kick off the new academic year as she delivers the address at the University’s new student convocation, Thursday, Aug. 31.

Simon is using her experience as a peer mentor in the University of Minnesota President’s Emerging Scholars (PES) program in her new job at College Possible, a non-profit organization that serves low income high school students in preparing for college. She will be a mentor in College Possible’s new program, Fostering Graduates, that focuses on supporting students in the foster care system. She will be helping students overcome the unique challenges presented by the foster care system with skill development to enter college and the confidence they need to attain their degree.

“My past experience as a mentor with PES was a great opportunity for me to see the diverse barriers students have overcome that are often unrecognized as accomplishments in the higher education system,” says Simon. “My goal and passion is to create an environment where neighborhoods, cultures and individuals feel that they belong in college.”

Simon’s undergraduate career included an internship in France during her junior year and one with the City of Hopkins’ One Voice Coalition where she put her Family Social Science classroom work to the real world test.

The city wanted to focus energy on healthy youth development by working on alcohol and drug prevention programs,” she says. “I worked with parents and community members to help create and execute family events and programs that support students and parents.”

She credits her College of Education and Human Development advisors and Family Social Science professors for supporting and inspiring her throughout her academic career. She’s looking forward to sharing her experience at this year’s convocation and reminds incoming freshman that the anxiety they may be experiencing is all part of growing up.

“Remember how when you move from elementary school to middle school you worry about finding your locker and classes in time before the bell rings? Then in high school you were stressed about navigating that huge school and finding your niche? Whether high school was the best four years of your life, or you barely made it through… you’ve finally made it to the U of M, so congrats! You’ve arrived at your next chapter in life and boy are you in for a treat!”

And she reminds students that not only are they a college student, they are now among the Golden Gophers!

Kohli, colleagues receive grant for first treatment study of gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer

Nidhi Kohli headshot
Dr. Nidhi Kohli

While prostate cancer treatment can make sex more difficult for straight men, almost nothing is known about its effects on gay and bisexual men. Nidhi Kohli, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education program, is part of an interdisciplinary team that has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the effects of prostate cancer on the sex lives of gay and bisexual men. The goal of the project is to develop a rehabilitation program to help such men overcome these challenges and improve quality of life.

Kohli is co-investigator on the grant and will lead the quantitative methodology for the study, Restore. Specifically, she will be in charge of all data management, including analyses of research hypotheses. The group includes colleagues from the School of Public Health, Medical School, School of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts, and College of Science and Engineering.

“Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among all men including homosexual men. I am very excited to contribute and learn from this large-scale study that will involve developing and evaluating the effects of a rehabilitation program via randomized clinical trial,” Kohli says. “The study has the potential to make a difference in the quality of life of gay and bisexual men who have been treated for prostate cancer, and this gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Learning Technologies Media Lab releases climate change documentary on PBS

Professor Aaron Doering and his team of explorers and educators trek across the unforgiving arctic landscape by dog sled in order to deliver a real-time educational program to millions of students who follow along on the adventure. Their efforts have been captured in a documentary, “The Changing Earth: Crossing the Arctic,” co-produced by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML) and Twin Cities’ Public Television (TPT).

The Changing Earth project was conceived and led by Doering as a way to engage students in a real-world adventure by broadcasting from wherever they find themselves along the journey—on sleds, in tents, and across frozen treks to Inuit villages. “We focus on a culture, we focus on an environmental issue, and now we focus on a social issue,” says Doering of each new adventure-learning expedition.

The first arctic expedition in 2004 took six months. By the end of the trip, Doering was excited to see that they had over three million learners watching from around the world. The program introduces students and viewers to the challenges of the Arctic and the impact of climate change on its indigenous people in a way that resonates with young learners.

The Changing Earth documentary is now available for free on PBS for anyone interested in learning more about the hardships and thrills of crossing the arctic.

Consider supporting the work of LTML to continue the work of documenting the impact of climate change for all learners.

Find out more about the degree programs available in Learning Technologies in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, which houses the LT Media Lab.

ICI’s Gulaid among panelists for Voice of America town hall on autism and vaccines

 

ICI's Anab Gulaid (in blue headscarf) is interviewed on camera at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs on July 8, 2017.
ICI’s Anab Gulaid (in blue headscarf) is interviewed on camera at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on July 8, 2017.

Anab Gulaid, a public health expert in CEHD’s Institute on Community Integration, was a panelist for Vaccine and Autism: Myths and Facts, a recent town hall forum held to address Somali parents’ concerns about the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, autism, and the measles outbreak affecting the Twin Cities’ Somali community.

Held on July 8 at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the forum was hosted by the Humphrey School and the Voice of America news network, which broadcast the two panel discussions – one in Somali and one in English – to its worldwide audience. The gathering, which was covered by numerous media (e.g., Minnesota Public Radio,  Fox 9 News), was prompted by the measles outbreak tied to low MMR vaccination rates among Minnesota’s Somali community.

See video of the panel discussion in English (which includes a short segment on autism research by CEHD faculty Jed Elison and Jason Wolff) and the other panel discussion in Somali (which includes Anab Gulaid).

Family social science degrees reimagined for fall 2017

Students interested in a family social science major will be able to choose from three concentrations. Photo by Erica Loeks.

 

Students considering a family social science degree will have new options for fall 2017. Following a redesign of the curriculum, the Department of Family Social Science has created three concentrations for the family social science undergraduate major that create clear career paths for students interested in improving the lives of diverse families.

“We wanted to help students focus and create a roadmap to careers or an advanced degree in family social science,” said Lynne Borden, department head. “It’s a degree that gives students a great multidisciplinary foundation with the opportunity to be mentored by some of the country’s top researchers in the field.”

Family social science degree concentrations

The family and community engagement concentration is designed for students aspiring to work directly with families in community settings. The family therapy option prepares students for entry-level clinical positions or for advanced study in marriage and family therapy or a practitioner certification, such as the parent education teaching license. The family financial studies concentration is designed for students who are interested in becoming a family financial counselor or coach or other similar career paths.

“Our alumni use their FSoS degrees in a variety of careers,” said Jodi Dworkin, associate department head, professor, and extension specialist.  “Alumni are working as mortgage counselors for banks, program case managers at non-profits and in a variety of teaching positions in K-12 education and in the community.”

For more information contact Jill Trites, director of undergraduate studies,  or visit the FSoS website.

CEHD alumni honored with Outstanding Achievement Award

David Metzen, Eric Kaler, and John Haugo

 

CEHD alumni John Haugo and David Metzen received the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA)  on June 19 at an evening reception at Eastcliff.  They were recognized for their significant contributions to Minnesota’s educational system and given their awards by President Eric Kaler. The OAA is the University of Minnesota’s highest award for graduates.

John Haugo was an innovative tech entrepreneur before it was cool. After working as a teacher for many years, Haugo went on to earn an M.A. (’64) and Ph.D. (’68) from CEHD. He had a specialty in information systems and, after finishing his doctorate, led the implementation of computer networks across Minnesota State University campuses.

He was later appointed to a governor’s task force to study the potential use of computers in education, which led to his position as executive director of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, or MECC. Early on, Haugo realized the educational potential of personal desktop computers and the importance of teaching students how to use them. Because of his efforts at MECC, all public schools in Minnesota had Apple computers with instructional software, and teachers were trained how to incorporate them into their lesson plans. Haugo eventually moved on to launch his entrepreneurial career and founded several software companies focused on health care delivery and resource management. One of his colleagues said, “John could have used his entrepreneurial skills in any type of business, but he wanted to improve the world.”

David Metzen went from being a U of M hockey standout to having an exemplary career in the field of public education. Metzen has a B.S. (’64), M.A. (’70) and Ed.D. (’73) from CEHD. He started his career as a teacher in his hometown of South Saint Paul, soon advancing to the position of principal and later superintendent. A parent from that time shared, “On the first day of school, Dave took our daughter by the hand and walked her to her classroom, all the while telling her how great school was going to be. She not only believed him then, she is now a 9th grade English teacher in the Minneapolis public schools.” As a lifelong resident and passionate supporter of his community, Metzen realized the importance of strong public schools as a civic point of pride. To ensure the ongoing health of the district, he established one of the first school foundations in Minnesota, the South Saint Paul Educational Foundation.

The University of Minnesota was influenced by Metzen’s thoughtful leadership as a Board of Regents member for 12 years, including two years as chair. He wanted to ensure that college education remained affordable for all students. During his time as a regent, the board oversaw the reorganization of General College and the College of Human Ecology, bringing together several programs under the umbrella of the new College of Education and Human Development. After his regents term ended, Metzen continued his leadership for college affordability as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Higher Education.

In their acceptance remarks, both Haugo and Metzen acknowledged the importance of the University of Minnesota to their lives and to the state. We are proud to have such distinguished alumni affiliated with CEHD!

All college alumni are invited to stay connected through the CEHD Alumni Society.

CEHD embeds educational equity skills in teacher education curriculum

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) created the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI) in 2010 to better prepare teachers for the challenges they face in a 21st century classroom. In the seven years since TERI began, CEHD has made important changes to the teacher preparation curriculum. One of these changes is a new emphasis on teaching “dispositions,” which describe the relational skills that teachers need to connect with their students, families, and communities.

By teaching relational skills, helping teachers understand the impact of their own racial identity on their students, CEHD helps teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to foster educational equity in their classrooms.

Learn more in this blog post from Misty Sato, associate professor and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development.

Tucker Center releases report honoring 45th anniversary of Title IX

image of report coverThe Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport has released a report, “Gender, Race & LGBT Inclusion of Head Coaches of Women’s Teams: A Report on Select NCAA Division I Conferences for the 45th Anniversary of Title IX,” in honor of the 45th anniversary of Title IX. This special report is a partnership among LGBT SportSafe, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.

Race and gender data for head coaches of women’s teams were collected for eight select NCAA Division I conferences including: American Athletic Conference (AAC), Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, the Ivy League, Pacific-12 (Pac-12), and Southeastern Conference (SEC). The conferences selected for this study were chosen to include the “Power 5” (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC). Conferences were assigned a grade for race, a separate grade for gender, and recognition was included for LGBT inclusion practices at the institutional and conference level.

See also:

CEHD researchers use brain scans to predict autism in high-risk, 6-month-old infants

L-R: Jed Elison, Jason Wolff

College of Education and Human Development researchers contributed to a new study that suggests that patterns of brain activity in high-risk, 6-month-old babies may accurately predict which of them will develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at age 2.

The new study was published in Science Translational Medicine and led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Jed Elison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Institute of Child Development, and Jason Wolff, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, were study co-authors. The study was conducted by the IBIS Network and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Approximately one out of 68 school-aged children in the U.S. has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and their younger siblings are at a higher risk of developing the condition. “These findings need to be replicated, but that said, we are very excited about the potential to leverage cutting edge technology to advance the search for the earliest signs of autism,” Elison said.

For the study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the brain’s functional connectivity – or how different brain regions work together – in high-risk, 6-month-old infants. The infants were considered high-risk because they have an older sibling with autism. Overall, 59 high-risk infants were included in the study. Eleven of the infants were diagnosed with ASD at 2 years old and 48 were not.

The researchers applied machine learning algorithms to the infants’ brain scans to identify patterns that separated them into the two groups. They then applied the algorithm to each of the infants to predict which infants would later be diagnosed with ASD. The algorithm correctly predicted nine of the 11 infants who were later diagnosed with ASD and all 48 of the infants who were not later diagnosed with the condition.

According to the researchers, if replicated, the results could provide a clinically valuable tool for detecting ASD in high-risk infants before symptoms set in. This in turn would allow researchers to test the effectiveness of interventions on a population of high-risk infants who have been identified as having a greater risk of ASD based on their brain scan at 6 months of age.

“The researchers will now try to confirm their findings in larger groups of children. But they already have provided proof of principle that it’s possible to detect ASD long before children show the first visible signs of the condition,” NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., wrote in a blog about the study. “The findings could pave the way for developing more cost-effective mobile neuroimaging tools, which might be used in early ASD screening.”

In February 2017, Elison and Wolff contributed to a separate study that used MRI scans of high-risk infants conducted at 6 and 12 months of age to accurately predict which infants would later meet criteria for ASD at age 2. The method used in the new study would only require one scan at 6 months of age.

“This is really interdisciplinary science at its very best, and I anticipate it will eventually lead to improved outcomes for children and families,” Wolff said. “The ability to predict autism in infancy opens the door for something that has long been improbable: pre-symptomatic intervention.”

Leo McAvoy, professor emeritus in the School of Kinesiology, wins U of M Outstanding Achievement Award

Leo McAvoy, Ph.D., professor emeritus of recreation in the School of Kinesiology, has been awarded the University of Minnesota’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award.

Dr. McAvoy earned a Ph.D. in 1976 in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies from the College of Education and Human Development and taught and conducted research for over 30 years in the School of Kinesiology. He has been honored numerous times nationally for his contributions to the parks and recreation field, and early in his career was elected to the Academy of Leisure Sciences, one of 55 such scholars in North America at the time. In 2004 he received the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research, his field’s highest award.

During his career, Dr. McAvoy focused his research on populations often overlooked in the field–access for individuals with disabilities and initiatives with American Indians related to their relationship to outdoor recreation and recreation resources. He pioneered efforts in the 1980s and ’90s to create opportunities for access to the outdoors for all people, and to achieve inclusion and inclusive programming.

Mary Jo Kane, Ph.D., School director from 2005-2011, says, “Deeply committed to issues of diversity and social justice, Professor McAvoy was one of the first scholars in the country who placed at the center of their work the various and important ways individuals with disabilities interact with the outdoor environment. He is one of the most dedicated and passionate people I know, an individual who has had a profound impact in both his personal and professional capacity.”

The Outstanding Achievement Award may be conferred only on graduates or former students of the University who have attained unusual distinction in their chosen fields or professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level. It is the highest honor bestowed by the University outside of the Honorary Doctorate degree.

A college ceremony honoring Dr. McAvoy is planned for late summer or early fall.

STEM education group forms partnership with educators in Japan

Gillian Roehrig, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), led a team of STEM educators to Japan for a one-week visit funded by 3M to initiate STEM education partnerships in Japan. The team included Assistant Professor Julie Brown, Ph.D.; candidate in STEM education Jeanna Wieselmann; Doug Paulson, Minnesota Department of Education STEM Specialist); and Tom Meagher, Ph.D. , the Owatonna K-12 STEM Coordinator and C&I alumni in Science Education.

The group was hosted by Professor Yoshisuke Kumano and Dr. Tomoki Saito of Shizuoka University. Dr. Saito spent time as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction as a visiting scholar last year. Professor Kumano’s team had recently visited the STEM education center to learn about K12 integrated STEM curriculum and research. This visit cemented the partnership, as the STEM education experts from the department presented research on integrated K-12 STEM education and provided a K-12 STEM workshop for principals and teachers from local schools.

The UMN STEM delegation also visited the RuKuRu STEM student camp at the Shizuoka Children’s Musuem,  the Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science & Technology, and Sagano Super Science and Global High School Kyoto to explore possible exchange opportunities for STEM high schools students and teachers.

This fall, Wieselmann will spend three months studying at Shizuoka University as a visiting scholar, where she will be extending her research on gender issues related to STEM teaching and learning at the elementary level in Japan. Roehrig will also be returning in August to present with the Shizuoka STEM group at the Japan Society for Science Education. In addition, a research project has been established with Dr. Takahiro Kayano that explores argumentation in K-12 STEM classrooms in Shizuoka and Owatonna, cementing the fruitful partnership between the two the STEM education area in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and their colleagues in Japan.

Learn more about the STEM education Ph.D. program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

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CEED to establish international center for reflective practice

The Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) in the Institute of Child Development has received a $1 million grant from the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation to establish a center that will focus on reflective practice in infant and early childhood mental health.

Reflective practice is a professional development approach that encourages individuals to pay attention to relationships as they examine behavior and their responses to behavior. In the infant and early childhood mental health field, reflective practice asks practitioners to explore how they relate to the children and families they work with, who may be facing multiple challenges and risks. Practitioners engage in reflective practice in partnership with a supervisor or consultant.

The new CEED center will serve as an intellectual home for high-quality, cutting-edge research in reflective practice. It will also disseminate knowledge about reflective practice, help professionals incorporate reflective practice principles into their work, and inform policy dealing with infant and early childhood mental health. The center will be the first of its kind internationally.

“We are grateful to the Lynne & Andrew Redleaf Foundation for their support as we work to impact infant and early childhood programs and providers, both in Minnesota and across the country,” says Christopher Watson, Ph.D., IMH-E®[IV], director of the new center at CEED. “This generous gift will allow CEED to bolster its work in reflective supervision and to better support staff who serve families facing complex challenges. We look forward to carrying out this work in an effort to improve developmental outcomes for infants and young children.”